Saturday, September 29, 2012

He's Been Called a Muslim, Now This

Please spread the word about this.  Not only is the apologetic foreign policy of the Obama Administration in flames as the entire Muslim world rises up to attack our embassies and our countrymen, but we have been lied to about the murder of our ambassador, and the Constitution of the United States has been shredded. If you are an American who loves freedom and our Constitution, it is your duty to spread the word about the “stunning pronouncement” made by President Obama before the UN this week.

The Anti-Blasphemy, Anti-First-Amendment President

Diana West 9/28/2012
Who said the following: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

Iran’s Ahmadinejad? Egypt’s Morsi? Some little-known, fatwa-flinging cleric increasing the bounty on Salman Rushdie’s head?

None of the above. The words are President Obama’s, and he spoke them this week to the U.N. General Assembly.

No Big Media outlet reported this stunning pronouncement. It’s as if Ronald Reagan addressed the National Association of Evangelicals in 1983 and the media failed to report that he used the phrase “evil empire.” To make the comparison more direct, imagine if a Republican president declared that “the future must not belong to those who slander the messiah of Christianity” – or, for that matter, the prophet of Latter-day Saints. We would have heard all about it, and for the rest of our lives.

Of course, the Islam-Christianity comparison isn’t a perfect match, given the peculiar definition of “slander” under Islamic law (Shariah). According to such authoritative sources as “Reliance of the Traveller,” a standard Sunni law book approved by Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, “slander” in Islam includes anything Muslims perceive to reflect badly on Islam and its prophet, including the truth. In other words, any negative fact about Islam and Muhammad is, under Islamic law, deemed “slander.”

Does the president, son of a Muslim father and raised for four years as a Muslim by his stepfather in Indonesia, understand this? Shouldn’t someone in the White House press corps bother to ask?

Whether the president is ignorant or knowing, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Islamic bloc of 56 nations and the Palestinian Authority, certainly understood the Islamic meaning as its representatives sat in the General Assembly. They heard the U.S. president declare that the future “must not belong” to those who analytically or critically approach Muhammad and, by natural extension, Muhammad’s totalitarian religious/legal system of governance. According to this understanding, We the People who prize the First Amendment are out. Those who enforce and follow Shariah are in. I can’t think of another instance in which an American president has publicly uttered such a rank betrayal of American principles. And the media censored it!

But, but, but … the president also said the future “must not belong” to those who “target Coptic Christians in Egypt” (no word on Christians “targeted” in other Islamic countries) and “bully women.”

First of all, “target” and “bully” are wan verbs to describe the terror, bloodletting and systemic abuse that Christian populations and women suffer at the hands of Islam. More important, though, the violence inherent to religious cleansing and female oppression is in no way comparable to the most critical words or pictures on a page or screen. Such an equivalence is immoral. The president should be ashamed.

But we should be afraid. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last December, the Obama administration has been working with the OIC to “move to implementation” of U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, an international law that would criminalize criticism of Islam. Obama’s “slander” speech just greases the skids.

But, but, but … the president also said: “The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech – the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.”

Let’s crack that code. “More speech” as a weapon sounds perfectly fine until the president defines it. What does he mean by “voices of tolerance” rallying against “blasphemy”? (Since when does a supposedly secular politician decry “blasphemy”?) Obama’s “voices of tolerance” sound like the public pressure-cooker Hillary Clinton described when proposing to enforce the U.N. blasphemy resolution through “some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.”

Excuse me, but who’s “we”? The Obama administration and the Islamic bloc? Are these the progenitors of what President Obama calls “the values of understanding and mutual respect” that must triumph over “hateful speech”?

Clearly, this president is not protecting free speech as our founders guaranteed it, and, in fact, he gravely endangers it. Meanwhile, if I choose to write against child rape as condoned under Islamic law with roots in Muhammad’s consummation of a marriage with a 9-year-old – Islamic “slander,” for sure – in what way is the “mutual respect” President Obama calls for even conceivable as an antidote?

Here’s the secret that blasphemy laws are written to smother: Regarding the fundamentals of freedom of conscience, the autonomy of the individual, protection of children and equality of women, Islamic and Western doctrines have nothing in common and are, in fact, at irreconcilable, dagger’s-point odds. Silence – Shariah blasphemy laws – is the Obama-Clinton-OIC Islamic answer. Indeed, in the Shariah-compliant end, silence will replace the questions, too.

But we’re already used to it. Don’t believe me? Afshin Ellian, an Iranian-born Dutch law professor, poet and columnist, puts it this way: “If you cannot say that Islam is a backward religion and that Muhammad is a criminal, then you are living in an Islamic country, my friend, because there you also cannot say such things. I may say Christ was a homosexual and Mary was a prostitute, but apparently I should stay off of Muhammad.”

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Continuing Global Warming Panic

Every once in a while I feel compelled to post a blog about global warming even though I realize that the subject has become boring to many readers. Despite recent evidence to the contrary, the drumbeat to reduce CO2 emissions goes on. Yes, the ice cover has been reduced in the Arctic (while greatly increased in the Antarctic); yes, the severity of storms has seemed to increase recently (while global temperatures have fallen slightly in the last 10-12 years).

The fact is that climate is terribly complex and always changing, but the religion of climate-change alarmism goes on and on. Do none of them know any world history? History tells us that grass once covered Greenland, that wine was made from grapes grown in the north of England, and that increases in global temperatures have always been beneficial to mankind.

No Need to Panic About Global Warming

September 25, 2012 Wall St Journal

Editor's Note: The following has been signed by the 16 scientists listed at the end of the article:

In September, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of President Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: "I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: 'The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.' In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?"

In spite of a multidecade international campaign to enforce the message that increasing amounts of the "pollutant" carbon dioxide will destroy civilization, large numbers of scientists, many very prominent, share the opinions of Dr. Giaever. And the number of scientific "heretics" is growing with each passing year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts.

Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now. This is known to the warming establishment, as one can see from the 2009 "Climategate" email of climate scientist Kevin Trenberth: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't." But the warming is only missing if one believes computer models where so-called feedbacks involving water vapor and clouds greatly amplify the small effect of CO2.

The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause. Faced with this embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate to be ascribed to CO2.

The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere's life cycle. Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth. This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today. Better plant varieties, chemical fertilizers and agricultural management contributed to the great increase in agricultural yields of the past century, but part of the increase almost certainly came from additional CO2 in the atmosphere.

Although the number of publicly dissenting scientists is growing, many young scientists furtively say that while they also have serious doubts about the global-warming message, they are afraid to speak up for fear of not being promoted—or worse. They have good reason to worry. In 2003, Dr. Chris de Freitas, the editor of the journal Climate Research, dared to publish a peer-reviewed article with the politically incorrect (but factually correct) conclusion that the recent warming is not unusual in the context of climate changes over the past thousand years. The international warming establishment quickly mounted a determined campaign to have Dr. de Freitas removed from his editorial job and fired from his university position. Fortunately, Dr. de Freitas was able to keep his university job.

