Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

Congressional Pay: Too Much, Too Little, or Just Right?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, July 7, 2014

Years ago, I said “build a Federal Barracks for members of Congress, and have them march to work.” I still think having modest Federal Housing for members of Congress is a good idea.

Regarding their level of pay/compensation, the article’s point – that D.C. is an expensive place to live – is well taken, and it is my considered opinion in light of that fact which gives further credence to the idea of modest Federal Housing for members of Congress. In fact, if their salaries were, by law, capped at twice the median American household income (which, according to the article is now approximately $51,000), it could be an even better idea.

And, the value of the housing they would receive from the Federal Government could also be be considered a type of income. Perhaps even they could be paid a Basic Allowance for Housing in a similar fashion to our military service members for such housing.¹ An apartment building complex would most likely be the best option for in-town accommodations, which could be convenient to their work location, and it could be jointly managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the National Park Service.

However, with this present miasmatic congress, I hold out little hope for any such creative laws limiting congressional compensation, or introducing Federal Congressional Barracks/Housing to be introduced – though I believe it should be done, and is long overdue, along with Term Limitations. A total of 20 years elected federal service is long enough for anyone. Two terms in the Senate (12 years), and four terms in the House (8 years) should be enough for anyone, would reintroduce vibrancy into the process of national governance, and introduce more people to the process of elected public service.

Congressman’s Lament: $174,000 Isn’t Enough To Make Ends Meet

by Liz Halloran
April 04, 2014 3:05 PM ET

In what world does an annual salary of $174,000 meet the definition of underpaid?

That would be in the nation’s capital, where soon-to-be-retired Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., said Americans should know that their members of Congress — as the board of directors for the “largest economic entity in the world” — are underpaid.

The longtime congressman made his comments Thursday after the House voted for the sixth straight year to deny members an automatic cost-of-living raise they’re entitled to under law.

Not surprisingly, reaction to Moran’s assertion was Read the rest of this entry »

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Here’s what the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision ~REALLY~ means

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, June 30, 2014

In essence, here’s what today’s SCOTUS ruling in the Hobby Lobby case means:

We’re good with Sharia Law as long as it’s for business purposes.

Think about that next time someone’s favorite religious nut job goes to court.

Because of extremist, right-wing religious radicals, women are again being relegated to second class citizens, WITHOUT full rights and being further  victimized by having access denied to birth control/oral contraceptives – i.e., Ortho Novum 777, progesterone, estrogens, etc. – NOT abortion.

Those medications also treat other diseases exclusive to women, including polycystic ovarian disease, endometriosis, amenorrhea/ dysmenorrhea, etc.

The question before the court was this:

“At issue here are regulations promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), which, as relevant here, requires specified employers’ group health plans to furnish “preventive care and screenings” for women without “any cost sharing requirements,” 42 U. S. C. §300gg–13(a)(4). Congress did not specify what types of preventive care must be covered; it authorized the Health Resources and Services Administration, a component of HHS, to decide.”

One’s private personal religious beliefs should never be on trial.

Yet now, because of extremist right-wing radicals, the door is now opened wide to mandate any employee of a “closely held” multi-national corporation, to FORCE them to adhere to THEIR religious beliefs… even when it jeopardizes their health.

Any well-read, well-studied Christian should be familiar with Read the rest of this entry »

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Pitchfork in the Road: America’s Economic Future – Poverty & Insurrection, or Abundance & Peace?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, June 28, 2014

“How much is enough?” is a qood question to ask many folks, especially some among the Wall $treet crowd.

And to be certain, the two principles of “the worker is worthy of their hire,” and “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain” are equally compelling ethics.

As those two ethics concern our nation’s economy, we can point to times in history where various nations suffered revolution, and the most common causes of revolution.

In fact, I wrote at length about it in this blog in 2011, and observed in part that, “…it’s not as if uproars have never happened before. They happen with great regularity and frequency. In fact, they’re quite predictable. Yes, predictable. It’s called “history.” The maxim goes something like this: “Those who forget the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them.” And so, any reasonable or prudent person should ask, “What are the lessons of history?””

