Saturday, June 18, 2011

Can This Presidency Be Saved?

Can This Presidency Be Saved?
Walter Russell Mead

Can the Obama Presidency still be saved?

To some, the question may seem premature or even insulting. President Obama’s personal popularity remains high and the most recent RealClearPolitics poll average has him at a more than respectable 47.6 percent approval; while the President’s popularity is drifting lower, congressional Republicans have been losing ground to their Democratic rivals in recent polls, and the Republican primary field remains both uninspiring and polarized. Small government, libertarian and Jeffersonian Paulites, globalist ‘great nation’ conservatives, conservative social activists and Jacksonian hyperpatriots are united only in their antipathy to the Obama administration and it is not yet clear whether a GOP candidate can unify this agitated but inchoate mass of energy into a strong and focused campaign.

Nevertheless it seems increasingly clear that the Obama presidency has lost its way; at home and abroad it flounders from event to event, directionless and passive as one report after another “unexpectedly” shows an economy that refuses to heal. Most recently, the IMF has cut its growth forecast for the United States in 2011 and 2012. With growth predicted at 2.5 percent this year and 2.7 percent next, unemployment is unlikely to fall significantly before Election Day. On the same day, the latest survey of consumer sentiment shows an “unexpectedly sharp” dip in consumer confidence. The economy is not getting well; geopolitically, the US keeps adding new countries to the bomb list, but the President has fallen strangely silent about the five wars he is fighting (Iraq, Afghanistan, tribal Pakistan, Libya and now Yemen).

The problem is only partly that the President’s policies don’t appear to be working. Presidents fail to be re-elected less because their policies aren’t working than because they have lost control of the narrative. FDR failed to end the Depression during two terms in office but kept the country’s confidence through it all. Richard Nixon hadn’t ended the Vietnam War in 1972 and George W. Bush hadn’t triumphed in what we still knew as the Global War on Terror in 2004. In all these cases, however, the presidents convinced voters that they understood the problem, that they were working on it, and that their opponents were clueless throwbacks who would only make things worse.

President Obama still has a shot at convincing voters that the GOP would make things worse, but his administration has not just lost control over the direction of the economy. It has lost control of the discussion about the economy.

Why did the stimulus fail? What did the President learn from this failure and what will the President try next? The White House has been so busy bobbing and weaving it has not communicated a simple, clear story about what went wrong and what happens next.

Nobody at this point really knows what the President stands for – at home or abroad. He is not George W. Bush and he is not Bill Clinton, but who is he and where is he taking us? He seems bogged down in the minutiae of policies – most of which don’t seem to be working very well. He has given his opposition valuable gifts, setting goals for himself which he then fails to meet: that the stimulus would keep unemployment below 8 percent, public demands for Israeli concessions he failed to achieve, the promise that his health care proposals wouldn’t effect anyone who liked their current insurance, and the infamous “days not weeks” prediction about the Libya campaign.

These and similar blunders have two things in common: they are unforced errors, and they undercut the President’s ability to present himself as a visionary leader who both understands where the country is headed and has a plan for meeting the obstacles in our path. He frequently appears surprised by events, and over time confidence in his leadership is leaking away.

The President of the United States has two jobs: he is the head of government and the head of state. In British terms, he must do the jobs of both the Prime Minister and the Queen. The Queen sprinkles pixie dust; the Prime Minister does the dirty work of legislative sausage making. Presidents (like Ronald Reagan and FDR) succeed when they fill the job of head of state so well that they accumulate political authority which they can then use to run the government. The pixie dust they sprinkle makes the sausage look good. Presidents who fail to establish themselves as national leaders and symbols (like Jimmy Carter) end by losing their political authority as well.

President Obama started off with great advantages in the pixie dust department. As the first African-American president, he embodies important American qualities simply by being himself. Young, energetic, blessed with a stylish wife and a vibrant family, he holds Kennedy-class cards when it comes to touching enduring American themes and ideals. He was (and can still be) an ideal representative of America to itself and to the world, a symbol of hope for national and global reconciliation and renewal.

But the President has failed to meld that image and the symbolic weight of his office to a compelling policy vision. He takes strong individual stands — from support for health care reform to the bombing of Libya — but between the moves and the counter moves, the rhetorical claims and the policy reversals, the President’s image has become fuzzy and perplexing. Did he abandon the concept of stimulus and cast himself as a deficit cutter because he believes it, or was the shift a tactical calculation? What does he really believe will get the economy going again?

In particular, he has said nothing memorable about the crisis that is shaking the global economy and undermining the American middle class. The meltdown of the blue social model is the great and inescapable fact of our time. In what many voters will feel as a sign of financial apocalypse, the AARP has dropped its opposition to cuts in Social Security benefits. At home, Democrats like Andrew Cuomo and Jerry Brown are slashing budgets and attacking the perks of public sector labor unions almost as industriously as Republicans like Scott Walker and Mitch Daniels. Abroad, Socialists like Greek Premier George Papandreou is cutting as hard as the Conservative David Cameron. Germany has passed a balanced budget amendment; France is debating its own version. Economic turmoil is shaking the political foundations; rising food prices helped set off the Arab Spring, the price of gold has gone through the roof, and China and other foreign creditors are increasingly skeptical about the long term value of their dollar-backed assets.

President Obama’s predecessor made many mistakes, but something is at work here that is much bigger than the faults of the Bush administration. It is not just a US domestic problem, because we see it in the more-regulated European countries as well as in the less-regulated US.

Americans are realistic enough to understand that the breakdown of the blue social model is a messy process and that perhaps no president can deliver a pain free transition to the next stage. But what they aren’t hearing from President Obama is a compelling description of what has gone wrong, how it can be fixed, and how the policies he proposes will take us to the next level.

What they hear from this administration are defensive responses: Hooveresque calls for patience mingled with strange-sounding attacks on ATMs and sharp, opportunistic jabs at former President Bush. The White House has responded to strategic challenges at home and abroad with tactical maneuvers.

Voters sense that we live in historic times that demand leadership of a different kind. What does President Obama think about the fiscal squeeze forcing trade-offs between state employee benefits and services to the poor? How much trouble is the American middle class in — and what changes are needed to save it?

The President of the United States has to own this conversation. His vision, his initiatives must dominate the political scene. His opponents may fight him and defeat his proposals in Congress — that is not the worst thing that can happen. Harry Truman did very well running against a ‘do-nothing’ Congress in 1948.

At a time of historic anxiety and tension like the present, the President of the United States cannot be an administrator, a fence-sitter, a finger-pointer. He must first and foremost stand for something — and he must be able to make that something resonate with the voters. The President’s job is to lead.

The longer the President fails to dominate the discussion about where this country is going the more his authority will erode. In the end, a failure to define the problem and outline a convincing solution will hurt more than what now appears his likely failure to regenerate healthy economic growth by the next election.

He may have only one chance to get this right. A failed attempt to define the problem and control the discussion would further fuzz the President’s image and reinforce the sense among many voters that the man is not up to the hour.

The Obama Presidency can still be saved, but only if the President becomes the kind of inspiring and effective leader these tough and uncertain times demand.

That is much, much harder than it looks.

Pastors Face Challenge of Preaching Sermons That Pierce Rather Than Just Entertain

Pastors Face Challenge of Preaching Sermons That Pierce Rather Than Just Entertain
Marvin Olasky

After listening to sermons for the 35 years I've been a Christian, I agree with those who say the call to preach is the highest honor there is.

It can also be the most frustrating. Think of the Parable of the Sower:

Three-fourths of the seed lands by the road, or on stony ground, or amid thorns. Three-fourths of the sower's work is wasted. That parable, like so many Jesus presented, is not an icebreaker anecdote, a happy story to put listeners in a cozy, receptive mood. Jesus told iceberg parables, not icebreakers.

An iceberg parable is a story that can sink a ship as big as the Titanic. The Titanic had its first and last voyage across the Atlantic nearly a century ago. It advertised itself as unsinkable. Many non-Christians think of themselves as unsinkable. Many of us who have been Christians for a long time also start thinking of ourselves as unsinkable. I can get prideful and feel like a know-it-all. I need an iceberg parable to penetrate my hull.

Jesus knew how to ratchet up the tension in His parables: As Matthew 13:34 tells us, when Jesus spoke to crowds, "He said nothing to them without a parable." A young man turns his back on home and learns a hard lesson: Will he return to his father? A woman loses a coin and desperately searches for it: Will she find it? A man trades all he has for one thing more precious: Has he acted with discernment? Jesus brings us a wake-up call, not a snooze button.

I am a fan of strong expository preaching. I do not want to emerge into a world where movies or plays or purportedly sacred dancing substitute for it. Cute anecdotes that provide a break from biblical themes don't cut it, either. Jesus practiced seamless storytelling: His parables propelled His themes of creation, fall, and redemption. Today, some emergents want to scuttle sermons. On the other side, some pastors who emphasize expository, exegetical preaching are reluctant to tell stories. But I want stories within sermons, parables that are icebergs designed to rip open self-satisfaction.

An editor ripped apart my self-satisfaction 30 years ago and taught me about the importance of story. Back then a Fortune freelance assignment took me to Washington, D.C., where I worked a week of 16-hour days interviewing people in the White House and on Capitol Hill. Proud of the effort, wanting readers to have all the information I had ferreted out, wanting the editor to know how hard I had worked, my article draft was full of quotations showing all my research.

