martes, 13 de marzo de 2012

Broken Promises: Pensions All Over America Are Being Savagely Cut Or Are Vanishing Completely

How would you feel if you worked for a state or local government for 20 or 30 years only to have your pension slashed dramatically or taken away entirely?  Well, this exact scenario is playing out from coast to coast and in the years ahead millions of elderly Americans are going to be affected by broken promises and vanishing pensions.  In the old days, things were much different.  You would get hired by a big company or a government institution and you knew that the retirement benefits that they were promising you would be there when you retired in a few decades.  Unfortunately, we have now arrived at a time when government institutions and big companies have promised far more than they are able to deliver, and "pension reform" has become one of the hot button issues all over the nation.  Many Americans that have been basing their financial futures on their pensions are waking up one day and finding that their pensions are either gone or have been cut back dramatically.  According to Northwestern University Professor John Rauh, the latest estimate of the total amount of unfunded pension and healthcare obligations for state and local governments across the United States is 4.4 trillion dollars.  America is continually becoming a poorer nation and all of that money is simply not going to magically materialize somehow.  So where is that 4.4 trillion dollars going to come from?  Well, either pension benefits are going to have to be cut a lot more all over America or taxes will need to be raised dramatically.  Either way, we are all going to feel the pain of these broken promises.

Is Germany Actually Preparing To Leave The Euro?

For a long time, most analysts have believed that if someone was going to leave the euro, it would be a weak nation such as Greece or Portugal.  But the truth is that financially troubled nations such as Greece and Portugal don't want to leave the euro.  The leaders of those nations understand that if they leave the euro their economies will totally collapse and nobody will be there to bail them out.  And at this point there really is not a formal mechanism which would enable other members of the eurozone to kick financially troubled nations such as Greece or Portugal out of the euro.  But there is one possibility that is becoming increasingly likely that could actually cause the break up of the euro.  Germany could leave the euro.  Yes, it might actually happen.  Germany is faced with a very difficult problem right now.  It is looking at a future where it will be essentially forced to bail out most of the rest of the nations in the eurozone for many years to come, and those bailouts will be extremely expensive.

Early Exit Polls For Alabama & Mississippi Primaries

Peter Schiff Judge Napolitano, Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell, John Stossel 03-...

Peter Schiff - Lew Rockwell - 09 March 2012

Miller bids adieu to Rep. Kucinich

Mexico’s Drug War: Not Another Colombia

Natalia Cote-Muñoz, Research Fellow for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

The drug war in Mexico grows more brutal daily. It is practically impossible to read news from that country without exposure to a myriad of literal rolling heads, mass graves, shootouts, and grisly abductions. While addressing the Council on Foreign Relations on September 8, 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton qualified the situation in Mexico as “looking more and more like Colombia looked 20 years ago, when the narco-traffickers controlled certain parts of the country.”[i] In fact, both U.S. and Mexican policymakers have proposed tactics based on the Colombian experience. However, one must closely examine the practical differences between the two countries before applying Colombian tactics to Mexico indiscriminately, since in practice many of Colombia’s crime strategies might well be ineffective in the Mexican case.
Source: Borderland Beat
Inequality, Drugs, and Violence: Colombia 2.0?
On the surface, similarities between the two countries are obvious: both are tainted by the almost uncontrolled presence of organized crime and a quickened tempo of violence. As in Colombia in the 1980s and 1990s, urban violence has risen, and criminal groups have proliferated. The news regularly portrays drugs cartels slamming into each other and the state, usually through indiscriminate homicides and massacres that target innocent civilians. Such was the case in Monterrey in August 2011, when gunmen burst into the Casino Royale, burning down the building and killing over fifty people.[ii] In fact, Ciudad Juárez, the most dangerous city in the world, has surpassed Medellín’s homicide rate, reaching 10 to 11 deaths per day.[iii]
Moreover, both Colombia and Mexico suffer from some of the world’s most unequal distributions of wealth. In 1995, Colombia was ranked the fifth most unequal country (of those with available statistics), with a Gini[1] coefficient of 0.57, while Mexico was ranked the eighth worst with a Gini coefficient of 0.52. Between 2006 and 2010, Colombia’s inequality ranked 0.58, while Mexico’s coefficient was 0.52, qualifying them as two of the lowest ranked countries in the world.[iv] This income inequality, partnered with the lack of available jobs, especially living-wage positions, has increased crime as an alternative for earning an income. The profits of drug trafficking are not only high but can also kick in immediately, and many job-seekers are willing to risk the accompanying dangers to obtain a share. It is no wonder that economic inequality has been one of the factors creating fertile ground for the development of criminal organizations.

