Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
VITORY: Colombia's army blew away the field marshal of FARC's narco-terror war Wednesday, showing with a jolt that to win, it's terrorists who must "absorb" attacks, not innocents. Mexico and the U.S. have much to learn.
Seems the adage that Colombia is the only country where guerrillas die of old age isn't true anymore.
On Thursday, Colombia celebrated news of the demise of Jorge Briceno, military commander and second-highest chief of FARC. The 57-year-old terrorist went down in a hail of bombs and gunfire over three days in a jungle bunker near La Macarena.
The Colombian army suffered no deaths and left at least 20 guerrillas dead on the jungle floor. Briceno's demise marks the fourth knockout of FARC's seven-man "Politburo"since 2008.
"This is the most crushing blow against the FARC in its entire history," said Colombia's president, Juan Manuel Santos, speaking from the sidelines at the United Nations in New York.
To every other nation out there fighting a terror war, it's a lesson showing how it can be done.
First, it shows that in winning, history and continuity matter to the enemy. FARC, a Marxist terror group, has plagued Colombia since 1964. Briceno joined in 1975 and introduced cocaine trafficking to FARC's activities, extending the war.
He became a legend to many on the international left in the same way as FARC's original guerrilla mentor, Fidel Castro. Now that he's dead, there's no clear successor, leaving guerrillas to question what they fight for.
Briceno's demise also comes as the Colombian army has pounded the terror group in the south in a recent surge.
If this doesn't signal the end of Colombia's long-running guerrilla war, it's at least the beginning of the end — and its lessons should be heeded beyond Colombia's borders.
Colombia's war is in reality the southern flank of the same war that Mexico is fighting with its cartels — and that war is spilling over into the U.S. This is why Americans must pay attention.
The growing lawlessness on our border encompasses drugs, but also alien smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting and other acts of organized crime, with ties to global terror.
In Colombia's case, it brooks no talk about "absorbing" terror attacks, as President Obama recently suggested in the U.S. If anything, Colombia seems to have taken lessons from Gen. David Petraeus' surge in Iraq that took the war to the terrorists — and made sure they were the ones to worry about "absorbing" the attacks.
Second, the denial of any resemblance between the war Colombia fights and the war Mexico fights looks downright counterproductive. That's especially true since Colombia is winning its war, and decisively.
A mere two weeks ago, U.S. and Mexican leaders seemed to be going out of their way to deny that similarity.
President Obama attempted to soothe Mexico's hurt feelings by absurdly claiming that Mexico's economy was "progressive" — a ludicrous economic assertion — so there was no real comparison.
Instead of pretending they're above learning anything from Colombia, U.S. and Mexican leaders should closely watch how the leadership, determination, training and unified support from the public led to Colombia's victory.
Instead of responding to repeated political snubs and criticisms, Colombia took out Briceno, the terrorists' leader — and quietly showed the rest of the world how terror wars can be won.
It would be nice if the leaders of Mexico and the U.S., facing rising violence across their own border, showed the same will to win. READ "Colombia Shows Mexica How to Do It".
Friday, September 24, 2010
Earlier this month, Wayne Garcia walked across a stalled housing development in Land O' Lakes, Florida just north of Tampa. "It's an outrage," he said as he strolled past dozens of empty home sites. "This should never have been approved. This should never have happened."
Five years ago, architects promised "Connerton" would become the largest city in Pasco County. Today it looks like a graveyard of unfinished and unoccupied homes.
"There were supposed to be 15,000 homes here," Garcia explained as he stepped over the unhooked plumbing of one side street. "Today's there's 233." And Connerton isn't alone. Florida now has hundreds of stalled building sites. It also has a record 300,000 vacant homes.
"This is all because of unchecked development," said Garcia who represents Florida Hometown Democracy, Inc., an environmental group that's trying to control growth in Florida.
In fact, Hometown Democracy now has an initiative on the November ballot that some call the farthest reaching anti-growth measure in the country. "Amendment 4 will finally address the problem," he said.
"The problem," according to Garcia, has been the state's local community boards, which approve or deny large developments. He says these boards in the last ten years simply approved everything put before them, basically caving to the powerful construction interests. "It's because the public didn't have a vote and didn't have a say in the matter." Amendment 4, he says will give the public that say, mandating a local public vote for every proposed large development in the state.
Garcia calls it "Democracy." Developers call it a "nightmare."
