What Recovery? Despite Fed Boasts, Americans Have Regained Only 45 Percent Of Recession Losses

In March, the Federal Reserve chirped that Americans had, as a whole, recouped 91 percent of the aggregate wealth the Nation lost during the economic crisis of 2007-2009.

But Thursday, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis released a report that strays pretty far from the Fed’s earlier, optimistic message. Unlike the March report, the current version adjusts for inflation, and averages all gains and losses across population demographics.

It’s a completely different picture. Instead of being on the cusp of full recovery, we’re not even halfway there. With the corrections in place, the average U.S. household appears to have recovered only 45 percent of whatever wealth was lost between 2007 and 2010.

For one thing, there are more 3.8 million more American households now than in 2007; for another, almost 70 percent of the post-recession gains have come in the form of stock surges, which benefit upper-income Americans in far greater proportion than those living in a middle-class household. And the value of homes, where most middle-class Americans’ wealth is stored, is still down almost 16 percent from pre-recession levels.

Hillary Loved Less, Christopher Stevens Was ‘John Doe’ In Death, Cap Gun Gets 5-Year-Old Suspended, Brand-Name Weed, Asteroid Preppers: Friday Morning News Roundup 5-31-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

 

  • Thanks to her “handling” of the Benghazi, Libya, terror attacks, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s popularity has taken a pretty big dive. A Quinnipiac University poll shows 52 percent (still an amazing number) of respondents “approve” of Clinton, but that’s a 9-point drop since her all-time high of 61 percent in February. Of those surveyed, 48 percent blame her for the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others in the Sept. 11 attack.

 

  • Speaking of Stevens: An anonymous U.S. official has told CBS News that Americans in charge of the mess told the Benghazi Medical Center to list Stevens, who died of asphyxiation in the attack, as “John Doe” on his death certificate. “The reason for the pseudonym,” says the official, “was to avoid drawing undue attention to the importance of the victim as Americans rushed to figure out how to recover Stevens’ body and return it to the U.S.” They get a lot of John Does in Libyan hospitals?

 

  • In the gun-panicked suburbs of Washington, D.C., kids are getting thrown out of school for eating stuff into gun shapes, pointing their fingers like guns and firing off Hello Kitty bubble guns that literally shoot pretty, floating bubbles. So an unnamed 5-year-old who brought an orange-tipped cap gun onto the school bus must have seemed, by comparison, like an outright terrorist. So the adults in his life did the sensible thing and suspended him for five days. That’ll teach ’im!

 

  • A former executive for Microsoft is planning to launch America’s first marijuana brand — think Marlboro or Camel, except for weed — by sourcing the product from Mexican suppliers and pledging consistency across the market. It’s still illegal under Federal law, but with States beginning to ignore the Feds, Jamen Shively (he’s the man with the plan) says marijuana in the United States is becoming “a giant market in search of a brand.”

 

  • This afternoon’s 3.6 million-mile flyby of a pretty chunky asteroid — romantically dubbed “1998 QE2” — is turning some scientists’ thoughts toward disaster preparedness. Their best answer for space rock crashes, so far, is… well, to stand by and watch using a bunch of telescopes hooked up to a computer database. Social media could play a role in preparing the public for a direct strike; scientists are using today’s near-miss as an experiment in engaging people in play-by-play discussion of real-time sky events. Giant asteroid; run!

 

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

California Legislature Prepares To Track Ammo Buyers With Forced Background Checks

The California State Senate passed seven gun-control bills Wednesday, tightening the leash on gun owners in a State already entrenched in an ongoing, liberal-led subversion of its residents’ 2nd Amendment powers.

The bills aren’t yet law, since their Senate approval now moves them before the State Assembly. But if they do become law under Governor Jerry Brown, owning firearms in California will almost inevitably become a burden instead of a Constitutionally protected right.

Probably the most outrageous aspect of the new gun grab is SB 53, a bill that will require background checks (and, of course, a registry that tracks who passes and who fails) in order to issue permits to gun owners who plan to buy ammunition. Oh, and they’ll pay $50 to the State.

