Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Debt Ceiling Could Hit Sooner Than Anyone Thinks

Default would be a disaster. So why does no one know when it'd happen?

By and

No one truly enjoys a debt-limit fight. The debt ceiling is a time bomb with a faulty timer: All of Washington sees it ticking toward default, but nobody knows exactly when it will explode.

In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew projected that the department's "extraordinary measures" currently being taken to avoid default will be "exhausted in the middle of October." From there, Lew writes, the United States would have only whatever cash Treasury has on hand, estimated to be about $50 billion. Lew calls that potential situation "unacceptable."

But Lew, like everyone else, is just working off his department's best guess.

Treasury doesn't get to pick a date for default. Rather, the department is subject to the ebb and flow of government revenues and expenditures. And those figures are anything but predictable, because how much the government owes its creditors on a given day—and how much cash it has to pay them—is based on a host of volatile economic, legal, and political factors.

"It's very difficult to tell, particularly this far out," when exactly Treasury would have to default on its debts, said Steve Bell of the Bipartisan Policy Center. "October is an extremely lumpy month. Some days, there's cash coming in; other days, there's cash going out."

And that unpredictability makes an accidental default all the more likely, Bell said, even if neither side wants it to happen.

"That's the danger. It's not that somebody plans to do this," he said. "It's that this is the time when it's very, very easy for mistakes to get made."

Bell, a former top Republican staffer on the Senate Budget Committee, cited a host of external factors that could shift Treasury's default date. Chief among them: an unexpected military action that would cost billions daily, such as the one many are calling on the Obama administration to undertake in Syria.

Another big question is whether Treasury can delay certain intergovernmental payments—such as contributions to the Medicare and Social Security trust funds—without running afoul of legal challenges. That is an open question, Bell said. "I don't know, and I just don't think anybody knows," he said. "It has never been tested before."

Even the standard daily variation in the number of bills Treasury deals with could change the equation, Bell said. "They do five [million] to 10 million transactions a day. A lot are big ones from Defense; a lot are tiny from repairmen. They are clumpy, and you put a few together, all of a sudden you're talking about" $4 billion to $6 billion.

The "middle October" deadline came about under artificial circumstances to begin with. In the beginning of this year, facing the "fiscal cliff," Congress made a deal to put off a deal on the debt limit until May 19. At that point, Lew told Congress he was beginning the "standard set of extraordinary measures" to keep the government funded. It's those measures that will run out sometime this fall.

In the summer of 2011, the U.S. almost found out exactly what happens when Treasury hits the ceiling. Looking at an early-August deadline, Congress was able to come to a deal to avert a default crisis only at the last minute. So what would have happened if that had fallen through? Unable to borrow money, by August, the Treasury Department would have been unable to pay almost half of its 80 million monthly payments. Based on how the department decided to prioritize payments, that could have included checks to the 29 million Social Security recipients that were due to go out on Aug. 3. By that date, Treasury would have already had an estimated cash deficit of about $20 billion.

And it's not as if all of the horrors of 2011 were averted. According to a Government Accountability Office report, just the delay in coming to a debt-limit deal alone resulted in a $1.3 billion increase in Treasury's borrowing costs for fiscal 2011.

As squishy as the deadline date is, it's really just a product of the malleable law that birthed it.

Congress created the debt limit in 1939 in the run-up to World War II, largely as a means of giving Treasury a higher borrowing limit with more flexibility to help the war effort—a surprising origin for a law that has become Congress's principal point of leverage for extracting spending cuts from the Obama administration.

Many years ago, I was a member of a committee that was recommending to whom grant money should be awarded. Since I knew one of the applicants, I asked if this meant that I should recuse myself from voting on his application.

"No," the chairman said. "I know him too -- and he is one of the truly great phonies of our time."

The man was indeed a very talented phony. He could convince almost anybody of almost anything -- provided that they were not already knowledgeable about the subject.

He had once spoken to me very authoritatively about Marxian economics, apparently unaware that I was one of the few people who had read all three volumes of Marx's "Capital," and had published articles on Marxian economics in scholarly journals.

