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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


SATURDAY, April 30, 2011

Another perceptive article by Ben Davol, which properly targets not only President Obama's failings but also the acts and omissions of the Republican Party. I have already addressed these latter problems several times in this section.   The 2012 election is the Republicans' to lose.  But there's still time.

GS

President Obama's got significant challenges to get re-elected

By Ben Davol

Publication: The Day

Published 04/30/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 04/29/2011 10:12 PM

Unemployment is at 9 percent, gasoline approaching $5 a gallon, the nation is fighting in three wars and a recent poll indicating 70 percent of Americans believe the country is going in the wrong direction. That's the tableau on which President Obama has launched his re-election campaign.

Good luck.

On the political side, Obama has become the Typhoid Mary of campaigns. From throwing his muscle behind the failed Senate bids of Mary Coakley in Massachusetts and Jon Corzine in New Jersey, to the greatest congressional wipeout in 50 years, the failures of this presidency are glaring to all but the president.

Barack Obama is a good man. He is thoughtful, well read, a great father, a loving husband and appears to be a loyal friend. He is not a good president.

Supporters of the president will counter that "he" saved the country from a depression with his support of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). President Bush signed TARP into law.

They will also point to the landmark Affordable Care Act. A valiant attempt at attacking a huge problem, one the Republicans avoided when they had the power. Still, Obama was never honest about the health care law, its costs, the rationing required and complexities.

The Obama administration's management of TARP and other financial vehicles to stabilize our markets is commendable, to a point. While the stock market has risen there has been little help for the people the president claims to represent.

The recent U.S. Census shows more Americans living in poverty than ever before, home foreclosures have spiked again in March and the only increase in jobs is in the government sector.

It is no coincidence that the Obama administration is seeded from stem to stern with the spawn of the investment banks that almost caused the complete financial meltdown of the economy. They gave big money to the president's campaign. Remember "hope" and "change"?

Matt Tiabbi of Rolling Stone put it succinctly in a February 2011 article: "Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom - an industry-wide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities - has ever been convicted."

The president and his Justice Department have been too busy taking Arizona to court over that state's very strict immigration law. But the reason Arizona created the law is because the federal government, led by Obama, failed to enact a reasonable immigration law.

No question the Republicans have not been helpful, but when the president had complete control of Congress he never presented an immigration bill. Now that he is up for re-election, and he needs Latino votes, he knows he must make an attempt.

Fortunately for Obama the more liberal the attempt the less chance it will pass the Republican House, thereby getting Obama a twofer. He can show a valuable constituency he tried and blame the failure on the Republicans. No one ever accused this president of being stupid.

The Obama presidency has been all about razzle-dazzle. Keeping up appearances, if you will.

Before he sends 30,000 troops to Afghanistan to protect the drug lords and their benefactor, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the president has the temerity to give the speech at West Point and use the cadets as "political" shields and cloak himself in military honor that he has neither earned nor ever truly appreciated.

The president has a very short time to turn things around. His success will be our success. Perhaps Obama is counting on the Republicans to self-destruct and he will be the default winner.

As a state senator, Obama voted "present" 129 times, avoiding taking a stand. Over the next 16 months let's hope that our president begins to realize being "present" is not being "presidential."


WEDNESDAY through FRIDAY, April 27 through 29, 2011

THE LAST SIX WORDS THAT CROSS AN ATHEIST'S MIND OR LIPS AT THE MOMENT OF DEATH: THANK GOD I DIED AN ATHEIST".

GS

A must read and great analogy of God vs Science.  Enjoy
 
'Let me explain the problem science has with religion.'The atheist professor of
philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to
stand.

'You're a Christian, aren't you, son?'
'Yes sir, 'the student says.
 
'So you believe in God?'
'Absolutely.

Is God good?'

'Sure! God's good.'

'Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?'

'Yes'

'Are you good or evil?'

'The Bible says I'm evil.'
 
The professor grins knowingly. 'Aha! The Bible!  He considers for a moment.
'Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure
him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?'
 
'Yes sir, I would.'
 
'So you're good...!'
 
'I wouldn't say that.'
 
'But why not say that? You'd help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of
us would if we could. But God doesn't.'
 
The student does not answer, so the professor continues. 'He doesn't, does he?
My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to
heal him.. How is this Jesus good? Can you answer that one?'
 
The student remains silent.. 'No, you can't, can you?' the professor says. He
takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.
'Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?'
 
'Er..yes,' the student says.
 
'Is Satan good?'
 
The student doesn't hesitate on this one. 'No.'
 
'Then where does Satan come from?'
The student falters. 'From God'
 
'That's right. God made Satan, didn't he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this
world?'
 
'Yes, sir..'
 
'Evil's everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything, correct?'
 
'Yes'
 
'So who created evil?' The professor continued, 'If God created everything, then
God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our
works define who we are, then God is evil.'
 
Again, the student has no answer. 'Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred?
Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?'
 
The student squirms on his feet. 'Yes.'
 
'So who created them?'
 
The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. 'Who
created them?' There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to
pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. 'Tell me,' he continues
onto another student. 'Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?'
The student's voice betrays him and cracks. 'Yes, professor, I do.'

The old man stops pacing. 'Science says you have five senses you use to identify
and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?'
 
'No sir. I've never seen Him.'
 
'Then tell us if you've ever heard your Jesus?'
 
'No, sir, I have not..'
 
'Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you
ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?'
 
'No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't.'
 
'Yet you still believe in him?'
 
'Yes'
'According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science
says your God doesn't exist... What do you say to that, son?'
 
'Nothing,' the student replies.. 'I only have my faith.'
 
'Yes, faith,' the professor repeats. 'And that is the problem science has with
God. There is no evidence, only faith.'
 
The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of His own.
'Professor, is there such thing as heat?'
 
'Yes.
 
'And is there such a thing as cold?'
'Yes, son, there's cold too.'
'No sir, there isn't.'
 
The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly
becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. 'You can have lots of heat,
even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat
or no heat, but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can hit down to 458
degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that.
There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the
lowest -458 degrees. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or
transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit
energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold
is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold.
Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the
opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.'
 
Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a
hammer.
 
'What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?'
 
'Yes,' the professor replies without hesitation.. 'What is night if it isn't
darkness?'
 
'You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of
something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light,
but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness,
isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, darkness
isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?'
 
The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a
good semester. 'So what point are you making, young man?'
 
'Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start
with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.'
 
The professor's face cannot hide his surprise this time. 'Flawed? Can you
explain how?'
 
'You are working on the premise of duality,' the student explains... 'You argue
that there is life and then there's death; a good God and a bad God. You are
viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir,
science can't even explain a thought.' 'It uses electricity and magnetism, but
has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the
opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a
substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it.'
'Now tell me, professor.. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a
monkey?'
 
'If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of
course I do.'
 
'Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?'
 
The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the
argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.
 
'Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even
prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your
opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?'
 
