Archive for November, 2011 | Monthly archive page

Reality Check: Horses and Slaughter

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

It's Time to Face Reality

I’ve had horses for a long time.  I love horses.  It’s fair to say that I know a good deal about them, and have successfully bred and raised them, and also taken mercy on horses by relieving them of undue suffering.  It’s also fair to say that one of the things I have learned in all my time with horses is that some people, most of whom have never owned a horse, have no idea what is entailed in the ownership, maintenance, and medical demands of a horse.  Too many people have a “happy-talk” view of horses that does not match reality.  Too many people believe that they shouldn’t ever be slaughtered, because it’s a fate too cruel to contemplate as some of the same people wolf down hamburgers or buckets of chicken.

The Congress has finally lifted an effective ban enacted five years ago on the slaughter of horses for human consumption here in the US, and the lifting  of this folly in law will finally permit some hope for an industry that has suffered grave harm because some in government have been listening to the well-meaning, but uninformed folks who believe that horses should be exempt from the same fate as other livestock.  Some of you are going to hate me after this post, but so be it.  If you’ve not yet tackled this truth, today is your day.  The truth is that with the glut of unwanted horses now flooding the market, all horses are suffering as a result.  More are being abandoned, and more are slowly starving, because owners have been deprived of one method of disposal because some people don’t like it.

People talk about the cruelty of horse slaughter, as if it is any more cruel for a horse than for a cow, pig, or sheep.  Newsflash:  It’s no different.  If you like bacon dressing your plate of eggs and hash, you’d better grip reality.  Slaughter is what it is.  I make no excuses for it, because it is necessary.  If you’re one of those “vegans” who believe that eating all meat is bad, congratulations on your philosophical consistency, but at the same time, I offer you my condolences since growing children need meat proteins and if you’re not providing them to children in your care because of your beliefs on slaughter or meat, I think you’re a blooming idiot.  The simple fact of the matter is that humans need meat in their diets.  You can murmur and whine all you like, and you can call me names until you’re blue in the face, but our nature is not that of a herbivore. Nature didn’t give you incisors to slice through veggies.  Deal with it.

Now as to the particulars of horses, let’s get something straight:  Long before mankind saddled up on horseback, early man was rubbing his belly after a fine meal of horse meat.  Horse is leaner than beef from cattle, and is every bit as nutritious.  In World War I, when most of the world still fought wars on foot and on horseback, the United States sent more than a million head of horse to Europe to fight the war.  None came home.  Most of the surviving horses went to feed a starving continent in the aftermath of that war, and millions of Frenchmen and Germans, among others, owed their survival to a diet of horse stew.  This was less than one-hundred years ago, meaning there are many still around who remember those days.  Check in with them before condemning horse slaughter.  It wasn’t only the meat that the Europeans used.  As in any such calamitous circumstance, almost every part of the horse was used, including the coats, from which winter clothing was made.  My wife still has a coat passed down to her through generations that finds its origin in that period.  She doesn’t wear it, but it remains as a reminder of her heritage and how her family like so many in Europe were forced to survive.

Having covered the purely practical questions, let’s move on to the economic ones.  Horse slaughter fulfills a vital function in the horse industry:  It puts to good use animals that would otherwise be dumped in landfills or buried in massive pits.  As it stands, we have a surplus of horses since the prohibition on federal funding of inspections of horses slaughtered for human consumption enacted through Congress five years ago.  It has long been true that excess horses found their way to slaughter because only the most useful animals are kept.  There are a few organizations that run horse rescue operations, but the truth is that those subsist almost entirely on charity, and in these hard economic times, they’ve been suffering, and a few have even gotten themselves into trouble, unable to feed or care for the growing number of discarded horses.  Too many people have come to the irrational view of horses as pets, but this is a nonsensical view that cannot be sustained in the real world.  Horses are livestock, and when treated as such in the market, the market handles the problems associated.

In days gone by, but thankfully perhaps now returning, horses past their usefulness went to “the glue factory,” as the euphemism promised.  Only the rare horse, perhaps famous for racing or other equestrian endeavor managed to avoid this fate.  The reason is simple enough to understand, and I know a thing or two about it:  Horses are expensive to maintain, feed, and pasture or stable, and because they are no longer a necessity of our culture, the demand for them comes only from entertainment, sports, and yes, that practice of slaughter for food and other byproducts. As a matter of economics, the lack of slaughter has devalued all  horses, because we now have a glut of unwanted horses too infirm from old injuries and old age to ever be of use other than as pasture ornaments.  Let’s conduct an economic exercise:  When slaughter was legal, we saw prices of nearly $0.60/lb. for horse on the hoof.  This meant that a 1000lb. horse could be expected to bring six-hundred dollars.  While that’s not a great deal of money, if the horse is fit for no other use, that’s the most the horse is worth.  You can attempt to attach non-market emotional value to the horse, but that’s a matter of subjective considerations that has nothing to do with the market.  Now, let’s take that same horse, and rather than slaughter, let’s euthanize the horse.  Depending on the veterinarian, that may cost anywhere from $100 to $300, or more.  Then you must dispose of the carcass.  Yes, horses go somewhere, and most of them end up in a landfill.  You can expect to pay between $200 and $300 for that.  Let’s stay on the cheap side of this argument. Let’s assume you euthanize and dispose of the horse for a grand total of $300.  As compared to taking that same horse to slaughter, you’re out $900.  Math is hard.  Nature is harder.

Let’s imagine that this animal is going to be kept as a pasture ornament.  Let’s just say we’re going to keep the animal around indefinitely.  You will spend an average of $1500 annually on veterinary care, and another $600 on farriers’ services, and you will feed the horse hay and some sort of bulk protein in the form of grain or pelletized feed products.  The average one-thousand pound horse is going to consume $40 in hay and $20 in feed for a week.  Do the math.  You’re going to spend a load of money on a horse that isn’t doing anything else.  It’s not at all difficult to suggest that with the average horse, even bargain-shopping on all the necessities, you’re going to spend $5000 per year to maintain the existence of the animal.   At present, the average healthy young horse does not fetch $1000 at a sale in my home state.  I want you to think about that reality: On average, in my state, if you can give a horse away, you’re doing well.  Texas has some particular problems in its horse market brought about by politicians, but nationwide, the industry has suffered from this horse slaughter ban.  Too many unfit, infirm animals are taking up too many resources, because for the last five years, we have been prevented from slaughtering the excess.  While horses haven’t been going to slaughter, many horse farms have been killed off, because they can no longer sell their product at a profit for all the useless animals stacking up all over the country.

Now, before some PETA-minded “animals have rights too” whack-job starts in on me, no, I have never personally shipped a horse to slaughter.  Every horse we’ve ever had that became seriously injured or sick was euthanized.  Yes, I paid the freight to haul off their carcasses, but understand that in all but one hopeless case, we tried to save the horse first, meaning its meat was unfit for human consumption anyway due to the medications that were used in the animal’s treatment.  With perhaps all but one of them, if I had known that the treatments would have been futile, and that they were going to die irrespective of our veterinary efforts, I would rather they had gone to slaughter than spend untold thousands on treatments that were ultimately followed by euthanasia and disposal.  At least that way, some good would have come of them.

I realize that seems harsh to some people.  Part of this sense is born of the fact that some people mistake livestock for pets.  Pets live indoors. Pets are generally in some manner housebroken.  If you’ve managed that with an equine, you’ve one serious horse-whisperer.  The simple fact is that the bias in favor of horses on the part of some resides purely in their minds, much like any other bias.  I mentioned “all but one of them,” and that was such a case, where my bias in favor of the horse would have caused me to expend a good deal more if the veterinarians had not convinced me it would be fruitless.  It had nothing to do with the horse’s market worth, but his worth to me personally, but the fact that one particular horse was especially valuable to me doesn’t change the fact that horses are livestock.

I also think with the shape of things in our world, the time is quickly coming when we will have no room for purely sentimental legislation that effectively leads to asinine bans on the slaughter of horses for human consumption.  The simple truth that none of the do-gooders ever address is that horses will die. All horses will die.  How they will die comes down in many cases to human choice, but the only end accomplished by slaughter bans is to deny to horse owners a residual, token amount for the tens of thousands of dollars they will have spent over the life of a horse, and to make those owners slaves to animals long beyond their use.  You can call me a mean and ruthless bastard if you like, but the truth of the matter is something else entirely.

I love horses, but  I know that the only way we will preserve them is that if they are maintained as private property.  A thing is defined as property in part by the right of its owner to use and dispose of it.  If the argument of the anti-slaughter advocates is that I should be denied the use and disposal of my property, they are merely communists acting under another claim of “the public interest,” or “the public good.”  If I knew who inserted that provision into the bill that eliminated the ban, I would give them a big sloppy kiss and $100 toward their re-election.  So would most others in the horse husbandry business.   It’s not that any of us in the horse industry seek to slaughter horses, but we know so long as they exist, this will be necessary, if unpleasant.

Follow-up: A Note to Horsemen

Warning: Euro May Trigger Global Collapse

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

What Democracy Really Looks Like

Over the last week, I’ve been watching events unfolding with growing concern, and while I truly hate the idea that I might inadvertently offer myself up as just one more “Chicken Little,” I must in all candor tell you that because the sky is not falling now, do not assume it will not fall tomorrow.  We’ve listened to the media talking heads, the pundits, the analysts, the economists, and even the politicians, and virtually all of them have made rosy predictions and hopeful prognostications for the immediate future, and your federal government feeds this view with its own phony numbers, endlessly amendable and adjustable statistics, and a common lie that consists of telling you: “It’s all going to be just fine.”  As I’ve reported to you within the last few weeks, more downgrades were coming, and banks moved Euro liabilities under cover of FDIC, but now the downgrades are here.  There will be more.  When the Euro falls, it may very well take the United States with it.  The time to prepare has very nearly expired, and there will be no turning back.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am now going to tell you the truth, and I will place no bunting of red, white and blue around it, because you deserve to know it all lest you be left penniless and homeless and starving in the streets, unable to defend yourself from the cold, never mind the brigands that will likely swarm our cities:  If the Euro collapses, the blow-back may not merely damage our economy, but thoroughly destroy it, and there is absolutely nothing we can do but deepen and worsen the results by more delaying tactics.  Businesses are scrambling to come up with options if the Euro collapses, but the truth is that many of them are now in a position from which they will not recover.   The choices you make now may mean the literal life or death of you, but it’s important that you know how we arrived here so that if ever there is a chance to arise anew, you will already know the answer.  Even now, the statists of Europe are seeking ways to loot you. One world government will come riding in on the back of this nightmarish trojan horse.

It is a truism that few wish to acknowledge that one cannot consume more than one produces without eventually becoming subject to the sort of collapse we now face.  It goes for nations as well as people,  and just as people can hide the growing disparity between their financial underpinnings and their lifestyles for a time, nations can do so, and for even longer and to a greater degree because they can pilfer the value of the few still producing among their citizens.  The problem is that just like individuals, even nations and unions of nations run afoul of nature’s basic truism requiring one to produce at least as much as one consumes.  Herein lies the sickening truth of the impending Euro collapse, and the collapse of all those who have tied themselves to the Euro, including the United States.  For far too long, far too many of us have lived without producing while others camouflaged their bankruptcy, willingly or [more often] unwillingly carrying their burdens.  No nation can survive that.  No people can sustain that.

The single currency of the European Union was advertised to make them more competitive as a trading bloc with the United States and Asia.  In truth, that’s not the whole story.  The Euro was also devised as the means by which to buy a little more time before the welfare states of Europe failed.  No rational person ever thought otherwise, and every politician from Rome to Madrid to London to Paris and Berlin has known this for two generations or more.  Your politicians right here in the good ol’ US of A have known it too, and yet when they had a chance to do something to change it, they instead accelerated it.  You might ask: “Why?”

The answer has ever been the same, and it is the endless pursuit of power at the cost of any and every principle.  This ambition has blinded mankind almost from the very start of the first civilizations.  In our modern society, if you think politicians are the greatest bribe-takers, I urge you to think again: Modern politicians are the greatest source of offers in bribery but the greatest recipients are we the people.  You wonder who is guilty?  He who offers a bribe is powerless in the face of rejection, but he who accepts that bribe is guilty for all his days.  In small increments, and in bits and pieces, the people of Europe were convinced to surrender their liberty in exchange for small bribes.  Over time, the bribes became so large that to maintain them demanded more and more from the producers, until the relative few producers began to join the gravy train.  While they bribed your silence and your complicity with the get from your neighbors’ pockets, be assured that they have been busily lining their own.

The Euro was concocted to hide this.  All those nations whose fiscal problems are now manifest have always been unstable, and it’s because successive generations of politicians in those nations have been carrying out this sort of bribery of its citizenry from time immemorial.  The French revolution was a Marxist affair, though not known by that name in those days, and nations such as Greece, Italy, and Spain haven’t been fiscally responsible for centuries.  The disease is not heritable, but it often visits subsequent generations, because it is born of a bad idea that is passed from one to the next.  That idea is statism.  Statism is the ruin of mankind, and always has been, because its fundamental claim is that man exists to serve the state before himself.  Whether statism took the form of Monarchy, Theocracy, Democracy, or some brand of Totalitarianism, it has ever been the bane of human existence, and yet no idea has more staying power among people than this one.  It plays upon one of mankind’s greatest weaknesses:  The temptation of covetousness and envy, born ever of sloth.  It is enabled  by the deadliest sins against nature, or nature’s God.  It offers the false promise of a life without discomfort, effort, or pain, but in the end, it returns only misery.

