Thursday, February 28, 2013

Global Upheaval

The global economy is undergoing a period of great upheaval and that even fewer will profit from, because they are caught up in looking at the world through past experience.
Unless an 11th-hour deal is reached, sequestration kicks in on Friday, March 1.
Of course neither side is motivated to solve the problem simply because both sides consider themselves politically immune to the fallout, as long as they can turn the issue to their own political advantage.
What’s most ironic is that even if budget cuts take place as scheduled, it won’t even make a dent in the federal deficit.
The $85 billion in spending cuts to defense and domestic programs amounts to just 2.4 percent of the federal budget, which was $3.538 trillion last fiscal year. Even after sequestration, Washington will still be running annual red ink of close to $1 trillion. Some would point out that the GDP was up for the first time in five years. But when you look at the numbers, it is only 0.01%.
With such political folly, it’s no wonder investors are beginning to lose confidence in the sustainability of the stock market’s uptrend. Of course, partisan politics isn’t the only worry on the horizon.
Gasoline prices at the pump have risen for 36 straight days. In fact, retail gasoline has risen almost 15 percent so far this year, which amounts to an additional tax of about $35 billion on American consumers.
Adding the economic drag of higher fuel prices to the payroll tax hike early this year, the pending sequestration, and escalating political risks in Europe … you have a recipe for higher market volatility ahead.
Although markets were initially spooked last week by talk that the Federal Reserve could prematurely end QE-infinity, the Fed has no intention of reversing its easy-money policy anytime soon.
Right now, the S&P 500 Index is overbought. Longer term, markets will remain propped-up by global money printing, and by capital flowing into equities, commodities and other assets that offer higher returns.

Samuel Burns

Government Misconduct

I have been following the writings of Devvy Kidd for several years.  While she tends to use colorful language I have found her articles to be informative and well grounded in the facts.  The first link below is one such article that highlights the irresponsible behavior of many of our political leaders and government bureaucracies.  Because it is fairly long I will lift a few comments to give you a taste.

In this article Ms. Kidd focuses on Medicare and Medicaid.  She references a 2004 article in which she included remarks by Boston University's Economics Chairman, Laurence Kotlikoff, who noted then that there was a $51 trillion dollar fiscal gap in Medicare.  At that time he wrote "To give you idea how big the problem is, you'd have to have an immediate and permanent 78 percent hike in the federal income tax; More than double the payroll tax, immediately and forever, from 15.3 percent of wages to nearly 32 percent; Raise income taxes by two thirds (roughly 78%), immediately and forever; Cut Social Security and Medicare benefits by 45 percent, immediately and forever."  Mrs. Kidd adds: "Today, that $51 TRILLION dollar fiscal 'gap' is $122.7 TRILLION dollars. SS, Medicare and, oh, did you forget the liabilities created by Bush, Jr. and the Republican controlled Congress for 'free prescription drugs'? That program is now $21.4 TRILLION in liabilities."  Mrs. Kidd continues:  "In 2011, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), there were 70.4 million people who enrolled in Medicaid for at least one month. There were also 48.849 million people enrolled in Medicare. That gave Medicaid and Medicare a gross combined enrollment of 119.249 million in 2011."   There is much more in her article which illustrates the absence of fiscal responsibility exercised by past and present administrations and Congresses.

The second link addresses misinformation regarding the ongoing Sequester debate bandied about by the President, his administration and a complicit media.  The article points out that "A government drowning in debt, fueled in no small part by nearly incomprehensible waste, is threatening to pare 'essential services' if the Congress allows budget 'cuts' — that aren't cuts but reductions in the rate of spending increases — to kick in on March 1."  The bottom line is that the threat of draconian cuts in government services is deception of the highest order and intended to needlessly alarm Americans.  The fact is that government spending has increased over 16% since Mr. Obama took office.  A roughly 2% cut over a ten year period against that 16% increase over a mere four years is laughable on its face and speaks volumes about the integrity of those distorting the facts. They have an agenda and will not let facts get in the way - the agenda is to continue out of control spending.  Prioritization of any required cuts targeting useless/redundant programs would not cause public alarm. Furthermore, the so called cuts are nothing more than a reduction in the rate of the growth of government spending.  Consider, for instance, that the total federal debt has increased by 52% under Mr. Obama's tenure.  Sequester cuts in the rate of government spending increases over 10 years will hardly make a dent in current and future spending. We have also heard the President and Department of Defense (DOD) spokesmen lament that mandated sequester cuts to DOD's budget will result in serious harm.  With that backdrop consider this.  Even if sequester happens DOD spending will still increase by $121 billion between 2014 and 2023.  And, as Sen. Tom Coburn points out, if DOD would cut out their annual non-military expenditures of $70 billion the Pentagon would be in a position to deal with its real mission, defense of the nation.  Lastly, be aware that it has been 1,401 days since the Democrat controlled Senate has passed a budget.  And, remember that the President's last two budget submissions to Congress were so bad that they got not a single vote from ANY member of Congress of EITHER party.  Do either the President or Senate Democrats have any credibility in this debate? 

