Monday, November 30, 2009

Russia building arms plants in Venezuela

http://www.forbes.com/feeds/reuters/2009/11/30/2009-12-01T005136Z_01_N30470009_RTRIDST_0_VENEZUELA-ARMS-RUSSIA.html

Reuters

Russia building arms plants in Venezuela

11.30.09, 7:51 PM ET

Russian Federation -
By Walker Simon

CARACAS (Reuters) - Russia is building arms plants in Venezuela to produce AK-103 automatic rifles and cartridges and is finalizing contracts to send 53 military helicopters to the Andean nation, Moscow's envoy to Venezuela saidMonday.

Ambassador Vladmir Zaemskiy told a news conference that Russian engineers and Venezuelan construction firms were building the rifle and cartridge plants which, when operational, would employ more than 1,500 workers.

He gave no completion date for the plants under construction in the central state of Aragua.

Details about Moscow's military shipments and projects have been scarce since socialist President Hugo Chavez's government began signing military agreements with Russia back in 2001.

In recent years, Venezuela has bought over $4 billion in weapons from Russia, including 24 Sukhoi fighter jets. Critics say Caracas is fueling an arms race in Latin America. Chavez says he is modernizing the military for defensive purposes.

When Chavez he returned from his latest trip to Russia in September, he said Russia had agreed to lend Venezuela $2.2 billion to purchase 92 tanks and an S-300 missile system that can shoot down fighter jets and cruise missiles.

Two years ago, Russia agreed to sell the same S-300 system to Iran but has dragged its feet over delivering the weapons amid U.S. and Israeli concerns they will be used to defend Iran's nuclear installations.

Zaemskiy declined to provide details on delivery dates for the tanks and missile system. He could not say if Moscow already disbursed part of the $2.2 billion loan.

But he added that "big contracts" were being finalized to deliver 53 "Mil" helicopters that can be used by the Venezuelan armed forces and for humanitarian missions.

Between 2006 and 2008, Moscow delivered a total of about 59 military helicopters to Venezuela, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Russia was also providing "a complete range" of military spare parts to Venezuela, Zaemskiy said. It is also transferring technology and building technical maintenance centers.

"As a result of this cooperation, Venezuela's defense capacity has increased considerably, as well as its level of technological independence," the ambassador said.

Copyright 2009 Reuters, Click for Restriction

Health bills fail to block illegals from coverage, despite Obama pledge

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/30/health-bills-fail-to-block-illegals-from-coverage/

Originally published 05:45 a.m., November 30, 2009, updated 12:29 p.m., November 30, 2009

Health bills fail to block illegals from coverage

Stephen Dinan

Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants could receive health care coverage from their employers under the bills winding their way through Congress, despite President Obama's explicit pledge that illegal immigrants would not benefit.

The House bill mandates, and the Senate bill strongly encourages, businesses to extend health care coverage to all employees. But the bills do not have exemptions to screen out illegal immigrants, who usually obtain jobs by using false identities and are indistinguishable from legal workers.

A rough estimate by the Center for Immigration Studies suggests that the practical effect of the mandates would be that about 1 million illegal immigrants could obtain health insurance coverage through their employers.

Democrats who wrote the House bill said that employer coverage for illegal immigrants is not intentional, but rather the outcome of people breaking the law.

"It's possible an employee could deceive an employer with a fraudulent document, just as under current law, to gain employment, just as it's possible for all sorts of criminal activity to occur, and why we have law enforcement," said Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, who wrote the final House bill.

Republicans said that loopholes in the bill could allow coverage to just about any illegal immigrant who wants to cheat the system.

"This is a complete cover-all-the-gaps federal health insurance for illegals, whether it be under Medicaid, the refundable tax credit or whether it be under their employers who would not be able to verify their employers unless we fix E-Verify," said Rep. Steve King of Iowa, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee's immigration subcommittee.

How to deal with immigrants, both legal and illegal, remains one of the thorniest issues in the health care debate. In his address to a joint session of Congress in September, Mr. Obama specifically challenged Republicans who said his plans would extend coverage to illegal immigrants.

"This, too, is false -- the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally," Mr. Obama said.

That statement elicited an outburst of "You lie" from Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican.

Most of the focus has been on whether the bills in the House and Senate go far enough to screen out illegal immigrants applying for public benefits. The Senate bill is generally considered to have stronger provisions than the House version to exclude participation by illegal immigrants.

The employer mandate could play a major role in coverage for illegal immigrants, but the effect has not been widely understood.

Steven A. Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, said about 6.5 million illegal immigrants work in the United States, though nearly half do so off the books and wouldn't be counted for purposes of employer-sponsored health insurance.

Of those who work on the books, about 2.3 million already have insurance through their employers. That leaves at least 1 million who would need insurance and could obtain it from an employer under the proposed mandates.

"It's definitely significant," Mr. Camarota said.

Democrats said their bill doesn't change eligibility for benefits for illegal immigrants but it does change laws on who must provide insurance. Any employer with a payroll higher than $500,000 would be required to provide insurance for employees.

The House bill offers tax credits for two years to help small businesses provide insurance, including businesses that hire illegal immigrants.

But Mr. Elshami said businesses are already prohibited from hiring of illegal immigrants.

The Senate bill is more complex. It would urge companies to provide insurance, then penalize them for each employee who applies for credits for the health care exchange.

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said the bill includes a screening process to keep illegal immigrants from getting credits in the health care exchange. But even illegal immigrants would be counted in the penalty against employers, so companies would be paying for having hired them.

"In this scenario, an employer would have to provide a responsibility payment for an undocumented worker. But that undocumented worker wouldn't be getting coverage through the exchange," Mr. Manley said.

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, called the debate "an absolute charade" because Mr. Obama and Democratic leaders have signaled their intent to try to pass a bill legalizing illegal immigrants next year.

Once their legal status is secured, Congress would have to decide their eligibility for public benefits. Democrats have been pushing for broad inclusion, and their health care proposals give equal treatment to legal immigrants and citizens.

Republicans say the government should do more to push for a legal work force in the first place.

"If it was not bad enough that illegal immigrants take jobs that rightfully belong to citizens and legal immigrants, now they will get health care benefits that should go to Americans," said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. "If they were not in the country, we wouldn't have to worry about emergency room or health insurance costs at all. And Americans would have these jobs."

A Congressional Research Service report notes that the House Democrats' bill does not expressly prohibit illegal immigrants from getting health insurance and, in fact, would mandate that they obtain insurance if they meet the "substantial presence test."

That test calculates U.S. residency based on the number of days per year a person is in the country.

Alaskan Fisherman On Sarah Palin: (What you don't know)

By Dewie Whetsell, Alaskan fisherman, as posted in comments on the MOVEON ad about Sarah Palin:

I've spent the last 45 of my 66 years in a commercial fishing town in Alaska. I understand Alaska politics but never understood national politics well until this last year. Here's the breaking point: Neither side of the Palin controversy gets it. It's not about persona, style, or rhetoric; it's about doing things. Even Palin supporters never mention the things that I'm about to tell you here.

1- Democrats forget when Palin was the Darling of the Democrats, because as soon as Palin took the Governor's office away from a fellow Republican and tough SOB, Frank Murkowski, she tore into the Republican's "Corrupt Bastards Club" (CBC) and sent them packing. Many of them are now residing in State housing and wearing orange jump suits.

The Democrats reacted by skipping around the yard, throwing confetti and singing, "la la la la" (well, you know how they are). Name another governor in this country who has ever done anything similar.

2- Now with the CBC gone, there were fewer Alaskan politicians to protect the huge, giant oil companies here. So she constructed and enacted a new system of splitting the oil profits called "ACES."Exxon (the biggest corporation in the world) protested so Sarah told them, "Don't let the door hit you in the stern on your way out." They stayed, and Alaska residents went from being merely wealthy to being filthy rich. Of course, the other huge international oil companies meekly fell in line. Again, give me the name of any other governor in the country who has done anything similar.

3- Another thing she did when she walked into the governor's office get the list of State requests for federal funding for projects, known as "pork." She went through the list, took 85% of them and placed them in the "when-hell-freezes-over" stack. She let locals know that if we need something built, we'll pay for it ourselves. Maybe she figured she could use the money she got from selling the previous governor's jet because it was extravagant.

Maybe she could use the money she saved by dismissing the governor's cook (remarking that she could cook for her own family), giving back the State vehicle issued to her, maintaining that she already had a car, and dismissing her State provided security force (never mentioning - I imagine - that she's packing heat herself). I'm still waiting to hear the
names of those other governors.

