Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Politics of Beer, the Beer Wars, Protectionism and the Ferocious Beer Taxes

Beer wars and beer taxes are nothing new and they've been around a long time.  Although they manifest themselves in a variety of ways, the end game is to stiff the beer drinking little guy.  How beer drinkers get stiffed:

1.  Wealthy and influential families lobby state legislatures for exclusive monopolies.

How Your Beer Bought John McCain's $500 Loafers
Uncovering the government subsidies behind Cindy McCain's family fortune

McCain (he of the eight houses, 13 cars, and $500 loafers) has never been shy about laying into what he feels are the excesses of capitalism, including the way lobbyists can bribe lawmakers to jigger the system to their liking. The problem for McCain is that the fortune he married into came by way of alcohol wholesaling, an industry that isn’t remotely free market, is awash in excess, and that wouldn’t exist were it not for rigorous system-jiggering from high-powered lobbyists.

When McCain married his second wife Cindy Lou Hensley in 1980, he became one half of a very wealthy household. By some estimates, Cindy McCain’s stake in her family’s Hensley & Co. beer distributorship puts her net worth around $100 million.
2. Big beer manufacturers lobby to keep out the competition of small breweries and to guarantee their highly profitable monopolistic market share.

Anheuser-Busch InBev roars against craft breweries bill in Texas legislature
Because it is “only” about beer and not regularly taken too seriously, citizens sometimes deny themselves the exquisite pleasure of watching money and power manipulate politics in the state Legislature.

Take a little bill, HB 602 by Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, which passed unanimously in the House in late April. The bill would allow small craft breweries in Texas to sell token amounts of their beer in their breweries in the same way Texas wineries have for years been allowed to sell a bottle or two of wine to visitors after a tour.

What’s the difference, you might ask. Why would an emissary of the largest brewing company in the world take time out of an undoubtedly busy schedule to come before a state Senate committee, as reported today by the Houston Chronicle, to voice his objection to a few breweries selling in a year what would amount to a infinitesimal fraction of one day’s production?
3.  Government loves taxing beer. Heck, Oregon actually attempted to pass a 1900% beer tax increase.

Oregon Beer Tax Of 1,900 Percent Proposed, Sparks Outrage  The Huffington Post
Beer brewers are warning that a proposal by five Oregon state lawmakers to tax each barrel of beer by a whopping 1,900 percent would essentially put them out of business. Oregon is facing a budget deficit and the lawmakers claim that the money will also go to treating alcoholism and prevention.

Brewers worry that the end of low taxes could cripple them...
Folks in Oregon had a hissy fit over the proposed beer tax and it died.   An anti-beer tax group in Oregon reported that “Beer taxes are inherently regressive – more than half of the proposed increase would be paid by Oregonians earning less than $45,000 per year”.

At any given time, the states and/or Fedzilla are contemplating raising beer taxes.

In 2009, the Democrats and the Obama Administration were attempting to increase beer taxes.

Stop the Proposed Increase of Federal Beer Tax
$1 per case excise tax increase will typically cost the consumer at least $1.69 due to successive mark-ups as the case moves from brewer to wholesaler to retailer.
Besides the typical beer monopolies, big beer lobbying to protect its monopolies while lobbying to crush small brewers, and the states and Fedzilla lusting to increase beer taxes, another significant beer issue is pending in Congress.  The Hill reports:

Beer fight brewing over taxes
There’s a tax fight brewing between large beer companies and their smaller craft brethren on Capitol Hill.

The Beer Institute, which includes member companies such as Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, plans to “actively oppose” the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce, or Small BREW Act, this year.

The Brewers Association — essentially the trade group for craft brewers — is lobbying for the bill, which would reduce the federal excise tax on beer from small producers.

Chris Thorne, vice president of communications for the Beer Institute, says his trade group has dropped its neutral stance on the legislation because it divides the industry.

“We are going to actively oppose this legislation,” Thorne said. “If the entire industry is unified and has one ask, we stand a far better chance of succeeding than when we have multiple bills to push.”

Thorne said his group opposes any tax increase on beer, but that all of the industry should unite behind one bill: the Brewer’s Employment and Excise Relief (BEER) Act, which is expected to be introduced later this year and would reduce excise taxes on beer produced by brewers large and small.
This is a situation where small beer brewers are asking for tax relief and special tax treatment to give the small brewers a competitive advantage over the big beer producers.  The Big Beer Gang never complained about beer taxes so long as they were the exclusive beer players.  Now that the beer industry is changing as small breweries and their superior products become more and more popular, the Big Beer Gang is suddenly lobbying to reduce all beer taxes and create a level playing field at the federal level.

I think I need a beer!

Bank Leverage, Fractional Reserve Banking and Central Banks - the US vs. Europe

The gold standard put a check on governmental plans for easy money. It was impossible to indulge in credit expansion and yet cling to the gold parity permanently fixed by law. Governments had to choose between the gold standard and their — in the long run disastrous — policy of credit expansion. The gold standard did not collapse. The governments destroyed it. It was incompatible with etatism as was free trade. The various governments went off the gold standard because they were eager to make domestic prices and wages rise above the world market level, and because they wanted to stimulate exports and to hinder imports. Ludwig von Mises

If the situation in Cyprus has accomplished one thing, it has raised the issue of fractional reserve banking.  Moreover, it appears that governments, the Troika and central banksters everywhere have shed the false benevolence of statist theft as they now clearly and resoundingly assert that  YES, they fully intend to steal the deposits of ordinary folks to save and subsidize failed banks and banksters.  The plundering masks have finally come off.

This is truly EPIC.

However, what is confounding and confusing is why European banks are in so much trouble yet US banks are proclaimed healthy, at least by comparison to European banks.  This phenomena has a lot to do with leverage.
Leverage increases when bank assets grow at a faster rate than equity capital, such as common stock, which acts as a cushion against losses. 
In other words, banks don't gamble with their own capital, they use the money of depositors.  Anybody who deposits money in a bank is giving the bank permission to gamble with their money however they want - there are ZERO restrictions on the banks and banks effectively become casinos.  Such is the fatal flaw of fractional reserve banking, here.

Zero Hedge zoomed in on the issue of bank leverage.

Guess Who’s Even More Leveraged Than the European Banks?
The US banking system as a whole is leveraged at 13-to-1. While this is not horrible relative to Europe’s banking system (more on this in a moment), these levels still mean that an 8% drop in asset values wipes out ALL equity.

Then you have Europe’s banking system, which is leveraged at 26-to-1. Anecdotally, this is borderline Lehman Brothers (30 to 1). At these levels, even a 4% drop in asset prices wipes out ALL equity.

Japan’s banks are leveraged at 23 to 1. France’s are 26 to 1. Germany is 32 to 1.

You get the idea.

However, worse than any of these the US Federal Reserve. With $2.8 trillion in assets and only $52 billion in capital, the Fed is leveraged at 53 to 1. Yes, 53 to 1.
The only reason US banks have some semblance of sane leverage ratios is because the Federal Reserve created a ton of "out of thin air fiat money" to recapitalize US banks and they did it by largely buying bad assets that included $1.3 trillion in bad mortgage paper.

Of course the next logical question is:  why didn't the European Troika just do what the Federal Reserve did?  Moreover, printing money out of thin air doesn't solve the myriad of problems associated with the scourges of fractional reserve banking but for some reason the Troika has opted to take a different path than the US.  It's entirely possible that European banks were always way more leveraged than US banks and that printing was a nuclear option that would immediately result in inflation on steroids, Weimar Republic style, here.

While many who try and follow Austrian economics do indeed scratch their heads in bewilderment over the fact that the US has managed to escape the stone cold reality check that is descending upon Europe, one of the most fascinating and enlightening explanations came from the Ludwig von Mises Institute that actually argued in favor of the Euro in that it was a rudimentary form of a disciplined free market currency despite its vast and numerous flaws.

An Austrian Defense of the Euro
The Euro as a "Proxy" for the Gold Standard (or Why Champions of Free Enterprise and the Free Market Should Support the Euro While the Only Alternative Is a Return to Monetary Nationalism)....

