Saturday, February 07, 2009
January 02, 2008
Chicago is slowly becoming snow-bound today, and I have a little more time to reflect and provide some deeper insight into both my background as a columnist and how my views inform my conduct as a candidate.
Almost four years ago, I began to write about then-State Senator Barack Obama. In a statement and two news conferences on August 10, 2004, I raised two concerns about Obama: first, that he demonstrated a lack of candor about the religious history of his family; and, second, that he might be dissembling to prevent Jewish defections from his campaign for the U. S. Senate.
Little did I know that my investigative and editorial efforts would change both of our lives. I became the target of attacks by left-wing Democrats and Obama supporters who refused to believe the truth about his family history. I was accused of leading “right-wing” conspiracies, which came as something of a surprise to my Republican Party colleagues.
And, on Obama’s side, what should have been a minor and relatively straightforward matter has mushroomed and continues to grow into a major problem for his presidential candidacy.
I continued to research Obama’s family history and his own history after 2004, and to develop models and concepts based on our investigative efforts. Many of these reports and columns can be read at ContrarianCommentary.com.
First, here is a thought based on more than 40 years of experience in public life. None of us is perfect, and none of us can live a perfect life. I know I haven’t. And, in addition to the imperfections which exist in all of our lives, we have a natural human tendency towards modesty and privacy. Living under public scrutiny is not an easy thing.
I have found that being open and honest makes for a much easier time than trying to conceal matters of interest. I was recently asked a question by a Chicago Tribune reporter. My relations with that newspaper have been rocky in the past, but I always give people a second, and third chance, and a new reporter gets a new first chance. After the news conference I e-mailed him a response to his inquiry, and provided a source for further information. I was as open as could be. I had and have nothing to hide.
If Obama had followed the contours of my writing over the past four years, he would be in far better shape than he is now. Today he faces a sirocco of controversy in the Jewish community, and questions about his religion having expanding beyond all reason. Despite all of the campaign contributions Obama receives, in the broader community there is unease about his strength as a leader.
Second, let me be clear on two points. I have no personal ax to grind with Obama. He was an interesting subject for writing and research. That was the only reason I pursued inquiries. I had no idea where the evidence would take me in 2004. I am amazed to still be writing about him in 2008. I have never questioned that Obama is a Christian today. I have explained how Christianity accepts new members. As an Episcopalian, I know we are an open, inviting and welcoming religion. Rather, I was interested in how Obama dealt with questions about his past.
Four years ago, I expressed concern about the reaction of the Jewish community when it learned of Obama’s Muslim family past. Today, Obama is the target of virulent racism within the Jewish community, and attacks from Israel. Look at the following reports as exemplars:
What I predicted happened. Instead of dealing openly with his past, Obama sought to avoid and prevaricate about his family history. And as a result he has allowed an explosion of concern in the Jewish community. Efforts by the Mainstream Media (MSM) to bury the story have not extinguished the controversy.
Third, what is becoming increasingly interesting is that much of the current controversy in the Jewish community is being suppressed by the MSM. MSM are not interested in disclosing what is happening behind closed doors. I am let to wonder why. Why is it that a newspaper in Israel has more comprehensive coverage about Obama’s religious difficulties than the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, and Washington Post? Will this “silence” feed more paranoia? I believe it will.
Obama recently met with “Jewish” newspapers and reporters to protest the vicious attacks on him in the Jewish community. Why were the MSM not invited? Did he think we do not read Haaretz in the United States? He followed the same exclusionary approach he pursued after I criticized him for remaining silent about the chaos in Kenya. Then, he called the Voice of America, not the MSM, to issue a statement. He is never willing to make a clean public breast of his positions. Fear? Insecurity? You be the judge.
Fourth, perhaps to overcompensate with Jews, Obama has added a prominent member of AIPAC to his organization. AIPAC is a group that is an anathema to Muslims and pro-peace advocates around the world. Early on last year, I received criticism from some of my Muslim readers, who mistakenly thought Obama was one of them. They apparently thought a “Shhhh” could avoid the hydraulic pressure of a presidential campaign. Now that AIPAC is on Obama’s team, I wonder what these readers will say. Am I still writing too much and disclosing too much about Obama? I don’t think so.
So where does that leave us as Obama enters a major debate tonight?  Obama’s problems with his family’s religious history have grown in proportion to his efforts to conceal that history, and to deceive the media about who his relatives were and are.  The potential for reaction from the Jewish community, which I predicted, has arisen with gale force. The situation has become so strained that some Jewish leaders issued a statement condemning the bigotry against Obama.  Earlier this year I wrote that Obama lacked the character to be forthright, and to take command, what we in the military called “command presence.” I still believe that to be the case.
Earlier this month I made a issue of his “spontaneous” remarks after primary victories, all of which were scripted well in advance by speechwriters. A man who cannot speak with spontaneity about the thrill of winning is a man who senses his own inner weakness.
Obama has regularly promised his supporters that he will “get tough” with the Clintons, but they have only gotten tougher with him. Apparently, they agree with me, and have taken their own measure of the man.
Obama is a delightful entertainer. He reads a prepared speech beautifully. And we now know he has speechwriters who write beautifully for him.
But, honestly, to read anything where Obama is speaking informally, without notes, is an exasperating experience, with hesitations, pauses and clauses. In a conversation, he seems incapable of delivering a simple declaratory sentence. And so, Obama can perform a speech marvelously; but he obviously cannot speak directly from his heart, simply, spontaneously and continuously. What does this say about the man? I’m not quite sure. But I am still researching, and still writing, and I will go where the facts take me.
My honest opinion: I do not think Obama is someone I would trust in the Oval Office. I have lived with African-Americans and played with African-Americans and marched with African-Americans. Many of them do have the magic of “command presence” that marks a true leader. Obama does not.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Judah Benjamin’s analysis follows the Foreword.
TD Foreword: Those who have followed this blog know that our working assumption has been that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. We have asserted that Obama’s legal name and citizenship changed when he was adopted by Lolo Soetoro, and that the birth certificate image published on Obama’s campaign website does not reflect current records. You can read the previous articles referenced at the end of this post to catch up on our analysis.
We now wonder if our assumption about Obama’s birth place was wrong.
I have received an unverified tip that certified copies of a Kenyan Birth Certificate (BC) for Obama were sent from Kenya, and have been received by three separate individuals. I am told that these documents are certified, with an embossed seal, and display the name of the hospital where Obama was born, as well as witness signatures.
Reportedly this BC reflects information filed Oct. 9 by Philip Berg. See item #18 on this docket, page 10, the relevant language of which, underlined in red, is captured here in a screen shot:
…Obama was born at Coast Hospital in Mombasa, Kenya located in Coast Province…
We do not currently have any additional confirmation of this new information. If it is an accurate tip, the implications are disastrous for Senator Obama and his backers. For that analysis, we proceed to Judah Benjamin…
Barack Hussein Obama II
By Judah Benjamin, Guest Author
It has been asserted by a number of sources, including Andy Martin, that Barack Hussein Obama was born in Mombasa, Kenya and not in Hawaii. Philip Berg’s Latest Motion to the Court is more explicit since it gives an exact Place of Birth. I must assume that Berg did not simply pluck the Location out of thin air, Mombasa has more than one Hospital, though Coast Provincial General was the best in 1961.
British Birth Certificates have a Standard Format which has been more or less the same since 1837 and they can only be challenged in a British Court. Kenyan Law is explicit and can only be challenged in a Kenyan Court. Indonesian Law is explicit and can only be challenged in an Indonesian Court. Be clear, if Obama was born in Kenya this is not simply a matter for the US Courts, or US Law.
If he was born in Kenya, and his parents were Legally Married [which on the Preponderance of Evidence they were, his father's first "Marriage" being a Tribal, or Village, Marriage, which was not Legally Recognized] due to the age of his mother he would NOT have been a US Citizen. The Immigration and Nationality Act 1952, 8 U.S.C. 1401. Sec. 301 (g) [Effective November 14, 1986] does not apply, nor does Title III, Immigration and Nationality Act Section 309. [8 U.S.C. 1409].