4- Now, even with her much-ridiculed "gosh and golly" mannerism, she also managed to put together a totally new approach to getting a natural gas pipeline built which will be the biggest private construction project in the history of North America.. No one else could do it although they tried. If that doesn't impress you, then you're trying too hard to be unimpressed while watching her do things like this while baking up a batch of brownies with her other hand.

5- For 30 years, Exxon held a lease to do exploratory drilling at a place called Point Thompson.

They made excuses the entire time why they couldn't start drilling.

In truth, they were holding it like an investment. No governor for 30 years could make them get started.This summer, she told them she was revoking their lease and kicking them out. They protested and threatened court action.

She shrugged and reminded them that she knew the way to the court house. Alaska won again.

6- President Obama wants the nation to be on 25% renewable resources for electricity by 2025. Sarah went to the Alaska legislature and submitted her plan for Alaska to be at 50% renewables by 2025. We are already at 25%. I can give you more specifics about things done, as opposed to style and persona. Everybody wants to be cool, sound cool, look cool. But that's just a cover-up. I'm still waiting to hear from liberals the names of other governors who can match what mine has done in two and a half years. I won't be holding my breath.

By the way, she was content to return to Alaska after the national election and go back to work, but the haters wouldn't let her.

Now, these adolescent screechers are obviously not scuba divers. And no one ever told them what happens when you continually jab and pester a barracuda. Without warning, it will spin around and tear your face off. They shoulda known better.

You have just read the truth about Sarah Palin that sends the media, along with the Democratic party, into a wild uncontrolled frenzy to discredit her. I guess they are only interested in skirt chasers, dishonesty, immoral people, liars, womanizers, murderers, and bitter expresidents' wives.

So, "You go, Girl." I only wish the men in Washington had your guts, determination, honesty, and morals.

I rest my case.

Only FOOLS listen to the biased media.

Chavez threatens to nationalize Venezuelan banks

Chavez is a SUCKER! How can you claim to be the foremost on communism around the globe when you still haven't caught up to Obama and the country you claim is capitalist? Government interference into banking? Forcing risky loans? Nationalize banks?! We've already been there! Done that!!! Looks like you could learn a little about how to run a true communist country from a little man I like to call comrade obama!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20091129/wl_nm/us_venezuela_banks_chavez_1

By Walker Simon Walker Simon
Sun Nov 29, 6:43 pm ET

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday he could nationalize private banks unless they comply with the law, adding he had "no problem with that because the banks don't want to extend credit to the poor."

In a broadcast from nationalized farmland in central Venezuela, he said: "To all the country's private bankers ... (I'm saying) he who slips up loses; I'll take over the bank, whatever its size."

"You want me to nationalize the banks?" he said during the broadcast of his weekly TV show "Alo Presidente."

"I have no problem with that because the banks don't want to extend credit to the poor, they don't comply, they don't want to comply with the bank's purpose for existence, and that is the law."

Chavez said the purpose of banks was not to enrich a small group of people but "should be to collect funds and savings to help aid the country's development by making loans, extending credits for housing."

In power for a decade, Chavez has nationalized broad swathes of the economy.

His banking nationalization threats on Sunday appeared to be broader in scope than his well-publicized warnings in recent years to nationalize Spanish-owned banks in Venezuela.

He repeatedly threatened to seize Spanish bank subsidiaries in Venezuela unless Spain's king apologized for telling him to "shut up" in November 2007 at a regional summit where Chavez branded a recent ex-Spanish prime minister a fascist.

But the only major private bank, foreign or Venezuelan, to fall into state hands under Chavez's rule was Spain's Banco Santander unit Banco de Venezuela, sold to Venezuela in July for $1.05 billion.

The government's last banking takeover was on November 20, when it seized four small banks, accounting for about 6 percent of Venezuela's deposits.

Finance Minister Ali Rodriguez then said the move stemmed from concerns about credit portfolios, problems explaining the source of funds and failure to comply with some obligations.

BANKERS NOT IN COMPLIANCE - CHAVEZ

Chavez spoke Sunday from the countryside behind a table strewn with a jumble of books, maps and documents, against the background of farmland growing black beans.

Addressing the banking theme, he said unnamed bankers "are not complying, they do not want to comply with the function for which a bank should exist (such as) that is in the law.

"This is occurring right now with a group of private banks, that's a demonstration that those private banking sectors don't want to learn, they don't want to accept that there is a constitution ... and that there are laws."

Venezuela's banking sector is dominated by 10 banks that control 70 percent of the total funds.

Chavez said he ordered the nation's chief prosecutor to investigate why a state bank, Banfoandes, deposited "a giant amount of resources in private banks."

"How is it that state resources, which belong to the people ... end up being placed in private banks?" he asked in his broadcast. "This is counterrevolutionary."

The four banks seized on November 20 were Banco Confederado, Banco Canarias, Banco Provivienda and bolivar Banco.

On Friday, a court acting on prosecutors' request banned travel abroad of 16 executives -- eight from Confederado, six from Provivienda and two from bolivar Banco.

Chavez said if it were up to him, he would have jailed the 16 executives due to flight risk. "They have (their own) light aircraft and private airports and (can) leave."

Chavez also criticized what he termed as excessive spending by state entities in the private medical sector.

"We have made a gift of millions and millions of bolivares this year to the bourgeoisie, which owns the private clinics, the great insurance companies," he said. "Enough already."

He said those funds should go directly to "the people."

(Reporting by Walker Simon, additional reporting by Fabian Cambero, editing by Matthew Lewis)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

University outlines 're-education' for those who hold 'wrong' views

http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=117313

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Teaching plan: America 'an oppressive hellhole'
University outlines 're-education' for those who hold 'wrong' views

By Bob Unruh

A program proposed at the University of Minnesota would result in required examinations of teacher candidates on "white privilege" as well as "remedial re-education" for those who hold the "wrong" views, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

The organization, which promotes civil liberties on the campuses of America's colleges and universities, has dispatched a letter to University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks asking him to intervene to prevent the adoption of policies proposed in his College of Education and Human Development.

"The university's general counsel should be asked to comment as soon as possible," said the letter from Adam Kissel, an officer with The FIRE. "If the Race, Culture, Class, and Gender Task Group achieves its stated goals, the result will be political and ideological screening of applicants, remedial re-education for those with the 'wrong' views and values, [and] withholding of degrees from those upon whom the university's political reeducation efforts proved ineffective."

By any "non-totalitarian" standards, he wrote, the the plans being made so far by the school are "severely unjust and impermissibly intrude into matters of individual conscience."

Kissel wrote that it appears that the university "intends to redesign its admissions process so that it screens out people with the 'wrong' beliefs and values – those who either do not have sufficient 'cultural competence' or those who the college judges will not be able to be converted to the 'correct' beliefs and values even after remedial re-education."

"These intentions violate the freedom of conscience of the university's students. As a public university bound by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the university is both legally and morally obligated to uphold this fundamental right," he wrote.

WND messages left with the university requesting comment did not generate a response today.

"The Marketing of Evil" by David Kupelian is available now. Get your copy autographed and personalized (at no extra charge) – only from Shop.WND.com!

Among the issues discussed in the plans are requirements that teachers would be able to instruct students on the "myth of meritocracy" in the United States, "the history of demands for assimilation to white, middle-class, Christian meanings and values," and the "history of white racism."

The demands appear to be similar to those promoted earlier at the University of Delaware.

As WND reported, the Delaware university's office of residential life was caught requiring students to participant in a program that taught "all whites are racist."

School officials immediately defended the teaching, but in the face of a backlash from alumni and publicity about its work, the school decided to drop the curriculum, although some factions later suggested its revival.

FIRE, which challenged the Delaware plan, later produced a video explaining how the institution of the university pushed for the teachings, was caught and later backed off:

Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten said the developing Minnesota plan would require teachers to "embrace – and be prepared to teach our state's kids – the task force's own vision of America as an oppressive hellhole: racist, sexist and homophobic."

She said the plan from the university's Teacher Education Redesign Initiative – a multiyear project to change the way future teachers are trained – "is premised, in part, on the conviction that Minnesota teachers' lack of 'cultural competence' contributes to the poor academic performance of the state's minority students."

"The first step toward 'cultural competence,' says the task group, is for future teachers to recognize – and confess – their own bigotry. Anyone familiar with the reeducation camps of China's Cultural Revolution will recognize the modus operandi," she said.

