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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

'Conquering the Storm'

Below is Sarah Palin's full Facebook post from August 8th. It is lengthy but full of substance and encouragement. I highly recommend reading the full post. I'm also including a link to a Hot Air column reviewing Palin's post. - Reggie


by Sarah Palin on Monday, August 8, 2011 at 3:53pm

In the coming days we’ll sort through the repercussions of S&P’s downgrade of our credit rating, including concerns about the impact a potential interest rate increase would have on our ability to service our suffocating $14.5 trillion debt.

I’m surprised that so many people seem surprised by S&P’s decision. Weren’t people paying attention over the last year or so when we were getting warning after warning from various credit rating agencies that this was coming? I’ve been writing and speaking about it myself for quite some time.

Back in December 2010, I wrote: “If the European debt crisis teaches us anything, it’s that tomorrow always comes. Sooner or later, the markets will expect us to settle the bill for the enormous Obama-Pelosi-Reid spending binge. We’ve already been warned by the credit ratings agency Moody’s that unless we get serious about reducing our deficit, we may face a downgrade of our credit rating.” And again in January, in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address I wrote: “With credit ratings agency Moody’s warning us that the federal government must reverse the rapid growth of national debt or face losing our triple-A rating, keep in mind that a nation doesn’t look so ‘great’ when its credit rating is in tatters.”

One doesn’t need a Harvard Law degree to figure this out! Just look across the pond at Europe. European nations with less debt and smaller deficits than ours and with real “austerity” plans in place to deal with them have had their ratings downgraded. By what magical thinking did we figure we could run up perpetual trillion dollar deficits and still somehow avoid the unforgiving mathematics of a downgrade? Nothing is ever “too big to fail.” And there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Didn’t we all learn that in our micro and macro econ classes? I did at the University of Idaho. How could Obama skip through Columbia and Harvard without learning that?

Many commonsense Americans like myself saw this day coming. In fact, in June 2010, Rick Santelli articulated the view of independent Tea Party patriots everywhere when he shouted on CNBC, “I want the government to stop spending! Stop spending! Stop spending! Stop spending! STOP SPENDING!” So, how shamelessly cynical and dishonest must one be to blame this inevitable downgrade on the very people who have been shouting all along “stop spending”? Blaming the Tea Party for our credit downgrade is akin to Nero blaming the Christians for burning Rome. Tea Party Americans weren’t the ones “fiddling” while our country’s fiscal house was going up in smoke. In fact, we commonsense fiscal conservatives were the ones grabbing for the extinguishers while politically correct politicians and their cronies buried their heads in what soon became this bonfire.

With S&P and others now warning that we could face another downgrade if we don’t get serious about our debt problem (i.e., recklessly spending money we don't have), Washington needs to wake up before things get worse! We’re already hearing murmurs about QE3, which is just madness and will further debase our currency at a time when the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency is already being questioned. The loss of the dollar’s reserve currency status would adversely impact us in every conceivable way. Our standard of living would decline as imports become more expensive (including imports of foreign oil), government wouldn’t be able to finance deficits as cheaply, and American corporations – employers – would lose a competitive edge. It would be another crack in our status as a financial superpower.

Last May, I gave a speech at Westhills Community College in Lemoore, California, to an audience that included farmers from California’s Central Valley. I tried to paint a picture for them of where all of this was heading. The following is an excerpt from my prepared remarks:

Now we’re all getting hit with rising food prices too. Back in November of last year, I predicted this would happen when the Federal Reserve dropped a $600 billion money bomb called QE2 on us! That’s short for “quantitative easing 2.” It’s a fancy term for running the printing presses and creating money out of thin air – which drives down the value of the dollar and makes the price of everything more expensive.

As I predicted six months ago, these policies will lead us down a path where for the first time in our history our fate will be taken out of our own hands and placed in the hands of the world’s capital markets. They will force us to make the responsible decisions that our leaders are unwilling to make. Just as the destinies of the Central Valley farms have been taken out of your hands by the federal government’s overreach into your water rights, so the destiny of our nation will be taken out of our hands because our leadership has failed to get our financial house in order.

This isn’t some theoretical threat any more. It’s already happening. The world’s biggest bond investment fund PIMCO announced last month that it was dumping U.S. Treasury bonds. The head of PIMCO, Bill Gross, one of the world’s preeminent debt investors, warned that the U.S. is in serious risk of default with our trillion dollar deficits and no end in sight. And last week, credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded our credit outlook to “negative” – that’s the first time that has happened to us since the attack on Pearl Harbor. The IMF has even given us formal notice that, unless we do something to deal with our debt problem, we could tip the world economy into another recession.

It is a disgraceful and embarrassing situation when the United States finds itself justifiably chastised in the same tone normally reserved for near-bankrupt economies.

