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Sunday, May 20, 2012

American Crossroads: "Great II"

California's bad dream: Budget deficit hits $16B, unemployment 11%, businesses exit

What happened to the California of John Wayne and Ronald Reagan? Where’s the Golden State, where young men and women flocked to pursue the California Dream—a variation of the American Dream but with better weather?

It still thrives in Silicon Valley, as this week’s expected Facebook IPO demonstrates. By some estimates, Facebook, which was founded in a Harvard dorm room but moved West, now is worth $100 billion. Otherwise, the dream has become something of a nightmare. Even Hollywood is eager to move movie production to Michigan, Louisiana and New Zealand.

As recently as a decade ago, California was attracting hundreds of thousands of migrants from other states every year, along with hundreds of thousands of immigrants, legal and illegal, from foreign countries. No more. According to the 2012 edition of the “Rich States, Poor States” survey by the American Legislative Exchange Council, “California suffered a net loss in domestic migration of 1.5 million people from 2001 to 2010, as well as a 2.5 percent non-farm employment loss. Unfortunately for the Golden State, economic decline is unlikely to stop anytime soon.”

Even immigrants from Mexico have started returning home, despite the horrible violence in that country, because the economy South of the Border is growing faster than California’s.

Unemployment rises to 11 percent

Bucking national trends, California’s unemployment rose in March to 11 percent. That’s almost 3 percentage points above the national 8.2 percent rate. As recently as the mid-2000s, California’s rate was only 1 percentage point higher. The last time the state’s unemployment rate was below double digits was in 2008. And California vies with Illinois as the state with the worst credit rating on the bond markets.

State finances in shock

As a result, the state’s finances are in shock. Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown announced that the state’s budget deficit, according to Department of Finance estimates, had soared to $16 billion from the $9.2 billion predicted in January. So the deficit rose by 74 percent in just four months.

Mark Levin rails against Romney camp for avoiding Rev. Wright issue





Banking sector puts its money on Mitt Romney

When the head of JPMorgan Chase met with shareholders to answer for a trading loss of more than $2 billion Tuesday, it was against an evolving political backdrop: Donors from big banks are betting on Mitt Romney to defeat President Obama and repeal new restraints on risky, large-scale investments.

“There’s no doubt that there’s been a big diminution of support for the president,’’ said William M. Daley, Obama’s former chief of staff and a former top JPMorgan Chase executive. “People in the financial services sector are saying, ‘The president has been too tough on us, both in policy and on rhetoric.’ ’’

The top five donor groups in Romney’s campaign are individuals and political action committees associated with large financial institutions, led by Wall Street giants Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, according to information compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group that tracks campaign donations.

By contrast, Obama’s top five contributor groups include individuals and PACs affiliated with high technology giants Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp., and the global law firms DLA Piper and Sidley Austin, and do not include those associated with banks. In 2008, financial institutions backed him generously.

Analysts said the JPMorgan loss could be a political opportunity for Obama - and an obstacle for Romney.

On Monday, Obama was already seizing on the JPMorgan loss to bolster his reelection effort and underscore his continuing support for new and pending financial regulations in the 2010 Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul, which includes the controversial Volcker Rule, a provision that would prohibit banks from making speculative investments with their own funds.

“This is the best, or one of the best-managed banks. You could have a bank that isn’t as strong, isn’t as profitable making those same bets and we might have had to step in,’’ Obama said on ABC TV’s “The View,’’ adding praise for JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon. “That’s exactly why Wall Street reform is so important.’’

The JPMorgan loss “certainly fortifies the argument for stricter financial regulation,’’ said William A. Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former adviser to President Clinton. “And since President Obama has been on one side and Mitt Romney has been on the other, you would have to say it will make it a little bit harder for Mitt Romney to fortify the position he has articulated, which is that Dodd-Frank should be repealed.’’

Campaign finance records also show that the financial services sector is, to some extent, hedging its bets by donating money to the Democratic National Committee.

Mayo Clinic fires Female Genital Mutilation doctor

YouTube description: Dr. Elhagaly is no longer employed or caring for patients at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea. We are working with his patients to transition their care to another physician. Because this is a personnel issue, we cannot comment further on Dr. Elhagaly's employment status.

Female circumcision in children, referred to as female genital mutilation in U.S. legal statutes, is a felony-level child abuse crime. Mayo Clinic strongly opposes the procedure and it has never been performed at any Mayo Clinic facility.

--------------

Hatem Elhagaly (AKA "Hatem Al Haj") worked as a doctor in Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Albert Lea, MN. His special interests are in child development.

He is also a proponent of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

In an Arabic-language paper entitled "Circumcision of Girls: Jurisprudence and Medicine" (original here and here), Elhagaly (AKA "Al Haj") repeatedly points to the idea that FGM is "an honor" for women, ignoring FGM's extremely detrimental effects on women's health and the barbarity of the practice. He attempts to justify his ideas by referencing scholars from several schools of Islamic thought and also the words of Muhammad, including the idea that FGM is desirable "because it is more beautiful to behold and better for her husband."

Hatem Elhagaly was taking care of young girls in Albert Lea, MN.




UPDATE: Not familiar with Female Genital Mutilation? Read two articles describing it from Wikipedia and the World Health Organization.

Blind Chinese Activist Who Fought Forced Abortions Arrives in NYC With Wife and Children

Honestly, when this Chinese dissident left the US Embassy I thought his chance of ever seeing freedom were gone. Thankfully, I was wrong. - Reggie

NEW YORK (AP) — A blind Chinese legal activist who escaped house arrest, endured a nearly monthlong diplomatic tussle and a hurried daylong flight paused ever so briefly upon his arrival in New York City before taking up a familiar fight.

