Thursday, January 27, 2011 Open Thread

As promised, an open thread for all of you to use as you see fit. You can post a new topic, continue a conversation that you were having on the last thread (because I know that it becomes a pain to continue scrolling down to resume the conversation and it also slows way down in loading the longer the thread gets), or even write an article that you want to post. Once I have recovered from my surgery I will be back at writing all the things that either delight or infuriate you! In the mean time you will just have to infuriate each other! But remember to keep it fairly civil as we discuss our differences with respect. I am also going to add a cartoon or two each day. These have no other purpose than to chuckle at. They are nothing more than cartoons that I saw at some point and never used.

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Comments

  1. Morning to all!
    Just wanted to pose a question that has been bothering me for a couple of months. If corporate and small business profits are up, and some of the, not all I know, are sitting on wads of cash, why are they still reluctant to start hiring people? A couple months back, before the slackers in Congress finally got around to extending the tax breaks, Fox had a ceo on(forgive me,I don’t remember who he was), who admitted that his company was sitting on wads of cash, that profit margins were the highest in years, but flat out said that they did not anticipate adding any new hires over the next couple of years.

    Why are they not adding jobs? I will sit back and enjoy the wealth of knowledge from the awesome SUFA nation!

    Thanks!

    • Matt L.

      Without knowing the particulars of each company I can only answer in the generic.

      These companies will not hire new people until they believe they need new people to meet new demand for their products/services and that the new employees will increase their total profit.

      It is not unusual to see profits increase during hard times. Companies that still have markets get very aggressive about cutting costs and improving their productivity.

      I have not seen a list of these companies and would be interested if you have a source.

      Best Regards
      JAC

      • JAC- Alas! I do not have any- maybe I’ll see if I can find that interview in the Fox archives.

        I do understand the answers you and G-man posted, and agree with them- it just seemed kinda strange that people would say that for two years out , they still would not be hiring.

        Thanks for the input!

        • Matt L

          The sad part is that two years is considered a long term projection in business these days.

          There also could be some “political manipulation” going on with the really big companies. You know, putting the govt on notice that if they don’t stop the companies won’t be hiring.

          Like I said, we would have to know the particulars of each to figure out what is actually going on.

    • Matt L.,

      Good Morning as well 🙂 Your question would be easy to answer 10 years ago, supply is meeting demand, no need to hire. Today, with variables in taxes and other govt mandates (health care for example), in my opinion are the main drivers in not hiring. I’m others will have a better answer than I, but it’s a start.

      PEACE!

      G!

    • I think, some of it at least, is caused by the fact that companies are still unsure of the economic future, or foresee a problem with economic future. The policies of the current administration breed those ill feelings IMO.

      • yes, uncertainty is the primary problem.

        Businesses are not putting money into tech and R&D because of the risk of picking the wrong one due to regulation or government pressure on one technology over another, a result of government involvement and micromanagement of innovation.

        Businesses are not putting money into expansion (equipment, facilities, and new hiring) because they are either uncertain about the future and need for growth or they are sure that the market for their projects will be flat or decline. Remember, the purpose of a business is not to provide jobs. No one takes the risk of starting a business thinking “I want to hire a lot of people”. The purpose is to make money.

        Businesses are also stockpiling cash because they are uncertain about future prices/costs. This includes tax increases, additional regulations requiring additional costs of business, price increases due to a falling dollar or taxes or regulations or increased global demand for things like oil. They are saving money for a rainy day. Even an optimistic outlook calls for saving up for a better time to expand.

        • I agree

          But at what point do the businesses decide to have the optimistic outlook? It can’t neccessarily be dependant upon political power, as the past presidency’s have all had their good/bad that they do for the business climate?

          Is it strictly a bottom line issue, or at some point do they have to just start creating jobs, if for no other reason than to appease the majority of America, who do not understand the bottom line reasoning? Am I just thinking waaay too simplistic?

          • IMO, it would be when this (or a future) administration demonstrates that it will become more friendly to business as a whole. Eliminating crippling regulations and reducing their tax liabilities.

          • No, appeasement of Americans is not a good enough reason to create jobs. Jobs are expensive. The average person costs more than 40% more than their salary to hire because of taxes and legally required benefits and costs, as well as a few legitimate costs. Meaning creating 40 jobs that pay 25k a year will cost 1.4 million dollars a year. You can eat some stockpiled cash pretty fast with that if the jobs are not bringing additional revenues in. The return on investment of good PR is not high enough to offset those kinds of costs.

            The optimistic outlook will come when the outlook for the economy, both political and non-political, becomes more certain, and businesses willing to take risks are at least able to see what direction to go. Even if things do not look like they will grow, there are things a business can do to innovate. When innovation and various other aspects of life are micromanaged, it takes the control of one’s own business from them, and it makes things less predictable, because instead of following market trends, things follow the whims of elected officials, which change based on polls and change out completely every 2-4 years. In other words, more control equals less certainty. The more government gets involved in trying to “help” the economy, the less businesses can safely do.

        • Yea, what Jon said!!!

          • Thanks to all who have shared your insights on this topic. It’s helped me understand it a little bit clearer!

            Maybe what we need to do is figure out how to bring back some kind of substansial manufacturing industry, and somehow get around most of the stupid government over-regulations!

            • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

              “…somehow get around most of the stupid government over-regulations!”

              The only way to currently “get around” the over-regulations is to be a powerful enough corporation to have lobbyists to “help” the government WRITE the regulations. In other words, the average guy is screwed.

              GET RID OF the over-regulations, and then you will at least be on the right track. You won’t have reached the desired destination yet, but you will be on the right track.

    • Matt,

      Layoffs are expensive with severence and unemployment, etc. They are also painfull as most bosses become somewhat attached to their employees. No one wants to repeat the pain of ’08 & ’09. There also are financial reasons to hold off on hiring. In a recession you first work down inventory to convert it to cash. Once inventory is down, you purchase more only on an as needed basis. This means in smaller volumes with just in time deliveries. The result often is extended delivery times on manufactured goods. Unused inventory is written off the first year. As the recovery builds, the companies have lean inventory and manufacturing staffs. To meet demand you work with the staff you have by stretching out delivery time, working overtime etc. As a result productivity and profits are up. If additional help is required, you hire temps instead of full time people since there is no long term commitment to a temp hence less pain if things slow again. This happens until you have confidence in the system. With the advent of new laws, an uncertain economy, employers will go slow until demand is such that it cannot be met by these methods. Then hiring will start again. Much of it has to with confidence in the future. Confidence will increase the more government gets out of the way.

      • I agree with everything T-Ray just said.. except that last sentence, of course.

        It’s just a matter of nobody wanting to go first. Once companies start hiring, more people have more money to spend, they demand more, so more companies hire, so more people have money to spend.. and round and round she goes. Confidence increases and everybody starts hiring again. But nobody wants to be the first one in the pool.

        Maybe D13 should get the ball rolling for us.

        • @ Matt in response to D13 get the ball rolling.

          Matt, my friend. We simply still do not trust the government or the new Congress. We have job openings for 31…not a lot but they are relatively high paying jobs. We are not convinced. The State of the Union did not address anything at all. (I have now read all the transcripts). If anything, the term investment scares the bejeeesus out of us. It is a buzz word for spending. If the tax rates remained the same and the death tax left alone (yes, it does have an impact on business owners)the result would be different throughout. Nobody seems to understand that uncertain taxes, regulations, and lack of planning stifles business and those that have money….have money for one reason…..we are smart with it.

          Here is another caveat. We have two fields that have been tested for oil and gas. We have the land leased and the mineral rights assigned to us. We are prohibited from drilling by the Obama administration. We know the oil and gas is there. We are wildcatters….we have the opportunity to hire a drilling company, roughnecks, and storage units. This would employ approximately 44 people. We cannot do it. We are stopped. There is no environmental areas close by.,….the regulations are stifling since the oil spill. It is simply not worth the effort….so we will sit on the leases and our administration will continue to buy foreign oil.

          Another caveat. The re-institution of the “death tax” because that is what it is. Even at 35%, it means that privately held companies, such as ours, now have to adjust for taxes in the event that parents, 92 and 90, suddenly expire. Even with the generation skips and trusts, there will still be a cost to us….so we reserve that kind of money….it could have been used for investments but is now reserved.

          Another caveat….we have read and thoroughly understand the Presidents Health Care bill and the long term impacts. Assuming that the costly portions are not repealed or reworked, privately held companies get hammered. We do not get the exemptions that are handed out. The increased taxes and reporting requirements and the costs thereof are also another reason for sitting on our cash. Obama care will be business destroying unless it is changed….that is…business destroying for small and independent privately held companies…

          These are just a few of the reasons. We want to start hiring but are afraid to until we can assess the full economic impacts.

          Hope I helped some.

          PS…to DPM…be careful of the new mine fields when approaching your harbor.

          • We have actually hired 3 people in the last 6 months. We had significant cuts in ’08 & ’09. The new staff are in sales and engineering (new products). Sales because we need orders coming in and engineering because we need/want new products ready when business starts booming again. Engineering was hit hard in the layoffs which did significantly slow development of new products. We did make a profit last year for the the first time in 3 years. So sales are up from the low. Not yet where we want them but they are up. We expect a good year coming up but will only hire on an as needed basis. Future healthcare costs ae a major concern both for the company and me personally as it is my biggest expense. I also see the level of paper work our accountant does going up. Most of it is to satisfy government and has no value added to our operations.
            We see delivery times being stretched out by our vendors rather than increasing staff to fill the orders more timely. We in turn have to stretch out deliveries but do not like this as it also delays the income. We are keeping inventories very low eventhough it costs more to buy in small quantities.
            These are the realities of like in a small high tech international business.
            Like many companies, bad times means debt, so some of our current profit goes to bay down debt. Our ail is to be debt free in 2 years. The lessons from all this is keep the orgnanization lean and keep a very careful eye on inventory and expenses. People are the biggest expense, so any additions will need to be covered by additional sales.

          • Buck the Wala says:

            I’m sorry D, but I gotta call BS on some of that.

            Taxes are ALWAYS uncertain. Has there been more uncertainty the past few months (perhaps years leading up to 2011) than usual? In some respects. But I don’t buy that this is the prime reason for the lack of new jobs. Maybe I’m wrong on this though – the tax cuts have been extended, bringing back some certainty among business owners. Lets see what happens over the next few months in terms of hiring.

            Estate tax is a non-issue for the vast majority of privately-held businesses. Even for those to whom it does apply, the estate tax is nothing new. The fact that it was reinstated (at a significantly higher threshold and at a greatly reduced tax rate, no less) is also a non-issue in terms of hiring practices.

            • YOu are right BUck….Taxes are uncertain….but more so now than in the last 20 years. There is no long term plnning if the issue is going to change in 12 or 24 months. Tax cuts have been extended but on ly 24 months….and the tax the rich is not going to go away. The business owners that we sit with in the Rotary and the NFIB chapter here agree with me for the most part…..say 90%..so no BS here.

              Estate taxes have been around and this is for sure and business’ have always planned around them….especially privately owned business’. So with the estate txes back and since we are a family as protected as we can be according to tax and estate planning law in Texas….there is still an uncertaintly and assets (mainly cash) are being set aside for the rainy day issue. Say what you want counselor and throw the BS flag as far as you can…..but it will be overturned on booth review. Estate taxes may be a non issue for really large business’ but for family owned business’ it is a huge issue. I can only hope that it goes away in two years when the other tax relief sunsets. THe gigh threshhold and the reduced tax makes no different….it is a death tax and the government is not entitled to it….but since it is there….we plan for the eventuality and it takes assets and cash away from otherwise investment or hiring opportunities. The libs and you do not get it.

              • “the tax the rich is not going to go away.”

                I figured out this mentallity finally. The Libs are infatuated with the thought of running around in tight green spandex.

