Saturday, July 21, 2012

HuffPo: 'The Obama Campaign Is Unworthy of a Democratic President'

weeklystandard.com ^ | DANIEL HALPER | JUL 21, 2012

Is the left turning against the reelection campaign of Democratic President Barack Obama? That's the impression one gets from a recent article in the left-leaning Huffington Post.

In an article titled, "The Obama Campaign Is Unworthy of a Democratic President," Georges Ugeux, who identifies himself as the chairman and CEO of Galileo Global Advisors and an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, writes, "As a Democrat and a staunch support of Barack Obama, I am completely disgusted by his campaign. Are we talking about the President of the United States? Are we talking about a principled man who has boosted our ideal for a fair and equitable America? Does this have anything to do with the American people?"

Ugeux goes on to accuse Obama's campaign of "harassment" by incessantly calling and emailing to ask for campaign cash--"Even those of us who asked to only receive selective information."

(Excerpt) Read more at weeklystandard.com ...

Arizona versus the United States? (Who will win in the battle between Jan Brewer and Barack Obama?)

American Thinker ^ | 07/21/2012 | Elise Cooper

Arizona is fighting against a two-front assault. The first is of no surprise: trying to secure the state's border against illegal immigrants. The second one, related to the first, has President Obama and his administration using their powers to intimidate and bully the state. Under this administration, the federal government has not stepped up to the plate to help enforce the Supreme Court decision upholding the heart of S.B. 1070 and allowing law enforcement to ask for ID to determine who is and is not legally here after stopping someone for a violation. Instead, the president is using his powers in an attempt to make this law unenforceable.
American Thinker interviewed Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) to get their opinion on what is transpiring.
Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, in writing his opinion, noted, "With power comes responsibility, and the sound exercise of national power over immigration depends on the Nation's meeting its responsibility to base its laws on a political will informed by searching, thoughtful, rational civic discourse. Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues."
Governor Brewer agrees and told American Thinker that if the federal government were doing its job, there would be no need for S.B. 1070. As she travels around the country, she is heartened that "across America, I have found that people support the rule of law and S.B. 1070.
Those against this bill try to make Arizonans look like bigots and racists. I get so tired of having to defend that, especially since those of us that live in the Southwest are very diverse. We all go to school together, go to work together, go to Church together, and are each other's neighbors."
(Excerpt) Read more at americanthinker.com ...

How Obama Has Failed the Black Community

American Thinker ^ | 07/21/2012 | Chad Stafko

Recall the euphoria that engulfed the African-American community back in 2008, when Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States. Blacks came out for him in droves and voted for him at an astounding 96% level. Times, they were a-changin', so to speak. It was the dawning of a new era, as a large dose of hope and change was on its way to the county as a whole, and specifically to the African-American community.

Now, almost four years later, it's clear that Obama has done nothing to improve the way of life among blacks as a whole. In fact, statistics show that life has actually regressed for African-Americans under Obama.

As of June, the African-American unemployment rate is a staggering 14.4%, with Latinos and Hispanics having an unemployment rate of about 11.0%, while the unemployment rate for whites is 7.4%. Compare these rates to December 2008, the final month before Barack Obama stepped into the Oval Office. Whites were unemployed at the rate of 6.6% and Hispanics were at a rate of 9.2%, while blacks had an 11.9% rate of unemployment.
Blacks have taken it in the chin to a greater degree than other demographic groups in the labor market during Obama's economic disaster. Essentially, one out of every seven African-Americans is unemployed. Still, there is worse economic news for the African-American community while under the president for whom they cast 96% of their ballots in November 2008.
According to a report released earlier this year by the Bipartisan Policy Center, in 2010, African-American homeownership rates dropped to pre-1990 levels. Blacks owned homes at a rate of 44.3% in 2010, less than two-thirds the rate at which whites owned homes.
(Excerpt) Read more at americanthinker.com ...

Lest we forget: 43 years ago today Apollo 11 touched down on the moon


July 21, 2012

Lest we forget: 43 years ago today Apollo 11 touched down on the moon

Rick Moran

A thousand years from now, no one will care about the debate over Obamacare, or gun control, or Mitt Romney, or any other event or person from the last 50 years.
Except the moon landing, of course.
It was 43 years ago today that Apollo 11 touched down on the moon and astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on its surface. Because it was the first time in human history we had accomplished the feat of traveling to another world and leaving our footprints on its face, as long as humans are writing history, Apollo 11 and Armstrong will be mentioned.
There was so much we didn't know about the mission at the time; Armstrong gave himself a 50-50 chance of returning home (NASA thought the odds two out of three). The landing itself was a very near thing with the spacecraft having less than 30 seconds of fuel left before an abort would have been performed.
Veteran space journalist Jay Barbree recounts the moment of Armstrong's descent to the surface of the moon:
Forty-three years ago, Neil Armstrong moved slowly down the ladder. He was in no hurry. He would be stepping onto a small world that had never been touched by life. A landscape where no leaf had ever drifted, no insect had ever scurried, where no blade of green had ever waved, where even the raging fury of a thermonuclear blast would sound no louder than a falling snowflake.
Across a vacuum-wide 240,000 miles, billions of eyes were transfixed on black-and-white televisions. They were watching this ghostly figure moving phantomlike, closer and closer, and then, three and a half feet above the moon's surface, jump off the ladder. Neil Armstrong's boots hit the moon at 10:56 p.m. ET, July 20, 1969.
All motion stopped. He spoke: "That's one small step for a man - one giant leap for mankind."
Lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin stayed aboard Eagle to keep watch on all the lander's systems. The LM was Aldrin's responsibility, and as soon as it was safe for him to leave their lander, he came down the ladder and joined Armstrong.
"Beautiful, beautiful! Magnificent desolation," Aldrin said with feeling. He stared at a sky that was the darkest of blacks. No blue. No green. No birds flying across an airless landscape. There were many shades of gray and areas of utter black where rocks cast their shadows from an unfiltered sun, but no real color. And there was the lack of gravity. They seemed to weigh a little more than nothing. In spite of their cumbersome spacesuits, both astronauts found moving about in the one-sixth gravity exhilarating and described the experience as floating.
And the former astronaut has some pointed words about America's space program today:
Today, Neil Armstrong - first to walk on the moon, first to fly an emergency landing from space, a man with experience as a test pilot as well as an engineering professor - is concerned about America's space program.
He simply thinks that NASA is going nowhere fast. He's worried that the space agency is outsourcing thousands of high-tech jobs to Russia, leaving no direct way for astronauts to go from the United States to the International Space Station. He fears that the space station could experience a catastrophic failure with little support from the country that assembled it in orbit.
Neil thinks we should not only fly our own rockets and spacecraft, but use those vehicles to return to the moon in affordable, incremental, cumulative steps. Here's his congressional testimony on the subject, updated in an email he sent me last week:
"Americans have visited and examined six locations on Luna, varying in size from a suburban lot to a small township. That leaves more than 14 million square miles yet to explore.
"The lunar vicinity is an exceptional location to learn about traveling to more distant places. Largely removed from Earth gravity, and Earth's magnetosphere, it provides many of the challenges of flying far from Earth. But communication delays with Earth are less than two seconds, permitting Mission Control on Earth to play an important and timely role in flight operations.
What Armstrong isn't saying is that NASA is a broken agency that has lost the capacity to dream big dreams and perform at the highest technological and human levels. Whether NASA can ever get the spirit of exploration and adventure back, is a question our children will have to answer.




Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2012/07/lest_we_forget_43_years_ago_today_apollo_11_touched_down_on_the_moon.html at July 21, 2012 - 03:54:26 PM CDT 

Here Come the Closet Black Conservatives

American Thinker ^ | July 21, 2012 | Pat Austin

Rev. C.L. Bryant is making waves with his new documentary, Runaway Slave. I had the opportunity to preview the film in Bossier City, Louisiana, and I found the documentary thoroughly compelling.

Runaway Slave was conceived by Rev. Bryant and supported by private donations and FreedomWorks. It has been well-received in private screenings so far, often receiving standing ovations, and is poised to open in select theaters across the country next week. While at Regal Cinema 9 in Bossier City, it was the highest grossing film there.

Herman Cain caught a great deal of flak for his comment on the campaign trail that he "had left the Democratic plantation," but he's not the only one saying it. Indeed, C.L. Bryant has now joined the ranks of a number of black closet conservatives who are speaking out against big government, which is what they perceive to be the new plantation. And the list of black conservatives finding the courage to speak out is growing.
Joining Bryant in this documentary are famous faces like Herman Cain, Allen West, Thomas Sowell, AlfonZo Rachel, and Alveda King. Sirius radio host David Webb speaks out, and we meet a host of other black conservatives who share their stories such as Mason Weaver, Marvin D. Rogers, and K. Carl Smith, who is the founder of Frederick Douglass Republicans and subscribes to the "four life-affirming values of Douglass: respect for life, respect for the Constitution, belief in limited government and individual responsibility."
The film itself has a gritty, urban, edgy feel to it, at times contrasted with scenes of rolling hills and pastoral images of a beautiful America. The scene at the Jefferson Memorial will certainly bring a tear of pride to your eye.
Bryant travels across America, marching with the NAACP, asking questions, and...
(Excerpt) Read more at americanthinker.com ...

Bottom feeder Barack Obama: Romney won’t take care of veterans (As if he has?)

coachisright.com ^ | JULY 21ST, 2012 | Kevin "Coach" Collins

At this point there is less and less pretense about Barack Obama. Who Obama is and what he wants to do to our country are no longer mysteries.

He mocks achievers because “You didn’t do that by yourself!” and he is taking an increasingly “in your face” attitude toward his arch enemy Christianity.

Pushing aside the facts once again, Obama recently tried to grab credit for taking good care of America’s veterans while implying Mitt Romney would not deliver a proper level of support and care to these great men and women.

After patting himself on the back for the wonderful job he is doing on our economy, the Bottom Feeder in Chief added, “That’s the difference between myself and my opponent: As long as I’m commander in chief we’re going to make sure that our veterans are properly cared for. And we have [sic] expand our funding and improved how we are working with our veterans. But we’ve got more work to do, and that requires resources. We’re sure not going to spend that money better on tax cuts for me. I want to make sure that a young man or woman who has served our country, who has fought for us they shouldn’t have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads when they come home.”
If the shortages Veteran’s Administration funding weren’t so serious this would be a joke. Unfortunately the underfunding of the VA is very real and very painful for the men and women who have literally given body parts to the fight to keep us safe.
Time for the truth
According to Democrat Congressman Bob Filner the level of service being delivered to our veterans is an insulting disgrace. And why should it be anything else?.........
(Excerpt) Read more at coachisright.com ...

Panhandler arrested, claims to have made $60,000 last year!

KOCO.com ^ | Jul 20, 2012 | staff reporter

OKLAHOMA CITY -
A man arrested on suspicion of panhandling in Oklahoma City told officers there was no point in getting a job, because he made "$60,000" last year.

According to the police report, an officer spotted Shane Warren Speegle, 45, panhandling near Interstate 40 and Macarthur Boulevard earlier this month.

When the officer approached Speegle and told him it was illegal to panhandle without a permit, Speegle asked if he could get a permit that day and implied the $200 fee was not a bad price.

(Excerpt) Read more at koco.com ...

Way to early for an election prediction, but I'll do one anyway (Romney 270)

Saturday, July 21, 2012 | rightcoast

Yes, there is still four months to go, and an electoral map prediction seems ill-advised and premature... But what the heck...

I based my projections on a modified RCP poll average: I included only recent polls of likely voters, ignoring RV polls. I also used a more conservative version of the "incumbent rule" for the undecideds in these LV polls. Certain theory holds that 80% of undecided voters will break for the challenger. For this analysis, I was more conservative and assume that 65% of undecideds will ultimately vote for Romney.

