Monday, December 10, 2012

If Not Boehner, Then Who? We Have Options ^

If not Boehner, then who?

Last week, American Majority Action kicked off the trending #FireBoehner hastag on Twitter and began to pressure House members to abstain from voting for Speaker.

After speaking with the House Parliamentarian, we discovered the House precedent is actually interpreted to mean an absolute majority of votes cast for a specific candidate. So, House members do nothing by abstaining. However, the core idea remains: Without a majority (50% +1), the House is speakerless. If neither Boehner nor Pelosi win 50%, the House keeps voting until a new leader arises with a majority.
To get Boehner under 50%, we need to unite behind a candidate—or candidates. We have more than three weeks to choose.
American Majority Action is endorsing Tom Price, Jim Jordan, and Jeb Hensarling as candidates for Speaker and senior leadership.
Though Price has announced that he does not plan to run, all three would be a welcome change. All three have been staunch conservatives—standing up against the Bush spending sprees. They have each been in leadership and have significant support in the caucus.
The #FireBoehner movement has become a threat: If Speaker Boehner compromises with Obama and they propose a tax-hike together, Speaker Boehner will be finished.
#FireBoehner started after Boehner proposed a tax-hike and purged four key conservatives from their committees. The movement has had tremendous support so far, and more House members will join our cause if Boehner capitulates.
We cannot raise taxes on our small businesses right now. Any Republican who votes for a tax-hike will be primaried—we can guarantee that.
If Obama continues to force the issue, we agree with Senator Rand Paul: Let Democrats eat the tax-hikes. Republicans should vote “present” and let liberals own these awful polices.
We shouldn’t—conservatives shouldn’t—endorse any policy that will destroy jobs for normal Americans, as tax hikes would. We should be fighting for what works. Frankly, we should be looking at tax cuts. Reagan cut taxes 25% in 1981, during both a recession and fiscal crisis, and by the end of his term: Revenue from the highest bracket doubled, Americans created 20 million jobs, and youth unemployment fell 43%.
That’s what we should be fighting for—not a smaller tax hike.
Boehner be warned.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army began in 1865 when William Booth, a London minister, gave up the comfort of his pulpit and decided to take his message into the streets where it would reach the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the destitute.

QUERRS CONDEMN SALVATION ARMY ^ | December 10, 2012 | Bill Donohue

The Salvation Army is under increasing attack from homosexual activists this Christmas season. The Christian organization is under fire for merely holding Christian beliefs on marriage and the family—it does not discriminate against anyone—and now the war has extended to a formal resolution by the Associated Students of the University of California at Berkeley calling for a ban of Salvation Army donation boxes on campus; university officials are considering the request.

An organized effort to boycott the Salvation Army is also under way. A gay website,, is asking its readers nationwide not to give to the charitable organization. Gays in Chicago have launched their own campaign to withhold donations. The net result is that more of the needy will go without this Christmas season, thanks to the efforts of these homosexuals.
Not only does the Salvation Army not discriminate in hiring, and in whom they serve, it does not lobby for any cause. Indeed, its only agenda is serving the dispossessed. Yet to those driven by a lust for power in the homosexual community, it makes sense to sacrifice the poor for the purpose of advancing their agenda.
It is too kind to say this is another example of political correctness: It is nothing less than an attempt to punish thought. This, of course, is one of the ugliest traits of the totalitarian mindset. That its intellectual home is the University of California, Berkeley, should surprise no one.
Please give to the Salvation Army this Christmas. Let them know we support their charitable goals, as well as their courage in standing up to bullies.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Paradise Lost: CA to Provide Free Cell Phones for Homeless!

10 Dec 2012, 11:20 AM PDT321post a comment

In California, the unemployment rate may be above 10.2%, and the state debt may be above $16 billion, the state’s GDP may be in serious trouble and businesses may be leaving in droves due to ever-increasing tax rates, but that isn’t going to stop the gravy train for the state’s poor and dispossessed. The California Public Utilities Commission is all set to greenlight a new program that would give homeless and low-income people free cell phones – call them Obamaphones – with free service. The idea is to help them reach out to possible job opportunities and stay connected with family.

San Francisco’s head of homeless initiatives, Bevan Dufty, was overjoyed: “This is great – it is transformative for homeless and low-income people. I expect San Francisco to be in the forefront and a model city for this program. Fundamentally, to be in the mainstream of our society you have to have a phone. And really, for the homeless population, you need a cell phone because they don’t have a home to hard-wire one into. We really need this plan.” Dufty is pushing an effort to allow the homeless to call 311 to find out where there’s an available bed at a homeless shelter.

The state has funded phones for the poor for years, but they were always hardline phones, not cell phones. The new program will give beneficiaries some 250 minutes of time and 250 free text messages every month.

President Obama’s deleterious effect on America’s work ethic!

Flopping Aces ^ | 12-10-12 | Vince

The United States was built on the backs of hard working people. From pilgrims who survived an ocean’s journey and founded a colony at Plymouth to slaves who endured the blistering sun as they harvested cotton to settlers who braved temperatures, terrain and Indians to fulfill a Manifest Destiny, the United States was the product of people who worked like their lives depended on it. And in many cases, they did. In the 20th century however, other than a number of wars, and increasingly, simply living in intercity neighborhoods, most aspects of working in America don’t involve putting your life on the line in order to survive.
Today, America is still powered by work, in whatever form it takes, everything from building bridges to creating smartphone apps to finding investment opportunities. Work has created a foundation for the prosperity that has given the United States two centuries of greatness. Unfortunately, the very concept of work as something positive, something necessary, something that is part of a normal family’s existence, is slowly going away… and it’s no accident.
One wonders what someone could do to destroy the work ethic…
For starters, try two full years of unemployment benefits… although the longest period today has dropped to 83 weeks – a year and a half – President Obama had benefits up to an unprecedented 99 weeks in his first year in office. This, despite the fact that studies show that fully 1/3 of those receiving unemployment benefits find a job within one week of their benefits expiring, and a sizable number of the rest soon thereafter. This is not just an exercise in navel gazing… it has a real impact. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, despite offering between $9 and $20 per hour and a 7% unemployment rate, hundreds of employers cannot fill their open positions. Either they can’t find enough qualified applicants (thank you teachers’ unions) or the pay they are offering is simply not good enough to convince people to give up their unemployment benefits.
And unemployment benefits are not the only government program weighing on the work ethic. Then there is welfare.
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Should a conservative Congress oust Boehner over fiscal cliff talks?

The Washington Times ^ | December 10 | Henry D'Andrea

Speaker John Boehner's unwillingness to hold the line against President Obama's hypocritical approach to the fiscal cliff negotiations show it might be time for conservatives to take the speaker gavel away.
While there has been no real movement towards a fiscal cliff deal, Speaker Boehner did move to evict key conservatives from top budget committees for their dissent to his budget proposal.

After Reps. Justin Amash, Tim Huelskamp, David Schweikert, and Walter Jones were removed from their budget committees, conservatives lambasted Boehner and felt as though he was shutting them out of the fiscal cliff negotiations.

Those 31 members on the House Steering Committee that removed these conservative congressmen have yet to speak publicly about the ordeal, showing that Boehner doesn’t want the conservative voice anywhere near the potential fiscal cliff deal.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Bob Costas is dead wrong! ^ | 9 December, 2012 | Ted Nugent

As you read this, know that by the time you finish, somewhere in America a fellow citizen will use a gun to stop a crime and save a life.