The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has
subsided. 'To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student,
let me give you an example of what I mean..' The student looks around the room.
'Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor's brain?' The
class breaks out into laughter. 'Is there anyone here who has ever heard the
professor's brain, felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's
brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of
empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain,
with all due respect, sir.' 'So if science says you have no brain, how can we
trust your lectures, sir?'
 
Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face
unreadable. Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. 'I Guess
you'll have to take them on faith.'
 
'Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,' the
student continues. 'Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?' Now uncertain, the
professor responds, 'Of course, there is. We see it Everyday. It is in the daily
example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in The multitude of crime and violence
everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.'
 
To this the student replied, 'Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not
exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness
and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did
not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's
love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat
or the darkness that comes when there is no light.'
 
The professor sat down.
 
If you read it all the way through and had a smile on your face when you
finished, mail to your friends and family with the title 'God vs. Science'

PS: the student was Albert Einstein.
Albert Einstein wrote a book titled God vs. Science in 1921.


TUESDAY, April 26, 2011

The following is an "equal opportunity" criticism, of President Obama and the Democratic Party...and also of the spokesmen for the Republican Party. 

NOW HEAR THIS:  The long-lingering issue of President Obama's birthplace has been central to his eligibility to be President of the United States.  And he has been responsible for making it an issue, by not having produced credible evidence before this.  What has been "silly" has been his handling of the question.  Also "silly" and disappointing have been the commentaries of mainly "Establishment"  Republicans who have yet to come up with original and useful issues of their own.  The 2012 Presidential election continues to be the Republicans' to lose...and they are working at it.

GS

Obama, hoping to end 'sideshow,' offers birth form
By BEN FELLER, AP White House Correspondent Ben Feller, Ap White House Correspondent – 2 hrs 7 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Confronting growing doubts that could undermine his re-election bid, President Barack Obama on Wednesday delivered an extraordinary rebuttal to those questioning whether he was born in the United States and eligible to hold office, producing a detailed birth certificate and pleading for a long "sideshow" to end.

Obama's surprising intervention came as the White House saw that doubts about his birth in Hawaii — and therefore his legitimacy to be president — were growing, consuming more of the political debate and the mainstream media's attention.

Until now, the White House had deflected demands for Obama to produce his long-form birth certificate, apparently content that voters would see the issue as frivolous, perhaps even to the president's benefit.

The White House calculation Wednesday was that it was necessary to step in and try to deflate the issue, even though doing so meant Obama ended up swamping the news with the very topic he said he wanted to quash.

Donald Trump, weighing a campaign against Obama, crowed that he had forced the president's hand.

On TV, Obama said the issue was distraction from the important matters of the day: budget deficits and soaring gasoline prices.

"We do not have time for this kind of silliness," Obama said in hurriedly announced appearance in the White House briefing room. "We've got better stuff to do."

He portrayed himself as the voice of reason in a loud, lingering debate, essentially saying that the nation was above all this. The president also sought to push to the national fringe anyone who refused to accept the facts about his birth, taking an indirect swipe at Trump, who has been loudly stirring up the matter.

"We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers," Obama said before TV cameras at the White House.

Trump, the real estate developer who was making campaign-like stops in New Hampshire, proudly took the credit for getting Obama to show further proof of his birth in Hawaii.

"I hope it's true so we can get on to much more important matters," Trump said.

Obama had released a standard short form of his birth certificate before he was elected in 2008 but requested copies of his original birth certificate from Hawaii officials in hopes of killing the controversy. Until Wednesday, the White House had insisted that the short form certificate was the appropriate legal document confirming Obama's birth and no further proof was needed. In addition, officials in Hawaii had said the longer version could not be released, and the White House had not tried to get past that.

In his remarks, Obama tried to make a broader point that the country needs adult leaders with serious agendas. It is part of his campaign appeal to voters, particularly independents who swung away from his party in last year's midterm elections, that he is the one focused on getting results.

Doubts about his birth in America, though widely debunked, have been growing. A recent New York Times-CBS News poll found that fully 45 percent of adult Republicans said they believed Obama was born in another country or weren't sure.

At the same time, many Republican leaders have been wary of the topic, not wanting to be linked to an extreme argument. Plenty of Republican Party leaders who vehemently oppose Obama's policies would still like to see the issue go away, as it can be an unwanted distraction for them, too.

The chairman of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus, managed to agree with Obama that the birth issue was a distraction — and yet accused Obama for playing politics by addressing it. Republicans escaped fault in his statement even though the falsehoods about Obama's birth have come from the far right.

The Republican leaders of the House and Senate put out no statements at all.

The Constitution says a president must be a "natural born citizen." Obama's skeptics assert he was born in Kenya, his father's home country.

When the issue surfaced during his presidential run, Obama's campaign posted his basic birth certificate online. For much of the past two years, the issue has been marginal. And then it flared again as critics clamored for the long-form certificate of birth.

In response, Obama secured special authority to secure two official copies of the more detailed certificate. He dispatched his personal attorney to fly to Hawaii, get the certificates and hand deliver them back to the White House.

The certificate says Barack Hussein Obama II was born at 7:24 p.m. on Aug. 4, 1961, at Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu.

It is signed by the delivery doctor, Obama's mother and the local registrar. His mother, then 18, signed her name (Stanley) Ann Dunham Obama.

There's no mention of religion. The certificate says his father, Barack Hussein Obama, age 25, was African and born in Kenya and his mother was Caucasian and born in Wichita, Kan. Obama's mother and the doctor signed the certificate on Aug. 7 and 8.

The family of the doctor, David Sinclair, said Wednesday they were honored that he had delivered Obama. Sinclair died in 2003 at 81, his son told The Associated Press.

The White House pays close attention when its message is getting drowned out by other issues. And Obama himself seemed to hit the tipping point when, in his view, media coverage was skewed toward coverage of his birth certificate even in the midst of big news about competing budget-cutting plans and the future of the country.

Thus, an apparently unprecedented moment in American politics: An elected president, after more than 800 days in office, still defending his legitimacy to serve and prodding people to drop "this thing that just keeps on going."

"I think that he had no choice at this point," said Diana Owen, an associate professor of political science and director of American studies at Georgetown University. "I think he was seeing his own agenda being derailed by some fringe candidate that was raising these kinds of issues about his personal life."

She added: "If you don't deal with something that you think is beneath your dignity, you may end up paying for it later."

Obama quickly left the stage after making his appeal for a national debate on the most serious issues of the day. He was off to Chicago for an appearance on Oprah Winfrey's television show and then to New York City to raise money for his re-election.


MONDAY, April 25, 2011

Bill  Gates recently gave a  speech at a High School about
eleven (11) things they did not and will not learn in school.  

He talks  about how “feel-good, politically correct” teachings
created a  generation of kids with no concept of reality and
how this  concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule  1 : Life  is not fair - get used to it!
 
Rule  2 : The  world doesn't care about your self-esteem.  
The world  will expect you to accomplish something  
BEFORE you  feel good about  yourself.
 