The introduction of the euro in 1999 and its culmination beginning in 2002 meant the disappearance of monetary nationalism and flexible exchange rates in most of continental Europe. Later we will consider the errors committed by the European Central Bank (ECB). Now what interests us is to note that the different member states of the monetary union completely relinquished and lost their monetary autonomy, that is, the possibility of manipulating their local currency by placing it at the service of the political needs of the moment. In this sense, at least with respect to the countries in the eurozone, the euro began to act and continues to act very much like the gold standard did in its day. Thus, we must view the euro as a clear, true, even if imperfect, step toward the gold standard.

Moreover, the arrival of the Great Recession of 2008 has even further revealed to everyone the disciplinary nature of the euro: for the first time, the countries of the monetary union have had to face a deep economic recession without monetary-policy autonomy. Up until the adoption of the euro, when a crisis hit, governments and central banks invariably acted in the same way: they injected all the necessary liquidity, allowed the local currency to float downward and depreciated it, and indefinitely postponed the painful structural reforms that where needed and that involve economic liberalization, deregulation, increased flexibility in prices and markets (especially the labor market), a reduction in public spending, and the withdrawal and dismantling of union power and the welfare state. With the euro, despite all the errors, weaknesses, and concessions we will discuss later, this type of irresponsible behavior and forward escape has no longer been possible.
It it possible that Europe and the Euro are well ahead of America in addressing its monetary problems? It's hardly likely that the EU anticipated or welcomed the situation of collapsing banks and it's doubtful that the EU bureaucrats have any goal except to hold the economic, political and monetary union together, whatever the cost.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve continues to purr along oblivious to its own fatal flaws as the political class in the District of Crime (DC) grows even more arrogant and smug, as if America is somehow exempt from the problems that plague the rest of the world and the mountain of debt created by fiat monetary systems.

When reality finally strikes America, it will be far more painful and devastating than anything the profoundly suffering southern Europeans are experiencing.

How to Defeat The Gun Control Bills

Although Harry Reid had previously said that he wouldn't bring the Feinstein and Schumer gun control bills up for a vote because he didn't have the votes, he changed his mind a few days later and promised to bring the bills up for a vote when congress returns from the Easter break.

Obama is pushing Congress to vote on gun control.

Obama presses Congress to vote on gun-control measures

Many senate Republicans are pushing for gun control, specifically the universal background check. The universal background check is actually a form of gun registration and gun registration is the last step before gun confiscation.

As the gun control issue unfolds in Congress, it's clear that the government fully intends to use prior convictions, including minor drug offense, and mental health screenings to disqualify an individual from their constitutional right to bear arms. The government will indeed use its access to Obamacare healthcare records to identify folks who have sought mental counselling and/or were prescribed medication for any mental health related ailment.

Right now, the Republicans willing to dance with the Dems on gun control are:

McCain emerges as key senator in expanding background checks
McCain and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) are at the top of a list of Republicans considered most likely to sign on to legislation expanding background checks....

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has signaled he will likely support the yet-to-be-finalized proposal he negotiated with Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to expand background checks to cover private gun sales, according to Senate sources.

The proposal includes modifications to attract Republican support. One would let rural gun owners conduct background checks from their home computers. Another would create an appeals process for military veterans who have been declared mentally unfit to own a gun.

Expanding background checks is the centerpiece of President Obama’s proposal to change the nation’s gun laws in response to the mass shooting that killed 20 children in Newtown, Conn., last December.
There are 45 Republicans in the senate, 53 Democrats and 2 Independents who will probably vote with the Dems.  Harry Reid will probably have 55 gun control votes and he only needs to flip 5 Republicans to achieve the cloture vote of 60.  McCain, Collins, Heller and Kirk have already signaled that will endorse some forms of gun control.  Lindsay Graham, SC, has also indicated that he endorses gun control.  Harry Reid will have his votes unless we flip some Dems.

As a Senate bill designed to reinstitute the expired ban on assault weapons moves toward a full vote, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is fighting a rearguard action on gun restrictions for the mentally ill. The issue is one that Republicans have been pushing since the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., when mentally ill shooter Adam Lanza gunned down 28 people. A proposal on the issue was introduced this month by South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who on Thursday again expressed his interest in getting the measure passed. “I believe that the best way to interrupt the shooter is to have a mental health system that actually records and enters into the database people who should not be able to buy a gun,” Graham said.[...]

Graham’s proposal would require that people found mentally incompetent be added to the National Instant Criminal Background System – the database for all new gun sales.
It's not likely that Republican traitors to the 2nd amendment will flip away from Harry Reid or gun control.  However, it is possible to focus on keeping certain Dems from voting for gun control.

There are only 2 strategies to stop these gun control bills.

1.  Constantly call/fax/e-mail Republicans - call them in DC and at their local offices
1.  Identify Dems in swing states, especially those up for re-election in 2014.

Who is up for re-election in 2014?

Alexander, Lamar - (R - TN) Class II 455 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-4944 Alexander is squishy on civil liberties.

Baucus, Max - (D - MT) Class II 511 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-2651 Western state Dems tend to be pro-gun and need pressure.

Begich, Mark - (D - AK) Class II 111 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-3004 Alaska is a big gun rights state and Begich needs pressure.

Chambliss, Saxby - (R - GA) Class II 416 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-3521 Chambliss is squishy.

Cochran, Thad - (R - MS) Class II 113 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-5054 Unreliable and needs pressure.

Collins, Susan M. - (R - ME) Class II 413 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-2523  Big supporter of gun control

Coons, Christopher A. - (D - DE) Class II 127A RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-5042 Hopeless but call

Cornyn, John - (R - TX) Class II 517 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-2934 Cornyn needs a push

Cowan, William M. - (D - MA) Class II 359 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-2742 Probably hopeless but call.

Durbin, Richard J. - (D - IL) Class II 711 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-2152 Hopeless but call.

Enzi, Michael B. - (R - WY) Class II 379A RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-3424 Needs pressure, unreliable.

Franken, Al - (D - MN) Class II 309 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-5641 Minnesota has a lot of 2nd amendment supporters & Franken barely won his last election.

Graham, Lindsey - (R - SC) Class II 290 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-5972 Graham needs to be pounded.

Hagan, Kay R. - (D - NC) Class II 521 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-6342 NC leans purple and Hagan need pressure.

Harkin, Tom - (D - IA) Class II 731 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-3254 Needs pressure, IA has a lot of 2nd amendment supporters.

Inhofe, James M. - (R - OK) Class II 205 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-4721

Johanns, Mike - (R - NE) Class II 404 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-4224 Needs pressure

Johnson, Tim - (D - SD) Class II 136 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-5842 Needs pressure, retiring, unreliable but SD is strong 2nd amendment state.

Landrieu, Mary L. - (D - LA) Class II 703 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-5824 LA loves the 2nd, pressure Landrieu

Lautenberg, Frank R. - (D - NJ) Class II 141 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-3224 Hopeless

Levin, Carl - (D - MI) Class II 269 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-6221 Retiring and hopeless.

McConnell, Mitch - (R - KY) Class II 317 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-2541 Squishy and needs a call.

Merkley, Jeff - (D - OR) Class II 313 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-3753 Probably hopeless.  Many in Oregon love the 2nd call.  Merkley needs pressure.

Pryor, Mark L. - (D - AR) Class II 255 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-2353 Prior needs pressure.  Arkansas folks love the 2nd.

Reed, Jack - (D - RI) Class II 728 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-4642 Probably hopeless but call.

Risch, James E. - (R - ID) Class II 483 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-2752 ID is a strong state for the 2nd.  Pressure Risch

Roberts, Pat - (R - KS) Class II 109 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-4774 KS is a strong state for the 2nd.  Roberts needs pressure.

Rockefeller, John D., IV - (D - WV) Class II 531 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-6472 Retiring and probably hopeless.

Sessions, Jeff - (R - AL) Class II 326 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-4124 Sessions is unreliable and needs pressure.

Shaheen, Jeanne - (D - NH) Class II 520 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-2841 NH leans purple and Shaheen needs pressure.

Udall, Mark - (D - CO) Class II 730 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-5941 Probably hopeless but call.  CO just passed 3 nasty gun control bills.

Udall, Tom - (D - NM) Class II 110 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-6621 Needs lots of pressure in a purplish western state.

Warner, Mark R. - (D - VA) Class II 475 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-2023 Needs lots of pressure.

The Dems most likely to flip against gun control if pressured to the point of possibly losing re-election:  Baucus (MT), Begich (AK), Hagan (NC), Pryor (AR), Shaheen (NH), Udall (NM), Warner (VA).