Just remember this: Food, Clothing, Shelter. If you can’t get them with what you have, you’ll fight, kill, go to war, or civil insurrection, to obtain the basic necessities of life.

The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats

By NICK HANAUER
Nick Hanauer is a Seattle-based entrepreneur.

July/August 2014

Memo: From Nick Hanauer
To: My Fellow Zillionaires

You probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like Amazon.com, for which I was the first nonfamily investor. Then I founded aQuantive, an Internet advertising company that was sold to Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. In cash. My friends and I own a bank. I tell you all this to demonstrate that in many ways I’m no different from you. Like you, I have a broad perspective on business and capitalism. And also like you, I have been rewarded obscenely for my success, with a life that the other 99.99 percent of Americans can’t even imagine. Multiple homes, my own plane, etc., etc. You know what I’m talking about. In 1992, I was selling pillows made by my family’s business, Pacific Coast Feather Co., to retail stores across the country, and the Internet was a clunky novelty to which one hooked up with a loud squawk at 300 baud. But I saw pretty quickly, even back then, that many of my customers, the big department store chains, were already doomed. I knew that as soon as the Internet became fast and trustworthy enough—and that time wasn’t far off—people were going to shop online like crazy. Goodbye, Caldor. And Filene’s. And Borders. And on and on.

Nick Hanauer

Nick Hanauer
With over 30 years of experience across a broad range of industries including manufacturing, retailing, e-commerce, digital media and advertising, software, aerospace, health care, and finance. Hanauer’s experience and perspective have produced an unusual record of serial successes. Hanauer has managed, founded or financed over 30 companies, creating aggregate market value of tens of billions of dollars. Some notable companies Include Amazon.com, Aquantive Inc., (purchased by Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion), Insitu group (purchased by Boeing for $400 million), Market Leader (purchased by Trulia in 2013 for $350 million). Some other companies include Marchex, Newsvine, Qliance, Seattle Bank and Pacific Coast Feather Company. – Photo by Robbie McClaran

Realizing that, seeing over the horizon a little faster than the next guy, was the strategic part of my success. The lucky part was that I had two friends, both immensely talented, who also saw a lot of potential in the web. One was a guy you’ve probably never heard of named Jeff Tauber, and the other was a fellow named Jeff Bezos. I was so excited by the potential of the web that I told both Jeffs that I wanted to invest in whatever they launched, big time. It just happened that the second Jeff—Bezos—called me back first to take up my investment offer. So I helped underwrite his tiny start-up bookseller. The other Jeff started a web department store called Cybershop, but at a time when trust in Internet sales was still low, it was too early for his high-end online idea; people just weren’t yet ready to buy expensive goods without personally checking them out (unlike a basic commodity like books, which don’t vary in quality—Bezos’ great insight). Cybershop didn’t make it, just another dot-com bust. Amazon did somewhat better. Now I own a very large yacht.

But let’s speak frankly to each other. I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I’m not technical at all—I can’t write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?

I see pitchforks.

At the same time that people like you and me are Read the rest of this entry »

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BIG OIL’s Corrupting Influence in American Politics: Propping up Corrupt Regimes to Prop Up Profits

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, March 7, 2014

Report

Slick Moves

The SEC could help tackle corruption in resource-rich countries around the world — but the oil industry is getting in the way.

Angola, Africa’s second-largest oil producer, is regarded as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And American oil lobbyists are only making the situation worse: They are exploiting Angola by seeking to delay and weaken the implementation of a crucial U.S. transparency law.

That law, Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act, also known as the Cardin-Lugar amendment, promises a breakthrough in preventing dirty deals and illicit payments being made for natural resources around the world, similar to the shady transaction recently uncovered by Foreign Policy. If implemented fully, the law would make U.S. oil and mining companies disclose the payments they make to governments across the world, including in Angola. However, oil lobbyists have been making misguided arguments that laws in Angola and three other countries prevent the required disclosures.