Unless he has taken the Oath of Allegiance as a Naturalized Citizen since he was 18 years old, and if he was born in Mombasa, Kenya, Barack Hussein Obama II would not be a US Citizen, period. The issue of whether or not he was Natural Born under Article II of the Constitution of the United States would cease to matter and he would need to be Deported as an Illegal Alien.
Impeachment as a Senator would seem not to be necessary since he would never Legally have been one, but Diane Feinstein and the members of the Senate Ethics and Rules Committee would be liable to Impeachment. So would their opposite numbers in the Illinois Senate and the appropriate officials of the Illinois State Supreme Court and Bar, so far as I can see.
If Senator Barack Hussein Obama II was born in The Coast Provincial General Hospital at Mombasa in Kenya at 7.24 PM on August 4th 1961, or at any other time, he is not a Natural Born Citizen of these United States and he never was. Philip J Berg, Esq, is correct, under the Nationality Act of 1940, as Revised June 1952 and in accord with United States of America vs Cervantes-Nava 281 F 3d 501 (2002) and Drozd vs INS, 155 F 3d 81, 85-88 (2d Circuit 199 8 Senator Barack Hussein Obama II would not ever have been a Legal US Citizen at all, unless he was Naturalized.
If he was born in The Coast Provincial General Hospital at Mombasa in Kenya any Certificate, or Certification of Live Birth, issued for him by the State of Hawaii is a Fraudulent and Illegal Document. At Birth he would have been a UK and Colonies Citizen and in accord with the Kenyan Constitution he would have become a Kenyan Citizen in December 1963. He would not have been a US Citizen.
Alternatively, his UK and Colonies Birth Certificate issued in Mombasa in August 1961 could be a Fraudulent and Illegal Document. The two BCs would need to be compared. By this I mean the Original Vault Copy of the Hawaiian Birth Certificate and not the Amended, Post Adoption, Copy, Legally available to the Senator, assuming he was, as indicated by the Preponderance of Evidence, Adopted by Lolo Soetoro. This case might also need to go through the UK and Kenyan Courts and becomes a Matter of International Law and Controversy.
If Barack Hussein Obama II was born at The Coast Provincial General Hospital at Mombasa in Kenya at 7:24 PM on August 4th 1961, or at any other time, it is certain that he is not Eligible to hold the Offices of POTUS or VPOTUS and highly probable that he is not Legally entitled to hold the Office of Senator either and that he was not Eligible to be an Illinois State Senator.
In that event the Senate Ethics and Rules Committee, Chair Diane Feinstein, have a problem because they are responsible for the Certification of a Candidate’s Compliance with Constitutional Requirements, a job they would have conspicuously failed to do. Should he be Elected the poisoned Chalice would pass to Nancy Pelosi because as Speaker of the House she, and the House, have the Responsibility to ensure that the President Elect can Effectively be Sworn In and Legally Assume the Office and Duties of the President.
Be very clear here, if Barack Hussein Obama II was born at The Coast Provincial General Hospital at Mombasa in Kenya at 7:24 PM on August 4th 1961, or at any other time, Diane Feinstein’s Committee have already failed in their Duty, as has every Secretary of State in the Union.
Let me repeat myself, if Barack Hussein Obama II was born in The Coast Provincial General Hospital at Mombasa in Kenya at 7:24 PM on August 4th 1961, or at any other time, he is not a Natural Born Citizen of these United States and he never was, he is not even a Citizen by Birth. I had assumed ab initio that Obama was born in Hawaii and that his Hawaiian Paperwork was basically “on the up and up”, I could not conceive that a lie of this magnitude was possible, I thought that the INS would have caught on long since. If he is a US Citizen under these circumstances his Oath of Allegiance must be on Record somewhere. If it isn’t he is not a US Citizen.
Hawaii may Legally be able to Issue a Birth Certificate under these circumstances, according to their own Code, but it would breach of International and Federal Law if they have. It would breach Hawaiian Law if the Place of Birth is spurious.
“[§338-17.8] Certificates for children born out of State. (a) Upon application of an adult or the legal parents of a minor child, the director of health shall issue a birth certificate for such adult or minor, provided that proof has been submitted to the director of health that the legal parents of such individual while living without the Territory or State of Hawaii had declared the Territory or State of Hawaii as their legal residence for at least one year immediately preceding the birth or adoption of such child.
(b) Proof of legal residency shall be submitted to the director of health in any manner that the director shall deem appropriate. The director of health may also adopt any rules pursuant to chapter 91 that he or she may deem necessary or proper to prevent fraudulent applications for birth certificates and to require any further information or proof of events necessary for completion of a birth certificate.”
So by that section he could get a certificate claiming Hawaiian birth even if he was physically born outside the US but the Place of Birth would need to be correctly recorded.
Understand, the Hawaiian Authorities may be able to Issue a Hawaiian Birth Certificate under these circumstances but they cannot make you a US Citizen. A child born in Kenya to and underage US Female and a UK and Colonies Citizen in 1961 was not born a US Citizen under any US Federal Law, under British Law, or International Law. The only way such an Individual could be a US Citizen in terms of the XIVth Amendment, or any Statute, or Code of US Federal Law is by Naturalization.
Under Common Law no Person can Testify as to their own Place of Birth, this is established Law upheld by stare decisis. Therefore it would be possible, even given the he was born in Kenya, for Obama to claim that he believed a Hawaiian Birth Certificate made him a US Citizen under the XIVth Amendment and that therefore he was acting in Good Faith running for an Office which he was Constitutionally Incapable of Holding. Unfortunately for him, his actions in regard to the Admission of his UK & Colonies and Kenyan Citizenships and his Indonesian Citizenship by Adoption, his frequent apparent Breaches of the Logan Act, his probable breaches of the Hobbs Act, the Hatch Act, USC Title 18 Part One Chapter 63 § 1346 and the RICO Statute make this Defense wholly Untenable, especially when one considers the fact that he holds a JD from Harvard Law. One may throw in the Misprision Statute for good measure. It is difficult to find any action or statement of Obama’s since 1992 that could be used to suggest Good Faith could be used as a Defense in this Case. I am not saying that Obama is Guilty of any of these Felonies or High Misdemeanors, only that his actions and pronouncements are such as to lead to a reasonable suspicion that he may be.
Under INA §349 “2. taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof after having attained the age of eighteen years.” This is an “Expatriating Clause”, if you hold Dual Citizenship and do this you void your US Citizenship. Well Obama campaigned actively for Odinga in Kenya and apparently also took some kind of Luo Tribal Loyalty Oath. He may also have joined Odinga’s party. Of course his Dual Nationality lapsed in 1982 but INA §349 could, perhaps, still apply here, if he was born in Mombasa. It might even be concluded that Obama was providing grounds to restore his Kenyan Citizenship by Prime Ministerial Decree, which is Legal under the Kenyan Constitution. That would certainly look Expatriating to me, but I do not know how a Court would react.
There is indirect reason to believe that this may be true. “2d Session S. RES. 511: Recognizing that John Sidney McCain, III, is a natural born citizen.: In the Senate of the United States.” was Sponsored by Senator McCaskill and co-sponsored by Senators Leahy, Obama, Coburn, Clinton and Webb. Why? Why were Democratic Senators trying to pass a Resolution making Senator McCain undoubtedly Legally Eligible when this issue had already been cleared up in 2000 and again in 2004? And why did Senators McCaskill and Obama reportedly insert the following Clause?
“Whereas previous presidential candidates were born outside of the United States of America and were understood to be eligible to be President;”
This Clause has no particular relevance to McCain and the following Clause, which it is reported McCaskill and Obama attempted to REMOVE shows that:
“; and Whereas John Sidney McCain, III, was born to American citizens on an American military base in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936:”
It seems clear that McCaskill and Obama were attempting to create a blanket Resolution covering ALL Foreign Born candidates. Why do that if not to benefit a Foreign Born Democratic Candidate, who did not have a US Military background?