The Republicans most likely to sell out that need to be mercilessly pounded:  McCain, Collins, Heller, Kirk and Graham, possibly more.

If activists relentless call their senators and especially pound those up for re-election, we can kill all the gun control bills.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Congress Plundered Social Security, it's Broke and Congress Critters Panic

IN a shockingly rare piece of raw truth, The Huffington Post actually disclosed the truth about Social Security although in a weirdly defensive and convoluted way.

Pay Back the Money Borrowed From Social Security

While the "Puff Post" piece does indeed puff up the Dems and entitlements while vigorously defending the SS program, it does manage to make a very critical point.

Pay Back Social Security -- The Government Has Borrowed More from Social Security than any Other Entity or Foreign Government
...the government has borrowed more from the Social Security surplus than it has from any other source in the world, including China. As a result, Social Security now "owns" nearly 18 percent of the federal debt, making it the largest single holder of US debt. The government owes almost twice as much to Social Security as it does to China and Hong Kong.
Why aren't the opponents worried about paying back Social Security -- why aren't they talking about repaying this debt to the American people?  According to the U.S. Treasury Department's "Monthly Statement of the Public Debt of the United States" (9.30.10), the total debt was $13.562 trillion and was held as follows:  
US Holders of Debt
42.1 % -- US Individuals and Institutions
17.9 % -- Social Security Trust Fund 
6.0 % -- US Civil Service Retirement Fund
2.1 % -- US Military Retirement Fund 

Foreign Holders of Deb 
11.7 % -- Oil Exporting Countries
9.5 % -- China and Hong Kong
6.3 % -- Japan
1.4 % -- United Kingdom
1.3 % -- Brazil
1.6 % -- All other foreign countries 
House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) provided some insight to their Social Security views in a recent NPR interview when he was talking about Social Security and said, "We are going to have to come to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want it to be."
If the American public were asked about what priority should be placed on the debt owed to Social Security, we have no doubt that they would resoundingly say: "Pay Us Back -- pay back the money borrowed from Social Security!"
Fedzilla and Congress just haven't plundered Social Security to fund its wars and spending addiction, they also plundered the US Civil Service Retirement Fund and the US Military Retirement Fund.

The government has been plundering the Social Security Trust Fund ever since SS was created in 1935.  For many decades, the government dipped its grubby fingers into the SS Trust Fund because its payouts were far less than the receipts.  Congress literally stole the SS Trust Fund money and left a big pile of worthless IOU's that total at least $3 trillion.

In recent years, the situation has now reversed itself - SS outflows are exceeding inflows and over $200 billion in general revenue appropriations were required to fund the shortfalls in recent years, here, and pay recipients.

Congress has now lost the slush fund that it stole from the people and lavishly spent on wars, corporate welfare and other entitlement programs.  Now everybody is in an absolute panic.  However, the cruel reality of the Social Security system lingers.

Yes My Fellow Americans, Congress Really Did Steal Your Social Security
Moreover, Congress Critters have a pension plan that has been dubbed the “Golden Fleece Retirement” because “Congressional pension benefits are 2-3 times more generous than what a similarly-salaried executive could expect to receive upon retiring from the private sector”, according to the National Taxpayers Union. Congressional pensions are so generous that they can collect $5 million or more in benefits. These same Congress Critters who generally average millions in public pension benefits and who are already rich or exceedingly financially comfortable to begin with have no moral qualms whatsoever when it comes to robbing ordinary working stiffs of their Social Security checks.

There are other problems that differentiate the SS nightmare of today from the days when real surpluses accrued in the system. In 1950 there were 16 workers supporting every retiree on SS. These days there are under 3 workers to support every SS collecting retiree.
Social Security is destined to implode into full fledged generational warfare as the poor and middle class who are barely making it anyway are required to cough up even more money that they don't have to fund the Social Security shortfalls that were created by thieving Congress Critters.

Banning Lead Ammo & Taxing Ammo is a Hot Anti-Gun Strategy

According to the anti-gun left that begrudgingly admits that Americans have a constitutional right to own firearms based on court decisions upholding the 2nd amendment, these anti-gun warriors will never give up until every American is stripped of their firearms or at least denied the ability to purchase ammo.  Therefore, going after ammo is their latest strategy to disarm folks.

In the lunatic asylum known as the Peoples Republic of Kalifornia, a bill has been introduced to ban lead ammo, all in the name of protecting the environment of course.

Bill would ban lead ammunition in California
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Environmentalists are pushing legislation to ban lead ammunition in California to prevent toxins from poisoning scavengers that eat animal remains left by hunters.
However, it's not just California that is considering banning lead bullets, the EPA is also considering banning lead bullets.

Environmental Protection Agency Reviewing Petition to Ban Lead Bullets
Several environmentalist groups led by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) are petitioning the EPA to ban lead bullets and shot (as well as lead sinkers for fishing) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Although EPA is barred by statute from controlling ammunition, CBD is seeking to work farther back along the manufacturing chain and have EPA ban the use of lead in bullets and shot because non-lead alternatives are available. But here's the catch: the alternatives to lead bullets are more expensive. A ban on the sale of lead ammunition would force hunters and sport shooters to buy non-lead ammunition that is often double the cost of traditional lead ammunition. A box of deer hunting bullets in a popular caliber could be upwards of $55.
With the federal government currently buying up so much ammo that the price of ammo is already trending through the roof, invoking the environment as a pretext to ban lead ammo will only further dry up ammo supplies and result in soaring prices.  Without a vigorous inventory of affordable ammo, the 2nd Amendment is DEAD.

However, the anti-2nd Amendment goons have also hatched other schemes to drive up the cost of ammo.  Several states and cities are considering huge taxes on ammo.

Legislators: Taxing Ammo into Oblivion Might Be Easier Than Ridding the Country of Guns
The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once proposed taxing a particularly lethal bullet by 10,000%. It didn’t go anywhere but the idea of taxing ammo keeps coming back. It was recently discussed as part of the UN Arms Trade Treaty but was rejected by the US administration.

Some legislators are now seeing the implausibility of ridding the country of 300 million guns and are coming to the conclusion that it would be easier to tax ammo into oblivion.

Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, and Rep. Bob Godfrey, D-Danbury said that constituents are urging stringent gun and ammo regulations in the wake of the Newtown massacre.

They came up with proposals to limit access to high powered weapons and ammunition. One proposal would place a 50% tax on bullets.
I would expect that the trend of the War on Ammo will continue and also intensify because its judicially untested but the courts tend to uphold the right of governments anywhere to tax.  California isn't just attempting to ban lead ammo, it's also pursuing a special tax on ammo.

Lawmakers propose new taxes on ammo to go for anti-violence efforts
Two state lawmakers have proposed a tax on ammunition sold in California, but one would use the money raised to pay for increased policing in high-crime areas and the other would provide screening for mental illness in children.

The measures are among nine pieces of legislation proposed Monday by state Assembly members to deal with gun violence. President Obama and others have identified mental health as an issue to be addressed after young, apparently deranged gunmen went on mass killing sprees in Newtown, Ct., and Aurora, Colo., last year.

Assemblyman Roger Dickenson (D-Sacramento) proposed the nickel-a-bullet tax on the sale of ammunition to go for mental health evaluations and intervention in cases where problems are discovered.

"Screening young children for signs of mental illness and addressing any issues early on is the key to a healthier and more productive adult life," Dickenson said in a statement. "A limited tax on ammunition is a small price to pay for better mental health care for children in our state."
Saving the environment?  Mental health screenings for children?  The excuses to disarm the American people are endless, even if ludicrous.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Republican Autopsy and the Changing Conservative Media

If anything, the rise of the youthful Ron Paul movement that also includes many old Libertarians has decisively and justifiably harmed the Republican Party by delivering painful ballot box defeats. As one who abandoned the Republican Party after 2004 because I viewed the GOP as statist, interventionist, fascist and and anti-civil liberties, separating myself from the goons and loons comprising conservative mob was a most liberating experience.

Can the Republican Party ever get back to its conservative small government roots?  While the GOP's definition of conservatism has certainly become shamefully twisted over the years and decades, there really is nothing conservative or even constitutional about the Republican Party as it is presently constituted.  The Republican Party is a party that must change or die.  It really is that simple.