Correa Ponders Reprieve for El Universo. This analysis was prepared by Jaim Coddington,

President Correa. Source: Associated Press
Press freedom in South America has been in flux since the Diario de Pernambuco, the continent’s oldest newspaper, first put ink to paper in 1825.  As long as there have been authoritarian governments in the region, powerful figures in one administration after another have struggled to mitigate the effects of negative media coverage.  In many contemporary legal cases, the resulting litigation has developed into outright censorship.  For example, in 2007, the Argentine media sent President Cristina Kirchner’s Casa Rosada scuttling for legitimacy through its coverage of the maletinazo scandal, in which a U.S. assistant attorney alleged that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez’s government had attempted to smuggle roughly USD 800,000 in cash to the Kirchner campaign by means of a suitcase belonging to Venezuelan-American Guido Antonini Wilson.  In the same year, President Chavez abolished Venezuela’s longest-standing private television channel, RCTV, claiming that its critical coverage was threatening his government.  In 2009, Caracas revoked 34 companies’ radio licenses after Chavez had invoked “tyranny” when referring to private radio broadcasters.  Ironically, Chavez received South America’s highest accolade for journalism, the Rodolfo Walsh Prize, from Argentina’s National University de la Plata last year.

China vs. Taiwan: Battle for Influence in the Caribbean

Associate Lynn Tu from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

China’s projection of influence in some previously unfamiliar regions of the world continues to grow, that much is clear. When it comes to Latin America and the Caribbean, Beijing has strengthened its ties, particularly by means of comprehensive trade relations, with countries like Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Venezuela. This has been done not only to secure non-traditional trading partners and commodity sources like oil and soybeans, but also to corner established markets for its many traditional exports. China’s relationship with the Caribbean is complex, as this region is particularly important to Beijing’s foreign policy goals regarding Taiwan, which has some of its greatest supporters there.   Several Caribbean states currently recognize Taiwan as an independent republic, instead of maintaining the “one-China” position that has been endorsed by the mainland government.
Investment and Development
Unsurprisingly, China has been able to establish strong economic ties abroad, particularly in the developing world, by means of a series of investment deals. These include some major initiatives in the Caribbean in recent years.
Caribbean Map - World Atlas
In September 2011, Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu visited Jamaica to meet with Governor-General Patrick Allen and Prime Minister Bruce Golding. While there, Hui put forward a five-point proposal for intensifying bilateral relations. The goals outlined by both sides included: promoting high-level exchanges to deepen mutual political trust, strengthening economic and trade cooperation, improving agricultural cooperation, expanding people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and promoting coordination in international affairs.[1] Also during the visit, Hui signed two separate agreements for grants valued jointly at RMB 21 million (USD 3.2 million), as well as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on agricultural cooperation.[2] In November 2011, the Jamaican government approved a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with the Chinese island of Macao. According to a high-ranking Jamaican official, Arthur Williams, the agreement will facilitate the effective exchange of tax information between Jamaican tax authorities and their counterparts in Macao.[3]

It's time for capitalism to grow up

By Share16

Is free-market capitalism, as historically practiced in the United States, still alive, or is it now just a footnote in our economic history?
Americans have traditionally believed that the invisible hand of the market means that capitalism will benefit all of us without requiring any oversight. However, Adam Smith never said that there would be, nor did he believe in, a magically benevolent market that operated for the benefit of all without any checks and balances. 

Obama’s Stimulus Helped Grow Debt, Not Economy: Ramesh Ponnuru

Obama’s Stimulus Helped Grow Debt
Illustration by Topos Graphics
Last week’s release of the February employment report set off the predictable partisan squabbling, with Democrats emphasizing the positive (227,000 new jobs) and Republicans the negative (the still-shrunken labor force and still-high unemployment rate).

Bad or Worse in Afghanistan?

