Thursday, December 20, 2012

Down And Out In California

By Douglas French

Gas in Vegas is a dollar cheaper a gallon than in the Golden State, or so a friend and recent LA transplant tells me. He went on to say the top tax rate in California is over 13%, while, of course, Nevada has no state income tax.

Over dinner at Del Frisco’s, he explained how industries are being ruined by runaway government in his old home state. Nevada would surely benefit from businesses making their escape. Plenty of people are leaving California — nearly 700,000, I read somewhere — however, my friend says these 700,000 have been replaced by an equal amount of uncounted “illegals,” as he put it.
The California legislature has democratic supermajorities in both chambers, and of course, California voters have determined that what ails their great state can be fixed with the return of Jerry Brown to the governor’s mansion. But what really ails California, like many other states, is mathematics. The state’s inflow doesn’t cover its outflow. Like Greece, California can’t print its own currency (although it does resort to IOUs occasionally). Gov. Brown was stunned to find a $28 billion “wall of debt” when he took office.
How’s this happen in a state with so much going for it?
California is one of many despotic states that are losing residents in favor of those that are less despotic. People are leaving the red for the green, and none is redder than the one-time golden state. Here is a picture of what freedom does (it attracts people) and what tyranny does (it drives people away). Fear not: pick up and move! It’s more effective than political action.
In general, state governments don’t seem to be the best negotiators when putting together pay and retirement packages. There’s something about spending someone else’s money that makes one less careful than if spending his own.
“It starts with the governor and the legislature and wanders down the line. These people are playing with the taxpayers’ money,” said Steven Frates, research director of Pepperdine University’s Davenport Institute.
States paid out more than $711 million to 111,000 people who left jobs as employees of the 12 most populous U.S. states last year for unused vacation and other paid time off, according to payroll data on 1.4 million public workers compiled by Bloomberg.
Employees from California accounted for 39% of that total. Since 2005 the Golden State has shelled out $1.4 billion for unused vacation and other paid time off. That kind of money would put a lot of cops on the beat and teachers in classrooms. Instead, this taxpayer dough is ensuring cushy retirements for government workers who are no longer on the job.
For instance, the state of California cut a $608,821 check to psychiatrist Gertrudis Agcaoili, who retired last year from a state mental hospital in Napa, Calif. Ms. Agcaoili kept her nose to the Freudian grindstone for 30 years, not taking vacation, and now she’s cashing in. She makes no apologies, telling Bloomberg, “It was my prerogative, I did not go on vacation.” End of interview.
But in the private sector, vacation is a use-it-or-lose-it proposition. Or maybe a few weeks can be banked, but not 72 weeks like Ms. Agcaoili had, who pulled down $2.4 million in pay from the state since 2005. And there should be no fear that Ms. Agcaoili will be dining on cat food in her retirement: The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) will be paying her $199,000 a year in pension payments.
Since the state is so short on money, employees have actually been encouraged not to take their vacations. In fact, the state is happy to accommodate them, because filling in for vacationers is costly.
“Requiring employees to take all of their leave would have increased overtime costs at state prisons and hospitals, lowered reimbursements in tax collection and other fee-generating programs, and reduced services in other settings,” state of California HR man David Gay told Bloomberg.
Prison guards in California can now accrue unlimited vacation time courtesy of Gov. Brown. According to California’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, the average prison guard has accumulated 19 weeks of unused vacation, a liability estimated at $600 million. These are the same prison guards that received a 34% raise in pay from Gov. Gray Davis when he was in office.
“Of the 100 biggest payments in 2011 in the dozen [most populous] states, all but 10 went to California state workers. The average payout for the top 100 was $178,267, in addition to regular wages,” says Bloomberg.
There’s a rule limiting the accrual of unused leave to 640 hours, but everyone ignores it. Well, evidently, as Bloomberg reports, unused leave grew from $1.4 billion in 2003 to $3.9 billion in 2011.
Paying out for the accrual of unused leave would bankrupt a private company. While government workers are always believed to be underworked, many assumed they’re underpaid as well. Not hardly, as Michael B. Marois & Rodney Yap explain:
“The lump-sum retirement payments, seldom granted in private industry, mirror a broader trend in which California’s public employees receive far more than comparable workers elsewhere in almost all job and wage categories, from public safety to health care, base salary to overtime. California, the world’s ninth- biggest economy, has set a pattern for lax management, inefficient operations, and out-of-control costs, the Bloomberg data show.”
In addition to Ms. Agcaoili, other state employees are cashing in big. A highway patrol officer collected $484,000 in pay and pension benefits while 17 employees received checks of more than $200,000 for unused vacation and leave. According to Bloomberg’s data, the best-paid staff in other states earned far less for the same work.
But California is hardly alone with inflated government salaries. Firemen in Clark County, Nev. (Las Vegas), routinely make well into six-figure salaries and overtime pay. The first several pages of these salaries compiled in 2009 by Las Vegas Channel 8 are firefighters making well over $100,000.
Ms. Agcaoili is 79, but many cops and firefighters retire in their 50s, collect nearly 100% of their salary as a pension, and then start new careers.This leaves cities and states to pay for two or three cops to have only one on the beat.
The math just does not work. The clock is ticking on California. People are fleeing. Soon it will not be so golden.

Read more: Down and Out In California

Whopper King

Harry Reid: 'We Are Not Going to Do Anything'

weekly standard ^ | 12/20/12 | d halper

Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, made his "fiscal cliff" position clear in a press conference today. "We are not going to do anything," said Reid.

Reid added, "We are not taking up anything they are working on over there."

