If the economy is improving, then why are many of the largest retail chains in America closing hundreds of stores? When I was growing up, Sears, J.C. Penney, Best Buy and RadioShack were all considered to be unstoppable retail powerhouses. But now it is being projected that all of them will close hundreds of stores before the end of 2013. Even Wal-Mart is running into problems. A recent internal Wal-Mart memo that was leaked to Bloombergdescribed February sales as a “total disaster”. So why is this happening? Why are major retail chains all over America collapsing? Is the “retail apocalypse” upon us? Well, the truth is that this is just another sign that the U.S. economy is falling apart right in front of our eyes. Incomes are declining, taxes are going up, government dependence is at an all-time high, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the percentage of the U.S. labor force that is employed has been steadily falling since 2006. The top 10% of all income earners in the U.S. are still doing very well, but most U.S. consumers are either flat broke or are drowning in debt. The large disposable incomes that the big retail chains have depended upon in the past simply are not there anymore. So retail chains all over the United States are now closing up unprofitable stores. This is especially true in low income areas.
When you step back and take a look at the bigger picture, the rapid decline of some of our largest retail chains really is stunning.
It is happening already in some areas, but soon half empty malls and boarded up storefronts will litter the landscapes of cities all over America.
Just check out some of these store closing numbers for 2013. These numbers are from a recent Yahoo Finance article…
Forecast store closings: 200 to 250
Sears Holding Corp.
Forecast store closings: Kmart 175 to 225, Sears 100 to 125
Forecast store closings: 300 to 350
Forecast store closings: 125 to 150
Barnes & Noble
Forecast store closings: 190 to 240, per company comments
Forecast store closings: 500 to 600
Forecast store closings: 150 to 175
Forecast store closings: 450 to 550
The RadioShack in a nearby town just closed up where I live. This is all happening so fast that it is hard to believe.
But the truth is that those store closings are not the entire story. When you dig deeper you find a lot more retailers that are in trouble.
For example, Blockbuster recently announced that this year they will be closing about 300 stores and eliminating about 3,000 jobs.
Toy manufacturer Hasbro recently announced that they will be reducing the size of their workforce by about 10 percent.
Even Wal-Mart is going through a tough stretch right now. According to documents that were leaked to Bloomberg, Wal-Mart is having an absolutely disastrous February…
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had the worst sales start to a month in seven years as payroll-tax increases hit shoppers already battling a slow economy, according to internal e-mails obtained by Bloomberg News.
“In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days, February MTD sales are a total disaster,” Jerry Murray, Wal- Mart’s vice president of finance and logistics, said in a Feb. 12 e-mail to other executives, referring to month-to-date sales. “The worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”
So what in the world is going on here?
The mainstream media continues to proclaim that we are experiencing a robust “economic recovery”, but at the same time there are a whole host of indications that things are continually getting worse.
Even global cell phone sales actually declined slightly in 2012. That was the first time that has happened since the last recession.
Perhaps it is time that we faced the truth. The middle class is shrinking, incomes are declining and there are not nearly as many jobs as there used to be.
Mort Zuckerman pointed this out in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal…
The U.S. labor market, which peaked in November 2007 when there were 139,143,000 jobs, now encompasses only 132,705,000 workers, a drop of 6.4 million jobs from the peak. The only work that has increased is part-time, and that is because it allows employers to reduce costs through a diminished benefit package or none at all.
So how can the mainstream media be talking about how “good” things are if we still have 6.4 million fewer jobs than we had back in November 2007?
And sadly, things may soon be getting a lot worse. If Congress does not do anything about the “sequester”, millions of federal workers may shortly be facing some very painful furloughs according to CNN…
Federal workers could start facing furloughs as early as April, according to federal agencies trying to prepare for the worst.
Unless Congress steps in, some $85 billion in massive spending reductions will hit the federal government, doling out furloughs to much of the nation’s 2.1 million federal workforce, experts say.
If you still live in an area of the country where the stores and the restaurants are booming, you should be very thankful because that is not the reality for most of the country.
I often write about the stunning economic decline of major cities such as Detroit, but there are huge sections of rural America that are in even worse shape than Detroit in many ways.
For example, many Indian reservations all over America have been shamefully neglected by the federal government and have become hotbeds for crime, drugs and poverty.
