I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.- Thomas Jefferson.

debt clock

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Obama signs a bill that lets banks have US over a barrel once more

I haven't read the bill myself, so I am relying on what other people are saying. This article seems to be an accurate portrayal of the lack of substance of the banking legislation, and the failure of congress and the president to meaningfully reform the banking system. I still believe that untill we deal w the Fed (abolish it) and return to a sound money system (gold standard or similar), the banksters and govt will always have a hand in our wallet.

Obama signs a bill that lets banks have US over a barrel once more

Last week, President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform bill – hailed as the most sweeping overhaul of US financial regulation since the 1930s.

By Liam Halligan

President Obama signs the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in Washington on July 21.

"Because of this law, the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street's mistakes," Obama boomed at the schmaltzy signing ceremony, amid bursts of applause.

"These reforms will put a stop to a lot of the bad loans that fuelled this debt-based bubble," the President gushed to America and the rest of the world. "This bill also empowers consumerse_SLpsdelivering the strongest consumer financial protections in history."

It would be reassuring if we could agree with Obama, concluding that Dodd-Frank will help to prevent the next systemic crisis and associated bail-out of "too-big-to-fail" banks. Reassuring, but wrong.

For despite some marginal regulatory improvements, this is no Rooseveltian legislative milestone. Amid the hype and back-slapping of last week's launch, the sad reality is that Dodd-Frank fails to address the fundamental problems that resulted in the sub-prime fiasco and the related damage to not just America, but the entire global economy.

The inherent feebleness of this door-stopping bundle of statute and its lack of desperately needed substance, was brilliantly captured by Laurence Kotlikoff, a highly-respected professor of economics at Boston University. "This law is like being invited to dinner and served pictures of food," Kotlikoff remarked.

It would be tempting to smile at such a wry observation if the situation it described wasn't so depressing. For what the US political establishment's non-response to the credit crunch illustrates is this: such is the lobbying power of the big Wall Street institutions that they not only caused a global economic crisis and then forced the US government to pay for a massive bail-out, but then used a slice of that bail-out cash to bribe politicians with campaign donations in order to block rule changes that might prevent a repeat performance.

That leaves the politicians and high-flying bankers happy, of course, while regular citizens – and their children and grandchildren – foot the multi-billion dollar bill.

The principal function of a financial services industry is to link savers with investors and creditors with borrowers, so facilitating broader commercial activity. Such intermediary functions are crucial to economic progress and can be the basis of a profitable and socially useful business.

What we've created, instead, is a group of institutions that between them comprise nothing less than a financial oligarchy. These guys have Western taxpayers over a barrel. And what's alarming is that there is almost nothing in this bill that will stop yet more too-big-to-fail calamities. Mr President, you have missed a historic opportunity and, for that, history's judgment will be severe.

In 1933, in the aftermath of the Wall Street crash, America introduced the Glass-Steagall divide – a firewall separating high-risk "investment banks" from regular "commercial banks". The idea was to draw a regulatory line in the sand, preventing Wall Street from playing fast and loose with the deposits of ordinary firms and households, deposits rightly covered by a state guarantee.

For more than 60 years that divide stood firm. But during the late 1980s and 1990s, increasingly powerful vested interests, first in the City and then Wall Street, pushed for the "co-mingling" of banking activities. The resulting "universal banks" eventually bestrode the Western world, particularly after Bill Clinton succumbed to the lobbyists' dime and formally repealed Glass-Steagall in 1999.

It is an indisputable fact that since that repeal, the Western world has lurched from crisis to crisis. Little wonder, given that the end of Glass-Steagall allowed investment banks to borrow heavily against their taxpayer-backed deposits, then place vastly leveraged heads-I-win-tails-the-government-loses bets on risky investments such as internet stocksor sliced-and-diced sub-prime mortgages. Yes, bank failures happened under Glass-Steagall, but they were less frequent and far smaller.

Obama didn't consider re-instating Glass-Steagall. On the contrary, he packed his administration with the same people who helped Clinton remove it.

During his first year in office, the President dithered over financial reform but then, in the aftermath of an electoral mauling in Massachusetts, he placated those calling for root-and-branch banking reform by calling in former Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Volcker.

The so-called "Volcker Rule" is the centrepiece of Dodd-Frank and as such, is indicative of the entire package. It's designed to restrict the ability of universal banks to speculate with taxpayer-backed money, rather than making sure by keeping deposit takers and investment banks separate.

Volcker places limits on so-called "prop" trading without defining what it is, so allowing banks to exploit what they claim is "the grey area between market-making and speculation".

Wall Street firms will also still be able to lever up punters' money and deal in credit-default swaps – the main culprits in the AIG bankruptcy, which cost US taxpayers $182bn and counting – while also destroying Bear Stearns and Lehman. The only stipulation is that ratings agencies should classify such derivates as "investment grade". Such agencies are unreformed and were at the heart of the last debacle – so that's hardly reassuring.

Last-minute changes mean that banks can, anyway, use 3pc of their tier-one capital for out-and-out speculation, circumventing Volcker. That doesn't sound much, but once levered up 50-times – and such a figure isn't unusual – this huge loophole in Volcker is more than enough to allow investment banks to keep destroying themselves in full knowledge the state will pay. Adding insult to injury, Wall Street then secured delays to the introduction of Volcker – or what's left of it – that in some cases will last for more than 10 years.

The closer you look at Dodd-Frank, the more apparent becomes Wall Street's influence. Limits on leverage – rejected. Limits on bank size – rejected. Restrictions on derivatives – well, some trading will go through a central exchange, allowing more scrutiny, but it's entirely unclear how much.

At every turn, this bill avoids decisions, delegating them instead to an army of regulators who will turn generalities into actual rules. If the banks were able to skew Dodd-Frank their way , think of the influence they'll have when the details are hammered out behind closed doors.

Obama put the spotlight on the creation of a consumer protection bureau – an attempt, before November's mid-term elections, to make arcane legislation meaningful to the public. Are there limits on credit card interest, ensnaring adjustable rate mortgages or predatory pay-day loans? Nope.

Some other omissions in the bill are breath-taking. There is no mention of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac – the government-sponsored mortgage-providers that have already cost $145bn in bail-out cash, rising to almost $400bn by 2019. No mention, either, of capital requirements – which means the global banking system must rely, once again, on the ridiculous Basel process for resolving this crucial issue. Once again, Obama missed a chance to give a lead when it comes to financial reform.

Based on sound-thinking courageous judgment, the Glass-Steagall legislation was only 17 pages long. Packed with wheezes and loop-holes, Dodd-Frank runs to 2,319 pages. Enough said.

Monday, July 26, 2010

"Money is the most important subject intellectual persons can investigate and reflect upon. It is so important that our present civilization may collapse unless it is widely understood and its defects remedied very soon." -- Robert H. Hemphill, former credit manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Food-Cue Responses Differ in Overweight and Lean Women: Study

Mildly interesting obesity/eating study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jul 21 - Overweight people may respond more to a piping hot pizza, but they don't necessarily eat more of it in a single sitting, a new study shows.

University of Bristol graduate student Danielle Ferriday and her faculty advisor, Dr. Jeffrey Brunstrom, wanted to know if overweight and lean people respond differently to "food cues," and, if they do, how the mind translates these different levels of "desire-to-eat."

"We all need to eat and we all encounter many food-related cues in our everyday lives," Ferriday told Reuters Health.

The two researchers enrolled 52 normal weight and 52 overweight women in the study, exposed them for 60 seconds to the sight and smell of pizza, and measured how much they salivated, as well as their psychological responses.

While lean participants didn't salivate much more than usual when they saw and smelled the pizza, the overweight participants salivated about a third more than usual. They also had more desire to eat, measured by a standard scale, than the lean study subjects.

However, the overweight participants didn't eat more, even after being told to eat as much as they'd like.

What that means, say the researchers, is that overweight people don't necessarily eat more when at the table, but, because of their heightened sensitivity to the cues, they may go to the table more often.

"This is potentially important, because this sensitivity may encourage snacking" and other bad eating habits that are "associated with increased energy intake, overweight and weight gain," the investigators said in their report, published online June 15th in the International Journal of Obesity.

The study couldn't answer why overweight people are more turned on by food. It is not clear, for example, whether they are born that way or whether eating habits learned and developed over time cause a change.