And in this, like in shutting off your water, the federal government has failed you. Their reckless spending and destruction of the dollar will make access to available credit for farmers and small business owners harder to get. And it will make transportation costs higher because it will hit everyone at the gas pump. You see, because the Obama White House won’t let us drill domestically, we’re forced to import oil that we pay for in dollars. So, when the value of the dollar drops, the price of gas goes up. And if you think $4 a gallon is bad, wait till you see what life is like at $6 or $7 a gallon.

Last November, the so-called smart people all laughed at me when I warned them of this. They told me not to make such a big deal about rising prices. Well, guess what – it became a big deal all on its own.

In fact, there was an editorial in the New York Sun that said – and I quote: “As gasoline is nearing six dollars a gallon at some pumps, the cost of groceries is skyrocketing, and the value of the dollars…has collapsed to less than a 1,500th of an ounce of gold. Unemployment is still high. Shakespeare couldn’t come up with a better plot. But how in the world did Mrs. Palin, who is supposed to be so thick, manage to figure all this out so far ahead of the New York Times and all the economists it talked to?”

Well, I’m sure the New York Times writers will remember the famous line: “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” And right now the American economy is in the howling, hot headwinds of a gathering storm. We’re printing up and buying up our own notes at an unprecedented rate, and the Fed is artificially holding interest rates down to nearly zero. Anyone with commonsense could see what was coming. Unfortunately, common sense is in short supply among our leaders. It’s like they never believe that the rules of common sense apply to them. They think somehow we'll escape from the consequences of their policies. It’s the same magical thinking that allows them to run up trillion dollar deficits and still think that we can “win the future.”

Every other generation has weathered recessions by sacrifice and belt tightening. But our leaders today decided that they could magically paper over the tough decisions by running the printing presses. A little history lesson might have showed them how well that worked out for Germany in the 1930s. The Weimar Republic inflated its currency so much that it took a wheel barrel full of paper money to buy a loaf of bread. That might be the main thing I remember from Mr. Crum’s history class at Wasilla High, but it told me all I needed to know about the inflationary dangers of a weak currency and why we must avoid it. What a shame Mr. Crum didn’t teach at Harvard.

That was just three months ago, and things have already gotten worse. We have to face this storm head on. It won’t be easy, but there are real solutions to grow our economy and reduce our debt.

First, we need to get serious about our deficit. No more accounting gimmicks. No more cuts in “out-years” that never materialize. The permanent political class in D.C. might be fooling themselves with these Enron-like accounting games, but they’re not fooling the world’s capital markets. And we don’t need any more happy talk from the White House about “investing” in solar shingles and really fast trains. The White House shouldn’t even bother floating these new spending programs. We can’t afford them. Period. We need to stop this deficit spending, balance our budget, repeal Obamacare, cancel all unused stimulus funds, and reform our entitlement programs. We have to have an adult conversation about our spending commitments; circumstances have changed, and we must adapt. I know none of this will be easy, but, “thick” or not, the average American outside the D.C. politico bubble knows that we no longer have a choice! We will have entitlement reform and a balanced budget; it’s just a matter of how. We can do it ourselves in a calm, methodical, and responsible manner, or we can wait for the world’s capital markets to ram it down on us. Let’s be responsible and do it ourselves. And let’s get serious about reducing the size of government across the board and rooting out waste. How many more reports (that today are destined to merely gather dust on the shelf) do we need about duplicative and unnecessary programs before we actually do something about government waste?

We need to get this economy moving again, and the real stimulus we’ve been waiting for is domestic energy development. We must reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil by responsibly developing natural resources here. This will provide good paying jobs, reduce our trade deficit, increase federal and state revenue, ensure environmental standards, and actually stimulate our economy without incurring any debt. That’s real stimulus! Affordable, plentiful, and secure energy is the foundation of every thriving economy. Let’s make it the foundation of ours. Let’s do the opposite of President Obama’s manipulation of U.S. energy supplies. Let’s drill here, build refineries, and stop kowtowing to foreign countries in asking them to ramp up energy production which makes us even more beholden to them as we rely on their foreign product. Let’s move on tapping our massive domestic natural gas reserves. Natural gas is the perfect “bridge fuel” to a future when more renewable sources are available. It’s clean, it’s green, and we’ve got a lot of it. Let’s drill. Let’s build an infrastructure for natural gas cars and power plants. Energy development can help kick start our economic engine.

In addition to energy security, I embrace a pro-growth agenda that can make American corporations far more competitive on the global stage. (I will be writing more about this in the coming days.) We need to tell the world, “America is open for business again!” And let’s welcome industry by reducing burdensome regulations. The Obama administration keeps strangling businesses in red tape. From the EPA’s rulings to that nightmare known as Obamacare, the Obama administration is hanging one regulatory albatross after another around the private sector’s neck. Let’s get government out of the way and give the private sector room to breathe, grow, and thrive. We can provide businesses confidence to expand and hire Americans in a stable environment.

Be wary of the efforts President Obama makes to “fix” the debt problem. The more he tries to “fix” things, the worse they get because his “solutions” always involve spending more, taxing more, growing government, and increasing debt. This debt problem is the greatest challenge facing our country today. Obviously, President Obama doesn’t have a plan or even a notion of how to deal with it. His press conference today was just a rehash of his old talking points and finger-pointing. That’s why he can’t be re-elected in 2012.