A little more than a century ago, this idea began to catch on even in  America.  It has slowly grown as a cancer, and it has spread its tendrils through every community, on every level, and in all things.  We’ve been hiding it, too.  This disease has its own fuel, and the Federal Reserve provides it, and not surprisingly, has been providing it for most of the time in question: Easy money.  Low interest rates and plentiful credit has made this possible.  Consider the individual who runs up a pocket-full of credit cards, and struggles to make the monthly minimum payments.  That’s our nation.  Just as a weak-minded, or necessity-driven person can quickly run into debt to a dangerous level, so too can a country, and just as the easy availability of credit can act as an inducement for an individual, so does it work as a great temptation to nations.  Nations fall when they permit politicians to bribe them with credit.  Look around you: How many votes have been bought by a budget that is nearly two-thirds entitlement programs?

As has been reported this week, our own Federal Reserve loaned out over $7 Trillion at impossibly low interest rates.  That’s half the GDP of the United States, in loans.  Yet you may rightly ask:  Where does the Fed get the money?  Answer: It loans it into existence, i.e., it prints it.  Only the promise of the debtor to pay gives it any value, but if that debtor defaults, well, the value of the dollar is diminished accordingly, but even if the debtor makes payments, there is always risk attached, and that risk is shown in inflation.  This is why the Credit rating of the US Government has been such a big deal:  It is the single largest debtor, and substantially so. As our government looks less and less likely to be able to repay its debts, while it continues to borrow money at an increasing pace, what do you suppose will happen to the value of your money?  Why did Thanksgiving dinner cost an average of 13% more this year than last?  Next year’s will cost 20% more, or worse.

This is the real truth of this situation, and unless and until you are ready to confront it, and to reject the myriad bribes from politicians, you are going to see things grow much worse.  Perhaps most frightening, they may have successfully engineered not only the collapse of the Euro, but also the Dollar, and every other major currency on the planet, but what they will offer as a “fix” is a global currency that will make of us all slaves to the same masters.  They will offer you more bribes, or at least threaten to take away the ones you currently enjoy, all so you will go along.

Ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake about it:  With the current crisis ready to explode in Europe, and with the state of our own economy, under the willfully absent leadership of Barack Obama, we are waiting on the edge of collapse.  This may be a most un-Merry Christmas, and it only promises to worsen.  If we somehow survive as a nation, it will be surprising, but it will only have been possible if we reject calls for a global currency even at the expense of the bribes we are now so accustomed to taking that we believe them to be our entitlements.  From now until then, you can spend your time in contemplation: Do you prefer life as a slave?  Many of your neighbors will say “yes” without flinching.  Somehow, somewhere, we must find the strength to say “No.”   Prepare, my friends, and by the strength of your preparations may the republic endure.

Establishment Hack Colin Powell Criticizes Tea Party

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Generally Wrong

Sunday, in an interview by Christiane Amanpour on ABC’s This Week, Colin Powell was led into answering questions by Amanpour, and these were the sort of puff questions that suggest the interviewer knew the interviewee’s answer, and was merely a propaganda attack on the Tea Party.  Powell has always been a DC insider since being a National Security Adviser in the Reagan Administration, and his elevation to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was seen by many as a cynical bit of affirmative action by George H.W. Bush.  In his service as Secretary of State under George W. Bush, Powell repeatedly demonstrated his elitist tendencies but also his commitment to the progressive movement.  His endorsement of Barack Obama in the eleventh hour of the 2008 campaign season was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of his relationship with conservatives.  This statement suggests the antipathy runs both ways:

“They compromised — the Founding Fathers compromised on slavery. They had to in order to create a country. They compromised on the composition of the Senate, of the House, of the Supreme Court, of a president — what are the president’s powers? Can you imagine more difficult compromises today?”

“Compromise is how this country was founded, and unless two people in disagreement with each other don’t find a way to reach out to one another and make compromises, you don’t get a consensus that allows you to move forward.”

“But the Tea Party point of view of no compromise whatsoever is not a point of view that will eventually produce a presidential candidate who will win.”

This is nonsense.  The founders compromised on the issue of slavery, and we are still dealing with the blow-back.  This nation engaged in its deadliest war because they compromised on that issue.  Abraham Lincoln did not compromise on the issue.  The founders may have compromised in formulating the structures of our government, but they did not compromise in whether we should have our own country, or Colin Powell would never have been Secretary of State, or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the United States, since it wouldn’t exist.  This is the sort of half-witted, dishonest argument I have come to expect from Powell.  He’s an establishment hack who serves himself, and official Washington DC, but not the nation at large.

The other thing concealed by Powell’s attack on the Tea Party is the question: If the Tea Party is supposed to compromise, with whom is that compromise to be made?  It’s not surprising that Powell doesn’t indicate who that might be.  Compromises are made between entities.  If Tea Party is one entity, who is the other? This is typical Washington-speak, because if Powell was really interested in seeing the Tea Party compromise on an issue, he’d tell you which issues, and with whom.  Instead, he’s simply hurling insults.  Sadly, instead of providing something constructive, Powell simply laments the uncompromising nature of the Tea Party.

With whom has Powell compromised?  He’s not willing to compromise with anybody, having secured his lifestyle as part of the establishment.  He’s not willing to see the DC establishment give any ground to the American people.  I might have been willing to accept his arguments if he’d shown even the first indication of honesty in his arguments, but as is all too clear, Powell simply wanted to smear the Tea Party.  Amanpour was only too happy to give him the opportunity.  If, as Douglas MacAurthur reminds us, “old soldiers never die, they just fade away,” I think conservative Americans will be just as happy if Powell begins to fade sooner rather than later.  Until he learns to speak honestly on politics, he’s not performing a service for the American people, a thought that prompts me to wonder: Other than vanity, whose interests is he serving?

Will National Defense Authorization Lead to Indefinite Imprisonment of Americans?

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Telling the Truth About NDAA?

There’s a story circulating on the Internet that was posted last Wednesday at ACLU.org by Chris Anders, in which it was put forth that the latest NDAA includes provisions that would allegedly make “the battlefield” your back yard, and make American Citizens subject to indefinite imprisonment and subject to military authorities.  Of course, with the state of things in this country, it’s not entirely out of character for the folks in Washington DC to view Americans as an enemy, but I also know that the ACLU has its own axes to grind, and part of the trouble with Mr. Anders’ article is that it contains references but no links to the specific provisions of law he says are problematic.  Worse, in publishing the article, rather than provide links to the actual legislative language, or links to the proposed [Udall]amendment Mr. Anders seems to be advocating, the links for the Amendment take readers to an activism page aiming to lobby Congress.

This is by itself a dishonest tactic, and I have some serious concerns with somebody at the ACLU using the occasion of this bill to promote fear-mongering notions about what this bill actually provides.   Apparently, I’m not the only one who has noticed that the ACLU’s Chris Anders seems to be jumping the shark with his claims.  The first thing that made me suspicious about the article is that Anders never quotes the actual legislative language in question.  Why not let readers see the text and decide for themselves?  Instead, what you get from Mr. Anders is a string of claims about the effects of the law, rather than any specific legal language to support his assertions.  For instance, Anders writes:

“The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world.”

Notice that Anders includes a link on the words “the power” but rather than taking you to the text of the bill, or some description of “the power,” instead, the link directs you to an advocacy page where you can fill out a form and petition on behalf of the Udall Amendment.   There are eleven hyperlinks in the body of the article, and of these eleven, nine take you to this same destination.  In fact, rather than pointing you to the specific language of the Udall Amendment, the words “Udall Amendment” are linked three times to the ACLU petition page.  That’s simply dishonest.  Readers have an expectation that when they see a word or name that includes a hyperlink, it will take them to some source or related information relevant to the linked text.  Anders certainly didn’t seem to want you to see the actual Udall Amendment, which now leads me to wonder why.  Naturally, I went out and found the Udall Amendment,  and have linked it as Anders should have done.

The real problem with Anders’ article is that it does a lot of huffing and puffing, and in breathless terms describes provisions in a bill that by his characterization will lead to American citizens being arrested by US military forces in the back yards and leading to indefinite incarceration without charges, bail, or due process of law.  That would be a terrible and astonishing thing for the Congress to do under any circumstance, and I would loudly oppose it if that were the case here.  In point of fact, I’d be calling for Americans to join me in opposition, but that’s not what I’m finding.  Instead, what I’m finding actually conflicts with Anders’ characterization, and suggest dishonesty on his part.  Again, rather than try to characterize the provisions of Senate Bill 1867, I went out and found it for you so that you can make your own decisions based on its actual text.  The allegedly tyrannical provisions are sections 1031 and 1032.

The text of these provisions is as follows:

SEC. 1031. AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE.

    (a) In General- Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.
    (b) Covered Persons- A covered person under this section is any person as follows:
      (1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.
      (2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.
    (c) Disposition Under Law of War- The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following:
      (1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
      (2) Trial under chapter 47A of title 10, United States Code (as amended by the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (title XVIII of Public Law 111-84)).
      (3) Transfer for trial by an alternative court or competent tribunal having lawful jurisdiction.
      (4) Transfer to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.
    (d) Construction- Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
    (e) Requirement for Briefings of Congress- The Secretary of Defense shall regularly brief Congress regarding the application of the authority described in this section, including the organizations, entities, and individuals considered to be `covered persons’ for purposes of subsection (b)(2).

SEC. 1032. REQUIREMENT FOR MILITARY CUSTODY.

    (a) Custody Pending Disposition Under Law of War-
      (1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (4), the Armed Forces of the United States shall hold a person described in paragraph (2) who is captured in the course of hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) in military custody pending disposition under the law of war.
      (2) COVERED PERSONS- The requirement in paragraph (1) shall apply to any person whose detention is authorized under section 1031 who is determined–
        (A) to be a member of, or part of, al-Qaeda or an associated force that acts in coordination with or pursuant to the direction of al-Qaeda; and
        (B) to have participated in the course of planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners.
      (3) DISPOSITION UNDER LAW OF WAR- For purposes of this subsection, the disposition of a person under the law of war has the meaning given in section 1031(c), except that no transfer otherwise described in paragraph (4) of that section shall be made unless consistent with the requirements of section 1033.
      (4) WAIVER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY- The Secretary of Defense may, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, waive the requirement of paragraph (1) if the Secretary submits to Congress a certification in writing that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States.
    (b) Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens-
      (1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
      (2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.
    (c) Implementation Procedures-
      (1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall issue, and submit to Congress, procedures for implementing this section.
      (2) ELEMENTS- The procedures for implementing this section shall include, but not be limited to, procedures as follows:
        (A) Procedures designating the persons authorized to make determinations under subsection (a)(2) and the process by which such determinations are to be made.
        (B) Procedures providing that the requirement for military custody under subsection (a)(1) does not require the interruption of ongoing surveillance or intelligence gathering with regard to persons not already in the custody or control of the United States.
        (C) Procedures providing that a determination under subsection (a)(2) is not required to be implemented until after the conclusion of an interrogation session which is ongoing at the time the determination is made and does not require the interruption of any such ongoing session.
        (D) Procedures providing that the requirement for military custody under subsection (a)(1) does not apply when intelligence, law enforcement, or other government officials of the United States are granted access to an individual who remains in the custody of a third country.
        (E) Procedures providing that a certification of national security interests under subsection (a)(4) may be granted for the purpose of transferring a covered person from a third country if such a transfer is in the interest of the United States and could not otherwise be accomplished.
      (d) Effective Date- This section shall take effect on the date that is 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and shall apply with respect to persons described in subsection (a)(2) who are taken into the custody or brought under the control of the United States on or after that effective date.

A fair reading of these sections highlights a couple of things to which we should pay close attention in examination of Mr. Anders’ claims about the bill.  First, the language included seems to specifically exempt US Citizens and lawful Resident Aliens from application of this provision.  Second, contrary to his claims in his introductory paragraph, it is hard to see how this bill would directly or even indirectly violate the constitutional civil liberties of American citizens and resident aliens here in the United States.  Mr. Anders claimed:

“The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield — even people in the United States itself.”

I think this is disingenuous at best, and outright dishonest and inflammatory at worst.  He’s clearly trying to incite a fearful response based on suppositions I don’t think a fair reading of these provisions explicitly or implicitly would enact.  Of course, I knew that this might well be the case when I saw that PrisonPlanet.com was covering this story, because that site is largely authored by real conspiracy kooks.  Sure, they find some interesting material, but as in this case, I think their willingness to stretch the meaning and clear intent of things leads to a sort of self-destructive, self-defeating exaggeration and an atmosphere of bombastic claims most of which turn out to be overblown or entirely bogus.  Frankly, once Alex Jones is involved, a story loses much of the credibility to which we might otherwise attach, because Jones has a long history of turning loosely connected events and circumstances together in some of the most convoluted conspiratorial garbage on the Internet.  To each his own, but really, once this loon went down the whole “controlled demolition” rabbit-hole with the so-called “9/11 Truthers,” that was the end of his credibility, and with him, the credibility of anything posted on his sites.

