Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Current Events - December 31, 2012

President Obama is Responsible for Our Fiscal Mess

President Obama is responsible for our fiscal mess.  I'm not exaggerating, and I'm not saying that simply because I think that Barack Obama is a terrible president, although I do think that he's an awful president.  I'm saying that because the president has had ample opportunity over the past four years to arrive at a compromise solution to our immediate fiscal problem and then to make headway toward dealing with our longer-term fiscal issues, but he has failed miserably. 

If the president had taken some of the advice of his own National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, we wouldn't be counting the minutes before we fall off the fiscal cliff, but he didn't heed their warning two years ago.  Even worse, he has given us no indication that he ever intends to take our nation's spending problem seriously. 

The word "compromise" must not appear in Obama's dictionary.  That fact has been obvious since Day One of his presidency.  His first major initiative, Obamacare, was figuratively shoved down the throats of members of Congress, even members of his own party.  It has been Obama's way or the highway since the beginning, and it's still his way.  This time there will be a high price to pay.

Yesterday on "Meet the Press", the president told David Gregory that he cut spending by more than a trillion dollars in 2011.  That's pure nonsense, but he got away with it because Gregory was too busy licking the president's shoes to do his job. 

Anyone who believes that President Obama cut spending in 2011 needs to have his head examined, and spending continues to be the most serious fiscal problem that we face.  That's what the Fiscal Responsibility Commission told the president.  There is no way to solve our nation's fiscal problem without cutting spending, period.  Stated another way, we can't tax our way out of this mess.

Pretending that increasing tax rates for millionaires and billionaires will do anything significant to solve our long-term fiscal problem is ridiculous.  If millionaires and billionaires in the U.S. gave everything they own to the government and paid a 100% tax on their earnings, our spending problem would still be an imminent threat to our nation's fiscal solvency.

If President Obama were serious about solving our fiscal problem, he would give lots of ground on spending, but as I said, he's not serious.  Instead of dealing with the problem, he's playing politics as though he was running for re-election.  And it's the worst kind of politics because he's playing the class warfare card and stoking a fire that has the potential to explode across the nation and produce results that I don't want to imagine.

As 'Fiscal Cliff' Draws Near, Obama Leaves Negotiations to... Biden

In the final hours before the "fiscal cliff" becomes a reality, President Barack Obama has left talks to... Vice President Joe Biden, who is reported to be negotiating directly with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

The Hill reported yesterday: "McConnell has begun talking with Vice President Biden in an effort to 'jump-start' the negotiations." President Obama has adopted to remain out of the talks and supposedly above the fray.

The last-ditch effort between Biden-McConnell talks reportedly began Sunday evening, after McConnell and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) failed to reach agreement on core issues.

This is not the first time that Obama has delegated core responsibility to his deputy. He did so, most recently, on gun control efforts. He has also done so on the issue of helping the middle class and monitoring stimulus funds.

Vice President Biden's extensive Senate experience may give him unique credentials in negotiating with the Senate's top Republican. He also led debt ceiling talks with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2011.

Yet President Obama is the only person with the authority to make a deal--and is the only politician with enough power to force Democrats--or entice Republicans--into agreement. His absence at this late, critical stage would be puzzling, were it not a hallmark of President Obama's leadership style, preferring to stay out of negotiations unless absolutely necessary, from the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009 to the debt ceiling talks of 2011.

Yet Obama's reticence has little to show for it; most of these effort have resulted in failure to reach a deal. By abdicating his leadership role to Vice President Biden, President Obama risks the same on the "fiscal cliff."

PK'S NOTE: Again and again, this is what is in our education systems .... and you wonder why our country is going to hell.

Subverting the Constitution

Another line is being crossed in the campaign to fundamentally change America. The Left has long regarded the American Constitution as an obstacle to the sort of fundamental change it desires, and now the seeds of delegitimizing the Constitution itself are being planted by powerful members of the progressive establishment.

Louis Michael Seidman, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown University, is no fringe figure. He is a pillar of the left wing legal establishment, graduate of Harvard Law, former clerk for Thurgood Marshall, and notable figure in the Leftist "critical legal theory" movement. His law school's most prominent recent graduate is Sandra Fluke, and its former dean, Peter Edelman, is most famous for resigning a senior position in the Clinton Administration to protest the wildly successful welfare reform measures enacted when the GOP controlled Congress and signed by President Clinton.

Seidman has taken to the pages of the daily bible of the progressive establishment,  the New York Times, to lend respectability to a movement to subvert the Constitution, and turn to an undefined system which inevitably means the loss of our safeguards against tyranny.  All expressed in superficially reassuring prose. In a stunningly-titled piece, "Let's Give Up on the Constitution," he writes, for example:
The deep-seated fear that such disobedience would unravel our social fabric is mere superstition. As we have seen, the country has successfully survived numerous examples of constitutional infidelity. And as we see now, the failure of the Congress and the White House to agree has already destabilized the country. Countries like Britain and New Zealand have systems of parliamentary supremacy and no written constitution, but are held together by longstanding traditions, accepted modes of procedure and engaged citizens. We, too, could draw on these resources.
What has preserved our political stability is not a poetic piece of parchment, but entrenched institutions and habits of thought and, most important, the sense that we are one nation and must work out our differences. No one can predict in detail what our system of government would look like if we freed ourselves from the shackles of constitutional obligation, and I harbor no illusions that any of this will happen soon. But even if we can't kick our constitutional-law addiction, we can soften the habit.
My colleague Rick Moran has already treated the shallowness of the arguments. However, the real intent of the piece is not to persuade by logic, but rather to put on the table the very foundation of our lives as Americans, and devour it by increments, as it becomes increasingly respectable to mouth the opinion that it really doesn't matter what the Constitution says, if an important issue is challenged.

