Memorial Day Message

Today is the day we salute the veterans who laid their lives on the line and gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country—our country: The United States of America.

Memorial Day actually began in May, 1865, when newly freed slaves in Charleston, S.C., exhumed the bodies of Union soldiers from a mass grave at the Washington Race Course (today the location of Hampton Park) and gave them individual graves.

The following year, and each year thereafter on May 5, a Decoration Day observance was held in Waterloo, N.Y. To commemorate the occasion the graves of fallen soldiers were decorated with flags and flowers in cities and towns and battlefield graveyards across the nation.

In 1882 the alternative name of Memorial Day was used, though it did not become commonly used until Federal law declared the day in 1967. In 1968 the Uniform Holidays Bill set the date as the last Monday in May rather than the more traditional day of celebration, May 30.

Personal Liberty Digest is a site that promotes discussion from all sides of the spectrum on a variety of topics. Unfortunately, some of the discussions devolve from rational debate to name-calling exercises in futility.

Let’s set aside our partisan ideas and ideologies today and recognize those who have sacrificed for us. Remember too, their families, who gave their loved ones on the altar of freedom.

And don’t forget that we currently have members of our military fighting shooting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, patrolling the seas, standing at attention on the Korean Peninsula, guarding our Southern border and battling an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. There are others at bases around the world representing America’s interests.

Regardless of whether you support the wars in those places, the wars fought previously or the policies that require us to have troops stationed around the world, we must leave politics aside this day and remember those who chose to go where their Commander-In-Chief sent them, and who did all they could to see the mission through.

Many Americans receive the day off, and it’s not unusual for them to spend the day at picnics, barbecues, the lake or beach. As you enjoy this holiday, don’t forget the reason behind it.

Remember those who fell on the battlefields at Lexington, Concord and Valley Forge; at Ft. Meigs, Ft. George and Baltimore; at El Paso, Cerra Gordo and Mexico City; at Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg and the Wilderness; at San Juan Hill, Santiago de Cuba and Silva Heights; at Rheims, the Marne and Argonne; at Pearl Harbor, North Africa, Normandy, Guadalcanal, Ardennes and Midway; at Inchon, Chosin and Seoul; at Saigon, Hue, Hamburger Hill and An Loc; at Kuwait City, and Southern Iraq; at Mazar-e-sharif, southeastern Afghanistan, Qandahar, Marjah and Pashmul; at Nasiriya, Baghdad and Al-Anbar; and all the battlefields in between.

Thank You to those who gave it all. And to all veterans who have served or are currently serving, Thank You and God Bless!


Bob Livingston

Bob Livingston

Poll Shows Most Americans Want Military, Not Congress, To Decide On ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Poll shows most Americans want military, not Congress, to decide on 'don't ask, don't tell'As Congress prepares for a series of votes that could potentially lead to the repeal of the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy, a newly released poll has found that most Americans do not trust Washington politicians with the decision.

The survey conducted by Zogby International for the Family Research Council (FRC) revealed that nearly 60 percent of Americans believe that military leaders are the most capable to make a decision on the issue. By contrast, only 23 percent would entrust it to politicians in Congress.

"This administration and liberals in Congress are attempting to use the military to advance a radical agenda as payoff to their homosexual base of political support," commented FRC Action president Tony Perkins.

He pointed out once again that any decisions regarding a potential overhaul of the ban on openly gay individuals serving in the military should be taken after the study being conducted by the Department of Defense has been concluded later this year. ADNFCR-1961-ID-19804366-ADNFCR

Obama Deploys Troops To Help Secure Mexican Border

Obama deploys troops to help secure Mexican borderFacing mounting scrutiny over his lack of action regarding immigration reform, President Obama has ordered 1,200 National Guard troops to be deployed along the Mexican border, according to administration officials close to the matter.

Obama also plans on requesting $500 million from Congress to improve border protection and local law enforcement in the four states just north of Mexico.

An administration official told Fox News that the new troops and additional funds will be used to temporarily "provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support" until the Border Patrol is adequately staffed.

While conservative lawmakers are pleased with the decision to bolster border security, many believe that the measure is not aggressive enough.

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who proposed sending in at least 6,000 additional National Guard troops, said Obama’s proposal is "simply not enough" to control the violence in the area.

Meanwhile, Rick Nelson, a domestic security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told The New York Times that the additional deployment and funding will not make a significant impact.

"This is a symbolic gesture," he said. "At the end of the day, the face of border security is still going to be Customs and Border Protection, the law enforcement community. It’s not going to be the National Guard"

Rheumatoid Arthritis Cases On The Rise Among Women

Rheumatoid arthritis cases on the rise among womenResults of a new Mayo Clinic study suggest that the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) among American women is on the rise, and that environmental factors—such as vitamin D deficiency, smoking and oral contraceptive use—may be to blame.