This is not the way science is supposed to work, but we have seen it before—for example, in the frightening period when Trofim Lysenko hijacked biology in the Soviet Union. Soviet biologists who revealed that they believed in genes, which Lysenko maintained were a bourgeois fiction, were fired from their jobs. Many were sent to the gulag and some were condemned to death.

Why is there so much passion about global warming, and why has the issue become so vexing that the American Physical Society, from which Dr. Giaever resigned a few months ago, refused the seemingly reasonable request by many of its members to remove the word "incontrovertible" from its description of a scientific issue? There are several reasons, but a good place to start is the old question "cui bono?" Or the modern update, "Follow the money."

Alarmism over climate is of great benefit to many, providing government funding for academic research and a reason for government bureaucracies to grow. Alarmism also offers an excuse for governments to raise taxes, taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses that understand how to work the political system, and a lure for big donations to charitable foundations promising to save the planet. Lysenko and his team lived very well, and they fiercely defended their dogma and the privileges it brought them.

Speaking for many scientists and engineers who have looked carefully and independently at the science of climate, we have a message to any candidate for public office: There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to "decarbonize" the world's economy. Even if one accepts the inflated climate forecasts of the IPCC, aggressive greenhouse-gas control policies are not justified economically.

A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls. This would be especially beneficial to the less-developed parts of the world that would like to share some of the same advantages of material well-being, health and life expectancy that the fully developed parts of the world enjoy now. Many other policy responses would have a negative return on investment. And it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet.

If elected officials feel compelled to "do something" about climate, we recommend supporting the excellent scientists who are increasing our understanding of climate with well-designed instruments on satellites, in the oceans and on land, and in the analysis of observational data. The better we understand climate, the better we can cope with its ever-changing nature, which has complicated human life throughout history. However, much of the huge private and government investment in climate is badly in need of critical review.

Every candidate should support rational measures to protect and improve our environment, but it makes no sense at all to back expensive programs that divert resources from real needs and are based on alarming but untenable claims of "incontrovertible" evidence.

Claude Allegre, former director of the Institute for the Study of the Earth, University of Paris; J. Scott Armstrong, cofounder of the Journal of Forecasting and the International Journal of Forecasting; Jan Breslow, head of the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University; Roger Cohen, fellow, American Physical Society; Edward David, member, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences; William Happer, professor of physics, Princeton; Michael Kelly, professor of technology, University of Cambridge, U.K.; William Kininmonth, former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences, MIT; James McGrath, professor of chemistry, Virginia Technical University; Rodney Nichols, former president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences; Burt Rutan, aerospace engineer, designer of Voyager and SpaceShipOne; Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. senator; Nir Shaviv, professor of astrophysics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Henk Tennekes, former director, Royal Dutch Meteorological Service; Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists, Geneva.


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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Can't Resign from AARP

I can't resign from AARP whenever they support socialist nonsense or show again that their main interest is in selling insurance; I can't resign because I already did 20 years ago. The other day, at an AARP sponsored event, seniors showed how they have been brain-washed by booing the man, Paul Ryan, who hopefully will lead the effort to save Medicare from bankruptcy - while otherwise not affecting their own benefits one bit.

Have Americans really become this stupid?

Doesn't everyone understand that both Medicare and Social Security need major changes or they will crash in flames in just a few years? Doesn't everyone understand that President Obama has shifted $716 Billion dollars from Medicare to finance Obamacare?

We Didn't Leave AARP...AARP Left Us

By Russ Vaughn September 25, 2012 American Thinker

The report of the AARP convention booing Paul Ryan the other day made me just shake my head and smile wryly. These are the kind of fools who'd boo the man trying to save their bacon while they remain content to blindly follow a leftist leadership that has sold its organizational soul to liberal orthodoxy.

Like millions of Americans, I received my courtesy membership to AARP upon nearing fifty, some two decades ago. At the time, this free milestone membership, available to all Americans of that age, was the source of much merriment among such new members' younger friends and colleagues. But membership did offer benefits -- among them a free monthly magazine, which back then was a rather colorless, stodgy production full of unappealing ads for drugs, insurance, and esoteric health aids we new readers hoped we'd never need.

That bland format began to change during the 1990s to a much slicker, more professionally produced publication featuring more bright colors and dynamic graphics; it was easy to see that the AARP magazine had been taken over by an entirely new journalistic crew. Such changes would have been welcome were it not for the fact that they accompanied a change in content, from the usual, relatively neutral advice to seniors on issues that were pertinent to their specific demographic to political advocacy regarding larger social issues that reflected a decidedly leftist sympathy. I thought of them as Newsweek in a wheelchair.

Initially, conservative readers had to wonder if the AARP board had allowed a bunch of liberal journalists to hijack their periodical, but as time passed, it became increasingly apparent that the entire organization had performed a major sidestep left. As with leftist infiltration everywhere, the takeover was implemented at a measured but unrelenting pace, but to any AARP member holding conservative political views, and there were then millions and still some remaining, the coup was obviously complete by the time of the 2008 presidential election. The organization we had foolishly believed to be representing the interests of all seniors was by then representing only those seniors who subscribed to the increasingly politically correct views of AARP's leadership and their masters, the Democrat Party.

Just as we had to do with TIME, Newsweek, National Geographic, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and the Democrat Party, many conservative seniors had to accept the reality that AARP no longer made even token efforts to represent their views. Just like all those others, AARP had left us, without our having changed a thing. Those of us who realized this early were not lone voices in that hoary wilderness for long; more and more conservative seniors were waking up to the fact that they were dues-paying members of a huge leftist lobbying organization that was using its significant heft in Washington to push legislation not in their best interests -- most specifically ObamaCare. It was AARP's strong advocacy of that legislative monstrosity that awakened many seniors to the fact that they had been sold down the river by their benevolent old buddy, AARP. Those seniors began departing in droves. Other organizations quickly came into being to provide similar services to these disaffected seniors.

Now we learn from Kim Strassel in an article at the Wall Street Journal that not only was AARP sympathetic to the Democrat effort to ram through universal health care legislation, but it was doing much of the pushing and shoving to force this bloated atrocity through the knothole in the legislative fence. Even more disturbing is that AARP was clearly getting its marching orders directly from the White House -- a fact revealed by e-mails just released by a congressional committee. From the WSJ article:

The emails overall show an AARP leadership -- Policy Chief John Rother, Health Policy Director Nora Super, Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond, Senior Vice President David Sloane -- that from the start worked to pass ObamaCare, before crucial details pertaining to seniors had been addressed. This crew was in constant contact with Mr. Obama's top aides, in particular Nancy-Ann DeParle and Jim Messina.

Clearly, AARP was advocating not for seniors, but for the Obama White House and the Democrat Congress. The e-mails show that AARP was collaborating also with big labor leadership in this effort. A sellout of such huge significance should cause remaining conservative AARP members to question their continued affiliation with an obvious tool of the Democrat Party and Big Labor.