What our glib talker was saying might have seemed impressive to someone who had never read "Capital," as most people have not. But it was complete nonsense to me.

Incidentally, he did not get the grant he applied for.

This episode came back to me recently, as I read an incisive column by Charles Krauthammer, citing some of the many gaffes in public statements by the President of the United States.

One presidential gaffe in particular gives the flavor, and suggests the reason, for many others. It involved the Falkland Islands.

Argentina has recently been demanding that Britain return the Falkland Islands, which have been occupied by Britons for nearly two centuries. In 1982, Argentina seized these islands by force, only to have British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher take the islands back by force.

With Argentina today beset by domestic problems, demanding the return of the Falklands is once again a way for Argentina's government to distract the Argentine public's attention from the country's economic and other woes.

Because the Argentines call these islands "the Malvinas," rather than "the Falklands," Barack Obama decided to use the Argentine term. But he referred to them as "the Maldives."

It so happens that the Maldives are thousands of miles away from the Malvinas. The former are in the Indian Ocean, while the latter are in the South Atlantic.

Nor is this the only gross misstatement that President Obama has gotten away with, thanks to the mainstream media, which sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil when it comes to Obama.

The presidential gaffe that struck me when I heard it was Barack Obama's reference to a military corps as a military "corpse." He is obviously a man who is used to sounding off about things he has paid little or no attention to in the past. His mispronunciation of a common military term was especially revealing to someone who was once in the Marine Corps, not Marine "corpse."

Like other truly talented phonies, Barack Obama concentrates his skills on the effect of his words on other people -- most of whom do not have the time to become knowledgeable about the things he is talking about. Whether what he says bears any relationship to the facts is politically irrelevant.

A talented con man, or a slick politician, does not waste his time trying to convince knowledgeable skeptics. His job is to keep the true believers believing. He is not going to convince the others anyway.

Back during Barack Obama's first year in office, he kept repeating, with great apparent earnestness, that there were "shovel-ready" projects that would quickly provide many much-needed jobs, if only his spending plans were approved by Congress.

He seemed very convincing -- if you didn't know how long it can take for any construction project to get started, after going through a bureaucratic maze of environmental impact studies, zoning commission rulings and other procedures that can delay even the smallest and simplest project for years.

Only about a year or so after his big spending programs were approved by Congress, Barack Obama himself laughed at how slowly everything was going on his supposedly "shovel-ready" projects.

One wonders how he will laugh when all his golden promises about ObamaCare turn out to be false and a medical disaster. Or when his foreign policy fiascoes in the Middle East are climaxed by a nuclear Iran.

"Congress doesn't have a whole lot of core responsibilities," said Barack Obama last week in an astonishing remark.
For in the Constitution, Congress appears as the first branch of government. And among its enumerated powers are the power to tax, coin money, create courts, provide for the common defense, raise and support an army, maintain a navy and declare war.

But, then, perhaps Obama's contempt is justified.

For consider Congress' broad assent to news that Obama has decided to attack Syria, a nation that has not attacked us and against which Congress has never authorized a war.

Why is Obama making plans to launch cruise missiles on Syria?

According to a "senior administration official ... who insisted on anonymity," President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people last week in the two-year-old Syrian civil war.
But who deputized the United States to walk the streets of the world pistol-whipping bad actors.

Where does our imperial president come off drawing "red lines" and ordering nations not to cross them?

Neither the Security Council nor Congress nor NATO nor the Arab League has authorized war on Syria.

Who made Barack Obama the Wyatt Earp of the Global Village?

Moreover, where is the evidence that WMDs were used and that it had to be Assad who ordered them? Such an attack makes no sense.

Firing a few shells of gas at Syrian civilians was not going to advance Assad's cause but, rather, was certain to bring universal condemnation on his regime and deal cards to the War Party which wants a U.S. war on Syria as the back door to war on Iran.

Why did the United States so swiftly dismiss Assad's offer to have U.N. inspectors -- already in Damascus investigating old charges he or the rebels used poison gas -- go to the site of the latest incident?

Do we not want to know the truth?