Based on these criteria and assumptions, I've arrived at a prediction of exactly 270 votes for Romney, just enough for election. Two states remain very tight and too close to call: Colorado and Ohio.

Click here for my custom RCP map.

It's worth noting that money of the "close states" could end up breaking for Romney, especially in the Midwest; a "Rust Belt sweep" that includes Michigan and Pennsylvania, as well as the aforementioned Ohio, is still quite possible at this point.

Small-business owners built this country

The Daily Comet ^ | July 20, 2012 | Robert Pontif

I cannot resist responding to President Obama’s comment about small business earlier this week. His statement that small-business people did not do it on own their own is ridiculous. He said if there is a road or bridge in front of your business you didn’t build that. Of course you didn’t. Tax money that you earned and paid to the government was used to build it. Guess what — everyone benefited from the building of that road or bridge or the invention of the internet. A lot of those that benefit pay no taxes at all. Business owners have the ambition, work ethic and drive to use the opportunities this country offers to succeed, and they should not be penalized or envied for it.
The president has a total disdain for capitalism. I think this for two reasons. He has no earthly idea how it really works because he has never participated in the capitalist system, which built America by the way. I further think he does not want to learn about it and does not respect it because his political beliefs are in some other system.
As the owner of a small business stated 45 years ago by my father, I know what he and the rest of my family went through to make this business succeed. I know what it still takes to do that today. Unlike some I don’t go home in the evening after working 12 hours and forget about everything until 3:30 the next morning when it is time to start again. Running a small business is a never ending series of problems and accomplishments. It is not meant for everyone.
The president should stop the incessant class warfare he is preaching. Ask people in the community who are the most involved citizens in civic, school and charitable organizations. You will find that most of them are small-business owners or employees who take time to participate despite working long hours everyday. If the president wanted to gauge the effect small business has on our country, he should imagine all of the time, talent and taxes contributed to our country not being there. Where would America be then? We would be a third world country.
Mr. President, this country was built on certain values that you need to realize. One being that hard work offers the chance for success. Every small-business person that works every day and goes back the next day is a success, no matter what you say, and I am proud to be one of the poor misguided taxpayers that continue to do it.