Taken from a hospital in his homeland and put on a plane for the U.S. after Chinese authorities suddenly told him Saturday to pack and prepare to leave, Chen Guangcheng embraced his new surroundings at New York University and renewed his call to fight injustice.

"I believe that no matter how difficult the environment nothing is impossible if you put your heart to it," he told a cheering crowd at NYU shortly after arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport on Saturday evening.

"We should link our arms to continue in the fight for the goodness in the world and to fight against injustice. So, I think that all people should apply themselves to this end to work for the common good worldwide."

Chen was suddenly allowed to leave China earlier in the day, ending a dispute that tested U.S.-China relations.


Blind Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng arrives at the campus of New York University

The Tea Party Scorecard

How do the Tea Party candidates, lawmakers rate?

 

Obama Campaign Responds to Breitbart 'Kenya' Booklet Story

Though it quickly became an Internet punchline, Attack Watch should not be dismissed. Attack Watch is paid for and an extension of Obama for America, which is part of BarackObama.com, the online campaign hub for the White House. That means that the Obama campaign itself has decided to comment on the Breitbart News' exclusive surrounding a 1991 booklet published by President Obama's literary agency that falsely claimed the President was born in Kenya. It's also worth noting that this claim extended to the lit agency's website until 2007, two months after Obama announced his candidacy for president.

What's fascinating about the Obama campaign's response is the many questions it leaves unanswered:
Fact: The Breitbart bloggers chose to ignore the very clear facts that belie their claim.
  • The literary agent who put together the 1991 pamphlet in question noted that, “there was never any information given to us by Obama in any of his correspondence or other communications suggesting in any way that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii.” The mistake in the pamphlet was the result of “nothing more than a fact checking error” by the agent.
  • Despite the Breitbart bloggers’ claim that the booklet was an attempt to manipulate some carefully crafted persona, numerous news outlets had already reported the President as Hawaiian-born. A year before the pamphlet’s release in 1991, a New York Times article on Barack Obama’s election to head the Harvard Law Review reported correctly, “Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii.”
As far as that first bullet point, what the Obama camp won't tell you is that Breitbart News made numerous attempts to contact the literary agency without any kind of response. Once the agency finally released a statement, we published it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Atlas is Starting to Shrug

The following is a partial transcript from the Rush Limbaugh show today. To read the full transcript, click here. However, I want to tell you a couple of things about Atlas Shrugged. It is a very long book but I bought the abridged audio version and have listened to it two or three times. It is amazing how similar our government is today to the government in the book. The movie Atlas Shrugged was the first part of a three part venture so the entire story isn't told in the movie. I understand part two is currently in production. - Reggie

Rush Limbaugh
RUSH: Mike in North Carolina, I'm glad you called, Open Line Friday, your turn, sir, hello.

CALLER: Well, Rush, I gotta tell you what an honor it is to talk to you today.

RUSH: Thank you. I appreciate that, sir.

CALLER: I have been a student of the Limbaugh Institute for just about ten years, and I gotta tell you, I have a question for you today that I hope will demonstrate that I have indeed been paying attention. And the question is, what would our society look like if the 99%-ers, mostly, if the 1%-ers just quit? Just decided that they had enough and they cashed in their chips, pulls their shutters, shingled their shops --

RUSH: Would you like to read a book about this?

CALLER: Well, sure.

RUSH: There's a book called Atlas Shrugged. It's a long book. Have you heard of it?

CALLER: Yes.

RUSH: It's by Ayn Rand, and it's about this very thing. It's about the producers throwing up their hands in frustration and just saying, "To heck with it. I'm not doing this anymore. I am not gonna pay these exorbitant tax rates. I'm not gonna be one of the few in this country productive and everybody feeds off me," and they just quit. It is a very, very long book. A movie was made of it within the past year, which, by the way, I'm sure you could rent that DVD somewhere.



The Great Liberal Lie: Jonah Goldberg on the Left's War on Words

YouTube description: Jonah Goldberg discusses his books, including his latest, "The Tyranny of Cliches." How does the left twist words to fit their political agenda? Find out.

Glenn Beck's exposé on Barack Obama and his “fairy tale” story

This is the entire Glenn Beck program from May 10th. Beck has put the episode on the outside of his pay wall in order for this information to go viral. Please, link to this video, embed it, tweet it, etc. To read more about this, click here. - Reggie

'The Amateur'

These videos are from Sean Hannity's show the past two nights where he talked to Ed Klein about his new book, The Amateur. - Reggie

Here is the info from the inside flap of the book:

Think you know the real Barack Obama? You don’t—not until you’ve read The Amateur

In this stunning exposé, bestselling author Edward Klein—a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, former foreign editor of Newsweek, and former editor-in-chief of the New York Times Magazine—pulls back the curtain on one of the most secretive White Houses in history. He reveals a callow, thin-skinned, arrogant president with messianic dreams of grandeur supported by a cast of true-believers, all of them united by leftist politics and an amateurish understanding of executive leadership.

In The Amateur you’ll discover:

Why the so-called “centrist” Obama is actually in revolt against the values of the society he was elected to lead

Why Bill Clinton loathes Barack Obama and tried to get Hillary to run against him in 2012
The spiteful rivalry between Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey
How Obama split the Kennedy family
How Obama has taken more of a personal role in making foreign policy than any president since Richard Nixon—with disastrous results
How Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett are the real powers behind the White House throne

The Amateur is a reporter’s book, buttressed by nearly 200 interviews, many of them with the insiders who know Obama best. The result is the most important political book of the year. You will never look at Barack Obama the same way again.