The Senate’s bill may have some problems, but Anders’ characterization is dubious at best.  I think it’s clear that he and the ACLU are trying to create a lot of smoke where there is no fire, and I think the Udall Amendment is intended to place mandates on executive branch actions that may or may not be in the best interests of the United States, but could be understood to hamper this or any future President in acting as the Commander in Chief.  Whether the Udall Amendment is worthwhile is itself a matter of some controversy, but what is clear to me is that the ACLU is misusing this article to drum up a political issue without providing any substantive arguments.  I’ve yet to see how any of Anders’ claims are substantiated in the text of sections 1031 or 1032, as posted above, and these provisions certainly don’t match the claims.  If this is the best case the ACLU can make against these provisions, it’s time to admit that the ACLU has other motives with Anders’ article.  The method of presentation, the lack of citations, and the disingenuous appraisal suggests strongly that the ACLU is grasping at straws.

As much as anybody, I don’t trust our government, particularly where the liberties of the American people are concerned, but this story seems designed to mislead the American people, or to incite fear among them.  This could be a serious issue, but the version of the bill now posted indicates none of the dangers that Anders implies.  It’s dangerous to lead the American people astray, and in this case, I think it’s clear that Anders is doing just that.

Possible Euro Collapse Sparks Civil Unrest Fears

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Prepare For the Worst

Those who have been paying attention have known the Euro is in deep trouble, and much of it stems from the way in which is was created.  Too many member states were admitted which had currency that was overvalued for the merger, and they’ve done nothing to curb ridiculous fiscal policies in those countries.  This includes nations such as Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, but also to a lesser degree, France.  Now, it’s time to pay the piper, and predictably, nobody wants to do so.  Governments in Europe are now forced to consider what will happen if the Euro falls and the member states wind up reverting to their prior forms of currency.  Some estimates suggest that GDP would decline in Europe among member states by as much as half, or more, and that widespread unemployment on a scale that would dwarf any previous depressions in scale and depth.  In short, they’re now planning for a calamity, complete with riots and revolutions, and the reason is simple: It’s now a very real possibility. From a story in the UK Telegraph:

The Financial Services Authority this week issued a public warning to British banks to bolster their contingency plans for the break-up of the single currency.

Some economists believe that at worst, the outright collapse of the euro could reduce GDP in its member-states by up to half and trigger mass unemployment.

Analysts at UBS, an investment bank earlier this year warned that the most extreme consequences of a break-up include risks to basic property rights and the threat of civil disorder.

“When the unemployment consequences are factored in, it is virtually impossible to consider a break-up scenario without some serious social consequences,” UBS said.

Of course, many Americans are not moved by these tidings, somehow believing that we are insulated from a European crisis, but nothing could be further from the truth.  If such drastic circumstances arise in Europe, the effects will be global, and so will be the civil unrest that accompanies it.  This is the  kind of calamity from which there is virtually no escape, anywhere on Earth.  In such an environment, not only would our own exports to Europe would collapse, but also we would find our own currency in free-fall because we have so thoroughly tied it to the Euro.  The defaults alone would wreck our own currency, and leave the United States in a similar situation.

Reuters is now carrying a story about the French and German effort to establish some fiscal controls to stave off a calamity, but the truth is that this will likely be too little, too late. Some authorities realize that this will be a stalling tactic at best, and are using the time it may buy to prepare for what is increasingly being seen as an inevitable collapse. From the Telegraph:

A senior minister has now revealed the extent of the Government’s concern, saying that Britain is now planning on the basis that a euro collapse is now just a matter of time.

“It’s in our interests that they keep playing for time because that gives us more time to prepare,” the minister told the Daily Telegraph.

Recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office instructions to embassies and consulates request contingency planning for extreme scenarios including rioting and social unrest.

As is now obvious, this is all a play for time.  They’re buying time, but they’re not going to save things, and the Europeans seem to know it.  The question thus becomes:  What is our own government doing to prepare?  What are they telling you to do in preparation?  Nothing.  Your own federal government is behaving irresponsibly in the face of this looming crisis.

For three years or more, the hand-writing has been on the wall, and our own government has obfuscated and lied about the direction of things, but has done little to prepare the American people for the possibilities now in the offing.  Let me suggest to you that the recent sporadic reports of spikes in the purchase of survival supplies is an indicator that the American people have begun to figure it out without governmental warnings.  No rational person can examine what’s been happening on the global economic and financial front and not have some sense of the very real dangers now accumulating.  It remains a prudent course of action for Americans to prepare for any sort of emergency, but with the real possibility of complete Euro-zone collapse now seemingly imminent, prudence would dictate an uptick in preparedness planning.  Our own currency has been tied too closely to the Euro currency to avoid the consequences of its collapse.

Climate-gate 2.0: The Scandal Continues

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

The Hoaxers Get Caught Again - Media Silent

For those who harbored any doubts about the political nature of the scientists running the “Global Warming” or “Global Climate Change” hoax on the world, those doubts should have been erased now and forevermore.  A new batch of 5000 emails has been delivered to the press anonymously, and these emails are even more damning than the first round of emails released two years ago.  What these emails demonstrate is both the degree to which politics motivates the so-called “science” and the extent to which the conspirators have gone to conceal the totality of the evidence.  It’s the same list of climate hoaxers, and the same axis of dishonesty becomes readily apparent.  What’s even more stunning is that the US government is in collusion with the hoaxers. From the Forbes piece:

“I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI [Freedom of Information] Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process,”writes Phil Jones, a scientist working with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in a newly released email.

“Any work we have done in the past is done on the back of the research grants we get – and has to be well hidden,” Jones writes in another newly released email. “I’ve discussed this with the main funder (U.S. Dept of Energy) in the past and they are happy about not releasing the original station data.”

You may remember Phil Jones as the man at the center of the first email scandal two years ago, and it seems Jones hasn’t learned any lesson but one:  He must work even harder to conceal the truth from the world than ever before.  Rather than simply resort to science, Jones’ emails show the intent to continue the fraud, and hide the data from the public, and here he admits that the US Department of Energy is agreeable to keeping the original temperature station data secret.  You pay for this agency, and yes, the same agency is at the center of the entire “Green Energy” scam, so what we clearly have is a rogue agency of the United States government that is acting contrary to the public interest.  So much for “openness and transparency.”

If this isn’t bad enough, Michael Mann has been looking for “journalists” who would investigate and smear skeptics:

“I have been talking w/ folks in the states about finding an investigative journalist to investigate and expose” skeptical scientist Steve McIntyre, Mann writes in another newly released email.

This is simply outrageous conduct for a so-called “scientist.”  Clearly, Mann is more interested in trying to harm Steve McIntyre than to refute his research.  This is horrendous, but as bad as this attempt at smearing others may be, the motive for the smear is made clear in other emails:

“Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these further if necessary,” writes Peter Thorne of the UK Met Office.

“I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run,” Thorne adds.

That says it all.  They have to fake it to make their case, and rely upon one dubious study while ignoring many more that contradict their general claim.  In short, they are lying to you, and to the UN, and to all the people in all the nations who are being ruled by those sympathetic to their scam, which at this point clearly includes the Obama Administration and the EPA as well as the Department of Energy.

Phil Jones may be engaged in outright fraud.  He has gone to great lengths to conceal information from various FOIA requests:

“With the earlier FOI requests re David Holland, I wasted a part of a day deleting numerous emails and exchanges with almost all the skeptics. So I have virtually nothing. I even deleted the email that I inadvertently sent. There might be some bits of pieces of paper, but I’m not wasting my time going through these.”

Add to this that a new study by Dr. Andreas Schmitter of Oregon State University that strongly suggests the concerns over Global Warming  due to increasing CO2 is vastly overstated, according to the Daily Mail:

‘The results imply less probability of extreme climatic change than previously thought.’

And:

Dr Schmittner told the Daily Mail that it would be ‘virtually impossible’ for a doubling of carbon dioxide to cause temperatures to rise by 8c or 10c.

Let’s be perfectly honest about what this means.  It cannot be claimed that there is a “consensus” on Global Warming, or CO2′s impact upon it, never mind mankind’s effect on the climate.  One recent study indicates that the actual culprit in any observable warming may not even be terrestrial in origin.  Henrik Svensmark’s work supports the notion that cloud formation is greatly affected by cosmic rays, and that cloud formation plays an important role in climate.  CERN recently confirmed his earlier findings, but what this demonstrates is that in the real world of science, outside of the control of politically motivated hacks at the UN’s IPCC(Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) that science is far from any alleged “consensus” on the matter.

Meanwhile, the hacks continue to carry on as though they’ve not been caught.  What is needed in this instance is a complete withdrawal of US Government support for the whole Climate Change/Global Warming Hoax, to include de-funding of the UN’s IPCC and any other politically motivated group related to this issue.  What many have long argued in criticism of the global warming regime is that it was intended as a method by which to enact new taxes on energy consumers.  Whether that is the only motive is unclear, but it certainly makes sense.  After all, for what other reason would this entire hoax be carried off if not to make us believe in a crisis as justification for further governmental involvement in our lives?  I think the Congress should investigate, and if proven, those involved should be prosecuted for fraud.  How many have made a living from this hoax?  How many have plotted to defraud the American people, and indeed, people all around the globe?  Climate-gate 2.0 is surely just the latest disclosure, but probably not the last.  One would hope more responsible scientists would step forward to say to the Phil Jones/Michael Mann/Climate Hoaxer crowd: “Enough is enough, you’re ruining our good name.”  With even some warmists now criticizing all of this, it seems there is a chance that the myth of “consensus” will finally be broken.

My question is:  Will the Nobel Committee ask Al Gore to return the prize and the cash?

For more reading on Global Warming:

Obamanomics Delivers Worst Turkey Since 1932

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

One Turkey Gets Reprieve; Rest Get Axe

Nobody is really surprised by this development, but CNBC dutifully reports that this Thanksgiving week was the worst for the markets since 1932.  On the heals of miserable economic performance, and with all that has happened in Europe, it’s not likely to improve any time soon.  The Euro is on the verge of collapse, as US-based investors continue to balk at European banking institutions, and as they slide over the precipice, things aren’t looking any better here at home.  As I’ve explained before, our own banking system has thoroughly tied itself to the European mess that a significant collapse there will tend to spread its tentacles to this country in rapid fashion.  Perhaps in the worst sign of the day, now comes an early report that Black Friday spending by consumers was altogether flat.

No prolonged, significant recovery can commence until energy prices are brought under control, and as is now obvious, the only way to combat this in any sustainable fashion is to unleash domestic energy production.  Alas, the Obama administration is strangling our energy production, using EPA regulations to shut down coal-fired electric plants with no replacement of lost capacity.  Barack Obama is doing for the nation what his party first inflicted on California.  Rolling black-outs will likely become the norm next summer.  An economy like ours can never attain its most efficient stride under such a regime. Wealth and job creation require production, and production of anything at all requires energy.

Let us be honest enough to admit that we cannot recover while our President and his administration maintain their current course.  Since they are not likely to change course, we are stuck with this miserable economy.  It is for this reason that I believe that Barack Obama will go down to massive defeat in 2012.  Whomever replaces him, it will need to be an actual conservative, who will push for energy production, and who will act to lessen the regulatory burdens on the people of the United States.  Americans have been adaptive and creative people, but no people can be flexible enough to live on nothing, with no resources, and no energy.  This may be the most important lesson of the Obama administration:  You can’t make something out of nothing.  People who are accustomed to making lemonade have found that under this president, unless you happen to be one of those connected cronies, there aren’t even lemons.

The other thing we are going to be forced to address is the welfare state.  The welfare state in all its myriad forms has become a vast and overpowering drag on the economy of the United States.  Non-defense spending has exploded under Obama, and while many look to the defense budget when it comes time to swing the cutting axe, the truth is that the welfare state consumes fully two-thirds of our budget.  It is this spending that accounts for most of the growth in the federal deficit these last three years, and the time is rapidly approaching when we will be forced to choose: Welfare spending or economic growth.  Some will wonder what one has to do with the other, but it’s simply understood in this way:  Welfare-state spending is squeezing out private production and economic activity.  For far too many Americans, the welfare state has become a viable permanent alternative to work.

Barack Obama will be remembered for many things, and very few of them will be good.  When this President leaves office in January 2013, there can be some hope of a turnaround.  Until then, the American people are going to be made to suffer.  On the world stage too, Barack Obama has been a miserable failure, and with all the promises about making America more respected in the world, all this President has done is to multiply the contempt with which we are viewed.  If we are to have growth, and if we are to have hopeful economic times, we must replace this President and his band of cronies.  Like Sarah Palin, I believe “November [2012] can’t come soon enough.”

Reagan Honored in Former Soviet Bloc Countries While Defaced in US

Friday, November 25th, 2011

In Tbilisi, Georgia

Twice in the last week, nations that had once been slaves of the Soviet Union honored Ronald Reagan with statues.  As a statue of Reagan was being defaced in our own capital, first in Hungary, more recently in Poland, and now in Georgia, “the Gipper” is still remembered as the man whose vigilance and willingness to call evil by its name caused the Soviet Union to wither and die of its own grotesque weight.  He’s cited as the man whose firm stance against the “evil empire” brought the USSR to its end, and with it, the nearly half-century long Cold War.  How stunning it is that while his statue isn’t safe in this country even in his home state, across the region of Europe that had once lived under the tyrannical iron fist of the Soviet Union, he’s afforded more honor and reverence than he receives in some quarters here at home.  None can convince me that this irony isn’t symbolic of the disease that afflicts our nation.  When a man whose efforts liberated millions and whose policies lifted a nation to the pinnacle of its success at home and abroad cannot find respect he deserves at home, it’s time to question the culture that permits such an absurdity to endure.

