Sunday, July 31, 2011
"Job Killing Tax Cuts" And A Guy Who Called Rush
By Austin Hill
What’s more important: the wellbeing of each individual citizen in America, or the wellbeing of government?
One of the reasons that the United States occupies a distinguished place in the world is because the American founders prioritized the wellbeing of the individual person. Government, the founders believed, should be the servant of individual people. This was a rather significant departure from the view that individual people should be the servant of their all-important government.
Unfortunately, many Americans today prioritize the wellbeing of government above all else. Take for example our President, Barack Obama.
Throughout the debate over our nation’s debt and deficit, President Obama has made it clear that politicians and bureaucrats must be permitted to go on spending money as they see fit. Any limitations on government borrowing or government’s ability to collect taxes will result in calamity, whereas borrowing and taxing will enable all the societal goodness that can exist.
The President’s vision defies historical fact. But here’s a quote from a press conference on July 16th, where he addressed the public pressure to curb government spending, that he and the Congress have been facing:
“….Some of these decisions are tough…but they don’t require us to gut Medicare or Social Security…they don’t require us to stop helpin’ young people go to college…they don’t require us to stop, you know, helpin’ families that have got a disabled child…they don’t require us to violate our obligations to our veterans…and they don’t require quote-un-quote job killing tax cuts…”
Much of this is simply rhetorical. Nobody has proposed “gutting” Medicare or Social Security. Nobody in Congress has suggested that college students or parents of disabled children should be abandoned.
But notice President Obama’s choice of words about taxation – “job killing tax cuts.” Nobody who has even a remote acquaintance with basic economic concepts actually believes that allowing private individuals to retain more of their own wealth decreases “job creation.” Indeed it’s just the opposite – the more wealth that individuals can keep for themselves, the more likely it is that they will invest money in business enterprises that will lead to employment opportunities. Yet, there he is, the leader of the free world, fussing over alleged “job killing tax cuts.”
This “government is everything” mindset doesn’t begin and end in Washington. Last week I happened to catch Rush Limbaugh engaged in conversation with “Carl,” a 24 year old caller to his talk show who was arguing that we all must sacrifice more (especially “rich” people) to keep the government goodness flowing. A portion of the conversation went like this: Carl: A tax cut depletes necessary revenue needed to keep the government operational and functioning.
RUSH: Carl, that's not what a tax cut is. A tax cut is you work for a living, and you are paid X. At the present, you have a tax rate -- let's just pick one, may not be accurate -- of 30%. Which means that 30% of every dollar you earn goes to Washington, but the money starts with you. It's yours. You earned it. You did what was necessary to be paid that money.
RUSH: If a tax cut happens, and your tax rate goes to 20%, then all of a sudden you get to keep 80¢ of every dollar you earned rather than 70¢ of every dollar you earned. How in the world is that spending?
Carl: Because when I spend that money out of my own paycheck, that's money that I spend on my own life. When the government spends my tax dollars, they're spending it on necessary infrastructure that's to keep the entire government running, to keep schools running…
RUSH: No... Wait a minute. So are you telling me that you believe that it is more important for government to spend whatever money it has than it is for you to spend whatever money you earn?
Carl: The government spending tax dollars benefits everybody, whereas me spending my own money benefits me…
Apparently Carl hasn’t been taught that when he spends his own money, it benefits the person who grows his food, manufactures his clothes, and so forth.
Rush’s conversation reminds me of a question I recently encountered while serving as a panelist at a university forum on economic growth. As a student took to the microphone and noted that she had read my bio on my website, she stated “your degrees are in literature and philosophy, and you’re not even an economist, so why do you think you have the right to speak about economics?”
I reminded the woman that in America, I have the right to speak about nearly anything; the university had the right to not invite me; and she had the right to not listen. I also suggested that the question about which is more important – individual people, or the government – is really a philosophical question more than anything else, so as a trained philosopher I was probably qualified to participate in the event.
President Obama will likely never embrace this “people before government” philosophy. But will America ever return to it?
To read another article by Austin Hill, click here.
Posted by Brett at 5:20 PM
What's Really Killing Carbon Capture and Storage?
By Paul Driessen
Carbon capture and storage could ensure abundant electricity from coal, while cutting the CO2 emissions “responsible for climate change.” Yet, barely two years after “a sense of determination and common cause” inspired the Obama Energy Department to launch CCS projects, industry is “pulling the plug.”
What could have gone wrong? Environmentalists had “heralded” the projects. “What’s killing carbon capture?” Bloomberg Businessweek wondered.
The economy is “weak,” its reporters suggested. US climate policy is “uncertain.” There is a “national retreat from the goal of reversing climate change,” largely because of energy industry lobbying against cap-and-trade legislation. The administration spent its political capital on Obamacare. Republicans took over the House. Utility regulators refuse to underwrite growing CCS costs with massive rate increases. A CCS storage site in Saskatchewan began bubbling up carbon dioxide.
All these factors played a role. But talk about ignoring inconvenient elephants. While his magazine staff scratched their heads, owner Michael Bloomberg was working to scuttle carbon capture and coal-fired power plants. His foundation gave Sierra Club $50 million to finance disinformation campaigns aimed at shutting down one-third of the nation’s coal-fired power plants by 2020.
That’s the same coal that generates 48-98% of the reliable, affordable electricity in 26 states. It enables US companies to compete internationally, keeps millions employed, produces billions in tax revenue, powers air conditioners that keep people comfortable and alive when outside temperatures hit 90-115, and allows even poor families to enjoy the best living standards in world history.
That’s the same billionaire Michael Bloomberg who, as mayor of New York City, wanted to install giant wind turbines on the city’s bridges and skyscrapers. This, he insisted, would get NYC off the blackout-prone Northeast power grid and reduce the threat of heat waves – like the ones back in 1976, 1954, 1936 and 1924, before climate change and heat waves stopped being natural and became “manmade.”
By financing Sierra Club’s anti-energy crusade, Hizzoner is making it infinitely harder for any company to justify investing another dime in CCS demonstration projects. The Department of Energy and Businessweek reporters may still support carbon capture. But Bloomberg, Sierra Club, NRDC and Lisa Jackson’s Environmental Protection Agency want it and coal-based electricity priced out of existence.
Frustrated that Congress refused to enact cap-tax-and-trade, President Obama unleashed EPA to promulgate thousands of pages of rules governing carbon dioxide, “toxic” pollutants that have already been reduced dramatically, “cross-state transport” of emissions, and other power plant operations. All tout health claims based on virtual reality computer models, cherry-picked research and illusory benefits. But the adverse health and economic impacts of the new regulations are significant, real … and ignored.
Management Information Services, Inc. calculates that the air toxics and cross-state rules alone will cost utilities upwards of $130 billion, to retrofit existing plants or demolish them and build replacements – plus some $30 billion a year for operations and maintenance. National Economic Research Associates says power companies will have to pay $184 billion through 2030, including $72 billion in immediate capital costs, to comply with the two regulations. The rules will send electricity prices skyrocketing 12-60% and cost six Midwestern manufacturing states a combined 3.5 million jobs and $42-82 billion in annual state GDP, says MISI.
Few companies can justify those costs for older power plants. No wonder they’ve lost interest in CCS experiments. Utilities will simply close dozens of generating units, representing tens of thousands of megawatts. Illinois alone will lose nearly 3,500 MW of reliable, affordable baseload electricity by 2014. The cross-state rule alone will prematurely shut down nearly 25% of America’s coal-based electricity generating capacity, says Texas Environmental Quality Commissioner Bryan Shaw. The United States could lose as much as 60,000 MW by 2017 – enough to power 60,000,000 homes and small businesses.
And all this is before considering the cost of removing plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide from power plant exhaust streams, under EPA “endangerment” rules. Once EPA implements those plans, utilities will have to spend billions more to design, build, install and operate CCS equipment, pipeline and storage facilities.
These “parasitic” systems produce no electricity. In the process of pulling CO2 out of the exhaust stream and sending it to underground reservoirs, they consume one-third or more of a power plant’s electricity output – at $60-85 per ton of CO2 captured – adding yet another 30-80% to family and business electricity rates. We will need far more power plants to generate the same net electricity.
If Americans need still more reasons for “retreating” on “climate change prevention,” consider this. There has been no measureable increase in average global temperatures since 1995. The Climategate emails proved that unscrupulous scientists were colluding with each other, vying to publish the most alarmist “findings,” and pressuring scientific journals not to publish articles by climate realists. IPCC headline-grabbing “climate disasters” turned out to be rank speculation, computer model hogwash or fraud.
Moreover, China, India and other countries are constantly building coal-fired power plants. Thus, even slashing US carbon dioxide emissions to zero will merely destroy American jobs, companies and living standards – making our current unemployment, debt and family misery indexes seem like paradise.