But the ammo-control bill is just the ugliest of the California gun grab’s many faces:

  • SB 567 will change the definition of certain types of shotgun so that they can be classified as “assault weapons.”
  • SB 374 will ban detachable rifle magazines.
  • SB 396 makes it a crime to own or sell magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
  • BS 755 will ban former alcoholics and drug addicts from owning a gun — for 10 years.

For a rundown of all the bills the California Senate passed Wednesday, visit the Sacramento Bee’s summary page. For context on how the various bills will affect California gun owners, read the breakdown on guns.com.

At first glance, about the only defensible piece of legislation that made it through the Senate is a bill requiring all first-time gun buyers to take a firearm safety class and earn a certificate demonstrating they’ve passed the course. Then again, a strict interpretation of the 2nd Amendment’s provision that the right to bear arms “shall not be infringed” would seem to exclude it.

But nuances like that matter little in the face of such a multifaceted attack on gun owners. As far gone as the California gun grab is, no one’s preoccupied with the least offensive bill among a glut of stinkers.

Survey: Strong Bipartisan Demand From American Voters For Independent IRS Prosecutor

A survey published Thursday by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut shows that 75 percent of Americans want a special prosecutor to investigate the targeting of Tea Party conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) during the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama.

The nationwide survey, which polled 1,419 registered voters, also revealed outrage over the IRS scandal is largely bipartisan, with 63 percent of registered Democrats calling for a special prosecutor. Among Republicans, it’s 88 percent.

“There is overwhelming bipartisan support for a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Voters apparently don’t like the idea of Attorney General Eric Holder investigating the matter himself, perhaps because they don’t exactly think highly of him. Holder gets a negative 23 – 39 percent job approval rating.”

The IRS scandal also seems to draw the most attention from voters angry over the Administration’s apparent role in multiple scandals. The IRS’s systematic political discrimination was named by 44 percent of respondents as the Administration’s top-priority scandal, followed by Benghazi (24 percent) and the secret subpoena of Associate Press reporters’ phone records (15 percent).

The abuse of public trust emanating from the Obama Administration hasn’t just soured bipartisan perception of today’s White House; it’s also affected voters’ overall belief in the integrity of government as a whole:

Only 3 percent of voters trust the federal government to do the right thing almost all the time, while 12 percent say they trust it most of the time; 47 percent say some of the time and 36 percent hardly ever. That compares to results of a Quinnipiac University poll in July 2010, four months before the Republican sweep that year on the back of anti-government sentiment, when 2 percent said almost always, 16 percent said most of the time; 50 percent said some of the time and 31 percent said hardly ever.

“All of these investigations may be having a negative effect on voters’ willingness to trust the federal government.to do the right thing,” said Brown.

As for Obama himself, things aren’t good. The President was judged “honest and trustworthy” by 49 percent of voters, with 47 percent deeming him the opposite. That’s a big slide from the last time voters were polled on the same question. Back in September of 2011, 58 percent believed the President was honest and trustworthy, with only 37 percent disagreeing at the time.

See the complete survey here.

MSM Outlets Reject Holder’s Attempt To Control Agenda On Reining In DOJ With ‘Off-Record’ Talks

FOX News, The New York Times, The Associated Press, CBS News, CNN and The Huffington Post all have told Attorney General Eric Holder he can forget about trying to control a dialogue between government and the press, citing an obvious principle that the U.S. Department of Justice has continued to ignore: the media’s power to go about its job without first agreeing to silent and hidden ground rules with that very government on which it purports, at least in theory, to shine a light.

Holder’s farcical proposition — which essentially asks mainstream media outlets with bureaus in Washington, D.C., to join him in off-record discussions over how he can go about investigating himself in the wake of illegal media snooping scandals involving FOX News and The AP — has rightly hit a sour note with nearly all takers. The talks, which will still go on with the few news outfits (ABC, POLITICO) who’ve said “yes,” are set to take place Thursday and Friday.

“We will not be attending the session at DOJ,” The New York Times said flatly. “It isn’t appropriate for us to attend an off the record meeting with the attorney general. Our Washington bureau is aggressively covering the department’s handling of leak investigations at this time.”