            • Buck…take a look at your own state..New York is it…or New Jersy….I dont think it matters. Ya’ll are running everybody out. Your State is broke…The fiscal policies and the taxing policies and the excessive spending and your entitlement programs are the culprit. YOu can be like Illinois and raise the hell out of personal and business taxes and then wonder where the revenue goes because everyon that can will leave. I do not get it.

              YOu lambast Texas because we are going to balance ou budget without raising taxes, We are cutting spending and entitlement programs and we will refuse any Federal money that has strings. We will balance this budget as we always have. The liberals scream to high heaven because spending cuts are in the mill….and there is nothing sacred and that includes medicare and medicaid and county hospital funding, education, transportation, health and human resoures, state employee retirement funds….the whole shebang is on the table. THey have to carve out about 24 billion or thereabouts and they will do it…it is Constitutionally mandated.

              Perhaps the States that are broke need to go in bankruptcy before this spending folly is recognized. I will fight with every breath that I can to not bail out states and that includes yours. THat also includes Texas if there is even a hint of raising taxes or instituting a corporate tax or a personal income tax. Spending must stop.

    • El Matt,

      We have added around 15 to our workforce. Why? The demand for our produce has increased, allowing us to increase production. This is still 30 less than we employed at our peak before the economic downturn. We could add most of those jobs back at this time, but WILL NOT. As Jon said, uncertainty is the primary problem.

      Energy cost. Obama is pushing for green energy, even though he can’t get a solar plant built in the California desert. At the same time, coal, nuclear & natural gas power plants face massive opposition that makes their construction costly and unsure.

      Oil is the key to all goods being transported. We will see a major spike if the economy recovers, as the supply is being reduced with deep & shallow gulf drilling almost at a standstill. $5 a gallon may be unavoidable, unless there is no recovery. The price of EVERY good sold will increase dramatically. And how many trucking firms went under at $4 a Gal?

      Healthcare & other taxes. Will we have to pay an eight percent penalty per employee? Will our taxes increase in 2012, after this extension expires?

      Until we see a government that does what’s best for the country, instead of what suits their agenda, businesses will hedge their bets.

    • I know I am late into the mix, but I once worked for a very large land development corporation that specialized in the construction of PGA Tournament grade golf courses. Needless to say their monetary investments in these ventures were next to astronomical. During the late eighties, when GHWB was POTUS and congress was under Democratic control, we suspended operations on all ongoing projects simply because we had no idea what the government was going to do about the Savings and Loan failure problems that was happening at the time. Unfortunately for the company, congress actually did what I thought was the right thing – When FSLIC went belly up, they put all the remaining S&L’s under the wing of FDIC. That action saved most of the remaining S&L’s but angered many large businesses. But that is another story.

      What is happening now in this country is that for the last few years Congress (and the POTUS) has been going way out of control and spending untold billions of dollars to actually save large corporations instead of protecting the economic climate for the American people. With that kind of volitivity in government, businesses do not know what is ahead from the idiots in DC, so what they are doing is stockpiling all the cash that they can and not spending any more on new hires to guard against catastrophic inflation and their ultimate failure should congress not get their act together anytime soon.

    • Common Man says:

      Matt;

      My perspective on this comes from 30 years as a proffessional recruiter delivering both contractors (temps) and direct hire resources to the Information Technology industry. I have successfully delivered candidates from CIO to Programmer to all facits of industry.

      In those 30 years I have witnessed 4 (including this one) economic down-turns; most lasting between 3-4 years. This one is the worst by far.

      In those 30 years IT has continued to increase its impact on business both positively and negatively, and is now pretty much ‘mission critical’ to any and all companies.

      I think, based upon my experience and what I have researched that IT is and will continue to expand and here is why:

      We live in an information era and have for some 15+ years, and the need for information and how it is delivered, stored and used is one of the key requirements to company stability and growth.

      Currently there are 7 primary areas of technology in the IT arena that most company’s are focusing on.

      -Cloud Technology also known as SaaS (Software as a Service)
      -Enterprise Architecture
      -ERP
      Data and Data Management (This includes BI/BW (Business Intelligence and Business Warehouse)
      -Security
      -Infrastructure and Network Engineering
      -Mobile Device Development and Support

      There are a number of reasons for focusing on these areas, but I will condence my explination to the basics.

      Cloud -Company’s are looking for solutions that enable them to purchase only the solutions they need verses all encompassing packages that require manpower and money to support. As a result we are seeing an increase in ‘Cloud’ technology. This means a company can go to a vendor and pay a subscription fee for only what they want. Imagine if you only had to pay taxes for what you actually used verses everything in a government. The cost is lower, there is no maintainence and you don’t have to put any of your own effort into supporting it.

      Enterprise Architecture – Because IT evolves so quickly the IT enterprise is constantly changing, and because of this it orginal architecutual foundation becomes outdated. This can cause security risks, slow operations, affect accurate data, etc. As a result company’s are being forced to re-engineer their overall IT architecture

      ERP – Since it’s introduction into IT and the business world billions have been spent on its installation and upkeep. Because of those expenses company’s are forced to continue investing, because it processes about 80% of the company’s information

      Data – Everything and anything is data and data is key. How it is delivered, stored accessed, secured, uses and on and on. The amount of data within any company has grown to enormous size and is more and more challenging to process

      Security – I really don’t have to say much here. This is an absolute priority

      Infrastructure and Network Engineering – I am sure Mr. Flag can comment here. It is my professional opinion that the majority of corporate networks are are at best aniquated and at great risk. That is because with the exception of ERP it is the most costly area of IT, and it is, on the average, the most outdated. The Network has been piecemealed for 10-15 years now, and business has outgrown its capacity. It needs to be re-engineered from the ground up and it will affect every other entitiy within the IT and company. This is a major area of investment

      Mobile Device – I dare say that the laptop is soon going to be an useless item. I-touch, I-phone, I-pad, and the list goes on do almost everything my laptop does and all remotely. These technologies are and will have a major impact on IT and business as a whole.

      Despite the economy company’s will have to invest, or they will wither and die.

      Look to the IT industry for some direction, it is a major player.

      Contracting numbers in IT are up from an all time low and will continue on the incline for 2011 and 2012, and the real need will be focused in the areas mentioned above.

      BTW: everything everyone else said in response to your questions is also true, but I strongly believe that IT will help to stimulate movement.

      CM

      • Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Thank you SUFA nation!!!!!!!!

        I knew I would get some really informative answers, not any fluff, and ya’ll did not disappoint me!!!!

        After reading all the comments, I better understand the uncertainties that even some of you are dealing with, and have no doubts that this is the case for some of the other orginizations in the country.

        I must ask then- is business,particularly small businesses, screwed for the future? After all, even with the extension of the tax cuts, there have been many other uncertainties added to the list. We even have to consider, don’t we, that there is a possibility that this is the best that taxes are gonna get, because whoever is in charge, whether it be republicants or demodonts, they are going to be shackled to a degree due to all the debt incurred!

        Is it possible still for there to be enough spending cuts, if they tackle it right now, or is the cat out of the bag already?

        Thank ya’ll again! Now I think I’ll go tackle that thread about economy collapse!

      • As an IT pro on the small business level, I concur with your statements Common Man, and I would add:

        Another aspect of the increase in IT contracting and Cloud technology is that it allows for a decrease in IT employees. I am very reasonably priced, but I certainly cost a lot more per hour than the average IT employee. Yet I am far cheaper for a company. Some companies have considered offering my full time positions even though they do not have 40 hours worth of work, just for the benefit of having someone there all of the time, and exactly at the time you need them, rather than having to call me in. This is not cost effective, in large part, due to the other costs involved in hiring an actual employee. So, some are considering full time contract positions, where they pay a higher rate, but still come out ahead of hiring an employee.

        IT, fortunately, lends itself well to contract positions. Every IT person in the country could act as a contractor and it would not change their function that much. They are a support system facilitating business function. I think you will see IT do well because of this, and you will see more and more industries follow suit in order to avoid the costs associated with paying and employee. Thus, government revenue streams will again be killed by the free market finding a way around them rather than face certain death.

        So is small business doomed? No, it is likely to boom as more and more employees become consultants. What will possibly kill it will be government chasing the money lost and going hard after consultants. If that happens, then small businesses will be doomed, or the government will, whichever one has more resolve.

        I would still bet on small business.

  2. Buck the Wala, calling Buck the Wala

    The Constitution: Does Congress really have authority to regulate campaign finance?
    Written by Rob Natelson on 23 January 2011

    The Constitution granted Congress only enumerated powers. Did those powers include measures of “campaign finance reform?”

    Congress justifies campaign regulation as flowing from its constitutional power to regulate the “Time, Place and Manner of holding” elections for the House of Representatives and the “Time . . . and Manner of holding Elections” for the Senate. (Article I, Section 4, Clause 1.) The Supreme Court has assumed that when the Founders wrote “Manner of holding Elections” they included campaign rules, but there has been astonishingly little published research on the subject, either by the Court or by other legal writers. When the Court hears campaign finance cases, it focuses mostly on the First Amendment rather than seriously investigating whether the Constitution granted Congress the power in the first place.

    I’ve just published the first article to examine the subject in depth — i.e., exactly what the Founders meant when they granted Congress power to regulate the “Manner of holding Elections.” The article appears in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law. It relies on a plethora of Founding Era writings, debates, election laws, and other contemporaneous sources.

    It turns out “Manner of holding Elections” referred to election-day mechanics, such as how votes are cast and counted and whether the winner needs a majority or only a plurality vote. It included primary as well as general elections, but not campaign regulation.

    Except for election day bribery, campaign regulation was to be governed by state criminal law and state defamation law. Founders supporting the Constitution strongly represented that such matters were to be reserved almost exclusively to the states.

    So under the Constitution as originally understood, campaign governance was a primarily a state, not a federal, concern.

    Sometimes plain language is just that, plain language. Now how did anyone ever figure there was ambiguity in the phrase determine the “time, place and manner”?

    • Buck the Wala says:

      Morning to you JAC!

      You wade into constitutional interpretation arguments way too early in the day — I had to trudge through 15 inches of snow to get to work this morning and only sat down with my cup o’joe 5 minutes ago.

      “Manner” to me clearly encompasses Congressional authority to pass laws that deal with the ‘manner’ or procedure of elections, including time/place/debates/eligibility/campaign (including financial aspects)/etc. It is a broad phrase, though severely limited by the 1st Amendment’s freedom of speech. This is the reason why so much of the caselaw revolves around the 1st Amendment.

      I’ll try to collect my thoughts a bit more on this as the day progresses though.

  3. 8*

  4. Bottom Line says:
    • Good Morning BL,

      Most people blow this off as a conspiracy theory, and economic collapse leading to violence only happens in other countries. What they fail to reason, is that back in the Great Depression, around 10 to 15 percent of the population lived in urban areas, today, that is reversed. Back then, there was no welfare or food stamps or other govt funded aid. If food prices keep going up, which they will, and the dollar devalues even further, ugly things could happen. But remember, it can’t happen here! Or so they say. Between the Fed debt, the State debts ect. problems are sure to come.

      G!

      • Bottom Line says:

        Afternoon G.

        Oh, It’s coming alright. The question is when. 1, 2, 10, 20 years?

        Why else would the DOD go through the trouble if they weren’t anticipating the genuine possibility of a threat?

        • I predicted in early 2009 that there would be NO 2012 Presidential election (either suspended to later date or outright cancelled). I’m holding firm on that prediction.

    • I read this more as the pentagon has a plan for everything. Because you know that they have made plans on how to invade Canada before.

      Why? That is a simple answer. Think of any implausible scenario. Now think if it really happened. What would you say if the government at some level had not at least thought about what they should do at some point. Look at my example of invading Canada. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Plan_Red Realistic? No, but at least it would be something to compare modern plans to.

      • Bottom Line says:

        Naten,

        Indeed our government has conjured up a long list of contingency plans for a variety of scenarios, some unlikely.

        The difference is that our current economic and social trends also suggest this as a very real possibility. The above posted article was offered as just one more thing to consider.