For those reading this who retain your AARP membership solely because of their Medi-Gap insurance coverage, be advised: there are many alternatives, and the AARP programs may not be the best available to you, either cost-wise or benefit-wise. Shop around. You can join other senior advocacy organizations for senior discounts or simply ask for them individually. If a business offers only an AARP discount to seniors and not a broader senior discount, point out to management that they are discouraging your patronage and probably that of a significant sector of their business. And don't be shy about it, because they will listen.

For example, I recently sent a certified letter to the CEO of a major hotel corporation pointing out that to qualify for a senior discount at a his hotels, one must produce proof of AARP membership, while at Marriott, the other chain I use most frequently, any senior qualifies. That discrepancy results in my staying with Marriott far more often than with his chain. In this letter, I pointed out the dissatisfaction of many seniors with AARP and how his corporate policy could be driving away business, just as in my own case. He never responded, so I have no certainty that it was my letter that provided the impetus, but within a month, his chain's website began posting a senior discount separate from the AARP discount. The hotel's IT people still don't have the kinks worked out on the booking process, but at least they're moving in the right direction. The point is, many big corporations may not be aware of how disaffected so many senior Americans are with AARP and need wake-up calls and/or certified letters.

As so many Republicans like to say, myself among them, we didn't leave the Democratic Party; the party left us. The same can be said for AARP. Let them live with the results.

Editorial Note: Excellent Medi-gap insurance is available from USAA (my own choice) and United Healthcare, among others.

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

I'm Making a Mistake about Polls

In a previous post I explained how I and many other conservatives are refusing to answer polls or put up signs and bumper stickers supporting Romney. The reason is simple. We learned in 2008 or earlier that some liberals can do some nasty things to people who do not support their candidate. Free speech is not always so free.

The problem with this is that this election is just too important for us to hide on the sidelines. As the article below explains, some voters do not pay any attention to the issues; they just vote for the person who appears to be ahead in the polls. I think the author is right, and I am reversing my policy. From now on I will display bumper stickers for Romney, and if I am polled, I will come out for Romney.

Do Conservatives Speak to Pollsters?

Bruce Johnson September 21, 2012 American Thinker

Polls are inherently flawed.

You might have seen the pollster at the mall flagging down people to conduct a 'quick survey'. Ever notice how many people just walk on by? This in itself makes the poll a flawed sampling. Those who choose not to be bothered, ignore the entreaties of the pollster.

Those who choose not to be confronted, not to be disturbed, those who have somewhere to go and are likely deep in thought, take a pass on the pollster.

Did I just describe a Conservative?

Do Conservatives who are home for the evening reach for the phone when the caller ID says "Washington DC" or "Political Call"? I don't.

There is a dangerous game being played by the politicians and the pollsters. Whenever there is a great deal of power and money at stake, one can assume there is power and money in play. What does this do to the integrity of the polling services? Are election polling services far from the Television ratings game?

Politicians know that there is a certain segment of the voting public who want to pick a winner. Those voters want to select the victor as if it is a contest. They can bask in the glow that they somehow made the proper choice and share that glory with their friends and at cocktail parties. Polling results play to these people. Sadly, the percentage they comprise can determine an election. Remember how "chic" and "hip" it was to be an Obama backer in '08?

As to the accuracy of pollings and exit polls. The 2010 mid term elections were supposed to be close. It was a landslide for the GOP. The Scott Walker recall exit polls indicated the outcome was too close to call. He was preserved by a 7% win.

Polls only measure the thoughts of those who choose to submit to the polling. I suggest Conservatives often choose not to be involved or share their thoughts in the framework that is election polling. This is consistent with Conservative nature. Leave me alone. Laissez Faire in a sense. Realizing the skewing, the results that often fail to mention how the question was actually phrased, and the money and power involved in the process, one can see why those of the Conservative mindset would shun the pollsters.


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Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Ultimate Outrage

Let’s hope that the Post, which sometimes jumps the gun, doesn’t have it right this time. The release of the scumbag who is serving a life sentence for the first attempt to blow up the Twin Towers would be the ultimate outrage committed by Barack Obama.

We know that Obama, in a slipup caught by an open mike, told the Russians he would be more "flexible" after the election.  What other surprises are in store for us if Obama wins? 

O eyes ‘blind sheik’ release


The Obama administration is weighing the release of blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman — the spiritual adviser to the 1993 World Trade Center bombers — in a stunning goodwill gesture toward Egypt that has touched off a political firestorm, officials said yesterday.

The Egyptian government “asked for his release,” an administration source told The Post — and Rep. Peter King (R-LI) confirmed the request is being considered.

The White House, State Department and Justice Department each issued statements denying any deal is in the works, but, “There’s no way to believe anything they say,” said Andrew McCarthy, the former assistant US attorney who prosecuted Abdel-Rahman. “I believe there may already be a nod-and-wink agreement in place.”

Abdel-Rahman, 74, was convicted in 1995 of plotting terror attacks throughout the city and is locked away in the medical wing of the Butner Federal Correctional Institution in North Carolina.

He remains revered in his native Egypt, and his supporters have demonstrated throughout Cairo for his freedom.

Newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a member of the radical Muslim Brotherhood, has publicly vowed to press the United States to turn over the sightless sheik.

His incarceration was the subject of Arabic-language message-board rants two days before protesters stormed the US Embassy in Cairo and later killed the American ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, according to a Department of Homeland Security report obtained by Fox News.

They wrote he should be released, “even if it requires burning the embassy down with everyone in it.”

King and other congressional Republicans sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, saying, “The release of Abdel-Rahman or any terrorist who plots to kill innocent Americans would be seen for what it is: a sign of weakness and a lack of resolve by the United States and its president.”

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said last night, “The blind sheik is going to serve out his life sentence. There are no discussions about transferring him. These reports are wrong.”

Justice spokesman Dean Boyd added, “Suggestions that the US government is planning to transfer or release the blind sheik to Egypt are totally false and absolutely baseless. He remains in federal prison where he is serving a life sentence for terrorism violations.”

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Media Lap Dogs in New Low

The dishonesty of the mainstream press is nothing new to those who pay attention, but it is reaching new heights and will destroy an America whose democratic institutions depend on an educated citizenry.

The four-month old Romney tape that the mainstream media is hyperventilating about, after ridiculing for several days Romney’s truthful comments about the failure of Obama’s entire foreign policy – instead of focusing on the obvious collapse of that policy, we now learn that the tape in question was doctored – possibly by Mother Jones. For 40 years we have been witnessing the metamorphosis of almost the entire press corps, both television and print, into an arm of the Democratic Party. Also yesterday we learned that the Department of Justice, headed by Attorney General Holder, has been feeding stories to Media Matters.

The media lap dogs have been losing audience and readers, but they still have enormous power to deceive. Traditional Americans who value the truth have to do everything in their power to put these charlatans out of business. I am talking about NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, Newsweek and Time. Do not support them; do not give them an audience until they begin to show some balance in their reporting and analysis.

Media lap dogs in hot pursuit of the wrong story

By Charles Hurt September 18, 2012 The Washington Times

What we are in the midst of witnessing right now is a complete, Fukushima-style meltdown of the mainstream media.