The third link provides reinforcing discussion of the misconceptions which abound about Sequester.  The fourth link summarizes some of the enormous wastes of taxpayer money by the National Institutes of Health, one of many bureaucracies fraught with inefficiencies.  There are considerable savings to be had by just eliminating government fat, fraud, waste and abuse.  The administration's hype is for show and a blatant attempt to mislead the public so they will support continued big government growth and even more spending. Shame.   George Burns

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Health Dept.: Homeless Can’t Eat Deer Meat

“Deer meat is not permitted to be served in a shelter, restaurant or any other public eating establishment in Louisiana,” said a Health Dept. official in an email to Fox News. “While we applaud the good intentions of the hunters who donated this meat, we must protect the people who eat at the Rescue Mission, and we cannot allow a potentially serious health threat to endanger the public.”

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Washington Hypocrisy Skyrockets, Credibility Plummets

Case in point. Obama supports a UN treaty on what a US official terms "illicit arms trafficking and proliferation". At the same time, the US and ally Saudi Arabia are sending heavier arms into Syria. These shipments and their past interference in Syria violate the UN charter to which they solemnly pledged to adhere. The US is not alone in these and other violations in Syria and other countries.
If Washington routinely violates its own Constitution, it is to be expected that it can and will violate any agreement it makes. Hypocrites cannot lead on any issues, not when they have no credibility. They can exercise power, but they cannot lead.

Bob Woodward On White House Dissembling

The below article is by Bob Woodward.  You will remember that he was half of the investigative journalism team that brought down the Nixon White House.  Here he provides even handed insights into the Obama White House's dissembling about the origins and effects of sequestration.  His main point, seems to me, is that truth telling has been in short supply.  I would add that his observations are particularly relevant since there is evidence that White House lies in this specific case are not an anomaly but part of a pattern.  Then again, we all know such behavior is common within both political parties. The second link reinforces Woodward's point. The third link is just one more example of what we aready knew but it does affirm that political leaders in fact order their underlings to either lie to or mislead the public.  George Burns


The first dangerous mistake the average person makes is the assumption that “evil” is a kind of subjective concept. We would love to believe that all destructive and malicious behavior is merely a product of bad environment, bad upbringing or mental psychosis. Deviance in the name of “profit” or “status” is often more acceptable to the public, as long as there is a reason we can easily understand and grasp.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Playing the Sequester Game

There are lies and then their are lies.  It really does matter who is lying.  Read with care.  

George Burns

Head Start

In his recent State of the Union speech the President expressed his intent to broaden the scope of Head Start, an early-education program implemented for the purpose of improving the academic development of disadvantaged children.  Specifically, he called for expanding the current program into a "universal preschool system" across the entire country.  Anyone who cares about children and helping them develop their potential is inclined to applaud such an initiative.  But, before we let our emotions take over, some basic facts need to be considered.
A White House Fact Sheet (See first link below) provides some of the details of the President's plan.  Some early analysis is at the second link.  Not found in the fact sheet is what costs would be added to the current administration's annual $1.5 billion investment. Notably it builds on existing federal-state partnerships and would, in effect, extend the federal government's already extensive reach into state and local control over early education.  Head Start has existed since 1965 and has cost more than $180 billion.  Our return on that investment?  Nothing!  Exactly nothing according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) who administers the program.  In 2010 HHS released a study (Head Start Impact Study) which, according to The Heritage Foundation, "tracked the progress of three- and four-year-olds entering Head Start through kindergarten and first grade. Overall, Head Start had little to no positive effects for children who were granted access."  See link three.  A follow-on study found that "By third grade, Head Start had little to no effect on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting outcomes of participating children."  See link three.  These studies found that "Of the 142 outcomes measured in four categories (cognitive, social-emotional, health, and parenting practices) there were no measurable patterns of beneficial outcomes."  What is interesting (maybe instructive) is that the follow-on study was published October 2012 but not released to the public until just before Christmas (timed so that no one would notice).  Incredibly, mere weeks later in his 2013 State of the Union message the President touted his plan to expand the program acting as if  HHS's evidence of its failure does not exist.  Why should he?  It is politically popular.  Makes him look good.  On the other hand, given our nation's dire financial condition a proposal to expand a failing program with unspecified added costs suggests there may be an absence of good judgement.  But, then again it is likely that anyone who disparages the President's plan will be accused of not loving children, or worse.  George Burns  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Firearms Companies Restricting Sales to Government Agencies in Areas That Restrict Gun Rights

A growing number of firearm and firearm-related companies have stated they will no longer sell items to states, counties, cities and municipalities that restrict their citizens' rights to own them.
According to The Police Loophole, 34 companies have joined in publicly stating that governments who seek to restrict 2nd Amendment rights will themselves be restricted from purchasing the items they seek to limit or ban.

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IRAs & 401Ks at Risk

For anyone with a private retirement account be aware that the government is giving thought to taking it over.  If you believe that the government has done a good job running Medicare, Social Security (both near bankruptcy) and other programs then you will be okay with a government take over of your private retirement accounts.  However, there is a huge downside to doing so.  What the government has done is spend all of our Social Security contributions.  The so called "social security lock box" which was originally intended to secure our money until we retired has, instead, no real money in it.  Real money has been replaced with IOUs.  Current retirees are funded by current workers.  The problem is that there is an increasing number of retirees and a declining number of workers.  Given our nation's dire financial condition where do you think the government is to get the funds to back fill the IOUs?  It cannot and will not be able to because of our huge national debt, hence, benefits will be reduced, retirement age extended, taxes raised or worse.  If you don't want your private retirement accounts to be raided and suffer the same consequences as Social Security, then you and your fellow workers need to demand the government leave your money alone.  The point is that the government is badly in need of hard cash and your retirement accounts are there for the pickings.  The below link provides the details.  Please, for your retirement's sake, check it out and take action to prevent the potential theft of your hard earned savings.  George Burns   

