Wednesday, December 26, 2012

by / Personal Liberty Digest
Congressmen Want Answers On DOJ Spying
Anyone following liberty-related current events already knows that the Federal government keeps vast troves of data on virtually all American citizens, even those never accused of a crime. Following a write-up in The Wall Street Journal, a couple of Congressmen want the specifics on the Department of Justice’s justification for its sweeping and unConstitutional surveillance procedures.

Last week, Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking just what the DOJ is doing with the massive amounts of data it collects. They want to know if the DOJ seriously believes it has the legal authority to keep data on citizens who are not suspected of any crime, analyze aggregated government databases and change fundamental rules governing surveillance without approval from Congress. All of these things, the DOJ has done in secret in recent years.

From the letter:
If the WSJ report is accurate, these new powers represent a sweeping departure from past practices, which barred the NCTC from storing information about ordinary Americans unless a person was a terror suspect or the information sought was related to an investigation.
If the WSJ report is accurate, it raises numerous concerns and questions.  As elected Representatives and members of the House Judiciary Committee, we are concerned such sweeping, fundamental changes would be made to existing policy without public input and Congressional approval.  Changes, which fundamentally alter the relationship between the government and the governed, should only be made with input from the people by and through their elected Representatives.
The Congressmen have requested a response by the end of January. The American Civil Liberties Union has also done extensive research into the DOJ surveillance program, which can be read here.

There’s a ‘Chilling’ Economic Report Making the Rounds Among Top Execs — And Wait Until You See What It Says About Gov’t Programs


“This Chilling Economic Report Is Getting Passed Around By CEOs.”

That’s the headline greeting readers on the site Business Insider Christmas morning. The report from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is titled, “Ending the Era of Ponzi Finance: Ten Steps Developed Economies Must Take.”

“The biggest [Ponzi scheme] … is still ongoing: the Ponzi scheme of the developed economies,” the report says near the beginning. “It is not simply that the developed world has borrowed significantly from future wealth to fund today’s consumption, leading to huge burdens for the next generation. It has also reduced the potential for future economic growth, making it more difficult for the next generation to deal with this legacy.”

That’s heavy. And it only gets more heavy from there. So we’ve decided to distill it down to the best takeaways from the report and the write-up on Business Insider since the BCG requires you to sign up to read it (it’s free, but still we thought some of you might not want to). Think of it as a little dose of salt to go with your Christmas dinner (sometimes salt is good, sometimes it’s bad — and from our reading of the suggestions the report offers, there’s both cases):

1. “The West was not going to find its way to the right economic path with a little tweaking at the edges, the CEO said. What is needed is a wholesale overhaul of the economic system to tackle record levels of public and private debt.” — from Business Insider