Most Americans remember Reagan fondly, even some of his opponents at the time.  He was an optimistic leader who thought that the efforts of the people, and their simple values ought to prevail upon their leaders to provide the liberty that has been America’s great promise.  His memory is truly cherished among the great body of the American people, but to doctrinaire leftists, both his political success and his philosophical foundations are occasions for disdain and discontent.  The left simply hates Ronald Reagan.  The simple truth is that he offered a thorough refutation of leftist ideology.  He didn’t need a ten-dollar vocabulary, and it didn’t matter to the American people that he was in his seventies throughout his presidency.  He told it like it was, and still is today.

I find comfort in the fact that while freedom is withering in the US at the hands of Reagan’s opponents, in the eyes of a majority of the American people, he’s still supremely popular.  As his detractors hurl insults at him, in Eastern Europe, leaders whose nations were freed by his efforts are remembering him with statues, and saying plainly what the left has spent two decades trying to pretend hadn’t been so:  Ronald Reagan defeated the Soviet Union.  Others deserve some credit, but theirs were ancillary roles.  Only Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II deserve any mention among western leaders along with Reagan. Let’s consider what others have said recently.  From Tbilisi, Georgia:

In Tbilisi

Georgia’s pro-Western president has unveiled a monument to Ronald Reagan in the capital of the ex-Soviet state praising the 40th U.S. president for “destroying the Soviet Empire.”

Mikhail Saakashvili, whose government has for years had tense relations with Russia, also lambasted Moscow’s attempts to “restore” the Soviet Union by creating an economic bloc with other ex-Soviet nations.

He said Wednesday that the bronze statue that depicts Reagan sitting on a bench “deserves a place in the heart of Tbilisi, the heart of Georgia.”

In Warsaw, Poland, Lech Walesa:

In Warsaw

“Let us bow before Ronald Reagan for the fact that our generation was able to bring an end to the great divisions and conflicts of the world,” Mr Walesa said in a ceremony in the heart of the Polish capital Warsaw.

“What happened seemed impossible or unthinkable. The older generations still remember,” the Nobel Peace laureate said.

“In Poland, we had more than 200,000 Soviet soldiers. Across Europe, there were more than a million, as well as nuclear weapons. Major changes without a nuclear conflict seemed unlikely,” he added.

In Budapest, Hungary:

In Budapest

Prime Minister Viktor Orban and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice helped unveil the statue Wednesday.

Reagan was remembered for the aid and encouragement he gave Hungary and other former Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe to gain back their freedom.

Reagan “changed the world and created a new world for Central Europe,” Orban said at the unveiling ceremony. “He tore down the walls which were erected in the path of freedom in the name of distorted and sick ideologies.”

 

In Newport Beach, CA

This is simply astonishing.  While the people who had lived under the oppressive Soviet boot understand and remember what they have gained, too many in this country have spent the intervening years lying about the nature of the Soviet Union and the philosophy on which it had been based, and little is taught in our schools that would explain the importance that an honest retelling of history demands.  Look at the “Occupiers,”  our modern day iteration of the Bolsheviks.  Their historical understanding is so frightfully narrow, and their philosophical underpinnings so atrociously bankrupt, they believe, with the crude indolence of club-wielding children that the are some sort of “freedom-fighters” while they agitate on behalf of ideas refuted before many of their births.  They tell themselves they aren’t anti-capitalists, as if some sort of self-delusion will prohibit to the rest of us the view of what they’re really preaching.

I don’t think they have any idea what it is for which they now agitate, and as history repeats as the Occu-pests cry out for the United Soviet States of America, I cannot imagine a more fitting spectacle than to see that while these misguided brats rant about the inequities of the markets, they nevertheless don’t realize that what they’re demanding will only make things infinitely worse.  Perhaps it is better that statues of Ronald Reagan are erected and unveiled in Eastern Europe, because at least there, it seems the people will have some reason to remember the reasons for which his memory is honored.  These Occupiers don’t have a clue, but thankfully we have conservatives and the Tea Party who can yet teach them.

Tea Party Opposes Occupy Black Friday with BUYcott

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Now They Have Opposition

In an interesting development sure to finally put the lie to the notion that the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street crowds are similar, one Tea Party group has decided enough is enough with all the “Occupy” nonsense, and is planning to support stores by encouraging the public to shop like crazy on Friday in opposition to the “Occupy Black Friday” boycott aimed at publicly traded retail outlets.  The Occu-pests don’t want you to buy from corporate America, but the truth is that they’re actually trying to stall economic recovery in order to foment revolution.  It’s a maniacal plan, but it tells you a good deal about the motives of the two groups.  The Occupiers want to use the economy for political purposes, and they wish to make it worse rather than better.  Meanwhile, the Tea Party, largely a conservative-minded, guided by a generally pro-capitalist philosophy, is trying to help the economy recover.

One of these groups is concerned with the economic hardships the American people are enduring under Obama, while the other intends to make things worse in order to inflame the situation and further empower Obama.  If it wasn’t clear to you before, it certainly should be after this debacle.  According to the cynical politics of Washington DC, the Tea Party should be trying to make the economy worse in order to hurt Obama at the polls next year,  but that’s not what drives the Tea Party.  Instead, they are sincere Americans who want to create a rising tide that will lift all boats.  The Tea Party is not a destructive organization, but is instead made up of Americans who believe in creating wealth because they understand that to create jobs, you must create wealth, and you must aggregate capital.  The Tea Party wants the country to rise, and to do that, people must engage in commerce.  The group Liberate Philadelphia/Liberate America put out a statement on their BUYcott. From their statement:

“At a time when our economy is most fragile and ratings agencies are talking about another downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, it’s completely irresponsible for Occupy Wall Street to attempt to bring the U.S. economy to a halt on the busiest shopping day of the year,” says Liberate organizer, John Sullivan, spokesman for the Cherry Hill Area Tea Party.

Meanwhile, the Occupiers now intend to punish the economy.  They are focusing on Malls and also on Corporations, claiming to make a distinction between small businesses and publicly traded firms, but the problem with this argument is two-fold:  First, many of the shops and stores in any mall are small businesses. Second, corporations provide jobs to millions of Americans.  What sort of lame-brain pretends otherwise?  Black Friday often causes those retailers to spend more money on employees, hiring seasonal workers, and paying additional overtime to current employees, almost all of which is converted into spending in the economy.  Particularly at this time of year, anything that boosts employment and wages in the private sector can only be considered a positive thing, unless you’re a ne’er-do-well Occu-Pest or leftist, and these anti-capitalists (despite their disingenuous claims to the contrary) are intentionally setting out to wreck the biggest shopping day of the year.

There’s no doubt that we have a serious problem in the economy, and on Wall Street, but most of that problem originates from Government’s tinkering in the free market, and from grotesque cronyism.  If the Occupiers want to make a real difference, they’d Boycott Obama.  They’d help the Tea Party Occupy the White House.  Unfortunately, they’re not that kind of movement, and their intentions are clearly anti-free market, anti-capitalist, and anti-liberty.  I agree with the Tea Party organizers who wish to have a BUYcott tomorrow:  Let us elevate ourselves without the government.  If the government and their shills in the media intend to flat-line this economy, and they’ve cooked up the Occu-pests to help, I say we oppose them.   I’m not ordinarily the sort to go Black Friday shopping, but tomorrow I will, because I believe in the free market, and I’m going to damned-well engage in it irrespective of, and in spite of the Occupiers, Obama, and all their miserable cronies.

Those Simple Things for Which I’m Thankful

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Family History in a Meal

Thanksgiving is a holiday most Americans treasure.  It is a time for family and friends, and a time to remember all those things for which we are thankful, including all those who helped to guide us, and bring us to a state of prosperity that even now, with our current economic hardships, enables us to lead the world.  I choose to give thanks for some simpler things.  They speak to the heritage of the Thanksgiving dinner we will soon enjoy.  Our feast will bear the mark of generations, both in the fact of its existence and the manner of its composition.  I give thanks for everything that has gone to make that meal possible.  I give thanks for the family that will gather and share it, and I remember those who are absent in person from our small feast, but are with us in memory and spirit, and even in the simple recipes that still adorn the table.  America has so much for which to be thankful, but to preserve what is great about this country, we must remember to thank them all.

My mother’s family were Polish immigrants.  I am certain that their first Thanksgiving in America did not include a turkey.  They were fantastically poor, but they had no intention of remaining that way.  They learned the language, they sent their children to school, they worked in factories and any odd jobs they could find on their way to building the prosperity we now enjoy. My grandfather worked in foundries and raised his own family, and together they set a standard of hard work and of persistence that still prevails in our family.  On Thanksgiving Day, they are represented in the simple white-bread stuffing that is actually the warm heart that makes the meal.  It’s my mother’s recipe, from her mother, and her mother before.  In another generation, it was made from the heels of loaves, and other scraps of bread.  It recalls a generation when nothing was permitted to go to waste, and everything was turned in thankful service to the prospect of building a prosperity we now enjoy and too often take for granted.

My father’s family is of French-Canadian origins.  They grew and thrived in that beautiful country on the western shore of Lake Champlain.  They knew many hardships, but they worked and they raised their families in a region known for fierce winter weather but fiercer people.  My father served in the Air Force, back in the early years of that institution.  In the early, ugly days of that period we now seem to have forgotten, the “Cold War,” my father had an occasion to be stationed in one of the coldest places to which the Air Force deploys people:  Thule, Greenland.  For those who have served in the military, you will perhaps remember when the services knew two kinds of pie: Apple and cherry.  In Thule, my dad learned to dislike cherry pie.  Veterans will remember that pie had been the services’ idea of desert when not in the field, but that when gotten from tins of cherry pie filling that looked to have been manufactured contemporaneously with the assault on Iwo Jima, the appeal of a slice of cherry pie can hit rock bottom.  Never was a young man happier to return home to his mother’s cooking, and his annual favorite my grandmother would put together: Raspberry pie. It’s one of those curiosities that raspberry pie thus became my favorite, and each Thanksgiving, after the meal settles, and with a cup of coffee, I enjoy a slice (or two.)

My wife is a German immigrant.  They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but it has become a point of pride for her that she is able to produce this entire meal with minimal assistance and to perfection.  She’s added her own flavors to some of the traditional recipes, but in the main, it is at its heart the same foundation that went into my preparation of that first wedded  Thanksgiving we celebrated together twenty-three years ago.  My own daughter has taken those same recipes, those same bits of our family’s traditions, and has begun to accumulate them together with her husband in their own set of traditions.  Thus it is that Thanksgiving serves to remind us not only of all the things we’ve had for which we’re thankful, but of all the things to come.

Thanksgiving ties our past to our present and on to our future, as individuals, as families, and as a nation.  For my part, I will be thankful even if only the stuffing and the raspberry pie outlive me. For countless millions of families, each with their own traditions, and each with their own recipes and ideas, this is the sort of country for which we had all ought to be thankful.  To my readers, I hope you will find together your own family traditions warm and rejuvenating.  I hope you will find in the day all that binds you together, and none of what keeps you apart.  Thanksgiving is really an American holiday, but its roots stretch into our distant past, tying us together in the melting pot that has made a nation prosper, and it is through the simple values we together cherish that we are still able to shape our future.  Thank you all, and may you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

US Cranes Company Policy: No Hiring Until Obama Gone

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

No Work Means No Jobs - Thank Obama

You might think this is a joke, and it sounds outrageous, but imagine how poor Bill Looman feels:  It’s his company and his policy.  Looman began posting signs on his trucks and properties roughly six months ago, but now it’s gone viral.  Looman explained that it’s not that he’s actively choosing to refuse to hire but that he says it’s not possible to hire under the economic condition the Obama administration’s policies.  In short, this isn’t the course he would have chosen, but it’s simply not economically feasible to hire.  I’m certain thousands of other businesses share his sentiment, and the employment numbers reflect this reality.

The same philosophy that brought us the disaster of Obamanomics has put forth the notion that businesses ought to hire as a matter of some form of charity.  What such wizards don’t quite grasp is that this is what has gotten us into the trouble in the first place.  The housing market collapse was largely due to giving people loans and mortgages for which there was little chance they would repay based on credit history, as an act of charity.

This sort of policy-making is an attempt to short-circuit the free market, but it never works.  Those who argue Looman should hire even though it would be an economic detriment to his company simply haven’t grasped the fact that if companies implement that policy, it will destroy more companies, and once they’re destroyed, their current employees will be joining the proposed new employees in the unemployment line.  Hiring people for the sake of hiring them won’t fix the economy, either, because growth is fueled in part by increases in productivity which doesn’t improve with idle workers hired for the sake of “giving somebody a job.”

Companies aren’t charities.  They exist to make money, and create wealth, and when they are able to do so, jobs are created not as the cause of the company’s prosperity, but as an effect of its growth.  This is the fact Looman’s signs are intended to convey: You can’t hire workers when you have no work for them to do.  That seems obvious to those of us who confront reality daily, but those in the Obama administration who continue to push radical, job-killing policies simply don’t understand economics or free  markets, or worse don’t hold prosperity of the American economy as the goal for which they’re working.