Businessweek barely touched on this. Nor did it ask Mr. Bloomberg, Sierra Club, Lisa Jackson or President Obama just how they intend to replace all this lost electricity. Their glib sound-bite answer is always “renewable energy,” especially wind. Just once, it would be nice if they offered some specifics.
* Replacing just one 600-MW coal-fired power plant with wind turbines would require a 50,000-acre wind farm, like the one at Fowler Ridge, Indiana, assuming it operates 24 hours a day, every day – which of course no wind farm ever will. And these guys are talking about replacing a lot of power plants.
* Providing “green” electricity to meet New York City’s needs would require blanketing the State of Connecticut with wind turbines, says Rochester U environmental science professor Jesse Ausubel.
* Replacing the third of US coal-fired generation that Bloomberg wants shut down would require over 50,000 monstrous offshore turbines, one every half-mile, in a five-mile-wide obstacle course along the entire Atlantic coastline, according to calculations by Power magazine editor-in-chief Robert Peltier.
All these wind turbines would need to be backed up 90-100% by (mostly) gas-fired generators that can surge almost instantaneously from “spinning reserve” to full power, whenever the turbines stop working – which they tend to do on the hottest days, when electricity demand is at its peak. That means we will need vast natural gas resources.
Fortunately, America has them, especially now that we know how to use horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to unlock our abundant conventional and shale gas deposits. Unfortunately, Bloomberg Obama & Comrades oppose onshore and offshore drilling and “fracking.” And few really suppose these energy “purists” will ever support all these land-hungry, scenery-scarring, raw material-intensive, bat and raptor-killing wind turbine installations.
Talk about cognitive dissonance. These guys need some serious psychological counseling. We seem to be governed by petulant ideologues who detest and obstruct every energy system that works – and support large-scale systems that don’t work only until someone actually proposes to install one. The problem is pervasive, growing and seemingly intractable. But the bottom line is simple.
If Bloomberg Obama & Comrades have their way, America faces a grim future: of rampant energy deprivation, unemployment, poverty, heatstroke, misery and death – at the hands of these ruling elites.
To read another article by Paul Driessen, click here.
Posted by Brett at 5:12 PM
Climate Change Alarmist Alarmed They're Wrong
For most of the last decade, alarmists have rung the global warming bell. Back in 2006, when Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, was released, it seemed folks were beginning to wake up to the alarm. Public concern regarding global warming peaked following the release of Gore’s movie and is now back down to pre-propaganda levels. Addressing the declining public alarm about global warming, Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, said, “The erosion in both public concern and public trust about global warming should be a clarion call for people and organizations trying to educate the public about this important issue.”
Ed, Al, et al, should be alarmed, as three different news items in one week add to the public’s growing skepticism about global warming.
Most notable is the announcement of an “ongoing internal investigation” into potential scientific misconduct and integrity issues of Charles Monnett—the Anchorage-based scientist with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, whose 2004 observation of presumably drowned polar bears in the Arctic helped to galvanize the man-made global warming movement. Monnett’s paper “Observations of mortality associated with extended open-water swimming by polar bears in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea” was released in 2006. (Interestingly, Al Gore started his for-profit company, Generation Investment Management in 2004 and released his film in 2006.)
The scientist who reported on dying polar bears gave the global warming movement its mascot—even though he wasn’t studying polar bears. His study was on whales. He saw dead polar bears. While working on the whales, he made some observations based on anecdotal evidence—not science. Monnett’s report is filled with words like: speculate, suggest, may, presume, apparent, almost, and could. The basic conclusion found in his polar bear mortality paper is that the dead polar bears were the result of high waves during a storm. On the last page of the report, he states: “Although a number of published papers have discussed implications of climate change on polar bears, to date, mortality due to swimming has not been identified as an associated risk.” Despite the statement that the “poster-child” of global warming propaganda isn’t drowning due to climate change, and regardless of the fact that there have not been increasing reports of downing polar bears (other than those mistakenly killed by the researchers), alarmists embraced the polar bear as the icon—making it into the star of An Inconvenient Truth.
But now, the integrity of the author of this foundational work of the global warming movement is under investigation—bringing into question the integrity of the entire theory.
On July 28, the Globe and Mail, updated a report that indicates that melting ice—which is supposedly causing the polar-bear drownings—is not caused by global warming. Instead, Canadian scientists found that ice is melting more quickly than the predictions and it is melting due to varied salt levels in the older ice versus the younger ice. Simon Boxall of the Catlin Artic Survey explained that it is a more complicated process than simple warming. “Because fresh meltwater is colder than seawater, that means relatively warm water is being forced upwards. And that may be part of the reason that sea ice is melting so much faster than anyone thought it would.”
In the same week that the misconduct investigation was announced and the sea ice report was updated, The University of Alabama issued a press release heralding new findings from NASA’s Terra satellite. In short, as reported in Forbes, “The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.” Another assumption bites the dust. Unfortunately, billions of dollars of taxpayer money have already been spent in questionable projects resulting in a campaign to promote expensive ethanol, wind, and solar energy to fix a problem that doesn’t appear to exist.
Add these news items—all from just one week—to the climategate scandal, the overall lack of warming, and other predictions from the alarmists that have not been borne out, and one has to wonder how the alarmists can still believe. More and more, the American public is hitting the snooze button, and it is the alarmists who should be alarmed. It looks like they will have to find a new clarion call—a new way to spread fear, and a new way to restrict energy and control freedom.
Marita Noon is the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc.
To read more about Global Warming Idiocy, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:44 PM
Email, Hate Mail and Comments from Readers
A big week for the unions, with racketeering charges coming for the SEIU.
We heard from Illinois Roy, who I think is really just Transport Secretary Ray Lahood in disguise.
Plus what week wouldn't be complete without someone comparing Republicans to Hitler?
Bob A. wrote: Just like America's Republican and Conservative leaders are working on, Hitler banned Unions and either jailed their leaders or executed them. That's why the Anti-American Corporate Masters and Owners of Republicans and Conservatives in the name of greed are moving millions of American jobs off shore to 3rd world countries where they can pay slave wages with no benefits and pollute to their hearts content.- in response to my column Obama Kills Another 500,000 Non-Union Jobs
I guessed I missed the part where Republicans banned unions and had people jailed or executed. But if they did that, then why would they need to move millions of jobs offshore for the Anti-American Corporate Masters?
What GOP governors did do was curtail the bargaining right for public employees, who have only relatively recently got the right to begin with. Imagine: FDRs New Deal didn’t include the right for public employees to publicly bargain. I thought he was a hero to liberals. I wonder why he didn’t include that in one of his reforms?
The GOP governors enacted refrom in part to stop abuses like the ones going on in Wisconsin where the union often is the only insurance provider for teachers for example. Some school districts were literally faced with paying the union higher healthcare premiums or laying-off teachers.
And we’re anti-teacher?
No, jobs are moving off-shore because the U.S. has a non-competitive corporate tax, the Obama administration has enacted more regulatory red tape than any previous administration even if you don’t include Dodd-Frank and Obamacare. So expect more jobs to move offshore.
John in OK wrote: An interesting little tidbit just came to my attention: Illegals are going back to Mexico because the economy is doing BETTER there! Mexico has a 4.9% unemployment rate (compared to Obama's 9.2%) and their economy is growing at 4 to 5% (compared to .4% for The One.)- in response to my column Obama Kills Another 500,000 Non-Union Jobs
Yes. Mexico’s economy is doing better than the USA’s. The truth is that advanced economies are doing better, mostly because they did not share the same exposure in the housing market that the U.S. has.
The reason? Because they didn’t have laws that force lenders to loan money to people who can’t afford to buy houses. That’s why the financial crisis has been so toxic. It’s affected the market for the single biggest asset that people can own typically.
And far from fixing that problem, Obama’s doubled down on it. As our contributor Bob Beauprez reports today:
Through the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, Attorney General Eric Holder is forcing banks to "relax their mortgage underwriting standards and approve loans for minorities with poor credit as part of a new crackdown on alleged discrimination," according to a published report by Investor's Business Daily after reviewing court documents.
Jim Wrote: Everything that should have happened following the 2008 mortgage crisis (brought on by the S&P and Moody AAA rating of Mortgage Backed Securities from junk home sales) will end up happening anyway, as it should have! Examples; insurance and investment banks will fail (bail out money recall), the 60 percent stock ownership of GM by the government will have to be sold and (GM will eventually go bankrupt), Obamacare or government forced healthcare will be trashed.- in response to my column Bernanke to Bail Out Obama Debt?
For socialism to work politically, it needs massive systemic failure. I think where Obama has been wrong has been in underestimating how robust an economy like the United States is. He things he owns us, but even after all that’s been done in the name of Obama, we have relatively free markets and free elections.
