Saturday, December 31, 2011

Unemployment Numbers Still Stink! - Another Big Government Bust

Americans For Limited Government video counts down to the New Year with the Eleven Biggest Government Busts of 2011:
#11-The Chevy Volt
#10-The Keystone XL Pipeline
#9-The Rule By Decree
#8-The National Labor Relations Board
#7-The Food Police
#6-The "Occupy" Movement
#5-The Fast and the Furious
#4-The Super Committee
#2-National Finances
#1 JOBS Are Still An Issue -- Unemployment Numbers Still Stink!

Also posted at ARRA News Service

Tags: President Barack Obama, Big Government, Unemployment, Jobs, Underemployment, 2011, government busts, 2012 election, video, Americans For Limited Government To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Reasons for Disparity . . . Cesspools of Liberalism

Obama raising money in L.A.
Credits: Photo by Eric Thayer / Getty Images
by Jim Mullen, ARRA News Service: Liberals are a motley crew, but the DNA strand connecting most of them is an overpowering, almost obsessive-compulsive drive to make everything line up, balance, and come out even.

Obsessed with rearranging, realigning, and controlling the natural order of everything and everyone on Earth to fit the perfect liberal-progressive model, they quickly find disillusionment. Their cockamamie ideas meet with scorn and ridicule in the real world of reason and common sense. While a very high percentage of conservatives are actually grownup liberals who found truth and reason accompanied their years, most liberals find peace and tranquility in a make-believe world.

Frustrated by their inability to manipulate the behavior of others, yet having an uncontrollable fixation to make everything “equitable,” liberals learned long ago to harness the power of government.

They feel a self-aggrandizing compassion to empower government to create - not an equal playing field - but equal results. “Social justice” and balance (redistribution) among all people, classes, and “things,” are staples in every liberal pantry.

Enter Barack Obama marching in perfect step with his Democratic entourage to the rhythmic drumbeat of class warfare and race baiting. Together, they wail monotonously with cries of “disparity” in American society, insisting that everything must meet their definition of “fair.”

When liberals convince, coerce, and bribe government into implementation of their twisted theories, it creates a dam restricting the free-flowing waters of entrepreneurship, ideas, and success once so well-known in American society. Government interference by excessive taxation and crushing regulation restricts commerce and personal freedom with one grand purpose; equalizing the level of success downstream. They never allow it to exceed some predefined level established as “equitable” by a statist government and its stewards, the bureaucrats.

Progressive government promised bountiful, blissful waters under their control. Instead, the dam created fetid cesspools of stagnation downstream from the government's dam. The casualties trapped by liberal ideology in these wretched cesspools, and slums cover every region of the country held tightly in the greedy clutches of the Democratic Party’s radical left-wing.

Americans are not victims of free enterprise or Capitalism, but from out-of-control government. The President blames Wall Street, business, banks, and has dozens of other inane excuses for the worst economy since the great depression, and with the disparity of wealth and income. The federal government deliberately prevents normal movement and mobility between classes and represses freedom and initiative. Liberal-Progressives produced and directed the economic malaise and the perpetual state of dependency that afflicts our country. Ronald Reagan said it plainly enough, "Government is not a solution to our problem; government is the problem."

Progressive thought always misses the first basic law of life, not every inequality in this world is injustice, and not all injustices are fixable by government. Therefore, some laws of natural order will not succumb to even the most ardent liberal mind or government will.

Millions of Americans are casualties of their meddling and historically, these unlucky benefactors of liberalism receive inferior educations, city services, police and fire protection, and private retail services. Politicians take the tax and regulatory whip to business and taxpaying Americans, driving them into temporary refuges in other cities, states, and offshore where they find a more receptive attitude to free enterprise.

Never one to take failure nor facts for an answer, the community organizer from Chicago recognizes this and wants federal control and funding for the “cesspools of liberalism” in every city, county and state. Thereby, he reasons, there is no escape for the victims, no respite for the taxpayers, and yet another generation is saddle-broken to government.

Personal, economic, and constitutionally guaranteed freedoms are never options in a liberal-progressive’s mind. Freedom is much too disorganized and untidy, and represents unnerving threats to their perfectly organized, superior intellect, and their controlling nature. Every brilliant spark from a liberal mind ignites more injustice, and liberty’s fervor diminishes.

When they whine of perceived inequities, they become fodder for politicians and despots who understand how to control and use them for nefarious ends. They earned the title “useful Idiots” for their support of vicious dictators in Europe. An over abundance of these people congregate in positions of power at universities and in the media. Often called the intelligentsia, they promote the concept of ordinary Americans living in servitude. It is the perfect solution as it represents a theoretical, perfectly organized universe. There are no winners or losers, no right or wrong, and no disparity in income, wealth, or status. However, as it is with all dictatorial governments, there are really two classes of people; the ruling class and the masses, commonly called “the people” by the communists.

Historically, the moors to which liberalism anchors its destructive ideologies are class warfare and ignorance. It is a tragic time in American history when a President of the United States spends a vast amount of his daily communications and activities spewing propaganda, promoting ignorance, and dividing the country with class warfare rhetoric. Obama and all liberals depend upon the media, and over the long-term, the state-controlled public education system - to advance and support that ignorance. The more they stray from reality and facts, the greater the need for lies and propaganda. As Syndicated Columnist and Economist, Walter Williams says, “Class warfare thrives on ignorance.”

Ignore these people at your peril. They are relentless, cunning, and highly skilled back-alley warriors who specialize in scorch-and-burn politics. They throw punches and scream when anyone mounts a defense. When confronted by facts or challenged, they hurl invectives of racism and class warfare, shout down and diminish opponents, and then filibuster until everyone, intimidated or bored, walks away. While most people, busy building constructive lives, dismiss them as kooks, a liberal’s life work is that of a controlling tyrant. Determined and in the fight for the long-term, they will win the war by attrition unless conservative Americans unite and fight them with the same ferociousness.

Will the next Presidential election be another “date which will live in infamy” in U. S. history? Will that be the day America falls out of love with liberty and embraces Marxism as its new lover? Will we sacrifice our constitutional ideals for an abusive relationship that promises carefree subsistence, but at the price of our dignity and self-determination?

Remember Obama’s new internet advertisement – “Our work isn’t done yet!” These words should fill the heart of every freedom-loving American with sheer terror. Liberals’ idea of the “Perfect World Order” may be nearer than we imagined. The more they reshape the universe to fit their model world, the tighter, and heavier the chains of servitude on the rest of humanity.
Jim Mullen is a TEA Party Republican conservative activist and writer in Parkersburg, West Virginia. He also writes for the Parkersburg Conservative Examiner and his personal site, Freedom For Us Now.