Bill Looman, US Cranes LLC

11Alive, an NBC affiliate, sent a reporter to Waco, GA, to speak to employer Bill Looman.  Looman, a Marine Corps veteran explained “Can’t afford it,” Tuesday evening. “I’ve got people that I want to hire now, but I just can’t afford it. And I don’t foresee that I’ll be able to afford it unless some things change in D.C.”

He went on to say: “I just spent 10 years in the Marine Corps protecting the rights of people… the First Amendment, and the Second Amendment and the [rest of the] Bill of Rights,” he said. “Lord knows they’re calling me at 2 in the morning, all night long, and voicing their opinion. And I respect their right to do that. I’m getting a reaction, a lot of it’s negative, now. But a lot of people are waking up.”

Looman is now being harassed by some who are unhappy with his signs, but he seems undeterred.  See a video at 11Alive Here.

Ten Reforms to Save America: Reform Number Six

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Time For Change?

One of the problems that has always plagued us is the clear disconnect between taxation and electoral responsibility for those who legally raise them.  It’s not accidental that Tax Day is April 15th, a full six months before election day. I want Americans to hold elected representatives responsible for the fiscal condition of the country, and the taxes that condition will naturally necessitate.  Since our Federal elections are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even years, I think we should move tax day to the first Monday in November.  The truth is that for quarterly filers, this won’t make so large a difference, and in the main, it would seem a symbolic measure, but I think that it’s a worthy symbol.  After all, many voters go to the polls thinking about what they want, but for a change, I think it would be better if when they start marking their ballots, they instead should be thinking about the costs.

Of course, this presents another problem that needs to be reformed.  For some of those voters, the day they file their tax return is an occasion for celebration rather than a day of mourning.  Some of that is because a fair number of people over-withhold throughout the year in order to avoid getting hit with a big tax bill, but more of it is because some people get refunds in excess of what they had withheld in income taxes altogether.  You might ask yourself how it is possible that one can receive a refund higher than one has paid in, but Congress has an answer:  The Earned Income Tax Credit.  Effectively, all you need to do is earn a minimal amount of income.  It doesn’t take much income to qualify, and then you are eligible to receive a credit that may be more(and usually is) than the amount of income taxes you’ve had withheld.

One of the constant scams is people who receive various welfare benefits will work a couple of months out of the year, at a low wage job or two, and this will be enough “earned income” to make them eligible for free money.  Some recipients actually refer to it as their “IRS Bonus check.”  I kid you not.  This program is also why we have 47% of tax return filers who pay no net income taxes.  For this segment of the population, there is no stigma attached to tax day, because for them, by the time April 15th rolls around, they’ve long since submitted their returns, gotten their refunds including their credit, and they’ve spent it.

Some of you will doubtless think I’m joking, or that I have somehow concocted this as some sort of literary device, but I assure you that it is real, and that like so many extensions of the welfare state, it acts as a disincentive to work.  Therefore, along with moving tax day, I submit that we make another law: No tax refunds of any ind in excess of what has been withheld.  It’s contrary to the notion of welfare as a hand up, and it’s opposed to the notion of the tax code as a program to raise federal revenues.  So long as we’re stuck with the 16th Amendment and the grotesque tax system it birthed, nobody should be receiving money as a net gain from the system of taxation, and besides: We’re constantly reminded that everyone should have some skin in the game.  I think that’s true, but when I say “everyone,” I actually mean it.  Combining these two reforms as one single step will cause more serious evaluations of candidates by voters.  If we’re going to save the country, it’s one more thing in the laundry list that we’ll need to fix.

 

Beck Honored as Defender of Israel

Monday, November 21st, 2011

 

Defending Israel

TheBlaze is reporting that Glenn Beck was honored with the Defender of Israel award at the Zionist Organization of America’s Justice Louis Brendeis Dinner.  Beck has been active in defending Israel against those who would smear and assail the Jewish nation, and he recently held his Restoring Courage event in Jerusalem.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined in the praise of Beck.  H/T The Blaze:

Barack and Michelle: The Real Bitter Clingers

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Masters of All They Survey

It’s not often that a first couple undergoes the sort of thorough public admonishment the Obamas experienced this weekend, but to be perfectly honest, most Americans now think it’s been long overdue.  You might retort that he still has approval in the mid-forties, but I would simply remind you that I did specify: “Americans.”  You see, back in 2008, when Barack Obama spoke on the campaign trail about “bitter clingers,” he was appealing to his base of support, and they’re not Americans like you or me.  They’re special, and smarter, and they don’t cling to religion or guns(but they rely upon government for the latter.)  When Michelle Obama said she had never been proud of her country until her husband had been nominated, it tells you something about the sort of misguided anger that lives within both the President and the First Lady.

That Chris Matthews broke down and told the truth about Barack, or that a crowd of NASCAR fans booed Michelle really isn’t surprising, but that it took this long for the back-lash to really begin to boil over is the only thing that’s been remarkable.  The Obamas are not the sort to go quietly.  As I’ve mentioned in another context, Democrats never do.  Instead, Barack and Michelle will cling to their leftist playbook and their offices, and milk them for all that they’re worth.

Many of us knew something was wrong with this pair when they first started to publicly describe their beliefs.  They don’t fit, and despite the shrill assertions of the left, it really has absolutely nothing to do with race.  It’s not their skin color that makes them so out of place, but their committed disdain for the American people.  In truth, I suspect that if there is a racist element to any of this, it exists on the Obamas’ side of the ledger.  From the very start, Americans were happy to see that our nation had advanced to the point that old racial barriers had been removed at long last.  In 2008, Barack Obama went to victory, and in 2010, two African-American Republicans were elected to house seats.  In 2012, another African-American rose to be the front-runner in the race for that party’s nomination, and as of this writing,  he’s still in the hunt.  Meanwhile, what the Obamas have demonstrated is a certain contempt for the American people, by their constant attempt to change our way of life, but our recognition of this fact has precisely nothing whatever to do with race.

Do you like hamburgers?  So does Michelle Obama, whenever she thinks no cameras are around, but she wants to decide for you whether you should have one, how they must be prepared, and what should go on them.  What is the obsession with the way Americans eat?  She claims she’s interested in fighting childhood obesity, but most of us know that  problem is best confronted by parents.  Not satisfied to leave the rearing and feeding of our children to our discretion, the Obama administration has twisted arms of restaurant chain management to tell them how to change their menus.  One could only imagine the reaction if one of those companies dared say: “Get bent.”  Of course, at the same time Michelle tells us how to live as she jets around the globe spending millions of tax-dollars for herself and her extensive entourage, claiming her children as “senior staff,” one can only wonder what motivates Barack.

What Matthews said about the president is just the tip of the iceberg, and his own words confirm it.  There’s something unseemly about a president whose every reflex leads him to reject the sentiment and will of the American people.  What Obama seems to offer is the scolding, waggling finger of an uncle who you tolerate only because you must, but otherwise would have long ago sent packing.  He doesn’t like America, at least as founded, and he’s out to remake it in an image most Americans reject.  It has taken three brutal years to expend the patience of the American people, but time is running out, and with the disastrous state of the country, Americans have grown weary of the excuses and the blaming of predecessors.  Obama needs a new scapegoat, and he’s looking to Congress to provide it.  One must wonder if all those years listening to Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s liberation theology claptrap hasn’t rubbed off on Obama.   The American people didn’t want the health-care reform concocted in the Senate, but he signed it anyway.  The American people didn’t want our involvement in Libya, much as we detested Gaddafi for all he had done.  The American people, once educated on the issue, didn’t favor the 2009 stimulus, or the green jobs initiatives or any of the myriad regulations he has signed.

“God Damn America?”  Reverend Wright may have been onto something when he said “America’s chickens are coming home to roost,”  although I reject his contextual explanation.  After fifty years of propaganda in public schools and media combined with an endless leftward agitation from the radicals, it has added up to a situation in which America does now indeed seem damned, though not because God said so, but instead because Barack Obama is making it so.  We can all pretend that it isn’t so bad as we feared, but the events of this weekend suggest it’s getting far worse.  The markets are in turmoil, and we’re looking down the barrel of another credit rating downgrade, such that it seems improbable that things will turn around any time soon. Many Americans are hanging on hoping that 2012 will bring a new election and a different result, but the frightening part is that the Obamas may turn out to have been the ultimate bitter clingers:  Angry at America and embittered by our rejection of them, they will cling to their ideology and their power, that pair of gods they worship which may yet damn the rest of us.

Bad Day in Obamaville;Michelle Jeered at NASCAR Race

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

I'm Just THRILLED to be here!

I knew this was coming.  When I first read she would be the grand marshal for NASCAR’s season finale, I knew it would be trouble.  After her husband was summarily unclothed as the naked emperor he is by Chris Matthews, Michelle Obama found herself being booed at the last race of the NASCAR season in Florida on Sunday.  Ordinarily, I don’t like it when the family of politicians are dragged into the mix, but then again, she was present as a largely political move.  More, this First Lady has been outspoken on a number of occasions with respect to the country, so that it’s more than predictable that a patriotic NASCAR crowd would have this reaction.  With all that has gone wrong under her husband’s administration, the First Lady has taken on an increasingly difficult job of facing demonstrably more hostile crowds.  This might be a good time to reconsider that whole business about telling us what we should eat.  It’s taken on an air of that infamous “let them eat cake” line of legend, and NASCAR fans were decidedly unhappy with her appearance.  It’s been a rough day for the Obamas, but of course, it’s been a rougher three years for the country.  I’ll shed a crocodile tear or two on the First Lady’s behalf right after I see the bill for her last vacation at our expense.

Once again, H/T Breitbart on the Video:

The sooner they move out of the White House, the happier most Americans will be.  The media has been carrying water for these people for far too long.  Their arrogance has begotten contempt from many Americans, and this is simply one more sign that it’s time for the Obamas to return home to Chicago in 2012.

Tingle Up Matthews’ Leg Replaced By Tingle Up Spine?

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Shell-Shocked?

Chris Matthews, who’s out pushing his new book on JFK, had an interview that was absolutely stunning given his previous support of Barack Obama.  The RNC will undoubtedly draft this interview into service for campaigns throughout 2012.  What it really speaks to is the complete disconnect between this White House and the people, even in his own party.  It speaks to an increasingly isolated, insular Presidency that is in bunker mode.  The truth may be that Obama is shell-shocked.  None of his ideas are working out, and truthfully, he was foolish if he believed that they could.  For his part, Matthews lapses into a moment of candor fairly unique among all the pro-Obama drivel he usually spews.  His real complaint seems to be that Obama isn’t talking to the wizards of the party, presumably including Matthews, and he’s angry about it.   If our national situation wasn’t so dire, it would almost be comical.

H/T Breitbart:

Given that Obama is turning out to have been precisely the sort of empty suit we expected him to be, but Matthews had thought would be ingenious, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for his position.  Given a few days, somebody from the White House will give Matthews a call, he’ll come down, and get back aboard the Obama Express to Nowhere in short order.  That’s the problem for Matthews and his ilk:  They have nowhere else to turn.  For them, it’s Obama or Bust, and since they’re hardcore lefties, you know that before this is all over, they’ll link arms around their chosen champion, and try to whisk him past voters into a second term.  It’s really that predictable:  Failed leftist ideas, failed presidency, and failed journalistic objectivity.  It’s the hat-trick of tingly feelings up one’s leg.

Ten Reforms to Save America: Reform Number Five

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Returning Balance to Government

One of the problems most people acknowledge is that the power of the federal government has expanded so that it can no longer be effectively restrained as a matter of the checks and balances with which we are familiar.  One of the ways this has been accomplished is through the constant diminution of the sovereign authority of the states.  The concept of federalism is moribund, if not dead, and it has become clear to citizens that to affect anything of consequence most often entails dealing with the federal government.  Congress and presidents have felt empowered to inflict and impose mandates on state and local governments to a degree that is contrary to the entire notion of a federal constitutional republic.  Some wonder if this isn’t the natural result of the civil war, in which some of these issues were central, but the truth is that no other cause has inflicted more harm than the adoption of the 17th Amendment.  Until we restore the voices of the states, as sovereign institutions, there can be no fixing what is broken in Washington DC.  The 17th Amendment served to centralize power in Washington in a way that destroyed the balance of power.

Prior to the 17th Amendment, the members of the United States Senate were chosen by the legislatures of the several states.  This meant that the voice of the state governments was heard loudly in Washington, as their own sovereign powers flexed their political muscles.   There are those who claim that the 17th Amendment served to democratize the process, but the truth is something else again.  What really happened was to instead turn the senators into a sort of super-congressman, but rather than being equals, they now speak not for states as equal partners in the Constitution, but as elected masters of constituencies.  When they had been chosen by the legislatures of the states, they still spoke to the will of a state’s people, but through the indirect process of representation.  Since the legislatures are chosen by voters, and since the state governments are geographically closer to their people, the people have the ability to control them more effectively.  Moving this process to a direct vote of the people has served to water down the particular interests of state governments.  In short, in the name of democratization, the people were tricked into dis-empowering the states.  The costs have been grave.