Off Shore Oil Drilling Rig

Off Shore Oil Drilling Rig – MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images

Angolan officials secretly profiting from the country’s oil riches is not a surprise. It is only the latest episode in a sad history that goes back for decades. Global Witness, where we work, began exposing the complicity of the international oil and banking industries in the plundering of state assets during Angola’s 40-year civil war in our 1999 report A Crude Awakening. This was followed by our 2002 report All the Presidents’ Men, which called on the oil companies operating in Angola to “Publish What You Pay” (PWYP). Under this rallying call, Global Witness co-launched the PWYP campaign, which is now an international coalition of more than 790 civil society organizations in over 60 countries, including Angola, advocating for transparency laws such as Section 1504.

These efforts are intended to prevent scandals similar to the Trafigura deal covered in Foreign Policy, which provide a glimpse of the endemic corruption in Angola‘s oil industry. Only a few days before Foreign Policy published its story, media reports about leaked documents relating to other corruption claims caused the share price of SBM Offshore, a Dutch oil services company operating in Angola, to plummet 17.9 percent when markets opened. SBM released a statement challenging the validity of the leaked documents, saying that they are partial, taken out of context, contain outdated information, and are not representative of the facts. SBM had also already disclosed to its investors that it was conducting an internal investigation into questionable payments in Angola. However, the dramatic stock drop suggests that SBM investors had not anticipated the scale of the corruption risk exposure.

Another oil services company active in Angola, Weatherford International, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and headquartered in Switzerland, has recently pleaded guilty to violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), including bribery of the executives of Sonangol, Angola’s state oil company. It has agreed to pay fines of $253 million to settle the case, one of the largest FCPA settlements ever.

These cases illustrate the urgent need for transparency in Angola’s oil sector. The successful implementation of Read the rest of this entry »

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In Defense of #Infrastructure Spending

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, February 22, 2014

At the federal level, TEApublican types have decried our national deficit, much – if not most – of which came about as a result of placing the price of a decade of warfare on a proverbial credit card. I refer, of course, to the Persian Gulf War, Gulf War II, Operation Desert Shield/Storm and the invasion of Afghanistan, etc., all of which occurred during the previous administration.

Compounding that problem was that corporate and personal income tax rates upon the wealthiest was cut, while simultaneously, the veritable house of cards was crumbling, having been built upon the miry, sinking sands of Wall Street deregulation & greed gone wild.

Nevertheless, as our nation has struggled and clawed its way back to some semblance of fiscal sanity, there have been voices arising whom assert that the federal government’s “bailout” of banks & other large, corporate enterprise has been a gross mistake, and that such a bailout should have never occurred. And, while there will doubtless be volumes written, and debates held about the good and the bad of the ordeal, what’s been done, has been done, and it’s practically all over, but the crying. So the only thing we can do now, is live & learn, and move on.

And yet, respecting one underlying problem which arose corollary to the matter, is the loss of jobs here at home. Again, it was complicated by ‘globalization,’ which – good, bad, or indifferent – is Read the rest of this entry »

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GAO Report: Pentagon spending out of control – Rumsfeld reported same in 2001

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, May 27, 2013

What does Senator Sessions think about the March 2012 Government Accountability Office report to Congress that found the 96 highest-priority defense programs in the Pentagon acquisitions system represented an estimated total cost of $1.58 trillion, and had actually “grown by over $74 billion or 5 percent in the past year”?

The report, entitled DEFENSE ACQUISITIONS: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs – may be downloaded from the GAO website: http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/589695.pdf

Or from this blog: GAO 3/12 report – DEFENSE ACQUISITIONS Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs

And then, there are the Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, The Pentagon , Monday, September 10, 2001 entitled DOD Acquisition and Logistics Excellence Week Kickoff—Bureaucracy to Battlefield, in which he said “According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions.”

How many variety of voices over an extended period of time do we need before we heed their warnings?

His speech, in it’s entirety follows. Read the rest of this entry »

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Reasoned Debate: Our Second Amendment Rights & Preventing Firearm Violence

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, January 26, 2013

Alabama State House GOP "Dare Defend Our Rights" gun logo

Alabama State House GOP “Dare Defend Our Rights” gun logo, from the FaceBook page of Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn

Recently in another Social Media forum, a long-time friend had posted a link to a site operated for the Alabama State House GOP faction, which is a so-called “supermajority” in that state’s elected legislative body. That site may be found here: http://ALHouseGOP.com/WeDareDefend/.