The findings are especially worrisome due to the fact that the number of reported cases of RA had declined for four consecutive decades before the latest study period.

Lead study author Sherine Gabriel and her colleagues found that the incidence of RA in women increased by 2.5 percent per year from 1997 to 2005. In contrast, the occurrence of the condition among men fell by 0.5 percent each year during the same period.

While the reasons for the increase in reported cases of RA is not known, the research team suggests that individuals may be able to lower their risk of developing the condition by changing their behaviors and utilizing vitamin D supplements.

"Public health measures are already under way to address many of the environmental risk factors that have been implicated in RA risk, including interventions that encourage smoking cessation and efforts focused at optimizing levels of physical activity, vitamin D intake, and oral hygiene," said Ted Mikuls, of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, in an accompanying editorial.

Cost Of Illegal Immigration In Arizona Amounts To Billions, Research Finds

Cost of illegal immigration in Arizona amounts to billions, research finds Lawyers across the country may be preparing lawsuits challenging the recently passed Arizona immigration law, but one immigration reform group says this doesn’t change the fact that the influx of illegal aliens has a significant impact on the state’s budget.

Recent estimates released by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) suggest that Arizona’s cost of illegal immigration exceeds $2.7 billion annually. Six years ago, the organization put that cost at about $1.3 billion.

Regarding specific budgetary areas, FAIR has found that K-12 education of the children of illegal aliens costs the state’s taxpayers nearly $1.4 billion. Among other state expenses, Medicaid, SCHIP, incarceration and welfare cost approximately $1 billion.

By contrast, the report found that state tax revenue collected from illegal immigrants amounts to only about $143 million annually, leaving a deficit of more than a $2.7 billion.

"It’s no surprise that the state of Arizona, one of the hardest hit by illegal immigration, now has one of the toughest laws," said Dan Stein, president of FAIR.

"[The bill] is a no-nonsense, common-sense example of a state acting where the Federal government is failing, a reaction to the inaction in Washington," he added.

However, opponents of the legislation worry that it will open doors to racial profiling of minorities and create distrust between law enforcement and residents.

Report: White House Asked Bill Clinton To Keep Sestak Out Of Senate Race

Report: White House asked Bill Clinton to keep Sestak out of Senate raceAt the request of the White House, former President Bill Clinton attempted to dissuade Representative Joe Sestak (D-PA) from challenging Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary by offering him an unpaid advisory position, according to an internal report released May 28.

Through the publicly-released memorandum, White House Counsel Robert Bauer admits that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel asked Clinton last summer to convince Sestak to drop out of the senatorial race and to not give up his seat in the House. In return, Sestak would be offered a seat on the Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board.

Bauer insisted that the position would be unpaid, and that the administration did nothing illegal or improper in its negotiations with Sestak.

"The Democratic Party leadership had a legitimate interest in averting a divisive primary fight and a similarly legitimate concern about the Congressman vacating his seat in the House," Bauer wrote.

"There have been numerous, reported instances in the past when prior administrations…discussed alternative paths to service…. Such discussions are fully consistent with the relevant law and ethical requirements," he added.

Bauer also discredited media reports that said Sestak had been offered the position of secretary of the Navy.

Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who pushed last week for an investigation into the incident, referred to the job offer as a "felony" that is "punishable by [time in] prison."

What Would You Have Done?

For the past week, I’ve been having one of those “you should have, no you shouldn’t have” arguments with myself. Since both sides of my brain seem equally divided, I thought I’d ask you what you would have done if you’d been in my place.

Here’s what happened. A week ago Sunday, my wife and I attended a concert at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on Amelia Island, Fla. If you live anywhere near there let me encourage you to check out the other concerts for this year’s Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival ( If you can’t attend any this season, then consider vacationing on that lovely island next May. It will definitely be worth it.

The Sunday night concert began with Christopher Rex, principle cello of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, performing Chopin’s Sonata for Cello and Violin. That was followed by William Preucil, concertmaster of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, doing an extraordinary job on the thousand-notes-a-minute (or so it seemed) of Camille Saint-Saens’ Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano. Elizabeth Pridgen did an excellent job as the accompanist on both.

After a brief intermission, though, came the real piece de resistance. Valentina Lisitsa, a truly amazing pianist, performed Beethoven’s magnificent Opus 106, the “Hammerklavier” (Piano Sonata No. 29) with all of the passion, skill and artistry that the Maestro himself could have wished. When she finished the audience sat spellbound for a moment or two before bursting into thunderous applause. They had heard magic that night and they knew it.

So what was my problem? It sounds like a truly wonderful evening doesn’t it?