Part 1, May 16th





Part 2, May 17th



Nice Try, Joe: You're Not Foolin' Coal Country

New RNC ad. For those that don't know, a prison inmate garnered over 40% of the vote in the West Virginia Democrat primary on May 8th. Now, Obama/Biden want coal but I doubt they will attempt to stop the EPA from shutting down coal plants. - Reggie

Day One

New Romney ad.

YouTube description: Mitt Romney has outlined a bold agenda to spur economic growth and create jobs. On his first day in office, he will approve the Keystone pipeline, introduce pro-growth tax reforms, and repeal Obamacare.

The Vetting - Obama's Literary Agent in 1991 Booklet: 'Born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii'

Breitbart broke this story yesterday and in their disclaimer, below, they say they still believe Obama was born in Hawaii. Why? This promotional booklet openly claims he was born in Kenya so why do people still cling to the Hawaii story after seeing this?

Honestly, I have never come down on either side of this issue because I believe there have been very relevant questions of whether he was born in Hawaii or Kenya. The problem is if he was born in Kenya, he should never have been able to run for President. I really don't know where he was born but have we ever had to question the birthplace of Presidents #1 - #43? The fact we have to question his birthplace is disturbing and with this story Breitbart proves that Barack Obama was the first "birther."

There is one more thing I have wondered about but never posted. It is widely reported that Obama has a Connecticut social security number. How do you obtain that if you have never lived in Connecticut? - Reggie


Note from Senior Management:

Andrew Breitbart was never a "Birther," and Breitbart News is a site that has never advocated the narrative of "Birtherism." In fact, Andrew believed, as we do, that President Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961.

Yet Andrew also believed that the complicit mainstream media had refused to examine President Obama's ideological past, or the carefully crafted persona he and his advisers had constructed for him.

It is for that reason that we launched "The Vetting," an ongoing series in which we explore the ideological background of President Obama (and other presidential candidates)--not to re-litigate 2008, but because ideas and actions have consequences.

It is also in that spirit that we discovered, and now present, the booklet described below--one that includes a marketing pitch for a forthcoming book by a then-young, otherwise unknown former president of the Harvard Law Review.

It is evidence--not of the President's foreign origin, but that Barack Obama's public persona has perhaps been presented differently at different times.


Breitbart News has obtained a promotional booklet produced in 1991 by Barack Obama's then-literary agency, Acton & Dystel, which touts Obama as "born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii."

The booklet, which was distributed to "business colleagues" in the publishing industry, includes a brief biography of Obama among the biographies of eighty-nine other authors represented by Acton & Dystel.

It also promotes Obama's anticipated first book, Journeys in Black and White--which Obama abandoned, later publishing Dreams from My Father instead.

Obama’s biography in the booklet is as follows (image and text below):


Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. The son of an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister, he attended Columbia University and worked as a financial journalist and editor for Business International Corporation. He served as project coordinator in Harlem for the New York Public Interest Research Group, and was Executive Director of the Developing Communities Project in Chicago’s South Side. His commitment to social and racial issues will be evident in his first book, Journeys in Black and White.

Read the full report

And there is this...

Breitbart: Obama’s Lit Agency Used 'Born in Kenya' Bio Until 2007

Breitbart: Media Works To Suppress Obama 'Born in Kenya' Bio

h/t The Right Scoop for the video below:

Persecution in Nigeria

Boko Haram's murderous crusade against Christians.

Long a troubled nation, Nigeria now risks religious war. So far the killing essentially runs one way: Islamic extremists kill Christians. President Goodluck Jonathan has responded with good intentions and occasional arrests, including of a terrorist leader last Friday. However, if the government is unable to stop the killing the country's future will be at risk.

Like so many other former colonies, Nigeria stumbled almost immediately after gaining independence. Blessed with oil, it has suffered through multiple corrupt and repressive governments. It now is a functioning democracy, but the political process is complicated by the need to balance the ambitions of the Muslim north and Christian south.

Maintaining political peace has been made more urgent by persistent sectarian violence. The State Department emphasizes that "The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom and, in practice, the government generally enforced these protections." Unfortunately, the lack of state persecution does not protect Nigerians against private violence.

Observed the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in its most recent report, "Since 1999, more than 14,000 Nigerians have been killed in religiously-related violence between Muslims and Christians. The government of Nigeria continues to fail to prevent and contain acts of religiously-related violence, prevent reprisal attacks, or bring those responsible for such violence to justice." Muslim-dominated states in northern Nigeria also have applied Sharia law as part of their criminal codes and discriminated "against minority communities of Christians and Muslims."

The greatest threat today is the group Boko Haram, which has been active for three years. The group now appears to have at least some contacts with al Qaeda affiliates and some members have been discovered in Mali. Unfortunately, the organization has been steadily expanding its reach. The State Department's latest religious freedom report observed that "Violence, tension, and hostility between Christians and Muslims increased, particularly in the Middle Belt [divided roughly equally between Muslims and Christians], exacerbated by 'indigene' (native) and settler laws, discriminatory employment practices, and resource competition."