McCain did not need this resolution, Richardson did not need this Resolution, so far as I can see nobody needed this Resolution unless somebody in the race was born outside the USA and was “Covering his/her Ass” and the only individual in the race that that could apply to was Senator Obama! This in turn would show that the Senator is a liar who has been peddling untruths about his birth for at least 16 years!
Likewise it would explain why Michelle Obama tried trawling the “very single mother” canard. Were he illegitimate there is precedent and Statute that says if his parents were unmarried at the time of his birth he would have become a Citizen of the USA at Birth under Title III of the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 309. [8 U.S.C. 1409]. However, as Miller v Albright, 523 US 420 (199 8 demonstrates there is, and was, a split in the Supreme Court as to whether this Law is in fact Constitutional under the XIVth Amendment. A new case might change the precedent. For now it stands.
I do not insist that any of this is true and to me it makes little difference if it is, I hold him Ineligible anyway and have seen no solid Legal Rebuttal of my view from any source, but if he was born in Kenya he has, and can have, no defense of any description and any Document he has from Hawaii is Fraudulent on several levels. To hold the Office of POTUS one must be a Natural Born United States Citizen, if he was born in Mombasa Obama probably isn’t even a United States Citizen much less Natural Born. He would be guilty of Fraud and a list of other offenses and any and all persons who had aided him would be guilty of Misprision, in all probability.
SEE PREVIOUS ARTICLES at TD BLOG:
Obama is Indonesian by TexasDarlin (9/30/08
*Breaking* Obama Admits Dual Citizenship by Judah Benjamin (9/25/08
The Trojan Candidate by Dr. Kate (9/21/08
Photo Documents Barry Soetoro: Indonesian Citizen, Muslim Religion by TexasDarlin (8/13/08
Kenyan Citizenship Report Debunked by TexasDarlin (8/13/08
Obama’s Dual Citizenship Disaster by TexasDarlin (8/10/08
The Paper Trail: Obama’s Indonesian Background by Judah Benjamin (7/29/08
Divided Loyalties: Obama’s Citizenship Problem, Part 2 by Judah Benjamin (7/25/08
Divided Loyalties: Obama’s Citizenship Problem, Part 1 by Judah Benjamin (7/25/08
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 2/05/2009 10:08:00 AM
By PETE SEPP | Posted Wednesday, February 04, 2009 4:20 PM PT
At roughly $850 billion and 650 pages and counting, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is a hugely expensive gamble that the Congress and the president are apparently willing to take in a desperate effort to jump-start our economy.
Unfortunately, our lawmakers, now giddy with a wide-open, taxpayer-funded checkbook, have shoved more pork into this "recovery act" than a truckload of Smithfield hams.
The single largest spending bill in congressional history, this $850 billion "stimulus" is a massive expansion of government that will ultimately shortchange its financiers American taxpayers. Shifting resources from the private to the public sector is a time-proven failure that threatens to widen our deficit and stall economic recovery.
With an actual price tag of $1.2 trillion when interest payments on this deficit spending are factored in, this is money that will come from an empty pocket. Congress will raise taxes at a time when Americans can least afford them, or it will borrow the funds and pass the astronomical debt onto the next generation of taxpayers.
On Jan. 28, the Wall Street Journal editorial page said: "This is a political wonder that manages to spend money on just about every pent-up Democratic proposal of the last 40 years." If that sounds exaggerated, review the spending provisions for yourself at readthestimulus.org.
A sampling of new expenses includes $1 billion for Amtrak (which hasn't turned a profit in 40 years), $696 million for constructing and outfitting the Department of Homeland Security's headquarters and $650 million for digital TV conversion coupons.
The bill also includes $20 billion in tax cuts for alternative energy, and an additional $32 billion allotted for a national power grid.
Instead of government-directed energy development a known boondoggle since the Carter-era Synfuels Corp. Congress should work on an expansion of existing resources from the Outer Continental Shelf and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
This would provide a sizable and immediate stimulus for many through lower energy prices, in addition to generating billions in new revenues for states through royalties, land rents and income taxes. It would also create new jobs in domestic energy production, a viable industry that has weathered the economic upheaval.
Though the bill's advocates contend that a new industry of "green jobs" will result, House Minority Leader John Boehner recently explained to the Washington Post: "All told, the plan would spend a whopping $275,000 in taxpayer dollars for every new job it aims to create, saddling each and every household with $6,700 in additional debt."
A few of the spending items may yield measurable results, but it's clear that most of the projects aren't guaranteed to stimulate the economy.
Worse yet, any minuscule return on investment from these enormous outlays won't be felt for years, at which point the economy is projected to rebound.
According to a recent Congressional Budget Office report, less than 10% of the $355 billion in discretionary spending would be utilized by the end of fiscal year 2009, with more than $200 billion doled out between fiscal year 2011 and fiscal year 2019.
And so much for "accountability" and "transparency" approximately $54 billion will go to federal programs that the Office of Management and Budget or the Government Accountability Office have deemed "ineffective" or "results not demonstrated," including the Economic Development Administration, the Small Business Administration and many more.
As it stands, our national debt exceeds a staggering $10.5 trillion, putting each American's share at more than $34,000. Why add to this collective burden when the outcome is anything but guaranteed?
Furthermore, once programs are bloated this much, big spenders in Congress could portray the slightest reductions as frugal, even if those programs remained historically overinflated.
A better approach is a pro-growth tax policy that will lay the groundwork for sustainable economic expansion. Otherwise, the government is defying its pledge as a responsible steward of taxpayer money.
In the rush to "do something quickly" to prevent the economy from sinking further, Congress and the new administration should proceed with caution before they drown us and our children in a sea of red ink.
Sepp is vice president for policy and communications for the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 2/05/2009 08:43:00 AM
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
February 2, 2009
In some parts of rural Kentucky, they're getting water the old-fashioned way -- with pails from a creek. There's not room for one more sleeping bag on the shelter floor. The creative are flushing their toilets with melted snow.
At least 42 people have died, including in Kentucky five from the storm and six others suspected to be storm-related, and conditions are worsening in many places days after an ice storm knocked out power to 1.3 million customers from the Plains to the East Coast. About a million people were still without electricity Friday, and with no hope that the lights will come back on soon, small communities are frantically struggling to help their residents.
One county put it bluntly: It can't.
"We're asking people to pack a suitcase and head south and find a motel if they have the means, because we can't service everybody in our shelter,'' said Crittenden County Judge-Executive Fred Brown, who oversees about 9,000 people, many of whom are sleeping in the town's elementary school.
Local officials were growing angry with what they said was a lack of help from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In Grayson County, about 80 miles southwest of Louisville, Emergency Management Director Randell Smith said the 25 National Guardsmen who have responded have no chain saws to clear fallen trees.
"We've got people out in some areas we haven't even visited yet,'' Smith said. "We don't even know that they're alive.''
Smith said FEMA has been a no-show so far.
"I'm not saying we can't handle it; we'll handle it,'' Smith said. "But it would have made life a lot easier'' if FEMA had reached the county sooner, he said.
FEMA spokeswoman Mary Hudak said some FEMA personnel already are in Kentucky working in the state's emergency operations center and that more will be arriving in coming days. Hudak said FEMA also has shipped to 50 to 100 generators to the state to supply electricity to facilities like hospitals, nursing homes, and water treatment plants.
Hudak said travel is still dangerous in some areas and communications are limited.
"We have plenty of folks ready to go, but there are some limitations with roads closed and icy conditions,'' she said.
From Missouri to Ohio, thousands were bunked down in shelters, waiting for the power to return. Others are trying to tough out the power outage at home, using any means they can to get basics like drinking water, heat and food.
Lori Clarke was stuck at home in the western Kentucky town of Marion with trees blocking the road out. She trudged more than half a mile through snow and ice carrying 5-gallon buckets to bring drinking water for her horses and dogs and to flush her toilet.
"When you live out in the country, you just shift into survival mode,'' she said.
Even for those who wanted to leave, it wasn't possible. The one gas station in Marion that was up and running was able to supply gasoline to emergency vehicles only until another delivery of gasoline arrived Friday. Only half of that gas was made available to the public, and there was a $10 limit.