That’s why this next election is so important. We took the right step forward with the last election. But God help us if we don’t elect someone besides Obama in 2012
Mac wrote: Phony bologna writer John Ransom with no patriotism, no respect for country or our people...and surely not part of any healing, uniting efforts...shame on you.- in response to my column Racketeering Charges against SEIU; What Does Obama Know?
You want healing? Then get rid of Obamacare.
You want patriotism? Then enforce our laws and defend the border.
You want respect for our country and people? Then teach kids the real history of our country, instead of some union endorsed alternate history where white men are the villains and everyone else is a hero.
Alice wrote: I am REQUIRED to be a member of SEIU....I hate it.....what can I do?.... Nothing.....Ohio is not a right to work state. Some would say quit my job. That would not be a good thing in this economy. I am my only support.- in response to my column Racketeering Charges against SEIU; What Does Obama Know?
No you can’t quit your job, but you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m interested in hearing from you about your experiences with the SEIU.
Steve wrote: I like your articles, Mr. Ransom, but I don't understand how this is awkward phrasing. One drives around IN a car, one flies around IN a jet. If I'm missing something, I'd be glad of an explanation.- in response to my column The SEIU Pigs Fly
One flies on a plane not in one, unless one is a pilot.
It sounded silly to me in the commercial when I watched it. When you spend money on a big ad buy, you should have writers that can do better than make you look silly.
Illinois Roy wrote: There you go again. Unions are not anti-job at their core or anywhere else. What’s the three things unions have to do in order to be successful? Well I'll tell ya. Organize, organize, and organize. How are you going to recruit someone who doesn't have a job?.- in response to my column The SEIU Pigs Fly
Sure they are.
You’re talking about unions organizing for existing jobs. I’m talking about job creation, which unions, by definition, can not encourage unless they decide not to fulfill their obligation to the workers they represent.
The unions’ job is to get the biggest slice of the pie for their existing workers, not for workers that don’t even have jobs yet. And if they were to concede that a bigger workforce is better, then they’d just be representing the interests of the union not the dues-paying union worker who pays dues to get a bigger slice of the pie.
Unions are inherently anti-job. Period.
That's all for this week.
See you guys Monday,
To read another article by John Ransom, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:06 PM
Eric Holder's Newest Witch Hunt
The Department of Justice is executing a "Witch Hunt" against banks. Through the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, Attorney General Eric Holder is forcing banks to "relax their mortgage underwriting standards and approve loans for minorities with poor credit as part of a new crackdown on alleged discrimination," according to a published report by Investor's Business Daily after reviewing court documents.
The DOJ has already extorted $20 million for weak and poor credit loans from banks that "settled out of court rather than battle the federal government and risk being branded racist." The DOJ admits another 60 banks are already under "investigation." Holder's demanding the banks sign "non-disclosure" settlement agreements barring them from talking while allowing the DOJ to operate behind a curtain of secrecy.
The settlements already extracted from banks force them to make "prime-rate mortgages to low income blacks and Hispanics" with credit problems, even if they are living on welfare. According to IBD, the DOJ has ordered banks to advertise that minorities cannot be turned down for a loan "because they receive public aid, such as unemployment benefits, welfare payments or food stamps." No job; no problem!
In other words, the DOJ is forcing banks to make loans to people that they know don't qualify for them and likely won't be able to afford to repay them, which is precisely the kind of failed public policy that precipitated the financial collapse and recession in 2008.
The DOJ ordered Midwest BankCentre to provide "special financing" in the predominantly black areas of St. Louis for fixed prime rate conventional home loan financing for borrowers "who would ordinarily not qualify for such rates for reasons including the lack of required credit quality, income or down payment."
Eric Holder and the head of his Civil Rights Division, Tom Perez were both protégés of Janet Reno who launched a similar attack on banks in the early years of the Clinton Administration. That led to an expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act, CRA, and an explosion of forced lending to low-income, poor credit risk borrowers and the sub-prime mortgage industry that collapsed in 2008. Under the weight of massive guarantees of poor quality and defaulted mortgages, the federal government was forced to seize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To date about $150 billion has been required to bailout the two agencies to keep them solvent.
Like Reno, Holder and Perez are pushing their own social agenda, and ramifications to the financial sector and total economy are meaningless to them. They willingly pervert the law and leverage the full weight of the Justice Department to intimidate banks to accomplish their objectives.
Credit analysis and repayment ability of the borrower matter none to Holder and Perez. To them, if a minority is turned down for a loan, it must surely be evidence of racial discrimination. Perez has gone so far as to compare bankers to the Ku Klux Klan. The only difference between bankers and the KKK, he says, is that bankers discriminate "with a smile" and "fine print," but they are "every bit as destructive as the cross burned in a neighborhood."
Holder and Perez appointed another Janet Reno alumnus, Eric Halperin, as Special Counsel for Fair Lending. Previously, Halperin was a lobbyist for the leftist Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) where he pressed congress and the various agencies for continued relaxing of lending standards. Just how objective do you suppose this "special lending cop" is in applying the law?
CRL's website reveals their leftist perspective and agenda; "lenders have strong incentives to engage in unfair, deceptive practices and to aggressively market loans designed to fail." That's pure hooey, of course. Banks make a profit if loans are paid back. They sustain losses when loans fail. But, this phony theory of "disparate impact" or "red-lining" has been used by the left for decades to convince politicians and bureaucrats to force unsound, unsafe lending practices, the consequences of which have been manifested in the current economic mess.
The forced settlements have gone well beyond lending. The concessions that DOJ has imposed have even required banks to fund inner-city "community organizers." According to IBD, "lenders are being forced to bankroll Acorn clones that often exist just to shake them down for risky loans."
As DOJ strong arms banks to relax lending standards to satisfy the Obama Administration's racialist social agenda, other federal agencies are telling banks to do just the opposite. "Banks are damned if they do, damned if they don't," according to Ernest Istook, a Heritage Foundation fellow and former Member of Congress who is critical of DOJ for forcing "affirmative action lending."
The current economic crisis has stressed even the strongest of banks. Bank safety and soundness examiners from the Federal Reserve, the OCC, FDIC, OTS, and NCUA have put the fear of God into banks all across the nation demanding tightened credit standards. They have forced banks to increase capital, add to reserves for losses, mark down asset value of existing credit assets, and questioned virtually every loan the banks make. The CEO of one historically successful community bank told me a regulator demanded, "You will not make another commercial real estate loan." How that bank was supposed to meet the needs of the small businesses in the community while not making loans on commercial real estate was of no concern to the regulator.
The newspapers are full of reports that the government has seized and closed banks, removed management and boards of directors, placed banks on written agreements so tightly drafted that the government has essentially assumed management of the bank while the shareholders, directors and management are still stuck with full risk and liability.
Banks are selling, consolidating, and closing all across America, and going with them is the access to capital and importantly the personal relationship that historically has been vitally important to the success of our entrepreneurial free-market economy. Over 1400 bank offices have closed in the last two years, and many more are expected in 2011. In the wake are exasperated small businessmen wondering what to do next.
If you're confused by the mixed signals and heavy-handedness of government, how would you like to be a banker? Little wonder that banks are afraid to lend and many are almost in lock down. Politicians can talk all they want about getting capital and the economy moving again, but the uncertainty and mixed signals coming from Washington are big reasons why both lenders and borrowers are hiding out in their bunkers.
Thomas Lifson, writing in American Thinker about the DOJ's witch hunt, notes that bankers tend to be "a cowardly lot when confronted by the power of the State." Who can blame them when the government has the power to lock their doors and seize their assets?
Lipson goes on, "Nobody in a highly regulated business wants the government publicly charging racism. A comparatively small group within the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department has assumed the role of national bank regulators with the intent of favoring groups they support. It's a corruption of the legitimate role of government." Corruption may be an overly polite description.
Added to the bi-polar treatment from the DOJ and other regulators is the fact the very government that controls their every move is now a larger source of consumer credit that all of the private sector banks combined. Recently released Federal Reserve Bank data documents a remarkably rapid and substantial shift to the government as the new credit goliath.
As recently as 2006, the private banking sector provided $2 in outstanding home mortgages and consumer credit for every $1 of government financed loans. The data from the Fed, however indicates that government loans and guarantees now total $6.32 trillion, up from just $4.40 trillion at the end of 2006. For the same period, the private sector market share shrunk to $6.58 trillion from $8.48 trillion.
Curiously, the Fed doesn't count the half-trillion dollars worth of guaranteed student loans as part of the government's total. Historically, local banks originated and financed the Federal Family Education Loan program and the government insured the loans against any loss. But, in 2009 as part of the ObamaCare legislation, the private sector was completely eliminated and beginning in 2010 the government took total control of the entire program. When student loans are added, the government surpasses the entire private sector totals. Even without student loans, with the current trend the government is poised to eclipse the private lenders likely within the current quarter.