The top Democrat in the Senate was explaining his inaction on the House plan, the proposal put forward by Republican John Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives. Boehner's plan is being referred to as 'Plan B.'
"Boehner described his Plan B as a fallback option to prevent a sweeping tax hike when tax cuts from the administration of President George W. Bush expire at the end of the year. Sources said the Boehner measure also would include extending the current estate tax and alternative minimum tax, two steps sought by Republicans," reports CNN.
The 'Plan B' option tracks closely to a proposal put forward by Democrats earlier this year.
But now Reid won't even allow the Senate to vote on Boehner's proposal.
In the past, Reid has indicated he'd be open to compromising. "We are willing to compromise," he said earlier this month, "but we also will not consign the middle class to higher tax bills while millionaires and billionaires avoid all the pain."
Now that Republicans have a serious proposal that would pass the House and would seem to meet the requirements Democrats previously insisted on, Reid won't permit a vote.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Leno: 'When Congress Talks About Plan B, The Rest of Us End Up With Plan F and U'

Newsbusters ^

Jay Leno said a really inconvenient truth about the fiscal cliff negotiations on NBC's Tonight Show Wednesday

"John Boehner told Congress to prepare for plan B," Leno teased during his opening monologue. "You know what that means when Congress talks about plan B? The rest of us end up with plan F and U.

Okay? That's the plan we get, F and U."

Ain't that the truth?

Leno followed this up by saying, "But, the good news is a deal is still possible as long as neither side drops the ball. So let's hope Mark Sanchez isn't involved in anything, any of these negotiations."

Obama's Petulant Chlid, "Eat Your Peas" Swagger Returns!

Michelle Obama's Mirror ^ | 12-20-2012 | MOTUS

I see we’ve returned to what somebody called the “smartest man in the room” swagger. This “eat your peas” scold was last heard during the fiscal cliff talks 2011(snip)

Butt yesterday’s presser completed Big Guy’s on the job growth curve: from whiny baby,

to petulant child,

through cocky adolescence,

before emerging in tact as the peevish, hubristic adult he is today.

All the while staying true to his community organizer roots.

And when asked where he’s been on gun control for the last 4 years by that uppity ABC reporter, Big Guy really put him in his place: “I don’t think I’ve been on vacation,” he said.

(snip)Anyway, I thought I should dedicate today’s holiday recipe thread to the little green legume in honor of yesterday’s second annual “shut up and eat your peas” speech, butt aside from pea soup, I don’t really care for peas very much.

Fortunately I ran across another story to inspire today’s culinary direction. It also qualifies as this week’s most ironic story: “Iodine Deficiency – An Old Epidemic Is Back”. As the Instapundit put it, “It doesn’t help to put iodine in salt, if people quit using salt.”

(snip)I’m focusing on salt-centric recipes today. This is all I’ve got, but somebody must have a a good recipe for corned beef, pickles, sauerkraut and gravlax. Or pretzels! And how about salted caramels?

Salt Crusted Baked Potatoes:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Russet potatoes: 1 per person,…Continued

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Grand Ayatollah Declares All Christian Women May be Raped! ^ | December 18, 2012 | Daniel Greenfield

This is being reported a Syrian rebel declaration, but Ahmad Al Baghdadi Al Hassani is a Shiite Grand Ayatollah who hails from Iraq. He appears to be affiliated with some Syrian faction, but it’s unclear exactly which one, and has had his clashes with other Grand Ayatollahs.
Grand Ayatollah Ahmad Al Baghdadi Al Hassani’s declaration that Christians are polytheists is not unprecedented, but it does serve as a reminder of how fragile even Dhimmi People of the Book status is.
Jihadi leader Ahmad Al Baghdadi Al Hassani has spoken of Christians as polytheists and friends of the Zionists, in an Egyptian TV address. The extremist leader further stressed they must choose “Islam or death”, while their women and girls may legitimately be regarded as wives of Muslims.
That’s an indirect way of saying that any Christian woman or girl may be captured and raped, even if she is already married, since within Islam captive women may be raped by their captors.
The Iraqi Shiite Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ahmad al-Hassani al Baghdadi gave his call to murder Christians in an interview with Egyptian television station Al Baghdadia known. Al Baghdadi, who is one of the most radical representatives of the Islamic Jihad, denounced the Christians as polytheists and friends of the Zionists. The command of Al Baghdadis to the Christian minority in Iraq is “conversion to Islam or death.” The women and girls of the Christians “can legitimately regarded as the Muslim women,” said the Grand Ayatollah. Al Baghdadi, who comes from Najaf in Iraq, one of the “holy cities” of Shiite Islam, now lives in Syria, where he supports the armed struggle of the Islamists.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Hillary announces she's pregnant; high risk requires 7 months bed rest; resigning immediately!

one man's opinion...

Sec. of State Hillary Clinton announced this morning that she's approximately two months pregnant, and would thus be resigning immediately. Against the background of two of her top aides testifying this morning to Congress about the multiple failures in the State Dept outlined in the just released report on the Benghazi, Clinton, in a prepared statement, revealed that because of the very high risk nature of the pregnancy, given her age, her doctors had advised that she "pretty much spend the next 7 months in bed."

Shortly after the news crossed the wires, an AP reporter who was covering her husband's speech to a financial forum, congratulated him on the news. Clinton seemed very surprised, loudly remarking "Whoa!!!!" possibly because he didn't expect the announcement to come so soon.

Clinton's aides revealed that the flu, which forced her to cancel her appearance before Congressional committees today, was in fact due to severe morning sickness.

