Reagan Honored In New Year’s Parade

Reagan honored in New Year's paradeFor the first time in its 122-year history, the annual Rose Parade will include a presidential-themed float.

According to media reports, former President Ronald Reagan will be honored in the 2011 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. The float, which is 55 feet long and 26 feet high, commemorates the centennial of Regan's birth — he would have been 100 years old on Feb. 6, 2011.

CNN recently reported that the float boasts 11 photos that represent iconic moments in Reagan's life, a statue of the former film star and a sculpture of a bald eagle. In addition, the display will include 65,000 red roses. The 122nd edition of the New Year's Day parade follows the theme "Building Dreams, Friendships and Memories."

Reagan, who is considered by many conservatives to be one of the greatest presidents in United States history, has even garnered a great deal of attention from the current commander-in-chief. USA Today recently reported that President Barack Obama is reading The Role of a Lifetime, Lou Cannon's account of Reagan's presidency. Like Obama, Reagan inherited a bad economy and signed controversial legislation during his presidency.

Obama’s Minimum Wage Goals Under Fire

Obama's minimum wage goals under fireSeven states are set to raise their minimum wage on Jan. 1, which could give President Barack Obama the momentum he needs to increase the Federal minimum.

Obama has pledged to raise the Federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 level to $9.50 per hour by the end of 2011. Although the President has focused on other campaign goals, such as healthcare reform, financial regulation and stimulus packages, some experts believe that the wage increases on the state level will give Obama fuel to hit his target of $9.50 per hour.

However, a potential minimum wage increase has received harsh criticism from some finance specialists. Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, told FOX News that the move would slow hiring and hurt investment by making states with lower wages more appealing to prospective businesses.

"The existence of the minimum wage is already inhibitive. Increasing it would just add insult to injury," DeHaven told the media outlet.

According to The Denver Post, some business leaders in Colorado are concerned about the upcoming wage increase — from $7.25 to $7.36 per hour. Pete Meersman, the president of the Colorado Restaurant Association, told the news provider that the change may cause employers to be more reluctant to hire, or they may decide to shift the cost to consumers. 

Resolutions, The Census, Madoff Victims And App Snooping

*How to keep your new year’s resolution. Forget willpower, the experts say. It doesn’t work. (How many of us have learned that lesson how many times?) Instead, try punishments and rewards. Give yourself an extra treat when you achieve a goal for a certain length of time. And a punishment, such as missing a favorite TV show, when you have one of those inevitable lapses. Plan all of this in advance. And most important of all, keep trying until you make that new behavior a habit.

*The Census confirms a free-market bias. The numbers are in and guess who’s getting more Congressmen? Not New York, it lost two. Not California; for the first time since 1920, it didn’t gain a new House seat. The low-tax, free-market states did the best, with Texas gaining four new seats, Florida two, and other mostly red states (Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina) gaining one. Are the tax-and-tax, spend-and-spend boys listening?

*Madoff trustee wins back a bunch of money. Did you see the settlement Irving Picard wrested from Barbara Picower, whose deceased husband had made a bundle by referring clients to Bernie Madoff? Widow Picower agreed to pay the Madoff victims $7.2 billion. Guess I shouldn’t begrudge the five thousand bucks an hour Picard gets paid (along with millions more for his law firm). Hard as it is to believe, he may be worth it. At least the Madoff victims probably say so.

*”Your Apps Are Watching You.” That’s the scary headline in a Dec. 18 article in The Wall Street Journal. Few devices know more about you than your smart phone, the investigators found. And they don’t keep it secret. “They are sharing this personal data widely and regularly,” the story says. If you value your privacy, check it out. You may decide to restrict your phone to making or receiving calls. What a novel idea!

–Chip Wood

Study Shows That Prayer Can Help Relieve Emotional Pain

Study shows that prayer can help relieve emotional painMillions of Americans who experience difficult emotions, such as sadness, fear and anger, often try to find a prescription medication or a doctor's diagnosis to alleviate their pain.

However, a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that people who frequently pray find comfort from their emotional troubles. In his study, Shane Sharp interviewed dozens of victims of violent relationships who represented a wide range of the United States' population in educational, racial and geographic backgrounds.

Sharp discovered that individuals who were sad or angry benefited from prayer, in which they spoke to a source who they believed to be God. The study, which appears in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly, concluded that prayer helped many of the victims cope with their feelings in a positive manner.

"If they vented their anger to that abusive partner, the result was likely to be more violence," said Sharp. "But they could be angry at God while praying without fear of reprisal."

Sharp also found that praying served as a helpful distraction for many people. By folding their hands and concentrating on what to say to God, they were able to take a reprieve from their anxiety. He said that prayer is similar to an intimate conversation with a close friend or parent. 