Our economic news is disheartening and the task before us can seem daunting, but we must not lose our sense of optimism. People look around today and may see only the negative. They see a culture and a nation in decline, but that’s not who we are! America must regain its optimistic pioneering spirit again. Our founders declared that “we were born the heirs of freedom.” We are the heirs of those who froze with Washington at Valley Forge, who held the line at Gettysburg, who freed the slaves, carved a nation out of the wilderness, and allowed reward for work ethic. We are the sons and daughters of that Greatest Generation who stormed the beaches of Normandy, raised the flag at Iwo Jima, and made America the strongest and most prosperous nation in the history of mankind. By God, we will not squander what has been given us!

Our destiny is still in our own hands if we pick ourselves up and act responsibly and quickly. We must all get involved. Concerned Americans must seek truth, work harder than ever, and be willing to sacrifice today to ensure freedom tomorrow. Please get engaged in 2012 electoral politics and support experienced, vetted, pro-free market fiscal conservatives who will dedicate all to preserving our Republic and protecting our Constitution.

- Sarah Palin

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tea Party Blamed for Downgrade

'Small Businesses Fearing More Pain'

She's Back!

Fox News Alert!!

After several months of maternity leave, Megyn Kelly has finally come back to work. I look forward to some sparks flying as she rips into the guests on her show. She has been missed. - Reggie

Obama Re-Elect

Today the Dow Jones Industrials dropped 634 points. I pray Obama's re-election chances have dropped to zero. - Reggie

Michael Ramirez Cartoon
click image for larger view


Obama Makes History (of Our AAA Credit)

The Obama administration and congressional Democrats are betting their political futures on the hope that the American electorate is ignorant and forgetful, and hence the memo has gone out to functionaries hither and yon, from David Axelrod to John Kerry: This is to be called the “tea-party downgrade.” That this is said with straight faces bespeaks either an unshakable contempt for the mind of the American voter or an as-yet unplumbed capacity for Democratic self-delusion.

Let us revisit the facts. The original debt-ceiling deal put forward by the Democrats totaled $0.00 in debt reduction. This would have fallen approximately $4 trillion short of the $4 trillion in debt reduction the credit-rating agencies suggested would constitute a “credible” step toward maintaining our AAA rating and avoiding a downgrade. This $0.00 program was the so-called “clean” debt-ceiling bill — the one that contained not a farthing of debt reduction. Bad as it was, Republicans agreed to give Democrats a vote on it. Some 82 Democrats and every Republican voted against it, and for good reason: Doing nothing at all is hardly a “credible” program.

The Democrats have suggested that Republicans’ refusal to accede to tax hikes is the main reason Standard & Poor’s felt it necessary to issue a downgrade, the first in American history, last Friday evening. In their assessment of Standard & Poor’s reasoning, the Democrats are acutely at odds with Standard & Poor’s. The credit-rating agency did not call for tax hikes in its assessment: “Standard & Poor’s takes no position on the mix of spending and revenue measures that Congress and the Administration might conclude is appropriate for putting the U.S.’s finances on a sustainable footing.” No position on tax hikes. But S&P, along with the other credit-rating agencies, has long taken a position on one aspect of our fiscal troubles: entitlement reform. From S&P again: “The plan envisions only minor policy changes on Medicare and little change in other entitlements, the containment of which we and most other independent observers regard as key to long-term fiscal sustainability.”

As anybody who has looked at our long-term deficit projections knows, entitlement spending is the major driver of our future deficits. With unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare already running into trillions of dollars — many multiples of our GDP — it is implausible that taxes would be raised sufficiently to meet those obligations. Sustaining present spending levels over coming decades while maintaining current levels of debt would mean nearly doubling every federal tax: income, payroll, inheritance, excises, etc. To repeat: That’s to maintain current debt levels, not to reduce them. Even if the political will existed to inflict such tax increases on the American people, doing so would prove economically ruinous. Entitlement reform, then — not taxes, not President Obama’s fictitious “balanced approach” — is rightly understood, as S&P argues, as the “key to long-term fiscal sustainability.” Tea-party leaders, far from being a barrier to entitlement reform, have demanded it.

The main obstacle to reform is the gentleman who lives at at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and his legislative enablers down the street. Recall: Though Democrats controlled the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives from 2008–10, and therefore could have forced through any budget they saw fit, they left the nation with no budget at all — much less a reformed or balanced one — never bothering to pass one in the year before they lost their House majority. Though congressional Democrats could not be bothered, President Obama did submit a 2011 budget. It contained $0.00 toward entitlement reform. He soon disavowed his own budget proposal. The president later gave a speech in which he said he’d like to see $4 trillion in deficit-reduction, but submitted no budget or other legislation to accompany that rhetoric. The head of the Congressional Budget Office, a Democrat, was moved to observe dryly that his agency “does not score speeches.”