The editor rightfully demanded a total rewrite, instructing me to tell a story, not just give readers quotations and factoids. Some preachers make similar mistakes, presenting a string of remarks from theologians or literary lights. But a sermon that could be in a lecture hall would be better given there, not in a sanctuary.

Preachers have an honorably tough job because they need to hold the attention of people at all different levels. And yet, if stories are merely attempts to hold attention, preachers are not following Jesus in telling stories that wake us from the slumber in our souls. His parables showed how God is in charge. A mustard seed that could be eaten by birds becomes a tree in which birds take shelter. Astounding. God works His way quietly, sometimes when we're not even noticing, like leaven. God redeems. God revives. God rescues. God restores.

Happy-talk stories are satisfying at times, but I don't believe they belong in sermons. The seamless stories that belong in a sermon—I'll give some more letter-R alliteration—are those that emphasize repentance, reformation, and resolution. Stories of those who welcome the wounds of prophetic preaching because they are so needy. Stories of those who finally grasp the need for godly change. Stories of people so transformed by Jesus that they walk fearlessly up to the doors of enemies.

So a sermon is more than information: Information does not save. Iceberg parables connect to the whole man, not just the head. Sermons need to pierce. Preachers are God's servants in cutting open chests so that He can perform a heart transplant. To assist in such an operation is the highest honor there is.

New Black Panthers protest Jews and the white man June 25

New Black Panthers protest Jews and the white man June 25

The New Black Panthers are at it again. Fresh off the black “Day of Action and Unity” which saw protest rallies outside “controversial” locations such as the Weinberg Jewish Center in New York City, more racially driven business boycotts are set for June 25.

Organizers are again calling for a “Buy Black Only Campaign” and a “Boycott Of All Non-Black Businesses” for the day of June 25th.

The June 25th Day of Action is supported by Students and Youth, members of many back churches, the New Black Panther Party, Nation of Islam, National Black United Front, National Action Network, “The Ordinary Peoples Society,” and a long list of other militant racial organizations.

Protests are planned in dozens of American cities including New York City, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Charleston WV, San Antonio, Midland TX, Miami and also in Zimbabwe. One can hardly imagine why the Zimbabwe event is necessary, unless it is simply a victory rally for the New Black Panthers. An article I published at Pajamas about the DOJ and the New Black Panther dismissal is here for some background.

The Extinction of Retirement

The Extinction of Retirement
By Michael Pento

For the better part of a century, the foundations for a semi-comfortable retirement for many Americans have rested on the financial pillars of rising real estate and equity prices, positive real interest rates on savings, the continued solvency of public and private pension plans and the reliability of national entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicaid). But in the last few years, the economic sands have fundamentally shifted and these pillars are no longer sturdy, some have cracked completely. For many Americans, the traditional idea of a comfortable retirement filled with golf carts, cruises and fishing trips is going the way of the dodo bird.

Over the last decade incomes and job growth have stagnated, causing savings rates to drop. According to Jim Quinn, author of The Burning Platform, 60 percent of retirees have less than $50,000 in savings. Such sums won't last very long, especially when consumer prices are up 3.6 percent, import prices are up 12.5 percent and commodity prices are up 35 percent year over year. What's worse, any savings placed in a bank will pay next to zero interest and will likely not even pay for the fees associated with the account. With cash savings essentially non-existent, the other pillars of income take on paramount importance. But these former bastions of financial security are being washed away by a torrent of red ink.

For years, the essential Ponzi-like structures of Social Security and Medicare were concealed behind positive demographics. But once taxes collected from current payers fall short of the required distribution owed to current recipients, the ruse will be laid bare. That day is now here. With insolvency a real and present danger, at last a consensus is now forming that Social Security must be structurally altered if it is to survive.

But according to the Social Security Administration, in 2008 Social Security provided 50 percent of all income for 64 percent of recipients and 90 percent of all income for 34 percent of all beneficiaries. With these numbers, it's not hard to see how even small cuts will spark big protests. Now, try cutting the close to $20 trillion prescription drug program and the $79 trillion Medicare entitlements and watch the political sparks fly! However, given the realities, it's hard to see how the program can escape deep cuts -- Paul Ryan has it correct.

In the past, many retirees could count on accumulated stock market wealth to help fund retirement. Not so much anymore. As of this writing, the S&P 500 is now no higher than it was in January of 1999. For over 12 years, the major averages have gone nowhere in nominal terms and have declined significantly in real (inflation adjusted) terms. The dreams of becoming rich from investments have crashed along with and Bernie Madoff. Then there is always the supposedly safest asset of all -- a retiree's home.

Despite a misguided faith that real estate prices could never fall, they have done just that... with a vengeance. According to S&P/Case-Shiller, the National Home Price Index has declined some 30 percent to levels not seen since the middle of 2002. And prices are still falling, with the rate of decline accelerating. The National Index dropped 4.2 percent in Q1 of 2011, after dropping 3.6 percent during Q4 2010. This means that only those retirees who have owned their homes for at least 10 years have any hope of selling at a profit. Ownership of significantly longer periods may be needed to have built up significant equity.

That leaves public and private pension plans. But here again there are serious issues. Let's just look at state public pension shortfalls. According to the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, "States report that their public-employee pensions are underfunded by a total of $438 billion, but a more accurate accounting demonstrates that they are actually underfunded by over $3 trillion. The accounting methods that states currently use to measure their liabilities assumes plans can earn high investment returns without risk." Huge returns without risk? Bond yields are the lowest they have been in nearly half a century! What world are these states living in? With few options, the states will undoubtedly look to the Federal government (taxpayers) for a bailout. Failing that, cuts are inevitable.

The sad facts are; Americans have negligible savings, the real estate market is still in secular decline, stock prices are in a decade's long morass, real incomes are falling, public pension plans are insolvent and our entitlement programs are bankrupt. If the pillars that seniors have relied on in the past fail to miraculously regenerate (and there is certainly no reason to believe they will), all that most retirees will have will be freshly printed greenbacks that come from a never-ending policy of government deficits and an obliging Federal Reserve.

Unfortunately, the inflation that will result from such policies will sap most of the purchasing power that those notes possess. In other words, for most people retirement is now an illusion, and many Americans will find themselves working far longer, for far less real compensation, then they ever imagined. The quicker we realize this, and plan accordingly, the better off we will be.

Michael Pento is the Senior Economist for Euro Pacific Capital.

Does Obama Think He Is the King?

Does Obama Think He Is the King?

This is pretty disturbing news coming from the New York Times, a paper which is finally starting to focus on abuse of power in the Obama administration. So the Office of the General Counsel, backed up by Obama's own Attorney General and the Pentagon's General Counsel all said that our Libya intervention counted as "hostilities" and therefore would require Congressional approval to continue past May 20th. Did Obama listen to them? Of course not. He found other lawyers that gave him an analysis that allowed him to do whatever he wanted and just followed them. This is all highly irregular and really stinks to high heaven. Clinton's head of the Office of Legal Counsel is quoted as saying "“Decisions about the lawfulness of major presidential actions should be made by the Department of Justice, and within the department by the Office of Legal Counsel, after consultation with affected agencies." Which kind of makes sense from an ethical standpoint right? The Attorney General is the Chief Compliance Officer of the United States, therefore the chief executive shouldn't be over-ruling him just because he can. It's as if Obama thinks he is some kind of monarch who can do whatever he wants by divine right or something. Maybe this is why he is not releasing his transcripts? Perhaps he failed constitutional law? I'm not even sure he did so well even in middle school civics class.

Obama seems to have a history of this type of behavior, that "I'm the President and I can do whatever I want." Remember when he told the GOP "I won" during negotiations over the failed stimulus? Remember when he told McCain "the election is over" at the Healthcare Summit? Or when he said he didn't want the GOP "to do a lot of talking"? As if getting 52.9% of the vote allows him to get unlimited power and the right to shut up the opposition (which he continues to try to do, e.g. his proposal to require government contracts to disclose their political donatons in order to allow him to blackball GOP firms). He doesn't seem to understand that we are not an absolute monarchy, we are a constitutional republic with checks and balances and that while the majority rules, the minority still has rights. That the President can't actually start wars without Congressional approval and UN Security Council Resolutions, while giving cover from an international law perspective, do nothing to make our intervention legal by US legal standards.

We're at the point where even Dennis Kucinich is praising Bush for going to Congress to approve our interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq and slamming Obama for not doing the same with Libya. I remember when protesters were calling our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan "illegal", though in fact both of them were perfectly legal under both US and International law. It actually took a liberal like Obama to get us involved in an "illegal" war.

Megyn Kelly interviews malik zulu shabazz on Fox news


Megyn Kelly interviews new black panther leader malik zulu shabazz on Fox news.

Show Me the Rules!

Show Me the Rules!
FCC is hiding something on Net Neutrality rules

by Nicole Kurokawa Neily
June 17, 2011, 3:58pm

When a government agency passes a heavy-handed set of regulatory rules governing a major sector of our economy on the eve of a national holiday, it’s either because those rules are important and time sensitive… or it’s because they’re controversial and need to be devoid of public scrutiny. Unfortunately, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to pass net neutrality regulations on the eve of the Christmas holiday last year, it was for the latter.