Perceiving that that those political ideologues were very likely drumming up support for their positions based upon pure emotion and fear, rather than reasoned, rational and informed debate, I initially responded by quickly writing a somewhat sarcastic response, precisely worded to give pause for thought. My initial response elicited a query, to which I delightfully replied more eruditely.

The exchange as it exists presently, now follows.

Me: Yeah. Alabama was wrong on their right to segregation and their right to deny civil rights, too.

My friend: So, do you support the Read the rest of this entry »

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Fraud, Waste and Abuse… in the Pentagon. Is ANYONE surprised?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, January 13, 2013

Here’s the one-liner you’ll remember, albeit one with significant truth:

“There’s more pork in the Pentagon budget than a Smithfield corporate hog farm feedlot in North Carolina.”

Or, if you prefer:

“There’s more pork in the Pentagon budget than a Paula Deen Christmas recipe.”

And if the Pentagon budget were a recipe, it’d be a recipe for disaster.

The budget for the United States Department of Defense accounts for very nearly 6% of our nation’s budget. It is THE SINGLE LARGEST BUDGET ITEM in the entire budget. The amount of money sifting through the Pentagon’s hands is more than the combined defense budgets of the world’s top 15 wealthiest nations. And, it accounts for 4.7% of our nation’s economy. Late former President Dwight David Eisenhower was spot-on accurate in his Farewell Address to the nation 17 January 1961 when he warned us saying:

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

“We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

None of this is to say, of course, that any kind of spending on national defense is somehow a bad thing, for it is not. Yet Eisenhower specifically warned about even the spiritual implications of the DoD spending “Gone Wild.” However, the last time the people, the Congress, the President or anyone else – including the Comptroller General, the Office of the DoD Inspector General, or the Secretary of Defense ever said anything about being budget hawks on the use of the people’s taxes was September 10, 2001 when SecDef Donald Rumsfeld spoke to the Department of Defense, and announced that the Department of Defense “cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions.” Not only was that money MIA, but he added that…

“The technology revolution has transformed organizations across the private sector, but not ours, not fully, not yet. We are, as they say, tangled in our anchor chain. Our financial systems are decades old. According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions. We cannot share information from floor to floor in this building because it’s stored on dozens of technological systems that are inaccessible or incompatible.

“We maintain 20 to 25 percent more base infrastructure than we need to support our forces, at an annual waste to taxpayers of some $3 billion to $4 billion. Fully half of our resources go to infrastructure and overhead, and in addition to draining resources from warfighting, these costly and outdated systems, procedures and programs stifle innovation as well. A new idea must often survive the gauntlet of some 17 levels of bureaucracy to make it from a line officer’s to my desk. I have too much respect for a line officer to believe that we need 17 layers between us.”
-Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense, September 10, 2001

He discovered $2.3 Trillion in the DoD budget of taxpayer monies which had no accounting. It was “Missing In Action.” The next day, the World Trade Centers suffered terrorist attacks. We never heard anything ever again. [Read the text of his speech here: http://www.defense.gov/speeches/speech.aspx?speechid=430]

Here’s a video of the CBS news report.

And now, here’s a jet plane that is the veritable aircraft version of a Jack-of-all-Trades-and-Master-of-None, which our nation’s military has previously said they do not need, and already have other more durable, reliable and operable aircraft. And this is a thing that they have continuously said they want, rather than need.

Wants and needs are two entirely different things.

And not only that, but that the entire bidding process related to Defense contracts is fraught with cost overruns, late deliveries and more – all of which would NOT be, and is NOT tolerated in private enterprise. And yet, we somehow think that the sacred cow of Pentagon spending is somehow exempted from the normal rules of operation.

And now, with the budget items heating up again, it would be ludicrously preposterous to presume that the sacred cow of Pentagon slush funds slop trough is in pristine condition.

Other agencies, like American businesses and families throughout, have learned to live within their means, and make do with less.