Congressional Buget Office assessment of federal stimulus spending

If anyone thinks that federal stimulus spending did anything, read here what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has to say.  As the author summarizes: "After four years and almost a trillion dollars in stimulus payments, all we have to show for it is 113,691 full time equivalent jobs, $16 trillion in debt that will never be repaid, 7.9% unemployment, 14.5% real unemployment, negative GDP, and continuing record deficits."  George Burns

Friday, February 22, 2013

Wedge agenda won't create jobs

President Barack Obama was just five paragraphs into his State of the Union address when he again pounded the wedge he's using to divide Americans.
"We gather here knowing that there are millions of Americans whose hard work and dedication have not yet been rewarded," the president lamented, blaming rocketing corporate profits for stagnant paychecks.
It was us vs. them for the rest of the speech, as he continued to fuel the class war that helped carry him to re-election.

Public School Curriculum Propagandization

Some weeks ago I shared information on the unhealthy state of many of our public schools.  Here is just one example of a curriculum production house at work poisoning the minds of our children.  Maybe the recent public outcry cited in the below link and efforts to now involve members of the public in the review and approval process will help clean up the mess.  This is an important step not only for Texas because many of the school texts used across the country are Texas approved texts.  Concerned parents should check their children's textbooks for obvious misrepresentations of fact or clear efforts to propagandize a specific political or social point of view.  If found, they must be reported to school authorities accompanied by demands that the the offending texts be removed.  George Burns 

Letter To The Editor

The recent Newtown tragedy has prompted many to consider the merits of gun ownership.  Some have determined they are dangerous and must go or be severely restricted.  New York has with great fanfare enacted the strictest gun laws in the nation.  Other states are looking to beef up their laws. President Obama has signed 23 Executive Orders dealing with the issue and directed Congress to enact more laws.  

Without question the death of anyone by any cause is a tragedy but why all of this frantic activity following Newtown aimed at removing guns from law abiding citizens, especially rifles.  Is it warranted?  Let's look at a few facts.  Department of Justice survey data show that in 2008 roughly 5,340,000 violent crimes were committed in the United States. These include simple/aggravated assaults, robberies, sexual assaults, rapes, and murders. Of these, about 436,000 or 8% were committed by offenders visibly armed with a gun.  According to the FBI, in 2011, 1,694 people were murdered with knives, 726 with hands or feet, 496 with clubs or hammers, 356 with shotguns and 323 with rifles.  Handguns were responsible for 6,222 murders.  

An article in the 16 Jan 2013 edition of reports that "Not only is gang violence dramatically higher in cities compared to surrounding areas, but 60 percent of U.S. firearm homicides happen in the 62 cities of the country's 50 largest metro areas."  The vast majority if not all of these weapons are either stolen or purchased on the black market. Does anyone think more laws impacting legal gun ownership will fix that problem?  Consider these facts from the same article, "...83% of those murdered in Chicago last year had criminal records. In Philly it's 75%. In Milwaukee it’s 77% percent. In New Orleans, it’s 64%. In Baltimore, it’s 91%. Many were felons who had served time. And as many as 80% of the homicides were gang related." 

From these data it is obvious that most murders and other violent crimes are perpetrated by criminals and gang members.  And, while frequent the majority of these murders have few victims at any one time so they are limited to local newscasts and do not garner the national coverage like the one at Newtown. This distorts reality and results in politicians crawling out of the woodwork with quick-fix and mostly misguided solutions.  The current situation is just such a case as politicians are, for all the wrong reasons, focused on infringing the Constitutional rights of the vast majority of law abiding gun owners based on infrequent events such as Newtown and not on the more frequent actions of criminals and gangs using their illegal weapons to which politicians pay little or no attention. 

With respect to mass murders like the one at Newtown, Northeastern University professors Jack Levin and James Allen Fox have "...studied dozens upon dozens of mass murderers over the past few decades, and...Although serious mental illness can be identified in some cases, most mass murderers are clear-headed and deliberate. Contrary to popular stereotype, they don’t just suddenly snap and go berserk, killing indiscriminately.  The road to mass murder typically involves years of disappointment and failure that produce a mix of profound hopelessness and deep-seated resentment. Socially or psychologically isolated, mass murderers lack emotional support and encouragement from confidants. Moreover, they have no one around to help provide a much needed reality check on their warped perception of constantly being the victim of injustice. Tending to externalizing blame, they seek to punish those whom they hold responsible for their miserable life.
Most often, the mass murderer’s rage is directed at specific targets, such as family members or co-workers. Sometimes their grudge implicates an entire class of people, such as feminists, minorities or immigrants who are believed to be stealing all the good job opportunities. Occasionally and when the perpetrator’s perceptions are twisted by mental illness, the entire society is held as blameworthy. In such cases, the mass killer may randomly target strangers in some public place."

Local, state and federal governments, instead of seeking to control guns owned by law abiding citizens, should focus on the societal problems that promote criminal/gang activities and on mental health programs aimed at helping those in distress before they commit acts of mass murder. 