The conservative media is taking notice because, well, the painful medicine of GOP election losses has taken effect.  The Washington Examiner, a website I consider a cheerleader for all things statist Republican neocon, is suddenly changing its tune and actually raising the foreign policy issue.

Tim Carney, who has actually done excellent work on the issue of crony capitalism, directly confronted the Iraq War.

The mistake of Iraq and the education of the Right

Then Philip Klein let loose with a piece blaming Republican foreign policy for Obamacare.

Iraq War made Obamacare possible

Both Carney and Klein are right.  Foreign policy is killing the GOP and is directly responsible for back to back presidential election losses.  That said, the Republican Party does indeed have problems besides its non-stop interventionist wars.

Few folks even understand the conservative base, least of all Republicans and the RNC/GOP machine that engineered the disastrous defeat of the Republican Party.  Although liberals and Democrats do indeed plunge themselves into endless tirades on Republicans and the Republican Party, it took a well known liberal election pundit to nail it.  Stu Rothenberg penned an extraordinary piece.

The GOP: A Party Increasingly at Odds With Itself
The Republican Party continues to fracture more seriously than I expected following last year’s re-election of President Barack Obama.....

Earlier this week, the Republican National Committee entered the discussion with a lengthy report that dealt with everything from message to campaign mechanics and the presidential nominating process....

But while the report proposes a big tent strategy, others in the party — Rush Limbaugh, the Club for Growth, Sean Hannity, Tea Party Express and Jim DeMint — have a different agenda. Bliss did not have to deal with similar non-party groups 50 years ago, and their existence today undercuts the authority of the national party.

Allies of Ron Paul and “movement conservatives” have already criticized the RNC report, portraying it as little more than the establishment’s attempt to remake the party in the image of the Democratic Party.

Because the RNC cannot dictate message or mechanics the way it once could...

Since the GOP brand is damaged, it has little credibility with certain voters....
That the Republican brand is badly tarnished is no understatement.  In fact, it's a glaring and bitter truth.  Daniel McCarthy at The American Conservative also nailed it.

The GOP’s Vietnam
How Republican foreign policy lost the culture war—and a generation

America doesn’t really have a two-party system. It has a one-and-a-half-party system, where one party at a time tends to dominate the national agenda while the other becomes a half-party—one that might hold onto the House of Representatives and some state governments, but that isn’t trusted by voters to run the country.....

The root of the GOP’s problem now is the same as that of the Democrats in 1969: the party’s reputation has been ruined by a botched, unnecessary war—Vietnam in the case of the Democrats, Iraq for the GOP. This may sound implausible: every political scientist knows that Americans don’t care about foreign policy; certainly they don’t vote based on it. But foreign policy is not just about foreign policy: it’s also about culture.
The Vietnam War cost the Democrats dearly, just as it is costing the Republicans dearly.  The 'WAR PARTY' label doesn't win elections.  In fact, the 'WAR PARTY' label is a ballot box loser.

As for Republican styled fiscal conservatism, it's a total farce and a joke.

The Tea Party Republicans Spent More Than the Dems They Replaced.

The Republican Party has big problems because it doesn't stand for anything except endless wars, bigger government, more deficits and more debt.  The RNC's pathetic autopsy on itself was one whopper of an exercise in delusion and it's a delusion that can no longer be sold.

Meanwhile, the message of the rising Libertarian/Paulite elements within the GOP actually stand for something that does appeal to voters:  peace, liberty and prosperity.  Will Republicans drink the medicine that is the antidote to the poison they've been ingesting for decades?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cyprus: Where Big Oil, Big Money and Geopolitics Collide

The island nation of Cyprus is garnering big global headlines as the government seems determined to plunder the bank accounts of its citizens to guarantee debt service payments on a $13 billion Troika loan to bailout bankster.  To understand Cyprus, you have to start with having a grasp of geo-politics and the history of Cyprus.  The sordid and lurid details of Russian oligarchs using Cyprus banks for laundering money from their nefarious activities is indeed firing up imaginations because the Cypriot people, and people everywhere, are suddenly shocked and appalled that ordinary people are now forcibly being required to bailout Russian mobsters.  Forget that the entire global financial system is itself a well organized crime syndicate.

Cyprus is an island nation and the 3rd largest Mediterranean island after Sicily and Sardinia (both under Italian sovereignty) and according to the CIA Factbook is .6 the size of Connecticut.  With 1.1 million folks occupying the island, Cyprus has a long and fascinating history of being a pawn on the Muslim-Christian chessboard as battles waged for theocratic and empirical control of the Mediterranean.

Somebody made the astute observation:  If goods don't cross borders then armies definitely will.  It's always been true, though rarely practiced in human history.  The Venetians acquired vast wealth and prosperity through trade and they even traded significantly with the Muslim world.  Consequently, the Venetians were wisely obsessed with trade, protecting their trade routes, avoiding war and negotiating peace with anybody to preserve trade.

Cyprus has always been a Greek majority, Greek speaking island and became part of the Orthodox Byzantine Empire in the 4th century.  It's close proximity to Turkey (less than 50 miles from the Turkish mainland) made it an attractive conquest for the now defunct Ottoman Empire.  Cyprus was deemed critical to Venetian trade and the Venetian Republic, here, and the Venetians invaded Cyprus in 1489.  Relations between east and western Christianity were never good as Roman Catholics under the rule of Rome locked horns with Orthodox Christians under the rule of Constantinople.  Constantinople fell to the Muslim Turks in 1453 under the Ottomans who embarked on a massive geographic military expansion of conquest and plunder.

In 1570, the Ottomans invaded Cyprus, quickly conquered most of the island, including the capitol city of Nicosia, but the heavily fortified city of Famagusta was held by the Venetians and only fell after a long seige.   The heroic defender of Famagusta was Marco Antonio Bragadin, here.  When Bragadin surrendered after being promised safe passage out of Cyprus, the Muslim Turks literally flayed him alive and carted the spectacle of a human being being skinned alive through the streets as a warning that such was the fate of anybody who defied the Muslims.

The horror of Bragadin's fate spread rapidly throughout a shocked Christian world.  That's when the Christian West decided to stop the Ottomans.  The Venetians had been paying the Ottomans a huge amount of money in annual tribute.  They were furious at the betrayal and conquest of Cyprus.  Several Italian states and other western Christian nations quickly assembled a navy which was not a problem for the seafaring Venetians.  The goal was to wipe out the Ottoman navy which it accomplished at the legendary sea battle of Lepanto, here and here.

The 1570 defeat of the Ottoman Navy was largely symbolic.  However, it did slow down Ottoman expansion but the Ottomans managed to keep Cyprus until 1878 when it ceded control of Cyprus to the British.  Ottoman power was approaching its zenith but that changed in 1683 when Ottoman armies were decisively defeated at the gates of Vienna.   After Lepanto (1570) and the Christian defeat of Islamic expansion at Vienna (1683), the Christian world ceased to fear the Ottomans who had so terrified the western Christian world for hundreds of years, starting with the defeat of the Serbs in 1389 and the Muslim conquest of Constantinople in 1453.  Revolts against Islamic rule started to accelerate and they accelerated on two fronts, from the Orthodox east and the Papal west.

1736 Russo/Austrian-Turkish War
1768 Russo-Turkish War
1770 Revolt in Peloponnese
1787 Russo/Austrian-Turkish War
1804 First Serbian uprising
1815 Second Serbian uprising
1821 Greek War of Independence
1877 Russo-Turkish War
1912 First Balkan War
1913 First Second Balkan War

By 1878, 300 hundred years of Ottoman rule over Cyprus was ending.  The Suez Canal opened in 1869, the Ottoman Empire was literally in shambles and the Ottomans ceded control of Cyprus to the British.

The Greek Cypriots welcomes British rule over Ottoman rule but there was always a Greek Cypriot movement called 'enosis' that yearned to unite with Greece under the Greek flag.  It wasn't long before the Greek Cypriots started revolting against the British.  After significant agitation for sovereignty, Cyprus finally shed British rule in 1960 and became the Cyprus Republic.  That resulted in a low level civil war between the minority Muslim Cypriots and the majority Greek Cypriots who were further conspiring to unite under the Greek flag.  The Muslim Turks and the Greek Christians may have shared an island but they really didn't co-exist together.  The Muslims occupied the northern part of the island while the Greek Christians occupied the larger southern portion.  Greece itself was internally a mess as various players sought power and Greece was politically unstable while waging various revolutions that included a military dictatorship.