2. A summary of the report’s findings:
Mr Stelter and his colleagues do offer some solutions. First, there has to be an acknowledgement that some debts will never be repaid and should be restructured. Holders of the debt, be they countries or companies, should be allowed to default, whatever the short-term pain of such a process.
In social policy, retirement ages will have to increase. People will have to work harder, for longer and should be encouraged to do so by changes in benefit levels that do little – at their present level – to reward work at the margin.
The size of the state should be radically reduced and immigration encouraged. Competition in labour markets through supply-side reforms should be pursued.
Where governments can proactively act – by backing modern infrastructure – they should. High-growth economies are built on modern railways, airports, roads and energy supplies. Allowing potholes to develop in your local roads is a symptom of a wider malaise and cash-rich corporates should be pushed, through tax incentives, to invest their money in developed as well as emerging economies. Energy efficiency – to save money, not the planet – should be promoted.
from Business Insider
3. And now some specifics, such as what the report says will need to be done with taxes on the wealthy (emphasis added):
The critical starting point is to accept the fact that many of today’s debts will never be repaid and to embrace debt restructuring and defaults. Current policies, designed to avoid that outcome, only postpone the ultimate resolution of the crisis and will result in even bigger losses down the road. Better to move quickly and act now, despite the likelihood of considerable near-term pain.
All stakeholders will have to contribute to the necessary cleanup. Creditors and holders of financial assets will have to accept losses. Taxpayers will have to accept higher taxes—with a special burden on the wealthy, because unless politicians begin to address the unequal distribution of income and wealth, they will not have the credibility to implement other painful measures needed to get the developed world back on track. As difficult as that will be, especially for those who have been prudent and saved for retirement, the sooner the developed economies bite the bullet, the sooner everyone will be able to repair their personal balance sheets before they retire. Otherwise, we risk experiencing a lost decade—or more—in which the fundamental underlying problems are not resolved and the value of current savings continually erodes.
– from the BCG report
4. However, it also suggest raising the retirement age (backlash against which has been severe in Europe) while also suggesting more “managed” healthcare (emphasis added):
• Raise the retirement age. As unpopular as this measure will be, it is the most important lever to reduce future costs. In an era of shrinking workforces, the math simply doesn’t work. The sooner the public knows what to expect, the sooner it will be able to plan for this scenario. Seen in this light, recent political initiatives toward earlier retirement, as we are currently witnessing in France, are extremely counterproductive.
• Reduce social-insurance payments. Even with a higher retirement age, it will be necessary, at least in some developed countries, to also reduce future payouts. Again, the sooner the public has a clear picture of what the changes will be and when, the sooner it can begin to prepare for them.
• Manage health care systems for greater efficiency. In many countries, especially the U.S., health care is the primary driver of increased government spending. But higher spending on health care is not necessarily a sign of better health outcomes. Although the U.S. spends 17.6 percent of GDP on health care, U.S. life expectancy is between 1.7 and 3 years less than it is in the U.K. (which spends only 9.6 percent of GDP on health care) and in France and Germany (which spend 11.6 percent). The health care systems of the developed countries—and not just the U.S.—offer huge potential for more efficiency with no loss in effectiveness. (See “Health Reform Should Focus on Outcomes, Not Costs,” BCG article, October 2012.)
– from the BCG report
5. But wait, there’s another set of conservative-style suggestions (emphasis added):
• Increase the efficiency of the social-welfare system. The administrative costs of welfare systems is an area ripe for rationalization. One change to consider is replacing traditional means testing, which can very quickly become highly bureaucratic and resource intensive, with a guaranteed minimum income. An idea supported in the past by liberals such as Martin Luther King Jr. and John Kenneth Galbraith, but also by conservatives such as Friedrich Hayek, Richard Nixon, and Milton Friedman, a guaranteed minimum income has the advantage of eliminating most procedures for means testing and freeing up resources traditionally used in the allocation and distribution of money.
• Free up the public-sector workforce. It is also important to reduce the number of public employees as a percentage of the overall population. In a period when labor will become increasingly scarce, it is critical that as many people as possible actually generate GDP (rather than merely consuming and redistributing it). This is not to say that public-service employees do not contribute to the overall welfare of society. But in a world of scarcity, the tradeoffs become more visible. And government inefficiencies are significant, especially in European countries.
• Implement structural reforms. Besides reforming social-welfare and retirement systems, it is important to maximize the economic potential of the economy. Therefore efforts to increase competition, by abolishing rules that block new entrants, and to increase the flexibility of labor markets need to be implemented fast. According to a study by the IMF, the growth potential of economies in Western Europe could be increased by 4.5 percent over five years through the adoption of such measures.
– from the BCG report
6. Here are the rest of the suggestions:
Develop smart immigration policy
Invest in education
Reinvest in the asset base
Increase raw-material efficiency
• Cooperate on a global basis
Launch the next Kondratiev wave
– from the BCG report

7. “There needs to be a radical rethink of the way the West organises itself. Many of the ideas of Mr Stelter and his team are the right ones, although the tax burden being what it is in the UK, many would find it hard to stomach the thought of more tax rises that the BCG report recommends. At some point the relationship between taxed income and willingness to innovate turns negative.
“I would suggest the UK is very near that point.”
from Business Insider

So there you have it. Having read that, you are now up to speed on the “chilling” report circulating among financial top brass. But if you want to dive more into it, we suggest reading the full report. There are other nuggets in there, and it will also help the numbering (​I thought there were only supposed to be 10 suggestions?)make sense.

The Geopolitics of Immigration 

By: George Friedman / Townhall Daily 

The United States came into being through mass movements of populations. The movements came in waves from all over the world and, depending upon the historical moment, they served differing purposes, but there were two constants. First, each wave served an indispensable economic, political, military or social function.

The United States -- as a nation and regime -- would not have evolved as it did without them. Second, each wave of immigrants was viewed ambiguously by those who were already in-country. Depending upon the time or place, some saw the new immigrants as an indispensable boon; others saw them as a catastrophe. The debate currently under way in the United States is probably the oldest in the United States: Are new immigrants a blessing or catastrophe? So much for the obvious.