George Burns

Our $16 1/2 Trillion Debt is Really $123 Trillion

I have mentioned this before but here is a short item with a bit more detail.  The bottom line is this:  the $16 1/2 trillion represents what we owe as a nation to those who have chosen to loan money to our government.  The balance of $123 trillion is what we owe ourselves for all manner of entitlements, government induced expenses, etc. in future years.  Now I ask you, does running up that amount of debt represent anything close to responsible behavior on the part of our government?  Not!!!  Furthermore, it is not possible for us lowly taxpayers and those of our progeny for the next 100 plus years to pay for it.  Not possible!!!.  Serious difficulties lie ahead.  My concern is the damage done to our children and grandchilden and theirs far into the future.  George Burns

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Taxes and ObamaCare

While I don't particularly like a good bit of what comes out of the site at the first link, this particular item is worth reviewing.  It focusses on tax breaks given to big businesses while we lowly taxpayers get hit with one tax after another, not to mention the incessant rise in the cost of groceries, gasoline and other items.
The second and third links highlight yet another tax from a President who pledged to not raise taxes on the middle class.  Oh well!  This is just one more to be added to the list of 20 or so that have emerged in the past 12 months.  Here is one quote:  "Starting next year the ACA imposes a new $100 billion tax on health insurance. The tax will start at $8 billion in 2014, increasing to $14.3 billion in 2018, and will continue to increase each year."
While the fourth link does not specifically address ObamaCare tax increases, it does highlight looming problems.  Unions across the country poured millions into lobbying for the law.  Now that they have seen what's in it they they don't like it and want to be excluded or have the rest of us lowly tax payers pay the increase in their costs.   
George Burns

Sequestration - He was for it; even proposed it;

In his negotiations last year with the Republicans in Congress, in exchange for some tax hikes he wanted and an increase in the debt ceiling, the President recommended sequestration as the tool to reduce the budget deficit/cut spending.  Now he has reversed course and is demanding Congress undo what he did.  He is appealing to the public to bombard Congress with appeals to undo sequestration - but, he conveniently omits that it was his idea.  As he repeatedly claims, it it all the Republicans fault.  The truth is, always been, it is both Democrat and Republican administrations and congresses over many years that are at fault - they have collectively created our spending/deficit problem. The casting of blame is a diversion, a political tactic to cast any blame on anyone but the current administration who has only excerbated the problem.  Take a look at the Debt Clock at the first link.  Spending is out of control.  It does not matter who is in charge, our government spends so much more money than it takes in that we go further in debt by $4 billion every day.  Yet, the President, Rep Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid (and others) claim we don't have a spending problem.  Instead, they say, we have a revenue (not enough taxes) problem. Their claim is that if the Republicans would only be reasonable and do what they want everything would be peachy.  The bottom line is that the President got what he wanted last year (higher taxes/higher debt ceiling) in return for sequestration (reduced spending/debt reduction).  Now he wants to toss sequestration but it is HIS hot potato.  He baked it and now he must eat it.  See the second link.  George Burns  

Recollections of a Hitler Survivor

This lady has a relevant tale to tell.  Read her story recounted in the below link with eyes wide open. What she depicts occurring in Austria was similar to what first occurred in Germany.  After you finish consider what is going on here and around the globe.  Small but incremental steps have long been taken and persist today that erode our control over our own lives.  It is like the proverbial frog in the slow to boil pot - before he knows it he is cooked.  What happened in those countries can happen anywhere, even here.  The scenario here is not exactly the same as occurred in Austria but the effect will be the same if allowed to continue.  Take an honest look around and you will see the signs, there are many - they point to the fact that we are like the frog in the pot.  The reality is that the only ones who can stop the pot from boiling is us.  It is our obligation to collaborate with our family, friends and neighbors to collectively bombard government at all levels with protests, emails, faxes, letters, phone calls, etc. when they engage in any efforts that further intrude into our lives and private property, deny us the opportunity to engage in civil discourse, refuse to reveal what they are up to, arrest private citizens on a whim but allow elites/bankers/government officials to go scot free, etc..  Our government long ago forgot that it is our employee - that it works for us and is not our master.  George Burns

AG Holder: Banning Home Schooling Does Not

Because Germany does not allow home schooling, the Romeike family sought asylum in the US so they could home school their children.  Even though the federal government objected a federal district court judge granted asylum to the family.  So, the federal government appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals and remarkably won the case (denying the Romeike family's request).  The Home School Legal Defense Association then took up the case in behalf of the family and has appealed it to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.  I was stunned at the position taken by US Attorney General, Eric Holder, in seeking to deny the Romeike family's desire to home school their children.  The article at the first link summarizes three arguments Holder makes.  But what stunned me is Holder's belief that a law that bans homeschooling does not violate  fundamental liberties.  Can you believe this from our Attorney General?  See the two links below.  George Burns

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Blaming Terrorists for Terrorism

Yesterday the Bulgarian government announced the results of its investigation into the July 18, 2012 bus bombing that killed 5 Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver in the city of Burgas. At least two members of what appears to have been a three-man team belong to Hezbollah. More specifically, explained Bulgaria’s interior minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, they were part of Hezbollah’s “military wing”—a peculiar turn of phrase that hints at the political implications of the Bulgarian investigation, which may have a major impact on European Union foreign policy as well as Hezbollah’s ability to operate on the continent. And yet the most serious repercussions may be felt inside Lebanon, where Hezbollah is already feeling the pressure.

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Obama reverses course, approves providing legal advice on drones to Congress

President Obama has reversed course and agreed to provide the congressional intelligence committees with classified Justice Department legal advice authorizing the use of drones to kill U.S. citizens abroad, two administration officials said Wednesday evening.