Why can’t the Pentagon?

F-35 Marine Model Stress Testing Halted Over Cracks

By Tony Capaccio – Jan 12, 2013

Durability testing on the most complicated version of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s (LMT) F-35 was halted last month after “multiple” cracks were discovered in the fighter jet, according to the Pentagon’s testing office.

The previously undisclosed halt in high-stress ground testing involves the F-35B, Read the rest of this entry »

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Could the Price of Milk go to $13 per gallon? If the “Fiscal Cliff” is not avoided, yes.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, December 31, 2012

This Do-Nothing Congress is, without question, the absolutely WORST Congress EVER!

More filibustering & taxes, less law-making, less-governance.

That must be what they mean when they talk about “smaller government,” or “less laws.”

Farm-State Lawmakers Back Plan to Avoid ‘Dairy Cliff’ Price Jump

By Alan Bjerga & Derek Wallbank – Dec 31, 2012 12:01 AM ET

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow are backing a short-term extension of a farm law that lapsed Sept. 30 as the Obama administration warns that without congressional action, retail milk prices could almost double.

“I would hope that as soon as is humanly possible, a decision will be made to allow us to take action” on the extension, Lucas told reporters off the House floor. “We need to take positive action, put this issue to rest, and make sure that it is clear to everybody in this country that the farm bill policy has certainty and that we will not have $8 or $9 milk.”

The proposal is one of three farm-related draft bills released over the weekend in the House of Representatives; all of them would stave off the potential jump in consumer milk prices should government commodity programs begin to lapse tomorrow. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The proposal is one of three farm-related draft bills released over the weekend in the House of Representatives; all of them would stave off the potential jump in consumer milk prices should government commodity programs begin to lapse tomorrow. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The proposal is one of three farm-related draft bills released over the weekend in the House of Representatives; all of them would stave off the potential jump in consumer milk prices should government commodity programs begin to lapse tomorrow. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The draft bill would extend current law, along with disaster aid for producers affected by this year’s U.S. drought and changes to current milk policy, through Sept. 30. It would reduce mandatory outlays by $30 million through fiscal 2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The bulk of the spending would come in the first year, and as such it would actually increase spending by an estimated $555 million through fiscal 2017.

Other Bills

The proposal is one of three farm-related draft bills released over the weekend in the House of Representatives; all of them would stave off the potential jump in consumer milk prices should government commodity programs begin to lapse tomorrow.

The second measure would extend most of the current law through Jan. 31, and the third would protect only against possible dairy-price spikes. Those two are opposed by House and Senate Democratic agriculture leaders. Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, called a 30-day extension a “poor joke on farmers that offers no certainty.”

The most recent farm law, enacted in 2008, expired after attempts to pass a new five-year proposal failed. Without that plan, agricultural programs automatically return to rules passed in 1949, the basis of all subsequent legislation.

The effects of that transition have been delayed because of the growing seasons of different crops. Dairy production, a year-round business, is the first major commodity affected. In November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama’s Two Greatest Problems: Ignorance & Apathy

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, November 8, 2012

Not too long ago, I asked someone – just an average person, someone unknown to me – what they thought were Alabama’s two greatest problems.

Their amazing response was “I don’t know, and I don’t care.”

Naturally, that was the correct answer.

The problem was, that those were the problems – ignorance and apathy.

Of course, that Read the rest of this entry »

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Draught Raises Corn Price, Milk Profits fall, Cows get Slaughtered

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Regardless whether global climate change is man-made, or cyclical… it’s going to affect us all, and we would be wise to DO SOMETHING to PRESERVE, PROTECT and DEFEND ourselves NOW!

Milk-Cow Drought Culling Accelerates as Prices Jump: Commodities

U.S. milk production is headed for the biggest contraction in 12 years as a drought-fueled surge in feed costs drives more cows to slaughter.

Output will drop 0.5 percent to 198.9 billion pounds (90.2 million metric tons) in 2013 as the herd shrinks to an eight- year low, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. Milk futures rose 45 percent since mid-April and may advance at least another 19 percent to a record $25 per 100 pounds by June, said Shawn Hackett. The president of Boynton Beach, Florida-based Hackett Financial Advisers Inc. correctly predicted the rally in March.

