At the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Dr. James McHenry, a Maryland delegate, followed Benjamin Franklin from Independence Hall. He recorded a question asked by a lady, directed at Dr. Franklin.

The lady asked, "Well Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?"

"A republic," replied Dr. Franklin, "if you can keep it."


"The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities." - Ayn Rand

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Obama DOJ Response to Fast and Furious

Many of us have seen the huge volume of redacted documents that Holder's Justice Department has handed  Congressional investigators pertaining to their involvement in a series of activities/operations where the US Government facilitated the sale of well over two thousand firearms to drug cartels in Mexico and Central America.

Those documents can be damning even if you black out most of the information in them. So the Obama Administration is working to change the rules under which Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) data is shared. READ ABOUT IT HERE

In an effort to obscure the truth, the Department of Justice proposes that it should be able to lie to anyone requesting data and tell them that it doesn't exist, even when it does.

The Justice Department has proposed the change as part of a large revision of FOIA rules for federal agencies. Specifically, the rule would direct government agencies who are denying a request under an established FOIA exemption to “respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist,” rather than citing the relevant exemption. 
The proposed rule has alarmed government transparency advocates across the political spectrum, who’ve called it “Orwellian” and say it will “twist” public access to government. 
In a public comment regarding the rule change, the ACLU, along with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and, said the move “will dramatically undermine government integrity by allowing a law designed to provide public access to government information to be twisted to permit federal law enforcement agencies to actively lie to the American people.”
Read more:
Even the American Civil Liberties Union thinks that this is screwed up. I thought hell would freeze over before I agreed with them on anything. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

How do you view the Middle East?

This Michael Ramirez cartoon captures my view in a way that words can not adequately express:

I do know that there are nice people in the Middle East. However, much of the place is simply 'toxic' in my opinion. And I don't think that many of the policy executives in the US have an adequate grasp of the place.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

CBS News Coverage of Fast and Furious

CBS News coverage of the BATFE Scandal, Operation Fast and Furious.

Another viral Hitler video:

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Arbabsiar Plot and the Mexican Drug Cartels

Manssor Arbabsiar (56) and Gholam Shakuri were charged on October 11 by the US Justice Department for an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States.

Shakuri is a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Qods force, a foreign special operations element tasked with promoting the IRG's interests outside of Iran.

Once the FBI took Arbabsiar into custody, they had him make consensual telephone calls to Iran (source DOJ) 
"Arbabsiar made phone calls at the direction of law enforcement to [Gholam] Shakuri [a member of Qods Force] in Iran that were monitored. During these phone calls, Shakuri allegedly confirmed that Arbabsiar should move forward with the plot to murder the Ambassador and that he should accomplish the task as quickly as possible, stating on Oct. 5, 2011, '[j]ust do it quickly, it’s late.' " 
Because the Obama Administration is under fire for Operation Fast and Furious, some have floated the opinion that the Arbabsiar plot is a smokescreen by USGOV to obscure the Congressional investigation into the misconduct of Attorney General Eric Holder and possibly of President Obama, himself.

I have no idea whether this is a USGOV smokescreen to obscure their Operation Fast and Furious fiasco or not because I have no first hand information. However, on the stupid scale, isn't 'walking' 2,000 firearms to the Sinaloa Federation Drug Cartel just about as goofy as Iranians working with Los Zetas proxies to assassinate a Saudi Ambassador in the US? 

If true, the Iranian tradecraft was sloppy and amateurish. They didn't vet their Mexican assassin adequately with a more benign move first (they rushed), etc. We can criticize their methodology. However just because it's stupid, doesn't mean that they didn't plot to do it. The truck bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center didn't bring a tower down. But Al Qaeda kept at it and eventually succeeded by smashing jet liners into it.

For me, it is not difficult to envision to Persian conspiracy as the operational norm for millenia. The only thing keeping the Islamic Republic from committing atrocities is their political calculus of the repercussions. With the Obama Administration's commitment to the Lloyd George school of diplomacy, what repercussions are there that matter? A harshly worded letter from Obama to the Iranian Supreme Leader and his toadies won't dent their armor or resolve.

The government’s complaint [.pdf] outlines an almost outlandish comedy of errors.  Now we’re finding out that the administration itself had “expressed concern that the plot’s cartoonish quality would invite suspicions and conspiracy theories.” 

The only place that I feel that I have room to comment with any degree of clarity is on the Mexican Cartels and on their methods of operations. I work with that every day. I’m continually frustrated by the way that law enforcement and others view the organizational structure of the cartels, because despite broad evidence, they cling to traditional organizational wire diagrams to demonstrate relationships. Los Zetas and every other cartel consists of separate actors, each with their own distribution network in the US. They are not monolithic organizations. 

The only organizational model that I find applicable to the traditional cartels is that of a feudal society. When analysts view the Sinaloa Federation, the Beltran Leyva Organization and other cartels within a feudal framework, they come fare closer to understanding how things are organized than if they view them in another way. The Zetas are a 'franchise operation' but move in much the same way as the more traditional cartels.

I've heard commentators express disbelief that members affiliated with Los Zetas would blow up [Saudi Ambassador Adel] al-Jubeir (and potentially a hundred people nearby, explicitly including possible U.S. senators) having only been fronted $100,000 of the $1.5 million payoff, and holding Arbabsiar as collateral.