Tags: Jim Mullen, Cesspools, Liberalism, Social justice, redistribution of wealth, out-of-control government To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Congress: Our Return In Investment

By the Bankrupting America Team: Before we spend money on something, what’s the first thing we ask ourselves? What are we getting out of this? Whether it’s a mother buying groceries for her family or an investor buying stocks, it all comes down to return on investment.

We should be asking the same thing when it comes to our tax dollars. We spend trillions of dollars funding the government every year, it’s only prudent to step back and consider what we’re getting for it. The following infographic takes a crack at this. But rather than breaking down the entire federal government, it allows you to examine if we’re getting our money’s worth from Congress.
Click  infographic To See Full Size

Did You Get Your Money’s Worth?
Another year is coming to a close, and one that was marked by Congressional battles
to lower the deficit and cut excessive government spending. What did Washington
accomplish in 2011?  Did they get anything done? Did they cut spending?

Spotlight on 2011
      • A Spending Overview
      • Legislative Accomplishments

A Spending Overview
2011 was a year marked by congressional battles over deficit reduction. In the end, we saw the downgrade of our nation’s credit rating1, and we saw the debt and deficit increase yet again during Fiscal Year 2011.

As we take a look back, here is a solid breakdown of what was taken in and what
was spent during the last fiscal year:
      • Revenue: 2.302 trillion2
      • Spending: 3.601 trillion3
      • Deficit in FY2011: $1.297 trillion4

The federal debt was directly impacted by Washington’s bloated spending, as debt
totals reached new records standing at nearly $15.129 trillion5.

Congress gets paid a lot to pass laws that keep the country running. This year, the
salaries of members Congress and their allowances broke down as follows:6
      Speaker of the House: $223,500
      House and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders and Senate President Pro Tempore: $193,400 x 5 = $967,000
      Other Representatives and Senators: $174,000 x 5357= $93.09 million

Budgets in House and Senate:8
      Average Budget for all 441 House offices (including Resident Commissioner and Delegates): $1,446,009 x 441 = $637,689,969
      Average Budget for all 100 Senate offices: $3,409,0939 x 100 = $340,909,300

Legislative Accomplishments10
But did Washington accomplish what it was paid to accomplish? This year, the number of bills cleared by Congress and the President reached significant lows. Throughout
the calendar year, just over 70 bills were signed into law, a fraction of recent year totals.
      Total bills signed into law:11
      • 2011: 70+
      • 2010: 258
      • 2009: 125
      • 2008: 285

Furthermore, the number of bills passed by either chamber also failed to reach levels comparable to recent years.
      Total measures passed by chamber12:
      • House passed (2011, as of November): 326 bills
      • House passed (2009): 970 bills
      • House passed (2007): 1,127 bills
      • Senate passed (2011, as of November): 368 bills
      • Senate passed (2009): 478 bills
      • Senate passed (2007): 621 bills

It should be clearly noted that it is impossible to measure the work of Congress based upon the number of measures passed. In some years, they pass lots of bills, buts lots of bills does not always equal sound economic policy. That being said, the number of measures passed by the House and Senate are one way to measure the productivity of Congress, but it doesn’t always tell the full story.

So what significant legislation was passed? Let’s take a glance. Highlighting 201113:
      • 13 of the 70+ bills passed named post offices or courthouses.
      • The Budget Control Act raised the debt ceiling, led to the establishment of the super committee, and laid the groundwork for the upcoming sequester.

Other significant legislation includes:14
      • Two extensions of certain Small Business Administration programs
      • Transportation extension
      • Four FAA extensions
      • A repeal of the 1099 tax reporting requirement in the health care bill
      • An extension of Patriot Act
      • Intelligence authorization
      • Three trade bills
      • A veterans’ compensation cost of living allowance

So what do you think? Did you get your money’s worth

1 Washington Post: S&P downgrades U.S. credit rating for first time. August 6, 2011.
2 CBO: Monthly Budget Review. FY2011. November 7, 2011.
3 Ibid.
4 Treasury Monthly Statement. November 2011.
5 Treasury: December 23, 2011.
6 Office of the Clerk: FAQ’s. #14.
7 Includes the Resident Commissioner and Delegates.
8 CRS: Congressional Salaries and Allowances. June 28, 2011. Pg. 3.
9 Congress passed a subsequent law that slightly reduced the Senate’s budget, but these numbers have not been updated by the Congressional Research Service.
10 All accomplishments as of December 19, 2011.
11 Government Printing Office. Public Laws; Library of Congress. Public Laws.
a) As of December 27, 2011, the Library of Congress tally’s 73 bills for 2011; this is not the final tally, however. It will likely be slightly higher.
b) For laws that were passed by Congress in one calendar year, (i.e., December 2010) but signed into law into the following year (i.e., January 2011), the law was counted when it passed Congress (i.e., 2010).
12 Washington Post: In 2011, fewer bills, fewer laws and plenty of blame. December 5, 2011.
13 Library of Congress: Public Laws.
14 Ibid.
Bankrupting America December 2011
Also posted at ARRA News Service
Tags: Congress, Congressional pay, Congressional salaries, effective governing, Government Spending, infographic, irresponsible governing, public pay, taxpayer funded, Bankrupting America To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Global Warming Satire

Ugock and his small clan crossed the vast ice fields of the frozen north following the great herds of caribou and at night they sought shelter in the many ice caves of the enormous glaciers. Once inside they used their flint tools to build a fire to provide the warmth needed to get through the long night. As the heat from their several campfires began to warm the cave ice on the caves roof it would melt small amounts of the ice and the water would drip or run down the sides of the caves walls. This was their way of life, the nights in the caves and the days searching for the animals of the north. A cycle that continued for thousands of years. As time passed Ugock noticed the level of a nearby lake was rising. He thought about this at night while sitting near his campfire as he watched the ice melting on the caves roof with an occasional drop of water hitting him on the head. Suddenly one night he jumped to his feet, for he had discovered an absolute truth, he was causing the lake to rise. It was him and his small cave fire and the fires of other nearby clans. Next day he raised the alarm and warned all he met of the approaching danger and urged all to reduce the size and number of their cave fires, less the lake continue to rise and drown them all. The fires dimmed but the water continued to raise and eventually out of desperation sacrifices were made to the old gods. The Paleo-Indians had discovered man-made global warming.

