Monday, December 31, 2012

The Four Freedoms

The Four Freedoms of FDR

In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression -- everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants -- everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor -- anywhere in the world.
That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called "new order" of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
excerpted from the Annual Message to the Congress,
January 6, 1941

Inspiration by Franklin Roosevelt... Illustration by Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell was inspired to paint The Four Freedoms series by Franklin Roosevelt's speech of the same name.
Rockwell, knowing he was too old to serve in the military, sought to do something to help his country during World War II. He came up with the idea of illustrating Roosevelt's speech.
He labored on these paintings for 6 months in 1942. He lost 15 pounds and many nights sleep. When he was finished, he had created some of the greatest masterpieces of his entire career.
After seeking unsuccessfully to find a United States government wartime agency to sponsor these works, he turned to his old friends, The Saturday Evening Post and Curtis Publishing.

Published by the Saturday Evening Post

The first Freedom painting published was Freedom of Speech, which appeared in the February 20, 1943. The Series continued with Freedom to Worship (February 27), Freedom from Want (March 6) and concluded with Freedom from Fear on March 13, 1943.
In addition to publishing the paintings, Curtis Publishing commissioned essays to accompany the paintings in print. Each accompanying article expounded on the thoughts provoked by Rockwell's imagery.
The editors of The Post did a masterful job of finding the right author for each essay. All four author added to the message the paintings conveyed.
Freedom of Speech
was written by Booth Tarkington (1869-1946.) At that time, Tarkington was called the "dean of popular American letters." He was a frequent contributor of short stories and serials to The Saturday Evening Post and other magazines.
Tarkington's works are too numerous to mention them all. He was best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novels The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams.
Booth Tarkington was also an illustrator in his own righ. He illustrated many of his own books. He also illustrated the books of other authors. As a coincidental relationship to Rockwell, Tarkington also illustrated a 1933 reprint of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Norman Rockwell Freedom of Speech -1943

Norman Rockwell's
Freedom of Speech
Buy it now at

Freedom to Worship
was written by essayist Will Durant (1885-1981.) Durant was one of the foremost philosophers and civil rights advocates of the time. As a former Catholic seminarian, Durant had a unique perspective on Freedom to Worship.
Together with his wife Ariel, Will Durant spent over fifty years researching and writing about human behavior in the critically acclaimed eleven-volume series, The Story of Civilization.
His first book, The Story of Philosophy (1926), is credited as the book that introduced more people to the subject of philosophy than any other book before or since. He penned numerous other books that explored the deeper meaning to humanity's existence and advocated a more civilized approach to living and dealing with one another.
Norman Rockwell Freedom to Worship -1943

Norman Rockwell's
Freedom to Worship
Buy it now at

Freedom from Want was written by Philippine immigrant, poet and author, Carlos Bulosan (1913-1956.) His first fiction book, The Laughter of My Father, a collection of short stories inspired by Philippine folk tales and published in 1944, became an international best-seller.
Also published in 1943 was his autobiographical book, America Is in the Heart. That book describes details of his childhood in the Philippines, his voyage to America in 1930 and the years he spent as an itinerant laborer following the harvest trail in the rural West.
Bulosan was, at the time of publication, and probably still is the least well-known of the essayists. His works have often been used to demonstrate how brutal racism can be.
Norman Rockwell Freedom from Want -1943

Norman Rockwell's
Freedom from Want
Buy it now at

Freedom from Fear
was written by Stephen Vincent Benét (1898-1943), a novelist and poet. Benét's well known works include John Brown's Body from 1928 and American Names. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1929 for John Brown's Body. Benét also wrote the short stories, The Devil and Daniel Webster and By the Waters of Babylon.
He also adapted the Roman myth of the rape of the Sabine Women into the story, The Sobbin' Women, The Sobbin' Women was, in turn, later adapted into the movie musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, in 1954.
A very odd coincidence is that Stephen Vincent Benét died at age 44 on the same day that this story was published. Thus it was probably one of his last published works.
Norman Rockwell Freedom from Fear -1943

Norman Rockwell's
Freedom from Fear
Buy it now at

Then Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms made history in the publishing world. Response to the publication was so strong that over 25,000 readers ordered sets of prints from the magazine.

Read more:

50 Shades of Bush Blame ^ | December 31, 2012 | Shawn Mitchell

Our topic today is how George Bush destroyed America. Or, more precisely, how the Left says he did. 

Naturally, their solution is for America to join the ranks of European social democracies. It’s the only way to not to repeat “the mistakes that got us here in the first place.”
The Left and their Old Media amplifiers tell a simple story: George Bush inherited from Bill Clinton a strong economy and a balanced budget. He proceeded to commit national arson by deregulating Wall Street, cutting taxes for the rich, and fighting two needless wars.
The long fuse of Bush’s fiscal folly finally struck dynamite in late 2008, blowing Clinton’s Camelot economy to bits. President Obama has struggled boldly—against Republican obstruction-- to fix problems so bad not even a modest genius like Bill Clinton could have fixed them in a single term. Clinton modestly admitted this in his convention keynote. So, steady on the transformational path. It’s the only way Forward to redistribution paradise and state allocated happiness.
It’s a measure of the current mood that this narrative has yet to get much pushback from battered conservatives. They’re suffering post traumatic stress from the election, and pre-traumatic stress, bracing for the preordained blame if America dives off the cliff a gleeful president seems to be gunning for.
It’s a shame, because the tidy Bush tale is mostly false and grossly incomplete. It’s little more than a team shout for Democrats, media cheerleaders, and partisan supporters. For that purpose, it’s quite effective, smearing conservative economic positions and providing perpetual cover for the cascading failure of Obama’s liberal policies: The worse things are, the more it will prove how badly Bush screwed things up. Forever, says Madeline Albright.
The fog of national amnesia and unreason hides a lot, and denies the complexity that obviously exists. A nation’s—and president’s--economic success depends on many variables, including business climate, currency and credit strength, a reasonable fiscal balance of taxing and spending, and more. The president doesn’t exclusively control any of the variables. He jockeys for influence among other factors, including Congress, the Fed, the business cycle, and unpredictable world events.
Viewing the big picture, Clinton was very lucky; Bush was very unlucky; and Obama is making it worse.
Clinton’s record can’t be assessed out of context: six of his eight budgets were Republican documents (recall the pre-banana republic era, when Congress actually passed national budgets, and the media would have savaged congressional leaders who refused); his economy and tax revenues were buoyed on the twin bubbles of early euphoria and Alan Greenspan’s loose exuberance; and after his ’94 rebuke by voters impelled him to declare big government dead, he generally governed moderately, playing strategic small ball, promoting global trade, and keeping largely out of the way of industry and the economy.
Also important, Clinton famously lamented he missed the kind of earth-shaking events that can lend presidential “greatness,” but his economic record plainly benefitted from serving in a relatively uneventful decade.
This is not to deny Clinton political “credit” for the prosperity America enjoyed. That’s how the game works. Presidents gain and lose stature for serendipitous reasons. But in debating policy choices, the Clinton years are no endorsement of the Obama agenda, far from it.
Too, if the charge is irresponsible deregulation, Bush deregulated very little. It was Clinton who signed the repeal of Glass-Steagall, allowing depository banks to participate in commercial banking and equity ventures. This broke firewalls that had protected depositors for decades.
Perhaps most critically, Clinton pumped risk and volatility into the finance and housing sectors. He pushed hard on banks to loosen standards and expand home loans under Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act. He authorized government sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac to buy subprime securities. That created a market for bundled mortgages. Thus, Clinton greatly expanded lucrative incentives for “predatory lending” that critics would in time blame fully on the private sector.
All of this contributed to the dynamite that exploded in 2008. The smoke and soot are on Bush, but the fingerprints are Clinton’s.
Far from the simple epitaph “tax cuts and two wars,” Bush presided over an extraordinarily turbulent and challenging time for America. The economy endured severe blows quite well. The early internet mania was already tapering, when, months into his term, Bush was called to lead the nation from the smoldering ruins of September 11. The consequences included economic convulsions. Travel and tourism stopped cold and were choked for months. The first surge of the internet bubble popped for good. IPO’s that had pumped out garage-based millionaires dried up. Economic activity and tax revenues dropped sharply. Airports and travel resumed slowly and warily.
It’s surprising that jobs and the economy were as resilient as they were. Critics charge the Bush tax rate cuts didn’t create jobs. But there was job growth, and in context, they may have offered vital incentive for an economy reeling from so many body blows. They certainly have as fair claim to the Obama phrase of “jobs created or saved.”
Bush was not a significant deregulator. Apart from a prow-growth tax policy, he wasn’t a fiscal conservative. Movement conservatives chafed at his big spending, big government initiatives. Importantly, though, Bush and some congressional Republicans raised concerns about the growing risk of Fan and Fred. For their trouble, they were bitterly denounced by Chris Dodd, Barney Frank and others.
If Bush wasn’t a limited government conservative, neither was he a credit balloonist. The fury hit in 2008, on Bush’s watch. He, and his party, understandably answered for it at the polls. But the disease that hit us was not mainly a symptom of the deficit spending liberals denounce Bush for. Rather, the infection flowed from bad loans, inflated portfolios, inflationary fed policy, and the moral hazard of a tax-backed safety net for bad bankers.
The stigma for our credit crisis and slow recovery now falls not on fiscal moderates like Bush, but on tea partiers, populists, and free market advocates who just want government to tax and spend less and take its boot off the economy. Meanwhile, the banker friends of Bill and now Barack, the Bob Rubins, Jon Corzines, Tim Geithners, and Goldman Sachs of the world are covering for, and slapping each others’ backs, and laughing all the way to the tax-payer backed bank.
The mistakes that got us here, indeed.