The latest mass killing by an American soldier follows a three-year downward spiral: the burned desecrated Korans, the murdering of Americans by Afghan “allies,” the surge followed immediately by loudly announced withdrawal dates, four different senior commanders in three years, a musical-chairs rotation likewise on the diplomatic side, and a president clearly uncomfortable that his prior promises as a candidate to fight unflinchingly in Afghanistan were strait-jacketing his presidential impatience at leaving.

Japan's Lost Decade -- and Ours?

By Robert Samuelson
WASHINGTON -- Since the financial crisis, a shadow has hovered over the U.S. economy: Japan. Could what happened there happen to us? The bursting of Japan's real estate and stock bubble in the early 1990s has had lasting consequences: a "lost decade" (actually, two) of meager growth and weak job markets. Though hardly a depression, Japan's prosperity has been partial and unsatisfying, enjoyed by some and missed by others.
Let it be said that some economists now think Japan could break from this dismal pattern. Here is John Makin of the American Enterprise Institute in a recent commentary: "After many years of false starts, the Japanese economy may finally be set to boom -- or at least to enter a period of sustained growth with a sharply rising stock market." At about 9,900, Japan's Nikkei stock index is about a quarter of its historical high of 39,915.87 in 1989.

California's Greek Tragedy

No one should write off the Golden State. But it will take massive reforms to reverse its economic decline.

Long a harbinger of national trends and an incubator of innovation, cash-strapped California eagerly awaits a temporary revenue surge from Facebook IPO stock options and capital gains. Meanwhile, Stockton may soon become the state's largest city to go bust. Call it the agony and ecstasy of contemporary California.
California's rising standards of living and outstanding public schools and universities once attracted millions seeking upward economic mobility. But then something went radically wrong as California legislatures and governors built a welfare state on high tax rates, liberal entitlement benefits, and excessive regulation. The results, though predictable, are nonetheless striking. From the mid-1980s to 2005, California's population grew by 10 million, while Medicaid recipients soared by seven million; tax filers paying income taxes rose by just 150,000; and the prison population swelled by 115,000.

Time for George Will to Reassess? Peter Wehner

The most recent New York Times/CBS poll (which John and Jonathan write about) has President Obama’s approval rating down to a record low of 41 percent. If you are a supporter of the president, the internal numbers are downright depressing. The judgment of the Times seems about right to me: “President Obama is heading into the general election season on treacherous political ground.”

Santorum and the Danger of Becoming the Grievance Candidate Peter Wehner

At various times throughout the presidential campaign, Rick Santorum has shown himself to be impressive: articulate, forceful, passionate, and a fine, and at times an outstanding, debater. But there are other times when he’s simply off-key. One example is his silly statement that “I’ve always believed that when you run for president of the United States, it should be illegal to read off a teleprompter, because all you’re doing is reading someone else’s words to people.” My former White House colleague Michael Gerson systematically blows apart Santorum’s argument in his Washington Post column today.

Contentions Obama’s Poll Troubles Suggest His 2012 Strategy Is Backfiring John Podhoretz |

The fallout from two major polls yesterday—Washington Post/ABC and New York Times/CBS—finding measurable and significant drops in support for Barack Obama nationwide during the past month has instantly changed the national conversation. Obama is in trouble, and there’s no pretending he isn’t. One poll might have been viewed as an outlier, but two polls taken around the same time with the same sample size of American adults can’t be dismissed as statistical noise. In the New York Post today, in a column written before the release of the NYT/CBS survey, I suggest the media focus on macroeconomic good news is blinding commentators (many of whom wish to be blinded) to facts of American life that can’t be so easily measured. People will not be convinced that they should feel better than they do about their current financial condition and the prospects for the future by assurances about a positive change in the unemployment rate that says nothing about what’s going on with the value of their house and the cost of oil at the pump.

Time to stop dreaming of a brokered convention


Mitt Romney talked to Fox News’s Neil Cavuto about the prospects of a brokered convention. He explains (beginning at the 2:04 minute mark) why that isn’t going to happen and why, in any case, it would be a disaster for the Republican Party:

I Hate War! by Gary D. Barnett

Edwin Starr said it best in his song War. "War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!"
As a libertarian, I continually struggle with the widespread acceptance, and in many cases, love of war by Americans. Since I detest aggression, I therefore despise war. The only legitimate force that is acceptable in my opinion is that for self-defense of life, liberty, or property, and self-defense should not allow for any use of force that extends past defense to aggression. It is irrelevant to me whether one’s defense is protected individually or collectively, so long as the non-aggression principle is followed.