While all the subjects in this study were women, "we suspect that the findings would apply to men too," Ferriday said.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Smoking Gun For Media Bias

Posted 07/21/2010 06:52 PM ET
from IBD

Journo-Gate: For decades, moderates and conservatives have been derided and ridiculed for complaining about the mainstream media's pervasive liberal bias. As it turns out, however, their worst fears were true.

If you don't know about Journolist, you should. It's a semi-secret listserv maintained by Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein. Don't bother to try to log on. If they want you, they'll ask you to take part. No outsiders need apply.

And who uses it? Almost exclusively liberal journalists and left-leaning movers and shakers. Sound innocuous? It isn't.

Journolist has become a forum for lefty journalists to talk about how to push their progressive agenda on America, protect President Obama and hurt his foes. It is a safe-space for the often-vile expression of hatred toward conservatives and their ideas.

It all came to light a few weeks ago when news broke that then-Washington Post writer David Weigel, hired to cover the conservative movement for the Post, had made disparaging comments about those he covered on Journolist.

Weigel's remarks were bad enough. But in the ensuing weeks, other comments emerged that made it clear his comments weren't atypical. Not only do the liberal journalists despise conservatives and their non-progressive vision for America, but they actively colluded — one might say plotted — to undercut them.

This isn't journalism. It's political activism.

What's disappointing is not just the lie that journalists put forth about being "objective." That's long since been proved false by survey after survey showing that members of the media are not only overwhelmingly Democratic in their political orientation but also far to the left of average Americans on virtually every major social and economic issue, from tax cuts to abortion.

No, the biggest disappointment is the nastiness they appear to harbor toward right-leaning journalist colleagues.

read more

Taxes, politicains and banking

I have a couple of articles/e-mails re: taxes and politicians I'm copying for you today, the first courtesy of Art Mosley, the 2nd from IBD.

One quick comment about the new financial regulations. One good measure in the bill, expansion of the CFTC regulatory powers over derivatives, will give them the power to end a crime in progress, which is the suppression of gold and silver prices by certain large banks (JPM), which should allow much higher prices. This may be the last chance to buy at what, IMO, are still low prices. Otherwise, from my reading of other peoples desciptions of the bill (I haven't read it myself), it won't due much of what it claims to do, prevent new financial crises for instance, and good things it could have done, increase transparency of the federal reserve (Ron Paul's audit the fed proposal) were stripped from the final product.

If you don't want to read the whole thing, I at least recommend skipping to the bottom and looking at the list of various taxes we already pay

545 PEOPLE -- By Charlie Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes,

WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations.

The House of Representatives does.

You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he/she votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits.... . The President can only propose a budget.

He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million can not replace

545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red...

If the Army & Marines are in IRAQ , it's because they want them in IRAQ If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy", "inflation", or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.

They, and they alone, have the power..

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses.

Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees...

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

Charlie Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper.

What you do with this article now that you have read it......... Is up to you.

Sales Tax

School Tax

Liquor Tax

Luxury Tax

Excise Taxes

Property Tax

Cigarette Tax

Medicare Tax

Inventory Tax

Real Estate Tax

Well Permit Tax

Fuel Permit Tax

Inheritance Tax

Road Usage Tax

CDL license Tax

Dog License Tax

State Income Tax

Food License Tax

Vehicle Sales Tax

Gross Receipts Tax

Social Security Tax

Service Charge Tax

Fishing License Tax

Federal Income Tax

Building Permit Tax

IRS Interest Charges

Hunting License Tax

Marriage License Tax

Corporate Income Tax

Personal Property Tax

Accounts Receivable Tax

Recreational Vehicle Tax

Workers Compensation Tax

Watercraft Registration Tax

Telephone Usage Charge Tax

Telephone Federal Excise Tax

Telephone State and Local Tax

IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)

State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)

Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)

Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax

Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax

Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)

Utility Taxes Vehicle License Registration Tax

Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes

Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, & our nation was the most prosperous in the world.

We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What in the hell happened? Can you spell 'politicians? ' I hope this goes around THE USA at least 100 times!!!

YOU can help it get there!!!



from IBD

The Tax Tsunami On The Horizon

Posted 07/21/2010 06:41 PM ET

Fiscal Policy: Many voters are looking forward to 2011, hoping a new Congress will put the country back on the right track. But unless something's done soon, the new year will also come with a raft of tax hikes — including a return of the death tax — that will be real killers.

Through the end of this year, the federal estate tax rate is zero — thanks to the package of broad-based tax cuts that President Bush pushed through to get the economy going earlier in the decade.

But as of midnight Dec. 31, the death tax returns — at a rate of 55% on estates of $1 million or more. The effect this will have on hospital life-support systems is already a matter of conjecture.

Resurrection of the death tax, however, isn't the only tax problem that will be ushered in Jan. 1. Many other cuts from the Bush administration are set to disappear and a new set of taxes will materialize. And it's not just the rich who will pay.

The lowest bracket for the personal income tax, for instance, moves up 50% — to 15% from 10%. The next lowest bracket — 25% — will rise to 28%, and the old 28% bracket will be 31%. At the higher end, the 33% bracket is pushed to 36% and the 35% bracket becomes 39.6%.

But the damage doesn't stop there.

The marriage penalty also makes a comeback, and the capital gains tax will jump 33% — to 20% from 15%. The tax on dividends will go all the way from 15% to 39.6% — a 164% increase.

Both the cap-gains and dividend taxes will go up further in 2013 as the health care reform adds a 3.8% Medicare levy for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and joint filers making more than $250,000. Other tax hikes include: halving the child tax credit to $500 from $1,000 and fixing the standard deduction for couples at the same level as it is for single filers.

Letting the Bush cuts expire will cost taxpayers $115 billion next year alone, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and $2.6 trillion through 2020.

But even more tax headaches lie ahead. This "second wave" of hikes, as Americans for Tax Reform puts it, are designed to pay for ObamaCare and include:

The Medicine Cabinet Tax. Americans, says ATR, "will no longer be able to use health savings account, flexible spending account, or health reimbursement pretax dollars to purchase nonprescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin)."

The Tax Tsunami On The Horizon

Posted 07/21/2010 06:41 PM ET

The HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike. "This provision of ObamaCare," according to ATR, "increases the additional tax on nonmedical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10% to 20%, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10%."

Brand Name Drug Tax. Makers and importers of brand-name drugs will be liable for a tax of $2.5 billion in 2011. The tax goes to $3 billion a year from 2012 to 2016, then $3.5 billion in 2017 and $4.2 billion in 2018. Beginning in 2019 it falls to $2.8 billion and stays there. And who pays the new drug tax? Patients, in the form of higher prices.

Economic Substance Doctrine. ATR reports that "The IRS is now empowered to disallow perfectly legal tax deductions and maneuvers merely because it judges that the deduction or action lacks 'economic substance.'"

A third and final (for now) wave, says ATR, consists of the alternative minimum tax's widening net, tax hikes on employers and the loss of deductions for tuition:

• The Tax Policy Center, no right-wing group, says that the failure to index the AMT will subject 28.5 million families to the tax when they file next year, up from 4 million this year.

• "Small businesses can normally expense (rather than slowly deduct, or 'depreciate') equipment purchases up to $250,000," says ATR. "This will be cut all the way down to $25,000. Larger businesses can expense half of their purchases of equipment. In January of 2011, all of it will have to be 'depreciated.'"

• According to ATR, there are "literally scores of tax hikes on business that will take place," plus the loss of some tax credits. The research and experimentation tax credit will be the biggest loss, "but there are many, many others. Combining high marginal tax rates with the loss of this tax relief will cost jobs."

• The deduction for tuition and fees will no longer be available and there will be limits placed on education tax credits. Teachers won't be able to deduct their classroom expenses and employer-provided educational aid will be restricted. Thousands of families will no longer be allowed to deduct student loan interest.

Then there's the tax on Americans who decline to buy health care insurance (the tax the administration initially said wasn't a tax but now argues in court that it is) plus a 3.8% Medicare tax beginning in 2013 on profits made in real estate transactions by wealthier Americans.

Not all Americans may fully realize what's in store come Jan. 1. But they should have a pretty good idea by the mid-term elections, and members of Congress might take note of our latest IBD/TIPP Poll (summarized above).

Fifty-one percent of respondents favored making the Bush cuts permanent vs. 28% who didn't. Republicans were more than 4 to 1 and Independents more than 2 to 1 in favor. Only Democrats were opposed, but only by 40%-38%.

