The state of Nevada was the fortunate recipient of a $490,000 federal grant to grow trees and plants — and of course, to "stimulate" the state’s economy. The only problem is the stimulus spawned a whopping 1.72 permanent jobs. In 2009, the U.S. Forest Service awarded the federal money to Nevada’s Clark County Urban Forestry Revitalization Project with the intent of enlivening urban areas of the county with trees and plants, and of providing green-industry training. However, the project yielded not even two permanent jobs, and created only 11 short-term jobs, according to the Nevada State Division of Forestry. "Looking at the failure of the stimulus to live up to its promises, not just in Nevada, but throughout America, I think the question becomes, ‘Is there any good use of stimulus money?'" asked Douglas Kellogg, communications manager for the National Taxpayers Union. "If the question is ‘was this a job-creating project?’ the answer is 'no, it wasn't,'" contended Bob Conrad, an officer for the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Since its inception almost a century ago, the Federal Reserve has enjoyed a cloak of secrecy that has grown more opaque over the years. When the economy imploded in 2008, Bernanke’s Fed swung into action behind the scenes, handing out immense sums in bailouts to a host of ailing financials, through direct loans to the very biggest banks — what Robert Litan, a former Justice Department official, called “the aristocracy of American finance.” The exact figures, however, have been a closely guarded secret, until now. It took a Freedom of Information Act request, months of litigation, and even an act of Congress, but dogged investigators at Bloomberg News finally gained access to the figures, and, after crunching the numbers, concluded that the Fed — unilaterally and with zero congressional oversight — had doled out as much as $1.2 trillion in taxpayer monies. That's about $500 billion more than the separate, hotly contested, and widely publicized $700 billion bailout pushed through Congress at the same time.
The Nullify Now! tour continues to attract support as it makes its way across the United States. Last Saturday, the tour stopped in Kansas City, Missouri, where a number of prominent speakers spoke on the dangers of a growing federal government and encouraged the use of state nullification to overrule unconstitutional powers acquired by the federal government. Thomas Jefferson once said, “Whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers ... a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy.” The Tenth Amendment Center recognizes that this is a viable option against the growing Leviathan that is the United States federal government and believes it is a policy that should be revisited by the American people. Therefore, it launched the Nullify Now! tour as a means to highlight Jefferson’s philosophy and emphasize the constitutional basis for such an option. At the Kansas City event, which took place at the Truman Auditorium in the Kansas City Library Plaza Branch, best-selling author Thomas Woods, Jr. appeared as the keynote speaker.
In 1941, the United States was first assigned the so-called “triple A” or AAA rating, a reflection of the widespread belief, at least in the free world, that the United States government could be relied upon absolutely to pay its debts. At the time, the United States had recently grown into the world’s largest economy. The dollar, after the end of the Second World War, became the world’s reserve currency under the terms of the Bretton Woods agreement. Other hard currencies were to be convertible to U.S. dollars, which were in turn convertible (for international investors, at least) into gold (the so-called “gold exchange standard”). The general perception of the dollar as the world’s backstop currency and of U.S. government debt as being as good as gold survived President Nixon’s closing of the “gold window” in 1971 and the decade of economic malaise — which included significant inflation — that followed. This is surprising in hindsight because Nixon’s action certainly fulfilled the criteria for a partial default, being motivated by the inability of the United States to service debts incurred in the Vietnam War.
Every four years, the two major political parties choose their nominees for President of the United States. The Republican and Democrat standard-bearers, like the political parties themselves, then represent the opposing sides of the political divide between conservatism and liberalism — or so we are told. In truth, though the major-party standard-bearers certainly appeal to different constituencies, the substance of what they would do as President is much more similar than their rhetoric suggests. For too many years, regardless of whether the occupant in the White House is a Republican or Democrat, the President has generally pursued a course of more socialism at home and more interventionism abroad. Consider the TARP bailout of the big financial institutions: GOP Senator John McCain and Democrat Senator Barack Obama both voted for the TARP legislation prior to the 2008 election — an election that supposedly pitted an opponent of redistributing the wealth (remember how McCain embraced “Joe the Plumber”?) against an advocate of socialism. Despite the rhetoric, if McCain were elected President in 2008, he could have been expected to continue supporting socialist bailouts, just like the last GOP President, George W. Bush, did.