Now some 15,000 years later the new cave-dwellers of the sprawling canyons of metropolis have again discovered that ancient enemy of global warming and just as Ugock they are calling for the dimming of the campfires to stop the rising waters. And in time they will call for greater sacrifices to the gods of science, not the virgin sacrifices of the past (alas, no more virgins), but instead, the sacrifice of "our way of life". The sky is falling again and the Chicken Little's of the world are sounding the alarm!
Also posted at TOTUS

Tags: global warming, satire, commentary, paleo-indians  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

The Daisy Ad and Today's Politics


Also Posted at TOTUS

Tags: Daisy ad, Goldwater, election of 1964, commentary, LBJ  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dollars and War

When War was War and Not a Game!
More Dollars
The cost for each American soldier deployed to Afghanistan has now reached one million dollars per year. The cost of maintaining a Taliban soldier in the field for a similar period is somewhat difficult to estimate, but many find the figure to be under $3,000. This means the debt ratio is about 300 - 1, with the Taliban maintaining a overwhelming edge. The debt ratio is not however the only problem, but the ugly question of sanctuary is again hitting the American military in the face as it did in Korea, Vietnam, and to a certain extent in Iraq. The Taliban and their al Queda allies are more or less free to move between Pakistan and Afghanistan and we are powerless to attack them in their strongholds in the mountains of western Pakistan. Yes. we have the UAV's (unmanned aerial vehicles) with their hell-fire missiles that occasionally find an al Queda leader in a remote mud hut hidden in some mountain valley and dispatch that trusty Hell-fire against him at a cost of $100 to $200 thousand dollars each. The parts of this fallen leader are quickly gathered up and buried before sunset as is the custom in that part of the world. And a new leader is quickly named at a cost far less that the cost of sending the first on his trip to meet the many virgins. When I hear that we have killed another Taliban leader in the mountain of Pakistan, I almost laugh. Its like killing a single ant in the giant ant hill and calling that some kind of victory. This is not war, this is playing at war, this sadly has become a game with the young men of our country being the pawns in a protracted conflict we can never win with the current rules of engagement . We will lose this war without ever having lost a battle and the many young men who will never return to their families will have fallen in vain because of this great political game. The Taliban and al Queda will continue to be funded by the massive amounts of petro dollars coming from the Wahabis sects in the Gulf States and the enormous sums of money generated by the opium poppy in the mountains of Afghanistan.
No Sense
The way this war is being waged in the mountains of Afghanistan is absolute madness and insanity that is totally out of control and one that has its roots going back to the 1950's and the Korean War. In that conflict the U.S. government under the leadership of President Truman allowed a great American army to be stalemated in the mountains of Korea, and despite repeated request by the commander in the field General Douglas MacArthur for tactical nuclear weapons to be used they never were. Today we have a nuclear armed state in North Korea, a state that poses a serious threat to all of its neighbors in that region. A few years later in another part of the world French forces in Indochina faced a turning point in their struggle against a communist insurgency in what is now northern Vietnam. French forces were surrounded and outnumbered at the besieged fortress of Dien Bien Phu and after many request from the french government for tactical nukes to be used to break the siege Dien Bien Phu fell and we had the establishment of the communist state of North Vietnam and the stepping stone to the Vietnam war where tens of thousands of young American soldiers died. To this day the use tactical nuclear weapons remains off the table even though that decision has cost us tens of thousands of young Americans lives. At some point in the very near future the battle field situation will become so dire that an American President may be forced to revisit that decision and for once think about the troops in the field and not the journalist at the London Times. Even after seeing what happened in Korea and at Dien Bien Phu we entered another war where we were bound by old rules of engagement that had failed us in the past. Our enemy was allowed sanctuary---a place to regroup and rebuilt and a place from which to attack again and again. In Vietnam the American soldier never lost a major battle, but the government lost the war and Vietnam fell to the enemy. This is our current path in Afghanistan, a path we've traveled many times before and it will end in the same place--DEFEAT AND DISHONOR!
The defeat will not be of battles lost by our brave troops for none have been lost. And the dishonor will not fall on them for they are all, all honorable men. The defeat is the nations and the dishonor is ours.  Also posted at TOTUS 

Tags: Dien Bien Phu, Afghanistan, Wahabis, opium poppy, commentary   To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Fall of the U.S.S.R. Twenty Years Ago: Beauty Killed the Beast

Ralph Benko
by Ralph Benko: Sunday, passing nearly uncelebrated, occurred the 20th anniversary of the formal dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. There is much to celebrate about the December 25, 1991 implosion of a totalitarian, bellicose, imperialistic regime with 45,000 nuclear warheads, captor of dozens of nations, killer of tens of millions, sociopathic in its brutality against the innocent in its quest for world domination.

Without, in any way, diminishing the roles of the great -- Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, and others… the end of the USSR was, more than anything, the work of three regular people: beginning with one citizen-socialite from Houston, who recruited a drunken roué of a Congressman, who, in turn, engineered the critical funding for one malcontent CIA Agent who armed the Afghani freedom fighters.

Today, then, I sing of arms and the woman: Joanne King Herring, destined to live forever in history associated with a tiny handful of beautiful, regal, woman warriors: Queen Cleopatra, Helen of Troy and Queen Boadicea. Like her historic counterparts Herring widely was, and is, counted among the great beauties of the world. But Helen’s kidnapping was the casus belli of the Trojan War — she played no strategic role herself. Queens Cleopatra and Boadicea lost their lands and lives to the imperial storm troopers. Joanne Herring, "Queen of Texas," won.

Herring recruited Rep. “Good Time” Charlie Wilson to her cause of championing the Afghans against the Soviets. She helped Wilson persuade House Appropriations Committee chair Doc Long to turn on the funding which allowed CIA maverick agent Gust Avrakatos to arm the freedom fighters. This is extensively documented in 60 Minutes’ producer George Crile's galvanizing work Charlie Wilson's War. This book, far more than Mike Nichols' movie starring Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks and Philip Seymour Hoffman, shows how the world really works. And it’s not like the High School civics texts. It's about passion.

Crile, quoting CIA Director James Woolsey: "The defeat and breakup of the Soviet Empire is one of the great events of world history. There were many heroes in this battle, but to Charlie Wilson must go a special recognition." Crile observes:

"The oddness of this moment is hard to exaggerate. America had just won the Cold War, a triumph every bit as significant as the victory over Nazi Germany, yet there had been no V-Day celebrations, no ticker-tape parades, no Douglas McArthur to publicly celebrate. Life in the capital seemed to roll on as if there never had been a Cold War. At this moment, Charlie Wilson, of all people, was about to be honored as the architect of the great American triumph.”

Of all people?

"No congressman or senator in anyone’s memory had ever succeeded in flouting the rules so repeatedly for so many years and managed to survive. By this time, in the dull era of the 1990s, he had become the ultimate master of the Washington high-wire act, and that night his many strange and unusual friends had stood back and marveled as Charlie danced the night away, offering a toast to ‘Friends, to power, to passion, to black lace,’ before exiting with Ziva, a beautiful Israeli ballerina, on his arm."