"What if some aspiring teachers resist this effort at thought control and object to parroting back an ideological line as a condition of future employment?" she posed. "The task group has Orwellian plans for such rebels: The U, it says, must 'develop clear steps and procedures for working with non-performing students, including a remediation plan.'"

The plan asks: "How can we be sure that teaching supervisors are themselves developed and equipped in cultural competence outcomes in order to supervise beginning teachers around issues of race, class, culture, and gender?"

The original correct answer was to have "a training session disguised as a thank you/recognition ceremony/reception at the beginning of the year." The task force later edited itself to call for a required "training/workshop for all supervisors. Perhaps as part of an orientation/thank you/recognition ceremony/reception at the beginning of the year?"

"There was no deception planned or intended as may be implied in the use of the word [disguised]," a footnote said, "We have edited this to reflect our commitment to integrity in our work. This amendment was made 11/09/2009."

Nevertheless, FIRE's concern included the apparent plan for demands that teachers "discuss their own histories and current thinking drawing on notions of white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression."

Further, the letter noted, "the college in its proposal promises to start screening its applicants to make sure they have the proper 'commitments' and 'dispositions.'"

"Here's the kicker," Fire said in its report. "The college even realizes that its efforts to impose such a severe ideological litmus test may be unconstitutional." T

The letter cited a proposal to consult with the university's own lawyers.

"FIRE urges you to consider the Supreme Court's ruling in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), which invalidated mandated allegiances to political ideologies at public schools," Kissel wrote for FIRE.

Writing for the court, Justice Robert H. Jackson declared: "Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order. If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. "

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Real Thanksgiving (Pilgrims, Capitalism & The Bible)

It's time for the traditional true story of Thanksgiving, as written by me in my second best seller of 2.5 million copies in hardback: See, I Told You So. "Chapter 6, Dead White Guys, or What the History Books Never Told You: The True Story of Thanksgiving --

The story of the Pilgrims begins in the early part of the seventeenth century. The Church of England under King James I was persecuting anyone and everyone who did not recognize its absolute civil and spiritual authority. Those who challenged ecclesiastical authority and those who believed strongly in freedom of worship were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs. A group of separatists first fled to Holland and established a community.

"After eleven years, about forty of them agreed to make a perilous journey to the New World, where they would certainly face hardships, but could live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible. The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example.

"And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work. But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found, according to Bradford's detailed journal, a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them, he wrote. There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims – including Bradford's own wife – died of either starvation, sickness or exposure. When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats.

"Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper! This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments. Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well. They were going to distribute it equally.

"Nobody owned anything. They just had a share in it. It was a commune, folks. It was the forerunner to the communes we saw in the '60s and '70s out in California – and it was complete with organic vegetables, by the way. Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives. He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. That's right. Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened? It didn't work!"

"It never has worked! "What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation! But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years – trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it – the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild's history lesson. If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering in the future. 'The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years...that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God,' Bradford wrote.

"'For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense ... that was thought injustice.' Why should you work for other people when you can't work for yourself? What's the point? Do you hear what he was saying, ladies and gentlemen? The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford's community try next? They unharnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property.

"Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result? 'This had very good success,' wrote Bradford, 'for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.' Bradford doesn't sound like much of a Clintonite" I wrote then "does he? Is it possible that supply-side economics could have existed before the 1980s? Yes. Read the story of Joseph and Pharaoh in Genesis 41. Following Joseph's suggestion (Gen 41:34), Pharaoh reduced the tax on Egyptians to 20% during the 'seven years of plenty' and the 'Earth brought forth in heaps.' (Gen. 41:47) In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves.

"Now, this is where it gets really good, folks, if you're laboring under the misconception that I was, as I was taught in school. So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the 'Great Puritan Migration.'" But this story stops when the Indians taught the newly arrived suffering in socialism Pilgrims how to plant corn and fish for cod. That's where the story stops, and the story basically doesn't even begin there. The real story of Thanksgiving is William Bradford giving thanks to God for the guidance and the inspiration to set up a thriving colony. The bounty was shared with the Indians. They did sit down and they had dinner, and I think they had a turkey, but it was not the Indians who saved the day. It was capitalism and Scripture which saved the day."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Obama Shatters Spending Record for First-Year Presidents

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/11/24/obama-shatters-spending-record-year-presidents/

The federal government spent $3.5 trillion during President Obama's first year in office. This far exceeds the spending for any other first-year president.

President Obama has shattered the budget record for first-year presidents -- spending nearly double what his predecessor did when he came into office and far exceeding the first-year tabs for any other U.S. president in history.

In fiscal 2009 the federal government spent $3.52 trillion -- $2.8 trillion in 2000 dollars, which sets a benchmark for comparison. That fiscal year covered the last three-and-a-half months of George W. Bush's term and the first eight-and-a-half months of Obama's.

That price tag came with a $1.4 trillion deficit, nearly $1 trillion more than last year. The overall budget was about a half-trillion more than Bush's for 2008, his final full fiscal year in office.

That's a big increase. But compared with other presidents' first years in office, Obama is running circles around them.

Bush spent $1.8 trillion in 2001, according to government budget figures that have been adjusted for inflation based on 2000 dollars. Using the same formula, former President Bill Clinton spent $1.6 trillion in 1993.

The last president to clock in under $1 trillion was Gerald Ford, who logged a $982 billion budget in 1975. Post-war Dwight Eisenhower even brought Uncle Sam's tab down to $556 billion in his first year, 1953.

Obama's first-year budget, adjusted for inflation, is about five times that. His 2009 budget is also close to 21 percent of that for Clinton's eight years in office -- Clinton's spending added up to $13.5 trillion over his two full terms. Bush spent $16.8 trillion from 2001-2008.


FOXBusiness.com's Elizabeth MacDonald describe what the interest on the debt can buy:

http://emac.blogs.foxbusiness.com/2009/11/24/what-interest-on-the-us-debt-would-buy/

What Interest on the US Debt Would Buy
The New York Times ran with this front-page story this week:

“With the national debt now topping $12 trillion, the White House estimates that the government’s tab for servicing the debt will exceed $700 billion a year in 2019, up from $202 billion this year, even if annual budget deficits shrink drastically. Other forecasters say the figure could be much higher.”

The problem: The Times understated the annual interest by more than $180 billion.

For fiscal year 2009 federal government paid $202 billion in interest on the public debt.

But that figure doesn’t include interest paid on intragovernmental holdings, primarily composed of Treasury securities held by the Medicare trust fund and Social Security trust fund.

Total interest on the debt that includes intragovernmental holdings is $383.3 billion, says Fox News analyst James Farrell. That equates to the gross domestic product of Malaysia or Belgium.

Breakdown of Total Debt

Debt held by the public $7.6 trillion
Intragovernmental holdings $4.4 trillion
Total public debt outstanding $12 trillion

Sources: Treasury Dept.; DOT Budget Climbs to $73.3 Billion for 2010; CBO Monthly Budget Reports; CBO'S Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update

What Interest on the Federal Debt Will Get You

The $380 billion total in interest paid annually on the federal debt is equal to the size of Norway's sovereign wealth fund, one of the largest in the world.

It's the amount estimated to be the value of all Internet content as of 2007, the latest data available from web reasearchers Outsell Inc. The $380 billion equals the amount the US government spent on its computers and data systems in fiscal 2005.

It's 49% more than the estimated cost for Japan's last stimulus package in December 2008, and it's what Nigeria has lost to theft and waste in the last 46 years.

The total $383 billion in interest on the federal debt would pay for slightly more than half of the Defense Department’s budget ($674.7 billion in FY2008). It would pay for just shy of half the annual budgets of Treasury ($751.2 billion) and Health and Human Services ($721.7 billion).

The $383 billion would cover the budget for the Dept. of Energy about 15 times over, Farrell notes.

And how many government agency budgets could you pay for with $383 billion?