Our Man Of The Year

As we reported yesterday, President Barack Obama is the 2010 “Most Admired Man In America,” according to a Gallup poll.

He was followed, in order, by former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, former African President Nelson Mandela and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Interesting choices all, and they demonstrate one of two things. Either there is a dearth of people to admire or the masses are clueless about who these people really are.

Obama is a Marxist and former member of an American socialist party (a fact conveniently overlooked by the mainstream media) and a union tool who was not properly vetted, was ill-prepared and probably ineligible to hold the office of the President. Bush is a faux conservative One Worlder who bloated our government with social spending, stole our freedoms with the USA PATRIOT Act and other tyrannical legislation and embarked on a campaign of expanding empire America. Clinton is a serial adulterer, accused rapist, convicted perjurer and tool of the Bilderbergers. Nelson Mandela is a former terrorist — of course one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter (see Bill Ayers) — and long-time socialist whose claim to fame is he spent 27 years in prison and was subsequently given god-like status by Leftists and the mainstream media upon his release. Bill Gates is a One Worlder, Bilderberger and promoter of mass vaccination — something those brainwashed by Big Pharma propaganda and the mainstream media think is a good thing — who believes the world’s population should be reduced (of course, no Gates would ever turn up on a list of those to be reduced, just Smiths, Joneses, Taylors and some third world names we can’t spell or pronounce).

Reading about the poll got me to thinking: If Gallup polled me — which they didn’t, nor have they ever — who would I name? It took a while, but I decided on newly-elected Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

All he did was defeat the Republican establishment in the Kentucky Senate primary and then the whole political establishment in the November election. And he did so with a cool aplomb while being savagely attacked on spurious charges of racism and kookery, never raising his voice or looking the least bit defensive. Despite the rantings of mainstream Republicans like Michael Steele and Mitch McConnell and raving Leftists like Mara Liasson, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann, Rand remained a statesman, responding to invective with rational, coherent arguments.

Here’s hoping Rand’s dad Ron Paul makes a run at the Presidency in 2012. If he’s unsuccessful, Rand will be primed and ready by 2016.

Will the New Congress Have the Guts to Do It?

Here we are on the final day of 2010. It’s a time of reflection, as we look back on the past 12 months and look ahead to the next 12. In fact, the month of January is named for the Roman god Janus who, thanks to two faces, was able to look forward and backward simultaneously.
                  
Looking back, I would have to say that the most pleasant surprise of 2010 was the astounding success of Tea Party candidates in the November elections. I’m still amazed that what began as a handful of rallies and occasionally uncivil “meet the candidate” meetings grew into a gigantic uprising against bloated, big-spending government.

Even as millions of newly aroused voters headed to the polls, the mainstream media continued to demonstrate how out-of-the-mainstream they really are, by dismissing the Tea Party as an insignificant bunch of racist malcontents.

But ignoring them didn’t work. And smearing them only caused their numbers to grow. By the evening of Nov. 3, the truth could no longer be denied — something new had happened in America. And a lot of the old guard, who had practiced “pork as usual” on Capitol Hill for many decades, found themselves swept out of office.
How sweet it was!

Ah, but while campaigning can be tough — the smears, the innuendos, the microscopic investigation of everything a candidate has ever said or done are enough to dissuade most mortals from ever running for office — actually doing what you promised can be even harder.

The 112th Congress will be sworn into office next week. Each and every Senator and Representative will take a solemn oath to “preserve and protect” the Constitution of the United States of America. Very soon thereafter we’ll see how many of them actually meant it.

Two key issues will come up almost at once. The first will be a new budget bill. As I’ve discussed in previous columns, nearly a dozen different appropriation bills were introduced in the last Congress. Not a single one of them passed.

So the Democrats in charge tried to pull off quite a stunt in the closing days of the recent and unlamented lame duck session. Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and the White House agreed to combine everything they wanted into one gigantic 1,924 page legislative package. There was something in it for everyone. One columnist called it “one oozing ball of pork and bad policy, going beyond even the obscene budget of 2000.”

It was all of that and more. One of the bill’s sponsors was Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who has proven many times that he is a wily and sly strategist. This time was no exception. As a “favor” to his Republican friends on the other side of the aisle, Inouye and his staff dug out every earmark request they could find that a Republican had ever requested. No matter if they had long since abandoned such pork; they decided to cram it all into the new bill.

Word is that by the time they got done there were more than 6,000 earmarks in the new legislation. No one knows the exact number, because by the time the Frankenstein’s monster came up for a vote, no one had had a chance to read it. Which was just how Reid and his cohorts wanted it.