"If you like the recession, then you will absolutely love amendment 4," says Ryan Houck, a spokesperson of Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy, the main opponent of the amendment.
Houck says Amendment 4 will create a bureaucratic blockade that will make it impossible of any future development in the state. And he doesn't stop there. "Amendment 4 is going to cost tens of thousands of jobs," he said, "raise taxes on working Floridians, and make it more expensive to live in our state."
Garcia obviously disagrees, "I say that the opposition and the system that they want to keep going, is what got us in this recession in the first place." READ at Florida: The Vacant-Home State?
Florida law requires the amendment to receive 60 percent of the vote to pass.
Read more: http://politics.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/09/24/floridathe-vacant-home-state#comments#ixzz10TCLvRmh
Thursday, September 23, 2010
About a month ago, I linked to a good column by John Podhoretz excoriating New York's politicians for obstructing the rebuilding of the WTC site for nine years. But a few weeks after that op-ed was published, it was made obsolete by news that—quietly, while we weren't paying attention—there is something being built to replace the Twin Towers.
Various legal and political disputes have been resolved, and the structure for the new One World Trade Center—the pretty good design for the 1,776-foot-tall "Freedom Tower"—is already more than 36 stories tall. Follow that link for a few pictures of the construction in progress. But also go to the official WTC website for some very nice renderings of what the final project will look like when it is completed in 2013.
When this is happening, it's inexcusable that we're all talking about that two-bit con-man Feisal Rauf, when the real story here is the enormous achievement of Larry Silverstein, the owner of the WTC site and the developer who has devoted the past nine years of his life to a crusade to rebuild. He fought against self-aggrandizing politicians who tried to oust him from the project, against defeatists who wanted to turn the whole site into a memorial, against the little minds who wanted to build small. Thanks to him, it looks like the Freedom Tower will be standing tall before they even break ground on the Ground Zero Mosque, if they ever do.
On September 11, the Wall Street Journal published a terrific profile of Silverstein in which he described his motive for rebuilding the site. Silverstein is 79 years old and has taken this on as the last project of his life, in the hope that he will be around long enough to enjoy seeing it completed.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
"...I thought that I, too, would like to have a life like him, to live in magical, mythical California (already, with cowboy films, a land of fantasy for me). America was increasingly in my thought as I entered my teens - it had been our great ally in the war; its power, its resources, were almost unlimited. Had it not made the world's first atomic bomb? American soldiers on leave walked the streets of London-their gestures, their speech, seeming to emit a self-confidence, a nonchalance, an ease almost unimaginable to us after six years of war. Life Magazine, in its large spreads, pictured mountains, canyons, deserts, landscapes of a spaciousness and magnificence beyond anything in Europe, along with American towns full of smiling, eager, well-nourished people, their houses gleaming, their shops full, enjoying a life of plenty and gaiety unimaginable to us, with the tight rationing, the pinched consciousness of the war years still upon us. To this glamorous picture of transatlantic ease, and bigger-than-life spontaneity and splendor, musicals like Annie get Your Gun and Oklamhoma! added a further mythopoeic force. It was in this atmosphere of romantic enlargement that Cannary Row and (despite its sickliness) its sequel, Sweet Thursday, had such an impact on me."
"If I had ...sometimes imagined a mythical past, I now started to have fantasies of the future, to imagine myself as a scientist or naturalist on the coasts or in the great outback of America. I read accounts of Lewis and clark's journey, I read Emerson and Thoreau, and above all, I read John Muir. I fell in love with the sublime and romantic landscapes of Albert Bierstadt and the beautiful, sensous photographs of Ansel Adams ..."
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
"I'm one of your middle class Americans. And quite frankly, I'm exhausted. Exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for," a woman told President Obama at a town hall.
"My husband and I have joked for years that we thought we were well beyond the hot dogs and beans era of our lives, but, quite frankly, it's starting to knock on our door and ring true that that might be where we're headed again, and, quite frankly, Mr. President, I need you to answer this honestly. Is this my new reality?," she added. Listen to her confront Obama here.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Even the Aussies are getting into the limited government mode. Here is an article in AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL AFFAIRS. Is the desire for freedom FROM government spreading around the globe? Will it last? Time will tell.
TEA PARTY COMES TO AUSTRALIA
..."What should be the role of the government in the economy, what should be the role of government in people’s lives and do you believe that you can spend your money better than government?"