I won’t say the concert was spoiled for me by what I saw two rows in front of me. That wasn’t possible. But the sight did put a blemish on the evening. As you can tell, I’m still bothered by it.

A gentleman two rows away was wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt. I’m sure you’ve seen the iconic image—a saintly looking Guevara staring off into space. The outline of his face and beret are in solid black, while the shirt itself is a deep, dark red—sort of like the blood of all the innocents Che helped murder.

The person wearing the T-shirt was no teeny-bopper rock-‘n’-roller, by the way. He was a rather handsome gentleman in his 50s or 60s, wearing a grey sports coat. He seemed very pleasant as he chatted with other guests near him. But every time I saw his shirt all I could think of was asking him, “Why are you wearing a shirt that honors a Communist murderer? And to a church, for crying out loud!”

If I could, I would have added, “Your hero was more likely to herd Christians into a church and burn them alive than to participate in a program here.” I imagined an entire conversation with the man—what he might say, what I’d reply and what other attendees might say if our own conversation got somewhat heated.

But as you know from this long preamble, I didn’t say anything. As my wife and I exited our pew I let him walk a few steps ahead of me. There was plenty of time to catch up with him in the foyer or even outside, but I let the moment pass.

My question for you is; did I do the right thing? Should I have said nothing? Miss Manners would probably say that silence was the socially correct response. Don’t rock the boat; don’t embarrass a stranger. And whatever you do, don’t pick a fight—or at least an argument—in public, especially not in church. Heck, even Garrison Keillor probably couldn’t imagine such a thing happening in Lake Woebegone.

There’s a still small voice inside my head that says, “Don’t worry about, it, Chip. You did the right thing.”

But there’s an even louder voice that keeps repeating, “No, you didn’t. You should have said something. You didn’t have to insult him or try to pick a fight. You could have gently and politely told him why you were offended by his T-shirt. He’d probably tell you he had no idea what his shirt might mean to others. Heck, he’d probably thank you for saying something.”

I’ll be the first to admit that the whole “Che Guevara As Hero” thing among many young people really frosts my cookies. It may be because my family was in Cuba when Fidel Castro seized power there and he and his Communist buddies (with Che as one of his most important lieutenants) began jailing, torturing and murdering their opponents.

But you didn’t have to know any of his victims personally to know that Guevara was a truly nasty piece of work. He was petty, mean and vindictive… a murderer without conscience or remorse. I’m frankly delighted that he met his end from a soldier’s bullet while trying to lead yet another revolution in Bolivia. The world became a better place with his death.

But enough about why I despise the man—and the fools in this country who honor him. Let me climb down from my soapbox and turn the microphone over to you.

If you had been in my shoes (or, more accurately, my pew), what would you have done? Would you have said something? And if so, what? Remember, you would have only a few seconds as you both made your way out of the church.

And what if he didn’t respond kindly to your remarks? What if he got angry or belligerent? What would you do then?

In my imagination I’ve thought of numerous possible outcomes. And I have to admit I don’t like any of them. So if you can come up with a better solution, please click on the “comments” bar at the end of this column and tell me what it is. I’d really like to know what you think I should have done.

Honor Our Defenders This Memorial Day
For too many of us, Memorial Day has become just a weekend to picnic and party. We forget the original purpose of this national day of remembrance. It should be a time to honor the men and women of the armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice for us and our country.

I hope you will pause for a few moments this Memorial Day weekend to give thanks to those who laid down their lives to defend and protect us. Make it a time of reflection and appreciation. And yes, if you have one, please proudly fly our country’s flag.

To any members of the armed forces reading this, thank you. Thank you for your service, thank you for your sacrifices. And yes, thank you for your willingness to lay your life on the line for us.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

—Chip Wood

Incumbents, Words And Strange Things

*3 down, 532 to go. It looks like it’s going to be a tough year for incumbents. And it’s about time. Conservatives in Utah said “no thanks” to Bob Bennett’s attempt to turn the Senate seat there into a lifetime sinecure. Democrats in Pennsylvania told Arlen Specter to return to private life, despite Barack Obama’s less-than-all-out endorsement. In Kentucky, Rand Paul overwhelmingly defeated the Republican establishment’s hand-picked nominee. So much for the media argument that the Tea Party movement is just a tiny, ineffective fringe. Go get ‘em, guys.

*Which words do you see more often? CNN contributor and blogger Erick Erickson says that the words “Islam” and “terrorism” are seldom used in the same news stories. On the other hand, he reports, “you’re more likely to see the words ‘racist’ and ‘Republican’ together in the newspapers these days.” And on TV, too, Mr. Erickson—including that most unbalanced network you work for, CNN.