How do we know that these rules weren’t important, and weren’t time-sensitive? Why, because the public still hasn’t seen a published version of the rules yet – almost half a year later!

Who’d have thought… a bureaucracy that emphasizes transparency for others (like Internet Service Providers) doesn’t show any trace of transparency itself?!

Net neutrality proponents argued that these rules would provide certainty for broadband investment. Unfortunately, quite the opposite has happened. By passing opaque regulations – and then not allowing anyone to see them – the FCC has in fact created a tremendous amount of uncertainty. As I’ve written in the past, such uncertainty has paralyzed the market and discouraged investment and growth. Who in their right mind would make a massive investment into a situation with unknown rules?

It’s time to remove uncertainty from such a dynamic sector of our economy by implementing transparency at the FCC. It’s time for the FCC to publish the rules, period. They went to such extremes to pass these rules last year, before Christmas, when Congress was out, and most of the other policy makers as well. So where are they?

Freedom in the 50 States; An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom

Freedom in the 50 States; An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom

Jason Sorens, William Ruger | June 7, 2011


State Freedom Rankings
1. New Hampshire
2. South Dakota
3. Indiana
4. Idaho
5. Missouri
6. Nevada
7. Colorado
8. Oregon
9. Virginia
10. North Dakota
11. Florida
12. Oklahoma
13. Iowa
14. Texas
15. Georgia
16. Tennessee
17. Kansas
18. North Carolina
19. Alabama
20. Utah
21. Wyoming
22. Arizona
23. Nebraska
24. Mississippi
25. Wisconsin
26. South Carolina
27. Michigan
28. Arkansas
29. Montana
30. Vermont
31. Pennsylvania
32. Kentucky
33. Maine
34. Minnesota
35. Louisiana
36. West Virginia
37. New Mexico
38. Connecticut
39. Delaware
40. Washington
41. Illinois
42. Ohio
43. Maryland
44. Alaska
45. Rhode Island
46. Massachusetts
47. Hawaii
48. California
49. New Jersey
50. New York

Executive Summary
This study comprehensively ranks the American states on their public policies that affect individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres. It updates, expands, and improves upon our inaugural 2009 Freedom in the 50 States study. For this new edition, we have added more policy variables (such as bans on trans fats and the audio recording of police, Massachusetts’s individual health-insurance mandate, and mandated family leave), improved existing measures (such as those for fiscal policies, workers’ compensation regulations, and asset-forfeiture rules), and developed specific policy prescriptions for each of the 50 states based on our data and a survey of state policy experts. With a consistent time series, we are also able to discover for the first time which states have improved and worsened in regard to freedom recently.
Purpose of the Index
This project develops an index of economic and personal freedom in the American states. Specifically, it examines state and local government intervention across a wide range of public policies, from income taxation to gun control, from homeschooling regulation to drug policy.
Measuring Freedom & Government Intervention
We explicitly ground our conception of freedom on an individual-rights framework. In our view, individuals should be allowed to dispose of their lives, liberties, and properties as they see fit, as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others.
Fiscal Policy
We divide fiscal policy equally into spending and taxation subcategories. These subcategories are highly interdependent; we include them both as redundant measures of the size of government.
Regulatory Policy
In this study, regulatory policy includes labor regulation, health-insurance coverage mandates, occupational licensing, eminent domain, the tort system, land-use regulation, and utilities. Regulations that seem to have a mainly paternalistic justification, such as home- and private-school regulations, are placed in the paternalism category.
In deciding how to weight personal freedoms, we started from the bottom up, beginning with the freedom we saw as least important in terms of saliency, constitutional implications, and the number of people affected, and working up to the most important.
Ranking & Discussion
By summing the economic freedom and personal freedom scores, we obtain the overall freedom index, presented in table 5. New Hampshire and South Dakota again find themselves in a virtual tie for first.
Although we hope we have demonstrated that some states provide freer environments than others, it would be inappropriate to infer that the freest states necessarily enjoy a libertarian streak, while others suffer from a statist mentality.
State Profiles
The state profiles (found through the above map) highlight some of the most interesting aspects of each state’s public policies as they affect individual freedom. In preparation for this year’s edition of Freedom in the 50 States, we conducted a survey of free-market policy analysts at think tanks associated with the State Policy Network (SPN).
Effects of the Federal Stimulus on State & Local Governments
This section assesses the consequences of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (stimulus) for individual freedom, as affected by state and local policies. While the stimulus was passed immediately after the period covered by this study, we can use findings on the effects of federal grants on state policies to infer what the long-run consequences of the stimulus will be.
Comparison to Previous Indices of State-Level Economic Freedom
This project remains the only effort to code both economic and personal freedom in the 50 states. Other studies compare economic freedom or “competitiveness” in the states but do not treat other critical aspects of individual liberty or selectively subsume a few noneconomic issues within economic freedom concepts.
Construction of Index
We started by collecting data on state and local public policies affecting individual freedom as defined above. All of the statutory policies are coded as of January 1, 2009, the fiscal data are coded for the fiscal year 2007–2008, the law-enforcement data cover the entire year of 2008, and all data are also back-coded consistently to January 1, 2007 (FY 2006–2007). We omit federal territories.
Data Appendix
This data appendix contains a description of each variable used in the study and its location in our spreadsheets on the website, as well as a hierarchical summary of category, issue subcategory, and variable weights.

FCC quacks duck court showdown

MOTLEY: FCC quacks duck court showdown
Commission’s Internet rules were dismissed once already

June 21 marks the six-month anniversary of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) illegally imposing itself on the World Wide Web in order to assert patently absurd “net neutrality” rules.

A half-year later, the FCC still has not filed the order with the Federal Register, which is where all new rules and regulations must go to begin their imposition.

What’s the holdup? There are several possibilities, some or all of which may be why the FCC is so thoroughly slow-playing it. (Please note that it took the FCC less than a month - April 7 to May 6 - to file its wireless data-roaming seizure - so it can get things done when it wants to.)

One possibility for the delay: Two wireless providers - Verizon and Metro PCS - had filed suit to undo FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s net neutrality order. Verizon had sought relief in the same U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that unanimously ruled in April 2010 that the FCC has no net neutrality authority.

The court dismissed the suit, saying the company couldn’t contest the rules until the agency published them. But the court’s docket is moving along and the clock ticking. The longer the chairman drags his feet on the net neutrality order, the less likely it becomes that the court will be able to hear the case. By stalling, the chairman is callously venue-shopping - and ducking a court in which he knows he most likely will lose.

This demonstrates just how proud the FCC must be of the shabby lawyering - and linguistic and intellectual contortions - it has executed to try to re-concoct justification for its second unjustifiable and illegal Internet power grab.

If the FCC thought it had found a newer and better way to assert its alleged authority than the one summarily dismissed last year - authority that Mr. Genachowski admits he doesn’t have - the commission wouldn’t be attempting to duck the court that last time told it to take a flying leap.

The FCC’s newest official excuse for the delay is that it is going through the process of complying with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). That pretext was proffered on Wednesday at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association’s Cable Show by FCC General Counsel Austin Schlick.

There’s at least one huge problem with this assertion: The FCC - and every federal department, agency and commission - is supposed to comply with the PRA before it votes to impose a new order, not after. To do so afterward defeats the point of the law.

The intent of the PRA is to minimize the paperwork burden for individuals; small businesses; educational and nonprofit institutions; federal contractors; and state, local and tribal governments; and to prevent the government from imposing new rules and regulations without the feds first executing a thorough assessment of just how much damage to the private sector the rules and regulations would do.

The act states: “With respect to the collection of information and the control of paperwork, each agency shall … assess the information collection burden of proposed legislation affecting the agency … for any proposed collection of information contained in a proposed rule (to be reviewed by the Director under section 3507(d)), provide notice and comment through the notice of proposed rule-making for the proposed rule. … (VISec. 3506. Federal agency responsibilities subsection 4B c2).

In one sentence, the word “proposed” - not “passed” - is used four times with respect to the rule being examined. That only makes sense. It doesn’t help to glean this information if you’ve already voted on the rule.

What if the government votes on an order and then comes to find that it dramatically damages the industry upon which the agency already has dropped the hammer?

Net neutrality is just such an order. A June 2010 New York Law School study found that reclassification of the Internet as a telecom service and subsequent imposition of net neutrality rules would cost the economy at least $62 billion annually over the next five years and eliminate 502,000 jobs. What the FCC ultimately thrust upon us was Internet reclassification and net neutrality in all but name, so these numbers most likely will prove painfully accurate. That’s fantastic news for the economy.

The FCC already has imposed its net neutrality power grab - will it now unimpose it?

Does the federal leviathan ever cede power it has obtained, especially when obtained - as with net neutrality - by hook or by crook?

Umm, no.

Seton Motley is president of Less Government and the editor-in-chief of, a publication of the Center for Individual Freedom.

Panetta: Obama Can Unilaterally Use Military to Protect ‘National Interests’

Panetta: Obama Can Unilaterally Use Military to Protect ‘National Interests’
By Matt Cover

( - CIA Director Leon Panetta, who President Barack Obama has nominated to be secretary of Defense, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that he believes the president can unilaterally use military force, without congressional authorization to “protect our national interests.”