Linda Young, who is staying the town's shelter, said her car only had enough gas in it to get around Marion. Even if she had gas, there was nowhere to go -- all of her relatives in other parts of Kentucky also were hit by the ice storm.
"For right now, this is the best we can do, so this is where we're at,'' said Young, as she sat on a mattress with her 9-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter.
By midafternoon water service had been restored to the city of Marion thanks to a generator, while efforts continued to restore service to the outlying county, Police Chief Ray O'Neal said. Residents were being told to boil the water before drinking it.
Meanwhile, the death toll was rising: Since the storm began Monday, the weather is suspected in at least 11 deaths in Kentucky, nine more in Arkansas, six each in Texas and Missouri, three in Virginia, two each in Oklahoma, Indiana and West Virginia and one in Ohio, with most of them blamed on hypothermia, traffic accidents and carbon monoxide poisoning from generators.
Among the latest deaths reported were those of William Matthews, in his 60s; his wife, Beverly Matthews, in her 50s; and their daughter, Mona Matthews, in her 40s, according to Matthews' sister, Marilyn Payton. The three were found in a southwestern Louisville home Friday. The younger woman was found in bed; the other two were found in the garage, along with a generator, police spokesman Phil Russell said.
The fight to return power to Kentucky and other areas affected by the ice storm is difficult because of the sheer number of outages, but also because of the ice itself. Crews have joined the effort from around the country, but more than a half-million homes and businesses were still out in Kentucky on Friday, along with roughly 78,000 in Missouri and 284,000 in Arkansas. Thousands more were still in the dark in Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.
"As ice is melting, power lines and tree limbs are springing upward and hitting other power lines,'' said Rita Alexander, spokeswoman for Gibson Electric Membership Corp. in Tennessee. "It is just an unpleasant part of the process.''
While generators were able to bring some water pumping stations back to life Friday, thousands still didn't have access to running water, and thousands more were under boil advisories. Roughly 200,000 people across Kentucky are either without water or under a boil-water advisory, Gov. Steve Beshear said.
"By the end of this weekend, we hope to have generators at a majority of the water plants. In the meantime, we are trucking bottled water into every place we know that needs it, so no one should be without drinking water over the weekend, Beshear said.
Eighty-six of Kentucky's 120 counties have declared emergencies, as have 59 cities, Beshear said. Across the state, 172 shelters were in place, serving about 6,400 people.
So far, the federal government has sent Kentucky about 117,000 meals, 200,000 liters of water, some communications equipment and 150 generators, said Kim Kadesch, FEMA's federal coordinating officer handling Kentucky's disaster. Another 150 generators are en route to the state, an amount officials believe be "adequate generator coverage,'' Kadesch said.
While generators were able to bring some water pumping stations back to life Friday, thousands still didn't have access to running water, and thousands more were under boil advisories. Roughly 200,000 people across Kentucky still don't have water. In Hayti, Mo., alderwoman Lisa Green said a temporary generator was in use to run the water plant, and power was being moved around to pump wastewater through the sewage system, she said.
That wasn't enough. "Our water plant is up and running, but people are inundating it,'' Green said. The community has received some bottled water, she said, but needs more.
A precious few had enough supplies to tough it out alone. Stephen Cates said his home was being warmed by kerosene heaters and an electric furnace powered by a generator that he waited 41/2 hours in line to purchase in Evansville, Ind.
He was flushing his toilet with melted snow, and could even watch TV.
"I'm living just like I have electricity, just about, eating hot food,'' Cates said.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Roger Alford in Leitchfield, Ky., Dylan T. Lovan, Rebecca Yonker, Brett Barrouquere and Janet Cappiello Blake in Louisville, Ky., Joe Biesk in Frankfort, Ky., Betsy Taylor in St. Louis and Randall Dickerson in Nashville, Tenn.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 2/04/2009 04:53:00 PM
Sen. Coburn: Obama’s stimulus is “morally reprehensible” and “the worst act of generational theft in our nation’s history” By Michelle Malkin
Sen. Coburn gave a terrific, moving, conservatively-grounded, and inspired floor speech late last night on the Obama Generational Theft Act of 2009. He defended market capitalism, assailed wealth distributionist programs and government corruption, and decimated the pork in the Democrats’ behemoth package.
Most importantly, he outlined repeatedly how this debt stimulus would be built on the backs of our children and grandchildren. He said last night on the floor: “This plan steals the future of the next two generations.”
On his website (and in a WSJ op-ed), Sen. Coburn reiterated this theme: “When the American people learn what this bill contains they will reject it. This bill is about spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need. We got into this mess by spending and investing money that didn’t exist. We won’t get out of this mess by doing more of the same. Yet, that is precisely what we are doing,” Dr. Coburn said. “Instead of delivering change, this bill celebrates the politics of the past. The bill represents both the mindless partisanship of recent decades, and the failed interventionist policies of the 1930’s. The Senate can, and must, do much better. As currently written, this bill represents the worst act of generational theft in our nation’s history.”
It’s a theme you and I have expounded upon since the Obama plan was introduced. And it’s working. More and more Americans are realizing what a colossal rip-off this plan is. “Unease is stirring” among moderate Democrats. I wish the rest of the Senate GOP leadership would start talking, acting, and then voting like responsible fiscal conservatives. Conservatism is shifting public opinion.
Kill the bill. Stab it. Stick a fork in it. Then start over from scratch.
Here are the amendments Coburn is offering:
1. Require that all money in the bill given to states be a loan that must be repaid.
2. Strike $246 million “Hollywood earmark” for the purchase of motion picture film. (passed last night)
3. Strike “biggest earmark of all time” – $2 billion for FutureGen clean coal power plant.
4. Sense of the Senate that the Congress should support President Obama’s “Plan for Restoring Fiscal Discipline.” (Specifically relating to cutting costs and inefficiencies of government.)
5. No funds shall be used for casinos, aquariums, zoos, museums, golf courses, or swimming pools (mirror House language).
6. No more than $1 billion may be spent on projects for federal agencies inside the beltway.
7. Require that any contract that is awarded must be competitively bid.
8. Convert $9 billion for broadband into loans for internet service providers/telecom companies to build infrastructure in market-sustainable areas.
9. Prohibit any Corps construction funds appropriated in this Act from being used for initial construction projects until all unfinished Corps projects have been completed.
10. No funds from the Federal Building Fund may be used to construct new federal buildings until the government reduces its inventory of surplus/excess real property by 50 percent as of the date of bill passage.
11. None of the funds made available for the National Park Service may be expended unless such funding directly reduces the deferred maintenance backlog.
12. Strike authority for the Director of Indian Health Service to spend all health information technology funds ($85 million) at his discretion, regardless of current law (competitive awards, bidding, etc).
13. Cut $3.25 billion in funding for Workforce Investment Act programs since WIA has not been reauthorized and GAO has found duplicative job-training programs across 8 different federal agencies.
14. No funds in the Act may go to a public or private institution of high education that has an endowment of more than $15 billion and/or spends more than $100,000 on lobbying annually.
15. Make the “making work pay” tax credit non-refundable (the plan to give $500 or $1,000 checks of every family).
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 2/04/2009 11:48:00 AM
Print,TV ads demand citizenship proof from Obama:Concerned Americans look to media to compel president-elect to release documents By Chelsea Schilling
December 02, 2008
Concerned citizens have taken yet another step to compel Barack Obama to release documentation proving he is a natural-born citizen – by funding a full-page "Open letter to Obama" in tomorrow's issue of the Chicago Tribune.
American donors have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the We the People Foundation to sponsor the advertisement. It appeared in the main news section of the newspaper yesterday and is scheduled to run again tomorrow morning.
We the People Foundation's letter to Obama scheduled to run in Chicago Tribune
The letter, signed by Chairman Robert L. Schulz, is a petition for redress of what the group claims is a violation of the natural-born citizen clause of the Constitution (Article II, Section 1):
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
"Dear Mr. Obama," the letter begins. "Representing thousands of responsible American citizens who have also taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America, I am duty bound to call on you to remedy an apparent violation of the Constitution. Compelling evidence supports the claim that you are barred from holding the Office of President by the 'natural-born citizen' clause of the U.S. Constitution."