Opining on the Kansas City Chief football player who murdered his girlfriend and then blew out his own brains in front of his coach, the otherwise great sports announcer, Bob Costas, blamed the murder-suicide on easy access to guns. He lives in a strange fairyland of ignorance and denial.

If there were a free speech penalty for blundering ignorance, a penalty flag would have been tossed at Mr. Costas.

Just as we shouldn’t blame forks for obesity, pencils for spelling mistakes or water for drowning, trying to blame access to guns for the murder-suicide in Kansas City is chainsaw-juggling, woodchipper-diving bizzaro logic.
That’s how horribly out of touch with reality liberals like Mr. Costas are. Unless backed into a corner where there is no other choice but to admit that an individual is responsible for his or her actions, liberals will refuse to place the blame on the shoulders of the individual who actually committed the crime. In this case, Mr. Costas blamed access to guns for the deaths, not the murdering, suicidal maniac.
Therein lies one of the fundamental problems with America. We have created a culture of rot where excuse-making punks have been conditioned to blame anything and everything on something other than the perpetrator. Apparently, Mr. Costas is one of them.
The ugly reality is that in a free society, there will be those few zombies who fly off the rails of personal responsibility and murder others. But arguing to ban guns to prevent these uncontrollable ugly acts of irresponsibility when 99.9 percent of gun owners are responsible people is no way to run a free and just society. Serious-minded people grounded in reality understand this most basic truism.
What Mr. Costas didn’t say and possibly doesn’t know is that 2 million Americans use guns each year to defend themselves from punks and thugs. Access to guns saves an incalculable number of lives each year. How about that, Mr. Costas?
Just a few years ago, a drunk NFL football player ran over a guy and killed him. As I recall, the player paid off the family of the deceased and only did 30 days in the slammer. Where was Mr. Costas on this? Did he opine that easy access to alcohol and automobiles was responsible for this death? To those liberals who want to restrict or ban access to guns, do you also support banning booze because drunks kill roughly 12,000 Americans each year in drinking-and-driving slaughters?
Reality is much different than liberal fairyland pseudologic. There are hundreds of millions of guns in the hands of law-abiding Americans who are the source of zero problems. There are also a few guns in the hands of irresponsible, often paroled gangland punks, who commit various crimes, including murder. I would much rather deal with that than further muzzle and restrict freedom.
My recommendation is to not trust any fuzzy-headed goofball who would deny another person the right to defend himself or the fundamental right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Should an individual such as Bob Costas choose to be unarmed and defenseless, that’s his choice, but we must not allow his limousine-liberal views to become center-stage.
We have more than enough gun laws in America. Another law or restriction would not have prevented the Kansas City Chief murderer from killing his girlfriend or himself. That’s the ugly reality that Mr. Costas obviously refuses to embrace.
Freedom rocks. Let’s keep it that way.

2nd bite to challenge Obama's eligibility?

WND ^ | December 09, 2012 | Bob Unruh

Famous justice has had 'serious questions' about birth certificate!

A longstanding eligibility case challenging Barack Obama’s presence in the White House soon could be headed to the state Supreme Court in Alabama, where one justice already in a court filing has questioned the authenticity of Obama’s documentation, and the incoming chief justice is a dyed-in-the-wool Constitution supporter with little tolerance for those who want to bypass the document.
The move is pending in an eligibility challenge brought by Hugh McInnish and others against the Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman.
The case most recently was turned down by a state district judge, Eugene Reese, who got his opinion into the mix by determining that the case was “ordered, adjudged and decreed” to be dismissed.
The case calls for a determination that Chapman “has a duty to verify the eligibility of those seeking office.”
In a recent brief in the case, attorney Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and now of the Klayman Law Firm in Washington, noted that while the state is arguing it should not be tasked with making sure candidates are eligible, the submission by the state itself suggests otherwise.
“[An attorney general's opinion] is not case precedent binding on this court … Nevertheless, it constitutes an admission by Alabama’s chief law enforcement officer on behalf of the state that if the Secretary of State has knowledge gained from an official source about a candidate’s eligibility then she ‘should not’ certify the candidate.”
The issue is the conflict over the requirements of the U.S. Constitution, which demands, “No Person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of president…”
(Excerpt) Read more at ...


Newark Mayor Cory Booker: $80.4B Food Stamp Program ‘Not a Government Handout’

Cybercast News Service ^ | December 10, 2012 | Patrick Burke

Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker says the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), which spent $80.4 billion in fiscal 2012, is “not a government handout.”

“I hope and understand that people are getting a better recognition that this is a program that really helps America, helps families in need,” Booker said on Friday, while describing his fourth day of living on a SNAP budget.

"It’s not a government handout,” he said. “If anything, it’s a safety net that helps people through difficult times and bridges them towards stability.” …