The almost overnight collapse of the market for mortgage backed securities as a result of the sub-prime lending debacle – largely precipitated by misguided federal policy forced on lenders – evaporated the private mortgage market, and left Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – that had been seized by the government – as the only game in town for home mortgages.
In the blink of an eye, the federal government went from the small player facilitator to the dominant force in the financial industry dwarfing the combined efforts of the entire private sector competitors. Additionally, the Top Dog in the credit market place is also the all-powerful regulator over the little dogs in the private sector wielding absolute and largely unaccountable authority over their every move. Through the Federal Reserve, that same government controls the price, the access, the circulation, and amount of the currency on which the rest of the market must be dependent. With a national debt of $14.5 trillion and growing, the largest supplier of loans in the world also has the world's greatest demand for credit sucking up massive amounts of available investment capital to finance the growing national debt before the rest of the market gets a chance.
In reality, the federal government during the last two years has essentially seized the banking industry. What the government doesn't do directly, it controls by regulation, intimidation, and by sheer force and power. Obama got in the car business, the health care business, the energy business, and he's got the government holding most of the cards in banking, too. That's the change; the hope is that he gets fired by the voters in 2012.
True-believing progressives like to flaunt their "transformed" definition of a Free-Market Economy: "The freedom of the government to compete with the private sector." They find a little humor in it, but it's far from funny. What has happened in barely two years has seriously altered the rules of the road, the natural order of things, even what it means to be American. Time will tell if these are permanent changes or just a significant deviation in our long-term course. The outcome rests with us: "We the people."
Posted by Brett at 3:33 PM
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Saturday, July 30, 2011
by Burt Prelutsky
For more years than I care to think about, a big lie about the riffraff in Congress is that if they weren’t so willing to sacrifice themselves for America, they could all be earning far more money in the private sector.
Well, for openers, they couldn’t, and prior to holding high office, they weren’t. I mean, if they weren’t influential members of the House, do you really believe that large corporations or major law firms would be looking to hire the likes of Barney Frank, Henry Waxman, Sheila Jackson Lee or John Conyers? Probably not even for the cleaning crew.
There is nowhere in the real world that anyone would pay these lunkheads $174,000 a year. The sole reason these people are getting more than minimum wage is that they didn’t have to worry about being hired, but merely getting elected.
In addition, as John Ransom, writing in Townhall magazines, reports, a study of stock market investments from 1985 to 2001 showed that members of Congress enjoyed a huge advantage over the rest of us because they knew which companies were in line to get government contracts and what new business regulations were about to be passed into law. But unlike, say, Martha Stewart, none of these creeps went to jail for getting rich the old-fashioned way; namely, through insider trading.
Then, in addition to the fiefdoms that we taxpayers subsidize, these self-righteous rodents vote themselves pay raises and make certain that ObamaCare doesn’t apply to them or their families. Even when one of them is caught committing a felony, he not only doesn’t go to the slammer, he stays in Congress, racking up seniority. When scofflaws like Charley Rangel and Barney Frank escape jail time by being subjected to house arrest, it unfortunately refers to the House of Representatives.
Anders Breivik (above right) is the monster who murdered 76 Norwegians. What astonished me is how quickly those on the Left, led by the NY Times, decided to identify the lunatic as a Christian. But that is what the Left also did with Timothy McVeigh, although there was nothing to suggest that either he or Breivik derived their inspiration from Jesus Christ or Christianity. On the other hand, compare that to the media’s reluctance to identify Major Nidal Malik Hasan as a Muslim even though he kept shouting “Alahu Akbar!” as he slaughtered 13 innocent people at Fort Hood, wounding 29 others, all in the name of Allah.
Breivik insists that the Oslo massacre was intended to send a message that Norway’s policy of throwing its doors open to Muslims was destroying the nation. Inasmuch as his victims weren’t Muslims, it would appear that his message was badly garbled in translation from Norwegian to loony babble.
Still, one can’t help thinking that if his stated intention had been to warn people about the danger of, let us say, global warming, Norway’s Nobel Peace Prize committee, notorious for having crowned the despicable likes of Le Duc Tho, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Yasser Arafat and Barack Obama, would have seriously considered him the man to beat for the 2011 Prize.
Finally, after months of watching Jay Carney run White House press conferences, it occurs to me that he has one of the tackiest jobs in America. He’s like a criminal defense attorney, except that not only does he have to lie on a daily basis for the same guilty defendant, but unlike, say, Robert Shapiro, Leslie Abramson or Jose Baez, he’s expected to fool an entire nation and not just 12 empty-headed jurors.
To read another article by Burt Prelutsky, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:26 PM
Friday, July 29, 2011
Conservatives, Let's Remember Who Our Political Enemy Is
By David Limbaugh
I hope that as we conservatives traverse these very difficult roads, we will always remember who the political enemy is. Our internecine fighting of late has given President Obama a bit of needed cover for his primary culpability in our nation's budget crisis.
Conservatives seem to be evenly divided on whether or not to support House Speaker John Boehner's budgetary plan to avoid a debt ceiling impasse. But the level of vitriol back and forth is increasing, with one side calling the other "crazy" and the other shouting back "RINOs," or Republicans in name only.
I believe both sides are acting honorably; they mostly agree on goals and disagree on tactics. But it's a bit more complicated than that. They also differ somewhat in their operating assumptions.
Those supporting the Boehner plan are convinced that if a deal is not done, our credit rating will be downgraded, financial chaos will ensue and Republicans will take the hit in 2012, greatly increasing Obama's re-election prospects. Opponents appear less convinced either that the nation will collapse upon a credit downgrade or that if it does, Republicans will take the sole political hit for it.
I wish we could muster half the concern over the national debt as we are over the debt ceiling. In a more rational world, the credit agencies would be threatening to downgrade our rating far more for our failure to address the debt than for our failure with the debt ceiling.
Opponents note that Obama, despite his fear-mongering to the contrary, has admitted that a ceiling impasse would not force the nation to default on its essential obligations. Moreover, even if we are downgraded, it might finally force us into action to address the national debt -- the real existential crisis facing the nation. Ever since the Troubled Asset Relief Program, we've been scurrying with outstretched fingers from one hole in the dike to the next, with virtually no progress on the looming debt itself. Opponents fear this continued deferral might be desensitizing us by creating the illusion that this nation is financially invincible and could continue on this course with impunity.
Opponents are also concerned that by agreeing to a bill that would include relatively minimal spending cuts upfront, do nothing in its first phase to address entitlements, still operate on baseline budgeting assumptions and delegate to a bipartisan group the task of defining specific cuts, we might actually be harming our chances for 2012 by dispiriting the conservative base and by arguably becoming co-owners of the current economic malaise, assuming Democrats would end up signing on to such a plan.
Finally, opponents wonder at what point supporters will draw the line if the rationale for supporting the Boehner plan is that it's the best deal we can possibly get with the Democrats and that if we don't do it, the GOP will be blamed. But we've heard the Democrats won't agree to pass it, so what else will we compromise on? A Senate-diluted version of Boehner's plan? A tax increase? Democrats can demagogue that issue with the best of them. Opponents believe that Republicans are bidding against themselves by offering one plan after another and have waited too long to force Obama into action. And while supporters assume the GOP will avert blame if it passes the Boehner bill, the Democrats are counting on just the opposite.
We've got to quit assuming that Republicans would take the sole hit for any impasse, especially because Democrats are mainly responsible for the delay. Let's have a little more faith in ourselves. After all, research shows that voters didn't really blame the GOP as much as has been suggested for the 1995-96 government shutdown. Regardless, Republicans could make better use of communications to marshal the support of the people to force congressional Democrats at least, if not Obama, to do the right thing.
The reality is that none of this would be occurring if this president were acting in good faith on our debt crisis. To this day, he has offered no plan. He has sat back and demanded, like a tyrant, that Congress bring plans to him, which it has, and he has cavalierly rejected them.
He refuses to take responsibility for his economy. He defiantly opposes meaningful spending cuts and entitlement reform and uses his bully pulpit to divide and scare the nation.
I believe that Boehner and proponents of his plan are acting honorably. Tons of conservatives I respect support the plan, including Paul Ryan and Allen West.
If a bill is passed, let's pray that we conservatives will wake up the very next day and start hammering away at the overarching debt crisis and do a better job of taking our case to the people. We are not one another's enemies.
In the meantime, let's also pray for Speaker Boehner and his colleagues, who are in the arena fighting this battle, even if we all don't agree with every action they take.
To read another article by David Limbaugh, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:19 PM
Obama's Exclusive George Soros Waivers
By Michelle Malkin
"Millionaires and billionaires," President Obama says derisively, must make more "sacrifices" and live by the same rules the rest of America lives by. But there are seven little words that will never appear on the White House teleprompter: "And that means you, too, George Soros."
For all his (and his wife's) bashing of greedy Wall Street hedge-fund managers, Obama has shown nothing but love to the world's most famous hedge-fund mogul. The feeling is mutual and deep(-pocketed).