The $383 billion would pay for all on-budget costs for the following 18 government agencies (FY 2008), with about $12 billion in change left over, Farrell says. The total $383 billion would cover the combined budgets for Commerce, EPA, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, and the budgets for the entire Judiciary and Legislative branches:

Agency FY 2008 on-budget
Executive Office of the President $289 M
General Services Administration $340 M
Small Business Administration $1.3 B
Legislative Branch $4.5 B
National Science Foundation $6.3 B
The Judiciary $6.5 B
Environmental Protection Agency $7.4 B
Corps of Engineers $9.1 B
Commerce $9.6 B
Interior $10.6 B
National Aeronautics and Space Administration $17.2 B
Energy $22.7 B
State $23.1 B
Justice $26.4 B
Homeland Security $50.6 B
Housing and Urban Development $50.9 B
Labor $57.9 B
Education $65.4 B
TOTAL: $370.2 B

And $383 billion would cover all federal government expenditures on the following areas (with about $13 billion left over):


Category FY 2008 expenditures
Natural resources & the environment $37.2 B
Agriculture $17.5 B
Transportation $81.5 B
Education $91.5 B
Veteran benefits & services $88.3 B
Administration of justice (law enforce. & courts) $49.1 B
TOTAL: $369.9 B


Sources: Office of Management & Budget, Mid-Session Review, Historical Tables, Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2010

So with these figures in mind, and knowing the US government won't balance the budget for the next ten years--ask yourself this: What foreign government would even want to buy our debt?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ANOTHER ACORN DOC DUMP IN OKLAHOMA CITY EXPOSES POLITICAL 'POWER PLAN'

http://biggovernment.com/2009/11/24/acorn-oklahoma-document-dump-the-oklahoma-power-plan/

ACORN OKLAHOMA Document Dump: The Oklahoma Power Plan
by Publius

ACORN’s San Diego office isn’t the only place its been careless with sensitive documents. Late last year, ACORN abandoned an office in Oklahoma. In its haste to vacate the office–and skip out on the landlord’s claim of back-rent–ACORN abandoned piles of documents, as well as a computer. Below is a copy of ACORN’s “Oklahoma Power Plan,” a long-term political plan to reshape politics in the Sooner State.

OKlahoma Power Plan –

The “Power Plan” is a very interesting document. First, it provides another example for how ACORN’s political operation thinks strategically. The plan is focused on impacting state legislative races to create momentum and a power base to effect political races next year.

The second interesting feature of the document is how overtly partisan it is. At the beginning of the document, ACORN makes clear its goal is to put the Democrats in charge of the state Legislature:

Second, become an influential organization by shaping a handful of strategic legislative districts that, by themselves, can change who controls the state legislature. In other words, by taking credit for controlling some swing seats that return state senate power to progressives in 2008 and the state house to progressives in 2010, ACORN may not have members in a majority of districts, but we will be seen as the force that is making Oklahoma a progressive state in the way that it was 100 years ago.

By using this power to win significant changes for working people, by the end of our 5 years, we will have legitimized the progressive takeover of the statehouse and head into 2012 with a real possibility of changing what Oklahomans look for and expect out of their Congressional delegation.

Consider this analysis from its top political priority, OK state Senate district #43, held by GOP Senator Jim Reynolds:

The district’s south half will prove difficult, with more Anglo, Republican, and military families. The half to the north will be more fruitful. The entire district is working class, however, so it could respond uniformly to the right issue. This is the one of ACORN’s two targeted districts with a minority population above 25%

BREAKING: San Diego ACORN Document Dump Scandal

http://biggovernment.com/2009/11/23/breaking-san-diego-acorn-document-dump-scandal/

BREAKING: San Diego ACORN Document Dump Scandal
by Derrick Roach

On October 1st, 2009 California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced that an investigation had been opened into ACORN’s activities in California, resulting from undercover videos showing employees seemingly offering to assist the undercover film makers with human smuggling, child prostitution and even tax advice to boot.

Although ACORN has denied any wrongdoing, some of the employees involved were terminated, and ACORN has publicly stated that they would fully cooperate with any investigations that followed.

Interestingly, the local head ACORN organizer in California, David Lagstein was caught on tape earlier this month speaking to an East County Democratic Club.

Mr. Lagstein stated: “…the attorney general is a political animal, but certainly every bit of the communication we have had with them has suggested that the fault will be found with the people that did the video and not the people with ACORN.”

Continuing, Mr. Lagstein stated: “…we are fully cooperating, some of the investigators visited our office this morning and I think they really understand what’s going on.”

Shockingly, we now learn that the ACORN office in National City (San Diego County) engaged in a massive document dump on the evening of October 9th, containing thousands upon thousands of sensitive documents, just days prior to the Attorney General’s visit.

BigGovernment.com has learned that not only did this document dump occur, but the documents in question were irresponsibly and brazenly dumped in a public dumpster, without considering laws and regulations as to how sensitive information should be treated.

I am a local licensed private investigator. I took it upon myself to keep an eye on what the local ACORN office was up to, in light of the release of the undercover videos. I retrieved these documents from the public dumpster.

Documents shared with BigGovernment.com include information exposing not only the inner workings of ACORN in California, but also personal, sensitive information belonging to employees, members and clients of ACORN. ACORN and its few remaining defenders insist that the “good” ACORN provides outweighs the transgressions exposed in the recent undercover video sting. But, ACORN’s massive dumping of these documents and the cavalier manner in which it betrayed the trust of its supporters betrays that talking point. (Unlike ACORN, we have redacted sensitive and personal information.)

SanDiegoACORNDocumentDumpScandal-100909-Document1 –

ACORN’s political agenda is also exposed, with thousands upon thousands of documents revealing the depth of the political machine that is ACORN, and its disturbing ties to not only public employee labor unions but some of the most radical leftist organizations.

The laws governing how sensitive, personal information such as social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, immigration records, tax returns, etc. must be treated are very stringent, and thus it seems as if ACORN may have committed serious violations in that department alone, with thousands upon thousands of potential plaintiffs.

Included throughout this post are a couple of photos showing the dump site, as well as just a small sample of the type of documents summarily dumped by the San Diego office of ACORN. In addition the video clip, from the evening of the document dump, shows ACORN operatives clearly engaged in some kind of discussion – likely related to the activities of that evening.

Over the weeks and months ahead, BigGovernment.com will continue to release information from this shocking document dump by ACORN, slowly revealing the ugly truth of ACORN: the fact that their stated mission of helping the poor and downtrodden is just a ruse and a cover for an organization that is highly partisan and highly political, and thus rotten to the core.

Hiding evidence of global cooling

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/24/hiding-evidence-of-global-cooling/

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Junk science exposed among climate-change believers

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Scientific progress depends on accurate and complete data. It also relies on replication. The past couple of days have uncovered some shocking revelations about the baloney practices that pass as sound science about climate change.

It was announced Thursday afternoon that computer hackers had obtained 160 megabytes of e-mails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in England. Those e-mails involved communication among many scientific researchers and policy advocates with similar ideological positions all across the world. Those purported authorities were brazenly discussing the destruction and hiding of data that did not support global-warming claims.

Professor Phil Jones, the head of the Climate Research Unit, and professor Michael E. Mann at Pennsylvania State University, who has been an important scientist in the climate debate, have come under particular scrutiny. Among his e-mails, Mr. Jones talked to Mr. Mann about the "trick of adding in the real temps to each series ... to hide the decline [in temperature]."

Mr. Mann admitted that he was party to this conversation and lamely explained to the New York Times that "scientists often used the word 'trick' to refer to a good way to solve a problem 'and not something secret.' " Though the liberal New York newspaper apparently buys this explanation, we have seen no benign explanation that justifies efforts by researchers to skew data on so-called global-warming "to hide the decline." Given the controversies over the accuracy of Mr. Mann's past research, it is surprising his current explanations are accepted so readily.

There is a lot of damning evidence about these researchers concealing information that counters their bias. In another exchange, Mr. Jones told Mr. Mann: "If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone" and, "We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind." Mr. Jones further urged Mr. Mann to join him in deleting e-mail exchanges about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) controversial assessment report (ARA): "Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re [the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report]?"

In another e-mail, Mr. Jones told Mr. Mann, professor Malcolm K. Hughes of the University of Arizona and professor Raymond S. Bradley of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst: "I'm getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data. Don't any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act!"

At one point, Mr. Jones complained to another academic, "I did get an email from the [Freedom of Information] person here early yesterday to tell me I shouldn't be deleting emails." He also offered up more dubious tricks of his trade, specifically that "IPCC is an international organization, so is above any national FOI. Even if UEA holds anything about IPCC, we are not obliged to pass it on." Another professor at the Climate Research Unit, Tim Osborn, discussed in e-mails how truncating a data series can hide a cooling trend that otherwise would be seen in the results. Mr. Mann sent Mr. Osborn an e-mail saying that the results he was sending shouldn't be shown to others because the data support critics of global warming.

Repeatedly throughout the e-mails that have been made public, proponents of global-warming theories refer to data that has been hidden or destroyed. Only e-mails from Mr. Jones' institution have been made public, and with his obvious approach to deleting sensitive files, it's difficult to determine exactly how much more information has been lost that could be damaging to the global-warming theocracy and its doomsday forecasts.

