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.

The Birth Of A Humanitarian Effort

The Battle of Solferino was fought in Northern Italy 152 years ago this week. The combatants were the Austrian army and the alliance of France and Sardinia, led by Napoleon III. After 15 hours of fighting, the Austrians retreated, leaving more than 40,000 men killed or injured. Even Napoleon III was said to have been sickened by the slaughter.

Another man who was also appalled was Henri Dunant, a Swiss businessman who passed through a village where many of the wounded were being treated. He returned home and wrote a book about what he had seen, called A Memory of Solferino.

Dunant proposed forming an association of trained volunteers who would care for the wounded in future wars. His idea led to an international humanitarian movement that now has more than 90 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on three different occasions – in 1917, 1944 and 1963. Sadly, it looks as though the need for it will not end anytime soon.

–Chip Wood

 

Fruit And Vegetable Consumption On The Rise In California

Fruit And Vegetable Consumption On The Rise In CaliforniaThe typical American diet is often characterized as being high in fat, sodium and sugar, and relatively deficient in fresh fruits and vegetables.

However, that may not be true in California. The results of a survey that was published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior reveal that the average consumption of produce in California has significantly increased over the past decade.

Residents of the state consumed an average of 5.2 servings of fruit or vegetables daily in 2007, compared to 3.8 servings each day that were reported in 1997.

Moreover, the trend of more produce consumption was pronounced in both high- and low-income individuals.

“Examining fruit and vegetable trends by income demonstrates the importance of being able to survey all population groups, specifically the low-income population, but also the higher-income groups. Such data document the overall population-wide trends and allow comparisons between more- and less-advantaged groups,” said researcher Sharon Sugerman.

The survey was conducted by researchers at Network for a Healthy California, California Department of Public Health and the Public Health Institute. The study involved 1,400 to 1,700 residents per year.

Texas Anti-Groping Bill Back Before Legislature

The Texas anti-groping bill that died after the thugocracy that is President Barack Obama’s so-called Justice Department threatened to make Texas a no-fly zone is up for consideration in a special legislative session. This proves Texas Governor Rick Perry will run for President and is also a ploy by Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst — a former CIA operative who worked hand-in-glove with Obama to kill the bill in the regular session — to cement his bid to replace retiring Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2012.

We pointed out here the Third World practices employed by the illegitimate President and his racist Attorney General against Texas’ efforts to halt the Transportation Security Administration’s gropefest/pornshow activities that make criminals out of traveling Americans.

Neither Perry nor Dewhurst wanted this legislation to pass. But Texans have pressed the Legislature, and activists have confronted Perry at book signings about bringing up the legislation — that would criminalize “intrusive touching” by TSA agents without probable cause — in the special session. The bill would subject TSA agents to a year in jail and a fine of $4,000 if they “touch the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person, even through that person’s clothing for the purpose of granting access to a building or a form of transportation,” according to a report by WOAI News Radio.

As the bill nears passage (it had enough votes to pass in the regular session), let’s see if more threats are issued by the Administration. I’m thinking Chicago-style politics won’t play well with regular Texans — but the political elites in the State may again be cowed.

Americans need to recognize that Perry is not the small-government conservative the mainstream media make him out to be, but is actually a Bilderberg-controlled plant that will give the global cabal two horses in the GOP Presidential contest (the other is Mitt Romney).

The same can be said of Dewhurst, who in addition to working for the CIA held a post at the U.S. State Department and is, therefore, the ultimate political elitist. It was his lobbying behind the scenes that pulled the rug out from under Texas Senate Republicans and ultimately led to the bill’s death the first time around.

Greek Economic Crisis Could Impact U.S. As Debt Ceiling Negotiations Continue

The debt crisis in Greece may be felt in the U.S.European officials are currently considering the second bailout for Greece in a year, something that some experts say could greatly impact the United States economy.