The T.E.A. Party in Australia announces on its website that it is a "worldwide movement united for free markets, fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited small governments and individual freedom".
The modern US Tea Party movement draws inspiration from the Boston Tea Party of 1773, which was a protest by American colonists against British taxes and emerged in the United States in 2009. READ HERE.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Americans today can't even realize how they are shackled and managed and sermoned to by government bureaucrats. Now for several generations we have been led with rings in our noses to toe the government line and without a whimper we oblige. Are we turning into cows? A wonderful book written by Burton Fulsom, Jr called "EMPIRE BUILDERS" is well worth your while. You will see that once Americans were builders and creators of empires during a short interlude of 8o years when the government was kept at bay.
The following is an article in Investor's Business Daily describing how low we have fallen as we ever continue to allow these politicians to tie us up and strangle us with regulations, taxes and prohibitions. We are no longer the spirited American of yore, we are humble servants led by the nose by government hacks and politicians. It's time to find some spirit and energy and put government back in it's place - which is the job of ensuring the defense of this country against our enemies and criminals but to otherwise "leave us alone"!
Poverty: A new report comes as a punch in the gut for proud Americans: One in seven of us is poor, government data show. Surprised? Don't be. It's what happens when you kill the most productive parts of a country.
An estimated 14.3% of the population, or 43.6 million people, were considered poor in 2009 up from 13.2% the year before, the Census Bureau reports. This is the highest share living in poverty since the government began keeping records half a century ago.
How can this be in the richest nation on Earth?
Since Democrats took power — Congress in 2007, the White House in 2009 — policies that punish the productive private economy have become the norm.
Meanwhile, government wastes massive sums bailing out failed businesses, purchasing bad loans and rewarding those who borrow too much, make bad economic decisions or belong to unions.
Knowing this, no one should express shock that 15 million Americans don't have jobs, and that perhaps another 14 million or so are working only part time when they'd prefer to be working full time.
Persistent unemployment from misbegotten government policies is why we have this poverty. And it leads, inevitably, to dependence on government. As recently as 2006, federal payments to individuals as a share of GDP — a proxy for welfare — stood at 12%. Now it's 16.4%, a 37% rise in three years and the highest level ever.
Our own IBD/TIPP Poll of 908 Americans across the country, taken last week, shows that 39% of all American households and 22% of all individuals today receive some kind of federal aid.
Why? For three years now, the private sector has been systematically punished for the sins of the federal government with higher taxes and greater regulation. Businesses, though sitting on nearly $2 trillion in cash, won't invest in such an environment.
Washington's response? Spend hundreds of billions more on ill-considered "stimulus" plans and consign millions more to unemployment and poverty.
In the past two years we've witnessed a breathtaking expansion of federal government. And it'll only get worse, with a planned $44.8 trillion in spending over the next decade, an 83% rise. This new spending will add $13 trillion to our debt, pushing the total to $23 trillion by 2020 from just $7.5 trillion as recently as 2008.
Contrary to the repeated assertions of our nation's Keynesian elites in the media, Washington and academia, all this spending and debt doesn't create jobs. It kills them. The money siphoned from the economy destroys investment and consumer spending, leading to slower growth, higher joblessness and lower incomes... READ the rest here at IBD.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
...In a note on last week's poll, Rasmussen points out that the only time it recorded a higher shrink-the-government number, at 70%, was in August 2006. That was just ahead of the famous off-year election in which Republican voters withheld support for their party's free-spending members in Congress.
The Obama White House holds that the spending concerns Mr. Obama cited Monday—the stimulus, TARP, the auto bailout—were necessary. Whatever any individual merit in this stuff, it hit most voters at a moment when nearly any big government outlays were going to be written off as "more spending." When Mr. Obama said the health bill was "paid for," naturally polls showed that no one believed him. Why should they?
This loss of faith predates the Obama presidency.
I called Scott Rasmussen this week to discuss the roots of the anti-spending mood, and he suggested that the American electorate's desire for pushback against the growth in federal spending dates at least to 1992 and Ross Perot's third-party presidential bid, which drew 18.9% of the popular vote. Indeed, Mr. Rasmussen argues, you can find evidence of the turn in Jimmy Carter's "efficiency in government" efforts.