We don't condone e-mail theft by hackers, though these e-mails were covered by Britain's Freedom of Information Act and should have been released. The content of these e-mails raises extremely serious questions that could end the academic careers of many prominent professors. Academics who have purposely hidden data, destroyed information and doctored their results have committed scientific fraud. We can only hope respected academic institutions such as Pennsylvania State University, the University of Arizona and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst conduct proper investigative inquiries.

Most important, however, these revelations of fudged science should have a cooling effect on global-warming hysteria and the panicked policies that are being pushed forward to address the unproven theory.

Climategate: 'Greatest scandal in modern science'

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100017393/climategate-the-final-nail-in-the-coffin-of-anthropogenic-global-warming/

James Delingpole

James Delingpole is a writer, journalist and broadcaster who is right about everything. He is the author of numerous fantastically entertaining books including Welcome To Obamaland: I've Seen Your Future And It Doesn't Work, How To Be Right, and the Coward series of WWII adventure novels. His website is www.jamesdelingpole.com Climategate: the final nail in the coffin of 'Anthropogenic Global Warming'?

Climategate: The Final Nail In The Coffin Of "Anthropogenic Global Warming"?

By James Delingpole: November 20th, 2009

If you own any shares in alternative energy companies I should start dumping them NOW. The conspiracy behind the Anthropogenic Global Warming myth (aka AGW; aka ManBearPig) has been suddenly, brutally and quite deliciously exposed after a hacker broke into the computers at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (aka Hadley CRU) and released 61 megabites of confidential files onto the internet. (Hat tip: Watts Up With That)

When you read some of those files – including 1079 emails and 72 documents – you realise just why the boffins at Hadley CRU might have preferred to keep them confidential. As Andrew Bolt puts it, this scandal could well be “the greatest in modern science”. These alleged emails – supposedly exchanged by some of the most prominent scientists pushing AGW theory – suggest:

Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more.

One of the alleged emails has a gentle gloat over the death in 2004 of John L Daly (one of the first climate change sceptics, founder of the Still Waiting For Greenhouse site), commenting:

“In an odd way this is cheering news.”

But perhaps the most damaging revelations – the scientific equivalent of the Telegraph’s MPs’ expenses scandal – are those concerning the way Warmist scientists may variously have manipulated or suppressed evidence in order to support their cause.

Here are a few tasters. (So far, we can only refer to them as alleged emails because – though Hadley CRU’s director Phil Jones has confirmed the break-in to Ian Wishart at the Briefing Room – he has yet to fess up to any specific contents.) But if genuine, they suggest dubious practices such as:

Manipulation of evidence:

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

Private doubts about whether the world really is heating up:

The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.

Suppression of evidence:

Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?

Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis.

Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address.

We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.


Fantasies of violence against prominent Climate Sceptic scientists:

Next time I see Pat Michaels at a scientific meeting, I’ll be tempted to beat
the crap out of him. Very tempted.


Attempts to disguise the inconvenient truth of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP):
……Phil and I have recently submitted a paper using about a dozen NH records that fit this category, and many of which are available nearly 2K back–I think that trying to adopt a timeframe of 2K, rather than the usual 1K, addresses a good earlier point that Peck made w/ regard to the memo, that it would be nice to try to “contain” the putative “MWP”, even if we don’t yet have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back….

And, perhaps most reprehensibly, a long series of communications discussing how best to squeeze dissenting scientists out of the peer review process. How, in other words, to create a scientific climate in which anyone who disagrees with AGW can be written off as a crank, whose views do not have a scrap of authority.

“This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the “peer-reviewed literature”. Obviously, they found a solution to that–take over a journal! So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering “Climate Research” as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board…What do others think?”

“I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor.”“It results from this journal having a number of editors. The responsible one for this is a well-known skeptic in NZ. He has let a few papers through by Michaels and Gray in the past. I’ve had words with Hans von Storch about this, but got nowhere. Another thing to discuss in Nice !”

Hadley CRU has form in this regard. In September – I wrote the story up here as “How the global warming industry is based on a massive lie” – Hadley CRU’s researchers were exposed as having “cherry-picked” data in order to support their untrue claim that global temperatures had risen higher at the end of the 20th century than at any time in the last millenium. Hadley CRU was also the organisation which – in contravention of all acceptable behaviour in the international scientific community – spent years withholding data from researchers it deemed unhelpful to its cause. This matters because Hadley CRU, established in 1990 by the Met Office, is a government-funded body which is supposed to be a model of rectitude. Its HadCrut record is one of the four official sources of global temperature data used by the IPCC.

I asked in my title whether this will be the final nail in the coffin of Anthropenic Global Warming. This was wishful thinking, of course. In the run up to Copenhagen, we will see more and more hysterical (and grotesquely exaggerated) stories such as this in the Mainstream Media. And we will see ever-more-virulent campaigns conducted by eco-fascist activists, such as this risible new advertising campaign by Plane Stupid showing CGI polar bears falling from the sky and exploding because kind of, like, man, that’s sort of what happens whenever you take another trip on an aeroplane.

The world is currently cooling; electorates are increasingly reluctant to support eco-policies leading to more oppressive regulation, higher taxes and higher utility bills; the tide is turning against Al Gore’s Anthropogenic Global Warming theory. The so-called “sceptical” view is now also the majority view.

Unfortunately, we’ve a long, long way to go before the public mood (and scientific truth) is reflected by our policy makers. There are too many vested interests in AGW, with far too much to lose either in terms of reputation or money, for this to end without a bitter fight.

But if the Hadley CRU scandal is true,it’s a blow to the AGW lobby’s credibility which is never likely to recover.

Tags: AGW, Andrew Bolt, Climategate, Hadley CRU, ManBearPig, scandal

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hacked e-mails reveal global-warming fraud?

Top climate scientists discuss hiding contrary data, marginalizing dissenters

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Posted: November 20, 2009
11:27 am Eastern

© 2009 WorldNetDaily

Officials at a key global warming research center in the United Kingdom have authenticated a series of e-mails and other documents apparently taken from their computer system by a hacker, but they cannot explain what scientists in internal exchanges meant by references to a "trick" that would "hide the decline" of global temperatures nor by instructions to delete contrary data.

Author James Delingpole writes in a London Telegraph column the most damaging revelations indicate climate-change scientists may have "manipulated or suppressed evidence in order to support their cause."

According to the Australian Investigate magazine, the 62 megabyte Zip file with documents, e-mail exchanges and other information from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit apparently was posted by an unidentified hacker on a Russian web server.

One e-mail said: "I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd (sic) from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline."

Another expressed internal doubts: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate."

Further, an e-mail exchange suggested the suppression of information: "Can you delete any e-mails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. He's not in at the moment – minor family crisis."

"And, perhaps most reprehensibly," Delingpole writes, "a long series of communications discussing how best to squeeze dissenting scientists out of the peer review process. How, in other words, to create a scientific climate in which anyone who disagrees with AGW can be written off as a crank, whose views do not have a scrap of authority."

He cites an e-mail: "This was the danger of always criticizing the skeptics for not publishing in the 'peer-reviewed literature.' Obviously, they found a solution to that – take over a journal! So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering 'Climate Research' as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board …What do others think?"

Myron Ebell, of the GlobalWarming.org website where "cooler heads prevail," said the e-mails are "shocking."

"Its kind of interesting to learn that petty politics seems to be more prevalent in the scientific community than in the political community," he said.

The documents, he said, "raise a huge number of questions about the integrity of a lot of people in the alarmist community.

"What I've seen there is a very strong effort to manage the issue by scientists and not as a scientific issues. It's very improper," he said. " One of the criticisms is that we need scientists to be scientist, and policy can be handled in public debate."

Delingpole observes the world "is currently cooling; electorates are increasingly reluctant to support eco-policies leading to more oppressive regulation, higher taxes and higher utility bills; the tide is turning against Al Gore's Anthropogenic Global Warming theory. The so-called 'skeptical' view is now also the majority view."

Phil Jones, head of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, confirmed to Investigate magazine the documents appeared authentic.

"It was a hacker. We were aware of this about three or four days ago that someone had hacked into our system and taken and copied loads of data files and e-mails," he said.

"It's completely illegal for somebody to hack into our system," he told the magazine
But Jones denied there was any attempt to mislead or conceal.

"They're talking about proxy data going further back in time, a thousand years, and it's just about how you add on the last few years, because when you get proxy data you sample things like tree rings and ice cores, and they don't always have the last few years," he said.