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

A Nation of Takers Hurtles Toward the Fiscal Abyss

FrontPage Magazine ^ | December 10, 2012 | Bruce Thornton

The on-going negotiations over avoiding the tax hikes and spending cuts we call the “fiscal cliff” are the simply the latest act in a farce of self-serving political denial. For decades now both parties have overseen and nurtured the expansion of the entitlement state all the while ignoring the slow-motion economic implosion whose predictable end can be seen today in a bankrupt Greece currently surviving on EU handouts. But American voters and politicians are so marinated in expectations of endless federal and state largess that modest reductions in spending, such as those proposed earlier this year by Congressman Paul Ryan, are attacked as draconian “cuts” that will “shred” the safety net and throw millions into Dickensian penury.
And make no mistake. The “cliff” might not be reached in January, even without a deal. But it’s still waiting down the road. Baby Boomers, 75 million strong, are retiring at a rate of 200,000 a month, and they can expect to live on average until 84 if they make it to the retirement age of 65. The two big drivers of entitlement spending, Social Security and Medicare, weren’t designed to transfer money to retirees for so long, or pay for artificial knees and hips for Boomers who want to be active in their 70s and 80s. If left unreformed, spending just on Social Security and Medicare will eat up 14% of GDP in 40 years, necessitating even more federal borrowing than the 40 cents currently borrowed for every dollar the feds spend. That’s not a cliff, that’s an economic abyss.
Reining in entitlement spending, then, is the major problem that everybody needs to focus on. And a good place to start is Nicholas Eberstadt’s A Nation of Takers. Eberstadt’s grim documentation of the reckless expansion of what he calls the “vast and colossal empire of entitlement payments that it [the state] protects, manages, and finances,” and his analysis of the ill effects such transfers have had on the American character should be read by everyone serious about the fiscal threats to our way of life.
Redistributing wealth through programs like income maintenance, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment insurance has become the federal government’s most important function. This development would have astonished the Founders, who codified national security and defense as the national government’s primary role. And this momentous shift has led to an accelerating number of Americans on some sort of dole. In the early 1980s, 30% of Americans received at least one government benefit. By 2011 just over 49% were. The costs of this increase have accelerated as well. In 1960, entitlement spending by government at all levels was $24 billion in today’s dollars. In 2011, the cost was almost $2.2 trillion. As Eberstadt glumly prophesizes, we are heading for “the day in which entitlement spending comes to exceed all other activities of all levels and branches of the U.S. government.”
The costs of such profligacy, however, are more than economic. These wealth transfers have had deleterious effects on traditional American character. Observers of the American character traditionally had remarked on what Eberstadt describes as a “fierce and principled independence” and “proud self-reliance.” This independence extended to financial self-reliance as well. Americans “viewed themselves as accountable for their own situation through their own achievements in an environment bursting with opportunity,” Eberstadt writes, and had “an affinity for personal enterprise and industry” and a “horror of dependency and contempt for anything that smacked of a mendicant mentality.” Accepting help or handouts was considered “an affront to their dignity and independence.” These are the strengths of character and virtue that have created the richest, freest, and most powerful nation in world history. But the federal government’s ever- increasing handouts––which these days are not considered signs of shame, but deserved legal and civil rights––are eroding these virtues.
This corruption of character insidiously spreads throughout the culture, enabling politicians to expand these benefits in order to create electoral clients. One malign result has been what Eberstadt calls the “male flight from work.” The government has replaced husbands and fathers as providers, leading to “the proliferation of fatherless families and an epidemic of illegitimacy.” This change can be seen in the decline of men participating in the labor force. Between 1948 and 2011, male labor force participation sank from 89% to 73%, a drop twice as large as the number of men who left the workforce because of the Great Recession. For more and more Americans food stamps and welfare have replaced the wages of a working male.
Or consider the abuse of Social Security disability insurance. In 1960, Eberstadt reports, an average of 455,000 workers were receiving monthly disability payments. In 2010, 8.2 million were, four times the number of people on welfare. Worse yet, the average age of those receiving disability insurance has lowered. In 2011 the rate of workers in their thirties and forties receiving disability was more than double that of the same cohort in 1960. Given the big improvements in health care and longevity during that time, these increases do not reflect a more dangerous work environment. What happened was the addition of “mood disorders” and “musculo-skeletal” ailments to the diagnostic categories that made workers eligible for disability. Since doctors can’t disprove the existence of potentially subjective conditions like “depression” or “back pain,” we shouldn’t be surprised that these days nearly half of all disability claims are based on these ailments.
The costs of food stamps, welfare, or disability insurance, however, are spare change compared to the monstrous costs of Social Security and Medicare, which in fiscal 2012 totaled $1.2 trillion, 37% of non-interest federal spending. Nor are these programs “earned” through payroll taxes that were saved. As economist Robert Samuelson wrote recently, “But they weren’t saved; they paid the benefits of earlier retirees. Even had they been saved and earned interest, they typically wouldn’t cover lifetime Social Security and Medicare benefits, estimate the Urban Institute’s C. Eugene Steuerle and Caleb Quakenbush. A couple with average wages retiring in 2010 would receive $966,000 in benefits against taxes of $722,000.” Rather than endowments funded by worker contributions, Eberstadt writes, Social Security and Medicare funding are “accounting contrivances built upon a mountain of future IOUs.” And this problem will only worsen as the number of retired Boomers reaches 72 million by 2030. According to the Heritage Foundation, Social Security alone is projected to run a $344 billion deficit in 2035. Looking farther down the road, the unfunded liabilities of Social Security for the next 75 years is $8.6 trillion, and those of Medicare from $27 to $37 trillion.
The monstrous deficits and debt the government has been amassing for four decades correspond in part to the need to borrow money to pay for these two programs. But this downward spiral of increasing entitlements and growing debt––which in Obama’s first term has increased 83%–– will damage more than just our budget and character. We have already seen defense budgets targeted for reductions, even though we spend 3 times as much on entitlements as on defense. When President Eisenhower in 1961 warned of the “military-industrial complex,” the ratio was 2-1 in favor of defense spending, which represented 9.4% of GDP compared to 4.8% in 2010. And we are looking at another half a trillion of cuts over the next decade, on top of the half a trillion Obama has already slashed. The point is not that we can’t afford to spend more on defense, but that we have other priorities. As Eberstadt notes, “By the calculus of American policymakers today, then, U.S. defense capabilities seem to be the primary area sacrificed to make the world safe for the unrestrained growth of American entitlements.”
Yet despite this looming disaster, President Obama and the Democrats have taken entitlement reform off the table in the current negotiations over the “fiscal cliff.” Indeed, Obama’s latest offer included $600 billion in vague future spending cuts, but $200 billion in new spending along with $1.6 trillion in new taxes. According to economist Keith Hennessy, in reality this offer would lead to a spending increase, not a reduction. Clearly, Obama is not interested in heading off the fiscal disaster Eberstadt documents. Rather, he is pursuing the old progressive dream of income equality through the redistribution of wealth. Unfortunately, for future generations that dream will be a nightmare of bankruptcy at home and compromised national security abroad.

Obama and Slavery ^ | 12/10/2012 | Daren Jonescu

What, at its base, is slavery? Slavery, we would casually answer, is the ownership of one man by another. That is to say, it is a perversion of the notion of private property, rooted in a fundamental illogic about the nature and source of property itself.

Property is a derivation from what Jefferson, following Locke and others, termed the right to life. A human being, as an animal, has a natural inclination to self-preservation; however, as a rational being, this inclination is not simply an instinct, but initiates a moral imperative, i.e., it becomes a matter of choosing to live in accordance with his nature, first and foremost by preserving himself. It is this moral imperative that modern political philosophers termed a "right," in the sense that to thwart or restrict it is to deny a man his very nature, which means to deny Nature itself. Thus, it is literally correct to say that to violate the right to life is unnatural.
As a rational agent, a man achieves his self-preservation through voluntary effort aimed at providing the means of his survival and prosperity. Just as the right to preserve himself entails what may be called ownership of his own life, so the man's efforts are also his property, in as much as they are the practical manifestation of his right to self-preservation, i.e., of his self-ownership.
From this, it is a "self-evident" truth that the acquired (earned) product of the man's voluntary effort is also his rightful property, following upon his ownership of the labor that produced it, which in turn followed upon his ownership of himself, and his moral imperative of self-preservation.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Under Obama, Economic Stagnation Is the New Normal

RCM ^ | 12/10/2012 | Louis Woodhill

Friday's "Employment Situation" report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that 5.4 million Americans have dropped out of the labor force since Barack Obama took office. The labor force declined by 350,000 in November, despite an increase of 191,000 in our working age population.
The unprecedented decline of labor force participation under President Obama is not news. However, it also appears that millions of brain cells have dropped out of the mental labor force of America's economic analysts. How else can we account for headlines like these?

"Jobs report: A pleasant surprise" (Jared Bernstein)
"The employment emergency is over" (Felix Salmon)
"Fiscal cliff? What fiscal cliff? No evidence in jobs numbers" (Stephen Gandel)
In case anyone didn't notice, the BLS jobs report was terrible. Unemployment didn't go down in November (from 7.9% to 7.7%) as the BLS reported, it actually went up. The true unemployment rate, calculated at the labor force participation rate that existed when Bush 43 left office (65.8%), increased from 10.7% to 10.8%. This put the true unemployment rate 1.3 percentage points higher than when Obama's so-called "economic recovery" began, almost 3.5 years ago.
As of November 2012, total employment was still 3.2 million below its peak, which occurred five years earlier. This is particularly ghastly, because America's working age population has increased by 11.2 million since then. Less than 1% of incremental working-age Americans have managed to get jobs since Obama took office.
But wait. There's more.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

The End of the Wave: The northward surge of Mexicans into the United States may be over!

National Review ^ | 12/10/2012 | Michael Barone

Is mass migration from Mexico to the United States a thing of the past?

At least for the moment, it is. Last May, the Pew Hispanic Center, in a study based on U.S. and Mexican statistics, reported that net migration from Mexico to this country had fallen to zero from 2005 to 2010.