Rule  3 : You will NOT  make $60,000 a year right out of high school.  
You won't  be a vice-president with a car phone until you  earn both.
 
Rule  4 : If you think  your teacher is tough, wait till you get a  boss
 
Rule  5 : Flipping  burgers is not beneath your dignity.  
Your  Grandparents had a different word for burger  flipping:
They called  it opportunity.
 
Rule  6 : If you mess up,  it's not your parents' fault,  
so don't  whine about your mistakes, learn from  them.
 
Rule  7 : Before  you were born, your parents weren't as boring  
as they are  now. They got that way from paying your bills,  
cleaning  your clothes and listening to you  
talk about  how cool you thought you were:
So before  you save the rain forest
from the  parasites of your parent's generation,  
try  delousing the closet in your own room.
 
Rule  8 : Your school may  have done away with winners and losers,  
but  life HAS NOT. In some schools, they  have abolished failing grades
and they'll  give you as MANY TIMES as you  want to get the right answer.
*This  doesn't bear the slightest resemblance  to ANYTHING in real  life.
 
Rule  9 : Life is not  divided into semesters.
You don't  get summers off and very few employers  
are  interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF.  
*Do that on  your own time.
 
Rule  10 : Television is  NOT real  life.
In real  life people actually have to leave the coffee  shop and go to jobs.
 
Rule  11 : Be nice to nerds…  
Chances are you'll end up working for one.


SUNDAY, April 24, 2011

Barack Obama's mantra in foreign affairs: "DON'T JUST DO SOMETHING, STAND THERE."

GS

The Muddle at the Middle of NATO's Libya Efforts
By MICHAEL ELLIOTT Michael Elliott – Sun Apr 24, 5:45 pm ET

When considering the mess that the U.S. and its NATO allies have got themselves into in Libya, it's helpful to remember the old story of the Irish traveller who asked a farmer for the quickest way to Dublin. Came the reply: "I wouldn't start from here."


NATO's actions in Libya are authorized under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which, in addition to establishing a no-fly zone, permits "all necessary measures...to protect civilians and civilian authorities under threat of attack." The resolution includes lots of language condemning the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, and identifies the situation in Libya as a "threat to international peace and security," but its objectives are strictly limited: they do not extend to justifying the military overthrow of Gaddafi's regime. (See photos of Libya's no-fly zone.)

There's no doubt about this. We have it from the horse's mouth. In his speech on March 28, Barack Obama said that while "there is no question that Libya...would be better off with Gaddafi out of power," and that while he and others have "embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means, broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake."

I argued a couple of weeks ago that there is a profound illogicality at the heart of this policy. If a regime is treating its people so monstrously that military intervention from the outside is justified, then it is ludicrous to suppose that such a situation can end appropriately with that regime still in place. If so, what was the point of the humanitarian intervention in the first place? But this muddle at the heart of the policy of the US and its allies - a muddle explained by the fact if Res. 1973 had appeared to call for regime change, it would not have stood a prayer at the U.N. - is not the only one. (See why Europe is showing its power in Libya's military campaign.)

Res. 1973 establishes a no-fly zone in Libya and appears to permit "all necessary measures" in pursuit of its humanitarian objectives. But that carte blanche is explicitly qualified in two significant ways. First, the resolution excludes the possibility of a "foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory." Second (albeit in a preamble, not in the dispositive text of the resolution) the Security Council reaffirmed its "strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity" of Libya. So no significant "boots on the ground," no attempt to recognize Cyrenaica - rebel-held eastern Libya - as a de facto independent state.

I'll leave it to international lawyers to parse whether the plans by European nations to assist in training rebel forces are lawful under Res. 1973. But that apart, help to the rebels is pretty much limited to bombing of Gaddafi's forces, either by manned planes or drones. That has not yet been enough to turn the back-and-forth war along the Mediterranean in the rebels' favor. As the veteran military historian Max Hastings wrote in the Financial Times last week, "the allies are still providing enough military support to prevent the rebels' defeat, but not enough to end the bloodshed or achieve the declared objectives."

That will remain the case so long as the allies rely on air power alone. Since World War I, when those daring young men in their flying machines tossed bombs out of biplanes on to the front lines of the western front, politicians have loved air power. Smashing enemies into mangled flesh and bone from 20,000 feet is much less risky - I mean, to those doing the smashing, not to those smashed - than having to deploy your constituents' sons and daughters in a fight on the ground. Hardly surprisingly, early forays into air power were led by imperialist powers - the British in Iraq, the Italians in Abyssinia - revelling in their technological superiority over troublesome natives. (See U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, who made the case for intervention in Libya.)

Such actions sometimes had the effect their protagonists intended. When the British finally arrested Sheikh Mahmoud Barzanji of Iraqi Kurdistan in 1930 after bombing his villages, he touched the "wings" on the shoulder of an RAF officer to indicate what it was that had beaten him. But without other armed support, and against an enemy fighting in urban conditions, able and willing to place its forces and artillery among civilians, air power is both risky - bombs don't distinguish between soldiers and innocent civilians, between local party headquarters and the Chinese embassy - and often ineffective.

NATO's bombing of Bosnian-Serb positions in 1995 did not on their own force Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic to the bargaining table. It was the combination of the bombing and the impact of Croatian ground forces, who had just swept the Serbs out of Krajina in a ground attack bltizkrieg, that did the trick. Similarly, six weeks of NATO bombing of Serb targets during the Kosovo war in 1999 - and this included targeting civilian targets such as bridges and power plants in Serbia itself - did not on its own end the war. It was the combination of the bombing, with plausible NATO plans to invade Kosovo, plus skilful diplomacy to bring Russia, Serbia's old ally, onside, that made Milosevic fold.

Of course, there may be other actions that are being taken by NATO to degrade Gaddafi's forces that we don't know about, and let's hope there are. I suppose that NATO could expand its reading of "all necessary measures" to aggressively target Libya's infrastructure, as it did in Serbia in 1999, though to do so would risk significant civilian deaths. And one understands that in a war waged by coalitions, messy compromises and muddled logic are inevitable. "If we tried to overcome Gaddafi by force," Obama said on March 28, "our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish our mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air." Yes; but we are trying to overcome Gaddafi by force - honestly, why else are we flying all those missions? - and if we are serious about so doing, we do risk killing many civilians from the air. That is how air power works.

Of course, it may be - as a senior Arab diplomat said to me recently - that what the U.S. and its allies really need is patience; that somehow or other, in six months or so, Gaddafi will be out. (Who or what would follow him, however, is anyone's guess.) But patience, though a virtue, is not in and of itself a strategy. At the real heart of the Libyan mess is the old issue of ends and means. If getting Gaddafi out of power in Libya was the desired end of the U.S. and its allies, then they should have willed the means to make it happen. If they were not prepared to will those means, then they should not have said that their desired end was Gaddafi's departure. How can we solve the Libyan muddle? I wouldn't start from here.