The president of Cyprus post 1960 independence was Archbishop Makarios, a firebrand cleric, a communist sympathizer and a hardliner Greek unity advocate.  Makarios did wage a successful guerilla war against the British.  By 1964, not only was the Cold War in full bloom, the world had just survived the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Britain and the US used Cyprus as a military base for spying on the Soviets and other communist nations.  In fact, Cyprus was strategically very significant to the US and Britain as a military base.  Although Greece and Turkey are mortal enemies, they both joined NATO in 1952.  Orthodox Christians are always on the side of Orthodox Russia, the Orthodox Balkans and Orthodox Greece.  Makarios refused to be a puppet of the US and Britain and he was convinced that the US and Britain favored Turkey over Greece.  A BBC timeline on Greece from 1924-2012 is here.

In 1964 the US and Britain got the UN to send 'peacekeeping' troops to Cyprus.  They've been there nearly 50 year.  As Cyprus continued to heat up, The Turkish military invaded Cyprus in 1974 and some even believe that the CIA engineered a coup to kill Makarios who managed to escape.  Makarios died in 1977, he left no memoirs and all that is left is an interview he granted to Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci who died in 2006; the 1974 interview is here.

In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots declared their independence from Cyprus and named itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.  However, only Turkey has recognized the sovereignty of the TRNC.   While it is indeed a tragedy that the Muslim Turks and Christian Greeks can't live together in peace and prosperity, it's not an unusual situation when you are dealing with folks with festering wounds spanning hundreds of years.  Cyprus remains a divided nation - 2 languages (Turkish and Greek), 2 religions (Islam and Christianity) and two entirely different cultures.

Although many view Archbishop Makarios as a radical Greek nationalist, he was very much a product of the times.  As it turns out, Makarios wasn't so crazy in his assertion that the US and Britain were backing Turkey.  The Raw Story published a piece on 2007 based on the disclosure of 700 pages of highly classified CIA documents known as the 'Family Jewels'.

New documents link Kissinger to two 1970s coups
Release of CIA's Family Jewels provides insight into political juggernaut and Bush Administration adviser

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger pushed for the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and allowed arms to be moved to Ankara for an attack on that island in reaction to a coup sponsored by the Greek junta, according to documents and intelligence officers with close knowledge of the event.

Nearly 700 pages of highly classified Central Intelligence Agency reports from the 1970's, known collectively as the "Family Jewels," are slated for public release today.....

Some Greek Cypriots believed then, and still believe, that the invasion was a deliberate plot on the part of Britain and the US to maintain their influence on the island, which was particularly important as a listening post in the Eastern Mediterranean in the wake of the October 1973 War between Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

According to columnist Christopher Hitchens, author of the book The Trial of Henry Kissinger, "At the time, many Greeks believed that the significant thing was that [Prime Minister Bulent] Ecevit had been a pupil of Kissinger's at Harvard."

Several intelligence sources, who wished to remain anonymous to maintain the security of their identity, confirmed to RAW STORY that Kissinger both pushed for the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and allowed arms to be moved to Ankara.
Cyprus was admitted to the EU in 2004 and adopted the Euro as its currency in 2008.

Fast forward to today as the Cyprus banking crisis explodes and the Troika (EC, ECB and the IMF) demand that the Cyprus government literally steal bank deposits to guarantee a $13 billion bankster bailout loan.  It's no secret that Cyprus banks have been the choice of Russian oligarchs and their nefarious money laundering schemes.  So who is being bailed out and why?  It's clear that a bailout of bondholders is the motivating factor behind the Troika bailout but the greater question is this:  WHY would the Troika be so foolishly suicidal as to risk banks runs and accelerate spreading economic calamity for a puny nation like Cyprus that only comprises .2% of the EU's GDP?

That the Cyprus depositors are being plundered is clear.  The WHY is not so clear.  Although the financial pundits are yapping endlessly about the situation in Cyprus, most are stuck on 'yap' with very little substance, except for Reggie Middleton who runs the and is published at Zero Hedge.

What Is The Value Of The Gas Assets That Cyprus Pledged To It's Bank Depositors?

Following yesterday'shighly analytical rant on Cypriotic bank nonsense, I present an interesting analysis on the value of the gas assets pledged to those who's bank accounts may be clipped by the Cypriotic government/ECB. For those who don't know, the proposal was to compensate those who were subject to the tax/levy on their bank accounts with bonds linked to the output of Cyprus natural gas mines. Of course, the first question anyone should ask is "Why not simply pledge the gas assets directly to the ECB vs stealing from the bank depositors?" I think we can all ascertain the answer to that question. I was tweeted an analyst by Anthony Alfidi wherein he delved into the fundamental value of the exchange. I would like to reproduce a portion of it here. The balance can be found on his site.

Cyprus Bank Deposit Levy and Natural Gas Bonds
Cyprus' president has pledged to cover the value of its imminent savings deposit levy with an equivalent value of natural gas bonds. It's hard to say whether Cypriot savers should take this promise seriously without some analysis of its viability.
Let's use the European bailout sum for Cyprus of US$13B as a proxy for the amount of savings about to be confiscated from Cyprus' resident depositors. I need a proxy because I have no idea how much the government of Cyprus will actually collect from this levy. The natural gas revenue needed to back the bonds that would make savers whole would likely come from the Aphrodite field. Title to this field is unclear; Turkey has made a competing claim for the sovereign right to control drilling.
This is the likely answer to the quetion above. If the ownership and rights to the mine are in question, then it is essentially an encumbered asset. As such, how is it Cyprus's to pledge to anybody? May I add that Turkey actually has a functional military, and Cyprus has???
There is currently no pipeline from Cyprus to either Turkey or Crete which could deliver the gas to market; that would cost US$1B to build and Cyprus has no money. Building a $10B LNG terminal is ten times as unlikely, because Cyprus is still broke. The energy supermajor that ends up building it will get the lion's share of the revenue from the gas field as compensation for its costs and will have to deal with the likelihood of being shut out of other projects in Turkey.

Again, exactly how will this gas asset be monetized? I have not verified the facts and calculations behind this article, but if they ring true, then it appears that Cyprus is pledging the option of future development to a gas asset that it MIGHT own in exchange for actual cash in terms of what is being offered to bank depositors. So, the most valuable asset possible (actual cash denominated in a major currency) is being exchanged for an option on an undeveloped asset whose ownership and right to pledge/transfer is undetermined. Does this sound like a good deal to you? And we haven't even started to glean the actual fundamental value yet?
The lack of drilling and delivery infrastructure means that no Aphrodite gas will go to Europe until 2018 at the earliest. A lot can happen with the price of natural gas in five years. The wide availability of shale gas in the U.S. will keep the price down in North America. Europe's need for gas is met mainly by Russia, and Gazprom can adjust its rates at will to pressure Russia's neighbors.

And such pressure is guaranteed if Russian citizens are to lose the 2 billion or so euros to the Cyprus bailout levy that is being bandied around.
Apparently, the Aphrodite gas field is loaded with gas and oil as Turkey makes a probably futile attempt to claim those resources, here.
'Noble Energy received the concession to explore block 12 in October 2008.[6] In August 2011, Noble entered into a production-sharing agreement with the Cypriot government regarding the block's commercial development.[7] Sources in Cyprus indicated in mid-September that Noble had commenced exploratory drilling of the block.[8]
Cyprus demarcated its maritime border with Egypt in 2003, and with Lebanon in 2007.[9] Cyprus and Israel demarcated their maritime border in 2010.[10] Turkey, which does not recognize the border agreements of Cyprus with its neighbors,[11] threatened to mobilize its naval forces in the event that Cyprus would proceed with plans to begin drilling at Block 12.[12] Cyprus' drilling efforts have the support of the United States, European Union and United Nations, and on September 19, 2011 drilling in Block 12 began without any incidents being reported.[13] The development of oil and gas resources in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) abide to the UN Convention of the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) which the Republic of Cyprus ratified in 1988.[14]
According to Noble Energy, a total gross unrisked deep oil potential is 3.7 billion barrels (590×106 m3). The field has a gross mean average of 7 trillion cubic feet (200 billion cubic metres) of natural gas with an estimated gross resource range of 5–8 trillion cubic feet...
Who is Noble Energy?  It's headquartered in Houston, TX and its Wikipedia history is here.  The Board of Directors, here, includes alumni of Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and energy executives.