Why we went to Viet Nam

Michael Lind is the author of “Vietnam: The Necessary War.”
In the decades after the departure of the last U.S. combat troops from Vietnam in March 1973 and the fall of Saigon to communist North Vietnamese forces in April 1975, Americans have been unable to agree on how to characterize the long, costly and ultimately unsuccessful U.S. military involvement in Indochina. To some, the Vietnam War was a crime – an attempt by the United States to suppress a heroic Vietnamese national liberation movement that had driven French colonialism out of its country. To others, the Vietnam War was a forfeit, a just war needlessly lost by timid policymakers and a biased media. For many who study foreign affairs, the Vietnam War was a tragic mistake brought about by U.S. leaders who exaggerated the influence of communism and underestimated the power of nationalism.
Another interpretation, a fourth one, has recently emerged, now that the Vietnam War is history and can be studied dispassionately by scholars with greater, though not unlimited, access to records on all sides.
The emerging scholarly synthesis interprets the war in the global context of the Cold War that lasted from the aftermath of World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. In this view, Vietnam was neither a crime, a forfeit nor a tragic mistake. It was a proxy conflict in the Cold War.
The Cold War was the third world war of the 20th century – itself part of what some have called the Long War or the Seventy-Five Years’ War of 1914-1989. Unlike the first two world wars, the Cold War began and ended without direct military conflict between the opposing sides, thanks to the deterrent provided by conventional forces as well as nuclear weapons. Instead, it was fought indirectly through economic embargoes, arms races, propaganda and proxy wars in peripheral nations like Vietnam.
The greatest prizes in the Cold War were the industrial economies of the advanced European and East Asian nations, most of all Germany and Japan. With the industrial might of demilitarized Japan and the prosperous western half of a divided Germany, the United States could hope to carry out its patient policy of containment of a communist bloc that was highly militarized but economically outmatched, until the Soviets sued for peace or underwent internal reform. The Soviet Union could prevail in the Cold War only if it divided the United States from its industrialized allies – not by sponsoring communist takeovers within their borders but by intimidating them into appeasement after convincing them that the United States lacked the resolve or the ability to defend its interests.
For this reason, most crises of the Cold War, from the Berlin Airlift and the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Korean and Vietnam wars, occurred when the United States responded to aggressive probing by communist bloc nations with dramatic displays of American resolve. The majority of these tests of American credibility took place in four countries divided between communist and non-communist regimes after World War II: Germany, China, Korea and Vietnam.
In an internal Johnson administration memo of March 1965, Assistant Secretary of Defense John McNaughton emphasized credibility as the most important of several U.S. objectives in Vietnam:
In a speech the following month, President Johnson stressed America’s reputation as a guarantor: “Around the globe, from Berlin to Thailand, are people whose well-being rests, in part, on the belief that they can count on us if they are attacked. To leave Vietnam to its fate would shake the confidence of all these people in the value of America’s commitment, the value of America’s word.”
Full-scale war was avoided despite repeated crises involving divided Berlin and Taiwan, where the remnant of China’s Nationalist government took refuge after the 1949 victory of Mao Zedong’s communists in China. The Cold War soon turned hot in divided Korea and Vietnam.
What Americans call the Vietnam War was the second of three wars in Indochina during the Cold War, in which the United States, the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China intervened in shifting patterns of enmity and alliance. None of these would have occurred in the form that they did if Mao’s communists had not come to power in China in 1949. Although the regimes in Moscow and Beijing were enemies of one another by the end of the Cold War, in the conflict’s early years the triumph of the Chinese communists created a powerful Sino-Soviet bloc that opposed the United States and its allies around China’s periphery: Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. Direct Chinese military intervention in the Korean War ensured a bloody stalemate rather than reunification of the peninsula under a non-communist regime. At the same time, indirect Chinese and Soviet support in the First Indochina War (1946-1954) helped Ho Chi Minh’s communists drive the French from their former colony.
Only a few years after the Geneva Accords in 1954 established the 17th parallel as the boundary between Vietnam’s communist north and non-communist south, the Hanoi regime resumed war by means of infiltration and southern insurgents. After the conquest of the south in 1975, Communist Party historian Nguyen Khac Vien admitted, “The Provisional Revolutionary Government was always simply a group emanating from the DRV (Democratic Republic of Vietnam). If we had pretended otherwise for such a long period, it was only because during the war we were not obliged to unveil our cards.”
The assassination in 1960 of South Vietnam’s dictator, Ngo Dinh Diem, created anarchy that led to rising U.S. involvement – starting with advisers under President Kennedy, then turning to bombing and ultimately large-scale ground forces under Johnson. In 1964, the Johnson administration won congressional passage of the Southeast Asia Resolution after the Gulf of Tonkin incident, using as a pretext for U.S. military intervention the confrontation in which North Vietnam fired on the USS Maddox. The number of American forces peaked in 1968, when more than half a million U.S. troops were waging war in South Vietnam, as well as bombing North Vietnam and taking part in incursions into Laos and Cambodia. At great cost in American and Vietnamese lives, the attrition strategy of Gen. William Westmoreland succeeded in preventing the Saigon regime from being overthrown by insurgents. The Tet Offensive of January 1968, perceived in the United States as a setback for American war aims, was in fact a devastating military setback for the north. Thereafter, North Vietnam’s only hope was to conquer South Vietnam by means of conventional military campaigns, which the United States successfully thwarted.
In the United States, public opinion grew opposed to the costs in blood and treasure of the controversial war. President Richard Nixon sought to achieve “peace with honor” by combining a policy of “Vietnamization,” or South Vietnamese self-reliance, with a policy of détente with the Soviet Union and China, in the hope that the communist powers would pressure the north into ending the war. His strategy failed. Following the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, U.S. combat forces were removed, and the south, deprived by Congress of military aid, was invaded by the north. In 1975, upon uniting Vietnam under their rule in 1975, the victorious heirs of Ho Chi Minh imposed Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism on the south and helped their allies win power in Laos. The Third Indochina War soon followed. Mao’s heirs in China viewed communist Vietnam as a Soviet satellite on their border, and in early 1979 China invaded Vietnam in a brief war, following the 1978 Vietnamese invasion and occupation of Cambodia, during which Vietnamese communists ousted the Chinese-backed regime of the murderous Pol Pot.
Of the three great powers that intervened in Indochina after the ouster of France in the 1950s, the Soviet Union gained the most. By backing Hanoi, Moscow simultaneously obtained an ally on China’s border and reasserted its leadership of international Marxism-Leninism. The former U.S. base at Cam Ranh Bay became the largest Soviet military installation outside Eastern Europe. In “The Soviet Union and the Vietnam War” (1996), Russian historian Ilya Gaiduk wrote, “Inspired by its gains and by the decline of U.S. prestige resulting from Vietnam and domestic upheaval, the Soviet leadership adopted a more aggressive and rigid foreign policy, particularly in the Third World.”