Pew said 20,000 more people moved to Mexico from the United States than from there to here in those years. That’s a vivid contrast with the years 1995 to 2000, when net inflow from Mexico was 2.2 million people.
Because there was net Mexican immigration until 2007, when the housing market collapsed and the Great Recession began, it seems clear that there was net outmigration from 2007 to 2010, and that likely has continued in 2011 and 2012.
There’s a widespread assumption that Mexican migration will resume when the U.S. economy starts growing robustly again. But I think there’s reason to doubt that will be the case.
Over the past few years, I have been working on a book, scheduled for publication next fall, on American migrations, internal and immigrant. What I’ve found is that over the years this country has been peopled in large part by surges of migration that have typically lasted just one or two generations.
Almost no one predicted that these surges of migration would occur, and almost no one predicted when they would end.
For example, when our immigration system was opened up in 1965, experts testified that we would not get many immigrants from Latin America or Asia. They assumed that immigrants would come mainly from Europe, as they had in the past.
Experts have also tended to assume that immigrants are motivated primarily by economic factors. And in the years starting in the 1980s, many people in Latin America and Asia — especially in Mexico, which has produced more than 60 percent of Latin American immigrants — saw opportunities to make a better living in this country.
But masses of people do not uproot themselves from familiar territory just to make marginal economic gains. They migrate to pursue dreams or escape nightmares.
Life in Mexico is not a nightmare for many these days. Beneath the headlines about killings in the drug wars, Mexico has become a predominantly middle-class country, as Jorge Castañeda notes in his recent book, Mañana Forever? Its economy is growing faster than ours.
And the dreams that many Mexican immigrants pursued have been shattered.
You can see that if you look at the statistics on mortgage foreclosures, starting with the housing bust in 2007. More than half were in the four “sand states” — California, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida — and within them, as the Pew Hispanic Center noted in a 2009 report, in areas with large numbers of Latino immigrants.
These were places where subprime mortgages were granted, with encouragement from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to many Latinos unqualified by traditional credit standards.
These new homeowners, many of them construction workers, dreamed of gaining hundreds of thousands of dollars as housing prices inevitably rose. Instead, they collapsed. My estimate is that one-third of those foreclosed on in these years were Latinos. Their dreams turned into nightmares.
We can see further evidence in last month’s Pew research report on the recent decline in U.S. birthrates. The biggest drop was among Mexican-born women, from 455,000 births in 2007 to 346,000 in 2010.
That’s a 24 percent decline, compared with only a 6 percent decline among U.S.-born women. It’s comparable to the sharp decline in U.S. birthrates in the Depression years from 1929 to 1933.
Beneath the cold statistics on foreclosures and births is a human story, a story of people whose personal lives have been deeply affected by economic developments over which they had no control and of which they had no warning.
Those events have prompted many to resort to, in Mitt Romney’s chilly words, “self-deportation.” And their experiences are likely to have reverberations for many others who have learned of their plight.
Surges of migration that have shaped the country sometimes end abruptly. The surge of Southern blacks to Northern cities lasted from 1940 to 1965 — one generation. The surge of Mexicans into the U.S. lasted from 1982 to 2007 — one generation.
The northward surge of American blacks has never resumed. I don’t think the northward surge of Mexicans will, either.
— Michael Barone is senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner.

Leo XIII: “Taxing the Rich Does Not Help the Poor”

Crisis Magazine ^ | 12/10/12 | Anthony Esolen

In Quod Apostolici Muneris (1878), Pope Leo XIII deplores those who “under the motley and all but barbarous terms and titles of Socialists, Communists, and Nihilists, are spread abroad throughout the world,” striving in alliance for “the purpose long resolved upon, of uprooting the foundations of civil society at large.” It may sound odd to our ears, that socialists, whose prescriptions for society are many and comprehensive, should be united with nihilists, who by definition believe in nothing. But Pope Leo, beginning as always from a rich view of human nature grounded in reason and elevated by relevation, sees the alliance we miss—and by implication he includes as well the fellow traveler, secular liberalism, friendlier to the free market but ultimately also an enemy to man.
How so? In this essay I will focus on two of the evils Leo discusses in his letter. The first is the denial of the body; the second, the severance of human law from divine law, effacing in citizens the sense of moral obligation. We obey such human laws because it is to our advantage, narrowly and materially conceived, to do so, not because it is right and just.
Human beings do not have bodies, as a plumber has a wrench or a doctor has a probe. Nor are they bodies, simply, reducible to their constituent parts; even a dog is more than the sum of his parts. Human beings are embodied rational souls, and everything they touch they mark with the fire of their spirit, the gift of God. That is the ground of their right to property. But they are not solitary atoms either, rebounding against one another in a chaotic war of all against all. For the human soul is made for love, and can only attain its end by communion....
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

This is what ‘Saudi America’ looks like {McDonalds is offering a $300 signing bonus}

MSNBC ^ | 12/08/2012 | Chris Hayes

Right now in Dickinson, North Dakota, the local McDonalds is offering a $300 signing bonus to new employees. You heard that right, with a 7.7% nationwide unemployment rate, and persistently sluggish job growth and wage stagnation, the labor market of this one town in North Dakota is so tight, and employers are so desperate for workers, they’re offering a signing bonus for a job slinging fries.
And it’s not just Dickinson, unemployment in the entire state is 3.1%, GDP growth for the state is 7.6%, and housing there is in such short supply that one bedrooms are renting for more than $1000. What economic miracle has taken place in the plains, you might ask, to bring this about?
The answer is the Bakken formation, a subterranean rock formation that contains a thin, and until recently, more or less inaccessible, sea of oil within relatively hard rocks. But a revolution in the technology of extraction (including fracking) has helped unlock the oil in the Bakken and some speculate that the amount of extractable oil from just this one geological formation alone could surpass the reserves of all of Iraq and Kuwait combined. Production from the area has skyrocketed, and this new production boom is driving a larger national trend, pushing U.S. oil production up for the first time in a generation, and arresting what many believed was a permanent decline.
Compare the growth in crude-oil supply among a number of non-OPEC countries, and what you see is the U.S. obliterating the rest of the world. Employment in oil and gas extraction has surged to the highest level since 1992, (though we should note they still provide a tiny, tiny sliver of the country’s jobs, just under 200,000).
Our net oil imports are cratering. And now a number of analysts are predicting...
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Boehner must go!

WND ^ | December 09, 2012 | Joseph Farah

Exclusive: Joseph Farah declares GOP leader 'a total failure as speaker of the House'!

It’s not possible for Republicans to dump Barack Obama in the next four years.
They have blown their opportunity to do that.

But the next best thing they can do right now is to dump John Boehner as speaker of the House.

Though Boehner has been portrayed in the media as some kind of hardliner who is intransigent and unwilling to compromise, the truth is that he is the opposite. He is an appeaser. He is an enabler. He is an accommodationist.
Boehner began waving the white flag of surrender to Obama soon after Republicans made him speaker in 2011. Since all spending bills need to originate in the House and because the Republican majority in the House has had absolute power to freeze spending, Boehner was dealt a powerful hand to keep Obama in check. Instead, he folded. Not only did he fold repeatedly, he even signaled before negotiations about spending ever began that he intended to fold.
He has repeatedly dismissed the idea that freezing the debt limit was a political option. That’s like unilaterally disarming before one’s enemies.
But it gets worse.
So determined is Boehner to raise taxes as part of a deal to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” he recently purged from chairmanships every conservative Republican who took a harder line than he did over the last two years.
Boehner is not part of the solution. He’s part of the problem – a big part of it.
With people like John Boehner running the House and Mitch McConnell running the Republican minority in the Senate, we really don’t have a two-party system at work. The checks and balances have been thrown out the window. It’s no wonder that a good, honest

(Excerpt) Read more at ...