The cuts also proved popular among all income groups — despite the Democrats' oft-heard assertion that Bush merely provided "tax breaks for the wealthy." Fact is, Bush cut taxes for everyone who paid them, and the cuts helped the nation recover from a recession and the worst stock-market crash since 1929.

Maybe, just maybe, Americans remember that — and will not forget come Nov. 2


July 23, 2010 U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commissioners
3 Lafayette Centre
1155 21st St. NW
Washington, DC 20581

Re: Position Limit Implementation

Dear Commissioners -

With the passing of the new Financial Reform Law it is clear that the people of the United States of America have spoken through their Congressional representatives that it is time to END FOREVER the manipulation of gold and silver on the COMEX. There is no gray area here and there should be no doubt as to your mandate.

Commissioners Dunn, Sommers and O'Malia have hidden behind a fake paper wall of their own creation by NOT ENDORSING immediate position limits on gold and silver, BUT NOW THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN.

The other day one of my subscribers got an email from Bart Chilton stating that he was excited that the new Law requires those of you who did not endorse position limits to reverse your position. Bart also stated that the Law requires the CFTC to set these position limits within 180 days. I share in this excitement but I'd advise that you head this warning...DO NOT DELAY THE IMPLEMENTATION OF POSITION LIMITS!

The CFTC and you Commissioners have had over a year to plan for this moment so there should be NO REASON why the limits and structure has not already been analyzed, vetted and documented. WE THE PEOPLE have cleared the runway for you so implement this mandate immediately!

Position limits for silver should be NO MORE THAN 1,500 contracts. Anything higher than that is an invitation for more criminal behavior and the People have told you to END that game.

We await your immediate response to the Law and the immediate implementation of position limits.

Your time is up.

We The People have spoken.

Bix Weir
Direct email: Ggensler@cftc.gov, Mdunn@cftc.gov, Bchilton@cftc.gov, Jsommers@cftc.gov, Somalia@cftc.gov

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Path to Perdition

from Casey's Daily Dispatch

In Orwell’s 1984, it was the job of the Thought Police to ferret out miscreants whose thinking and actions ran contrary to the dictates of the all-controlling state.

While things haven’t quite degraded to that point yet, even a casual glance at the news confirms that we’re well on the way. The first, from the Ventura County Star, is about a spilled can of water-based paint. Some relevant excerpts…

The incident started on an afternoon in late June when Steve Pettersen of No Regrets Painting upset a can of water-based paint inside his van, parked on a client’s driveway at Mandalay Bay.

Paint, once spilled, is harder to return to the can than worms. Nonetheless, Pettersen said, he was able to scoop up most of the contents of the toppled gallon and capture it in a container. A third-generation painter, he then sopped up the residue with rags, as he had learned to do through the process of getting his California contractor license.

Cleanups are messy affairs and a small quantity of the paint oozed onto the driveway. When it appeared the paint would stain his customer’s attractive and recently installed drive, he used the garden hose to rinse it off the pavement.

With the curb appeal restored, he went back into the house to complete the job.

A while later, he came outside to get something from his van and froze in his tracks.

Before his eyes were two firetrucks, each staffed by three firefighters, including paramedic and hazardous-materials specialists. There were two city of Oxnard code compliance officers. A Harbor Patrol vessel had been dispatched. A California Department of Fish and Game warden also responded. The scene was short only moon suits and a hovering helicopter.

In all, 13 public officials arrived on the scene.

…Because this neighborhood borders the harbor, anything in the storm drain goes directly into the sea. This is true anywhere in Southern California, but in this case it had to travel only 60 feet.

Responders discovered faint wisps of a whitish substance believed to be paint floating in the waterway nearby and proceeded to deploy a soft boom to keep the milky plumes from drifting into the main channel.

One problem: Since the paint was water-based, the boom could not soak it up.

After a few hours and much consultation, the decision was made to let nature take its course and to remove the boom when it was most likely that the tide would push the foreign substance out to sea, according to Oxnard Fire Battalion Chief Mike O’Malia, who responded to the incident.

In the end, she said, officials carried away the evidence against Pettersen in a Mason jar that held “a dollop of color in it.”

…The spill of aqua paint is going to put him in the red. He already has received a bill from the Oxnard Fire Department for $534. He also has been summoned to the Ventura County Hall of Justice to face charges he violated California Health and Safety Code. For that he faces up to $25,000 in penalties.

For small-businessman Steve Pettersen that is not exactly a drop in the bucket.

Full story here.

The second story, from the Grist.org, doesn’t involved spilled paint but raw milk…

When the 20 agents arrived bearing a search warrant at her Ventura County farmhouse door at 7 a.m. on a Wednesday a couple weeks back, Sharon Palmer didn't know what to say. This was the third time she was being raided in 18 months, and she had thought she was on her way to resolving the problem over labeling of her goat cheese that prompted the other two raids. (In addition to producing goat's milk, she raises cattle, pigs, and chickens, and makes the meat available via a CSA.)

But her 12-year-old daughter, Jasmine, wasn't the least bit tongue-tied. "She started back-talking to them," recalls Palmer. "She said, 'If you take my computer again, I can't do my homework.' This would be the third computer we will have lost. I still haven't gotten the computers back that they took in the previous two raids."

As part of a five-hour-plus search of her barn and home, the agents -- from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, Los Angeles County Sheriff, Ventura County Sheriff, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture -- took the replacement computer, along with milk she feeds her chickens and pigs.

While no one will say officially what the purpose of this latest raid was, aside from being part of an investigation in progress, what is very clear is that government raids of producers, distributors, and even consumers of nutritionally dense foods appear to be happening ever more frequently. Sometimes they are meant to counter raw dairy production, other times to challenge private food organizations over whether they should be licensed as food retailers.

The same day Sharon Palmer's farm was raided, there was a raid on Rawesome Foods, a Venice, Calif., private food club run by nutritionist and raw-food advocate Aajonus Vonderplanitz. For a membership fee of $25, consumers can purchase unpasteurized dairy products, eggs that are not only organic but unwashed, and a wide assortment of fermented vegetables and other products.

The main difference in the two raids seems to be that Palmer's raiding party was actually much smaller, about half the size of the Venice contingent: Vonderplanitz was also visited by the FBI and the FDA.

The questions I find myself asking are, “How does this stop? Where does it end?”

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hungary's IMF revolt augurs ill for Greece

The collapse of Hungary's talks with the International Monetary Fund and the EU is a chilly reminder that sovereign debt crises do not end with a rescue package and a click of the fingers. As austerity drags on for year after year, democracies react.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor

Published: 8:32PM BST 19 Jul 2010

A slogan of Hungarian Natianal Bank (Magyar Nemzeti Bank) - the IMF has pulled out of talks on a bailout for Hungary. Photo: AFP

"We told the IMF/EU that further austerity was out of the question," said Hungary's economic minister Gyorgy Matolcsy, offering no hint that the Fidesz government is willing to back down despite yesterday's surge in Hungarian default costs by 51 basis points.

The Fidesz movement – an amalgam of libertarians and nationalists with a Left-populist tilt – won a crushing victory in April on a campaign of defiance against both Brussels and the IMF. It has been spoiling for a fight ever since.

Lars Christensen, of Danske Bank, said events in Budapest are a warning of what may happen in the Baltics later this year, and then in Greece and other parts of EMU-periphery forced to undergo wage cuts and harsh fiscal tightening.

"It is incredible how long Hungary has been struggling to get over its imbalances. It first began austerity measures in 2006, but four years later is still not out of the crisis and there is massive discontent. The Greek problem is even bigger by any measure, whether budget deficit, current account or public debt," he said.

"Austerity is extremely hard to sell to electorates. The risk is that this moves from a wider financial and economic crisis to a European political crisis as governments are punished by voters. The approval rating for Lithuanian's prime minister has fallen to 7pc."

Greece is at an early stage of this political sequel. It has won praise from the IMF so far but spending cuts have only just started over recent months, and will grind much deeper over the next three years. Two MPs from the ruling Pasok party have been expelled for refusing to toe the line, and some Greek analysts say the party may ultimately splinter.

"The issue is whether they can carry the Greek people when have to make the next round of cuts in 2011," said Chris Pryce, of Fitch Ratings.

Tim Ash, of RBS, said Hungary deserves some sympathy after sticking to agreed cuts last year as the economy contracted by 6pc. It has broadly complied with IMF terms. The budget deficit is just 3.8pc of GDP this year, far lower than Poland, Spain, France, Japan, the UK or the US.