But in December 1979, only months after China was humiliated in its brief war with Moscow’s Vietnamese ally, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. That decade-long conflict proved to be Moscow’s Vietnam.
Just as the Soviets and Chinese had armed and equipped Vietnamese opponents of U.S. forces in Vietnam, the United States and China – now allies against Moscow – armed and equipped the insurgents who fought the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan. The Soviet war in Afghanistan was the third major proxy war in the Cold War.
In 1989, the year in which the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War effectively ended, the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan, as the United States had withdrawn its troops from Indochina a decade and a half earlier.
The United States lost the proxy war in Indochina but prevailed on a global level in the Cold War. The USSR not only lost the Cold War but ceased to exist in 1991. The discredited secular creed of Marxism-Leninism has survived in only a few dictatorships, including China, North Korea and Vietnam.
As the narrative of the 20th century is interpreted, historians are regarding the Vietnam War in a global context that spans decades and concludes with the fall of the Soviet Union. No matter their differences of perspective, they will define the Vietnam War as the Cold War in Indochina.
The interventions of the United States, the Soviet Union and China turned civil wars in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia into proxy wars. This provides an answer to those who claim that the United States, by its intervention, mistakenly turned a pure civil war in Vietnam into part of the Cold War. The United States shared its belief that Indochina was a major theater in the global Cold War with the Soviet Union and China. In “Hanoi’s War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam,” Lien-Hang T. Nguyen writes, “While Moscow hoped to see Soviet technology defeat American arms in Vietnam, Beijing wanted to showcase the power of Mao’s military strategy on the Vietnamese battlefield.”
There is no evidence that Ho Chi Minh or his successors ever envisioned the kind of neutrality that Yugoslavia’s communist dictator Josip Broz Tito pursued during the Cold War. On the contrary, the North Vietnamese communists identified themselves with the main communist bloc of nations, sought to maintain the support of the Soviets and the Chinese alike, and by the end of the Cold War had turned their country into the Soviet Union’s major Asian ally.
Was South Vietnam too marginal an interest to justify a U.S. war in the 1960s and 1970s? To this day, the United States garrisons South Korea and provides arms to Taiwan. If you consider that in today’s world, the United States could go to war if China attacks Taiwan and almost certainly would go to war if North Korea attacks South Korea, the use of U.S. military force to defend South Vietnam against North Vietnam at the height of the Cold War seems less puzzling. Indeed, a U.S. decision in the 1960s not to try to avert a communist takeover of South Vietnam would need explanation.
Viewing the Indochina wars as Cold War proxy wars, along with the conflicts of that era in Korea and Afghanistan, answers one set of critics: the realists. It also provides an answer to other critics who claim that the United States should have been more aggressive toward North Vietnam. In 1978, Adm. William Sharp wrote, “Why were we not permitted to win? In my view, it was partly because political and diplomatic circles in Washington were disproportionately concerned with the possibility of Chinese and Soviet intervention.”
The late Col. Harry Summers Jr. argued that the United States allowed itself “to be bluffed by China throughout most of the war.”
Undermining this critique is the fact that China and the Soviet Union played a much greater role in the Vietnam War than Americans realized at the time. Fifty percent of all Soviet foreign aid went to North Vietnam between 1965 and 1968. Soviet anti-aircraft teams in North Vietnam brought down dozens of U.S. planes. According to former Soviet colonel Alexei Vinogradov, “The Americans knew only too well that Vietnamese planes of Soviet design were often flown by Soviet pilots.”
China’s indirect role in Vietnam was even more massive and critical. It is now known that in a secret meeting between Ho Chi Minh and Mao in the summer of 1965, China agreed to enter the war directly if the United States invaded North Vietnam. As it was, China’s indirect involvement in Vietnam was its greatest military effort after the Korean War. According to Beijing, between 1965 and 1973, there were 320,000 Chinese troops assigned to North Vietnam, with a maximum of 170,000 – roughly a third of the maximum number of U.S. forces – in the south at their peak. On Sept. 23, 1968, Mao asked North Vietnamese premier Pham Van Dong, “Why have the Americans not made a fuss about the fact that more than 100,000 Chinese troops help you building railways, roads and airports although they know about it?”
Historian Chen Jian concludes that “without the support, the history, even the outcome of the Vietnam War, might have been different.”
Nobody can ever prove that the People’s Liberation Army would have fought U.S. troops directly if the United States had invaded North Vietnam. But the depth of China’s involvement in the war suggests that U.S. policymakers were being prudent, not pusillanimous, when they worried that China would send troops to fight directly in Vietnam as it had done in Korea. Reviewing the evidence, historian Qiang Zhai concludes, “If the actions recommended by (Col. Harry) Summers had been taken by Washington in Vietnam, there would have been a real danger of a Sino-American war with dire consequences for the world. In retrospect, it appears that Johnson had drawn the correct lesson from the Korean War and had been prudent in his approach to the Vietnam conflict.”
From today’s perspective, the Vietnam War looks less like a senseless blunder on the part of the United States than like a replay of the Korean War in a different region with a different outcome. Elsewhere in Asia, including the Philippines, Malaya and Indonesia, communist insurgencies were defeated by local governments, sometimes with the help of British or French advisers and combat troops. It may be that those insurgencies failed, while communist regimes survived in part of Korea and unified Vietnam, because of one factor: the absence of a land border with post-1949 communist China, which provided material support, manpower and deterrence of a U.S. escalation that might risk wider war with China.
Ever since the fall of Saigon, Americans have sought to draw lessons from Vietnam, but some have been short-lived. In the late 20th century, U.S. policymakers and military strategists, hoping to put the memory of Vietnam behind them, focused on swift, high-tech warfare against technologically advanced adversaries – only to painfully relearn forgotten lessons in Iraq and Afghanistan about counterinsurgency and nation-building.
In the aftermath of Vietnam, the United States sought to put Asian conflicts behind it. But the recently announced “pivot” away from the Middle East toward Asia is widely viewed as an American strategy of containing China, with which the United States fought bloody proxy wars in Vietnam and Korea in living memory. In a Sino-American conflict in the 21st century, Vietnam might even be an American ally.
As a historical event, the Vietnam War is an unchanging part of the past. As a symbol, it will continue to evolve, reflecting the values and priorities of later generations. In discussing and debating the nation’s most controversial war, Americans would do well to remember the words of the poet T.S. Eliot: “There is no such thing as a Lost Cause, because there is no such thing as a Gained Cause.”