It has also served to make things a good deal easier for the lobbying crowd.  There’s no necessity to maintain offices in fifty state capitals, as well as in Washington DC.  It’s one-stop shopping, and there’s no sense to pretend it’s otherwise.  Prior to the 17th Amendment, lobbyists had to work the state legislatures in support of national legislation, but state legislators frequently managed to pull the plug on federal bills that they saw as diminishing the power of the states.  Senators may have voted in Washington, but the nature of that vote was frequently responsive to the legislature back home, since that’s where the Senator was chosen.  As we should all know by now, most politicians are consumed with maintaining their power, so that they could not help but be attentive to the voice of legislators back home.  The problem with the will of the people as expressed through a direct election is that it is too diffuse and too distant.  A Senator that represents even a sparsely-populated state like Nebraska still needn’t be as attentive to his people as he would of necessity be with respect to his legislature.   The senator from a densely populated state like California needn’t pay attention to the people at all on day-to-day legislative matters.

When you consider the spending proclivities of the Federal government, what becomes clear is that it began to accelerate, and non-wartime debts first became politically feasible only after the states’ voices had been silenced in the Senate.  The states had a vested interest in restraining the growth of the federal government.  It is far more difficult to impose taxes at the state level if the federal government is raising them at every turn.  Worse, with the federal government imposing spending priorities on the states, it became even more difficult for states to manage their dwindling resources.

Taken together, all of these make a strong case for repealing the 17th Amendment.  The difficulty lies in the political proposition:  The people will need to be convinced that it is in their long-term interest to give up power over one branch of government in a direct way, that their state government, over which they exercise infinitely firmer control can manage it on their behalf.  Most people cringe at the thought.  It’s not every day you ask voters to give something up to which they have been accustomed, particularly in restraining their own direct voice.  Once they understand the issues at the heart of the matter, many people come around as they realize their direct voice has done no better, and may have done the harms I’ve described.  Our Constitution’s framers had been brilliant in creating the necessary balance to create a natural offset in powers between the federal government and the states, but the 17th Amendment destroyed that clever idea.  At this late date, if we’re to restore that balance, we must return to the framers’ notion of checks and balances, and the repeal of the 17th Amendment is a great place to start.  If you want to save the country, you may want to start right here.

Ten Reforms to Save America: Reform Number Four

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Is This How It Works?

Whatever we may do about the limiting of congressional terms, or the length of service of Congressional staff, one of the main reasons to tackle that problem is the revolving door between Congress and the lobbying interests in Washington DC.  Whether representing trade groups, corporations, unions, or other groups, the problem is that the lobbyists often know the lay of the land, both physical and political, better than many members of Congress.  Too often, members and staff leave those offices to become lobbyists, and with equal frequency, we find lobbyists becoming Congressional staff.  This cozy relationship will be ended only by doing something drastic:  We must enact a lifetime ban on lobbyists from serving in government, and government  officials or staff from going to work in the lobbying racket.

Once again, I can hear the squealing of all the pigs at the DC troughs: “You can’t do this to us!”  Yes, we the people can.  When most Americans think of politicians leaving office for the private sector, they think of them returning to work in some profession or field that takes them back home, away from Washington DC.  All too often, when politicians depart government service, where they land is in some lobbying firm.  This frequently applies to staff too.  For most Americans, this isn’t considered to be “private sector employment,” but instead merely “public sector looting.”  It’s part of what makes Washington DC stink of corruption, and most Americans suspect it is the reason we have so many complex and convoluted laws.  Naturally, the American people are right about that, but in most cases, they have only the a glimpse of how thorough the corruption is.

The other problem is that the American people have been conditioned to view lobbyists as the source of the problem.  They’re not.  Lobbyists are a symptom just like the runny nose, achy muscles and spiking fever that tells you you’ve been infected with influenza.  The virus is already there, and while you can treat the symptoms, and it will at least make you feel better, your body still must combat the illness or you’ll never recover.  Everybody harbors and image in their mind’s eye of some lobbyist, a briefcase full of cash, and some elected or appointed official waiting greedily to be in receipt of the loot.  The problem is, this isn’t what actually happens in most cases.  Outright bribery of that sort would be caught fairly easily, and the people involved would be dealt with under existing law.  It’s not to say this never happens, because it does, but that’s a fairly stupid politician or lobbyist who gets caught in that fashion.

Instead, there are other ways to enrich themselves, and most involve a kind of extortion racket, or kick-backs, or insider information to be used for personal profit.  Imagine you’re a business, and imagine  the business you’re in is one regulated in some fashion by the federal government(but which industry isn’t?)  Imagine that some politician introduces a bill that you know will effectively destroy your company, or make it easier for a competitor to displace you in the market?  Your inevitable response would be to play self-defense, and you would do that by lobbying Congress.  You might contribute to campaigns and parties, but in all cases, you’d try to make happy everybody who holds your business in the palms of their hands.  This kind of extortion racket is common, and what you discover is that the number of legal contributions “enticed” by this method is scandalous.

Naturally, this works the other way too, as a matter of offense.  Do you need a “competitive edge” in the market?  No problem for Congress.  They just pass a bill that either directly or indirectly fouls the business of your competitors, and “Bingo!” To ensure a Presidential signature, you make sure the provision is attached to the most popular legislation, or at least something certain to get the approval of those who run the show.

Imagine yours is a large concern.  One way to pay off folks for their good deeds on your behalf is to provide them information that will enable them to make a killing in the markets.  A bit of info here, and a little investment there, and before you know it: Instant Congressional millionaire.  Of course, the member just happened to “get lucky” in the market.  Consider how frequently members of Congress get in on the Initial Public Offering of stock in a company commencing public trading.  It’s obscene.  It’s not easy to get in on an IPO for most people, and insider information is frequently a good head-start.  Some have suggested that Congress ought to be forbidden from investing in things related to that on which they’re currently legislating, but the problem with this approach is that the Congress now legislates on every matter under the sun.

Apart from the ban on lobbying, there is something more we can add to this reform, and that is to require members of Congress and their staff to convert their investments into cash savings.  That way, as the value of the dollar goes, so goes the value of their savings.  Under such a regime, the Congress would have every reason to safeguard the value of the dollar by prudent fiscal policies, and you could bet they’d be eye-balling the Federal Reserve a good deal more closely.  Many suggest the use of blind trusts, but the problem is that most things called “blind trusts” aren’t really blind at all, as Governor Sarah Palin recently pointed out in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

Of course, all of these suggested reforms still only address part of the issue.  The biggest part of the problem is that Congress is involved too deeply in business at all levels, and in all respects.  This has become the biggest problem we face: As long as Congress can stick its nose into any business for any reason at all, to impose their notion of “regulating interstate commerce” as they see fit, under whatever outrageous definition they concoct, and with courts willing to interpret the Constitution that way, we’re in serious trouble.  It means they will always have some way to dig their claws into not only business, but also into our lives and our pockets.  We need a wall of separation between business and state at least as thorough as the one that’s been erected between church and state.  If we wish to save America, we’ll need to tackle this too.

 

 

Palin-Hate in Industrial Strength Form

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

The Other Half of what you Read

You know, the media never really changes.  In the wake of Sarah Palin’s announcement on October 5th that she would not be seeking the GOP nomination for President, the leftist media chortled and guffawed, and played out their sarcastic hatred of pro-Palin people, conjecturing that the pro-Palin blogosphere might now die, due to the loss of their raison d’être.  Of course, those of us in the blogosphere who have been advocates of Palin’s candidacy and her political ideas knew that this had been nonsense, but it hasn’t done the first thing to diminish the vile garbage being cranked out by the Palin-Hate crowd.  Still looking for justifications for their own existence, the Palin-Hate crowd simply can’t let go.  Long-time Palin-hater, Craig Medred, writing in the Alaska Dispatch, simply couldn’t walk away.  If you ever wanted to see a person scrambling to retain some relevance, this guy is the prototype.  In an anti-Palin screed yesterday, he assailed Palin for her criticisms of politicians who profit from their positions, calling her a hypocrite.  While Sarah Palin may not be running for office, Medred hasn’t noticed and his attacks upon Palin are really just his last-ditch effort to maintain some relevance.

The particular object of his rage (this time) is Sarah Palin’s excellent column carried earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal.  Palin’s basic premise had been that politicians in Washington DC use their positions, and the insider information they thereby derive to enrich themselves in a manner that would be illegal for the rest of us.  She specifically focused on the case laid out in Peter Schweizer’s new book Throw Them All Out, and referenced the sad state of affairs that permits DC insiders to profit unjustly while writing the laws that ultimately produce some of those profits.  Her point was simple: If you or I did this, it would result in a term in jail.  When Congressmen do this, it’s “no big deal.”  It’s an eye-opening book, and Palin’s intention was to clearly outline the problem for the American people, who may not understand how deep the corruption really is.

Medred couldn’t take this lying down, since Palin can never be permitted to be seen as anything but an object of hatred.  To let her make the moral case would be to surrender to her the high ground, and of course, no leftist on the planet could possibly countenance that.  He opened his piece [of garbage] with the following:

Finally former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has found a subject on which she can truly comment as an expert, the profits to be made in politics in America today.

This is how she (or her ghost writer) sums up things in The Wall Street Journal:

Notice how he immediately misdirects his audience?  He says “profit from politics” as though all profits are equal, and that profits a person derives after their political career are exactly the same as those made while holding office?  Politicians have traditionally made money selling books, making speeches, and making appearances after their elected careers have ended.  Everybody has to make a living, and I honestly don’t think the American people begrudge the retired politician this sort of “profit.”  What the American people do hold in contempt is the politician who is actively using his office, while occupying it, to write laws favorable to buddies in industry, or to use insider information to which only Congress members have ready access, and leverage that information into personal profit.  Let us not then pretend that all profits are equal.  Some are justly earned, and some are not.  Setting up this false equivalence is Medred’s first glaring bit of dishonesty.  He immediately follows this with a smear about Palin, and whether she had herself written the article, going out of his way to imply the article may have been ghost-written.

Governor Palin has been writing some excellent and informative articles for quite some time.  Of all the one’s I’ve read, they seem very much to have been written in her voice.  They have been of high quality, concisely detailing the points she wished to make.  While I suppose it would be possible that everything she’s ever published had been ghost-written, I seriously doubt it.  It raises a larger question for Mr. Medred, however:  Who is ghost-writing for him?  His mechanical diatribes seem to have been concocted by the same purveyors of filth who spread gossip about the Palins on a dozen leftwing websites, so I’m now wondering: Is his column just an auto-pen for leftist hatemongers?  It surely seems that way:

How do politicians who arrive in Juneau, Alaska, as women of modest means leave as millionaires?

Well, let’s see: They use their beauty-pageant-trained charms on some old, white-guy conservatives who convince an only-slight-short-of-wholly-whacked-out U.S. senator from Arizona to pick her as his vice-presidential running mate in a failed bid for the presidency. And then she goes on the campaign trail to endear herself to a certain segment of America that really hates the black guy who’s been “pallin’ around with terrorists.” All of which builds her a political base to pay to watch her nonsensical mumblings on Fox News and buy a who-cares book.

Here we find the real source of Medred’s hatred:  Sarah Palin has sold more books than he, and it frankly causes him to be incensed. No, he doesn’t say that directly, but this paragraph drips with the condescension of a man moved by envy.  In short, he hates Palin because she’s popular with the people, and either of her books have more readers than the total of all the hate-filled columns with which he’s littered the world.  His hatred is also prefaced by a lie:  He implies that Palin became governor as a woman of modest means and left that office rich as a result of the things she did as governor.  That’s a bold-faced lie, and he knows it, which is why he immediately shifts to envy-mode.

Of course, a troll like Medred can never be satisfied to hurl his lies and insults.  He has to invent controversies, and in the end, he does precisely that.  Claiming that Palin somehow used her office to the benefit of the fishing industry, in which her husband works, he makes this ludicrous assertion:

Palin didn’t spend her political career fighting corruption. And the Palin administration was all about cronyism. The big oil companies in Alaska did, and to some extent still do, carry undue influence with Alaska politicians. But it’s nothing compared to the influence of commercial fishing interests in the fishing industry off the coast of the 49th state.The fishing interests have the kind of influence the oil companies can only dream about.

Did Palin ever try to do anything to fix this? Anything?

Well, of course, not. Her hubby is in the fishing business. Protecting his interests was more important than protecting the public’s interest.

It’s cronyism at the fundamental level.

It’s bad enough to attempt to created twisted, tortured linkages to unsubstantiated conspiracies, but this latest among Medred’s Palin conspiracy theories takes the cake.   Apparently, in his view, Palin didn’t do enough by “merely” tackling the oil companies’ iron-fisted grip on Alaska politics.  According to Medred, she should have taken on another industry, and of course, we’re led to believe, he’d have been right there supporting her all the way, right?  Medred also ignores the fact that Todd Palin had also worked in the oil industry.  According to his conspiratorial view of Sarah Palin’s “cronyism,” she shouldn’t have tackled that industry either.

It’s nonsense, but I suspect that if you have spent any time reading Medred or the AlaskaDispatch, you’re already aware of the nature of their Palin coverage.


 

Occupy Wall Street Versus Tea Party: Are They Similar?

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Can You Tell The Difference?