Obama Christmas Card vs. Bush Christmas Card

Photo: 2012 White House ‘Christmas’ Card has Bo on the front
Inside Obama card

May your home be filled with family, friends and the joy of the ‘holidays’
No mention of anything that has to do with Christmas, none.
Here’s the Bush White House Christmas card from 2007:

You Alone are the Lord..And The Multitudes of Heaven worship you” bible verse from Nehemiah 9:6

Female Genital Mutilation: An Islamic Crime!

Asia News recently reported how the misogynist crime of female genital mutilation (FGM) continues to be a “widespread traditional practice” in “rural areas and more remote areas of Indonesia, particularly the island of Java.” The story makes sure to remind us, naturally, that while this crime is being perpetrated in a Muslim country, the crime “is not a rule set in a rigid manner by the precepts of Islam.” It is only widespread, we are consoled, because of the actions of “the more extreme and integral fringe.”
In her coverage of this news report, freedom fighter Pamela Geller shrewdly asks the key question that somehow mysteriously eludes the minds of every breathing human being in our mainstream media: “The fringe made it widespread?”
Indeed, if only the “extreme and integral fringe” supports this sadistic and vicious crime against women, and if it is “not a rule set in a rigid manner by the precepts of Islam,” then where are all the Muslim imams, muftis and clerics in the world, and in Indonesia in particular, vociferously denouncing and repudiating this crime as un-Islamic and coming to the defense of Muslim women?
Why haven’t they shut down this crime against women, since it is, after all, so un-Islamic? Where are all the tens of thousands of Muslims gathering in mass demonstrations around the world shouting in moral indignation and fury about their young little Muslim girls having their clitorises cut out with broken glass and being maimed for life, as they do about Danish cartoons and American movies? Why do cartoons and films mean more to them than the brutal maiming of their women?
Hmmm. What a great mystery this continues to be.
One can’t help from wondering: could it all have something possibly to do with the fact that female genital mutilation is rooted in Islam and integral to its misogynist structures?
Pamela Geller gives us the easy answer – an answer you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting to hear on Anderson Cooper, Geraldo or Pierce Morgan, since uncomfortable answers can’t be given when pertinent questions are never asked in our mainstream media. Geller affirms that this Islam-denial coverage of FGM in Asia News “is just more whitewashing of Islam’s human rights abuses.” She points out that FGM is “fundamentally Islamic” and cites its foundation in Islamic texts such as Umdat al-Salik:
“Circumcision is obligatory (O: for both men and women. For men it consists of removing the prepuce from the penis, and for women, removing the prepuce (Ar. Bazr) of the clitoris.” Sacred Islamic Reliance: page 59, Umdat al-Salik (“Reliance of the Traveler”), a manual of the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence, endorsed by Egypt’s very own Al-Azhar University of Cairo — the oldest and most prestigious university in the Islamic world.
FGM is indeed fundamentally Islamic. Why would it not be when one of Sunni Islam’s “Four Great Imams,” Ahmad ibn Hanbal, quotes Muhammed as saying: “Circumcision is a law for men and a preservation of honour for women?” Perhaps this is why Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University has called circumcision “a laudable practice that did honor to women.”
And so perhaps it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why in Muslim Egypt, like in Indonesia, the crime of FGM is perpetrated on a massive level. Even when the Egyptian government tried to ban FGM back in 1996, an Egyptian court overturned the ban in July 1997 because of the ferocious uprising it sparked among Islamic clerics, who fervently pointed to Islamic teachings to make sure this crime against women remained firm in place.
And it is clear, of course, why FGM is so important and crucial to Islam; crippling women’s sexuality solidifies the misogynist structures of Islamic gender apartheid. Keeping FGM legitimized and institutionalized helps keep women subjugated and caged. By amputating the clitoris, Islam’s mutilators succeed in maiming the woman’s sexual desire and pleasure, which, in the morbid Islamic mindset, reduces the chances that she will ever toy with the horrifying notions (for Islam) of autonomy, equality and self-determination.
But how can we possibly help Muslim girls if our society forbids us to confront this Islamic crime and the theology in which it is rooted? And that’s where we tragically stand: while millions of young Muslim girls suffer the mutilating barbarity of female genital mutilation in the Islamic world every year, our mainstream media and higher literary culture remains completely silent about it – and slanders the truth tellers like Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer who want to come to the aid of Muslim women.
When it comes to leftists and leftist feminists, of course, the only words we ever hear from them on this issue, when they are confronted by it, is that “Muslims are not the only group that practice FGM.” This tired, lazy and inhumane excuse for inaction shamelessly presupposes that if a sin is committed by someone else, somewhere else, then it somehow justifies doing and saying nothing in the face of a crime being perpetrated on a mass scale right before our eyes.
The bottom line is that Muslims are the principle religious group that practices this sexual violence against women. And if a young girl is a victim of FGM, the chances are that she lives in a Muslim household and in a Muslim culture. And this barbarity is kept alive and legitimized by Islamic theology.
It is clear, of course, why the Left wants to do and say nothing about Islamic FGM, and, since it has control of the boundaries of our culture’s discourse, why it makes sure to smear and punish anyone who dares to say — or tries to do — anything about it. As I have documented in United in Hate: The Left’s Romance With Tyranny and Terror, the Left cannot reach its hand out in compassion and solidarity to the suffering people under Islam, or under any other tyranny. Doing so would be an admission of the evil of an adversary culture and ideology, which, in turn, casts a spotlight on the superiority and goodness of Western civilization, and therefore serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting and saving it. For the Left, such a concept is nightmarish and anathema, because its entire purpose is to revile and destroy its host society. For leftists to admit the dark realities of Islamic jihad and Islamic gender apartheid is to jeopardize their entire cause, identities, social belongings, cultural and material rewards, and their narcissistic cravings for approval and admiration in their “progressive” milieus.
Thus, by necessity, in the Left’s vicious and heartless mindset, the victims who suffer under barbaric adversarial regimes must be pushed into spheres of invisibility.
And so, the recent reported story in Asia News on the continuing horror of female genital mutilation serves as yet another tragic reminder of Islamic barbarity to women — and the our culture’s shameful silence about it. This is the long dark story of the Western Left, which has its hands drenched in human blood – busy at it is in perpetually sacrificing human beings on the altar of its twisted utopian ideals.
To get the whole story on why the Left reaches out in solidarity to Islamo-fascists and ignores their victims, watch Jamie Glazov discuss Jihad-Denial in the 2-part video series below:
Part 1:

Part 2:

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"The Shape Of The Next Crisis" - A Preview By Elliott's Paul Singer

Tyler Durden's picture

Transcribed from a speech given by Paul Singer of Elliott Management

Investing is an art, more so than a science. And for me, what I get paid for is managing the “dark art,” if you will, of risk management and trying to be a visionary and having a dark vision at all times about what can go wrong.
It’s a particularly fruitful and impactful time to be thinking about risk management and the thing I want talk about today is what I’ve described as “The Shape of the Next Crisis.” That doesn’t mean we’re going to be talking about the timing of it or exactly what to short or how to make money from it. But it’s to provoke thought about what the elements are, the current landscape, the various aspects that will shape the timing, as well as the amplitude, the predictability, the suddenness of the next crisis.
It’s not something that I can talk about in any kind of hierarchical fashion. There are a number of elements that are in play, some of which are novel, completely new in virtually the human landscape.
But they combine in what I think of, when I’m thinking of risk management and how to hedge my portfolio, what I think of as kind of “an evil stew.”
But here they are, and it should be obvious when you really think about it, but you have to bring these elements from other facets of life to see how they impact trading and investing.
On Modern Communications and Information Processing
It is increasingly the case (and I’ll give you a couple of recent examples) that people coalesce, form, and reform ideas in a much more powerfully focused, and abrupt, and stark way than they ever have in the past.

