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RAPID RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section.  It will offer fresh, quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in this rapid-fire world of ours.  Of course, as in military campaigns, a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction.  Charge that to "the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or military campaign must maintain to be effective.  But the mission will always be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick", supported by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.  That's all I promise.
GS

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list


MONDAY, October 25, 2010

Charles Krauthammer: Obama Underappreciation Syndrome

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER
NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE
OCTOBER 22, 2010 12:00 A.M.
Obama Underappreciation Syndrome

Democrats can call their opponents paranoid, but that won’t save them in November.

In an increasingly desperate attempt to develop a narrative for the coming Democratic collapse, the Democrats have indulged themselves in what for half a century they’ve habitually attributed to the American Right: the paranoid style in American politics. The talk is of dark conspiracies — secret money, foreign influence, and big corporations, with Karl Rove and, yes, Ed Gillespie lurking ominously behind the scenes. The only thing missing is the Halliburton-Cheney angle.

But after trotting out some of these with a noticeable lack of success, President Obama has come up with something new, something less common, something more befitting his stature and intellect. He’s now offering a scientific, indeed neurological, explanation for his current political troubles. The electorate apparently is deranged by its anxieties and fears to the point where it can’t think straight. Part of the reason “facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time,” he explained to a Massachusetts audience, “is because we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared. And the country is scared.”

Opening a whole new branch of cognitive science — liberal psychology — Obama has discovered a new principle: The fearful brain is hard-wired to act befuddled, i.e., to vote Republican.

But of course. Here Obama has spent two years bestowing upon the peasantry the “New Foundation” of a more regulated and socially engineered, and therefore more humane, society, and they repay him with recalcitrance and outright opposition. Here he gave them Obamacare, the stimulus, financial regulation, and a shot at cap-and-trade — and the electorate remains not just unmoved but ungrateful.

Faced with this truly puzzling conundrum, Dr. Obama diagnoses a heretofore undiscovered psychological derangement: anxiety-induced Obama Underappreciation Syndrome, wherein an entire population is so addled by its economic anxieties as to be neurologically incapable of appreciating the “facts and science” undergirding Obamacare and the other blessings their president has bestowed upon them from on high.

I have a better explanation. Better because it adheres to the ultimate scientific principle, Occam’s Razor, by which the preferred explanation for any phenomenon is the one with the most economy and simplicity. And there is nothing simpler than the Gallup findings on the ideological inclinations of the American people. Conservative: 42 percent. Moderate: 35 percent. Liberal: 20 percent. No fanciful new syndromes or other elaborate fictions are required to understand that if you try to impose a liberal agenda on such a demonstrably center-right country — a country that is 80 percent non-liberal — you get a massive backlash.

Moreover, apart from ideology is empirical reality. Even as we speak, the social-democratic model Obama is openly and boldly trying to move America toward is unraveling in Europe. It’s not just the real prospect of financial collapse in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland, with even the relatively more stable major countries in severe distress. It is the visible moral collapse of a system that, after two generations of increasing cradle-to-grave infantilization, turns millions of citizens into the streets of France in furious and often violent protest over what? Over raising the retirement age from 60 to 62!

Having seen this display of what can only be called decadence, Obama’s perfectly wired electorate says no, not us, not here. The peasants have seen the future — Greece and France — and concluded that it does not work. Hence their opposition to Obama’s proudly transformational New Foundation agenda. Their logic is impeccable: Only the most blinkered intellectual could be attempting to introduce social democracy to America precisely at a time when the world’s foremost exemplar of that model — Europe — is in chaotic meltdown.

And it isn’t as if this political message is new. It had already been sent in the last year with clarion clarity in the elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts where independents — swing voters without ideological attachment one way or the other — split two-to-one, two-to-one and three-to-one, respectively, against the Democrats.

The story of the last two years is as simple as it is dramatic. It is the epic story of an administration with a highly ideological agenda encountering a rising resistance from the American people over the major questions in dispute: the size and reach and power of government and, even more fundamentally, the nature of the American social contract.

