The Robber Barons

Ben Bernanke is stumped.

That’s what the Federal Reserve chairman told The Associated Press last week. The AP report said:

“Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told reporters Wednesday that the central bank had been caught off guard by recent signs of deterioration in the economy. And he said the troubles could continue into next year.

‘We don’t have a precise read on why this slower pace of growth is persisting,’ Bernanke said. He said the weak housing market and problems in the banking system might be ‘more persistent than we thought.'”

I thought he was the smartest guy in the room. But eight weeks ago, he was singing a different tune. He said then that the job market was gradually improving.

Since then, unemployment has gone up. It was at 9.1 percent in May. New jobless claims hit a seasonally adjusted 429,000 for the week of June 13. (It’s topped 400,000 for 11 straight weeks.) And the Fed has revised its forecast for economic growth this year down to a range of 2.7 percent to 2.9 percent from its April estimate of 3.1 percent to 3.3 percent.

The economy grew only 1.8 percent in the first three months of 2011. That, of course, is not what the Fed expected. Back in January, Charles Plosser, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, told The Hill newspaper that the economy “could expand by 4 percent and interest rates may need to go up.”

Does anyone see a pattern here? Isn’t it time for Bernanke and company to admit they haven’t a clue?

Trillions of dollars of spending money created out of thin air in the form of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), bailouts, loans to banksters — both foreign and domestic — and stimulus haven’t changed the economic situation. Throwing more fiat money at the problem has made it worse.

Who knew? Lots of people, but none of them subscribe to the same Keynesian philosophy that Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the economic advisers to the Presidents — Barack Obama and those before him — subscribe to.

Some of us saw this coming long ago. In February 2008, I wrote in my monthly newsletter, The Bob Livingston Letter™:

“The focus of the Federal Reserve is on preventing the collapse of the financial balloon.

“There is no free market solution to the credit collapse. More likely we are witnessing a de facto nationalization of the banking system in which massive profits flow to the private sector while big losses accrue to the public, as always.

“The banking system is insolvent or on the verge of insolvency. The Fed will be voicing repeated concerns about inflation while sacrificing the savers of the world to salvage the banking system.

“We will float on paper money. Buy gold and silver!

“Up to now, gold has served mainly as a bet against the dollar and U.S. policy failures, but just ahead, gold will be a strong bet against all fiat globalism. Gold is a tremendous alternative to political foolishness. We sit in the middle of a spectacular finale in the next two to three years.

“In 2008, I expect silver to glitter maybe at an all time nominal high.

“The planners are managing a silent and invisible reduction in the American living standard.

“Be forewarned!”

In the March 2008 Letter I wrote:

“When central banks expand the money supply, it gives rise to the consumption of goods of every description, which is not preceded by production (and savings). It leads silently to less means of sustenance. As long as the pool of funding continues to expand, loose monetary policies give the impression that economic activity is being boosted. It is a great illusion to all but the sober.

“In reality, economic activity is not boosted and to some it becomes apparent. Once this happens, the economy begins its downward plunge. Then the most aggressive expansion of the money supply will not reverse the plunge.

“This foretells that the end of the financial system is near. At that point you will need your precious metals to survive.

“Some things will rise big in price, like food, fuel and commodities. While homes will go down for some time, bailouts and foreclosures will last for years. Precious metals will keep going up!

“Under cover of this financial crisis, I expect a vast nationwide expenditure for infrastructure like highways and bridges. This is badly needed in the U.S. now.”

In the January 2009 Letter I wrote:

“Paper money expands consumption way beyond income. This eventually guarantees debt collapse and social breakdown. The foundation of the household collapses and the middle class is destroyed. Paper money is an illusion and illusory because it is non-substance and can be created by the government to infinity. When the people accept numbers on green strips of paper or computer symbols for money, they accept illusion for reality.”

In the May 2009 Letter I wrote:

“Bubbles and bailouts are not paid for with gold and silver. They are paid for with printing press money, which dilutes your savings and retirement funds. So who are the heroes of bubbles and bailouts? The short answer is, the money creators. They are presiding over and benefiting from the greatest transfer of wealth in history, with the almost certain guarantee that they will never be found out because they are operating above the threshold of perceived reality.

“We should, of course, know that every new dollar that the money creators create dilutes every dollar already created. They are using non-substance, fiat, that costs them nothing and exchanging it for substance in the form of capital assets. This is a transfer of wealth by definition. This depreciating fiat is impoverishing all who hold dollar assets.”

This article was reprinted in January 2010 here, if you’d like to read it in its entirety.

I point these out not to toot my horn or present myself as a sage, but to show that some of us understand what is going on. I’m not alone.

In his 2007 book, Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse, Peter D. Schiff wrote, “The real estate bubble, easily the worst speculative episode in American history, has been artificially propping up the entire national economy. The unwinding will cause havoc reaching well beyond the stakeholders directly involved.”