It's Official: January 5, 2013 is SUPPORT HOBBY LOBBY DAY

David and Barbara Green, owners of Hibby Lobby
Breitbart, roundup of other sources ^ | 28 Dec 2012 | Ken Klukowski

“We must obey God rather than men!”—Acts 5:29.

Now that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has denied Hobby Lobby’s application for an emergency injunction protecting them from Obamacare’s HHS Mandate on abortion and birth control, Hobby Lobby has decided to defy the federal government to remain true to their religious beliefs, at enormous risk and financial cost.
Hobby Lobby is wholly owned and controlled by the Green family, who are evangelical Christians. The Greens are committed to running their business in accordance with their Christian faith, believing that God wants them to conduct their professional business in accordance with the family’s understanding of the Bible. Hobby Lobby’s mission statement includes, “Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company … consistent with Biblical principles.”
The HHS Mandate goes into effect for Hobby Lobby on Jan. 1, 2013. The Greens correctly understand that some of the drugs the HHS Mandate requires them to cover at no cost in their healthcare plans cause abortions.
Today Hobby Lobby announced that they will not comply with this mandate to become complicit in abortion, which the Greens believe ends an innocent human life. Given Hobby Lobby’s size (it has 572 stores employing more than 13,000 people), by violating the HHS Mandate, it will be subject to over $1.3 million in fines per day. That means over $40 million in fines in January alone. If their case takes another ten months to get before the Supreme Court—which would be the earliest it could get there under the normal order of business—the company would incur almost a half-billion dollars in fines. And then of course the Supreme Court would have to write an opinion in what would likely be a split decision with dissenters, which could easily take four or six months and include hundreds of millions of dollars in additional penalties.
This is civil disobedience, consistent with America’s highest traditions when moral issues are at stake. The Greens are a law-abiding family. They have no desire to defy their own government. But as the Founders launched the American Revolution because they believed the British government was violating their rights, the Greens believe that President Barack Obama and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are commanding the Greens to sin against God, and that no government has the lawful authority to do so.
The Christian tradition of defying government commands to do something wrong goes back to the very birth of Christianity. When the apostles were ordered not to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with anyone, the Book of Acts records: “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.’”
Eleven of the twelve apostles—including Peter—would lose their lives for the sake of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ; only the apostle John died of old age. They were determined to obey God’s will at all costs.
This issue of civil disobedience is never to be undertaken lightly. The Bible teaches Christians to submit to all legitimate governmental authority (e.g., Romans 13:1), and so a person can only disobey the government when there is no other way to obey God.
But here in America, the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land, and in its First Amendment it protects against a government establishment of an official religion and separately protects the free exercise of religion. On top of that, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) to specifically add an additional layer of protection against government actions that violate a person’s religious beliefs.
The HHS Mandate is a gross violation of the religious beliefs of the Green family. The issue before the courts here is whether the Greens religious-liberty rights include running their secular, for-profit business consistent with their religious beliefs. In other words, is religious liberty just what you do in church on a Sunday morning, or does it include what you do during the week at your job?
The Greens are now putting their fortunes on the line to do what they believe is right. The courts should side with them, affirming a broad scope of religious liberty under the Constitution and RFRA. And the Supreme Court should resolve this matter with dispatch in their favor.
Millions of Christians across the country feel exactly the same way as the Greens. The Obama administration has issued a statist command that is a declaration of war on people of faith who object to abortion, and civil disobedience could break out all over the country unless the courts set this matter right—and quickly.



Starting Jan 1, Hobby Lobby will be liable for a $1.3 million a day fine for not complying with the HHS Anti-Conscience Mandate. They hope to get relief from the courts to stay these fines until their appeals are heard.

The court may or may not act quickly to stay the fines.
This is the risk they are taking.

Please get on and tell what you think is the neatest thing to buy.(They have 60,000 products.) Here's my choice:

It's a modest purchase, but I think it makes the cut...

'Les Misérables' - A Fitting Lesson For The Age Of Obama

Big Hollywood ^ | December 30, 2012 | Larry O'Connor

The groundbreaking new film adaptation of the Broadway musical "Les Misérables" features desperate people suffering under soul-shattering unemployment, naive university students decrying the rich and stoking the flames of socialist revolution, unyielding government official interested not in right and wrong but in following his government's rules and one heroic individual who follows his faith in God to guide him from one success to another all the while truly helping others by using his own private wealth rather than through the ineffective and neglectful government.

In short, it is the perfect allegory for Americans living in the Age of Obama.

In 1987 when "Les Miz" opened in New York, many liberal columnists and critics tried desperately to make a connection between the 19th century Victor Hugo story and Ronald Reagan's America. The best they could do was show pictures of homeless in New York and juxtapose them with the desperate characters in the play who I've on the streets of Paris. The comparisons never held water in a macro way considering Americans in the late 1980s enjoyed prosperity across most economic classes. Now that the film is premiering in Barack Obama's America, it's remarkable how the comparisons are much more appropriate.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Vet Hats and those "old retirees"

 by NKP_Vet

A few days ago my best friend from High School sent me a 'Vietnam Veteran' hat. I never had one of these before and I was pretty hyped about it, especially because my friend Ronn was considerate enough to take the time to give it to me.
Yesterday, I wore it when I went to Wal-Mart. There was nothing in particular that I needed at the world's largest retailer but, since I retired, trips to Wally World to look at the Walmartians is always good for some comic relief. Besides, I always feel pretty normal after seeing some of the people that frequent the establishment. But, enough of my psychological fixes.
While standing in line to check out, the guy in front of me, probably in his early thirties, asked, "Are you a Vietnam Vet?"
"No" I replied.
"Then why are you wearing that hat?"
"Because I couldn't find one for the War of 1812." I thought it was a snappy retort.
"The War of 1812, huh." the Walmartian queried, "When was that?"
God forgive but, I couldn't pass up such an opportunity. "1936"
He pondered my response for a moment and responded, "Why do they call it the War of 1812 if it was in 1936?"
"It was a Black Op. No one is supposed to know about it." This was beginning to be way fun.
"Dude! Really!" he exclaimed. "How did you get to do something that COOOOL?"
I glanced furtively around me for effect, leaned toward the guy and in a low voice said, "I'm not sure. I was the only Caucasian on the mission."
"Dude!", he was really getting excited about what he was hearing. "That is seriously Awesome! But, didn't you kind of stand out?"
"Not really. The other guys were wearing white camouflage." The moron nodded knowingly.
"Listen man," I said in a very serious tone, "You can't tell anyone about this. It's still Top Secret and I shouldn't have said anything."
"Oh yeah." he gave me the "don't threaten me look. "Like, what's gonna happen if I do?"
With a really hard look I said, "You have a family don't you? We wouldn't want anything to happen to them would we?"
The guy gulped, left his basket where it was and fled through the door. By this time the lady behind me was about to have a heart attack she was laughing so hard. I just grinned at her.
After checking out and going to the parking lot I saw dimwit leaning in a car window talking to a young woman. Upon catching sight of me he started pointing excitedly in my direction. Giving him another 'deadly' serious look, I made the "I see you" gesture. He turned kind of pale, jumped in the car and sped out of the parking lot.
What a great time! Tomorrow I'm going back with a Homeland Security hat. Whoever said retirement is boring just needs the right kind of hat..

