Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Current Events - March 18, 2014

How Sanctions Against Russia Could Signal the Beginning of ‘World War III’

By Sara Carter
Russia is preparing to fight World War III against the United States, not with conventional weapons but with the American dollar, a financial analyst told TheBlaze.
Kevin Freeman, a global financial analyst with expertise in financial warfare and terrorism, warned that Russia, along with allies like China, could cripple the U.S. financial system.
It’s not a theory but a “very real reality” that should not be ignored, he said.
“The real risk is if we go after them with economic weapons, they come back after us and this creates World War III,” said Freeman, who has consulted for the Pentagon, CIA and FBI. ”This is a very tough game of chicken that we’re playing, and Putin is serious.”
...U.S. analysts told TheBlaze that the sanctions announced Monday against seven of Russia’s wealthiest oligarchs and politicians may not be enough to stop Putin. Some Russian leaders have even joked that these are insignificant measures from a weak U.S. administration.
“There is no doubt that Russia has been thinking long and hard about how to disrupt U.S. power and the value of the dollar in the global market,” a U.S. defense official said. “We’re mindful but I don’t think we’re mindful enough. One thing is certain the greatest threat to our stability is not a conventional war but the destabilization of our economy by an enemy.”
For the past five years, Putin has promised that he would take America’s role as the leading global financial mammoth away, vowing to create alternatives to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. In 2011, he criticized the U.S. debt load, saying the “U.S. is living way beyond their means and shifting a part of their weight of their problems to the world economy.”
“To some extent [the U.S. is] living like parasites off the global economy and their monopoly of the dollar,” Putin said.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported a significant drop in foreign central banks’ Treasury bond holdings at the Federal Reserve. Analysts said they believed the drop was a result of Russia shifting Treasury bond holdings out of the Fed and into offshore accounts so it would be able to buy or sell its portfolio if the U.S. and its European allies imposed economic sanctions over Ukraine.
Earlier this month, Kremlin economic aide Sergei Glazyev made Russia’s intentions for economic warfare very clear, saying, “an attempt to announce sanctions would end in a crash for the financial system of the United States, which would cause the end of domination of the United States in the global financial system.”
Glazyvev said Russia could stop using the dollar, creating its own payment system with “our partners in the East and South.”

Michelle Obama and family take another taxpayer-funded trip

By Neil Munro
The first lady, her mother, her two kids, plus numerous White House aides and security personnel are going to tour China this month, but White House officials are refusing to say how much the taxpayers will pay for the trip.
However, they did say it would be a thrill for everyone on the trip, including for Michelle Obama’s top aide, Tina Tchen.

Penn Dem AG Shuts Down Corruption Sting After Only Black Democrats Are Caught, Blames Racism
By Duane Lester
So the Attorney General of Pennslyvania set up a sting.  Some politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, are offered bribes by undercover agents. The Republicans pass.  Only Democrats accept the bribe.  Black Democrats, to be precise.  So clearly it was racist, or something:
...The undercover sting, begun three years ago by Kane’s predecessor, Republican Tom Corbett, captured leading Philadelphia Democrats, including four local members of the state’s House delegation, on tape accepting money. The lobbyist who agreed to wear a wire and tape officials reacting to offers of cash and/or gifts is Tyron B. Ali, 40, who was arrested in a $430,000 fraud case.
“Sources with knowledge of the sting said the investigation made financial pitches to both Republicans and Democrats, but only Democrats accepted the payments,” said the Inquirer.
Four state lawmakers took money, the sources said. State Rep. Ronald G. Waters accepted multiple payments totaling $7,650; State Rep. Vanessa Brown took $4,000; State Rep. Michelle Brownlee received $3,500; and State Rep. Louise Bishop took $1,500, said people with knowledge of the investigation.
But it was racism that made them take the bribe.

When the going gets tough...

 By Thomas Lifson
It’s good to know that our commander in chief has plenty of time for his March Madness bracketology, even as the United States is humiliated by Russian officials’ mockery of meaningless sanctions for Putin’s Anschluss in Crimea. I’ll bet The Russkies are quaking in their boots over the preezy’s basketball prowess, as evidenced by this recent Instagram photo put out by the White House on Instagram:
There’s also plenty of time for the president to raise money for his Democrat allies, for instance New York fundraisers yesterday, “including a high-dollar fundraiser at the home of Alan Patricof, the founder of a New York venture capital fund. Patricof is a longtime Clinton friend and financial bundler for her Senate and presidential campaigns.”
President Obama is going at double the pace of President Bush’s second term when it comes to fundraising. As Bloomberg BusinessWeeek puts it, “Raising money is the least -- and the most -- Obama can do for” Democrat candidates. Nobody wants to be photographed anywhere near him, because he is “political poison.”  But members of the Party of the Little Guy are more than happy to take money from Wall Street guys, green energy cronies, Hollywood airheads, and other Dem moneybags that is raised by a president who’s got nothing more important on his mind than sports, money, and finding a replacement for the White House pastry chef.