Two of the toughest conservatives in the Senate — Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina — came up with a great stalling tactic, however. They proposed that before a vote could be taken on the measure, the entire thing — all 1,924 pages of it — had to be read out loud to the assembled Senators.

When he finally realized he didn’t have the votes to squash debate and ram the measure through, Sir Harry finally threw in the towel. Instead of Reid’s nearly 2,000 page monstrosity, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell introduced a one-page resolution that would maintain spending levels for all departments at then-current levels for the next 60 days. There would be no new increases (such as the billion bucks the Dems wanted so they could start funding ObamaCare). But no cuts, either — something almost every Republican had promised the folks back home.

Facing the inevitable, Reid allowed a vote on the measure. A majority quickly said “aye,” then headed home for the holidays. The House approved the measure later that day on a 193-165 vote. (Yes, I know that only adds up to 358 votes. What can I tell you? Seems that 77 of your representatives pleaded they had a plane to catch and left early.)

So the 111th Congress is now history. And a pretty sad one it is. The latest Gallup poll, taken in the final days of the lame-duck session, showed that the approval rating of Congress hit an all-time low of 13 percent. Is there any profession anywhere in more disrepute?

What happens next? We’re about to find out, folks. Look for the fireworks to start soon after the new Congress takes their seats next week.

Among the many issues they’ll have to address fairly soon is raising the debt ceiling once again. Even without any new spending, total U.S. public debt continues to grow by more than $100 billion a month. This means it will approach the mandated limit of $14.3 trillion sometime in March. If Congress does not agree to raise the ceiling, the Treasury will not be able to continue issuing new debt.

I can already hear the near-hysteria in the popular press about what refusing to raise the debt ceiling would mean. After all, we have to keep the government operating, don’t we? We can’t have an “emergency” shut down of vital government services, can we?

One congressman you know is going to stand fast is Dr. Ron Paul of Texas. A few days ago, he issued this blunt warning:

“If the new Congress gives in to establishment pressure and media alarmism about shutting down the government by voting to increase the debt ceiling once again, you will know that the status quo has prevailed. You will know that Congress, despite the rhetoric of the midterm elections, is doing business as usual. You will know that the simple notion of balancing the budget by limiting federal spending to federal revenue remains a shallow and laughable campaign platitude.”

As you can see, the lines in the sand are already being drawn. I’ll be reporting on many of the battles in future columns. But for now, let me ask you something: In the coming contests, which side will your congressman be on? If you don’t know the answer — or even who he or she is — you’re not part of the solution. You’re part of the problem.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Tougher Immigration Proposals On Deck As Republicans Gain Power In 2011

Tougher immigration proposals on deck as Republicans gain power in 2011Lawmakers in several states have plans to propose immigration laws that are similar to Arizona's stringent policies.

Republican gains in the midterm elections have paved the way for many conservative legislators to draft bills that match or go further than the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (Arizona Senate Bill 1070), which makes it a misdemeanor crime for an immigrant to be in the Grand Canyon State without carrying the required proof-of-citizenship documents. It also allows law enforcement officials to take action against individuals who shelter, hire or transport illegal immigrants.

According to Bloomberg, Oklahoma State Representative Randy Terrill (R-Moore) is preparing a bill that would allow authorities to seize and keep the vehicle of anyone found to be harboring a passenger who is an illegal alien. Lawmakers in Missouri and Mississippi are crafting bills that would enact a "probable cause" provision, which is similar to the measure found in SB1070 that allows authorities to ask individuals who they suspect to be in the country illegally for proper documentation.

On a national level, a new Republican-led House of Representatives will likely lead to tougher immigration proposals in Congress. According to the Los Angeles Times, Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.), who will serve as the next chair of the Homeland Security Committee, plans to propose legislation that will reverse what he calls an "obvious lack of urgency" by President Barack Obama to secure the nation's borders. 

Obama Praises Eagles For Hiring Ex-Con Vick

Obama praises Eagles for hiring ex-con VickPresident Barack Obama has praised NFL team owner Jeffrey Lurie for employing Michael Vick, who served an 18-month prison sentence for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring before returning to play for the Philadelphia Eagles.

According to Sports Illustrated, the President commended Lurie during a recent phone conversation, saying that "it's never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail." Obama told Lurie that Vick's success on a national stage shows that criminals who serve their debt to society should receive a second chance.

On Dec. 27, the Obama administration confirmed the conversation between the President and Lurie. Bill Burton, a White House spokesman, said that Obama condemns the crimes that Vick was convicted of, but he believes that individuals who have paid for their crimes should have another opportunity to contribute to society.

Burton also told media outlets that the primary reason for Obama's phone call was to discuss alternative-energy sources used at the team's stadium. Ezra Klein of The Washington Post has criticized the administration for spinning the initial context of the call in an effort to quell any public backlash regarding Obama's comments about Vick.