A republic, if we can keep it. 


After 100 years of attempting to destroy the Constitution even though professing fealty to it, the progressive movement has its new, honest champion in Seidman.

The United States Constitution has been disobeyed, battered and belittled, yet we have somehow survived as a nation. According to Seidman, "Countries like Britain and New Zealand have systems of parliamentary supremacy and no written constitution, but are held together by longstanding traditions, accepted modes of procedure and engaged citizens." Why not finally and completely gut our "supreme" American law, and become like the others?

Seidman, like so many progressives, tries to argue that following the Constitution is impractical, and that it somehow holds us back from achievement: "[W]e ought to try extricating ourselves from constitutional bondage so that we can give real freedom a chance." (Emphasis added.) He adds:
 "Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse. Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago."
The difference between constitutionalists and progressives such as Seidman is that we recognize that the Constitution is not a law governing the actions of individuals. The Constitution is our supreme and paramount law, but it is a law that frames and controls our government, meaning that it was written to govern government itself.

The Constitution sets forth generally how the government must operate and behave. It is the laws of driving for the government, and is violated at the peril of others. Only by remaining faithful to the Constitution may the government make, enforce and adjudicate other laws governing the people. But note that nowhere does the Constitution actually dictate the behavior of society - only the behavior of government itself. Progressives often confuse government with society.

The Constitution was unprecedented when it was created. No people had ever established from scratch and in one document a supreme, written law governing government. The very intent of this written law was of course to provide protection for society, which was thought to be the primary purpose of any government.
What made the United States Constitution a unique creation theretofore in history was that it was also a law to protect God-given liberties of each individual, from the lowest born to the mightiest. The Constitution was therefore without an exact model on which to rely, although the Magna Carta and English Bill of Rights were seeds of this new creation.

There were no precedents under which the people created a written law to establish a government by governing government itself. Great thinkers among the Founders tried to articulate the notion of what was to be this unprecedented written constitution. Wrote one anonymous author in 1776, "Among the many publications which have appeared on the subject of political Constitutions, none, that I have seen, have properly defined what is meant by a Constitution."

Writing in Federalist 78, Alexander Hamilton called the Constitution our "paramount" law, but find anywhere in the Federalist Papers reference to the Constitution's regulating anything but government itself.

What the Founders did through the Constitution was to create a supreme law to govern government itself, and to "give up on the Constitution," therefore, is the progressive way of freeing government from the rule of law. I suspect that at least 75 percent of Americans would refuse to concede to that type of tyranny.
Why Conservatism Has Lost The Battle For The U.S. Government

There is not any question today that liberals/ progressives almost totally rule the five idea-producing, attitude-fashioning social institutions – academia, judiciary, news industry, spiritual leadership, and entertainment establishment. By the conclusion of Obama’s final year in office, liberal/ progressive dominion over all means of societal belief-forming and propaganda-distribution will be unchallengeable. Fox News and Conservative Talk Radio do not have the reach or bandwidth to effectively compete with “the big five” in the arena of information and opinion dissemination.
In the wake of the 2012 presidential election, the Republican Party establishment and conservative, talking-head pundits (they are not the same thing) are daily trying to rally their troops, while simultaneously attempting to convince themselves about the continued viability of the Republican Party, with innovative campaign strategies of “running better candidates,” improving their “campaign ground game,” perfecting their “micro-targeting, digital campaign,” “reaching out” to blacks and Hispanics, and “beefing up the conservative message.” In the end Republicans and conservatives comfort themselves with a belief in the “historical inevitability of the periodic swing of the political pendulum” back to the right. These pundits theorize that with time, the American public will come to their senses and understand what an economic train wreck Obama and liberalism/ progressivism have created. It is a Republican article of faith that liberalism/ progressivism can be discredited by its unavoidable economic failure to the extent a Republican candidate can again be competitive for president in 2016 and on into the future.


The “conventional wisdom” of the Republican Party’s strategies to recapture the White House do not really adequately address the fact that liberal/ progressive institutional insurgencies have successfully seized the U.S. academia, judiciary, media, mainline churches, and entertainment industry. While the Republicans and conservatives do acknowledge liberal/ progressive control of academia, media, and entertainment; they bravely theorize that Republican-conservative election victory is still possible without them by going directly to the voters using their innovative strategies for more effective campaigning. Furthermore, the Republicans and conservatives are making the erroneous assumption that they are still competitive within the arenas of the judiciary and religious institutions
There is a lot of talk among Republicans and conservatives about Obama’s electoral victory being due to his “Santa Claus promises of social welfare goodies and free Obama-phones.” Rush Limbaugh has aptly christened the believers of Obama’s promises as “low information voters” (AKA “the stupid” in pre-PC days). The Republican-conservative answer to “low information voters” is thought to be found in their innovative strategies for more effective campaigning that will turn out the latent conservative voter base that will outnumber the Democrat “low information voters” in the next election. 
However, the John Dewey-crafted public school system, which puts socialization over factual learning, has already produced legions of “low information voters” who place “fairness” over economic results as the 2012 election definitively proved. Since there are no constructive reforms in the works for the public education establishment, there is no logical reason to believe that there will be anything but more “low information voters” in 2016. And, of course, the statism ideal taught in academia is daily reinforced by the judiciary, media, mainline churches, and entertainment industry.
It has taken the forces of liberalism/ progressivism over a century to achieve their current, unassailable societal-political dominance. It is foolish for Republicans or conservatives to believe that innovative campaign strategies will overcome liberal/ progressive control of all societal opinion-shaping institutions in a one-to-two year political campaign. The problem for Republicans and conservatives is that, as Obama's economy gets worse, the liberals/ progressives just get stronger because "low information voters" clamor for more statism (e.g., food stamps), not less. The populace demands more government welfare in economic crisis, not more "free market economy." The liberals/ progressives have developed and been able to enforce a political correctness "speech code" on the nation that precludes honest discussion of the undeniable failures of liberalism/ progressivism. For instance, there are 47.7 million people on food stamps, an increase of 15.1 million in Obama's first four years. That statistic in a sane world would be a "shameful" commentary on Obama's economic policies, but instead political correctness converts it into commendable "compassion" motivated by "fairness." Unless Republicans and conservatives can devise some short-term "magical" solution or long-term public "reeducation" program to replace "fairness" with economic logic, they are doomed to spend an eternity in the political wilderness.