Dairies in California, the top milk-producing state, are filing for bankruptcy, and U.S. cows are being slaughtered at the fastest rate in more than a quarter century. Corn surged to a record in August as the USDA forecast the smallest crop in six years because of drought across the U.S. Global dairy prices tracked by the United Nations rose 6.9 percent last month, the most among the five food groups monitored, and that will probably mean record costs next year, Rabobank estimates.

“Farmers can’t afford to buy as much grain and protein, and that affects milk production,” said Bob Cropp, an economist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison who has been following the industry since 1966. “In California, there’ve been some foreclosures and some sell-off of cows quite heavily. You’re going to see that in other parts of the country.”

Mercantile Exchange

Class III milk, used to make cheese, jumped 22 percent to $21.05 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange this year. That’s more than 21 of the 24 commodities in the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index, which rose 1.8 percent. The MSCI All-Country World Index (MXWD) of equities climbed 12 percent, and Treasuries Read the rest of this entry »

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Republicans: Let’s fly to Israel, eat fancy food, drink Dom Pérignon champagne, and swim nekkid!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hey!

I know!

Let’s get lobbyists to pay for a trip to Israel where we can eat fancy food, drink Dom Pérignon champagne, and swim nekkid!

You know, it’d be funny if it weren’t first so sad… because it’s all true.

Every Dogdamn bit of it.

—-

August 21, 2012

Skinny-Dipping in Israel Casts Unwanted Spotlight on Congressional Travel

By and

WASHINGTON — The trip was much like any of the hundreds hosted in recent years by a nonprofit offshoot of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful Washington lobby, and the purpose was much the same: to solidify the support of American lawmakers for Israel at a time of Middle East tumult.

For eight all expense-paid days, House Republicans visited Israel’s holiest sites, talked foreign policy with its highest officials and dined at its most famous restaurants, including Decks, known for its grilled beef, stunning views of the Sea of Galilee, and now, for an impromptu swim party.

With hundreds of Washington lawmakers having gone to Israel courtesy of the program, the trips have a reputation as being the standard-bearer for foreign Congressional travel. “We call it the Jewish Disneyland trip,” said one pro-Israel advocate in Washington.

But for lawmakers, the attention surrounding last summer’s trip — thanks to reports of a skinny-dipping Kansas lawmaker who was part of the delegation —  has Read the rest of this entry »

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Led by GOP Speaker of the House John Boehner, Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing your “Do Nothing Congress” of 2012

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Republican obstructionism, or Republican obstructionism?

So far this year, lawmakers have staged 195 roll-call votes, which boils down to only about 60 pieces of legislation, including post-office namings.

Among them are:
● The Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act.
● The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012.
● Legislation requiring the Treasury to mint coins commemorating the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service.
● The World War II Memorial Prayer Act.
● The Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act.

Because the Democrats lack a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, they can bring virtually nothing to a vote without the blessing of the Republicans. Even with that hurdle, the Senate has been able to slog through a few bills in recent weeks, including Read the rest of this entry »

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How to End This Depression

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, July 29, 2012

It’s been said that ‘everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.’

The distinguished Dr. Krugman – who accurately foretold in 2001 that the “Bush Tax Cuts” would create significant deficit (and they did) – understands the role of government in providing opportunity for entrepreneurs and private enterprise, and the equally important role that government has in responsibility to protect public health and safety.

The long and short of it is this: Government spending on economic infrastructure (including education) is a good investment because it yields significant immediate and long-term results.

Why?

Because Materials and Manpower ALWAYS come from the private sector.

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the aforementioned premise, and the numerous times about which I have written in detail about the same. This entry illustrates with three excellent examples of that principle.

Naysayers and critics miss one very important factor in their analogy, which is that the Federal government has the power and authority to print money. The way that factor relates to the issue at hand is this: While the government could – in theory, and in reality – print enough money to give $10,000 to every man, woman and child in this nation the net effect of so doing would be to devalue the money, which would be resulting from inflation.