Panetta’s claim of broad unilateral presidential power to initiate U.S. military action absent an attack or imminent threat to the United States came in response to a question from Sen. John McCain—who said he agreed with Panetta.

The U.S. is now involved militarily in Libya even though Congress has never authorized that involvement.

“Does it worry you if the Congress begins to tell the commander in chief as to exactly … what the president can or cannot do in any conflict?” asked McCain.


“Senator, I believe very strongly that the president has the constitutional power as commander in chief to take steps that he believes are necessary to protect this country and protect our national interests,” said Panetta. “And obviously, I think it's important for presidents to consult, to have the advice of Congress. But in the end, I believe he has the constitutional power to do what he has to do to protect this country.”

Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution says Congress “shall have Power … to declare War, grant letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.” At the constitutional convention in 1787, James Madison of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts proposed that the word “declare” war be inserted in place of “make” war in this passage so that it would leave the president the limited power to “repel sudden attacks.” Madison’s proposal was adopted.

Madison notes from the Constitutional Convention clearly indicate that the drafters of the Constitution meant to deny the president the power to initiate military action by the United States except when necessary for self-defense. “The Executive should be able to repel and not to commence war.”

President Barack Obama expressed this same interpretation when he was a presidential candidate. On Dec. 20, 2008, he told the Boston Globe: “The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

However, with the ongoing Libyan operation, President Obama has maintained that he does not need explicit congressional authorization because he has sufficient authority as commander-in-chief to attack Libya, even though he admits that Libya did not attack the United States nor did it pose any direct military threat.

Instead, Obama contends that the civil war currently underway there threatens regional stability and thus endanger U.S. national interests in the region. Obama also contends that his administration has sufficiently consulted with Congress by briefing key members on the details of the operation, arguing that in doing so he has secured congressional consent for the attacks.

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) told Panetta that while there was no question about the president’s authority to defend the country in case of an attack or to fulfill treaty obligations, a “unilateral” military decision such as Obama’s attacks on Libya “needs to be subject to the review and direction of the Congress.”

Panetta said it was “very important” for the president to consult with Congress after he takes military action, saying that “hopefully” Congress will agree that military action is necessary.

“[O]nce those [military] decisions are made, in order for those decisions to be sustained, that it’s very important to work with the Congress and seek the best advice and counsel of the Congress and hopefully get the Congress’ support for those actions,” said Panetta.

Critics of American involvement in the NATO-led attacks on Libya have argued that Obama lacks the constitutional authority to commit U.S. forces there, claiming that while the president is commander and chief, he must first seek congressional authorization before deploying any military forces, except in the case of an attack on the United States.

A New Idea To Help Liberals Understand Fixing The Economy

A New Idea To Help Liberals Understand Fixing The Economy
Written by Jared H. McAndersen

To avoid any sense of accountability for being abject failures there's a meme liberals have been pushing that GOP solutions to our problems aren't fresh enough...

(Regarding the GOP debate in New Hampshire) The 2012 GOP presidential field on display Monday offered not one idea about how to solve the problems facing our country that didn’t boil down to cutting taxes, slashing regulation or eliminating large swaths of government.

More from E.J. Dionne Jr. (that's the suffix for his name, not his intellectual designation...confusing, I know) here

This is interesting coming from a party that pontificates from a soap box they pulled from the ash heap formerly known as the Soviet Union. Liberals think that if they package Marxism using different buzz words and phrases that the ideas are somehow "new" and "fresh." To the contrary, all liberalism ever does is put the "mar" in Marxist.

As irritating as all that is, that's not even my real beef with this line of thinking. It's the lunacy that the "old" and "tired" solution to a sluggish economy is "cutting taxes" and "slashing regulation."

Instead of obsessing over new ideas (or faking them in their case) why don't liberals obsess over what actually works? Arguing for hiking taxes, ramming cost-of-business-hiking regulation, and blowing up a credit balloon that is maxed out with more spending isn't stimulus any economy can believe in.

If that is what is ailing the country then it's only logical to conclude that the opposite of those things would help it. If liberals are unwilling to admit this then I think it's time for them to come clean about their religious devotion to the power of lipstick for pigs.

Business doesn't operate best on what the latest fad that gets liberals in a tizzy shopping at Whole Foods, waterless toilets, or the president's they elect.

Business models may change, but the concept of fostering conditions where capital can be amassed and profits can be kept as a recipe for prosperity is as true as it is old. If liberals want to spin their wheels trying to change the unchangeable they should perhaps divert their energy to figuring out what else 2+2 could equal.

I would love to be able to say they do understand all of this and are just being contrarian, but if that were the case we'd all be Republicans wouldn't we? Then who would the dead brain cells of the American electorate vote for?

New doesn't always equal better, pioneers didn't rely on NEW buffalo chips to fuel their campfires. When Biden offered a ">NEW perspective on history, FDR was president and TV existed in the 20's without a time machine. When disaster strikes in this country it's a NEW reason for Obama to go on vacation.

"New" works for babies, food, iPods and Twitter alias's for Anthony Weiner...not for economies.

That said, I have a new idea for how to help get jolt the more new ideas!

Jihadists bring "progress" to Nigeria: the country's first suicide bombing

Jihadists bring "progress" to Nigeria: the country's first suicide bombing

Onward! Forward to backwardness! An update on this story. "Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists 'bombed Abuja police HQ'," from BBC News, June 17:
An eyewitness told the BBC everybody was scared after the bombing

There's that subheading again. And yes, bombs will do that.
The Islamist group, Boko Haram, says it carried out Thursday's bombing of Nigeria's police headquarters which left at least six people dead.
The attack comes days after Nigeria's police chief visited the north-eastern town of Maiduguri, where Boko Haram is based and vowed to defeat the group.
The police say one of those who died was a suicide bomber - if confirmed it would be Nigeria's first such attack.
Boko Haram wants to overthrow the state and implement Islamic law.
In 2009, hundreds of Boko Haram supporters, including the group's leader Mohammed Yusuf, were killed after they attacked police stations in Maiduguri and other northern towns.
The group has since reformed and in the past year has killed dozens of police officers, politicians and anyone who criticises it, including Christian preachers and clerics from other Muslim groups.

For And Against Prohibition

For And Against Prohibition
B.P. Terpstra

I oppose Prohibition in my kitchen. But – there is often a but - I’m also against professional libertarians and drunks making stuff up. Were American Prohibitionists really complete failures? You see, when a questioner proposes a few laws to curb drug addiction, your hysterical libertarian will unthinkingly scream, “Prohibition failed!” Or cry like a baby.

Critical thinkers armed with primary sources, by way of contrast, beg to differ. And we’ve known this for decades: Prohibition was far more moderate and successful than what some libertarians imagine. It wasn’t pure socialism or pure lassie-faire romanticism. On the one hand, mainstream commercial manufactures and distributors shut shop. On the other hand, personal production and consumption was openly allowed.
The results were mixed. But it wasn’t a complete failure as made-for-HBO shows and libertarian propagandists would have you believe. In 1989, for example, Mark H. Moore, a professor of criminal justice at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government advanced an evidence-based position. In truth, “alcohol consumption declined dramatically during Prohibition. Cirrhosis death rates for men were 29.5 per 100,000 in 1911 and 10.7 in 1929. Admissions to state mental hospitals for alcoholic psychosis declined from 10.1 per 100,000 in 1919 to 4.7 in 1928.”
What’s more, Moore noted, arrests for public drunkenness “and disorderly conduct declined 50 percent between 1916 and 1922. For the population as a whole, the best estimates are that consumption of alcohol declined by 30 percent to 50 percent.”
A complete failure? As well, this idea that crime exploded is a fiction. There were no historically significant crime explosions, but in any case, criminal gangs existed before and after Prohibition. “The real lesson of Prohibition is that the society can, indeed, make a dent in the consumption of drugs through laws,” concluded Moore.
Here’s my unvarnished position: I know many well-meaning libertarians really believe this stuff. Prohibition, they feel, was a complete failure; therefore it must have been bad. Of course, some are just trying to justify their own drug use and divert us away from facts too. Still, feelings are not the same as facts. And would we say that the war against shoplifting is a complete failure because some kids still shoplift?
But let’s not bring Lindsay Lohan into this. As a teenager, I believed some of this anti-Prohibition nonsense, until I grew up and learned to love primary sources. I’ve changed. Philosophically speaking too, I also accept that a prohibition against Prohibition is as coherent as judging conservatives for judging.
History is being rewritten by all sides, alas. Claiming that the so-called war on drugs is a failure, columnist Paul Howes of the Herald Sun hoisted his white flag. People he claimed “see the lessons of the US Prohibition 90 years ago being forgotten.” But, had they learned the real lessons of Prohibition if they were ignoring declining death rates?
Also, ignoring big-picture medical records, Chris Middendorp a community worker and writer, opined in The Age, “It is always worth recalling that when America made alcohol illegal through prohibition in 1919, they created powerful crime figures such as Al Capone, and people started drinking seriously dangerous moonshine, more potent than wine or beer.” Actually, alcohol wasn’t made completely illegal. Besides, there were bigger criminals before and after Prohibition, making Middendorp’s position demonstrably false, period.