American Massacres Have Been Common for Centuries. by Jack D. Douglas

For hundreds of years Americans have been committing massacres of women and children, old men and sometimes even young men, mostly unarmed or armed only with primitive weapons. The early massacres were mostly of Indians who refused to leave their lands when Americans decided it was God's will that they steal those lands for nothing or for a few trinkets. In the Civil War Sherman and Grant routinely massacred Southern civilian populations with bombardments of cities, burning homes and Atlanta [though I do not know death figures], and so on. The introduction of automatic weapons led quickly to far more massive U.S. massacres, obviously in the Philippines where freedom fighters were using primitive weapons to try to gain freedom from the U.S. Empire. 

One of Two Outcomes


It may be that the biggest single problem confronting the liberty-minded is the existence of a large (and growing) American proletariat. There have always been poor people, of course. But the proletariat is distinct from people who are merely lower down on the economic totem pole – or down on their luck.
I am just now finishing up a book about the Dust Bowl in the 1930s by Timothy Egan, The Worst Hard Time (see here). In it, you read of people who endured real poverty – as in, starvation poverty, living in a sod-walled, dirt-floored “dugout” in Oklahoma. No electricity – much less TeeVee (let alone a flat-screen TeeVee with Netflix streaming set up in front of a Rent-a-Center sofa in an air-conditioned Section 8 apartment with a refrigerator full of EBT-acquired food ). And of how reluctant – how ashamed – these people (most of them) were to even ask for government assistance. And when they did ask, in their utter desperation, all they wanted was enough help to keep them from literally dying – and to help them get back to work.

Afghans Vow Vengeance After Massacre of Civilians

The unprovoked murder of 16 civilians may derail recent moves towards peace negotiations with the Taliban

by John Glaser

Outraged Afghans have vowed vengeance after an American soldier murdered at least 16 civilians, including nine children, in a killing spree over the weekend that President Hamid Karzai said “cannot be forgiven.”
Nazim Shah was traveling to Kandahar when the massacre happened, but returned to find his entire family killed. Crying into the phone, he told The Independent: “All my family is dead … We will get revenge on those who killed my family. We won’t let this rest easily.”
U.S. and Afghan officials have braced themselves for revenge attacks from insurgents and possibly another breakout of widespread protests after those that erupted in response to the burning of Muslim holy books last month.

The War on Gaza

The War on Gaza

Israel and its apologists will blame Palestinian militants for the latest flare-up of violence in the Gaza Strip, but no one disputes that relative quiet was broken when an IDF airstrike last Friday killed Zuheir al-Qaisi and Mahmoud Al-Hannani of the Popular Resistance Committees. Palestinians, though reportedly not Hamas, responded with rockets into southern Israel. At least 18 Palestinians have been killed so far by Israeli airstrikes, including a 12-year-old boy. The Israeli military said three Israelis were wounded in the more than 90 assaults from rockets and mortars.

Photos of ‘Cleanup’ at Iran’s Parchin. Site Lack Credibility

News stories about satellite photographs suggesting efforts by Iran to “sanitize” a military site that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said may have been used to test nuclear weapons have added yet another layer to widely held suspicion that Iran must indeed be hiding a covert nuclear weapons program.
But the story is suspect, in part because it is based on evidence that could only be ambiguous, at best. The claim does not reflect U.S. intelligence, and a prominent think tank that has published satellite photography related to past controversies surrounding Iran’s nuclear program has not found any photographs supporting it.

Netanyahu Raises Prospect of Ground Invasion of Gaza

Egypt Predicts Ceasefire in Two Days

by Jason Ditz,
The fourth day of Israeli attacks against the Gaza Strip continued, killing at least seven people, including three civilians. The toll of the recent bombing campaign so far is 25 killed.
Egypt’s envoy to the Palestinian Authority downplayed the continued violence, saying he believed that a ceasefire would be finalized within the next 48 hours. Israeli officials, however, seem to dispute that.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is openly talking of a full-scale ground invasion, and the Israeli military says it is “ready” to launch such an operation, the first of its kind since 2009′s Cast Lead, which killed about 1,400 people.
Meanwhile Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that rockets fired in retaliation to Israel’s attacks meant the Palestinians no longer would be allowed to have a territorially contiguous state. The Palestinians “have condemned themselves to a separation that looks like it will continue for generations,” he said.