Business Insider recently profiled the Wind River Indian reservation in western Wyoming. The following is a brief excerpt from thatoutstanding article…
The Wind River Indian Reservation is not an easy place to get to, but I had to see it for myself.
Thirty-five-hundred square miles of prairie and mountains in western Wyoming, the reservation is home to bitter ancestral enemies: the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes.
Even among reservations, it’s renowned for brutal crime, widespread drug use, and legal dumping of toxic waste.
You can see some amazing photos of the Wind River Indian reservationright here.
It is hard to believe that there are places like that in America, but the truth is that conditions like that are spreading to more U.S. communities with each passing day.
We are a nation that is in an advanced state of decline. But as long as the financial markets are okay, our leaders don’t seem too concerned about the suffering that everyone else is going through.
In fact, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan essentially admitted as much during a recent interview with CNBC. The following is how a Zero Hedge article summarized that interview…
Starting at around 1:50, Greenspan states the odds of sequester occurring are very high – in fact, the playdough-faced ex-Chair-head notes, “I find it very difficult to find a scenario in which [the sequester] doesn’t happen” But when asked how this will affect the economy, Awkward Alan is unusually clearly spoken - “the issue is how does it affect the stock market.”
While not so many of our leaders have taken the path to direct truthiness, Greenspan somewhat shocks a Botox’d and babbling Bartiromo when he admits “the stock market is the key player in the game of economic growth.”
Bartiromo shifts uncomfortably in her seat, strokes her imaginary beard and stares blankly as Greenspan explains that while the sequester will have a real effect on the real economy, “if the stock market can hold up through this, then the effect will be rather minor.”
Do you see?
As long as the stock market is moving higher they think that everything is just fine and dandy.
And the Obama administration?
They continue to pursue the same policies that got us into this mess.
Their idea of “economic reform” is to threaten to sue businessesthat do not hire ex-convicts.
And of course now that Obama has been re-elected he is putting a tremendous amount of effort into “stimulating the economy”.
Meanwhile, the U.S. economy is getting worse with each passing day.
If you doubt that economic conditions are getting worse, please read this article: “Show This To Anyone That Believes That ‘Things Are Getting Better’ In America“.
When you look at the cold, hard numbers, it is undeniable what is happening to America.
And our leaders are not doing anything to fix our problems. In fact, most of the time they are just making things worse.
So buckle up and get prepared. We are in for very bumpy ride, and this is only just the beginning.
Source: The Economic Collapse
After Democrats in New York rammed a sweeping assault on the right to keep and bear arms through the legislature that failed to exempt police officers from the draconian restrictions, gun owners and even some lawmakers are planning what has been dubbed potentially the largest act of civil disobedience in state history. According to news reports, gun rights activists are urging everyone to defy far-left Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new registration mandate while daring authorities to “come and take it.”
Analysts say the legislation, passed in a frenzy last week in the wake of the Newtown shooting, represents the most brazen infringement on the right to keep and bear arms anywhere in the nation. Among other points, the so-called SAFE Act seeks to limit magazines to just seven bullets, require virtually all of the estimated one million semi-automatic rifles in the state to be registered with authorities, mandate reporting of patients who express indications that they may have thoughts about hurting themselves or others by doctors, and more.
Aside from being unconstitutional, experts on gun violence also point out that the draconian schemes are a bad idea: Studies have repeatedly shown that more guns lead to less crime, and the phenomenon is obvious across America — just compare Chicago or D.C. to Alaska or Wyoming. The mandated reporting requirements for doctors, meanwhile, have come under fire from across the political spectrum. Whether it will even be possible to enforce the bill, however, remains to be seen.
Preparations are already being made for mass resistance. “I’ve heard from hundreds of people that they’re prepared to defy the law, and that number will be magnified by the thousands, by the tens of thousands, when the registration deadline comes,’’ said President Brian Olesen with American Shooters Supply, among the biggest gun dealers in the state, in an interview with the New York Post.
Even government officials admit that forcing New Yorkers to register their guns will be a tough sell, and they are apparently aware that massive non-compliance will be the order of the day. “Many of these assault-rifle owners aren’t going to register; we realize that,’’ a source in the Cuomo administration told the Post, adding that officials expect “widespread violations” of the new statute.