International Christian Concern regularly puts Nigeria in its Hall of Shame and similarly reported increased attacks on Christians in 2010 in the Middle Belt. According to ICC, "The year's worst attack occurred on March 7, as Muslims invaded villages around the [Plateau state] capital city of Jos. The mobs attacked sleeping families in their homes at 2 a.m. with machetes. More than 500 Christians were murdered that day, most of whom were women and children." Killings of Christians continued in nearby villages throughout the year.

Since then the situation has worsened. Observed State: "Violence between Christian and Muslim communities increased in several regions arising from complex factors, including economic disparity, ethnic identity, and seasonal migration patterns. Acute communal violence in the Middle Belt heightened tensions between religious groups." Yet, "even in areas outside the Middle Belt that did not otherwise experience violence, tensions remained between Christians and Muslims."

The growing violence is a genie that cannot easily be returned to the bottle. Noted the Commission: "The past year saw a dramatic rise in sectarian or religiously-related violence." Post-election riots in the north against the election of Jonathan, a Christian, killed some 800 people. "Although triggered by political issues, the post-election violence quickly became sectarian. In addition, Boko Haram, a militant group that espouses an extreme and violent interpretation of Islam, has been emboldened by the climate of impunity."

The group, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege," is deadly serious. No bromides about representing a "religion of peace." Added the Commission: "Boko Haram has shifted its tactics and emphasis by targeting, killing, and bombing Christians and Christian clergy and threatening to kill all remaining Christians in the north, while continuing its attacks against government officials, as well as killing hundreds of Muslims, including Muslim religious leaders who spoke out against the group." Also targeted have been Western-style schools in the north, which provide an education beyond memorization of the Koran.

Boko Haram does some of its killing retail, one by one. In March in the Muslim-majority city of Maiduguri, the terrorist group killed the 79-year-old mother of a local pastor. Her throat was slit with a note in Arabic placed on her chest, proclaiming that "We will get you soon."

However, the group also murders wholesale, attacking church services. For instance, April was not a good month for Nigerian Christians. Reported the Economist: "In Kano, a city in northern Nigeria, gunmen on motorbikes killed at least 20 Christian worshippers in a university lecture theater where churches hold their weekly services. They threw small bombs into the church before shooting those trying to flee. In another attack on a church service in the northeast town of Maiduguri shooters opened fire, killing five people including the priest. Seven people were killed on Monday in a bomb targeting a police commissioner's convoy in the eastern town of Jolingo in the usually peaceful Taraba state."

It could have been worse. On Easter Sunday in the city of Kaduna a suicide bomber was blocked from getting into the compound of two Protestant churches. Instead, he detonated his bomb on a nearby road, which still killed 41 people. Later the same day there was a bombing in the city of Jos, which killed one person and injured others. Last Christmas 44 people were killed by a church bombing in Abuja, the nation's capital.

No one claimed responsibility for the April murders, though they looked like the work of Boko Haram. However, warned the Economist, "it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell when Boko Haram is responsible for such violence and when other groups, inspired by their methods, are to blame." Boko Haram has destroyed an incredible 350 churches throughout northern Nigeria over the past year. So far this year the group is estimated to have killed nearly 500 people.

Nigeria's Catholic leaders have called on Muslim leaders to speak out and act to end the violence. Like in Pakistan many Nigerian Muslims send their children to Islamiyya, or religious, schools, which provide few practical skills. Educator Rotimi Eyitayo observed: "Those who stop going to school don't get education, they become a menace." In a country with too few jobs some of these ill-educated and unskilled appear open to Boko Haram's call.

In March Boko Haram abandoned preliminary talks with the government. Unfortunately, the group has few negotiable objectives. It insists on the release of all followers from jail and has variously proposed creation of an Islamic state in the north and imposition of strict Sharia law across all of Nigeria. Last month it released a video threatening to "devour" Jonathan and "end" his government after he pledged to bring the group under control by mid-year. The group proclaimed that it would "never give up as we fight the infidels." Apparently political objectives are secondary: Boko Haram's members simply want to kill Christians.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

President Diva

Ben Shapiro
According to President Obama, he's a historic figure. That's no figure of speech. This week, journalist Seth Mandel discovered that President Obama had authorized his staff to add his name to the biographies of former presidents from Calvin Coolidge to George W. Bush on the White House website.

For example, Calvin Coolidge, it now states at WhiteHouse.gov, created the Federal Radio Commission; President Obama "became the first president to hold virtual gatherings and town halls using Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, etc." Franklin D. Roosevelt created Social Security; President Obama says FDR's biography "continues to protect seniors and ensure Social Security will be there for future generations." Lincoln ended the Civil War; Obama once thought about growing a beard. All other presidents, apparently, were just placeholders until The Big Fella arrived.

This massive sense of ego has led Obama to the inevitable conclusion that his is the only opinion that matters. If he is the culmination of Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy and Dwight D. Eisenhower, then he is also the culmination of all moral thought for the last several thousand years. He can singlehandedly declare same-sex marriage moral -- and what's more, he can fundraise off of it like nobody's business. If religious institutions had thought to back same-sex relationships millennia ago, just think how full their coffers would be now.

The swooning media has feted Obama for his bravery. Newsweek placed a rainbow halo around his head and christened him "The First Gay President," which should surely come as a shock to Michelle. Members of "The View" oohed and aahed at him, with Joy Behar leering so sycophantically that it was a wonder she didn't lose a layer of her pancake makeup on his posterior. Obama, we've been told, has evolved; those who haven't evolved alongside him are now a stage of evolution behind. Thus, the awkward spectacle of MSNBC's Chris Matthews lecturing a black pastor that he hoped would "evolve" -- a statement that would certainly get any non-liberal kicked off the air forthwith and with good reason.