Where's the proof Barack Obama was born in the U.S. and thus a "natural born American" as required by Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution? If you still want to see it, sign WND's petition demanding the release of his birth certificate.
Schulz lists the following reasons citizens are concerned about Obama's status:
- You have posted on the Internet an unsigned, forged and thoroughly discredited, computer-generated birth form created in 2007, a form that lacks vital information found on any original, hand signed Certificate of Live Birth, such as hospital address, signature of attending physician and age of mother.
- Hawaii Dept of Health will not confirm your assertion that you were born in Hawaii.
- Legal affidavits state you were born in Kenya.
- U.S. Law in effect in 1961 denied U.S. citizenship to any child born in Kenya if the father was Kenyan and the mother was not yet 19 years of age.
- In 1965, your mother legally relinquished whatever Kenyan or U.S. citizenship she and you had by marrying an Indonesian and becoming a naturalized Indonesian citizen.
We the People said it chose the Chicago Tribune because it is the principal newspaper in president-elect's hometown with more than a half-million readers. Obama is said to be one of them.
The letter states Obama is "under a moral, legal and fiduciary duty to proffer such evidence" and that he may invite a "national crisis that would undermine in domestic peace and stability of the Nation" if he assumes office as a "usurper" without meeting natural-born citizenship requirements. It claims Obama would not be entitled to allegiance, obedience or support from U.S. citizens, the armed forces or civilians in the executive branch if he "usurps" the office – rendering legislation requiring his signature and his orders "legally void."
We the People requests that Obama provide its team of forensic scientists with his original birth certificate on Dec. 5, 6 and 7. The foundation is currently raising $20,000 to cover the expenses of employing the forensic team in Hawaii. The letter also demands delivery of documentary evidence of Obama's citizenship before the group's scheduled press conference in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8.
The petition concludes with a warning:
All state Electors are now on Notice that unless you provide documentary evidence before December 15, that conclusively establishes your eligibility, they cannot cast a vote for you without committing treason to the Constitution.
Another newspaper advertisement
The Chicago Tribune letter is the second high-profile newspaper advertisement of its kind. Another ad challenging Obama's natural-born citizen status appeared on Page 5 of the Nov. 17 edition of the Washington Times.
Advertisement appearing on Page 5 of Washington Times' Nov. 17 issue
Pennsylvania attorney Philip J. Berg, a Democrat who is pursuing the issue by petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court, posted a full-page ad requesting donations and posing the following questions:
"Was Barack Obama born in Kenya?"
"Is he really a citizen of Indonesia?"
"Does the Constitution still matter?"
The ad states, "Obama says he's qualified. But, Berg, multiple legal suits and a growing number of American citizens are saying: 'Prove it.' A basic, vital and Constitutional request."
WND columnist Janet Porter of Faith2Action, is working on funding the new ad for release on television. Her website is accepting contributions for the project until Dec. 15.
"These are the facts," she wrote. "The Constitution requires the president to be a natural born citizen. Obama's grandmother said she was there when Barack was born in Kenya. Obama refuses to release his original birth certificate. Instead of a birth certificate, Obama's campaign posted a certification given to those born abroad. Experts have called even that document an 'obvious forgery.'"
Porter said $12,000 buys a national 60-second ad on Fox News between 5 and 6 p.m.
"I say let's buy a few of those and publicize it so the rest of the world finally hears about the constitutional crisis we're in," she wrote. "Then, the Bill O'Reillys, Sean Hannitys and Rush Limbaughs may decide to cover the story of the century."
Chelsea Schilling is a staff writer for WorldNetDaily.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 2/04/2009 09:17:00 AM
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
January 29, 2009
It's been almost one year and $1.5 trillion since the government began its historic slate of financial bailouts -- and all we have to show for it is red ink dripping from our nation's balance sheet.
Congress has been busy writing checks to everyone from Detroit automakers to Wall Street day traders. We're now nearing a historic $11 trillion debt. Each time Congress goes to the taxpayer ATM, it claims that this will be the bailout that gets the economy moving again.
For instance, on the night the Senate passed the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, the Senate's finance chairman, Max Baucus, confidently declared: "I'm very proud of what we did. This is going to mark the time when we've turned the corner. And we will begin to see this financial crisis beginning to abate."
But things got only worse. And despite the serious risks to our long-term stability, this failed strategy of big-government stimulus continues in full force. This week, in fact, President Obama and the Democratic Congress asked for another near-trillion in federal deficit spending.
Their plan promises an agenda styled after the economic policies of the Great Depression -- government jobs programs, enormous infrastructure spending, huge amounts of pork and a slew of government handouts. But before we return to the 1930s, we may want to review a little history.
The stock market collapse of 1929 brought a crashing halt to the Roaring Twenties. But President Herbert Hoover's response to the economic crisis ensured that it became a genuine catastrophe. Contrary to popular perception, Hoover did not respond to the downturn with inaction or indifference -- rather, he pursued a series of misguided big-government adventures that lengthened and deepened our economic woes.
Hoover not only dramatically hiked income and import taxes, but he instituted big-government spending programs all but identical to those being debated today. Hoover's Reconstruction Finance Corporation tried to ease economic pain by funneling tax money to state governments, local governments, banks and a variety of businesses. His Federal Home Loan Bank Act extended loans in an effort to increase low-income housing -- beginning the ill-fated history of federal intervention in the housing market.
These measures proved a dismal failure, and things got only worse. In the 1932 campaign, Franklin Roosevelt actually attacked Hoover for his big-government policies, decrying Hoover's presidency as "the greatest spending administration in peacetime in all of history."
Yet, once elected, Roosevelt not only maintained Hoover's programs, he used them as a foundation for his titanic New Deal expenditures. He even expanded Hoover's failed housing program and launched the now-infamous mortgage giant Fannie Mae. And even in the face of a staggering 25 percent unemployment, FDR held fast to the big-government philosophy -- jobs programs, handouts, tax hikes -- and, as a result, presided over a decade of economic misery.
FDR's own treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, had to admit as much in 1939: "We are spending more than we have ever spent before, and it does not work. ... We have never made good on our promises. I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. And an enormous debt to boot!"
Instead of pursuing the tragic economic policies of Hoover and FDR, we should follow the model of presidents who successfully met the economic challenges of their times and ushered in prosperity. In recent memory, Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan dramatically cut taxes to stimulate growth and create jobs -- and their policies succeeded.
When Jimmy Carter left office, the economy was slumping, unemployment was higher than today and inflation was in the double digits. Reagan's economic policy, which included massive tax cuts, reversed a worsening situation, and the economy surged on every level -- 17 million jobs were created, employee compensation increased, inflation was conquered and the longest peacetime boom in our history was born.
So with two paths ahead -- one that emphasizes tax reform and one that emphasizes big government -- the right path is clear. We either learn from the mistakes of history or we repeat them.
Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 2/03/2009 11:32:00 AM
February 1, 2009
I AM DISMAYED THAT LEGISLATION HAS AGAIN BEEN INTRODUCED in Congress to prohibit forever oil and gas development in the most promising unexplored petroleum province in North America -- the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in Alaska.
Let's not forget: Only six months ago, oil was selling for nearly $150 per barrel, while Americans were paying $4 a gallon and more for gasoline. And today, there is potential for prices to rebound as OPEC asserts its market power and as Russia disrupts needed natural gas to Europe for the second time in three years.
As I traveled throughout the country campaigning for vice president, I was glad to hear politicians, including Barack Obama, promise that "everything was on the table" to address America's great challenges. I also found that when Americans were apprised of the facts, most people became supporters of responsible oil and gas drilling in Alaska. So, I want to remind our national leaders of this promise and make the case against this legislation:
•Oil from ANWR represents a huge, secure domestic supply that could help satisfy U.S. demand for more than 25 years.
•ANWR sits within a 20 million-acre refuge (the size of South Carolina), but thanks to advanced technology like directional drilling, the aggregated drilling footprint would be less than 2,000 acres (about one-quarter the size of Dulles Airport). This is like laying a 2-by-3-foot welcome mat on a basketball court.