Until Barack Obama, the only Democrats who had a chance of winning the presidency were Southern governors with a reputation for fiscal moderation. But after Bill Clinton won the White House in 1992, he immediately tried to pass the mammoth health-care entitlement known as HillaryCare. After 17 acrimonious months, it died in August 1994. That November, voters gave control of the House to the GOP for the first time in 40 years. It was about more than Newt Gingrich's charm....READ Here: "It's The Spending, Stupid" at WSJ
Sunday, September 12, 2010
- Economic growth is not driven by soaring government spending, deficits and debt. It is driven by incentives to work, save, invest, start businesses, expand businesses, create jobs, and take on the risks of entrepreneurship. Keynesian economics does not work because borrowing or taxing another $50 billion out of the private economy to spend another $50 billion into the economy does not add anything to the economy on net. Nor does it do anything to change the fundamental incentives that do drive the economy, except maybe make them worse. The American Spectator (2010/09/08).
Just as Japan suffered under the illusion back in the 90's that it could "stimulate" the economy by doing the Keynesian thing, i.e. government spending, deficits and debt with a focus on big spending on infrastructure we are repeating the same mistakes. But with the example of Japan one has to ask why is Obama and his minions doing the same thing that dumped Japan into two decades of stagnation? There is only one answer: Washington bureaucrats want control of our lives and they are doing this by making us poor and dependent on Washington handouts. Is this what we want? To live a life of kow-towing to bureaucrats? I don't think Americans have yet lost the can-do, leave me alone spirit that tamed and settled this vast country we patriots like to call America the beautiful. To understand the mindset of the bureaucrat hack read the article 'AMERICA'S RULING CLASS" by Angelo M. Codevilla in the July-August 2010 issue of The American Spectator.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
There was one interesting statement at the end of an Op Ed in the Sunday NY Times (Week in Review section), by Sam Tanenhaus: “God and Politics, Together Again” (he is a liberal I believe). He said that Obama was connected through his Ivy League background to the super-privileged and by his “community organizing” to the poor, but he has no idea of the lives of the vast middle class.
I think that Obama, like most people, takes Altruism as a given (as he says “we are our brothers keeper”) and he takes it seriously, and because of his disconnect from working Americans has no idea that a modern industrial economy is fueled on production not pity, and production is fueled on the self-interest of individuals – people who work and earn their keep. Altruism gives him the permission to run everybody else’s life and distribute the fruits of their labor.
Well the economy is wrecked and he had a large hand in it, and now we’ll see if he’s got any brains at all in the next two years…if he continues his suicidal course or not. Men will not make the effort to plan and work if some third party can come along and dispose of their hard earned wealth down an endless drain to serve the so-called “underprivileged”.
The problem is he was raised in that liberal, Keynesian environment which he takes as gospel. If he has brains then maybe what he needs is courage. It would take courage, especially for a black man brought up in the liberal establishment, to renounce the liberal agenda and espouse some rational economic ideas. Someone correct me if I’m wrong but it is my understanding that Keynesianism is pretty discredited these days.
I think it’s too much to hope that he’ll surprise us - people don’t change easily – or rather it takes courage to think for oneself and bear the consequences. Richard Winkler
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
...Sharp presidents do not dive into lose/lose situations with such gusto.
How is Obama's foreign policy working out? The U.S. needs strong allies to defeat monstrous enemies. Dissing the British, scolding Israel, canceling the missile shield in Eastern Europe and groveling to foreign royalty do not bode well. Our enemies, from Iran to Venezuela, smell weakness and timidity. Ignoring cold reality and dreaming that personal charisma is the solution to international tensions is probably on the daft side of the intelligence continuum.
The "4 million green jobs" mantra espoused by the president is a canard when examined closely. Renewable energy technology exists only due to huge government subsidies. Ethanol is inefficient, raising the prices of gasoline and corn. Wind farms produce intermittent power that flummoxes the grid and requires conventional power plants to run continuously as backup. The net carbon reduction is miniscule.
Both schemes are massive misallocations of resources better used elsewhere. An astute president would inform himself on both sides of the issue rather than blatantly parrot a load of poppycock from the Van Jones crowd.
A Republican president who parties far more than he works would be trashed by every media outlet in the land. But Obama is a Democrat who enjoys the media's deep support. He escapes any serious questions about his busy golf schedule, multiple vacations, endless fundraising and campaigning, constant banquets and concerts in the White House, and his obvious detachment from the people he supposedly leads.