      • The US Northern Command, since 2008, has dedicated combat units that are assigned to Northcom on a rotating basis, to be on call and train for these very scenarios. It’s more than just planning by the Pentagon, as militaruy resources do not train for “unlikely” scenarios. I don’t think they are training for an alien invasion!

        • Bottom Line says:

          G – “…as militaruy resources do not train for “unlikely” scenarios.”

          Indeed, and I would like to note the difference between a think-tank of scholars and military coming up with a contingency, and the actual implementation of training exercises for said contingency.

          Implementation of training suggests readiness of a greater extent.

  5. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    Good morning all!

    Haven’t been around for a while, and the reasons for that are two-fold.

    1. In addition to my “real job” I am also now running a small business (one which involves small round objects made of copper, silver, and even sometimes gold).

    2. I occasionally pop by and read through things a bit, and it seems to be the same topics being rehashed with the same arguments from the same people in the same style as it was almost a year ago. I don’t feel the need to rehash the same topics and get the same rebuttals from exactly the same people in exactly the same style. I know that people rarely change in any truly significant way unless they really want to and are willing to make a genuine effort, and I also know that some people are just fine with who they are and really don’t want to change.

    Between the “real job”, the small business, and a certain disappointment with the “sameness” of what people are doing/saying here at SUFA, I feel that I currently have very little to add. Hopefully I have changed some people for the better with my past participation, and perhaps my attitude towards present participation/future participation will change at some point, hopefully to the betterment of myself and others.

    At this point though, I just wanted to pop in and let you all know that:

    1) I still exist
    2) I am quite busy (and happily so)
    3) I still occasionally follow what is going on here
    4) I haven’t felt the need or the urge to participate for quite a while

    Especially to USW and BF, I hope all is well. And to the rest of you all, I hope your lives are going well and you are still getting value from this site. It is still a wonderful site with wonderful ideas, and the BEST human beings participating in the discussions. However, to me, the discussions are starting to become and endless repetition of the same people saying the same things in the same ways, and getting the same arguments back from the same respondants in the same manner/tone.

    Maybe this is just a dim view given that I haven’t really participated here for a while, or maybe it is accurate… not totally sure.

    Either way, hello all, and I hope to at least pop in and say SOMETHING a bit more often, but we shall see 🙂

    • Bottom Line says:

      I was wondering what happened to you, Pete.

      There was a couple of times I almost posted to see if anyone knew what happened to ya, but decided not to as I didn’t wanna pry.

      To a certain extent, I can see what you mean about the repetitiveness and redundancy, but I can also see that a few have evolved since coming here. I know I certainly have.

      I hope all is well with you, good sir. Take care.

    • Glad your doing well Peter! Hope you drop in more often-I tend to find even when the same argument is rehashed-I learn something new. 🙂 Anyway change is slow-we humans are a stubborn bunch

    • Been wondering about you myself Peter!

      Good luck with the round silver, copper and gold things. Jumped in myself and feel pretty secure in my purchases.

      I have the same feelings about the discussions around here. USW recently stated he has ideas on how to improve the site. He’s had his hand full for a few months but hopefully he has some cool twists in mind.

      See ya ’round

    • Good to hear from you Peter. I have missed you and Alan. I know what you mean about the conversations seeming to be re-hashed endlessly, but it’s kinda like missionary work, converting one liberal is almost like saving a soul.

      • converting one liberal is almost like saving a soul.

        That’s a good one 🙂

        I agree with the rehashing thing. That’s why my guest articles are, well, off the beaten track.

  6. Audit the Fed Reintroduced
    Washington, DC – Congressman Ron Paul (TX-14) today introduced HR 459, The Audit the Fed Bill to the 112th Congress.

    This legislation is very similar to HR 1207 from the 111th Congress and calls for a full and complete audit of the Federal Reserve by the Government Accountability Office, to be reported to Congress by the end of 2012.

    HR 1207 garnered broad bi-partisan support with 320 cosponsors in the 111th Congress, and was attached (but removed in conference) as an amendment to the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill.

    In response to unprecedented public interest in the activities of the Federal Reserve, it hired a full time lobbyist for the first time in history during the 111th Congress.

    “I was very pleased that so many of my colleagues were willing to stand up for transparency and accountability in government by cosponsoring HR 1207 in the last Congress. I am optimistic about our prospects for a full and complete audit in the 112th Congress,” stated Congressman Paul.

    HR 459 has 56 co-sponsors at time of introduction.

    • HR 1207 garnered broad bi-partisan support with 320 cosponsors in the 111th Congress, and was attached (but removed in conference) as an amendment to the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill.

      If my memory serves me correctly, HR 1207 was removed, on the same day or day after the “Flash Crash” on Wall Street. Something to watch for in the days ahead if this bill goes up for a vote.

    • Like many parents who home-school, Voydatch believes in the importance of teaching the basics of reading and writing. But she also believes in the importance of a religious education.

      “I believe it’s a parents fundamental right to teach a child the beliefs within their home,” she says as she looks up at the painting of Jesus holding a child. “I believe that’s every parent’s right.”

      It was that religious education that led to her ex-husband’s objections. It also led to a New Hampshire judge to order Brenda’s 11 year-old daughter Amanda to attend public school.

      It’s an order her attorney, John Anthony Simmons, calls a clear Constitutional violation.

      “The judge,” explained Simmons, “said that Amanda reflected her mother’s rigidity in matters of Faith, and that because of that rigidity she needed to be ordered into government run schools. “

      Voydatch had home-schooled Amanda between 1st and 4th grades. Then came the judge’s order in 2009 which sent the then-9 year-old to public school. Voydatch has been fighting the ruling and Simmons argued the case in front of the New Hampshire Supreme court in early January.

      But not everyone sees it as a Constitutional case, including the attorney for Brenda’s ex-husband.

      http://liveshots.blogs.foxnews.com/2011/01/27/too-religious-to-home-school/?test=latestnews

    • Buck the Wala says:

      Any surprise that MA has the worst drivers??

    • Matt,

      How much snow did you get in your area?

      • Far, far too much.

        I have 7-8 foot piles at the end of my driveway. And Anita still has my shovel.

        • The weather here is terrible as well…its going to get all the way down to almost freezing tonight, and that damn sunshine is out today!

          • We’ve had three days of “above 32 degrees” since Dec 1st. We’ve had one day where the groung was visible (with no snow). And your complaining? 🙂

            • Not really complaining, just yanking chains. But there was frost on my truck window this morning!

          • I’m a Californian at heart. When the mercury dips below 85, I start have to wear a jacket. South of 60, it’s a heavy coat. If, like now, it’s below 30, I do not leave the house unless I absolutely have to, and even then only with a sweater, heavy coat, and gloves.

            I’ve never made a snow man, but Emilius has promised that we can make one this weekend. We need to make a snow dog too, because Latke is an awesome pooch. Latke, however, loves the cold. She just sits outside in the snow like it’s no big deal – even after we cut her fur down to 1/4 inch.

        • Shovel-ready project? Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Stay warm

    • Proud to be from Wisconsin. 🙂

      What else are you going to do when it’s dark 18 hours a day and below zero for weeks on end??

      With this definition of Binge Drinking: 5 drinks in one setting
      I’m surprized it’s only 23.2%…

      I believe we also beat out Pennsylvania, but it’s a fine line between arson and trying to stay warm!

      • Todd,

        I don’t understand either states “shame”. I can see your point on binge drinking, although 5 drinks at one setting is BS, it used to be over 10, then all this political correct BS started. That winter “cabin fever” can give cause to some extra drinking though, no doubt.

        Hope today finds you and the family warm and healthy!

        G!

  7. It actually does this Louisiana boy good to see this map. Not the fact that Louisiana ranks first in gonorrhea, but the fact that other states actually rate worse than Louisiana at something. This state usually has the distinction of being last (or close to it) in most every notable category…

  8. The question of the day: Do we have someone here representing every state?

    1 Alabama
    2 Alaska
    3 Arizona
    4 Arkansas
    5 California
    6 Colorado
    7 Connecticut
    8 Delaware
    9 Florida
    10 Georgia
    11 Hawaii
    12 Idaho
    13 Illinois
    14 Indiana
    15 Iowa
    16 Kansas
    17 Kentucky
    18 Louisiana – Terry
    19 Maine
    20 Maryland
    21 Massachusetts
    22 Michigan
    23 Minnesota
    24 Mississippi
    25 Missouri
    26 Montana
    27 Nebraska
    28 Nevada
    29 New Hampshire
    30 New Jersey – Buck The Wala
    31 New Mexico
    32 New York – Mathius
    33 North Carolina
    34 North Dakota
    35 Ohio
    36 Oklahoma
    37 Oregon
    38 Pennsylvania
    39 Rhode Island
    40 South Carolina
    41 South Dakota
    42 Tennessee
    43 Texas – Several, but let’s go with D13
    44 Utah
    45 Vermont
    46 Virginia
    47 Washington
    48 West Virginia
    49 Wisconsin
    50 Wyoming

    • Pennsylvania

    • Virginia.

      • I’m keeping a running list. My money is on 30+, unless there are a lot of people who don’t comment who decide to jump in just for the occasion.

        Keep ’em coming..

        • Common Man says:

          Matt;

          Living in Michigan for the last 27 years, but was born and raised in the Hoosier state.

          CM

    • confusion

    • Buck the Wala says:

      I demand that I be moved to represent both New York AND New Jersey.

      And before you ask, I would be fine with you listing yourself under both NY and CA.

    • Judy Sabatini says:

      Hey all

      Originally from Calif. Now reside in Nevada.

    • Tennesee

    • Wisconsin – and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one…

    • Arkansas

    • Just a country boy from Alabama here, who would have known?

    • North Carolina!

    • Michigan

    • A Puritan Descendant says:

      Maine.

      I was born in Massachusetts but please don’t hold it against me.

      • I was born in Massachusetts. Better than Kenya 😆

        • A Puritan Descendant says:

          I seen an article in Bangor Daily News, some poachers caught. They poached in Maine and Penn. BDN website freezes some browsers, but here is the link.

          http://new.bangordailynews.com/2011/01/27/news/suspect-in-illegal-hunting-case-calls-charges-baloney/

          • A Puritan Descendant says:

            later gotta run

          • I’m glad they got caught. When people take excessive game for profit or out of greed, they should be dealt with. All they are doing is taking from other hunters who do’t abuse our natural resources. I have no problem with someone taking game, even illegally, to feed his family when hard times hit, I know that the local game officers allow farmers to take deer at night, only to be given to needy families. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m asked to help in these endeavors in the future. We eat our harvests, and share it with those who may need help. Poachers are assholes!

      • Judy Sabatini says:

        Hey, my mom was born in Mass. Chicopee to be exact.

        • A Puritan Descendant says:

          Six generations of my father’s surname born in Ludlow, and three generations before that born in Springfield beginning in 1657. First in my father’s surname line was from England.

          There is a fair chance your mother and you are related to me from New England if she followed her ancestry way back.

          • A Puritan Descendant says:

            Chicopee and Ludlow were once part of greater Springfield. Chicopee had at least part time settlers in the mid-late 1600s. Ludlow had full time settlers around 1750.

          • Judy Sabatini says:

            Hi Puritan

            I really couldn’t tell you if she did or not, but her parents came from Poland, & settled in Mass. My mom never talked much about her life, except to say that her father was an alcoholic & used to beat the crap out of her mother & oldest sister, but left the other girls alone. She was one of 5 girls.

            • A Puritan Descendant says:

              ok, her parents arrived much later. Many arrived from Poland in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. My wife has Polish ancestors who arrived in the late 1800s to Western Mass. Many Polish names can be seen in Western Mass from the census records in the late 1800s and into the 1900s. Lots and Lots of Polish names!