Are we fearful the facts may turn out, as did the facts on the ground in Iraq, to contradict our latest claims about WMDs? Are we afraid that it was rebel elements or rogue Syrian soldiers who fired the gas shells to stampede us into fighting this war?

With U.S. ships moving toward Syria's coast and the McCainiacs assuring us we can smash Syria from offshore without serious injury to ourselves, why has Congress not come back to debate war?

Lest we forget, Ronald Reagan was sold the same bill of goods the War Party is selling today -- that we can intervene decisively in a Mideast civil war at little or no cost to ourselves.

Reagan listened and ordered our Marines into the middle of Lebanon's civil war. And he was there when they brought home the 241 dead from the Beirut barracks and our dead diplomats from the Beirut embassy.

The only thing we learn from history is that we do not learn from history. Congress should cut short its five-week vacation, come back, debate and decide by recorded vote whether Obama can take us into yet another Middle East war.

The questions to which Congress needs answers:

--Do we have incontrovertible proof that Bashar Assad ordered chemical weapons be used on his own people? And if he did not, who did?

--What kind of reprisals might we expect if we launch cruise missiles at Syria, which is allied with Hezbollah and Iran?

--If we attack, and Syria or its allies attack U.S. military or diplomatic missions in the Middle East or here in the United States, are we prepared for the wider war we will have started?

--Assuming Syria responds with a counterstrike, how far are we prepared to go up the escalator to regional war? If we intervene, are we prepared for the possible defeat of the side we have chosen, which would then be seen as a strategic defeat for the United States?

--If stung and bleeding from retaliation, are we prepared to go all the way, boots on the ground, to bring down Assad? Are we prepared to occupy Syria to prevent its falling to the Al-Nusra Front, which it may if Assad falls and we do not intervene?

The basic question that needs to be asked about this horrific attack on civilians, which appears to be gas related, is: Cui bono?

To whose benefit would the use of nerve gas on Syrian women and children redound? Certainly not Assad's, as we can see from the furor and threats against him that the use of gas has produced.

The sole beneficiary of this apparent use of poison gas against civilians in rebel-held territory appears to be the rebels, who have long sought to have us come in and fight their war.

Perhaps Congress cannot defund Obamacare. But at least they can come back to Washington and tell Obama, sinking poll numbers aside, he has no authority to drag us into another war. His Libyan adventure, which gave us the Benghazi massacre and cover-up, was his last hurrah as war president.

Weapons Of Mass Repetition

by / Personal Liberty Digest

Weapons Of Mass Repetition
Syrian rebels claim hundreds of people were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces.
In 2003, then-Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency James Clapper told reporters that Saddam Hussein moved his stockpiles of chemical weapons to Syria in advance of the second Gulf war, calling it the “the obvious conclusion one draws.” Clapper’s assessment was echoed by a general with the Iraqi Air Force, Georges Sada, who noted as many as 56 flights and multiple truck convoys carted the weapons of mass destruction across the border. The pre-invasion WMD pipeline is further touted by Israeli intelligence, Syrian dissident accounts and even American satellite imagery.

Though there was no doubt Saddam had possessed and used chemical weapons (a fact to which the victims of Iraqi chemical attacks in both Kurdistan and Iran would doubtless testify were they not dead from chemical-weapons exposure), they had vanished from Iraq. Putting aside the hotly debated veracity of President George W. Bush’s infamous rationale as well as the eyewitness accounts of those few people who survived the aforementioned war crimes in Iraq and Iran, the question requires an answer: Where did Saddam’s stockpile of chemical weapons go?

Last week, the Syrian government of Bashar Assad decided to cross whatever line comes after the “red line” that President Barack Hussein Obama declared uncrossable more than a year ago. In a move that seemed only slightly less desperate than would one by the Comcast flack assigned to make MSNBC palatable to the viewers who avoid it like it causes brain cancer, Assad deployed chemical weapons — which he likely borrowed from his fellow Ba’athist wacko, who used to live next door — against his own people.

The body count from Assad’s chemical attack remains unclear, but the reaction was spectacular. By Sunday afternoon, sources were indicating the Obama Administration was preparing a naval strike package against Syrian government targets. By the time you read this, there may well be neighborhoods in Damascus that are even more depressingly miserable than they were before.