But as Crile so meticulously documented, Wilson unquestionably was persuaded, empowered, and partnered in with his acts of heroic derring-do on the part of the mujahideen, freedom, and America, by his inspiration -- and close collaborator -- Joanne. Wilson and Avrakatos have died, as has their chronicler, Crile. Of those who broke the back of the USSR remains Joanne King Herring. She, who deserves a tickertape parade, has recorded her recollections in a wonderful, utterly unique, memoir, Diamonds and Diplomacy.

The author, as described by her publisher:

"She’s been dirt poor; she's been filthy rich. Rich was more fun. She married three times, divorced twice, found her true love, and lost him to cancer. At twenty-one, she was told she would soon die. She lived. Doctors said she’d never be able to have children. She had ‘em. She’s bargained with God, dictators, and Democrats. She’s partied with princes, presidents, premiers, Barbara Walters, Anwar Sadat, Margaret Thatcher, Tom Hanks, and Francisco Franco . . . though not all at the same time. She captivated powerful men with her feminine charm, and then persuaded them toward unlikely political alliances through her formidable intelligence. She waltzed with Prince Philip in Buckingham Palace, dressed in men’s clothes and smuggled herself in a barrel across the Pakistani border, threw a Roman-themed party so extravagant it was featured in Life magazine, and survived a Soviet gunship attack in the mountains of Afghanistan."

As she recounts in Diamonds and Diplomacy, "George Crile wrote in his book Charlie Wilson’s War:  "[(Pakistan’s) President Zia] was so spellbound by Herring, and took her so seriously, that to the utter dismay of his entire foreign office, he made her Pakistan’s roving ambassador to the world and even awarded her his country's highest civilian honor, the title of Quaid-e-Azam, or 'Great Leader.' Charlie Wilson says that Zia would leave cabinet meetings just to take Joanne’s calls.'There was no affair with Zia,' Wilson recalls, 'but it’s impossible to deal with Joanne and not deal with her on a sexual basis. No matter who you are, you take those phone calls.'"

Herring claims with complete plausibility that she was extremely elusive as an erotic conquest. She eloquently describes an art rarely revealed which she calls 'the game.' Call it Social Fascination. "But for a woman to play on the big field, she must learn to play ‘the game.’ It’s complicated and nuanced in ways that distinguish skill levels. It is not flirtation. It is more subtle, a careful application of talents, with definite limits. What I refer to has little to do with sex — which is common and available on every street corner. … This game has many rules."

Pioneering sociologist Catherine Hakim refers to this rarely acknowledged power as Erotic Capital and Herring obviously possesses it in spades. Using her gifts adroitly, this Presbyterian princess modestly attributes her role to the will of God. “The aristocratic contacts I made at parties provided exactly the right person at exactly the right time and place to provide exactly the right tools to begin to end global communism.”

The movie version of Charlie Wilson’s War concludes with America’s ruling class, having made it possible for the mujahideen to win the war against the Soviets, callously leaving the badly wounded Afghani people in the lurch. Herring remains devoted to their welfare, concluding Diamonds and Diplomacy with her “Marshall Plan Charities for Afghanistan Recovery”: clean water, food, health care, schools and jobs. She writes movingly of the moral imperative and privilege to help and the opportunity the American people have to partner with the courageous, dignified, Afghani society.

Governments by their nature are risk-averse, agents of the status quo. Only living, breathing, passionate people are agents of transformation, people such as Joanne Herring, Charlie Wilson, and Gust Avrakatos. It took a great anthropologist, rather than a political scientist, Margaret Mead, to grasp and state this law of nature: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the end of one of the most lethal totalitarian dictatorships in history, let us reflect. Oh no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast. Thank you for securing our liberty, Joanne King Herring. America and the free world salute you.
Ralph Benko is senior advisor, economics, to American Principles in Action’s Gold Standard 2012 Initiative, and a contributor to he ARRA News Service.

Tags: Ralph Benko, USSR, fall, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

The Tipping Point

The "tipping point" is that invisible mark that each must find. And in the end some will sit on the side lines while others join the fight. But once the fight is joined the onrushing events will gather momentum and all will be effected by the great struggle and even the "sunshine patriot" will find no refuge from the storm. We are now approaching that point, that place from which there is no turning back, some will say yes, while others hold back and cringe before the foreboding warnings.

Great changes are in the wind and the forces of change are gathering as the approaching storm looms large on the horizon. Many are seeking the shelter of family and friends with the hope that these changes will pass them by and they can again feel the warmth of yesterdays. While others are rushing to fill the breach torn in the fabric of the nation by those forces who would not only destroy the tomorrow's but the yesterday's. For the fair weather soldier the tipping point will never come, for they will continue to push that point farther and farther down the road. They will stand under that sheltered tree as the battle swirls round them and their muskets will never know the taste of fire and smoke. But wiser men will stand and say, "no more", for they have reached that place from which there is no retreat---The Tipping Point!
by Ron Russell
Posted at The Tipping Point

Tags: Tipping Point, sunshine patriot, standing, decision, no retreat, Ron Russell To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas Conservative Patriots!

Tags: 2011, Christmas, Merry Christmas To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Obama Wants You To Be The New Reservation Indian

POSTED AT TOTUS and Conservative Voices

Tags: Barack Obama, nation of beggars, reservation, Commentary, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Reflections on "The Illusion of Validity" on the Birthday of the FED

"Statistics and simple arithmetic tell us more about ourselves than expert intuition." -- Freeman Dyson  --  Happy 98th Birthday, Federal Reserve System?

Courtesy of Woodrow Wilson Birthplace Foundation
Painting by Wilbur G. Kurtz, Sr. -
President Wilson signing the Federal Reserve Act in 1913.
by Ralph Benko - ARRA News Service: President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act on December 23, 1913, creating a central bank for the United States.

The Fed, of course, has become a source of great national controversy, eliciting books such as End the Fed by Congressman Ron Paul. Why?

World-renowned physicist and public intellectual Freeman Dyson recently composed a profound essay, How to Dispel Your Illusions, in the New York Review of Books. In it, Dyson reflects on the recent book by Nobel Economics laureate Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow. Dyson implicitly targets the fatal flaw in the well-intended foundation of the Federal Reserve. Dyson:
In 1955, when Daniel Kahneman was twenty-one years old, he was a lieutenant in the Israeli Defense Forces. He was given the job of setting up a new interview system for the entire army. The purpose was to evaluate each freshly drafted recruit and put him or her into the appropriate slot in the war machine. The interviewers were supposed to predict who would do well in the infantry or the artillery or the tank corps or the various other branches of the army. The old interview system, before Kahneman arrived, was informal. The interviewers chatted with the recruit for fifteen minutes and then came to a decision based on the conversation. The system had failed miserably. When the actual performance of the recruit a few months later was compared with the performance predicted by the interviewers, the correlation between actual and predicted performance was zero.