“We’ve discovered that the United States is very interconnected with the rest of the globe in the last couple of years,” Jon Hilsenrath, The Wall Street Journal‘s chief economic correspondent, said on ABC’s Good Morning America. “Our economy is very vulnerable to shocks right now. It’s not like we were in the 1980s and the 2000s when there were shocks like Hurricane Katrina or the tech bubble burst, and the economy kind of sailed right through.”

The impact of a Greek bailout comes at a difficult time for America, as lawmakers debate the merits of raising the debt ceiling. Fox News reports that negotiators have given a July 1 deadline for a decision to be reached.

Vice President Joe Biden, who is helping to oversee the negotiations, says that the deadline is needed so that both Republicans and Democrats can take a compromise and sell it to their caucuses in anticipation of Aug. 2, the date Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has given as the time when America would begin defaulting on its debts.

Romney Refuses To Sign Pro-Life Pledge

The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life political action committee, recently asked Republican Presidential hopefuls to pledge to advance the anti-abortion movement if elected President. Five candidates seeking the 2012 GOP nod have signed the Pro-Life Leadership Presidential Pledge,” but Mitt Romney is not among them.

Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania have all signed the pledge.

The pledge states that the candidate, if elected, would only nominate judges to the United States Supreme Court and Federal benches “who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution,” select Pro-life Cabinet members and advance pro-life legislation while in office.

“As much as I share the goals of the Susan B. Anthony List, its well-meaning pledge is overly broad and would have unintended consequences. That is why I could not sign it,” Romney explained in a blog on his website. “It is one thing to end federal funding for an organization like Planned Parenthood; it is entirely another to end all federal funding for thousands of hospitals across America.”

“I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother,” Romney wrote. “If I have the opportunity to serve as our nation’s next president, I commit to doing everything in my power to cultivate, promote, and support a culture of life in America.”

FDA Releases New Warnings For Cigarette Packs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released nine designs for new warnings that will be required to appear on cigarette packing and advertisements starting September 2012.

The designs, which can feature graphic depictions of diseases linked to smoking, “will appear on the top 50 percent of both the front and rear panels of each cigarette package” and “in the upper portion of each cigarette advertisement, occupying at least 20 percent of the area of the advertisement,” according to a statement on the FDA’s website.

“FDA selected the final nine cigarette health warnings based on their ability to effectively communicate the health risks of smoking to the public. In making selections, FDA considered its review of relevant scientific literature, more than 1,700 public comments, and results from its 18,000 person study,” the statement read.

The FDA has implemented a timeline for manufacturers of tobacco products to implement the new packaging. By October 22, 2012, cigarette manufacturers will no longer be able to distribute cigarettes for sale in the U.S. unless they display the new warnings.

“The introduction of these warnings is expected to have a significant public health impact by decreasing the number of smokers, resulting in lives saved, increased life expectancy, and lower medical costs,” the statement read. “The new warnings serve as reminder of the negative health consequences of smoking every time someone picks up a pack of cigarettes or views a cigarette advertisement.”

Obama’s Mortgage On Mayhem

Almost all of Afghanistan’s economy is supported by foreign aid, most of which comes from the United States. We have a President who is borrowing money from a potentially much larger enemy, China, to finance foreign wars against Islamic countries who hate us.

According to The World Bank, 97 percent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is “derived from spending related to the international military and donor community presence.”

Afghanistan’s government has annual revenues of only $2.5 billion, but the cost of funding its security forces alone is estimated at between $6 and $8 billion. Yes, it sounds like Afghanistan runs its budget the way Washington runs ours.

The United States has spent $18.8 billion on aid to Afghanistan in the past decade. According to a report released by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, without proper planning, “Afghanistan could suffer a severe economic depression when foreign troops leave in 2014 unless the proper planning begins now.”

I have news for those Senators. Afghanistan is already suffering an economic depression. Trying to prove differently will only further bankrupt the United States. (President Barack Obama plans to announce today further troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.)