And, of course, nobody was prouder of Obama than Obama himself. His campaign website now features baby clothing emblazoned with the slogan "My Two Dads Support Barack Obama." His campaign team has sent out emails asking for cash that make it sound as if Obama just achieved world peace. Never mind that children need a mother and a father -- Obama spoke, and the world was changed.

Sacrificial Scams

Ann Coulter
The real class warfare in this country isn't rich vs. poor, it's government employees vs. we, the taxpayers, who pay their salaries.

Working for the government is supposed to be a trade-off: You can't be fired and don't have to exert yourself, but you will receive smaller remuneration than in the private sector, where layoffs are common (especially in the Obama economy!). Instead, government jobs are safe, secure, pressure-free -- and now, amazingly lucrative!

Whether it's in Wisconsin, Illinois, California or the nation's capital, today's public sector workers expect to do little or no work (I'm not counting partying in Las Vegas as "work"), and then be lavishly compensated. Often, the only heavy lifting they do all week is picking up their paychecks.

When government employees mobbed the state capitol in Wisconsin last year, the upside was: They got to bully people. The downside: Voters finally found out what these public servants were being paid.

Their compensation included not only straight salary, but also lavish overtime benefits, pensions, health care plans, sick days and vacation time (most of which they spent protesting).

The unions thought they could fight back against Gov. Scott Walker's tiny rollbacks without anyone finding out the details. Most people saw what public employees were getting and assumed it was a misprint.

Two years ago, seven bus drivers in Madison, Wis., made more than $100,000 a year.

A few years before that, we found out that the city manager of little Bell, Calif. -- per capita annual income $24,800 -- was making $787,637, or including benefits: $1.5 million a year. The chief of police was getting $457,000 a year -- $770,046 counting benefits -- making him the first chief of police to commit highway robbery on the job. The assistant city manager was taking home $376,288 per year, for a total compensation package of $845,960.

All were Democrats, the party of Big Government.

Speaking of which -- whatever happened to that investigation Gov. Jerry Brown was launching into these thieving public servants drawing million-dollar pensions from California taxpayers? The Bell scandal broke during the California gubernatorial race between Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown, who was then state attorney general. Brown vowed a no-holds-barred inquiry.

Anyone seen his report yet?

Jerry Brown will demand to see Obama's birth certificate before he will call for a rollback of these undeserved, million-dollar government pensions.

Less than 20 percent of private sector employees get pensions. Most people save their own money for retirement -- for example, through 401(k)s. By contrast, government employees expect to be paid by us for the rest of their lives.

Health Care, Chicago Style

A questionable grant to a questionable Obama associate’s group.

This week the Department of Health and Human Services allocated a $5.9 million grant to Chicago’s Urban Health Initiative. This is the not-for-profit program, run by the University of Chicago Medical Center, at which Michelle Obama was once an executive, and which is now run by one of President Obama’s closest confidants, Eric Whitaker. The grant comes from money allocated by the president’s health-care-reform initiative to fund innovative and cost-cutting solutions, part of the “We Can’t Wait” executive-branch stimulus initiative.

Whitaker has a checkered past, with a variety of controversies surrounding his work at the University of Chicago’s hospitals and Illinois’s health department, and it’s only gotten worse recently: Edward Klein, author of The Amateur, claims that Reverend Jeremiah Wright fingered Whitaker as an Obama surrogate who offered $150,000 for the pastor to lie low during the 2008 campaign.

If we’re to believe Klein’s claims that he has tapes of Reverend Wright saying that Whitaker offered him hush money, then the only question is whether Wright’s account can be trusted. He might appear unreliable, except that he seems to have little reason otherwise to slander Whitaker, another prominent member of Chicago’s black community. (Wright has invited Whitaker to speak at his church’s events.) Klein’s book explains that Obama chose Whitaker as his fixer for the Wright problem; he was tasked with trying to restrain Wright and on one occasion with finding a replacement preacher for an Obama campaign event.

If Klein’s and Wright’s claim about the proffered bribe is true, it’s a disturbing, and undeniable, statement about the company Obama keeps. It’s almost impossible to overstate how close Whitaker is to the president. He’s been friends with Obama since their time together in the early 1990s at Harvard (where Obama earned a degree in law and Whitaker in public health), and has joined the first family on every single one of their August and Christmas vacations since 2008. He’s also been involved in official capacities with the Obama campaign: He and his wife, Cheryl, hosted a Chicago fundraiser for the president in January.

This is hardly the first allegation of shady conduct involving Whitaker. In 2010, his work as chief of the Illinois Department of Public Health was the subject of a federal probe. Convicted felon Tony Rezko, on Obama’s recommendation, hired Whitaker in 2003 to run the department. During his time there, he developed a wide range of unorthodox outreach initiatives, which he defended as “national models for increasing awareness and preparedness planning for minority populations.”

In particular, he allocated $1.2 million to the Let’s Talk, Let’s Test Foundation, a group that the Chicago Sun-Times discovered was notorious for improperly awarding staff bonuses and perks such as college-football tickets. Whitaker defended the decision at the time by claiming that “if you look over the landscape of black-directed HIV organizations, there was no obvious alternative.”

In the end, the investigation confirmed one misuse of state funds for which Whitaker was responsible: A $45,000 grant to an AIDS-awareness group called Working for Togetherness, which used the money to buy and “soup up” a 2003 Hummer H2 to promote instant HIV/AIDS testing in Chicago. The investigation confirmed that this was a misuse of state funds, but that didn’t stop Whitaker’s department from continuing to issue tens of thousands of dollars in grants to the same group. Despite the state’s finding, and the fact that the group agreed to return about half of the grant, Whitaker’s spokesman at the time claimed “the fancy car worked.”