"For the White House to now say that the call was really about energy efficiency in stadium design both makes Obama look a bit Carteresque — does he really have time to be worrying about the energy efficiency of football stadiums? — and blunts whatever impact the call itself could have had," Klein wrote. "That was a call either worth making or not worth making, but it definitely wasn't worth making if the President wasn't willing to stand behind it." 

Political Connections With Other Countries

The United States now has hundreds of military bases and tens of thousands of troops stationed around the globe. U.S. State Department cables released by WikiLeaks reveal that U.S. diplomats pressure foreign governments to do the bidding of U.S. corporatocracy, and threaten retaliation if they don’t comply.

This is a far cry from the type of foreign policy our Founders envisioned.

In a 1775 letter to Patrick Henry, George Washington wrote: "My ardent desire is, and my aim has been… to comply strictly with all our engagements foreign and domestic; but to keep the United States free from political connections with every other country. To see that they may be independent of all, and under the influence of none. In a word, I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves and not for others; this, in my judgment, is the only way to be respected abroad and happy at home."

Instead, the U.S. is a servant of its global corporatist masters and is neither respected abroad nor happy at home.

We need a leader willing to step up and begin to disengage us from foreign entanglements.

When We Were 234, it was a Very Strange Year

As 2010 draws to a close, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to offer a few bons mots to my fellow denizens of the Personal Liberty Digest. While it is indeed a fool’s errand to encapsulate what many might describe as an annus horribilis, there were some bright spots on the calendar we’re all about to place in the circular file in the kitchen — and not just the cute puppy on the June page.

All right, perhaps “bright” is a bit of an overstatement. Let’s say: “Less dim than MSNBC’s writing staff.” I thought about ranking my picks in order of importance, chronology or geography; but I ended up leading with the WikiLeaks story — mostly because “pasty-faced ex-cyber-criminal” is more florid than “shellacking.”

Read on, MacDuff, And damn’d be him that first cries, “But I LIKE Michael Moore!”

Springing The WikiLeaks
What fun, watching some pasty-faced ex-cyber-criminal become a worldwide celebrity. Liberals who once went into paroxysms of misguided rage over the “outing” of Valerie Plame sang the praises of Julian Assange. At the same time, al-Qaida sent him a thank-you note for leads on the next recipient of the “most likely to be stoned to death for assisting the infidel crusaders” award.

Assange was quickly discovered to have a sexual history which would make even a Kennedy blanch. In a strange turn of events, Democrat Party “documentarian” Michael Moore called rape charges against Assange “hooey,” an odd choice for a party which represents itself as being deeply gender-sensitive. In an even stranger turn of events, Moore’s statement remains just about the only substantive response to the situation from the Obama Administration.

The November To Remember
In a midterm election which even President Barack Obama called a “shellacking,” GOP candidates, many backed by the liberally-reviled (and mistakenly discounted) Tea Party, treated ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s floundering Democrat House contingent like a tackling dummy, taking a net 63 seats away from the Dems in the biggest House beat down since 1948.

While Pelosi went back to her “draining the swamp with a colander,” the GOP pulled the rug out from under the Democrats at the state level, snaring six Governor’s mansions and 780 (!) seats in state legislatures. Voters cited the Democrats’ disastrous handling of the economy and the government takeover of the nation’s healthcare system as primary reasons for the whipping. So, when Obama cast himself as a “uniter,” he meant AGAINST his own party.

It’s STILL The Economy, Stupid!
Bailouts and payoffs and tax fraud, oh my! Led by a Secretary of the Treasury who was evidently outsmarted by those clever cretins at H&R Block, the economy continued to backtrack like Michael Jackson moon walking through a Pepsi ad shoot — only in this case, it’s the American taxpayers whose hair was set ablaze.

Obama promised everything but a “chicken in every pot” in an effort to bolster consumer confidence; the administration even ordered the corporate media to refer to a “recovery summer.” Millions of For Sale signs in front of homes across the nation, along with the worst unemployment since the days of Hoovervilles, spoke volumes to the contrary. Four years of Democrat Congressional control and a President who dines with Oprah while citizens starve gives way to the aforementioned “November to Remember.”

Obama-May-Care.
The reanimated corpse of 1994’s “Hillarycare” lurched back into the spotlight with a vengeance. Although this legislative monstrosity passed after a couple of rounds, it became the biggest single factor in Democrat defeat beyond general economic malaise.

Now the clowns who make visits to the Department of Motor Vehicles such a joy will be in charge of whether you see a doctor, or someone whose first name is “Doctor.” And the death panels at which the Democrat elite scoffed are real. Have fun arguing for chemo for your aging mother with the blue-suits at the Department of Health and Human Services tasked with means-testing the viability of senior citizens. (But pray the death-panelists aren’t from the SEIU).