              • Judy Sabatini says:

                It’s a possibility they could have came in the late 1800’s. My mom was born in 1922 & her last name was Motyka, not sure what her mother’s maiden name was. I could ask her, but not sure if she would remember, since she has Dementia now. Would be interesting to see if maybe I can find something on her parents though. I know her dad went through Nellis Island, but she not sure if her mother came that way or not, she doesn’t think she did, not unless, she cam through Canada.

              • A Puritan Descendant says:

                Judy, I lived on “Motyka” street in Ludlow until I was 4 years old! 🙂
                Very close to Chicopee. Who did they name that street after?

              • Judy Sabatini says:

                Puritan, I couldn’t even venture a guess on that one.

            • A Puritan Descendant says:

              Does the name Rosalind Motyka ring a Bell?

              • Judy Sabatini says:

                No, not at all. All I know is, that my mother’s father first name was Carroll, her mother’s first name was Lucille. There is quite a bit her side that still lives in Mass, mostly her sister’s kids & grand kids. My mom is the only surviving sister left. Her oldest sister died at the age of 15 & pregnant along with her boyfriend. Found them both dead in a hotel room in Brooklyn, N.Y. That’s where her sister is buried at, in a potter’s field for what I understand.

              • A Puritan Descendant says:

                Oh ok, I see a census record for Rosiland born 1922 to Adam Motyka and Caroline. There is an immigration record for an Adam Motyka on Ellis (not Nellis) Island. Ok no relation, gotta run again, Later.

              • Judy Sabatini says:

                Okay, sorry, I meant Ellis, typo.

      • That is funny. I spent a lot of my youth in Mass. My father lived there while I lived in Maryland and Pennsylvania (I consider myself a Pennsylvanian as the majority of the formative years were there)

    • DisposableCarbonUnit says:

      How about a long time, lurking Canadian spy from Northern Ontario?

      • Can we call that Alaska?

        • DisposableCarbonUnit says:

          Absolutely not!

          I’m currently SUFA’s token foreigner.

          It’s really sneaky since we Canadians look an awful lot like you guys.

          Isn’t Canada really just the 51st state anyway…our dollar is worth as much as yours?

          • Actually, 1 Canadian dollar = 1.0046 US dollars, so it’s worth slightly more.

            You can always tell a Canadian from an American though, because you have those beady little eyes and flappy heads.

            • DisposableCarbonUnit says:

              (DCU drops gloves)

              OK buddy….Wanna go??

              Nobody blames Canada for anything, except all the snow we sent to New York this year

              Bwahahahahahahahaha!

              • ::blows whistle:: 5 minutes in the box!

                BTW: We also like to blame you when the power grid goes down.

                Adding, we also blame you for Celine Dion.

              • DisposableCarbonUnit says:

                (screaming out from behind plexiglass of penalty box)

                Celine Dion was forcefully deported,
                we didn’t want her either.

                (DCU guzzles Canadian beer with actual alcohol in it, waiting for his turn at Mathius again……)

              • DisposableCarbonUnit says:

                By the way,

                Thanks for the entertaining welcome Mathius.

                I haven’t contributed anything to the discussions in the past year or so that I have been following this blog, but, I have been highly entertained by all of the characters here.

                DCU

              • ::Penalty ends::

                ::Mathius and DCU come flying out of their boxex heading for each other at top speed. DCU drops gloves, Mathius has a better idea and cross-checks DCU through the glass and into the crowd::

                ::Mathius ejected from the game to the sound of the crowd chanting “USA #1, USA #1”::

              • DisposableCarbonUnit says:

                You did that deliberatly for all the snow Canada sent to New York, didn’t you?

                Just wait until you have 3-4 herniated disks in your back from shovelling, then I shall have my revenge!

                DCU

              • DisposableCarbonUnit says:

                DCU picks shards of plexiglass from equipment, scores winning goal…sends Team USA to the relagation round.

                Then we lose to Russia in the flippin’ 3rd period of the Gold medal game and get drunk wondering how the hhell that happened!

                DCU

              • That’s ok.. it’s not like was actually care about hockey anyway.

            • You should also note that Matt can be just the tiniest little bit-Nitpicky 🙂

          • DisposableCarbonUnit says:

            I would like to change my designation from token foreigner to …say….ummmm….maybe…illegal immigrant-poster.

            Just to be annoying and irritating of course.

            Mathius this is your survey, what say you?

            Can I, can I, can I, please, please, please?

            DCU

    • missingtexas says:

      NorCal

    • Ohio – Go Bucks!

  9. Truthseeker says:

    To Black Flag:

    You had stated this in an earlier post “abortion in the matters of consent to intercourse is evil and immoral – and I do mean heartily, not hypothetically”, Black Flag.

    I am thinking about making a thesis around this and writing a 2000 word essay on trying to explain this and support my view point. I was wondering if this statement is wholly comes from you, or if it came from another source? If I am to quote a few things, I would need to refference them appropriately. Did you come to this logical statement and belief by reading something or did you come up with it on your own?

    Thanks dude!

    • Truthseeker,

      Obviously I’ve read tons of other people’s arguments -pro and con- and stirred them in vigorously with my own thoughts on the matter.

      But all the above comes from me’old brain.

      Quote it in any manner you see fit.

      • Can I quote it out of context, omitting words, and credited to you?

        “intercourse is evil and immoral – and I do mean heartily, not hypothetically” – Black Flag

        • Mathius,

          It would be near-impossible for me to stop you.

          • “Quote it in any manner you see fit” is a dangerous thing to say..

            • Bottom Line says:

              Matt – ““Quote it in any manner you see fit” is a dangerous thing to say..”

              BL – Indeed.

              “Consent to intercourse is immoral – and I do mean heartily, and hypothetically, the matters of abortion not in evil. ” – Black Flag

              • “me hearty, I consent and do evil to matt – il not abort the course in eons and i an hypothetically immortal” – Black Flag

                I had some leftover letters: “of iner is r”

      • A Puritan Descendant says:

        I found your arguments/reasoning on abortion pretty darn impressive. Many can still disagree on the topic but you made a very compelling argument.

        Later, I have to test my new cider/keg system.

  10. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0111/48315.html

    Who knew the real reason the Dims were hammered this pass November?

    • Don’t they know that their “race” card has expired? I guess if they tell a lie over and over, people will start to believe it. Lying pricks.

    • We need more Chris Christie’s…

    • Talk about making promise’s that one can’t keep or in this case shouldn’t have made, on things they most likely didn’t even read. I mean, afterall they believed very strongly in Mr. Thompson.

      Wayne superintendent’s $1M retirement package creates storm

      In 2007, the Wayne Township School Board and then-Superintendent Terry Thompson agreed to a renegotiated contract that provided a generous retirement package for whenever Thompson decided to step down.

      But it wasn’t until this month that board members realized just how lucrative that deal was, to the tune of more than $1 million.

      Thompson, 64, who retired in December after 15 years with the district, already has received more than $800,000 of his retirement deal, which included a year’s base pay at more than $225,000, as well as contract provisions that kicked in hundreds of thousands more.

      But that’s not all.

      The contract also created the position of superintendent emeritus — a position that has been paying Thompson $1,352 a day since his retirement to advise his successor, among other duties. That amount, over the 150 days laid out in the contract, would pay him more than $200,000 — bringing the total to more than $1 million.

      In addition, the contract called for one other perk — a onetime $15,000 stipend for “retirement planning.”

      On Thursday, the board issued a statement asking Thompson to resign from the superintendent emeritus position, but it’s unclear whether the board can force him to do so — or reclaim any of the money in the contract.

      “It’s just a terribly difficult time because Terry Thompson did terrifically wonderful things for Wayne Township,” said board member Shirley Deckard, who was not on the board in 2007.

      Five of her colleagues, however, were on the board at the time. They either were not able to be reached for comment Thursday or deferred comment to the district spokeswoman.

      Thompson did not return calls made to his home Thursday.

      A call placed to Jon Bailey — the school district’s attorney at the time the contract was renegotiated — was met with a recording that his voice mailbox was full.

      Mary McDermott-Lang, the district’s spokeswoman, said board members signed off on the provisions of the contract when it was reopened at Thompson’s request in 2007. But she said they did so without full knowledge of the information tucked into lengthy documents that she said Thompson asked them to approve at several different meetings.

      (Page 2 of 3)

      The board “didn’t have the opportunity to get a full sense of the economic impact of the entire contract and the payout in severance,” McDermott-Lang said Thursday.

      In its statement, the board said: “We are disappointed in what we have learned is the financial impact of Dr. Thompson’s contract. We believe that his continued employment is not in the best interest of the school district, and today we asked for his resignation as superintendent emeritus.”

      In his 15 years as superintendent, Thompson earned board members’ respect, McDermott-Lang said. He also was chosen 2010 Indiana Superintendent of the Year by his peers.

      “They trusted and believed very much” in Thompson, she said of the board members.

      The school corporation has no legal recourse for recouping a severance payout that the board now finds exorbitant, McDermott-Lang said, but board members thought it only proper to ask Thompson to immediately leave his advisory post.

      The Westside school district, which has more than 15,700 students, recently has had to eliminate some programs, freeze administrators’ pay and reduce some teaching positions through attrition.

      During a time of layoffs and cost-cutting, teachers struggle to understand why school districts would dole out such lavish perks to administrators as those given to Thompson, said Nate Schnellenberger, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association.

      “That kind of thing is frustrating to teachers in light of the kinds of reductions in staff we’ve seen,” Schnellenberger said. “In some cases, teachers are agreeing to roll back salaries and benefits in order to help schools make ends meet, so when they see something like this (retirement package), it’s a little frustrating to them.”

      The head of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents said the “superintendent emeritus” title was unusual.

      “I’ve never heard of another one,” said Jon Ellis, who served as Noblesville Schools’ superintendent before taking over the professional association.

      However, there is nothing unusual, Ellis said, about school districts tapping former administrators to perform management tasks when they need outside help.

      (Page 3 of 3)

      “It would depend on what the duties are,” he said. “The process is fairly typical where a retiring superintendent that’s been there a long time will often come in on a contract to help advise or direct some project. What services are they getting for that money?”

      A memorandum dated Jan. 5 outlines Thompson’s duties as superintendent emeritus.

      The memo states Thompson will “serve as an adviser” to new Superintendent Jeffrey Butts “on all facets of leadership”; oversee renovation of two buildings that house special education programs; and conduct a “lifecycle evaluation” of all the district’s buildings. A phone message Thursday to Butts, 40, who had served as assistant superintendent since March 2006, was not returned.

      McDermott-Lang said the board believed so strongly in Thompson that no one involved with renegotiating his contract 31/2 years ago foresaw any problems.

      “You had a board back in 2007 who believed very strongly in Dr. Thompson’s leadership and wanted to ensure at that time that he would stay with the district until his retirement,” she said. “When (he) asked for some revisiting of some of the aspects of his contract, they were certainly willing to talk to him about that.”

      No one on the board at that time, she said, understood the financial impact that decision would have on the school district.

      http://www.indystar.com/article/20110128/LOCAL1804/101280341/Wayne-superintendent-s-1M-retirement-package-creates-storm

      • Common Man says:

        VH;

        This is my home town. I copied and sent the article to my brother who moved from Ft. Wayne to Columbia City about 5 years ago. I am sure it will raise the hackles on the back of his neck.

        Are you a Hoosier?

        CM

        • No, I’m from Tennessee-although I’m sure if I searched long enough, I could find a correlating story about someone in Tenn.

      • I have to admit-if it wasn’t so crazy-I would have laughed at the $15000 to plan his retirement. Seems he had already planned his retirement.

  11. Thought this might be a little different-let’s discuss this article.

    Their Own Private Europe
    By PAUL KRUGMAN
    Published: January 27, 2011

    President Obama’s State of the Union address was a ho-hum affair. But the official Republican response, from Representative Paul Ryan, was really interesting. And I don’t mean that in a good way.
    Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

    Paul Krugman

    Mr. Ryan made highly dubious assertions about employment, health care and more. But what caught my eye, when I read the transcript, was what he said about other countries: “Just take a look at what’s happening to Greece, Ireland, the United Kingdom and other nations in Europe. They didn’t act soon enough; and now their governments have been forced to impose painful austerity measures: large benefit cuts to seniors and huge tax increases on everybody.”