Whitaker was also closely involved, though ultimately not at fault, in the Senate-seat-selling Blagojevich scandal. According to the president’s own report on the issue, Blagojevich’s deputy governor contacted Whitaker in early November 2008 to ask “who spoke for the president-elect” on the question of who should be appointed. Whitaker then went to Obama, who said he had no interest in the issue — thereby insulating himself from the scandal. But it’s notable that, in his attempt to gather information to perpetrate his crimes, Blagojevich chose to go to Whitaker, who — unlike Obama, who still occupied the seat in question — had no formal role to play in the Senate appointment.

Obama budget defeated 99-0 in Senate

President Obama's budget suffered a second embarrassing defeat Wednesday, when senators voted 99-0 to reject it.

Coupled with the House's rejection in March, 414-0, that means Mr. Obama's budget has failed to win a single vote in support this year.

Republicans forced the vote by offering the president's plan on the Senate floor.

Democrats disputed that it was actually the president's plan, arguing that the slim amendment didn't actually match Mr. Obama's budget document, which ran thousands of pages. But Republicans said they used all of the president's numbers in the proposal, so it faithfully represented his plan.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, even challenged Democrats to point out any errors in the numbers and he would correct them — a challenge no Democrats took up.

"A stunning development for the president of the United States in his fourth year in office," Mr. Sessions said of the unanimous opposition.

Obama's Promise

New American Crossroads ad.


Obama's Debacle

Welcome to the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression.

Obama has already succeeded in fundamentally transforming America, from a prosperous nation that draws people the world over, voting with their feet, to a rapidly declining former superpower on the fast track to a third-world status similar to Argentina or Venezuela. That is effectively what is argued by the new book Debacle: Obama's War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain our Future, by leading taxpayer activist Grover Norquist and economist John Lott.

The Worst Economic Recovery Since the Great Depression

Central to the debacle Obama has created is that he has imposed on America the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression. Yes, the country was in recession when Obama was elected. But it was Obama's policies that turned it into the Great Recession and prevented the American economy from recovering -- just like his icon Franklin Roosevelt turned the 1929 stock market collapse into the Great Depression, and prevented America from recovering for more than a decade. As Norquist and Lott explain:

While this recession no doubt has been one of the worst since the Great Depression, the supposed recovery that followed it has clearly been the worst. Unemployment and job growth have been abysmal. As of October, 2011, the unemployment rate was stuck at least at 9.0 percent for 27 out of 29 months. Astoundingly, the unemployment rate during the 29 months of recovery averages three full percentage points higher than the average unemployment rate during the recession. There is no comparable recovery on record since the prolonged period of stagnation during the Great Depression in the 1930s. The Reagan recovery, starting in late 1982, hit a higher unemployment rate, but after the recovery started, it did not take more than nine months for the unemployment rate to dip below 9 percent.

This latest recession started in December, 2007. The National Bureau of Economic Research, the recognized timekeeper of when recessions start and end, declared this one over in June, 2009, which would make it the longest recession since the Great Depression 75 years ago. But the historical precedent in America is that the deeper the recession, the stronger the recovery. Based on that precedent, we should be in the third year of a raging economic recovery boom by now. But instead we have experienced no real recovery at all.

As Norquist and Lott explain the Obama non-recovery:

The recession was painful enough. Between when the recession started in December 2007 and ended in June, 2009, 6.3 million jobs were lost. After the recession ended and this book was written in October, 2011, only 324,000 additional jobs were created—an average of just 11,000 a month over those 29 months. With the working age population growing by 160,000 a month, this meager job growth failed to make a dent in getting the jobs back, let alone find jobs for the ever-growing population.

Unemployment actually rose after the recession supposedly ended in June, 2009, and did not fall back down below that level until 18 months later in December, 2010. Norquist and Lott add, "In the first 29 months during the Reagan recovery, the number of jobs grew by 8 percent. In contrast, over the same time, the number of jobs under Obama has grown by just 0.25 percent."

"But things in America are a lot worse than the simple employment and unemployment numbers indicate," Norquist and Lott continue, "because many people have given up looking for work and have completely left the labor force, and the government no longer counts people as unemployed after they give up looking for a job. Obviously, lowering the unemployment rate through disillusioned job seekers giving up looking is not a good thing."

But that is exactly what the Obama administration is celebrating as the achievement of its economic policies -- working people giving up and dropping out of the labor force. That is the only way the unemployment rate has been falling at all. Norquist and Lott explain further, "People are supposed to start looking for work during recoveries. It is during recessions that Americans give up looking for work. Unfortunately, under the Obama Administration, the reverse has happened…. It was only during the Obama recovery that Americans started dropping out of the labor force in droves. In total, 4.7 million people quit looking for work." Today, it is 7.7 million who have dropped out of the work force under Obama.

Again, the Reagan recovery is the measure. "The contrast with the Reagan recovery is striking," Norquist and Lott write. "After the Reagan recovery started, millions more people wanted to work than even before the recession started. The sharp drop in the unemployment rate during the Reagan recovery is therefore even more impressive…. Despite all those new people looking for work, the unemployment rate fell from 10.8 percent at the end of 1982 to 7.2 percent by the presidential election in 1984."