After much networking, private fundraising, and even some preliminary campaign staffing, Texas Governor Rick Perry finally tossed his Stetson into the GOP 2012 presidential ring. Now conscientious voters around the nation will want to examine his record. Beginning his political career as a Democrat, Perry was elected a State Representative in 1984, garnering favor with some liberal Texas lawmakers, and serving as Al Gore’s Texas campaign chair in 1988. Becoming a Republican in 1989, he served as Texas Agriculture Commissioner until elected Lieutenant Governor in 1998; he then moved into the Governor’s mansion in 2000 when George W. Bush resigned to become President. Many conservative Texans, however, know that although Perry has consistently positioned himself as a conservative, his public record reveals considerable inconsistencies. For instance, in the 2008 election, he first endorsed pro-abortion and pro-homosexual “marriage” Rudy Giuliani for President, before endorsing John McCain when Giuliani withdrew — though in terms of substance McCain’s positions on key issues varied little from those of Barack Obama.
In an effort to top the success of last year’s Restoring Honor rally, and to garner public support for Israel, conservative pundit Glenn Beck has launched his week of Restoring Courage events, which are taking place in Israel. When Beck announced this event earlier in the year, he said, “God is involved in man’s affairs, but so is the force of darkness. I believe I’ve been asked to stand in Jerusalem. Many in the history of man have had the opportunity to stand with the Jewish people … and they have failed.” For Beck, failure in this area is not an option. He asked his listeners to “stand with me, in Jerusalem” this summer. And they did. While Restoring Courage could not garner the 500,000 attendees present at last year’s Restoring Honor rally, given this year's location in Israel, it still boasts a significant attendance and sold-out events. The week of events began at the Caesarea Amphitheater in Israel, where Beck opened his remarks to a crowd of over 3,000 people with, “Welcome to the land of milk and honey!”
American and Colombian officials suspected that a decision by the Brazilian government granting political asylum to a prominent Marxist terrorist was made under pressure from former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whose Workers’ Party (PT) has frequently been accused of receiving millions of dollars from the drug-trafficking terror group known as the FARC. The suspicions surrounding the case were highlighted in an explosive U.S. diplomatic cable from 2006 that was recently released by the whistle-blowing organization WikiLeaks. But despite the enormity of the revelations in the document, entitled “Brazil Grants Asylum to FARC Terrorist,” there has been virtually no press coverage of the scandal so far. The saga described in the cable began when Francisco Antonio Cadena, the so-called “Ambassador to Brazil” for the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was arrested by Brazilian authorities in 2005. He was apparently living there with his family at the time.
Only 26 percent of the public approves of President Obama's handling of the economy in the latest Gallup poll, conducted Aug. 11-14, while a whopping 71 percent said they disapproved. That’s down from Obama’s previous low point of 35 percent on this top issue. The public’s growing dissatisfaction shouldn’t be surprising. Going back to 1890, reports the National Bureau of Economic Research, the only U.S. president with a worse record than Obama in job creation in his first two and a half years in office, measured in terms of percentage change, was Herbert Hoover, presiding over the emergence of the Great Depression. “Official unemployment is 9.1 percent,” stated a New York Times editorial on August 15, decrying the nation’s jobs picture, “but it would be 16.1 percent, or 25.1 million people, if it included those who can only find part-time jobs and those who have given up looking for work.”
As if the AFL-CIO does not have enough political clout, it has announced its initiative to launch a super Political Action Committee in order to raise money. According to The Blaze, the effort is “part of the federation’s goal to build a year-round political organizing structure instead of ramping up and down based on election cycles.” The initiative was discussed earlier this month at an AFL-CIO executive council meeting. The proposal is still subject to approval, and will be open for discussion for the next few weeks. Supporters tout a number of benefits, especially the impact such a committee could have on struggles over state legislation, where unions have been particularly entrenched in recent months. For example, unions invested millions of dollars this year into the Wisconsin recall elections, which challenged those state legislators who voted in favor of legislation that minimized collective bargaining for public employees. The AFL-CIO alone contributed $5 million to the effort.