Another howler: “The prohibition of illicit drugs has been as big a failure as alcohol prohibition was in the USA in the 1920s and 1930s,” declared alleged expert Alex Wodak, over at The Punch, without a shred of evidence.

Funnily enough, many anti-Prohibition arguments appear to have been concocted by tricky distillers, and passed off as fact by today’s libertarian drunkards. That said, the New York Times-bestselling author Ann Coulter also sees how “Prohibition is one of the strongest arguments against legalizing marijuana.” But what killed it? “The reason Prohibition failed was that alcohol had become a respectable libation, it was part of the social fabric in high society and low. Once the genie is out of the bottle (so to speak), it's hard to put it back” in.
Another problem: It’s hard to “accidently” smoke a joint, but it’s easy to accidentally sell alcohol. Even well-intentioned people would be caught up in the politics of anti-beer Prohibition today. From perfume to medicine, and even rotting fruit, this would be a headache for businesses.
To distort one American experience, without providing context isn’t science though. From Prince Edward Island, Canada, to remote Australian Aboriginal communities, movements against excess span centuries, continents and motivations, with sometimes positive, sometimes negative results.
Perhaps the Prohibition-never-works movement is just another form of fundamentalism. But, why do I support drinking? Well, because alcohol’s positive medicinal and cultural benefits arguably offset any negatives, in my region. I can’t say the same about LSD and smack.

House approves redistricting plans, Dems plan to sue

s.c. redistricting

House approves redistricting plans, Dems plan to sue

Plan going to Senate soon creates state’s seventh congressional district centered in Horry County


The state House of Representatives signed off on a plan Tuesday to redraw its legislative lines and create a seventh congressional district, centered in Horry County and running along the North Carolina border.

The plan requires one more perfunctory vote before heading to the Senate.

But some are disappointed with the plan, including the state Democratic Party, whose chairman plans to sue.

The plan House members approved:

• Creates two new S.C. House districts in Georgetown and Richland counties that are “majority minority,” meaning the majority of voters in the districts are racial minorities. In the Midlands, the plan affects Rep. Mia Butler Garrick, D-Richland, whose District 79 currently is made up of Northeast Richland County and a slice of Kershaw County. The plan approved places all of Butler’s district in Richland County. An amendment to retain more white voters in the district, proposed by Garrick, was voted down Tuesday.

• Eliminates one majority minority district in Charleston County — represented by Rep. Robert Brown, a Democrat — because it has lost African-American population. Under the new plan approved by the House, the state would have 30 majority minority districts, instead of the current 29.

• Merges districts with shrinking population in Laurens, Greenville, Pickens, Anderson, Colleton and Jasper counties.

• Creates four new districts in the growing counties of Beaufort, York, Horry and Berkeley.

“We did our best to keep cities, towns and counties whole and be fair to all House members,” said Rep. Jim Harrison, R-Richland, who oversaw the House’s efforts to redraw the district lines — a task that must be performed every 10 years using the latest census data reflecting how the state’s population has shifted.

The House plan draws eight legislators into four districts, pitting them against each other in primaries next year. The eight are four Democrats and four Republicans.

“This plan is fair,” said Rep. Harry Ott, D-Calhoun, the House’s minority leader. “It’s not perfect, and we’ve got a few Democrats who find themselves in collapsed districts. But there’s an equal number of Republicans who find themselves in the same situation.”

One of those Democrats is Rep. Denny Neilson of Darlington County, the House’s longest-serving member. Under the new plan, Neilson would have to run against her fellow incumbent and Democrat, Rep. Robert Williams.

“No one wants to run against an incumbent. Plus, Robert is my friend,” said Neilson, who has been in the House since 1984 and plans to seek reelection. “But the Pee Dee has lost population. It’s part of the process. I understand.”

Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party, said the party or a group of Democrats will challenge the proposed new maps in court, contending they create too many majority minority districts.

The gist of the lawsuit, he said, would be to encourage the U.S. Justice Department to approve a S.C. plan that moves African-American voters out of majority-black districts to other districts, giving them more sway over who is elected.

Democrats long have contended that Republicans try to put as many reliably Democratic, minority voters as possible in districts, seeking to ensure that other districts are overwhelmingly white and more likely to elect a Republican. Districts with a mix of races are more likely to elect a Democrat, Democrats contend.

“The Republicans are conducting a concerted effort to re-segregate our state,” Harpootlian said, contending majority minority districts are a dated notion no longer needed. “It was a remedial measure that was very much needed because, back then, white people wouldn’t vote for black people. That’s not the case anymore.”

The Truth About Robert Reich

The Truth About Robert Reich

Austrian School economist Bob Murphy responds to Robert Reich's video, "The Truth About the Economy."


U.S. cuts off mail to Canada

U.S. cuts off mail to Canada

The U.S. postal service is no longer accepting mail to Canada

By Sheldon Alberts
Postmedia News Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON — The United States Postal Service on Friday stopped accepting all mail to Canada on the expectation that the labour dispute between Canada Post and its workers will last at least into next week.

In a statement, the USPS said it would “suspend accepting mail destined to Canada” starting Saturday at 11:59 central daylight time.

“As a convenience to our customers and to minimize service disruptions, we arranged to accept mail destined for Canada as long as possible,” Giselle Valero, a USPS vice president, said in the statement.

“We will continue to closely monitor the strike situation, and once Canada Post resumes operations, the U.S. Postal Service will again begin accepting mail for Canada. We also will then resume processing any Canadian-destined mail currently held in our network.”

Canada Post locked out 50,000 employees and suspended operations across the country on Tuesday following 12 days of rotating strikes.

The Conservative government has announced plans to introduce back-to-work legislation to end the labour dispute.

A meeting Friday between Deepak Chopra, the chief executive of Canada Post, and Denis Leveling, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, did not produce any progress on major issues, Canada Post said.

“The union continues to have too many demands that would drive up costs, limit operational flexibility and restrict Canada Post’s ability to address fundamental problems such as declining mail volumes, competitiveness and a $3.2-billion deficit in the pension plan,” Canada Post said in a statement.

“The company’s financial position has been further weakened by uncertainty and rotating strikes that began on June 3 and cost close to $100 million in lost revenues.”

Americans can continue to send letters and packages via the USPS’s Global Express Guaranteed courier service during the strike.

Postmedia News

Pakistan 'blocking supplies to US base'

Pakistan 'blocking supplies to US base'

Pakistan is blocking food and water from reaching a remote base used by the US for its secret drones programme, severely hampering counter terrorism strategy, according to a senior American official.

The drones programme, although never publicly acknowledged by the US and repeatedly condemned by Pakistan, is credited with killing a series of high-profile targets Photo: REX

By Rob Crilly, Islamabad

Both sides are now briefing against the other as hostility between the two countries grows more intense – and more open – day by day.

Pakistan's military has not recovered from the humiliation of failing to detect an American raid last month that killed Osama bin Laden and has reduced or halted co-operation with the US in protest.

A senior American official told The New York Times that supplies had been choked off to the airbase and that they were gradually "strangling the alliance" by making things difficult for the Americans in Pakistan.

The drones programme, although never publicly acknowledged by the US and repeatedly condemned by Pakistan, is credited with killing a series of high-profile targets.

In 2009, Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistan Taliban was killed by a missile strike in South Waziristan. And two weeks ago, Ilyas Kashmiri, a key al-Qaeda commander was reported dead after a drone attack.

However, Pakistani military and civilian leaders have long criticised the raids, despite privately giving consent.

Last week, the country's senior Army officers released a statement riddled with anti-American rhetoric and threatening action against the drones.

"As far as drone attacks are concerned, Army has repeatedly conveyed to all concerned that these are not acceptable under any circumstances. There is no room for ambiguity in this regard. Government is making necessary efforts in this direction."

The generals have already ordered more than 100 American military trainers to leave the country.

Cyril Almeida, a commentator with The Dawn newspaper, said Pakistan's "battered" military was reacting in time-honoured fashion by shifting the focus to external threats and imagined enemies in Washington.

"These leaks are really putting pressure on the military," he said. "What we are seeing is the Army high command move even further to the right and further into the embrace of anti-American elements."

At the same time, American officials and politicians have upped the pressure, complaining that Pakistani co-operation remains unreliable despite a huge US aid package worth more than $20 billion since 2001.

They have denounced Pakistan's arrest of several Pakistani informants who provided intelligence to the CIA about bin Laden's compound, and accused the country's intelligence services of protecting militant groups.

Reagan Speaks the Truth (VIDEO)

Short video montage of Reagan speaking with contrary statements from the left.


Guess which country kicked out U.S. congressional delegation

Guess which country kicked out U.S. congressional delegation
Question about money to repay American contribution prompts reaction

By F. Michael Maloof

WASHINGTON – A U.S. congressional delegation was kicked out of Iraq after the leader of the group, U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., asked Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki if a portion of future oil revenues could be used to pay back the United States for money spent over the course of eight years following the 2003 U.S. invasion to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The ouster came amid efforts by U.S. officials to get al-Maliki to request an extension of U.S. troops in Iraq past the Dec. 31 deadline when all U.S. troops are supposed to be out of the country.