Obama: ‘I Cut Spending by Over a Trillion Dollars in 2011’

"I cut spending by ... "

"One Trillion dollars!"

( - Appearing on NBCs “Meet the Press” on Sunday, President Barack Obama said that he cut spending by more than $1 trillion in 2011. However, the White House Office of Management and Budget says that federal spending increased by $147 billion from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2011.

Shale Gas Could Transform US Economy!

Newsmax ^ | December 27, 2012 | Forrest Jones and Kathleen Walter

Policies that allow for the extraction of natural gas and oil in the country's shale deposits could transform the U.S. economy by creating jobs and improving the country's balance of payments, said Wilbur Ross, chairman and CEO of WL Ross and Co.
Attempts to burden the energy sector with heavy-handed regulation could wipe out growth in the sector and crimp a sector otherwise poised for lasting growth.
"We are very keen on shale gas. We have been for quite some time. I think it's the one thing that could transform the economy, and the great thing about it is it doesn't need any federal money," Ross told Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview. "All it needs is the federal people not to over-regulate and let it flourish."
Investments are flowing into the sector, Ross points out, meaning jobs are sure to follow if policy cultivates drilling of fossil fuels and doesn't hamper it.
"You are seeing BASF, the big German chemical company, putting a plant into Louisiana instead of into Germany. You are seeing Dow Chemical for the first time put chemical plants back into the U.S. because shale gas and the related type oil are, in fact, the feedstocks for chemicals and plastics and all sorts of things," Ross said....
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Absolute Propaganda

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Thanks to Obama

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Law Abiding

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Hillary and BHO

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Dogs and cats 'still eaten in Switzerland'

The Local ^ | 27 Dec 2012 | James Savage

Eating Fido - or Tiddles - might be more commonly associated with China and Vietnam, but rustling up a slice of cured dog meat to enjoy as a snack is not unusual in rural areas of central and eastern Switzerland, Tages Anzeiger claims.

There are no statistics on the number of dogs and cats killed every year in Switzerland and social disapproval of dog-eating means the practice is shrouded in secrecy. No commercial abattoirs slaughter dogs or cats, but farmers in the Appenzell and St Gallen cantons in German-speaking Switzerland often slaughter the animals themselves.

The most popular breed of dog for eating is a close relative of the Rottweiler.
"There's nothing odd about it", one farmer in the Rhine Valley said. "Meat is meat."

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Death of Tea Party appears exaggerated, members in House appear to hold key fiscal vote

Fox News ^ | December 29, 2012 | Staff

The Tea Party has had an up-and-down political ride since the movement helped Republicans take control of the House in 2010, but those elected in the midterm elections still appear to wield considerable power in the fiscal negotiations.

The roughly 50 members elected to the House two years ago have been a challenge for the more moderate House Speaker John Boehner since they took office. Perhaps most memorably, many of them refused last year to support a debt-ceiling bill because they said it didn’t reduce federal spending enough.

Just last week they squashed Boehner’s fiscal plan by refusing to compromise and vote on a tax increase for any American, despite the House speaker -- in his so-called “Plan B” -- having suggested extending tax cuts only for those making more than $1 million annually.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Obama Likes Fiscal Cliff

The Virginian ^ | 12/30/2012 | Moneyrunner

For reasons that escape me, most people on Capitol Hill and members of the brain dead "Press Corpse uh Corps" seem to believe that Obama really wants a compromise to avoid going over the so-called “Fiscal Cliff.” The assumption is that Obama wants to raise taxes only on those making over $250,000 annually and would like to have something done about those sequestration laws.

Talk about living in a fantasy universe.

The “Fiscal Cliff” is tailor made for Obama. Keep in mind that the law which implements this tax hike and sequestration was recommended by a member of Obama’s administration.
So what will happen if the law is not changed? • Tax rates will go back to the rates we had in 2001. • Spending will be “cut” by $1 trillion over 10 years.
Let’s look at these results one at a time: raising taxes. First, I agree that raising taxes is not sound policy in an anemic economy and could bring on another recession in 2013. From Obama’s perspective higher tax rates will increase revenue to the treasury, allowing him to spend more. If it leads to a recession in 2013, so what? It isn't going to affect him.
Keep in mind that he's an incredibly lucky community organizer who ended up in his dream job. He’s got his job, his Air Force One, a large free house where he can host extravagant parties using his personal servants, taxpayer-paid vacations to luxury resorts for another 4 years, a very handsome pension and the ability to become ultra-wealthy the same way the Clintons did it after leaving the White House.
He's term-limited out so a bad economy doesn’t worry him from an electoral standpoint. In fact, a bad economy, higher unemployment and the economic ills that accompany it are is tailor made for a President who wants to increase government control over people. With millions more unemployed there are great opportunities for even longer unemployment benefits, more free cell phones, more food stamps, more people claiming social security disability benefits, even a broader version of ObamaCare. The press corps is not going to make him uncomfortable by asking pesky questions about his part in a stagnant economy; they’ll dutifully blame the Republicans.
Tell me again why he would not want to go with that.
Second, about that “spending cut.” Government is the only entity that argues with a straight face that spending more is spending less. If they planned to increase spending by a trillion dollars and they actually spend a trillion dollars minus a penny, that’s the government definition of a “drastic” spending cut. But if government spending is kept at roughly current levels, a “trillion dollar cut” over 10 years is actually a reduction of one hundred billion dollars a year. At one time that was a lot of money. Since the beginning of the Obama spending spree that’s a rounding error. If the Obama government saw one hundred billion dollars lying in the street, they would pass it by like you would pass a dirty penny.
But here’s the reason that Obama doesn’t mind the sequester: it falls largely on the military and Barack Obama wants to cut the military back. He believes that America is the cause of much of the world’s problems and most of that is attributed to America’s powerful military. So the sequester for him is a win-win. He gets to gut the military and blame the Republicans at the same time. How cool is that!
You can be confident that congress will not stand in the way of additional spending on social programs if the recession hits. They have to run for re-election. And if it doesn’t hit you can be sure that Obama will find any number of excuses to demand more for “his” people.
What I find incredibly frustrating is the picture of Republican congressional leaders trying to shift the blame for the fiscal cliff to Obama by complaining about his lack of leadership on the issue. First of all, it’s a stupid tactic because it elevates him to the position of the indispensable man. Why they would want to do that is beyond me. Second, they make it appear as if Obama actually wants a solution to the fiscal cliff when he’s perfectly fine with the solution he has now. They should have been accusing Obama of wanting to go over the fiscal cliff for months. That, at least, would have been the truth and would have gotten a different response from the Democrats and perhaps even Team Obama.