Afghanistan is a corrupt country that hates our Christian guts and has zero prospects for advancing beyond the Stone Age. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is at best a drug addict and at worst a jihadist in sheep’s clothing.

According to the newspaper The Chronicle Herald, Karzai is no better than Moammar Gadhafi: “Since the tampering and corruption of the August 2009 presidential elections in Afghanistan failed to produce a legitimate result, the Hamid Karzai regime, like Gadhafi, has no legitimate democratic mandate.

“Karzai remains in power simply because he was the chosen candidate of the U.S. in the first place. The notorious Northern Alliance warlords who constitute Karzai’s cabinet are known to have committed numerous war crimes, and some continue to preside over narco-criminal drug enterprises, yet they remain unindicted (sic) for the simple reason that NATO needs their authority to run the country.”

The only booming businesses in Afghanistan are terrorism and opium. Their heroin is smuggled onto our streets, turning cities into slums and destroying American values.

Furthermore, Karzai has implemented Sharia law, including a 2009 law which makes it legal for a husband to rape his wife. Under the law, if the wife won’t comply with her husband’s advances, it is OK to starve her. And if you think a Ben Franklin-type person is about to spring forth in Afghanistan, think again. It is a crime punishable by death for a citizen to convert to Christianity.

According to Pacific Free Press, there were 96,900 U.S. troops and 87,483 supporting contractors in Afghanistan at the end of last year. That means there are almost 200,000 Americans backstopping a country rife with extremists.

Still, the Administration of President Barack Obama seems to have no immediate plans to pull out of Afghanistan.

As reported by Pacific Free Press, a Public Broadcasting Service reporter said: “An executive at a small defense contractor recently joked to me, ‘Afghanistan is our business plan.’ I asked him what he would do if the war ended. He stared at me for a moment and said, ‘Well, then I hope we invade Libya.'”

For the military industrial establishment, things are turning up roses. If some people in the Obama Administration get their way, there will be boots on the ground in Libya.

And it is not stopping there. On June 8, The New York Times reported that the Obama Administration has intensified the American covert war in Yemen. It seems Obama has never met a war he didn’t like. He has almost the whole alphabet covered, from A to Y (Afghanistan to Yemen). South Africa’s Zulus better be on alert.

Borrowing From Peter To Kill Paul

And where exactly is the money coming from to fight all these wars against Islam? Financing much of this fighting is China, which continues to buy U.S. Treasury bills, notes and bonds. It is an ingenious way of doubling down on America’s impending ruination.

The United States has a national debt of $13 trillion. How does a bankrupt nation keep fighting foreign wars? It borrows money.

China holds almost $1 trillion of Uncle Sam IOUs. It is the country with the most to gain from America’s grand decline.

In a column on Digital Journal, freelance writer Kelly Bowlin wrote: “Let’s put things in perspective. The U.S. has hit its debt ceiling. This comes as bad news, because we’re currently fighting 3 un-winnable wars.”

One of the few people who seems to understand and has a vote in Congress is Presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-Texas).

Paul is one of six members of the House of Representatives who released a letter earlier this month calling for a reduction in U.S. military spending by scaling back U.S. military commitments and reconfiguring the country’s global military strategies.

Paul said Congress “cannot be serious about reining in federal government spending if we take the military budget off the table. We must focus our resources on defending the United States rather than on building and maintaining an unsustainable trillion-dollar empire overseas.”

I commend Paul for his efforts, but I fret they amount to calling a Roman water wagon while Nero was plucking his fiddle. America’s financial situation is in extreme peril because of decades of bad policies. Obama is only making matters worse.

The end result will be the continued devaluation of the U.S. dollar and a bear market in dollar instruments. The U.S. economy is again staggering, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is clinging at 12,000.

Action to take: Expect a summer of discontent at home and abroad as well as in the financial markets. Keep your investments in real assets, either with physical precious metals or with carefully chosen equities that own real assets such as gold, silver, oil and gas.