An adjudication of the question will be rendered on November 2. For the day, the American peasantry will be presiding.

— Charles Krauthammer is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2010, The Washington Post Writers Group


SUNDAY, October 24, 2010

<>EXTREME” 

Get this, folks: the Democrats have decided that their silver bullet…their only bullet…to use in order to avoid getting skunked in two weeks is to label their opponents EXTREME.   Well, lets see what’s extreme.

And is it extreme for tens of millions of loyal Americans to demand a stop to all of this and a return to the clearly articulated principles on which this country was and is based? 

Folks, YOU’VE GOT EXTREME.   Now what do you want?

GS


SATURDAY, October 23, 2010

AMEN.    Forwarded by an Old Geezer.

GS

They like to refer to us as senior citizens, old fogies, geezers, and in some cases dinosaurs.  Some of us are "baby boomers" getting ready to retire.  Others have been retired for some time.  We walk a little slower these days and our eyes and hearing are not what they once were. 

We have worked hard, raised our children, worshipped our God and grown old together.  Yes, we are the ones some refer to as being over the hill and that is probably true. But before writing us off completely, there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration.  In school we studied English, history, math, and science which enabled us to lead America into the technological age. 

Most of us remember what outhouses were, many of us with firsthand experience.  We remember the days of telephone party-lines, 25 cent gasoline, and milk and ice being delivered to our homes.  For those of you who don't know what an icebox is, today they are electric and referred to as refrigerators.  A few even remember when cars were started with a crank.  Yes, we lived those days.
 
We are probably considered old fashioned and out-dated by many.  But there are a few things you need to remember before completely writing us off.  We won World War II and fought in Korea and Viet Nam .  We can quote the pledge of allegiance, and know where to place our hand while doing so.  We wore the uniform of our country with pride and lost many friends on the battlefield.  We didn't fight for the Socialist States of America , we fought for the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave."  We wore different uniforms but carried the same flag.  We know the words to the Star Spangle Banner, America , and America the Beautiful by heart, and you may even see some tears running down our cheeks as we sing. We have lived what many of you have only read about in history books and we feel no obligation to apologize to anyone for America .

 

Yes, we are old and slow these days but rest assured, we have at least one good fight left in us.  We have loved this country, fought for it, and died for it, and now we are going to save it.  It is our country and nobody is going to take it away from us.  We took oaths to defend America against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that is an oath we plan to keep.  There are those who want to destroy this land we love but, like our founders, there is no way we are going to remain silent. 
  
It was the young people (and liberals) of this nation who elected Obama and the Democratic congress.  You fell for the "Hope and change" which in reality was nothing but "Hype and lies."  You have tasted socialism and seen evil face to face, and have found you don't like it after all.
 
You make a lot of noise but most are all too interested in their careers or "Climbing the social ladder" to be involved in such mundane things as patriotism and voting. 
 
Many of those who fell for the "great lie" in 2008 are now having buyer's remorse.  With all the education we gave you, you didn't have sense enough to see through the lies and instead drank the cool-aid. Now you're paying the price and complaining about it. 
  
No jobs, lost mortgages, higher taxes, and less freedom.  This is what you voted for and this is what you got.  We entrusted you with the Torch of Liberty and you traded it for a paycheck and a fancy house.

Well, don't worry youngsters, the Grey Haired Brigade is here, and in two weeks we are going to take back our nation.  We may drive a little slower than you would like but we get where we're going, and in November we're going to the polls by the millions.  This land does not belong to the man in the White House or to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.  It belongs to "We the People", and "We the People" plan to reclaim our land and our freedom.  We hope this time you will do a better job of preserving it and passing it along to our grandchildren.
 
So the next time you have the chance to say the Pledge of Allegiance, stand up, put your hand over your heart, honor our country, and
thank God for the old geezers of the "Grey-Haired Brigade."