Soros and his family shelled out $250,000 for Obama's inauguration, $60,000 in direct campaign contributions and untold millions more to liberal activist groups pushing the White House agenda. While the class warrior-in-chief assails conniving financiers who exploit loopholes and corporate titans who imperil the planet, he lets the Soros exemptions to his attack-the-rich rules slide like butter on a hot plate.
This week, for example, Soros announced he was "quitting" the hedge-fund industry. The headlines emphasized his decision to return about $750 million to outside investors (a drop in his $30 billion bucket of personal wealth). He's reconstituting the business that landed him on Forbes magazine's "wealthiest people" list as a "family" interest. But the move has "self-serving politics" written all over it.
Over the past year, Soros provided coveted support for Obama and the Democrats' Byzantine financial "reforms" under the sweeping Dodd-Frank law. He preached to financial publications around the world about the need for increased regulatory controls over his industry. And in November 2008, while paying obligatory lip service to concerns about going too far, he submitted a statement to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that recommended: "The entire regulatory framework needs to be reconsidered, and hedge funds need to be regulated within that framework."
Frameworks for thee, but not for he, however.
Under Title IV of Dodd-Frank, hedge funds were required to abide by new registration and reporting requirements in an attempt to better police systemic risk (not that the feckless Securities and Exchange Commission has ever been able to fulfill that mission). To evade the regulations, Soros and other firms have used a recently passed rule allowing so-called family offices to shield themselves from both registration and disclosure rules that would have subjected Soros Inc. to a new "Financial Stability Oversight Council."
Somehow, in touting its one-year anniversary last week, there was nary a peep about the myriad loopholes and de facto waivers being granted to Obama's powerful benefactors whose names start with "S" and end in "-oros."
GOP Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama called Soros' hypocrisy out, telling Reuters this week: "It appears that Mr. Soros talked up financial reform only to sell it short. Don't be surprised to see his fellow Wall Street financiers follow suit."
This comes on top of the Obama administration's $2 billion offering in 2009 to Brazilian state-owned offshore oil-drilling company Petrobras -- in which Soros and his management company own an $811 million stake.
Offshore drilling for they, but not for the rest of the USA. Membership in the self-exempting progressive billionaires' club has its privileges.
To read another article by Michelle Malkin, click here.
To read more about the Obama-Soros alliance, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:10 PM
Ideals Versus Realities
By Thomas Sowell
Many of us never thought that the Republicans would hold tough long enough to get President Obama and the Democrats to agree to a budget deal that does not include raising income tax rates. But they did -- and Speaker of the House John Boehner no doubt desires much of the credit for that.
Despite the widespread notion that raising tax rates automatically means collecting more revenue for the government, history says otherwise. As far back as the 1920s, Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon pointed out that the government received a very similar amount of revenue from high-income earners at low tax rates as it did at tax rates several times as high.
How was that possible? Because high tax rates drive investors into tax shelters, such as tax-exempt bonds. Today, as a result of globalization and electronic transfers of money, "the rich" are even less likely to stand still and be sheared like sheep, when they can easily send their money overseas, to places where tax rates are lower.
Money sent overseas creates jobs overseas -- and American workers cannot transfer themselves overseas to get those jobs as readily as investors can send their money there.
All the overheated political rhetoric about needing to tax "millionaires and billionaires" is not about bringing in more revenue to the government. It is about bringing in more votes for politicians who stir up class warfare with rhetoric.
Now that the Republicans seem to have gotten the Democrats off their higher taxes kick, the question is whether a minority of the House Republicans will refuse to pass the Boehner legislation that could lead to a deal that will spare the country a major economic disruption and spare the Republicans from losing the 2012 elections by being blamed -- rightly or wrongly -- for the disruptions.
Is the Boehner legislation the best legislation possible? Of course not! You don't get your heart's desire when you control only one house of Congress and face a presidential veto.
The most basic fact of life is that we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available. It is not idealism to ignore the limits of one's power. Nor is it selling out one's principles to recognize those limits at a given time and place, and get the best deal possible under those conditions.
That still leaves the option of working toward getting a better deal later, when the odds are more in your favor.
There would not be a United States of America today if George Washington's army had not retreated and retreated and retreated, in the face of an overwhelmingly more powerful British military force bent on annihilating Washington's troops.
Later, when the conditions were right for attack, General Washington attacked. But he would have had nothing to attack with if he had wasted his troops in battles that would have wiped them out.
Similar principles apply in politics. As Edmund Burke said, more than two centuries ago: "Preserving my principles unshaken, I reserve my activity for rational endeavors."
What does "rational" mean? At its most basic, it means an ability to make a ratio, as with "rational numbers" in mathematics. More broadly, it means an ability to weigh one thing against another.
There are a lot of things to weigh against each other, not only as regards the economy, but also what the consequences to this nation would be to have Barack Obama get re-elected and go further down the dangerous path he has put us on, at home and abroad. Is it worth that risk to make a futile symbolic vote in Congress?
One of the good things about the Tea Party movement is that it resisted the temptation to actually form a third political party, which has been an exercise in futility, time and time again, under the American electoral system.
But, if the Tea Party movement within the Republican Party becomes just a rule-or-ruin minority, then they might just as well have formed a separate third party and gone on to oblivion.
Writers can advocate things that have no chance at the moment, for their very writing about those things persuasively can make them possible at some future date. But to adopt the same approach as an elected member of Congress risks losing both the present and the future.
To read another article by Thomas Sowell, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:06 PM
New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism
By James Taylor | Forbes – Wed, Jul 27, 2011
NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.
Study co-author Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA's Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA's Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into alarmist computer models.
"The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show," Spencer said in a July 26 University of Alabama press release. "There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans."
In addition to finding that far less heat is being trapped than alarmist computer models have predicted, the NASA satellite data show the atmosphere begins shedding heat into space long before United Nations computer models predicted.
The new findings are extremely important and should dramatically alter the global warming debate.
Scientists on all sides of the global warming debate are in general agreement about how much heat is being directly trapped by human emissions of carbon dioxide (the answer is "not much"). However, the single most important issue in the global warming debate is whether carbon dioxide emissions will indirectly trap far more heat by causing large increases in atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds. Alarmist computer models assume human carbon dioxide emissions indirectly cause substantial increases in atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds (each of which are very effective at trapping heat), but real-world data have long shown that carbon dioxide emissions are not causing as much atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds as the alarmist computer models have predicted.
The new NASA Terra satellite data are consistent with long-term NOAA and NASA data indicating atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds are not increasing in the manner predicted by alarmist computer models. The Terra satellite data also support data collected by NASA's ERBS satellite showing far more longwave radiation (and thus, heat) escaped into space between 1985 and 1999 than alarmist computer models had predicted. Together, the NASA ERBS and Terra satellite data show that for 25 years and counting, carbon dioxide emissions have directly and indirectly trapped far less heat than alarmist computer models have predicted.
In short, the central premise of alarmist global warming theory is that carbon dioxide emissions should be directly and indirectly trapping a certain amount of heat in the earth's atmosphere and preventing it from escaping into space. Real-world measurements, however, show far less heat is being trapped in the earth's atmosphere than the alarmist computer models predict, and far more heat is escaping into space than the alarmist computer models predict.
When objective NASA satellite data, reported in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, show a "huge discrepancy" between alarmist climate models and real-world facts, climate scientists, the media and our elected officials would be wise to take notice. Whether or not they do so will tell us a great deal about how honest the purveyors of global warming alarmism truly are.
Posted by Brett at 10:52 PM
Anders Breivik Is No Christian Fundamentalist
By David Stokes
Many years ago, when I was finishing work on my graduate degree in political science in New York, I took a course on international affairs. The professor was a Muslim man from Beirut, Lebanon. One day for some reason he was talking about Pope John Paul II and he paused and looked over at me and asked: “What is the pope like personally?”
He assumed that because I was an Evangelical pastor, I must know the Roman Catholic Pope pretty well, because after all, we both professed the Christian faith. This was sort of like if I were to ask an elderly African-American friend of mine if he knew Lena Horne.
This kind of associate thinking is rather benign, but a more malignant type occurs when there is a broad-brush sweep such as the recent labeling of Anders Behring Breivik, the man who wrought murderous havoc in Norway, as a “Christian Fundamentalist.”
He isn’t. And in this case the media not only gets it wrong—they do so recklessly.
Christian Fundamentalists—of which there are multitudes in this country, are not murderous or delusional thugs. They are devout people who believe in the fundamentals of the historic Christian faith—although sometimes there are extra “fundamentals” thrown into the mix. They may be strict in their codes, dogmatic in their views, somewhat austere in lifestyle, and quite critical of popular culture (while observing it from a safe distance as diehard separatists), but they are not hate-filled murderers.