Without these slobbering lap dogs, President Obama never would have been elected in the first place. And now they are his only hope for staying in office amid all the global violence, a morbidly paralyzed economy and a national crisis of confidence so profound that the American Dream has become nothing more than quaint fiction for millions.

Nearly four years after President Obama promised to ease Arab hatred of America, the Middle East burns hotter than ever. Polls show America has never been more deeply despised.

Respected newspapers around the world report that the Obama administration was explicitly warned days before the attack on the American Consulate in Libya in which our ambassador was brutally killed. But officials did nothing to stop the worst terrorist attack on the U.S. since 9/11.

Four years after promising to cut the deficit in half, President Obama has exploded the debt to a record $16 trillion. Welfare rolls have ballooned to levels once unimaginable in America and you are actually paying for campaigns to recruit more people onto welfare.

Then last week, the Obama administration finally acknowledged that the $50 billion in defense cuts it prefers over trimming back welfare programs and cutting wasteful government spending will be "deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments and core government functions."

Oh, and then our credit rating got downgraded. Again. Both humiliating firsts.

So, what flings our national newshounds into a full-blown choking frenzy? An apparent cover-up over the terrorist attack in Libya? The nationwide squalor under the Obama economy? Exposes into all the wasteful spending that should be cut before we junk our national defense?

Nope. Some stupid comment Mitt Romney made four months ago at a fundraiser lamenting that a record-low number of Americans are making enough money anymore to actually pay income taxes.

Is it really a news flash to these people that Mr. Romney can say incredibly idiotic things in the goofiest of ways? Even Mr. Romney himself would probably concede that he doesn't quite have the silver tongue of President Obama. But, hopefully, it is not forked, either.

How such a minor and long-ago statement could blot out coverage of a disastrous foreign policy, crushing debt and total economic malaise is more than most rational people can comprehend. Which is why most rational people do not become national political reporters.

Making the whole mess even more odious is that the secret, potentially illegal recording of Mr. Romney was unearthed by a relative of Obama mentor Jimmy Carter and quickly peddled to the press by openly avowedly liberal activists.

But there is hope. Earlier this week, a White House spokesman and an Obama campaign official answered questions from reporters during a flight on Air Force One. A reporter grilled the White House -- and I am not making this up -- about what the president thought of the impersonation of him on the previous "Saturday Night Live" episode.

Upon the conclusion of the reporters' questions, according to the pool report, the campaign official rewarded the drooling lap dogs by offering them "home-baked cookies."

But, standing tall, uncompromising and fearless, the press declined the campaign's sweets.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

The Deliberate Impoverishment of Successful Seniors

By reducing interest rates to almost zero, the Obama Administration is reducing many older Americans to poverty. To make matters worse, those who are suffering the most are those who worked and saved and planned for their retirement. We had hoped to see the end of Quantitative Easing, but a new third round has just been announced that promises to inject $40 Billion per month into our economy, thus forcing up even more the prices of many items, like gasoline, and continuing the low rates on certificates of deposits and on government bonds. This action also forces seniors, who should be reducing their exposure to the stock market, into doing just the opposite in order to achieve a decent rate of return.

This is an example of what Obama means by "fairness" - dogfood for those who worked all their lives; food stamps and welfare for those who won't work.

Middle class: Low interest rates throw wrench into retirement

JENNIFER BJORHUS August 27, 2012 Star Tribune (Excerpt)

"John Folsom holds a solid job in medical device sales and has put two children through college. He has lived his life, as he sees it, "trying to play by the rules."

He and his wife invested for retirement by socking money into safe mutual funds to build a nest egg that could support their dream of one day having a house on a lake. But at 53, Folsom looks at his retirement portfolio and sees that "the rules" aren't working.

The market crash and housing collapse hammered his net worth. Now the Apple Valley man's life savings are earning about half what he had expected, dragged down by record-low interest rates.

"All of our calculations have been thrown asunder, and everyone has to rethink the whole deal," said Folsom said, who is planning to push back his retirement five years, possibly until he's 67.

The Federal Reserve's near zero interest-rate policy, aimed at stimulating the economy, has created bargains for borrowers refinancing a mortgage or buying a car. But the low rates are penalizing "savers" such as seniors and others on fixed incomes, forcing millions of middle-class Americans to reconsider how they will live when they retire, if they can retire at all.

"We're not really seeing the positive benefit of low rates, but we're seeing a huge negative hit," said Tim Gillaspy, who recently retired as Minnesota's demographer. "And that needs to be discussed as a national policy issue."

The low-interest rates are the latest financial challenge for a wave of baby boomers on the cusp of retirement. Already, an estimated 44 percent of boomers between the ages of 48 and 64 will run short of money in retirement for their basic needs and uninsured health care costs, according to Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), a nonpartisan research group in Washington.

As traditional pensions fade away, people approaching retirement typically shift their money into safer fixed-income investments, such as bonds, to generate income to carry them through their golden years. That leaves them more vulnerable when interest rates are low.

Combined with a volatile stock market, the rock bottom rates make you feel like "there's nowhere to go" with your savings, said Nancy Nonini, whose Apple Valley company Retirement Education PLUS counsels companies on aging issues.

Meanwhile, there's concern that declining interest returns will diminish the purchasing power of savers, which would offset the boost from making borrowing cheaper.

"It's going to have repercussions not for one or two years, but basically for the rest of our lives," Gillaspy said.

Just getting by

The interest-rate squeeze isn't the sort of "Dow Dives!" shock that happened in 2008. Gordon Foster, a 74-year-old retired CFO in Lakeville, mused that it's more of a "slow erosion you don't notice."

Some, however, are noticing.

At 91, retired mechanic Glenn Summers does all his own yard work at his Bloomington home. He has kept most of his money in safe havens such as money market accounts for income to supplement his Social Security and pension. The nest egg used to generate $10,000 to $15,000 more than it does now.

Like many seniors interviewed for this story, Summers is loathe to complain about the losses. He gets by, he said, "but I don't have any extra."

Altogether, personal interest income in the U.S. totaled $986 billion last year -- down about 25 percent from 2007, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. That's $332 billion forgone.

Retirees feel the undertow, but so do baby boomers eyeing retirement. Folsom, for instance, had planned on returns of 5-7 percent on his investments. He had to scratch that out and work with 2-5 percent.

Will it be enough? "That's a good question," he said.

Policy challenge

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has testified before Congress that he's well aware of the savers' plight. In February, he acknowledged that it was a tradeoff, but it was necessary to get the overall economy back to health.” Star Tribune

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Must Read Article by Mark Steyn on Obama Response

Obama's Ham-Fisted Response To The Attacks On The U.S.

By MARK STEYN 09/14/2012 Investors Bus. Daily

So, on a highly symbolic date, mobs storm American diplomatic facilities and drag the corpse of a U.S. ambassador through the streets. Then the president flies to Vegas for a fundraiser.

No, no, a novelist would say; that's too pat, too neat in its symbolic contrast. Make it Cleveland, or Des Moines.

The president is surrounded by delirious fanbois and fangurls screaming "We love you," too drunk on his celebrity to understand this is the first photo-op in the aftermath of a national humiliation.