But how did the United States of Barack Obama find itself in such a predicament? I was under the impression that the election of Obama in 2008 permanently ended war, oppression and religious intolerance. I mean, they gave the guy the Nobel Peace Prize without a shred of collateral. I’m willing to admit that dealing with the Mideast at a diplomatic level would test the mettle of even a marginally competent statesman — something to which Obama can only aspire.

The Democrats spent most of the 2000s shrieking to the rafters about the warmongering failures of President George W. Bush. Some of their criticisms, although issued for the wrong reasons, were correct. Once it became apparent the WMDs were gone, the whole endeavor became a replay of Vietnam — only with much cooler action scenes and a lower number of wasted American lives. In Iraq, we whacked a homicidal islamofascist and replaced him with a group of homicidal islamofascists because the former was becoming increasingly troublesome and because he had used WMDs before.

Then, Obama got elected in no small way as a result of being one of the few candidates who could say they said “no” to the war. Well, Dennis Kucinich could say that, but he talks to space aliens. And I think Hillary Clinton still says it, but Clinton has always had kind of a weird relationship with reality. Darn it all, Bush had lied to America about WMDs; and any candidate who wasn’t either Obama or the spaceman from Ohio with the semi-hot wife was clearly in on the sham with Bush. We were done with war and done with using phantom WMDs to justify it.

Though he ended direct combat operations in Iraq, Obama replaced them with indirect and somewhat indiscriminate targeting of civilians in Yemen. And despite an apparent media blackout on the topic, combat operations in Afghanistan are still very much a going concern. We certainly remember the recent unpleasantness in Libya — although everyone in the Obama Administration short of the postmaster general lied about it, some of them under oath. I don’t know about the rest of you, but Obama’s idea of hope, change, peace and improving America’s standing in the eyes of the world seems oddly similar to Bush’s. The only real difference appears to be that Bush was more discerning about spying on his own people and was whole let less “droney” — at least over domestic soil.

Look, we can all have a big discussion about the merits of America’s self-assigned role as policeman to the world’s crappiest precincts. I happen to believe there is logic to neutralizing those who seek to do us harm before they can board Air Jihadistan for their flight to Allah’s secret grotto via Cairo; Tel Aviv, Israel; Berlin; Paris; Oslo, Norway; London; New York; Shanksville, Pa.; and wherever else all the hippest suicide bombers are pressing the “send” button on the hotline to the afterlife. I also happen to believe that not everyone who disagrees with me is necessarily enabling islamofascism like Al-Jazeera. But it’s worth noting that we spent nearly 10 years stomping on islamofascists in Iraq — and are still doing so in Afghanistan — over WMDs we knew existed and thought might have been moved to Syria. The guy who won the White House in 2008 and again in 2012 swore up and down that not only was he was going to deliver peace in our time, but he was going to make the world unite in harmony. (Calls to mind that old, cloying Coke jingle.)

In this late age of Obama, countries upon which we could generally count to not completely devolve into an ululating rendition of the Hatfields and McCoys have devolved into open warfare. The Egyptians — evidently not content with behaving like medieval Christians — are now targeting 21st century Christians. And now, we’re gearing up for war in Syria because some lunatic islamofascist used WMDs against a bunch of lunatic islamofascists. Scroll past the endless speeches about hope and change. Ignore the pronouncements by every Democrat from Central Park West to Malibu that Obama would be the most awesome thing short of the second coming, if not even cooler than that.

The Navy is preparing to engage in direct action against the homicidal islamofascist running Syria, presumably to replace him with a group of homicidal islamofascists, and all because he used WMDs, which Administration official Clapper says he got from Iraq. “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

Fort Hood jihad murderer's glowing evaluations before attack may be used now to prevent him from getting death penalty

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer


"He has a keen interest in Islamic culture and faith and has shown capacity to contribute to our psychological understanding of Islamic nationalism and how it may relate to events of national security and Army interest in the Middle East and Asia." He did indeed contribute to "our psychological understanding of Islamic nationalism and how it may relate to events of national security and Army interest in the Middle East and Asia," but not in a way that the U.S. Army is prepared to appreciate and use.