SATURDAY, April 23, 2011

Click on the link to see a nice video about New London and the Coast Guard Academy

---> http://www.thebostonchannel.com/video/27604895/detail.html


FRIDAY, April 22, 2011

"I'm Shocked...Shocked" by the most recent NYTimes article by David Brooks, usually a sober middle-of-the-road columnist despite his connection to that employer: "Why Trump Soars Above The Rest Of The Obnoxious Crowd", in The Day (www.theday.com Wednesday, April 20, 2011, pA7).  Loaded with invective...and not a little envy in my opinion...a number of his most pointed criticisms are indeed Donald Trump's strongest attributes in the eyes of a large number of Americans totally tired with the cynical, hypocritical and cowardly posture of those that Brooks considers "polite society".  Thank God that there is at least one powerful man who is "anti-elitist".  Has David Brooks been forced by his employer, in view of the national 2012 election season already begun, to tack hard to port?  "Say it isn't so".

GS


THURSDAY, April 21, 2011

THE FEDERAL BUDGET: DUELING ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL VISIONS - NO. 3

Are Americans as dense or as enamored of a Welfare State as these figures would appear to suggest? Or are they more likely weary of daily struggles, distrusting of anything coming out of Washington DC, and angry that the proposed "shared sacrifices" do not include the massive excesses and criminality on Wall Street - which the  perpetrators appear about to get away with?  "We report; you decide."

GS

Poll: Americans strongly oppose some deficit proposals

Jon Cohen and Dan Balz Jon Cohen And Dan Balz Wed Apr 20, 3:00 pm ET

Los Angeles – Despite growing concerns about the country’s long-term fiscal problems and an intensifying debate in Washington about how to deal with them, Americans strongly oppose some of the major remedies under consideration, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey finds that Americans prefer to keep Medicare just the way it is. Most also oppose cuts in Medicaid and the defense budget. More than half say they are against small, across-the-board tax increases combined with modest reductions in Medicare and Social Security benefits. Only President Obama’s call to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans enjoys solid support.

On Monday, Standard & Poor’s, for the first time, shifted its outlook on U.S. creditworthiness to “negative” because of the nation’s accumulating debt. The announcement rattled investors and could increase pressure on both sides in Washington to work out a broader deal as part of the upcoming vote over increasing the government’s borrowing authority.

The president and congressional Republicans have set out sharply differing blueprints to deal with the looming problem. Obama has called for agreement on at least a framework by early summer, which roughly coincides with the deadline for raising the nation’s debt ceiling.

Public resistance to many proposals in the competing plans could greatly complicate those discussions. Altering entitlement programs still involves political risk, the poll shows, and proponents of such changes face a substantial challenge in persuading the public that they are needed.

[ For complete coverage of politics and policy, go to Yahoo! Politics ]

The two sides are far apart philosophically, and neither enjoys great public confidence: Fifty-eight percent of those polled disapprove of the way the president is handling the budget deficit. Even more — 64 percent — give Republicans in Congress low marks.

The public is split about evenly on whether Obama or congressional Republicans are more trusted to find the right balance between cutting unnecessary spending and preserving priorities.

On that question, public opinion is unchanged since last month, despite the recent battle over funding the government for the rest of the current fiscal year, resulting in a deal that includes $38 billion in cuts and that came barely an hour before the government was scheduled to shut down.

Congressional Republicans maintain a narrow edge over Obama when it comes to taking a “stronger leadership role” in Washington, 45 to 40 percent. And political independents side with the Republicans on tackling the burgeoning debt. But Obama maintains a key, double-digit advantage among independents when it comes to “protecting the middle class.”

The Republican budget plan, drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) and approved by the House last week, calls for a major restructuring of Medicare and Medicaid, with sizable savings in future costs. Obama, in his plan, opposes the GOP’s restructuring, but he has said that future savings will be needed to keep Medicare solvent.

The Post-ABC poll finds that 78 percent oppose cutting spending on Medicare as a way to chip away at the debt. On Medicaid — the government insurance program for the poor — 69 percent disapprove of cuts.

There is also broad opposition to cuts in military spending to reduce the debt, but at somewhat lower levels (56 percent).

In his speech last week, the president renewed his call to raise tax rates on family income over $250,000, and he appears to hold the high ground politically, according to the poll. At this point, 72 percent support raising taxes along those lines, with 54 percent strongly backing this approach. The proposal enjoys the support of majorities of Democrats (91 percent), independents (68 percent) and Republicans (54 percent). Only among people with annual incomes greater than $100,000 does less than a majority “strongly support” such tax increases.

An across-the-board tax increase is decidedly less popular, at least when coupled with benefit reductions. A report by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility , co-chaired by former senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, recommended “shared sacrifice.” But in the poll, a slim majority — 53 percent — opposes small tax increases and minor benefit cuts for all as a way to significantly reduce the debt. Strong opposition to that kind of solution outnumbers strong support by 2 to 1.

There is broad support for keeping Medicare structured the way it has been since it was instituted in 1965: as a defined-benefit health insurance program. Just 34 percent of Americans say Medicare should be changed along the lines outlined in the Ryan budget proposal, shifting it away from a defined-benefit plan. Under that proposal, recipients would select from a group of insurance plans providing guaranteed coverage, and the government would provide a payment to the insurer, subsidizing the cost. Advocates say this approach is more sophisticated than a pure voucher plan.

In his speech last week, Obama attacked that idea, saying it could leave some Americans without adequate coverage and would end “Medicare as we know it.”

While the debt issue lingers, most Americans — 59 percent — do approve of the deal stitched together to avoid a government shutdown by cutting billions from this year’s budget.

The telephone poll was conducted April 14 to 17 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.


WEDNESDAY, April 20, 2011

...AND I AM PROUD TO HELP BE HIS PUBLICIST.  GS

"I'm 63 and I'm Tired"
by Robert A. Hall

I'm 63.  Except for one semester in college when jobs were scarce and a
six-month period when I was between jobs, but job-hunting every day, I've
worked hard since I was 18.   Despite some health challenges, I still put in
50-hour weeks, and haven't called in sick in seven or eight years.   I make
a good salary, but I didn't inherit my  job or my income, and I worked hard
to get where I am.  Given the  economy, there's no retirement in sight, and
I'm tired.  Very tired.

I'm tired of being told that I have to "spread the wealth" to people who
don't have my work ethic.  I'm tired of being told the government will take
the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy to
earn it.

I'm tired of being told that I have to pay more taxes to "keep people in
their homes."   Sure, if they lost their jobs or got sick, I'm willing to
help.   But if they bought Mc Mansions at three times the price of our
paid-off, $250,000 condo, on one-third of my salary, then let the left-wing
Congress-critters who passed Fannie and Freddie and the Community
Reinvestment Act that created the bubble help them with their own money.

I'm tired of being told how  bad America is by left-wing millionaires like
Michael Moore, George Soros and Hollywood Entertainers who live in luxury
because of the opportunities America offers.  In thirty years, if they get
their way, the United States will have the economy of    Zimbabwe, the
freedom of the press of China, the crime and violence of Mexico, the
tolerance for Christian people of Iran, and the freedom of speech of
Venezuela ..