The sharing of the information, which lawmakers had long sought, comes on the eve of a Senate hearing on John Brennan’s nomination to serve as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Some senators had suggested that his nomination could be blocked if the administration was not more forthcoming.

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Making of a Totalitarian State

This is probably one of the most contentious times in the history of the United States as the gun control issue has moved back into the national spotlight with great fervor. Whether one is for it or against it is not the issue of this writing. Thanks to the well-defended First Amendment we have the luxury of saying what we believe in. The point of this article is to do just that, to make a few points.

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Is Press Freedom Fading Away Around the World?

Is America the free press's last stand? It can feel that way when you look around the world. English-speaking countries and Europe have traditionally been relative bastions for independent media in a world where political leaders have little tolerance for dissent, but Britain is on the verge of adopting explicit state regulation of the press and the European Union and Australia seem poised to follow. That's especially frightening when you consider that many European nations currently rank above the United States in terms of press freedom—but their collective advantage could be wiped away in a single legislative moment.

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Big Government Goes on a Banning Spree

After banning things, politicians’ second favorite activity is granting special privileges to a few people who do those same things—so big casinos flourish, and most states run their own lotteries. Running lotteries is one of the more horrible things our governments do. The poor buy the most tickets, and states offer them terrible odds. The government entered the lottery business promising to end the “criminal numbers racket.” Now states do what the “criminals” did but offer much worse odds. Adding insult to their scam, politicians also spend our tax money promoting lotteries with disgusting commercials that trash hard work, implying that happiness comes from hedonism.

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The Root Cause of Gun Violence

Aside from a few, brave, truth-tellers, all of the discussion in Washington boils down to one theme — Why More Power and Money Should Be Transferred from You to Me.
Of course, the sophists never say that directly. They always say it is for the children, or the poor, or the middle class, or the elderly, or the sick. But watch what they do, not what they say. In the end, every Washington Establishment initiative, proposal, or campaign is always aimed at the same result — power and money taken from you, to be given to them.

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Obama’s Department of Free Contraceptives

Stung by the backlash to his HHS mandate, Obama hastily proposed a “revision” to it last February. The revision amounted to an accounting trick that would theoretically shift contraceptive and abortifacient costs from objecting religious employers to their hapless insurers. Obama cast this magical thinking as a neat resolution to his political problem. It at once upheld a right to religious freedom and a right to free contraceptives, he insisted: “Religious liberty will be protected and a law that requires free preventative care will not discriminate against women.”

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The Coming Obamacare Recession

To the shock of many, U.S. GDP shrank in the fourth quarter of 2012 by 0.1%. Immediately, however, economists and commentators flooded the media with reassuring explanations. Super Storm Sandy reduced economic activity in the areas it ravaged; worries about the fiscal cliff and sequestration dampened business spending and government defense spending; businesses let inventory levels dwindle. Even the Federal Reserve commented that the GDP drop was the result of “weather-related disruptions and other transitory factors.” All this is true, to some extent. But none of the reporting I saw even mentioned the elephant in the room that not only depressed economic activity in the fourth quarter of 2012, but will continue to depress economic activity through 2013 and beyond. That elephant is the “Affordable Care Act,” aka “Obamacare.”

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'Skeeterism' and Obama's Columbia Years

Even the (ahem) news outlets the Washington Post and the New York Times are questioning the veracity of Barack Obama's claim that he skeet-shoots "all the time."
Happily, the propagandists' hard-hitting, integrity-filled attempts to shift the political presentation of the gun debate have unwittingly opened the door to very serious scrutiny of a great deal of Mr. Obama's assertions pertaining to his own biography.
This is because the exact same standards the propagandists themselves have decided to use as justification for questioning Obama's claim that he skeet-shoots all the time can also be applied to generate very serious suspicion about plenty of other things that we are to suppose are true about Obama.

Tough Questions for Lew

Republicans may be unable to prevent Jack Lew, the current White House chief of staff, from becoming the next Treasury secretary, but some are hopeful that, by highlighting concerns over his nomination, they can score what amounts to an important victory in Washington these days: shaming the White House into following the law.
GOP lawmakers are currently seeking information about Lew’s role in the Obama administration’s continued violation of federal law regarding the so-called Medicare trigger. Beginning in 2007, the Medicare trustees’ annual report has included a “funding warning,” essentially a determination that immediate action is necessary to shore up the program’s solvency.

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A Winning Strategy on the Debt Ceiling

Gauge our ‘ability to handle’ the debt by considering it in relation to the size of the economy.
Now that the Republicans have postponed the debt-ceiling debate, they’ve bought themselves some valuable time. If they use it wisely, they’ll discover a new strategy for handling the federal debt — a strategy that’s not just better for their party, but also better for the whole country.
Warren Buffett, in a recent interview on the CBS “Sunday Morning” show, revealed the kernel of an idea for what could be a new basis for managing the debt ceiling. The policy would spring from a basic principle: when a game isn’t winnable, one should change the rules. The political game of threatening not to raise the debt limit is unwinnable — whether it’s played by Republicans or Democrats. So it’s time to change the rules.

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Post-Katrina FEMA funds still unspent seven years later

More than seven years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, federal grant funds marked for a nature center in the city have yet to be spent, leading federal watchdogs to recommend the revocation of some of those funds.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded $12.3 million in disaster assistance funds to the Audubon Commission, a division of the city of New Orleans. The commission administers a number of nature-related attractions in the city, including a zoo, an aquarium, and the Audubon Nature Center.

