On May 31, 2011, I reached the age of 85. In other words I’ve lived through 85 summers, 85 winters, 85 springs. It may seem like a lot, but it’s not. 85 is not much of anything. What can you buy for 85 cents? What can you buy for 85 dollars? What is 85 compared to a national debt in the trillions? As the well-known saying goes, “Life is short.” Short, indeed. We should be living for hundreds of years, because it takes more than 85 years to become truly wise. But the good Lord decided that this short life is long enough, even though the Bible speaks of persons living hundreds of years. What happened to shorten our lives? Maybe it was God’s observation that it doesn’t take long for a human being to make a mess of things. Look at the mess in Washington, all made mostly by people under 60 years of age. Some are just in their 30s and 40s. Maybe God decided that the longer people live, the more stupid and evil they get, and the more damage they can do. People are supposed to mellow with age — but that doesn’t seem to apply to politicians or dictators.
Chances are it has already played at a theater near you, though you may not have noticed. The Undefeated, the Sarah Plain bio-pic, has not been a box office success, grossing only $175,000, according to "Washington Whispers," a political column in U.S. News and World Report. A few dozen have seen it in Iowa, a state Palin has visited a lot lately, just to sort of, you know, reconnect with the grassroots in America's heartland. But the documentary could still be useful as means of introducing the former Alaska Governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate to voters if, as appears likely, she has decided to run for President. On the other hand, if there are any Americans still unaware of Sarah Palin, they are probably living without electricity or portable radios in areas so rural and remote that the mail can't reach them with the videos anyway. After all this time and all her media exposure, pundits are still reading the tea leaves and perhaps even studying the entrails of owls in trying to determine the political intentions of the inscrutable Palin. She is like the woman in a once ubiquitous TV ad for a product called Lady Clairol. "Does she or doesn't she?" the narrator asked a few dozen times each day, inviting viewers to guess whether the lovely hue and texture of the lady's hair was the gift of Mother Nature or Lady Clairol. "Only her hairdresser knows for sure."
Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul is most distinguishable, on the debate stage alongside fellow GOP contenders, for his opposition to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya. Texas Congressman advocates the withdraw of U.S. troops from not only Afghanistan and Iraq, but also elsewhere in the world, such as Germany, Japan, and South Korea. Rep. Paul has also distinguished himself from other candidates in his consistent statements and beliefs. Unlike most other candidates, he has not flip-flopped — saying now what he has been saying for decades. Once considered as one of 12 potential leaders of the conservative movement after the age of Reagan, according to the March 1983 issue of Conservative Digest magazine, Ron Paul is now regarded as the Godfather of the Tea Party movement. Still, despite his popularity on the right, and among libertarians, independents, as well as disenfranchised Democrats, Paul is attacked by many due to his foreign policy stance.
Taxpayers in Chicago must cough up at least $30 million and the Chicago Fire Department must hire 111 blacks pursuant to a lawsuit the city lost on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The lawsuit alleged that the city’s written firefighting test was unfair and resulted in discrimination against blacks because whites scored much higher than blacks, the result being that few blacks landed jobs with the department. The decision could mean a pile of cash for some 6,000 applicants who took the test but didn’t make the fire department’s standard, which was to hire only “well qualified” applicants. According to NBC Chicago, A court order, finalized on Wednesday, instructs the Chicago Fire Department to add 111 black firefighters by March 2012. The order, presented by U.S. District Court Judge Joan Gotschall, stems from a civil rights case that has made its way through trial and federal court. The lawsuit alleged that the Chicago Fire Department used discriminatory practices in its evaluation of scores for a 1995 entrance exam.
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) made his position on cutting entitlement spending as part of the SuperCommittee’s attempt to reduce the deficit perfectly clear, sort of: "It’s awfully hard to tell someone … who might be 82, that they’ve gotta go back to work, because their benefits are gonna be chopped. That’s not going to happen. We’re not gonna allow that to happen." Of course, no one is suggesting any such thing. The most ambitious of the various trial balloons on the entitlement issue have to do with reducing benefits slightly for future participants in Social Security and Medicare, not current beneficiaries. But some observers say this appears to be typical of Upton on many issues that have faced Congress in recent years: focusing on something that is irrelevant in order to avoid the important, or the embarrassing. For instance, when Upton was nominated by House Speaker John Boehner to the SuperCommittee, he could have decided to keep the promise he made in taking his oath of office:
While the debate over the raising, lowering, or demolishing the debt ceiling is new(ish), the fact that the federal government’s financial house is in disorder is a situation that has existed for over a century. The last few Presidents (of both parties), in collusion with an all too compliant Congress (regardless of which party was in the majority), have spent money on a scheme of government expansion that would drive any nation into the abyss of fiscal desolation in which America now finds itself. For example, Democrats, whether in the White House or on Capitol Hill, zealously protect their core bloc of voters by throwing themselves in front of any legislative attack on any of the myriad entitlement programs that assure their electoral success and support. Republicans, on the other hand, are equally vigilant in their watch over the corporate welfare that lines the pockets of their big oil, big bank, military industrial complex-connected cronies. Some of this money, they rightly assume, will find its way into their own campaign coffer, thus perpetuating the cycle of deceit and destruction.