I'm tired of being told that Islam is a "Religion of Peace," when every day
I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and
daughters for their family "honor"; of Muslims rioting over some slight
offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because  they aren't
"believers"; of Muslims burning schools for girls;  of Muslims stoning
teenage rape victims to death for "adultery";  of Muslims mutilating the
genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Qur'an and
Shari'a law tells them to.

I'm tired of being told  that "race doesn't matter" in the post-racial world
of Obama,  when it's all that matters in affirmative action jobs, lower
college admission and graduation standards for minorities  (harming them the
most), government contract set-asides,  tolerance for the ghetto culture of
violence and fatherless children that hurts minorities more than anyone, and
in the appointment of U.S. Senators from Illinois.

I think it's very cool that we have a black president and that a black child
is doing her homework at the desk where Lincoln wrote the Emancipation
Proclamation.  I just wish the black president was Condi Rice, or someone
who believes more in freedom and the individual and less arrogantly of an
all-knowing government.

I'm tired of being told  that out of "tolerance for other cultures" we must
let Saudi Arabia use our oil money to fund mosques and mandrassa Islamic
schools to preach hate in America , while no American group is allowed to
fund a church, synagogue or religious school in Saudi Arabia to teach love
and tolerance.

I'm tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global
warming, which no one is allowed to debate.  My wife and I live in a
two-bedroom apartment and carpool together five miles to our jobs. We also
own a three-bedroom condo where our daughter and granddaughter live.  Our
carbon footprint is about 5% of Al Gore's, and if you're greener than Gore,
you're green enough.

I'm tired of being told  that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help
support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do.  Did a giant germ
rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses
while they tried to fight it off?  I don't think Gay people choose to be
Gay, but I #@*# sure think druggies chose to  take drugs. And I'm tired of
harassment from cool people treating me like a freak when I tell them I have
never tried marijuana.

I'm tired of illegal aliens being called "undocumented workers," especially
the ones who aren't working, but are living on welfare or crime.  What's
next?   Calling drug dealers, "Undocumented Pharmacists"?   And, no, I'm not
against Hispanics.  Most of them are Catholic, and it's been a few hundred
years since Catholics wanted to kill me for my religion.  I'm willing to
fast track for citizenship any Hispanic person, who can speak English,
doesn't have a criminal record  and who is self-supporting without family on
welfare, or who serves honorably for three years in our military.... Those
are the citizens we need.

I'm tired of latte liberals and journalists, who would never wear the
uniform of the Republic themselves, or let their entitlement-handicapped
kids near a recruiting station, trashing our military.  They and their kids
can sit at home, never having to make split-second  decisions under life and
death circumstances, and bad mouth better people than themselves.  Do bad
things happen in war?  You bet.  Do our troops sometimes misbehave?  Sure.
Does this compare with the atrocities that were the policy of our enemies
for the last fifty years and still are?  Not even close.  So here's the
deal.  I'll let myself be subjected to all the humiliation and abuse that
was heaped on terrorists at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, and the critics can let
themselves be subject to captivity by the Muslims, who tortured and beheaded
Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, or the Muslims who tortured and murdered Marine
Lt. Col. William Higgins in Lebanon, or the Muslims who ran the
blood-spattered Al Qaeda torture rooms our troops found in Iraq, or the
Muslims who cut off the heads of schoolgirls in Indonesia, because the
girls were Christian.  Then we'll compare notes.  British and American
soldiers are the only troops in history that civilians came to for help and
handouts, instead of hiding from in fear.

I'm tired of people telling me that their party has a corner on virtue and
the other party has a corner on corruption.  Read the papers; bums are
bipartisan.   And I'm tired of people telling me we need  bipartisanship.  I
live in Illinois , where the " Illinois   Combine" of Democrats has worked
to loot the public for years.   Not to mention the tax cheats in Obama's
cabinet.

I'm tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of both
parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful
mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught.
I'm tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor.

Speaking of poor, I'm tired of hearing people with air-conditioned homes,
color TVs and two cars called poor.  The majority of Americans didn't have
that in  1970, but we didn't know we were "poor."  The poverty pimps have to
keep changing the definition of poor to keep the dollars flowing.

I'm real tired of people who  don't take responsibility for their lives and
actions.  I'm tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination
or big-whatever for their problems.

Yes, I'm tired.  But I'm also glad to be 63.  Because, mostly, I'm not going
to have to see the world these people are making.  I'm just feeling sorry
for my grandchildren.

Robert  A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam veteran who served five terms in the
Massachusetts State Senate.


TUESDAY, April 19, 2011

THE FEDERAL BUDGET: DUELING ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL VISIONS - NO. 2...  "THE ROAD TO PERDITION".

GS

S&P threatens to cut U.S. credit rating on deficit

By Steven C. Johnson Steven C. Johnson Mon Apr 18, 6:20 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Standard & Poor's threatened Monday to downgrade the United States' prized AAA credit rating unless the Obama administration and Congress find a way to slash the yawning federal budget deficit within two years.

S&P, which assigns ratings to guide investors on the risks involved in buying debt instruments, slapped a negative outlook on the country's top-notch credit rating and said there's at least a one-in-three chance that it could eventually cut it.

A downgrade, which would leave Germany and France with a higher rating, would erode the status of the United States as the world's most powerful economy and the dollar's role as the dominant global currency.

If investors start demanding higher returns for holding riskier U.S. debt, the rise in bond yields would crank up borrowing costs for consumers and businesses. That would threaten to hurt the economy as it recovers from the worst recession since World War II.

"This new warning highlights the need for the U.S. to take better control of its fiscal destiny if it is to avoid higher borrowing costs and maintain its central role at the core of the global economy," said Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive at PIMCO, which oversees $1.2 trillion in assets and has a short position on U.S. government debt.

Major U.S. stock indexes fell than 1 percent on the day. Longer-dated government bond prices initially fell but recovered to post solid gains as falling stocks took over as the main driver for price action in the Treasury market. Bond prices frequently trade inversely to stocks.

The dollar also rose as more immediate fiscal problems in Greece hurt the euro and supported some U.S. assets.

The cost of insuring Treasury debt against default at one point Monday neared a 2011 high, though it was well below lofty levels hit two years ago when fears of a double-dip U.S. recession raged.

BUDGET BATTLE

The threat of a downgrade raises the stakes in the struggle between President Obama's Democratic administration and his Republican opponents in the House to get control over a nearly $1.4 trillion budget deficit and $14.27 trillion debt burden.

The White House last week announced plans to trim $4 trillion from the deficit over the next 12 years, mostly through spending cuts and tax hikes on the rich. Congressional Republicans want deeper spending cuts and no tax increases.

The deficit problem has become crushing since the financial crisis of 2008. Now for every dollar the federal government spends, it takes in less than 60 cents in revenue.