"She obviously regrets the slight deception, but is sure that Congress, and the American people, will understand and forgive her, given the circumstances," the aide stated.
Pregnancies at her age are quite rare, but not unheard of. They are by definition very high risk, but with proper medical care and a careful lifestyle, can be carried successfully to term. But obviously, the demands of the position, the long hours and extensive travelling, make it impossible for her to continue in her duties, and she will be resigning immediately.
The aide further stated that given the doctor's orders for complete rest, it's highly unlikely that she will be able to testify before Congress until several months after the baby is born, assuming of course that Congress still wishes to hear from her at that time.
The White House was obviously caught by surprise at the sudden announcement, and had no comment except that "President and Mrs. Obama wish the Clintons all the best in this time of great joy."
When asked if this would result in an immediate nomination of a replacement, the WH again had no comment.
Congratulatory messages began arriving almost immediately, from all over the world.
Jennifer Aniston Tweeted: "You go girl!Let's compare baby bumps!"
Kate Middleton, in a statement, congratulated the Clintons, and hoped that they could one day arrange play-dates, either at Buckingham Palace or in Chappaqua.
Huma Abdelin, Clinton's top aide at the State Department, was stopped by a reporter while she was wheeling her own bay in a stroller. She too was completely surprised at the news but broke into tears of joy when told. "I'm so happy for them," she said. If this new baby brings them as much joy as Anthony and I have with our child, they will be very blessed."
Monica Lewinsky Tweeted: "U GOT TO BE KIDDING!"

Don't Be Fooled, No Union Rights Were Lost In Right-To-Work Michigan

Forbes ^ | 12/14/2012 | Mark Hendrickson, Grove City College

The passing of a right-to-work law in Michigan is a hugely significant development. In my mind, Michigan would have been the last state to pass legislation removing the requirement for workers to join a union as a condition of employment in unionized businesses.
As welcome as this new law is for those of us who recognize how economically pernicious and ethically debased compulsory union membership is, the reporting of the story has been marred by sloppy, inaccurate usage of a key word: “rights.” Here’s a typical example from Reuters: “Michigan weakens union rights in home of auto industry.”
Americans greatly value rights. It’s in our DNA. However, no rights—neither unions’ nor anyone else’s—have been lost by passage of this right-to-work law. What has changed is that unions can no longer compel a worker to pay dues to them as a condition of employment. That was never a “right,” but a power—a power that had been bestowed on unions by prior legislation conferring upon them a privilege. Unions in Michigan have lost a privilege, not a right.
In fact, rather than infringing on anyone’s rights, Michigan’s right-to-work law restores a lost right to workers—the right of voluntary association. Our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment name liberty as an unalienable right; now workers in Michigan have the liberty to choose whether to join or not join a group as each one’s conscience dictates.
American labor law has been out of whack for the last century. Unions have been given special powers and privileges that have trampled on the rights of their fellow citizens. Consider:
Do businesses have a right to block you from purchasing from their competitors? Do Kellogg employees have a right to stand in the cereal aisle of a grocery store and interfere with your right
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Taxpayers Get Hosed (again) in GM Buyback of Treasury Shares

National Legal & Policy Center ^ | December 20, 2012 | Mark Modica

Government Motors

Let's all rejoice! The Treasury Department is finally beginning to unload the taxpayers' stake in General Motors after a three and a half year stint of government involvement in the company. While the decision to get taxpayers out of the private sector is the correct one, the move is hardly a cure-all for what ails GM. And despite reports to the contrary, this does not bring closure to all groups that were involved in the unprecedented intrusion of government into the private sector that saw politically-powerful groups like the UAW receive favorable treatment over other classes.
Let's start by reviewing the GM buyback deal that was just announced. Of the $50 billion or so of taxpayer money that went to GM, about $40 billion went towards the purchase of approximately 800 million shares of stock in "New" GM. That comes out to roughly $50 a share paid by taxpayers. GM is now raising debt (a situation that got them in trouble in the first place) so that they can repurchase 200 million of these shares at $27 and change. Even though this amount is practically half of what GM sold the shares to us for, it still represented a premium to where the shares were trading at the time of the announcement.
Taxpayers are losing about $4.5 billion on just this GM share buyback. Total losses will be closer to $20 billion. You would not think this was the case judging from the media's trumpeting of the deal and proclamations that we now have closure to the GM bailout debacle. Don't get me wrong, the decision for Treasury to sell was the right one. This should have happened long ago as the government has no business gambling taxpayer money on a market timing strategy in a publicly traded stock. But please don't urinate on my leg and tell me it's raining.
In addition to the losses on GM shares, taxpayers are losing billions of dollars in tax revenue thanks to a sweetheart deal that the company received from the Obama Administration regarding tax loss carryover credits. Tax law was changed so that GM will not have to pay taxes for years, saving the company billions of dollars. So much for corporations "paying their fair share." Even Warren Buffett's secretary pays more tax than GM!
While the deal may be costing taxpayers money, Wall Street liked the announcement and GM shares rose to about $27 a share on the news. That's still almost 20% less than the IPO price of $33 over two years ago. But the news may not all be good for GM shareholders as a share buyback does not solve the underlying problems at the company.
GM continues to lose market share in the US. A focus on non-profitable electric vehicles (like the Chevy Volt) that lack demand has hurt the company as more profitable sales of trucks and good old gas-powered vehicles are languishing. GM continued to stuff truck inventory channels, a move that falsely inflates revenue while eventually hurting the bottom line, and now has a glut of trucks that it must steeply discount to sell. European operations are a mess. UAW obligations and overhangs remain as they were not properly addressed in the Obama-orchestrated bankruptcy process. And there are still almost 40% of GM outstanding shares in the hands of the US government, Canadian government and the UAW that eventually need to hit the market. It is doubtful that GM will buy the rest of these, even if someone was foolish enough to lend the company billions more after unsecured, non-union creditors were stiffed the first time around.
There is no closure for those that were adversely affected by the GM bankruptcy process as long as the auto bailouts continue to be presented as a great success. GM bondholders and non-unionized stakeholders saw their positions subordinated to UAW claims. The UAW then came out to help President Obama win reelection. Taxpayers lost billions of dollars, yet Obama campaigned on the perceived success of GM and the bailouts. The media has not given a contrarian view to the politicized proclamations of success for the auto bailouts. Closure, for many, is still a long way off.

Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.

Harvard Study: Gun Control Is Counterproductive ^

Harvard Study: Gun Control Is Counterproductive!

I've just learned that Washington, D.C.'s petition for a rehearing of the Parker case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit was denied today. This is good news. Readers will recall in this case that the D.C. Circuit overturned the decades-long ban on gun ownership in the nation's capitol on Second Amendment grounds.

However, as my colleague Peter Ferrara explained in his National Review Online article following the initial decision in March, it looks very likely that the United States Supreme Court will take the case on appeal. When it does so - beyond seriously considering the clear original intent of the Second Amendment to protect an individual's right to armed self-defense - the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court would be wise to take into account the findings of a recent study out of Harvard.
The study, which just appeared in Volume 30, Number 2 of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy (pp. 649-694), set out to answer the question in its title: "Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International and Some Domestic Evidence." Contrary to conventional wisdom, and the sniffs of our more sophisticated and generally anti-gun counterparts across the pond, the answer is "no." And not just no, as in there is no correlation between gun ownership and violent crime, but an emphatic no, showing a negative correlation: as gun ownership increases, murder and suicide decreases.
The findings of two criminologists - Prof. Don Kates and Prof. Gary Mauser - in their exhaustive study of American and European gun laws and violence rates, are telling:
Nations with stringent anti-gun laws generally have substantially higher murder rates than those that do not. The study found that the nine European nations with the lowest rates of gun ownership (5,000 or fewer guns per 100,000 population) have a combined murder rate three times higher than that of the nine nations with the highest rates of gun ownership (at least 15,000 guns per 100,000 population).
For example, Norway has the highest rate of gun ownership in Western Europe, yet possesses the lowest murder rate. In contrast, Holland's murder rate is nearly the worst, despite having the lowest gun ownership rate in Western Europe. Sweden and Denmark are two more examples of nations with high murder rates but few guns. As the study's authors write in the report:
If the mantra "more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death" were true, broad cross-national comparisons should show that nations with higher gun ownership per capita consistently have more death. Nations with higher gun ownership rates, however, do not have higher murder or suicide rates than those with lower gun ownership. Indeed many high gun ownership nations have much lower murder rates. (p. 661)
Finally, and as if to prove the bumper sticker correct - that "gun don't kill people, people do" - the study also shows that Russia's murder rate is four times higher than the U.S. and more than 20 times higher than Norway. This, in a country that practically eradicated private gun ownership over the course of decades of totalitarian rule and police state methods of suppression. Needless to say, very few Russian murders involve guns.
The important thing to keep in mind is not the rate of deaths by gun - a statistic that anti-gun advocates are quick to recite - but the overall murder rate, regardless of means. The criminologists explain:
[P]er capita murder overall is only half as frequent in the United States as in several other nations where gun murder is rarer, but murder by strangling, stabbing, or beating is much more frequent. (p. 663 - emphases in original)
It is important to note here that Profs. Kates and Mauser are not pro-gun zealots. In fact, they go out of their way to stress that their study neither proves that gun control causes higher murder rates nor that increased gun ownership necessarily leads to lower murder rates. (Though, in my view, Prof. John Lott's More Guns, Less Crime does indeed prove the latter.) But what is clear, and what they do say, is that gun control is ineffectual at preventing murder, and apparently counterproductive.
Not only is the D.C. gun ban ill-conceived on constitutional grounds, it fails to live up to its purpose. If the astronomical murder rate in the nation's capitol, in comparison to cities where gun ownership is permitted, didn't already make that fact clear, this study out of Harvard should.

Superintendent Defends Texas Town's Policy Allowing Teachers To Carry Concealed Guns

RealClearPolitics ^ | December 20, 2012 | RealClearPolitics

“What seemed to me to be a problem … is that we basically left our schools open to attack — This is like putting a sign in front of your house that says ‘I really think that it’s a good idea to come and attack me because I don’t believe in guns’ — and that’s exactly what we were trying to avoid,” David Thweatt, Superintendent of Harrold district schools in Texas, said on FOX News this morning.

In 2007, according to FOX News, the Harrold, Texas school district made the decision to allow teachers to carry concealed guns at school to protect their students against potential violence. In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, and amid new calls for gun control, that district’s methods are getting a closer look.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