    It’s a good story: Europeans dithered on deficits, and that led to crisis. Unfortunately, while that’s more or less true for Greece, it isn’t at all what happened either in Ireland or in Britain, whose experience actually refutes the current Republican narrative.

    But then, American conservatives have long had their own private Europe of the imagination — a place of economic stagnation and terrible health care, a collapsing society groaning under the weight of Big Government. The fact that Europe isn’t actually like that — did you know that adults in their prime working years are more likely to be employed in Europe than they are in the United States? — hasn’t deterred them. So we shouldn’t be surprised by similar tall tales about European debt problems.

    Let’s talk about what really happened in Ireland and Britain.

    On the eve of the financial crisis, conservatives had nothing but praise for Ireland, a low-tax, low-spending country by European standards. The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom ranked it above every other Western nation. In 2006, George Osborne, now Britain’s chancellor of the Exchequer, declared Ireland “a shining example of the art of the possible in long-term economic policy making.” And the truth was that in 2006-2007 Ireland was running a budget surplus, and had one of the lowest debt levels in the advanced world.

    So what went wrong? The answer is: out-of-control banks; Irish banks ran wild during the good years, creating a huge property bubble. When the bubble burst, revenue collapsed, causing the deficit to surge, while public debt exploded because the government ended up taking over bank debts. And harsh spending cuts, while they have led to huge job losses, have failed to restore confidence.

    The lesson of the Irish debacle, then, is very nearly the opposite of what Mr. Ryan would have us believe. It doesn’t say “cut spending now, or bad things will happen”; it says that balanced budgets won’t protect you from crisis if you don’t effectively regulate your banks — a point made in the newly released report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which concludes that “30 years of deregulation and reliance on self-regulation” helped create our own catastrophe. Have I mentioned that Republicans are doing everything they can to undermine financial reform?

    What about Britain? Well, contrary to what Mr. Ryan seemed to imply, Britain has not, in fact, suffered a debt crisis. True, David Cameron, who became prime minister last May, has made a sharp turn toward fiscal austerity. But that was a choice, not a response to market pressure.

    And underlying that choice was the new British government’s adherence to the same theory offered by Republicans to justify their demand for immediate spending cuts here — the claim that slashing government spending in the face of a depressed economy will actually help growth rather than hurt it.

    So how’s that theory looking? Not good. The British economy, which seemed to be recovering earlier in 2010, turned down again in the fourth quarter. Yes, weather was a factor, and, no, you shouldn’t read too much into one quarter’s numbers. But there’s certainly no sign of the surging private-sector confidence that was supposed to offset the direct effects of eliminating half-a-million government jobs. And, as a result, there’s no comfort in the British experience for Republican claims that the United States needs spending cuts in the face of mass unemployment.

    Which brings me back to Paul Ryan and his response to President Obama. Again, American conservatives have long used the myth of a failing Europe to argue against progressive policies in America. More recently, they have tried to appropriate Europe’s debt problems on behalf of their own agenda, never mind the fact that events in Europe actually point the other way.

    But Mr. Ryan is widely portrayed as an intellectual leader within the G.O.P., with special expertise on matters of debt and deficits. So the revelation that he literally doesn’t know the first thing about the debt crises currently in progress is, as I said, interesting — and not in a good way.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/28/opinion/28krugman.html

    • What about Britain? Well, contrary to what Mr. Ryan seemed to imply, Britain has not, in fact, suffered a debt crisis.

      http://dailycaller.com/2011/01/26/calling-all-merry-men-sherwood-forest-on-the-market/#ixzz1CBW1m16J

      Calling all Merry Men: Sherwood Forest on the market
      By Alyssa Moody – The Daily Caller | Published: 2:01 PM 01/26/2011

      Ever dreamed of frolicking around Sherwood Forest like Robin Hood and his Merry Men? Well, pack your sword and green tights, because you can now own a portion of folklore’s most iconic landscape. The British government is selling areas of the woods to cover their massive national debt, reports The Los Angeles Times. Locals are furious at the thought of developers or corporations invading their beloved forest, but the offer remains amidst their objection. As several European nations struggle to balance the books, other iconic, government-owned properties are also facing the auction block.

      France and Italy join Britain in selling historic properties to cover debt. The French landmark, Hotel de Seignelay, the former headquarters of the French Navy, is among the properties up for sale. Similarly, the Italian government has put 12,000 properties on the market, ranging from luxurious villas to historic monasteries. The combined value of the government’s real estate is roughly $3 billion dollars.

      Each nation plans to use a significant portion of the profits towards easing their massive debts. The governments now face the daunting task of finding buyers willing to purchase such extravagant properties in these tight economic times. Sure, you can live in legendary Sherwood Forest, where Robin Hood faced off with the sheriff of Nottingham, but it will cost you a pretty penny.

      • Krugman is a dillusional moron. His reality of the real world is so off, I’m surprised he’s not a permanent member of a Psych hospital.

  12. New Heroes vs. Old
    Email Thomas Sowell | Columnist’s Archive

    When I mention that my family used kerosene lamps when I was a small child in the South during the 1930s, that is usually taken as a sign of our poverty, though I never thought of us as poor at the time.

    What is ironic is that kerosene lamps were a luxury of the rich in the 19th century, before John D. Rockefeller came along. At the high price of kerosene at that time, an ordinary working man could not afford to stay up at night, burning this expensive fuel for hours at a time.

    Rockefeller did not begin his life as rich, by any means. He made a fortune by revolutionizing the petroleum industry. Although we still measure petroleum in barrels, it is actually shipped in railroad tank cars, in ocean-going tankers and in tanker trucks.

    That is a legacy of John D. Rockefeller, who saw that shipping oil in barrels was not as economical as shipping whole railroad tank cars full of oil, eliminating all the labor that had to go into shipping the same amount of oil in numerous individual barrels.

    That was just one of his cost-cutting innovations. If there was a better way to extract, process and ship petroleum products– or more products that could be made from petroleum– Rockefeller was on top of it.

    Before he came along, gasoline was considered a useless by-product that petroleum refineries often simply dumped into the nearest river. But Rockefeller decided to use it as a fuel in the refining process, which made it valuable, even before automobiles came along.

    Today, we tend to think of John D. Rockefeller as just one of those famous rich people. But Rockefeller didn’t just “happen to have money.” How he got rich is the real story– and it is a story whose implications reach far beyond that one particular individual.

    Before Rockefeller’s innovations reduced the price of kerosene to a fraction of what it had once been, there wasn’t a lot for poor people to do when nightfall came, other than go to bed. But the advent of cheap kerosene added hours of light and activity to each day for people with low or moderate incomes.

    It was much the same story with the advent of the automobile, which gave millions of people more range in space, as kerosene (and, later, electricity) gave them more range in terms of hours of daily activity.

    Here again, automobiles and electric lights were truly luxuries of the rich when they began. Only after ways were developed to cut their costs drastically were such things brought within the reach of ordinary Americans.
    Henry Ford’s mass production methods cut in half the cost of producing the famous Model T Ford in just five years. People who had once lived their entire lives within a narrow radius of a relatively few miles could now go see places they never knew about before. The automobile expanded their horizons.

    People today who complain about the automobile’s pollution have no idea how much more pollution there was before the automobile came along. In New York City, for example, the 40,000 horses that were the backbone of the city’s transportation, before the automobile, produced 400 tons of manure per working day, along with 20,000 gallons of urine.

    At one time, people like Rockefeller, Edison, Ford and the Wright brothers were regarded as heroes, for having opened vast new possibilities for other human beings. The fact that they got rich doing it was an incidental part of the story.

    We still have people revolutionizing our lives. Just think of the computer and the pharmaceutical drugs that have not only lengthened our lives but made them more healthful, so that being 80 years old today is like being 60 years old in times past.

    But today we seldom even know the names of those who have made these monumental contributions to human well-being. All we know is that some people have gotten “rich” and that this is to be regarded as some sort of grievance.

    Many of the people we honor today are people who are skilled in the rhetoric of grievances and promises of new “rights” at someone else’s expense. But is that what is going to make a better America?

    http://townhall.com/columnists/ThomasSowell/2011/01/25/new_heroes_vs_old/page/2

    • It’s not yet even February, but lawmakers are already dumping an armload of bad ideas onto their respective state governments. The sheer ridiculousness of a few proposed laws has resulted in some legislators quickly abandoning their efforts with a shrug and an excuse. “Haha! J-K. I didn’t really think it would actually GO anywhere.”

      On Tuesday, for instance, Arkansas state legislator Jimmy Jeffress abandoned his proposed bill banning pedestrians from using headphones on the sidewalk or street. Oh well. It was a bad idea while it lasted, which was about 24 hours.

      Jeffress said in proposing the legislation he simply wanted to begin a “conversation” about the dangers of listening to Justin Bieber distracted bipedalists. In the days following the immediate backlash, however, Jeffress admitted he caved to pressure from opponents.

      In New Jersey, assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker proposed a law requiring every bicyclist 15-and-over to register with the state, pay a bi-yearly fee and attach an actual license plate to their 10-speed. A week after the legislation was proposed and about a day after the story began to make the rounds, Tucker dropped her bill and blamed crotchety old people for causing a stir about degenerate gangs of teenage bikers.

      Despite being easy targets for the nation’s collective ridicule, Arkansas and New Jersey aren’t the only states that have legislators proposing silly laws in the new year.

      Vermont legislature needs to put a bag around its head

      Earlier this week, legislation was introduced that would ban plastic bags in all Vermont stores. There are only a few problems with this: (1) It’s Vermont (2) It’s a plastic bag ban (3) Even weirdo California bagged similar legislation.

      Crazy gunman leads to not so crazy action

      Almost a week after the tragic shooting in Arizona, a Virginia state senator decided to drop his proposed bill that would have decreased the restrictions imposed the mentally ill to buy a concealed weapon. Not that the two were related.

      It wasn’t the concept that perhaps a firearm in the hands of someone with a history of confusing Jodi Foster with the voice of God may not be the best idea that led W. Roscoe Reynolds to nix his legislation. It was just a “misunderstanding.”

      “When I started hearing about the misunderstanding, I contacted [the Commonwealth’s Attorney] and indicated to him that there was a great deal of opposition that had been generated to this measure,” said Reynolds

      Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/01/28/its-still-january-but-state-governments-are-on-a-roll-proposing-silly-legislation/#ixzz1CL5SnLzu

  13. Good Morning 🙂

    The subject of raising the National debt cieling has been quiet as of late. IMHO, it’s time for the govt. to start being responsible, as all of us are expected, and stop the crazy debt spending. So I’m against the raising of the debt cieling. Anyone have an opinion on this and why you fell the way you do?

    Have a great Friday!

    G!

    • I’m on the fence on this. It MIGHT be necessary, but I would oppose it unless substantial spending cuts were included.

    • It wasn’t that long ago that I heard all these dire warnings that we must raise the debt ceiling-well, here we are again-at some point misbehaving children must be told NO.

    • Interesting how the past catches up to people. This is what then-Senator Barack Obama said in 2006, when he wanted to embarrass then-President George W. Bush about raising the debt ceiling back then:

      “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”

    • I am personally getting tired of playing WOLF here. If the politicians are saying this will have dire consequences then why should we start believing them now…they are all pretty much lying SOS. I am for not increasing it, let the cards fall where they may. The longer we put off the financial difficulties of the US, the harder the fall when the fall occurs. Of course this is my own narrow minded opinion.

    • Someone just posted 2.5 TRILLION of ideas the Rs put on the table for spending cuts the other day. CUT THAT STUFF (none had to do with SS or Medicare) and use that savings to NOT RAISE THE DEBT CEILING..

