Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: December 2012


Terrorism in Arizona? Does anyone know about this?

I find this story to be fairly astonishing.

We’ve talked about immigration policy before and we’ve certainly noted the Federal government’s outright refusal to enforce our nation’s laws concerning some illegal immigrants.  But what about those legally here and in violation of the law or deemed a threat?

Wasn’t that supposed to be the breaking point, the point at which this administration would step in and take action?

So what’s with this:

Back on Sunday I broke the news here at PJ Media of the arrest of Abdullatif Aldosary in connection with the bombing of a Social Security Administration office in Casa Grande, Arizona, last Friday morning. I noted that while the bombing and Aldosary’s arrest had received local news coverage, there was a virtual blackout by the national media on the Iraqi refugee’s identity.

Yesterday I reported on details provided to the federal court on Monday during Aldosary’s initial court hearing, which included information on what was found when the FBI conducted a search of his Coolidge, Arizona, home last Friday night. Among the items recovered was a bomb-making manual that had been hidden behind a photograph on the wall. Also discovered were an AK-47 and a 9mm Ruger handgun, along with more than a thousand rounds of ammunition. Kerry Picket at the Washington Times also reported that they recovered several gallons of chemicals typically used in bomb making.

When authorities checked Aldosary’s bank statements, they found he had more than $20,000 despite the fact that he was a convicted felon, only worked as a day laborer, and had no visible means of supporting himself sufficient to warrant having that kind of balance.

Sounds like a terrorist doesn’t he?

Well, that’s where the “bombshell” comes in:

But a bombshell report came out today based on information obtained by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who had received a request from Aldosary in November 2011 for assistance in obtaining a “green card.”

According to today’s news report, the Department of Homeland Security responded to Gosar’s request on behalf of Aldosary last year by saying that he was ineligible for a change in status because of “terrorism-related grounds of inadmissibility”.

So DHS knew about this guy last year and yet he was still in this country?

Yes he was and last Friday he attempted to blow up a Social Security office.

As you might imagine Gosar wants to know why:

Gosar said DHS responded by saying Aldosary was not eligible for a permanent change to citizenship “pursuant to the terrorism-related grounds of inadmissibility, and that “individuals who engage in terrorism-related activity … are barred from receiving various immigration benefits.”

DHS did not elaborate on what the activity was. Gosar wrote that to be barred from permanent status, under federal law the immigrant must have engaged in activity “indicating an intention to cause death or serious bodily injury, a terrorist activity; to prepare or plan a terrorist activity; to gather information on potential targets for terrorist activity” or belong to “a terrorist organization” among other actions.

In light of the Casa Grande bombing, Gosar questioned why Aldosary was not detained and processed for deportation in November 2011, after it was determined he had engaged in terrorism-related activity.

The bombing happened about a block away from Gosar’s office.

“But for the grace of God, no one was injured in the bombing,” Gosar wrote.

Gosar also asked what efforts were made to track and monitor “a known terrorist.”

Of course this is all happening after the freaking guy bombed a building!

Where was DHS in all of this?  Why was this guy still wandering around?  Why hadn’t he been immediately deported?

And why in the hell isn’t this all over the news?

~McQ


Economic Statistics for 7 Dec 12

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

The Monster Employment index rose 2 points to 158 in November.

The Reuter’s/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index a very steep 8.2 points to 74.5.

Nonfarm payroll employment in November increased by a lackluster 146,000 new jobs. Average hourly earnings increased by 0.2%. The average workweek was unchanged at 34.4 hours. Turning to the household survey, the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%, as 350,000 workers left the labor force, bringing the labor force participation rate back down to 63.6. At the historical rate of labor participation, the unemployment rate would actually have jumped by 0.2% to 11.4%. In all, the labor market remains moribund, as job creation remains weak and labor force participation remains at historic lows.

~
Dale Franks
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Burglar calls 911 after gun wielding owners hold him at gunpoint

Well, here’s a use of 911 I didn’t foresee:

A suspected burglar called 911 after the owner of the home he broke into caught and held him at gunpoint.

The suspect, Christopher Moore, placed the emergency call in Springtown, Texas, during the botched burglary attempt early Tuesday after James Gerow, the homeowner, and Gerow’s son pointed guns at him as he sat in his pickup truck parked in the driveway.