Yours in good times and bad,

–John Myers
Editor, Myers’ Energy and Gold Report

The 4-Day-Long Goodbye: Weiner Officially Resigns

Sender of sexual tweets Anthony Weiner is officially the former Representative from New York. Four days after publicly announcing his resignation, Weiner submitted copies of his resignation letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

According to POLITICO’s On Congress blog, the letter was succinct: “I hereby resign as a member of the House of Representatives for New York’s Ninth Congressional District, effective at midnight, June 21, 1011. It has been an honor to serve the people of Queens and Brooklyn.”

Weiner’s resignation announcement four days ago caused further controversy as news outlets learned the former Congressman would receive a generous retirement package after just 12 years of service. Each additional day he waited to resign added to this pension.

“Weiner, 46, has been a Congressman for 12 years and has a recent salary of $174,000 (standard for both the House and Senate). After leaving office he has a couple of choices. He can begin taking discounted pension payments of about $25,000 a year starting at age 56 or wait until age 62 and collect about $35,000 a year,” read an article on SmartMoney.com.

“In addition to his pension, Weiner will collect from (an) additional plan, plus Social Security. He also has a blue-chip stock portfolio that disclosure filings show was worth $226,000 in 2009 when the market had tanked, so it’s probably worth about $300,000 now… Weiner is getting the equivalent of a $1.2 million exit payment after serving just 12 years on the job.”

Huntsman Joins Race, Vows To Take ‘High Road’

“I’m Jon Huntsman, and I’m humbled.”

Former Utah Governor and United States Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman Jr. announced his bid for the 2012 Republican Presidential nod Tuesday morning with his characteristic mild manner.

“What we need now is… leadership that knows we need more than hope. Leadership that knows we need answers,” Huntsman said in his announcement.

“We must make hard decisions that are necessary to avert disaster. If we don’t, in less than a decade, every dollar of Federal revenue will go to covering the costs of Medicare, Social Security and interest payments on our debt,” Huntsman said.

“Meanwhile, we’ll sink deeper in debt to pay for everything else — from national security to disaster relief. Our country will fall behind the productivity of other countries. Our influence in the world will wane. Our security will grow ever more precarious. The 21st century then will be known as the end of the American century. We can’t accept this, and we won’t.”

Often labeled a “moderate,” Huntsman has been attacked for his openly genial relations with President Barack Obama and the Clinton family, and his decision to avoid condemning his competitors personally during his campaign. After Tuesday’s speech, it is clear that Huntsman will not abandon his “nice guy” strategy.

“We will conduct this campaign on the high road,” Huntsman said. “I respect my fellow Republican candidates. And I respect the President of the United States. He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help the country we both love. But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better President, not who’s the better American.”

Former Utah Governor John Huntsman Announces Republican Presidential Bid

John Huntsman will run for the Republican nomination for President.Former Utah Governor John Huntsman has announced that he is running for the Republican nomination for President, reports Fox News.

The news source reports that Huntsman, who served as President Barack Obama’s Ambassador to China, is hoping to position himself as a unique choice among the crowded GOP field, which includes former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).

“Our campaign is different. Our ideas are different. Our results will bring America back to the top,” he wrote to supporters in a recent email.

According to Fox News, Huntsman has a number of more moderate positions than his fellow candidates and his time working in the Obama Administration may hurt him in the primaries.

However, the news source points out that he was elected to the Governorship with 75 percent of the vote in 2008, showing his popularity.

Further complicating the matter may be Huntsman’s Mormon faith. According to a recent Gallup poll, 22 percent of respondents said they would not vote for their party’s nominee if he or she were Mormon. Romney is also a Mormon.

GOP Candidates Criticize Romney For Not Signing Pro-Life Pledge

Mitt Romney has been criticized for not signing an anti-abortion pledge.Former Massachusetts Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has come under fire for refusing to sign an anti-abortion pledge.