•Energy development is quite compatible with the protection of our wildlife and their habitat. For example, North Slope caribou herds have grown and remained healthy throughout more than three decades of oil development. Most of the year, our coastal plain is frozen solid and thus characterized by low biological productivity.
•ANWR development would create hundreds of thousands of good American jobs, positively affecting every state by providing a safe energy supply and generating demand for goods and services.
•Development here would reduce U.S. dependence on unstable, dangerous sources of energy, such as the Middle East, and would decrease our huge trade deficit, a large percentage of which is directly attributable to oil imports.
•Incremental ANWR production would help reduce energy price volatility. Previous price disruptions demonstrate how even relatively low levels of oil production influence world prices.
•Federal revenues from ANWR -- cash bids, leases and oil taxes -- would help reduce the multitrillion-dollar national debt, and we'd circulate U.S. petrodollars in our own country instead of continuing to send hundreds of billions of our dollars overseas, creating jobs and stronger economies in other countries.
The development of oil and clean-burning natural gas isn't a panacea. However, this development should be authorized in comprehensive legislation that includes alternative fuels, fuel efficiency and conservation.
Americans know that gasoline and other refined crude oil products will keep fueling our transportation system for the foreseeable future. Further, the soaring prices of food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and other products graphically illustrate the importance of petroleum to the health and well-being of America.
Another important reality is that the location and quantity of oil production are drastically changing world geopolitics.
Energy-producing countries are rapidly gaining world power. Several of these countries have objectives and value systems that are antithetical to U.S. interests.
Washington politicians should be horrified as we become increasingly dependent on these insecure, foreign sources while our U.S. petrodollars finance activities that harm America and our economic and military interests around the world.
If we don't move now to enact a comprehensive energy policy that includes domestic oil and gas production, including ANWR, we will look back someday and regret that we failed to perceive a critical crossroads in the history of America. It's not overly dramatic to say our nation's future depends on the decisions made by the federal government over the next few months.
Polls show a majority of Americans now support responsible energy development in Alaska. Unfortunately, some disingenuous special-interest groups are still fighting the public will in Congress.
Americans, please contact Congress and ask that all options stay on the table as we formulate our needed energy plan. Remind politicians about their promises to increase domestic oil and gas production.
Sarah Palin is governor of Alaska.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 2/03/2009 11:27:00 AM
How Government Prolonged the Depression: Policies that decreased competition in product and labor markets were especially destructive.
The New Deal is widely perceived to have ended the Great Depression, and this has led many to support a "new" New Deal to address the current crisis. But the facts do not support the perception that FDR's policies shortened the Depression, or that similar policies will pull our nation out of its current economic downturn.
A man selling apples during the Great Depression.
The goal of the New Deal was to get Americans back to work. But the New Deal didn't restore employment. In fact, there was even less work on average during the New Deal than before FDR took office. Total hours worked per adult, including government employees, were 18% below their 1929 level between 1930-32, but were 23% lower on average during the New Deal (1933-39). Private hours worked were even lower after FDR took office, averaging 27% below their 1929 level, compared to 18% lower between in 1930-32.
Even comparing hours worked at the end of 1930s to those at the beginning of FDR's presidency doesn't paint a picture of recovery. Total hours worked per adult in 1939 remained about 21% below their 1929 level, compared to a decline of 27% in 1933. And it wasn't just work that remained scarce during the New Deal. Per capita consumption did not recover at all, remaining 25% below its trend level throughout the New Deal, and per-capita nonresidential investment averaged about 60% below trend. The Great Depression clearly continued long after FDR took office.
Why wasn't the Depression followed by a vigorous recovery, like every other cycle? It should have been. The economic fundamentals that drive all expansions were very favorable during the New Deal. Productivity grew very rapidly after 1933, the price level was stable, real interest rates were low, and liquidity was plentiful. We have calculated on the basis of just productivity growth that employment and investment should have been back to normal levels by 1936. Similarly, Nobel Laureate Robert Lucas and Leonard Rapping calculated on the basis of just expansionary Federal Reserve policy that the economy should have been back to normal by 1935.
So what stopped a blockbuster recovery from ever starting? The New Deal. Some New Deal policies certainly benefited the economy by establishing a basic social safety net through Social Security and unemployment benefits, and by stabilizing the financial system through deposit insurance and the Securities Exchange Commission. But others violated the most basic economic principles by suppressing competition, and setting prices and wages in many sectors well above their normal levels. All told, these antimarket policies choked off powerful recovery forces that would have plausibly returned the economy back to trend by the mid-1930s.
The most damaging policies were those at the heart of the recovery plan, including The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), which tossed aside the nation's antitrust acts and permitted industries to collusively raise prices provided that they shared their newfound monopoly rents with workers by substantially raising wages well above underlying productivity growth. The NIRA covered over 500 industries, ranging from autos and steel, to ladies hosiery and poultry production. Each industry created a code of "fair competition" which spelled out what producers could and could not do, and which were designed to eliminate "excessive competition" that FDR believed to be the source of the Depression.
These codes distorted the economy by artificially raising wages and prices, restricting output, and reducing productive capacity by placing quotas on industry investment in new plants and equipment. Following government approval of each industry code, industry prices and wages increased substantially, while prices and wages in sectors that weren't covered by the NIRA, such as agriculture, did not. We have calculated that manufacturing wages were as much as 25% above the level that would have prevailed without the New Deal. And while the artificially high wages created by the NIRA benefited the few that were fortunate to have a job in those industries, they significantly depressed production and employment, as the growth in wage costs far exceeded productivity growth.
These policies continued even after the NIRA was declared unconstitutional in 1935. There was no antitrust activity after the NIRA, despite overwhelming FTC evidence of price-fixing and production limits in many industries, and the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 gave unions substantial collective-bargaining power. While not permitted under federal law, the sit-down strike, in which workers were occupied factories and shut down production, was tolerated by governors in a number of states and was used with great success against major employers, including General Motors in 1937.
The downturn of 1937-38 was preceded by large wage hikes that pushed wages well above their NIRA levels, following the Supreme Court's 1937 decision that upheld the constitutionality of the National Labor Relations Act. These wage hikes led to further job loss, particularly in manufacturing. The "recession in a depression" thus was not the result of a reversal of New Deal policies, as argued by some, but rather a deepening of New Deal polices that raised wages even further above their competitive levels, and which further prevented the normal forces of supply and demand from restoring full employment. Our research indicates that New Deal labor and industrial policies prolonged the Depression by seven years.
By the late 1930s, New Deal policies did begin to reverse, which coincided with the beginning of the recovery. In a 1938 speech, FDR acknowledged that the American economy had become a "concealed cartel system like Europe," which led the Justice Department to reinitiate antitrust prosecution. And union bargaining power was significantly reduced, first by the Supreme Court's ruling that the sit-down strike was illegal, and further reduced during World War II by the National War Labor Board (NWLB), in which large union wage settlements were limited by the NWLB to cost-of-living increases. The wartime economic boom reflected not only the enormous resource drain of military spending, but also the erosion of New Deal labor and industrial policies.
By 1947, through a combination of NWLB wage restrictions and rapid productivity growth, we have calculated that the large gap between manufacturing wages and productivity that emerged during the New Deal had nearly been eliminated. And since that time, wages have never approached the severely distorted levels that prevailed under the New Deal, nor has the country suffered from such abysmally low employment.
The main lesson we have learned from the New Deal is that wholesale government intervention can -- and does -- deliver the most unintended of consequences. This was true in the 1930s, when artificially high wages and prices kept us depressed for more than a decade, it was true in the 1970s when price controls were used to combat inflation but just produced shortages. It is true today, when poorly designed regulation produced a banking system that took on too much risk.
President Barack Obama and Congress have a great opportunity to produce reforms that do return Americans to work, and that provide a foundation for sustained long-run economic growth and the opportunity for all Americans to succeed. These reforms should include very specific plans that update banking regulations and address a manufacturing sector in which several large industries -- including autos and steel -- are no longer internationally competitive. Tax reform that broadens rather than narrows the tax base and that increases incentives to work, save and invest is also needed. We must also confront an educational system that fails many of its constituents. A large fiscal stimulus plan that doesn't directly address the specific impediments that our economy faces is unlikely to achieve either the country's short-term or long-term goals.