*Some strange things up north. I’m just back from five days in Montreal where I was the emcee for an investment conference. It’s a gorgeous city, filled with history. But they sure do things differently up there. These stories appeared in one section of a newspaper on one day: When a woman was arrested for shooting her husband she said she was innocent of any wrongdoing… because she had mistaken him for a bear. Another woman is suing her cell phone company because her monthly bill (which her husband saw) listed all of her calls to her lover. And finally, officials in Ontario are asking for help in collecting unpaid parking tickets. Seems the municipality has more than $1 billion worth of outstanding tickets. Sure glad those kinds of things could never happen in this country, aren’t you?

—Chip Wood

Sestak Reiterates White House Job Offer Claim, Issa To File Ethics Complaint

Sestak reiterates White House job offer claim, Issa to file ethics complaintRepresentative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the top ranking Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, says he will file an ethics complaint against Representative Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) if he doesn’t provide details about an alleged illegal job offer from the White House.

Sestak, who recently defeated Senator Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) in the Democratic primary, said in February that the Obama administration offered him a high-ranking cabinet position if he dropped out of the race.

During an interview May 23 on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sestak reiterated his claim, but refused to provide specifics regarding the allegation.

"I was offered the job," he said. "Anything that goes beyond that is for others to talk about."

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said during a separate interview on Meet the Press that the administration’s lawyers had looked into the claim, and found that "nothing inappropriate" happened.

"It is unacceptable for an administration that touts itself as the ‘most transparent’ in history to continue to stonewall a significant and potentially devastating accusation of political corruption," responded Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

Issa said that he will file a formal complaint with the House Ethics Committee if an investigation into Sestak’s allegation is not launched, reports.

"Either he’s lying, or covering up felonies for political purposes," said Issa.


Conservative And Veterans’ Organizations Vow To Keep ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ In Place

Conservative and veterans' organizations vow to keep 'don't ask, don't tell' in placeDefense Secretary Robert Gates gave his approval on the vote to overturn the "don’t ask, don’t tell policy" earlier this week. However, many media outlets stressed the apparent "lukewarm" nature of the endorsement, which may be unsurprising given the significant opposition to the measure, especially in conservative quarters.

The Family Research Council (FRC) has been at the forefront of trying to prevent the overhaul of the agreement that bans openly gay individuals from serving in the military. The organization’s lobbying arm called FRC Action recently launched an ad campaign accusing Democrats of attempting to use the military to "advance their radical social agenda."

"We call on Congress to protect the military, listen to our troops and the American people by rejecting this outrageous deal that politicizes the military at the expense of our national security," said FRC president Tony Perkins.

The FRC was seconded by the nation’s largest wartime veterans organization, The American Legion, which affirmed its opposition to repealing the law on the grounds that it served the military well for 17 years and that it would not be wise to make a major cultural change in the middle of two wars.

The legion’s National Commander Clarence E. Hill also pointed out that the Department of Defense has ordered a study on the policy, and the vote should not take place before the commission releases its findings.ADNFCR-1961-ID-19802022-ADNFCR

McCain To Vote Against Military Gay Ban Repeal

McCain to vote against military gay ban repealFaced with a growing challenge from a right-wing rival for the Arizona Republican nomination, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) is taking an increasingly intransigent stance on the Democrats’ efforts to repeal the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy.

McCain, who at one point declared himself ready to see the policy repealed, has now indicated he will vote against the measure.

The former presidential candidate, who is also the top Republican on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, told Arizona’s KBLU radio that the Democrats "[are] going to try to jam [the overhaul] through without even trying to figure out what the impact on battle effectiveness would be," quoted by

McCain was also interviewed by Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins on Washington Watch Weekly, the organization’s syndicated half-hour radio show, where he said "that this issue has significant long-term implication for our ability to defend this nation."

He also said he was afraid that the repeal was a done deal "because of no other reason than President Obama’s campaign promise."

The Republican primary in Arizona is scheduled for Aug. 24, and McCain appears to be losing ground to a more conservative opponent. ADNFCR-1961-ID-19802084-ADNFCR

Reducing Soft Drink Consumption Can Help Lower Blood Pressure

Reducing soft drink consumption can help lower blood pressure Individuals who are looking to lower their blood pressure without taking medication may be able to do so by moderately reducing their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, according to a new study.

For the 18-month study, a research team from the Louisiana State University Health Science Center recruited 810 adults with early stage hypertension who drank an average of 11 ounces of sugary beverages each day, well below the American average of 23 daily ounces.

At the end of the study, participants who reduced their soft drink intake by at least half lowered their systolic blood pressure by an average of 1.8 points and their diastolic blood pressure by 1.1 points.

"We found a direct dose-response relationship," said study leader Liwei Chen."Individually, it was not a big reduction. But population-wise, reducing total consumption could have a huge impact."