Romney was criticized by a number of fellow nominees for the the 2012 Republican Presidential ticket for not signing the pro-life pledge offered by the Susan B. Anthony group. According to Fox News, those who sign the pledge agree to work to ban abortions 20 weeks into a pregnancy, support only pro-life judicial nominees and appoint only pro-life individuals to cabinet posts, among other provisions.

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), all Republican Presidential candidates, have signed the pledge.

“The excuses for not signing clearly continue the doubts about his leadership and commitment to ending the practice of abortion — particularly for a candidate who ran as pro-choice for the Senate and Governorship of Massachusetts,” said a statement from the Bachmann campaign.

Despite the criticism, Romney is still out in front of the rest of the Republican field, according to the latest Gallup poll.

Remembering The 25¢ Hamburger

It’s funny how seemingly small or fleeting incidents stick in your memory throughout life. Hyperinflation, aka runaway inflation, is becoming a very real possibility to millions of Americans who heretofore clung to their weekly visits to Outback Steakhouse and the feel-good mantra of “American exceptionalism.” Considering this, my memory takes me back to my teenage years.

Growing up on the east side of town, the Towne House Drive-In was a real-life “American Graffiti” hangout for cool and hungry teens who loved burgers, fries and milkshakes. I thought nothing of having a midnight gorge of two double cheeseburgers, a large order of fries and an extra-large shake. I don’t think I ever heard the words “cholesterol” or “saturated fat.” Had I, I doubt it would have phased me.

The Towne House Drive-In did a bang-up business in those days. But just two blocks west, on the same side of the street, was a less-popular eatery, the Eastmoor Drive-In. I went to the Eastmoor every now and then, but was never particularly impressed.

Then, one day, it happened. The Towne House Drive-In raised the price of its hamburgers from 25 to 30 cents. The thought had never crossed my mind that the price of anything in my little cloistered world would ever increase. For me, not only was the universe static, but so was my hometown, my house, my life and the people I hung out with.

Shortly after the Towne House’s earthshaking announcement that it was raising the price of its burgers, one of my friends happened to mention he preferred the Eastmoor Drive-In to the Townhouse. When I asked how he could possibly prefer the Eastmoor to the Towne House, he responded: “Because, as matter of principle, I would never pay 30 cents for a hamburger when I can get one for 25 cents at the Eastmoor.”

I thought about my friend’s comments all these years later when my wife and I recently visited a newly opened mid-priced restaurant. I didn’t particularly like anything on the menu, so I decided to be daring and order the “gourmet” hamburger. Price: $10! I consoled myself by recalling that in New Orleans, a restaurant called Luke features a $16 burger on its menu. Granted, the Luke burger is a mix of brisket and sirloin and is delectable, but it’s still $16.

In any event, as it turned out, the $10 burger wasn’t anything special, but that’s beside the point. The question is: How can the price of a hamburger rise from 25 cents to $10 with the passage of time?

The answer is monetary inflation. In truth, the increased cost of a burger over the past 50 years is a delusion. It’s just a symptom of the real problem: a decrease in the value of the dollar. As a result of this decrease in value, it takes a lot more money for someone to buy what he did one, 10 or 50 years ago.

I was first introduced to this reality by Harry Browne, through his 1970 classic How You Can Profit from the Coming Devaluation. Browne was a legendary teacher and master of simplifying complex issues. In his book, he confidently predicted that then-President Richard Nixon would be forced to devalue the dollar, at a time when Nixon was pledging to the American public that he would never do such a thing.

But within a matter of months of Browne’s book coming out, the most powerful man on the planet, the President of the United States, was forced to do precisely what he swore he would never do — and what a relatively unknown author had said the President would have to do — devalue the dollar and sever its ties to gold.

That made it possible for government to simply print whatever it couldn’t borrow in the open market or steal from working Americans (through “taxation”) in order to expand its vote-buying entitlement programs and outrageously wasteful spending on politicians’ endless pet projects.