FRIDAY, October 22, 2010

Another example of what "social engineering" from Washington gets us all.  Articulate, Arrogant, Asinine.  GS

Fannie, Freddie may need $215 billion more in aid

By Al Yoon Al Yoon Thu Oct 21, 6:23 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. taxpayers could be on the hook for up to another $215 billion in aid to housing finance giants Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB) through 2013, their regulator said on Thursday.

The companies, which were seized by the federal government in September 2008 to save them from collapse, will likely have total capital needs of between $221 billion and $363 billion through 2013, the Federal Housing Finance Agency estimated.

The estimate includes the $148 billion that the two companies, the largest providers of U.S. home loan funding, have already received in the form of preferred stock purchases by the U.S. Treasury. FHFA projections exceed expectations of analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, who in August predicted the total would reach "roughly $200 billion" by the end of 2010 before stabilizing.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are at the center of debate as Congress sets to overhaul a U.S. mortgage finance system that contributed to the worst housing crisis since the 1930s. The two companies, whose programs fund the lion's share of all new home loans, are chartered by Congress but have operated as private, profit-making companies.

Under the existing system, the shareholders of Fannie and Freddie were rewarded during boom times as the companies grew under implicit U.S. support. But weaning the nation from government support will be a daunting task given the heavy reliance of borrowers on funding funneled through the two companies and Ginnie Mae, the government agency that packages bonds backed by government agencies such as the Federal Housing Administration and the Veterans Administration.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac package loans into bonds with their guarantees.

The projected amounts of capital needed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from Treasury vary depending on changes in home prices, which in recent years have been the major driver of credit losses for the two companies, the FHFA said. The regulator said it wanted to give policy makers "useful snapshots" of the potential need for future taxpayer support.

The scenarios do not account for the companies' attempts to cut losses by demanding banks repurchase faulty loans that did not meet stated underwriting guidelines, an administration official said. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have seen partial success in getting banks to repurchase loans backed by the two companies' guarantee programs, and they may also seek the same of loans in private Wall Street-issued bonds they own. For analysis, see [nN2197588].

Net of dividends Fannie and Freddie have paid to the Treasury on its preferred stock holdings, the two companies to date have drawn $135 billion in taxpayer aid, the official said. Considering the FHFA's projections, the net cost to taxpayers after dividend payments through 2013 would be between $141 billion and $259 billion, the official added.

Cumulative capital needs for Freddie Mac, after dividends have been paid, would range from $40 billion to $67 billion, the FHFA said. For Fannie Mae, those needs are likely between $102 billion and $192 billion, partly due to the larger size of its business.

The FHFA's lower projection assumes home prices bottomed in the first quarter of 2009 and will rise by 5 percent through 2013. The "current baseline" scenario of Moody's Investors Service depicts small house price declines, while a worse outcome reflects a deeper recession because of restricted access to credit and high unemployment, FHFA said.

Losses for the two companies continue to be focused on loans guaranteed through the latter years of the housing boom. New business "is as good as it has ever been," the administration official said, noting improvements in underwriting and risk controls.

The FHFA's capital need projections "show that, in the most likely economic scenario, nearly 90 percent of the losses at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are already behind us," Jeffrey Goldstein, the Treasury's under secretary for domestic finance, said in a statement.

"Almost all of those losses are attributable to mortgages that were already on those businesses' books prior to the conservatorship," he said. "But that news should not distract us from the pressing need for reform so that taxpayers aren't put on the hook in the future."

Dividend payments on the preferred stock are making up larger portions of the capital needs as time passes, the FHFA said. Of the $73 billion to $215 billion in additional capital that may be needed, $67 billion to $91 billion represent dividend payments to the Treasury, it said.

(Editing by Leslie Adler, Chizu Nomiyama, Andrew Hay)


THURSDAY, October 21, 2010

"Res Ipsa Loquitur": The thing speaks for itself.   GS

NPR fires Juan Williams for Muslim remarks on Fox

By Michael Calderone

NPR terminated the contract of Juan Williams on Wednesday after comments the veteran journalist and news analyst made about Muslims on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor."