One of the most interesting examples of this is the so-called “Arab Spring” where the forces underlying these societies – totalitarianism, security services, violence, oppression, etc. – have existed in the countries that have been affected for decades. All of the sudden it started in January with a singular small event in Tunisia. And now it’s a few months later and there are 11 countries in various stages of more or less similar wide-spread revolts.

And how did this happen? You speak to experts in the Middle East, you speak to experts in that area or in those particular countries, and you don’t get a satisfactory answer. You get “totalitarianism.” The answer, I believe, relates to social media and the way people are connected - it’s the Internet, it’s Facebook, it’s Twitter – and the way people process information enabling people to develop the same thoughts simultaneously and to act and coalesce physically as well as emotionally.

The vector changes with something like this are virtually instantaneous. In 6 months, for 11 countries that have been more or less family run or totalitarian, to be in revolt is a very, very powerful illustration of this point. The Flash Crash about a year ago in stocks, where all of the sudden, the technology of the marketplace and the way the exchanges had their rules about processing orders in relationship with other exchanges, coalesced one afternoon, to have hundreds of stocks virtually evaporate all at once - within seconds or minutes or five minutes or half an hour.

This is a very powerful element and will serve as an accelerant in the next crisis so hold that one up on the blackboard, metaphorically speaking, while I talk about the next elements.
On The Financial System And Leverage
Let’s talk about financial institutions and the financial system. The major message that I want to give you (and I’ve invited challenge on both parts of my thesis here and I’ve never had anybody challenge it): The major financial institutions in the US and around the globe are utterly opaque; and The next financial crisis will happen faster, more suddenly.

We cannot (I have 110 investment professionals), and I surmise that you cannot, understand the financial condition of any bank, major financial institution. You can’t see the actual size of the balance sheet. You have no idea what that derivatives section means…it’s 10 to 100 times the size of the actual balance sheet.

So when people say, “Well, it used to be 40x leveraged,” (some of them were 90x leveraged) “but now they’re 15 to 20 times leveraged.” Well that’s just great. Except you go to the derivatives and see numbers in the trillions and trillions and trillions and there is no clue, you have no clue, no understanding, of what that is actually composed of. Is that composed of trades that are basically unwound where all you have is counterparty risk? Is that composed of actual hedges of upper tranches the way we would have in an admitted hedge fund?

So you are looking at balance sheets without any real understanding of how the balance sheets and the companies would perform in the event of a crisis. Which of these trades or trillions of dollars of trades, which in normal times oscillate like this [very small motion] and that’s why they’re so big, would in really bad times start going like this [large motion]. And if you actually have capital of only half a percent, or one percent or five percent of your actual footings, not just unwound trades that happen to still be on balance sheet, but actual footings, you’re in trouble.

The kind of thing that wound up the financial system three years ago is expected to be different in form than the kind of things that would unwind the financial system the next time. But I’m going to argue that the next time will be faster. If you think back to ’07 and ’08, it was episodic. It wasn’t just suddenly that in the second or third week in Sept that Lehman goes under and that’s the crisis and the whole world collapsed. No, there were several episodes leading up to that.

After that, what kept the entire financial system from coming to a grinding halt was quite simple. It wasn’t that all of the other firms were in much better shape than Lehman. It’s very simple, it’s that governments, here and in Europe, underwrote the entire system. Ben Bernanke, of whom I’m not a fan... at all, has been quoted as saying that in the absence of the government guarantee and underwriting, 12 of the 13 biggest banks in the world would have gone out of business following Lehman. Whether it’s 12/13, or 13/13, or 6 or 8 of 13, is completely imponderable, but the point is actually well-taken. In the absence of that guarantee there would have been a cascading collapse because of the opacity.

There are people in this room that are on trading desks or manage trading operations at investment banks. You know for a fact that you knew nothing about the financial condition of your five biggest counterparties. And so your relationships, and your willingness to trade, with those counterparties was dependent on rumor or credit spreads widening or not widening. And that’s a very terrible place for the financial system to be in.

So take the opacity, take the fact that you can’t really understand the financial condition, and take the fact that the leverage hasn’t really been rung out. And what you realize is that the lessons of ’08 will actually result in a much quicker process, a process that I would describe as a “black hole” if and when there is the next financial crisis.

The next financial crisis obviously can only happen if, believably, the governments either cut loose the major financial institutions - believably and credibly unwound the guarantee - or even more difficult and scary, if the government guarantee were not enough. And that’s one of the next elements in the shape of the next crisis. As you know, risk has migrated upward, it’s migrated from lenders and borrowers really to governments. It’s gone on the balance sheet of the US, the ECB (the various countries of Europe, particularly Germany, France, etc.). That the credit of Europe, the credit of America, is being called into question in the starkest way is part of what will shape the next crisis.

But before I get to that part, and explain how I think that impacts, I want to come back to the trader and trading part of this. The lesson of ’08, which is indelibly stamped upon every hedge fund forehead and trading desk head, is: Move your assets first, stop trading first, sell the paper first, and ask questions later. Those that moved from Lehman days or weeks before the end were happy. Those that sat there thinking that they were protected in prime brokerage accounts or protected in some other ways, or that firms like Lehman wouldn’t be allowed to go under were stuck in the company (of course Lehman is still in bankruptcy) with claims trading at 20-something cents on the dollar, depending on where you are in the capital structure.
On 'Orderly Liquidation' And How Dodd-Frank Has Made The System More Brittle
So, I want to put one more element in place in the trading and financial institution part of the equation.

And that’s the law that was signed into law a few months ago, Dodd-Frank. I don’t know what it’s actually called, but it is the financial institution reform law and it is designed purportedly to make the system safer. “Safe” actually, not just “safer.”

In my opinion, what Dodd-Frank has actually done is to make the system more brittle and complete the picture, in my mind, of a black hole, meaning a very vicious, sharp and abrupt process if you put together all of the things that I’ve said so far.

So what is it about Dodd-Frank that contributes to this black hole, or contributes to this brittle, unsafe condition? It’s the “Orderly Liquidation Authority,” a very humorously named part of this law because what I think it actually represents is a very disorderly process. Under this authority, which was purportedly designed to provided a “not-Lehman” outcome (you know, no government bailout and a calm resolution of large financial institutions), under this process the FDIC has the authority, contrary to all US bankruptcy practice and law, to seize financial companies which are quote “in danger of default.”

Under previous bankruptcy law, companies had to default, actually default, or managements voluntarily put them in bankruptcy in order for them to be in bankruptcy.

“Danger of default,” if you think about that, plus with the other parts of this that I’ll describe, means that if a company is in trouble, and it’s large and opaque, then it’s in danger of default and can be seized any day. And if I say any moment it’s only a slight exaggeration, because by statute the process of throwing a company into the Orderly Liquidation Authority is about 48 hrs long, and is effectively unreviewable (even though there is an injunction attached to this process with the Treasury secretary and a couple of other people looking at it).