Questions about Huma Abedin

National Review Online ^ | July 21, 2012 | Andrew C. McCarthy

Questions about Huma Abedin By Andrew C. McCarthy July 21, 2012 4:00 A.M.
Der Spiegel pointed out the obvious: “A certain role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the transition process [to ‘democracy’] in Egypt seems acceptable to the Obama White House.” It was early February 2011, the moment when the uprising that would oust Hosni Mubarak was bubbling over in Tahrir Square. The prominent German newsmagazine figured, who better to ask about the Muslim Brotherhood than the American political establishment’s resident foreign-policy genius, John McCain?
So, the reporter asked him, does Obama’s tolerance of the Muslim Brotherhood “concern you”?
Senator Maverick shot back without hesitation: “It concerns me so much that I am unalterably opposed to it. I think it would be a mistake of historic proportions.”
Senator McCain elaborated that he was “deeply, deeply concerned that this whole movement [toward democracy] could be hijacked by radical Islamic extremists.” And what, he was specifically asked, “is your assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood”? McCain pulled no punches:
I think they are a radical group that, first of all, supports sharia law; that in itself is anti-democratic — at least as far as women are concerned. They have been involved with other terrorist organizations and I believe that they should be specifically excluded from any transition government.
In fact, so apprehensive was he over the Brotherhood and its sharia agenda that McCain was quick to brand Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate, as a Brotherhood tool. Many of us watching developments at the time noted the apparent collusion between ElBaradei and the Brothers. McCain went farther: “Oh yeah, I think it’s very clear that the scenario is very likely he could be their front man.”
Senator Straight Talk reasoned that since ElBaradei appeared to be on the same page as the Brotherhood, and was being hailed as a potential Mubarak successor despite having “no following nor political influence in Egypt,” we should assume that he must be in cahoots with the Brotherhood. It did not matter that ElBaradei was a renowned international figure and an important leftist ally of President Obama’s. So pernicious was the threat posed by the Brotherhood that, in McCain’s considered opinion, you just had to assume the worst.
The Spiegel interview was classic McCain; the senator is never at a loss for bloviation. His professed anxiety, only a year ago, over the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as his blithe willingness to assume that ElBaradei must be an Islamist coconspirator, are worth remembering today. For the sage has suddenly decided that the Brothers — unapologetic Islamic supremacists who say outright that they are on a “grand jihad” to destroy America and the West — are a pretty swell lot, after all. Instead, McCain reserves his signature “shoot first, think later” ire for the target he has always preferred: conservatives.
The Arizonan took to the Senate floor this week to lambaste five conservative members of the House who, unlike McCain, are actually serious about addressing threats the Brotherhood poses to American interests. McCain’s bipartisan “Islamic democracy” promoters seem content to keep burning through taxpayer trillions until the Brotherhood is finally running every government in the Middle East. To the contrary, the House conservatives — Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Tom Rooney (Fla.), and Lynn Westmorland (Ga.) — have concluded that the Brotherhood needs to be regarded as the serious anti-American business that it is.
Toward that end, the quintet is justifiably concerned that the Brotherhood’s sharia agenda — the one to which McCain used to be “unalterably opposed” — is being abetted not just by some Nobel-toting Egyptian progressive, but by officials in highly sensitive positions inside the United States government.
One official about whom they raise questions is Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Ms. Abedin has been an aide since she interned at the White House in 1996 and was assigned to the then–first lady’s staff. The family tie for which she is best known is her husband, Anthony Weiner, the New York Democrat who resigned from Congress in disgrace last year. But it is Ms. Abedin’s parents and brother who have drawn the attention of the five House GOP members. They all have connections to the Muslim Brotherhood — the organization itself or prominent members thereof.
For pointing this out and merely asking the State Department’s inspector general to look into it and report back to Congress — which is part of the IG’s duties under the statute that created his position — McCain & Co. (i.e., his fans in the left-wing media and his admirers in the Republican establishment) are screaming “smear” and “McCarthyism.” McCain’s antipathy toward conservatives (except during election years) is an old story. And it is no secret that he has long been smitten by Mrs. Clinton, whose transnational-progressive leanings mirror his own.
The Maverick is also a man about town — towns like Tripoli. Back in 2009, you may recall, he was an honored guest in the compound of Libya’s dictator, Moammar Qaddafi — celebrating the former master terrorist as an important American ally against jihadist terror, helping to grease the wheels so the Obama administration could increase American aid that would bolster Qaddafi’s military. Yet in the blink of an eye, it seemed, McCain would later be railing that Qaddafi was a died-in-the-wool terrorist monster whose military had to be smashed by the United States — in an undeclared, unauthorized, unprovoked war, if necessary — so Libyans could be “free” to elect the Muslim Brotherhood and other assorted Islamic supremacists to their new Parliament.
But the point is that McCain gets around. And when he does, the State Department is often his escort. Between his globetrotting and his case of Hillary hauteur, the senator has gotten friendly over the years with Ms. Abedin, who is said to be smart, able, and quite charming. Ever the Maverick — chivalrous to a fault . . . at least when the damsel in distress is an exotic, progressive sharia-democracy devotee rather than a conservative national-security worrywart from Minnesota. McCain has leapt to Ms. Abedin’s defense against these vicious House troglodytes.
The senator’s tirade featured his trademark indignation, incoherence, and infatuation with immigrant success stories. (Ms. Abedin was born in Michigan, but no reason to let that get in the way of “what is best about America.”) McCain blasted Representative Bachmann and the others, falsely accusing them of doing to his friend Huma what he had actually done to ElBaradei, namely, implicating her as “part of a nefarious conspiracy.”
To the contrary, the House members have drawn no such conclusions. Instead, they have pointed out the State Department’s dramatic, Brotherhood-friendly policy shifts during Ms. Abedin’s tenure as a top adviser to the State Department’s boss. They have asked — completely consistent with national-security guidelines, to which I’ll come shortly — that an investigation into those policy shifts be undertaken.
That investigation would include an inquiry into whether Ms. Abedin’s family ties render her unsuitable for a position that involves access to classified information about the Brotherhood. The shrieks aside, this is not remotely unreasonable, nor is it an inquisition into Ms. Abedin’s decency and rectitude. When I was a prosecutor, the Justice Department would not have let me take a case that involved friends of my family. It’s not that they didn’t trust me; it’s that government is supposed to avoid the appearance of impropriety — legitimacy hinges on the public’s belief that actions are taken on merit, not burdened by palpable conflicts of interest.
Regarding Ms. Abedin’s family ties, McCain rebukes his House colleagues for alleging “that three members of Huma’s family are ‘connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations.’” “These sinister accusations,” he insisted, “rest solely on a few unspecified and unsubstantiated associations of members of Huma’s family.”
Now, I’m perfectly willing to believe that McCain may not know what the words “unspecified” and “unsubstantiated” mean. That, however, would not excuse his use of them in this context. The ties of Ms. Abedine’s father, mother, and brother to the Muslim Brotherhood are both specific and substantiated.
Ms. Abedin’s father, the late Syed Z. Abedin, was an Indian-born Islamic academic who founded the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs in Saudi Arabia. That institute was backed by the Muslim World League. As the Hudson Institute’s Zeyno Baran relates, the MWL was started by the Saudi government in 1962 “with Brotherhood members in key leadership positions.” It has served as the principal vehicle for the propagation of Islamic supremacism by the Saudis and the Brotherhood. That ideology fuels the “Islamic extremism” that, only a year ago, had McCain so worried that he thought allowing the Brotherhood into the Egyptian-government mix “would be a mistake of historic proportions.”
McCain’s frivolous retort is that Professor Abedin died 20 years ago. That would be a great point if someone were accusing Ms. Abedin of being in her father’s institute or the MWL. It is irrelevant when the question is whether it is reasonable to infer Islamist sympathies from her parents’ allegiances — not to make conclusive judgments about her, mind you, but to draw an inference that would merit deeper inquiry. That is standard fare in government background checks. Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s emir, has been out of the Brotherhood for more than 30 years. Does that mean the Brotherhood is now irrelevant to his ideological outlook, or to the sympathies of his close associates?
As it happens, the same MWL that supported Abedin père’s institute also helped the Brotherhood establish the Muslim Students Association. The MSA is the foundation of the Brotherhood’s American infrastructure, the gateway through which young Muslims join the Brotherhood after being steeped in the supremacist writings of Brotherhood theorists Hassan al-Banna (who founded the Brotherhood in the 1920s) and Sayyid Qutb (the animating influence of such jihadist eminences as Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden, and the “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman).
Speaking of which, it was through the MSA that Egypt’s new president, Mohammed Morsi, joined the Muslim Brotherhood. He was studying engineering in California at the time, the early Eighties. By her own account, Morsi’s wife, Nagla Ali Mahmoud, also joined. She became a leading member of a cognate outfit known as “the Muslim Sisterhood.” And it is here that we get to Huma Abedin’s mother, the Pakistani-born academic Dr. Saleha Abedin.