Kahneman had a bachelor’s degree in psychology and had read a book, Clinical vs. Statistical Prediction: A Theoretical Analysis and a Review of the Evidence by Paul Meehl, published only a year earlier. Meehl was an American psychologist who studied the successes and failures of predictions in many different settings. He found overwhelming evidence for a disturbing conclusion. Predictions based on simple statistical scoring were generally more accurate than predictions based on expert judgment. ...

Kahneman knew how to improve the Israeli army interviewing system. ... Statistics and simple arithmetic tell us more about ourselves than expert intuition.

Reflecting fifty years later on his experience in the Israeli army, Kahneman remarks in Thinking, Fast and Slow that it was not unusual in those days for young people to be given big responsibilities. The country itself was only seven years old. “All its institutions were under construction,” he says, “and someone had to build them.” He was lucky to be given this chance to share in the building of a country, and at the same time to achieve an intellectual insight into human nature. He understood that the failure of the old interview system was a special case of a general phenomenon that he called “the illusion of validity.” At this point, he says, “I had discovered my first cognitive illusion.”

Cognitive illusions are the main theme of his book. A cognitive illusion is a false belief that we intuitively accept as true. The illusion of validity is a false belief in the reliability of our own judgment. The interviewers sincerely believed that they could predict the performance of recruits after talking with them for fifteen minutes. Even after the interviewers had seen the statistical evidence that their belief was an illusion, they still could not help believing it. Kahneman confesses that he himself still experiences the illusion of validity, after fifty years of warning other people against it. He cannot escape the illusion that his own intuitive judgments are trustworthy.
Dyson continues, drawing from his own experience:
An episode from my own past is curiously similar to Kahneman’s experience in the Israeli army. I was a statistician before I became a scientist. At the age of twenty I was doing statistical analysis of the operations of the British Bomber Command in World War II. ... Air Vice Marshal Sir Ralph Cochrane was the commander of 5 Group, the most independent and the most effective of the groups. Our bombers were then taking heavy losses, the main cause of loss being the German night fighters.

Cochrane said the bombers were too slow, and the reason they were too slow was that they carried heavy gun turrets that increased their aerodynamic drag and lowered their operational ceiling. Because the bombers flew at night, they were normally painted black. Being a flamboyant character, Cochrane announced that he would like to take a Lancaster bomber, rip out the gun turrets and all the associated dead weight, ground the two gunners, and paint the whole thing white. Then he would fly it over Germany, and fly so high and so fast that nobody could shoot him down. Our commander in chief did not approve of this suggestion, and the white Lancaster never flew.

The reason why our commander in chief was unwilling to rip out gun turrets, even on an experimental basis, was that he was blinded by the illusion of validity. This was ten years before Kahneman discovered it and gave it its name, but the illusion of validity was already doing its deadly work. All of us at Bomber Command shared the illusion. We saw every bomber crew as a tightly knit team of seven, with the gunners playing an essential role defending their comrades against fighter attack, while the pilot flew an irregular corkscrew to defend them against flak. An essential part of the illusion was the belief that the team learned by experience. As they became more skillful and more closely bonded, their chances of survival would improve.

When I was collecting the data in the spring of 1944, the chance of a crew reaching the end of a thirty-operation tour was about 25 percent. The illusion that experience would help them to survive was essential to their morale. After all, they could see in every squadron a few revered and experienced old-timer crews who had completed one tour and had volunteered to return for a second tour. It was obvious to everyone that the old-timers survived because they were more skillful. Nobody wanted to believe that the old-timers survived only because they were lucky.

At the time Cochrane made his suggestion of flying the white Lancaster, I had the job of examining the statistics of bomber losses. I did a careful analysis of the correlation between the experience of the crews and their loss rates, subdividing the data into many small packages so as to eliminate effects of weather and geography. My results were as conclusive as those of Kahneman. There was no effect of experience on loss rate. So far as I could tell, whether a crew lived or died was purely a matter of chance. Their belief in the life-saving effect of experience was an illusion.

The demonstration that experience had no effect on losses should have given powerful support to Cochrane’s idea of ripping out the gun turrets. But nothing of the kind happened. As Kahneman found out later, the illusion of validity does not disappear just because facts prove it to be false. Everyone at Bomber Command, from the commander in chief to the flying crews, continued to believe in the illusion. The crews continued to die, experienced and inexperienced alike, until Germany was overrun and the war finally ended.
Kahneman's mordant recognition of "the illusion of validity" mirrors, of course, one of the key insights of another Nobel economics laureate: Hayek. In his prize acceptance speech Hayek famously indicted "the pretense of knowledge." Hayek:
We have indeed at the moment little cause for pride: as a profession we have made a mess of things. ...

The theory which has been guiding monetary and financial policy during the last thirty years, and which I contend is largely the product of such a mistaken conception of the proper scientific procedure, consists in the assertion that there exists a simple positive correlation between total employment and the size of the aggregate demand for goods and services; it leads to the belief that we can permanently assure full employment by maintaining total money expenditure at an appropriate level. Among the various theories advanced to account for extensive unemployment, this is probably the only one in support of which strong quantitative evidence can be adduced. I nevertheless regard it as fundamentally false, and to act upon it, as we now experience, as very harmful.

The conflict between what in its present mood the public expects science to achieve in satisfaction of popular hopes and what is really in its power is a serious matter because, even if the true scientists should all recognize the limitations of what they can do in the field of human affairs, so long as the public expects more there will always be some who will pretend, and perhaps honestly believe, that they can do more to meet popular demands than is really in their power. It is often difficult enough for the expert, and certainly in many instances impossible for the layman, to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate claims advanced in the name of science. ...

But it is by no means only in the field of economics that far-reaching claims are made on behalf of a more scientific direction of all human activities and the desirability of replacing spontaneous processes by "conscious human control." If I am not mistaken, psychology, psychiatry, and some branches of sociology, not to speak about the so-called philosophy of history, are even more affected by what I have called the scientistic prejudice, and by specious claims of what science can achieve. ...

