What's the common thread between Europe's financial mess, particularly among the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain), and the financial mess in the U.S.? That question could be more easily answered if we asked instead: What's necessary to cure the financial mess in Europe and the U.S.? If European governments and the U.S. Congress ceased the practice of giving people what they have not earned, budgets would be more than balanced. For government to guarantee a person a right to goods and services he has not earned, it must diminish someone else's right to what he has earned, simply because governments have no resources of their very own. The first order of business in reaching a solution to the financial mess in Europe and the U.S. must be the recognition that governments have been doing a class of unsustainable things, mostly giving people special privileges and things that they have not earned. It's a matter of not simply what's good or bad for the beneficiaries but what its effect is on society at large and the welfare of a nation.
Nevada has long been known as the easiest place in America to get a divorce — and a quick marriage. After a couple has had a “quickie” marriage and the marriage license has been mailed to them, the union is still not technically valid until either a clergyman or a justice of the peace in the state has performed a marriage ceremony and the officiant and the couple have signed the marriage license and it has been mailed to the proper government agency for validation. All that this law requires is that the clergyman performing the wedding provide proof that he is affiliated with a church or religious organization. The legal role allowed by Nevada law to a man of the cloth, however, is too much for the American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed suit in Clark County, contending that allowing priests, ministers, and rabbis to marry people in Nevada violates the so-called separation of church and state prohibitions in the Constitution.
Herman Cain’s unexpected victory in Saturday’s Florida Straw Poll has the media, especially the so-called “conservative” media, quite excited. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bob Dole each won this contest, and each eventually received their party’s presidential nomination. Thus, so goes the conventional reasoning, this poll is not without its share of significance as far as the end result of the GOP primaries is concerned. As usual, in covering this story, the pundits and “journalists” reveal both their proclivity for sensationalizing events and their seemingly insuperable cognitive challenges. That there is a coincidence between two events most certainly does not establish that there is a causal relation between them. In other words, that three Republican presidential aspirers won both the Florida Straw Poll and, subsequently, their party’s nomination does not mean that the one event caused or predicted the other. There is a complex of factors, and one factor in particular, that this argument from prediction omits: namely, the fact that Reagan, Bush I, and Dole were all competitive in their respective races at the time that they achieved victory in Florida. The painful truth of the matter is that, judging from his polling numbers thus far, Cain hasn’t been serious competition for anyone.
The hint given to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein by their mysterious informant “Deep Throat” regarding President Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal was: “Follow the money.” If the same counsel is followed today with regard to President Obama’s fundraising, the discoveries are disturbing. With the Solyndra controversy still unraveling, President Obama has moved undauntedly on to the next suspicious entanglement with corporate beneficiaries of federal largesse. It is being reported that in a couple of weeks President Obama will be the benefactor of a fundraiser being organized by a Missouri businessman “whose company benefited from a $107-million federal tax credit to develop a wind power facility in his state.” The name of this Friend of Barack is well-known in the Show Me State and in Democratic Party circles. Tom Carnahan is the 42-year-old son of the former Governor of Missouri Mel Carnahan and former U.S. Senator Jean Carnahan. The younger Carnahan was an attorney and is the founder of Wind Capital Group.
In keeping with his governing style, that is, rule by decree, "President" Chávez recently nationalized Venezuela’s gold mining industry. With its expropriation, the dictator continues his campaign of “21st-century Socialism.” Over the past decade, Hugo Chávez has radically altered Venezuela’s economic landscape. Executing a pernicious, politically driven, nationalization program, the government has systematically taken over key sectors. In doing so, Chávez stripped private industry, its investors — not to mention political opponents — of infrastructure, private property, and profits. Since 2002, almost 1,000 companies have been seized. For socialists and statists the world over, this is something of a guide, a graduate seminar in confiscation and class warfare. But for the rest of us, it remains a lesson in economic decay and failed leadership. The takeover of gold mining operations should surprise no one. With gold commanding upwards of $1,600 dollars an ounce, the industry is highly profitable. And it is the profit of private enterprise that Chávez endeavors to exploit for his ends. As the dictator himself once said, “We can't have socialism if the state doesn't have control over its resources!"