"Ft. Hood shooter received glowing evaluations before attack," by Molly Hennessy-Fiske for the Los Angeles Times, August 24:
Months before the Ft. Hood shooting in November 2009, the Army psychiatrist convicted Friday of killing 13 and wounding more than 30 was completing a fellowship at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where military supervisors praised his unique interest in Islam's impact on soldiers, according to documents provided to The Times. 
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's supervisors had also repeatedly recommended him for promotion, according to documents.
"He has a keen interest in Islamic culture and faith and has shown capacity to contribute to our psychological understanding of Islamic nationalism and how it may relate to events of national security and Army interest in the Middle East and Asia," supervisors wrote in an evaluation report July 1, 2009.
Among Hasan's "unique skills," the report listed "Islamic studies" and "traumatic stress spectrum psychiatric disorders," concluding that "Maj. Hasan has great potential as an Army officer."
The officer evaluation report, and another from earlier that year, were provided to The Times by Hasan's civil lawyer, John Galligan, who says he believes they are relevant to Hasan's sentencing, which is set to begin Monday. He is eligible for the death penalty.
Hasan, 42, has been convicted of 13 charges of premeditated murder in the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting in Texas. The same jury of 13 officers that convicted him will determine his sentence. For a death sentence to be imposed, the decision must be unanimous.
Galligan, a former military judge, said the reports could be used at Hasan's sentencing to argue against a death sentence. But Hasan, who will be representing himself at sentencing as he did at trial, has yet to submit them as mitigating evidence. Galligan says he is concerned the jury will have an incomplete account of Hasan's service record and the role superiors played in promoting him.
If these evaluations prevent Hasan from getting a death sentence, it will be an egregious travesty of justice. These evaluations are evidence of how warped and politicized the culture of the Army has become. They are evidence not that Hasan is a man of good character -- he has already proven that he isn't. They are evidence of how willfully ignorant and cowed by political correctness his Army supervisors were. That is all they are evidence of.
The evaluation reports were filed while Hasan, an American-born Muslim, was earning a master's degree in public health through a two-year fellowship in disaster and preventive psychiatry. A colleague of Hasan's at Walter Reed testified that he pursued the fellowship in order to avoid deployment. 
The other report, completed March 13, 2009, said Hasan had "outstanding moral integrity" and that he had selected a "challenging topic" for his master's of public health project: "the impact of beliefs and culture on views regarding military service during the Global War on Terror."
Supervisors recommended Hasan for a position "that allows others to learn from his perspectives," noting his "unique insights into the dimensions of Islam" including "moral reasoning" were "of great potential interest and strategic importance to the U.S. Army."
That is actually true, but once again, not in the way the supervisors meant, and not in a way that the U.S. Army is willing to heed.
An Army doctor testified that a month before the attack, Hasan told her that if the military forced him to deploy to the Middle East "they will pay." He was later ordered to deploy to Afghanistan, and began plotting his attack. 
Prosecutors argued during his trial that Hasan was motivated by a "jihad duty" to kill soldiers. Hasan rarely challenged them, admitted to the shooting in his opening statement and argued that his religious beliefs led him to switch sides and attack fellow soldiers. He declined to cross-examine prosecution witnesses, call his own witnesses, testify or submit much evidence — in contrast to the prosecution, which called nearly 90 witnesses and submitted more than 700 pieces of evidence.
Obama says Assad did it... Putin says the rebels did it...I believe Putin
By: Diane Sori

The infamous ‘red line’…Obama now squawks, for the cameras of course, that the ‘red line’ has been crossed in Syria, saying there is “very little doubt that Assad used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians”.

But Putin says the rebels were the ones who used said chemical weapons against their fellow countrymen NOT Assad.

I believe Putin.

And now that the Pentagon has sent four warships armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles (up to 90 per ship) to the region, and with US aircraft flying just outside Syrian airspace that could also be used to fire airborne rockets against known chemical storage facilities, two key foreign affairs officials, speaking anonymously (cowards always do that) have said they expect the US to strike Syria if the reports of chemical weapons attacks prove true.