Is Iran a Threat?

On Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012, I gave a talk at the Rotary Club of Monterey. I’ve spoken there two or three times in the past, always with a good response, but always on economic issues. This time I decided to push the envelope by making my case that the Iranian government, while it is a threat to its own people, as all governments are to various degrees, is not a threat to the United States. The president of the club told me that the turnout for the speech, whose topic was announced well in advance, was unusually high. I would estimate it at 120 to 140.
A tech-savvy participant had found a map of Iran showing it surrounded on all sides by U.S. military bases, with a U.S. flag representing each base (here’s a similar map). He asked me if I wanted that shown, and I said, “Yes, thank you.”

Just War


[This article is based on the talk given at the Mises Institute's Costs of War conference in Atlanta, May 1994. It was published in the book of the same name, edited by John V. Denson.]
Much of "classical international law" theory, developed by the Catholic Scholastics, notably the 16th-century Spanish Scholastics such as Vitoria and Suarez, and then the Dutch Protestant Scholastic Grotius and by 18th- and 19th-century jurists, was an explanation of the criteria for a just war. For war, as a grave act of killing, needs to be justified.

Unjust Wars, Then and Now


According to the Federation of American Scientists, nine countries account for the approximately 20,500 nuclear weapons known to exist, with the United States having 8,500 of these. Iran has none. Between 150–200 B61 nuclear bombs, the primary thermonuclear weapon in the United States, are deployed in Europe at six bases in five countries, one of which is Turkey, a border state of Iran.

Money and the State


The position of the state in the market differs in no way from that of any other parties to commercial transactions. Like these others, the state exchanges commodities and money on terms which are governed by the laws of price. It exercises its sovereign rights over its subjects to levy compulsory contributions from them; but in all other respects it adapts itself like everybody else to the commercial organization of society.
As a buyer or seller the state has to conform to the conditions of the market. If it wishes to alter any of the exchange ratios established in the market, it can only do this through the market's own mechanism. As a rule it will be able to act more effectively than anyone else, thanks to the resources at its command outside the market. It is responsible for the most pronounced disturbances of the market because it is able to exercise the strongest influence on demand and supply. But it is none the less subject to the rules of the market and cannot set aside the laws of the pricing process. In an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production, no government regulation can alter the terms of exchange except by altering the factors that determine them.

Is Inflation about General Increases in Prices?

There is almost complete unanimity among economists and various commentators that inflation is about general increases in the prices of goods and services. From this it is established that anything that contributes to price increases sets in motion inflation. A fall in unemployment or a rise in economic activity is seen as a potential inflationary trigger. Some other triggers, such as rises in commodity prices or workers' wages, are also regarded as potential threats.

Pressure Builds in Afghanistan

A U.S. soldier is suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians in a solitary shooting spree early Sunday. These attacks followed by a few weeks the killing of two U.S. officers at the hand of an Afghan soldier working in Kabul's secure Interior Ministry. Earlier still, Korans and Islamic religious materials were burned at Bagram Air Field.
Soldiers caught under the pressures of war sometimes engage in acts of stunning brutality against enemy soldiers and civilians. As anyone with a cursory knowledge of the history of war knows, some soldiers commit crimes against the very civilians they are fighting for.

The United States as Natural Gas Exporter

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Men at a hydraulic fracturing site in Pennsylvania on Jan. 18


The United States has significantly increased its natural gas production since 2005, largely because of advancements in extraction technology. These technological improvements are relatively new, so their exact long-term impact on U.S. production is currently unclear. However, in the short term, this increased production has caused domestic prices to decrease substantially.