Dr. Abedin, too, has been a member of the Muslim Sisterhood, “which is essentially nothing more than the female version of the Brotherhood,” according to Walid Shoebat, a former Brotherhood member who has renounced the organization. The Brotherhood is not only the font of Sunni supremacist ideology, it spearheads the international support network for Hamas, the terrorist organization that openly proclaims itself as the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch.
According to one report, Dr. Abedin has on occasion represented herself as a delegate of the MWL. Moreover, as William Jacobson documents at Legal Insurrection, Dr. Abedin has led the International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child (IICWC), an Islamist organization that hews to the positions of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Brotherhood’s leading sharia jurist. Like Brotherhood entities, the IICWC defends such practices as female genital mutilation and child marriage, which find support in Islamic law and scripture.
Sheikh Qaradawi, of course, is the Brotherhood eminence who promises that Islam “will conquer Europe, we will conquer America.” He is a vigorous supporter of Hamas, and his fatwas lionize suicide terrorism — including the killing of Americans in Iraq. It is Qaradawi who brings us to Huma Abedin’s brother, Dr. Hassan Abedin. He has been a fellow at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies in Great Britain. Contemporaneously, Sheikh Qaradawi was a member of the Oxford Center’s board of trustees. So was Omar Naseef, onetime secretary-general of the MWL as well as the founder of the Rabita Trust — an Islamic “charity” notorious for funding jihadists and for having an al-Qaeda founder (Wael Hamza Julaidan) as one of its chief executives.
These connections are not contrived or weightless — like when the Left wanted to keep Samuel Alito off the Supreme Court because, 40 years ago, he was a member of “Concerned Alumni of Princeton.” Of course, knowing members of an organization whose goals include conquest of the West and destruction of Israel is not a crime. Nor is it a crime to have close relatives who are either members of, or associated with members of, such an organization. Again, however, no one is accusing Huma Abedin of a crime.
The five House conservatives, instead, are asking questions that adults responsible for national security should feel obliged to ask: In light of Ms. Abedin’s family history, is she someone who ought to have a security clearance, particularly one that would give her access to top-secret information about the Brotherhood? Is she, furthermore, someone who may be sympathetic to aspects of the Brotherhood’s agenda, such that Americans ought to be concerned that she is helping shape American foreign policy?
Now, Senator McCain is no stranger to smear. No need to confirm that with Mr. ElBaradei; we’ve watched for years as he has slandered, for example, critics of his advocacy for illegal aliens as “nativists” seeking to reprise Jim Crow laws. Nevertheless, since McCain purports to be a tireless guardian of our security, one would think he’d appreciate the distinction between a smear, on the one hand, and a routine application of security-clearance standards, on the other.
The State Department is particularly wary when it comes to the category of “foreign influence” — yes, it is a significant enough concern to warrant its own extensive category in background investigations. No criminal behavior need be shown to deny a security clearance; access to classified information is not a right, and reasonable fear of “divided loyalties” is more than sufficient for a clearance to be denied.
The guidelines probe ties to foreign countries and organizations because hostile elements could “target United States citizens to obtain protected information” or could be “associated with a risk of terrorism” — note: The Brotherhood checks both these boxes. Thus, when someone is proposed for a sensitive position, it is necessary to consider “conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying.” These, the State Department tells us, include “contact with a foreign family member, business or professional associate, friend or other person who is a citizen or resident in a foreign country if that contact creates a heightened risk of foreign exploitation, inducement, pressure, or coercion.”
Furthermore, in light of the Brotherhood’s well-known abhorrence of the United States, it is also pertinent that State’s guidelines raise alarms if a person seeking access to classified information has an “association or sympathy” with people who seek to overthrow our government, or even with people who just seek to prevent Americans from exercising their constitutional rights. The Brotherhood does not just aim to upend our system; it would restrict our rights, such as free expression, to the extent they contradict sharia.
In his diatribe, McCain speciously asserted that the GOP conservatives had failed to cite “an action, a decision, or a public position that Huma has taken while at the State Department” that showed she was either “promoting anti-American activities within our government” or having a “direct impact” on harmful policies. Of course, to assess a person’s fitness for a sensitive position, background investigators are not restricted to asking whether someone has committed some transgression. Their main job is to find out whether there are circumstances and competing allegiances that could tempt someone to take positions or actions that could harm the United States. That is why, for example, we have hearings before we confirm federal judges — we don’t just hand them a gavel and hope for the best.
In addition, as McCain knows, Ms. Abedin is an adviser, not a policymaker. She gives advice to the secretary of state. Unless you were in the room with the two of them, you’d never be able to demonstrate what “direct impact” the adviser was having. Again, that’s why people are supposed to be vetted before they get these sensitive positions and before they get access to the nation’s secrets.
Since Mrs. Clinton has been secretary of state, with Ms. Abedin as one of her top advisers, the State Department has strongly supported abandoning the federal government’s prior policy against dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood. State, furthermore, has embraced a number of Muslim Brotherhood positions that undermine both American constitutional rights and our alliance with Israel. To name just a few manifestations of this policy sea change:
The State Department has an emissary in Egypt who trains operatives of the Brotherhood and other Islamist organizations in democracy procedures.
The State Department announced that the Obama administration would be “satisfied” with the election of a Muslim Brotherhood–dominated government in Egypt.
Secretary Clinton personally intervened to reverse a Bush-administration ruling that barred Tariq Ramadan, grandson of the Brotherhood’s founder and son of one of its most influential early leaders, from entering the United States.
The State Department has collaborated with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of governments heavily influenced by the Brotherhood, in seeking to restrict American free-speech rights in deference to sharia proscriptions against negative criticism of Islam.
The State Department has excluded Israel, the world’s leading target of terrorism, from its “Global Counterterrorism Forum,” a group that brings the United States together with several Islamist governments, prominently including its co-chair, Turkey — which now finances Hamas and avidly supports the flotillas that seek to break Israel’s blockade of Hamas. At the forum’s kickoff, Secretary Clinton decried various terrorist attacks and groups; but she did not mention Hamas or attacks against Israel — in transparent deference to the Islamist governments, which echo the Brotherhood’s position that Hamas is not a terrorist organization and that attacks against Israel are not terrorism.
The State Department and the Obama administration waived congressional restrictions in order to transfer $1.5 billion dollars in aid to Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood’s victory in the parliamentary elections.
The State Department and the Obama administration waived congressional restrictions in order to transfer millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian territories notwithstanding that Gaza is ruled by the terrorist organization Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch.
The State Department and the administration recently hosted a contingent from Egypt’s newly elected parliament that included not only Muslim Brotherhood members but a member of the Islamic Group (Gama’at al Islamia), which is formally designated as a foreign terrorist organization — so that providing it with material support is a serious federal crime. The State Department has refused to provide Americans with information about the process by which it issued a visa to a member of a designated terrorist organization, about how the members of the Egyptian delegation were selected, or about what security procedures were followed before the delegation was allowed to enter our country.
On a just-completed trip to Egypt, Secretary Clinton pressured General Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the military junta currently governing the country, to surrender power to the newly elected parliament, which is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and the newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, who is a top Brotherhood official. She also visited with Morsi; immediately after his victory, Morsi proclaimed that his top priorities included pressuring the United States to release the Blind Sheikh. Quite apart from the Brotherhood’s self-proclaimed “grand jihad” to destroy the United States, which the Justice Department proved in federal court during the 2007–8 Holy Land Foundation prosecution, the Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, publicly called for jihad against the United States in an October 2010 speech. After it became clear the Brotherhood would win the parliamentary election, Badie said the victory was a stepping stone to “the establishment of a just Islamic caliphate.”
This is not an exhaustive account of Obama-administration coziness with the Muslim Brotherhood. It is just some of the lowlights.
Senator McCain is an incorrigible vacillator. It is to be expected that he has “evolved” from last year’s claimed opposition to the Brotherhood to a new position, more aligned with that of his friend Secretary Clinton and the Obama administration. Some of us, however, really are “unalterably opposed” to the Muslim Brotherhood. The five House conservatives are asking questions to which the State Department’s own guidelines, to say nothing of common sense, demand answers. Answers not just about Huma Abedin but, far more significantly, about the government’s policy toward virulently anti-American Islamists. Americans deserve nothing less — even if the usual GOP spaghetti spines would prefer to give them nothing, period.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.