Sunday, August 7, 2011

'The Problem That We Have Here Is the Constitution'

The remarks made by Cokie Roberts today are shocking but, they shouldn't be. These leftists hate America, hate the Tea Party and hate the Constitution. They are so ignorant of the consequences all of us will face, including them, if they eventually get their way. 
- Reggie


If we are to survive the looming catastrophe, we need to face the truth

The idea that a capitalist economy can support a socialist welfare state is collapsing before our eyes, says Janet Daley.

Which of these is the most important question to ask in the present economic crisis: how can we promote growth? Should we pay off government debt more or less quickly? Is the US in worse trouble than Europe? Answer: none of the above.

The truly fundamental question that is at the heart of the disaster toward which we are racing is being debated only in America: is it possible for a free market economy to support a democratic socialist society? On this side of the Atlantic, the model of a national welfare system with comprehensive entitlements, which is paid for by the wealth created through capitalist endeavour, has been accepted (even by parties of the centre-Right) as the essence of post-war political enlightenment.

This was the heaven on earth for which liberal democracy had been striving: a system of wealth redistribution that was merciful but not Marxist, and a guarantee of lifelong economic and social security for everyone that did not involve totalitarian government. This was the ideal the European Union was designed to entrench. It was the dream of Blairism, which adopted it as a replacement for the state socialism of Old Labour. And it is the aspiration of President Obama and his liberal Democrats, who want the United States to become a European-style social democracy.

But the US has a very different historical experience from European countries, with their accretions of national remorse and class guilt: it has a far stronger and more resilient belief in the moral value of liberty and the dangers of state power. This is a political as much as an economic crisis, but not for the reasons that Mr Obama believes. The ruckus that nearly paralysed the US economy last week, and led to the loss of its AAA rating from Standard & Poor’s, arose from a confrontation over the most basic principles of American life.

Contrary to what the Obama Democrats claimed, the face-off in Congress did not mean that the nation’s politics were “dysfunctional”. The politics of the US were functioning precisely as the Founding Fathers intended: the legislature was acting as a check on the power of the executive.


Getting it right: the Tea Party recognised where America's policies were heading Photo: AFP


hat tip Sarah Palin

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mad Debt

Mark Steyn
A threat to liberty.

On Thursday, in honor of Barack Obama’s 50th birthday, the Dow dropped ten points for every year he has walked among us. It was the ninth largest drop in history. We should be relieved he wasn’t turning eighty.

The markets are apparently concerned that the entire global economy may be “stalling.” You don’t say? Observant fellows, these market chappies.

And yet, in a certain sense, these are still the good times. At the end of the week, U.S. Treasury yields plunged to Eisenhower-era rates. America, explained Ethan Harris of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, “still gets the safe haven money.” That’s to say, as crazy as Washington is, Europe is perceived to be crazier. In confirmation of the point, over in Italy, which is (believe it or not) a G7 economy, police raided Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s over allegations that all the meanie things that the rating agencies have been saying about the Italian economy were having an impact on Italian stock prices. Apparently that’s a crime in Italy. They’re not yet shooting the messenger. But they are dragging him through the streets in chains pour encourager les autres. Good luck with that.

But I wonder if “the safe haven money” is quite as safe as its investors assume. Under the “historic” “resolution” of the debt crisis (and don’t those very words “debt crisis” already feel so last week?), America will be cutting federal spending by $900 billion over ten years. “Cutting federal spending by $900 billion over ten years” is Washington-speak for increasing federal spending by $7 trillion over ten years. And, as they’d originally planned to increase it by eight trillion, that counts as a cut. If they’d planned to increase it by $20 trillion and then settled for merely $15 trillion, they could have saved five trillion. See how easy this is?

As part of this historic “cut,” we’ve now raised the “debt ceiling” — or, more accurately, lowered the debt abyss. Do you ever discuss the debt with your neighbor? Do you think he has any serious intention to repay the 15 trillion racked up in his and your name? Does your congressman? Does your senator? Look into their eyes. You can see the answer. And, if none of these parties seem inclined to pay down the debt now, what are the chances they’ll feel like doing so by 2020 when, under these historic “cuts,” it’s up to 23-25 trillion?

Like America’s political class, I have also been thinking about America circa 2020. Indeed, I’ve written a book on the subject. My prognosis is not as rosy as the Boehner-Obama deal, as attentive readers might just be able to deduce from the subtle clues in the title: After America: Get Ready For Armageddon. Oh, don’t worry, I’m not one of these “declinists.” I’m way beyond that, and in the express lane to total societal collapse. The fecklessness of Washington is an existential threat not only to the solvency of the republic but to the entire global order. If Ireland goes under, it’s lights out on Galway Bay. When America goes under, it drags the rest of the developed world down with it. When I go around the country saying stuff like this, a lot of folks agree. Somewhere or other, they’ve a vague memory of having seen a newspaper story accompanied by a Congressional Budget Office graph with the line disappearing off the top of the page and running up the wall and into the rafters circa mid-century. So they usually say, “Well, fortunately I won’t live to see it.” And I always reply that, unless you’re a centenarian with priority boarding for the ObamaCare death panel, you will live to see it. Forget about mid-century. We’ve got until mid-decade to turn this thing around.