In what many say is political correctness run amok, British schools have banned black witch hats for children, claiming that they are "racist." So-called diversity and equality experts in the United Kingdom assert that because the wicked witch appears in a black hat, while fairies — typically associated with sweetness and light — are often clad in pale, glistening colors, children are being indoctrinated to believe that all things light or white in color are by nature “good,” while those that are black are inherently “bad.” The Blaze reports, Now, to combat that perceived threat, primary school teachers in Britain are allegedly being encouraged by equality advocates to censor fictional children’s characters, eliminating witches’ black pointed hats in favor of white ones, while dressing fairies in dark colors. Proponents of this technique can claim the method will eliminate "racism" in children as young as two. Unsurprisingly, other innocuous items are also coming under fire. Take for example writing paper. The Telegraph reports:
The eighth annual "40 Days for Life" campaign to end abortion launches September 28 at an unprecedented 301 locations worldwide. Local volunteers are set to begin constant 24-hour prayer vigils outside abortion clinics in their respective cities from September 28 until November 6. Participants have also pledged to fast and pray privately during the crusade and to take part in community outreach programs as well. The campaign website explains 40 Days for Life "takes a determined, peaceful approach to showing local communities the consequences of abortion in their own neighborhoods, for their own friends and families." Forty-eight new locations have been added to this year's international event, including cities in Argentina, Puerto Rico, and Germany. Campaign organizers boast phenomenal success in the past, and they have high hopes for this year's substantially larger crusade. Campaign director Shawn Carney observed, "I often go back to those wonderful numbers — 4,313 lives saved from abortion, 53 clinic workers who've left the abortion industry, and 16 abortion centers that have gone out of business after 40 Days for Life's peaceful prayer vigils were held in the public right-of-way outside their doors." He anticipates tens of thousands will participate this year.
A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of ObamaCare appears to be headed for the Supreme Court, which could end up ruling on the case in 2012, just as President Barack Obama is running for reelection. In August a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Florida judge’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is unconstitutional. (The panel overturned his finding that the entire law is unconstitutional, however.) The Obama administration — the defendant in the case brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business — had the option of requesting a hearing by the entire 11th Circuit Court; but it chose not to do so by the September 26 deadline, which indicates that it is probably going to appeal directly to the Supreme Court. “If the court accepts the case before January,” observes Politico, “it is likely to be put on the calendar to be heard in the spring. A decision would likely be postponed until June.” That would, of course, put it smack in the middle of an election year in which the prime architect of the law is one of the candidates, raising the question of why the administration chose not to seek a ruling by the full 11th Circuit, which probably would have delayed a Supreme Court ruling until 2013.
Apparently the Federal Reserve is not the only entity threatened by gold. Central banks in Europe are restricting the sales of precious metals, presumably threatened by the fact that citizens are increasingly abandoning the devalued paper currencies and preserving their wealth by purchasing gold and silver. Most countries in Europe — with the exceptions of Germany and Switzerland — have already mandated that residents may acquire gold only by purchasing it directly from local bank branches. Banks have justified the new policies by claiming that they are intended to prevent money laundering.
The Federal Reserve is seeking contractors to build a tool that will monitor and analyze blogs, news reports, and social-media chatter about the central bank and its policies, with a goal of being able to use “public relations” strategies to counter the growing barrage of negative publicity. But critics quickly added to the institution’s troubled image as the news spread by lambasting the half-baked scheme as “Orwellian” spying and “intimidation.” The Fed’s “Request for Proposal” explains that the institution needs a platform to “monitor billions of conversations” and “identify and reach out to key bloggers and influencers.” Information collected will be used to measure the effectiveness of the central bank’s “public relations” and “communication strategies” — known in laymen’s terms as propaganda operations. “There is need for the Communications Group to be timely and proactively aware of the reactions and opinions expressed by the general public as it relates to the Federal Reserve and its actions on a variety of subjects,” the document states. News outlets, Facebook, Twitter, forums, blogs, YouTube, and other social media platforms will all be targeted.