In an article for the Ludwig von Mises Institute titled The Rescue Package Will Delay Recovery, adjunct scholar Frank Shostak wrote:

“(T)he rescue package cannot prevent so-called economic disruptions. If anything, government intervention would make these disruptions much worse. Again, a better alternative is to let the market do the job. The market’s ability to make swift adjustments without much drama was vividly illustrated only a few weeks ago when the very large investment bank, Lehman Brothers, was allowed to go belly up. The world did not come to an end. Instead, this was a healthy development. A money loser was eliminated from the market. This freed up resources to promote growth.”

The only statesman left in Washington, D.C., Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), has been preaching a similar message to deaf ears for many years. For that, the mainstream media and elite “economists” have labeled him a crackpot and worked overtime to marginalize him, even as his warnings have proven true.

To the Obama haters, the blame is not his alone. The problems began long before Obama entered the scene. Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan had a lot to do with it. Bernanke has perpetuated it. President George W. Bush set much in motion. Obama doubled down. But the roots are much deeper, reaching to 1913 and perpetuated through the years.

What they’ve done is set in motion the collapse.

Bernanke and his advisers, Obama and his advisers, Representatives Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and their advisers are all cut from the same cloth. Is it any wonder that those who advocated the policies that brought us where we are say they don’t know what to do to fix it? To change course would be to admit their past lies.

Reality is far different. They know what to do but they’re saying what they need to say for public consumption. Meanwhile, the robber barons continue their work.

NASA Climate-Change Scientist Accused Of Ethics/Financial Disclosure Violations

A NASA climate-change scientist has been accused of privately profiting from his taxpayer-funded position.

James Hanson, the scientist in question, once claimed the Administration of President George W. Bush tried to “silence” his global warming claims, according to

“In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Washington, D.C., a group claims NASA is withholding documents that show James Hansen failed to comply with ethics rules and financial disclosures regarding substantial compensation he earned outside his $180,000 taxpayer-paid position as director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies,” the news outlet reported.

“Hansen’s office appears to be somewhat of a rogue operation. It’s clearly a taxpayer-funded global warming advocacy organization,” Chris Horner, a co-founder of The American Tradition Institute, which filed the lawsuit, told Fox News.

Hansen reportedly received more than $1.2 million in gifts, speaking fees, prizes and consulting fees from environmental organizations whose agendas he advocated. “Federal rules prohibit government employees from receiving certain types of income outside their job. Employees are required to file Form 17-60 in writing before any outside activity. And annually, they’re required to submit Form SF 278, after receiving outside compensation,” the article read.

The American Tradition Institute maintains that NASA has never produced these documents, despite repeated requests.

“Should the taxpayer know what’s going on? Should, as FOIA (the Freedom of Information Act) intends, NASA disclose documents to shed light on its operations and its compliance within the law? We say yes. The law says yes. NASA says no,” Horner told the news outlet.

Weiner Roast

● So Weiner is worse than Assad? I was glad to see that Barack Obama finally weighed in on the fate of Anthony Weiner. His exact words in his interview with NBC’s Today were: “I can tell you that it if was me, I would resign.” Dear, dear, did no one teach the one-time professor to say “if it were me?” Anyway, it’s worth noting that our President has never taken such a strong stand against Syria’s murderous dictator, Bashar Assad. Apparently, sexting teenagers is worse than murdering innocent civilians.

● Hey, U.N., where did they go? Thanks to the Alert Reader who asked me to check out a grim warning from a U.N. agency that has been shoved down the memory hole. In 2005, the U.N. Environmental Programme warned that by 2010, there would be “fifty million climate refugees” fleeing man-caused disasters across the globe. When a reporter asked the U.N. agency about that dire prediction, the U.N. bureaucrats acted as you might expect from those hypocrites: They deleted the article and accompanying map from their website. No apologies for getting it wrong, of course.

● Granted, John Edwards is a scumbag. But is he a criminal? I have no sympathy for the pretty-boy politico and multimillionaire trial lawyer. After all, he cheated on his wife while she was dying of cancer, tried to pay an aide to claim he was the father of Edwards’ illegitimate child and spent a small fortune from his campaign funds trying to cover up his misdeeds. As someone else observed, he’s guilty of behavior that would make Representative Anthony Weiner blush. But is he a crook? Would someone please tell me what Federal statute the poor slob broke?

● Those dastardly French did what with their wine? In 2010, a French court found 12 businessmen guilty of lying about the quality of wine they were exporting to the United States. It seems 18 million bottles of inferior-grade plonk were marketed as top-quality pinot noir. The culprits received suspended sentences and fines of 3,000 to 18,000 euros for a crime that allegedly netted them millions of euros. To teach them a lesson, a wine-loving friend of mine suggests switching to Argentine malbec or Australian shiraz. I already have.

–Chip Wood


FBI Raid Seizes Servers, Brings Down Websites

Early Tuesday morning, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted a raid on a Web hosting facility used by DigitalOne, seizing several servers and bringing down websites in the process.