I Only Hang With Sheepdogs



Posted By Blackfive • [October 08, 2004]The following essay (an extract from the book, 'On Combat') was written by Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman, U.S. Army (Ret.) Director, Killology Research Group (www.killology.com). Colonel Grossman is a somewhat controversial figure - he authored the book - "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society" - a very interesting topic that our politically correct society would rarely discuss. (Thanks to Tom and Mark for sending the article)
On Sheep, Sheepdogs, and Wolves
By Dave Grossman
One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: "Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. 

Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.
Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.
I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.
"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there that will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial. 

"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf."...
If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.
Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, which is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools.
But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.
The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.
Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa."
Until the wolf shows up! Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.
The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.
Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero?
Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.
Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.
There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population.
There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.
Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.
Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, "Let's roll," which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people and parents. -- From sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.
"Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?"
"There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men." - Edmund Burke
Here is the point I like to emphasize; especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.
If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust, or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.
For example, many officers carry their weapons in church. They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs. Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones.
I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, "I will never be caught without my gun in church." I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy's body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?"
Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for "heads to roll" if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids' school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them.
Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones were attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?"
It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.
Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear, helplessness, and horror at your moment of truth.
Gavin de Becker puts it like this in "Fear Less," his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: "...denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn't so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling."
Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.
And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes.
If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be "on" 24/7, for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself... "Baa." 
This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically, at your moment of truth. 