Epitaphs for the Obama presidency (1)

By Thomas Lifson
Things are falling apart for Obama so fast (“freakout” is the current term showing up in even liberal outlets) that the measure of his presidency is already being taken. Bret Stephens, writing in the Wall Street Journal, has a particularly pungent and insightful column full of near-aphorisms on the president and the media forces which sustain him with decreasing effectiveness. A sample:
A cavalier foreign policy by an inattentive president that elicits the contempt of the people it intends to punish ultimately encourages their aggression as well.
…We need a fat president. Or at least one who rarely thinks and never speaks about how he looks in jeans. And one who doesn't spend his day testing his wits against a Hollywood stoner or bantering with Ryan Seacrest while a European ally is being pummeled by Russia. And one who would rather spend his time working than working out, even if it means putting on a few pounds. And one who can pitch from the mound and reach home plate. However confined.

Epitaphs for the Obama presidency (3)

By Thomas Lifson
We are at the cusp of a whole lotta noticing going on.
Kimball continues:
What exactly are you going to do about that, Mr. President?  (UPDATE: Besides, I mean, the pretend sanctions against 11 individuals that caused such hilarity among the Russians yesterday?) For five years, you’ve been jetting around the world at vast expense to apologize for America. You apologized to the Muslims. You apologized to Hugo Chavez. You bowed deeply to the Saudi despot. You cancelled the promised missile defense programs for Poland and the Czech Republic, thereby both selling out important allies and waving the flag of weakness to the country that, come to think of it, might just be American’s “number one geopolitical foe,” as someone once said.
It’s all starting to unravel, isn’t it? The preposterous and hideously expensive socialized medicine program you shoved down the throats of the American people with no Republican support and against the will of a majority of the people: Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass it to find out what’s in it. Well, you bribed, cajoled, and threatened to get it passed, and now the American people are indeed finding out what’s in it. “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, period.” You said that over and over and over. You knew it wasn’t true. But you decided to lie to the American people in order to set about “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”  That’s what you promised to do in 2008.  And boy have you made good on that promise.
Kimball sees where this is leading:
Meanwhile, those very American people you, like Mencken,  hold in such contempt: they are waking up.  They do not like what you are doing to this country. Which is why your approval rating is in the 30s.  That’s Bush territory. And all signs are that the impending direction is south. It may seem extreme now, in March 2014.  But just wait.  I reckon it won’t be long before you’re faced with one of those unhappy dilemmas I mentioned at the outset. Abdication or resignation may be one option. The other begins with “i.” But that’s something that no establishment Republican wants to broach. Not yet, anyway. Not yet.
The next two and a half years are going to be perilous and very interesting (in the purportedly Chinese sense of the term).

How's This for Flexibility, Mr. President?