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly stirred up controversy last week on "The View" after making the blanket statement that "Muslims killed us on 9/11,"  a comment that led to co-hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg walking off the set.

On Monday, O'Reilly asked Williams if there is a "Muslim dilemma" in the United States. The NPR analyst and longtime Fox News contributor agreed with O'Reilly that such a thing exists, and added that "political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don't address reality."

"I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot," Williams continued. "You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

[Photos: See more of ousted commentator Juan Williams]

Some commentators and a leading Muslim civil rights organization took issue with Williams' comments.

The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan wrote Wednesday morning that Williams' statement about fearing Muslims on planes is an example of bigotry. "What if someone said that they saw a black man walking down the street in classic thug get-up," Sullivan wrote. "Would a white person be a bigot [if] he assumed he was going to mug him?'

The Council for American-Islamic Relations sent out a press release Wednesday afternoon calling on NPR to address the matter.  Nihad Awad, the organization's national executive director, called the comments "irresponsible and inflammatory" and said they "should not pass without action by NPR."

They certainly didn't. NPR took action Wednesday night and put out a statement regarding the severing of Williams' contract: "His remarks on 'The O'Reilly Factor' this past Monday were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR."

You can watch Williams' comments below: [see http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/npr-fires-juan-williams-for-muslim-remarks-on-fox]

Williams often appears on Fox as the liberal counterpart to one of the network's conservative hosts or guests. But some NPR listeners -- an audience certainly more left-leaning than Fox's conservative one -- don't see Williams as an advocate for progressive politics when he appears on the cable news network.

Last year, NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard wrote that Williams had become a "lightning rod" among NPR's staff and noted many complaints from listeners after an appearance on O'Reilly's show.

Williams had described First Lady Michelle Obama as having a "Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going," a reference to the militant African-American activist. After those comments, NPR executives asked that NPR's logo be removed when he appears on Fox News.

It can be expected that Fox hosts, especially O'Reilly, will have something to say about NPR's decision.

[Rewind: CNN host Rick Sanchez fired over on-air remarks]

Bernie Goldberg, a Fox News contributor and author of several books on what he describes as liberal media bias, offered his take Thursday morning in an email to The Upshot.

"So Juan Williams is fired for saying something the liberals at NPR find controversial?" Goldberg said. "One more piece of evidence that liberals have forgotten how to be liberal."

Goldberg continued: "These are the kind of people who brag about how open-minded they are -- as long as you agree with them.  And here's the dirty little secret:  lots and lots of liberals feel the same way Juan does when they get on an airplane.  And a lot of those liberals work at NPR. Juan's 'crime' was saying it out loud."

Weekly Standard Editor and Fox contributor Bill Kristol also had some choice words for NPR, which he dubbed "National Politically-correct Radio." Kristol concluded a post about the firing by saying: "NPR -- unfair, unbalanced ... and afraid."

UPDATE: Williams went on Fox and addressed the controversy Thursday.


MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, October 18 through 20, 2010

<>OUR HEALTH CARE FUTURE, ACCORDING TO GS

Although I have been an observer of this scene since the mid-1960’s, when Medicare was first passed, and although I have been writing and speaking on this subject since the mid-1970’s, the following are observations and predictions prompted by the comments of candidates Peckinpawh and Courtney given at this weeks combined County Medical Association meeting in Westbrook. 

As Charlie Chan would say: “Velly Intellesting”. 

So, in the words of Abe Lincoln: WHEN YOU THINK YOU’VE REACHED THE END OF YOUR ROPE…TIE A KNOT AND HANG ON”

SUNDAY, October 17, 2010

IS THERE REALLY A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL?  And is it Red or Green?   GS

What would it really take to trim the deficit?