No, no, a filmmaker would say; too crass, too blunt. Make them sober, middle-aged Midwesterners, shocked at first, but then quiet and respectful.

The president is too lazy and cocksure to have learned any prepared remarks or mastered the appropriate tone, notwithstanding that a government that spends more money than any government in the history of the planet has ever spent can surely provide him with both a speechwriting team and a quiet corner on his private wide-bodied jet to consider what might be fitting for the occasion.

So instead he sloughs off the words, bloodless and unfelt: "And obviously our hearts are broken ..." Yeah, it's totally obvious.

And he's even more drunk on his celebrity than the fanbois, so in his slapdashery he winds up comparing the sacrifice of a diplomat lynched by a pack of savages with the enthusiasm of his own campaign bobbysoxers.

No, no, says the Broadway director; that's too crude, too ham-fisted. How about the crowd is cheering and distracted, but he's the president, he understands the gravity of the hour, and he's the greatest orator of his generation, so he's thought about what he's going to say, and it takes a few moments but his words are so moving that they still the cheers of the fanbois, and at the end there's complete silence and a few muffled sobs, and even in party-town they understand the sacrifice and loss of their compatriots on the other side of the world.

But no, that would be an utterly fantastical America. In the real America, the president is too busy to attend the security briefing on the morning after a national debacle, but he does have time to do Letterman and appear on a hip-hop radio show hosted by "The Pimp With A Limp."

In the real State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo is guarded by Marines with no ammunition. But they do enjoy the soft-power muscle of a Foreign Service officer, one Lloyd Schwartz, tweeting frenziedly into cyberspace (including a whole chain directed at my own Twitter handle, for some reason) about how America deplores insensitive people who are so insensitively insensitive that they don't respectfully respect all religions equally, respectfully and sensitively, even as the raging mob is pouring through the gates.

When it comes to a flailing, blundering superpower, I am generally wary of ascribing to malevolence what is more often sheer stupidity and incompetence. For example, we're told that, because the consulate in Benghazi was designated as an "interim facility," it did not warrant the level of security and protection that, say, an embassy in Scandinavia would have.

This seems all too plausible — that security decisions are made not by individual human judgment but according to whichever rule-book sub-clause at the Federal Agency of Bureaucratic Facilities Regulation it happens to fall under.

However, the very next day the embassy in Yemen, which is a permanent facility, was also overrun, as was the embassy in Tunisia the day after. Look, these are tough crowds, as the president might say at Caesar's Palace. But we spend more money on these joints than anybody else, and they're as easy to overrun as the Belgian Consulate.

As I say, I'm inclined to be generous, and put some of this down to the natural torpor and ineptitude of government. But Hillary Clinton and Gen. Martin Dempsey are guilty of something worse, in the secretary of state's weirdly obsessive remarks about an obscure film supposedly disrespectful of Mohammed and the chairman of the joint chiefs' telephone call to a private citizen asking him if he could please ease up on the old Islamophobia.

Forget the free-speech arguments. In this case, as Secretary Clinton and Dempsey well know, the film has even less to do with anything than did the Danish cartoons or the schoolteacher's teddy bear or any of the other innumerable grievances of Islam.

The 400-strong assault force in Benghazi showed up with RPGs and mortars: that's not a spontaneous movie protest; that's an act of war, and better planned and executed than the dying superpower's response to it. Clinton and Dempsey are, to put it mildly, misleading the American people when they suggest otherwise.

One can understand why they might do this, given the fiasco in Libya. The men who organized this attack knew the ambassador would be at the consulate in Benghazi rather than at the embassy in Tripoli. How did that happen? They knew when he had been moved from the consulate to a "safe house," and switched their attentions accordingly.

How did that happen? The U.S. government lost track of its ambassador for 10 hours. How did that happen? Perhaps, when they've investigated Mitt Romney's press release for another three or four weeks, the court eunuchs of the American media might like to look into some of these fascinating questions, instead of leaving the only interesting reporting on an American story to the foreign press.

For whatever reason, Clinton chose to double down on misleading the American people. "Libyans carried Chris' body to the hospital," said Secretary Clinton. That's one way of putting it.

The photographs at the Arab TV network al-Mayadeen show Chris Stevens' body being dragged through the streets, while the locals take souvenir photographs on their cell phones. A man in a red striped shirt photographs the dead-eyed ambassador from above; another immediately behind his head moves the splayed arm and holds his cell phone camera an inch from the ambassador's nose.

Some years ago, I had occasion to assist in moving the body of a dead man: We did not stop to take photographs en route. Even allowing for cultural differences, this looks less like "carrying Chris' body to the hospital" and more like barbarians gleefully feasting on the spoils of savagery.

In a rare appearance on a non-showbiz outlet, President Obama, winging it on Telemundo, told his host that Egypt was neither an ally nor an enemy. I can understand why it can be difficult to figure out, but here's an easy way to tell:

Bernard Lewis, the great scholar of Islam, said some years ago that America risked being seen as harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend. At the Benghazi consulate, the looters stole "sensitive" papers revealing the names of Libyans who've cooperated with the U.S. Oh, well. As the president would say, obviously our hearts are with you.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, the local doctor who fingered bin Laden to the Americans sits in jail.

In other words, while America's clod vice president staggers around pimping limply that only Obama had the guts to take the toughest decision anyone's ever had to take, the poor schlub who actually did have the guts, who actually took the tough decision in a part of the world where taking tough decisions can get you killed, languishes in a cell because Washington would not lift a finger to help him.

Like I said, no novelist would contrast Chris Stevens on the streets of Benghazi and Barack Obama on stage in Vegas. Too crude, too telling, too devastating.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Ben Stein and the Middle East

Ben Stein, economist, actor, writer and philosopher, is one of my favorite people, who, without malice, calls it as he sees it.

Ben Stein's Diary

End Times

By Ben Stein on 9.14.12 American Spectator

There is that feeling in the air.


Strange day.

I awakened to a text from a close friend who is a devout Christian and who was so angry at the elite media that she could not sleep. "I am so frikkin' sick of the media telling us that Islam is a 'religion of peace,'" she said. "Look, people make fun of Jesus all of the time and I mean ALL of the time and we don't kill them or harm them. But do anything at all that offends any Muslim and they start killing Christians and Jews -- and then Obama apologizes for it. How long can this go on? The times of Tribulation are at hand."

I got up, walked out on the deck and looked out at the perfect fall day over Lake Pendoreille. An absolutely perfect Fall day, blue skies, light breeze, just a slight chill in the air.

At breakfast, my wife suddenly said, "And then I beheld a red horse ridden by a man with a great sword...."

"What is that?" I asked her.

"It's Revelation," she said.

"I know, but where does that come from?"

"I just feel as if something big is about to happen," she said. Something feels like we're about to live in a totally changed world. It feels like end times. Why are we apologizing to the Muslims? They're killing and expelling their Christians and we don't say a word. End times. "

I nodded. There is that feeling in the air.

I got another text from my very devout Christian friend. "Don't tell me Obama isn't a Muslim," she said. "I don't care what he calls himself, he's a Muslim. That's why he's always apologizing to the Muslims."