“I’m out in the country somewhere,” Moore told the 911 operator during the 10-minute call. “Some guy’s got a gun on me.”

Gerow’s wife, Lindy, placed a concurrent call to 911 that confirmed Moore’s account.

“You better come quick,” she said, “or my husband’s going to shoot him.”

“If he gets out of the truck, shoot him in the legs,” James Gerow told his son, according to the Dallas Morning News Crime Blog. “You ain’t gotta kill him—just shoot him in the legs.”

When police arrived, both Moore and Lindy Gerow were still talking to 911 dispatchers.

According to CBS’ Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate, Moore was arrested and charged with burglary. He’s currently being held on a $35,000 bond.

So, uh, Bob Costas, what’s your take on this?  These “bitter clingers” just protected themselves and their property and brought a law breaker to justice.  All with guns.  And not a person was killed … or even shot.

~McQ


Taxes, Spending, and the Fate of the Republic

The direction the country is taking bothers me. Increasingly, I see little hope for a bright prosperous future. Frankly, things cannot continue going in the direction they’re heading without a disastrous result.

Mark Steyn wrote earlier this week:

Generally speaking, functioning societies make good-faith efforts to raise what they spend, subject to fluctuations in economic fortune: Government spending in Australia is 33.1 percent of GDP, and tax revenues are 27.1 percent. Likewise, government spending in Norway is 46.4 percent, and revenues are 41 percent – a shortfall but in the ballpark. Government spending in the United States is 42.2 percent, but revenues are 24 percent – the widest spending/taxing gulf in any major economy.

This is unsupportable, by any measure, and should be seen to be so by anyone with common sense, irrespective of political party, but apparently is not. And it’s important to recognize that the reason revenues are at a historically high 24% of GDP—the historical average is around 18%—is that GDP growth for the last 4 years has been atrociously bad, and well below the 3% historical trend rate of growth.

In a rational world, we would make a decision to settle on a continuum somewhere between cutting government spending to 24% of GDP, and raising taxes to 42.2% of GDP, which would necessarily imply massive tax increases on the middle and, yes, even the lower class.

At the moment, however, it is impossible to cut spending to 24% of GDP. Not just politically impossible, though that appears to be true also, but I mean impossible impossible. The reason it is impossible is that 24% of current GDP will not cover the cost of mandatory entitlement spending and service on the national debt. More than 62% of government spending is mandatory spending on essentially social security and Medicare. Another 6% is interest on the national debt, and it’s only that low because 1) the Fed has been buying massive amounts of US treasury bonds, and 2) interest rates are historically low.

In other words, 68% of the federal budget is taken up by entitlements and debt service, alone. We could eliminate the entirety of the rest of the federal government and, at current rates of taxation, would still run a deficit.

At the current rate of spending, we can expect to add over $12 trillion dollars in debt over the next decade. To combat this, the president has requested an additional 1.6 trillion in new revenue, which he expects to gain by increasing tax rates on only the upper class. Even assuming, arguendo, that such a taxation plan would actually result in that much additional revenue—which it likely would not—we would still add an additional $10 trillion in debt.

And that, of course, assumes interest rates would not rise from their current low levels. A rise to the historical rates of interest would increase debt service costs from $250 billion per year to $650 billion per year, or approximately 15% of the budget.

Neither Congress nor the President are proposing a serious plan to balance the budget, which would require a politically impossible mix of massive budget/entitlement cuts, and/or massive tax increases on the middle and lower classes.

Absent such a plan, we will inevitably default on our debt, or hyperinflate our way out of it, both of which are merely two sides of the same coin. In either case, the dollar will lose its status as the world’s reserve currency, and the life savings of every single person in the country—except, perhaps, those embodied in some classes of hard asset—will be rendered worthless. There will be massive unemployment, and a high possibility of civil strife. Imported goods will essentially be unobtainable, and I’m not just talking about BMWs and Land Rovers, but everyday things we never even think about, like fresh fruit from Chile in the winter, or clothes from Singapore and Taiwan at any time.

The least damaging course of action would be a massive reduction in government spending. A more damaging course would be a massive increase in taxation. The most damaging course would be to do nothing but nibble at the edges of spending and taxation until we default, either formally, or de facto through hyperinflation. So far, we are set on the third course.

We are set on a path to completely destroy the currency and economic life of the Republic, and we will inevitably do so without massive tax increases, massive spending cuts, or some mixture of the two.

Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, the Fiscal Cliff negotiations—by which I mean "farce"—continue. Personally, I’m a charter member of the Let It Burn club. The Democrats have set up a narrative in which, no matter what happens, Republicans will get the blame. And yet, 18 months ago, what we’re now calling the Fiscal Cliff was unilaterally hailed as a wise, bipartisan, and far-seeing compromise that would set the country on the road to financial rectitude. And quite frankly, the president is giving every indication that he wants to go over the Fiscal Cliff, and that he can weather the political and economic fallout from it.

OK. Then let’s test that theory.

This is not a risk-free strategy. As Ace of Spades points out:

The Walk Away/Let It Burn option is growing on people. One cautionary note, though: This will provoke a serious constitutional crisis and may undo the Republic. So a soft Let it Burn could turn into a genuine collapse of the Republic.

Obama is a tyrant. If Republicans do not lift the debt ceiling, it is perfectly obvious what he will do, as he’s argued for it before: Like Putin, he will begin unilaterally asserting power he doesn’t have.

And what will be the recourse? Court, I suppose. Impeachment, sure, but Democrats will block conviction. So whether or not the President can suddenly assert sweeping power over the purse — sweeping aside the last real check on his power granted to the House of Representatives — will depend on the vote of Justice Go Along to Get Along Roberts.

President Obama has already asked for it. It’s that one exception I mentioned before: He is asking for unilateral power to raise the debt ceiling and no president should ever have that power.

Our constitution is clear that the money bills must originate in the house. Equally clear is the principle of Congressional supremacy, in that Congress may pass laws even over a presidential veto.  The debt ceiling is clearly a Congressional, not a presidential prerogative.

Congress, of course, has already amended the Constitution’s strictures in practice. For instance, the Senate takes House bills, say, for building a dam, and strips the original language, then loads it up with budgetary items. The House accepts them in conference. Additionally, we have operated without a federal budget—though one is required annually by law—since 2009. This is a…constitutional novelty.

But giving unilateral budgetary power to the president goes far beyond novelty. In my view, granting this power to any president will mark the end of the Republic, just as surely as the creation of the First Triumvirate marked the death knell of the Roman Republic.

The American people elected President Obama. It is only right that they should reap the full measure of the consequences of that decision. Ace is right. Going over the Fiscal Cliff may undo the Republic. But if that is true, then I’m entirely unconvinced that the Republic should be saved.

~
Dale Franks
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Christmas tree ban: PC, stupidity or both?

This is a bit odd:

Residents in a Newhall senior apartment complex are protesting an order from management to remove their beloved Christmas tree from the community room because, they were told, it’s a religious symbol.

So, is it a government run facility?

No?

On Tuesday, Tarzana-based JB Partners Group Inc. sent a memo to staff at The Willows senior apartment building demanding they take down Christmas trees and menorahs in communal areas.

The company has owned The Willows for four years, but this is the first time it’s given such a directive to staff.

Ok, what’s the objective then?  Yes, I understand that they own the property and can do pretty much anything they wish, I’m just curious about the ‘why’.

If it isn’t a government facility and the overwrought nonsense that goes on about the separation of church and state, why is a private company demanding that people living in their building and using a common area in the facility refrain from putting up a Christmas tree?

Unless we’re deeply into political correctness and the horrible possibility that it might offend someone?

Ye gods … I swear, we seem to take joy in making life much more difficult than it needs to be at times.

~McQ


Economic Statistics for 6 Dec 12

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index eased down -0.8 points to -33.8.

The Census Bureau’s quarterly information services survey reports that rose 0.3% in the 3rd quarter, up 2.1% On a year-over-year basis.

The Challenger Job-Cut Report indicates that November layoff announcements rose to 57,081 from 47,724 in October.

Initial claims for unemployment fell 25,000 last week, to 370,000. The 4-week moving average rose 3,000 to 408,000. Continuing claims fell 100,000 to 3.205 million. The weekly drop is being taken as an indication that all the Hurricane Sandy-related jobless claims have been fully unwound.