FOX News began its own story on the absurd closed-door talks Thursday by simply stating, “Michael Clemente, Fox News‘ executive vice president, decided that Fox News will not attend the off-record talks.”

The Huffington Post also offered a terse rejoinder as part of a larger story: “The Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief, Ryan Grim, also said the news site would decline an off-the-record meeting.”

And so on with CNN, CBS News and all the rest. It was a nice “I’m Spartacus” moment of open revolt for a mostly liberal press whose influence over Americans’ political opinions continues to decline.

There’s a facile irony to the mainstream media’s newfound indignance over the Barack Obama Administration’s ongoing condescension. It’s not the condescension that’s new; indeed, no President has enjoyed such a malleable and feeble press presence at White House briefings as have Obama and his simpering, petulant press secretary, Jay Carney. And on those pre-scandal occasions when the mainstream press had broken out of its Stockholm-syndrome thrall long enough to complain, it focused on ridiculous tabloid slights like Obama’s media-shunning golf outing with Tiger Woods.

Now that they’ve no choice but to be outraged and now that they’ve been directly targeted by a Presidential Administration that grew a little too comfortable with its clockwork ability to shepherd the White House press corps, the MSM has found religion.

Better late than never. Something still smells about the way the Obama Administration is trying to countenance these scandals — by doggedly attempting to set the terms of how they’ll be talked about, reported on and investigated — and at least a few in the press are starting to wise up in ways that regular Americans can begin to appreciate.

“Obama’s team still doesn’t get it,” wrote National Journal’s Ron Fournier Thursday. “One wonders why the media would trust Holder’s motive given how the administration has conducted itself so far. The most recent case in point: When The New York Times and AP announced that they would not meet with Holder ‘off the record,’ Democratic Party spokesman Brad Woodhouse tweeted that the decision ‘kind of forfeits your right to gripe.’ Well, no — it doesn’t. Woodhouse was treating the media like a political opponent: Attack, distort, and deflect. He probably didn’t realize the Orwellian implications of his wisecrack. Even the liberal ACLU took issue with it…

“…Small things matter in the big picture. Obama might want to ask Holder to explain himself at a town-hall meeting. Not with bureau chiefs, but to the public at large. On the damn record.”

Why Cruz Doesn’t Trust Republicans, Obama Has No Business Asking China To RIMPAC, Crime Victim Charged For Using Gun That Saved Him, NRA Honors Kid Who Ate Pop Tart Until It Resembled Gun: Afternoon News Links 5-30-2013

Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition news links.

Here’s Why Cruz Doesn’t Trust The Republicans

Last week, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told the Congressional establishment he didn’t trust them, whether Democrat or Republican, with the task of crafting a budget that will force government to spend within its means. His “Let me be clear: I don’t trust the Republicans” retort to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) has resonated with true fiscal conservatives nationwide since then. Here’s Why: Read more…

Obama Administration Invites China Into Military-To-Military Joint RIMPAC Naval Exercise

The United States is moving forward with plans to include the Chinese navy in next year’s Rim Of The Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, the largest international warfare exercise in the world. The L.A. Times says U.S. allies should boycott RIMPAC until the U.S. rescinds that invitation, and they’re right. Read more…

Oregon Man Fires Warning Shot At Felon Attempting To Break Into Home, Gets Hauled To Jail

The intended victim of a home invasion in Medford, Ore., was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, reckless endangerment and menacing after he allegedly told the would-be perpetrator, who was attempting to break in through the back door, to get off his property and followed it up by firing a warning shot into the ground. Read more…

Kid Who Ate A Pop Tart Until It Looked Rather Like A Gun Receives Free Lifetime NRA Membership

The National Rifle Association presented 8-year-old Marylander Josh Welch a free lifetime membership, valued at $550, in a lighthearted demonstration of the absurdity of Josh’s school suspension over a gun-shaped pastry. But Welch clearly thinks the whole hoopla over getting in trouble at school for eating a pastry until only the silhouette of a gun remains is just stupid. Read more…

Obama Administration Invites China Into Military-To-Military Joint RIMPAC Naval Exercise

The United States is moving forward with plans to include the Chinese navy in next year’s Rim Of The Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, the largest international warfare exercise in the world.