Obama Yawns As Syria Uses Chemical Weapons, Crosses 'Red Line'

Rebel forces in Syria report that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is now using chemical weapons on them. Moreover, intelligence operatives from the West have confirmed those reports as well. But there has yet to be a peep out of the Obama administration over it.

Western intelligence operatives have reviewed multiple frames of footage taken in Syria, and from that footage have determined Assad has been using "paralyzing agents" against rebel forces for "a few months now."

According to Israel's Ynet News:

These agents are not mustard gas, sarin nerve gas or VX, which are classified as chemical weapons, but they can definitely be considered toxic and harmful to humans.

For now, there have been less than 20 incidents in which Syrian army forces and the Shabiha militia have sprayed gas or a toxic liquid in rebel-held residential neighborhoods. Since the rebels did not display any bomb remnants, it is safe to assume that the gas was sprayed manually.

These gases do not necessarily cause death and are not as lethal as gases that are classified as chemical weapons. They also evaporate quickly and do not leave an odor, making them difficult to identify. However, they can cause a sense of asphyxiation, harm the airways and cause skin burns. The gases can be lethal if inhaled by people who not healthy.

The Assad regime is most likely using these chemicals to instill fear without risking an international response. The last incident in which toxic gas was used was in Homs a few days ago. Six people died.

This news is made even worse by the fact that death numbers rolling in from Syria show 24-hour periods in which 400 people have been killed by conventional warfare alone. Add chemical weapons to that and who knows how high the death toll for one day could climb?

To date, over 44,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict and estimates are that the number could climb to 100,000 by the end of 2013 if there is no true intervention. 

While refusing to put down red lines on Iran for Israel, Obama and his advisers were very public about their "red line" for Syria: the use of chemical weapons. 

It appears that red line was crossed months ago, yet there have been no repercussions for Assad.

No, AP and Politico, It Isn't About 'What Hobby Lobby Says'; It's About What Is Actually True

One of the establishment press's favorite tactics to diminish the perceived strength of a position taken by people or companies they are inclined not to favor is to take objectively true facts and statements and reduce them to things only those people or companies "say" or "believe."

Hobby Lobby's case against the ObamaCare mandates is a perfect case in point, with both the Politico and Associated Press providing recent related examples of this fundamentally dishonest tactic. In the December 26 item at the Politico, Jennifer Haberkorn and Kathryn Smith also falsely framed the situation as an argument over "contraception" (more on that in a bit; bolds are mine throughout this post). But first, let's look at how the pair employed the "they say" tactic:
Supreme Court denies emergency injunction in contraception case
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday denied Hobby Lobby’s request for an emergency injunction to block the health reform law’s contraceptive coverage requirements and said it will not decide the case before lower courts have ruled.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the store owner doesn't meet the extremely high standards required for a preliminary injunction. It's not "absolutely" clear that they need the injunction and lower courts have been divided on whether to grant similar requests, she wrote, though she adds that the court doesn't have much experience with similar religious-based claims for emergency injunctions.
... Sotomayor received the request because she handles issues originating in the 10th Circuit.
The court also denied Hobby Lobby’s request — joined by Christian-book company Mardel — that the court take up its entire case, in which they argue that the coverage requirement forces them to provide contraceptives and emergency contraceptives that violate their religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby says it will face fines beginning Jan. 1 without the injunction.
No, Politico. Either Hobby will face fines or they won't. If the fines aren't ultimately assessed by Kathleen Sebelius's HHS, that's another matter. Either the ObamaCare law or the mountain of regulations issued since its passage contain provisions for fines in situations such as these or they don't.

Well, they do, as CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor Eric Marripodi demonstrated on Friday (but then note how Marripodi lapsed into "they say" mode after getting it right):
Craft store giant Hobby Lobby is bracing for a $1.3 million a day fine beginning January 1 for noncompliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare.
... The Internal Revenue Service regulations now say that a group health care plan that "fails to comply" with the Affordable Care Act is subject to an "excise tax" of "$100 per day per individual for each day the plan does not comply with the requirement." It remains unclear how the IRS would implement and collect the excise tax.
The Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, based Hobby Lobby chain has more than 500 stores that employ 13,000 employees across 42 states, and takes in $2.6 billion in sales. The company's attorneys say January begins a new health care plan year for Hobby Lobby and that excise tax from the IRS would amount to $1.3 million a day.
That the company faces fines of $1.3 million per day is a matter of legal fact, not something "Hobby Lobby says." Haberkorn and Smith, either deliberately or out of laziness (though confirming the truth took me only a few minutes) make the potential fines appear to be a matter of opinion, when they are not.

Over at the Associated Press, the reporting in an unbylined December 27 item is accurate on the fines and gets the "contraception" element of the company's argument correct, but still falls down on the science.

As to the fines, the AP dispatch correctly reports that the company is not complying "despite risking potential fines of up to $1.3 million per day." They are "potential" fines because HHS and/or the IRS may decide not to assess them, or may assess lower amounts. (Look up one of the definition of "tyranny," -- "arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority." -- and tell me why a government possessing such discretion wouldn't be an example of it. Good luck.)