I come from a background of fundamentalism, and though I long ago shelved the nomenclature in favor of evangelical, I am still grateful for some of the important things I learned and hid in my heart. I may have moved (some Fundamentalists today likely consider me at least slightly apostate) from some of the cultural “isms” – we couldn’t go to movies or swim in pools with the opposite sex and had to dress like the Amish much of the time—but I reject any characterization of Christian Fundamentalists as dangerous people. In fact, they have been among the first and loudest to condemn that evil man in Norway.
Even a cursory reading of Breivik’s twisted tome yields clues hiding in plain sight that speak to him being anything but a Christian Fundamentalist. For example, on page 1,132 (the document weighs in at more than 1,500 ponderous pages), Breivik attacks the idea of “sola scriptura” (the Protestant Reformation doctrine that means scripture alone is the final authority in matters of faith and practice), whereas to Christian Fundamentalists (as well as most Evangelicals) the concept is very much foundational to the faith. But in Breivik’s view: “Scripture was never intended to be the believer's sole guide for all of faith and practice; for all that he believes and does.” Real Christian Fundamentalists would reject that.
In fact, the document clearly indicates that Breivik rejects “Protestantism” in favor of Roman Catholicism (“Only Rome is the true church” according to him). This is hardly the view of a Christian Fundamentalist, especially if you have any idea of the historic relationship between Fundamentalism and Catholicism. But then again, this evil man who says he admires Catholicism advocates abortion “if the baby has mental or physical disabilities (page 1,179).”
So to label Breivik as a Catholic and his murder of 76 people as somehow motivated by this would be just as egregious as calling him a Christian Fundamentalist.
Breivik is also routinely called a “conservative,” yet he spends an entire section challenging the notion that capitalism is a “force for freedom.” But pointing out these and numerous other clear differences between the mindset of Anders Behring Breivik and that of adherents to Christian Fundamentalism, Catholicism, or American-style Conservatism, seems to be lost on many who have already made up their minds.
Yep—this must be another case of a Christian nut behaving murderously, just like that Timothy McVeigh guy. Of course, McVeigh wasn’t actually a Christian (“Science is my religion,” he said) certainly not a Fundamentalist, either—but why split hairs? A fanatic is a fanatic, right?
Apparently not. This is America after all, a place where Christian Fundamentalists are regularly demonized, while clueless masses wear images of Che Guevera, whose firing squads murdered more than 10,000 people, on T-shirts or tattoos. To quote a line from a 1940 Three Stooges short, A Plumbing We Will Go: “This house has sho' gone crazy!”
What strikes me as incredible is the difference between how the Norway story has been handled by the mainstream media as compared to the Fort Hood massacre back in 2009. From the start, the Norway narrative has been all about a rush to judgment, the clear determination from the get-go to make this evil deed the work of a conservative Christian Fundamentalist, even though the facts hiding in plain sight clearly tell a very different story.
Yet when Nidal Malik Hasan committed his horrific crimes in November of 2009, the same outlets did their best to avoid any mention of his religion—even though multiplied eyewitness testimony had it that the guy was doing it all in the name of Islam.
Could it be that there is a fundamental (pun intended) bias in some media quarters against various expressions of the Christian faith? One that leads them to a tortured attempt to connect the incredible foulness of a murderous rampage to people who, in the opinion of media elites, take their belief system way too seriously?
Christian Fundamentalism may have its “challenges” and some things in its background that have never been fully dealt with or repudiated (I have written about some of this in my new book), but no real Christian Fundamentalist would advocate or carry out such evil violence.
Sure, the media will parade the usual suspects, McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, George Tiller, James Wenneker Von Brunn, Andrew Joseph Stack—and now Anders Breivik, but even an amateur sleuth can find glaring clues that these losers had no connection to the faith or the faithful.
In a very real sense, when the mainstream media seeks to draw a straight line from the horror in Norway to Christian Fundamentalists here, they are ironically playing the same kind of conspiracy-theory-guilt-by-association game as the one chronicled on the pages of Anders Breivik’s disgusting manifesto.
Posted by Brett at 10:43 PM
Gutting the Military, Indeed!
By Brian Birdnow
This past Monday, (July 25th) in these same pages, the estimable Lurita Doan outlined the Obama Administration’s intention to reduce defense expenditures by nearly one trillion dollars, as the President comes to realize the financial catastrophe he has created, however belatedly. A trillion dollar defense reduction would entail the scrapping of the Navy’s next generation of nuclear powered aircraft carriers and the effective cancellation of the US Space program, among other indignities. Miss Doan rightly concludes that this plan amounts to the Obama Administration “…gutting the military.” Miss Doan is quite correct, but she overlooks the damage the military does to itself by embracing every politically correct folly that comes ambling down the pike.
In news reports last week, the US Navy announced, with appropriate fanfare, that they will soon break one of the last remaining gender barriers in the American military establishment. They are training a cadre of 24 female officers for duty on combat submarines. Yes, the sea service has surrendered to the endless surge of politically correct propaganda, and will now place female officers (with enlisted personnel surely soon to follow) on combat subs, heedless of the damage to unit discipline and cohesion caused by this radical break with tradition. The truth that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link is being ignored in the headlong rush to placate the feminists and embrace this latest politically correct foolishness.
Despite the common sense opposition of many traditionalists like veterans groups, the Navy League, some active duty personnel, and Navy-Wives groups, the Navy will go ahead with the plans, which are already well advanced. The initial class of 24 women will be dispersed among four submarines, where they will be outnumbered by men, at a 25-1 ratio. The females will begin reporting to their assigned submarines in late November and early December.
Will the subs be ready to receive their new officers? That may be the material point, now in question. Even the largest submarines sport corridors barely wide enough for two sailors to pass through without contact. The Navy will deposit six women into the cramped quarters of each submarine, berth the women in a single stateroom, and will divide the work shifts, so that women will be assigned to each of the sub’s two rotating crews. The Navy’s official spokespeople have remained closemouthed, understandably, about bathroom and shower arrangements for the ladies.
Needless to say, this new test is fraught with difficulties. In addition to basic privacy issues raised by placing women in a formerly all-male environment, the great minds that divined this experiment bump up against the fact that submarines cannot be easily reconfigured to accommodate women. The privacy issues multiply when one considers the stark reality of co-ed submarines during six-month undersea periods. Many Navy wives worry that the extremely close contact during these deployments will facilitate romantic liaisons between male and female sailors, resulting in all-to-familiar “complications” ashore and back home. Few current military officials will comment on such questions, but many senior retired officers readily admit the potential scope of these problems.
What will happen when this policy is fully implemented? I say “when” this policy is implemented, because the Navy seems to have no plans to back off, come what may! They do intend to ram this policy change through, like a bull in a china shop, regardless of the effect on readiness and unit cohesion. There will, however, exist little audible dissent. In fact, the public will be informed that the new policy is “working very well.” Certain highly placed personages in the Navy have already decided that the new policy will work very well, and no matter how badly this turns out, it will be reported to have worked very well. Officers who disagree with the official assessment will be advised to hold their tongues, or to submit their resignations. This type of scenario has played itself out before (Many TH readers will remember the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” battle of the 90s) and will undoubtedly take place again. Certainly, the Fraternity of Arms has the right to demand that officers support official policy. The sea service is a hierarchical institution and it is imperative that junior personnel not undermine the decisions made by their superiors.
So, in conclusion, we must make ready for the co-ed submarine navy. Once again, military readiness and excellence are sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. This is a sign of the times and one would expect no less from the likes of SecDef Leon Panetta and President Barack Obama. Still, to paraphrase Lurita Doan, it is a case of gutting the military, indeed!
To read another article on this same subject, click here.
Posted by Brett at 10:27 PM
Breivik and Totalitarian Democrats
By Caroline Glick
Last Friday morning, Anders Breivik burst onto the international screen when he carried out a monstrous act of terrorism against his fellow Norwegians. Breivik bombed the offices housing the Norwegian government with the intention of murdering its leaders. He then traveled to the Utoya Island and murdered scores of young people participating in a summer program sponsored by Norway's ruling party.
In all, last Friday Breivik murdered 76 people. Most of them were teenagers.
Although Breivik has admitted to his crimes, there are still some important questions that remain unanswered. For instance, we still do not know if he acted alone. Breivik claims that there are multiple cells of his fellow terrorists ready to attack. But so far, no one has found evidence to support his claim. We also still do not know if - for all his bravado - Breivik was acting on his own initiative or as an agent for others.
Finding the answers to these, and other questions are is a matter of the highest urgency. For if in fact Breivik is not a lone wolf, then there is considerable danger that additional, perhaps pre-planned attacks may be carried out in the near future. And given the now demonstrated inadequacy of Norway's law enforcement arms in contending with terror attacks, the prospect of further attacks should be keeping Norwegian and other European leaders up at night.