Threats of imprisoning gun owners for up to a year and confiscating their weapons are already being issued by governor’s office, headed by a rabid anti-Second Amendment extremist who suggested before the bill passed that “confiscation” of all semi-automatic rifles was being considered. If tens or even hundreds of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens refuse to comply, however, analysts say New York would either have to start raising taxes and building a lot more prisons, or give up on the scheme that experts say will do nothing to reduce violence and that lawmakers say is aimed at eventual confiscation.
Activists involved in the state-wide boycott against the unconstitutional statute who spoke to the Post almost taunted authorities, saying gun owners would essentially dare authorities to “come and take it away.” According to the paper, leaders of some of the state’s hundreds of gun clubs, dealers, and non-profit organizations, citing the New York Constitution’s guarantee that gun rights “cannot be infringed,” are currently involved in organizing the resistance. Among the primary concerns is that, with registration, authorities would know where to go for confiscation, an idea already proposed openly by Governor Cuomo himself.
“They’re saying, ‘F— the governor! F— Cuomo! We’re not going to register our guns,’ and I think they’re serious. People are not going to do it. People are going to resist,” explained State Rifle and Pistol Association President Tom King, who also serves on the National Rifle Association board of directors. “They’re taking one of our guaranteed civil rights, and they’re taking it away.”
The NRA itself, while saying that it did not participate in organizing resistance to the law, admitted that it was not surprised by the open defiance among gun owners. “I will say this: Historic experience here and in Canada shows that when you try to force gun owners into a registration and licensing system, there’s usually mass opposition and mass noncompliance,” NRA President David Keene told the Post. “I think it’s going to be very difficult for the governor to get mass compliance with this new law.”
Throughout the short discussion on the bill, GOP legislators warned about the prospect of resistance — potentially resulting in violence. Indeed, even some lawmakers have already promised to defy the new unconstitutional statute. Republican state Assemblyman Steve Katz, for example, told his colleagues during the debate that the legislation’s attempt to re-define semi-automatic rifles as banned “assault weapons” creates “a new class of criminals overnight.” However, he also mentioned that he had no intention of complying with the arbitrary seven-bullet maximum demanded under the legislation.
“I leave my wife and three young daughters home alone for days at a time to represent my constituents here,” Katz said on the floor of the Assembly. “After what happened to the young mother in Loganville, Georgia who defended her two young children against an intruder, this bill will turn me into a criminal because you can bet that before I leave to do the people’s work, there will be more than seven bullets in the magazine of my wife’s firearm.”
He concluded his plea for respecting gun rights with some quotes about the reason for the Second Amendment and New York state’s even more overt prohibition on infringements. The first one he read came from George Washington: “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”
As in the rest of the United States, law enforcement has also been speaking out about infringements on the right to keep and bear arms — especially after the SAFE Act was rammed through so hastily that, according to analysts, “oops,” police officers are now in violation of the law too. New York sheriffs have become outspoken about the rights of citizens, as well, expressing serious concerns about violations of unalienable rights contained in the new state statute.
“This law has some issues pertaining to the Second Amendment,” explained Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith, one of many to express reservations about the new rules. “I’m deeply concerned in haste to pass the law, they may have missed the point on some of the mental health issues and are dealing with some ammunition and gun issues and law-enforcement issues.”
Steuben County Sheriff David Cole, meanwhile, released a statement backed by the local police union criticizing the highly controversial statute as well. “These laws will now make it so thousands and thousands of law-abiding citizens, who go to work, pay their taxes, and [are] concerned about their children’s future, will now be considered criminals if they choose to stand up for the Second Amendment rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution,” Sheriff Cole noted, echoing widespread concerns being heard throughout the state.
Ironically, even some anti-gun extremists who openly support lawlessly infringing on unalienable rights have criticized the legislation. The ultra-far-left Center for American Progress, funded by billionaire statist George Soros, for example, complained about the provisions purporting to obligate doctors to report their patients to authorities if they express violent or suicidal thoughts — all in violation of the traditional doctor-patient confidentiality relationship.
Doctors belittled the provision, too, noting that it could discourage people who otherwise would seek help from talking to healthcare providers out of fear that the police could show up at their door and confiscate their weapons. “The people who arguably most need to be in treatment and most need to feel free to talk about these disturbing impulses, may be the ones we make least likely to do so,” Dr. Paul Appelbaum at Columbia University told the Associated Press. Critics say the provision will turn New York into a “psychiatric police state.”