Mr. Cole is professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Ohanian is professor of economics and director of the Ettinger Family Program in Macroeconomic Research at UCLA.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 2/03/2009 11:21:00 AM
February 2, 2009
American consumers and businesses are embarking on an era of thrift as the recession deepens, saving more money as they cut spending on purchases as varied as sweaters, new homes and office towers.
That was the picture painted by two government reports released on Monday. One showed that Americans cut their spending for a sixth month in December as they worried about losing their jobs and earning less in a deteriorating economy. The personal saving rate in the last three months of 2008 rose to its highest level in six years.
In another report, the Commerce Department said that construction spending in December declined 1.4 percent from November as housing values continued to fall and credit markets remained tight. Spending on residential construction in December dropped 22 percent from the same month a year ago.
“If households are shying away from spending, what’s going to cause businesses to start spending again?” asked Aaron Smith, senior economist at Moody’s Economy.com.
Putting away money and paying down debt may be good for one family’s kitchen-table economics, but the broader economy suffers in the short term when millions of families do it.
A dollar saved does not circulate through the economy and higher savings rates translate into fewer sales and lower revenue for struggling businesses. As Congress considers an $800 billion package of tax cuts and spending plans, policy makers said that the most effective stimulus was money that would be spent quickly.
Still, some economists said the rising rate of savings was a natural reaction, penance for America’s spendthrift ways.
“If American consumers are less indebted, live within their means and have more money in savings, they are better positioned to spend on a sustainable basis for years to come,” said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “As painful as that is economically in the short run, these developments will better serve us in the long run.”
The personal saving rate of 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 was the highest since early 2002, when the country was recovering from the dot-com recession and the shock of the 9/11 attacks. The savings rate rose to 3.6 percent in December, from 2.8 percent in November.
The gains have come even as interest rates drop to negligible levels. According to a weekly Bankrate.com survey, the average one-year certificate of deposit paid 1.63 percent interest, while average money-market accounts paid 0.54 percent interest.
On average, Americans have saved about 7 percent of their disposable income since 1929, but that figure dropped to virtually nothing several years ago.
The Federal Reserve cut interest rates to stimulate growth, and Americans took advantage of easy credit to finance trips to the mall, remodeling projects and new cars. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of growth.
But that spending largely dried up as home values fell and credit tightened, and the drought is likely to continue.
“The whole economy was leveraged up, and we’re now suffering the consequences,” said Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital, who offered early warnings about the current economic calamity. “The problem is, that’s a painful process. When you have an economy that’s used to all this spending and borrowing and you take it away, it’s going to go through some pains.”
In the last three months of 2008, the economy contracted at its fastest pace in a quarter-century. As Americans spent less, companies cut jobs and reduced their investment in equipment, software and buildings to trim their costs.
“The weakness is feeding on itself,” said James O’Sullivan, an economist at UBS. “You’ve had the spread of weakness from housing to Wall Street to main street. You’ve got a credit crunch, which is now affecting every part of the economy, including the consumer.”
The department store chain Macy’s became the latest to cut jobs, saying on Monday that it would dismiss 7,000 workers or about 4 percent of its work force.
The unemployment rate, at 7.2 percent, is at its highest in 16 years, and some economists say it is likely to top 9 percent in this downturn. The economy shed about 1.9 million jobs in the last four months of 2008, and is losing more than 500,000 a month.
Economists predict that when the government releases the January data on Friday, the unemployment rate will rise to 7.5 percent.
Over all, personal spending fell 1 percent or an annualized $102.4 billion in December, after a drop of $77.8 billion in November, the Commerce Department reported.
Adjusted for price changes, real income increased 0.3 percent in December, while real spending fell by a slightly lower 0.5 percent. The so-called real rates reflect the continuing relief that lower gasoline and energy prices have offered consumers in a recession that began in December 2007.
Spending on durable goods fell 0.8 percent in December while purchases of nondurable goods fell 1.8 percent, after increases in November.
“Consumers are rational,” said Joshua Shapiro, chief United States economist at MFR. “They respond to incentives and conditions, and right now the conditions and incentives are: spend as little as you can, and pay down as much as you can. You hunker down. That’s what the consumer’s doing.”
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 2/03/2009 11:15:00 AM
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Monday, February 02, 2009 4:20 PM PT
Iraq: Provincial voting goes peacefully, but that's only part of the story. We may also be seeing the emergence of a democratic bulwark against Iran and its Islamic Revolution.
After all the blood and treasure spent on bringing Iraq to stability, it's easy to see why most Americans probably have stopped caring about the political nuances of the place and just want to see the troops come home.
For them, the news is good.
Provincial elections over the weekend went off peacefully. Many Sunnis who boycotted earlier balloting appeared to be joining the process this time, though turnout was still weak in the old insurgency hotbed of Falluja. This may qualify as the "political reconciliation" that critics of the Iraq War call the real test of its success.
But Iraqis may actually have gone beyond reconciliation to something even more advanced apathy.
Don't get us wrong. We believe every qualified person should vote. But when people choose not to vote, there are better and worse reasons for doing so. A nation can live with nonvoting cynics. Nonvoting fanatics are far more dangerous.
Three or four years ago, nonvoting was organized in the form of sectarian boycotts that fed sectarian violence.
Now a decision to stay away from the polls seems more individual and less threatening. Falluja day laborer Mayer Naji sounded like the typical American nonvoter, not a potential suicide bomber, when he told a New York Times reporter why he skipped this election: "I could not find a qualified candidate that I can trust all those candidates came for their personal benefits."
Among those who did vote, there are also signs that they expect less and ask less of their politics. This, too, is a healthy trend.
In the context of Iraq and of the Middle East in general, it means that voters are starting to treat their elected officials more as servants than as saviors. The most notable result from early returns is that the Islamists were losing ground to more secular parties.
The biggest Shiite religious party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, may be headed for embarrassing losses in the Shiite heartland cities of Najaf and Basra. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has built strong nationwide support for facing down Shiite militiamen, is also following the nonsectarian trend.
His Dawa Party has Islamist roots, but his new State of Law coalition is playing down religion and focusing on down-to-earth concerns like water, electric power and security.
Ayad Allawi, the former interim prime minister who leads the secular Iraqi National List, is also making a strong showing.
Provincial elections by themselves do not change national policy. But they suggest which way the winds are blowing as Iraq prepares to elect a new Parliament next year.
If the current trend holds, Iraq will not only be a functioning democracy but a democracy that pointedly rejects the agenda of its dangerous neighbor to the east. Though not an official ally of the U.S., it would be a like-minded bulwark against a common threat, Iran's Islamic Revolution.
This is a goal that the nation-builders of the Bush Administration had in mind long ago, when they wanted to break with the squalid old practice of checking hostile dictators with more friendly ones like Saddam Hussein, at one point.
Before the surge, it took quite a leap of faith to think that Iraq could ever serve such an unusual role in the Middle East. Now, it's not so wild a dream after all.
And what about George W. Bush, who refused to give up on the dream? If you look carefully, you just might see his reputation starting to rise.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 2/03/2009 09:00:00 AM
By WALTER E. WILLIAMS | Posted Monday, February 02, 2009 4:20 PM PT
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was set up to combat fraudulent practices.
The SEC's Web site explains that "Ponzi schemes are a type of illegal pyramid scheme named for Charles Ponzi, who duped thousands of New England residents into investing in a postage stamp speculation scheme back in the 1920s."
It goes on to say, "Decades later, the Ponzi scheme continues to work on the 'rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul' principle, as money from new investors is used to pay off earlier investors until the whole scheme collapses."
That is how the SEC described the recent Bernard Madoff $50 billion Ponzi scheme, "a stunning fraud that appears to be of epic proportions."
A Ponzi scheme does not generate any wealth whatsoever; that is why it ultimately collapses.