By the late 1970s, I, along with a handful of other writers who understood the inflation con, began predicting that runaway inflation was just around the corner. After all, Jimmy Carter, probably the second-worst president in U.S. history (don’t ask), had the (admitted) inflation rate roaring at 18 percent. In an article on March 24, 1980, even Time magazine noted: “Usually confident businessmen and bankers have begun talking of Latin American-style hyperinflation, financial collapse, major bankruptcies, a drastic drop in the American standard of living.” Does that sound familiar?

The hyperinflation didn’t happen, and neither did the drastic drop in the American standard of living. Through a combination of optimism, tax-rate reductions, “controlling” the money supply, deregulating business and the economy, and reducing government spending, President Ronald Reagan came to the rescue, spurred economic growth and temporarily staved off financial Armageddon.

In fact, after Reagan left office, Americans felt so good about things that even those who should have known better let their guards down and forgot Thomas Paine’s warning: “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”

Comforted by artificial prosperity and distracted by wars, sex scandals and brain-dulling TV fare, Americans hardly noticed the gradual increase in prices. In fact, when George W. Bush took office in 2001, the dollar had lost only about one-third of its value since the end of Ronald Reagan’s second term in office.

Of course, in 1980 the Bureau of Labor Statistics removed the two most frequently purchased items — food and energy — from the Consumer Price Index in an effort to delude the citizenry and prolong the inevitable. But now, the day of reckoning is at hand.

With House Speaker John Boehner playing lovefest rounds of golf with President Barack Obama, the debt ceiling is sure to be raised again, most likely without a corresponding reduction in government spending. As a result, the misery index (the unemployment rate plus the inflation rate) is also sure to increase at an accelerating pace as millions of people are torn between filling their gas tanks and putting food on their tables.

I find it interesting that my introduction to inflation began so innocently with that nickel rise in the price of a hamburger at the Towne House Drive-In five decades ago. But, at the time, I was clueless — as were most Americans. After all, it had nothing to do with girls or basketball.

By the way, that friend of mine who balked at the nickel increase later became a Bobby Kennedy “social reform” groupie. I wonder what he thinks of the steak-like price of a good hamburger today, and if he has any idea that the price is a direct result of those compassionate social-reform programs (entitlement programs) that his beloved Kennedy so aggressively pursued.

Robert Ringer

The Fast And The Spurious

It is one of the most famous questions in American political history. As the Watergate scandal began to consume the Administration of President Richard Nixon, Senator Howard Baker asked: “What did the President know, and when did he know it?” The answer, as those who escaped victimization by the teachers’ unions know, is: Everything… from the beginning.

This same question has resurfaced fairly often during President Barack Obama’s regrettable occupation of the White House, but perhaps never more deservedly than now. While the Administration has stonewalled inquiries, denied information requests and dragged its feet in responding to Congressional demands, the outrage over the nightmarishly mishandled Operation Fast and Furious (OFF) has reached Chris-Matthews-on-crack decibels.

OFF was the now-infamous failed sting operation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in an effort to track the pipeline of weapons between the United States and narco-terrorists in Mexico’s lawless border region. The cost of failure for OFF could be measured in dollars, but rattling off some nine-figure number (more than $100 million and climbing) has limited effect in the age of trillion-dollar national debt figures, double-digit unemployment figures and Michelle Obama’s room service bills. Besides, the real cost of OFF is tragically human.

In 2009, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice determined that Mexican drug cartels were engaging in illegal weapons purchases in the United States. So-called “straw men” were buying the guns and transporting them across the border. As anyone who has ever purchased a firearm knows, such schemes are a serious violation of the law. In the case of OFF, thousands of such weapons purchases and cross-border deliveries were made with full knowledge of — and sometimes in full view of — the ATF. One would presume that a competent Attorney General — not to mention a competent President of the United States — informed of a series of colossally bad decisions on the level of OFF, would immediately begin nailing subordinates’ careers to his bulletin board. At the very least, one might presume that the Attorney General — not to mention the President — would be aware of such a series of colossally bad decisions.