Public Pensions are Another Form of Theft

Townhall.com ^ | July 21, 2012 | John Ransom

There is a dirty secret about state entitlements that liberals don’t want you to know. The collection of a state pension increases the chances that a pensioner will live in poverty. That’s because money put aside for state-guaranteed benefits can not be safely invested at rates that provide for more than a modest retirement unless the state subsides retirement benefits through taxes or if retirement savings are invested in riskier, higher yielding investments. Since governments are loath to raise taxes to subsidize a riskless retirement, benefits are eventually reduced. It works that way in London and Moscow as well as Madison and Sacramento.
In Moscow, public pensions and social programs helped bankrupt the Soviet Union in the 1980s while “transfer to pension status greatly increase[d] the likelihood of poverty,” according to Mervyn Matthews’ Poverty in the Soviet Union (Cambridge Press, 1986). In London, the former Labour Minister John Hutton’s Independent Public Services Pension Commission has recommended changes that would calculate pension benefits on lifetime earnings rather than current salary, in line with recommendations for pension reform from the Office for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Trade unions in U.K. say that such changes will lead to “increased pensioner poverty.” In Madison, WI public retirement applications have risen 73 percent according to the Wall Street Journal as workers try to lock in higher retirement benefits that will likely shrink for those public employees retiring in the future.
Increasingly state governments in the US are facing budget shortfalls over entitlements paid to public servants and those on the public dole. And like the Social Security program, the shortfalls have been wholly predictable as government makes bigger and bigger promises to a select number of citizens who then take up a bigger share of the public pie.
Behind the rhetoric and the rants about state entitlement programs is one simple question: Who wants to pay for expanded public retirement and health care entitlements?
It’s a question that union organizers, doctors, teachers, state legislators and governors across the country grapple with as inflation takes a bigger bite of fixed incomes, market returns fizzle and the federal government cuts back on Medicaid payments after expanding welfare rolls through the stimulus and Obamacare. And while liberals try to make the case that entitlements play little part in the current state budget battles, simple math says otherwise. Medicaid makes up the second largest part of many state budgets, if not the largest. In fact, if governments used the same math that private pensions are mandated under the law to use to figure their liabilities, experts say the entitlement shortfalls in states’ pension systems is two-to-three times larger than has been widely reported.
Federally mandated Medicaid spending that is busting this year’s budgets in every state is the biggest story today. But fuzzy pension math is potentially the gravest budget killer. The Heritage Foundation points out that while it cost less than $1 trillion to shore up the financial system in the bank crisis of 2008, “The IMF expects that, on net present value basis – that is, the deflated total of all future costs,” the entitlement gap “will amount to about 34% of the US’s GDP.” That’s equal to $5 trillion of today’s GDP.
How did we fall into such a hole?
Take the average teacher who enters the work force at of 25 years old and who retires at the age of 65. The teacher’s savings, accumulated at ten percent of their salary for 40 years, must enjoy rates of return near 6 percent to ensure a retirement income equal to 70 percent of the salary they first enjoyed when they entered the workforce. From 1925-2004 the safest investments, US Treasuries, have returned only 3.7 percent. Corporate bonds have averaged 5.4 percent. The riskiest investments average near 10 percent but are not suitable for a state managed pension program. Nor are they reliable. Dizzying rates of return in the 1990s, in part, have led to assumptions about market returns that are unsustainable. As a result, politicians have been able to use fuzzy math to hand out bigger benefits to public employees.
It would be nice if everyone could afford to open up a bed and breakfast with their retirement savings, as was depicted in retirement planning commercials of the late 1990s. However, historic rates of return in markets don’t allow for expansive retirement dreams, no matter what Dennis Hopper told us when pitching the brokerage firm Ameriprise. In a way Hopper never imagined, he was right though when he promised us that Baby Boomers were going to “turn retirement on its head.”
In Florida for example, the state currently assumes that its pension system will return 7.75 percent annually, according a report by Milliman, an actuarial consultancy located in Vienna, Virginia that tracks pension obligations. But private pension plans can only assume at 5-6 percent rate of return currently- approximately the same rate of return that corporate bonds get historically- according to Asset International, a publication for chief investment officers. Safe rates of return are substantially smaller than those projected by the state. Consequently, the pension shortfalls will be that much greater, because states don’t realize those high rates of return. “’It's widely reported to be a $1 trillion problem, but if you dig into the numbers, it’s a $2 to $3 trillion problem,’” says David Kelly, an actuary at Mercer Investment Consulting’s Financial Strategy Group, reports Asset International about unfunded pension liabilities. “’The reported liabilities are understated by using an optimistically high … rate [of return].’”
Equally, this year’s Medicaid spending crisis has been predicated on math that is unsustainable. States, already facing budget woes, were suckered by the federal government into taking stimulus dollars that had expensive strings attached. The stimulus program sponsored by Obama and the Democrats further exacerbated the state budget problems in the future, even if it postponed them for a short while, an outrage that did not go unnoticed by conservatives.
NPR reported at the time: “Because most states must by law balance their budgets each year, a number of them have no choice except to cut their Medicaid programs, which for many states represents the largest or second-largest budget item.” T
Then Obama got out the fuzzy math calculator and proposed a cure worse than the disease: In return for the money to bailout their current Medicaid deficit and forgo the painful cuts states needed to balance their budgets back then, Obama and the Democrats proposed a bailout of Medicaid that shipped extra dollars to the state for a limited time. The bailout required states to agree not to trim Medicaid enrollees or cut benefits later on, even though the federal largesse would end in 2011. Essentially, the Democrats played the game both parties have been playing for a decade with entitlements: make more promises, add more entitlements and borrow more money to pay for today. Rather than make the system more solvent, the bailout made it more difficult for states to balance their budget this year by expanding Medicaid.
For two years the federal government shipped “enhanced” Medicaid reimbursements to states as high $2.68 for every dollar the state paid for the healthcare entitlement program designed to help the poor. But, as was laid out in the bailout plan, “enhanced” reimbursements will end in July of this year leaving state budgets worse off then before. Stimulus dollars consequently have expanded Medicaid and the states’ financial commitment to it.
It wasn’t like no one saw this coming, either.
“Budget gaps in fiscal 2012 will likely rival the critical shortfalls that states faced before enactment of the new stimulus package,” said Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government in 2009. “Cuts or reductions in growth of spending on education, health care, and other programs, and/or major tax and other revenue increases, will almost certainly be on the table once again.”
They are on the table for 2011. As a consequence, states have been forced to take the only recourse they have, which is to cut payments to medical providers in order to balance their budgets. “South Carolina is hoping to trim provider rates by 3% starting April 4 to help it close a $25 million deficit in its Medicaid department this fiscal year,” says CNN. “Managed care organizations would also see a 12.5% cut in their administrative fees. The move should save $7.5 million.” Even the New York Times admits that the program has hurt patients and has helped drive healthcare providers out of the Medicaid market.
The Times says that Dr. Saed Sahouri of Flint Michigan quit the Medicaid practice when Michigan reduced payments to physicians thereby making Medicaid uneconomical for him professionally. “My office manager was telling me to do this for a long time, and I resisted,” Dr. Sahouri told the Times. “But after a while you realize that we’re really losing money on seeing those patients, not even breaking even. We were starting to lose more and more money, month after month.”
One of the complicating factors of the entitlement crisis is a willful blindness that has government conveniently over-estimating tax revenues during recessions, in addition to over-estimating rates of return at all other times. “During the 1990-92 revenue crisis, 25 percent of all state forecasts fell short by 5 percent or more,” finds the Rockeller Institute report States’ Revenue Estimating: Cracks in the Crystal Ball. “During the 2001-03 downturn, 45 percent of all state forecasts were off by 5 percent or more. In 2009, 70 percent of all forecasts overestimated revenues by 5 percent or more.” If Bernie Madoff had used such sloppy account methods as state governments do in estimating pension liabilities and revenues, no doubt his house of cards would have collapsed more quickly. If anything, government accounting methods are hurting those people that liberals claim to care so much about, low-income workers, by creating huge entitlement deficits that require cuts in benefits which will hurt those who will have the hardest time retiring.
Recommendations by the OECD on public pension reform include a private “pillar” for public pensions which could help increase rates of returns, while guaranteeing that the safety net still exists for those who will have the most difficulty making ends meet in retirement. Also recommended are later retirement ages to take into account longer life spans. But as the OECD notes, the length of the average retirement is growing while the working age population is shrinking. That aging population, which peaks in 2050, helps explain rising healthcare costs as well.
One only needs to look at what government math has done to pension liabilities to understand the difficulties the country faces if it does not repeal Obamacare soon. The longer we leave it, the greater temptation politicians from both parties will have to start using it like a checkbook, as they have other entitlement programs.
Tinkering around the edges of our demographics won’t help that much if politicians aren’t willing to come clean as to the size of the problem that faces us in the future. Neither party has shown a real willingness to tackle entitlement reform yet, although some on the GOP side of the aisle have shown flashed that they have understand the scope of the problem and the potential difficulties.
“Is this a political weapon we are handing our adversaries? Of course it is,” GOP budget chair Rep. Paul Ryan said in March of last year. “I think everybody knows that we are walking into I guess what you would call a political trap that arguably we are setting for ourselves ... but we can’t wait. This needs leadership."
That passes the verbal portion of the test. Now it they could just pass the math portion…