What is interesting about the discussion of immigration is the extent to which it is dominated by confusion, particularly about the nature of immigrants. When the term "immigrant" is used, it is frequently intended to mean one of two things: Sometimes it means non-U.S. citizens who have come to reside in the United States legally. Alternatively, it can mean a socially or linguistically distinct group that lives in the United States regardless of legal status. When you put these together in their various permutations, the discourse on immigration can become chaotic. It is necessary to simplify and clarify the concept of "immigrant."

Initial U.S. immigration took two basic forms. There were the voluntary migrants, ranging from the Europeans in the 17th century to Asians today. There were the involuntary migrants -- primarily Africans -- who were forced to come to the continent against their will. This is one of the critical fault lines running through U.S. history. An immigrant who came from China in 1995 has much more in common with the Puritans who arrived in New England more than 300 years ago than either has with the Africans. The former came by choice, seeking solutions to their personal or political problems. The latter came by force, brought here to solve the personal or political problems of others. This is one fault line.

The second fault line is between those who came to the United States and those to whom the United States came. The Native American tribes, for example, were conquered and subjugated by the immigrants who came to the United States before and after its founding. It should be noted that this is a process that has taken place many times in human history. Indeed, many Native American tribes that occupied the United States prior to the foreign invasion had supplanted other tribes -- many of which were obliterated in the process. Nevertheless, in a strictly social sense, Native American tribes were militarily defeated and subjugated, their legal status in the United States was sometimes ambiguous and their social status was frequently that of outsiders. They became immigrants because the occupants of the new United States moved and dislocated them.

There was a second group of people in this class: Mexicans. A substantial portion of the United States, running from California to Texas, was conquered territory, taken from Mexico in the first half of the 19th century. Mexico existed on terrain that Spain had seized from the Aztecs, who conquered it from prior inhabitants. Again, this should not be framed in moral terms. It should be framed in geopolitical terms.

When the United States conquered the southwest, the Mexican population that continued to inhabit the region was not an immigrant population, but a conquered one. As with the Native Americans, this was less a case of them moving to the United States than the United States moving to them.

The response of the Mexicans varied, as is always the case, and they developed a complex identity. Over time, they accepted the political dominance of the United States and became, for a host of reasons, U.S. citizens. Many assimilated into the dominant culture. Others accepted the legal status of U.S. citizens while maintaining a distinct cultural identity. Still others accepted legal status while maintaining intense cultural and economic relations across the border with Mexico. Others continued to regard themselves primarily as Mexican.

The U.S.-Mexican border is in some fundamental ways arbitrary. The line of demarcation defines political and military relationships, but does not define economic or cultural relationships. The borderlands -- and they run hundreds of miles deep into the United States at some points -- have extremely close cultural and economic links with Mexico. Where there are economic links, there always are movements of population. It is inherent.

The persistence of cross-border relations is inevitable in borderlands that have been politically and militarily subjugated, but in which the prior population has been neither annihilated nor expelled. Where the group on the conquered side of the border is sufficiently large, self-contained and self-aware, this condition can exist for generations. A glance at the Balkans offers an extreme example. In the case of the United States and its Mexican population, it also has continued to exist.

This never has developed into a secessionist movement, for a number of reasons. First, the preponderance of U.S. power when compared to Mexico made this a meaningless goal. Second, the strength of the U.S. economy compared to the Mexican economy did not make rejoining Mexico attractive. Finally, the culture in the occupied territories evolved over the past 150 years, yielding a complex culture that ranged from wholly assimilated to complex hybrids to predominantly Mexican. Secessionism has not been a viable consideration since the end of the U.S. Civil War. Nor will it become an issue unless a remarkable change in the balance between the United States and Mexico takes place.

It would be a mistake, however, to think of the cross-border movements along the Mexican-U.S. border in the same way we think of the migration of people to the United States from other places such as India or China, which are an entirely different phenomenon -- part of the long process of migrations to the United States that has taken place since before its founding. In these, individuals made decisions -- even if they were part of a mass movement from their countries -- to move to the United States and, in moving to the United States, to adopt the dominant American culture to facilitate assimilation. The Mexican migrations are the result of movements in a borderland that has been created through military conquest and the resulting political process.

The movement from Mexico is, from a legal standpoint, a cross-border migration. In reality, it is simply an internal migration within a territory whose boundaries were superimposed by history. Put differently, if the United States had lost the Mexican-American war, these migrations would be no more noteworthy than the mass migration to California from the rest of the United States in the middle of the 20th century. But the United States did not lose the war -- and the migration is across international borders.