Even so, he warned that Hungary is playing a "dangerous game" for a state with a public debt of 80pc of GDP and an external debt of 135pc. "If there is another bout of global risk aversion, Hungary is the first target. It has $40bn of reserves, or five months import cover, but in the end it probably can't survive without IMF money," Mr Ash said.

The country cannot easily devalue to claw its way out of its debt-trap because 63pc of loans from mortgages, households, and companies are in foreign currencies, much of it in the ever-soaring Swiss franc. "A weaker currency will crush households. Countries like Hungary with a debt-sustainability problem need to grow but there is no growth, and they can't reflate," he said.

Most investors thought Hungary's woes were over long ago with the approval of the €20bn rescue in 2008 – now mostly exhausted. It was assumed that the rest of Central and Eastern Europe were well on the way to recovery, underpinned by the G20 agreement in April 2009 to triple the IMF's fire-fighting fund to $750bn.

The picture is looking more fragile again. The IMF is nearing its own limits as a lender of last resort after its pledge to back the EU's Stability Facility for Club Med debtors with up $250bn if needed.

IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said yesterday that the Fund was in talks to raise its resources to a $1 trillion as a precaution. "Even when not in a time of crisis, a big fund, likely to intervene massively, is something that can help prevent crises. Just because the financing role decreases, it doesn't mean we don't need to have huge firepower," he said.

Scotiabank gives long abuse to cancer victim trying to reclaim her silver

The difficult attempt of a cancer-stricken Toronto woman to exchange her Scotiabank silver certificates for real metal, witnessed last week by a writer for the Globe and Mail, whose account of the matter is appended, recalls the difficult attempt of Harvey and Lenny Organ to do the same thing with the same bank. (See http://www.gata.org/node/8513.) The bank's mistreatment of the Toronto woman is so outrageous that perhaps some of those who were skeptics of the Organs' story will begin to wonder if there isn't after all really a bullion banking policy to discourage buyers from taking possession of their metal precisely because the banks are selling far more claims to metal than they have actual metal.

CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer

Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Missouri Libertarian Party Endorses Proposition C

Email: cisseforliberty@gmail.com

The Missouri Libertarian Party passed a resolution to endorse Proposition C, the Healthcare Freedom Act, which is a referendum on the August 3rd primary ballot. “Proposition C is a first in the nation opportunity for Missouri voters to push back against some of the blatantly unconstitutional provisions of the Obamacare legislation,” said Dr. Cisse Spragins, Missouri LP state chair. “Besides being unconstitutional, the mammoth 2000+ page bill was rammed through despite the fact that a majority of Americans opposed it.” “Even those who were initially in favor of the legislation are beginning to understand its negative ramifications, and the fact that it is in many respects corporate welfare for insurance and pharmaceutical companies,” Spragins added.

The ballot measure will exempt Missourians from being fined by the IRS for opting not to purchase the mandated minimum health insurance coverage. The measure will also insure that medical practitioners can continue to offer legal services for cash, even if they choose to opt out of providing services paid by government or insurance. The measure has no effect on those who wish to participate in Obamacare. “The Obamacare legislation sets a new precedent for the ongoing destruction of our liberties. Never has the government required a person to purchase a product simply by virtue of the fact they exist,” Spragins noted. “The Missouri LP is proud to endorse Proposition C.”
Voters who are Fed Up! with bailouts, stimulus plans that only stimulate bigger government, government takeover of health care, rising unemployment, never-ending foreign wars, and a big brother police state will find common ground with the Libertarian Party. The Libertarian Party is America's third largest political party and has been fighting for smaller government since 1971. The Missouri Libertarian Party has been a recognized party in the State, with continuous ballot access since 1992. For further information visit www.lpmo.org or call 877-Vote-4-Us.

Cisse W. Spragins, Ph.D.

Chair, Missouri Libertarian Party


Candidate for US Senate


Cell: 612 309 9232

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants, it is the creed of slaves." --William Pitt, speech to the House of Commons.

A speech every U.S. high-school principal should give


Dennis Prager

Posted: July 13, 2010

If every school principal gave this speech at the beginning of the next school year, America would be a better place.

To the students and faculty of our high school:

I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.

I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against our country.

First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships.
The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity – your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is American. This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans.

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As they say in Missoouri, show me- Alt energy

by Frank M. Hughes on July 16, 2010 at 2:30pm

One-time Congressman Willard Vandiver is credited with saying, “Frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me."

I suggest this is a fitting reaction to today’s oil drilling debate, as well as the seed issue which fans the opposition to hydrocarbon fuels: global warming, now known as climate change because the original tag didn’t excite enough citizens. Many unsuspecting people accepted the declaration of some alleged scientists(the same experts who just a few years earlier were frantic about a coming ice age) that the debate is over, the science is in, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels is increasing the earth’s temperature and we are headed toward an apocalyptic calamity. With Climategate, we have all seen how that’s working out. It seems the scientific evidence wasn’t scientifically or diligently accumulated and reported.

So, instead of tricks, you who oppose oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, show me the alternative or renewable energy equivalents to fossil fuels that are immediately available and capable of actually replacing coal, oil, and natural gas. Webster’s says “equivalent” means to have power, value, or outcome equal to something else; so show me the alternative energy equivalent you will substitute for the versatility, reliability, economical efficiency, and energy output of any of the fossil fuels. Show me that these equivalent energy sources will provide the same low-cost energy that now preserves the personal and national security of the American people, and that this energy will maintain or build on the $13 trillion economy and affluent life styles bequeathed to humanity by fossil fuels.

Show me the energy source equivalent to hydrocarbon fuels in generating the nation’s electric power. I hear political trumpeting about moving forward with “clean energy,” but it is all show and no-go. Lack of substance stimulates scrutiny like “where’s the beef?”

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Less bang for the Buck than Obama claims

I was watching the news last night and heard our president say that the govt was getting a return of 3 dollars of private spending out of every dollar of stimulus money spent. I started laughing out loud, which my 4 month old daughter really enjoyed, but then i thought about her, and the legacy the Obama-bin-Biden administration will leave her, and the laughter stopped. (Bush and the Pubes share some credit, they can't blame everything on the D-rats)

Here is the transcript for the entire speech, I've excerpted the relevant paragraphs below-

Just yesterday, the Council of Economic Advisers put out a detailed report and it showed that for things like tax credits that go to advanced energy manufacturing or loan guarantees for small businesses or financing for infrastructure projects, we're leveraging nearly three private dollars for every public dollar that's spent. That's an incredible bang for our buck. By making critical seed money available, we've attracted more than $280 billion in investment from private companies and others, which will mean new jobs and brighter futures for families in Holland and in communities across the country.

And by the way, these aren't just any jobs. These are jobs in the industries of the future. Just a few years ago, American businesses manufactured only 2 percent of the world's advanced batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles -- 2 percent. But because of what's happening in places like this, in just five years we'll have up to 40 percent of the world's capacity -- 40 percent. (Applause.) So for years you've been hearing about manufacturing jobs disappearing overseas. You are leading the way in showing how manufacturing jobs are coming right back here to the United States of America. (Applause.)

For example, the workers at this plant, already slated to produce batteries for the new Chevy Volt, learned the other day that they're also going to be supplying batteries for the new electric Ford Focus as soon as this operation gears up. That means that by 2012, the batteries will be manufactured here in Holland, Michigan. So when you buy one of these vehicles, the battery could be stamped "Made in America" -- just like the car. (Applause.)

What's wrong w this you ask? At least Obama's not suggesting that every stimulus dollar spend has a 3-1 return, as I initially thought he said (short quote on TV). Let's look closer, or paraphrasing South Park, " Look more closlier ". The administration has given tax breaks to a S Korean company to build a plant in Michigan, as part of a govt plan to increase the capacity to build electric batteries for cars. This is typical of targeted govt intervention in the economy, taking money out of the general economy (either by borrowing or taxing) to spend on a particular segment of the economy, overruling the market forces which are much better at determining where money should be allocated. For the factory in Holland Mi., the govt spent 500K, for each "job" created, in an industry w overcapacity. Little bang for those bucks, plus, how much money was spent flying the president and his staff our for that speech and photo-op, to brag about what great things he's doing for the people.

From Politifact-

The projection of capacity by Deutsche Bank "pretty well matches with the other projections of announced capacity," said Mike Millikin, editor of the Green Car Congress.

"The Administration has certainly put its money toward boosting U.S. capacity," Millikin said. "However, what ultimately matters is production and purchases."