Despite the dangers, very little of the public discourse since Breivik's murderous assault on his countrymen has been devoted to these issues. Rather, the Norwegian and Western media have focused their discussion of Breivik's terrorist attack on his self-justifications for it. Those self-justifications are found mainly in a 1,500 page manifesto that Breivik posted on the Internet.
Some of the material for his manifesto was plagiarized from the manifesto written by Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, whose bombing campaign spanned two decades and killed 3 and wounded 23. Kaczynski got the New York Times and the Washington Post to publish his self-justifications in 1995 by threatening to murder more people if they refused.
Breivik's manifesto has become the center of the international discussion of his actions largely as a result of the sources he cited.
Kaczynski, like his fellow eco-terrorist Jason Jay Lee, who took several people hostage at the Discovery Channel in Maryland last September, was influenced by the writings of former US vice president Al Gore. A well worn copy of Gore's book Earth in the Balance was reportedly found by federal agents when they searched Kaczynski's cabin in Montana in 1996. Lee claimed that he was "awakened" to the need to commit terrorism to save the environment after he watched Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth."
Aside from Kaczynski, (whom he plagiarized without naming), certain parts of Breivik's manifesto read like a source guide to leading conservative writers and bloggers in the Western world. And this is unprecedented. Never before has a terrorist cited so many conservatives to justify his positions.
Breivik particularly noted writers who focus on critical examinations of multiculturalism and the dangers emanating from jihadists and the cause of global jihad. He also cited the work of earlier political philosophers and writers including John Stuart Mill, George Orwell, John Locke, Edmund Burke, Winston Churchill and Thomas Jefferson.
Breivik's citation of conservative writers, (including myself and many of my friends and colleagues in the US and Europe), has dominated the public discussion of his actions. The leftist dominated Western media - most notably the New York Times -- and the left wing of the blogosphere have used his reliance on their ideological opponents' arguments as a means of blaming the ideas propounded by conservative thinkers and the thinkers themselves for Breivik's heinous acts of murder.
For instance, a front page news story in the Times on Monday claimed, "The man accused of the killing spree in Norway was deeply influenced by a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam."
The reporter, Scott Shane named several popular anti-jihadist blogs that Breivik mentioned in his manifesto. Shane then quoted left-leaning terrorism expert Marc Sageman who alleged that that the writings of anti-jihad authors "are the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged."
That is, Shane quoted Sageman accusing these writers of responsibility for Breivik's acts of murder.
Before considering the veracity of Sageman's claim, it is worth noting that no similar allegations were leveled by the media or their favored terror experts against Gore in the wake of Lee's hostage taking last year, or in the aftermath of Kaczynski's arrest in 1996. Moreover, Noam Chomsky, Michael Scheuer, Stephen Walt and John Mearshimer, whose writings were endorsed by Osama Bin Laden, have not been accused of responsibility for al Qaeda terrorism.
That is, leftist writers whose works have been admired by terrorists have not been held accountable for the acts of terrorism conducted by their readers.
Nor should they have been. And to understand why this sort of guilt-by-readership is wrong, it is worth considering what separates liberal democracies from what the great Israeli historian Jacob Talmon referred to as totalitarian democracies. Liberal democracies are founded on the notion that it is not simply acceptable for citizens to participate in debates about the issues facing their societies. It is admirable for citizens in democracies to participate in debates - even heated ones -- about their government's policies as well as their societies' cultural and moral direction. A citizenry unengaged is a citizenry that is in danger of losing its freedom.
One of the reasons that argument and debate are the foundations of a liberal democratic order is because the more engaged citizens feel in the life of their societies, the less likely they will be to reject the rules governing their society and turn to violence to get their way. As a rule, liberal democracies reject the resort to violence as a means of winning an argument. This is why, for liberal democracies, terrorism in all forms is absolutely unacceptable.
Whether or not one agrees with the ideological self-justifications of a terrorist, as a member of a liberal democratic society, one is expected to abhor his act of terrorism. Because by resorting to violence to achieve his aims, the terrorist is acting in a manner that fundamentally undermines the liberal democratic order.
Liberal democracies are always works in progress. Their citizens do not expect for a day to come when the debaters fall silent because everyone agrees with one another as all are convinced of the rightness of one side. This is because liberal democracies are not founded on messianic aspirations to create a perfect society.
In contrast, totalitarian democracies - and totalitarian democrats -- do have a messianic temperament and a utopian mission to create a perfect society. And so its members do have hopes of ending debate and argument once and for all.
As Talmon explained in his 1952 classic, The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy, the totalitarian democratic model was envisioned by Jean Jacques Rousseau the philosophical godfather of the French Revolution. Rousseau believed that a group of anointed leaders could push a society towards perfection by essentially coercing the people to accept their view of right and wrong. Talmon drew a direct line between Rousseau and the totalitarian movements of the twentieth century - Nazism, fascism and communism.
Today, those who seek to silence conservative thinkers by making a criminal connection between our writings and the acts of a terrorist are doing so in pursuit of patently illiberal ends to say the least. If they can convince the public that our ideas cause the mass murder of children, then our voices will be silenced.
Another aspect of the same anti-liberal behavior is the tendency by many to pick and choose which sorts of terrorism are acceptable and which are unacceptable in accordance with the ideological justifications the terrorists give for their actions. The most recent notable example of this behavior is an interview that Norwegian Ambassador Svein Sevje gave to Maariv on Tuesday. Maariv asked Sevje whether in the wake of Breivik's terrorist attack Norwegians would be more sympathetic to the victimization of innocent Israelis by Palestinian terrorists.
Sevje said no, and explained, "We Norwegians view the occupation as the reason for terror against Israel. Many Norwegians still see the occupation as the reason for attacks against Israel. Whoever thinks this way, will not change his mind as a result of the attack in Oslo."
So in the mind of the illiberal Norwegians, terrorism is justified if the ideology behind it is considered justified. For them it is unacceptable for Breivik to murder Norwegian children because his ideology is wrong. But it is acceptable for Palestinians to murder Israeli children because their ideology is right.
As much as statements by Sevje, (or Gore, Walt, Mearshimer, Scheuer or Chomsky), may anger their ideological adversaries, no self-respecting liberal democratic thinker would accuse their political philosophies of inspiring terrorism.
There is only one point at which political philosophy merges into terrorism. That point is when political thinkers call on their followers to carry out acts of terrorism in the name of their political philosophy and they make this call with the reasonable expectation that their followers will fulfill their wishes. Political thinkers who fit this description include the likes of Muslim Brotherhood "spiritual" leader Yousef Qaradawi, Osama Bin Laden, Hamas founder Sheikh Yassin, al Qaeda in Yemen leader Anwar Awlaki and other jihadist leaders.
These leaders are dangerous because they operate outside of the boundaries of democratic polemics. They do not care whether the wider public agrees with their views. Like Mao -- who murdered 70 million people -- they believe that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun not out of rational discourse.
Revealingly, many not particularly liberal Western democracies have granted these terrorist philosophers visas, and embraced them as legitimate thinkers. The hero's welcome Qaradawi enjoyed during his 2005 visit to Britain by then London mayor Ken Livingstone is a particularly vivid example of this practice. The illiberal trajectory British politics has veered onto was similarly demonstrated by the government's 2009 refusal to grant a visa to Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders. Wilders has been demonized as an enemy of freedom for his criticism of Islamic totalitarianism.
The Left's attempts to link conservative writers, politicians and philosophers with Breivik are nothing new. The same thing happened in 1995, when the Left tried to blame rabbis and politicians for the sociopathic Yigal Amir's assassination of then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. The same thing happened in the US last winter with the Left's insistent attempts to link the psychotic Jared Loughner who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her constituents, with Governor Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.
And it is this tendency that most endangers the future of liberal democracies. If the Left is ever successful in its bid to criminalize ideological opponents and justify acts of terrorism against their opponents, their victory will destroy the liberal democratic foundations of Western civilization.
To read another article by Caroline Glick, click here.
Posted by Brett at 10:22 PM
Obama Assaults Gun Freedoms
Mainstream media ignores the important stories, hypes nonsense
by Kathryn M. DeLong
Obama may spread his wings, but he is hostile to Americans bearing arms.
The United States’ economic woes have taken the forefront in the mainstream media, overshadowing foreign affairs and social issues back home. The onslaught of media coverage over the debt crisis has pushed matters of civil liberties to the back of the minds of many Americans.
If President Obama somehow manages to pull our nation out of economic despair, the Democratic Party will inevitability use this accomplishment as the crux to his reelection campaign. Leftists will misleadingly market Obama as the man who saved the U.S. economy. However, there are other substantial issues that the Democrats will surely fail to evoke – like the Obama administration’s assault on the 2nd amendment.
Obama has tried to promote himself as someone who respects the 2nd amendment, but his actions lead us to believe otherwise. Obama’s voting record, prior to assuming the presidency, exposes him as a typical, anti-gun left-winger.