I think she's bit off the mark here. If Obama says he's a Christian, he's a Christian.

I slept for a long time while listening to Mozart and the trains. Then I went to the mail box and got the latest news from the Obama/Biden campaign -- oops, meant to say, "The New York Times." Naturally, it was filled with rage against Mitt Romney There was very little vitriol against the killers in Libya, but plenty against Gov. Romney.

I sure hope that the people at the Romney campaign don't read The NY Times. It is just endless propaganda against Republicans. Nonstop. We Republicans should campaign on our own issues. Mr. Obama's idiot foreign policy is such an issue.

I went off to do my errands in Sandpoint. A visit to a super pleasant post office. A helpful clerk was patient with my terrible handwriting. Then a visit to the Alpine Shop to see my pal, Tim Farmin, who looked happy but told me my boat needed a new battery. Then, a visit to Ivano's to pick up some grub for tonight.

At Ivano's, I talked to a man who seethed with rage against Mr. Obama. He simply could not believe that Mr. Obama would make time to be among his Hollywood big shots but not make time to see Benjamin Netanyahu. "These are getting to be Biblical days," he said. "The final days."

A trip to the art framer, then to the drug store, then to the Safeway to buy a cake. The woman in the bakery told me that the days of tribulation and the dictatorship were upon us. She is looking to move to the mountains "to find refuge..."

"Be careful," I said. "That's what Vicki Weaver was looking for and it didn't work so well. Our refuge is in The Lord."

(I am up on Vicki Weaver because I am reading an astonishingly good book about the federal killings at Ruby Ridge called Ruby Ridge by a writer of unique talent by the name of Jess Walter. It is terrifying.)

Back to Ivano's to pick up my grub. Then back home to read the latest about the murder of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three of his staff.

Apparently word had been out for months that the most extreme of the anti-Qaddafi rebels were working with al Qaeda for 9/11. The State Department and the Defense Department had done nothing meaningful to protect the Ambassador. When the killers attacked the U.S. compound, they were heavily armed with anti-aircraft automatic cannon (a very deadly weapon) and RPG's. They were a recognizably violent group connected with al Qaeda.

It's amazing that Qaddafi kept saying that the people fighting against him were al Qaeda and we kept helping them -- and sure enough, they turned out to be al Qaeda. And Qaddafi, who had become our friend -- although a cruel and vile man -- was killed by the rebels so now Libya is in large measure in the hands of al Qaeda.

Same with Egypt. Mubarak was no one's idea of a great guy, but he was our pal. He kept the peace with Israel. He suppressed the terrorists. So, naturally, we stabbed him in the back. Now, we have worked to create an "Arab Spring" that has given us a fantastically more anti-American, anti-Israel, pro-al Qaeda Middle East.

But incredibly, Mr. Obama considers this an achievement. An achievement? To help al Qaeda and its pals, the Muslim Brotherhood, take power in the most populous Arab state? To help al Qaeda take over in oil rich Libya? What are they talking about?

I hope Mr. Romney will not let himself get pushed around by the Obama smear machine. I see that at a rally today in Virginia, his speech was derailed by a lone Obama heckler asking, "Why are you politicizing Libya?" That apparently rattled Gov. Romney badly.

The answer, should it come up again, is, "Because this is a democracy. We debate big points of foreign and domestic policy, especially during election campaigns. The failure of the administration to stand up to Muslim thugs is a big issue. Apologizing to terrorists is a big issue. The failure to protect our diplomats is a big issue. The failure to stand up for free speech is a huge issue. We are supposed to debate those things. If you don't like that, move back to Iran or wherever you came from."

Meanwhile, time for Mr. Romney to go back to attack mode. Why did the State Department not protect our Ambassador in Benghazi? Why isn't Mrs. Clinton resigning over this? Why isn't Secretary of Defense Panetta apologizing and resigning? There was a colossal failure here. The President is accountable. Why isn't he taking some responsibility here?

The Obama smear machine is making much of the supposed time line of this week. That supposedly the worst attacks came after Mr. Romney criticized The State Department for apologizing to the Muslims for an anti-Muslim film. But of course, they are missing the point totally and on purpose.

Why should we have been apologizing as a nation to Muslims for one person making a cartoon? We didn't apologize to the Russians when people in the USA made anti-Communist remarks. We didn't apologize to Hitler when people in America made anti-Nazi remarks. Why do the Muslims get this special apology treatment? What's up with that? We respect all religions, but we are not going to apologize to anyone as a people for what one guy does in his garage.

What is with Mr. Obama's special deference to the terrorists? I am well aware that he's done a darned fine job using drones to kill them and God bless him for it. But then why apologize to groups of people we feel are so terrible that we kill some of them without a trial or a declaration of war?

Let's get it straight, once again: We live by the first amendment and the Constitution. Our people have freedom of speech. Even the nutty ones. We do not apologize for our Constitution.

Well, enough of that. It is time for a quiet dinner listening to the lake and the trains. For now, it is paradise. The time of tribulation has not yet come for us all, and God bless that brave Ambassador, Christopher Stevens, who was murdered and had his body dragged through the streets by people we put in power. God help us when Judgment Day comes.


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Thursday, September 13, 2012

World War III Has Begun

I’m afraid we will look back on 9/11/2012 as the day World War III started, a war brought on by the incompetence and twisted ideology of President Obama.

When your ideology is all about punishing countries you consider to be former colonialists, and you proceed to apologize to Muslims and ignore a revolution of freedom-fighters in Iran, while showing the back of your hand to your allies, like Great Britain and Israel, world-wide disaster is the consequence, particularly when you offer your support to the America-hating Muslim Brotherhood now in control in Egypt, the country which refused to defend our embassy on Tuesday.

There has been little note of a significant action taken this past week by the government of Canada, which has removed its citizens and closed its embassy in Iran, and has ejected all Iranian diplomats (spies) from its country. They know something is coming.

Middle East a Tinderbox, American Leadership Absent

By Reza Kahlili September 13, 2012 American Thinker

The winds of war are blowing stronger in the Middle East, all because President Obama refuses to realize the threat posed by radicals in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Protesters in what seemed to be a coordinated effort attacked the U.S. Consulate in Libya Tuesday, killing the American ambassador and three staffers, and the U.S. Embassy in Egypt.

In scenes eerily similar to the U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran after the 1979 Islamic revolution, Egyptian protesters climbed the wall of the U.S. compound and tore down the American flag, replacing it with an Islamic flag.

Just last month, U.S. intelligence agencies monitored a meeting between officials of the Egyptian and Iranian intelligence ministries, raising the specter that the newly installed Muslim Brotherhood government in Cairo could be secretly backing terrorism worldwide, it was reported yesterday. Members of the anti-Muslim Brotherhood opposition believe Obama has signed off on a covert agreement to support the Morsi government.

Though Tuesday's protests were claimed to be over an American film ridiculing the prophet Mohammad, the attacks in both countries on 9/11 is a clear sign that radical Islamists are gaining ground in both countries to further confront Israel and the U.S.