Meanwhile, at the national level, some Democrat lawmakers and President Obama are seeking draconian new gun bans and a wide array of other infringements on the right to keep and bear arms. State governments and sheriffs nationwide, however, are speaking out, working to nullify any assault on gun rights, and if needed, arrest federal officials trying to enforce unconstitutional rules. With the amount of resistance already expressing itself in New York, analysts say attempting similar schemes at the federal level would be literally insane. Still, that does not mean it will not be attempted.
Source: Alex Newman | The New American“
The mainstream media covered the inauguration of Barack Obama with breathless anticipation on Monday, but should we really be celebrating another four years of Obama? The truth is that the first four years of Obama were an absolute train wreck for the U.S. economy. Over the past four years, the percentage of working age Americans with a job has fallen, median household income has declined by more than $4000, poverty in the U.S. has absolutely exploded and our national debt has ballooned to ridiculous proportions. Of course all of the blame for the nightmarish performance of the economy should not go to Obama alone. Certainly much of what we are experiencing today is the direct result of decades of very foolish decisions by Congress and previous presidential administrations. And of course the Federal Reserve has more influence over the economy than anyone else does. But Barack Obama steadfastly refuses to criticize anything that the Federal Reserve has done and he even nominated Ben Bernanke for another term as Fed Chairman despite his horrific track record of failure, so at a minimum Barack Obama must be considered to be complicit in the Fed’s very foolish policies. Despite what the Obama administration tells us, the U.S. economy has been in decline for a very long time, and that decline has accelerated in many ways over the past four years. Just consider the statistics that I have compiled below. The following are 37 statistics which show how four years of Obama have wrecked the U.S. economy…
1. During Obama’s first term, the number of Americans on food stamps increased by an average of about 11,000 per day.
3. According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”
4. The number of Americans receiving money directly from the federal government each month has grown from 94 million in the year 2000 tomore than 128 million today.
5. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income” at this point.
6. The unemployment rate in the United States is exactly where it was (7.8 percent) when Barack Obama first entered the White House in January 2009.
8. During the first four years of Obama, the number of Americans “not in the labor force” soared by an astounding 8,332,000. That far exceeds any previous four year total.
9. During Obama’s first term, the number of Americans collecting federal disability insurance rose by more than 18 percent.
10. The Obama years have been absolutely devastating for small businesses in America. According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration…
Bush Sr.: 11.3
Bush Jr.: 10.8
11. Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years. Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.
12. The economy is not producing nearly enough jobs for the hordes of young people now entering the workforce. Approximately 53 percentof all U.S. college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed in 2011.
13. According to a report from the National Employment Law Project, 58 percent of the jobs that have been created since the end of the recession have been low paying jobs.
14. Back in 2007, about 28 percent of all working families were considered to be among “the working poor”. Today, that number is up to 32 percent even though our politicians tell us that the economy is supposedly recovering.
15. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, only 24.6 percent of all of the jobs in the United States are “good jobs” at this point.
16. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.
17. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the United States is losinghalf a million jobs to China every single year.
18. The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.
19. According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percentof all global economic activity in 2001. That number declined steadily over the course of the next decade and was only at 21.6 percent in 2011.
20. The United States actually has plenty of oil and we should not have to import oil from the Middle East. We need to drill for more oil, but Obama has been very hesitant to do that. Under Bill Clinton, the number of drilling permits approved rose by 58 percent. Under George W. Bush, the number of drilling permits approved rose by 116 percent. Under Barack Obama, the number of drilling permits approved actuallydecreased by 36 percent.
21. When Barack Obama took office, the average price of a gallon of gasoline was $1.84. Today, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is$3.26.
22. Under Barack Obama, the United States has lost more than 300,000 education jobs.
24. Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 now have a poverty rate of 37 percent.
25. More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as were sold in 2012.
26. Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.
27. Health insurance costs have risen by 29 percent since Barack Obama became president.
28. Today, 77 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.
29. It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
30. The total amount of money that the federal government gives directly to the American people has grown by 32 percent since Barack Obama became president.
31. The Obama administration has been spending money on some of the most insane things imaginable. For example, in 2011 the Obama administration spent $592,527 on a study that sought to figure out once and for all why chimpanzees throw poop.