~
Dale Franks
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Fiscal cliff: Politicians play “chicken” with your lives and livelyhood

Because we’re served by the worst political class ever:

President Obama’slead negotiator in the “fiscal cliff” talks said the administration is “absolutely” willing to allow the package of deep automatic spending cuts and across-the-board tax hikes to take effect Jan. 1, unless Republicans drop their opposition to higher income tax rates on the wealthy.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in an interview with CNBC that both sides are “making a little bit of progress” toward a deal to avert the “cliff” but remain stuck on Obama’s desired rate increase for the top U.S. income-earners.

“There’s no prospect for an agreement that doesn’t involve those rates going up on the top two percent of the wealthiest,” Geithner said.

Apparently there is no way to raise the desired revenue, at least according to Obama/Geithner, that “doesn’t involve those rates going up on the top 2%”.  No way.

Oh, wait …

What we said was give us $1.2 trillion in additional revenues, which could be accomplished without hiking taxes — tax rates, but could simply be accomplished by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions and engaging in a tax reform process that could have lowered rates generally while broadening the base.

Say, wasn’t that President Obama in July of 2011 at a press conference?  Why yes it was.  So there is a way, but he and apparently his “negotiator” refuse to pursue it (btw, no I”m not fooled by the illusion that this isn’t just as much a tax hike as what they’re proposing)?  It that what is happening?

Why yes, yes it is.  So there is another way to do this, apparently.  Unless our President was telling a tall one about what he’d be willing to do in July?  Yeah, I know, perish the thought.  Lie to us?  Unthinkable.

Instead according to Turbo Tax Timmy, they’d “absolutely” take us over the cliff, because, you know, raising taxes on the “rich” is now the only acceptable position.  You and your life?  You’re a mere pawn for these poppinjays.  They’re fine with playing with your life and livelihood to score a political win.   They have no problem holding your life and property ransom and using your future to force their desired resolution.  But if we go over the cliff, screw you.

Meanwhile, in the House, Speaker Boehner continues to look for a comfortable place to lie down and surrender.

In the Senate the GOP actually tried to bring the President’s proposal to a vote and Majority Leader Reid denied it.  Because it was, per Reid, a “stunt”.

This is all a “stunt”.    A miserable stunt perpetrated by a miserable group of people who have no concept of leadership or service to their country but are long on ego and party.

It is the price of always voting for the “lesser of two evils”.

Screw ‘em.

~McQ


Economic Statistics for 5 Dec 12

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 4.5% last week, with purchases up 0.1% and refinancings up 6.0%.

The ADP Employment Report is forecasting a rise of 118,000 net new jobs in November, down from 157,000 in October.

Nonfarm productivity was revised up to a 2.9% annualized rate for the 3rd quarter, while unit labor costs fell -1.9%.

Factory orders rose a stronger-than-expected 0.8% in October, and ex-transportation orders were up and even stronger 1.3%.

The ISM Non-Mfg Index shows activity picking up, as it increased nearly a full point to 54.7. 

~
Dale Franks
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Keystone XL: So now what will the excuse be to delay it?

You likely recall the controversy concerning the President’s denial of approval for the Keystone XL pipeline a few months back.  Citing the route through the state of Nebraska as a problem, Obama decided to defer a final decision until after the election.

Up for grabs – a lot of oil and 20,000 jobs.  Most saw approval as a no-brainer and the route through NE as easily “fixable”.   But Obama was having none of it, choosing to please his base vs. opting for jobs for Americans.  Since the disapproval, Canada, where the pipeline originates, has announced plans to sell that oil to China.

So, where are we now?

Well, there’s a new route through NE and local leaders have voiced strong support for the pipeline:

TransCanada has proposed a new route for the pipeline that avoids the Nebraska Sandhills, and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality is seeking comment before it drafts its report on the new route. Port-To-Plains Alliance, which is made up of more than 100 local elected officials and community leaders, has today offered its “strong support” for the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Their reasoning seems pretty strong — if you’re interested in putting Americans back to work and helping the economy:

Keystone XL will provide significant economic benefits for our region. The pipeline is expected to create approximately 20,000 manufacturing and construction jobs in the United States. It could also generate more than $5.2 billion in tax revenue to the Keystone XL corridor states. At a time when state and local governments across the country are struggling to balance their budgets, these employment and revenue benefits are critical to our region. Specific benefits for Nebraska include:

  • More than $465 million in new spending for the Nebraska economy
  • More than 7,500 person years of employment
  • Increased personal income by $314 million
  • Additional state and local tax revenues of more than $11 million
  • $390 million in increased Gross State Product

And that’s just Nebraska.  Other states stand to gain significant revenue as well.