"We called the U.S. embassy…and we told them to ask the congressmen to leave Iraq," according to Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh. "We don't want them here. What they said was inappropriate."

What do the experts think is happening? Find out in "Islam & The End Times."

Rohrabacher said that he posed the question in the form of request to the prime minister. Al-Dabbagh, however, disputes that the California congressman raised it with al-Maliki.

Rohrabacher, who is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was adamant that he took up the issue with al-Maliki.

"Once Iraq becomes a very rich and prosperous country, we would hope that some consideration be given to repaying the U.S. some of the mega-dollars that we have spent here in the last eight years," Rohrabacker said.

Indeed, such a request is not unprecedented. During Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990-1991, also known as the First Gulf War, the U.S. received payment from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for U.S. intervention in Kuwait to remove the invading Iraqi forces of Saddam Hussein.

Since the March 2003 U.S. invasion, the U.S. has spent an estimated $1 trillion during the occupation and reconstruction, with some 4,462 service members killed and an estimated 100,000 wounded, many seriously.

At present, some 45,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq performing training and equipping of Iraqi soldiers.

The Rohrabacher-led, six-person bi-partisan delegation was in Iraq to investigate a camp that housed Iranian dissidents, 34 of whom were allegedly massacred by Iraqi security forces.

Al-Maliki also barred the U.S. congressional delegation from visiting the camp where the clash took place, citing Iraqi sovereignty as the basis for the denial.

Despite the denial of access, Rohrabacher said that he would seek a criminal probe of whether the Iraqis had mistreated the dissidents.

Sources say that there is some question whether the U.S. Congress has the authority to investigate potential criminal conduct in Iraq.

"We are investigating to see if criminal behavior caused the death of these non-combatants," Rohrabacher said. "The killing of unarmed people, a mass killing, is a criminal act and a crime against humanity."

The dissidents are from the MEK, or Mujahidin-e Khalq, and are opposed to the Shi'ite Iranian regime which has considerable influence over al-Maliki, who also is Shi'ite.

Saddam Hussein had used the MEK, which the U.S. at one point had declared to be a terrorist group. In backing Hussein, the MEK was used by the Hussein regime to perform internal security. At one point during the Hussein period, there were a considerable number of MEK camps spread throughout Iraq.

Following the U.S. invasion, the MEK began to work with U.S. Special Forces and ultimately the organization was removed from the U.S. terrorist list.

Because of Iran's influence, al-Maliki is under considerable pressure from the Islamic regime to decide against requesting an extension of U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the Dec. 31 deadline when they are due to leave.

In requesting that a portion of oil revenues be used to pay back money the U.S. has spent in Iraq over the past eight years, however, Rohrabacher was expressing a viewpoint made by policymakers during the Bush administration to make U.S. intervention more palatable.

In testimony given on March 27, 2003 – a week following the U.S. invasion of Iraq – then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told the House Appropriations Committee that oil revenue from Iraq alone would pay for Iraq's reconstruction after the Iraq war.

At the time, Wolfowitz said that oil revenues from Iraq could bring up to $100 billion over the course of the "next two or three years."

Back then, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the cost of the occupation was up to some $48 billion a year. At the time, it was estimated that the U.S. occupation could last 18 months or more.

"Now, there are a lot of claims on that money, but we are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon," Wolfowitz told the committee at the time.

At the Pentagon back then, Andrew Marshall, the influential director of the Net Assessment Office, also had recommended that oil revenues be used to defray the cost of the military occupation in Iraq.

A source involved in writing the Net Assessment Office report said that the conclusion reflected many senior Bush administration officials.

"They're not just going to take the Iraqi oil and use it for Iraq's purpose. They will charge the Iraqis for the U.S. cost of operating in Iraq," the source said at the time. "I don't think they're planning as far as I know to use Iraqi oil to pay for the invasion, but they are going to use it to pay for the occupation."

Indeed, there were proposals for the U.S. to seize revenues to pay for the occupation and tap Iraq's oil to help pay for the cost of the U.S. military occupation.

Other senior administration officials at the time similarly felt that oil revenues could help defray the cost of the U.S. Iraqi occupation.

"Iraq is a very wealthy country. Enormous oil reserves," said Richard Perle who then was chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, a key advisory group to the Secretary of Defense. "They can finance, largely finance the reconstruction of their own country. And I have no doubt that they will."

Kenneth Pollack, then director for Persian Gulf Affairs at the National Security Council, said in September 2002 that "it is unimaginable that the United States would have to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars and highly unlikely that we would have to contribute even tens of billions of dollars."

And there was Glenn Hubbard, then White House economic advisor, who said: "The costs of any intervention would be very small."

Shooting Someone Who is Not a Direct Threat

Shooting Someone Who is Not a Direct Threat
By: Cody S. Alderson(06/17/2011)

This article is in direct response to a question posted on my Facebook page. I have invited readers to post their questions so that they might be answered in this article series. The first question to be addressed is one about shooting a person who has just shot another person in a public place but has not threatened anyone else. Here is the question:

If you were eating in a fairly busy restaurant, and a gunman came in, grabbed a woman and shot her (probably his wife), would it be legit for you to take him out? Since he had not bothered you or even looked at you, would it be legal or grandstanding?

This type of question is one of the top questions asked by people who have a permit to carry a concealed handgun. It is also one that sparks a huge amount of debate. I take a very conservative standpoint when teaching on this subject. Laws vary from one region to the next, so I can in no way deal with any legal issue that may arise from these questions. I am only offering an opinion based on what I understand of the laws as an average citizen of my own state of residence, and I am not telling anyone to do or to not do anything.

I heard of a statute in the state of Alaska that requires motorists to offer assistance to stranded motorists. I am not aware of any other state that has such a statute. It makes sense for Alaska in that a stranded motorist could die if stuck in a vehicle in the climate extremes typically found throughout the state. For those of us who decide to render first-aid or CPR to someone, there exists the Good Samaritan law. As long as the person rendering aid does not go beyond the scope of their training and is not grossly negligent, there is some protection offered by the law to those who try to save a life. In training, it has been told to me by instructors that for professionals such as EMTs, paramedics and medical doctors, there is a requirement to render aid. The average citizen does not have to render aid such as performing CPR, and there are no legal repercussions even if the victim dies.

That is just the basics of some of the intricacies of statutes I have heard about. If I pass by a stranded motorist while driving in Alaska I would be breaking the law, but I only heard about the law because of reading books about the state. I wonder how many concealed carry permit holders are unaware of specific statutes of their own state and other states that allow permit reciprocity. I am not a professional emergency care provider, but I have been trained. I can choose to render aid or not without violating the law. If I do render aid, I have some protection under the law. I wonder how many concealed carry permit holders are under the impression that there is some legal requirement for them to use their gun in a specific situation.

That actually is one law I have not heard about. I have never heard of a law that requires a concealed carry permit holder to engage any lethal threat regardless of whether the threat is to himself or others. I have read all kinds of different statutes from different states, but I am certain it is easy for me to have missed such a law existing somewhere. I heard of the ordinance in the town of Kennesaw, Illinois passed back in 1982 that requires residents to own a firearm. Still, even that law doesn't make the residents sworn law enforcement required to act in order to preserve and protect the public peace. I could decide to engage a lethal threat such as someone randomly shooting people in a mall, or I could decide to escape since my gun permit does not sanction any police powers or any sworn duty to act as an officer of the law.

Here is the crux of the dilemma. There exists a moral obligation to protect our fellow man. However, doing so can cause a defender serious injury, loss of personal property, loss of real estate, loss of savings, forfeiture of future earnings, loss of liberty and even death. The bottom line is tough to address in a public venue because anti-gun groups latch onto the fact and misuse and misquote it. The fact is that there are those who get a permit to carry a gun and suddenly think they have police powers. The truth is that they do not have any police powers. I will say that again and personalize it— you do not have any police powers as a citizen with a permit to carry a concealed handgun. There are still companies out there selling so-called “concealed carry badges.” In my opinion, they should be legislated against, and I'm a conservative! There should not exist any product, gun school curriculum, books, articles or anything that remotely intimates that a citizen with a gun permit should even slightly act as if they are law enforcement.

I read the first question as the lethal threat has ended since the author of the question stated, “Since he had not bothered you or even looked at you . . .” We could debate whether the threat still actually existed or not, but in this context I am taking it that the reader wants to know if it is okay to shoot the guy who just shot a woman even though the shooter is no longer actively threatening anyone. This is one of those questions that has minds reeling trying to ascertain from the scenario what the shooter is going to do next. That is just as impossible to decide from the context of the written question as it would be if we were actually at such a scene in real life.

We would go by cues the shooter is giving. If he dropped the gun and walked out, I would see it as being very difficult to explain to a district attorney why a permit holder with a gun shot him in the back. If the shooter turned toward the defender who has a gun and a permit and began to raise his gun toward him, the scenario changes to one of immediate threat of being killed. One thing probably only a few have considered is that maybe the shooter was actually himself responding to a lethal threat. Did the woman have an as yet unseen gun on the guy under the table pointed at him and threatening to kill him?