Wall Street professionals' expectations are modest over Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s highly anticipated remarks at the Jackson Hole symposium this Friday. Unlike last year when the chairman announced the start of his program to purchase government securities in order to keep the economy from slipping into a recession and possibly deflation, known as Quantitative Easing II (QE2), his options now are much more limited. The anticipated bounce in the economy has fizzled, inflation is increasing, the banks are stuffed full of reserves but few are borrowing, and interest rates are already at zero and are expected to remain there well into 2013. What can he say and, more importantly, what can he do? Jim O’Sullivan with MF Global suggested: “We are not forecasting more easing,” while Tom Porcelli of RBC Capital Markets confirmed, “We expect news out of Jackson Hole will be more about getting a feel for the Fed’s opinion on its easing options.” Analysts at Barclays Capital are expecting Bernanke to “reiterate that the Fed predicts growth to accelerate,” while Capital Economics thinks that he “will probably emphasize that the Fed has the tools to boost the economy if deemed appropriate.” In other words, there will be a lot of words, but little expected in the way of change. Which is probably very smart in light of the hole the Fed has dug itself in trying to stimulate the economy. As noted in Barrons magazine, Alan Abelson wrote,
The "Ron Paul Revolution" is political kryptonite for the liberal mainstream media, despite Rep. Paul’s noteworthy gains in public opinion polls and polished performances during the GOP presidential debates. In the early parts of the 2012 presidential race, the freedom-touting constitutionalist has fallen victim to an American media that picks its political winners and losers. But for how long? Following the Ames straw poll, where GOP Texas Congressman Paul procured a virtual first-place tie with Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), the media barely yawned at his unexpected second-place showing. Indeed, Tim Pawlenty’s post-Ames departure stirred more media coverage than Paul’s near-victory. Politico.com published an article with the following headline: "Michele Bachmann wins Ames Straw Poll, Tim Pawlenty gets third." Many observers noted that such a laughable headline breeds the inevitable question: Who placed second? As reported by The New American last week, Paul’s second-place trophy in the Ames straw poll drew sparse media attention:
For all its posturing about cutting spending, the Obama administration seems to have little difficulty finding cash to reward its friends in the environmental movement. Solar energy, despite its limited usefulness, has been subsidized with hundreds of millions of dollars of federal grants and loans, including some to companies in India. Similarly, reports CNSNews.com, the administration has handed out $112 million over the past two years to protect the Sage Grouse, yet the bird itself exists in such numbers that the Department of the Interior has refused to list it as either threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week that the USDA would dedicate $21.8 million to pay eligible ranchers and farmers in the state of Wyoming to encourage conservation practices that preserve the numbers of Sage Grouse,” CNSNews.com writes. “That will bring to $112 million the total amount that the USDA has distributed over the last two years to eligible farmers and ranchers in 11 states as part of its Sage Grouse Initiative.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is sketching out a regulatory blueprint designed to control pollution levels from coal-fired power plants, and lying under the torrent of new regulations will be mercury, smog, water intake, coal ash, and greenhouse gases. Over the next 18 months, the EPA will put forth efforts to curb mercury emissions, place limits on smog-forming compounds like sulfur-dioxide, enact new rules for coal-ash waste, and implement new standards to contain greenhouse-gas emissions from oil refineries and power plants. "This year is going to be critical for paving a pathway for reducing carbon-dioxide pollution because of those EPA rules," suggested Daniel Weiss of the Center for American Progress. "Assuming, that is, they’re not stopped." Industry leaders and congressional members note that the EPA’s new regulations will mount a heavy toll on the coal industry, because they will force coal-fired power plants to install costly new renovations — or, in many cases, shut down altogether.