The One Single Reason Why We're Going Over the Fiscal Cliff

Zero Hedge ^ | December 20, 2012 | Phoenix Capital Research

I’m going to lay out everything you need to know about the fiscal cliff negotiations. After reading this, you can ignore all of the media’s coverage of this topic as well as various politicians’ announcements pertaining to this subject.
All you need to know consists of just one sentence.
Politicians are in charge of this issue.
These are the same folks who haven’t even produced a budget in four years. The same folks who have run $1+ trillion deficits for four years. The same folks who rarely if ever leave office as a result of their fiscal mistakes.
In simple terms, none of the people in this group will likely suffer any consequences if we do go over the cliff. Indeed, as far as options go, their best option would be for us to go over the cliff and then implement some targeted tax breaks in late 2013 early 2014 as they go into the 2014 Congressional elections.
Let’s take the side of the Democrats.
Obama was largely re-elected based a solid turnout for the Democrats and a lack of voter turnout for the GOP. If you want to argue about voter fraud the fact remains that if there was widespread voter fraud the GOP let the Democrats get away with it. So for simplicity’s sake, Obama won based on a strong turnout while the GOP lost based on a weak turnout (Romney took less votes that McCain!).
With this in mind, Obama and the Democrats can easily argue that they have the mandate of the people for their policies. If the GOP proves unwilling to go along with their proposals, Obama and the Dems can simply take us over the cliff, increase taxes on the wealthy (which would appease their voting base) and blame the failure to reach a solution as well as the ensuing economic mess on the Republicans (much as the Dems and Obama have blamed the terrible economy on Bush).
So, truth be told, Obama and the Dems really have very little to gain politically from solving the fiscal cliff.
On the GOP side, there is little incentive to solve the fiscal cliff either. If they kowtow to Obama’s wishes, they’ll infuriate their base. And there’s no chance that they’ll convince Obama and the Dems to meet their demands of cutting spending (they sure haven’t done anything of this nature in the last two years). So the best thing they can do is simply refuse to address the problem, go off the cliff and then maintain a “we fought the best we could against insurmountable odds” stance.
So… neither the Dems nor the GOP are incentivized to solve the fiscal cliff. Both parties are best off from a political standpoint having us go over the cliff and then fighting for some kind of tax breaks/ tax relief for their bases sometime in late 2013/ early 2014.
With that in mind, we’re very likely going over the cliff in a month’s time. The whole situation has echoes of the failed debt ceiling talks and subsequent market collapse of 2011.
Indeed, the market is even mirroring its Debt Ceiling talk’s action:
Here’s the S&P 500’s recent action:

Here’s what the market looked like going into the Debt Ceiling talks of 2011.

Here’s what followed:

I highly suggest preparing in advance.

The one single reason why we are going over the fiscal cliff ... politicians are in charge of the issue!

Here’s why
1) They couldnt get 60 in the senate to pass it so they took the shortcut above
2) it was not CBO scored as deficit neutral, if it was neutral then it wouldnt expire

The Sheepdogs

Most humans truly are like sheep
Wanting nothing more than peace to keep
To graze, grow fat and raise their young,
Sweet taste of clover on the tongue.
Their lives serene upon Life’s farm,
They sense no threat nor fear no harm.
On verdant meadows, they forage free
With naught to fear, with naught to flee.
They pay their sheepdogs little heed
For there is no threat; there is no need.

To the flock, sheepdog’s are mysteries,
Roaming watchful round the peripheries.
These fang-toothed creatures bark, they roar
With the fetid reek of the carnivore,
Too like the wolf of legends told,
To be amongst our docile fold.
Who needs sheepdogs? What good are they?
They have no use, not in this day.
Lock them away, out of our sight
We have no need of their fierce might.
But sudden in their midst a beast
Has come to kill, has come to feast
The wolves attack; they give no warning
Upon that calm September morning
They slash and kill with frenzied glee
Their passive helpless enemy
Who had no clue the wolves were there
Far roaming from their Eastern lair.
Then from the carnage, from the rout,
Comes the cry, “Turn the sheepdogs out!”
Thus is our nature but too our plight
To keep our dogs on leashes tight
And live a life of illusive bliss
Hearing not the beast, his growl, his hiss.
Until he has us by the throat,
We pay no heed; we take no note.
Not until he strikes us at our core
Will we unleash the Dogs of War
Only having felt the wolf pack’s wrath
Do we loose the sheepdogs on its path.
And the wolves will learn what we’ve shown before;
We love our sheep, we Dogs of War.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66

A Picture Of Sheep

Transsylvania Phoenix ^ | 12/20/2012 | Transsylvania Phoenix

A crazed bloodthirsty hyena killed 26 lambs. Grief stricken sheep blame the sheepdogs. "Their tooth are dangerous" the sheep bleat. Meanwhile, the pack of wolves who run the forest are salivating. Pretty soon the sheep will succeed in their pursuit of leaving the sheepdogs toothless. And then, the entire flock will be theirs for the slaughter.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Capitalization whilst texting/emailing

In the world of hi-tech gadgetry, I've noticed that more and more people who send text messages and emails have long forgotten the art of capital letters.

For those of you who fall into this category, please take note of the following statement:

"Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse or helping your uncle jack off a horse."

Is everybody clear on that?

Uncle Sam Books 50% Loss As Government Motors Buys Back 200MM Shares From Tim Geithner

zero hedge ^ | 12/19/12 | tyler durden

A few days after divesting its stake in the firm that started it all, AIG, and at a profit at that (ignoring that the risk has merely been onboarded by the Fed whose DV01 is now $2+ billion as a result), the US Treasury continues to divest of all its bailout stake, this time proceeding to GM, where the channel stuffing firm just announced it would buyback 200MM shares from the US government at a price of $27.50. More importantly, the "Treasury said it intends to sell its other remaining 300.1 million shares through various means in an orderly fashion within the next 12-15 months, subject to market conditions. Treasury intends to begin its disposition of those 300.1 million common shares as soon as January 2013 pursuant to a pre-arranged written trading plan. The manner, amount, and timing of the sales under the plan are dependent upon a number of factors." Assuming a price in the $27.50 range, this implies a nearly 50% loss on the government's breakeven price of $54. So much for the "profit" spin. One hopes all those Union votes were well worth the now booked $40+ billion cost to all taxpayers.
One wonders why the US government did not open up this particular buyback to a public tender: after all some taxpayers may still care about the financial mismanagement of Uncle Sam. Then again, perhaps not.
From GM:
General Motors today said it will purchase 200 million shares of GM common stock held by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for $5.5 billion, or $27.50 per share. The share buyback is part of the Treasury’s plan, also announced today, to fully exit its entire holdings of GM stock within 12 to 15 months, subject to market conditions.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Conservatives Rationalize as America Circles the Drain