According to background information included in the report, a three-point reduction in blood pressure can lower heart disease mortality risk by as much as five percent.

The correlation between lower blood pressure and reduced soft drink intake remained after accounting for weight loss and other risk factors.

Siding With Mexico Against Arizona

A disturbing spectacle was on display last week as Mexican President Felipe Calderon and President Barack Obama—standing almost hand-in-hand on the White House lawn—trashed the state of Arizona over its new immigration law. Calderon then took it a step further by going onto the floor of Congress and trashing Arizona and Arizonians some more.

During the White House meeting, Obama told Calderon, “In the 21st Century we are defined not by our borders, but by our bonds.” He also agreed with Calderon’s description that Arizona’s law is discriminatory.

We’ve come to expect such treachery from the White House, which prides itself in traveling around the world bowing and scraping and accusing the United States of a multitude of sins—both real and imagined—and apologizing for every national and foreign policy decision the country has ever made.

(See Deputy Secretary of State Michael Posner’s admission that during a recent trip to China he brought up the Arizona law “early and often” as an issue of “discrimination or potential discrimination.” Again, he did this in China, a country that runs over its citizens with tanks, throws them in prison for practicing “unapproved” Christianity, and forces families to abort children to enforce a one-child policy.)

But then Calderon went into the halls of Congress—as an invited guest—and trashed Arizona some more saying the bill “introduces a terrible idea that uses racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement.” And for that Democrats in Congress gave him a standing ovation.

Never mind that the law does no such thing. In fact, it forbids discrimination and follows Federal immigration laws almost to the letter.

The Democrat Party continues to find new lows to fall to in its treatment of Americans—ramming through healthcare legislation over the objections of the majority, siding with enemies of Democracy and joining with the president of a failed nation to vilify a state that was forced to enforce laws the Federal government refused to enforce.

George Washington once wrote:

“We are either a United people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all matters of general concern act as a nation, which have national objects to promote, and a national character to support. If we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it.”

More and more it seems Obama and the Democrats have decided upon the latter. And more and more the spinelessness of Republicans is on display as they fail in their duty to forcefully call out Obama and the Democrats.

Obviously the elites of the two parties have become peas in the same pod and they have chosen a path in opposition to the very people they supposedly serve. That they would side with the Mexican president over the citizens of Arizona—and about 70 percent of Americans—is despicable.

Crime Statistics Debunk Gun Opponents’ Claims, CCRKBA Says

Crime statistics debunk gun opponents' claims, CCRKBA says Despite gun opponents’ warnings that easier access to guns leads to escalating violence, the most recent statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) suggest that crime in the United States dropped dramatically in 2009.

Preliminary data from the Uniform Crime Report shows that the violent crime rate went down 5.5 percent nationwide in 2009. This covers all four categories of violent crime: murder, robbery, aggravated assault and forcible rape. Violent crime went down 4 percent in metropolitan counties and 3 percent elsewhere, according to the FBI.

This has prompted gun rights organizations, such as the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), to point out that these positive trends are taking place despite the evidence—also cited by the FBI—that gun and ammunition purchases are up.

"There are more guns in private hands than ever before, yet crime rates have declined…this means that gun prohibitionists have been consistently wrong," said CCRKBA chairman Alan Gottlieb.

He added that these data suggest that "America should turn its back on the gun prohibition lobby and their insidious policy of victim disarmament."

According to media reports, the decline has continued for the third straight year, and this year’s drops were steeper than those registered in 2007 and 2008, despite the recession.

Republicans, ADE Criticize ‘Third Way’ Approach To Internet Regulations

Republicans, ADE criticize 'third way' approach to internet regulations The controversy surrounding the government’s attempts to impose internet regulations continues, with the Alliance for Digital Equality (ADE) announcing it will oppose the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) "third way" approach to network neutrality.

Earlier this year the United States District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the FCC had overstepped its jurisdiction when it tried to impose net neutrality rules on Comcast, which had blocked its subscribers from using the file-sharing website BitTorrent. This effectively closed a similar avenue for regulations, prompting FCC chairman Julius Genacowski to propose a "third way," which would reclassify broadband services under New Deal-era "common carrier" laws created for early landline telephone technology.

This has met with sharp criticism from the two Republican commissioners on the agency’s board, Robert McDowell and Meredith Baker, who said it would lead to regulatory chaos and stifle investment that is necessary to expanding broadband infrastructure and creating jobs.

The ADE has also expressed opposition and urged Congress to play a larger role in the network neutrality debate.

"This policy shift appears to be a risky experiment and will likely lead to higher broadband prices," said ADE chairman Julius H. Hollis.