This is while reports in the last two weeks further verify that the radicals ruling Iran are now closer to obtaining the nuclear bomb.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran not only has expanded its uranium enrichment process both at the previously secret site of Fordo, which is 300 feet underground and immune to conventional air strikes, and at the Natanz facility, but also that it continues to stonewall the IAEA inspection of the Parchin Military site, where nuclear weapon experiments are said to have taken place.

Reports on Tuesday also revealed that the United Nations has received significant new intelligence from Israel, the U.S. and other Western countries that Iran has moved closer to building a nuclear weapon. The intelligence shows that Iran has advanced its work on an atomic warhead and that Tehran is expanding its weapons research on multiple fronts.

The Islamic regime's strategy of prolonging negotiations and preparing for sanctions proved that Western rhetoric of war was a bluff due to the dire economic conditions in Europe and America. The West, it reasoned, would have to accept a nuclear-armed Iran instead of further confrontation that would worsen the global economy.

"It is quite clear that when we watch the current arguments between America and Israel over Iran, the Obama administration is quite confused," Mohammad Mohammadi, an Iranian international affairs and nuclear expert, said in an analysis in the Keyhan newspaper, an outlet under the direct supervision of the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"Iran has always known that America and the West needed a way to solve the nuclear issue with some honor," Mohammadi said, "and today it is quite visible that with the defeat of America's policies toward Iran, the talk about a need to solve the Iranian nuclear issue diplomatically is a way to obtain that honor."

Iran has concluded that Obama is not looking for a confrontation with the regime over its nuclear program and that he has already accepted a nuclear Iran. However, knowing that Israel could take action, Iran is trying to create a wedge between America and Israel, believing that the Obama administration is willing to turn its back on the Jewish state.

In that pursuit, Khamenei in a speech several months ago stated that in any confrontation with Israel, if America does not get involved, Iran will not retaliate against America.

The Obama administration seems to be taking up Iran's offer. First Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Aug. 30 again warned against an attack by Israel and stated that the U.S. would not be "complicit" in such an attack. Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rebuffed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's request for clear "red lines" on the Iranian nuclear program, stating that, "We are not setting deadlines" and that the U.S. still believes in negotiation. And last, President Obama is refusing to meet with Netanyahu later this month at the U.N. General Assembly's annual meeting.

Israel is not the only country worried about the Iranian nuclear program and the lack of action by the West to confront it. Saudi Arabia has repeatedly requested that the White House take a stronger lead in containing the Islamic regime's pursuit of the bomb.

The proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which extends from Yemen to Bahrain and to Syria, is on the verge of a full confrontation. According to the Iranian newspaper Keyhan, quoting the Palestinian weekly Al Manar, the Saudi king has sent a personal message to Obama that should America help with the situation in Syria, the Saudis will cover all costs and will continue to keep oil prices down. Iran has warned that should America take action against Syria, Iran and its allies will retaliate against the U.S.

Israel is on the verge of a very painful decision: whether to try to stop Iran's nuclear program on its own, knowing full well that the consequence of such an attack will be hundreds of missiles raining down on its civilians.

The events in Egypt and Libya could further complicate the already-volatile situation in the Middle East. A confrontation on multiple fronts looms. Obama's lack of a strong coherent policy toward the radicals ruling Iran will create the very conditions that it wanted to avoid: widespread war in the Middle East and a meltdown of the global economy.

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran's Revolutionary Guards and author of the award winning book "A Time to Betray" (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Google and Your Life

Since Google provides the master software for this blog, I may regret writing this article, but recent events have convinced me that Google needs to be reined in.

I have always greatly admired the technical proficiency represented by Google, since, in the days before there was a Google or a Yahoo, I studied and later taught the techniques and limitations of database management. What Google can do today in response to a search request seems almost like magic to me. The problem is: this gives Google unprecedented control over our lives.

Recently I came across an article, excerpted below, that goes into considerable detail about Google’s activities and their threat to us. The article is quite long, 18 pages, but well worth reading in its entirety. Look at the excerpts to get an idea of what I mean.

The first thing you have to realize about Google is that it operates an incredibly sophisticated program and algorithms that place paid advertising messages in close proximity to your product-search results – and also arrange the order of responses in direct proportion to payments made to Google by business advertisers. There is really nothing wrong with this, but you have to participate in this program as an advertiser to realize its sophistication and complexity – both to get searchers to buy from favored vendors and also to get those vendors to increase their spending on the Google marketing program.

The second thing to realize is that Google is making a record of every search you have ever made, and can analyze that data to form an accurate picture of every aspect of your life – your interests, your spending patterns, your income level, your political leanings and your secrets.

One obvious result of this I have recently noticed is that when I search for a product and then go to a particular business site, like Amazon, to check out the product, ads for that specific product start to show up on all kinds of other websites that I subsequently visit. This is happening even though I have turned on “InPrivate Filtering”, which is supposed to prevent this from happening.

Again, there is nothing particularly wrong with collecting marketing data in order to focus your product promotions to likely purchasers, but when you combine Google’s reach and prowess at this with other things they are doing, you realize that we have a serious problem here. Read on:

Google; the case for hawkish regulation

Robert Epstein Sept. 5, 2012 The Kernel

“In 2010, Google’s Street View teams – the mobile crews that are systematically filming every street and building in the world, including your home – were accused of deliberately capturing people’s names, telephone numbers, emails, text messages, passwords, search histories, and even online dating information as they drove from neighbourhood to neighbourhood in the US and more than 30 other countries between 2006 and 2010. Google snatched the data from Wi-Fi networks. This is akin to what those nasty adults in the white van were doing when they drove around the neighborhood trying to find ET, but on a spectacular scale.

At first Google claimed, absurdly, that only one lone engineer at the company was aware of this activity, but a 2012 Federal Communications Commission investigation concluded that the knowledge was widespread. The FCC fined Google $25,000 for obstructing its probe, but that was it. Extracting data from personal, unencrypted Wi-Fi networks does not violate current federal wiretapping laws. In 2011, the French government fined Google 100,000 euros for its Street View caper, and in the UK the investigation is ongoing. But that was it….”

“In 2011, Google reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission regarding revelations about how it handled user search information. Google tracks everything you search for, you see, as well as every website you visit, including those porn sites your friend visited when he borrowed your laptop. The company denied it was using this information improperly, but FTC officials were not persuaded. As a result, the company reluctantly agreed to undergo regular privacy audits for the next 20 years. As you may have noticed, however, those highly targeted ads Google sends you based on your email content and internet activities seem to be coming faster than ever.

In March 2012, in possible violation of the terms of its FTC settlement, Google announced a dramatic change in its privacy policy. Specifically, it began aggregating data obtained from more than 60 different Google products and services, including its Chrome browser and Android operating system. The manoeuvre allowed the company to create comprehensive profiles of the likes, dislikes, tastes, preferences, and activities of hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide, collecting, according to, “sensitive information including … sexual orientation, sexual habits, relationship status, religion, political views, health concerns, employment status, and more.”