Jones said he could not recall what he meant when he wrote about a plan to "hide the decline."
In the e-mail, dated 10 years ago, Jones wrote: "Once Tim's got a diagram here we'll send that either later today or first thing tomorrow. I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [sic] from1961 for Keith's to hide the decline. Mike's series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998. Thanks for the comments, Ray. Cheers, Phil Prof. Phil Jones Climatic Research Unit."

The documents also included a message dated last month from Kevin Trenberth to Michal Mann about the "U-turn on climate" by Britain's BBC News.

"Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low. This is January weather (see the Rockies baseball playoff game was canceled on saturday and then played last night in below freezing weather)."

Despite the advocacy of a financially vested former vice president, Al Gore, and others, public opinion about whether mankind is causing an ultimately catastrophic rise in global temperatures is shifting.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has urged members of Congress to consider the joint opinion of nearly 32,000 scientists, including more than 9,000 Ph.D.s, who believe humans likely have little or nothing to do with any "global warming."

The Petition Project, launched some 10 years ago when the first few thousand signatures were gathered, has steadily grown without any special effort or campaign.

But in the last few years, and especially because of the release of Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth," the campaign has been reinvigorated.

"Mr. Gore's movie, asserting a 'consensus' and 'settled science' in agreement about human-caused global warming, conveyed the claims about human-caused global warming to ordinary movie goers and to public school children, to whom the film was widely distributed.

Unfortunately, Mr. Gore's movie contains many very serious incorrect claims which no informed, honest scientist could endorse," project spokesman and founder Art Robinson has told WND.

Robinson, a research professor of chemistry, co-founded the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine with Linus Pauling in 1973, and later co-founded the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.

Paul cited the petition results in his statement to Congress.

"Our energy policies must be based upon scientific truth – not fictional movies or self-interested international agendas," Paul said. "They should be based upon the accomplishments of technological free enterprise that have provided our modern civilization, including our energy industries. That free enterprise must not be hindered by bogus claims about imaginary disasters."

The petition states: "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth."
Robinson has warned of serious political and economic consequencesof assuming "global warming" results from mankind's actions.

"The campaign to severely ration hydrocarbon energy technology has now been markedly expanded," he said. "In the course of this campaign, many scientifically invalid claims about impending climate emergencies are being made. Simultaneously, proposed political actions to severely reduce hydrocarbon use now threaten the prosperity of Americans and the very existence of hundreds of millions of people in poorer countries," he told WND.

Warned Paul, "Above all, we must never forget our contract with the American people – the Constitution that provides the sole source of legitimacy of our government. That Constitution requires that we preserve the basic human rights of our people – including the right to freely manufacture, use, and sell energy produced by any means they devise – including nuclear, hydrocarbon, solar, wind, or even bicycle generators.

"While it is evident that the human right to produce and use energy does not extend to activities that actually endanger the climate of the Earth upon which we all depend, bogus claims about climate dangers should not be used as a justification to further limit the American people's freedom," Paul said.

THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE: $300 MILLION FOR MY VOTE!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/21/AR2009112102272_pf.html

Sweeteners for the South

By Dana Milbank
Sunday, November 22, 2009

Staffers on Capitol Hill were calling it the Louisiana Purchase.

On the eve of Saturday's showdown in the Senate over health-care reform, Democratic leaders still hadn't secured the support of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of the 60 votes needed to keep the legislation alive. The wavering lawmaker was offered a sweetener: at least $100 million in extra federal money for her home state.

And so it came to pass that Landrieu walked onto the Senate floor midafternoon Saturday to announce her aye vote -- and to trumpet the financial "fix" she had arranged for Louisiana. "I am not going to be defensive," she declared. "And it's not a $100 million fix. It's a $300 million fix."

It was an awkward moment (not least because her figure is 20 times the original Louisiana Purchase price). But it was fairly representative of a Senate debate that seems to be scripted in the Southern Gothic style. The plot was gripping -- the bill survived Saturday's procedural test without a single vote to spare -- and it brought out the rank partisanship, the self-absorption and all the other pathologies of modern politics. If that wasn't enough of a Tennessee Williams story line, the debate even had, playing the lead role, a Southerner named Blanche with a flair for the dramatic.

After Landrieu threw in her support (she asserted that the extra Medicaid funds were "not the reason" for her vote), the lone holdout in the 60-member Democratic caucus was Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. Like other Democratic moderates who knew a single vote could kill the bill, she took a streetcar named Opportunism, transferred to one called Wavering and made off with concessions of her own. Indeed, the all-Saturday debate, which ended with an 8 p.m. vote, occurred only because Democratic leaders had yielded to her request for more time.

Even when she finally announced her support, at 2:30 in the afternoon, Lincoln made clear that she still planned to hold out for many more concessions in the debate that will consume the next month. "My decision to vote on the motion to proceed is not my last, nor only, chance to have an impact on health-care reform," she announced.

Landrieu and Lincoln got the attention because they were the last to decide, but the Senate really has 100 Blanche DuBoises, a full house of characters inclined toward the narcissistic. The health-care debate was worse than most. With all 40 Republicans in lockstep opposition, all 60 members of the Democratic caucus had to vote yes -- and that gave each one an opportunity to extract concessions from Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) won a promise from Reid to support his plan to expand eligibility for health insurance. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) got Reid to jettison a provision stripping health insurers of their antitrust exemption. Landrieu got the concessions for her money. And Lincoln won an extended, 72-hour period to study legislation.

And the big shakedown is yet to occur: That will happen when Reid comes back to his caucus in a few weeks to round up 60 votes for the final passage of the health bill.

Republicans also knew that a single defection would kill the bill, so they tried to pressure the holdouts. "That's what we've got to choose today: Do we choose life or do we choose death?" declared Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.). "We just need one vote, one vote on the other side."

But Landrieu had already made up her mind. She went to the floor during the lunch hour to say that she would vote to proceed with the debate -- but that she'd be looking for much bigger concessions before she gives her blessing to a final version of the bill.

"My vote today," she said in a soft Southern accent that masked the hard politics at play, "should in no way be construed by the supporters of this current framework as an indication of how I might vote as this debate comes to an end." Among the concessions she'll seek: more tax credits for small business and a removal of the version of the "public option" now in the bill.

That turned all the attention to the usually quiet Lincoln, who emerged from the cloakroom two hours later to announce her decision. Her attire was school-principal prim -- blue suit with knee-length skirt, orange silk scarf tied tightly at the neck -- and she was clearly uncomfortable in the spotlight. She spoke with the diction of somebody giving a dramatic reading, and she stumbled more than once as she read, botching the crucial line: "I will vote to support, of, the, the, will vote in support of cloture on the motion to proceed to this bill."

She argued, a bit too strenuously, that "I'm not thinking about my reelection" in 2010. All the same, she made clear that Democratic leaders would have to give more if they want her to vote yes as the health-care debate continues. Specifically, she demanded removal of the public option. "I am opposed to a new government-administered health-care plan," she warned, further cautioning that "I will not vote in favor of the proposal . . . as it is written."

By the time this thing is done, the millions for Louisiana will look like a bargain.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why I Voted Democrat:

I voted Democrat because I love the fact that I can now marry whatever I want. I've decided to marry my horse.

I voted Democrat because I believe oil companies' profits of 4% on a gallon of gas are obscene but the government taxing the same gallon of gas at 15% isn't.

I voted Democrat because freedom of speech is fine as long as nobody is offended by it.

I voted Democrat because when we pull out of Iraq I trust that the bad guys will stop what they're doing because they now think we're good people.

I voted Democrat because I'm way too irresponsible to own a gun, and I know that my local police are all I need to protect me from murderers and thieves.

I voted Democrat because I'm not concerned about the slaughter of millions of babies so long as we keep all death row inmates alive.

I voted Democrat because I believe that business should not be allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and give the rest away to the government for redistribution as THEY see fit.

I voted Democrat because I believe liberal judges need to rewrite the Constitution every few days to suit some fringe kooks who would never get their agendas past the voters.

Truth From A Black American

Anne Wortham is Associate Professor of Sociology at Illinois State University and continuing Visiting Scholar at Stanford University 's Hoover Institution. She is a member of the American Sociological Association and the American Philosophical Association. She has been a John M. Olin Foundation Faculty Fellow, and honored as a Distinguished Alumni of the Year by the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education. In fall 1988 she was one of a select group of intellectuals who were featured in Bill Moyer's television series, "A World of Ideas." The transcript of her conversation with Moyers has been published in his book, A World of Ideas. Dr. Wortham is author of "The Other Side of Racism: A Philosophical Study of Black Race Consciousness" which analyzes how race consciousness is transformed into political strategies and policy issues. She has published numerous articles on the implications of individual rights for civil rights policy, and is currently writing a book on theories of social and cultural marginality. Recently, she has published articles on the significance of multiculturalism and Afrocentricism in education, the politics of victimization and the social and political impact of political correctness. Shortly after an interview in 2004, she was awarded tenure.