On The Wings Of The Turkey.
With Obama under increasing pressure to look marginally statesman-like as the world’s more unsavory nations wake up to the reality that the U.S. is now led by a second-rate pantywaist, his administration responded by… feeling up little kids at the airport.

NC-17 rated pictures of American citizens taken from “secure” machines began popping up on the Internet. Despite a spirited backlash, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stood by the plan. In November and December, reports appear revealing that the measures don’t work. Napolitano went on TV and essentially said: “Reports? We don’t need no stinking reports.” The lone bright spot in this 4th Amendment-abrogating disaster: “If you touch my junk, I’m going to have you arrested.”

The Ground Zero Mosque.
This ended up being Ground Zero for the whole pseudo-sensitivity crowd. An Imam with ties to Islamofascism, shadowy finances and a location which had previously served as the spot where some of the wreckage from one of the 9/11 flights landed — how could anyone object? The Democrat ruling elite responded by… fumbling the ball. Pelosi suggested Federal investigations into the GZM’s opponents, followed by talking hairdo Keith Olbermann claiming that there was no Ground Zero Mosque. Not if we have anything to do with it, brainiac.

AZ 1070
Frustrated with years of Federal refusal to deal with a flood of illegal immigrants, and overwhelmed with the illegals themselves, the State of Arizona passed a law to combat the problem on its own battlefield. Despite tremendous support from not only a majority of Arizonans, but American citizens as a whole, Arizona found itself defamed by the Democrat ruling elite who continue to deliberately confuse patriotism with racism. Obama even dispatched a report to the clown-car drivers at the United Nations implying Arizona is violating human rights. True to form, the Feds sued Arizona, hoping to find a judge who missed 10th Amendment day in Bill of Rights class.

A Taxing Compromise
The GOP won the majority in the House and agreed to a partial extension of the Bush-era tax relief without the accompaniment of spending cuts. I’m hoping this may be a ploy to show the Democrats the folly of their “tax’n’spend” stupidity. At least they got the stupid part right.

Federal Oil and Vinegar
In a flashback to Hurricane Katrina, bad Democrat decision making leads to an unmitigated environmental disaster. While oil washed ashore along the Gulf coast, Obama roared into action by… hitting the links. U.S. — and foreign-flagged skimmers sat idle while the Obama administration checked to make sure they had the appropriate number of life vests and fire extinguishers.

The State of Louisiana began building sand berms to protect itself from the spreading oil, only to be stopped by the Obama administration out of concern for… wait for it… environmental damages. Even First Daughter Malia questions Obama’s acumen: “Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?” If by “hole,” she meant “the 18th at Congressional,” then the answer is “double-bogey.”

Iraq ‘em Up
As August gave way to September, Obama announced the end of combat operations in Iraq. Unfortunately, few of the Islamofascists have cable so they missed the announcement. Somehow, the success of the “surge” (which Obama opposed) was missed in the corporate media’s fawning efforts to present Obama as a wartime leader. They also missed the 48,000 troops who still have boots on the ground in Iraq (not to mention the many more who contend with life in fabulous Afghanistan!)

Of course, a year like 2010 presents far more noteworthy moments than I can adequately cover in one trip Outside The Asylum. Honorable mention goes to Scott Brown’s Massachusetts Senate victory, the abominable real estate market, Obama’s repopulation attempts at the Supreme Court and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Feel free to add your own choices in the comments section. You have all year.

Who Knew? Eating Asian Food May Protect From Brain Damage

Who knew? Eating Asian food may protect from brain damageResearchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies managed to create a derivative of the curry spice turmeric that may benefit individuals who have suffered stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The scientists are basing their conclusions on experiments in animal models, which showed that mice that had suffered brain damage similar to one experienced by stroke victims showed significant improvements in their cognitive function after their diet was enriched with the turmeric-derived compound.

The discovery may benefit may individuals, including Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans, as TBI is the leading cause of death and disability in Americans younger than 45 years of age. As far as stroke is concerned, there are no clinically reliable treatments at the moment.

"Existing drug therapies for complex neurological conditions target only one aspect of the condition, while in fact many different factors contribute to the pathology," said one of the researchers involved, David R. Schubert, Ph.D.

He added that the work conducted in his lab has the potential to make a difference in the discovery of effective therapies in the future.

Turmeric is a herb native to tropical South Asia, and is frequently used in Indian, Malay, Thai and Persian dishes.

Obama Is Most Admired Man In America, According To Gallup Poll

Obama is most admired man in America, according to Gallup pollPresident Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton are the most admired people in America, according to year-ending Gallup polls.