Read the full article

A Lack of Leadership: The Root of the S&P Downgrade

Candidate Obama said he would “transform the Untied States of America” and unfortunately this is the one promise he kept. Two and one half years into his presidency, the National Debt has climbed to 100% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first time since World War II; GDP growth for the first six months of this year has been a meager 0.8%; we continue to run a $1.5 trillion annual deficit, essentially growing the Debt by 10% versus the 0.8% GDP growth; 25 million Americans are unemployed, under-employed or have dropped out of the work force; 45 million Americans are on food stamps; and now Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has downgraded our country’s credit rating from AAA to AA+ for the first time in our history. America has truly been transformed!

I could add to this list a number of foreign policy decisions that have elevated our enemies and trashed our long-time allies, but the economic failures of this president are more striking and more easily understood. His $900 billion economic stimulus bill did little more than pay the salaries of state workers for one year and increased the Debt. His re-distributive one-time programs of cash for clunkers and mortgage-restructuring failed and added to the Debt. The overbearing healthcare legislation, that the Congressional Budget Office now says will increase the cost of healthcare, did nothing but create uncertainty for business. Massive new and restrictive regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Congress, when under full Democratic control, has forced private capital to the sidelines and almost completely stalled economic growth. These are only some examples of Mr. Obama’s transformation of our country.

S&P warned us several months ago that our credit rating was in danger of a downgrade and pointed to the lack of leadership in Washington, D.C. as the main problem. Mr. Obama still does not get it. His reaction to the weak GDP growth and recent slide in the equities markets was to blame the earthquake in Japan, the economic problems in Europe and the uprisings that formed the Arab Spring. His supporters are already saying publicly that Obama inherited a situation that was “worse than we thought.” Translation – blame former President Bush. Mr. Obama will not take responsibility for a failing economy that he has managed since January of 2009 and it is this clear lack of leadership that is at the root of S&P’s downgrade.

The truth is that Mr. Obama’s socialist experiment of hyper-spending has done nothing more than add $4.5 trillion, or 45%, to the Debt since taking office. He has over regulated the economy into a private sector coma. It is time for real leadership and a return to free market capitalism. S&P made that clear with its downgrade.

The Price of a U.S. Credit Rating Downgrade

Rich Man, Poor Man




hat tip Hot Air

Friday, August 5, 2011

A spooky conversation with Brad Thor

This is very sobering information. - Reggie

Glenn interviews Congresswoman Bachmann

Historic Obama Presidency Continues: USA Credit Rating Downgraded - 1st Time in History

United States of America Long-Term Rating Lowered To 'AA+' On Political Risks And Rising Debt Burden; Outlook Negative

Overview

· We have lowered our long-term sovereign credit rating on the United States of America to 'AA+' from 'AAA' and affirmed the 'A-1+' short-term rating.

· We have also removed both the short- and long-term ratings from CreditWatch negative.

· The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government's medium-term debt dynamics.

· More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and   predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges to a degree more than we envisioned when we   assigned a negative outlook to the rating on April 18, 2011.

· Since then, we have changed our view of the difficulties in bridging the gulf between the   political parties over fiscal policy, which makes us pessimistic about the capacity of Congress and the Administration to be able to leverage their agreement this week into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government's debt dynamics any time soon.

· The outlook on the long-term rating is negative. We could lower the long-term rating to 'AA'  within the next two years if we see that less reduction in spending than agreed to, higher  interest rates, or new fiscal pressures during the period result in a higher general government debt trajectory than we currently assume in our base case.

Read the full report



Video below is from Fox Business channel on April 19, 2011
Geithner: No Risk U.S. Will Lose AAA Credit Rating

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sen. Rubio at The 2011 National Conservative Student Conference

During his remarks, Senator Rubio mentions Ronald Reagan's 1964 speech, A Time for Choosing.
Click here to watch that speech.

from August 2nd

Michele Bachmann: Believe It

Bachmann ad for the Ames, Iowas straw poll

Welcome to the Recovery


Only 22% of the Tea Party Approve of Debt Deal

WASHINGTON — The hard-won, last-minute agreement to raise the debt ceiling and cut the deficit gets low ratings from Americans, who by more than 2-1 predict it will make the nation's fragile economy worse rather than better.

In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken hours after the Senate passed and President Obama signed the deal, a 46% plurality disapprove of the agreement; 39% approve. Only one in five see it as a "step forward" in addressing the federal debt.

"People don't know jack" about the particulars of the agreement, "but what you heard about the process throughout was that it was horrible," says Joseph White, a political scientist at Case Western Reserve University who studies budget policy. "Most people assume that whatever came out of this horrible process was pretty crappy."