32. U.S. taxpayers spend more than 20 times as much on the Obamas as British taxpayers spend on the royal family.
33. The U.S. government has run a budget deficit of well over a trillion dollars every single year under Barack Obama.
35. During Obama’s first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.
36. As I wrote about yesterday, when you break it down the amount of new debt accumulated by the U.S. government during Obama’s first term comes to approximately $50,521 for every single household in the United States. Are you ready to contribute your share?
37. If you started paying off just the new debt that the U.S. has accumulated during the Obama administration at the rate of one dollar per second, it would take more than 184,000 years to pay it off.
But despite all of these numbers, the mainstream media and the left just continue to shower Barack Obama with worship and praise. Newsweek recently heralded Obama’s second term as “The Second Coming“, and at Obama’s pre-inauguration church service Reverand Ronald Braxton openly compared Obama to Moses…
At Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, Braxton reportedly crafted his speech around Obama’s personal political slogan: “Forward!”
Obama, said Braxton, was just like Moses facing the Red Sea: “forward is the only option … The people couldn’t turn around. The only thing that they could do was to go forward.” Obama, said Braxton, would have to overcome all obstacles – like opposition from Republicans, presumably, or the bounds of the Constitution. Braxton continued, “Mr. President, stand on the rock,” citing to Moses standing on Mount Horeb as his people camped outside the land of Israel.
But it wasn’t enough to compare Obama with the founder of Judaism and the prophet of the Bible. Braxton added that Obama’s opponents were like the Biblical enemies of Moses, and that Obama would have to enter the battle because “sometimes enemies insist on doing it the hard way.”
So what do you think the next four years of Obama will bring?
Source: The Economic Collapse
As of November of 2012, a mind-numbing 47.7 million Americans subsist on taxpayer-funded food stamps. One in seven Americans cannot feed himself or herself with a job or work of any kind. What constitutes the irony to this national tragedy? Answer: our U.S. Congress imports 100,000 legal immigrants into the USA with green cards every 30 days.
No matter how much poverty and unemployment blacks, whites and Hispanic Americans suffer– the leaders of this country continually pound more humans into the mix without pause. At the same time, food banks go belly up with bare shelves. Over 13 million American children live in destitute poverty and cannot secure three square meals per day.
While Congress supports our enormous military spending into the trillions of dollars and two 10 year long wars that devour (ed) money—it fails to create jobs and feed our poorest. It fails the fundamental rights of our own citizens to work and eat.
The gross statistics created by our U.S. Congress: (Source:hubpages.com)
#1 According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”
#3 Right now, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.
#4 It is projected that half of all American children will be on food stamps at least once before they turn 18 years of age.
#5 According to new numbers that were just released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans living in poverty increased to a new all-time record high of 49.7 million last year.
#6 The number of Americans living in poverty has increased by about 6 million over the past four years.
#7Today, about one out of every four workers in the United States brings home wages that are at or below the federal poverty level.
#8According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate for children living in the United States is about 22 percent.
#9 Overall, approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.
#10 In the United States today, close to 100 million Americans are considered to be either “poor” or “near poor”.
#11 One university study estimates that child poverty costs the U.S. economy 500 billion dollars each year.
#12 Households that are led by a single mother have a 31.6 percent poverty rate.
#13 In 2010, 42 percent of all single mothers in the United States were on food stamps.
Once you research the numbers, you cannot help but look to your own U.S. Senators and House reps and see failure, duplicity and corruption. No excuses! How could men and women who are supposed to represent American citizens continually leave American citizens in the grips of poverty, joblessness and homelessness?
Some kind of moral, ethical and spiritual wrong grows in the nation’s capitol all the way up to the president. American citizens become its victims.
Do you think there is any chance of it changing and becoming better as that same U.S. Congress adds over 3.1 million immigrants every year on our way to adding 100 million immigrants within the next 38 years?
In this column last week, I took sportscaster Bob Costas to task for his inane comments regarding the murder-suicide deaths committed by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher. Costas ignorantly and irrationally blamed the deaths of Jovan and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, on “our current gun culture.” Costas naively said, “If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.”