By jsasseen jsasseen Fri Oct 15, 2:29 pm ET

By Chris Farrell

The size of the federal deficit is repeated so often by politicians and the news media that it's easy to become numb to the sheer magnitude of the number — an estimated $1.29 trillion for the fiscal year which ended on September 30, according to the new figures released today by the Obama Administration.

While that's a drop from the record $1.4 trillion deficit recorded for fiscal 2009, it's still the second largest deficit in history. No one is happy about the tidal wave of red ink:

Here's the rub: The deficit-hating oratory is heated but the deficit-reducing specifics are glaringly absent.

"The turn hasn't gone from highlighting the deficit to actually doing something about it," says Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in Washington, D.C. Adds Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Marcatus Center at George Mason University: "We are still in the realm of rhetoric."

The reason for the reluctance? Simple political calculation. As the late Nobel laureate Milton Friedman was fond of saying, "there is no free lunch." Or, as Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, a graduate of the London School of Economics, put it, "you can't always get what you want."

Eventually, however, the size and rapid growth of the deficit mean that it will have to be dealt with — and that painful trade-offs will have to be made. The only real question is whether those decisions get made before the U.S. tumbles into a fiscal crisis.

"Those who say this won't be good for me because I'll pay higher taxes or I'll get a smaller benefit ignore the fact that we can't keep doing what we're doing," says James Horney Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

So what are the realistic options? You won't get many details from the majority of the politicians up for election on Nov. 2, but here are some of the ideas making the rounds in Washington:

Let the Bush Tax Cuts Expire

It's easy to fall into deep despair about the deficit, but Obama's former budget director, Peter Orszag, recently grabbed the fiscal spotlight with a remarkably easy solution: Let the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire for everyone.

By allowing taxes to return to the pre-Bush era levels for taxpayers, the federal budget would be close to balance by 2015.

"If we actually ended the Bush-era tax cuts, that would pretty much do it," Orszag said in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria. "If you do a bit on the spending side and then end the tax cuts, you pretty much get there."

The virtue of this approach is that it doesn't require any special legislation or deal-cutting among special interest groups. Congress could then devote its legislative energy to addressing major reforms needed in entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which everyone agrees is necessary.

That said, the idea is DOA. One reason is the risk that higher taxes could send a fragile economy spiraling lower. But the politics may be even more important. Since the earliest days of his campaign, President Obama has committed to not raise taxes on any family earning less than $250,000. Going back on that pledge could  be electoral suicide —especially as Republicans are vehemently against all tax hikes. Still, it's an intriguing litmus test to see how serious a politician is about addressing the problem.

What About Other Tax Changes?

Few dispute that America's income tax code is Byzantine, a complicated stew chock full of credits, deductions, phase-ins and phase-outs. Reigning in these so-called "tax expenditures" that clutter up the federal tax code could go a long way toward attacking the deficit "Tax expenditures are bad tax policy," says MacGuineas. She and others point out that a tax credit that reduces Uncle Sam's revenues causes the deficit to rise just as surely as does a spending increase — it's just more politically palatable.

For example, Martin Feldstein, economist at Harvard University and former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors under President Reagan, estimates that simply reducing the size of tax expenditures from the current 6 percent to 4 percent of GDP would bring the projected 2020 debt down from 90 percent to 72 percent.

Sounds good, right? Who doesn't want a cleaner, less complicated tax code (especially come April)? Problem is, these loopholes support many activities people like. For instance, the education credit helps parents save for the high cost of college. The mortgage interest deduction is almost sacred to homeowners. The child care tax credit can be a much needed boon to new parents.

What's more, many Republicans look at moves toward reducing tax expenditures as the equivalent of a tax hike.