Then there’s the issue of the Bakken Formation oil in Montana and  North Dakota.  It too needs the pipeline to be finished so it can efficiently ship oil from there to the coastal refineries.

Again, the major problem has apparently been solved.  It’s a move that would lessen our dependence on Venezuelan and Middle East oil (instead opting for supplies from a loyal and stable ally), would make the shipment of Bakken oil less costly, benefit state and Federal revenue (at a time when both entities are hurting for it) and, most importantly, create multi-thousands of jobs.

So, what excuse do you believe Obama will use to further delay or disapprove it this time?

~McQ


Pushing the liberal agenda

Now that progressives, liberals, whatever they’re calling themselves today, are secure in the fact that Barack Obama will be in the Oval Office for another 4 years, they plan on doing everything they can to see that he does what he said he’d do way back in 2008 - or at least what they thought they heard him say he’d do.

Those parts include climate change, drone strikes, gun control and closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, among others.

We’ve seen the first shots fired in the gun control advocacy (no pun intended) with the absurd Costas gun-control editorial at the half-time of an NFL game.  And, of course, Dianne Feinstein is making the usual “assault weapons ban” noises.

By the way, as a complete aside, but speaking of gun control, I want to show you a classic exchange:

Can you say pwned?!

Anyway, back to the subject at hand – the liberal agenda.  Remember, Obama told the Russian President that he’d be “more flexible” after his re-election.  There’s absolutely no reason that he won’t be less politically inhibited (because in the political world, that’s what “more flexible” really means) domestically as well as internationally is there?

But now?  Now it’s safe:

“Liberals in the media are going to be tougher on Obama and more respectful at the same time,” Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker’s chief political commentator and a former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, told POLITICO. “He was the champion of our side, he vanquished the foe….. [but] now liberals don’t have to worry about hurting his chances for re-election, so they can be tougher in urging him to do what he should be doing.”

Apparently the NY Times plans on leading the way in pushing and prodding Obama to do what he said he’d do (or what the NYT thinks he said he’d do):

The New York Times editorial page launched a series titled “Goals for a New Term,” calling on the president to implement stronger gun control laws and shutter Gitmo, which he had pledged to do during his first year in office. The tone of the editorials has been sharply critical: On guns, the editors suggested Obama lacked courage. On Guantanamo, they slammed his administration for deciding “to adopt the Bush team’s extravagant claims of state secrets and executive power, blocking any accountability for the detention and brutalization of hundreds of men at Guantánamo and secret prisons, and denying torture victims their day in court.”

Gitmo?  There are rumblings out there – again – of the Federal government purchasing a closed prison with the idea of moving the jihadists in captivity there on to the shores of the US.   Seems prison is okay for the jihadists if the left initiates the idea of buying one and housing them there.  But holding them in Gitmo, a place that wasn’t their idea (but clearly is superior to moving them here) is just beyond the pale because, you know, it was that evil Bush’s idea.  So it’s not about incarceration, it’s about the myth of Gitmo … or something.

Obama has claimed he has no interest in climate change legislation/taxation in his second term (well, he doesn’t as long as there’s a Republican House … if that changes in 2014, he might develop an immediate interest).  Then he’s said he does.  Then, yeah, not so much.  So who the hell knows.  But what we do know is progressives intend to try to push him on this and it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if he responds positively.  He certainly has nothing to lose.  And it may provide a distraction if the economy keeps tanking.  He can couch his attempt to tax thin air in the usual class warfare (fat cat corporations fouling the streams and polluting the air while melting the ice caps to boot).  He can call for “social justice” because, you know, climate change effects those least able to afford it first … or something.

Drone strikes?  Yawn.  A small faction of the left concerns itself with drone strikes.  It is classic leading from behind.  Get over it progressives.  Your President approves all those arial assasinations himself.  It is part of the responsibilities that Nobel Peace Prize winners must endure.

Sarcasm aside, it will indeed be interesting to see if Obama does anything for progressives in his 2nd term.  Will he become an activist president or will he vote “present?”

Well, let’s see – is he taking the lead in fiscal cliff negotiations and working tirelessly with Congress to ensure a solution before the deadline or is he going on a 20 day vacation to Hawaii ending January 6th?

~McQ

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