How to correct, resolve or work within the guidelines of that factor is to understand that one very important role of government is to provide OPPORTUNITY for entrepreneurs and private enterprise. By providing opportunity, government is also encouraging private enterprise and entrepreneurship. And, for the strict Constitutionalists, courts have continued to uphold and acknowledge that such power is contained within the Preamble’s clause “to promote the general welfare.”

Further, for the “anti-Big Government” naysayers, it is preposterous (contrary to reason or common sense; utterly absurd or ridiculous) to imagine that, in this era, with every technological advance, invention and discovery which has been made since 1776, and with our population (now approaching 312,000,000), that we would have fewer laws, rules and regulations than when we first began.

And, for those who say we should balance our budget, I would agree. However, I hasten to point out, that the last time that was done was under Eisenhower and LBJ. That does not excuse us from an ongoing civil discussion and debate about how to effectively manage our nation’s budget. Perhaps a formula of some type which would take into account GDP, debt (outstanding Treasury notes), trade deficit, population growth, birth rate, and other factors – with an “escape” mechanism for times of civil emergency or war, of course.

For such, we need technocrats – experts in areas of operations – rather than bureaucrats. Perhaps in an advisory role. But then again, we have those.

So… why don’t we work together as we ought?

Politics.

It seems that “Everybody’s got something to hide except for me and my monkey.”

How to End This Depression

May 24, 2012

Paul Krugman

The depression we’re in is essentially gratuitous: we don’t need to be suffering so much pain and destroying so many lives. We could end it both more easily and more quickly than anyone imagines—anyone, that is, except those who have actually studied the economics of depressed economies and the historical evidence on how policies work in such economies.
Obama in Master Lock factory Milwaukee

President Obama on a tour of the Master Lockfactory in Milwaukee with the company’s senior vice-president, Bon Rice, February 2012; Susan Walsh/AP Images

The truth is that recovery would be almost ridiculously easy to achieve: all we need is to reverse the austerity policies of the past couple of years and temporarily boost spending. Never mind all the talk of how we have a long-run problem that can’t have a short-run solution—this may sound sophisticated, but it isn’t. With a boost in spending, we could be back to more or less full employment faster than anyone imagines.

But don’t we have to worry about long-run budget deficits? Keynes wrote that “the boom, not the slump, is the time for austerity.” Now, as I argue in my forthcoming book*—and show later in the data discussed in this article—is the time for the government to spend more until the private sector is ready to carry the economy forward again. At that point, the US would be in a far better position to deal with deficits, entitlements, and the costs of financing them.

Meanwhile, the strong measures that would all go a long way toward lifting us out of this depression should include, among other policies, increased federal aid to state and local governments, which would restore the jobs of many public employees; a more aggressive approach by the Federal Reserve to quantitative easing (that is, purchasing bonds in an attempt to reduce long-term interest rates); and less timid efforts by the Obama administration to reduce homeowner debt.

But some readers will wonder, isn’t a recovery program along the lines I’ve described just out of the question as a political matter? And isn’t advocating such a program a waste of time? My answers to these two questions are: not necessarily, and definitely not. The chances of a real turn in policy, away from the austerity mania of the last few years and toward a renewed focus on job creation, are much better than conventional wisdom would have you believe. And recent experience also teaches us a crucial political lesson: Read the rest of this entry »

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Uruguayan government to sell marijuana to registered buyers

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The United States has spent billions up on billions in the so-called “Drug War” which was started by Richard Nixon, and over the years, the only thing it’s gotten us, is deeper in debt.

All the while, murdering narcotrafficking international criminal enterprises have arisen and grown by leaps and bounds. With them, hundreds of thousands of lives have been unnecessarily lost in the process, both innocents and those directly involved in trafficking.

Prisons have been overcrowded – worse even than sardines in a can. And that has cost us equally dearly.

Again, there are few signs that use of illicit narcotics have declined, but rather, they have increased.

And that is just in the United States, which is perceived by many – and very well may be – to be the world’s major consumer of illicit narcotics. Further, the sale of illicit narcotics – including marijuana – has funded international terrorism, including alQaeda.