If man is not to do more harm than good in his efforts to improve the social order, he will have to learn that in this, as in all other fields where essential complexity of an organized kind prevails, he cannot acquire the full knowledge which would make mastery of the events possible. He will therefore have to use what knowledge he can achieve, not to shape the results as the craftsman shapes his handiwork, but rather to cultivate a growth by providing the appropriate environment, in the manner in which the gardener does this for his plants. There is danger in the exuberant feeling of ever-growing power which the advance of the physical sciences has engendered and which tempts man to try, "dizzy with success," to use a characteristic phrase of early communism, to subject not only our natural but also our human environment to the control of a human will. The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach the student of society a lesson of humility which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men's fatal striving to control society — a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals.
Dyson: "The white Lancaster never flew." " The crews continued to die...." "The illusion of validity is a false belief in the reliability of our own judgment. The interviewers sincerely believed that they could predict the performance of recruits after talking with them for fifteen minutes. Even after the interviewers had seen the statistical evidence that their belief was an illusion, they still could not help believing it. Kahneman confesses that he himself still experiences the illusion of validity, after fifty years of warning other people against it. He cannot escape the illusion that his own intuitive judgments are trustworthy." Hayek: "...against becoming an accomplice in men's fatal striving to control society — a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization...."

The Greeks taught us that after Hubris -- overweening pride -- comes the goddess Nemesis: retribution. Dyson, Kahneman, Hayek reteach this tragic lesson. Lehrman, whose Institute hosts this website, for over half a century been quietly preaching the humility -- a humble reliance on something very like "statistics and simple arithmetic," eschewing the "illusion of validity" reposed in expert judgment -- that endows the gold standard with its great benevolent power to create economic security and foster prosperity.

Now, as noted here, here, and here, the Bank of England itself has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that the world dollar standard is vastly inferior -- in terms both of stability and prosperity -- than even the dilute form of the gold standard established at Bretton Woods -- the monetary experts still cannot "escape the illusion that [their] own intuitive judgments are trustworthy." Happy Birthday, Federal Reserve. High time for your transformation into an institution much like the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one devoutly devoted entirely to keeping the value of the dollar defined to a weight of gold fixed, in precision, to the atomic level, by following the "rules of the game as codified" in Lewis E. Lehrman's The True Gold Standard - A Monetary Reform Plan without Official Reserve Currencies.
Ralph Benko is senior advisor, economics, to American Principles in Action’s Gold Standard 2012 Initiative, and a contributor to he ARRA News Service.

Tags: Ralph Benko, The Fed, Federal Reserve System, illusions, Freeman Dyson, Daniel Kahneman, Lewis E. Lehrman, gold standard, gold To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Simplify the Tax Code and Lower Taxes

The House Republicans and Senate Democrats are caught in an end of year situation leaving in doubt if and how lawmakers will resolve their differences over the payroll tax extension and other items before December 31st.

ARRA News Service identified that House Speaker John Boehner has written a letter to President Obama asking the President "[T]o call on the Senate to return to appoint negotiators so that we can provide the American people the economic certainty they need." Note that it was the Democrat led Senate that pushed for a 2 month verses a 9 months compromise bill and went on recess instead of waiting for the House response. If both chambers do not reconcile their differences over the bill by December 31, . . . "160 million middle class Americans will see a tax increase, over two million Americans will begin losing their unemployment benefits, and millions of senior citizens on Medicare could find it harder to receive treatment from physicians."

There is a better way. Some advocate for the FairTax. Others advocate for a Flat tax. Backers of both groups have similar objectives and points. Earlier this year, The Heritage Foundation outlined a comprehensive approach to tax reform that would provide the permanence and certainty in the tax system that American taxpayers want and the economy needs. The Heritage plan called Saving the American Dream would replace income and payroll rates with a flat tax rate of 28 percent for everyone.

Heritage’s J.D. Foster detailed their "flat tax" plan last week:
The current tax system discourages saving. It discourages investment. It discourages entrepreneurship. It causes decision makers to misallocate the nation’s resources, limiting productivity gains, wage gains, and the nation’s overall level of international competitiveness. And, it is far, far too complicated. The New Flat Tax is the remedy. It replaces every major tax collected by the federal government. For non-seniors, it is as easy as one, two, three—one rate, two credits, three deductions. For seniors on Medicare, one of the two credits—for health insurance—is replaced by an extra deduction. The New Flat Tax is simple, revenue-neutral, and will allow America to achieve its full economic potential.

The above pictured Heritage Foundation chart reveals why it is so crucial for Congress to consider reform. Without major changes or significant spending cuts, tax rates are projected to skyrocket in the years and decades to come.

Tags: chart, flat tax, Heritage Foundation, lower taxes , less spending, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gas Prices at All-Time Christmas High

Rob Bluey, Heritage Foundation: Americans hitting the road this week are likely to encounter the highest-ever price for gas at Christmas in history. According to figures from AAA, the nationwide average for regular unleaded is $3.21 per gallon — an increase of 23 cents over last year’s Christmas record.

This marks the second straight year Americans are paying more at the pump during the holidays. The price in 2009 was around $2.60 per gallon and jumped to about $3 per gallon at Christmas last year.

These higher prices aren’t grabbing headlines as they once did, but that doesn’t mean Washington should ignore the issue.

As part of its North American Energy Inventory report, the Institute for Energy Research recently outlined steps that policymakers could take to reverse America’s decline in energy production.

Among the ideas:
  • Removing barriers to drilling. Less than 6 percent of federal lands and 2 percent offshore are open to exploration, limiting the potential of Americans to produce energy here at home.
  • Developing shale resources. America has the world’s largest supply of shale resources — the oil and gas found in rock formations underground.
  • Stopping excessive regulation. The government has slowed down and even halted offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, which supplies 30 percent of domestic oil production.
There’s also the added benefit of more revenue for the federal government with increased energy production, a point Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) stressed on last week’s Scribecast.

Heritage’s Nick Loris recently commented: “Allowing access for exploration and creating an efficient regulatory process that allows energy projects to move forward in a timely manner will not only increase revenue through more royalties, leases, and rent; it will also create jobs and help lower energy prices in the process.”

Tags: Christmas, David Vitter, domestic oil production, energy prices, Gulf of Mexico, Institute for Energy Research, offshore drilling, oil and gas, regulation, oil, gas, natural gas, peak oil, peak energy, department of energy, EIA, Heritage Foundation, Rob Bluey To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Death Certificate Of The Paper Dollar: Where To Next?

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by Ralph Benko, Contributing Author: The world dollar standard's death certificate arrives in the mail this week. The Bank of England - "the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street" — one of the most staid, cautious, and dignified entities in the world of monetary policy - signals that the fiduciary currency standard ushered in on August 15, 1971 is, empirically measured, far inferior to the (dilute form of the) gold standard erected at Bretton Woods. Fellow columnist Charles Kadlec thoroughly reprises and analyzes the facts submitted to a candid world by the Bank of England in a paper to be officially published December 20, 2011.