The AP item's headline and content also get the "contraception" matter right on definition, but still misses on the underlying science. That's an improvement over the Politico's pair's report, which leaves readers with the impression that Hobby Lobby opposes all forms of contraception. That is not the case, as AP explains:
An attorney for Hobby Lobby Stores said Thursday that the arts and crafts chain plans to defy a federal mandate requiring it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill ...
Hobby Lobby and religious book-seller Mardel Inc., which are owned by the same conservative Christian family, are suing to block part of the federal health care law that requires employee health-care plans to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and similar emergency contraception pills.
The companies claim the mandate violates the religious beliefs of their owners. They say the morning-after pill is tantamount to abortion because it can prevent a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in a woman's womb.
Thus, the controversy is over abortifacient (abortion-inducing) drugs and devices and not over all forms of contraception. But whether the morning after pill is "tantamount to abortion" is not something "they (company officials) say." It's a matter of scientific fact. Any drug or device which can "prevent a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in a woman's womb" is by definition an abortifacient, no matter what the company does or doesn't "say."

One thing I can "say" for sure is that assigning objectively true assertions only to Hobby Lobby officials minimizes their significance. Whether the Politico and AP used the "they say" tactic to deliberately drive an agenda to obscure the truth or merely did so out of sheer laziness -- or some of both -- is something I can't "say."

There is No Escape

Every once in a while we try to escape to one of those rare, childlike, stay-in-your-pajama's, popcorn-munching days when we can block out the fear of a collapsing economy and hide from a repulsive culture that seems to embrace everything that is bad. Lately it just doesn't work.

Settling in for an original "Star Trek" TV series episode called "A Piece of the Action," I was shocked as it seemed more like a mocking commentary on our current crises.

Searching for a space vessel lost 100 years earlier, the crew of the USS Enterprise arrives on the planet Sigma Iotia II. The planet has been "contaminated" after salvaging a book from the lost vessel called Chicago Mobs of the Twenties; a book they now venerate and base their civilization on. Conventional government had broken down and society was now a tumult of mob bosses, crime, death, and revenge; it could operate no other way. One can't help but think what an appropriate Rahm Emmanuel/Barack Obama scenario it was; similar to when Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals contaminated our own civilization.

"One book on the gangs of Chicago did all this?" Bones asks. "They evidently seized upon that one book as a blueprint for an entire society," Spock replies. "This society must become united, or it will degenerate into total anarchy." What happened next astounded me as I crunched my popcorn. Someone asks Spock to "find a solution on the sociological computer." After running it through the beeping fictional machine he replies, "it's futile...there is no record of such a culture based on a moral inversion." Just as I thought. When asked if he were giving up he replied "No... I'm merely saying the computers can offer us no logical, rational, factual way out of our current dilemma." Instead of escaping, I was painfully flung back to reality all the way from another galaxy.

Perhaps some music will help. I turned to Camelot, a musical adapted to screen in 1967 which I've watched many times. This time though, King Arthur and Camelot are America, and their illegitimate son, Mordred (who I am now imagining as a smaller, but just as thin and arrogant Barack Obama), suddenly arrives on the scene, bitter at his own childhood abandonment and bent on revenge. "Revenge, the most worthless of causes," King Arthur laments. Mordred has come to spoil English democracy and laws by finding Camelot's weakest link and collapsing it from within. He is successful and they ultimately spiral into civil war and the death of the Round Table. Camelot is no more. No escapism there, it doesn't even seem fictional anymore.

Now I turn to the old BBC TV series, "As Time Goes By" starring Judi Dench as Jean and Geoffrey Palmer as Lionel; a widow and a divorcee who rekindle their long lost romance. Jean and Lionel are at a party with a much younger crowd. "They all look 12 years old," Lionel quips. Jean is left alone to mingle for a bit and is approached by a talkative young woman who banters on, eventually asking Jean "Does one breed or not?" "It's such a responsibility," Jean answers, "...finding homes for the puppies." The woman then informs her she is talking about kids not puppies. "There is so much to think about isn't there?" the woman opines, "breast feeding, global warming... school fees, the rain forests, genetic engineering... I'm green you see, that's half the problem. It makes you feel good about yourself but it can be awfully depressing. I mean, what does the green child have to look forward to?" Lionel walks up and dryly responds, "blending in nicely with the lawn I should think." The original air date on the episode: 1992. I guess it should have been no surprise considering the United Kingdom had one of the earliest Green Parties in the world and a Manifesto for a Sustainable Society as early as the 1970's. If art reflects life, then young Briton's in the early '90's were already so entrenched in the "green" culture, it's no wonder that decades later "green" has wrestled the world to the mat with a victorious pin. 

I decided to turn on the radio where Pink Floyd were singing their refrain, "Hey teachers! Leave them kids alone!" While I'm sure it wasn't lyricist Roger Waters intention, I couldn't help but think, "what does the green child have to look forward too? They've been brainwashed by teachers and parents for decades." I sighed and turned off the radio. 

I decided to try a musty old book I'd recently acquired titled, Helen of the Old House, by Harold Bell Wright. With a copyright of 1921, I expected a quaint story about days gone by. Instead I got a dynamic story for our times outlining the influx of Communist/Socialist agitators across America after the end of the First World War. Labor union violence was turning formerly peaceful towns into riot scenes. Simultaneously, corporate greed, selfishness, and exploitation of workers for profit is dealt with head on as a perversion of Capitalism in a Christian country. 

The main agitator at one point declares:

The American people, they are asleep. They have drugged themselves with their own talk of how safe and strong and prosperous they are. Bah! There is no people so easy to fool. They think we strike for recognition of some union, or that it is for higher wages, or some other local grievance. Bah! We use for an excuse anything that will give us a hold on the labor class.