"As the world of business, medicine and education shift towards a more digital-based economy, the proposal could worsen the problems of [ordinary] Americans, who are already stretched financially and have disproportionately borne the brunt of this recession," added Manuel A. Diaz, vice chairman of the ADE board of directors.ADNFCR-1961-ID-19799480-ADNFCR

Palin Blasts Obama Administration Over Response To Oil Spill

Palin blasts Obama administration over response to oil spillFormer Alaska Governor Sarah Palin heavily criticized the Obama administration May 23 for what she considers to be its insufficient efforts to help clean up the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

While speaking on Fox News Sunday, the former vice presidential candidate suggested that the White House’s lack of response to the incident may be due to the campaign contributions that Obama received from oil companies during his 2008 presidential race.

"I don’t know why the question isn’t asked… if there’s any connection there to President Obama taking so doggone long to get in there, to dive in there and grasp the complexity and the potential tragedy that we are seeing here in the Gulf of Mexico," she said.

Palin added that if former President George W. Bush was still in office, "the mainstream media would be all over his case."

The former governor noted later on her Twitter account that during the last 20 years the largest single donation by BP—the company responsible for the spill—was provided to Obama during his 2008 campaign.

In response to Palin’s comments, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told CBS’ Face the Nation that the White House is working around the clock to clean up the spill, and that most "oil companies don’t consider the Obama administration [to be] a huge ally."

Use Of Diabetes Medication Linked To Vitamin B-12 Deficiency

Use of diabetes medication linked to vitamin B-12 deficiency Diabetic patients who are prescribed the drug metformin may be at an increased risk of developing a vitamin B-12 deficiency, according to a new European study.

Lead author Coen Stehouwer believes that individuals who take the medication should routinely monitor their vitamin B-12 levels and may want to consider taking nutrient supplements.

For the study, the research team recruited 390 patients with type-2 diabetes and assigned them to take either metformin or a placebo three times each day for four years.

At the point of follow-up, participants who were prescribed the diabetes medication experienced a 19 percent reduction in their vitamin B-12 levels. A total of 17 once-healthy participants developed a severe nutrient deficiency over the course of the research.

"Our study shows that it is reasonable to assume harm will eventually occur in some patients with metformin-induced low vitamin B-12 levels," said Stehouwer. "Our data provide a strong case for routine assessment of vitamin B-12 levels during long-term treatment with metformin."

Vitamin B-12 deficient patients often experience fatigue, anemia and significant mental changes.

IRS Launches First Wave Of Small Business Attacks

(Initial Focus on Employment Tax Compliance)

When the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released its five-year strategic plan last year it promised a flurry of new attacks on the public in a variety of areas. Referred to by the IRS as “enforcement initiatives,” these attacks constitute the key areas the agency will target for increased audit attention in the years to come. What was a mere promise last fall of more audit activity is now a reality. The IRS just recently launched the first wave of audit attacks.

In reviewing the IRS’s strategic plan it came as no surprise to me that the lion’s share of this new audit attention would be focused on small businesses. What did surprise me is the level of aggressiveness with which the IRS intends to carry out the attack. The agency identified four specific areas that it will focus on. I reveal them here.

1. The misclassification of workers as independent contractors (ICs). Employment taxes represent a staggering cost to businesses, both in terms of money and time. For this reason, many businesses look for ways to trim costs by reducing employees. One strategy is to use independent contractors (ICs) rather than employees to perform services for the business. But there is a right way and a wrong way to use ICs. If you go about it the wrong way you open yourself up to substantial tax assessments with penalties and interest.

Because employment taxes are such an important revenue source, the IRS is determined to audit as many businesses as possible to ferret out those that use ICs. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently reported that in 2007, various audits by state revenue departments found that more than 150,000 workers were misclassified as ICs. This report prompted the IRS to undertake its own study. So beginning immediately, the IRS will launch at least 6,000 random audits of small businesses. The announcement came on April 22 and was issued by Robin Arnold, a senior IRS program manager and field specialist.

Of course, the random audits are just the beginning. Once the IRS has the audit program fully developed and refined it will let loose its agents upon businesses on a much wider scale. The agency is training 200 revenue agents right now to conduct these audits. Moreover, it’s in the process of hiring nearly 2,000 more agents this year to help carry the load. Even worse, the results of the audits will be shared with the states so they can get in line behind the IRS to pick the bones clean.

And while it’s certainly not illegal to use ICs, you must be sure the workers are legitimate ICs and not merely employees masquerading as ICs. This is just one reason my IRS Problem Solver Series is so important and valuable for small businesses. This issue is just one of the many I discuss in great detail in that package.