The left wing media is doing its level best to portray the Occupy Wall Street movement as being the younger version of the Tea Party.  Their assertion rests on the notion that the OWS folk are “really all about the same things.”  This is a lie.  The two groups have nothing in common; not in tactics, conduct, mindset or intentions.  The truth is revealed by the fact that the Democrat Party couldn’t wait to denounce the Tea Party, but they can’t wait to embrace the Occupiers.  Had even a handful of Tea Party folks behaved in a manner akin to what we’ve seen from the Occupiers, the media would have spent even more time defaming them.  Remember the lies: “The Tea Party is a bunch of angry, old white people motivated by racism who hate the government.”   These had been the basic talking points in media.  Oddly, there is no media caricature of the Occupiers, although one has developed among Americans without media assistance: “Occupy Wall Street is a bunch of anti-capitalist ne’er-do-wells, revolutionaries, and they are dominated by antisemitic and leftist thugs.”  The American people see the difference even if the media deny it.

The Tea Party arose out of a frustration with runaway government spending under the one-party domination of the Democrats, who in 2009 found themselves in control of all branches of government.  The Tea Party consists of people from all walks of life who are indeed a bit more mature on average than the Occupiers.  It shows in their conduct as well as in their stated goals.  Their intention has been to elect people who will respect the constitution and its limitations on government.  Their rallies have been entirely peaceful, and police have never had to arrest them.  They filed for and received permits, they observed local ordinances, and they otherwise conducted themselves in a manner aimed at avoiding becoming an inconvenience to the communities in which they were protesting.  When their events completed, they picked up the grounds, and they left every venue cleaner than they found it.  Their organizers generally had made accommodations for sanitary purposes available, and there was no trail of filth left in their wake.  When their protests and rallies were concluded, they went peacefully back to their lives as Americans.  While many of them have serious disagreements with the cronyism in Washington DC that spreads its tentacles into the private sector, they nevertheless believe in the American Republic as established, and the great boon to humanity that is capitalism.  They have been self-funded, self-organized, and self-directed.  Let’s be clear:  The Tea Party is a real political organization, if a bit diffuse, but nevertheless aimed at actual political change, and they’ve had some substantial success.

Contrast this with the Occupiers who are younger on average, have no electoral goals to speak of, and instead seem to be vague in their ideas about what it is they are after.  There is a mix of ideologies present, but the main body is decidedly leftist, and decidedly anti-capitalist.  The only part of the constitution they seem to value is the First Amendment’s protections of free speech and peaceful assembly, while they test the legal limits of those rights at every turn.  They seem not to have noticed that somebody is funding their activities, and that those food deliveries are coming from somewhere.  They seem not to realize that they’re being directed and organized by people who aren’t present, and never will be.  In their encampments, there have been rapes, beatings, stabbings, shootings, widespread drug use, every possible form of public lewdness, and a general disrespect for law, private property, and the communities in which they have taken up their occupations.

Their ideology is so vague on its surface that all you can discern is that they’re unhappy about something, and it seems to arise from a sort of general hatred of big businesses, banks, and their executives, but they can’t tell you anything about which they’re upset in concrete terms.  Instead, they whine about millionaires and billionaires while some people of that precise description send them lunch.   They don’t have a goal, but their leadership is going to give them one:  Anarchy and revolution.  The Occupy Wall Street movement has been nothing but a sham and a front for anti-American, anti-Capitalist, anti-freedom Marxists, and these poor dolts, most of them educated since the fall of the Soviet Union, don’t have any clue what that really means.  If they have any interest in elections, they haven’t indicated it.  I have seen no talk of electing “Occupiers to Congress.”  They’re not capable of that.

The glib leftists in the media now tell us: “Well, both groups are anti-establishment.”  Really?  Which establishment?  The Tea Party is against the political establishment in Washington DC, the unofficial institution that has corrupted the US Constitution.  They’re against a DC establishment that spends their money like water.  They’re against the Republican establishment, that too often dominates that party with its interests.  The Occupiers oppose a different establishment:  The establishments of private property as expressed in corporations, profits, earnings, and business.  In short, the establishment that the Occupiers oppose is the establishment created by the US Constitution.  Neither can they redistribute wealth nearly so well as they would like, nor can they steal by law so easily as long as the establishment of the civil society and the rule of law remain in place.  The establishment their leadership hopes to undo is the that bulwark of law that our founders erected.  The establishment the Tea Party opposes is the corruption of government and capitalism intended to destroy the Constitution.

Following the aims of the Occupiers would lead us to overthrow the US Constitution.  Following the goals of the Tea Party would permit us to uphold and defend it and even to restore it.  This is no small distinction, and it’s key to the left’s endless propaganda in favor of the Occupiers:  They want an end to this country as you have known it, and they are working diligently to bring it about.  The Occupiers have almost nothing in common with the Tea Party except in the most superficial sense:  They’re both protest movements, and they both oppose some establishment, but the character of their protests and the nature of the establishments against which they rally are very nearly perfectly and diametrically opposed.  They couldn’t be more different.  After spending the last three years hammering the Tea Party, you might now ask why the media is trying to link the Occupiers to them.  The answer is simple: They’ve done their polling research and found that the American people have more positive regard for the Tea Party, but have very rapidly realized the Occupy Wall Street movement is nonsense.  They’re also trying to create a false equivalence for another purpose:  To make the two interchangeable in the minds of Americans.  Thankfully, the vast bulk of the American people are not that stupid, and that notion simply will not sell.  The American people have seen the difference.  It’s too late to pretend otherwise.

Downgrade 2.0 on the Horizon?

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

There They Go Again

Just when you think the fools in Washington DC could scarcely do more damage to our country, they show up with the latest crisis and debacle to prove your theory wrong.  This one has been coming since the day John Boehner and the boys cut the deal with Harry Reid and his henchmen.  It’s been in the works since Barack Obama decided his best re-election strategy would be to run against a “do-nothing Congress.”  (We should be so lucky.)  The lines are drawn, and now the super-duper, mega-whopper debt committee is having trouble agreeing to the cuts that were promised when the deal was made back in August.  Surprise, surprise!   Gomer Pyle could have seen this coming, but clearly, John Boehner and Eric Cantor did not.   This game stands to create financial havoc with another debt rating downgrade just in time for Thanksgiving, and just like the last round, it’s being engineered so that the Republicans either agree to a ridiculous deal, or have one thrust upon them via the “automatic triggers” built into the deal to which they agreed back in August.  Either way you slice it, it’s a lose-lose for GOP, and as usual, conservatives will get the blame, and this is the reason why we cannot afford more establishment Republicans.

Consider the cuts in question.  At present, the deal required that they cut $1.2 Trillion from the next ten years of federal spending.  This means lopping off a mere 3.5-4.0% of the projected Federal spending over the period, but perhaps less, depending upon whose projections you believe.  This is a small amount in that gargantuan sum of money, and yet what the Obama administration and the Democrats intend to do is to see most of it come from defense cuts.  The salient point in this discussion is that none of the cuts under consideration even seriously begin to reduce the Federal expenditures now forecast in excess of revenues.  Worse, Democrats are playing fast and loose with the terminology, counting tax hikes as “spending cuts.”  More bizarre is the fact that Republicans are now largely accepting that characterization.

What this means to you and I is that by cutting the deal back in August, not only did Republicans get a black eye by getting the blame for the first downgrade, but all they have done is to postpone the bad news into the on-rushing Holiday season, when the bad news will multiply, and they’ll find themselves playing the scapegoats again, this time less than twelve months before the next elections.

Back in July, I warned you about this deal, and that in fact, more had been said than done.  As it turns out, virtually everything I expected would happen has now happened.  The Balanced Budget Amendment went down to defeat in the House.  The Republican leadership in the House has revealed that its bargaining position is awful, and it’s all because when they had the chance to make a stand back at the end of July, they failed.  They played to political expedience, and short-run damage control, but now the bill has come due, and it’s going to be paid at our expense, and at the expense of the defense of our nation.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll tell you what I believe:  Until we clean up the Republican party and the insiders, the deal-makers, and the surrender-monkeys, we’re not going to make much progress.  Each and every time one of these people who promises to stand tough ultimately folds, we need to send them home.  No “ifs, ands, or buts.”  Our country can’t afford any more of this brand of tepid leadership.  No more pastels.  We need bright, bold colors, and we need them fast.  How do we expect to hold onto the House next fall, never mind capture the Senate or the White House, if our alleged leadership can be so easily talked into a suicide pact with the devil?  It’s something we will all be forced to consider, as the Democrats force a crisis and at least one more time, Republicans will take the blame.  Can you imagine the laughter over at the White House?

Ten Reforms to Save America: Reform Number Three

Friday, November 18th, 2011

This Ain't No Tea Party

Of all the things we tend to overlook when we examine the corruption and inefficiency of government, the one area that seems always to escape serious examination is perhaps the most important cog in the outrageous machine:  Professional congressional staff.  The truth is that these people are frequently tasked with the authoring of legislation, and their elected members or the committees for which they work seldom see the final form of the legislation.  If making law is like making sausage, then these are the meat grinders who decide what subtler elements and sometimes major aspects of legislation will be included.  These people aren’t elected, and yet their effect on legislation is profound.  They manage to attach goodies to legislation that have no business in the bills.

Some of the worst are committee staff, where large and complex bills numbering into the thousands of pages frequently emerge.  You don’t think individual members, or even committees of them write all that legal jargon, do you?  No, of course not.  You can’t be tied up with menial chores like crafting legislation when you have a tee-time to make with lobbyists, and a full cocktail party schedule to keep with the DC smart set.  Instead, most of this legal legwork is turned over to staff, and this is where some of the worst abuses can occur.  The necessary reform is simple:  Congressional staff must be term-limited too.

I can hear the complaints from half a continent away, as those staffers recoil in horror at the proposal that they too should be subjected to limits upon their service.  Too damned bad.  The growth in their sheer numbers has been astonishing.   The fastest way to begin cleaning up the mess in Washington DC includes getting these staffers rotated out, permanently.  My argument will be that no member of Congressional staff ought to be employed for more than ten years, life-time, meaning no retirements, no special carve-outs, and no goodies for them.  Of course, there will always be corruption, but to remedy that, you move the pieces around some.  Make it impossible to spend more than one Congress on a given committee’s staff. The committee staff, for instance, of the Ways and Means committee, has far too much power.  It’s time to “spread the wealth,” I believe, and move them around as “temps” which they will be.  Yes, they’ll still have nifty salaries, and of course they can receive benefits just like any other civil servants, but not one damned dime or perquisite more.

There are other things we must put in place with staff:  They must undergo drug-testing, polygraph examination, criminal history and background checks, and be subjected to automatic IRS audit every year they serve the Congress.  Most importantly, to stop the “revolving door,” there must be a lifetime ban on lobbying Congress after their congressional service has ended, and lobbyists may not be eligible to work as Congressional staff for at least ten years after having been a registered lobbyist.  That’s right, I can hear the screams already: “It’s not fair.  You’re singling us out.  Why are you scapegoating us?”  Tough beans.  The simple fact is that it is not in the interests of the people of the United States to let Congressional members accrue undue power, never mind their staff.  They’re already in a position to profit from insider information, so there’s no sense pretending this isn’t a serious problem.

It’s the dirty secret in Washington DC that everybody knows, but few dare acknowledge:  Congressional staff serves as an unelected continuum from which there is no escape.  Voters can fire the top three members of each party on every committee, but still the same program runs.  If you wonder why, the answer is because behind the scenes, the politicians have been relieved of their legislative responsibilities and instead focus on fund-raising, while their staff carries on most if not nearly all of the member’s legislative work.  By the time you consider the impact of Committee staff, the effect is astonishing.  More, there is co-mingling between branches, where staffer X who works for Congressman Y is married to Senior Adviser A who works for executive branch Secretary B.  These sorts of back-channel relationships are well-known to the insiders, and they’re all players in the same game.  They know the rules, they know the way in which “things get done” in Washington, and you as the voter, so remote from this distant capital, have no idea what they’re doing, or why.

There’s no doubt that many are conscientious and diligent, but if we’re going to regain our control over this government, it must include an in-depth examination of Congressional staff, and perhaps of executive branch staff as well.  It’s all much too chummy in Washington DC, and while you think these people are adversarial under our two-party system, most often, that’s a show played out in front of the press.  Behind the scenes, it’s the staff carrying the water, and there’s no denying that they’re very collegial across the board.  Many of them have their own political aspirations, and it is in this way that we wind up with a permanent political class entrenched in the halls of power.  If you want that changed, you’d better add this to your list of reforms if we’re going to save America.

Sign of the Times?

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Are You Ready?

I received an interesting phone call from a friend I hadn’t talked with in a month or so, and it wasn’t that his questions were so surprising as it was that his timing seemed so preposterously coincidental.  Another acquaintance had recently forwarded me the article from the American Thinker by John Fricke, Should I buy a gun?  This brings me to the subject of my long-time friend’s call.  It wasn’t that he wanted a gun, as he has enough firearms to defend his family, but in a related matter, he wanted my opinion on the subject of preparedness, and to examine with him his own list of emergency items.  In short, he wanted to compare notes, because like the author of the American Thinker piece, he has begun to wonder if he ought not become a good bit more prepared.