See my column on Bob Costas at:
Well, here is another tragic story of an NFL player’s untimely death. This time the team is the Dallas Cowboys. USA Today covers the story:
“For the second time in a week, from one Saturday to the next, another young professional football player is dead at the age of 25 and another NFL team is grieving after allegations of a terrible and tragic crime.
“Last weekend, it was Kansas City. This weekend, it’s Dallas. The circumstances are different, but the results are eerily similar. Two players are gone: One by his own hand in front of his coach and general manager in the parking lot of the team’s practice facility; the second in the morgue after a night out with a teammate, who is now sitting in an Irving, Tex., jail cell while his teammates fly to Cincinnati for Sunday’s game.
“One week after Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed the mother of his nearly 3-month-old daughter and then killed himself, the Cowboys are mourning the loss of a teammate while another has been arrested for intoxication manslaughter.
“Nose tackle Josh Brent, who was to have started this Sunday against the Bengals, was arrested early Saturday morning after the car he was driving flipped over, killing his lone passenger, Cowboys practice-squad player Jerry Brown, who was Brent’s teammate not only in Dallas but also at the University of Illinois from 2007-09.”
See the report at:
So, why didn’t Bob Costas get on national television and say, “If Josh Brent didn’t possess a car, Jerry Brown would be alive today”? Why? Because Bob Costas doesn’t think critically, that’s why! He simply regurgitates the same antiquated anti-gun rhetoric he hears from his pro-gun-control buddies.
But it’s true: if the gun is to blame for Belcher and Perkins’ deaths, the car is to blame for Brown’s death.
And speaking of cars and guns, the total number of deaths nationwide from the misuse of firearms pales in comparison to the total number of deaths from the misuse of automobiles. Yet, I don’t hear the Bob Costases of the world screaming for “automobile-control.” Come on, folks, get real! Plus, as Larry Pratt and others have already noted, firearms in the possession of American citizens are actually used to protect the lives of people some 4,000 to 6,000 times A DAY. When Costas said, “Handguns do not enhance our safety,” not only was he wrong, he was miserably wrong! Handguns DO enhance our safety–not to mention our liberty!
Look at the city of Chicago. More people have been murdered in the city of Chicago this year than soldiers killed in Afghanistan. One hundred and forty-four US troops have been killed in Afghanistan so far in 2012, while 228 people have been murdered so far in 2012 in The Windy City.
According to The Huffington Post, “The war zone-like statistics are not new. As WBEZ reports, while some 2,000 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, more than 5,000 people have been killed by gun fire in Chicago during that time, based on Department of Defense and FBI data.”
See the report at:
Yet, Chicago, Illinois, has some of the strictest gun-control laws in America. Then again, maybe that’s one of the reasons why so many people are killed in Chicago. The laws of this city forbid honest citizens from being armed and, thus, they are unable to defend themselves. Let the good guys start shooting back and one will see a dramatic lapse of courage among miscreants. Don’t believe that? Check out the violent crime rates in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, or Vermont.
This modern infatuation with blaming inanimate objects for acts of immorality and impropriety is nothing short of epidemic! Of course, the reason for this madness is it facilitates the expansion of government into the minutest details of our lives. Big-Government zealots have an innate fear of power and responsibility resting in individuals. They see government as the only suitable source of power. To big-government toadies, individuals are merely the property of government. To them, government bureaucrats can do nothing wrong, while individual citizens can do nothing right. Hence, to big-government hacks, only government officials have the right to keep and bear arms.
The same reasoning applies to America’s so-called “War on Drugs.” Marijuana, especially, is blamed for all kinds of immoral and unsavory conduct, even though the overwhelming evidence simply does not support the accusation.
My youngest son, Timothy, is a former Florida Assistant State Attorney who is now in private practice. Regarding marijuana as being a source of criminal conduct, he wrote, “Drawing from my own personal experience, I see the absurdity of the ‘war on marijuana.’ During my time as a prosecutor at the Florida State Attorney’s Office from 2004 to 2006 where I handled literally thousands of criminal cases and tried nearly 60 jury trials, I was never impressed that marijuana was the cause of any criminal activity. Oh sure, possession of marijuana charges comprised a large number of my criminal cases; but the criminal act was merely the man-made law of possession of marijuana. In fact, most criminal activities were in large part caused by alcohol, where one who consumed too much alcohol became violent; beat his wife; neglected his children; drove drunk and hurt someone; caused a disturbance of the peace; or other similar evils.