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has protested, as have at least eight US Congressmen and several foreign governments, but to no avail. Google defends itself by saying that it’s not breaking any laws, just managing data in a way that allows it to better serve customer needs….”

“And now, increasingly, it’s personal. Google isn’t just collecting information in the abstract, as advertisers have always done; it’s collecting information about you, exactly as if it were listening in to all of your phone calls, peering though your windows to see which books and articles you read, watching you through hidden cameras to see which television shows you watch, following you from shop to shop to track your purchases, and then transcribing all of this information and indexing it for later use and resale.

That’s what Google is doing to you in the digital world you inhabit for so much of the day, and if a bot or a person at Google thinks that what you are doing in that world is unacceptable, they can make your digital self disappear.

Would we, as a society, tolerate a private company that routinely monitored our behavior throughout our waking hours, collecting and cataloging information that it later used to influence our spending and that could, in principle, be used for even more nefarious purposes? No. But that’s exactly what we’re allowing Google to do. If you’re not afraid, you probably should be.” The Kernel

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Sunday, September 09, 2012

Politifact Tells Lies

Finally someone has written the truth about the liberal, fake, fact-checking organization called, Politifact. Most of us figured out Snopes and the Associated Press years ago, but Politifact has managed to keep its bias under cover quite well. I first figured out Politifact when my daily newspaper, The Providence Journal, began to use it and publicize it as an unbiased source of truth in the sorting out of political claims.

Since the Journal is an unabashedly liberal newspaper (its main political columnist is Froma Harrop), it was easy to discover the bias behind their use of Politifact to support candidates they favor.

PolitiFact's Faux Fact Checking

Ira Brodsky September 5, 2012 American Thinker

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were repeatedly accused by the media of making false claims during the Republican national convention. The reporters didn't just question the accuracy of certain statements as they might have done in years past. They flatly stated that the assertions were found to be false by the fact checkers.

However, just because someone hangs out a shingle that says "fact checker," that doesn't mean they have a lock on the truth. Heck, it doesn't even prove that they are credible. This is particularly true in politics, where facts often mingle with opinions. Like initial reports about breaking stories, the findings of self-appointed fact checkers should be greeted with skepticism.

It's not terribly surprising that the mainstream media has pounced on the opportunity provided by the fact checkers. The media's credibility among the American public is at an all-time low. Most Americans perceive the media as terribly biased. No doubt, many media figures believe they can boost their credibility-or at least shield themselves from further charges of bias-by hiding behind self-styled fact checkers.

Fact-checking websites use a number of tactics to convince visitors that they are fair and reliable. They claim to be non-partisan. They demonstrate their neutrality by criticizing both sides. They show that they are thorough and nuanced by assessing some claims as partially true and others as partially false. And they use gimmicks such as the "Truth-O-Meter" to convince people that they are singularly focused on gauging the truth.

Take for instance This fact-checking website is operated by the Tampa Bay Times, a newspaper widely considered anti-Republican (and known to some as the "Florida Pravda"). However, if a website purports to be fact checker, then shouldn't it be operated by people who can legitimately claim to be impartial? PolitiFact is staffed by the same old reporters and researchers.

The first thing that anyone visiting will notice is that the site appears to be as devoted to criticizing President Obama as it is to criticizing Mitt Romney and Republicans. However, that impression doesn't hold up under closer inspection.

PolitiFact's homepage features a comparison ("rating their promises") of the GOP leadership and President Obama. At first glance, both sides have many "broken promises" to explain. However, the chart suggests that President Obama keeps his promises almost twice as often as Republicans. Oh well, perhaps that is just the way things are.

Dig deeper, however, and you will find that the explanations are invariably favorable to President Obama. When PolitiFact says that President Obama broke a promise, it usually means that he was prevented from keeping that promise by Republicans and their allies.

For example, President Obama promised to create a foreclosure prevention fund; he did, but the big banks failed to cooperate. President Obama promised to "repeal the Bush tax cuts for higher incomes"; he didn't, but that was a necessary concession in striking a deal to extend middle class tax cuts. Similar excuses are offered for the rest of what PolitiFact calls Obama's "Top Ten Broken Promises."

While PolitiFact goes out of its way to soften criticism of President Obama, no such understanding is shown toward Mitt Romney. For example, Mitt Romney's charge that President Obama began his presidency with "an apology tour" is described as an out-and-out "pants-on-fire" lie. PolitiFact does not dispute that President Obama told foreign audiences that "America has shown arrogance" and "at times we sought to dictate our terms." Instead, the clearly apologetic remarks are shrugged off as standard "diplomatic language."

PolitiFact also characterized Mitt Romney's accusation that President Obama gutted the work requirement from welfare (repeated by Rock Santorum) as a "pants-on-fire" lie. However, the Obama administration issued a directive permitting waivers of what under the 1996 law were mandatory work requirements. And PolitiFact described as false Paul Ryan's claim that the GM plant in Janesville closed after President Obama took office. However, two articles (one by the Associated Press) corroborate the assertion that while the plant ceased making large SUVs in late 2008, it continued to operate with a reduced workforce making trucks until mid-2009. If PolitiFact were sincere about helping "you find the truth in politics," it would not continue to portray these statements as completely false.

PolitiFact is really a propaganda site. It makes selective use of facts to boost President Obama. The good news is that while anyone can create a "fact check" website, the Web also makes it easy to double check their work.


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Friday, September 07, 2012

Bush Bashing Lies

I’ve been waiting for a short article like this that tells the truth about the root cause and the more-immediate causes of the housing meltdown that destroyed an economy that had recovered from the Clinton recession, had recovered from 9/11, and was producing average unemployment figures of less than 5%. Don’t let the Democrats, who held both Houses of Congress during the last two years of the Bush presidency, tell their “blame Bush” lies.

The Housing Bubble? Clinton Helped Build That

by David Frum September 6, 2012 The Daily Beast

As Bill Clinton collects his accolades, let's recall: the key decisions that inflated the housing bubble of the 2000s - and that laid waste to the US economy in 2008 -- were taken under Bill Clinton's administration: the decision to leave derivative trading unregulated, the decision to allow deposit-taking institutions to engage in proprietary trading, the pressure on banks to relax mortgage lending standards, the decision to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to grow enormously large thanks to the implicit subsidy of the government guarantee of their bonds and borrowing.

If President Obama inherited a mess not of his own making, it should be remembered of whose making the mess was.

It was Janet Reno, Clinton’s Attorney General, the one who sent the tanks in to murder 76 Branch Davidians, including at least 20 children (“she killed them to save them from abuse”), who informed US banks that they had better start giving mortgages to deadbeats (my terminology) as required by the Community Reinvestment Act, passed by Jimmy Carter and strengthened by Bill Clinton, or she would prosecute them.

It was Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd who resisted 17 attempts by President Bush to strengthen regulation of CDO’s (collateralized debt obligations) and CDS’s (credit default swaps) – both commonly called “derivatives” – and to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

It was Democrat policies and Democrat actions that caused the housing bubble and the resultant housing crash. Again, don’t let the lying bastards get away with blaming Bush.


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