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Press Freedom Takes Focus in NDAA Appeal

Press rights dominated a 2nd Circuit hearing Wednesday concerning the indefinitely military detention of U.S. citizens with suspected ties to al-Qaida or "associated forces."
     Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges sued President Barack Obama for signing the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which he claimed has dangerously vague language that could be used against reporters, activists and human-rights workers.

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Al Gore's Hypocrisy: The Climate Crusader Profits from Fossil Fuels

Al Gore has just released a new book — The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change  — and is on a media tour to promote it. But he has had to face some very uncomfortable questions involving a charge that has been around for a while: That Al Gore is a hypocrite.

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Democrats Step Up for Big Business Defense Contractors

In a surprising role reversal, Democrats have been pushing to repeal cuts to the budget of the Department of Defense that are scheduled to go into effect on March 1 as part of the budget sequester. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have gone on offense to protect Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman and Boeing from losing orders on valuable government contracts.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told students at Georgetown University that a "a dangerous and callous attitude" is "developing among some Republicans and some Democrats, that these dangerous cuts can be allowed to take place in order to blame the other party for the consequences. This is a kind of 'so what?' attitude that says, 'Let's see how bad it can get in order to have the other party blink.'"

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Sleet and snow can't stop the Postal Service – but Saturdays can

In one of its boldest cost-cutting measures yet, the United States Postal Service announced Wednesday that it will eliminate Saturday mail delivery later this year, a move that should save the agency $2 billion in costs annually.

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Hagel linked to Iranian lobby

Could Sen. Chuck Hagel, whose Senate vote on his nomination as the next secretary of defense has been delayed until next week because of controversies over his work, be a potential lobbyist for Iran? After all, he’s already been endorsed by the rogue nation for the administrative post.
Clare Lopez, a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy, spoke to WND on the subject, asserting that Hagel “is associated … with people who are associated with” the National Iranian American Council. And that, Lopez explains, is “the center of the Iranian lobby in America.”

What The US Government Spent Its Money On Last Quarter

The most vocal justification provided for the disappointing Q4 GDP print by the mainstream was an increase in US government "austerity" resulting in a decline in the government contribution to the economic bottom line in the last quarter (or first fiscal quarter of 2013). Ironically, both total spending and total debt issuance in the past quarter increased, which means that far from being austere, the US actually spent more, not less, i.e., the opposite of austerity.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I am providing this to you because the mainstream media wont

The US Supreme Court agreed this past tuesday to hear a case brought by New Jersey resident, Leo Donofrio.  His case charges President Obama with not being a natural born citizen, a charge that was bolstered by the recent release of his records, under court order, by Occidental College.  The records indicate that he applied to the college as a foreign student and received a scholarship based on his foreign citizenship.  There are other provisions in this and other pending legal cases that suggest that fraud has been committed.   More details are contained in the link below. A separate case will be heard by the Court on 15 February 2013.  I do not know what the results of these cases might be.  But, I would ask if the mainstream media has reported on any of this?  Not.  

George Burns

Transparent Government?

We were told when Obama first took office that his would be the most transparent administration ever.  I will not detail the actions of his administration that belie this claim.  There are, frankly, too many to list.  However, the linked article is a representative example.  One is compelled to ask, what are they hiding?  

George Burns

We Have a Problem: Interest Expense to Hit $1 Trillion in 4 Years

I hate to interrupt Obama’s “We Don’t Have a Spending Problem” World Tour. But reality intervened on Tuesday as the Congressional Budget Office released a report that says that the budget deficit will grow through 2023 and “will eventually require the government to raise taxes, reduce benefits and services, or undertake some combination of those two actions,” reports CBSNews- and all of that just to cover interest payments.
“In its annual Budget and Economic Outlook,” writes CBSNews, “the CBO said debt held by the public will be bigger by 2023 than in any year since 1951 and will be at 77 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2023, far above the 40-year average of 39 percent of GDP. As a result, the CBO report said, the federal government’s interest costs ‘will be very high’ and will be rising. Interest costs will more than double by the end of the ten-year forecasting period.”

Increased Government Spending Has Negligible Effects on Poverty

While some argue for increased government spending to reduce poverty, the empirical evidence suggests that such efforts will do nothing to reduce the record number of Americans living in poverty. Indeed, economic growth and good-paying jobs will do more to reduce poverty than increased spending, says Keith Hall in U.S. News & World Report.
  • There are 46 million Americans living in poverty, a number that has grown by nearly 9 million since the beginning of the recession. 
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CBO: 7 million Americans to lose employer insurance under Obamacare

President Obama famously promised Americans that if they liked their health care plan they could keep it, but a new report from the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 7 million Americans will lose employer-based insurance as a result of his national health care law.

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In a move certain to fuel the debate over Obama's qualifications for the presidency, the group "Americans for Freedom of Information" has Released copies of President Obama's college transcripts from Occidental College ... Released today, the transcript school indicates that Obama, under the name Barry Soetoro, received financial aid as a foreign student from Indonesia as an undergraduate. The transcript was released by Occidental College in compliance with a court order in a suit brought by the group in the Superior Court of California. The transcript shows that Obama (Soetoro) applied for financial aid and was awarded a fellowship for foreign students from the Fulbright Foundation Scholarship program. To qualify, for the scholarship, a student must claim foreign citizenship.