It should be noted that this also distinguishes Mexican population movements from immigration from other Hispanic countries. The closest you can come to an equivalent is in Puerto Rico, whose inhabitants are U.S. citizens due to prior conquest. They neither pose the legal problems of Mexicans nor can they simply slip across the border.

The Mexican case is one-of-a-kind, and the difficulty of sealing the border is indicative of the real issue. There are those who call for sealing the border and, technically, it could be done although the cost would be formidable. More important, turning the politico-military frontier into an effective barrier to movement would generate social havoc. It would be a barrier running down the middle of an integrated social and economic reality. The costs for the region would be enormous, piled on top of the cost of walling off the frontier from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific.

If the U.S. goal is to create an orderly migration process from Mexico, which fits into a broader immigration policy that includes the rest of the world, that probably cannot be done. Controlling immigration in general is difficult, but controlling the movement of an indigenous population in a borderland whose frontiers do not cohere to social or economic reality is impossible.

This is not intended to be a guide to social policy. Our general view is that social policies dealing with complex issues usually have such wildly unexpected consequences that it is more like rolling the dice than crafting strategy. We nevertheless understand that there will be a social policy, hotly debated by all sides that will wind up not doing what anyone expects, but actually will do something very different.

The point we are trying to make is simpler. First, the question of Mexican population movements has to be treated completely separately from other immigrations. These are apples and oranges. Second, placing controls along the U.S.-Mexican frontier is probably impossible. Unless we are prepared to hermetically seal the frontier, populations will flow endlessly around barriers, driven by economic and social factors. Mexico simply does not end at the Mexican border, and it hasn't since the United States defeated Mexico. Neither the United States nor Mexico can do anything about the situation.

The issue, from our point of view, cuts to the heart of geopolitics as a theory. Geopolitics argues that geographic reality creates political, social, economic and military realities. These can be shaped by policies and perhaps even controlled to some extent, but the driving realities of geopolitics can never simply be obliterated, except by overwhelming effort and difficulty. The United States is not prepared to do any of these things and, therefore, the things the United States is prepared to do are doomed to ineffectiveness.

(Editor's Note: Originally published Jan. 15, 2004, this has been re-featured due to its timeless content.)

Seven Things Parents Can Do Post-Newtown Without Government

By: Michelle Malkin / Townhall Daily Columnist
Seven Things Parents Can Do Post-Newtown Without Government
These simple common-sense steps are adapted from a post I published on my blog after the horrific Newtown, Conn., massacre. Our hearts ache, but we are not completely helpless or hopeless in the face of evil and the unknown. And we are not alone. This Christmas, cherish life, keep faith and practice self-empowerment.

7. Teach our kids about the acts of heroes in times of crisis. Tell them about Newtown teacher Vicki Soto's self-sacrifice and bravery. Tell them about Clackamas mall shopper Nick Meli, a concealed-carry permit-holder whose quick action may have prevented additional deaths. Tell them about Family Research Council security guard Leo Johnson, who protected workers from a crazed gunman. Tell them about the heroic men in the Aurora movie theater who gave their lives taking bullets for their loved ones. Tell them about armed Holocaust Museum security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns, who died fighting back against the museum's nutball attacker. Tell them about armed private citizen Jeanne Assam, who gunned down the New Life Church attacker in Colorado Springs and saved untold lives.

6. Train our kids. When they see something troublesome or wrong, say something. Students, teachers and parents, if a young classmate exhibits bizarre or violent behavior toward himself or herself, report it right away. If it gets ignored, say it louder. Don't give up. Don't just shrug off the "weirdo" saying or doing dangerous things, and don't just hope someone else will act.

5. Limit our kids' time online, and control their exposure to desensitizing cultural influences. Turn off the TV. Get them off the bloody video games. Protect them from age-inappropriate Hollywood violence. Make sure they are active and engaged with us and the world, and not pent up in a room online every waking moment.

4. If you see a parent struggling with an out-of-control child, don't look the other way. If you are able to offer any kind of help (your time, resources, wisdom), do it. Don't wait.

3. We still don't know the medical condition of the Newtown shooter. But we do know that social stigmas are strong. We don't need government to take immediate, individual action to break those stigmas. There are millions of children, teens and young adults suffering from very real mental illnesses. Be silent no more about your family's experiences, your struggles, your pains and your fears. Speak up.