The sour reaction even after a compromise was struck underscores why the negotiations were so difficult, says Stan Collender, a former staffer on the House and Senate budget committees who is a partner at Qorvis Communications. "There was almost no way at all that elected officials were going to win on this one. No matter what they did, a lot of people were going to dislike it."

The poll finds some paradoxes.

Though Tea Party conservatives succeeded in setting the parameters of the debate, supporters of the Tea Party are among those most unhappy with the outcome. Only 22% of Tea Party supporters approve of the deal, (emphasis mine)  compared with 26% of Republicans generally and 58% of Democrats.

Governor Walker's Advice for Washington

Wisconsin adding jobs lost during recession

Obama Isn't Working: Chicago

The newest Romney ad. I don't like Romney and will not vote for him but so far this campaign season he has the best ads. - Reggie

Exclusive: Eric Cantor on 'Your World'

House majority leader on battle over FAA funding, debt fight

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Getting Bin Laden

What happened that night in Abbottabad.

by Nicholas Schmidle

Shortly after eleven o’clock on the night of May 1st, two MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters lifted off from Jalalabad Air Field, in eastern Afghanistan, and embarked on a covert mission into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden. Inside the aircraft were twenty-three Navy SEALs from Team Six, which is officially known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU. A Pakistani-American translator, whom I will call Ahmed, and a dog named Cairo—a Belgian Malinois—were also aboard. It was a moonless evening, and the helicopters’ pilots, wearing night-vision goggles, flew without lights over mountains that straddle the border with Pakistan. Radio communications were kept to a minimum, and an eerie calm settled inside the aircraft.

Fifteen minutes later, the helicopters ducked into an alpine valley and slipped, undetected, into Pakistani airspace. For more than sixty years, Pakistan’s military has maintained a state of high alert against its eastern neighbor, India. Because of this obsession, Pakistan’s “principal air defenses are all pointing east,” Shuja Nawaz, an expert on the Pakistani Army and the author of “Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within,” told me. Senior defense and Administration officials concur with this assessment, but a Pakistani senior military official, whom I reached at his office, in Rawalpindi, disagreed. “No one leaves their borders unattended,” he said. Though he declined to elaborate on the location or orientation of Pakistan’s radars—“It’s not where the radars are or aren’t”—he said that the American infiltration was the result of “technological gaps we have vis-à-vis the U.S.” The Black Hawks, each of which had two pilots and a crewman from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, or the Night Stalkers, had been modified to mask heat, noise, and movement; the copters’ exteriors had sharp, flat angles and were covered with radar-dampening “skin.”

The SEALs’ destination was a house in the small city of Abbottabad, which is about a hundred and twenty miles across the Pakistan border. Situated north of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, Abbottabad is in the foothills of the Pir Panjal Range, and is popular in the summertime with families seeking relief from the blistering heat farther south. Founded in 1853 by a British major named James Abbott, the city became the home of a prestigious military academy after the creation of Pakistan, in 1947. According to information gathered by the Central Intelligence Agency, bin Laden was holed up on the third floor of a house in a one-acre compound just off Kakul Road in Bilal Town, a middle-class neighborhood less than a mile from the entrance to the academy. If all went according to plan, the SEALs would drop from the helicopters into the compound, overpower bin Laden’s guards, shoot and kill him at close range, and then take the corpse back to Afghanistan.

The helicopters traversed Mohmand, one of Pakistan’s seven tribal areas, skirted the north of Peshawar, and continued due east. The commander of DEVGRU’s Red Squadron, whom I will call James, sat on the floor, squeezed among ten other SEALs, Ahmed, and Cairo. (The names of all the covert operators mentioned in this story have been changed.) James, a broad-chested man in his late thirties, does not have the lithe swimmer’s frame that one might expect of a SEAL—he is built more like a discus thrower. That night, he wore a shirt and trousers in Desert Digital Camouflage, and carried a silenced Sig Sauer P226 pistol, along with extra ammunition; a CamelBak, for hydration; and gel shots, for endurance. He held a short-barrel, silenced M4 rifle. (Others SEALs had chosen the Heckler & Koch MP7.) A “blowout kit,” for treating field trauma, was tucked into the small of James’s back. Stuffed into one of his pockets was a laminated gridded map of the compound. In another pocket was a booklet with photographs and physical descriptions of the people suspected of being inside. He wore a noise-cancelling headset, which blocked out nearly everything besides his heartbeat.

During the ninety-minute helicopter flight, James and his teammates rehearsed the operation in their heads. Since the autumn of 2001, they had rotated through Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa, at a brutal pace. At least three of the SEALs had participated in the sniper operation off the coast of Somalia, in April, 2009, that freed Richard Phillips, the captain of the Maersk Alabama, and left three pirates dead. In October, 2010, a DEVGRU team attempted to rescue Linda Norgrove, a Scottish aid worker who had been kidnapped in eastern Afghanistan by the Taliban. During a raid of a Taliban hideout, a SEAL tossed a grenade at an insurgent, not realizing that Norgrove was nearby. She died from the blast. The mistake haunted the SEALs who had been involved; three of them were subsequently expelled from DEVGRU.