Every December since 1946, the polling service has asked Americans who they most admire. In 2010, approximately 22 percent of respondents selected Obama, which is less than the 30 percent he received in 2009 and 32 percent in 2008. Presidents have dominated the Most Admired Man poll since its inception, taking the No. 1 spot in 52 of the 64 years.

Rounding out the top five on the 2010 list are George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and Bill Gates. Among Democrats who voted in the poll, 46 percent selected Obama, while only 6 percent of Republicans picked the current President. Bush earned the top spot among conservatives with 11 percent, while FOX News commentator Glenn Beck came in third with 4 percent.

Hillary Clinton was named the Most Admired Woman for the ninth consecutive year, receiving 17 percent of the vote. Former Alaska Governor and Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin was second with 12 percent, while TV host and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey rounded out the top three with 11 percent.

While Palin is admired by many Americans, most Republicans would still rather see another GOP candidate emerge in the 2012 presidential race. According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, only 49 percent of Republicans said they would support Palin in a presidential election, compared to about 67 percent backing for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and 59 percent for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Degree Of Changes In Obama’s Staff Unknown By His Own Team

Degree of changes in Obama's staff unknown by his own teamSpokesmen for President Barack Obama have given conflicting reports about upcoming changes to his staff.

Last week, Obama's senior political advisor David Axelrod said that "significant changes" will be announced regarding the White House Cabinet when Obama returns from his holiday vacation in Hawaii. On Dec. 26, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said there will not be any major changes heading into 2011.

According to The New York Times, the Reorganization Plan — a review of how the White House staff can be modernized — was expanded following sweeping victories by Republicans in the midterm elections. Before Obama left for Hawaii, he was given recommendations on potential staff changes.

"This is a bubble. It’s been an intense couple of years, and there’s an advantage to bringing in folks who have a fresh set of senses — smell, touch and feel — about what’s going on out there," Axelrod told the media outlet.

Among the staff members who will take on different roles in 2011 are the two spokesmen who provided conflicting reports. According to FOX News, Axelrod will leave the White House to work on Obama's re-election campaign, while Gibbs is considering a new role within the executive office.

Recent media reports have indicated that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson may succeed Hilary Clinton as the Secretary of State next year. In April 2010, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington pegged Richardson as one of the United States' worst governors.

Pay-For-Slay

From our “statements we never want to see in an email from a U.S. Representative” file:

“We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists, even if they are ‘supporters’… Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it… The longer this goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it.”  — Rep. Earl Blumenauer, (D-Ore.)

This cryptic missive issued by the gentleman from Oregon refers to the reintroduction — by Medicare regulation — of an Obamacare proposal to pay “practitioners” — §1233 (2(a)) doesn’t require “practitioner” to mean “medical school graduate” — to annually push people to consider shuffling off the final steps of their mortal coil. While end-of-life counseling became a part of Medicare during the Bush Administration, the Obamacare regulation to which Blumenauer referred in that spooky email introduces the grading and payment of “practitioners” who even the Democrat-controlled New York Times acknowledges must:

“…advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forego aggressive life-sustaining treatment.”

The same “pay-for-slay” plan was actually a part of the original version of Obamacare. After Republicans discovered the planned introduction of “death panels,” the proposal was dropped to facilitate passage of the largest government intrusion into the private sector since William Howard Taft went to the grocery store.

Now, thanks to some Blumenauer staffer’s electronic indiscretion, we learn the Democrats are planning to circumvent the legislative process and return section 1233’s allowance of annual “ready to die yet?” consultations to legal status through the regulation-writing process.

The revelation of said email raises a couple of noteworthy questions, foremost among them:

“…if this is such a grand idea, then why are Democrats trying to hide it?”

In the interests of full disclosure, I am entirely comfortable with the idea of a sound-minded human being making an informed decision to end their own suffering, as long as that decision doesn’t require me to steam-clean the drapes afterwards. But Blumenauer’s secretly-celebrated regulation doesn’t introduce the idea of paying doctors to annually press “end-of-life-planning” to alleviate the suffering of people, it introduces the idea of paying doctors to annually press Kevorkian-esque logic to alleviate the suffering of government.

Section 936 of the ObamaCare legislation actually calls for governmentally-constructed brochures and videos which will essentially serve as scripts for teaching practitioners to convince people to pull the plug.

“Hi, I’m President Barack Obama. Like members of Congress, I am never going to be subjected to the tenets of Obamacare. But, if you’re watching this, you know someone who is. Here are some tips on the best ways to talk old people into assuming room temperature…”

Yikes.