In fact, many industry experts say capacity will far exceed demand for, and production of, advanced batteries.

In April, 2010, Menahem Anderman, founder and chief executive of Total Battery Consulting, issued a report on plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs) based on-site interviews with top technologists and executives at 20 major automakers and 15 current and prospective battery suppliers on three continents.

"The government’s stimulus money will create severe overcapacity from 2013 on," Anderman told PolitiFact. "There is no market for the capacity planned."

That's because demand for the cars is limited by high up-front cost and still-evolving battery technology.

"Unfortunately the mass EV and PHEV market at current gasoline pricing and battery technology status (cost, performance and life) will require unaffordable heavy subsidies to carmakers, battery makers and the consumer," Anderman said.

And because the market is so dependent on government subsidies, he said, it is risky.


And to reiterate- every govt dollar spent to subsidize one industry, is paid for by every other productive industry, and every individual taxpayer. And on top of that, the govt has the gall to complain about other govts industrial subsidies and unfair competition. If I'm not being clear, let's simplify. Every govt subsidy, is a tax on everyone else not receiving the subsidy.

More from Politifact-

Indeed, some economists, including many conservatives, believe that the multiplier effect from the stimulus is small or nonexistent. "Every dollar Congress injects into the economy must first be taxed or borrowed out of the economy," writes economist Brian Riedl of the conservative Heritage Foundation. "No new purchasing power is created; it is merely transferred from one part of the economy to another. ... Removing water from one end of a swimming pool and pouring it in the other end will not raise the overall water level -- no matter how large the bucket. Similarly, borrowing money from one part of the economy and redistributing to another part of the economy will not create new growth -- no matter how big the stimulus bill."

I had more to write, but I've run out of time. I'll finish off w 2 articles, the first is simply the Reuters report of the White House press release, which by the title was a purely reactive move over poll results. The second, sent to me by Brett Mosley, led to me writing the above missive.

White House: Stimulus saved 3 million jobs

Report comes a day after a pair of polls raised red flags for Obama

by Caren Bohan and Alister Bull

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's economic policies have significantly boosted U.S. growth and hiring this year, the White House said on Wednesday as it seeks to counter sagging confidence in his economic leadership.

A quarterly White House report estimated Obama's $862 billion economic stimulus package, which he signed last year, has so far lifted employment by between 2.5 million and 3.6 million jobs, while giving growth a big boost.

"The impact of the fiscal stimulus suggest that the (Recovery Act) has raised the level of GDP as of the second quarter of 2010, relative to what it otherwise would have been, by between 2.7 and 3.2 percent," the report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) said.

"Real GDP growth is expected to remain steady in the second half of 2010 and throughout 2011."

The first official estimate for second quarter growth is released on July 30.

Growth in the first quarter was 2.7 percent, continuing a gradual recovery from the worst recession since the 1930s, which has yet to dramatically cut a painfully high unemployment rate that stood at 9.5 percent in June.

Vice President Joseph Biden said the economy "would be barely growing at all" without the emergency spending.


Morning Bell: Why the Obama Stimulus Failed

Posted July 15th, 2010 at 9:18am

Today, President Barack Obama will attend a groundbreaking ceremony in Holland, Mich., for a South Korean-owned factory that will make batteries for electric cars. The purpose of the trip is to highlight the “success” of the President’s $862 billion economic stimulus package which the White House claimed yesterday has already “saved or created” 3 million jobs. Specifically, this factory is being subsidized by $151 million of stimulus funds from an even larger $2 billion honey pot of stimulus money set aside for electric car battery investments. This one plant is expected to employ 300 workers. That works out to more than $500,000 per job created. $500,000 per job. This plant, in a nutshell, explains why the President’s stimulus plan has been an objective failure.

The American people know the President’s stimulus has failed. A new CBS poll out today shows that 74 percent of Americans believe the Obama stimulus either damaged the economy or had no effect. And a Washington Post poll released Tuesday again showed that a majority of Americans disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the economy. So how on earth can the White House claim they “saved or created” 3 million jobs? By rerunning the same economic models that predicted the stimulus would prevent unemployment from ever rising above 8%. That’s right. The White House’s 3 million jobs number is not based on any real world data.

So what does the actual objective real world data show? When the President first began selling his stimulus plan to the American people in November 2008, he promised it would create 2.5 million jobs. But as employment fell at the end of 2008, President-elect Obama increased his employment promise by one million to 3.5 millions jobs created. At the time, employment stood at about 134.3 million. Using these two data points, one can objectively establish the Obama jobs target for December 2010 at 137.8 million. Fast forward to July 2010 and the latest jobs report shows total U.S. employment at almost 130.5 million. This means President Obama’s stimulus has failed to meet its own standard for success by 7.4 million jobs.

Why has the President’s $862 billion stimulus failed by 7.4 million jobs? Because government spending does not stimulate economic growth. All it does is move resources away from one sector of the economy to another. And government has a horrible track record at efficiently allocating resources. All that really happens is that, on net, jobs get destroyed in the transfer process.

That brings us back to Holland, Michigan. Maybe this new battery plant is worth investing millions of dollars in. Maybe it will eventually turn a profit. But maybe not. The issue is, “Why is this any of the government’s business?” We used to be a capitalist country. We’re supposed to have vibrant capital markets that make these decisions using market principles. Instead we have the Obama administration acting as a venture capital fund picking winners and losers not based on economics, but on political priorities (in this case global warming).

And this is where the President’s war on the rule of law and audacious domestic agenda come into play. The White House claimed yesterday that the Obama stimulus has encouraged $280 billion in private sector spending. The facts do not support this. In reality annual private fixed nonresidential investment has fallen by $327 billion since the recession started— a 19 percent drop. Businesses are not investing because of the vast economic uncertainties the Obama administration is creating.

Will secured creditor contracts be honored in court? Or will the Obama administration rip up those contracts? How much does it cost to hire a new employee? No one will know until thousands of pages of Obamacare regulations emanate from the IRS and HHS. How much will energy cost? That depends on how draconian the Obama EPA global warming regulations are. What are the rules for financial markets? You better have the cash for an army of good lawyers, because the 2,300-page Dodd-Frank bill touches every aspect of financial markets and requires 243 new rule-makings by 11 different federal agencies.

The Obama administration’s massive spending and regulatory expansion is not helping economic recovery. It is actively thwarting it.

Quick Hits:

Today at 2 PM Eastern, The Heritage Foundation will host an event titled “Remember the Gulf: Is the Administration Doing More Harm Than Good,” featuring The Honorable John F. Young, Jr., council chairman for Jefferson Parish, La. RSVP here or watch online.

U.S. home foreclosures reached a record high in the second quarter of this year, U.S. retail sales dropped for the second consecutive month in June, and according to Gallup, Americans’ confidence in the economy sank significantly between June and July.

The Federal Reserve marked down their expectations for growth and inflation, concluding that the economic recovery is proceeding more slowly than previously thought.

Erskine Bowles, former White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and co-chair of President Obama’s fiscal commission said Wednesday that Obamacare will do very little to bring down costs, contradicting claims from the White House.

The Obama administration has approved taxpayer funding of abortion through new high-risk insurance pools in Pennsylvania and New Mexico.

UPDATE: The original version of this post reported the Obama jobs target as 138.6 million jobs based off of BLS data that showed 135.1 million jobs in December 2008. In January 2010 the BLS revised down the Decemeber 2008 count to 134.3 million. So the updated Obama jobs target is 137.8 million and the 7.4 million jobs gap total is correct.

A Quiet Axis Forms Against Iran in the Middle East

By Alexander Smoltczyk and Bernhard Zand

Israel and the Arab states near the Persian Gulf recognize a common threat: the regime in Tehran. A regional diplomat has not even ruled out support by the Arab states for a military strike to end Iran's nuclear ambitions.

It is early in the morning on the wharfs in Sharjah, just below the Museum of Islamic Civilization, where the heavy wooden ships known as dhows are being loaded with cargo. Pakistani laborers hoist engine blocks, plasma monitors and mineral oil into the ships' holds. When asked where the dhows are headed, they say, matter-of-factly: "Iran."

Trade between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and their neighbor across the Strait of Hormuz is an everyday occurrence that hardly deserves mention on the docks.

The same families are often on both shores. The business relationships between them have grown over generations and are more enduring than any war or embargo.