This scenario also indicates that the person asking the question would already be behind the action curve of the situation with his gun still in his holster while the shooter has a gun proven to be fully functional already in his hand. Truthfully, my first thought would be for cover for myself and any loved ones with me. In this scenario of a shooting in a public place, my hierarchy of deciding who I would protect would be self and loved ones first. I am only one person and since I also have a gun, I have to preserve myself first in order to be able to successfully protect anyone with me. In protecting those with me, it would follow a rule of hierarchy for loved ones first followed by friends and then strangers.

As soon as the gun went off, I would look to see what is occurring without putting myself in the line of fire while seeking cover and escape opportunities. A gunshot inside a building will make me have that initial reaction like there is when the monster grabs someone in a scary movie, but I am used to gunfire. I can readily identify gunfire. I won't be saying to anyone, “Was that a gun?” I will be assessing and ordering those with me immediately and as the scenario unfolds. My intent would be to evade becoming a target since I had failed to avoid the situation in the first place. While endeavoring to evade, I would seek to escape safely with those with me and defend as a last resort. Engaging a shooter who has already fired or is firing a gun is not something to take lightly. Real life is not television.

Civilians who go about lawfully armed should practice to avoid, evade, escape and finally to defend. In this situation, avoidance was not an option for it happened while I was already there. This then turns my mind to evading being targeted followed immediately by seeking a way to escape the danger zone. If there is no other recourse than to defend, then I will do that. The move through avoiding, evading, escaping, and defending is dynamic and can change in a split second. Opportunities to get to a condition of no threat is what is being sought. I will repeat that as well so its importance is established. A condition of no threat is what is being sought. We are not seeking to shoot anyone, even if it was a guy who just shot his wife because he wanted to. The only goal is to go home with everyone you brought with you—loved ones first.

Some states require an attempt to escape before using lethal force. Some do not. Let's say that the scenario played out where the defender shot the man who shot the woman. Let's say it played out in court that the shooter was the husband of the woman who abused her for years and had threatened to kill her on numerous occasions. Let's say the defender shot him though witnesses said the man who shot his wife had his gun at his side pointed to the ground and was walking out. Witnesses also say that the defender ran up to the man and shot him five times in the chest. The district attorney may decide to not pursue charges due to the backlash of the court of public opinion. It might be an election year. On the other hand, the district attorney may decide to follow the letter of the law and charge the defender with some homicide charge due to witnesses declaring the defender nor anyone else was being directly threatened.

Do you want to play the odds of how the court will view your actions? Wouldn't it be better to be able to go home with your family and self intact with no legal charges looming or any bullet holes in yourself? Is there a scenario where you are willing to become a martyr? Have you ever discussed with an attorney things such as the implications of hunting down a mall shooter as a citizen with no police powers to end the massacre? That's exactly what one would be doing if he saw a shooter in a mall killing people and going in the other direction not threatening him. What if a man was in one store and his wife and kids were in another one closer to the shooter? Changes things, doesn't it?

Let's say this restaurant shooter turned his gun toward other patrons but you knew with a high degree of certainty due to where you and your wife were sitting that you could safely get outside before he could turn his gun on you. Would you leave or engage the shooter? If you engage and are successful, you might be the hero of the week. If you fail, you and your wife are two more victims. You are dead. There is no going home. Your kids or other loved ones spend the rest of their lives without you. Tough world, isn't it?

The simple facts are that when a defender kills another person, it is a homicide. The top law enforcement person in the jurisdiction will look at the provable facts of the case and decide whether or not there is reason to pursue charges or to declare it a justifiable homicide. People hear terms such as, “It was a clean shoot,” or “It was the right thing to do.” The bottom line is that it was still a homicide. Now the court decides your fate based on things it can prove in court. Honestly, some of the things proven might not even be true. However, it is whatever version of the truth that the jury or judge can be convinced of. Witness statements, forensic evidence, security cameras, coroner's inquest and the defender's own statements will all go into the decision of whether or not the defender will be charged or declared to have killed for a justifiable reason.

I have always answered for these types of scenarios that are declared in the fundamental manner that a shooter killed someone but there was an avenue of escape for myself and those with me that I would choose escape first. Every single time I make that statement, there are several who speak up and declare that they would stay and protect others. I hear how they would do this or do that, and how they would use this training or that training to engage the shooter because it is morally correct. Some folks have spit flying and hands and arms waving declaring step by step what they would do in a situation that is not even real. I have heard guys say how they were in the military and have training to handle these types of situations. That's all well and good.

However, my training philosophy is to avoid, evade, escape and if required, defend. My goal as a teacher is to get people who are in the midst of a lethal threat encounter home intact with everyone who was out with them. It does not involve acting in any manner whatsoever as a sworn officer of the law who is required to preserve and protect the public peace. There are plenty of what if questions that can be tacked onto hypothetical situations. In this case, the person who posed the question declared that the threat was over after the woman was shot. Legally it appears that there is no reason to shoot the shooter unless the situation changes. Be aware though that a real life situation like this can change in a microsecond.

Cody S. Alderson is a long-time regular contributor to The United States Concealed Carry Association. He is a private consultant and author based in southwestern Pennsylvania. You can contact him at or on Facebook at Cody S. Alderson

The Worst May Be Yet To Come From Obama's Regulatory Board

Fred Wszolek

The Worst May Be Yet To Come From Obama's Regulatory Board

As more Americans become familiar with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) due to the complaint it filed against the Boeing Company for building a production facility in a right-to-work state against the wishes of the union representing its Washington State employees, the regulatory agency stocked with President Obama’s appointees continues to deliberate over job-killing policies that reward Big Labor bosses and hurt workers.

In addition to threatening companies that want to create jobs in the 22 states that have passed right-to-work laws, which protect a worker’s freedom of association by prohibiting unions and employers from making membership in the union a condition of employment, the NLRB announced that it was considering a sweeping new change that would give Big Labor easy access to non-union employers, but which threatens the cohesiveness of the workplace and dramatically increases costs and litigation on employers in one of the worst economies since the Great Depression.

The case known as Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile would make a sweeping new standard for defining what a collective bargaining unit is. Whereas in the past it could be all the employees of the employer or something less, such as a department, the new standard gives Big Labor a green light to organize as few as two or more persons doing the same job in the same location. Since it is easier to organize two employees than 50, these micro-units will make it easier for Big Labor to gain access into a non-union employer, but will deprive workers their right to collective bargaining strength, and they threaten a proliferation of units balkanizing the workplace and increasing the burden on employers.

Yet, these aren’t the only job-killing policies Obama's regulatory board is considering. With unemployment over nine percent and every major economic indicator revealing serious challenges for families and small businesses, the NLRB has indicated in public commentary that it is considering changing the time frame within which union elections take place. Big Labor is pushing the idea, supported by its allies at the NLRB of squeezing a 38-day median election period into as little as seven to 10 days after a petition is filed.

As things stand today, voting to form a union takes a median of 38 day's time after the initial election petition is submitted. This gives employers, unions and workers the chance to share information, set election rules and seek outside counsel if it is required. Typically, by the time the workplace election takes place, everybody has at least had a chance to receive information, consider the merits of forming a collective bargaining unit, and make a decision free from unnecessary anxiety and confusion.

Even though unions win a good majority of workplace elections, their numbers are diminishing as most employees are satisfied with their working conditions and oppose giving away hard-earned dollars to union bosses as opposed to keeping those funds themselves. Unfortunately, instead of standing with workers and respecting their decisions, NLRB members like Craig Becker and Mark Pearce believe it is the government’s job to force unionization on workers. Becker wrote in the past that employers “should be stripped of any legally cognizable interest in their employees’ election.” And Pearce has thrown around the idea that elections should happen within five to 10 days after the initial petition.

All of this is a blatant giveaway to labor bosses that disadvantages workers and businesses by depriving the workplace of an informed electorate. But this approach is not in any way new for President Obama’s regulatory agency, which has defined itself as a radical government bureaucracy committed to inhibiting growth and job creation at every turn. Moreover, this effort is consistent with the failed legislation supported by union bosses called the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act (EFCA), which would have instituted card check sanctioning intimidation and coercion in workplace elections and depriving employers of any opportunity to express their view on unionization. Quickie elections serve the same goal by limiting the business’ ability to express its views. The union model will be to gather signatures on petitions covertly approaching employees one at a time and then surprise the employer and its other employees with a petition and an election to be held within days. Employees will receive enormous pressure from organizers to support the union and sign the petition with little access to objective data.

Beyond limiting information sharing, quickie elections exploit Big Labor's size, giving them an advantage over many small businesses. Whereas many employers may not even know that the NLRB exists or what it does, let alone have the resources for an attorney or labor counsel, union bosses have resources and connections on hand which would come to bear immediately as a business owner attempts to figure out how to respond to organizers seeking an election.

In the end, what is clear is that the NLRB will have strayed still further from its true purpose of making sure relations between employers and unions in the private sector are fair and that the interests of workers are protected. It has become an advocacy arm of Big Labor bosses with an activist agenda that results in less jobs.