Meanwhile, the giant state owned Russian oil company, Gazprom, has offered to bailout the Cyprus banks in exchange for exclusive exploration rights.

Gazprom’s audacious offer to bail out Cyprus in return for its natural gas
Talk about buying low and selling high. Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned oil company, reportedly offered to bail out Cyprus’s troubled financial sector in exchange for exploration rights to the country’s natural gas.

Cyprus is holding a bank holiday until Thursday as it works to finalize a deal with European leaders that would rescue the country, but the tentative agreement includes a controversial provision taxing bank depositors, one that even conservative German newspapers think is a bad idea.

Hence Gazprom sweeping in with its “friendlier” rescue offer. It’s not clear if they wanted to take over the entire bailout, which would cost roughly €16 billion, or merely the depositor bail-in of €5.8 billion, but either way they’d be getting a pretty rock-solid deal: The gas reserves could be worth as much as €300 billion, though it would likely take about seven years of development to start exporting gas and collecting revenue, not to mention fears of competing claims on the reserves from Turkey.

Cyprus rejected the offer, preferring to refine the fiscal program it is negotiating with the European Central Bank, European finance ministers, and the International Monetary Fund, which will likely include some concessions from the Russian government, which made an emergency loan to the country last year.

The irony here is that one of the reasons Cyprus’ bailout is so unpleasant is that it acts as an off-shore financial center for Russia, whose residents and corporations have as much as US$19 billion in the country’s banks and stand to lose about US$2 billion if the depositor tax goes through. A significant motivation for the deposit tax was to make sure that foreigners taking advantage of Cyprus’ bank secrecy laws and low taxes would take part of the hit. A partnership with Gazprom, in exchange for exploration rights, would have further solidified the island’s status as a Russian client.

The Cyprus government is trying to use its gas reserves to keep people from pulling their money out of the country, offering to compensate depositors with securities linked to the reserves. While the long time-horizon on returns from those securities might be scant comfort to private investors who fear losing money they keep on the island nation, the ability of the Cypriot public sector to manage those reserves in the long-term is one the country’s bigger advantages in digging itself out of its fiscal hole.
A Texas oil company, a Russian oil company, Russian oligarchs, banksters, big oil, and Turkish claims to the oil/gas patch all combine for very intriguing geopolitics. All of which makes what is happening in Cyprus even more repugnant - with so much BIG money vested in Cyprus energy resources, why stiff the ordinary Cypriot depositors?

Is the Cold War about to reappear and heat up into a HOT war as US/EU interests clash with Russian and Turkish interests?  The Turks and the Russians hate each other but the US has always been committed to advancing the US/British Empire and that almost always requires squashing Russia.  But Russia isn't broke and bankrupt like the US and the EU.  It's rolling in energy wealth as well as other natural resource wealth.  Russia has been stockpiling gold for years.

Currency Wars Escalate: Russia Stockpiling Gold

Of course, all the vultures are circling the fiat monetary corpses and even before they keeled over and officially croaked but croak they will.   The smart money recognizes a walking corpse when it sees one.  How long can the EU and the Euro last before the whole failed experiment in fiat money propelled statism finally implodes?  How long can the US continue to spend, print and borrow?

Meanwhile, the world is waiting and watching......

Cyprus?  They've got something that the stooges who lord over the planet want very badly.  At the end of the day, it's always about money and resources.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Frederick Douglass, Republicans, CPAC & Are Republicans Racists?

When it comes to racial issues, nobody steps into it more than Republicans.  At the 2013 CPAC confab, there was a panel hosted by the Frederick Douglass Republicans.  Apparently, the discussion turned ugly.

Racism Talk At CPAC Derailed When Attendee Says Slaves Should Have Been Grateful
A panel hosted by “Frederick Douglass Republicans” at CPAC was supposed to be about how Republicans can overcome their issues with race and tolerance spun out of control when an attendee suggested that Douglas should have been grateful to his slave owners “for giving him shelter and food.” Prior to this, another person at the discussion expressed frustration with what he termed the disenfranchisement of “young southern white males.”

During the breakout session called Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” which was led by K. Carl Smith, a black conservative activist that committed to the movement full time in 2009, a young man from North Carolina, Scott Terry, asked him about the problems facing white people and segregation.

“It seems to be that you’re reaching out to voters at the expense of young white Southern males,” said Terry, who told the crowd that he had come “to love my people and culture.”

Smith told him that after Douglass became a freeman he wrote a letter to his slavemaster and forgave him.

“For giving him shelter? And food?” Terry muttered, promoting gasping shocks from the crowd.

Terry was accompanied by a man with a Confederate flag, Matthew Heimbach.
I do believe that most Republicans in the shocked crowd were gasping in horror at the sight of a southerner hauling a Confederate flag into the Frederick Douglass Republican CPAC panel and suggesting that African Americans should be grateful to their slavemasters for giving them food and shelter.

As a Libertarian, I quite voting Republican in 2006 because after spending a few years hanging out with Republicans to try and understand these peculiar creatures, I came to despise them as hateful and loathsome for their love of war, their social intolerance and the revolting Evangelical fanaticism that craves theocracy.  While I can think of many more reasons why I think Republicans are vile, racism isn't among them.  Republicans proudly boast that they are the party of Lincoln and by extension proclaim the GOP anti-racist.  Moreover, the Republican Party has been trying to recruit and romance African Americans and other minorities into its fold by marketing the GOP as the party of family values.

Still, it can't be dismissed that the deep south is a solidly reliable Republican stronghold and that racial issues still stir the imaginations of the South.  As a Yankee, I find the south perplexing and a complex duality which is precisely why I enjoy reading about the South.  A Southerner once told me "you love the blacks as a race but hate them as individuals but in the south we hate the blacks as a race but love them as individuals."  Effectively, I was accused of being just another Yankee fraud shamelessly advocating for civil rights which, of course, conflicted with Southern culture.

In The Road To Disunion, Secessionists at Bay 1776-1854 by William W. Freehling, I did manage to get a horrifying glimpse into American slavery and the South.  Here's what Freehling wrote about Frederick Douglass:
In the mid 1830's, Frederick Douglass, then in his early twenties, successfully ran away from slavery in Baltimore.  He soon became the most famous northern black abolitionist.  Douglass's Life and Times, one of the great American autobiographies, ranked with Theodore Dwight Weld's American Slavery as It Is and Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin as widely disseminated volumes having incalculable impact on northern public opinion.....
Frederick Douglass was born the wrong half white.  From his mother, a black slave, the Marylander inherited thralldom.  From his father, an unknown white and perhaps a slaveholder, the future runaway received the contempt of of a patriarch running away from responsibility for a child enslaved.  Douglass despised his anti-father father, worshipped his caring mother, and adored his mother's mother who tenderly raised him.
Such attitudes wold seem to encourage finding black beautiful and white loathsome.  But Douglass disliked much of slaves' cultural blackness.  He had no use for conjuring or voodoo or any other traces of African "primitiveness"...He carefully scrubbed his voice of slave dialect....
This transparent excuse for his own efforts to whiten himself showed Douglass's uneasiness about black styles.  He was less uneasy about his dislike for some slaves' "black-assed' behavior - fawning, cringing, eyes downcast, worshipful of whites as some superior beings.  He "quite lost his patience" upon finding "a colored man weak enough to believe" in submission.  He found plantation slaves "in point of ignorance and indolence" and "stupid indifference" to be sinking with the worn-out soil into "general dilapitation.".
In contrast, Douglass shared enslavers' vision of te ideal personality type:  independent, fearless, egalitarian, individualistic, the reverse of everything servile....
Douglass looked like a man trapped between races....
As a child, Douglass fit in nowhere, in no family, black or white, after being torn from his enslaved grandmother at the age of six.  The tearing was itself a comment on the Domestic Institution. Douglass's grandmother had been assigned to raise him while his mother labored in the far-off fields....Then one day at Massa's command, grandmother and grandson tramped many miles to the home plantation.  Douglass knew not why they had been summoned.  The grandmother lovingly carried the weary lad part of the way.....
They arrived.  Frederick could not understand why "grandmamma" looked so "sad".  Grandmamma pointed out to Frederick two sisters and a brother.  "Brothers and sisters we were by blood, but slavery had made us strangers.".  Grandmamma, "affectionately patted me on the head," to go out and play...
The lad, sensing something, reluctantly went.
Frederick never saw is grandmamma again.  He was forced to live with a cruel black lady with her own children.  She fed her own children well but starved Frederick to the point where he had to steal food.  His birth mother visited him, brought him a ginger cake and her "strong protecting arms" showered him with "deep and tender pity". Douglass later wrote "as I had never learned before, that I was not only a child, but somebody's child.  I was grander upon my mother's knee than a king upon his throne.".