2. Employment tax return non-filers. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration recently called on the IRS to step up enforcement against businesses that don’t file employment tax returns or pay employment taxes on time. The IRS treats this issue very seriously since employment tax money is largely withheld from the paychecks of employees. The employer is then responsible to pay it to the IRS. When the employer fails to do that he is treated as violating a “trust” relationship and becomes personally liable for the unpaid withholding taxes.

The IRS is now expanding its audits to randomly probe businesses for employment tax compliance. And because these audits are entirely random, there’s really no way a business can avoid such an audit. The best you can do is to make sure your business is in compliance.

3. Payment of fringe benefits to employees. Unless specifically excluded by law, the payment of money, property or services of any kind as compensation for services is taxable income. If a person receives goods in exchange for services, those goods are taxed at their fair market value.

On the other hand, the tax code does exclude from taxation certain fringe benefits paid by companies to their employees. But the exclusions are limited and are expressly defined. To the extent that any benefits exceed those limits, they are taxable.

To illustrate how desperate for revenue the Federal government now is, the random audit program targeted at small businesses will also focus on the payment of fringe benefits to employees. Look for the IRS to work on taxing every possible benefit that’s paid to employees. And of course, it intends to squeeze that money out of your pocket.

4. Payment of compensation to corporate officers. One of the most common mistakes made by small corporations is the failure to pay corporate officers (usually the owners) a “reasonable salary.” The tax code provides that corporate officers who provide services to a corporation must be compensated by the corporation commensurate with the fair market value of those services.

But many corporate officers do not draw a salary. Rather, they take their entire compensation in the form of a “dividend.” The difference is that the dividend is generally not subject to social security tax while the salary is. This is an issue of growing concern, but most small business owners will not see it coming. Too many tax return preparation professionals just do not understand the nuances of determining reasonable compensation or even that the IRS will challenge the compensation package of a small business owner. I expect many business owners to be blindsided by this issue. It could cost you a fortune.

—Daniel J. Pilla

Patrick Henry: America’s Greatest Orator

America’s greatest orator was born on May 29, 1736. I’m referring to Patrick Henry, whose “give me liberty or give me death” speech to the Virginia House of Burgess marked an important turning point in our battle for independence.

Here’s how Paul Johnson, one of America’s greatest historians, describes the moment in his book, A History of the American People. Patrick began his remarks by asking,

“Our brethren are already in the field. Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have?” Then Henry got down on his knees, in the posture of a manacled slave, intoning in a low but rising voice: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!”

He then bent to the earth for a few seconds with his hands still crossed, then suddenly sprang to his feet shouting, “Give me liberty!” and flung wide his arms, paused, lowered his arms, clenched his right hand as if holding a dagger at his breast, and said in sepulchral tones: “Or give me death!” He then beat his breast with his hand holding the imaginary dagger. There was silence, broken by a man listening at the open window, who shouted: “Let me be buried on this spot!” Henry had made his point.

—Chip Wood

Obama’s Big Fat Greek Bailout

“It was built against the will of the immortal gods, and so it did not last for long.” Homer, The Iliad

The youngsters that run Wall Street know a lot more about Homer Simpson than they do the Greek poet. But in the wake of riots in Greece and stock market gyrations at home, we may all soon be in for a full fledged tragedy of epic proportions.

The $1 trillion bailout by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Europe to stave off a Greek debt default is just the latest attempt by Big Government to defeat deflation. But the soaring price of gold shows that this latest rescue is mired with problems.

Consider the fact that even the strongest of the rescuers are bleeding debt. Germany, once the hero of fiscal policy in Europe, has seen government debt rise to a whopping 80 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). Germany is far stronger than the other weak sisters that make up the euro—Spain, Portugal and Italy.

It looks as if the $1 trillion bailout to Greece may not have stabilized global stock markets and it certainly has not arrested the decline of the euro. Last week The New York Times reported that, “Fear in the financial markets is building again, this time over worries that the Continent’s biggest banks face strains that will hobble European economies.”

Greece is the latest domino in a continuing debt crisis that began with the implosion of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Greece is just another link in a very weak chain. In fact, the IMF warns that “high levels of public indebtedness could weigh on economic growth for years.”

Borrowing Against All Of Our Tomorrows
The world’s budget deficit as a percentage of GDP now stands at 6 percent, up from less than 1 percent before the financial crisis. If public debt is not lowered back to pre-crisis levels, says the IMF, economic growth could decline by half a percentage point annually. That is bad for the world and bad for the United States which is just barely clinging to an economic recovery; a recovery built on cheap money. But how long money will stay cheap is anyone’s guess.

In the not too distant future the U.S. dollar, once the Zeus of all currencies, may topple from the mountain top. Greece has a budget deficit of 13.6 percent of its GDP. Meanwhile the U.S. has a budget deficit of 9.3 percent, and that’s only for this year. In the coming years America’s deficit could easily exceed Greece’s number.