AT ^ | 12/19/202

It's often hard to accept the truth, especially when that truth is scary -- when reality seems to offer you no solutions, only poison from which to pick.
It's as with a man I once knew who insisted that it couldn't be proven that smoking is bad for you. He knew better in his heart, but his available choices -- giving up cigarettes or accepting the danger of their use -- were both emotionally unpalatable to him. Enter the rationalization.
We're seeing the same thing with Republicans in the wake of Barack Obama's re-election. Radio host Sean Hannity, citing changing American demographics, stated a while back that his position on immigration has "evolved": we now must offer illegals some kind of pathway to citizenship (aka amnesty). Other conservatives are warning that we must dispense with social issues, or the Republican Party will be dispensed with.
Of course, this isn't always rationalization. Some conservatives, and Hannity is likely among them, may truly believe that we can avoid electoral hell if we have just one more dance with the Devil. Conservatives have always responded to seemingly inevitable political changes by, slowly but surely, compromising their way to tyranny. But rationalization is a huge factor, and what is the scary truth here that conservatives dare not contemplate?
They are losing the culture.
Little by little.
Every day.
And as the culture goes, so go political fortunes.
...The reality is that there is no culture war. What is occurring now is a pacification effort.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Climate-change Computer Models Fail Again -- and Again, and Again

The New American ^ | 19 December 2012 | William F. Jasper

New studies reveal that climate alarmists' computer models showing alleged global warming are deeply flawed and sometimes downright fraudulent.

Climate-change Computer Models Fail Again -- and Again, and Again

The New American
19 December 2012

GIGO, for garbage-in, garbage-out is a basic principle of computing and/or decision-making which holds that the validity or integrity of the input will determine the validity or integrity of the output. Which is why first-year computer students are taught to check and recheck their input data and assumptions. It is not unreasonable, therefor to expect the same of seasoned scientists with multiple letters after their names, utilizing some of the most sophisticated and expensive computers and operating out of prestigious universities and laboratories. Especially when taxpayers are underwriting their work and the studies produced by their computer models are the basis for far-reaching public policies that will dramatically impact those taxpayers, as well as all of society.

However, when it comes to the theory of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming, or AGW, the GIGO principle appears to be the norm. The so-called mainstream media (MSM) never seem to tire of headlining scary scenarios of climate catastrophe brought on by AGW, based on the latest projections generated by computer modeling of atmospheric temperatures, ocean temperatures, sea levels, glaciers, rain fall, extreme storms, etc. The same media organs, however, rarely report on the many scientific studies that regularly debunk the schlocky — and often outright fraudulent — computer models.

The Hockey Schtick blogspot reported on December 10 that a new paper published in the Journal of Climate finds there has been "little to no improvement" in simulating clouds by state-of-the-art climate models. The authors note the "poor performance of current global climate models in simulating realistic [clouds]," and that the models show "quite large biases ... as well as a remarkable degree of variation" with the differences between models remaining "large."

This is no small matter, as leading climate scientists have for years been pointing out that failure to account for cloud mediation in the complex interplay of climatic factors is a major flaw in climate models. (See here and here.)

As Dr. Roy Spencer points out in his new book, The Great Global Warming Blunder: How Mother Nature Fooled the World's Top Climate Scientists,

The most obvious way for warming to be caused naturally is for small, natural fluctuations in the circulation patterns of the atmosphere and ocean to result in a 1% or 2% decrease in global cloud cover. Clouds are the Earth’s sunshade, and if cloud cover changes for any reason, you have global warming — or global cooling.

Dr. Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, is himself one of the world’s top climate scientists. A former senior scientist for Climate Studies at NASA, he is co-developer of the original satellite method for precise monitoring of global temperatures from Earth-orbiting satellites. He has provided congressional testimony several times on the subject of global warming and authored the 2008 New York Times bestseller Climate Confusion.

Hockey Schtick points out that the latest Journal of Climate paper “is one of many that demonstrate current climate models do not even approach the level of accuracy [within one to two percent] or 'consensus' required to properly model global cloud cover, and therefore cannot be used as 'proof' of anthropogenic global warming, nor relied upon for future projections.”

GWGIGWGO: Global-warming Garbage In, Global-warming Garbage Out

Hockey Schtick on December 10 also reported:

A paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters examines surface air temperature trends in the Eurasian Arctic region and finds "only 17 out of the 109 considered stations have trends which cannot be explained as arising from intrinsic [natural] climate fluctuations" and that "Out of those 17, only one station exhibits a warming trend which is significant against all three null models [models of natural climate change without human forcing]." Climate alarmists claim that the Arctic is "the canary in the coal mine" and should show the strongest evidence of a human fingerprint on climate change, yet these observations in the Arctic show that only 1 out of 109 weather stations showed a warming trend that was not explained by the natural variations in the 3 null climate models.

Additional studies demonstrating the failures and false predictions of climate computer models can be found on the Hockey Schtick blogspot here.