In 2000, then a member of the Illinois State Senate, Obama cosponsored a bill that would limit handgun purchases to one per month. Ultimately, the bill did not pass.
In 2004, Obama voted against a bill – not once, but twice – in the Illinois Senate that would have granted citizens more legal freedom in using firearms as a means of self-defense during home invasions.
Furthermore, in 2007, during the NAACP Presidential Primary Forum, Obama commented that in a seven-month period, 34 public school students in Chicago had been gunned down and killed. He went on to say that, in order to amend the situation, current gun laws must be enforced. I think this statement speaks for itself.
Since we live in a world where the mainstream media dictates what issues are most important, the Obama administration’s anti-gun stance has, for the most part, gone under the radar.
Recently, the Murdoch hacking scandal has received a great deal of media attention. In fact, CNN and Fox News both streamed the entirety of the Murdochs’ testimonies in British Parliament – essentially uninterrupted and commercial-free. It only makes sense that if the American media is this obsessed with an affair occurring overseas, they should raise the same level of awareness regarding events that are taking place in our own country. Paradoxically, this is not the case. For example, coverage of Project Gunrunner in the mainstream media has been virtually nonexistent.
It simply does not make sense that American cable news stations broadcasted the Murdoch testimonies for an entire day, but ignored the U.S. congressional hearing on Operation Fast and Furious.
President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have both claimed that they had no prior knowledge of the corruption behind Operation Fast and Furious, headed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. However, it has come to light that federal stimulus dollars actually funded the gun trafficking scheme gone wrong, rendering it completely unacceptable for the feds to feign ignorance.
Now, rather than holding a federal bureaucracy accountable for its lack of responsibility and morality, the Obama administration is using the incident to promote harsher gun control policies. This, by itself, is enough proof that Obama had knowledge of BATFE’s plans before they were carried out. That is to say, the reason for carrying out Operation Fast and Furious was to provide the feds with some sort of twisted justification for restricting gun rights. Fortunately, those who have informed themselves on this controversy are able to see past the government’s attempt to deceive the public.
The mainstream media transformed the Casey Anthony trial into a public phenomenon, but refuses to mention the United Nation’s radical and dangerous Agenda 21, which was first released in 1992. The UN promotes Agenda 21 as an international charter for “sustainable development”. However, if this plan is implemented in full, some have speculated that state sovereignty will ultimately cease to exist.
This brings us to the United Nations Small Arms Treaty. It seems as though, if enacted, this international treaty would work to advance the goals of Agenda 21. Under the Small Arms Treaty, which the Obama administration has publicly voiced its support for, 2nd amendment rights would be severely curbed. The U.N. claims that, in order to prevent armed conflicts, national governments must work in concert to decrease the number of guns worldwide. Ultimately, this would lead to confiscation of firearms – a complete breach of American civil liberties.
The media’s refusal to cover these issues forces individuals to investigate them on their own. The Obama administration has loads of dirty laundry that will never surface within the narrow scope of the mainstream media. An uninformed public is a potentially dangerous public, especially in regards to civil liberties.
The issues that the mainstream media seems to be most avoidant of are probably those that we should be most concerned about. The best defense is accompanied by information and undisputed facts.
Gun rights and what we have to lose
The Texas woman in the video is worth watching/hearing. I don't know how she kept her composure retelling her story. Her perspective and attitude impressed me. Her final words were right on, in my opinion.
How sad this Texas girl had the encroachment on her second amendment rights so graphically illustrated. Watch the honorable senator from New York getting a little uncomfortable in his chair.
The gun banners are absolutely speechless as this little Texas gal chews 'em up and spits em out. She knows what the 2nd amendment is really all about.
Here's a video you won't forget anytime soon!! She didn't cry, although she came close, and she gave those around her a reality check they dearly needed.........
Watch it....... You'll be glad you did.
It's closer to reality than we think!
You're sound asleep when you hear a thump outside your bedroom door. Half-awake, and nearly paralyzed with fear, you hear muffled whispers. At least two people have broken into your house and are moving your way. With your heart pumping, you reach down beside your bed and pick up your shotgun. You rack a shell into the chamber, then inch toward the door and open it. In the darkness, you make out two shadows.
One holds something that looks like a crowbar. When the intruder brandishes it as if to strike, you raise the shotgun and fire. The blast knocks both thugs to the floor. One writhes and screams while the second man crawls to the front door and lurches outside. As you pick up the telephone to call police, you know you're in trouble.
In your country, most guns were outlawed years before, and the few that are privately owned are so stringently regulated as to make them useless. Yours was never registered. Police arrive and inform you that the second burglar has died. They arrest you for First Degree Murder and Illegal Possession of a Firearm. When you talk to your attorney, he tells you not to worry: authorities will probably plea the case down to manslaughter.
"What kind of sentence will I get?" you ask.
"Only ten-to-twelve years," he replies, as if that's nothing. "Behave yourself, and you'll be out in seven."
The next day, the shooting is the lead story in the local newspaper.
Somehow, you're portrayed as an eccentric vigilante while the two men you shot are represented as choirboys. Their friends and relatives can't find an unkind word to say about them. Buried deep down in the article, authorities acknowledge that both "victims" have been arrested numerous times. But the next day's headline says it all: "Lovable Rogue Son Didn't Deserve to Die." The thieves have been transformed from career criminals into Robin Hood-type pranksters. As the days wear on, the story takes wings. The national media picks it up, then the international media. The surviving burglar has become a folk hero.
Your attorney says the thief is preparing to sue you, and he'll probably win. The media publishes reports that your home has been burglarized several times in the past and that you've been critical of local police for their lack of effort in apprehending the suspects. After the last break-in, you told your neighbor that you would be prepared next time. The District Attorney uses this to allege that you were lying in wait for the burglars.
A few months later, you go to trial. The charges haven't been reduced, as your lawyer had so confidently predicted. When you take the stand, your anger at the injustice of it all works against you. Prosecutors paint a picture of you as a mean, vengeful man. It doesn't take long for the jury to convict you of all charges. The judge sentences you to life in prison.
This case really happened.
On August 22, 1999, Tony Martin of Emneth, Norfolk , England, killed one burglar and wounded a second. In April, 2000, he was convicted and is now serving a life term.
How did it become a crime to defend one's own life in the once great British Empire?
It started with the Pistols Act of 1903. This seemingly reasonable law forbade selling pistols to minors or felons and established that handgun sales were to be made only to those who had a license. The Firearms Act of 1920 expanded licensing to include not only handguns but all firearms except shotguns.
Later laws passed in 1953 and 1967 outlawed the carrying of any weapon by private citizens and mandated the registration of all shotguns.
Momentum for total handgun confiscation began in earnest after the Hungerford mass shooting in 1987. Michael Ryan, a mentally disturbed Man with a Kalashnikov rifle, walked down the streets shooting everyone he saw. When the smoke cleared, 17 people were dead.
The British public, already de-sensitized by eighty years of "gun control", demanded even tougher restrictions. (The seizure of all privately owned handguns was the objective even though Ryan used a rifle.)
Nine years later, at Dunblane, Scotland, Thomas Hamilton used a semi-automatic weapon to murder 16 children and a teacher at a public school.
For many years, the media had portrayed all gun owners as mentally unstable, or worse, criminals. Now the press had a real kook with which to beat up law-abiding gun owners. Day after day, week after week, the media gave up all pretense of objectivity and demanded a total ban on all handguns. The Dunblane Inquiry, a few months later, sealed the fate of the few sidearm still owned by private citizens.
During the years in which the British government incrementally took away most gun rights, the notion that a citizen had the right to armed self-defense came to be seen as vigilantism. Authorities refused to grant gun licenses to people who were threatened, claiming that self-defense was no longer considered a reason to own a gun. Citizens who shot burglars or robbers or rapists were charged while the real criminals were released.
Indeed, after the Martin shooting, a police spokesman was quoted as saying,” We cannot have people take the law into their own hands."
All of Martin's neighbors had been robbed numerous times, and several elderly people were severely injured in beatings by young thugs who had no fear of the on sequences. Martin himself, a collector of antiques, had seen most of his collection trashed or stolen by burglars.
When the Dunblane Inquiry ended, citizens who owned handguns were given three months to turn them over to local authorities. Being good British subjects, most people obeyed the law. The few who didn't were visited by police and threatened with ten-year prison sentences if they didn't comply. Police later bragged that they'd taken nearly 200,000 handguns from private citizens
How did the authorities know who had handguns? The guns had been registered and licensed. Kinda like cars.
WAKE UP AMERICA, THIS IS WHY OUR FOUNDING FATHERS PUT THE SECOND AMENDMENT IN OUR CONSTITUTION
"..it does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.."
To read another article on this subject, click here.
Posted by Brett at 10:04 PM