IRS Proposes Employer Mandate Rules for Health Coverage

AccountingToday ^ | December 30, 201 | Michael Cohn

The Internal Revenue Service has issued proposed regulations on the shared responsibility for large employers to provide health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The IRS noted that employers may rely on the proposed regulations for guidance until final regulations are issued. In addition, the IRS posted a questions and answers document on its Web site Friday to explain the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions under the Affordable Care Act and the new proposed regulations.

Under the provisions, if employers do not offer affordable health coverage that provides a minimum level of health insurance coverage to their full-time employees, they may be subject to an Employer Shared Responsibility payment if at least one of their full-time employees receives a premium tax credit for purchasing individual coverage on one of the new Affordable Insurance Exchanges.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

GOP senators won’t confirm Kerry until Clinton testifies on Benghazi!

Examiner ^ | 12./26/12 | Joel Gehrke

Republican senators will refuse to confirm Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as Secretary of State until the nation’s current top diplomat, Hillary Clinton, testifies about her handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack.
“The Senate is expected to take up Kerry’s nomination in early January, but multiple Republican senators have already said they won’t agree to a vote on Kerry’s nomination until Clinton testifies about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi,” The Cable’s Josh Rogin notes.
Clinton backed out of testifying at a congressional hearing last week after fainting and suffering a concussion. She was the first cabinet-level official to acknowledge that terrorists played a role in the assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.
“For some time, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and other groups have launched attacks and kidnappings from northern Mali into neighboring countries,” Clinton said during a United Nations meeting in New York on September 26. “Now, with a larger safe haven and increased freedom to maneuver, terrorists are seeking to extend their reach and their networks in multiple directions. And they are working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions underway in North Africa, as we tragically saw in Benghazi,” (emphasis added).
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Michelle to Remain in Hawaii, Costing Taxpayers Over $200K

White House Dossier ^ | 12/26/12 | Keith Koffler

President Obama will return to Washington from Hawaii Thursday while First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters plan to continue their vacation, adding at least $100,000 and probably more than $200,000 to taxpayer costs for the excursion.
Instead of accompanying her husband home on Air Force One, Mrs. Obama will fly on her own Air Force jet at a later date and require security and staff to remain in place in Hawaii for the length of her stay, which reportedly could extend until January 6.
The White House does not reveal the price tag for the Obamas’ vacations. But an estimate can be made given several known and likely expenses.
Assuming Mrs. Obama uses the type of plane she has flown before to Hawaii, the Air Force C-40B Special Mission Aircraft, the cost of a flight from Honolulu to Washington would be about $63,000. If the C-40B must be flown out to Hawaii to retrieve Mrs. Obama, as would seem likely, the first lady’s travel costs could amount to about $126,000, assuming the jet is dispatched from Washington.
And the cost would be much higher still if a supply-carrying cargo jet comes home along with Michelle in addition to the cargo jet that accompanies Air Force One – particularly if that jet too must be flown out to Hawaii just for Mrs. Obama.
Once you throw in the tens of thousands of dollars that must be dished out to house, pay, and support the military and Secret Service assets enlisted to protect Mrs. Obama – as well as other support staff – the price tag for her stay is probably in excess of $200,000, and possibly much more, depending on how long she remains on vacation.
Mrs. Obama flew to Hawaii separately from the president in 2010 and 2011, in those cases leaving early with the family while he finished work with Congress and then joined them for the remainder of the vacation.
If Obama strikes an early deal on the fiscal cliff and then returns to Hawaii to finish up his vacation, the tab for taxpayers would be extraordinary. Air Force One costs about $180,000 an hour to fly, and the roundtrip taxpayer-funded ticket for the nine-hour flight would amount to about $3.24 million.
Obama plans to fly out of Hawaii Wednesday night at about 10:00 pm local time, which would get him to the White House at around 12:30 pm ET on Thursday.

The Real Reason Liberals Want To Raise Taxes On The Rich Has Nothing To Do With Closing The Deficit

Business Insider ^ | 12/26/2012 | Joe Weisenthal

A common argument you hear from conservatives is that raising taxes on the rich is a joke of a deficit reduction proposal, because it hardly makes a dent in the deficit.
According to CNBC, reverting to Clinton-era levels would just get you about $40-$45 billion in the first year. GOP Congressman Tom Price has gotten a lot of attention for saying it would only fund government for 8 days...
So what is the point?
Well, it's not really about deficit reduction at all. Zachary Goldfarb at The Washington Post has a great piece on how Democrats once vehemently opposed the Bush tax cuts, but are now trying to permanently preserve all of them for the vast majority of taxpayers. One big reason is that the economy has changed, and there's a recognition among virtually everyone that the economy is too weak to let taxes rise above the board.
But as for raising taxes on the rich...
What’s more, income inequality has been growing. Sparing the middle class higher taxes while requiring the wealthy to pay more would tip the scales slightly in the other direction.
“The reason there’s been this movement toward broad consensus on renewing the tax cut for working- and middle-class families is that will give us a sharper progressivity in the tax system that is very much desired by Democrats and progressives who’ve seen an income distribution more and more distorted toward the wealthy,” said Betsey Stevenson, former chief economist in Obama’s Labor Department and a professor at the University of Michigan, who added that taxes may have to rise even more than currently contemplated to meet the country’s needs.
The point about making the tax code more progressive doesn't get talked enough, but when discussing changing marginal tax rates, this should be the main issue.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

EDITORIAL: Government recalls GM stock (Good read)

The Washington Times ^ | December 26, 2012 | Editorial

Administration puts an expensive end to a disgraceful episode

General Motors will no longer be “Government Motors.” The Treasury Department on Wednesday announced its intention to liquidate federal holdings in the automobile company over the next 15 months. The final tally will show this policy has been a disaster for taxpayers.

Under the best case scenario, the public will wind up shelling out more than $13 billion by the close of this unfortunate episode. Though President Obama has portrayed the GM bailout as saving Detroit, it was really a reward for the auto unions. It was a celebration of bad management that steamrolled the rights of creditors. It was precisely the sort of thing that ought never happen in an economy based on free exchange.

In the aftermath of the financial meltdown four years ago, Congress created the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to bail out several of the big-name Wall Street firms. Uncle Sam created a similar program to funnel almost $50 billion to “save” GM. This allowed GM to bypass much of the traditional bankruptcy process, which is designed to permit a struggling business to reorganize in an orderly fashion. Avoiding bankruptcy preserved the lavish union contracts largely responsible for sending the company over the edge in the first place. As part of the bailout deal, Uncle Sam grabbed a 60 percent ownership stake in GM...

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

University of Texas law student leads the way in 3-D printable gun technology!