Meanwhile, in a December 7 post on his WattsUpWithThat (WUWT) climate blog, Anthony Watts reported on a new study that shows climate models still struggle with medium-term climate forecasts. He asked: “How cold will a winter be in two years?" And "How well are the most important climate models able to predict the weather conditions for the coming year or even the next decade?” Very fair and important questions, obviously, if we are depending on these models to project global temperatures several decades into the future and guide global policies that will impact all humanity. He noted that German scientists Dr. Dörthe Handorf and Prof. Dr. Klaus Dethloff from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association (AWI) have evaluated 23 climate models and published their results in the current issue of the international scientific journal Tellus A.

Watts summarized their conclusions:

There is still a long way to go before reliable regional predictions can be made on seasonal to decadal time scales. None of the models evaluated is able today to forecast the weather-determining patterns of high and low pressure areas such that the probability of a cold winter or a dry summer can be reliably predicted.

None of the models was able to reliably reproduce how strong or weak the Icelandic Low, Azores High, and other meteorological centres of action were at a particular time over the last 50 years.

As many skeptical scientists have pointed out, for all the sophistication of computer models, they cannot account for many of the complex inputs that impact our climate. Dr. Handorf, one of the report’s co-authors, acknowledges this limitation, noting that “it will not be enough to increase the pure computer power.”

“We must continue to work on understanding the basic processes and interactions in this complicated system called ‘atmosphere,’” said Dr. Handorf. “Even a high power computer reaches its limits if the mathematical equations of a climate model do not describe the real processes accurately enough.”

Rising Tide of Facts Debunks Computer-generated Sea-rise

Jo Nova, Australia’s climate-science dynamo, recently demolished the outlandish projections by climate alarmists that the city of Perth is in danger of being swamped by rising sea levels due to AGW. The actual data from the tide gauges, which was relatively simple to obtain, directly contradicts the alarmists computer models.

And that seems to be the story for the sea-level climate bugaboo worldwide, according to a study by Professor Nils-Axel Mörner, one of the world’s top experts on sea levels. In a report issued December 7 with the unequivocal title, “Sea level is not rising,” published by the Science & Public Policy Institute (SPPI), Dr. Mörner states, “We are facing a very grave, unethical ‘sea-level-gate.’”

Professor Mörner makes some stunning charges, including:

At most, global average sea level is rising at a rate equivalent to 2-3 inches per century. It is probably not rising at all.

Sea level is measured by both tide gauges and, since 1992, satellite altimetry. One of the keepers of the satellite record told Professor Mörner that the record had been interfered with to show sea level rising, because the raw data from the satellites showed no increase in global sea level at all.

The raw data from the TOPEX/POSEIDON sea-level satellites, which operated from 1993-2000, shows a slight uptrend in sea level. However, after exclusion of the distorting effects of the Great El Niño Southern Oscillation of 1997/1998, a naturally-occurring event, the sea-level trend is zero.

The GRACE gravitational-anomaly satellites are able to measure ocean mass, from which sea-level change can be directly calculated. The GRACE data show that sea level fell slightly from 2002-2007.

These two distinct satellite systems, using very different measurement methods, produced raw data reaching identical conclusions: sea level is barely rising, if at all.

Sea level is not rising at all in the Maldives, the Laccadives, Tuvalu, India, Bangladesh, French Guyana, Venice, Cuxhaven, Korsør, Saint Paul Island, Qatar, etc.

In the Maldives, a group of Australian environmental scientists uprooted a 50-year-old tree by the shoreline, aiming to conceal the fact that its location indicated that sea level had not been rising. This is a further indication of political tampering with scientific evidence about sea level.

Modelling is not a suitable method of determining global sea-level changes, since a proper evaluation depends upon detailed research in multiple locations with widely-differing characteristics. The true facts are to be found in nature itself.

Since sea level is not rising, the chief ground of concern at the potential effects of anthropogenic “global warming” — that millions of shore-dwellers the world over may be displaced as the oceans expand — is baseless.

The results of Dr. Mörner’s research are especially relevant to assessing the claims of climate modelers that the survival of island nations such as Maldives and Tuvalu, and low-lying coastal areas in developing nations, such as India and Bangladesh, is being threatened by rising sea levels due to AGW from emissions of the “rich countries.” The phony climate models projecting catastrophic sea-level rises are then used at UN climate summits, such as at Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban, Rio, and the recently concluded Doha summit, to call for carbon taxes and “loss and damages” payments to the “threatened” nations, in the interest of “climate justice.”

As Prof. Mörner charges, “sea-level gate” is indeed a grave scandal, showing widespread unethical practices and serious perversion of science. However, “sea-level gate” is just one of a multitude of scandals, collectively known as Climategate, (See here, here, and here), nearly all of which employ computer modeling chicanery to craft wild scenarios (which invariably are contradicted by real-world observations and verifiable historical data) to promote an agenda of empowering governments at local, national, and international levels to deal with the fabricated “crises.”

In a July 10, 2012 op-ed column for the Australian journal Quadrant, Professor Cliff Ollier of the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Western Australia took aim at the dangerous practice of allowing unvetted and unreviewed computer models to determine policies in the name of “science.”

“Many think political decisions concerning climate are based on scientific predictions,” noted Prof. Ollier. But, he continued, “This is not the case: what the politicians get are projections based on models. What is the difference, and why is it never made clear?”

He explains:

Models depend on what you put in (data), the program, and conclusions drawn from the output.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change uses adjusted data for the input, mostly from the discredited UK East Anglia Climate Research Unit, and their computer models and codes remain secret — not a scientific procedure.

They do not give predictions of the future, but only computer projections. Furthermore they do not take responsibility for the alarm they generate.