The problem is NO independent or official UN look-see has yet to confirm without a shadow of a doubt the authenticity of any of the videos shown by either the government or the rebels as to who attacked who…yet neither side denies such an attack took place.

And just because Barack HUSSEIN Obama insists it's Assad using chemical weapons to be the truth is all the more reason to believe it’s NOT.

And so the conundrum that is Syria continues…and according to all the latest reports out of DC, Obama wants to get us involved in yet another Middle East war…a war we have NO business being involved in for America is NOT supposed to take sides or intervene in an independent country’s ‘civil war’…especially in a war with a country that we are NOT at war with nor who is at war with us.

Syria poses NO threat to our national security…NONE at all…yet the rebels are ‘the brethren’ and that means for Barack HUSSEIN Obama all rules…including those laid down in our Constitution... are off the table as he once again has America siding with the enemy.

And so the ‘Obama said / Putin said‘ blame game goes on…with the Obama (and al-Qaeda) supported rebels claiming Assad’s attack on their stronghold last week was of the chemical weapons variety kind, while Syrian state-run television, loyal to Assad, accuses the rebel forces (as in the al-Qaeda-linked Free Syrian Army) of being the source of the gas contamination that government forces came into contact with in the Damascus suburb of Jobar.

Tit for tat…but with an oh so dangerous game being played by Obama who wants to put us in the middle…risking the Syrian conflict turning into a US vs. Russia conflict…and that is NOT a game ‘We the People’ want to play.

And to that affect, Russia issued statements that US involvement in Syria would be a ‘tragic mistake’ and could lead to a repeat of the diplomatic showdowns that preceded military action in Iraq and Kosovo. Warning the US that repeating these past mistakes would undermine efforts for peace and have a “devastating impact” on the security situation in the Middle East, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (John ‘Swiftboat Kerry’s Russian counterpart) is "more than a little concerned" with Kerry’s Obama sanctioned latest words that try to ‘up’ the support in the West for a US response against Assad’s government.

Accountability Kerry called it in response to Lavrov’s comments. Accountability…for almost immediately after he said he watched video footage of the aftermath of last week’s attack…footage that still has NOT been authenticated by any means…he called the attack’s aftermath on the civilian population “human suffering that we can never ignore or forget”.

I guess that means we should NEVER ignore or forget his lies about what he did or didn’t do in Viet Nam or his close ties to ‘Hanoi’ Jane Fonda…or are we supposed to have ‘selective memory’ in regards to this but NOT to the events in Syria…but I digress…

And adding into this Syrian mix is Iran warning Obama against any intervention in Syria. “America knows the limitation of the red line of the Syrian front and any crossing of Syria’s red line will have severe consequences for the White House,” said Massoud Jazayeri, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces.

Sounds like a threat if you ask me…albeit a baited phony one to force Obama to fire those missiles so he can set (according to plan) the entire Middle East on a dangerous course towards Israel’s destruction.

And probably even knowing that, Israeli President Shimon Peres issued a statement calling for an “international attempt to take out all the chemical weapons in Syria” for he wants them taken out on both sides, thus strengthening Israel’s chances for survival as a nation...a nation surrounded by those wishing to wipe her off the map.

But when all the saber-rattling is put aside, all this rhetoric coming from the White House means, at least for now, is that Barack HUSSEIN Obama might very well give the ‘green light’ to targeted cruise missile strikes against Assad’s key military and command facilities…and give it soon. And while Obama would like to do this with U(seless) N(ations) support, he could instead partner with NATO or with his brethren in the Arab League. And he most likely would give the ‘green light’ without the most important thing of all…going through the
Constitutionally required ‘War Powers’ clause as he did in Libya…and look how that turned out.

And while currently there is NO talk…at least publicly…of ‘boots on the ground’ or the enforcing of a ‘no-fly zone’ over Syria those options remain on the table…options that will cost American lives…American blood…American limbs…in Obama’s efforts to ‘aid and abet the enemy’ yet again.

And that can NO longer be allowed..hear that Congress...NO longer allowed.

A newly released must see video...what say Obama now...