Frederick never saw his mother again.  That's how it was for black families living in slavery.  Yet to this day there are folks who defend the institution of human slavery as humane, just, moral, compassionate and caring.

Remember Bat Shit Crazy Michelle Bachmann who sought the Republican nomination for president?  Bachmann's website had a reading list that included the book Robert E. Lee by J. Steven. Wilkins.  An excerpt from the book, documented here.
Slavery, as it operated in the pervasively Christian society which was the old South, was not an adversarial relationship founded upon racial animosity. In fact, it bred on the whole, not contempt, but, over time, mutual respect. This produced a mutual esteem of the sort that always results when men give themselves to a common cause. The credit for this startling reality must go to the Christian faith. . . The unity and companionship that existed between the races in the South prior to the war was the fruit of a common faith.
Christianity defending the institution of slavery is nothing new, although it is also true that many abolitionists were Christian.  So why did Bachmann praise a book that praised slavery?  Bachmann went even further.  She signed a petition of a Christian organization and the petition included these words when Bachmann signed it.
Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.
It's a gosh darn shame that Christian groups and Bachmann never really bothered to read the true history of American slavery and its impact on black families.  Rather than seek the bitter and horrifying truth, it's much easier for pro-family Christian groups and whack jobs like Bachmann to defend the institution of slavery because in their opinion, it was Christian!  Based on the flawed assumption that slavery was good precisely because it was Christian is revisionist history at its worst.  Defending slavery as pro-family is actually a theological defense of slavery.

Freehling also discusses the rise of black churches led by black pastors during the slavery era.  The black churches were forbidden and these folks met in secret because if they were caught, and they were caught, they were severely punished.  What kind of black Christians did white Christians want?  Freehling writes:
Whites tended to see any Afro-American religion as un-American.  Whites' favorite black religion was blacks worshipping under a white who preached Christian obedience.  Slaves caught cheering while black preachers thundered about freedom could be lashed.  Bondsmen caught participating in African celebrations could be lynched.

The resulting black religion had a secretive aspect.  To worship, forbidden black style, blacks sometimes had to steal away in the dark night, bound for places called, revealingly "Hush Harbors.".   Folks then huddled around a black iron kettle turned upside down.  Supplicants prayed into the vessel, beseeching the kettle to hush the sound.
Slave preachers seldom wholly depended on such crude silencing devices.  Whites, blacks knew, might eventually hear.  Illegitimate messages had to have the sound of legitimate servility.  That need, like much else in slaves' condition, yielded an Old Testament-inspired, Moses-oriented theology.  White preachers to slaves emphasized St. Paul's injunction that "servants obey in all things your Masters.".  Slave ministers preferred the Book of Exodus, especially tales of the Red Sea opening to allow Hebrew slaves to escape.  Slave sermons dwelled on pitiful David slaying pretentious Goliath, on ridiculed Noah sailing from his scoffers, above all on mighty Moses freeing his people.
"Moses" complained a white Christ-worshipper, "is their ideal of all that is high, and noble, and perfect in a man.". Christ became not so much "a spiritual Deliverer" as a "second Moses, who would eventually lead them out of bondage.".  Slaves tended to sing not of Jesus the meek but of Jesus as warrior: "Ride on King Jesus, No man can hinder thee."
Spirituals carried slaves back to theire favorite river, "Roll, Jordan, roll" they chanted.  "Roll, Jordan, roll...O my soul a rise in Heaven, Lord, For to hear when Jordan roll".  The black "Looked over Jordan and what did I see,"
                                  Comin' for to carry me home....
The life of Frederick Douglass as a slave was a miserable and dehumanizing life.  Because slaves were not considered human beings but merely property, they were frequently relocated, leased out and/or sold.  Freehling tells the story of when Frederick was assigned to Edward Covey.
Covey was a slave breaker of the Easterrn Shore.  Lease the man your slave, went the understand, and you will receive back a modest rent payment and a slave immodestly more docile.  Covey's tactic was to order slaves to labor, then ostensibly to leave.  He often hid nearby, behind stumps or in high grass or under the bushes.  If he spied the slightest let up in hard work, he would leap out of hiding and lay into the slave.  He whipped Frederick Douglass every week for six months.  The regime....was remorseless.....
One hot humid, day, Douglass became dizzy.  He lay down.  Edward Covery booted Douglass in the side.  That not sufficing to rouse the slave, Covey smashed a hickory slab into Douglass's face.
The bleeding slave picked himself up and fled.  He ran not towards freedom but to report Massa's damaged property to master.  Douglass's owner, t first disconcerted by the damage, ultimately felt compelled to side with the damager.  He ordered Douglass back to Covey.....
A fight between Covey and Douglass ensued.  The powerful slave bloodied the brutalizer.  Covey finally retreated.....No further assaults transpired.  The slave had stepped an inch toward freedom.
Frederick Douglass the man was born and Frederick Douglass the slave was dying.  It was a long journey but that is how folks claim their liberty - they refuse to comply, to submit and to be enslaved.

The story of Frederick Douglass is an epic, historical and inspiring story of courage for all of us.

The Mess in Europe - Will Germany Pull the Plug on the Euro and EU?

There can be no question that Germany is the powerhouse economy of Europe with a whopping 20.2% of the European Union's total GDP, followed by France (15.8%), Britain (13.9%) and Italy (12.7), here.  As wealth transfers from Germany to weaker and poorer EU nations have accelerated over the years, the Germans are growing weary of constantly bailing out their incompetent, corrupt and irresponsible neighbors.  In fact, the German people are stirring up a hornets nets of anti-EU rage.

While Angela Merkel is fully committed to sustaining the EU and the Euro, whatever the cost, the German people are embarking on a populist crusade similar to the populist movement fired up in Italy by comedian turned politician Beppe Grillo whose rise in electoral power has shocked the establishment and its banksters, here.

The Telegraph reported that 65% of the German people think the Euro is damaging and 49% believe that Germany would be better off outside the EU.

Germany's anti-euro party is a nasty shock for Angela Merkel The Telegraph
A new party led by economists, jurists, and Christian Democrat rebels will kick off this week, calling for the break-up of monetary union before it can do any more damage.

"An end to this euro," is the first line on the webpage of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). "The introduction of the euro has proved to be a fatal mistake, that threatens the welfare of us all. The old parties are used up. They stubbornly refuse to admit their mistakes."

They propose German withdrawl from EMU and return to the D-Mark, or a breakaway currency with the Dutch, Austrians, Finns, and like-minded nations. The French are not among them. The borders run along the ancient line of cleavage dividing Latins from Germanic tribes.

The plans draw on work by Hans-Olaf Henkel, former head of Germany's industry federation (BDI) and a chastened europhile -- the "worst error of my professional life", he told me.

The appeal of German exit is obvious. It is the least traumatic way to end the 20pc to 30pc misalignment between North and South, the cancer eating Europe. Club Med keeps the euro. It enjoys instant devaluation, while still able to uphold euro debt contracts. The spectre of sovereign defaults recedes....

Should she sign off on a bail-out out for Cyprus -- safeguarding the "dirty funds of Russian oligarchs", as the AfD puts it -- she will be raked by heavy fire.....

The latest ZDF poll shows that 65pc of Germans think the euro is damaging, and 49pc think Germany would be better outside the EU.
The Cyprus bank bailout scandal is especially noteworthy because it's common knowledge that Cyprus banks were controlled and operated by Russian oligarchs who were engaged in laundering money and other nefarious activities.  Wolf Richter at summed up the Cyprus bank situation best, here
Timing couldn’t have been worse. Or more opportune. A “secret” report by the German version of the CIA, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), bubbled to the surface, asserting that the pending bailout of Cyprus would use the money of taxpayers in other countries, particularly in Germany, to bail out mostly rich Russians who have over the years deposited their “black money” in Cypriot banks that are now collapsing.