He appears more of a dilettante than a leader. A smart fellow would move to de-emphasize his privileged lifestyle instead of flaunting it in front of a nation mired in a recession.
Giving him the benefit of the doubt, maybe Obama is smart. Then again, Jimmy Carter was intelligent but proved to be the worst president of our lifetimes — up to now.
READ the complete essay here: "How Brilliant Can President Obama Be?" by Jeffrey S. Howard at Investor's Business Daily.
Sunday, September 05, 2010
Saturday, September 04, 2010
Are you bewildered and sick of mealy mouthed politicians who won't stand up and do what's necessary to defend America and the ideas we stand for? Have you been wondering how a New York Mayor can defend the building of a hugh mosque in the middle of 9/11 New York? Are you perplexed why we stand idly by as Iran build nukes? Who does Washington think these nukes are intended for? America wake up before World war II will look like a walk in the park. Listen to Bill here.
"A tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. Those who torment us for our own good will, torment us without end, for they do so for the approval of their own conscience."
C. S. Lewis
Friday, September 03, 2010
With Congress out of session for its August recess, one innovative fund manager is busy making money for clients who share his view that an inactive government is good for the stock market. Armed with data and a successful track record, Eric Singer is using his unique strategy to make profits and a point about avoiding the most dangerous element in any investment decision: political risk.
Singer’s Congressional Effect Fund takes its name from the phenomenon he helped prove: when Congress acts, markets suffer. In 1992 while working for a New York investment firm, Singer noticed a recurring pattern of exceptional stock performance. The “January effect,” was followed by stock market “rallies” during the summer, at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It occurred to him that in each boom period Congress was out of session.
So, he looked at the data to see if there was a correlation. Going back to January 1, 1965, Singer studied the performance of the S&P 500 Index on days when at least one house of Congress was in session compared to when neither house met for business. The results confirmed his intuition. On days when at least one house was in session, the S&P 500 had an average annualized price gain of +.94%. Alternatively, the Index gained +16.04% when neither house was in session.
The explanation is simple. Investors fear government action because it always involves change. Changes in rules and regulations cause uncertainty. That uncertainty leads to risk-averse behavior like banks reducing lending, landowners refusing to develop real estate and employers refusing to hire more staff. By driving wealth creators to the sidelines, government action makes the nation poorer.
Though intuitive to most business owners, the “congressional effect” is hardly conventional wisdom with financiers or academics. When Singer first published his findings a team of experts tried to disprove him.
They ended up making an even stronger case for Singer’s position.
In a 1997 study titled, “The Congressional Calendar and Stock Market Performance,” three university professors and a private financier concluded:
“Almost the entire advance in the market since 1897 corresponds to the periods when Congress is in recess. This is an impressive result, given that Congress is in recess about half as long as in session. Furthermore, average daily returns when Congress is not meeting are almost eight times greater than when Congress is in session. Throughout the year, cumulative returns during recess are thirteen times that experienced while Congress is in session.” ...READ "Investment Funds Show that Betting Against Congress is a Great way to Make Money" at Center for Individual Freedom.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Facing a nationwide backlash, Democratic congressional candidates have a new message for voters: We know you don't like ObamaCare, so we'll fix it.
This was the line offered by Democrat Mark Critz, who won a special election in Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district after expressing opposition to the law and promising to mend it—but not to repeal it. As a doctor I know something about unexpected recoveries, and this latest attempt to rescue ObamaCare from repeal needs to be taken seriously.
For Democrats who voted for ObamaCare, this tactic is an escape route, a chance to distance themselves from the president with a vague promise to fix health-care reform in the next Congress.
To counter this election-year ruse, my colleagues and I at Docs4PatientCare are enlisting thousands of doctors in an unorthodox and unprecedented action. Our patients have always expected a certain standard of care from their doctors, which includes providing them with pertinent information that may affect their quality of life. Because the issue this election is so stark—literally life and death for millions of Americans in the years ahead—we are this week posting a "Dear Patient" letter in our waiting rooms.
"Dear Patient: Section 1311 of the new health care legislation gives the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and her appointees the power to establish care guidelines that your doctor must abide by or face penalties and fines. In making doctors answerable in the federal bureaucracy this bill effectively makes them government employees and means that you and your doctor are no longer in charge of your health care decisions. This new law politicizes medicine and in my opinion destroys the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship that makes the American health care system the best in the world."... Read Dear Patients: Vote to Repeal ObamaCare WSJ.