Of course, shipping engine blocks to the Iranian port city of Bandar-e Lengeh is not prohibited. But the busy import and export trade in the dhow ports of the emirates of Sharjah, Dubai and Ras al-Khaimah shows how difficult it is to isolate Tehran.

'Astonishingly Honest'

This makes the words uttered last Tuesday by the UAE's ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, in Aspen, Colorado, more than 12,500 kilometers to the west, all the more interesting. Otaiba was attending a forum at the Aspen Institute's Ideas Festival, and the mood was relaxed, or at least it was too relaxed for diplomatic restraint.

The discussion revolved around the Middle East. When asked whether the UAE would support a possible Israeli air strike against the regime in Tehran, Ambassador Otaiba said: "A military attack on Iran by whomever would be a disaster, but Iran with a nuclear weapon would be a bigger disaster."

These were unusually candid words. A military strike, the diplomat continued, would undoubtedly lead to a "backlash." "There will be problems of people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country," he said.

But, he added, "if you are asking me, 'Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran,' my answer is still the same. We cannot live with a nuclear Iran. I am willing to absorb what takes place at the expense of the security of the U.A.E."

Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman said afterwards that she had never heard anything like it coming from an Arab government official. Otaiba, she added, was "astonishingly honest."

Notwithstanding the shocking nature of his remarks, Otaiba was merely expressing, in a public forum, "the standard position of many Arab countries," says Middle East expert Jeffrey Goldberg, a writer for The Atlantic Monthly who moderated the panel discussion in Aspen.

The fact that some Western politicians are unfamiliar with this position has to do with their own ignorance, and with the diplomatic skill with which the smaller Gulf states, in particular, have managed to hide their opposition to their powerful neighbor until now.

"The Jews and Arabs have been fighting for one hundred years. The Arabs and the Persians have been going at (it) for a thousand," argues Goldberg on The Atlantic's Web site.

Almost all Arab neighbors have a hostile relationship with the Islamic Republic. Saudi Arabia suspects Iran of stirring up the Shiite minority in its eastern provinces. The Arab emirates accuse Iran of occupying three islands in the Persian Gulf. Egypt has not had regular diplomatic relations with Iran since a street in Tehran was named after the murderer of former Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat.

Jordanian King Abdullah II warns against the establishment of a "Shiite crescent" between Iran and Lebanon. And Kuwait, fearing the Iranians, installed the Patriot air defense missile system in the spring.

Closely Aligned

Arab governments are concerned about a strong Iran, its nuclear program and the inflammatory speeches of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They share these concerns with another government in the Middle East -- Israel's.

Never have the strategic interests of the Jewish and Arab states been so closely aligned as they are today. While European and American security experts consistently characterize a military strike against Iran as "a last option," notable Arabs have long shared the views of Israel's ultra-nationalist foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman. If no one else takes it upon himself to bomb Iran, Saudi cleric Mohsen al-Awaji told SPIEGEL, Israel will have to do it. "Israel's agenda has its limits," he said, noting that it is mainly concerned with securing its national existence. "But Iran's agenda is global."

Sometimes that agenda leads to actions that are as absurd as they are typical. In February, for example, Tehran issued a landing ban on all airlines that used the phrase "Arab Gulf" instead of "Persian Gulf" in their on-board programming.

But Arab countries are pursuing a delicate seesaw policy. The UAE cannot afford to openly offend Iran, which explains why Ambassador Otaiba was promptly ordered to return home on Wednesday.

This caution only conceals the deep divide between the Arabs and the Persians. Despite their public expressions of outrage over Israeli behavior, such as the blockade of the Gaza Strip, Arab countries in the region continue to pursue their pragmatic course. On June 12, The Times in London wrote that Saudi Arabia had recently "conducted tests to stand down its air defenses to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran's nuclear facilities" -- in the event of an attack on the nuclear power plant in Bushehr. In March, Western intelligence agencies reported that there were signs of secret negotiations between Jerusalem and Riyadh to discuss the possibility.

"We are aligned (with the United States) on every policy issue there is in the Middle East," Ambassador Otaiba said in Aspen.

Pragmatism and Shifting Alliances

"The UAE has chosen to side with the camp of those who apply to the letter the new United Nations resolution of June 9," wrote French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, noting that it was "truly a blow to the regime" in Iran. For Lévy, the "union sacrée" of Muslim countries against the "Zionist enemy" is a fantasy. The countries that feel threatened by Tehran, he added, now have the opportunity to form an alliance of convenience.

Next to Jordan, the UAE is the only Arab country with soldiers deployed in Afghanistan -- fighting on the side of the United States. Abu Dhabi, the richest of the seven emirates, has reportedly been pressuring Dubai to keep closer tabs on the many influential Iranians living there.

In late June, the UAE's central bank froze 41 accounts, some of which could be directly linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard. The accounts were allegedly being used to conduct transactions tied to the smuggling of materials listed under the embargo against Iran.

Before that, the UAE had announced tighter controls on ships in the Dubai free trade zone. "Security forces have interdicted scores of ships suspected of carrying illicit cargo," said Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE's permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The Arab nations on the Gulf are pursuing realpolitik in their dealings with Iran. When in doubt, they come down on the side of the Americans, but they prefer to pursue the route of negotiation and trade. The ruler of a Gulf emirate recently told a delegation of senior European politicians: "The best way to handle the Iranians is to trade with them."

Do Democrats commit hate crimes against black Republicans?

Racists! That incendiary charge hurled by Democrats at Tea Party activists protesting against ObamaCare was shown to be totally false by Jack Cashill in his article “A Closer Look at the Capitol Steps Conspiracy”.

Given the Democratic Party’s 150-year record of racist rhetoric and racial violence – from the days of slavery until today – it is astonishing to see Democrats sanctimoniously playing the race card. A display of unmitigated gall describes how Democrats are falsely comparing anti-ObamaCare protesters to the anti-civil rights racists of the 1960’s who were Democrats. Democrats get away with this racial hypocrisy because they know with absolute certainty that the true history of civil rights has long been buried, and the racism exhibited today by Democrats against blacks, particularly black Republicans, will be ignored by the mainstream media.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Iran War Even Closer?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 – by Staff Report

The Daily Bell

Barack Obama A three-front war? Strikes on Iran becoming more likely ... There is no better illustration of the futility of the $1 trillion Iraq war than news photos of a long line of gasoline tankers lined up bumper to bumper as they leave Iraq to enter Iran. The U.N. Security Council decision to strengthen economic measures against Iran, and President Obama's (left) signing into law draconian new legislative sanctions against Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions leave Iraq's defeated government unable to act. The Iraq Study Group co-chaired by Lee H. Hamilton, the prominent Democrat who heads the Woodrow Wilson International Center, and James A. Baker III, whose Institute for Public Policy is at Houston's Rice University, warned in 2006 that Iran, now rid of erstwhile enemy Saddam Hussein, was already wielding more influence in Iraq than the U.S. The only sanction that would seriously undermine the mullahs' military regime would be a severe shortage of gasoline. Iran is awash in oil but lacks refining capacity and has to import 60 percent of its gasoline. A lack of governance in Baghdad has enabled Iran to strike a sub rosa deal for gasoline imports. – Washington Times

Dominant Social Theme: War is inevitable. Too bad. An unfortunate necessity.

Free-Market Analysis: Articles such as this one set the scene for the unthinkable – a three-front Middle East war. The U.S. is embroiled in Iraq, no matter what apologists for the "surge" say. The Afghanistan war, as we have covered it, is getting bigger without getting any better for the U.S., and now the U.S. seems to be aiming at Iran. Not only that, but according to this Washington Times article, most if not all Sunni Arab countries in the region want the Iranian Shia regime dealt with in no uncertain terms. Here's some more from the article:

Officially, all the Arab rulers of the Gulf and other Arab leaders are strenuously opposed to any Israeli and/or U.S. air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities. But that opposition is eroding rapidly. Speaking at the Aspen Institute in Colorado last week, the United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef al-Otaiba said publicly – before denying it – "I think despite the large amount of trade we do with Iran, which is close to $12 billion, there will be consequences, there will be a backlash, and there will be problems with people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country; that is going to happen no matter what."

And he added, "If you are asking me, 'Am I willing to live with that, versus living with a nuclear Iran, my answer is still the same – 'We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.'" A former Arab leader, in close touch with current leaders, speaking privately and not for attribution, told this reporter July 6, "All the Middle Eastern and Gulf leaders now want Iran taken out of the nuclear arms business, and they all know sanctions won't work."