A blog for The New York Times reported DigitalOne’s chief executive, Sergej Ostroumow, sent an email to a client that read: “This problem is caused by the F.B.I., not our company. In the night F.B.I. has taken 3 enclosures with equipment plugged into them, possibly including your server — we cannot check it.”

Ostroumow’s email also said that, while the FBI was only interested in one of the company’s clients, investigators had taken servers used by “tens of clients.” The raid resulted in the failure of DigitalOne’s own servers, preventing the company from providing tech support to the affected websites.

The raid occurred as a result of investigations into LulzSec, a hacker group, according to the article. Ostroumow did not reveal to the paper the name of the company targeted by the raid, and he said “it was also unclear why the agents took more servers with them than they sought.”

Servers affected by the raid included those run by New York publisher Curbed Network, which runs several popular blogs about real estate and restaurants.

It’s A Start

President Barack Obama’s decision to bring home 10,000 of the 33,000 “surge” troops in Afghanistan by the end of the year and the remainder by September 2012 is obviously a political ploy. Regardless, it’s a start.

The mission’s accomplished (apologies to President George W. Bush). Osama bin Laden is dead. Obama told us so a few weeks ago. The Taliban cut and ran to Pakistan.

Since then, we’ve been fighting the tribes that make up the barbaric state of Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan. Nation-building in a country that, for the most part, hasn’t advanced much beyond the 10th century is a fool’s errand.

History is rife with empires that crashed against the rocks of the Afghanistan mountains.

Of course, removing the surge troops will leave about 70,000 still in the combat zone. We’re still fighting wars in Iraq, Pakistan, Libya and Yemen. Billions of dollars a day are spent so America can control — or attempt to control — what goes on in lands far away.

It’s a start, Mr. President, but that’s all it is. Bring them all home: from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and Syria. And while you’re at it, bring home those “protecting” Europe from the threat that ended with the demise of the Cold War. And bring home those in Japan and South Korea and wherever they are supporting Pax Americana.

It’s time for empire America to return to its republican roots.

Tossing Grandma Off The Cliff And Other Democratic Lies

The hysterics and hyperbole over raising the Federal debt ceiling are becoming absolutely absurd. If you were to believe Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geitner, Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Austan Goolsbee and other Administration spokesmen, you would think we are about to face financial Armageddon.

Of course, if you believe Geitner, Goolsbee, et al, you’re a fool.

I can’t remember when the big spenders in Washington have conspired to tell a bigger pack of lies than they have about the dire consequences that will take place if Uncle Sam isn’t allowed to continue borrowing money. I wrote an entire column about Barack Obama’s Lying Liars in January; click here if you missed that one.

Among the deliberate misstatements are the threat that “we won’t be able to pay our troops who are fighting in Afghanistan.” That, of course, is a total fabrication. Our military personnel are considered “essential personal.” They would be paid every penny they are due even if the debt ceiling isn’t raised. So, unfortunately, would our Senators and Representatives. Yes, even the despicable Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are considered “essential personnel.” Who on Earth drafted such a law? Oh, right. Congress.

Remember, even if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, money will continue to pour into Washington by the bucketful. Do you think your withholding taxes are going to go away? That they won’t continue to collect every penny due for Medicare, Social Security and the million-and-one taxes that are imposed on businesses? Dream on, brother.

Here’s the shocking truth — shocking to anyone who believes the mainstream media, that is: The Federal government will continue to take in plenty of money to pay our troops, pay the interest on the national debt and pay almost everything else you and I would consider necessary.

What it won’t be able to do is to pay for all the socialistic boondoggles Barack Obama and his buddies want. Boo hoo. Too bad. What the guys and gals in Washington need to do is what every responsible family in America has already done. That is, reduce expenditures to match income. Live within your means. Don’t borrow money to finance a bunch of stuff you can’t afford.

Funny thing is, a lot of our leaders used to say the same thing. Let me call to the witness stand an obscure but ambitious senator from Illinois. Here’s what Obama said five years ago, during a similar debate over raising the debt: “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure… Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I, therefore, intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”

Today, of course, Obama is willing to pile a ton more debt on “our children and grandchildren.” I hope you won’t let him get away with it.

Another Vicious Lie

Did you see the Democratic commercial that’s been credited for defeating a Republican in what was supposed to be a “safe” district in upstate New York? It’s part of the left’s “Mediscare” campaign. In it, a conservatively dressed white businessman pushes a wheelchair holding an agitated grandma to the edge of a cliff — then promptly dumps her over the edge.

The video suggests that this is what Republicans want to do to every senior citizen — and will do if the budget plan devised by Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is allowed to pass.

If you believe the mainstream media, the fear campaign was so successful that the Republicans lost a special election for Congress that “everyone” expected them to win. But here’s what the lying media didn’t tell you.