So companies can be seized that are in danger of default, and what is the FDIC ordered to do and what can it do? It is ordered to throw out management…quite bizarre. It is enabled to discriminate among classes of creditors similarly situated... strange. It’s enabled to move assets around and transfer assets to bridge companies. And it’s enabled to go against people in or out of the company who are quote “responsible for the financial condition.”

Let me define Systemically Important Financial Institutions first and then continue on. Under this legislation, the government is supposed to designate certain companies as “systemically important.”

I’ve been quoted as saying that I feel that’s nutty. It’s nutty because no financial institution should be too big to fail. All financial institutions should be governed by the same rules regarding leverage and risk. And companies can become systemically important, or un-become systemically important, extremely quickly in today’s world as a result of taking on leverage, changing their positions.

Let’s put that all together. If you are trading with a big company and that company or other companies have been identified as systemically important institutions, if you are observing a large company getting into trouble, what you know is that you have to pull your assets because those assets can be transferred (regardless of the financial condition of the subsidiary that your assets are a part of, whether it’s a prime brokerage subsidiary or otherwise). You don’t know how your claim will be treated, so you have to sell the bonds that you own; if the guy down the block, Bob’s Big Bank [is a similarly situated creditor and] has been designated as systemically important, that guy may be getting a priority recovery.

So the whole thing militates toward stepping away abruptly from any company that is designated as systemically important. So I think that the opacity, the lessons of ’08, the vicissitudes and thoughtlessness of Dodd-Frank, militate in favor of a very, very abrupt resolution.
On Japan And The Confidence-Destroying Implications Of Monetary Policy
There isn’t time to flesh out in detail the other accelerants of what the next financial crisis might look like, but let me just say a word or two on monetary policy. Monetary policy, which is now doing virtually all of the job creation work in the United States (in particular) and of course in Japan also, has created a very distorted recovery and some people think, including myself, that it’s been at least partially responsible for inflation in commodities and gold.

Quantitative easing which is this duration shortening mechanism, zero interest rates which is extraordinarily unusual and is now in the United States as well as Japan, as well as the long term entitlement insolvency in the United States, are platforms for a possible loss of confidence.
And In Conclusion
I think people who are managing money or investors who are trying to figure out what the next crisis may look like, should be processing these elements and thinking about how they can interact, together with the modalities of modern communications and the way people process information, to create something very sudden.

Nobody in America has actually seen, or most people probably can’t even contemplate, what an actual loss of confidence may look like. What I’m trying to struggle with as a money manager, who really seriously doesn’t like to lose money, is how to protect our capital and how to think about the next crisis.

If you think about some of these elements and how they might interact, you might come up with other paths of transmission or risk and pain. But I wouldn’t go about your business thinking it’s business as usual in a typical post-crisis, post bear market recovery.
Questions And Answers Section...
Q: [Thoughts on Europe]?
A: Yeah, that’s really important. My view about Europe starts with my view 15 yrs ago (and by the way, on Wall St if you’re early, you’re wrong). My view 15 yrs ago was that the Euro was an inappropriate backdoor experiment on quasi-sovereignty. And all it would take would be a stark variation in economic performance or geopolitical or military considerations or interests. And here we are and there’s been a stark divergence and the Euro is in the process of centrifugal force and breaking up.
Will it break up? It’s entirely unclear, and I’m not going to predict that it’s going to break up or whether Greece is going to actually leave it. What I will say is that it doesn’t make sense for the underperforming countries to actually be part of this. Everyone looked like they were getting benefits during the period of time when there was convergence. Exports for Germany, lower interest rates for Greece and Portugal and Spain and the rest.
Big risks were built up, big variations in performance, and now Germany in particular is writing out checks. As long as Germany keeps writing out checks, the euro can limp along, Greece can limp along.
But the answer to your question is the fixes to this, even if to kick the can down the road, are deflationary, they’re harmful to growth despite the fact that a breakup of the euro would fall upon Greece. Pulling out by Greece from the euro would trigger other consequences in several of these other countries, would create a banking crisis which would have to be dealt with.
So there is near term pain in doing, in my view, the right thing. But the medium- to longer-term pain of writing out checks to insolvent countries like Greece (insolvent, it’s not a liquidity crisis, insolvency), is ultimately something that’s going to be dampening growth in Europe, dampening global growth, possibly creating the transmission mechanism for the next banking crisis. So I think we’re watching it. And by the way, how do I think it’s going to actually happen that the situation is resolved? It’s going to be from the bottom up, the political process. It’s going to be on the streets, it’s going to be hundreds of thousands of Greeks, or hundreds of thousands of Germans demonstrating against the bailouts.
The elites want to keep writing the checks because their paradigms, their desire to have this experiment (because that’s what it is, it’s only 12 or 13 yrs old) continue. That’s what their dream was: one Europe - sovereign. And they were going to get to sovereignty through the back door. It isn’t working out at the moment; I don’t think it’s going to work out. And the fact that it’s not working out is quite painful and the way they’re doing it is stretching out the pain.
Q: [Insights on using CDS on sovereign debt to hedge your portfolio]?
A: Very good question. The question was about buying credit default swaps on countries or companies in order to hedge your positions, as a general risk management tool. I think that’s a really great question, it’s one that people like us really struggle with.
One of the things that 2008 (I had forgotten to say this before, so thanks for reminding me) showed us about risk management was that some of the tools that we thought that we had for risk management were actually tools that could be harmed or defeated by the actions of governments. And governments have shown an increasing inclination to push us around, us as a community. Meaning overnight bans on short selling, statements and the beginnings of action against credit default swaps, so-called “naked” credit default swaps.
Credit default swaps in the abstract, or actually in practice up till recently, are very effective at bringing liquid tools for taking judgments long and short about securities, and countries, companies that otherwise would be completely illiquid. Borrowing sovereign debt to sell short is not easy.
When countries and companies get into trouble, it’s very easy and very standard to be blaming speculators and credit default swaps as one of the reasons, or the main reason why a spread is blowing out and why the country or company is in trouble (because when a spread blows out, financing opportunities and possibilities diminish, etc.). Who can say what portion of CDS trading is so big that it actually creates prices rather than just discovers prices?
But one of the very difficult parts about running a portfolio that is aimed to be absolute return or very risk conscious and trying to avoid the consequences of the next crisis, is that it’s very difficult to predict using tools like that, which of these tools will be left unimpaired, or which will be suddenly impaired or destroyed by government action.
One of the things that bothers me about running a gold position is (since gold is, really to me, a thermometer about how people think about real money versus fake money or versus paper money possibly for the first time in people’s lives of anybody in this room), if gold actually is starting to be priced at a price that would represent real fear about paper currencies, what will governments do to derivatives or actual gold to keep themselves from being subject to what they feel is inflation caused by speculators?
So I think everyone who is using these complicated instruments needs to understand that governments have sent out a shot across the bow that they are not in the mood to allow for free markets, when the free markets challenge the “everything-is-fine-and-we-can-kick-the-can-down-the-road” way of governing.
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Newt Gingrich Schools Lawrence O'Donnell On Clinton Tax Hikes ^ | December 9, 2012 | Noel Sheppard