This article (below) by her is something to ponder.



Fellow Americans,

Please know: I am Black; I grew up in the segregated South. I did not vote for Barack Obama; I wrote in Ron Paul's name as my choice for president. Most importantly, I am not race conscious. I do not require a Black president to know that I am a person of worth, and that life is worth living. I do not require a Black president to love the ideal of America

I cannot join you in your celebration. I feel no elation. There is no smile on my face. I am not jumping with joy. There are no tears of triumph in my eyes. For such emotions and behavior to come from me, I would have to deny all that I know about the requirements of human flourishing and survival - all that I know about the history of the United States of America, all that I know about American race relations, and all that I know about Barack Obama as a politician I would have to deny the nature of the "change" that Obama asserts has come to America ..

Most importantly, I would have to abnegate my certain understanding that you have chosen to sprint down the road to serfdom that we have been on for over a century. I would have to pretend that individual liberty has no value for the success of a human life. I would have to evade your rejection of the slender reed of capitalism on which your success and mine depend. I would have to think it somehow rational that 94 percent of the 12 million Blacks in this country voted for a man because he looks like them (that Blacks are permitted to play the race card), and that they were joined by self-declared "progressive" whites who voted for him because he doesn't look like them.

I would have to wipe my mind clean of all that I know about the kind of people who have advised and taught Barack Obama and will fill posts in his administration - political intellectuals like my former colleagues at theHarvard University 's Kennedy School of Government.

I would have to believe that "fairness" is equivalent of justice. I would have to believe that a man who asks me to "go forward in a new spirit of service, in a new service of sacrifice" is speaking in my interest.. I would have to accept the premise of a man that economic prosperity comes from the "bottom up," and who arrogantly believes that he can will it into existence by the use of government force. I would have to admire a man who thinks the standard of living of the masses can be improved by destroying the most productive and the generators of wealth.

Finally, Americans, I would have to erase from my consciousness the scene of 125,000 screaming, crying, cheering people in Grant Park,Chicago irrationally chanting "Yes We Can!" Finally, I would have to wipe all memory of all the times I have heard politicians, pundits, journalists, editorialists, bloggers and intellectuals declare that capitalism is dead - and no one, including especially Alan Greenspan, objected to their assumption that the particular version of the anti-capitalistic mentality that they want to replace with their own version of anti-capitalism is anything remotely equivalent to capitalism.

So you have made history, Americans. You and your children have elected a Black man to the office of the president of the United States , the wounded giant of the world. The battle between John Wayne and Jane Fonda is over - and Fonda won. Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern must be very happy men. Jimmy Carter, too. And the Kennedys have at last gotten their Kennedy look-a-like. The self-righteous welfare statists in the suburbs can feel warm moments of satisfaction for having elected a Black person.

So, toast yourselves: 60s countercultural radicals, 80s yuppies and 90s bourgeois bohemians. Toast yourselves, Black America. Shout your glee Harvard, Princeton , Yale, Duke, Stanford, and Berkeley. You have elected not an individual who is qualified to be president, but a Black man who, like the pragmatist Franklin Roosevelt, promises to - Do Something! You now have someone who has picked up the baton of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. But you have also foolishly traded your freedom and mine - what little there is left - for the chance to feel good.

There is nothing in me that can share your happy obliviousness. God Help Us all...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Climate sceptics claim leaked emails are evidence of collusion among scientists

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/20/climate-sceptics-hackers-leaked-emails

Hundreds of emails and documents exchanged between world's leading climate scientists stolen by hackers and leaked online

Leo Hickman and James Randerson guardian.co.uk, Friday 20 November 2009 18.15 GMT

Hundreds of private emails and documents allegedly exchanged between some of the world's leading climate scientists during the past 13 years have been stolen by hackers and leaked online, it emerged today.

The computer files were apparently accessed earlier this week from servers at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, a world-renowned centre focused on the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change.

Climate change sceptics who have studied the emails allege they provide "smoking gun" evidence that some of the climatologists colluded in manipulating data to support the widely held view that climate change is real, and is being largely caused by the actions of mankind.

The veracity of the emails has not been confirmed and the scientists involved have declined to comment on the story, which broke on a blog called The Air Vent.

The files, which in total amount to 160MbB of data, were first uploaded on to a Russian server, before being widely mirrored across the internet. The emails were accompanied by the anonymous statement: "We feel that climate science is, in the current situation, too important to be kept under wraps. We hereby release a random selection of correspondence, code and documents. Hopefully it will give some insight into the science and the people behind it."

A spokesperson for the University of East Anglia said: "We are aware that information from a server used for research information in one area of the university has been made available on public websites. Because of the volume of this information we cannot currently confirm that all this material is genuine. This information has been obtained and published without our permission and we took immediate action to remove the server in question from operation. We are undertaking a thorough internal investigation and have involved the police in this inquiry."

In one email, dated November 1999, one scientist wrote: "I've just completed Mike's Nature [the science journal] trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie, from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline."

This sentence, in particular, has been leapt upon by sceptics as evidence of manipulating data, but the credibility of the email has not been verified. The scientists who allegedly sent it declined to comment on the email.

"It does look incriminating on the surface, but there are lots of single sentences that taken out of context can appear incriminating," said Bob Ward, director of policy and communications at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics. "You can't tell what they are talking about. Scientists say 'trick' not just to mean deception. They mean it as a clever way of doing something - a short cut can be a trick."

In another alleged email, one of the scientists apparently refers to the death of a prominent climate change sceptic by saying "in an odd way this is cheering news".

Ward said that if the emails are correct, they "might highlight behaviour that those individuals might not like to have made public." But he added, "Let's separate out [the climate scientists] reacting badly to the personal attacks [from sceptics] to the idea that their work has been carried out in an inappropriate way."

The revelations did not alter the huge body of evidence from a variety of scientific fields that supports the conclusion that modern climate change is caused largely by human activity, Ward said. The emails refer largely to work on so-called paleoclimate data - reconstructing past climate scenarios using data such as ice cores and tree rings. "Climate change is based on several lines of evidence, not just paleoclimate data," he said. "At the heart of this is basic physics."

Ward pointed out that the individuals named in the alleged emails had numerous publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. "It would be very surprising if after all this time, suddenly they were found out doing something as wrong as that."

Professor Michael Mann, director of Pennsylvania State University's Earth System Science Centre and a regular contributor to the popular climate science blog Real Climate, features in many of the email exchanges. He said: "I'm not going to comment on the content of illegally obtained emails. However, I will say this: both their theft and, I believe, any reproduction of the emails that were obtained on public websites, etc, constitutes serious criminal activity. I'm hoping the perpetrators and their facilitators will be tracked down and prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows."

When the Guardian asked Prof Phil Jones at UEA, who features in the correspondence, to verify whether the emails were genuine, he refused to comment.

The alleged emails illustrate the persistent pressure some climatologists have been under from sceptics in recent years. There have been repeated calls, including Freedom of Information requests, for the Climate Research Unit to make public a confidential dataset of land and sea temperature recordings that is "value added" by the unit before being used by the Met Office. The emails show the frustration some climatologists have had at having to operate under such intense, often politically motivated, scrutiny.

Prof Bob Watson, the chief scientific advisor at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said, "Evidence for climate change is irrefutable. The world's leading scientists overwhelmingly agree what we're experiencing is not down to natural variation."

"With this overwhelming scientific body of evidence failing to take action to tackle climate change would be the wrong thing to do – the impacts here in Britain and across the world will worsen and the economic consequences will be catastrophic."

A spokesman for Greenpeace said: "If you looked through any organisation's emails from the last 10 years you'd find something that would raise a few eyebrows. Contrary to what the sceptics claim, the Royal Society, the US National Academy of Sciences, Nasa and the world's leading atmospheric scientists are not the agents of a clandestine global movement against the truth. This stuff might drive some web traffic, but so does David Icke."

$100 Million Payoff to Buy Sen. Landrieu's Healthcare Vote

http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2009/11/the-100-million-health-care-vote.html

The $100 Million Health Care Vote?

November 19, 2009 3:03 PM
ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports:


What does it take to get a wavering senator to vote for health care reform?

Here’s a case study.

On page 432 of the Reid bill, there is a section increasing federal Medicaid subsidies for “certain states recovering from a major disaster.”