President Obama has stacked his regulatory agency with labor radicals in return for hundreds of millions in campaign contributions. For example, before joining the board, Chairman Wilma Liebman was a Teamster’s lawyer and Craig Becker, who had to be recess-appointed by Obama because his views were considered so far out of the mainstream, served as counsel to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Voting in an election determining whether your workplace is going to be unionized requires serious thought and consideration, just as voting in municipal, Congressional or presidential elections. Voters are asked by candidates to consider the facts and the merits of their arguments as the discussion evolves, yet President Obama, Big Labor and the NLRB want to deny the American worker that opportunity in workplace elections. They understand that fewer workers are opting for unions, so their plan is to force unionization upon them before they have had a chance to consider all the data.

Closing the election window will further demonstrate that the un-elected government bureaucrats appointed by President Obama to the NLRB are set on advancing the interests of union bosses without regard to workers' rights, which is killing jobs across this country at a time when the economy is already in deep peril.

Fred Wszolek is a spokesperson with the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI).

Karzai says US in talks with Taliban

Karzai says US in talks with Taliban

Afghan president's confirmation comes as Taliban launches deadly attacks in centre of capital, Kabul.

The president of Afghanistan has said his government and the US are negotiating with Taliban fighters to bring peace to the country.

While officials at the US embassy in Kabul could not be immediately reached for comment, Hamid Karzai's remarks were the first official confirmation of US involvement in the negotiations.

"Peace talks have started with [the Taliban] already and it is going well," Karzai said on Saturday in Kabul.

"Foreign militaries, especially the United States of America, are going ahead with these negotiations.''

Diplomats have already said there have been months of preliminary talks between the two sides, and Karzai, who is a strong advocate of peace talks, has long said Afghans are in contact with anti-government groups.

Karzai's disclosure came a day after the UN Security Council split the UN sanctions list for Taliban and al-Qaeda figures into two, which envoys said could help induce the Taliban into talks on a peace deal in Afghanistan.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, earlier this year called on Taliban members to break ranks with al-Qaeda, renounce violence and accept the constitution so they can be reconciled to society.

Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith, in Afghanistan's Helmand province, said [Barack] Obama was already on record saying that to effect a political solution it was necessary to talk to the Taliban.

"It's recognition that after ten years of war they [the US] haven't succeeded in getting rid of the Taliban, in fact they are still very influential in many parts of the country," he said.

"They are agreeing to have talks with an organisation that has just claimed responsibility for yet another suicide attack in Kabul, it's a very difficult choice that had to be made."

Multiple attacks

Shortly after Karzai's remarks on Saturday, gunfire was heard in the centre of Kabul, a witness told Reuters news agency, and an Afghan television station reported that a police station had been attacked.

Mohammad Zahir, head of crime investigation for Kabul police, told Tolo TV that two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside a police station in the city's police district one.

Police said the attackers were wearing Afghan army uniforms and that the three gunmen died in the attack.

The Afghan interior ministry later said in a statement that three police officers, one intelligence agent and five civilians were also killed in Saturday's assault.

Elsewhere, fighters attacked three convoys ferrying fuel and supplies to NATO troops stationed, killing nine Afghan security guards and torching at least 15 fuel tankers.

Two of the attacks on the supply convoys took place in eastern Ghazni province, where two roadside bombs killed four Afghan security guards, Mohammed Hussain, the provincial police chief, said.

Fighters also ambushed a NATO fuel convoy late on Friday along the border between Herat and Farah provinces in the west, killing five Afghan guards.

Substantial reduction

The US is on the verge of announcing a substantial reduction of troops from Afghanistan despite the continued attacks in the country.

Western officials in Kabul stress that attempts to set up contacts with the Taliban are at a very early stage and that efforts are still being made to achieve a communication channel with the Taliban's leadership.

Karzai last year set up the peace council featuring senior Afghan figures in a bid to pursue talks with the Taliban in return for them laying down their arms and accepting the constitution.

The Afghan government and the international community have set a number of pre-conditions for talks including that the Taliban accept the Afghan constitution, respect the values of democracy, renounce violence and break ties with their al-Qaeda backers.

These pre-conditions have been rejected in public by the Taliban who are leading a bloody insurgency against foreign troops and Afghan forces.

Al Jazeera and agencies

Panetta Report 3: Leon Panetta and the Santa Cruz Socialists

Panetta Report 3: Leon Panetta and the Santa Cruz Socialists
Submitted by Trevor on June 18, 2011 – 3:37 am EST

Panetta Report 2 here

It is now fairly well known that President Barack Obama enjoyed a close relationship with the socialists, Trotskyites and “former” communists, who made up Chicago Democratic Socialists of America.

It is less well known, that while a California Congressman, Obama’s Secretary of Defense nominee Leon Panetta also worked closely with Santa Cruz based members of the US’s largest Marxist organization.

A key point of contact was Hugh DeLacy, Panetta’s friend and correspondent, from at least 1976, until his death in 1986. DeLacy was a long time Communist Party USA member, who worked closely with members of the California Communist Party splinter group who went on to form the pro-Chinese New American Movement, which in turn joined with the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee in 1982, to form Democratic Socialists of America.

Santa Cruz New American Movement and later Democratic Socialists of America, effectively took over the Santa Cruz City Council , after NAMers Mike Rotkin and Bruce Van Allen, joined with DSOCers Mardi Wormhoudt and John Laird to form a majority on the Council in 1981.

Another local DSAer, former Trotskyite Gordon Haskell served on the Santa Cruz Democratic Party Central committee for many years, while several other comrades held senior posts in the local party.

On September 6, 1986 Leon Panetta addressed a memorial service for Hugh DeLacy at the Louden Nelson Center in Santa Cruz.

Some of names on the list above indicate the circles that both DeLacy and Panetta were moving in at the time.

Presenter Mardi Wormhoudt was a member of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, who became a Santa Cruz City Councilmember in 1981, and went on to serve three terms as town Mayor. Wormhoudt , a supporter of Nicaragua’s Marxist-Leninist Sandinista regime , was a delegate on the Let Nicaragua Live Tour for the Coalition for Nicaragua in 1986. She was also a member of a 1987 Sister City Delegation to Alushta in the Soviet Union.
Jack Berman, was a life long leftist activist, a veteran of the Communist Party led Independent Progressive Party and an affiliate of the New American Movement. In the 1960s Berman worked with Hugh DeLacy in support of United Farmworkers founder Cesar Chavez – a disciple, like Barack Obama of the Chicago based father of “community organizing’ Saul Alinsky.
John McTernan was a Los Angeles lawyer and several decades veteran of the Communist party USA. McTernan later joined the New American Movement and eventually the Democratic Socialists of America. In 1974 Hugh DeLacy applied to the Chinese government for a free trip for a delegation that would have included McTernan, and several other communists, but the Chinese government ended up only paying for DeLacy and his wife. As a member of D.S.A. McTernan was on a list a wealthy leftists marked as possible funders of D.S.A. programs in Southern California. Others on the list included DSAers Ed Asner and Stanley Sheinbaum (later a supporter of Progressives for Obama), and entertainment figures Casey Kasem, Martin Sheen , Jackson Browne and Danny Goldberg (also Progressives for Obama).
Mike Rotkin had been a member of Students for a Democratic Society He later went on to become a leader of the New American Movement . Using community-organizing techniques developed by Saul Alinsky, Cesar Chavez, ACORN and Chicago’s Midwest Academy, Rotkin built up a power base on Santa Cruz’s West Side through agitation for a community health center in the area. In 179, the Westside NAMers sought and obtained the endorsement of then Congressman Leon Panetta for their project. That support was re-affirmed in 1981. Rotkin used this power base to take over the Santa Cruz City Council., where he and his comrades used their power to pass such essential Council initiatives as calling for the withdrawal of all U.S. military and Economic aid to El Salvador and declaring Santa Cruz a nuclear free zone.

Leon Panetta was no stranger to the other speakers at DeLacy’s memorial - he had worked with them for years. When Panetta first entered Congress in 1976, his campaign included staffer Don Lane, a future DSAer and Santa Cruz Mayor.

A member of Panetta’s campaign committee that year was John Laird, a Democratic Socialist Socialist Organizing Committee member and yet another future Santa Cruz Mayor.

Leon Panetta would later work closely with John Laird in a successful campaign to stop oil drilling off the California Coast. Laird was recently appointed California Secretary of Natural Resources, by incoming leftist Governor Jerry Brown .

In the late 1970s Hugh DeLacy was effectively the California agent for the Chicago based socialist journal In These Times, a project of the New American Movement and the far left “think tank”, the Institute for Policy Studies. Congressman Leon Panetta incidentally served on the Institute for policy Studies’ 20th Anniversary celebrations committee in 1983. in 1999, Barack Obama was himself summoned from Chicago to New York to help establish an I.P.S “partner” organization, the leftist non profit Demos.

In These Times was run by DeLacy’s friend, a former Communist and New American Movement founder named James Weinstein. In 2002 James Weinstein and his friends Carl Davidson and former NAMer Marilyn Katz, organized an anti Iraq War rally in Chicago’s Federal Plaza. They invited a then obscure little known Illinois state Senator to speak. Barack Obama used the opportunity to rail against the War, making his first mark on the national stage. The rest is history.

All these connections, are of course mere coincidence.

President Obama chose Leon Panetta to head the CIA, and serve as Secretary of Defense (despite zero intelligence or military experience) because he was the best man in America for both jobs.

To think anything else would be paranoid….Possibly even racist.