2. Prepare and protect your community. Joe Cascarelli of Westcliffe, Colo., wrote me about how he and other citizens took their children's safety into their own hands. "It was 10 years ago that our sheriff put an ad in the local paper to initiate the formation of the Sheriff's Posse. About 40 of us volunteered; today we have about 20 active Posse members. Eight years ago, the Posse command staff offered to provide the local school district with daily security patrols when the school was in session, at school athletic events and during school dances including the annual prom." Law enforcement conducted emergency drills, training to prepare for mass shootings and joint sessions with first responders.

"The Posse has continued its patrols at school events and during the school day. Posse patrols have become a visible, accepted part of our community," Cascarelli told me. "Anyone intent on harm would see armed uniformed personnel at the school daily. The Posse even has an Amber Alert at the local rodeo. When an atrocity like Columbine, Virginia Tech and most recently in Newtown, Conn., happens, all we hear is carefully crafted words of grief, heartrending interviews with parents, and TV's talking heads with knee-jerk 'solutions.' Well, our little community has implemented a local solution. Trained, armed volunteers daily protect our children. What is the matter with the rest of the country? Where are concerned parents and citizens willing to carve out some time to provide similar security?"

1. Teach our kids to value and respect life by valuing and respecting them always. And in loving and valuing life, teach them also not to fear death. The Catholic hymn "Be Not Afraid" offers time-tested solace and sage advice:

If you pass through raging waters, in the sea, you shall not drown.
If you walk amidst the burning flames, you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the pow'r of hell and death is at your side, know that I am with you, through it all.
Be not afraid, I go before you always.
Come follow Me and I shall give you rest.
Our kids...pawns in Obama's plan to take away our guns 
By: Diane Sori

Let's cut right to the chase and NO holds barred...Barack HUSSEIN Obama is a freakin' gun-control hypocrite (among other things) of the nth degree.

After the tragedy at Sandy Hook, Obama had the audacity to say, on national television no less, that the best way to protect our children at school is to initiate MORE gun-control, and that he wants to start by bringing back the assault rifle ban that lapsed in 2004.

And he says this as he continues to call for 'Gun-Free School Zones.'

But here's the kicker...the height of hypocrisy in fact...Barack HUSSEIN Obama, as well as many of his liberal BIG mouth buddies, send their kids to the Sidwell Friends School...a private school where eleven armed guards (and soon to be more) are present 24/7.

So according to Obama, our kids must go to school in 'Gun-Free School Zones', as in he deems our kids aren't worth protecting but his daughters and his cronies kids are.  Shame, shame, shame on Obama for seeking even more gun control for our schools...for him trying to prevent our kids from having what his kids a word, 'protection.'  So lets get this straight...Obama's two girls and his cronies kids are worth being protected by armed guards when at school, but the kids of we regular Americans...the kids of 'We the People'... it's OK for our kids to be sitting ducks for madmen.

So says the implied words and actions of Barack HUSSEIN Obama.

And then you have fellow hypocrite, NBC's David Gregory, who is one of Obama's in his pocket liberal media cronies, who sends his kids to Sidwell while chastising the NRA's Wayne La Pierre for saying armed guards should be in all schools.  This hypocrite has no problem with armed guards protecting his kids but says on the air that armed guards might not be effective in preventing mass murders at schools.

So why then does Mr. Hypocrite send his kids to Sidwell when there are many schools just as good that do NOT have armed guards.
Why...because he and the other hypocrites know that armed guards ARE the answer to keeping our kids safe.

And by the way, the head of the commission Obama set up to tackle the gun control issue...none other than VP Uncle Joe 'Bite-Me' Biden himself...this hypocrite also sends his youngest son to the armed guarded Sidwell Friends School as well.

In fact, all those leading the gun control mantra...Obama, Biden, Gregory, Bill and Hillary...they all sent or currently send their kids to Sidwell because of how 'safe' the school is.

The word hypocrite is too kind in described these despicable examples of the liberal elitist attitude of 'we know what's best for you and your kids but that doesn't mean it's best for ours.'

So our kids will remain unguarded when it wouldn't cost anything to guard them as there are plenty of volunteers willing to do so for nothing and the NRA willing to train them.  But as Obama pushes the gun control issue forward, our kids will continue to be targets but Obama's kids and those who orbit around him, their kids, will have the best protection available.

And the entire misguided gun control issue, which goes directly against our Second Amendment right to bear arms, will drone on and on as Obama starts with an assault rifle ban...moves on to including more guns in that ban...then tries to take our guns away completely...and ends up dismantling the Second Amendment in full...and he'll use the ploy of it being for the safety of our children to do it.