Mexico's Poppy Cultivation and Heroin Production

Enlarge Graphic
Mexican heroin production has increased dramatically over the last seven years, rising from an estimated 8 metric tons in 2005 to 50 metric tons in 2009. In addition, Mexico's total area of poppy cultivation increased seven-fold from 2002 to 2009, rising from 2,700 hectares to 19,500 hectares according to the U.S. State Department. Much of this increase has been attributed to the growing prevalence of black tar heroin, a less refined opiate derivative than its better-known cousin, white heroin. Mexico's main opium-growing region is along the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre del Sur, stretching from Chihuahua state through Sinaloa, Durango, Nayarit, Jalisco, Michoacan, Guerrero and Oaxaca states. Based on the geographic location of the poppy cultivation areas in Mexico and the trafficking routes that black tar heroin would have to traverse to get to the United States, it appears that the Sinaloa Federation would benefit the most from the black tar heroin trade in Mexico -- indeed, many black tar heroin traffickers arrested in the United States have had links to the Sinaloa Federation in Mexico. However, Sinaloa's main rival, Los Zetas, are not cut out of the heroin market completely, as the Interstate Highway 35 corridor leading into South Texas (known Zetas territory) also sees a good deal of heroin trafficking. There is also a pocket of poppy cultivation in southwest Mexico under the control of Cartel Pacifico Sur, which is affiliated with Los Zetas. While the Sinaloa Federation does not have total control over poppy cultivation (and therefore black tar heroin production), the group appears to have an advantage.

Criminal Commodities Series: Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine production is on the rise in Mexico. More cost-effective to produce than other illicit drugs, meth presents distinct advantages to Mexico's criminal organizations: Unlike other drugs, it can be manufactured independent of environmental or climatic considerations. Equally advantageous is that it can be produced in small spaces on both small and industrial scales.

Enforcing Budgetary Discipline in the Eurozone

German Chancellor Angela Merkel after the March 2 EU summit in Brussels


Twenty-five EU leaders (all but those from the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic) signed a treaty March 2 committing eurozone members to increased fiscal responsibility. The "fiscal compact," as it is known, requires signatory eurozone members to enact constitutional amendments or equally binding national legislation enforcing EU-mandated budget constraints and stipulates corrective mechanisms to be automatically enacted at a national level if a country deviates significantly from these constraints. The treaty will go into force when at least 12 of the 17 eurozone member states ratify it, after which participating countries have one year to implement mechanisms to sufficiently enforce budgetary discipline.

Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood: Unexpected Adversaries

A demonstrator steps on an ostrich egg with a drawing of Saudi King Abdullah on March 17 in Ankara
The political gains of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have breathed new life into long-suppressed political Islamist forces across the Arab world. While it may appear on the surface that Saudi Arabia is supportive of the political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, its Sunni co-religionists, a quiet but growing dispute between Saudi Arabia and Turkey over the increasing regional clout of the Muslim Brotherhood reveals the Saudi royal family's long-standing aversion to the world's oldest and largest Islamist movement.

The State of the World: Germany's Strategy

By George Friedman
The idea of Germany having an independent national strategy runs counter to everything that Germany has wanted to be since World War II and everything the world has wanted from Germany. In a way, the entire structure of modern Europe was created to take advantage of Germany's economic dynamism while avoiding the threat of German domination. In writing about German strategy, I am raising the possibility that the basic structure of Western Europe since World War II and of Europe as a whole since 1991 is coming to a close.

Holder Plays Texas Hold'em With Voter ID Law

(AP) Justice Dept opposes a 2nd voter ID law, in Texas
Associated Press
A photo ID requirement for voters in Texas could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of registered Hispanics, the Justice Department declared Monday in its latest move against Republican-led voting changes in many states that have drawn protests from minorities, poor people and students.

Let’s Talk About the Real Issues, Mr. President

The far Left continues to believe American voters are not smart enough to grasp the diversionary tactics it employs to distract us from the issues our President just doesn’t want to talk about – issues that affect us all every day and must be addressed.

Exhibit A in these diversionary tactics is an absurd new attack ad President Obama has released taking my comments out of context. I’m not running for any office, but I’m more than happy to accept the dubious honor of being Barack Obama’s “enemy of the week” if that includes the opportunity to debate him on the issues Americans are actually concerned about. (Remember when I said you don’t need a title to make a difference?)

Exclusive: O'Keefe Video Exposes Voter Fraud-Friendly Policies in Vermont


James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has released a new video exposing just how easy it is to commit voter fraud in Vermont.

The video, a sequel to O'Keefe's "Primary of the Living Dead" in New Hampshire, shows a Veritas agent entering various voting places around the state of Vermont, giving a different name each time. Each time, he is given a ballot without showing an ID, to his disbelief.
In the video, the agent repeatedly requests (but does not take) a Republican primary ballot. As he explained to "We wanted to remind viewers this is not a partisan issue. This is a situation wherein anyone -- Republican or Democrat -- can exploit the system." 
The new video follows in the wake of a highly-politicized media attack on Mr. O’Keefe after his exposure of voter fraud in New Hampshire. Those videos resulted in calls from the left for O’Keefe’s arrest. However, the videos soon resulted in the New Hampshire State Senate passing a new bill requiring voter ID.

Gasoline prices 'highest ever for this time of year'

AP Energy Writer
The price of gasoline jumped by nearly a nickel over the weekend and is now $3.80 per gallon.

That's the highest ever for this time of year. Pump prices have risen an average 52 cents this year as refineries and wholesalers pass along the higher cost of crude oil. And this month they're getting an additional boost as investors bet that supplies will shrink ahead of the summer driving season.

Monday, March 12, 2012

How do voters feel about high gas prices?

Kenneth P. Green

By Kenneth P. Green

March 8, 2012, 2:54 pm
They don’t like ‘em: CBS post-primary exit polls in seven states found that “77 percent of those voting in seven Super Tuesday states say rising gas prices were the most important factor in their vote.”
The article observes that “Voters in Super Tuesday contests say gas prices were the most critical factor in their vote.”
Will that have implications for the 2012 presidential election? You betcha:
On Wednesday in Washington D.C., there was a hearing where Republicans and Democrats offered very different views of how to deal with this issue from a policy perspective: Democrats are urging conservation and tax breaks for electric vehicles with Republicans urging a dramatic expansion of drilling. So, according to the exit polls, that division will be a key factor in elections this fall.
Watch for more disingenuous claims by the Obama administration about recent increases in domestic oil and gas production, which happened despite their best efforts, not because of them. And, watch for Democrats to crank up the Bueller mode, claiming credit for inventing the technology that led to the shale gas boom.

Should this be the GOP education agenda?

By James Pethokoukis
March 8, 2012, 2:11 pm
Few policymakers would disagree that improving the U.S. education system is critical for the future health of the American Project. So why isn’t education a huge issue in the Republican presidential campaign? An analysis of 20 Republican presidential debates found just 1.4% of the questions involved education. Certainly the questioners themselves deserve a good portion of the blame. Maybe they could’ve cut back on the 12% of questions devoted to campaign strategy.

But none of the candidates have made education a priority issue, and the debate questions reflect that. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of Washington, D.C. public schools who now heads the advocacy group StudentsFirst, called the lack of focus on education “ridiculous,” adding: “What people are failing to recognize is that we are not going to be able to ensure that our economy recovers in the long term and that this country regains its position in the global marketplace until we fix our education system.”

The incredible revival of U.S. manufacturing? Credit trade and energy

By James Pethokoukis

The post-Great Recession revival of U.S. manufacturing has given the economy a much-needed boost during the Not-So-Great Recovery. Some great factoids and observation from economist Jim Glassman at JPMorgan:

What is Iran up to in Latin America?

Earlier this month, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper told Congress that “Iranian officials” at the highest levels “are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States….” The next logical question is, “What is that hostile regime doing with the support of its trusted allies very close to our borders?”

Are special tax breaks OK for bailed-out GM but not AIG?

By James Pethokoukis

From Ben White over at Politico:
A group of four former members of the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP – Elizabeth Warren, Damon Silvers, Mark McWatters, and Kenneth Troske – today will condemn what they say is an estimated $17.7 billion in special tax breaks given to bailed out insurer AIG: “Congress should not allow … AIG to avoid paying taxes for years into the future in addition to the $182 billion bailout the company has already received … When a company changes ownership, long-standing tax laws limit the extent to which it can offset future taxes with past losses. “Beginning in late 2008, however, the Treasury Department quietly issued a series of notices that exempted AIG from those limits. … ‘AIG gambled recklessly on mortgage-backed securities and lost,’ said Warren, former chair of the Panel. ‘When the government bailed out AIG, it should not have allowed the failed insurance giant to duck taxes for years to come.”

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