A budget deficit running at nearly 10 percent of output and expected to grow will likely further swell a public debt load that's already more than 60 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

"Because the U.S. has, relative to its AAA peers, what we consider to be very large budget deficits and rising government indebtedness, and the path to addressing these is not clear to us, we have revised our outlook on the long-term rating to negative from stable," S&P said.

Even so, Austan Goolsbee, the top economist at the White House, downplayed S&P's move, telling CNBC Monday it was a "political judgment" that "we don't agree with."

DoubleLine Chief Executive Jeffrey Gundlach said Monday that the S&P warning "should serve as an effective cattle prod in pushing the politicians toward a program of spending cuts and tax increases."

"NOT THE END OF THE WORLD"

Some on Wall Street also downplayed the immediate impact.

"If a corporate entity had the same kind of unsustainable leverage problems, it would have been downgraded long ago," said Robert Bishop, chief investment officer of fixed income at SCM Advisors in San Francisco.

"But from the standpoint of the sovereign, being on outlook negative is not the end of world," he added. "Japan, for example, is a double-A credit."

S&P downgraded Japan's rating earlier this year for the first time since 2002, saying Tokyo had no plan to deal with its mounting debt burden.

But unlike the United States, almost all Japanese debt is held by domestic investors. That means the country need not depend on foreigners for financing.

Axel Merk, president of Merk Hard Currency Fund in Palo Alto, California, said Monday's warning was "a wake-up call that we need to do something in the U.S." S&P is "absolutely correct that this is something serious that needs to be addressed."

Moody's, S&P's main rival in the ratings business, also maintains a Aaa credit rating - its highest - on the United States.

For PIMCO, the world's largest bond fund, the picture had become bleak enough to prompt it to announce in February it had sold all U.S. Treasuries in its $236 billion Total Return Fund.

Bill Gross, PIMCO's chief investment officer, said he expected interest rates to climb, the dollar to fall and the United States to eventually lose its AAA credit rating.

The ratings agency said neither the White House nor Republican plan does enough to fix the shortfall, and the tension between the parties has cast doubt on whether they will be able to work together on a long-term solution.

"Looking at the gulf between the parties, it has never been wider than now," David Beers, S&P's global head of sovereign ratings, said Monday. "It takes a lot of political will to bridge this gulf."

A U.S. congressional report last week blamed ratings companies such as S&P and Moody's Corp for triggering the financial crisis when they cut the inflated ratings they had applied to complex mortgage-backed securities.

George Feldenkreis, CEO of Perry Ellis International, said that casts doubt on S&P's outlook.

The ratings agency "does not have the intellect or systems to judge the ability of the U.S. economy or political system to resolve its issues of taxation and needed budget cuts," he said.

Moody's put some issues of U.S. Treasury debt on watch for a downgrade in 1996 when the White House and Congress failed to extend the government's debt ceiling.

The two sides are heading for a similar showdown over the $14.3 trillion legal borrowing limit, which will have to be extended within weeks.

SOURING ON THE DOLLAR

The U.S. debt burden has grown exponentially after a housing bubble burst in 2007 and set off a world financial crisis that toppled several Wall Street banks, drove up the jobless rate and thrust the global economy into recession.

Governments around the world were forced to increase public spending to prevent their economies from lurching into an even worse depression.

The tactics helped spark a recovery but left the United States and other advanced economies, which were hit hardest by the crisis, with staggeringly large debt burdens.

Though it rose Monday, the dollar is down about 5 percent against major currencies in 2011. S&P's move, coupled with record low U.S. interest rates, will do little to make it more attractive, said Kathy Lien, director of research at GFT.

"Even though I don't think an actual downgrade would occur, in this very sensitive or vulnerable time for the U.S. dollar, it's enough to spook investors from holding or buying dollars," she said.

(Additional reporting by Richard Leong, Jennifer Ablan, Herb Lash, Al Yoon, Dena Aubin, Wanfeng Zhou and Frank Tang; editing by Frank McGurty)


MONDAY, April 18, 2011

<>Why are you apologizing for the language?  <>You don't use a hammer when you need a scalpel, but you certainly don't use a feather duster when you need steel wool.  I agree with every word written below, ESPECIALLY the "language" (except for the assertion that any changes to Social Security will directly affect a current 63 year-old).  This is one of the reasons we are in the position we face as a nation.  And, don't buy that bill of goods that we are the most divided we ever been because of "harsh language", conveniently emanating from those heartless bastards on the Right.  Ask anyone who lived any of their adult years in the 1960's, or read a history book about the 1860's.  This is pure propaganda flown up the flagpole daily mostly by the Left as a means of stratifying this country into a (hopefully non-violent) class struggle.  And, sadly, people on the Right who warn against "harsh language" in political issues are simply bring a knife to a gunfight. 

The language of political "discourse" is often so watered-down and vague as to render it dubious or useless.  It is explained away by its practitioners with scenarios of "civility" and "mending fences" when we all know what takes place behind the scenes--either blatant backstabbing or shameful collusion.  No one believes what comes out of the mouths of politicians of either party because they too often say what they think needs to be said to either get them re-elected, to minimize political damage to themselves or the omnipotent Party, or both.  As a voter, I would trust a pair of politicians who expressed genuine, intellectually honest disdain for each other and their respective politics, but who got something done in the process.  I think most voters feel the same.  It may stratify and further divide certain groups and issues initially, but the fog of equivocation by all sides would be lifted.

<>I'm partial to this subject because I frequently speak this way about issues of this importance--because they DESERVE the attention and passion that politicians too often, frankly, don't REALLY give a shit about.  And why; because as stated below, they have no horse in this race.  They make decisions all day that directly impact our lives while we, the taxpayers pay them with money we work for . . . all day.  Yet, they have rigged the game to preclude any impact on themselves for such decisions.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but are you f*%^ing kidding me?

<>And, you wonder why people such as the man below (or a characterization of many of us, as it most likely is) use harsh language?  Goddamn right, harsh language!  Absolutely, something would be "lost in translation" otherwise.  I have news for anyone who thinks that parliamentary procedure regarding language, even in a national political arena is de rigueur.  And, it isn't limited to politics.  I have lost count of how many times an opponent to my opinion on an issue has called me a "hater" the MOMENT I expressed even mild opposition to their viewpoint.  Bear in mind that this term is often used in the current social parlance, but ask yourself why it has come to this? <> 
<>
<>It used to be that if you expressed negative feelings or opposing opinions on an issue, you were validated in your expression if you were honest and rational about it.  Today, in the PC world of tolerance of eeeeevvvvvrrrrrryyyyything (either by ridiculously misguided intentions or political expedience), you're a "hater" if you don't like Chinese food.  Moreover, in that specific case, you're probably a "hater" of Chinese people if you "hate" their food.  I'm not kidding.  It's gotten that bad.    <>This happens everyday in politics and with issues as galvanizing as the entitlement programs mentioned below.  So, let's hear more straight-talk on these issues, and not only from possibly fictitious people on the Internet.  You can't say the guy below is simply ranting.  All his points are valid.  But, they would probably be either ignored or simply dismissed if they came in The Queen's English.