In a joint op-ed column, former Sen. Chuck Robb and Gen. Charles F. Wald, the air commander in the opening stages of Operation Enduring Freedom in Oct. 2001, say the time is now to prepare credibly for a U.S. military strike. "Sanctions can be effective only if coupled with open preparation for the military option as a last resort ... publicly playing down potential military options has weakened our leverage with Tehran, making a peaceful resolution less likely."

Is it serendipitous that the United Arab Emirates is in favor of bombing Iran? These funny little countries constitute virtually an Arab extension of Anglo-American hegemony. They include Dubai, of course, which is perhaps the most Westernized state in the Arab world, and other tiny slivers of desert that host American air power or share their landing and take-off facilities. Al Jazeera, the so-called Arab media service, was set up there as well, staffed by former BBC operatives and funded by a Sheik who is strongly backed by Western powers.

Why would America seek a three-front war? Well, the answer is that it doesn't; in fact, it's risking something worse! Right now, America is all-but-at-war with Pakistan (over Afghanistan), so conflict with Iran would be part of a FOUR-front war. Is another way to say this that America is about to set the Middle East ablaze? Will Israel sit out the fireworks? How about Syria, Libya, et al.?

We really cannot see where America is going with all this. The Times article has one (cynical) answer, as follows: "The temptation for President Obama to double down on Iran will grow rapidly as he concludes that Afghanistan will remain a festering sore as far as anyone can peer into a murky future, hardly a recipe for success at the polls in November. With a war in Afghanistan, which is bound to get worse, and a military theater in Iraq replete with sectarian violence, the bombing of Iran may give Mr. Obama a three-front war – and a chance to retain both houses of Congress."

We have of course pointed this out as well. One way to resuscitate a failed war is to expand it. But as we have also pointed out, such an expansion runs headlong into the limitations of a post-nuclear world. The powers-that-be cannot simply create a world war to erase current economic insanities. Wars have to be controlled, and rapidly, before they escalate into nuclear conflagrations. There is no "do over" button. Additionally, we think buyer's remorse is so widespread in the U.S. that even an expanded war can't be counted on to reinvigorate Democratic chances. It would more likely further destabilize the anti-war Democratic base without attracting many Independent or Republican voters.

But discount politics. What would be the LARGER results of a three-front (four-front) war? Our minds spin. First of all, it is not at all clear that there is tremendous support for bombing Iran, let alone with "tactical nuclear weapons." And even if Iran is bombed, there will still be 70 million Iranians to deal with. Pakistan might blow as well, as sentiment currently is running something like 90 percent against the U.S. and NATO.

Will the U.S. reinstate the draft? Will the Anglo-American axis dragoon European countries into doubling down in the Middle East – even as they are seeking to extricate themselves from Afghanistan? There is little enthusiasm for war left in the U.S. and less in Europe. It is difficult to see as well how this metastasized war can be sold. It is not a good war. NATO has been "over there" too long.

We keep trying to figure out the logic flow here. We discount the idea that bombing Iran is necessary, because we don't think Iran would ever use a nuclear bomb except perhaps in self defense (a point the Times agrees with). The article is written by the famous journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave, who rarely let slip an opportunity to add fuel to the Cold-War fire during his career; but if you read the full article, it is fairy clear that even de Borchgrave finds the scenario of opening up a third war front with Iran to be somewhat incomprehensible, at least strategically.

Conclusion: We write a great deal about the power elite in these pages. Perhaps the elite has simply reached the end of its collective rope: Loose the dogs of wars and let chaos reign. It is, as we have pointed our previously, a strategy better suited to a pre-Internet era. Today too many people understand. The manipulations are transparent. What are we missing? Ideas? Maybe the Obamas are buying gold.

Spain 'relying on short-term funding' as councils go bust

A third of Spain's city councils are in dire straits and may be forced to suspend payments by the end of the year, replicating the woes in the US, where many states are bearing the brunt of fiscal tightening.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor

European Banks Poised to Win Reprieve on Capital Rules

By Yalman Onaran and Simon Clark - Jul 13, 2010  
European banks, rattled by investor uncertainty about their ability to withstand a sovereign-debt crisis, are poised to win a reprieve in Basel, Switzerland, this week as regulators from 27 countries shape new capital rules.

A push to water down stringent standards proposed last year by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, and to allow more time to implement them, is led by France and Germany, according to bankers, regulators and lobbyists involved in the talks. Representatives from the U.S. and the U.K., who have sought to rein in risk-taking, are willing to compromise on how capital is defined to reach an agreement at a committee meeting that begins tomorrow, the people said.

read more

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mike Kosares: BIS gold swap signifies a threat to Europe, not to gold

Is it just a coincidence that Portugal has (or had) 382 tonnes of gold in reserve and that the amount of gold the Bank for International Settlements recently inventoried via a swap arrangement was 380 tonnes?

Let's put 2+2+2+2+2 together here. (Nothing in the gold market is ever simply 2+2.)

I don't know how many of you watch the "Pawn Stars" on the History Channel, but if you don't, let me introduce you to the key question asked of anyone who brings something into the store:

Do you want to "pawn it" or "sell it"?

Fighting Unemployment With a Stick

By Phil Izzo

As the U.S. struggles with the problem of persistent long-term unemployment, a study of incentives in the Netherlands suggests a stick is more effective than a carrot.

“Carrot and Stick: How Reemployment Bonuses and Benefit Sanctions Affect Job Finding Rates,” Bas van der Klaauw of VU University Amsterdam and Jan C. van Ours of Tilburg University, Netherlands, examine the effects of both positive and negative financial incentives on the long-term jobless in Rotterdam. In the early 2000s the city ran a program that provided reemployment bonuses for job seekers who were able to find a job and hold it for at least six months. At the same time, benefit recipients who didn’t actively look for work, or otherwise failed to comply with eligibility requirements, would be subject to a temporary reduction in their benefits.

“Our main findings are that reemployment bonuses don’t seem to have worked, while benefit sanctions increased the job finding rate significantly,” the economists write.

Van der Klaauw and van Ours note an earlier study in the U.S. that showed a positive effect from reemployment bonuses, but that bonus was focused on people that were unemployed for short periods of time. The Rotterdam study only looked at welfare recipients who are unemployed for more than a year, suggesting bonuses are less effective for the long-term unemployed.

Currently, U.S. lawmakers continue to debate whether to extend unemployment benefits. Some have suggested that the extension offers an incentive to keep the unemployed from accepting available jobs, while others argue that a dearth of jobs is the main factor keeping people on the unemployment rolls longer. The study doesn’t take a stand on whether to extend benefits, but it does suggest that monitoring recipients eligibility increases their chances of finding work.

“Our findings that a stick works while a carrot doesn’t may be related to present-bias of some workers,” the economists write. “To the extent that some welfare recipients are present-biased an incentive scheme that requires immediate search effort in exchange for delayed rewards in terms of a future bonus may not be an effective scheme. Benefit sanctions breaking the present bias by imposing immediate costs to lack of search effort might indeed be an effective and welfare improving scheme.”

Van der Klaauw and van Ours also point to previous studies that add one caveat: those who face benefit cuts also face reduced post-employment earnings. “Actual benefit reductions lower the quality of post-unemployment jobs both in terms of job duration as well as in terms of earnings. For unemployed workers the net effect of a benefit sanction on postunemployment income is negative. Over a period of two years after leaving unemployment workers who got a benefit sanction imposed face an income loss equivalent to 30 days,” they write.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Strategic default: It’s not just for middle- and lower-income brackets anymore.

 In fact, one in seven homeowners with a seven-figure mortgage -- a million or more -- is “seriously delinquent.” At least that’s according to data crunched by First American CoreLogic for the NYTimes.

Below the $1 million mark, it’s one out of 12 homeowners.

As we’ve observed, skipping out on a mortgage gives you a lot of spending power you wouldn’t have otherwise... which may help explain how Nordstrom’s same store sales jumped 14% from May to June.

And why Tiffany’s CFO said recently, “Our customers in the U.S. are feeling more confident than a year ago.”

Heh. More confident they can game the system.

Most Americans Not Willing To Pay Higher Taxes For Public Employees, Entitlement ProgramsPosted

by Ronald A. Lau on July 7, 2010 at 1:00pm


19% would be willing to pay higher taxes to avoid layoffs of state employees, 69% would not

22% would pay higher taxes to prevent cuts in entitlement programs for low-income Americans, 63% would not

34% say they are willing to pay higher taxes to provide funding for public education, but 54% say they are not.