It’s true that Kathy Hochul, the Democratic candidate, got 47 percent of the vote and was declared the winner. The Republican candidate, Jane Corwin, received 43 percent of the vote and lost.

What few accounts bothered to mention is that there was a spoiler in the race. A political opportunist named Jack Davis ran as a self-proclaimed “Tea Party” candidate. He spent a reported $3 million of his own money on the race and received 9 percent of the vote — enough to prevent a victory for the Republican.

Here’s the kicker: Davis had previously run for the same seat three times — as a Democrat. Moreover, he was actively opposed by the real Tea Party leadership. I don’t know what sort of reward he will receive for his actions, but don’t be surprised if it makes his $3 million “investment” seem worth it.

Will the “Mediscare” smear work next year? You can bet your bottom dollar that the Democratic leadership hopes so.

When Is A War Not A War?

The answer, I guess, is whenever the Democrats say so.

Under the terms of the War Powers Resolution, whenever the President commits American troops to battle anywhere in the world, he then has 60 days to tell Congress what he is doing and win approval for the engagement, and then 30 days after that to recall the troops if approval is not given.

But now, that 90-day deadline has come and gone. Is anyone interested in upholding the law here? Not in Barack Obama’s Administration. In fact, the No. 1 law enforcement officer in the country — Attorney General Eric Holder — has argued that the War Powers Resolution doesn’t apply here… because what’s happening in Libya is so inconsequential, it doesn’t amount to a “war.”

In the Alice-in-Wonderland world that our leaders inhabit, it doesn’t matter how many air strikes we’ve ordered or how many combatants have been killed — or innocent civilians, for that matter. If they say it’s not a war, then the rules of war — and the laws of Congress — don’t apply.

I could go on and on with other examples of the deliberate obfuscation our President and his cronies have been practicing. How about the whopper that “if you like your health insurance, you can keep it?” The latest estimates are that under Obamacare, some 80 to 120 million Americans will lose the independent health insurance they and their employers have been paying for.

Unless you’re a friend of the Administration, that is. In that case, you will probably be granted a waiver that exempts you from the law. It seems that just about everyone in Nancy Pelosi’s district has gotten one; how about you?

Yes, the rules are definitely different now. And they’re getting more different every day. That’s what happens when liars and lawbreakers are put in charge.

Hopefully, all of this will change dramatically 17 months from now.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

FDA: Breast Implants Eventually Need To Be Removed Or Fixed

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an update Wednesday to its safety guidelines and recommendations regarding silicone breast implants.

“Based on the totality of the evidence, the FDA believes that silicone gel-filled breast implants have a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness when used as labeled. Despite frequent local complications and adverse outcomes, the benefits and risks of breast implants are sufficiently well understood for women to make informed decisions about their use,” the FDA said in a statement on its website.

However, the FDA also found that “the longer a woman has breast implants, the more likely she is to experience local complications or adverse outcomes. Women with breast implants will need to monitor their breasts for local complications for the rest of their lives… Recognize that breast implants are not lifetime devices. The longer you have your implants, the more likely it will be for you to have them removed.”

The FDA reached these conclusions after reviewing updated industry studies and literature.

The FDA recommended that women with breast implants receive regular checkups with their doctors to monitor the implants for damage, and to “notify your health care provider if you develop any unusual signs or symptoms including pain, asymmetry, hardness or swelling.”

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Announces Illegal Alien Status

Jose Antonio Vargas is the sort of journalist all the little journalists want to be like. A former reporter for The Washington Post and Senior Contributing Editor for the Huffington Post, Vargas was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings. He accomplished all this by the age of 30.

On Wednesday, Vargas revealed that he is an illegal alien.

“One day when I was 16, I rode my bike to the nearby D.M.V. office to get my driver’s permit. Some of my friends already had their licenses, so I figured it was time. But when I handed the clerk my green card as proof of U.S. residency, she flipped it around, examining it. ‘This is fake,’ she whispered. ‘Don’t come back here again,’” Vargas recalled in a 4,000-word essay for The New York Times Magazine.

From that day forward, Vargas says, he has lived in constant fear of being found out: “I am… an undocumented immigrant. And that means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am… It means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I know are wrong and unlawful.”

Vargas decided to tell his story as part of his work with the illegal alien advocacy group, Define American, which he founded. The group promotes passage of the DREAM Act, Federal legislation that offers permanent residency to illegal aliens who came to the United States as minors.

Vargas initially offered the story to his former employers at The Washington Post, but they turned him down.

“Until last week, Vargas’s article was scheduled to run in The Post’s Outlook section,” the paper said in an article responding to Vargas’ piece. “But Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli killed the story several days before it was scheduled to be published. ‘We made a considered judgment not to publish the story,’ Brauchli said Wednesday. ‘We knew Jose would take his story elsewhere, and we’re not surprised he found a venue for his interesting account.’”

The paper was not specific about why they turned down the story, but The Post article said that, after Vargas failed to disclose some information to the paper, it “set off (an) internal discussion about whether the newspaper was getting the full story from its former reporter.”