 P-


...WITH AN APOLOGY FOR SOME OF THE LANGUAGE.  BUT IT WOULD LOSE A LITTLE SOMETHING IN "TRANSLATION".

GS

Alan Simpson, Senator from Wyoming , Co-Chair of Obama's deficit
commission, calls senior citizens the Greediest Generation as he
compared "Social Security" to a Milk Cow with 310 million teats.
August, 2010.
 
Here's a response in a letter from a unknown fellow in Montana ...
I think he is a little ticked off!   He also tells it like it is !
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Hey Alan, let's get a few things straight..
 
1. As a career politician, you have been on the public dole for FIFTY
YEARS.
 
2. I have been paying Social Security taxes for 48 YEARS (since I was 15
years old. I am now 63).
 
3 My Social Security payments, and those of millions of other
Americans, were safely tucked away in an interest bearing account for
decades until you political pukes decided to raid the account and give
OUR money to a bunch of zero ambition losers in return for votes, thus
bankrupting the system and turning Social Security into a Ponzi scheme
that would have made Bernie Madoff proud.
 
4. Recently, just like Lucy & Charlie Brown, you and your ilk pulled the
proverbial football away from millions of American seniors nearing
retirement and moved the goalposts for full retirement from age 65 to
age 67.  NOW, you and your shill commission is proposing to move the
goalposts YET AGAIN.
 
5  I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying into Medicare
from Day One, and now you morons propose to change the rules of the
game. Why? Because you idiots mismanaged other parts of the economy
to such an extent that you need to steal money from Medicare to pay
the bills.
 
6.  I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying income taxes our
entire lives, and now you propose to increase our taxes yet again. Why?
Because you incompetent bastards spent our money so profligately that
you just kept on spending even after you ran out of money. Now, you come
to the American taxpayers and say you need more to pay off YOUR debt.
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To add insult to injury, you label us "greedy" for calling "bullshit" on
your incompetence. Well, Captain Bullshit, I have a few questions for
YOU.
 
1. How much money have you earned from the American taxpayers during
your pathetic 50-year political career?
 
2. At what age did you retire from your pathetic political career, and
how much are you receiving in annual retirement benefits from the
American taxpayers?
 
3. How much do you pay for YOUR government provided health insurance?
 
4.  What cuts in YOUR retirement and healthcare benefits are you
proposing in your disgusting deficit reduction proposal, or, as usual,
have  you exempted yourself and your political cronies?
 
It is you, Captain Bullshit, and your political co-conspirators called
Congress who are the "greedy" ones.  It is you and your fellow nutcases
who have bankrupted America and stolen the American dream from
millions of loyal, patriotic taxpayers.  And for what?  Votes.  That's right,
sir.  You and yours have bankrupted America  for the sole purpose of
advancing your pathetic political careers.  You know it, we know it, and
you know that we know it.
 
And you can take that to the bank, you miserable son of a bitch.


SUNDAY, April 17, 2011

THE FEDERAL BUDGET: DUELING ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL VISIONS - NO. 1

The following series of articles and commentaries is of vital importance to the future of this country.  The subject matter will largely determine the outcome of the 2012 Elections and our national health for decades to come.  It has begun with surprising courage from the Republican leadership, and with typical demagoguery and class warfare from the Democrats.  So, LISTEN UP, FOLKS. 

GS

In Senate, 2012 federal budget drama could take bipartisan turn

By Gail Russell Chaddock Gail Russell Chaddock Fri Apr 15, 9:06 pm ET

Washington – The new House budget for 2012 draws heavily on the vision of a one-man think tank, Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin, who called today’s vote a “defining moment.”

The plan, which passed today on a near party-line vote, 235 to 193, aims to lop some $5.8 trillion off federal spending over the next 10 years. It would do this mainly by embracing Congressman Ryan's signature issue – overhauling entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid – but also by cutting the federal workforce by 10 percent and setting a binding cap on total spending as a percentage of the economy.

But the path ahead signals a completely different means of lawmaking. Where the House's so-called "Ryan bill" is associated with only one man, both the Senate and the president are focusing on trying to build bipartisan consensus.

RELATED: Obama vs. Paul Ryan: five ways their debt plans differ

In the Senate the so-called Gang of Six senators – including four veterans of the president’s Simpson-Bowles deficit commission – have been working behind closed doors for nearly five months to translate the findings of that commission into legislative language that could pass the Senate. Meanwhile, President Obama this week called on congressional leaders to set up nine-member, bipartisan group, headed by Vice President Joe Biden, to produce a blueprint by the end of June to cut $4 trillion out of federal deficits.

But the speed of the House's efforts – passing the 2012 budget only a day after it passed the 2011 spending bill to avoided a government shutdown – is putting pressure on the Senate, in particular, to pick up the pace. Senate Democratic leaders have said the House budget will be dead on arrival because of its drastic changes to Medicare, and they are eager to present something as an alternative.

“We’re making progress,” says Sen. Richard Durbin (D) of Illinois, the deputy majority leader and a member of the Gang of Six. "If we can put a deal on the table, it will be an integral part of the debate,” he adds. “But there come a time – and we’re coming close to it – when our relevance runs up against timing.”

Gang of Six negotiationsUntil now, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D) of North Dakota has delayed committee deliberations on a 2012 budget in order to wait on the Gang of Six, which includes Senators Conrad and Durbin, as well as Sens. Mark Warner (D) of Virginia, Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma, Saxby Chambliss (R) of Georgia, and Mike Crapo (R) of Idaho.

The vice president has urged the Gang of Six to continue their work, even as he launches his bipartisan negotiations.

Both the House budget and ongoing bipartisan efforts in the Senate draw on recommendations of the deficit commission. The Ryan plan credits the fiscal commission with identifying ways to save on discretionary spending, including cutting corporate tax breaks, overhauling how the government manages real estate assets, and reducing the federal auto fleet by 20 percent.

But House Republicans reject outright any effort to close the deficit gap by raising taxes. The House plan eliminates some $800 billion in tax increases related to implementation of the president’s health-care reform law and extends Bush-era tax cuts.

In the Senate, however, two Republicans in the Gang of Six – Senators Coburn and Crapo – backed tax increases as part of a comprehensive plan to resolve the nation’s debt crisis. “I’m hopeful we are getting to an agreement that’s good,” said Coburn Thursday.

House sparringDemocrats predicted that controversy over the House budget would run through 2012 elections and beyond. “It is an ethic for our country to keep our bedrock promise to our seniors, to keep our promise of Medicare, a benefit they have earned through a lifetime of work,” said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. “House Republicans are voting to break that promise, jeopardizing the health and economic security of America's seniors.”

In a response on the floor, Ryan said that Medicare as we know it will be bankrupt in nine years. “The biggest threat to Medicare is the status quo,â€

“This budget will bring more certainty to the American people – show the American people that we're serious about cutting spending – because we all know that cutting spending will reduce some of the uncertainty that's causing job creators to sit on their hands,” said Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio before Friday’s vote.