Entitlement Reform

America is aging, with the leading edge of the baby boom generation reaching its retirement years. It's well-known that to eventually bring the long-term deficit under control, the government will have to address the three main entitlement programs -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Now, despite rhetoric to the contrary, there really is no Social Security crisis. There's financial trouble down the road but it's manageable. Still, the general outline of a compromise for shoring up Social Security's finances has emerged in recent years. It essentially relies on hiking the retirement age, lifting the cap on annual wages subject to the payroll tax, and making the cost of living index less generous. (The Congressional Budget Office offers a list of options in its July 2010 report, Social Security Policy Options at http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/115xx/doc11580/07-01-SSOptions_forWeb.pdf.). Yet many people don't buy into the compromise because it means retiring later or paying more in taxes. Ultimately, however, one — or both — will likely have to happen.

The real long-term budget pressure comes from higher health care spending. To give a sense of the scale of the problem, the benchmark 75-year projection by the Social Security Trustees guesstimates the cost of Medicare alone will swell to 11.4 percent of gross domestic product in 2083 — 94 percent larger than Social Security's cost. "We need to slow the rate of growth in healthcare," says Horney.

He's right, but the kinds of changes in healthcare required to do so will make the controversy over Obamacare a stroll through the park. Salaried doctors? Universal healthcare? Healthcare vouchers for everyone? The debate has only begun.

Cut Back on Defense Spending

Defense accounts for 20 percent of the budget. Last April Defense Secretary Robert Gates targeted more than 20 programs for termination or cutbacks, and the Defense Department is looking for more cuts. A reduction the nation's nuclear arsenal and missile defense systems could end up on the table, while military compensation is another possible target. The reason: military personnel earn average cash compensation that beats 75 percent of their civilian peers of comparable age and education . Benefits are also better than for most civilian jobs. One solution would be to cap the growth future in military compensation at the rate prevailing in the rest of the economy.

"The U.S. spends the biggest share in the world on defense," says the Marcatus Center's  de Rugy. "We can cut it a lot."

Yet slashing into defense spending is always difficult, especially with troops at war in Afghanistan and still engaged in a mission in Iraq. Cuts in defense programs also quickly translate into job losses elsewhere in the economy as military contractors cutback — something few politicians willingly allow without a fight.

A Baseline Scenario

Here's one way to start thinking through the trade-offs. A centrist approach was released on Sept. 30 by William Galston of the Brookings Institution and MacGuineas. Their goal is to get debt back down to 60 percent of GDP by the end of the current decade. Their blueprint relies half on spending cuts and half on raising taxes.(http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2010/0930_public_debt_galston.aspx ) They would do everything from slashing deep into defense spending to embracing carbon taxes.

Others would take a very different tack, however. De Rugy, for one, is against raising taxes to tackle the deficit. Instead, she advocates pushing a lot of federal responsibilities back to the states, such as education and transportation, as well as pushing entitlements more toward a private voucher system.

Where do you stand? Would you cut spending? If so which programs would get trimmed? Would you raise taxes? Which ones? Change entitlements? How?

And then there are these questions: When -- if ever -- will politicians stake their fortunes on backing concrete solutions? And if they do, will voters reward them for taking action?

Chris Farrell is economics editor for the nationally syndicated public radio program Marketplace Money. He is the author of The New Frugality: How to Consume Less, Save More, and Live Better (Bloomsbury Press)


SATURDAY, October 16, 2010

Here is a LEADER whom, despite the white-haired baggage, I could see as a good President some day.  GS

Clinton: US working to ending Mexico drug violence

By LISA LEFF, Associated Press Writer Lisa Leff, Associated Press Writer Sat Oct 16, 7:05 am ET

SAN FRANCISCO – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reiterated her support Friday for ending Mexico's drug violence, saying it was in the United States' interest to crack down on drug cartels that have begun behaving more like terrorists and insurgent groups.

Clinton told a sold-out meeting of the nonpartisan Commonwealth Club in San Francisco that she was surprised comments she made last month comparing Mexico to Colombia during its past cocaine wars were critically received.

"This is one of the most difficult fights that any country faces today. We saw it over the last couple of decades in Colombia," she said. "We are watching drug traffickers undermine and corrupt governments in Central America, and we are watching the brutality and barbarity of their assaults on governors and mayors, the press, as well as each other, in Mexico."