      SIMPLE

      It’s always simple…we just MAKE IT HARD 👿

      • Common Man says:

        I have some to the conclusion that we must treat the government just like we would an addict when they appologize over and over again for using. Tell them no and stop enabling them.

        However, since we really can’t affect the federal government (according to the rules set by BF, and ones I now agree with) we need to focus our like attention at the local level.

        Case in point: At our last Tea Party meeting it was brought to our attention that Lake Orion schools in Lake Orion, MI wanted a special bond vote for $23M to be used for buses and computers. What is interesting about this is Lake Orion has an excess of funds already setting in their coffers of $14.3M. They expect the funds to come from an increase in the millages on property taxes.

        Regardless of the economic times we currently deal with, those dealing from a corruptional foundation will continue to attempt theft.

        If we are to effect change we must start at the local level. It reminds me of the movie “Sargent York” starring Gary Cooper where he took out the germans in the trenches by sneeking up behind them and shooting the last man standing first moving forward to the leader.

        Maybe if we start at the local level and start at the back of the pack, we can eventually work our way to the squad leader.

        CM

        • CM,

          I don’t disagree with your premise. I do think that the window of opportunity to achieve this may have past. Most of the non-corrupt elected folks at the lower levels want nothing to do with the higher levels, because of the corruption. It’s truly the 1000 lb gorilla you spoke of. As long as the people are promised cookies, nothing will change. I’m trying to look outside the traditional box. The election process is to slow and too expensive and too corrupt for me too believe it’s a viable solution to todays problems, much less the problems of the future.

          PEACE!

          G!

        • We just need to find two people like this in 30 states….

          Federal budget: Sen. Rand Paul unveils $500 billion in budget cuts
          By Kathleen Hennessey – Los Angeles Times | Published: 8:03 PM 01/26/2011

          Hours before a State of the Union address expected to focus on government spending, Washington has come down with a case of budget-slash fever.

          Republican freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has unveiled his plan to cut $500 billion from the federal budget in a single year — a path that would transform the federal government and dramatically curb its reach into American life.

          Paul’s budget cuts more than five times as much as House Republican leaders have advocated and faces little chance of winning support, even from within his own party.

          Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/01/26/federal-budget-sen-rand-paul-unveils-500-billion-in-budget-cuts/#ixzz1CM6AOw00

  14. Matt,

    Beware “The Barber”. An explanation of where all the damn snow is coming from…

    http://www.euronet.nl/users/e_wesker/nao.html

    North Atlantic Oscillation, comes into play. Two extremes in winter can be distinguished:

    1. A strong Iceland low combined with a well developed Azores High.
    The so called North Atlantic Oscillation Index, the difference in air pressure between Portugal and Iceland, is high.
    2. A much weaker Azores High and higher pressures on the North Atlantic.
    Now the North Atlantic Oscillation Index is low.

    In case 1. Strong South-Westerly winds bring warm air deep into Europe. It results in mild winters. Sometimes very deep and active mid latitude storms can develop South of Iceland. The winters of the late 80-ties and Early 90-ties were very good examples of this weather pattern. On 10 Januari 1993 an all time low barometric pressure of 912 mbar was recorded South East of Iceland. In the winter of 1990 England was hit by a couple of severe winter storms. The one on 25 Januari 1990 being a notable example.

    In case 2. High pressure area’s are present over the North Atlantic or Scandinavia. In case of high’s over Scandinavia cold waves can engulve Europe. This doesn’t mean that no severe weather can arrive from the sea. Northern Scotland in these cases can be hit by ‘polar lows’, very small hurricane like storm systems which form when very cold air moves over open sea. In Februari 1969 in such a polar low a gust of 118 Kts (218 km/h) was recorded on the airport of Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, during a violent snow shower. Sailors call this type of weather “The Barber”. If you venture on deck you get “a nice shave” …

    North Atlantic Oscillation Index
    North Atlantic Oscillation Index anomalies.

    In The figure above the North Atlantic Oscillation Index anomalies for the winters of 1865 – 2007 are shown. Very striking are the low values in the 60-ties and the very high values in the late 80-ties and 90-ties up to 1995. In the years 1961 – 1965 England experienced 5 years with a “skating Christmas”. The 1963 winter was an historic winter. In the late 80-ties and 90-ties the winters, in general, were mild. The winters of 1989 and 1990 were, together with the recent 2007 one, “subtropical”.

    This makes it difficult to prove the point that these winters are a harbinger of the present warming of the climate on Earth. The very warm winters were caused by a “high North Atlantic Oscillation Index” weather pattern. The cold one’s (e.g. 1963, and more recently 1979, 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1996) by a low “NAOI” weather pattern

  15. @ Buck……keep an eye on us down here. I am sure the trial lawyers will be tapping you for some money soon……. Texas is a right to work State. It appears that the “right to work” will be added to our constitution. With 49 out of 150 seats held by Republicans and Conservatives, this is something we have been trying to do for several years. Might come to fruition this time.

    Also, if you remember 10 years ago, the democrats successfully blocked redistricting by leaving the State during the session, thereby, denying a quorum. This cannot happen now and redistricting the Texas way will happen this year. It is getting exciting.

  16. TO ALL North of the Red River…..we will be at 71 degrees today and tomorrow. Woo hoo.

    • The weather channel this morning said temperatures 30 degrees below normal for the entire midwest is coming in the next couple of days

  17. So, apparently, Egypt is going to hell in a hand basket. Anyone have any thoughts other than “this is obviously a massive plot orchestrated by Soros and the Jews to get back at Egypt”?

    Incidentally, the in-laws were in Egypt in December. Aside from a bombing at a church they were planning on visiting, and a bus accident that killed 20-something Americans on a bus line they were schedule to ride, it was a nice vacation. Happily they made it back alive, but they brought back one interesting piece of information: the official line from the tourist authority over there is that the Jews “volunteered” to build the pyramids and that at no point in its 5200 year history has Egypt ever condoned or used slave labor.

    • Damn Matt….your Red Bull is kicking in today….BTW…I answered your post way above concerning business and hiring.

      How are you Sir?…going to be 71 today….still below 85…so light sweater.

    • Been watching some live streaming on CNN.com. I read several different stries as to why this is happening, does anoyone know what is really behind all this. I’ve read anything from a corrupt govt., to food prices.

      • Update from a radio broadcast. Time magazine is reporting that in Cairo and Alexandria, the police have stopped fighting with the citizens and are now shacking hands and sharing bottled water. Rumors are that the govt leaders are in the process of being arrested. Strange times we live in.

    • Mathius

      Actually there is some truth in the Jews volunteering. At least in the beginning.

      • Did they volunteer to have all male Hebrew children born be killed by drowning in the river Nile?

        • Mathius

          No need for your silly histrionics here.

          I read some articles many years ago, and later saw similar reports by scholars, that the Jews were incorporated into Egyptian society when they first migrated to the region around Alexandria.

          As I said, they were not slaves in the beginning.

          Perhaps your Jewish persecution complex is clouding your ability to see ALL of history.

          • Naw.. I’m just amusing myself.

            Jewish history is far worse than non-Jews realize, but it’s not nearly as bad as the Jews tend to believe.

            On the flip side, the media works for us, so we can portray it any way we like.

    • Tunisia was the spark – now all the American puppets throughout the ME are going to face massive popular uprisings.

      Egypt is an American ‘client’ state – gets more foreign after Israel.

      The US actions in the ME are now inflaming the region and any puppet seen as being paid off by the US will face a large uprising.

      This may be the tipping point – this will risk oil supplies and could topple the US economy.

      Get some popcorn, the show is starting….

      • Flag,

        Hope your health is improving. I have heard that the Suez Canal has also been a target. If it gets closed down, even for a short time, gas prices will soar almost overnight. Will the US send troops to protect shipping through the canal? Is Saudi Arabia next? Will food prices soar as well? What a movie! Time for a beer, CHEERS!

      • This is another perspective.

        How Are The Protests In Egypt, Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution Being Viewed In Iran?
        Antigovernment protesters clash with riot police at the Egyptian port city of Suez on January 27.

        Antigovernment protesters clash with riot police at the Egyptian port city of Suez on January 27.
        January 28, 2011
        By Golnaz Esfandiari
        “The Islamic world is ripe with major new developments and Khomeini’s Islam is the engine of these events,” Iran’s hard-line daily “Kayhan” wrote in a January 27 commentary devoted to the recent wave of protests in the Arab world.

        The daily, which often reflects the views of the Iranian establishment — or more specifically, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — added that the third millennium is witnessing “the powerful [presence] of Islam under Iran’s leadership.”

        Iranian state media has been portraying the recent upheaval in Arab countries as a struggle against Western puppets in the region, while claiming that citizens who have taken to the streets in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere are taking inspiration from Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

        “Kayhan” suggested that participants in Tunisia’s uprising, as well in as protests in Jordan, Algeria, Yemen, and Egypt are taking inspiration from Iran’s 1979 revolution, which led to the fall of the shah’s U.S.-backed regime and the creation of an Islamic republic.

        ” ‘Death to the U.S. Death to Israel. Islam is my religion. We don’t want American rulers. We’re not afraid of martyrdom.’ Are these slogans familiar to the ears and eyes of the world? Aren’t these slogans the same that Iranian people [chanted] in the run-up to the Islamic Revolution?” wrote “Kayhan.”

        The commentary made no mention of the calls for economic reforms and political freedom being voiced in the protests. There was also no mention of comparisons that have been made between Tunisia’s uprising and the mass antigovernment demonstrations that shook the Iranian establishment in 2009.

        ‘In The Name Of Islam’

        Iran’s state broadcasts have followed the same line as that seen in the print media, according to journalist Roozbeh Mirebrahimi, who monitors Iranian state television.

        “After Tunisian President [Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali] fled the country, they started reporting that the protests were taking place in the name of Islam and that they were targeting the anti-Islamic government of Tunisia,” Mirebrahimi says. “The same applies now to protests [elsewhere], including in Egypt.”

        Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad: “Western meddling.”
        In the immediate aftermath of Tunisia’s uprising, Iranian state media kept silent about the protests that led to the collapse of Ben Ali’s 23-year rule.

        “State television has no coverage of the unrest in Tunisia,” said one man in Tehran, who spoke on condition of anonymity in the days leading up to Ben Ali’s fall. “If Tunisians had protested against the U.S., it would have become a top story,” he added.

        He said he relied on Persian-language media based outside of Iran, including RFE/RL’s Radio Farda, to follow the developments in Tunisia and other Islamic countries.

        In a January 19 speech, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad warned against “Western meddling” in Tunisia and said Tunisian politicians should respect the needs and choices of the people. Ahmadinejad added that Tunisians want an Islamic government.

        Spin Control

        Washington-based analyst Rasool Nafisi says that Tehran has been trying to spin the unrest in the region as a religious struggle in order to promote the idea that its own ideology is spreading.

        “At first, they were taken by surprise because [events in Tunisia] had certain similarities with the 2009 uprising in Iran,” Nafisi says. “When Ben Ali left, they could spin it and make it look like the 1979 revolution in Iran and interpret it the way they wanted — meaning an uprising of Muslim people against a secular tyrant backed and supported by Western powers.”

        Nafisi says state media broadcasts also reflect Iranian leaders’ concerns over the unprecedented unrest in Arab states that fall short on economic opportunity and political freedom.

        “They are [ignoring ] the facts on the ground, such as the slogans in Tunisia or in Egypt or elsewhere that people are basically fighting tyranny exactly like the one we have in Iran, and that they’re calling for democracy,” Nafisi says.

        For many Iranians, the demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt have rekindled memories of the summer of 2009, when tens of thousands of citizens took to the streets to protest what they saw as a stolen presidential election. Many have been watching Tunisia’s “Jasmine Revolution” and protests against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak with envy, as evidenced by the protest photos and videos that Iranians are sharing on blogs and social-networking sites.