The Abbottabad raid was not DEVGRU’s maiden venture into Pakistan, either. The team had surreptitiously entered the country on ten to twelve previous occasions, according to a special-operations officer who is deeply familiar with the bin Laden raid. Most of those missions were forays into North and South Waziristan, where many military and intelligence analysts had thought that bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders were hiding. (Only one such operation—the September, 2008, raid of Angoor Ada, a village in South Waziristan—has been widely reported.) Abbottabad was, by far, the farthest that DEVGRU had ventured into Pakistani territory. It also represented the team’s first serious attempt since late 2001 at killing “Crankshaft”—the target name that the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, had given bin Laden. Since escaping that winter during a battle in the Tora Bora region of eastern Afghanistan, bin Laden had defied American efforts to trace him. Indeed, it remains unclear how he ended up living in Abbottabad.

'On the Path to Destruction'

For those unfamiliar with today's music, Amy Winehouse was a soul/r&b/jazz singer that could not kick her drug & alcohol addiction and it eventually killed her. She was found dead on July 23rd at the age of 27.

Ironically, one of her most famous songs was Rehab. This Ramirez cartoon is a takeoff on Winehouse and Rehab.

Obama is killing America with his spending addiction . - Reggie

click the image for larger view






























And there is this from a story in The Telegraph...


Rand Paul: Why I Oppose the Debt Ceiling Compromise

Yesterday, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul posted an open letter detailing his opposition to the bill just passed by the US House and Senate. Even though the bill has passed both houses, I think Senator Paul's letter is worth reading because, unfortunately, he's right. - Reggie

Aug 1, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today Sen. Rand Paul issued an open letter on the subject of the debt ceiling compromise facing the Senate. Below is that letter.

To paraphrase Senator Jim DeMint: When you're speeding toward the edge of a cliff, you don't set the cruise control. You stop the car. The current deal to raise the debt ceiling doesn't stop us from going over the fiscal cliff. At best, it slows us from going over it at 80 mph to going over it at 60 mph.

This plan never balances. The President called for a "balanced approach." But the American people are calling for a balanced budget.

This deal does nothing to fix the overreaches of both parties over the past few years: Obamacare, TARP, trillion-dollar wars, runaway entitlement spending. They are all cemented into place with this deal, and their legacy will be trillions of dollars in new debt.


The deal that is pending before us now:
  • Adds at least $7 trillion to our debt over the next 10 years. The deal purports to "cut" $2.1 trillion, but the "cut" is from a baseline that adds $10 trillion to the debt. This deal, even if all targets are met and the Super Committee wields its mandate - results in a BEST case scenario of still adding more than $7 trillion more in debt over the next 10 years. That is sickening.
  • Never, ever balances.
  • The Super Committee's mandate is to add $7 trillion in new debt. Let's be clear: $2.1 trillion in reductions off a nearly $10 trillion,10-year debt is still more than $7 trillion in debt. The Super Committee limits the constitutional check of the filibuster by expediting passage of bills with a simple majority. The Super Committee is not precluded from any issue, therefore the filibuster could be rendered most. In addition, the plan harms the possible passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment. Since the goal is never to balance, having the BBA as a "trigger" ensures that the committee will simply report its $1.2 trillion deficit reduction plan and never move to a BBA vote.
  • It cuts too slowly. Even if you believe cutting $2.1 trillion out of $10 trillion is a good compromise, surely we can start cutting quickly, say $200 billion-$300 billion per year, right? Wrong. This plan so badly backloads the alleged savings that the cuts are simply meaningless. Why do we believe that the goal of $2.5 trillion over 10 years (that's an average of $250 billion per year) will EVER be met if the first two years cuts are $20 billion and $50 billion. There is simply no path in this bill even to the meager savings they are alleging will take place.


Buried in the details of this bill is the automatic debt limit increase proposed a few weeks ago. The second installment of the debt ceiling increase is initiated by the President automatically and can only be stopped by a two-thirds vote of Congress. This shifts the Constitutional check on borrowing from Congress to the President and makes it easier to raise the debt ceiling. Despite claims to the contrary, none of the triggers in this bill include withholding the second limit increase.

Credit rating agencies have clearly stated the type of so-called cuts envisioned in this plan will result in our AAA bond rating being downgraded. Ironically then, the only way to avoid our debt being downgraded and the resulting economic problems that stem from that is for this bill to fail.

This plan does not solve our problem. Not even close. I cannot abide the destruction of our economy, therefore I vigorously oppose this deal and I urge my colleagues and the American people to do the same.

Sincerely,

Rand Paul, M.D.

United States Senator

American Tipping Point

By Jeffrey Lord
8.2.11 @ 6:08AM

Hush puppies and the Tea Party.

The Republican run House of Representatives passed a debt limit plan last night 269-161. With Arizona Democrat Gabrielle Giffords returning from death's door to cast a yes vote. Good for her.

You always think of these things together, right?

No? Well, you should.