Not good.

We must embark upon a path which will decrease use of illicit narcotics, which ultimately harms everyone. And to embark upon that path, we must engage in honest, and forthright dialogue. The greatest obstruction to that, is the current level of impasse in our Congress – House and Senate.

We must change.

Change, we must.

Or, we shall all perish.

Uruguay plan to let gov’t sell marijuana

By PABLO FERNANDEZ, Associated Press – 2 hours ago

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — Uruguay’s national government said Wednesday it hopes to fight a growing crime problem by selling marijuana to citizens registered to buy it, and will send a bill to Congress that would make it the first country in the world to do so.

Under the plan, only the government would be allowed to sell marijuana and only to adults who register on a government database, letting officials keep track of their purchases over time.

Minister of Defense Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro told reporters in Montevideo that Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s true. The GOP is radical to the point of sickness.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, April 27, 2012

In conversation with local entrepreneurs yesterday, they mentioned to me someone known by, and close to them. His political sensibilities – if they could be described as such – have almost destroyed his personal life.

His attitudes, which guide his behavior, have alienated family members, his spouse, and other loved ones in his life. He was described as a very negative and vitriolic individual, whom is almost paranoid delusional in his political beliefs. Not only has his thoughts and behaviors almost destroyed his personal life, but it has taken a significant toll on his professional life, as well – that is, the way he makes his money, which is as an entrepreneur.

You see, when one becomes almost nothing but a venomous, fuming, boiling pot of vitriolic negativity, which neither has anything good to say about anyone or anything… well, no one wants to be around people like that.

Not surprisingly, he was described as a Republican Tea Party type, who religiously listened to ilk like Rush Limbaugh, and the like.

Bear in mind, that does not accurately describe all Republicans.

There’s a saying which is apropos in this instance, and in the story below: “You can catch more flies with honey, than you can with vinegar.”

Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.

By Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, Friday, April 27, 10:46 AM

Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently captured on video asserting that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. Of course, it’s not unusual for some renegade lawmaker from either side of the aisle to say something outrageous. What made West’s comment — right out of the McCarthyite playbook of the 1950s — so striking was the almost complete lack of condemnation from Republican congressional leaders or other major party figures, including the remaining presidential candidates.

It’s not that the GOP leadership agrees with West; it is that such extreme remarks and views are now taken for granted.

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose Read the rest of this entry »

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Day 3: SCOTUS hears final PPACA case arguments

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It’s not looking good for the petitioners.

And to give Mr. Paul D. Clement his props, he has a phenomenal presentation, and has a wonderful presence, has a very rapidly keen response to the Justices questions. He is definitely on top of his game. However, as good as his performance may be, it is my opinion that his arguments will not sway the court.

Mr. Clement was formerly Solicitor General of the United States 2004-2008.

The Court heard arguments today, Wednesday, March 28, 2012, on the Severability issue and Medicaid issue of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act cases.

QUESTION PRESENTED:

1. Does Congress Read the rest of this entry »

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Religion & Politics: Abundant Political Irony Examined – Sandra Fluke’s testimony supports Culture of Life

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I’m not sure if you ever saw the actual video taped testimony of Miss Sandra Fluke.

I did.

Several times.

Not once did she ever mention herself.

Not even once.

The transcript of her testimony may be downloaded via Google Docs here: http://j.mp/GK9nqY

Anywho… when you think about it, it’s a strange irony that Read the rest of this entry »

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Feds to Fire Cops; Not Enough Federal Tax Dollars

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, February 24, 2012

Now… please tell me again why we pay taxes.

English: 1942 photograph of Carpenter at work ...

A Hard Working American pays the Tax Cuts for the Wealthy

At least, why does the working man pay taxes?

We mustn’t forget those poor, poor multi-milionaire type rich folks who live off money they didn’t work to earn, who pay far, far less than you or I.

What is it called? Interest income?

And what was that tax break for Rich Folk called?

Oh yes… the Capital Gains Tax Cut – sometimes also called the Paris Hilton Tax Cut. Read the rest of this entry »

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