The Obama non-recovery debacle continues to this day. Last month, while 115,000 new jobs were supposedly created, the labor force shrank by another 342,000 workers, which is the only reason the unemployment rate reportedly declined from 8.2 to 8.1 percent. Without the decline in the labor force, unemployment would have risen last month to 8.3 percent. The labor force is actually 365,000 workers smaller today than it was in June, 2009, when the recession supposedly ended.

As Investor's Business Daily reported on May 7, "That's in stark contrast to every other post-World War II expansion, which saw the labor force climb by the millions at this point in their recoveries, even as unemployment rates were driven down." Indeed, if the labor force participation had stayed the same as it was when the recession supposedly ended in June, 2009, without the millions fleeing Obama's economy since then, the unemployment rate would be 11 percent, Investor's Business Daily calculated.

Moreover, as the Wall Street Journal reported in its weekend edition of May 5-6, "Even as employers added jobs last month, full time employment actually fell by 812,000." The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that for last month the number of involuntary part-time workers totaled nearly 8 million. The BLS says, "These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job."

The BLS reported that in April, 52 months after the recession started, the total unemployment rate counting the unemployed and involuntarily underemployed was still 14.5 percent. That's already persistent depression level unemployment. But the Shadow Government Statistics website, which includes the long-term discouraged workers the government doesn't count at all anymore since 1994, reports the total unemployment rate at 22.3 percent. That's what the total unemployment rate would be today if it were calculated the same way it was before 1994. Happy days are here again, under Obamanomics.

Reaganomics v. Obamanomics

In a Wall Street Journal article in February, 2009, I noted that the emerging Obamanomics followed the exact opposite of every policy of Reaganomics in great detail. I predicted that it would consequently get the exact opposite results. That is what has happened.

WH under fire for adding Obama policy plugs to past presidents' bios

This may seem innocent enough but it is frightening to me. I have been saying for some time now that Obama is a dictator and I believe this proves it. This is the kind of thing third world dictators do in order to improve their image with "the masses." Obama is not going to leave the White House willingly. I see major trouble coming. - Reggie

The Obama White House is drawing ridicule for appending the official online biographies of nearly every president over the last century in order to link President Obama's accomplishments to the former commanders in chief.

The Obama team went into the pages of U.S. presidents dating back to Calvin Coolidge to add friendly looking "Did you know?" fact boxes to the end of their bios. Those additions were used to plug a host of Obama administration initiatives, ranging from the health care overhaul to the so-called "Buffett Rule" to his green-energy policies.

For instance, the following line was added to the official bio of the late President Ronald Reagan: "In a June 28, 1985, speech, Reagan called for a fairer tax code, one where a multimillionaire did not have a lower tax rate than his secretary. Today, President Obama is calling for the same with the Buffett Rule."

The White House is coming under heavy criticism from conservatives for the changes, and not just to Reagan's page.

Late Tuesday, the White House defended itself, claiming the staff was merely adding links to other pages.

"No biographies have been altered," a White House official told Fox News. "We simply added links at the bottom of each page to related whitehouse.gov content, which is a commonly used best practice to encourage people to browse more pages on a site."

The additions do include links, but they're more than that. Each one finds a way to tout an Obama administration policy or practice in the process. {emphasis mine}

Read the full report

Obama's America 2016: Love Him, Hate Him - You Don't Know Him





Read about this upcoming documentary at Breitbart: Oscar-Winner's Investigative Obama Doc '2016'

UPDATE: There is an update to this story. Watch Obama's brother, George, talk to Dinesh D'Souza in a short clip and see the newest trailer for the documentary here.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Lessons of Austerity

The evidence of Big Government failure is all around us.

The hot topic in Europe is “austerity,” and the reluctance of various populations to embrace it. The term is generally understood to mean savage budget cuts, necessitated by the bankruptcy of the benevolent State. Popular anger against austerity is not difficult to muster, especially since opponents are never required to submit their own reasonable plan for avoiding budgetary disaster. Vague assurances that tax increases on faceless, evil rich people can satisfy budget shortfalls are good enough.

Until the situation degenerates to Greek levels of impending collapse, anti-austerity candidates can also assure the public that huge deficits are not harmful… or, in accordance with mangled Keynesian economics, they’re actually helpful. Only when government spends far more than it takes in can the economy function properly!

We’ve heard versions of all these arguments in the United States, as we confront our own debt crisis. They can all be refuted by studying events in both America and Europe.

For one thing, European “austerity” rarely has anything to do with “savage spending cuts.”  In fact, as Veronique de Rugy recently noted in the Washington Examiner, France never actually got around to “cutting” anything, but a socialist President still swept into power by running against “austerity.”  France had spending cuts only in the sense Washington has been using the term for decades: reductions in the rate of growth for government programs.

Even worse is the version of austerity peddled to U.S. voters, under the brand name of “a balanced approach”: spending cuts alongside huge tax increases. This is always treated as if it were a bold new idea, but it actually has an impressive pedigree of failure in both the United States and Europe. In the U.S., we always get the tax increases, but the spending cuts never materialize. In the Old World, De Rugy says it has “unfortunately proven a recipe for disaster.”

A Few of the 23 Million

New Romney ad.

YouTube description: Today, in the Obama economy, twenty-three million Americans are out of work, underemployed, or have stopped looking for work. These are the stories behind the statistics. These are a few of the twenty-three million.

The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House

American Thinker
Edward Klein's new book on Barack Obama, The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House, is a withering portrayal of a radical adrift, in over his head, drowning in his own incompetency -- while being weighed down by a small circle of "advisers" who are compounding the problem of the Amateur in the White House.