As Circuit Judge Albert Barnes Anderson said in the 1922 Lowell vs. Brown case, the Ponzi scheme was "simply the old fraud of paying the earlier comers out of the contributions of the later comers."
So long as the number of late comers you might call them suckers grows, the fraudulent scheme has life.
We have a national Ponzi scheme where Congress collects about $785 billion in Social Security taxes from about 163 million workers to send out $585 billion to 50 million Social Security recipients.
Social Security's trustees tell us that the surplus goes into a $2.2 trillion trust fund to meet future obligations.
The problem is that whatever the difference between Social Security taxes taken in and benefits paid out, Congress spends it.
What the Treasury Department does is give the Social Security Trust Fund non-marketable "special issue government securities" that are simply bookkeeping entries that are IOUs.
According to Social Security trustee estimates, around 2016 the amount of Social Security benefits paid will exceed taxes collected.
That means one of two things, or both, must happen: Congress will raise taxes and/or slash promised Social Security benefits.
Each year the situation will get worse since the number of retirees is predicted to increase relative to the number in the work force paying taxes.
In 1940, there were 42 workers per retiree, in 1950 there were 16, today there are three and in 20 or 30 years there will be two or fewer workers per retiree.
Social Security is unsustainable because it is not meeting the first order condition of a Ponzi scheme, namely expanding the pool of suckers. Social Security has been one congressional lie after another since its inception.
Here's what a 1936 Social Security pamphlet said:
"After the first 3 years that is to say, beginning in 1940 you will pay, and your employer will pay, 1.5 cents for each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year . . . beginning in 1943, you will pay 2 cents, and so will your employer, for every dollar you earn for the next 3 years. . . . And finally, beginning in 1949, twelve years from now, you and your employer will each pay 3 cents on each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year. That is the most you will ever pay."
The pamphlet also said, "Beginning November 24, 1936, the United States government will set up a Social Security account for you. . . . The checks will come to you as a right."
That's another lie.
In Flemming vs. Nestor (1960), the U.S. Supreme Court held that you have no "accrued property rights" to a Social Security check.
That means Congress can do anything it wishes with Social Security.
There is little or nothing that can be done to prevent the economic and political chaos that will result from the collapse of Social Security.
Today's recipients of Social Security, along with their powerful AARP lobby, represent a powerful political force.
Few politicians are willing to risk their careers alienating today's senior citizens for the benefit of Americans in 2040.
After all, what do today's seniors and politicians care about a 2040 calamity? They will be dead by then.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 2/03/2009 08:56:00 AM
Monday, February 02, 2009
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Pretty Porkulus Tree, Candy For All Dem Constituencies
The Democrat Porkulus Christmas Tree is fully adorned with candy for all the constituents from the demographics of the core Democrat Base and many for Obama tools (Re: Acorn) as well. I browsed through the spreadsheet created by the Read the Stimulus Project for about 30 minutes and came up with a lot of “non-stimulus” payoff money.
That is money that either acts as a reward for the direct money and in kind efforts of Unions (NEA, UAW, AFL-CIO,SEIU) and the money to be that “first” hit of crack for money starved Governors to get the leash fully around their necks and to get their buy-in and full support, Democrat or Republican.
As details of the Porkulus emerge, support of the general public has slipped below 50% in just a week. Will it come to be as low as the approval ratings of the Congress, which have slipped to the lowest in history under Nancy Pelosi? Only time will tell. You must wonder though, why Obama, with an approval rating of 68% post inauguration, would allow the governmental institution with the lowest public approval control the development of the most important piece of legislation this Congress will approve this year (hopefully, God willing)?
Unfortunately, for both Obama and Democrats, Obama was unable to convince House Republicans that this was a honeypot they could jump aboard and support. The reality? It is poison doomed to fail at stimulating the economy this year and is so laden with unearmarked (hidden), earmarks that the continuing “culture of corruption” surrounding earmarks-which now belongs to Democrats - will bring the same well deserved derision to Democrats that it brought to Republicans.
Some of the payoffs
For Acorn - for their tireless efforts to register the Dallas Cowboy’s dead people and to stimulate the economy by buying registrations with cigarettes and the like, over $4.0 billion dollars for “Community Development” ,”Homeless Assistance” and other government troughs that they became a huge crimina…er organization (mob) feeding off of the last few decades.
For the NEA - and having the benefit of acting as “crack” to get Governors dependent, there is the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund for Education. This $ 79.0 billion dollars will pay increases for NEA teachers (also pays them to continue indoctrinating and writing Dear Leader songs for the little ones), ensures more Government employment (9 months a year, paid for 12) and will give cover to Governors to support the bill because it is for “the children”. It will also includes money for Islamic Charter Schools, but not “parochial” schools. Charter schools are “private” corporations that receive “public” money, the House Stimulus Bill “classifies” Charter Schools as “Public Schools” (Pg. 173) for purposes of the act, hmmm, seems they forgot to do so for any “parochial schools”.
For Voters 18-29 -$ 1.47 billion for Pell Grants, like he promised, he is going to “take care” of them. Where is the “stimulus” in this?
For Transit Unions and “Crack” for Mayors - Over $ 8.0 billion dollars for “Transit” projects, including more money to dump down the $22.0 billion dollar deep hole we call Amtrak.
Crack for Mayors and Governors - over $15.0 billion dollars for Health and Human Services. Now tell me what can that stimulate?…oops my bad I forgot the $335 million for treatment of STD’s. I guess if you are a condom maker, you are in like flint, they will need to purchase millions to give them away to 16 year olds in the schools (since abstinence is now officially dead).
Paying for Results- over $5.0 to NASA, NOAA and the like. They need to make sure the”research” from here on out is proper as to confirming “Man Made Global Warming” and to confirm the need to make AlGore and his friends at the ICE Exchange (suspected of broad manipulation of oil futures this summer) filthy rich with your tax dollars spent on “Cap & Trade”. Amazingly, you will find the name of Hank Paulson as one of the founders of the firm (GIM )that Al Gore will use as a vehicle for getting “filthy rich”. Please do note get me wrong, I am not against anyone “getting rich”. I just prefer they earn it instead of stealing it from the rest of us (can you say TARP).
Help for Native Americans - after all they were “one with Obama”. Over $8.5 billion for “tribal grants” and water projects. I wonder if that would be water to feed the extremely lucrative casinos the Indians make piles of cash from? Where is the stimulus here? I am only sure it will stimulate the writing of huge checks to Democrat candidates from the tribes come 2010. They have shown extreme largess in this regard before.
I could go on, but it is pissing me off that the Democrats think we are so stupid. The entire bill is filled with the same kind of arrogant logic as Nancy Pelosi’s claim that money for “Family Planning” (translation abortion for you rubes) is stimulative to the “economy”. Get educated, go t0 the Read The Stimulus (Porkulus) project. Once you are thoroughly pissed off, contact Mitch McConnell and your State’s Senators and tell them there is no emergency so large we need to pass a stupid, wasteful payoff package intended more towards bribing the electorate than stimulating the economy. You must act now if you want to stop Obama’s lap dog Harry Reid from carrying out this insult to your intelligence.
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Saturday, January 31, 2009
The White House has declined to comment on reports that U.S. President Barack Obama's half-brother was arrested in Kenya after police allegedly found him in possession of one joint of marijuana.
George Hussein Onyango Obama, who is in his mid-20s, was arrested Friday near his home in Huruma, on the outskirts of Nairobi, said local police chief Joshua Omokulongolo.
"He is not a drug peddler," Omokulongolo told the Associated Press on Saturday. "But it's illegal, it's a banned substance."
Other media reports said he was picked up with three other young men and they were scheduled to appear in court Monday.
The youngest of Barack Obama Sr.'s seven children has only met his famous older brother twice — once when he was five and the last time in 2006 when Obama Jr. was on a tour of East Africa as an Illinois senator and visited Nairobi.
Obama Sr. died in a car crash in 1982.
A writer for the Italian edition of Vanity Fair visited George Obama last August and toured the shack he calls home. He told AP that reports of him earning $1 a day were exaggerated.
“I’m proud of how I live,” he told AP in an interview last summer, adding that the media “are tarnishing the family name.”