Hush puppies, for those coming in late, were once the casual shoe of choice in the late 1950s. By the 1990s they were pretty much vanished, disappeared to the fashion twilight zone along with tri-corner hats and powdered white wigs for men. They sold somewhere in the neighborhood of a pathetic 30,000 pairs a year, usually out of small family-run shoe stores in the small towns of off-the-beaten path America. The company that made them -- Wolverine -- was on the verge of giving up with the once iconic shoe from the Eisenhower-era that was, in 1950s beatnik lingo, "nowheresville" by the time of Bill and Hillary.

And then something peculiar happened. Something very much like what has been happening in the House of Representatives the last several days.

Out of the blue, hush puppies were becoming hip in the hippest clubs and bars of Clinton-era Manhattan. Impatient customers began scouting those small town shoe stores and scooping up the remaining supply. A prominent fashion designer was seen clad in them, another called Wolverine wanting to feature them in his spring collection. So did another. One L.A. fashionista mounted a 25-foot inflatable basset hound (the basset hound the Hush Puppy symbol) on the roof of his store, bought and gutted the building next door and turned it into a hush puppy boutique. One movie star of the day walked in personally to pick up a couple pairs of puppies. By 1995, sales had skyrocketed from the lonely 30,000 sales a year to almost half-a-million. The shoes were winning prizes as "best accessory" from fashion big wigs. And on and on it went.

If you've read author Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling classic of a few years back called The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, you will recognize this hush puppy story as Gladwell's. Along with other seemingly odd topics like Paul Revere's ride or the sudden drop in the crime rate of the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, Gladwell posited the idea that:

…the best way to understand the emergence of fashion trends, the ebb and flow of crime waves, or, for that matter, the transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth, or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.

When three characteristics combine -- "contagiousness, the fact that little causes can have big effects… (and) that change happens not gradually but at one dramatic moment" -- a "tipping point" occurs.

Hush puppy sales take off. Crime falls through the floor. A book sails on to best seller list. Or, as Gladwell also notes, a Boston silversmith's determination to spread the news of an impending British attack "mobilizes an entire region to arms" and an entire revolution is launched. And so on.

To which, this morning, it must be said after that 269-161 vote in the House last night: America has reached a new Tipping Point.

An epidemic of conservatism is sweeping America. And thanks to the Tea Party, yesterday disgracefully accused of terrorism by Vice President Biden (he the vice president in an administration terrified of calling real terrorists terrorists -- seriously!), the country will never be the same again.

Let's start with Gladwell's point of contagiousness, or, as he says in illustrating the point, the importance of understanding that epidemics are an "example of geometric progression."

Remembering that some 40 years separated the popularity peaks of the hush puppy, it should be noted that 78 years have separated the serious and seemingly permanent rise of Big Government from today. From Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal to the presidency of Barack Obama is a long time. And Big Government -- the idea that, in the vernacular, "tax and spend" can just sail on endlessly -- seemed like an impregnable fortress of an idea.

High on Ozone: The EPA’s Latest Assault on Jobs and the Economy

The U.S. economy won a temporary reprieve with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement last week that new ozone standards, which had been slated for this summer, will be delayed. The EPA’s “reconsideration” of the ozone standards it set in 2008 and issuance of more stringent standards violate all three of the fundamental values EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson pledged to honor: “science-based policies and programs, adherence to the rule of law, and overwhelming transparency.”[1]

This enormously expensive regulation is unsupported by scientific evidence, violates the Clean Air Act (CAA), and appears timed to evade ongoing judicial review of the rulemaking process. Even the EPA’s estimate that the new rule will impose up to $90 billion in compliance costs annually[2] severely understates the impact on economic development and jobs in communities where attainment of the new standards will be impossible. Congress should make the EPA’s temporary postponement of its new ozone standards a permanent one.

Background

The CAA requires the EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone, among other pollutants, at a level that is not “higher than is necessary…to protect the public health with an adequate margin of safety.”[3] Areas that are not in attainment must reduce emissions from existing sources and impose stringent controls on new ones. Even areas in attainment must strictly regulate new sources to prevent any increase in emissions.

In 2008, as part of the regular NAAQS review process, the EPA revised the ozone standard to 0.075 parts per million (ppm), down from the 0.080 ppm level set by the Clinton EPA.

In 2009, just months after President Obama took office, the EPA announced that it would “reconsider” and revise the 2008 standard, circumventing the mandatory process for revisions specified in the CAA. On January 19, 2010, the agency proposed to set a primary standard in the range of 0.060 to 0.070 ppm and, in an unprecedented step, introduce a separate and additional secondary standard (intended to protect such things as vegetation) based on cumulative ozone concentrations in summer. The EPA’s case for the new NAAQS is based on its controversial re-analysis of the data from two small studies that even their author states does not support reduced standards. Indeed, Jackson concedes that the scientific support for both the 2008 standards and the current proposal is “limited.”[4]

Unprecedented Expense

Read the full article

Former GAO Head: US Less Than 3 Years Away From Being Greece