Obama’s Way Forward (In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya…)

On Wednesday night, President Barack Obama gave a speech “on the Way Forward in Afghanistan.” Addressing the nation live from the East Room of the White House, the President shared his plan to draw down the number of troops in that country.

“By the time I took office, the war in Afghanistan had entered its seventh year… (In) one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve made as President, I ordered an additional 30,000 American troops into Afghanistan,” the President said. “(S)tarting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer.”

The President also said that by 2014, all United States troops would be gone, “and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.”

Obama also discussed further military action in Pakistan, saying “there should be no doubt that so long as I am President, the United States will never tolerate a safe haven for those who aim to kill us.”

The President also addressed naysayers who claim the U.S. should not be involved in so many conflicts abroad, including Libya: “Some would have America retreat from our responsibility as an anchor of global security, and embrace an isolation that ignores the very real threats that we face.”

“When innocents are being slaughtered and global security endangered, we don’t have to choose between standing idly by or acting on our own,” the President said. “Instead, we must rally international action, which we’re doing in Libya, where we do not have a single soldier on the ground, but are supporting allies in protecting the Libyan people and giving them the chance to determine their own destiny.”

Obama Afghan Withdrawal Plan Leaves 68,000 Troops Behind

Pelosi wants Obama to withdraw more troops from AfghanistanIn a prime-time speech on Wednesday, the President announced the withdrawal of 10,000 troops by the end of this year, as well as an additional 23,000 to depart by the summer of 2012.

After the speech, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized the plan and said many in Congress were hoping for something more.

“It has been the hope of many in Congress and across the country that the full drawdown of U.S. forces would happen sooner than the President laid out – and we will continue to press for a better outcome,” Pelosi said.

The President added that it was time to start “nation-building at home” with the troop withdrawal. This was the same phrase used by Republican Presidential Candidate Jon Huntsman on June 22 during an NBC Today show interview.

Regarding Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai told The Associated Press that the nation’s youth would be prepared to defend the country as the U.S. troops pull out.

Ron Paul And Barney Frank Introduce Bill To End Pot Prohibition

Rep. Ron Paul introduces bill to end Federal marijuana prosecutionA Republican Presidential candidate and a Massachusetts Democrat introduced a bill on Thursday to end the Federal prohibition on marijuana.

Representatives Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.) announced that their bill will allow each State to create a marijuana policy of its own, as well as legalize, regulate and tax the drug.

According to the nonprofit site, 16 States and Washington, D.C., have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana. However, because there is a current Federal law prohibiting the sale or tax of marijuana, some States have pointed to confusion regarding what they could or couldn’t do.

For example, The Associated Press reported that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would not implement a new State law allowing medical marijuana programs until he received assurances people in his State wouldn’t be prosecuted federally.

Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, told CNN that he expects the bill “to be talked about quite a bit.”

“I think it will spark a strong debate in the media, and we hope to get some (House) floor time for it,” Fox added.

Currently, the Federal law concerning marijuana describes the drug as highly addictive with no acceptable medicinal value.

How I Learned The Truth About The State

I’ll never forget my last visit to lovely Hinesville, Ga. For it was there that I learned a valuable lesson, one I shall never forget: In a police state, we’re all criminals.

Think about it: How many laws have you broken today? This week? This month? Have you changed lanes without a turn signal? Exceeded the posted speed limit? Hired a neighborhood kid to cut your grass and then paid him under the table? Engaged in commerce with someone who is in the country illegally? Bought lemonade from an unlicensed “dealer” in the form of an innocent child?

In Hinesville, I was accosted for “animal cruelty.” We were traveling to visit family in the southwestern part of the state. In the car were my wife, my two young daughters and our two dogs, Methuselah and Garibaldi.

The older of my two daughters had a rash, so we stopped at Walmart to get her some antihistamine cream. We emerged from the store, less than 20 minutes later, to be greeted by an animal-control officer and the stereotypical police officer, complete with a Napoleon complex and cheesy mustache.

You see, we left the dogs in the car, with the windows down and a dish of water to drink. A noble citizen watched us emerge from the car and promptly called animal control. An agent was dispatched to rescue our persecuted beasts.

I was informed that I was being charged with criminal animal cruelty, subject to appear in court at a later date. Apparently, the fact that my dogs were panting was proof positive that they were at death’s door. Never mind that they always pant, even in an air-conditioned house.

The officer informed me that I was going to have to take the dogs to the vet to be checked out before we would be allowed to continue on our way. I am reasonably sure that such a request is outside of their official authority, but I agreed to comply upon the premise that they would drop all charges when the dogs were given a clean bill of health. As I suspected, they balked at this idea.

I tried another tactic. I calmly explained to the animal-control officer that we were not from the area and asked if he could simply levy some kind of fine, rather than require a court appearance. This is when things got fun. “Animal cruelty is a warrant offense,” I was told. It requires a court appearance and carries the threat of jail time. Then I made a crucial mistake; I asked a logical question of a law-enforcement officer.