It is as if the book were written in 2012. Like something from the Occupy Wall Street movement, he continues:

...then, comrade, you shall see what will happen to your capitalist vultures and your employer swine, who have so long grown fat on the strength of the working class. 

Wright finishes his description of the agitator by writing:

A moment longer he stood as if lost in the contemplation of the glory of that day, when, in the triumph of his leadership, the people of the nation he so despised and hated would rise in bloody revolution against their own government and accept in its stead the dictatorship of lawless aliens who profess allegiance to no one but their own godless selves. 

Helen of the Old House is long-lost required reading for all Americans. While I did not find the diversions I longed for, I found instead prophetic warnings passed to us from the most unlikely and least obvious sources. "Escape" will have to wait another day.

Our World Is Full of Cliffs

Punditry is in a fit.  The federal government is headed for a fiscal cliff.  What can we do?  What should we do? 

Conservatives have some clear ideas:  cut the capital gains tax rate, which will increase revenue; open up all federal laws to energy production, which will also increase revenue without raising tax rates; cut entitlements and federal salaries by five percent; and promise no tax rate hikes, which will reassure our most productive citizens.  These steps are not draconian; they will merely get us on the road back to realism.  Look at the federal debt clock -- don't just look at the federal debt.  Some states, like California and Illinois, are in a fiscal death spiral.

As bad as things are here, things are worse in Europe.  Fat sow unions in Europe and politicians who herald the umpteenth iteration of a Marxist panacea make nearly all the economic news from Europe bad, and the looming default on sovereign debt by Greece, Spain, Cyprus, and other Eurozone nations means that not just governments, but banks with sovereign debt instruments as significant parts of investment portfolios will lose solvency and confidence.

But the cliff we face and the cliff that Europe faces are less economic than moral.  Two decades ago, we won the Cold War.  The Iron Curtain fell.  America, and to a lesser degree our NATO allies, all were able to safely and substantially cut defense spending.  The "Peace Dividend" ought to have allowed Europe and America to keep taxes low, run regular surpluses, and not disrupt the social welfare basket at all.

What we have lost is not our money, but our souls.  Consider Obama.  He has power, but how is he using that power?  Like Big Brother in Orwell's 1984, Obama never stops campaigning, never stops stirring up fear, never stops blaming those who came before him.  Obama and his minions seem incapable of honesty, honor, or humility.  Are Republicans in Washington much better?  Since Reagan, who gave us the "Peace Dividend" and proved Supply-Side Economics, have conservatives ever found anyone in Washington who is not tainted with power-lust?

If Washington is bad, Brussels is worse.  The dream of "United States of Europe" has become, instead, a nightmare.  Flemings and Walloons, the two nationalities in Belgium in  the very nation whose capital is the headquarters of the European Union, took 535 days after its last general election to form a government -- longer than any parliamentary government in history (shades of Weimar Germany!).  Self-destructive and angry Greeks dredged up Nazism when Angela Merkel visited their country to see what help Germany could provide.  Separatism is on the rise in Europe, as Scottish and Catalan and Flemish and other peoples seem to think that a new and smaller nation will solve their problems, but there is no reason to think this will improve European life. 

Old Europe itself is dying, as conservative authors have been telling us for years.  The cynical, agnostic, socialist European is reproducing at far too slow a rate to keep his native population from surviving and the young, militant jihadists who are taking over the streets of many European cities are no more tolerant or productive than the young, militant jihadists who are forming the new, scary democracies of the Arab world.

We have no talisman against these jihadists who will, inevitably, gain nuclear weapons through Pakistan (with hideous implications for India) or Iran (with hideous implications for Israel) or, through legitimate democratic means, the government of real nuclear powers like France and Britain (with hideous implications for us).

The problem which our civilized world is facing cannot be about money:  Americans and Europeans were affluent and, with only modest restraints, would still be comfortable and secure.  The problem we face cannot come from some wicked military enemy: Desert Storm proved that our armed forces are incomparably more powerful than any rival, and our troops each day in Afghanistan are winning battles easily.

The scary cliffs we see today -- and our world is full of cliffs -- is that too many people blessed to be born into the wealth and protection of the Western World have stopped believing that they are blessed at all;  they have stopped believing in loving God or in ordered liberty or even in such simple moral rules as "don't eat your children's seed corn."  Our only hope, if we have any hope in the world today, is to forget about goodies and to embrace first goodness.

Is this simplistic?  Yes, and it says much that we view simplicity with jaded eyes -- even when it's profoundly true.

Also Read:

OWS activist arrested after bombmaking materials, weapons found in home

"An Occupy Wall Street activist and his girlfriend have been arrested after police found a cache of weapons and explosives in their Greenwich Village apartment....
OWS has disappeared. It can't even be revived by its media cheerleaders. But the radicals remain and will no doubt look for other opportunities to carry out their nefarious schemes."

Professor Calls for Death Penalty for Climate Change 'Deniers'

"And the first instinct of those on the Progressive Left is to murder their enemies. Parncutt is showing what is in his heart. Granted, he did apologize (no doubt to keep his position) but do we have any reason to fear him or his compatriots less?  Especially now; they are in great anger because they know their time is short; Global Warming theory just didn't pan out the way they planned.

Progressives have absolute faith in their intellectual powers, and will not allow facts to stand in their way. Scientism is the modern secular religion, and as Trevor Thomas points out in his article, scientism is not science, but rather a belief system bejeweled with scientific adornments. That there has been no global warming for over fifteen years (contrary to theory) is immaterial. That we see no acceleration of sea level rise, that Antarctica is not melting (see here and here ), that there is no tropical troposphere hot spot, and no major warming in the oceans, the theory is largely falsified. But there is far too much money in it, and too much power and prestige to let it go, so scientists continue to ignore the facts, as do the entire Progressive Left. It has become an article of faith, not a matter for reason. And it is a most useful article of faith, as it justifies world government and Progressive intervention in every aspect of life."