Similar remarks Clinton made before the Council on Foreign Relations prompted President Barack Obama, among others, to say that Mexico was in much better shape politically and economically than Colombia was during the 1980s. Government officials in Mexico also rejected Clinton's comparison.

"These drug cartels are now taking on a lot of the attributes of these terrorists and insurgent groups we see around the world," Clinton said Friday. "For the first time, they are using car bombings. You see them being much more organized in a kind of paramilitary way."

Clinton described Friday's speaking engagement as only her third domestic public appearance since joining Obama's cabinet last year.

She said she also has been surprised that some political commentators have disagreed with her insistence that the United States shares responsibility for drug-related violence in Mexico.

Americans have demonstrated an "insatiable demand" for illegal drugs, and the U.S. has failed to crack down on the thousands and thousands of weapons trafficked into Mexico, Clinton repeated on Friday.

"I thought it was an obvious thing to say," she said.

In prepared remarks, Clinton also praised Northern California's technology companies as instrumental to the administration's goals for promoting peace and prosperity abroad.

Clinton called Silicon Valley a model for government efforts to promote what she termed the "freedom to connect." She gave the example of young students in Syria using cell phones and Facebook to alert the world about beatings inflicted by their teachers.


FRIDAY, October 15, 2010

Here's some "free association":
My mind has gone blank...for now...

GS


MONDAY thru THURSDAY, October 4 through 14, 2010

I'm not involved in Facebook, Y-Tube, My Space, etc.  But for all of you who are, please consider posting this on everything you can access. 
If we can't communicate, we will litigate...and if necessary we will fight.

GS

A song some radio stations are banning is the song that you are about to listen to and is from a Las  Vegas Diamond Rio concert. They received an immediate resounding standing ovation, and continue to do so every time they perform it!  Sadly, major radio stations wouldn't play it because it was considered 'politically incorrect'. Consequently, the song was never released to the public. Now Congress is getting involved. They're saying that itis not fit for release because it offends so many. So America , see what you think...can we say "CENSORSHIP"? If this offering speaks to your heart and you feel you want to share it with friends and loved ones, please do so.


SUNDAY, October 3, 2010

ARE WE GETTING "DISINFORMATION" (ie. LIES) AGAIN FROM OUR GOVERNMENT, AS WE DID DURING THE VIETNAM ERA?   "We report...You decide".

GS

SECCFR members:  Mary Habeck spoke to us in 2005 on jihadist ideology and the war on terror.  Then an associate professor of history at Yale, she is now a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Relations. 
Best,
Virginia

Are al Qaeda capacities on the rise?
Posted By Mary Habeck
Thursday, September 30, 2010 - FOREIGN POLICY

A series of bomb scares and plots in Europe -- combined with a stepped-up campaign against jihadists in Pakistan -- reminds us once again of the threat posed by al Qaeda and the groups that support its ideology.

Let's start with Europe where France, perhaps because of its vote to ban the Islamic veil in public, has become a special target for the extremists. The bomb scares began on Sept. 14, when a Metro station and the Eiffel Tower were evacuated, and have continued since then with three further evacuations of both Metro stations and the Eiffel Tower, the last of which occurred just yesterday. France's security threat warning was raised to "reinforced red," the second highest possible level, and French officials announced that they were searching for a female suicide bomber who might attempt to attack public transportation. Counterterrorism officials in France linked the threats to al Qaeda's branch in North Africa (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghab, or AQIM) as well as to sleeper cells in France that were activated by extremists arriving from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The threat is not confined to France. Officials told the Wall Street Journal about an extensive plot emanating from Pakistan that targets at least the U.K. and Germany as well as France, and might involve an attack in the United States as well. The size and scope of the plot makes it, according to these officials, the most serious threat to the West in many years. Experts and officials fear that the jihadists might be planning a Mumbai-style attack, where teams of paramilitary attackers could fan out across a city killing hundreds or even thousands and paralyze an entire country. The U.S. response to this potential attack has been a stepped up campaign against extremists in Northern Pakistan with the Haqqani network, a group with long-standing personal ties to Bin Laden, as the particular target.