However, according to both Attorney General Holder and his big buddy in the Oval Office, they were unaware that Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley “orchestrated” the disastrous OFF with knowledge and approval of his boss, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke. (It should be noted here that both Hurley and Burke are Obama appointees.) And yet, the nine-figure catastrophe, which cost the lives of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata and Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, somehow escaped the notice of the highest levels of the Obama Administration. At least, that’s their story, and they’re sticking to it.

If you’ve watched C-SPAN lately, then you’ve seen Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) attempting to choke a straight answer out of the Obama Administration regarding OFF with the expected amount of success (none). As far back as February, Holder denied any knowledge of OFF. As recently as last week, White House spokesmodel Jay Carney responded to press corps queries with evasions on par with: “‘Fast and Furious?’ That’s that movie with Vin Diesel, right?” Obama’s Democratic accomplices in Congress, including Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) even tried to distract Issa’s House Governmental Affairs and Oversight Committee meeting from investigating OFF with tangential anti-Bill of Rights bloviating. But testimony and documents reveal a very different story.

According to ATF agent testimony, field agents had serious misgivings about OFF from the beginning, but they were ignored. Department of Justice emails obtained by Issa’s office indicate acting ATF director Kenneth Melson actually watched illegal straw purchases taking place at Arizona gun shops while he sat in his Washington office. In fact, agent testimony indicates that even the cooperating gun shops warned that OFF was a bad plan.

Good people were killed. Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent. Thousands of guns were illegally transported across the border to Mexico, most of which have yet to be recovered. And the President of the United States and the Attorney General claim to have had no knowledge of Operation Fast and Furious. Let’s take the (Olympic distance) leap that neither Obama nor Holder are lying (surely, protecting the New Black Panther Party can’t take up that much time). Instead of asking what the President and Attorney General knew and when, the question should be: Are they criminally incompetent or just criminal?

High Olive Oil Consumption Associated With Reduced Risk Of Stroke

High Olive Oil Consumption Associated With Reduced Risk Of StrokeFrench researchers recently found that individuals who regularly consume olive oil may have a 41 percent reduced risk of experiencing a stroke.

Scientists from University of Bordeaux and the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Bordeaux collected the health and nutrition data of 7,625 individuals who had not had a stroke.

After five years, the researchers reviewed the information and found that 148 participants had experienced a stroke. They adjusted the data to rule out body mass index, physical activity, overall diet and other cardiovascular risk factors, and found that those who consumed the most olive oil had a 41 percent lower rate of stroke, compared to individuals who never consumed the healthy fat.

“Our research suggests that a new set of dietary recommendations should be issued to prevent stroke in people 65 and older,” said study author Cecilia Samieri, Ph.D.

Authors of the study noted that olive oil consumption is also associated with a lower chance of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity.

North Carolina Bill Would Expand Gun Rights For Citizens

A piece of legislation in North Carolina would expand gun rights.The North Carolina House recently approved a law that will give people in the Tar Heel State more access to concealed weapons and better allow them to protect their homes and families.

The bill, which had already been approved by the State Senate, will now go to Governor Bev Perdue to be signed, reports The Associated Press.

According to the news source, the main part of the legislation is the expansion of what is known as the “castle doctrine,” which allows citizens to use their weapons on intruders in their own home. Currently, those who shoot an intruder may need to justify their action, but the recently passed bill presumes that such action is lawful under “a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm,” reports the news source.

“This is not breaking new ground, so we’ll be conforming to what other States are doing,” Representative Mark Hilton (R-Catawba), the bill’s main sponsor, told the news source. “We’ve gone too far to the left on these issues in the past and (been) too restrictive.”

Wisconsin is also seeking to protect citizens’ 2nd Amendment right to bear arms with the State Senate recently passing a law that allows for the concealed carrying of weapons, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.