Sunday, December 30, 2012


Oh, what to say....

I walked the boys at 7:30. I started the jerky in the dehydrator at 8 and then made some Chex mix. Napped. I think I'll make turkey pot pie for dinner because I have to use up some turkey. Maybe I'll make some turkey chili, too, to have for lunch tomorrow or the next day.

I have several 4MA digests to read through. Several WSJs to read through. I could watch the repeat of the Downton Abbey Christmas episode because THE NEW SEASON STARTS NEXT SUNDAY! Or I could read. The Cowboys play their last regular season game tonight but I don't know if I could stand watching it.

So, a relaxing day.

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Current Events - December 30, 2012

 AQAP offers bounty on US ambassador in Yemen

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Penninsula (AQAP) has offered a reward of $160,000 in gold for the death of America's ambassador to Yemen or any US soldier stationed in the country.

Associated Press:

Al-Qaida's branch in Yemen has offered to pay tens of thousands of dollars to anyone who kills the U.S. ambassador in Sanaa or an American soldier in the country.
An audio produced by the group's media arm, the al-Malahem Foundation, and posted on militant websites Saturday said it offered three kilograms of gold, worth $160,000, for killing the ambassador.
The group said it will pay 5 million Yemeni riyals ($23,000) to anyone who kills an American soldier inside Yemen.
It said the offer is valid for six months.
The bounties were set to "inspire and encourage our Muslim nation for jihad," the statement said.
The U.S. Embassy in Sanaa did not respond to an Associated Press phone call asking for comment.
Washington considers al-Qaida in Yemen to be the group's most dangerous branch.
The group overran entire towns and villages last year by taking advantage of a security lapse during nationwide protests that eventually ousted the country's longtime ruler. Backed by the U.S. military experts based at a southern air base, Yemen's army was able to regain control of the southern region, but al-Qaida militants continue to launch deadly attacks on security forces that have killed hundreds.
In the capital, Sanaa, security officials said two gunmen on a motorbike shot and killed two intelligence officers early Sunday as they were leaving a downtown security facility. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity according to regulations, said all intelligence and security officers have been instructed to take precautionary measures outside working hours.
As we have learned the hard way, this is no idle threat. Not that al-Qaeda fighters need any more incentive to kill Americans, but the bounty will probably bring foreign mercenaries into the country looking for the reward. In a desperately poor country like Yemen, it may also draw locals into the sweepstakes.

There will be no shortage of assassins to take out our people. And short of keeping them all locked up, there's not much we can do to protect them from determined killers.

Congress Passes Bill That Allows Law Enforcement to View Emails Without Warrant

A new bill passed by Congress will allow Netflix to share your video rental history on Facebook (just like Spotify does now when linked to your FB account), but an email privacy add-on was removed last minute.
Legislation sent to President Obama this week quietly removed language in a bill that would have — for the first time — forced law enforcement to obtain a warrant to read Americans’ email. Currently, private email that has been stored by a third party for more than 180 days can be accessed by the government without a warrant.
The Senate Judiciary Committee had added a provision to legislation demanding that law enforcement or government agencies show probable cause for email searches. The provision was added to a bill aimed to allow users the ability to post on their Facebook feeds what they are watching on video services [such as Netflix]. The bill, the Video Privacy Protection Act, changed laws passed in 1988 that made it illegal disclose someone’s video rental history following the leak of failed-Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s video history to the Washington City Paper.
So now you can let your friends on Facebook know that you just watched 20 consecutive episodes of Parks and Recreation, but your emails stored by a Google or Yahoo for more than 180 days still do not require a warrant to be seen.

Math Is Coming

All the debate over spending is starting to remind me of the movie Jaws. We have some people who believe there is this big threat headed our way, but the authorities all tell us not to panic — but instead of the mayor of Amity Island telling us the beaches are safe, President Obama is telling us we’ll grow our way out of this deficit.

Right now the Republicans and Democrats are hotly debating which of their two wholly inadequate plans we should use to avoid the fiscal cliff, but looking at the size of the deficit, they’re proposing different-sized Band-Aids where a tourniquet is needed. If you point this out, you’re called a Tea Party extremist who wants to throw old people off a cliff and deny underprivileged Ivy League law students free birth control. “You silly person. Budgets don’t have to balance. That’s just a superstition.”

Everyone is so used to politicians treating our tax dollars with less seriousness than the average person treats Monopoly money that they just don’t get why people are suddenly talking about the need for spending cuts. But this isn’t some idea invented by the Tea Party or Paul Ryan or the Koch brothers while sitting in their hollowed-out-volcano Koch Lair. They only mention cuts because they fear the one truly insisting on them: Math.

Politicians have long ignored Math. And it’s no wonder: Math is unelected, unsympathetic, and highly biased toward the rich and keeps demanding cuts to spending and changes to entitlements that are politically infeasible. In a nation filled with obese poor people, we’ve discovered a long list of things everyone should be entitled to besides food, clothing, and shelter — things people need,  like subsidized hybrids — but heartless, uncompromising Math keeps looking at our revenue and telling us we can’t have all of that.

Thus Obama wants Math locked completely out of the fiscal cliff talks and instead wants unlimited power to raise the debt ceiling and then tax the rich because of the demands of Fairness — Fairness being the left’s favorite imaginary friend. Math won’t stop laughing at Obama’s plan to pay for everything by taxing the rich, so Obama just won’t work with it at all.