The Bank of England’s Financial Stability Paper No. 13, Reform of the International Monetary and Financial System, reported at Bloomberg BusinessWeek and reviewed here, is being seen by many monetary policy observers around the world as the "coroner's report" on the death of the world dollar standard.

What's next? Presciently, at the watershed October 5-6 Heritage Foundation Conference on a Stable Dollar: Why We Need It and How to Achieve It, Forbes’ editor-in-chief Steve Forbes called for escalating the discourse from “whether” we should restore the gold standard to “how” to do so. The floodgates open.

In the second half of 2011 monetary policy scholars, policy virtuosi, financiers and activists have issued over half a dozen books and important monographs on the very subject heralded by Forbes whose call was seconded by Heritage's president, Dr. Ed Feulner in an influential Washington Times op-ed:
That's why we should welcome a debate about the role of the Fed and what our monetary policy should be. But we have to ask the right questions. … Should we fix the dollar price of gold? ...'If the defect is inflation and an unstable dollar,' asks Lewis Lehrman of the Lehrman Institute, 'what is the remedy?' We can’t answer that without a robust and full discussion. Let's hope the hard questions being asked now about the Fed touch off a much-needed debate.
This, together with ongoing efforts by The Lehrman Institute and by its strategic partner, the American Principles Project (with both of which this writer has a professional association) laid the groundwork for another critical development: putting monetary reform at the core of the agenda of the conservative movement. The largest and most influential umbrella group of conservativism is the Conservative Action Project. This convened 100 leading conservatives at a summit this month. President Reagan’s Counselor and the 75th Attorney General of the United States, Edwin Meese, III, presided and the Project issued, last week, A Conservative Consensus for 2012.

This, which fairly may be considered the consensus conservative platform, calls for Growth, Family, Strength and Accountability. The first element of the very first item on the agenda includes a call to "encourage sound monetary policy, thereby helping the economy grow and create more jobs." Many conservatives take these words to mean going forward to gold.

But how? Earlier this autumn, Lewis E. Lehrman published the fruit of 40 years of study and thought, study that began with his tutelage by French monetary statesman Jacques Rueff, of The True Gold Standard - A Monetary Reform Plan Without Official Reserve Currencies. It was lauded by TV journalist Lou Dobbs as "a compelling read and a compelling architecture for a way forward," by Federalist Society co-founder and Bradley Foundation "Genius Award" winner David McIntosh as "a must read for policy makers," by financial journalist James Grant as "The answer, brilliantly expounded…." The New York Sun’s Seth Lipsky summarized its essence:
... a transition in which, on the date that Congress authorizes the resumption of unrestricted convertibility between dollars and gold, Federal Reserve Bank notes and American dollar bank demand deposits would be 'redeemable in gold on demand at the statutory gold parity,' ... the minting by the Treasury and authorized private mints of what Mr. Lehrman calls 'legal tender gold coin in appropriate denominations, free of any and all taxation,' ... an international monetary conference 'to provide for the deliberate termination of the dollar-based official reserve currency system and the consolidation and refunding of foreign official dollar reserves,'... the establishment by the conference of gold as ‘the sole means by which nations would settle residual balance of payments deficits,' ... and steps to 'uphold stable exchange rates and free and fair trade - based on the mutual convertibility to gold of major currencies.'
Other noteworthy works on how to restore the gold standard promptly followed. These include monographs by George Mason University’s Prof. Lawrence H. White recently presented at the 29th Annual Monetary Conference of the Cato Institute, entitled Making the Transition to a New Gold Standard, and extensive and erudite testimony shortly preceding Lehrman’s book by Dr. Lawrence Parks, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Monetary Education, at a September 13 hearing of Dr. Ron Paul's subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy entitled "Road Map to Sound Money.'

In addition, financial analyst James Rickards’ Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis is receiving significant popular attention and bestseller status, Detlev Schlichter’s Paper Money Collapse, and we see the publication of Paul Nathan’s The New Gold Standard<, a new edition of prominent libertarian (and rocket scientist) Dave Redick's Monetary Revolution USA and, now, the keenly anticipated Fixing the Dollar Now: Why US Money Lost Its Integrity and How We Can Restore It by Dr. Judy Shelton.

Dr. Shelton is a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal's editorial page and was a participant in both the Heritage and Cato conferences (as well, with Forbes, Lehrman and Jimmy Kemp at Atlas Foundation’s own monetary panel conducted at its annual Liberty Forum). She has an international following and is respected by powerful legislative officials in Washington, D.C.

Shelton first won worldwide credibility by being among the first to precisely predict the time and manner of implosion of the Soviet Union in her iconic work The Coming Soviet Crash. Shelton's work The Money Meltdown was praised by Publishers Weekly as "masterful."

Shelton has surpassed herself in Fixing the Dollar Now. This work aptly was called by Weekly Standard founder/editor (and gold standard proponent) William Kristol 'bold and practical, sophisticated and straightforward.' It lays out the alpha - the Constitutional underpinnings - and omega - financial integrity, stability, and prosperity - of why the gold standard now is a must.
What would it take to set up a genuine gold standard with a working mechanism for converting US dollars into gold on demand? The first step would be to address current federal legal tender laws.... The next major step toward achieving gold convertibility would be to define the US dollar as a fixed weight of gold. Such a major change from our current practice presents significant challenges in managing the transition. ... Still, the advantages of forging an inviolable link between the value of US money and gold through fixed convertibility seem to make it well worth tackling the difficulties. ... Gold convertibility of the dollar would reassert the early principles embedded in both the Constitution and the Coinage Act with regard to establishing a money unit defined as a precise weight of gold or silver. ... Calling for an international monetary conference would reassure the United States’ trading partners that their cooperation is welcomed, even solicited. At the same time, given the pre-eminent role of the dollar in global financial markets, it would be seen as an important step toward achieving radical international monetary reform.
The world dollar system has been pronounced, now almost officially, a failure. The main surprise is that the pronouncement took so long. The call by Steve Forbes for a discussion about how to restore gold, and the work of monetary savants such as Lehrman, Shelton, and White laying out precisely how, could not be more timely - or needed. Public pollsters show gold to be extraordinarily popular with voters. Monetary reform is at the core of the conservative consensus. Presidential aspirants are taking note. Anticipate legislation.