Furthermore, Greece’s national debt now totals 115 percent of its GDP. U.S. national debt totals “only” 85 percent of GDP, but it is expected to reach 140 percent of GDP in the next two decades.

But what the Mexican debt crisis taught us in the 1980s and what Greece is teaching us now is that the bond markets will never allow the U.S. to reach its debt targets.

According to Dr. Edward Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research, "There’s a tremendous clash between the bond vigilantes on one side and reckless governments on the other. The bond vigilantes are trying to establish some fiscal and monetary law and order."

You might recall Yardeni from the 1980s when he correctly predicted the Latin debt bomb, the explosion which helped trigger the 1987 stock market crash. Three decades ago Yardeni pointed out that, "If the fiscal and monetary authorities won’t regulate the economy, the bond investor will." Like Homer’s Cassandra, Yardeni has a talent for correctly predicting tragedies but is cursed because no one will believe him.

Just how bad is this crisis which was spawned in Greece, the cradle of learning and democracy? According to Citigroup’s top economist, Willem Buiter, with the exception of wartime, “the public finances in the majority of advanced industrial countries are in a worse state today than at any time since the industrial revolution. Restoring fiscal balance will be a drag on growth for years to come.”

Still, the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve continue to believe they can engineer yet another bailout. In fact, the Fed has opened up new lines of credit to the European Central Bank as part of the European rescue package.

“We didn’t do so out of any special love for Europe,” said Narayana Kocherlakota, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. “We’re American policy makers, and we make decisions to keep the American economy strong.” Yet the Fed president admits that the liquidity problems abroad could soon haunt U.S. financial markets and the recovery itself.

The Federal Reserve and Federal government have already borrowed trillions of dollars to derail the wave of deflation that began in early 2008. To do that and to spark a recovery the Fed pushed short-term interest rates towards zero, the lowest levels America has seen since the 1930s. In other words the U.S. government has shot its bolt. The U.S. simply can’t hit the “re-flate” button again without a major outcry from the bond market.

Gold On Record Run
The knee-jerk reaction from the euro crisis has been for money to go into U.S. Treasuries. But the chart below shows the monumental increase in 10-year Treasury bond yields since the beginning of 2009. Investors have demanded a higher return from Uncle Sam as the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve have been hell-bent on bailing out the U.S. economy with trillions of new dollars.

10-Year Treasury Yield

U.S. loans to buoy European central banks will only accelerate the bond markets woes, and with rising interest rates on the horizon, we can anticipate a bear market. The computer-glitch stock market meltdown that happened earlier this month portends to an American tragedy.

With the euro at four-year lows one might be expecting the greenback to soar. Instead there has been only modest strength in the dollar and record highs for gold. At this writing London gold is trading just under $1,200 per ounce. In November 2008, London gold was $713.50, so the Midas metal has had quite a run since then. In fact gold was $810 when I first recommended it to you last August. Still I believe gold is headed much higher.

Action To Take
Expect short-term strength in the U.S. Treasury market as we go into summer. If you own bonds, use this rally to liquidate them. Higher interest rates are looming and so is a bond market meltdown. Meanwhile, continue to accumulate physical gold. I think $1,500 gold is a realistic target by the end of this year.

Yours for real wealth and good health,

John Myers
Myers’ Energy and Gold Report

P.S.—I thought the quote at the top by Homer is applicable to the U.S. dollar. I am interested to see if you agree.

President Obama’s Job Approval Ratings Continue To Be Low, Poll Shows

President Obama's job approval ratings continue to be low, poll showsDespite the passage of the healthcare reform and the financial regulation bills, a newly released poll has shown that more than half of all United States citizens give President Barack Obama negative job ratings.

While two in five Americans (42 percent) give Obama positive ratings on the overall job he is doing, The Harris Poll found that 58 percent evaluate his performance negatively.

The pollster suggests that among the likely culprits for these lackluster figures is the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which has forced the president’s attention from the issues that the public cares about most, namely jobs and getting the economy back on track.

In terms of partisan breakdown, 92 percent of Republicans are disappointed with Obama’s job, as are one-quarter of Democrats (25 percent). However, he also scores poorly with Independents, among whom 68 percent give him negative marks.

The survey also asked whether the country was going in the right direction. It found that while in April 39 percent of Americans believed that to be true, the measure has dropped to 36 percent this month. Meanwhile, 64 percent have said the nation is currently on the wrong track.

According to Harris Interactive, which produced the poll, the president’s numbers are unlikely to increase unless he accomplishes something that will positively impact the economy and calm the volatility of the stock market. ADNFCR-1961-ID-19796560-ADNFCR