The Republicans at least acknowledge that Math exists but are only trying to compromise with it. We’re broke, and Obama wants to buy a Ferrari we can’t afford, and they’re trying to argue him down to a BMW we can’t afford. I guess they think if they make some changes to entitlements, Math will just relent and allow 2 + 2 to equal 5 so the rest will add up.

But Math can’t be ignored and won’t compromise. We can plead and cry all day about how much spending cuts will hurt those in need, but this will not move Math. It’s a remorseless adding machine, and it will eventually balance its numbers and doesn’t care what it will have to destroy in the process. But the politicians don’t believe this, and while Obama has so little concern about Math that he sometimes even taunts it (“Obamacare will reduce the deficit!”), some of us see what Math did to Greece and wonder when it’s coming for us. Thus we few ask for spending cuts, as they’re all that will save us. I know it’ll be hard to tell a five year old he won’t get the exact same Medicare coverage as his grandma — especially since he won’t understand what you’re talking about — but that’s the only way to turn Math’s wrath.

People don’t want to listen. But Math is coming. It’s $16 trillion in debt and growing, and one day it will rise out of the water, and even those ignoring it will finally be afraid and gasp, “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”

No, you idiots! Haven’t you been listening? We need a smaller boat. One we can actually afford.

Obama’s Deadly Plan for the Death Tax

I’m referring instead to what might happen because of Obama’s proposal for a much more onerous death tax, which is part of his class-warfare agenda and would take effect in just a couple of days.

It seems that there’s good evidence this may lead to some premature deaths. CNBC reports.
Many families are faced with a stark proposition. If the life of an elderly wealthy family member extends into 2013, the tax bills will be substantially higher. An estate that could bequest $3 million this year will leave just $1.9 million after taxes next year. Shifting a death from January to December could produce $1.1 million in tax savings. It may seem incredible to contemplate pulling the plug on grandma to save tax dollars. While we know that investors will sell stocks to avoid rising capital gains taxes, accelerating the death of a loved one seems at least a bit morbid—perhaps even evil. Will people really make life and death decisions based on taxes? Do we don our green eye shades when it comes to something this serious? There is good evidence that there is some “elasticity” in the timing of important decisions about life and death.
And what does that mean? Well, according to some of the academic research, the President is going to have proverbial blood on his hands.
Gans and Leigh looked into another natural experiment. In 1979, Australia abolished its federal inheritance taxes. Official records show that approximately 50 deaths were shifted from the week before the abolition to the week after. “Although we cannot rule out the possibility that our results are driven by misreporting, our results imply that over the very short run, the death rate may be highly elastic with respect to the inheritance tax rate,” Gans and Leigh write. This isn’t just something peculiar to Australia. Economists Wojciech Kopczuk of Columbia University and Joel Slemrod of the University of Michigan studied how mortality rates in the United States were changed by falling or rising estate taxes. They note that while the evidence of “death elasticity” is “not overwhelming,” every $10,000 in available tax savings increases the chance of dying in the low-tax period by 1.6 percent. This is true both when taxes are falling, so that people are surviving longer to achieve the tax savings, and when they are rising, so that people are dying earlier, according to Kopczuk and Slemrod. “Death elasticity” does not necessarily mean that greedy relatives are pulling the plug on the dying or forcing the sickly to extend their lives into a lower taxed period. According to a 2008 paper from University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Doctor G. Stuart Mendenhall, while tax increases give potential heirs large economic incentives to limit care that would prolong life, distressed patients may “voluntarily trade prolongation of their life past the end [a low tax period] for large ļ¬nancial implications for their kin.
I’ve previously cited the research from Australia, and also wrote a post about incentives to die in 2010, when the death tax temporarily was abolished, so this research makes sense.
What’s the bottom line?
…based on past reactions to changes in taxes, it at least seems likely that some deaths that might otherwise have occurred shortly after January 1 will occur shortly before. Death may slip in ahead of the tax man for some with estates worth over $1 million.
In the grand scheme of things, I have a hard time feeling anguish about some elderly rich guy dying today rather than one week from now. But there is real data to suggest that Obama’s policies will cause premature deaths.

And these premature deaths will only occur because the President is greedy for more revenue from a tax that shouldn’t even exist. Indeed, it’s worth noting that every pro-growth tax reform plan – such as the flat tax or national sales tax – eliminates this pernicious form of double taxation.

Hobby Lobby and the Loss of America's Soul

In America, established rights such as religious liberty and the right to bear arms are currently under attack. Liberals are in charge and they seem to feel that straightforward Constitutional precepts require alteration or eradication. 

Take for instance the "right to privacy" -- the left has had no problem broadening the meaning of "privacy" to include the right to kill an unborn child. As for religious liberty, unless you're a Muslim demanding a Ramadan meal, liberals like Supreme Court judge Sonia Sotomayor, rather than uphold religious liberty, facilitate Barack Obama's effort to redefine the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.

Currently, Obamacare is ushering in a new definition of "religious liberty." So far, the Catholic Church has already received fair warning that when it comes to providing insurance that covers birth control and abortion, there are limits on "religious liberty." Moreover, they are also finding out that refusal to conform to progressive edicts could result in the federal government raining down fire and brimstone on the defiant.

So, in conjunction with the updated version of the "right to bear arms," right about now liberals should provide a lexicon that defines religious liberty in the following way: The right for the government to demand, by law, that religious institutions be forced to support policies that contradict their core beliefs.

Take for example the Oklahoma-based companies craft store giant Hobby Lobby and booksellers Mardel Inc. In 2010 Hobby Lobby grossed $2.6 billion in sales, and employed 13,000 people in 455 outlets in 42 states.