Onward to gold — and prosperity.
Ralph Benko is senior advisor, economics, to American Principles in Action’s Gold Standard 2012 Initiative, and a contributor to he ARRA News Service. His article first appeared in Forbes

Tags: Ralph Benko, wold currency global markets, American dollar, Bank of England, International Monetary and Financial System, Dr. Judy Shelton, death of the dollar, gold standard, gold, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Update From Gary Bauer: The U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is scheduled to close for good tomorrow. Created in 1998, the USCIRF provides recommendations to the State Department and acts as a watch dog on international religious freedom. “…[I]f you eliminate USCIRF, you send a terrible signal internationally that we are less concerned about religious freedom,” Chris Seiple told Christianity Today last week. The elimination of the USCIRF, says Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University, makes it, “reasonably clear to the persecutors… that advancing religious freedom is not a priority for the United States.”

We know that the persecution of Christians abroad is not a priority for the White House and many in Congress. But we need to make it a priority for ourselves. Again, please watch and share this video and please pray for the persecuted church.

ARRA News Service - Gary Bauer, Contributing Author:  Christmas is such a wonderful time of year, particularly here in America where we are free to celebrate the birth of Jesus without fear of outright persecution. Sadly, as most of you know, millions of Christians around the world cannot openly worship without fear of persecution and even death.

Christians  are undergoing a level of persecution not seen since the early days of the Church. The persecution is actually increasing as radical Islamists rise to power in the Middle East and Africa.  And yet, scandalously little is being done by those most able to make a difference. We need to speak up.

Meanwhile many here in Washington, D.C., are silent or worse about the violence. In fact, on this very day the Obama administration is meeting with representatives of dozens of countries to discuss hateful speech and religious persecution, not against Christians but against Muslims!

We have unveiled a new video that highlights the plight of Christians across the globe. (Warning: the video contains some graphic images and is not suitable for children.) Please do me a favor: Watch this video and share it with your family members, friends and colleagues. And ask them to share it with their friends. (While on my YouTube page, you may subscribe to my YouTube channel and watch other short videos that we’ve produced.)

If you are on Facebook, you can watch the video on my page, and share it with others. Knowledge is the first step to making a difference. I am asking each of you to do everything you can to promote this video. We cannot remain silent in the face of such evil.
Gary Bauer is is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families

Tags: Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families, Christians, Silent Night, Christian persecution, Christmas, persecution, violence, murder, death, Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, India, China, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Iran, Turkey, Africa, war, violence, torture, Islam, Islamofascism, Muslims, war on Christians,
To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Government Already Blocking Internet Access

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By Robert Romano — Since being introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, the so-called “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) has drawn strong opposition from Internet companies large and small, as well as civil libertarians and grassroots organizations.  One of the major criticisms is that the legislation would give the government power to restrict access to websites that are deemed to be engaged in Internet piracy or other forms of copyright infringement.

But one thing that the American people may not be aware of is that the government, under existing forfeiture laws, is already blocking access to domestic websites in the name of protecting copyright.  And in some cases they are being seized prior to any trial or even a hearing taking place.

That’s what happened to, a popular music blog that was seized by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency for over a year, only to be returned just this month without any criminal charges being filed.  ICE had to admit there was never any probable cause for the seizure in the first place.

And despite turning off the website for over a year, has not received any compensation as a result, even though the Fifth Amendment provides for such payment.

The allegation apparently originated from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) itself, even though it turned out in the end that the allegedly infringing material had, the website says, been pre-released by music artists and record labels themselves.

Now, Congress wants to take this show on the road, and force search engines, social networks, file-sharing sites, and other Internet service providers to block access to sites overseas that it says would otherwise qualify for seizure under existing domestic forfeiture laws.  Again, without any trial, a hearing, or even any notice.

In fact, the provisions of SOPA, even with the manager’s amendment, provide even less of an opportunity to challenge the decision than even the numerous domain seizures executed by ICE to date.  They pivot off a mere court order without any hearing, and then result in a string of actions being taken, including blocking the website, targeting payment and ad services for the site, and removing the site from search engines.

Service providers are supposed to simply take the word of the Attorney General, and the judge who rubber-stamped the court order, that the material on the site is in fact infringing — even though it has not been proven in a court of law.  Nor will it ever be proven in the case of foreign websites, since in most cases they will lack access to U.S. courts.  The site overseas is simply supposed to take it in the shorts.

But, as in the case of, what if the Attorney General gets it wrong?

The application of forfeiture laws to the seizure of Internet domain names is a fairly new practice, and was not intended under the original construction of the laws.  It may not be the best first step to take.

For example, why not simply require a cease-and-desist takedown notice to the owner of a website from the intellectual property holder himself prior to civil or criminal actions being taken, or property being seized? In the case of social networks or any website that allows users to upload content, the owner of a website may not even be aware that infringing content is being posted.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) already provides safe harbor provisions for websites that provide easy takedown procedures.  But even those are apparently being abused, as in the case of Megaupload, which posted a video on YouTube promoting its site, only to have Universal Media Group order it removed — even though Megaupload says the video, “The Mega Song,” the artwork, and the music contained therein were all original, and the celebrity endorsers all provided signed agreements to have their likenesses used.

Megaupload has now sued in federal district court in the Northern District of California to affirm its rights to the video and to restrain Universal from issuing any more takedown orders.  For its part, Megaupload has joined the fight against SOPA.

Said Megaupload CEO David Robb, “After this demonstration of the abuse of power by UMG, we are certain that such an instrument of Internet censorship should not be put into the hands of corporations.”

If intellectual property holders are already abusing DMCA takedown procedures and federal forfeiture laws, what will stop them from abusing SOPA? Nobody likes Internet piracy, but censoring activities otherwise protected by the First Amendment in the name of copyright is a travesty.
Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.

Tags: ICE, Intellectual Property, Internet Censorship, online piracy, SOPA, ALG, Robert Romano, Americans for Limited Government To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Why Obama’s Stimulus Failed

President Obama’s economic stimulus was supposed to revive America’s economy and put people back to work. But nearly three years after Democrats rammed the bill through Congress, it’s a clear-cut failure.

The nation’s 8.6 percent unemployment rate stands out as one of consequences. Then there is the high-profile Solyndra scandal and countless other government schemes gone awry.

In a new video from, Jim Epstein takes a closer look at other examples — in a setting just a few miles from Capitol Hill. In Silver Spring, MD, government contractors pocketed big bucks from the stimulus. Government funding for green jobs, weatherized homes and infrastructure are among the other failures stemming from the stimulus in this community.

“Even if you were to believe that government spending can trigger economic growth,” said Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, “the money is never spent in a way that’s consistent with the conditions laid out by the Keynesians for it to be efficient.”

Tags: economic stimulus, government contractors, government spending, green jobs, infrastructure, Keynes, Keynesian, President Obama, Solyndra, unemployment, Video To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!