What worries me is the likelihood of Federally-prompted bureaucrat “practitioners” talking people into making rash decisions because Kathleen Sebelius has a budget line to meet. If someone is being eaten alive by bone cancer, they ought to have the option to ask someone to turn off their lights. But if some Department of Health and Human Services functionary is pushing them to hit the switch not to alleviate incredible pain, but because they need the bed, that’s seriously macabre.

We don’t generally means-test the viability of civilized people in a civilized nation. Once we do — and Obamacare clearly raises that possibility — then we will find ourselves living in a nation in which a Federal bureaucracy is making determinations on the value of individuals. We can’t even successfully accomplish that task when dealing with convicted criminals on death row. Though it is interesting how the same ideological mélange which declaims the death penalty for mass-murderers warms to the idea of smothering Grandma with a proverbial pillow.

Liberals often whine about the supposed evils of corporate culture, but they’re evidently backing a regulatory addition to Obamacare which entails the ultimate in sinister anonymity:

“Well, Mrs. Patient 423-06-4487, we COULD begin a regimen of financially burdensome treatments which may or may not cure your… let me check… hmm… 4485, 4486, AH — cancer; OR, you can take this pill, feel a little sleepy, and see your mother in the afterlife.”

In addition to the zombie-like return of the “pay-for-slay” provision, a perusal of H.R. 3200 also reveals:

“…the Secretary shall include quality measures on end of life care and advanced care planning that have been adopted or endorsed by a consensus-based organization.”

Terrific. Global warming cultists are “a consensus-based organization,” and I wouldn’t ask them for a weather forecast. My potential end-of-life decision will be made in consultation with my physician — sorry — “practitioner” and my loved ones (in my case, my dog). I neither need nor want advice from any “consensus-based” anything.

Mr. Crystal, we’ve arrived at a consensus. You suck. We bribed your dog with bacon. Have fun being dead.”

Majority Of Americans Oppose Measure That Requires People To Purchase Health Insurance

Majority of Americans oppose measure that requires people to purchase health insuranceA new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey reveals that a majority of Americans are opposed to the healthcare law that requires all citizens to buy insurance.

The poll, which was released on Dec. 27, shows that about 60 percent of respondents oppose the provision of Obamacare that requires Americans to purchase health insurance or face fines. CNN polling director Keating Holland said that women are more likely than men to support the provision, but a majority of females — 53 percent — still said they were opposed to the health insurance requirement, which is scheduled to go into effect in 2014.

Other provisions of the law, which was signed by President Barack Obama this past March, were more popular. Approximately six in 10 said they were in favor of the measure that prevents insurance companies from dropping coverage for people who become seriously ill. About 64 percent said they are in favor of the provision that prohibits insurance providers from denying coverage for individuals who have pre-existing conditions.

According to The Hill, Republican lawmakers are considering holding a vote to repeal Obamacare early in 2011. Beginning in January, the GOP will hold a majority in the House of Representatives and gain several seats in the Senate.

In a letter addressed to Republican leaders earlier this month, Tea Party group Freedom Works supported a repeal, arguing that three-fifths of states have already challenged the law.

What The State Wants To Hide

A pilot with a major United States airline was confronted at his home in early December by four Federal air marshals and two sheriff’s deputies who were there to confiscate his Federally-issued firearm and his state-issued permit to carry a concealed firearm.

His crime? He posted a series of videos to YouTube that showed flaws in the Transportation Security Administration’s screening procedures.

The videos — since removed from YouTube — demonstrate how the flight crews are subjected to intensive pre-flight TSA screenings while the ground crews that service the aircraft are able to access secure areas by swiping a card, pushing tool boxes that are never searched. The videos also show a rescue ax on the airliner’s flight deck… available to pilots who have just been screened for weapons.

The pilot is Chris Liu, a 50-year-old who was deputized by the TSA to carry a gun in the cockpit and is a helicopter test pilot in the Army Reserve who has flown missions for the United Nations overseas.

The pilot’s attorney, Don Werno, said he believes the Federal government sent six people to Liu’s home to send a message: “And the message was you’ve angered us by telling the truth and by showing America that there are major security problems despite the fact that we’ve spent billions of dollars allegedly to improve airline safety,” Werno told Sacramento’s News10.

Meanwhile, new WikiLeaks revelations show that U.S. Ambassador to France Craig Stapleton believes the U.S. should “retaliate” against nations that are resisting the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

In the cable, Stapleton writes: “Mission Paris recommends that that the USG (U.S. government) reinforce our (sic) negotiating position with the EU on agricultural biotechnology by publishing a retaliation list when the extend ‘Reasonable Time Period’ expires. In our view, Europe is moving backwards not forwards on this issue with France playing a leading role, along with Austria, Italy and even the Commission. In France, the ‘Grenelle’ environment process is being implemented to circumvent science-based decisions in favor of an assessment of the ‘common interest.’ Combined with the precautionary principle, this is a precedent with implications far beyond MON-810 BT corn cultivation. Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices. In fact, the pro-biotech side in France — including within the farm union — have told us retaliation is the only way to begin to begin to turn this issue in France.”