Pakistan itself faces an even greater danger from the jihadist groups that have made that country their base, as the timely work of Pakistani law enforcement and counter-terrorism officials shows.  Over the past few months nearly 150,000 pounds of explosives and hundreds of sophisticated weapons have been seized from members of al Qaeda and affiliated groups in just two cities -- Lahore and Karachi; enough bomb material and other weaponry to carry out dozens of Mumbai attacks and kill thousands.

These plots and threats undercut the argument recently made by the current Administration about the size and capabilities of al Qaeda. In June, CIA director Leon Panetta stated that there were fewer than 50-100 al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Michael Leiter, the head of the National Counterterrorism Center, echoed Panetta in a speech to the Aspen Group, adding that there were only an additional 300 al Qaeda members in Pakistan and that the group was weaker than it had ever been since 2001 (although he was quick to say that it was not harmless). Richard Holbrooke at the same time said that al Qaeda had been severely degraded and was under intense pressure. No administration could ever afford to state publicly that al Qaeda is not a threat, but there is hardly any other way to read the clear message from these high-ranking officials.

Here's the question for the administration and the intelligence upon which their statements are based: If al Qaeda has been so degraded and so few of the group were left alive in June, how has it been able to regenerate itself enough in just three months to plan and organize an attack in four countries while accumulating 150,000 pounds of explosives for multiple paramilitary attacks in Pakistan?


SATURDAY, October 2, 2010

This is a true story and the author, Rick Mathes, is a well-knownleader in prison ministry.

 The man who walks with God always gets to his destination.

 If you have a pulse you have a purpose.

  The Muslim religion is the fastest growing religion per capita in the

 United States , especially in the minority races!!!

Last month I attended my annual training session that's required 

for maintaining my state prison security clearance.
 During the training session there was a presentation by three

 speakers representing the Roman Catholic, Protestant
 and Muslim faiths, who explained each of their beliefs.

I was particularly interested in what the Islamic Imam had to say.

    The Imam gave a great presentation of the basics of Islam, complete with a video.
After the presentations, time was provided for questions and answers.

  When it was my turn, I directed my question to Imam and asked:
  'Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that most Imams and clerics of
  Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world
  and, that by killing an infidel, (which is a command to all Muslims) they are assured
   of a place in heaven.  If that's the case, can you give me the definition of a infidel?'

There was no disagreement with my statements and without hesitation, he replied,
 'Non-believers!'

I responded, 'So, let me make sure I have this straight.  All followers of Allah have be

 commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so they can have a place in heaven
  Is that correct?'

The expression on his face changed from one of authority and command to that of a

 little boy who had just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar..'

He sheepishly replied, 'Yes.'

I then stated, 'Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to imagine Pope John Paul
   commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or Dr. Stanley ordering all
   Protestants to do the same in orer to guarantee them a place in heaven!'

The Imam was speechless!    

I continued, 'I also have a problem with being your friend when you and

 your brother  clerics are telling your followers to kill me!

Let me ask you a question:
  Would you rather have your Allah, who tells you to kill me in order for you
  to go to heaven, or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am going to

heaven and He wants you to be there with me?'

You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his head in shame.
   Needless to say, the organizers and/or promoters of the Diversifiction
 training seminar were not happy with my way of dealing with the Islamic Imam,
 and exposing the truth about the Muslims' beliefs.  In twenty years there
 will be enough Muslim voters in the  U.S.  to elect the President!

I think everyone in the U.S. should be required to read this,
   but with ACLU, there is no way this will be widely publicized,
    unless each of us send it on!
   This is your chance to make a difference...


FRIDAY, October 1, 2010

Thomas Sowell Article (.pdf)


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