The section spends two pages defining which “states” would qualify, saying, among other things, that it would be states that “during the preceding 7 fiscal years” have been declared a “major disaster area.”

I am told the section applies to exactly one state: Louisiana, the home of moderate Democrat Mary Landrieu, who has been playing hard to get on the health care bill.

In other words, the bill spends two pages describing would could be written with a single world: Louisiana. (This may also help explain why the bill is long.)

Senator Harry Reid, who drafted the bill, cannot pass it without the support of Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu.

How much does it cost? According to the Congressional Budget Office: $100 million.

Here’s the incredibly complicated language:

SEC. 2006. SPECIAL ADJUSTMENT TO FMAP DETERMINATION FOR CERTAIN STATES RECOVERING FROM A MAJOR DISASTER.

Section 1905 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1396d), as amended by sections 2001(a)(3) and
2001(b)(2), is amended— (1) in subsection (b), in the first sentence, by striking ‘‘subsection (y)’’ and inserting ‘‘subsections (y) and (aa)’’; and (2) by adding at the end the following new subsection:

‘‘(aa)(1) Notwithstanding subsection (b), beginning January 1, 2011, the Federal medical assistance percentage for a fiscal year for a disaster-recovery FMAP adjustment State shall be equal to the following:
‘(A) In the case of the first fiscal year (or part of a fiscal year) for which this subsection applies to the State, the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the fiscal year without regard to this subsection and subsection (y), increased by 50 percent of the number of percentage points by which the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the fiscal year without regard to this subsection and subsection (y), is less than the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the preceding fiscal year after the application of only subsection (a) of section 5001 of Public Law 111–5 (if applicable to the preceding fiscal year) and without regard to this subsection, subsection (y), and subsections (b) and (c) of section 5001 of Public Law 111–5.

‘‘(B) In the case of the second or any succeeding fiscal year for which this subsection applies to the State, the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the preceding fiscal year under this subsection for the State, increased by 25 percent of the number of percentage points by which the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the fiscal year without regard to this subsection and subsection (y), is less than the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the preceding fiscal year under this subsection.

‘‘(2) In this subsection, the term ‘disaster-recovery FMAP adjustment State’ means a State that is one of
the 50 States or the District of Columbia, for which, at any time during the preceding 7 fiscal years, the President has declared a major disaster under section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and determined as a result of such disaster that every county or parish in the State warrant individual and public assistance or public assistance from the Federal Government under such Act and for which— ‘‘(A) in the case of the first fiscal year (or part of a fiscal year) for which this subsection applies to the State, the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the fiscal year without regard to this subsection and subsection (y), is less than the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the preceding fiscal year after the application of only subsection (a) of section 5001 of Public Law 111–5 (if applicable to the preceding fiscal year) and without regard to this subsection, subsection (y), and subsections (b) and (c) of section 5001 of Public Law 111–5, by at least 3 percentage points; and ‘‘(B) in the case of the second or any succeeding fiscal year for which this subsection applies to the State, the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the fiscal year without regard to this subsection and subsection (y), is less than the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the preceding fiscal year under this subsection by at least 3 percentage points.

‘‘(3) The Federal medical assistance percentage determined for a disaster-recovery FMAP adjustment State under paragraph (1) shall apply for purposes of this title (other than with respect to disproportionate share hospital payments described in section 1923 and payments under this title that are based on the enhanced FMAP described in 2105(b)) and shall not apply with respect to payments under title IV (other than under part E of title IV) or payments under title XXI.’’.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

USPS: Postal Service In Need Of Bailout!

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/11/19/politics/main5711797.shtml

Nov. 19, 2009

Can the Postal Service be Saved?

With Losses Mounting, Postal Service Seeks Autonomy, Pushes to Cut Saturday Service; Rep. Danny Davis Calls for a Bailout

(CBS) This story was written by CBSNews.com political reporter Brian Montopoli.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's been an ugly few years for the United States Postal Service.

The quasi-government agency announced this week that it lost $3.8 billion in the most recent fiscal year, which ended September 30th. It also delivered less mail - 26 billion fewer pieces less, a nearly 13 percent drop from the previous year. The bad news follows losses totaling $7.8 billion in 2007 and 2008.

The Postal Service, as it is quick to point out, is legally prohibited from taking tax dollars. But in order to stay afloat, the agency has been actively borrowing from the U.S. Treasury: At last count, according to Postal Service spokeswoman Yvonne Yoerger, it owes the government $10.2 billion.

Federal law dictates that the Postal Service can borrow up to $3 billion per year - but the debt cannot grow beyond $15 billion. That means that while the agency, which had revenues of $68.1 billion last year, could potentially borrow another $3 billion in 2010, it will soon no longer be able to legally borrow billions from the government.

Meanwhile, the Postal Service is estimating that without significant changes, it will lose another $7.8 billion in the coming year - and deliver another 11 billion fewer pieces of mail.

Which raises the question: Could the Postal Service be doomed?

"I don't think the Postal Service is in danger of going away totally," said Yoerger, the Postal Service spokeswoman. "But our current business model needs to be reviewed and revised to come up with a sustainable model so that we can get back to profitability while still continuing to meet our mission of serving all of the country with affordable, universal Postal Service."

Yoerger told CBSNews.com that the Postal Service is seeking "flexibility to better manage our business." Translation: We may technically be a government agency, but we're also a business -- and we want the government to get out of the way.

The agency cut $6 billion in expenses over the past year, eliminating 40,000 of its roughly 750,000 jobs and slashing overtime hours. But it says that isn't enough. And it's pushing for two major changes that it suggests could help get it back into the black in 2010.

The first is freedom from a government-mandated requirement that the agency pay more than $5 billion per year into a fund to cover its retired employees' future health benefits over a ten-year period. The government allowed the agency to forgo $4 billion of that obligation this past year, but the requirement remains on the books.

The second goal, critics say, is a fundamental threat to the identity of the Postal Service: The end of Saturday mail delivery. The Postal Service has suggested cutting Saturday service could save 3.5 billion per year, though the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), which regulates the Postal Service, puts that figure at $2 billion.

The head of the PRC, Ruth Y. Goldway, urged "caution" about cutting Saturday service in Congressional testimony earlier this month. She said such a move could undermine "the vitality of the mail system" and the justification for its mail monopoly.

"From a market perspective, the Postal Service could lose its greatest strategic advantage - ubiquity," she said. "Reducing service is detrimental to mail growth and to public perception of the value of the mail system."

Illinois Democratic Rep. Danny Davis, a member of the Congressional subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service (and, until recently, its chairman), told CBSNews.com in an interview that the agency "is between a rock and a hard place."

"It's just not generating the money that you need in order to keep operating," he said.

Davis said he was open to cutting Saturday service - perhaps on a rolling basis, so that certain communities would lack Saturday delivery once or twice a month - as well as loosening the health benefit requirements. He also backed a government bailout for the embattled agency if that's what it takes to keep it afloat.

"We've bailed out a lot of things, and I think the Postal Service is probably as important in one sense as some of the other places where we have put public money," he said.

Added Davis: "I'm not afraid of spending public money to keep money flowing."

Another way to increase revenue, at least in theory, would be to raise the cost of postage, which remains exceedingly low compared to other countries. But that move is bitterly opposed by the businesses (such as catalogues and credit card companies) whose mailings now make up a major portion of what the postal service handles. (In June, a Gallup poll found that two in three Americans would prefer to cut Saturday delivery if it meant keeping postal rates low.)

At the heart of the debate is the question of what the Postal Service means to America. Its mission is to bind the country together - to connect "every American household, business and institution through its universal service network," in the words of PRC chair Goldway, who told Congress that the agency is "literally part of the fabric of the nation."

But its identity, in this technological age, has become increasingly uncertain. Most Americans today communicate not by mail but by cell phone, e-mail and instant message; the notion that the Post Office provides a vital connection to the outside world seems increasingly quaint to anyone with an Internet connection.

Of course, not everyone does - and the private companies that would theoretically step in if the Postal Service were to disappear would not be mandated, as the Postal Service is, to serve every address in the country. For a small group of Americans, a mailbox is a lifeline - and the Post Office is a resource that can't easily be replaced.

"We need the Postal Service," says Davis, who says the agency keeps "that link" between people "alive." How to keep if from going the way of the Pony Express, however, remains an open question.

"We're like Humpty Dumpty on the wall," he said, suggesting the agency is teetering on the brink of disaster. "We haven't come up with anything that I know is actually a solution to the postal crisis."