Both companies are owned by Bible-believing Christian families who close up shop on the Sabbath and pay full-time employees a minimum wage of $11 per hour versus the federally required $7.25 minimum wage.
Currently, Hobby Lobby is the largest religiously-owned non-Catholic business to have filed a lawsuit against the HHS birth control directive. Yet, despite the fact that they've been founded and run on Christian principles, Oklahoma U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton ruled that Hobby Lobby and Mardel are not religious organizations and therefore subject to the federal birth control dictate.

Because the Christian-owned company maintains that the mandate "violates the religious beliefs for their owners," it's evident that Hobby Lobby must think "religious liberty" is defined in a way other than how it is being defined by liberals at this time.

Hobby Lobby maintains that the "morning-after pill is tantamount to abortion because it can prevent a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in a woman's womb." Therefore, "defy[ing] a federal mandate requiring it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill" is the company's way of staying true to its core convictions.

In the meantime, for failing to meet what she called "the demanding standard for the extraordinary relief,"Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has denied a request for an injunction while the Hobby Lobby lawsuit is pending. If the injunction were granted that would have prevented the birth control mandate from beginning on January 1st.

Because it was denied, until the lawsuit reaches the lower courts, Hobby Lobby had better submit to the HHS mandate or, starting January 1, 2013, figure out a way to come up with $1.3 million a day in IRS excise taxes.

Whatever the ultimate outcome of the case, if government can now force Christians to pay for insurance that covers abortion-inducing drugs, shouldn't they also require other religiously-based businesses like Halal food markets to sell foodstuffs considered haram? After all, in the words of the Honorable Joe Heaton, a food market is not a religious organization. Right?

Attorney Kyle Duncan of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty speaking for Hobby Lobby said the company would continue to "provide health insurance to all qualified employees." But while its lawsuit is pending, the company does not intend to offer health insurance that provides pharmaceuticals that induce spontaneous abortion.

On behalf of Hobby Lobby, maybe Duncan should point out that the $3.75 per hour over and above the $7.25 per hour the Christian-run business's full-time employees would be earning if they worked 40 hours a week elsewhere comes to $150 extra per week, which should be more than enough money to purchase emergency birth control.

Despite facing millions in fines, the noncompliant Hobby Lobby and Mardel Inc. CEO and founder David Green refuses to surrender the companies' religious convictions. Green has said he'd rather abandon the business. A $2.2 billion-a-year company that is willing to close itsdoors rather than compromise its core principles? Now that's impressive.

Green maintains that Hobby Lobby, "[b]y being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith, or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow. We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate." Sounds like Hobby Lobby's David Green believes verbatim the Scripture verse that asks "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"

In the end it is clear that Hobby Lobby's CEO is more concerned about his standing before God than his standing in the business world, hence proving that in their effort to gain the world, liberals' redefinition of "religious liberty" forfeits our nation's soul.

Also Read:

How Chicago and Obama Globalized Voter Fraud

"It has been 27 years since Chicago started sanctuary policy for illegal immigration. Since that time Chicago, Illinois, and other cities and states have expanded the illegal immigrant population by stretching the envelope of immigration through Sanctuary Policy. At the same time they have stretched the concept of voter registration.
The notion that foreign nationals can influence elections is no longer a possibility but a reality. The first president to both actively participate in that process and benefit from it is Barack Obama. These actions prove that President Obama is not a socialist or a Marxist, he is an old-fashioned Chicago Democrat who is focused on padding the voter registration list to get elected."

Washington Post whitewashes Muslim Brotherhood's top leader

"It's not that Badie's views haven't  been widely reported in the Egyptian media and elsewhere.  Only a few weeks ago, he called on the Arab world to end negotiations with Israel and substitute "holy jihad" to eliminate the Jewish state.  "Jews have dominated the land, spread corruption on earth, spilled the blood of believers, and profaned holy places," Badie declared."

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Yes, you could be spending your time better on Facebook....

I think I'm sticking with THE LAST DETECTIVE by Peter Lovesey. This is 1st of 13 in series featuring Peter Diamond, a homicide detective in Bath, England. Here is a description:

Irascible, corpulent, cynical Chief Superintendent Peter Diamond of the Avon and Somerset murder squad attributes Britain's decline as a world power to the abolition of capital punishment in 1964. Spurning computer gadgetry, he sticks to common sense, index cards and gumshoeing: "Knocking on doors. That's how we get results." The almost clueless case of the naked woman's body found floating in Chew Valley Lake poses a supreme challenge for the detective, who is anxious to clear his name of recent charges of brutality. The belated identification of the victim as actress Geraldine Snoo, written out of a BBC soap opera two years before, leads to one surprise after another, including the claim of the victim's professor husband that she had tried to kill him, and culminating in the suspenseful trial of divorced mother Dana Didrikson whom Geraldine had accused of trying to steal her husband.

It was published in 1991 and has 331 pages. This is a library book. I dunno; I guess I was in the mood for a British police procedural.

After taking the boys for a run, I got groceries at Walmart and new sheets at Bed, Bath & Beyond. My last set of sheets in the house shattered so we desperately needed that investment. I took a nap in them after putting them through the laundry. I have always believed in quality sheets helps a good night sleep so these are high thread count cotton and feel lovely. Dark blue. I can foresee lots of time spent there.... reading and sleeping.

Do you know what's despicable? At Walmart, it is all Valentine's Day stuff. It's not even January yet, people.

I'm not sure yet what to have for dinner. Last night we had salads from Red Robin. I floated the idea of homemade nachos but that didn't seem to create any excitement. Maybe pizza.

I have some projects planned. I'm hoping tonight I can put together a marinade and soak some meat overnight and make some jerky tomorrow in the dehydrator.  I also need to make some simple Chex mix for some munchies this weekend. Other thoughts are going toward cleaning up the office and doing some research. With no other obligations, we'll see what I can get done or if it turns into wasted time again.

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster