Testifying before Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on April 14 that he is cautiously optimistic that the moderate economic recovery will continue, although the job market may sputter in the coming months.
Bernanke also urged lawmakers to recommend further budget cuts to help minimize the record federal deficit and help improve the nation’s long-term economic health, the Associated Press (AP) reports.
"Addressing the country’s fiscal problems will require difficult choices, but postponing them will only make them more difficult," he warned the committee.
The Fed chairman pointed to several signs of economic improvement, including the 1.6 percent increase in retail sales in March and the minimal inflation boost during that time. Bernanke also reiterated his pledge to keep interest rates low for an "extended period" to support the recovery.
During the meeting, Bernanke admitted to some mistakes regarding the Fed’s unclear role concerning consumer protection, The Economic Times reports.
"I can understand why some advocates would want to have a purely independent agency," he said. "While we have acknowledged being late on these issues, I do believe we should receive some credit forr a much better performance in recent years."
According to a recent University of Illinois study, consuming a diet containing high levels of omega-6 fatty acids may help maintain healthy skin and avoid chronic issues such as dermatitis.
Using a mouse model, the research team discovered that low blood levels of arachidonic acid caused the subjects to develop severe ulcerative dermatitis, a condition characterized by redness of the skin, inflammation and bleeding sores.
After feeding the mice diets that were rich in the compound, lead author Manabu Nakamura, associate professor of food science and human nutrition at the university, and his colleagues found that the condition subsided and the itching symptoms dissipated.
"This new understanding may have implications for treating the flaky, itchy skin that sometimes develops without an attributable cause in infants," said Nakamura. "This new knowledge is a starting point in understanding the mechanisms that are involved, and we need to do more research at the cellular level."
Common dietary sources for omega-6 fatty acids include vegetable oil, soybean oil, acai berries and a variety of nuts. The nutrient may also be taken as a dietary supplement.
A delightful experience over the weekend led to a discussion that prompted the headline for this week’s Straight Talk. Let me tell you about it.
My wife and I had flown to Washington, D.C., to spend the weekend with her youngest son and his glowingly pregnant wife. This will be their first child and everyone (most emphatically including grandma) is excited beyond words.
But “Boots’” arrival (that’s the infant’s temporary nickname) won’t be until October. So, the four of us decided to enjoy a perfect spring day by taking the Metro to the Washington Mall and then strolling down to the Tidal Basin to see the last of the world-famous cherry blossoms. While the ladies relaxed on a park bench, Micah and I walked to one of my favorite sights in the capitol, the Jefferson Memorial.
As you may know, the building is modeled after the Pantheon in Greece, a design that Thomas Jefferson admired very much. Inside, a magnificent 17-foot bronze statue of our third president looks out toward the Washington Monument. On the walls around him are panels containing some of his most famous quotes.
The first panel, naturally enough, quotes the beginning of the Declaration of Independence, including the phrase, “endowed by their Creator…” The second panel starts, “Almighty God hath created the mind free.” The third states that “God who gave us life gave us liberty.”
And surrounding all of this, in letters three feet high, is this: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
Standing there, reading these words, it is impossible not to be reminded of Jefferson’s reverence and piety. As I read all the references to God and our Creator, I couldn’t help but wonder would it even be possible to construct such a memorial today? Or would the aggressive atheists and their friends in the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) make certain this wonderful edifice would never be built? Or if it had, that it would not have contained any of these heartfelt sentiments by a founding father?
As we turned to go, Micah pointed out the cornerstone of this marvelous memorial. We were both surprised by how high off the ground it was. I think we expected a cornerstone to be in the ground… or even under it.
Then I noticed the message inscribed on it. The stone had been dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939. I remarked to Micah, “It’s a little ironic, isn’t it, that one of the worst presidents in our history dedicated the memorial to one of the best?”
That led Micah to ask me who else I considered the worst presidents in our history. My reply surprised him, because Barack Obama’s name didn’t make the list. He’s read enough Straight Talks to know how I feel about the current occupant of the White House.
Before we go any further consider for a moment whom you’d put on a list of the five worst presidents of all time. Who would top the pile and why? If you want to join the debate, when you get to the end of this column just click on “reply” and fire away. There will surely be some interesting remarks posted below.
Of course you already know one of my choices. In the first half of the last century, no one did more to promote government growth than FDR. Longtime socialist leader Norman Thomas said FDR implemented more of his policies than he ever could. And let’s not forget the lies and deceit that got us into World War II; all of the things he did to buttress the Soviet Union during the war; or the horrible concessions afterwards that condemned millions of people to a lifetime of slavery under Communist rule. Need I say more?
Then there are the three men during my lifetime who embarrassed and angered me by their conduct and their policies. I consider all of them a disgrace to our nation’s highest office. I was glad when Bill Clinton was impeached; I was only sorry when he wasn’t convicted and removed from office.
Richard Nixon is another of my least favorites. No one did more to prevent our troops from winning in Vietnam. Our soldiers were condemned to fight and die in a no-win war while our country was torn apart at home. Nixon abandoned our allies on Taiwan and opened relations with the vicious murderers who ruled Communist China. He also launched the era of Big Government Republicanism here at home from which we’re still suffering today. No, “Tricky Dick” Nixon is not one of my favorites.
But the man I truly despised was Lyndon Baines Johnson. I doubt if a bigger crook or more dangerous bully has ever occupied the Oval Office. He was not only a nasty and mean-spirited politician; LBJ took arm-twisting and vote fraud to a whole new level. In fact, he may even have sanctioned murder. For a glimpse of the real LBJ, get J. Evetts Haley’s searing study, A Texan Looks at Lyndon.
Who could possibly top such a list? I hereby nominate Woodrow Wilson as the worst of the bunch: In fact, the very worst president of all time.
Just consider the highlights of this man’s despicable record. He won election by promising to keep us out of the war in Europe—all while he was scheming to get us involved. The contrived sinking of the Lusitania gave him the excuse he needed.
Millions of people suffered and died needlessly in Wilson’s war “to make the world safe for democracy.” For that alone he deserves to be rebuked and repudiated by every honest historian. But the dirty misdeeds don’t stop there. Wilson was an early One-Worlder; we have him to thank for the aborted League of Nations, without which there would be no United Nations.
Oh, and let’s not forget the trickery that got Congress to adopt a key plank in the Communist Manifesto—a progressive income tax. The rules had already been rigged so the super-rich could hide their wealth in foundations and family trusts. The income tax would keep most of us from ever hoping to compete with them—while giving government the funds it needed to offer a gullible public all of the bread and circuses it could want.
There are other things I could mention, but this should be enough to persuade you that Woodrow Wilson belongs high on a list of presidents who have betrayed the great trust the public put in them. Should he really be No. 1—the worst of all time? I say “yes.” But you’re certainly entitled to disagree. After all, this is still a free country, isn’t it? No thanks to the five gentlemen I’ve listed above.
After reflection, I’m willing to consider a motion to have Barack Obama replace Bill Clinton in the top five. Bill may have done more to embarrass us than our Teleprompter in Chief. But he wasn’t very successful getting his socialist policies passed. Wish we could say the same thing about Obama.
Until next Friday, keep some powder dry.
*Obama orders our flag taken down. United States military personnel in Haiti have been ordered not to fly the American flag. A spokesman explains that “We are not here as an occupation force, but as an international partner.” Isn’t that absurd? The whole world knows we’re there on a mission of mercy, not conquest. By the way, all of our “international partners,” including Britain, France and Croatia, proudly fly their own flags.
*Why not just eat them? I read that a high school teacher in northern Utah had his students make a 6,400-square-foot replica of Vincent van Gogh’s famous painting, “Starry Night.” The artwork, which covered the floor of the school’s gymnasium, was made from two tons of the colorful Malt-O-Meal breakfast cereal. My only question is, why?
*Buffett is a safer bet than Obama. Hardly anyone noticed, but on the same day that Obamacare passed the House, U.S. government debt lost its “risk-free” status. For the first time in history you would earn less interest loaning money to a private company—Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway—than to the U.S. Government. I’m afraid this is just the beginning of seeing interest rates soar.
*Another great quote. The Wall Street Journal ran a fascinating piece called “Why Psychiatry Needs Therapy” in its Feb. 27-28 weekend edition. In it the author warned, “Patients who seek psychiatric help today for mood disorders stand a good chance of being diagnosed with a disease that doesn’t exist and treated with a medication little more effective than a placebo.” In other words, you’d be nuts to trust a psychiatrist.
Last week, a United States court of appeals issued a ruling blocking the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) attempts to prevent internet service providers from restricting access to content, applications and services offered by competitors. Now, a group of journalist is pushing back, urging the FCC to reclaim its right to regulate broadband networks.
UNITY: Journalists of Color—an organization representing more than 8,000 professionals in that field—has called on the commission to reclassify broadband as a "telecommunications service," which would make it a basic utility subject to regulation, and reverse actions taken by previous commissions that favored a deregulatory approach.
"Without the authority to set net neutrality rules, the FCC cannot promote a level playing field," said UNITY president Barbara Ciara.
"[We] oppose any technological, legislative or content strategies to block innovation and free speech on the internet," she added.
The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the FCC had overstepped its jurisdiction when it attempted to impose net neutrality rules on Comcast, which had blocked its subscribers from using the file-sharing website BitTorrent.
Analysts say companies such as AT&T and Verizon would also be hit by "net neutrality," but it would benefit applications providers such as Google, Skype and Facebook.
On April 13, a forum was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., which discussed the influence of corporate special interests and big money on public policy and United States democracy.
The event—in honor of Thomas Jefferson’s 267th birthday—was sponsored by the People’s Lobby Coalition for Public Funding Only of All Elections and the Green Party of Florida. Some of the topics discussed by the attendees included the effect of corporate money on healthcare, energy and the economy. They also analyzed the issue of military expenditures in light of campaign contributions from defense contractors.
"[We talked] about the correlation between the influence of the 13,000 plus special interest lobbyists and our elected officials’ voting trends in relation to these issues," said Jennifer Sullivan, organizer of the event.
She added that the outcome of the event will lead the group to propose "necessary changes to our election system to restore democracy."
Speakers at the event included Dr. Margaret Flowers, congressional Fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program, filmmaker Jesse Johnson, chair of the West Virginia Mountain Party, and Pat LaMarche, weekly columnist for the Bangor Daily News and the 2004 vice-presidential nominee of the Green Party of the United States.
*Terror trial moved from New York City. After first saying he was okay with holding the trial of confessed al-Qaida terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in lower Manhattan, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg changed his mind and asked Attorney General Eric Holder to move it. The state’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer, and a lot of other politicos also jumped on the “not in our city” bandwagon. That was enough to convince the Obama Administration to pull the plug on a really bad idea. Officials are now scrambling to come up with a new plan. Here’s one: Let the military handle it. This should never have been moved to a civilian court in the first place.
*Man, those new jobs are expensive. Remember when Barrack Obama promised that if Congress approved his $800 billion “stimulus” package, unemployment wouldn’t go above 8 percent? Well, to quote an old country song, he got the gold mine and we got the shaft. Unemployment is now a minimum of 10 percent. Since people who’ve stopped looking for work and down-sized temps aren’t counted among the unemployed, the real number is undoubtedly much higher. Still, our President claims the stimulus has “saved or created” 2 million jobs. Let’s see, that means each new job cost us taxpayers about $400,000 each. Want to guess how long it will take each new worker to pay that much in taxes?
*Our “too little, too late” State Department. You may have missed the news that back in January the State Department revoked the visa of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian wanna-be bomber who tried to bring down a Northwest Airlines flight over Detroit on Christmas Day. Thanks guys, I feel much safer now.
In an effort to dismantle the conservative political group known as the Tea Party, officials with a national liberal organization said they are planning on infiltrating and crashing Tea Party demonstrations today.
Jason Levin, founder of the CrashTheTeaParty.org, said on Monday that he has recruited liberal allies across the country who will help make the fiscally conservative organization’s members look racist, ignorant and homophobic during their tax day protests, according to the Associated Press (AP).
"Every time we have someone on camera saying that Barack Obama isn’t an American citizen, we want someone sitting next to him saying, ‘That’s right, he’s an alien from outer space!’" Levin said.
He added that organizers will attempt to dismantle the Tea Party by accentuating the least attractive qualities of some of its members.
"Do I think every member of the tea party is a homophobe, racist or a moron? No, absolutely not," Levin said. "Do I think most of them are? Absolutely."
While rallying against high taxes today—tax day—the Tea Party is also planning a possible fight over President Obama’s next Supreme Court nominee who will replace Justice John Paul Stevens after he retires later this year, CBN.com reports.