Asked at a press briefing whether he intended to appoint members to serve on the Biden commission, Boehner said: “We've had commissions around here and we've had commissions. Nobody's ever paid much attention. And clearly the president didn't pay any attention to his own deficit-reduction commission. The conversations are going to continue. We'll know more in the future.


SUNDAY through SATURDAY, April 10 through 16, 2011

Obamacare Explained By Maxine!

Let me get this straight . . . . We're going to be "gifted" with a health care plan we are forced to purchase and fined if we don't, which purportedly covers at least thirty million more people, without adding a single new doctor, but provides for 16,000 new IRS agents, written by a committee whose chairman  says he doesn't understand it, passed by a Congress that didn't read it but exempted themselves from it, and signed by a President who smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes, for which we'll be taxed for four years before any benefits take effect, by a government which has already bankrupted Social Security and Medicare, all to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that's broke!!!!! 'What could possibly go wrong?'


SUNDAY, April 10, 2011

Some news from the Sunday (April 10, 2011) newspapers: 'Ray.  Boo.  Depends...

The decorations are already beginning to fall off of the Christmas Tree that is called Obamacare, loaded with "wants" and lacking the needed Health Reform needs. See "SustiNet: Worsening Fiscal Woes of Conn.?", by Arielle Levin Becker, The Day Perspective, pE1.  WAKE UP, EVERYONE.  CHRISTMAS IS OVER.

GS


SATURDAY, April 9, 2011

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED FROM THE "SHUTDOWN" BRINKMANSHIP?

Would that these lessons would be learned.

GS


FRIDAY
, April 8, 2011

NOMINEE FOR "EMAIL OF THE YEAR"!!!

After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said:  
'Let me see if I've got this right.
You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.
'You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self-esteem and personal pride.  
'You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.  
'You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams.
'You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.  
'You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.  
'You want me to do all this and then you tell me. . . I CAN'T PRAY?


THURSDAY, April 7, 2011

"MISSING IN ACTION" comes after "AWOL".  Thus, the need for a Federal Constitutional Convention, as urged by me in a recent "Rapid Response".   GS

Missing in action: Washington leadership

The Day, New London, CT

Published 04/08/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 04/08/2011 12:02 AM

Never mind the inability of the two parties in Washington to agree on a stop-gap spending plan to keep government operating, a situation that on Thursday had the nation facing the prospect of a shutdown of all nonessential services. The greater concern is the unreality with which both the Republican and Democratic leadership, or what passes as leadership, are confronting the nation's long-term fiscal challenges.

In his draft budget for 2012, released a few weeks ago, President Barack Obama abdicated any genuine leadership in deflating the nation's ballooning deficit. After appointing a deficit-reduction commission that came up with some tough and honest approaches to the challenge, President Obama largely ignored its recommendations. His spending plan was mainly business as usual, basing its estimate of an improving deficit situation on a rosy prediction for economic growth.

His commission provided blueprints to rein in the growth of the big entitlement programs - Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. It called for carefully targeted tax hikes and defense spending reductions (there is room for cuts; the Pentagon's budget is equal to the military spending of the next 20 countries combined).

Instead of action, the administration continues to use the excuse that serious budget cutting will harm the nascent economic recovery. Rather than making bold proposals of his own, President Obama seemed to make the political calculation that he would leave that to Republicans and then attack them politically for their unpopular choices.

On that count, the budget plan unveiled this week by Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin did not disappoint. The document is breathtaking in its impenitent call to dismantle the social safety net that even President Ronald Reagan said was important to maintain, while further reducing the taxes of the richest Americans.

The Ryan plan would eliminate the federal food stamp program, sending block grants to the states to let them figure out who, how and whether to feed the needy. It would slash Pell grants that help middle-income families pay for college. It would gut environmental spending, from $40 billion to $26 billion.

In time, states would also receive grants to provide Medicaid care to the poor, but the grants would not keep up with growing costs. The states would apparently have to figure out how to make the numbers work.

Seniors would no longer enroll in the Medicare program, as they do now, but would get a federal subsidy to help them buy private insurance. But again, the subsidies would not rise to match expected increases in health care costs.

Squeezed by inadequate subsidies from Washington, the plan would apparently achieve its savings by forcing the elderly and poor to pay more for their care or get less of it. Rep. Ryan wants to repeal the health care law, of course, but with no strategy for providing coverage to the uninsured.

Meanwhile, the top rate on both corporate and individual taxation would drop from 35 percent to 25 percent.

As with President Obama's plan, the Ryan initiative leaves defense spending relatively untouched.

The White House is probably relishing the chance to run against these proposals. But at some point someone has to govern. It's hard to imagine what 2012 budget deal can emerge from the vacuum left by the president and the dismantling of government envisioned by Rep. Ryan.

The forecast is for more pomposity, disingenuousness and stalemate.


FRIDAY through WEDNESDAY, April 1 through 6, 2011

High School Principal - A MUST READ

We watched Dennis Prager of Colorado on TV a couple of weeks ago....what a dynamic, down to earth speaker.  This is the guy that should be running for President in 2012!

A Speech Every American High School Principal Should Give........By Dennis Prager.

To the students and faculty of our high school:

I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.

I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school.  I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against our country.

First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity.  I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships. The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity -- your character, your scholarship, your humanity.  And the only national identity this school will care about is American. This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans.  If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere.  We will end all ethnicity, race and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one of its three central values -- e pluribus Unum, "from many, one."  And this school will be guided by America's values. This includes all after-school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.

Your clubs will be based on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate narcissism -- an unhealthy preoccupation with the self -- while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself.  So we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, carpentry and more. If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interested in are those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.

Second, I am uninterested in whether English is your native language.  My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America's citizens for over 200 years, and it will unite us at this school.  It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country.  And if you leave this school without excellent English language skills, I would be remiss in my duty to ensure that you will be prepared to successfully compete in the American job market. We will learn other languages here -- it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English --but if you want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.

Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor, everything in this school will reflect learning's elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your teachers will dress accordingly.  Many people in our society dress more formally for Hollywood events than for church or school. These people have their priorities backward. Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school.

Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this school's property -- whether in class, in the hallways or at athletic events.  If you can't speak without using the f-word, you can't speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission, plus epithets such as "Nigger," even when used by one black student to address another black, or "bitch," even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend.  It is my intent that by the time you leave this school, you will be among the few your age to instinctively distinguish between the elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene.

Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs. In this school, self-esteem will be attained in only one way -- the way people attained it until decided otherwise a generation ago -- by earning it..  One immediate consequence is that there will be one valedictorian, not eight.

Sixth, and last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda.  No more time will be devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming.  No more semesters will be devoted to condom wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue. There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual or not Christian.  We will have failed if any one of you graduates this school and does not consider him or herself inordinately lucky -- to be alive and to be an American.

Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country.  As many of you do not know the words, your teachers will hand them out to you.


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