I don't have ANY problem with that part of the story at all. That part does make some sense, particularly if Qods was providing the explosives. Having a couple of Los Zetas drones embedded in a drug distribution network plant a bomb in a restaurant is an easy task. A chimp could be trained. They'd be paid pennies on the dollar and the prime actor, back in Mexico, would keep the bulk of the money.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The sign on Harry Truman's desk read, "The Buck Stops Here"

The innovators in our age or in any age, dared to dream big, dared to take risks and when those risks paid off, they reaped the profit from the chances they took. The Two Steves who started Apple and Bill Gates, who started Microsoft are noteworthy examples. The life of the late Steve Jobs is an inspiration to many people including me because he wasn't afraid to fail and he kept on going until he died. The world is less somehow without him.

Neither of the examples that I cited were people who took government hand-outs in order to build their commercial empires, both of which have changed the world. 

It's something to ponder when you hear the President of the United States blame everyone for his dismal failures and for his morally bankrupt administration. Hand-outs and stimulus did not build the nation in the first place and they will not lead to its repair.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hold onto your Wallet

President Obama's efforts to play the class warfare card and to blame George Bush for everything from the clouds in the sky to the malaise of the first two years of his administration when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, may be the only card that he has. And if people are dumb enough to believe him, they may usher in another four years of this bumbling politician.

The New York Times, hardly a bastion of conservative thought, is predicting another recession with unemployment approaching or even exceeding 10 percent. (READ HERE)

At the same time, the jobless liberals are trying to convince America of something in their occupation on Wall St. Nobody really knows what they want. Some signs I've seen plea for an end to whaling. Others express a need for free money (more free money than they're getting from the government, a code word for tax payers)

Some feel that corporations should be looted in an effort to promote more job growth. Don't ask me to explain their position. I simply report it. I don't think that any of them have read Atlas Shrugged. I'm sure that most have read Alinsky's Rules for Radicals. The whole community organizing crowd seems to be very comfortable sitting around, collecting welfare and complaining about the lack of jobs. If they push Obama into the White House again (The Class Warfare Struggle), I'm sure that will get them the jobs that they pine for. God knows, the government is really the only solution to more employment. Corporations are too unreliable to trust with job creation...

The Wall Street protest radicals involved with the struggle against the middle class job creators and corporations who employ people are dragging out the wrong playbook, though. Pointing to Mao's efforts to crush the upper and middle class led to the Cultural Revolution and 50 million dead Chinese. Afterward (today), China is the world's bastion of capitalistic production. Walk through WalMart and count the products made in China vs the USA.

Capitalism works. Nothing else delivers. I know that those words sound sour to Obama Democrats, but if America goes in the direction that Barack Obama leads, all I can advise is that you should hold onto your wallet.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Biden for Team Obama in 2012!

Is Vice President Joe (Slow Joe) Biden suffering from dementia? It's an honest question since he's a heartbeat away from the Big Job. (h/t Dale for the graphic, right)

While I support his continued position on Team Obama, because he has every bit as little credibility as his boss, Barack, I question whether or not he's qualified to hold high public office.

He doesn't seem to be able to get anything straight, and I think that I speak for many Americans and most world leaders when I write this. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure that he's a fine grandpa and yes, he's always good for a quote on how Barack Obama was one of the first articulate black people he'd met. But to give him control of nuclear launch codes is, frankly, frightening. 

One thing that Vice President Biden is good for is that he is able to blame former President George Bush for his (Biden's) failure in office (a familiar refrain from the Obama White House whenever they screw something up). At least he's able to remember to say that.

And we're told that if you pull his finger, he'll fart on command. That talent alone, while noteworthy, is not the only talent that an American Vice President should have.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Taxation and the Gray Market

There are a lot of taxation schemes being floated in the US and elsewhere to attempt to 'fix' the financial situation that primarily the US and European nations find themselves in. The problem relates specifically to banks that have grown so large that they rival the assets of some of the European nations they do business in. As with US Banks, they are deemed to be 'too big to fail'.

Taxation and banking secrecy in the same world (on the same planet) leads to a 'gray market' where capital moves for the sake of its own preservation to avoid the taxes governments levy. Where a nation's internal corruption reaches a tipping point - Greece, for example, you're bound to find a thriving gray economy. In fact, recent EU researchers point to 40% of Greeks claiming to work in the gray market. That means that they don't pay taxes. 

A grey market or gray market also known as parallel market is the trade of a commodity through distribution channels which, while legal, are unofficial, unauthorized, or unintended by the original manufacturer. The term gray economy, however, refers to workers being paid under the table, without paying income taxes or contributing to such public services as Social Security and Medicare. It is sometimes referred to as the underground economy or "hidden economy."(Wikipedia)

The simpler and more reasonable the taxation system in any country, the more likely that it will be paid. Whenever one nation-state decides to pile taxes on the public, particularly the richer portion of that population, the quicker you will see that capital move to a more favorable taxation environment. This is why the present class warfare taxation scheme envisioned by US President Barack Obama will fail to increase revenue. Then again, he's using it as an election strategy, not as a method of increasing the flow of money to the government.

Taxes are rarely levied for the benefit of those who are taxed. As a result, through out democracies worldwide, lawmakers understand that taxpayers can be influenced to vote based on a strategy aimed at looting one sector of society. And the result will inevitably be that capital will either move or will enter a gray market scenario.
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