A short, incomplete history of media tying the Tea Party to tragedies

Washington Examiner ^ | July 20, 2012 | Joel Gehrke

ABC News’ Brian Ross speculated this morning that the alleged shooter who attacked a Batman premier in Colorado might be a member of the Tea Party. His suggestion — since retracted by ABC — continues a trend of media figures wrongly tying such tragedies to the Tea Party since 2010.


In February 2010, Joseph Stack became a Tea Partier for purposes of the media after he committed suicide by flying his small airplane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. New York Magazine, after reading his online suicide note/manifesto that day, immediately declared that “a lot of his rhetoric could have been taken directly from a handwritten sign at a tea party rally.” The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart added that “his alienation is similar to that we’re hearing from the extreme elements of the Tea Party movement.”

Neither Capehart or NYMAG mentioned that Stack quoted the Communist Manifesto approvingly and denounced capitalism as a system that teaches, “From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.” That would seem to put him at odds with the Tea Partiers, who often attacked Obamacare as a socialist government program. A few months later, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speculated that the failed attempt to bomb Times Square was carried out by someone “with a political agenda who doesn’t like the health care bill or something.” The would-be bomber, a Pakistani immigrant, said in court “If I’m given 1,000 lives I will sacrifice them all for the life of Allah.”Most famously, politicians and media figures attacked Sarah Palin and the Tea Party after the Tucson shooting that wounded Rep. Gabby Giffords, R-Ariz., and killed six others. Palin was faulted for having put “crosshairs” over Giffords’ district when she was targeting Democratic seats that might be vulnerable to Republican takeover. Even a year after the shooting, Democratic National Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., was willing to cite the shooting as proof that politicians need to “tone things down, particularly in light of” the Tucson shooting. “I hesitate to place blame, but I have noticed it take a very precipitous turn towards edginess and lack of civility with the growth of the Tea Party movement,” she said. In reality, shooter Jared Loughner was reportedly a mentally ill alcoholic with no coherent political ideology (like Stack, though, he wasn’t above invoking the Communist Manifesto). These cases and others have all been marked by politicians and journalists rushing to connect their political opponents to murder. ABC News, to its credit, quickly retracted Ross’ suggestion today, but the damage to their credibility was already done because bias is revealed in the kinds of questions that a person asks. More fundamentally, the search for political alignments is a dishonest attempt to create a negative impression in the minds of the American populace. Correlation does not equal causation. Even assuming that these reports of Tea Party allegiances were correct (which they weren’t), they don’t tell observers much about the Tea Party. “Now, even as we learn how this happened and who’s responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this,” President Obama said today. “It’s beyond reason.” H/T Gabriel Malor

Barack Obama: Crony Capitalist in Chief? Part 1

Townhall.com ^ | July 21, 2012 | Political Calculations

President Obama opened a controversy when he made the following comments during a campaign stop at a fire station in Roanoke, Virginia:
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
That was news to a lot of business people and entrepreneurs who actually have built their own businesses, many from scratch, many without the benefit of any government research or support. We wondered where President Obama may have gotten the idea businesses were so completely dependent upon the government to even be in business.

And then, it came to us! We remembered that two of the biggest business basket cases of President Obama's tenure in office are represented by General Motors and General Electric! Neither one of these companies is capable of existing without significant government support, as both are highly dependent upon government contracts, subsidies, mandates and special protections for their revenue.
In fact, both businesses are so dependent upon the federal government for their cash flows that they have effectively become junior partners or subsidiaries of the federal government. As a result, rather than recognizing that his proper role as President involves running the federal government and not setting the agendas for America's businesses, President Obama instead views himself as the CEO of America's crony capitalists.
What is crony capitalism? Investopedia explains:
A description of capitalist society as being based on the close relationships between businessmen and the state. Instead of success being determined by a free market and the rule of law, the success of a business is dependent on the favoritism that is shown to it by the ruling government in the form of tax breaks, government grants and other incentives.
Does the progressive worldview behind President Obama's comments seem clearer now?
If it helps bring greater clarity, there is a different word that perhaps better describes the political system that goes hand-in-hand with the economic system of crony capitalism: corporatism:
Corporatism, Italian corporativismo, also called corporativism, the theory and practice of organizing society into "corporations" subordinate to the state. According to corporatist theory, workers and employers would be organized into industrial and professional corporations serving as organs of political representation and controlling to a large extent the persons and activities within their jurisdiction.
In Part 2 of this series, we'll reveal what we suspect will become the modern-day example of why crony capitalism, and the corporatism it entails, is really a destructive economic and political system.

For UBS, a Record of Averting Prosecution (UBS CEO Robert Wolf was Obama bundler, golf buddy...)

NY Times ^ | 7/20/12 | JAMES B. STEWART

As the Justice Department weighs the possibility of criminal charges in the unfolding Libor rate-setting scandal, it may want to consider the record of the Swiss banking giant UBS.

At UBS, a series of immunity, nonprosecution and deferred prosecution agreements in recent years — evidently the government’s preferred approach to corporate crime — seems to have had scant, if any, deterrent effect.

 “It’s depressing,” Representative Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont, a member of the House oversight committee, told me this week after we discussed UBS’s recent transgressions. “The Justice Department has to decide: Is the day of consent decrees and settlements, where you pay a fine, one passed on to shareholders, are those days over? Are the days of jail time here?”

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...