I told him what I tell anybody who asks my opinion: More prepared is better than less prepared, and prepared at all is better than unprepared.   That’s a truism, but the point should be clear, and it’s something we’ve discussed together here before:  Given the state of the country, Americans should be prepared in to survive for a time without any outside assistance.

Americans should be prepared at a moment’s notice to defend themselves, their families, and their property.  They should be prepared to survive without the benefit of a grocery store for weeks, or even months.  They should have all the things necessary to “rough it” without electricity for heating or cooling or refrigeration.  They should be prepared to administer basic first aid, and have at least the bare minimum of survival items.  As I suggested to my friend, list the top 100 things he and his family members use daily, and what would be the low-tech, sustainable substitutes.  Radios, flashlights, candles, and all of those things come easily to mind, but less obvious things like soaps, disinfectants, water purification tablets, and other basic necessities are often overlooked.  He assured me that he has a generator, but I asked him bluntly:  What’s the fuel consumption rate on your generator?  How many days worth of fuel do you expect to have on hand?  He looked paused and said: “You know, that’s a good point. I can only store so much fuel, and it goes bad sitting in gas cans.”

I explained to him how we too have a small generator, but we also recognize we can’t store enough fuel for any protracted period, so we rotate what we have stored through our vehicles, filling the vehicles from the stored cans of fuel, and refilling them instead of the vehicles.  This keeps our survival supply fresh, and it enables us to ensure we’ll have a little fuel for a bad spot.  It won’t last long, but at least I’ll brew that coffee every day for a few weeks until that runs out too, and we convert to instant.

One of the things I told my friend, and in his case it’s not so important, is that many people who really don’t routinely hunt, or otherwise use firearms will frequently purchase a gun, and some ammo, put it on a shelf, and never look at it again.  Let me suggest to my readers that if you happen to be in that group, or close to it, or you have family members who are, you should take some time to actually learn the safe use and maintenance of your firearms.  It’s one thing to be able to shoot it when there is no time pressure and no particular reason but sport, but it is another when you are faced with the situation of defending yourself or your loved ones.  It’s best to spend a few boxes of ammunition preparing for self-defense than to discover too late that you haven’t prepared.

Do you have an infant or small children?  They have particular nutritional needs that may well not be met by a standard adult ration.  You also need to think about other items.  Special medications?  Do you have pets?  Most of us do.  What will you do when the dog food runs out?  Or will you be dining on Kung Pao Fido every day for a week?  My apologies, but there is a point at which we must consider the very real question of what becomes of our pets, and maybe my tasteless remark will be the thing that causes you to consider it. Whatever you can do to prepare for that possibility now will potentially save you and those you love many hardships later.

Most Americans live in tightly packed neighborhoods.  Are your neighbors preparing?  What of those in your church congregations, or other faith-based or social organizations in your community?  If you alone on your block are prepared, and things take a turn for the worse on the national level, how long do you suppose you’ll maintain your preparations if too many of your neighbors are not so well-prepared?  Your wit may be the life of the block party on the 4th of July, but when the dark of winter comes, and yours are the only lights lit on the street, and some of your occupation-inclined neighbors become annoyed at your wealth of light, how long do you suppose it will be before somebody decides you need to share your wealth?

Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t wish to frighten anybody, but having served in the Army, and knowing the value of the Boy Scouts’ motto, I want you to consider this all very carefully.  I know that many of you will have friends and neighbors like some of mine, who are perpetual grasshoppers to your diligent anthill.  I know.  Still, encouraging them to consider the reality of our situation is perhaps worthwhile.  Tell them to start putting up a few extra cans of food on each shopping trip.  The worst thing that can happen is they have a lot extra to give to a canned-food charity drive.  In a pinch, it may be the difference between a satisfying if not altogether sublime dining occasion, and the feeling of empty in the pit of their bellies.

Of course, there are those who will never prepare.  They simply assume that either they’ll somehow “get theirs” or that nothing bad will ever happen.  Watch out for these people.  These are the folks who will later come calling with ill intent, and you shouldn’t take for granted that they’ll do you no harm.  An empty belly has motivated many people to acts of evil.  The best thing about being prepared is the ability to be a good neighbor in hard times.  Even if you’ve prepared only enough for you and your own family, by being prepared, you can reduce the burdens you might otherwise place on others.  Readers of this blog are the prepared sort anyway, but what my friend’s call and John Fricke’s article should remind us is that we do indeed live in dangerous times.  There’s no substitute for preparation, and whether it’s the ability to defend yourselves, or feed yourselves, you should be mindful that the world the statists have created is subject to turmoils from which none of us will be immune.

I’m sure I’m not as prepared as I would like to be, but I’m positive I’m better prepared than many.  What about you?  Are you ready?  Part of our country seems prepared to “go Galt” while the rest continues as though nothing unusual is happening.  It’s a sign of the times in which we live that crises of monumental proportions are brewing, and so many Americans remain woefully unprepared.

That shouldn’t include you.

Barnhardt Capital Management Closes Down With Stunning Announcement

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Ann Barnhardt

Ann Barnhardt has run her grain and livestock brokerage for years, but now, she’s “Going Galt.”  This reminds me very much of the character “Midas Mulligan” from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, and it’s no coincidence that she has chosen this moment to shut down her company.  After years of watching the Obama administration and its cronies looting the capital markets, Barnhardt has made the moral decision to shut down operation since in the current environment, she can no longer safeguard her clients’ capital against the predatory tendencies of this administration, and its henchmen in the markets.  As I have told you before, this is being done intentionally: Our country is being destroyed by design.

Apparently, Ms. Barnhardt is the first courageous broker to say this flatly, and to make plain that she no longer has confidence in the rule of law since the federal government now makes it up as it goes along.  In such an environment, nobody can do business, because every transaction is subject to the whimsical prerogatives of government bureaucrats, and nothing is certain.  If contracts have no meaning, because they will not be enforced, and if government can reach back in time to retroactively steal funds, there is no safe market anywhere any longer.

Rather than tell you what Ms. Barnhardt said, I’m going to provide her notice completely:

BCM Has Ceased Operations (source)
Posted by Ann Barnhardt – November 17, AD 2011 10:27 AM MST

Dear Clients, Industry Colleagues and Friends of Barnhardt Capital Management,

It is with regret and unflinching moral certainty that I announce that Barnhardt Capital Management has ceased operations. After six years of operating as an independent introducing brokerage, and eight years of employment as a broker before that, I found myself, this morning, for the first time since I was 20 years old, watching the futures and options markets open not as a participant, but as a mere spectator.

The reason for my decision to pull the plug was excruciatingly simple: I could no longer tell my clients that their monies and positions were safe in the futures and options markets – because they are not. And this goes not just for my clients, but for every futures and options account in the United States. The entire system has been utterly destroyed by the MF Global collapse. Given this sad reality, I could not in good conscience take one more step as a commodity broker, soliciting trades that I knew were unsafe or holding funds that I knew to be in jeopardy.

The futures markets are very highly-leveraged and thus require an exceptionally firm base upon which to function. That base was the sacrosanct segregation of customer funds from clearing firm capital, with additional emergency financial backing provided by the exchanges themselves. Up until a few weeks ago, that base existed, and had worked flawlessly. Firms came and went, with some imploding in spectacular fashion. Whenever a firm failure happened, the customer funds were intact and the exchanges would step in to backstop everything and keep customers 100% liquid – even as their clearing firm collapsed and was quickly replaced by another firm within the system.

Everything changed just a few short weeks ago. A firm, led by a crony of the Obama regime, stole all of the non-margined cash held by customers of his firm. Let’s not sugar-coat this or make this crime seem “complex” and “abstract” by drowning ourselves in six-dollar words and uber-technical jargon. Jon Corzine STOLE the customer cash at MF Global. Knowing Jon Corzine, and knowing the abject lawlessness and contempt for humanity of the Marxist Obama regime and its cronies, this is not really a surprise. What was a surprise was the reaction of the exchanges and regulators. Their reaction has been to take a bad situation and make it orders of magnitude worse. Specifically, they froze customers out of their accounts WHILE THE MARKETS CONTINUED TO TRADE, refusing to even allow them to liquidate. This is unfathomable. The risk exposure precedent that has been set is completely intolerable and has destroyed the entire industry paradigm. No informed person can continue to engage these markets, and no moral person can continue to broker or facilitate customer engagement in what is now a massive game of Russian Roulette.

I have learned over the last week that MF Global is almost certainly the mere tip of the iceberg. There is massive industry-wide exposure to European sovereign junk debt. While other firms may not be as heavily leveraged as Corzine had MFG leveraged, and it is now thought that MFG’s leverage may have been in excess of 100:1, they are still suicidally leveraged and will likely stand massive, unmeetable collateral calls in the coming days and weeks as Europe inevitably collapses. I now suspect that the reason the Chicago Mercantile Exchange did not immediately step in to backstop the MFG implosion was because they knew and know that if they backstopped MFG, they would then be expected to backstop all of the other firms in the system when the failures began to cascade – and there simply isn’t that much money in the entire system. In short, the problem is a SYSTEMIC problem, not merely isolated to one firm.

Perhaps the most ominous dynamic that I have yet heard of in regards to this mess is that of the risk of potential CLAWBACK actions. For those who do not know, “clawback” is the process by which a bankruptcy trustee is legally permitted to re-seize assets that left a bankrupt entity in the time period immediately preceding the entity’s collapse. So, using the MF Global customers as an example, any funds that were withdrawn from MFG accounts in the run-up to the collapse, either because of suspicions the customer may have had about MFG from, say, watching the company’s bond yields rise sharply, or from purely organic day-to-day withdrawls, the bankruptcy trustee COULD initiate action to “clawback” those funds. As a hedge broker, this makes my blood run cold. Generally, as the markets move in favor of a hedge position and equity builds in a client’s account, that excess equity is sent back to the customer who then uses that equity to offset cash market transactions OR to pay down a revolving line of credit. Even the possibility that a customer could be penalized and additionally raped AGAIN via a clawback action after already having their customer funds stolen is simply villainous. While there has been no open indication of clawback actions being initiated by the MF Global trustee, I have been told that it is a possibility.

And so, to the very unpleasant crux of the matter. The futures and options markets are no longer viable. It is my recommendation that ALL customers withdraw from all of the markets as soon as possible so that they have the best chance of protecting themselves and their equity. The system is no longer functioning with integrity and is suicidally risk-laden. The rule of law is non-existent, instead replaced with godless, criminal political cronyism.

Remember, derivatives contracts are NOT NECESSARY in the commodities markets. The cash commodity itself is the underlying reality and is not dependent on the futures or options markets. Many people seem to have gotten that backwards over the past decades. From Abel the animal husbandman up until the year 1964, there were no cattle futures contracts at all, and no options contracts until 1984, and yet the cash cattle markets got along just fine.

Finally, I will not, under any circumstance, consider reforming and re-opening Barnhardt Capital Management, or any other iteration of a brokerage business, until Barack Obama has been removed from office AND the government of the United States has been sufficiently reformed and repopulated so as to engender my total and complete confidence in the government, its adherence to and enforcement of the rule of law, and in its competent and just regulatory oversight of any commodities markets that may reform. So long as the government remains criminal, it would serve no purpose whatsoever to attempt to rebuild the futures industry or my firm, because in a lawless environment, the same thievery and fraud would simply happen again, and the criminals would go unpunished, sheltered by the criminal oligarchy.

To my clients, who literally TO THE MAN agreed with my assessment of the situation, and were relieved to be exiting the markets, and many whom I now suspect stayed in the markets as long as they did only out of personal loyalty to me, I can only say thank you for the honor and pleasure of serving you over these last years, with some of my clients having been with me for over twelve years. I will continue to blog at Barnhardt.biz, which will be subtly re-skinned soon, and will continue my cattle marketing consultation business. I will still be here in the office, answering my phones, with the same phone numbers. Alas, my retirement came a few years earlier than I had anticipated, but there was no possible way to continue given the inevitability of the collapse of the global financial markets, the overthrow of our government, and the resulting collapse in the rule of law.

As for me, I can only echo the words of David:

“This is the Lord’s doing; and it is wonderful in our eyes.”

With Best Regards-
Ann Barnhardt

Ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake about it: This is a sign of the end of our way of life as we have known it.  When diligent people assess the state of the country, the government, and the law, arriving at the conclusion that there is no basis for confidence in any of these, and making the moral choice to cease doing business, you are looking at the end of a civilization.  We have known for more than a century that the statists would use our own financial markets, our banks, and our commodity markets against us as the trigger for total collapse, but now that day has arrived.  Ms. Barnhardt’s courage in stating the truth should be commended, but her most important points must be understood in the context of a woman who has stopped.  She has refused to participate in a market dominated by looting, graft, corruption, and lawlessness, where government does nothing to uphold law, and instead merely makes law on any basis it decides, by dictates.

I am proud of Ms. Barnhardt, and for those who think she has quit, I would say to you that she hasn’t quit.  She’s made the moral choice that one cannot deal in a market without laws and without fixed, predictable rules that will hold up in all conditions.  Put another way, imagine sitting in at a game of Blackjack, where the dealer makes up the rules, or changes them, without any rhyme or reason except to take more of your money.  How long would you remain at such a table?  What Ms. Barnhardt has done here is to tell the dealer to shove it.  I don’t blame her.  She’s my new hero, and I can only hope men and women of courage throughout the market will now join her.