        ‘Why Have We Failed?’

        The demonstrations have also prompted debate and discussion among Iranians over why the country’s Green Movement failed to bring change, and how it has been silenced since 2009.

        Prominent women’s rights activist Parvin Ardalan said in a January 26 interview with the “Irish Times” that Tunisia’s revolution has brought a sense of hope that is very important for Iranian activists, who have come under state pressure since the disputed presidential vote in June 2009.

        “Some are looking to Tunisia and saying to themselves, ‘We could do this in Iran, but why have we not achieved that yet?'” Ardalan was quoted as saying.

        “Ben Ali is gone. When will Seyed Ali?” wrote one blogger in an apparent reference to Khamenei. Others, similarly playing with words, said: “Tunis tunest, Iran Na-tunest” (“Tunisia did it, Iran couldn’t do it.”)

        One Green Movement supporter updated his Facebook status on January 27 with a message of support for Egyptians who were planning to join demonstrations on January 28.

        “Let’s pray for the Egyptians who will take to the streets in a few hours, that they remain safe from beatings, arrests, and death. Let’s hope Hosni Mubarak ends like Ben Ali and that the turn of other dictators in the region, including in our country, Iran, comes too. Long live freedom.”

        Another activist shared on Facebook a picture of Ben Ali, Mubarak, and Khamenei that said: “Dictators must go.”

        http://www.rferl.org/content/egypt_unrest_view_from_iran/2290385.html

      • Here’s another one.

        What’s Inspiring The Arab Revolt?
        It is important to remember that this is not a revolt of religious extremists.

        It is important to remember that this is not a revolt of religious extremists.
        January 28, 2011
        By Mardo Soghom
        Will the successful Tunisian revolt or Egyptian unrest lead to more democratic, stable, and moderate regimes? Or is it the beginning of dangerously unpredictable events in the Arab world that could endanger peace or lead to an ascendance of Islamic regimes?

        It is next to impossible to predict the course of mass activism and protests in these volatile environments. But there are reasons to think that the fall of authoritarian regimes by mainly young and frustrated protesters will not necessarily lead to a catastrophic outcome.

        Many Arab and non-Arab observers cannot help but remember the example of Iran in the 1970s, when an authoritarian regime was replaced by a much more brutal, dangerous, and intolerant religious dictatorship. But there is one obvious difference between Tunisia and Egypt at this stage and the 1979 Iranian uprising that led to an Islamic Revolution. In these two Arab countries, Islamic groups (neither moderate nor extremist) are not leading the revolts. Certainly, Islamic elements are present among the demonstrators, but it is not Islamic political ideology or leaders inspiring the protesters.

        The protesters are mainly young people who have personal and national aspirations, which they believe they can never achieve under authoritarian and corrupt rule. Contrary to the impression Islamic fundamentalism has created in the last decade, most young Arabs do not want to live an isolated, restricted, and medieval existence circumscribed by religion. They want to be educated, enjoy social mobility, have a reasonable hope of a good future and a measure of self-esteem, and to be treated with dignity. Most young Arabs want modernization and a strong economy that would provide jobs, nice cars, and some version of a Western-style, less restrictive social life.

        The Arab-Muslim world has been facing social and political tensions ever since modernization got under way in the region. However, after more than a century, this partial modernization never enabled Arab nations to really catch up with the West. It did lead to elevated aspirations and increased pressure on youths to succeed in education, launch careers, and gain wealth. But it did not provide sufficient opportunity for these aspirations to be realized.

        Not A Revolt Of Extremists

        It was these contradictions and pressures that created a backlash against modernization and Westernization, and the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism is the most visible manifestation of this backlash. But only a limited number of young Arabs have joined the fundamentalist wave. The vast majority still look with envy toward youths in more modernized countries. It is this large group of disaffected youths with progressive aspirations that is now rising up.

        It is perhaps not an accident of history that the revolt began in Tunisia, a highly educated Arab country with strong secular impulses. Egyptians, by contrast, have a much higher rate of illiteracy, but there are vast numbers of urban educated youths ready to emulate their Tunisian peers. That is why it is a revolt riding on Twitter and Facebook, which has even taken the most visible Egyptian opposition leader, Muhammed El-Baradei, by surprise. The extremist Muslim Brotherhood admits it is just part of the movement, not its leader or even its most important faction.

        Will the Egyptian regime fall? And if it does, to what extent will a significant part of the current ruling elite continue to play a role in a smooth transition? Will there even be a smooth transition at all?

        These are all very hard to predict. But it is important to remember that this is not a revolt of religious extremists, and it is not led by a maverick cleric in the style of Iranian Revolution leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

        Moreover, if the autocrats are toppled, the demands of the revolutionaries must be taken seriously. They will demand to be heard and treated respectfully. Relations with the West and especially with Israel might become tense, because part of the frustration is a deep and widespread feeling that the West has treated Arabs unfairly and that Israel is hostile to Arabs.

        Egypt is a crucial Arab country, and any regime change in Egypt could have tumultuous reverberations across the region. At this point, there is still much reason to expect that such a process would result in the torch of Arab and Muslim identity and moral leadership being passed to a new generation of secular, nationalist forces. Not to Islamic extremists.

        http://www.rferl.org/content/whats_inspiring_the_arab_revolt_commentary/2290533.html

  18. It may not be a good idea to go to Atlanta these days (or airports for that matter).

    ATLANTA — The Atlanta Police Department has confirmed that it is conducting an internal investigation into inappropriate conduct accusations involving some members of the department’s Red Dog unit.

    The three officers involved have been placed on administrative duty pending disciplinary decisions.

    Channel 2 Action News reporter Eric Philips began piecing together the story after two men came forward and complained about possible officer misconduct during a June traffic stop on Fulton Street.

    One of the men, who was driving, said members of the Red Dog unit pulled over his vehicle and forced him to pull down his pants on the side of the road in broad daylight, as officers conducted a search for drugs. No drugs were ever found, driver Brian Kidd said.

    Kidd told Philips that his roommate, Shawn Venegas, was also subjected to a body cavity search that left him feeling uncomfortable.

    “They went to his bottom part. That’s as low as you can go. I don’t think anybody should be subjected to that kind of search,” Kidd said. “I had to look away because I couldn’t watch my friend be done like that.”

    Venegas said he was so traumatized by the incident that he moved to another state.

    “I feel molested, and I feel like I was raped,” Venegas told Philips over the phone.

    http://www.wsbtv.com/news/26647035/detail.html

  19. He shouldn’t just feel like he was raped-If this story is true-He was raped!!

  20. Maybe they should have read the damn bill!

    Did you know that if you sell your house after 2012 you will pay a 3.8% sales tax on it?

    That’s $3,800 on a $100,000 home etc.

    When did this happen? It’s in the health care bill. Just thought you should know.

    SALES TAX TO GO INTO EFFECT 2013 (Part of HC Bill)

    REAL ESTATE SALES TAX

    So, this is “change you can believe in”?

    Under the new health care bill – did you know that all real estate transactions will be subject to a 3.8% Sales Tax? The bulk of these new taxes don’t kick in until 2013 if you sell your $400,000 home, there will be a $15,200 tax. This bill is set to screw the retiring generation who often downsize their homes. Does this stuff make your November and 2012 vote more important?

    Oh, you weren’t aware this was in the ObamaCare bill? Guess what, you aren’t alone. There are more than a few members of Congress that aren’t aware of it either.

    http://www.gop.gov/blog/10/04/08/obamacare-flatlines-obamacare-taxes-home

    • Read the bill? Don’t be silly. Don’t you know that we have to pass bills first, then find out what’s in them?

      • I guess they should have read the stimulus bill too!

        This is truly some scary stuff 👿

        • I knew it was bad but this is even worse than I thought-Now to be completely fair-Insurance companies do deny coverage for some treatments-but they only claim to have the power to not pay for them-they do not claim the power to say you cannot have them period. And the way I interpreted this-it includes everyone-not just the people on government backed insurance. Of course if this isn’t defeated there won’t be anything but government backed insurance anyway. So even if a poor person who cannot afford insurance is denied treatment. And people want to contribute money so they can get treatment the answer will be-No-you will die because that treatment isn’t allowed. Death Panels sounds more appropriate everyday!

          • Judy Sabatini says:

            To me, it sounds that they are dictating on who & what treatments doctors can now see and/or prescribe to patients. Isn’t this one reason why a lot of doctors will quit their practices, so they won’t be dictated too? When the government goes to medical school & get their medical license, then they can start to practice medicine, until then, they need to butt out of the medical field & let doctors run their practices as they see fit, & treat their patients as they see fit.

            • They played a shell game with what they put in the Stimulus Bill. Your assumptions are true. The truth is out there for everyone to see, people need to open their eyes and minds, put their political beliefs off to the side, and see what is happening to them. The fence is built and the gate is closing, much faster than anyone could have imagined.

        • Our leftist friends are quite quiet about this video. Well boys, how is this going to improve healthcare?

  21. Reposting:

    Any SUFA-ites representing the following:

    2 Alaska
    3 Arizona
    6 Colorado
    7 Connecticut
    8 Delaware
    9 Florida
    10 Georgia
    11 Hawaii
    12 Idaho
    13 Illinois
    15 Iowa
    16 Kansas
    17 Kentucky
    20 Maryland
    21 Massachusetts
    23 Minnesota
    24 Mississippi
    25 Missouri
    26 Montana
    27 Nebraska
    29 New Hampshire
    31 New Mexico
    34 North Dakota
    35 Ohio
    36 Oklahoma
    37 Oregon
    39 Rhode Island
    40 South Carolina
    41 South Dakota
    44 Utah
    45 Vermont
    47 Washington
    48 West Virginia
    50 Wyoming

  22. During a Council on Foreign Relations speech in Montreal last year, co-founder with David Rockefeller of the Trilateral Commission and regular Bilderberg attendee Zbigniew Brzezinski warned of a “global political awakening,” mainly comprising of younger people in developing states, that threatened to topple the existing international order.

    For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive… The resulting global political activism is generating a surge in the quest for personal dignity, cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world painfully scarred by memories of centuries-long alien colonial or imperial domination… The worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening… That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing… The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches…

    The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well… Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious “tertiary level” educational institutions of developing countries. Depending on the definition of the tertiary educational level, there are currently worldwide between 80 and 130 million “college” students. Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred…

    [The] major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski

  23. Aha hahahahha hahaha ha ah

    http://gizmodo.com/5745307/

    China Fail

    • Charlie,

      Don’t most “hero’s” have feet of clay? Where is Al Gore? Anything you would like to discuss with him today, like how’s the weather? Some few people live up to the principals they ascribe to, most don’t. But the ideal usually outlive the author. That’s why they write.

      Imagine no possessions
      I wonder if you can
      No need for greed or hunger
      A brotherhood of man
      Imagine all the people
      Sharing all the world…

      You may say I’m a dreamer
      But I’m not the only one
      I hope someday you’ll join us
      And the world will live as one

      • A day in the life…. Poor charlie. Aren’t there any kids around looking to make a few bucks? You know the economy needs stimulating.
        LOL

        All this snow … oy vey, can an old fat guy do any more damage to his pathetic self than shoveling snow at 4:00 o’clock in the morning? The verdict is still out, but after feeling the pressure to get to work of late, I was up extra early trying to beat mother nature … except there’s no beating that broad. First, the plows reburied me … then the Staten Island trains and buses were suspended (I smell conspiracy) … then I sat around waiting to hear if Staten Island was a go again and the back stiffened up like I’d just shoveled snow for two hours.

        I literally Googled “fat guy with back pain” for the above picture.

        • Kids shoveling snow? Ha, they’re all inside writing blogs (or watching porn). Poor Charlie has been getting whipped on by Mother Nature of late. And he’s in danger of losing his job … again. See, I told yous Obama was a Republican!

          And he’s a Buffalo Bills fan (that Charlie fella) … it isn’t easy being me …

    • Weeeeellllllllllllllllllllll… yea, she was a parasite, but so is everyone else.