FACT: No Warming For 16 Years — Computer Models Failed

Finally, Prof. Ollier, like many other scientists, points out that the real test of climate computer models is now in the public record: Despite the non-stop hyperventilation by the MSM talking heads about global warming, the fact is there has been no observable, measurable upward trend in global temperatures for the past 16 years.

This was acknowledged in October of this year by the U.K.’s Met Office, which has been one of the major promoters of global-warming alarmism. Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, and one of the leading alarmists at the center of the Climategate e-mail scandal, stated that a period of 15 years without measurable warming would be required to invalidate the projections of the computer models. In 2009, when it was already becoming apparent that the Al Gore narrative based on the computer fables was in trouble, Jones sent an e-mail to one of his alarmist colleagues who was getting nervous: “Bottom line: the ‘no upward trend’ has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried.”

Done: the drastic global temperature rises predicted by all the modelers of doom has not occurred for nearly 16 years — according to all the real measurements. The climate modelers have feet of clay. Professor Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Science at Georgia Tech, says the lack of warming over the past 16 years makes it clear that the computer models used to predict future warming are “deeply flawed.”

“Climate models are very complex, but they are imperfect and incomplete,” she notes. “Natural variability has been shown over the past two decades to have a magnitude that dominates the greenhouse warming effect.”

“It is becoming increasingly apparent,” says Prof. Curry, “that our attribution of warming since 1980 and future projections of climate change needs to consider natural internal variability as a factor of fundamental importance.”

Related articles:

New Report: Man-made Global Warming Is a Farce

UN Summit Fails to Enact “Complete Transformation” of the World

The New Racial Derangement Syndrome ^ | December 20, 2012 | Victor Davis Hanson

There is a different sort of racialist derangement spreading in the country -- and it is getting ugly.
Here is actor Jamie Foxx joking recently about his new movie role: "I kill all the white people in the movie. How great is that?" Reverse white and black in the relevant ways and even a comedian would hear national outrage. Instead, his hip "Saturday Night Live" audience even gave Foxx applause.
Race-obsessed comedian Chris Rock tweeted on the Fourth of July, "Happy white peoples (sic) independence day ..."
Actor Samuel L. Jackson, in a recent interview, sounded about as unapologetically reactionary as you can get: "I voted for Barack because he was black. ... I hope Obama gets scary in the next four years."
No one in Hollywood used to be more admired than Morgan Freeman, who once lectured interviewers on the need to transcend race. Not now, in the new age of racial regression. Freeman has accused Obama critics and the Tea Party of being racists. He went on to editorialize on Obama's racial bloodlines: "Barack had a mama, and she was white -- very white, American, Kansas, middle of America ... America's first black president hasn't arisen yet."
Freeman's racial-purity obsessions were echoed on the CNN website, where an ad for the network's recent special report on race included a crude quote from three teen poets: "Black enough to be a n-----. White enough to be a good one."
In the 21st century, are we returning to the racial labyrinth of the19th-century Old Confederacy, where we measure our supposed racial DNA to the nth degree? Apparently yes. ESPN sports commentator Rob Parker blasted Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III last week for admirably stating that he did not wish to be defined by his race rather than by his character: "He's black, he does his thing, but he's not really down with the cause." Parker added: "He's not one of us. He's kind of black, but he's not really like the kind of guy you really want to hang out with." (ESPN suspended Parker for his remarks.)
Unfortunately, the new racialist derangement is not confined to sports and entertainment. The Rev. Joseph Lowery -- who gave the benediction at President Obama's first inauguration -- sounded as venomous as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in a speech that Lowery delivered to a black congregation shortly before this year's election: "I don't know what kind of a n----- wouldn't vote with a black man running." Lowery reportedly preceded that rant by stating that when he was younger, he believed that all whites were going to hell, but now he merely believes that most of them are. And in his 2009 inauguration prayer, Lowery ended with his hopes for a future day when "white will embrace what is right."
Wasn't Obama's election supposed to mark a new post-racial era? What happened?
For nearly a half-century, cultural relativism in the universities taught that racist speech was only bigotry if it came from those -- mostly white -- with power. Supposedly oppressed minorities could not themselves be real racists. But even if that bankrupt theory was once considered gospel, it is no longer convincing -- given that offenders such as Foxx, Rock and Lowery (who was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Obama) are among the more affluent and acclaimed Americans.
The Obama administration must shoulder some of the blame. Attorney General Eric Holder, our nation's top prosecutor, has referred to African-Americans as "my people" and called Americans "a nation of cowards" for not focusing on race relations on his terms.
The president himself urged Latinos to "punish our enemies." He weighed in unnecessarily during the Henry Louis Gates and Trayvon Martin affairs in ways that only added to the racial tensions. Vice President Joe Biden warned black voters at a campaign stop that Republicans were "going to put y'all back in chains."
Obama, during the campaign, brilliantly -- and cynically -- targeted particular hyphenated voting groups on the basis of their race and ethnicity -- on the assumption that such voters could be loosely united by opposition to a purported uncaring and shrinking conservative establishment. After the election, the Obama campaign asked its supporters to complete a survey that included a checklist with racial identifications -- with white omitted.
There is a growing danger in this latest round of racial tribalism. Stirring up the pot for short-term political gain in a multiracial society is abjectly insane. If the new racialism grows unchecked, it will eventually lead to cycles of backlash and counter-backlash -- and some day to something like the Balkans or Rwanda.
People are just people. But they can turn into veritable monsters when -- as a great American once warned -- they look to the color of our skin rather than the content of our character.

Gun Free Zone

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Mental Illness

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What's Next?

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The Answer

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Thanks a lot...

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Eat The Rich!

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What's Not To Believe?

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Santa's Line

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The Evil Rich

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A Baby?

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