By Ken Blackwell & Bob Morrison
It was a shocking disclosure just two years ago.  In Seoul, South Korea, President Barack Obama’s voice was picked up on a hot mic as he told Russia’s Dmitri Medvedev: "Tell Vladimir [Putin] I can be more flexible after the election."
It was an unprecedented confession by an American head of state.  It was shocking – or should have been – because it showed the president of the United States conspiring, literally whispering assurances to a foreign leader that may not have been consistent with his own public pronouncements to us, the American voters, or to the world.
American presidents are not supposed to be dealing behind the hand or under the table with foreign leaders.  It speaks of a fundamental lack of trust between the governors and the governed.  Our liberal media – always in the tank for Mr. Obama – yawned and brushed it all off.
Mitt Romney tried to raise the issue, but he stumbled badly.  He pronounced Russia “our number-one strategic enemy.”  If he had been elected, how could he have dealt with Putin’s Russia with that deeply flawed pre-supposition?
Russians are not our enemy.  Nor should we let Vladimir Putin’s Great Power ambitions make the Russians our enemy.  Successful U.S. presidents from Harry Truman through JFK to Ronald Reagan maintained the view that the Russian people were our friends, however much their dictatorial rulers tried to make them our enemies. 
President Obama has done virtually everything wrong in dealing with Russia.  He let Hillary Clinton present them with a misspelled “reset” button in 2009.  That button was red, but it was a green light for Russian aggression against the Republic of Georgia.  It signaled the Obama administration’s willingness to let bygones be bygones and let Putin’s seizure of several Georgian provinces stand.  Flexible.
Next, Mr. Obama stiff-armed the Poles and Czechs over missile defense.  He withdrew an American offer of help to our new NATO allies while wishfully thinking this would make Putin more amenable to aiding us with Iran’s nuclear program.  Putin pocketed the concession and gave not an inch, nor a millimeter on Iran, or, for that matter, on Syria.  More flexible still.
Now, we have Secretary of State John Kerry tripping over his shoelaces with every public utterance.  We’re going to impost sanctions against the ruling Russian clique – the crowd that used to be known as the nomenklatura.  They won’t be able to travel freely in the West.  They won’t be able to access their offshore bank accounts, presumably.
But this is a ruling elite that can already command the best that a country spanning twelve time zones can offer.  They will have their dachas on the Black Sea (and now they will have easy access through a newly acquired province in the Crimea).
But Secretary Kerry hastens to add that this is not a “threat,” not “personal.”  Does he believe that?  Does anyone?
So much for this administration’s post-election flexibility.  The latest public opinion polls show that the bloom is off Barack Obama’s red rose.  Americans are increasingly becoming disenchanted with his left-wing politics and his mistrustful dealings with foreign dictators.
Remember that open hand with which he approached the Iranian mullahs?  How has that worked out?
Meanwhile, this administration is showing manly firmness with at least one foreign nation.  The Obama State Department has taken to counting Jews in Judea and Samaria and is daily berating the Israelis about settlements.
They are doing this on behalf of the PLO.  That terrorist outfit lined up unapologetically with the USSR for decades.  Only when Western resolve helped bring down that evil empire did Yasser Arafat and his PLO cohorts shift sponsors.
Why the United States should be flexible with Putin and PLO boss Mahmoud Abbas never made sense.  It makes even less sense now.

Insurance industry predicts skyrocketing Obamacare premiums next year

By Rick Moran
According to the Hill, many insurance companies are contradicting HHS Secretary Sebelius's rosy predictions about modest increases in Obamacare premiums next year.
Some of the increases will be "significant." How significant? In some states, the increase may be as much as 300%.
The expected rate hikes will be announced in the coming months amid an intense election year, when control of the Senate is up for grabs. The sticker shock would likely bolster the GOP’s prospects in November and hamper ObamaCare insurance enrollment efforts in 2015.
The industry complaints come less than a week after Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sought to downplay concerns about rising premiums in the healthcare sector. She told lawmakers rates would increase in 2015 but grow more slowly than in the past. 
“The increases are far less significant than what they were prior to the Affordable Care Act,” the secretary said in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee.
Her comment baffled insurance officials, who said it runs counter to the industry’s consensus about next year. 
“It’s pretty shortsighted because I think everybody knows that the way the exchange has rolled out … is going to lead to higher costs,” said one senior insurance executive who requested anonymity.
The insurance official, who hails from a populous swing state, said his company expects to triple its rates next year on the ObamaCare exchange. 
The hikes are expected to vary substantially by region, state and carrier. 
Areas of the country with older, sicker or smaller populations are likely to be hit hardest, while others might not see substantial increases at all.
...Much will depend on how firms are coping with the healthcare law’s raft of new fees and regulatory restrictions, according to another industry official.
Some insurers initially underpriced their policies to begin with, expecting to raise rates in the second year. 
Others, especially in larger states, will continue to hold rates low in order to remain competitive.
But insurance officials are quick to emphasize that any spikes would be a consequence of delays and changes in ObamaCare’s rollout. 
They point out that the administration, after a massive public outcry, eased their policies to allow people to keep their old health plans. That kept some healthy people in place, instead of making them jump into the new exchanges.
Note that part of these massive increases is due to President Obama's desperate attempts to deal with consumer backlash about his failed promises as well as his desire to push back some Obamacare mandates beyond election day next year.
...The problem for the Democrats is that Obamacare has left the realm of the theoretical and entered the real world. As long as Obamacare's problems were predictions, Democrats could claim that Republicans were bad mouthing the law in order to kill it.
Now, the American people don't need Republican spin to see the damage this law is going to inflict on them. They are experiencing it first hand and if the GOP is smart, it will develop ads and social media campaigns to buttress what people already know and are seeing in their own lives. No need for overkill. The truth is devastating enough.

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