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Highways and Roads in a Free Society

As a libertarian, I believe that you have a right to live your life as you see fit as long as you don’t violate somebody else’s right to do the same. Libertarianism represents the only non-coercive political/economic philosophy in the universe. All other such philosophies: democracy, republicanism, monarchy, dictatorship, socialism, and communism employ the brute force (violence) of government to enforce compliance of one group’s wishes on another group.
Many Americans believe that libertarianism is an unworkable framework because without government to provide and enforce laws, society would be in chaos. Additionally, opponents of greater freedom question how the services currently provided by government would be handled in a free market environment.

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In Their Own Words: Climate Alarmists Debunk Their "Science"

President Obama has put salvation from dreaded climate catastrophes on his action agenda hot list. During his inaugural address he said: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” He went on to shame anyone who disagrees with this assessment, saying, “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and powerful storms.”
This sort of scary presidential prognostication isn’t new. He previously emphasized at the Democratic National Convention that global warming was “not a hoax”, referred to recent droughts and floods as “a threat to our children’s future”, and pledged to make the climate a second-term priority.

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What Would Happen If America Got Free, 'Nationwide' WiFi? Google Wins, Carriers Lose

If you’re seeking an example of economic disruption, look no further than the Federal Trade Commission’s designs for Wi-Fi networks that cover large swathes of the United States. A proposal pending before an FCC panel aims to make access to the Internet and phone calls free and easy for millions of people across the United States. There’s a big if here. Having already run the political gauntlet for years, the proposal would face a logistical nightmare if approved.
But traditional mobile network carriers are apparently not taking any chances.

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Spending more on education and infrastructure won’t drive economic growth.

Not long after President Obama proclaimed in his second inaugural that “an economic recovery has begun,” we learned that the U.S. economy actually shrank in the last quarter. Many economists believe this is a temporary setback. This recovery may be the weakest in American history, but the economy isn’t cratering either.
Still, you can bet that if the economy continues to contract, Obama will propose the same remedy he always has: more “investments” in education, infrastructure, and various industries of the future. It seems that whatever the ailment, Dr. Obama always writes the same prescription.

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Reform Government Pay: Step Decreases

Longevity is the wrong characteristic to reward in the case of government workers.
In the private sector, workers are often compensated on the basis of performance. In government, workers are compensated primarily on the basis of credentials (the higher the degree, the higher the pay grade) and longevity.
Longevity is rewarded through the mechanism known as a “step increase.” Within a given pay grade, known as a GS level, there are steps. A GS-9, for instance, starts out at step one, then after a year receives an increase to step two, then after another year transitions to step three, and so on.
I think that the step increase is the opposite of what should happen. That is because I think that longevity is the wrong characteristic to reward in the case of government workers.

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Treasury fights to keep carbon emails secret

Treasury Department officials argued in court Monday that a conservative think tank is not entitled to more than 7,000 agency emails concerning a potential carbon tax, a move Sen. David Vitter (R., La.) called duplicitous and insulting.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) appealed the Treasury Department’s denial of its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the emails.

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Standard & Poor's Sued by U.S. for Fake Ratings

Standard & Poor's inflated its ratings of mortgage-backed securities, ignoring the inherent credit risks that brought the financial sector to its knees in 2008, the U.S. government says in Federal Court.
     Filed late Monday in the Central District of California, the complaint alleges that the McGraw Hill-owned credit-rating agency defrauded investors in structured financial products known as residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs).

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The Company Sen. Sleaze-Bob Menendez Keeps

Put on your shocked faces: Since my bipartisan call last week for Democratic women to join the Ladies Against Senator Sleaze-Bob movement, not a single Democratic woman in Washington has signed up. Here's the thing. The brewing scandal involving N.J. Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is not just a "sex scandal." It's a crony corruption scandal of sordid, soap operatic proportions.
Maybe if Menendez were a contestant on "The Bachelor," he'd finally command more widespread female attention. For their part, the Democratic women on Capitol Hill seem as uninterested in the alleged exploitation of underage prostitutes as they are in cozy donor deals, tax evasion and Medicare fraud.

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Prophets and Losses: Part II

People on both sides of tax issues often speak of such things as a "$300 billion tax increase" or a "$500 billion tax decrease." That is fine if they are looking back at something that has already happened. But it can be sheer nonsense if they are talking about a proposed increase or decrease in the tax rate.
The government can only raise or lower the tax rate. Whether the actual tax revenues that the government will collect as a result will go up or down is a matter of prophecy. And these prophecies have been far too wrong far too often to base national policies on them.

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Benghazi-gate: Questions that haven't been answered

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s lack of answers at her recent appearance before Congress on the attack on the U.S. operation in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, has prompted further concerns that the American public is no closer now to knowing what happened – more than four months after the event.
Next up will be Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is scheduled to testify Thursday.

CBO Releases Latest Budget Forecast: Hilarity Ensues

We won't spend any time discussing the accuracy of the "impartial" Congressional Budget Office: we already did that in August 2011 when we showed that back in 2001 the CBO forecast total 2011 public debt would be negative $2.4 trillion; instead the real number was positive $10.4 trillion, a delta of only $12.8 trillion. We also won't spend much time on the just released CBO headline grabbing projection that the 2013 budget deficit will be under $1 trillion, or $845 billion to be precise. Instead we will show the progression of the CBO's baseline forecasts for the period 2012 and onward. We will also note that the now-forecast 2013 budget deficit of $845 billion was supposed to be a deficit of just $585 billion one short year ago, a token 40%+ error rate, but in the immortal words of Hillary Clinton: "who cares." Of course we should note that if we apply the same forecast error to the 2013 budget, it means the real final deficit print will be $1.2 trillion - just a tad more realistic. Finally, we will certainly note that while the CBO believes 2013 may see the first sub $1 trillion deficit in 4 years, a number which will decline modestly in the coming years, the deficit then proceeds to grow and grow and grow, until we reach 2024, at which point the US deficit returns to $1 trillion once again... and never gets smaller. And this is the optimistic version.

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Fed Confirms It Was Hacked By Anonymous

As was reported on Monday, among the numerous files hacked and leaked in the past week by the Hacker group Anonymous was a database of some 4606 regional bankers together with copious amounts of confidential information, which according to Anonymous' twitter account was sourced at the very Federal Reserve, which in turn would imply that the Fed itself had been hacked.

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Do You Agree With White House that Drone Strikes are "Legal," "Ethical," and "Wise"? You Shouldn't.

Jay Carney, the chief spokesman for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, wants you to know that President Barack Obama's controversial use of drones isn't just sort-of borderline defensible. Nope:
"These strikes are legal, they are ethical and they are wise," Carney said. The government takes "great care" when deciding where and whom to strike, he added.

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Someone Just Leaked Obama's Rules for Assassinating American Citizens

For over a year now journalists, civil liberties advocates, and members of Congress have been asking the Obama administration to release internal memoranda from the Office of Legal Counsel justifying Obama's targeted killing program. While the White House continues to deny that such memos exist, NBC is reporting that it has acquired the next best thing: A secretish 16-page white paper from the Department of Justice that was provided to select members of the Senate last June.

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Unconstitutional Recess Appointments Extend beyond NLRB

On Jan. 4, 2012, while the Senate was in pro-forma session, President Obama announced that he had the power to declare the Senate in recess.  He then made three "recess appointments" to the NLRB and appointed Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

In the first significant resistance to the concentration of presidential power, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. disagreed.  The court unanimously said that the president exceeded his constitutional power and that the Senate was not in recess.  Further, the panel concluded that the Constitution allows recess appointments only during the once-yearly recess between sessions of Congress.  The court ruled that Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board are unconstitutional.  Similar CFPB litigation is in the pipeline.

You Got Your Tax Increase, Dems...Now Show Us the Money

The so-called fiscal cliff has been avoided, at least for the time being, and all it cost was a tax rate increase on the nation's most productive taxpayers.  Of course, conservatives are disappointed, but one also needs to appreciate that with all the Bush tax rate decreases set to expire automatically, Democrats had Republicans over a barrel.  That being the case, Republicans didn't do so badly, considering.  The higher rates that would have kicked in at incomes above $250,000 (for marrieds, $200,000 for singles) will instead apply only to incomes above $450,000 (for marrieds, $400,000 for singles).  And the formerly temporary Bush rates on incomes of $450,000 and below have now been made permanent.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Too Big To Fail Crimes Not Prosecuted

A 12 December 2012 article by Neil Barofsky discusses the failures of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in prosecuting crimes committed by key personnel in "too big to fail" financial institutions following the 2008 financial crisis.  Barofsky, a highly respected lawyer, served as the Special United States Treasury Department Inspector General overseeing the Troubled Assets Relief Program from 2009 until his resignation in February 2011.  Writing about the 11 December 2012 DOJ announcement that it had reached a $1.92 billion settlement with the financial giant HSBC, he asked "Why no criminal charges?  Why instead only some remedial measures and a 'historical' fine that can be measured in weeks -- not years -- of earnings? It certainly wasn’t for lack of evidence. No, instead the government determined that HSBC is not only too big to fail, but also too big to jail. As the New York Times first reported, even though there were strong voices within DOJ pushing for criminal charges, the big banks' best friends within the government (the Treasury Department, of course, and other unnamed regulators) were too fearful that an indictment could destabilize the global financial system. Yes, it's 2008 all over again. In the name of systemic stability, a megabank again escapes accountability for its actions, rescued by compliant officials." 

So, it is now official the government favors some criminals over others.  If you are in a special government protected class fines may be levied against the institution you work for but no criminal charges will be filed against those responsible for the commission of those crimes.  That means banking criminals within taxpayer bailed out too big to fail institutions can commit crimes without fear of being punished because the fines are paid from bank assets, not by the criminals who perpetrated the crimes.  When reduced to its most basic form the crimes banks committed throughout the housing debacle and the bailouts that followed were against millions of homeowners and American taxpayers.   This is the case for many of the banks involved in the financial scandal.  I should add that numerous government officials, members of the FED and regulators are just as guilty as the bankers.  The precedent is now set.  Future financial crises involving "too big to fail" institutions (and their government/FED enablers) means the people will once again be robbed while the government protects the robbers.  If you or I steal our neighbor's $300 outdoor grill we will suffer the full consequences of the law.  Its the same principle, but no matter, we are just the little people, only certain laws apply to them but all the laws apply to us.  The credibility of our nation's DOJ/legal system is shot.  Laws are now meaningless except when the government decides otherwise. 

Barofsky's article is at the first link.  The three following links expand the discussion.   

George Burns