 By Eric Owens 

Demands for stricter restrictions on gun sales are all the rage right now in light of the Connecticut elementary school massacre. However, a law student at the University of Texas says new technology will soon change the regulatory landscape dramatically, and possibly make such regulation futile.
The student, Cody Wilson, is among the leaders of Defense Distributed, home of the wiki weapon project. The goal of the collaborative, nonprofit project is simple: to create freely available plans that you can download from the Internet and produce a gun using a 3-D printer.
YouTube video at shows Wilson’s group test firing a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle, reports KVUE, Austin’s ABC affiliate. An AR-15 was among the weapons Adam Lanza used in the Sandy Hook shooting.
According to Wilson, 24, the group used a 3-D printer to print a plastic lower receiver. The piece was then attached to the rest of a real gun. In a test that was unverified by any independent observers, the plastic piece broke, but not before the gun fired six live rounds.
“What I’m doing is showing people, okay, this is something that can be done right now with this technology, and we’re changing this in the software, and we’re making modifications and customizations and testing with different rounds and different guns, but what we make won’t look like a plastic AR-15,” Wilson told WVUE. “What we make will just be the gun at its most essential, something that just is a firearm practically speaking.”
The legality of printable 3-D guns is not clear. (RELATED: Democratic congressman urges renewal of plastic gun ban)
Democratic New York Rep. Steve Israel doesn’t want to take any chances, though, according to WVUE. Israel has called for the renewal of the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988, which is set to expire in December 2013.
As Slate notes, the Act makes it illegal to “manufacture, sell, ship, deliver” or “possess” firearms that garden-variety metal detectors or x-ray machines can’t detect. A renewed act would presumably cover guns manufactured with 3-D printed gun parts, which are plastic.
Follow Eric on Twitter

Article printed from The Daily Caller:
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Health-care sector vulnerable to hackers!

Washington Post ^ | December 25, 2012 | Robert O’Harrow Jr.

As the health-care industry rushed onto the Internet in search of efficiencies and improved care in recent years, it has exposed a wide array of vulnerable hospital computers and medical devices to hacking, according to documents and interviews.
Security researchers warn that intruders could exploit known gaps to steal patients’ records for use in identity theft schemes and even launch disruptive attacks that could shut down critical hospital systems.
A year-long examination of cybersecurity by The Washington Post has found that health care is among the most vulnerable industries in the country, in part because it lags behind in addressing known problems.
“I have never seen an industry with more gaping security holes,” said Avi Rubin, a computer scientist and technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University. “If our financial industry regarded security the way the health-care sector does, I would stuff my cash in a mattress under my bed.”
Compared with financial, corporate and military networks, relatively few hacks have been directed at hospitals and other medical facilities. But in recent months, officials with the Department of Homeland Security have expressed growing fear that health care presents an inviting target to activist hackers, cyberwarriors, criminals and terrorists.
“These vulnerabilities may result in possible risks to patient safety and theft or loss of medical information,” a DHS intelligence bulletin said in May.
Security researchers are starting to turn up the same kinds of trivial-seeming flaws that earlier opened the way for hackers to penetrate financial services networks, Pentagon systems and computers at firms such as Google.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

You Believe!

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The Progressive Solution

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Ban Them!

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My Record!

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Join the union...or else!

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Stolen Corvette Surfaces From Morena Storage Unit 24 Years Later!

San Diego Reader ^ | Dec. 24, 2012 | Gary Cornaglia

A 1989 Chevrolet Corvette that was stolen from a Morena car dealership when new was for sale on an eBay Motors auction this week.

The Corvette was reportedly taken off the C&M Chevrolet lot and kept inside a nearby storage locker for 24 years. Still completely original, the car’s odometer reads 67 miles, and the original sales sticker remains affixed to the glass.

The thief recently came forward, reportedly through an attorney, and was cleared by the San Diego police to sell the car (whether this was due to a statute of limitations expiring is unclear). The thief allegedly paid an estimated $70,000 in storage costs over the years. Comparable used models of the same year vehicle are now valued at less than $10,000.

The “truly amazing find” is now owned by a Sherman Oaks dealer, Corky Rice. Following extensive detailing work to remove a quarter century's worth of dust, the red ragtop is in cherry condition once again and described as “a collector’s dream.”

The eBay no-reserve auction for the car closed at noon on Sunday, receiving over 70 bids. The winner’s closing bid of $39,471 was noted as equal to the car’s original retail sale price.

How Charles Dickens Put Holly Branch Through The Heart Of The Worst Economics Ever ^ | December 25, 2012 | Jerry Bowyer

Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.” “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.” “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
That phrase–surplus population–is what first tipped me off to Dickens’ philosophical agenda. He’s taking aim at the father of the zero-growth philosophy, Thomas Malthus. Malthus’ ideas were still current in British intellectual life at the time A Christmas Carol was written. Malthus, himself, had joined the surplus generation only nine years before. But his ideas have proved more durable.
What was Dickens really doing when he wrote A Christmas Carol? Answer: He was weighing in on one of the central economic debates of his time, the one that raged between Thomas Malthus and one of the disciples of Adam Smith.
Malthus famously argued that in a world in which economies grew arithmetically and population grew geometrically, mass want would be inevitable. His Essay on Population created a school of thought which continues to this day under the banners of Zero Population Growth and Sustainability. The threat of a “population bomb” under which my generation lived was Paul Ehrlich’s modern rehashing of the Malthusian argument about the inability of productivity to keep pace with, let alone exceed, population growth.
Jean Baptiste Say, Smith’s most influential disciple, argued on the other hand, as had his mentor, that the gains from global population growth, spread over vast expanses of trading, trigger gains from a division of labor which exceed those ever thought possible before the rise of the market order.
Guess whose ideas Charles Dickens put into the mouth of his antagonist Ebenezer Scrooge.
“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation? … If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
Interesting, isn’t it? Later in the story, the Ghost of Christmas Present reminds Scrooge of his earlier words and then adds about Tiny Tim:
“What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.
“Man,” said the Ghost, “if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh God! To hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust.”
Interesting also, that Ehrlich was not an economist, agronomist or even demographer but rather an etymologist, an expert in insect biology. Malthusianism is, indeed, the philosophy of the bug heap, of man as devouring swarm rather than ennobling angel.
The Ghost of Christmas Present is the key to understanding Dickens’ political and economic philosophy. He is the symbol of abundance. He literally and figuratively holds a cornucopia, a horn of plenty. While he wears a scabbard at his side, it is bereft of sword and neglected in care. Peace and plenty.
When Scrooge asks him how many brothers he has, the ghost replies “More than 1,800.” When Scrooge declares that this is a ‘tremendous family to provide for,” the ghost rises in anger. And then he takes Scrooge where? To the university economics department? To the socialist meeting house? No, he takes Scrooge to the market, and shows him the abundance there, especially the fruits (sometimes literal) of foreign trade:
“There were great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like the waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen, lolling at the doors, and tumbling out into the street in their apoplectic opulence. There were ruddy, brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Friars… There were pears and apples, clustered high in blooming pyramids; there were bunches of grapes, made, in the shopkeepers’ benevolence to dangle from conspicuous hooks, … there were piles of filberts, mossy and brown, … there were Norfolk Biffins, squab and swarthy, setting off the yellow of the oranges and lemons, and, in the great compactness of their juicy persons, urgently entreating and beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner.”
Onions from Spain, grapes from the Mediterranean and citrus from the equatorial regions. How else could one eat oranges in England in winter? At the end of their Christmas feast, the poor Cratchits eat, yes, oranges. How else, other than through international trade, could the poor afford oranges? Surely, Christmas Present, and his creator Mr. Dickens, and his teacher Mr. Say, are true disciples of Mr. Smith.
Ironically, this made Scrooge a much less wealthy man than he could have been. He was a miser, not an entrepreneur, because his economic philosophy was a miserly one, not an entrepreneurial one. Look at Scrooge’s mentor Fezziwig, who had two apprentices and dozens of employees.
By contrast Scrooge, even as an old man, had no apprentices and only one employee, a low wage and low skilled one at that. Where was Scooge’s ambition? What was his plan for expansion?
Michael Dell is reported to have started his dream with an image of a large building filled with employees with a flag pole outside. But Scrooge didn’t even update his Scrooge and Marley sign upon the death of his partner seven years after the event, preferring to let rust simply erase the latter’s name. What entrepreneur thinks that way? Scrooge and Marley is basically a collection agency micro-business, whose proprietor did not even make the Forbes 15 List of Wealthiest Fictional Characters.
When Scrooge’s nephew Fred presses his uncle to reveal the cause of their alienation, Scrooge exclaims “Why did you marry?” This is not a change of subject; it is another bitter fruit of the old man’s anti-natal philosophy. Small wonder then, that after Scrooge’s conversion he spends Christmas day with his nephew’s family and cheerfully watches Topper court Fred’s wife’s “plump sister.”
If Scrooge has modern counterparts, they’re more likely to be found among those sad, self-sterilizing minimizers of carbon footprints than in the circles of supply-side entrepreneurs. Who, after all, could claim to a smaller carbon footprint than the man who tried to heat his office with a single piece of coal?
The debate between Say and Malthus, between Scrooge and the Ghosts, continues to this day. Is the market economy a source of abundance or shortage? Is each new little boy or a girl mostly mouth, or mostly mind? Is it a Say/(Julian) Simon/Forbes/Wanniski/Gilder world, or is it a Keynes/Ehrlich/Krugman/Gore world?
Malthus taught the world to fear new people. An amateur economist, he created a theoretical model which allegedly proved that mass starvation was an inevitable result of population growth. Populations grow, he said, geometrically, but wealth only grows arithmetically. In other words, new people create more new people, but new food doesn’t create new food.
Malthus’ influence, unfortunately, grew geometrically and not arithmetically. His ideas provided fodder for Darwin, and Darwin’s lesser mutations used the model to argue for the value of mass human extinction.
Hitler’s hard eugenics and Sanger’s (founder of Planned Parenthood) softer one, both owed a great debt of gratitude to Thomas Malthus. So do the zero-growth, sustainable-growth, right-to-die, duty-to-die, life boat bio-ethicists who dominate so much of our intellectual discussion. Malthus turned out to be, ironically, right in some sense. His prediction of mass death has taken place; not because he was right, but because he was believed.
In other words Malthusianism is a grizzly form of economic self-fulfilling prophecy. Dickens, I think, saw that first. Ebenezer Scrooge was clearly a Malthusian. When he turns away an opportunity for alms giving, he uses the zero growth rationale. When he meets the Ghost of Christmas Present, he reiterates it:
“You have never seen the like of me before!” exclaimed the Spirit.
“Never,” Scrooge made answer to it.
“Have never walked forth with the younger members of my family; meaning (for I am very young) my elder brothers born in these later years?” pursued the Phantom.
“I don’t think I have,” said Scrooge. “I am afraid I have not. Have you had many brothers, Spirit?”
“More than eighteen hundred,” said the Ghost.
“A tremendous family to provide for!” muttered Scrooge.
At this, the Ghost rose in indignation. Scrooge cowers and submits. Then the ghost raises his torch (in the shape of a cornucopia) and leads Scrooge to the public market, brimming with food from all around the world. Dickens especially emphasizes the fruits of trade: almonds, Spanish onions and oranges (in winter, no less). The message is clear: Use your eyes, man, just look around and see that the dirge-ists of the day are wrong. England, even with its poor classes, is a prosperous society. The world is abundant. Rest is possible. So is generosity.
Scrooge’s philosophy is not one based on the evidence; he ignores the evidence. He keeps setting aside the evidence of his senses with reference to the secular philosophy of his time. When he sees a spirit, he says that it’s just a piece of undigested beef causing him to hallucinate. He denies the realm of the spirit until it becomes simply undeniable.
Scrooge is in need of all of this “reclamation” (to quote the Ghost of Christmas Past) partly because he grew up in an atmosphere of want. Dickens makes a point of describing not just the emotional deprivation of Scrooge’s early life (made clear in all of the movies) but also the material deprivation of the boarding school in which he spent his formative years (not portrayed in film versions). “There was an earthy savor in the air, a chilly bareness in the place, which associated itself somehow with too much getting up by candlelight, and not too much to eat.” Note that hunger specifically is mentioned.
Already an old man, when the story was set in the first half of the 18th century, Scrooge would have grown up before the triumph of the Smithian ideas and the repeal of the hunger-inducing, protectionist “corn laws.” The psychology of the story is mixed with the economics and history of it.
Scrooge was a man whose present was distorted by his past. The old order, of monopoly and protection and tariff and hunger, gave him a nearly indelible sense of the inherent scarcity of the world. The only thing which rendered Malthus’ ideas plausible to so many people was the shortage associated with command economies. Scrooge, the boy, because a victim of that, believed that want was an ontological necessity, rather than a tragic by-product of state planning.
Scrooge is not following reason; he’s following trauma. His mother died when he was young. He was sent to a boarding home where he and the other children were poorly fed. By the time he was brought back from exile to his home (which his sister said is ‘like heaven’), the damage to his core personality was done.
Dickens’ message is clear enough: The Malthusians of his day did not need evidence (which they ignored every day in the marketplace) or reason. They needed conversion. They needed healing. They needed to be reminded on the day where the world celebrates the birth of a child whom Rome and Herod try to assign to the role of ‘surplus population,’ that the frightened men who rule the world in the name of scarcity should not be followed, but saved.
Post Script: As I put the final touches on the edit of the article above, with my play list running background music, Isaac Watts’ Joy to the World just started playing. Written about a generation before Malthus was born, it captures what Malthus missed, because of his obsessive theological focus on the cursed state of mankind. He was a minister and he built his philosophy on the curse found in the book of Genesis, “cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you…” But the story doesn’t end with a curse, with thorns and thistles. It moves forward to Christmas. This is why a Christmas Carol is a CHRISTMAS carol, why Dickens’ most clear rebuke to Malthus and stagnation is set at Christmas, because Christmas is the reversal of the curse which Malthus could not see past.
Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King…
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

California’s Largest Corporation is Headed for the Exit

By Daniel Greenfield 

Chevron is California’s largest corporation, but it seems to be making the move to becoming Texas’ largest corporation instead.
Employees at Chevron’s San Ramon corporate headquarters received an unexpected email yesterday. It notified them that a quarter of their jobs are being moved from California to Texas.
That’s 800 jobs out the door which gives Chevron a larger presence in Texas than it still has in California.
Forbes noted that Comcast shut down its Northern California call centers this year, citing “the high cost of doing business in California.” Some 1,000 workers lost their jobs.
Campbell’s Soup, which padlocked its Sacramento factory, displacing some 700 workers. The company decided to move production to Texas, North Carolina and even Ohio of all places.
Anywhere but California. The new motto is no longer “Go West, Young Man.” That dates back from the days when you could escape over-regulated areas for a fresh start in the West. Now it’s “Go East, Young Man.”
Forbes magazine this month ranked California one of the 10 worst states for business based on six factors: business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.
The Mercatus Center, “Freedom in the 50 States,” ranked California’s regulatory climate the fourth worst among the states. California has the fourth-highest tax burden, according to a study by the Tax Foundation. And energy costs here in the Golden State are 33 percent above the national average.
But surely this is another problem that can be solved with more taxes. If we just invest more money in the schools, then the next generation of Californians will be divided between those who stay and collect welfare checks and those who get the hell out.

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