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on Sunday gave Lawrence O'Donnell a much-needed education on the economic impact of the Bill Clinton tax hikes in the '90s.
As O'Donnell precipitated the exchange, he perfectly demonstrated why MSNBC commentators are far too liberally biased to be invited on NBC's Meet the Press (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Newt Gingrich Schools Lawrence O'Donnell On Clinton Tax Hikes

DAVID GREGORY: Lawrence, this-- this idea of how much room the president is willing to give becomes a big question because he wants-- based on what I’m hearing, he wants Boehner to say, okay I give-- I give on the rates. And then he-- maybe he’ll talk a little more.
So Gregory's question for O'Donnell was about Boehner and the fiscal cliff negotiations. Rather than answer that, O'Donnell chose to attack one of his fellow panelists:

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, MSNBC: The problem for Boehner is how does he give on rates. He said this the other day I oppose tax rate increases because tax rate increases cost American jobs. That gives you no room to give on rates. It is, by the way, not an original thought. Who said this? The tax increase will kill jobs and lead to a recession, and the recession will force people out of work and onto unemployment and actually increase the deficit? That’s Newt Gingrich in 1993 on the Clinton tax increase. And those of us who were working on the other side of that tax increase, Newt, have been waiting for your apology for 20 years for being completely wrong about that.
So O'Donnell took this opportunity to go after one of his fellow panelists rather than answer Gregory's question.
This seems typical of MSNBC commentators when they're on Meet the Press thereby making one wonder why they're even invited.
Fortunately, Gingrich was up to the challenge:

MR. O’DONNELL: Well with the-- but the economy soared, no one lost a job…
MR. GINGRICH: Baloney.
MR. O’DONNELL:…because of that tax increase.
MR. GINGRICH: Baloney. Baloney.
MR. O’DONNELL: There was no recession. You said there would be a recession.
MR. GINGRICH: You now see the case.
MR. O’DONNELL: There was no recession.
MR. GINGRICH: The fact is if you look at all the indicators the day I was elected speaker, virtually all the economic growth occurs after Republicans take control, virtually all the increase in the stock-- the matter of fact, all the increase in the stock market is after Republicans take control.
MR. O’DONNELL: You did not reduce the rates, Newt?
MR. GINGRICH: And-- and when we balanced-- wait a second.
MR. O’DONNELL: You said the rates would cause a recession.
MR. GINGRICH: When we balanced the-- when we balanced the budget, we balanced the budget with a tax cut not a tax-- four consecutive balanced budgets with a tax cut, not a tax increase.
In reality, this has been an ongoing battle between liberals and conservatives for years about this issue with the former believing that Clinton's tax hikes ushered in prosperity and the latter thinking it was the tax cuts and spending restraint that happened after the Republicans took over Congress in 1995.
Hopeless shills like O'Donnell conveniently ignore that in December 2010, Clinton himself went before the nation at a joint press conference with President Obama saying that it wasn't a good time for the economy to go back to his tax rates thereby brokering a deal to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years.
Beyond this, we have for at least a year - and much more so since Election Day - witnessed Democrats and their media minions such as O'Donnell demanding that America not reimpose Clinton's rates on 98 percent of the nation.
If these rates were responsible for the '90s economic expansion, shouldn't the left including O'Donnell be advocating that they be completely reenacted now?
Sadly, such logic escapes them.
As for Gingrich, he was quite accurate when he said the economy did better in the '90s after the Republicans took control of Congress, in particular after the '97 tax cuts.
In fact, the Gross Domestic Product shrank in the first year after the Clinton tax hikes to an annual rate of 2.9 percent down from 1992's 3.4 percent.
That's right: the economy as measured by GDP was better the year before Clinton took office and raised taxes than it was the year after.
By far the best years under Clinton came after the Republican tax cuts when the GDP grew annually by 4.5 percent, 4.4 percent, 4.8 percent, and 4.1 percent from 1997 to 2000.
The best job creation also occurred after the Republicans took over Congress with less than seven million new jobs created in 1993 and 1994 compared to over sixteen million in the next six years.
As for the fiscal impact of the Clinton tax hikes, the left always ignores that we ran budget deficits in his first term. It was only after the Republican tax cuts that surpluses occurred.
As for the stock market, Gingrich was of course correct that it did far better after the Republicans took over Congress than the two years when the Democrats controlled everything:

Looking at that chart of the S&P 500, it looks like the stock market rally began right after Election Day 1994 when Republicans won their historic victory.
But don't tell O'Donnell that. Like most of his colleagues on MSNBC, he's deathly allergic to facts.

The Blaze ^ | 12/9/2012

Singer/actor Jamie Foxx hosted Saturday Night Live this weekend, and his comments were racially-charged from the outset.
For those who don’t recall, Foxx is the man who recently told us that we should “honor” our “lord and savior” Barack Obama.
“I’m dressed in all black, cause it’s good to be black. Black is the new white!” Foxx began in his opening monologue.
The really curious comments came soon after:
“I got a new movie coming out, Django, check it out…Django Unchained, I play a slave. How black is that? In the movie, I have to wear chains. How whack is that? But don’t be worried about it, because I get out [of] the chains, I save my wife, and I kill all the white people in the movie. How ​great is that? And how black is that?”
Foxx then proceeded to discuss how Obama will comport himself over the next four years:
“He’s [going] to be extra black these next four years; he’s [going] to get everything black…white people don’t get nervous about that because he ​is​ mixed. Now the first four years was the white side of him…but the next four years he’s even changing his name to President Barack Dikembe Mutombo Tupac Mandela Hussein Obama X. How black is that?”
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Cable subscribers are about to get a sneaky fee!

NBC News Business ^ | December 9, 2012 | Herb Weisbaum

If you have cable TV service, you probably have at least one set-top box in your house. On Monday, a federal rule change takes effect that could eventually force you to rent more cable boxes.
Right now, most cable systems don’t scramble the “basic tier” service which includes local broadcast stations, public, government and education channels, as well as some non-premium programming. Buy basic service and you can plug the cable into a digital set that has a QAM tuner and see these unencrypted channels without a set-top box.
Cable companies want to scramble everything coming through their wire, including basic service. They say this will allow them to reduce theft – prevent people from watching programs they didn’t pay for – and improve customer service.
Their plan is to keep every cable household connected to the network and then activate or terminate service remotely, rather than sending out the cable guy. They say this will improve efficiency – technicians can focus on more difficult installations – and reduce the need for customers to stay at home waiting for service...
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Is the economy creating a lost generation?

The Washington Post ^ | Sunday, December 9, 2012 | Robert Samuelson

This is not a good time to be starting out in life. Jobs are scarce, and those that exist often pay unexpectedly low wages. Beginning a family — always stressful and uncertain — is increasingly a stretch. The weak economy begets weak family formation. We instinctively know this; several new studies now deepen our understanding.

When the labor market operates smoothly, it creates an economic escalator. Just out of high school or college, young workers typically switch jobs frequently until they find something that fits their talent and temperament. Job changes often mean higher pay; people move to advance themselves. The more they succeed, the more confident they feel in marrying and having children.

The most startling evidence of the broken escalator is the collapse in marriages and births. Marriage has been declining for years. Now, in a new study, the Pew Research Center finds that in 2011 the U.S. birth rate (births per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44) fell to its lowest level since at least 1920, the earliest year of reliable statistics. From 2007 to 2011, the U.S. birth rate dropped almost 9 percent. The total fertility rate — the estimated number of children born to adult women in their lifetime — has fallen four straight years to 1.9 (the replacement rate is 2.1).

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