Not that the bailout of this tiny speck of land with 840,000 people isn’t in enough trouble. Admitted into the Eurozone in 2008, Cyprus veered towards bankruptcy in 2011 but was temporarily bailed out last November by a €2.5 billion loan from Russia. That money didn’t last long. In June, it asked the Troika, the austerity gang from the EU, the ECB, and the IMF, for a full-fledged bailout. So Troika inspectors have been combing through the financial rubble to determine a bailout amount and needed structural reforms.
Bailing out their poor and unfortunate socialist European neighbors was one thing but the Germans are justifiably incensed over being faced with the horror of bailing out rich Russian oligarchs.  While the well publicized travails of Greece are common knowledge, no one was really all that worried because Greece only represents 1.9% of total EU GDP.  Cyrus is even far less economically significant than Greece with Cyprus GDP representing a very puny .10% of EU GDP.  Why the rush to bailout Cyprus banks with the hard earned money of ordinary Europeans?  It's a valid question.  The banksters are a crime syndicate brotherhood and they absolutely rule the world.

Meanwhile, the Troika - European Central Bank (ECB), European Commission (EC) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - remains committed to bailing out every thieving bank for all eternity and the Troika doesn't care if the economies of every European nation collapse into ruin.  The Troika is the guardian of the rich and their financial interests, just as its American partners, the Federal Reserve and the US government, are also the guardian of the rich and powerful, wherever they are.

Americans tend to totally ignore what is happening in Europe because they are sufficiently delusional to believe that whatever happens across the pond would never happen in America.  The general perception of the average American is that their government and banksters are honest and decent folks who would never allow such shenanigans to occur in America.  Americans just fail to grasp the stone cold reality that their government and banksters are indeed partners with the crime syndicate that rules Europe.

What is happening in Europe isn't a benign ripple in the lake effect that will softly reverberate across the big pond known as the Atlantic Ocean.  It will hit America like a tidal wave as the startled and unprepared American people are struck with a lightening bolt and forced to comprehend that the US government, American banks and the Federal Reserve are all critically tethered to the European banks and all central banks.  Europe and the Euro can't fail without bringing America down with it, and most economies of the world for that matter.

As the German people are waking up to their own vulnerability in the extremely volatile and dangerous financial mess that was 100% spawned by central banks and bankster bailouts, they are contemplating their own economic predicament.  Eventually, one does in fact become sufficiently informed and terrified to focus on their own survival.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Liberty Calling Radio Show 3/15/13 - Let's Talk About Republicans

Liberty Calling.....With Judy Morris Freedomizer Radio and BlogTalkRadio is every Friday night: 4:30 - 6:00 pm Pacific, 6:30 - 8:00 pm Central and 7:30 - 9:00 pm Eastern.

Call 347 324-3704 to listen or talk.

Tonight's show will focus on CPAC, Rand Paul, the Republican spending disease and all the weird things going on in the Republican universe.

The CPAC ballot for president in 2016.

1. NH Senator Kelly Ayotte
2. AZ Governor Jan Brewer
3. KS Governor Sam Brownback
4. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson
5. NJ Governor Chris Christie
6. TX Senator Ted Cruz
7. Former IN Governor Mitch Daniels
8. SC Governor Nikki Haley
9. LA Governor Bobby Jindal
10. OH Governor John Kasich
11. NM Governor Susana Martinez
12. VA Governor Bob McDonnell
13. Former AK Governor Sarah Palin
14. KY Senator Rand Paul
15. IN Governor Mike Pence
16. TX Governor Rick Perry
17. OH Senator Rob Portman
18. FL Senator Marco Rubio
19. WI Congressman Paul Ryan
20. Former PA Senator Rick Santorum
21. SC Senator Tim Scott
22. SD Senator John Thune
23. WI Governor Scott Walker
24. Other _______________________
25. Undecided

Also, we need to discuss why the Republican Party is a big fail that increasingly doesn't appeal to enough voters to win national elections.

My favorite article on Rand Paul vs. the neocons, and Rand's now famous senate filibuster:

Where Does Rand Stand?
Paul did not appear on the usual Sunday-morning round of political TV programs, which chose instead to interview the puffy-cheeked and criminally unexceptional Jeb Bush, who’s sort of the Carl Wilson of the Bush family dynasty.

Still, the tremendous reaction to Paul’s speech suggests that while he may not be as principled as his father Ron, he might be a far shrewder politician.....

Twitter exploded with over a million Tweets during Paul’s marathon, leading to the creation of the hashtag #StandWithRand. His performance earned the expected praise from Tea Party and libertarian types as well as mainstream right-wing stalwarts such as Matt Drudge, Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, and

Far less enthusiastic were the sclerotic mainstays of the neoconosphere. The ancient squirrel-jowled failed presidential candidate John McCain quoted a Wall Street Journal article that said Paul’s speech was designed to “fire up impressionable libertarian kids in college dorms” and lamented that it’s “the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone.” An unidentified McCain aide allegedly said, “Jumping on the Rand Paul black helicopters crazy-train isn’t good for our party.” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Paul was “ill-informed” and that his complaints were “ridiculous.” Neither McCain nor Graham attended the filibuster, as they were busy having dinner with Barack Obama.

Charles Krauthammer, whose face, indeed, resembles sauerkraut that has been smashed with a hammer, derided the idea that the feds would authorize the killing of American citizens on US soil without trial as “ridiculous and absurd.” William Kristol, who cleans his fingernails with the dried bones of Muslim infants, dismissed Paul’s speech as “fearmongering” and “kookiness.” David Frum, who I imagine masturbates to footage of Middle Eastern drone strikes, said that Paul “emerges from a milieu in which far-fetched scenarios don’t seem far-fetched at all.”

On the left side of the Holy Church of Left/Right Binary Thinking, MSNBC’s Krystal Ball (who expects people not to laugh at her name) and the eternally smirking Touré (who, when it comes to smarminess, is the equal of any white man) mocked the idea that a nice black man such as Barack Obama would ever abuse his executive power. A writer at Mother Jones, who apparently possesses the mystical ability to read his enemies’ souls, said that Paul didn’t mean a word of it and only pulled this stunt so he could release a fundraising letter the following day. Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who won an award as the homeliest and least charming anti-racist witch-hunter in world history, said that Paul had stirred up the paranoid and utterly baseless delusions of leftist nutjobs as well as “the black helicopter crowd of the folks on the far right.”
Are the Republican neocons in trouble?  They are definitely in deep ballot box trouble but they still rule the Republican Party with an iron fist and liberty activists, constitutionalists and Paulites are their favorite punching bags.

Perhaps the big statist warmongering wing of the Republican Party should try and figure out why Libertarians, constitutionalists, liberty activists and Paulites no longer hold their noses and vote Republican.

Aside from the endless wars and non-stop assaults on civil liberties, the Republicans also have an incurable spending disease that is every bit as severe and debilitating as the Democrat spending disease.

Who is Responsible for the $16.6 Trillion Mountain of Federal Debt?
Republican created federal debt: 
Reagan 2 terms $1.7 trillion
Bush 41 1.6 trillion
Bush 43 4.9 trillion
Bush 43 1.3 trillion carryover deficit debt inherited by Obama and funded with debt. 
Total 9.5 trillion or 57% of the $16.6 debt mountain is attributable to Republicans 
Who was America's most fiscally conservative president since 1980? Bill Clinton! Bill Clinton spent less in two terms than Bush 41 spent in one term. Democrat created federal debt:

Clinton 2 term $1.5 trillion
Obama to date 5.6 excluding Bush 43 carryover deficit inherited by Obama
Total 7.1 Trillion or 43% of the $16.6 trillion debt mountain attributable to Democrats. 
Even more astounding is that two presidents named Bush are in fact responsible for a whopping $7.8 trillion of debt or 47%. Bush 41 and Bush 43 are indeed directly responsible for nearly half of the mountain of federal debt. 
With Jeb Bush unofficially declaring himself a candidate for 2016, one thing is clear. America cannot afford another Bush as president.
Earth to the Republican Party?  You call yourselves conservatives and constitutionalists?

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