“At what point,” I asked, “was I in violation of the law? When I left the car? Five minutes later? Ten minutes?” I wanted a specific definition for the cruelty in which I was supposedly engaged.

He couldn’t answer, but the heroic policeman — let’s just call him “Vic Maldonado” — sprang into action. This innocent question left him no choice but to pull out both his baton and Taser and charge toward me. When I raised my hands as if to say, “I am unarmed, and that is an unnecessary show of force,” I was ordered to turn around and place my hands on the police cruiser. I asked why; no answer was given, except to radio for backup and claim that an officer had been “assaulted.”

To this day, I am glad that he didn’t take the additional step of searching my car, wherein were two legal, loaded pistols. I shudder to think what might have happened.

I was cuffed and escorted to the back of the squad car. I sat in the car for half an hour, while my wife and children sat and watched. When the backup arrived, I watched and listened through the open front window as “Maldonado” reenacted the confrontation. I was particularly interested in the part where I physically slammed the officer against the car and he somehow found the restraint to not shoot or Taser me.

Eventually, I was let out of the car and cited for disorderly conduct. The animal-control officer apologized for harassing me and promised to see to it that the judge dropped all animal-cruelty charges. He was clearly shell-shocked by the escalation he had witnessed. The fine for my “disorderly conduct” was $300, and the court date was set for 7:15 a.m.

This made it reasonably certain that, even if I chose to fight the charge, it would require an overnight stay, the hiring of a lawyer and the incurrence of expenses far exceeding the cost of the fine. I think this was not a coincidence but rather a calculated way of raising funds.

I intended to pay the fine in legal-tender pennies, but was dissuaded by my father-in-law, who informed me that a Georgia judge had held someone in contempt of court, subject to another fine, for just such an offense.

Melodramatic prison movies always use corny lines like “prison has a way of changing a man.” I didn’t experience a prison visit, but my brush with the law certainly changed me. The last shred of the veil of naïveté was lifted; the myth of “Officer Friendly” was banished forever. What was once merely a vague sense of distrust has given way to a much stronger feeling: I hate the state.

The irony in all this? My family and dogs sat in a hot car for more than an hour while the police harassed me. Apparently, animal cruelty can be perpetrated only by citizens, not by the soldiers of the crown.

–Stefano R. Mugnaini

Texas Lawmakers Pass Bill Protecting Light Bulb Manufacturers

The Texas Legislature recently passed HB 2510, which allows light bulb manufacturers to continue producing incandescent bulbs in the State, in spite of Federal mandates aimed at phasing out incandescent bulbs by 2012.

“In 2007, the U.S. Congress enacted and President (George W.) Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act, a portion of which sets an energy efficiency standard for general service incandescent lamps and for incandescent reflector lamps and fluorescent lamps,” read the House Research Organization analysis of the bill.

“HB 2510 would affirm that an incandescent light bulb that was manufactured in Texas and remained in the state would not be subject to federal law or regulation under the authority of the U.S. Congress to regulate interstate commerce.”

The measure, after passing in the Legislature, was sent to Governor Rick Perry for consideration. Perry has until Sunday to veto the bill, sign it into law or allow it to become law without his signature.

The bill’s supporters argue that the Federal Energy Independence and Security Act effectively outlawed incandescent light bulbs, which “is misguided for many reasons. First, it stifles domestic industries that produce incandescent light bulbs in favor of compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs), which almost exclusively are made in China. Second, it promotes an environmentally and economically questionable product,” according to the analysis.





County Ordinance Requires Swimmers To Wear A Life Vest

An ordinance passed Monday in Washington requires King County river swimmers to wear a life vest. Violators will first receive a warning, and then face an $86 fine.

“This Council sometimes thinks it’s everybody’s mom,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, who voted no on the ordinance, told The ordinance passed by a 5-4 vote.

Supporters of the ordinance said excessive mountain snowpack could make area waterways particularly hazardous this summer. “We are looking at a potentially deadly situation,” Councilmember Larry Phillips said, according to the article.

However, the article said opponents of the ordinance called it an intrusive move by “big government,” and “sheriff’s deputies had better things to do than to write tickets for people on waterways and would be better off focusing on people engaging in dangerous behavior.”

White House Edits Speech Transcript, Changes ‘Laughter’ To ‘Applause’

On Tuesday morning, the Drudge Report prominently displayed a link to a transcript of a speech President Barack Obama gave at a fundraiser Monday night. The right-leaning website mocked the transcript for recording that some of the President’s remarks had been met with laughter.

“Over the last 15 months we’ve created over 2.1 million private sector jobs. (Laughter.)” the transcript read, according to POLITICO.

According to the article, “at 4:04 p.m. on Tuesday, the corrected transcript appeared: Laughter changed to applause, and noted with an asterisk.”