Klein's book begins with a talisman-like quote uttered by Barack Obama when his recently appointed Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner tried to boost Obama's ego by telling him, "Your legacy is going to be preventing the second Great Depression." To which Barack Obama responded, "That's not enough for me."

As all of America knows by now, Obama has aggressively sought to "fundamentally transform" America -- one of the few promises he has kept from the days of 2008. Five trillion dollars of borrowing, ObamaCare passed over the objections of the majority of Americans through legislative legerdemain and special deals made with resistant politicians, failed stimulus, green programs failing left and right as taxpayers are left holding the bag, a recovery that is the most anemic on record, an America that has been sundered by the man who promises to unite us, America weaker abroad and at home -- yes, America has been fundamentally transformed. Mission Accomplished.

But how and why did Obama succeed in such a catastrophic way? That is the question that Klein successfully answers in his extremely readable and enjoyable book, with enough spicy details to satisfy the craving of anyone interested in how President Obama and those closest to him have driven us to the condition we find ourselves in as we approach November.

One of the motifs that runs throughout the book is Barack Obama's sheer level of incompetency. He has the fatal conceit of many politicians: an overweening ego. That may be a prerequisite for politicians and leaders, but when it is unleavened by a willingness to consider the views of others, it becomes a fatal conceit. And Obama has that trait in abundance.

Stories tumble out that reveal a man who believes he is all but omniscient -- unwilling to give any credence to the views of others (especially but not limited to those across the aisle). Experts in management are interviewed who point out that he lacks essential qualities of leadership. Indeed, the book gets its title from an outburst from Bill Clinton, who was trying to encourage Hillary to take on Obama in the Democratic primary of 2012:

Obama doesn't know how to be president. He doesn't know how the world works. He's incompetent. He's...he's...Barack Obama's an amateur.

But Klein does not rest there. He delves into associates from Obama's career in Cook County politics, his stint as a state senator, and his rise to the United States Senate. There is a common pattern: Obama likes to campaign, but once he is elected and actually starts working, his interest flags, and he starts looking for the next "big thing" -- electorally speaking. He had few if any accomplishments or professional standing in any of his previous positions. Even when he served as a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, he avoided any encounters with other faculty who enjoyed discussing the law. His reluctance to engage them is revealing in and of itself, suggesting he had a reason for his lack of confidence.

 

Arlen Specter likens American voters to ‘cannibals’

From yesterday.

Privacy concerns as US government rolls out domestic drone rules

This is unconstitutional and should be stopped in it's tracks. I am consistently amazed at the number of Congressmen, Senators, bureaucrats, etc., that do not hesitate to break our laws and ignore our Constitution. We are living in tyranny. - Reggie


Unmanned drones could soon be buzzing in the skies above many U.S. cities, as the federal government green-lights the technology for local law enforcement amid widespread privacy concerns.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday began to explain the rules of the sky for these newly licensed drones at potentially dozens of sites across the country. The agency, on its website, said that government "entities" will have to obtain a special certificate in order to fly the aircraft, adding that the FAA is "streamlining the process for public agencies to safely fly (drones) in the nation's airspace."

In doing so, the government is taking a tool that has become synonymous with U.S. counterterror warfare in countries like Pakistan and Yemen -- and putting it in the hands of U.S. law enforcement.

Unlike some of the drones used overseas, these will not be equipped with missiles. They are to be used purely for surveillance. But that alone has raised serious privacy concerns on Capitol Hill and beyond.

"Our Founding Fathers had no idea that there would be remote-control drones with television monitors that can feed back live data instantaneously -- but if they had, they would have made darn sure ... that these things were subject to the Fourth Amendment (protecting individual privacy)," Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, told Fox News.

In the American west: An ocean of oil

In case you missed it – and you very well might have, since the media was too busy talking about gay marriage to be bothered – a rather remarkable thing happened in Washington this week. An auditor from the GAO testified before the House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment on the subject of energy. But instead of hearing about how horrible things are, she calmly delivered something of a bombshell.

“The Green River Formation–an assemblage of over 1,000 feet of sedimentary rocks that lie beneath parts of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming–contains the world’s largest deposits of oil shale,”Anu K. Mittal, the GAO’s director of natural resources and environment said in written testimony submitted to the House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.

“USGS estimates that the Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil, and about half of this may be recoverable, depending on available technology and economic conditions,” Mittal testified.

“The Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, estimates that 30 to 60 percent of the oil shale in the Green River Formation can be recovered,” Mittal told the subcommittee. “At the midpoint of this estimate, almost half of the 3 trillion barrels of oil would be recoverable. This is an amount about equal to the entire world’s proven oil reserves.”

Florida says 180,000 non-citizens may be on voter rolls

This is how Socialists/Marxists/Communists win elections in the United States. - Reggie

(Reuters) - Florida election authorities are examining about 180,000 people who they say may not be U.S. citizens but are registered to vote in the state, an official said on Friday.

State officials are updating Florida's voter rolls ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November. Florida is home to a large Latino population and is expected to be a critical swing state in the contest between Democratic President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Florida's Division of Elections said it is checking the citizenship of voters by comparing its databases with those of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which keeps track of whether a licensed driver is also a U.S. citizen.

Similar efforts have been carried out by state authorities in Colorado and New Mexico, which also have large Latino communities.

"We're going to vet a list of 180,000 people to try to come up with a real number," said Chris Cate, a spokesman for Florida's Division of Elections. "We don't want to jump to conclusions without a thorough investigation."