MON-810 is a genetically-modified corn created by the food giant Monsanto.

What do these seemingly unrelated stories have in common? Both demonstrate how an unaccountable government reacts to opposition.

The pilot who demonstrated the folly of the TSA screening procedures — which do nothing to keep us safer — has his privileges revoked for speaking the truth. Sovereign nations expressing their desire to reject GMOs risk retaliation from the U.S. government as it seeks to do the will of its corporate masters.

Many commenters took me to task for defending Julian Assange — mindlessly suggesting he be subjected to hideous torture or calling for his immediate murder — and his efforts at outing the thuggishness of the U.S. regime and its foreign policy.

But both Liu and Assange have done us a great service in exposing secrets Big Brother wants to hide from the masses. And they did so at great risk to themselves.

Folic Acid And Iron May Benefit Unborn Child

Folic acid and iron may benefit unborn childNew research reveals that mothers-to-be who take folic acid and iron supplements have smarter children.

An article published by Reuters cited a program in rural Nepal where expectant mothers were given folic acid and iron. Ultimately, their children were smarter and had improved fine motor skills over other children whose mothers did not receive the supplements

The study was conducted by Parul Christian from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. She spoke to the news provider about her findings and explained, "What we showed is prenatal iron and folic acid supplementation had a significant impact on the offspring's intellectual level and motor ability and ability during school age, which was a very exciting finding."

Christian's work complements earlier research conducted by a team at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute and The Hospital for Sick Children. The scientists learned that folic acid supplements can help reduce the likelihood of birth defects such as neural tube defects, congenital heart disease and oral clefts.

Women who aren't expecting can benefit from taking additional iron supplements on a daily basis. Such extra nutrition may be particularly beneficial to those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Coburn Says National Debt Could Cause “Apocalyptic Pain”

Coburn says national debt could cause apocalyptic painSenator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has provided a grim forecast for the United States if lawmakers do not reduce the government debt.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday on Dec. 26, Coburn said that the U.S. will suffer from "apocalyptic pain" if the nation does not curb its massive deficit. He predicted that America could eventually face an 18 percent unemployment rate and hyperinflation if government waste is not curbed. He said that the U.S. may face austerity measures that have been seen in Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Japan.

"The history of republics is they average 200 years of life. And they all fail in the history over fiscal matters. They rot from within before they collapse or are attacked," Coburn told the news provider.

Coburn, who has the nickname "Dr. No" for his refusal to spend taxpayer dollars, played an important role in reducing the amount of money included in a bill to provide healthcare funds for 9/11 responders, which was passed by Congress last week.

In the televised interview, Coburn said that he can come up with at least $350 billion of waste that can be eliminated without negatively impacting the economic recovery, including an overabundance of job training programs that exist throughout the country. He said there are 105 programs that are designed to encourage people to pursue science-related careers, which he deemed unnecessary.

According to CNN, Incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has pledged to cut $100 billion from the Federal budget in an effort to reduce the deficit. The news provider reports that the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that Boehner's goal will lead to a 21 percent annual reduction in the budget that funds education, health, human services, housing and urban development.

Study Says Depression Treatment Can Help Women Lose Weight

Study says depression treatment can help women lose weightDepression is an emotional disorder that prevents millions of Americans from enjoying life's greatest pleasures. Individuals who suffer from depression typically have low self-esteem and struggle to perform tasks that most people consider routine.

According to a new study, women who receive treatment for depression are more likely to lose weight. Researchers in Seattle examined 203 women between the ages of 40 and 65 who had an average body mass index (BMI) of 38.3. An individual with a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.

Each woman in the study underwent baseline tests to measure their weight, level of depression, physical activity and diet. The group received treatment for their depression over a 12-month period, which included up to 26 group sessions. Among the women who saw their depression levels decrease, approximately 38 percent lost at least 5 percent of their body weight over six months.

"This study further underscores the importance of screening for depression in such programs that can potentially lead to both physical and psychological well-being," said Babak Roshanaei-Moghaddam, of the psychiatry and behavioral sciences department at the University of Washington.

The study's lead author, Gregory Simon of the Group Health Research Institute, said that the relationship between depression and physical activity goes in both directions. Increased activity can lead to a better mood, and an improvement in depression can lead to more activity, he said. Although both are linked, Simon said that his team was unable to decipher which factor is more likely to cause the other to improve or worsen.