In his speech at the fundraiser, one of two held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Monday, the President spoke of work yet to be done. However, he acknowledged that the enthusiasm which brought him into office in 2008 has waned.

“Now I’m gray. (Laughter.) I’ve got dings and dents. The old posters are all faded. (Laughter.) People make fun of hope and change. And some folks have said, well, change didn’t happen as fast as I wanted, or it’s not exactly as I expected, or why can’t he just change the minds of all those Republicans. (Laughter.)”

TSA Jurisdiction: Planes… Buses, Ferries And Subways?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has teamed up with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol to conduct unannounced security screenings everywhere from airports to ferry docks to bus terminals.

“As part of the TSA’s request for FY 2012 funding, TSA Administrator John Pistole told Congress last week that the TSA conducts 8,000 unannounced security screenings every year,” Mother Jones reported. “These screenings, conducted with local law enforcement agencies as well as immigration, can be as simple as checking out cargo at a busy seaport. But more and more, they seem to involve giving airport-style pat-downs and screenings of unsuspecting passengers at bus terminals, ferries, and even subways.”

The screenings are conducted by the TSA’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams.

“VIPR teams work with local security and law enforcement officials to supplement existing security resources, provide deterrent presence and detection capabilities, and introduce an element of unpredictability to disrupt potential terrorist planning activities,” according to a press release on the TSA website.

VIPR teams work with ICE and Border Patrol to look for national-security threats, immigration law violators and smuggling, according to Mother Jones.

“VIPR operations are now even targeting freight trucks on highways. In addition to the random checks on public transit systems, it makes you wonder: can private vehicles be far behind? Will there be any mode of transportation beyond the reach of the TSA?” the article read.

Looking For The Union Label

Big Labor has dug its tentacles so deeply into the Administration of Barack Obama that it has a firm grip on the President’s rather pliable spinal column. If AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka spent any more time at the White House, he would have his own closet in the Lincoln Bedroom. And we have all enjoyed watching Obama deploy Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and teachers’ union storm troopers against the taxpayers and children of Wisconsin.

However, as Big Labor has exploited its relationship with the Democratic Party, not all its slithering has been as easy to spot as a gang of thugs swooping down on anti-Obamacare senior citizens. While violent thugs have rushed out of the Democrats’ front gate, less violent (albeit more dangerous) thugs have snuck through the back.

Witness the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as it punishes the people of South Carolina for daring to live in a state that doesn’t require its citizens to sell their souls to the AFL-CIO just to hold down a steady job. The NLRB has stuck with its plan to try to force Boeing to abandon its 787 Dreamliner plant in North Charleston, S.C., because Obama’s union backers are about as excited about a non-union Boeing shop as they are about Federal grand juries.

In an America struggling to escape the gravity of the economic black hole created by Obama’s Keynesian bumbling, there’s little that worries me more than an active effort by the President and his Big Labor accomplices to keep thousands of Americans unemployed — unless it’s an active effort by the President and his Big Labor accomplices to keep thousands of Americans unemployed because they refuse to work with Big Labor’s boot on their necks.

South Carolina is a right-to-work state. That means, in essence, that the people of the Palmetto State are free to pursue life, liberty and a decent 9-to-5 job without having to deal with a protection racket engineered by the manicured K-Street parasites who control the unions from their plush offices and West Wing confabs. Boeing is pressing forward with a facility that would impact the South Carolina economy by nearly $10 billion. The NLRB, led by Lafe Solomon and Craig Becker (both of whom are union thugs in designer suits), is trying to force Boeing to abandon the project and instead take the whole operation back to the company’s home state of Washington, where the union thugs have made Boeing’s business extraordinarily difficult.

Although the NLRB is supposed to be an independent organization, its own website touts its devotion to promoting union control of American manufacturing over the rights of Americans to simply work. Becker, who has served as general counsel to both the AFL-CIO and the SEIU (and was a member of Obama’s Presidential transition team), is so radically opposed to workers’ rights that Obama had to recess appoint him to the NLRB after even some Democratic Senators expressed misgivings over Becker’s agenda.

In the most recent development, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers filed a complaint that Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) is trying to intimidate the NLRB into dropping its union-backing action. I suppose I might buy Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) showing the union thugs his teeth, but Lindsay Graham? The NLRB is trying to back an Obama play to force money back into his union thug benefactors’ pockets, and they’re claiming Lindsay Graham pushed them around? I’m trying to think of a less-intimidating Senator (much less Republican Senator) — no fair naming Senator Harry “Deputy Droop-a-long” Reid.

Choosing between union kickbacks and job creation would take me less time than choosing between an hour of MSNBC and an hour of anything short of a root canal (unless the dentist looks like Heidi Klum in a lab coat). Obama earns praise from the unions for keeping his distance from the NLRB’s war on South Carolina workers. But with Becker at the head of the NLRB column, not only is Obama leading by proxy, he’s essentially leading in person.