37% say they are willing to pay higher taxes to increase the number of police and firemen in their communities, 52% say they would not

Environmentalist Hypocrisy

Posted by Paul Chesser on July 8, 2010 at 3:16pm

That Big Oil (or whatever fossil fuel industry) funds free-market, limited government organizations and candidates (who also tend to fit into the global warming realism camp) is a familiar attempt to discredit them by watermelon groups and by the formerly mainstream media. Meanwhile those very same green socialist groups escape scrutiny of their own lobbying and relationships, because their bedmates give them no reason to suspect anything!

However, those of us who are curious have been poking around. Today the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives published a report I wrote that examines the hypocritical and possibly illegal behavior of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (known better as PennFuture). Among the findings:

While the organization condemns the natural gas industry for its lobbying against increased and selective taxation of its investments, PennFuture has received nearly $1 million during the last five years from alternative energy companies. These companies benefited from PennFuture's lobbying for corporate tax breaks and taxpayer-funded "economic development" funds for wind and solar projects in Pennsylvania. This practice has also allowed PennFuture to serve as a de facto lobbyist for those alternative energy companies, enabling them to skirt disclosure under state lobbying laws.

Even as PennFuture solicited volunteer and member assistance to pressure legislators to pass or oppose specific pieces of legislation, the group reported to the Internal Revenue Service that it spent no money on grassroots lobbying on four of its past five tax returns.

PennFuture's lobbying of state officials is also funded by the taxpayers. Since 2002, the group has lobbied for and received over $1 million in taxpayer money, which is then used to lobby elected and appointed officials for additional taxpayer money.

PennFuture doesn't seem happy with the report. President Jan Jarrett said in a press release:

We have forthrightly answered every request for information and every reporter’s questions. If there are errors in our accounting or reporting, we will correct them immediately.

“How can any of our activities be considered ‘secret’ when the primary sources for the Commonwealth Foundation’s ‘report’ are PennFuture’s own public documents, websites, and reports, and other public websites? PennFuture is committed to transparency. Unable to prove any malevolence, the author is reduced to launching a classic smear attack.

Hey Jan -- your activities are "secret" when you tell the IRS you have spent ZERO dollars on grassroots lobbying when the evidence clearly shows PennFuture engaged in such activities. ZERO dollars does not look like an error; it looks like deception.

How many other watermelon groups behave this way? I welcome tips.

Smearing Global Warming Skeptics

July 06, 2010

By Russell Cook

Meteorologist blogger Anthony Watts normally talks about the crumbling science of man-caused global warming, but recently he described an uninvited office guest demanding to know about his alleged "big oil funding." The charge that only the lure of big money causes people to question warmist gospel is old but, as it turns out, of highly questionable origin.

Al Gore typifies the central accusation in An Inconvenient Truth, pg 263:

The misconception that there is a serious disagreement among scientists about global warming is actually an illusion that has been deliberately fostered by a relatively small but extremely well-funded cadre of special interests, including Exxon Mobil and a few other oil, coal, and utilities companies. These companies want to prevent any new policies that would interfere with their current business plans...

One of the internal memos prepared by this group to guide the employees they hired to run their disinformation campaign was discovered by the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Ross Gelbspan. Here was the group's stated objective: to "reposition global warming as theory, rather than fact."

Internet searches of the "reposition global warming" phrase show how viral it is. However, more searching reveals former Boston Globe reporter Gelbspan not only has never won a Pulitzer, despite uncountable times he's described as such, but he is also not the discoverer of the "campaign." Intensive investigation reveals only myriad ties to the phrase, but the actual 1991 internal PR campaign memo containing the phrase is never seen.

Gore's 2004 NY Times review of Gelbspan's then-current second book offered this praise:

Gelbspan's first book, "The Heat Is On" (1997), remains the best, and virtually only, study of how the coal and oil industry has provided financing to a small group of contrarian scientists...In this new book, Gelbspan focuses his toughest language by far on the coal and oil industries. After documenting the largely successful efforts of companies like ExxonMobil to paralyze the policy process, confuse the American people and cynically "reposition global warming as theory rather than fact."

Greenpeace director Phil Radford offers more praise in an article describing two people he worked with who most impressed him:

John Passacantando, the former director of Greenpeace, whose strategic instinct and track record of changing the political landscape on global warming has made it possible to imagine that solving the problem could be a reality. And Ross Gelbspan ... who ... uncover[ed] the scandalous cover up of global warming by polluting companies. Ross has been the lone voice ... that has inspired countless people, me included, to demand our country and our future back from the coal and oil interests behind global warming.

The article also says Radford worked for Ozone Action. Prior to 1996, their focus was ozone depletion. Ozone Action had just over/under $1 million worth of contributions per year in 1998, 1999, and 2000 under John Passacantando's leadership, who then merged his group into Greenpeace in 2000. Greenpeace archive records of a 1996 Ozone Action report (page 5, paragraphs 3 & 4) reveal:

...the Information Council for the Environment (ICE) stated their goal was to "reposition global warming as theory (not fact)[.]"

According to documents obtained by Ozone Action and by Ross Gelbspan, several ICE strategies were laid out: the repositioning of global warming as theory, not fact.

The word "obtained" prompts questions about assertions that Gelbspan was the discoverer. Worse, Greenpeace/WWF activist Andrew Rowell cites the "reposition" phrase in his 1996 Green Backlash (second paragraph) while not saying where the "ICE internal packet" came from. NY Times reporter Matthew Wald's July 8, 1991 article reported:

The goal of the campaign, according to one planning document, is to "reposition global warming as theory" and not fact.

A packet of internal correspondence and other information relating to the campaign was provided to The New York Times by the Sierra Club, the San Francisco-based environmental group that favors taking steps to reduce the risk of global warming.

Curtis Moore, who cites Wald's article about the "reposition" phrase in his 1994 Green Gold, also refers to an interview of Simmons Advertising's Tom Helland. That appears to be the same Simmons contact "T. Helland" seen on page 13 of another set of Greenpeace scans, a fair indication that Moore saw the documents. And on page 14, there is a Simmons letter describing "what you'll find in this packet," the same descriptive word in Rowell's book note and Wald's article. Gelbspan refers to other 1991 articles breaking this story near the bottom of the page at his website. An obvious question is: Who discovered these documents?

That second set of Greenpeace scans contains something vastly more important on page 10: the document with the "reposition" phrase in its complete context. Of all the internet searches for the phrase, I found no others showing it in its entirety, or any linking to this Greenpeace scan. In Gelbspan's own hugely acclaimed 1997 book, no scan is shown. He simply says, "ICE documents in author's possession." Why is that? And what is the significance of yet another Greenpeace scan of an October 1996 Kalee Kreider e-mail to "D Becker" at the Sierra Club? That's probably Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club's Global Warming Program from 1989 to 2006. Kreider worked at Ozone Action just three months earlier, repeating the "reposition" phrase in a media release. Many now know Kreider as Al Gore's spokesperson.

It turns out that the attempted slander of global warming skeptics as tools of big oil is as poorly grounded as the theory itself.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical. - Thomas Jefferson

Friday, July 9, 2010

In what is a rare and hopeful sign out of the UK – a nation that is notable for a societal script that has, until just recently, run parallel to that of George Orwell’s 1984 – the new government has launched a well-conceived web site that invites the public to nominate old laws that should be struck from the book.

Here’s an excerpt on the topic from an article that ran on the Metro.co.uk site…

Parliament invites public to nominate 'old laws' they wish to abolish

The public is being invited to nominate laws they want to abolish in what deputy prime minister Nick Clegg called a move away from ‘the old way of doing things’.

At the Your Freedom website people can propose ways to get rid of pointless regulation and red tape.

Mr Clegg said: ‘We are turning things on their head. The traditional way of doing things is that government tells people what to do. We are saying, ‘‘Tell us what you don’t want us to do’’.’

Letting dormant laws accumulate on the statute book sent out the ‘wrong signal’ and there was plenty of ‘old stuff’ that should be dropped, he told BBC Breakfast. The last government had gone too far in invading people’s privacy, he added.

‘Did that make us safer? No, it didn’t necessarily make us safer, so we’ve got to get the balance right.’ From today any minister who proposes a new regulation will also have to propose an existing law to be scrapped in a ‘one in, one out rule’.

The website is at: www.hmg.gov.uk/yourfreedom