China’s never participated in the U.S.-led RIMPAC; in fact, it’s never been invited before. But the Pentagon issued an invitation this year, falling in line with President Barack Obama’s evident desire to mollify military relations with a country whose military leaders have gone on record as hopeful for the day when their own fighting power will present a practicable challenge to that of the United States’.

“Our allies should signal their intent to withdraw from the exercise if China participates. Failing that, the invitation should be withdrawn. RIMPAC is for allies and friends, not nations planning to eventually wage war on the United States,” wrote the Los Angeles Times Thursday. “While the Chinese plan to dominate their waters and eventually ours, we are helping them increase their effectiveness with invitations to RIMPAC and other exercises and by including them in joint operations like the one directed against Somali piracy…There is something very wrong at the core of the Obama administration’s and the Pentagon’s China policies.”

Including a country — one possessed of the hostile military momentum China has long been building — in a strategic exercise intended as practice for warding off hostile military threats is both strategically foolish and tactically suicidal. As it continues to grow, both in fleet size and in technological capability, China’s navy, in particular, is positioning itself to wield tremendous political influence at home, regardless of China’s diminishing dependence on American economic fortunes. Is the President really ready to take China into American confidence to so great an extent?

Oregon Man Fires Warning Shot At Felon Attempting To Break Into Home, Gets Hauled To Jail

The intended victim of a home invasion in Medford, Ore., was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, reckless endangerment and menacing after he allegedly told the would-be perpetrator, who was attempting to break in through the back door, to get off his property and followed it up by firing a warning shot into the ground.

According to KDRV-TV, 36-year-old Corey Thompson warded off  the in-progress break-in by grabbing his AR-15 and telling 40-year-old Jonathon Kinsella, a wanted felon, that he’d better stop.

Police responding to a disturbance call at the apartment complex allegedly heard a gunshot, followed by the sight of Kinsella running toward the parking lot. They apprehended Kinsella, then arrested Thompson because, they said, that warning shot could have ricocheted off the ground and hurt someone.

Police have confiscated the weapon until Thompson, an Iraq veteran, has proven his innocence.

Kid Who Ate A Pop Tart Until It Looked Rather Like A Gun Receives Free Lifetime NRA Membership

The National Rifle Association presented 8-year-old Marylander Josh Welch a free lifetime membership, valued at $550, in a lighthearted demonstration of the absurdity of Josh’s school suspension over a gun-shaped pastry.

Josh received the membership from Maryland State Representative Nicholaus Kipke at a local Republican fundraising event “during a tongue-in-cheek presentation that involved a Pop-Tart fashioned into a pistol and gun safety tips,” the Baltimore Sun reports.

Josh was suspended from Park Elementary School for two days in March, after he noticed the Pop Tart he’d been munching on had begun to resemble a pistol in profile and, perhaps unwisely for the then-7-year-old, shared that bit of information with classmates.

Although Josh’s family clearly acquiesced in his participation at the Republican event, he said no one in his family is an NRA member (expect himself), and that he really didn’t know what the NRA is all about. But he clearly thinks the whole hoopla over getting in trouble at school for eating a pastry until only the silhouette of a gun remains is just stupid.

“Everyone keeps asking me why I did it,” he said. “I don’t know why I did it. … I wish people would stop asking me about it.”

Here’s Why Cruz Doesn’t Trust The Republicans

Last week, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told the Congressional establishment he didn’t trust them, whether Democrat or Republican, with the task of crafting a budget that will force government to spend within its means. His “Let me be clear: I don’t trust the Republicans” retort to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) has resonated with true fiscal conservatives nationwide since then.

In a Breitbart column Thursday, contributor (and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan) Al Regnery has taken Cruz’ now-famous declaration and used it as the jumping-off point for a little history lesson that serves as an instructive refresher on how, for years, establishment Republicans led the charge toward fiscal irresponsibility that President Barack Obama has simply accelerated.

From Medicare Part D to No Child Left Behind and from the Wall Street bailout to the “original” Republican White House economic stimulus program, establishment Republicans are guilty of the same fiscal foolishness as the current Presidential Administration is perpetrating.

It’s a good read, so check it out and pass it along.