Lessons In History

In his column this week, Patrick J. Buchanan wrote about the ignorance of today’s American schoolchildren, as revealed by the results of the National Assessment of Education Progress test.

On a history test given to 31,000 pupils, most fourth-graders could not identify a picture of Abraham Lincoln or why he was important. Most eighth-graders could not identify an advantage American forces had in the Revolutionary War, most 12th-graders did not know why America entered World War II or that China was North Korea’s ally in the Korean War.

One of the questions on the test showed a poster put out by the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies in 1940 that depicted a boot with a huge swastika on its sole about to trample the Statue of Liberty and asked which country the boot represented. Four countries were listed as possible answers. But a majority of students failed to pick Germany.

Buchanan wrote:

“We’re raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate,” historian David McCullough told The Wall Street Journal.

“History textbooks,” added McCullough, “are (sic) “badly written.” Many texts have been made “so politically correct as to be comic. Very minor characters that are currently fashionable are given considerable space, whereas people of major consequence” — such as inventor Thomas Edison — “are given very little space or none at all.”

Trendies and minorities have their sensibilities massaged in the new history, which is, says McCullough, “often taught in categories — women’s history, African American history, environmental history — so that many students have no sense of chronology … no idea of what followed what.”

But if the generations coming out of our schools do not know our past, do not who we are or what we have done as a people, how will they come to love America, refute her enemies or lead her confidently?

This ignorance of history is a plague that is leading America down the road to ruin. Socialism (and its related “isms” communism and Marxism), which just 30 years ago was rightly considered a danger to America, has not just become an acceptable alternative to a growing number of today’s youths, but is actually something many are striving for.

Few are the people today younger than 40 who appreciate the Constitution and the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, and fewer still are those who have ever read it, much less understand what it means and says. And an even smaller number know that the tyranny of the British Empire the Founders rejected and defeated is no less than the tyranny our own government now imposes upon us.

The result is an acceptance — even an embrace — of the growing police state in exchange for a life of government handouts.

Noah Webster (who authored the first American textbook and dictionary) once said: “Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country.”

Parents who expect their children to learn the real history of America in a government school are deluded. It’s something that must be taught at home. And that teaching is vital to restoring the American Republic.

Obama Ignoring Military Advice With Troop Withdrawals

Tonight, President Barack Obama will give a major speech regarding the Afghanistan war campaign. He is expected to announce the withdrawal of up to 30,000 United States troops from Afghanistan by November of next year.

“The move comes despite warnings from his military commanders that recent security gains are fragile. They have been urging him to keep troop numbers high until 2013,” read a Guardian article. The White House confirmed, according to the article, that the troop withdrawals will be “significant.”

“(NATO) commanders led by General David Petraeus have set out the risks of withdrawing too many troops too soon,” the article reported. “They had urged him to keep in place the bulk of the extra 30,000 troops he committed to the ‘surge’ until the end of 2012, so a drawdown can begin in 2013. That would give the military another full ‘fighting season’ to attack Taliban strongholds and target insurgent leaders.”

At a press conference on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced the President’s upcoming speech, but would not give any details about the actual number of troops being withdrawn.

“The parameters of the decision involve the beginning of the drawdown of U.S. forces. As you know, we ramped up in a surge the number of forces in Afghanistan. And we are at that peak point,” Carney said.

“And the President identified in December of 2009 — made the commitment that forces would begin to draw down in July of 2011. He is keeping that commitment. And that’s what he will announce tomorrow evening.”

When asked whether the President’s decision was based on the cost of the war, rather than the military appropriateness of a withdrawal, Carney said the President was “extremely knowledgeable” about the war in Afghanistan, and “we are always mindful of the fact that, as powerful and wealthy as this country is, we do not have infinite and unlimited resources, and we have to make decisions about what — how to spend our precious dollars and, more importantly, how and when to use military force and put our — put Americans in harm’s way.”

UPDATE: As of 2:48 pm EDT, The Washington Post reported: “President Obama will announce in his prime-time address Wednesday that he will order home 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan this year and another 23,000 by the end of September 2012, according to administration officials speaking on condition of anonymity.”

CNN Poll Finds Some Embracing Libertarian Stances

Poll reveals more leaning toward Libertarian viewsIt appears that some Americans are leaning more toward Libertarian views than they have in the past.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, there was an uptick on two answers in the poll that were Libertarian in nature.

The first essentially asked if the government should be doing more to help people, or if problems should be left to citizens and businesses to solve.

Last year, 61 percent of the respondents said the government was doing too much, which is a view shared by Libertarians. This year, that percentage increased to 63 percent.

The second question asked if the United States government should promote traditional values in society or if the government should not favor any set of values. The poll showed an increase from 44 percent to 50 percent saying the government should not favor any set values.

CNN used the Opinion Research Corp. to conduct the poll, which was done June 3-7 of this year and involved interviews with 1,105 adult Americans.