      I object to the hypocrisy, not the fact that she actually used the safety net. I often get hit with the opposite argument on SUFA and it makes me want to punch people: If you think you should pay to help the poor, then you should give everything to help the poor or you’re a hypocrite. No. But similarly, the argument doesn’t work to say: If you think you should accept no government assistance, you should just lie down and die if you can’t afford medical attention. No.

      But- But- and here’s the rub, if you are going to accept the assistance, you shouldn’t hide that fact while calling people who do the same thing parasites.

      Also, you shouldn’t make a fake persona in order to claim double benefits.

      And now, here’s the million dollar question: if she believed that we should all have to fend for ourselves and life or die by our own talents, how can she stand by that belief when she, herself, was unable to do so? Her talent (writing) was insufficient to garner enough money to pay for medical care. So either she has to admit that she could not survive in an Atlas Shrugged society or that an Atlas Shrugged society would result in great tragedy.

      • Did you just have Obamagasm?

      • Mathius

        When you have a better understanding of what she actually said then you will begin to understand what appears to you as some proof of contradiction.

      • I must point out that I agree with you, that it is wrong to say people who believe in safety nets are hypocrite’s if they don’t give away all there stuff to the poor. But I must add that it is also wrong to say a person who doesn’t believe in safety nets, that they were forced to pay for, are hypocrite’s if they use them. Now I know you are sitting there saying-I said that-but what you said sounded more like-people shouldn’t be forced to die just because they were wrong. 😆

        To your million dollar question-No, she does not have to admit anything-because she was not living in an Atlas Shrugged society.

        • V.H.

          You summarized her writing on this subject quite well with your statement:

          “But I must add that it is also wrong to say a person who doesn’t believe in safety nets, that they were forced to pay for, are hypocrite’s if they use them.”

    • Charlie

      Further proof that you have never read any of Rand’s writings. And obviously neither did the author of this article.

      Swwwwwwwwwing and a miss. Steeeeeeeeeeerike.

      • I read both of those monstrous tombs … never ending giberish … same story told 20 x’s over (and over) again (ground hog day on steriods).

        Her affinity for having women accept rape (or something damn close) was the most perplexing (yet interesting) aspect of those fiascos. Oy vey, speaking of ground hog day, just saw it’s snowing here (again) …

  24. I can’t resist exposing the Left Wing Democrats for the complete idiots they are.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/01/28/rep-moran-dems-lost-dont-want-governed-african-american/?test=latestnews

    Virginia Democratic Rep. Jim Moran is blaming his party’s losses last November in large part on voters who “don’t want to be governed by an African-American.”

    I wonder what his excuse is for why an African-American became President and the Dem’s gained a super majority in 2008. I guess the voters weren’t racists back then. But after being wrongly labelled as racists for two years by Jackwagons like Moran, the voters became racists, just to prove them right. LOL

    “It happened … for the same reason the Civil War happened in the United States,” Moran said. “Southern states, particularly the slaveholding states, didn’t want to see a president who was opposed to slavery.

    This guy has no freaking knowledge of history. How idiots like this get voted into office is a prime example as to why fixing govt. through the election process is nothing short of a pipedream.

    • THis is impossible G man…..The Dems do not throw racists slurs around…..or innuendo…..or hate speech…..or…………………

  25. Happy Saturday 🙂

    A hearty “Get Well Soon” to our walking wounded. The snow is flying here again, moderately at the moment. This has been a LONG winter so far, looking forward to Spring. Here’s a funny to start the day.

    While she was “flying” down the road yesterday, a woman passed over a bridge only to find a cop with a radar gun on the other side lying in wait.

    The cop pulled her over, walked up to the car, with that classic patronizing smirk we all know and love, asked, “What’s your hurry?”

    To which she replied, “I’m late for work.”
    Oh yeah,” said the cop, “what do you do?”

    I’m a rectum stretcher,” she responded.

    The cop stammered, “A what? Did you say a rectum stretcher?

    And just what does a rectum stretcher do?”

    “Well,” she said, “I start by inserting one finger, then work my way up to two fingers, then three, then four, then with my whole hand in. I work from side to side until I can get both hands in, and then I slowly but surely stretch it, until it’s about 6 feet wide.”

    “And just what the hell do you do with a 6 foot asshole? ” he asked.

    “You give him a radar gun and park him behind a bridge…”

    Traffic Ticket – $95.00
    Court Costs – $45.00
    Look on the Cop’s Face……………PRICELESS
    =

  26. Egypt protests: America’s secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising
    The American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning “regime change” for the past three years, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

    By Tim Ross, Matthew Moore and Steven Swinford 9:23PM GMT 28 Jan 2011

    1012 Comments

    The American Embassy in Cairo helped a young dissident attend a US-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police.

    On his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011.

    The secret document in full

    He has already been arrested by Egyptian security in connection with the demonstrations and his identity is being protected by The Daily Telegraph.

    The crisis in Egypt follows the toppling of Tunisian president Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali, who fled the country after widespread protests forced him from office.

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    The disclosures, contained in previously secret US diplomatic dispatches released by the WikiLeaks website, show American officials pressed the Egyptian government to release other dissidents who had been detained by the police.

    Mr Mubarak, facing the biggest challenge to his authority in his 31 years in power, ordered the army on to the streets of Cairo yesterday as rioting erupted across Egypt.

    Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets in open defiance of a curfew. An explosion rocked the centre of Cairo as thousands defied orders to return to their homes. As the violence escalated, flames could be seen near the headquarters of the governing National Democratic Party.

    Police fired rubber bullets and used tear gas and water cannon in an attempt to disperse the crowds.

    At least five people were killed in Cairo alone yesterday and 870 injured, several with bullet wounds. Mohamed ElBaradei, the pro-reform leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was placed under house arrest after returning to Egypt to join the dissidents. Riots also took place in Suez, Alexandria and other major cities across the country.

    William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, urged the Egyptian government to heed the “legitimate demands of protesters”. Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said she was “deeply concerned about the use of force” to quell the protests.

    In an interview for the American news channel CNN, to be broadcast tomorrow, David Cameron said: “I think what we need is reform in Egypt. I mean, we support reform and progress in the greater strengthening of the democracy and civil rights and the rule of law.”

    The US government has previously been a supporter of Mr Mubarak’s regime. But the leaked documents show the extent to which America was offering support to pro-democracy activists in Egypt while publicly praising Mr Mubarak as an important ally in the Middle East.

    In a secret diplomatic dispatch, sent on December 30 2008, Margaret Scobey, the US Ambassador to Cairo, recorded that opposition groups had allegedly drawn up secret plans for “regime change” to take place before elections, scheduled for September this year.

    The memo, which Ambassador Scobey sent to the US Secretary of State in Washington DC, was marked “confidential” and headed: “April 6 activist on his US visit and regime change in Egypt.”

    It said the activist claimed “several opposition forces” had “agreed to support an unwritten plan for a transition to a parliamentary democracy, involving a weakened presidency and an empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled 2011 presidential elections”. The embassy’s source said the plan was “so sensitive it cannot be written down”.

    Ambassador Scobey questioned whether such an “unrealistic” plot could work, or ever even existed. However, the documents showed that the activist had been approached by US diplomats and received extensive support for his pro-democracy campaign from officials in Washington. The embassy helped the campaigner attend a “summit” for youth activists in New York, which was organised by the US State Department.

    Cairo embassy officials warned Washington that the activist’s identity must be kept secret because he could face “retribution” when he returned to Egypt. He had already allegedly been tortured for three days by Egyptian state security after he was arrested for taking part in a protest some years earlier.

    The protests in Egypt are being driven by the April 6 youth movement, a group on Facebook that has attracted mainly young and educated members opposed to Mr Mubarak. The group has about 70,000 members and uses social networking sites to orchestrate protests and report on their activities.

    The documents released by WikiLeaks reveal US Embassy officials were in regular contact with the activist throughout 2008 and 2009, considering him one of their most reliable sources for information about human rights abuses.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/egypt/8289686/Egypt-protests-Americas-secret-backing-for-rebel-leaders-behind-uprising.html

  27. Egypt’s Military Is Seen as Pivotal in Next Step
    By NEIL MacFARQUHAR
    Published: January 28, 2011

    Even as armored military vehicles deployed around important Egyptian government institutions on Friday for the first time in decades, it remained difficult to predict what role the armed forces might play in either quelling the disturbances or easing President Hosni Mubarak from power.

    “Are they on the side of the nation or are they on the side of the regime?” a former senior Western diplomat with long service in Cairo asked. “That distinction had been blurred. We are now seeing a modern test of whether there is a separation between the two.”

    The Egyptian military, the world’s 10th largest, is powerful, popular and largely opaque.

    The military carried out the 1952 coup that overthrew the monarchy and has considered itself the shepherd of the revolution ever since; all four presidents in the ensuing years have been military generals.

    But Mr. Mubarak, who led the Air Force before rising to prominence when President Anwar el-Sadat appointed him vice president in 1975, worked hard to keep the army out of overt politics and under his control.

    In one famous incident, he dismissed Field Marshal Abdel-Halim Abu Ghazala, a popular, charismatic war hero, from his post as defense minister in 1989. The general had been tied to a smuggling scandal, but most analysts thought he had been fired because his public profile was too high.

    No general has sought to curry public favor since. The current defense minister, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, an unpopular man in his late 70s, is considered unlikely to challenge Mr. Mubarak.

    When Tunisia exploded in chaos this month, the decision of the military chief not to fire on protesters was seen as a decisive factor in driving President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali out of the country. No one thinks a Mubarak loyalist like General Tantawi would play that role, but at some point his top subordinates might consider it. (Senior members of the general staff were in Washington when the violence erupted and hurried home.)

    The army commands broad respect in Egypt. Demonstrators cheered on Friday as tanks deployed in front of government buildings like the Foreign Ministry and the main broadcast center. The demonstrators were partly inspired by the Tunisian example, analysts said, and some hoped that the military might play a similar role in Egypt.

    The public’s respect contrasts sharply with the prevailing view of the police and other Interior Ministry forces, who are known for brutality and nicknamed “bultagia,” or thugs, by Egyptians.

    Egypt’s military, with about 468,000 soldiers, is an institution apart, with its own social clubs and shopping centers. It has expanded over the decades into civilian areas like real estate development and engineering.

    It has also provided a means of social advancement, where men from poor families can earn prestige and join the upper middle class. Mr. Mubarak has appointed retired generals to run most provinces and important state-run companies.

    But deploying tanks is a sign of desperation, and raises the question of when the military might begin to doubt Mr. Mubarak’s viability. The tipping point could come, analysts believe, if the military is ordered to fire on demonstrators in any large numbers. It is one thing to protect government buildings from looters, but something else to tarnish the reputation of the army by killing citizens, they said.

    “If the military fires on civilians after demonstrations that are clearly popular, that will imperil the standing of the military, its integrity,” said Samer Shehata, a professor of Arab politics at Georgetown University. “This time the institution’s future is at risk.”

    Such action could also damage the military’s relationship with the United States, which may give the generals pause. The United States has provided about $35 billion in military aid to Egypt since it made peace with Israel in 1978. Robert Gibbs, President Obama’s spokesman, said that aid to Egypt, now $1.3 billion a year, would come under review should the violence continue.

    Analysts have long predicted that the military’s view of Egypt’s political future would emerge only after Mr. Mubarak died. But now the question of how Egypt should be governed has been fast-forwarded.

    If the military did remove the president, it is doubtful that Egypt could be run by a fifth military man for anything more than a transitional period.

    “This is the people’s moment for a democratic transition,” said Emad el-Din Shahin, a professor at the University of Notre Dame, noting that awareness was running high among the young demonstrators that nondemocratic regimes are an anomaly in the modern world. “Will the people tolerate another 60 years of direct military rule?”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/29/world/middleeast/29forces.html?hp

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