“I saw those alcohol-related cases every day. Yet, I cannot say the same regarding marijuana. I would estimate that of the thousands of cases I handled, at least half (if not more) were a direct cause of alcohol consumption or addiction. Yet, alcohol is legal and marijuana is illegal.”
See Tim’s column at:
In fact, marijuana was not even considered harmful or illegal in the United States until 1937, as Tim pointed out in his column. Most people would probably be surprised to learn that four out of our first five presidents not only promoted the use of the hemp plant, but also grew it. Can one imagine putting George Washington or Thomas Jefferson in jail for growing what we now call marijuana? Egad!
The idea that the use of marijuana is harmful because “it leads to hard drugs” is tantamount to saying that beer is harmful because “it leads to hard liquor.” But it’s just not true! There are tens of millions of people who drink responsibly, or who use alcohol medicinally (as prescribed even by Holy Scripture), who never become alcoholics. Likewise, there are tens of millions of marijuana users who use it responsibly or medicinally, who never go on to use hard drugs or become drug addicts. And when it comes to addictions, Americans’ addiction to sugar and laziness kills far more people than those addicted to alcohol–or even tobacco for that matter.
But by making marijuana responsible for all kinds of untoward behavior, and by ignoring the personal accountability of people to behave responsibly, it has helped provide the justification for government to trample the Bill of Rights and create huge bureaucracies, which swell the size and scope of government–especially the federal government.
The same is true for firearms. By making guns responsible for all kinds of untoward behavior, and by ignoring the personal accountability of people to behave responsibly, it helps provide the justification for government to trample the Bill of Rights (in this case the Second Amendment) and create huge bureaucracies (the ATF among others), which swell the size and scope of government–especially the federal government.
Marijuana is a convenient scapegoat. Firearms are a convenient scapegoat. Automobiles, on the other hand, are not so convenient! Hence, we hear nothing from Bob Costas about the need for more “automobile-control.” Plus, amazingly enough, neither did Costas say a word about bringing back Prohibition! In Costas’ world, only guns are sufficiently evil enough to warrant his righteous indignation.
The tragedies in Kansas City and Dallas cause all people of good will to grieve. We grieve for the people involved; we grieve for the families of the victims; and we grieve for the NFL players, coaches, and management. But what we must not do is use these tragedies as an excuse to justify and condone the suppression of our God-given liberties! In addition, it’s past time for America, at every level, to start re-emphasizing the primacy of personal responsibility. That’s something that isn’t being taught much in our nation’s schools, churches, or even families.
But the promotion and expectation of personal responsibility is what made America great; and it’s also what provides our nation with its liberties. If men cannot be expected to be accountable for their conduct, they can hardly be expected to be accountable for their freedom. This is why inanimate objects are used as scapegoats by big-government toadies: it diminishes the virtue of individualism and extols the necessity of governmentism.
In Kansas City, the problem was not the gun; the problem was Belcher. And in Dallas, the problem was not the car–or even the booze–the problem was Brent. Straighten out the man and one will have no need to worry about the objects that are at his disposal.
This past Tuesday night, I spoke to a large “Town Hall Meeting” audience in Cheyenne, Wyoming as to the greatest danger facing America in the 21st century: endless immigration overwhelming the United States by adding 100 million within 25 years. I informed the audience the audience that our U.S. Congress continues importing 100,000 legal immigrants every 30 days.
Most of the audience gasped at the numbers. One lady said, “Could you please repeat that figure.” When I did, she said, “I had no idea.”
Most Americans do not know nor do they comprehend the enormity of such massive numbers of human beings being imported into America without pause for the last 45 years. They cannot imagine that our country gallops toward adding 100 million more people in less than 25 years.
Few grasp the environmental, energy and resource issues that 100 million people present. Fewer still understand the quality of life and standard of living consequences. Less than that understand the sociological consequences of adding so many incompatible cultures and religions.
In his farewell speech, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, probably the most reasonable man in Congress, spoke about the five dangers to our republic.
They are as follows:
1. The continuous attack on our civil liberties which threatens the rule of law and our ability to resist the onrush of tyranny.
That “onrush” of tyranny stems from our own ranks as we import endless poverty into this country. We import endless numbers of people that cannot be fed, housed, employed or assimilated. Those millions will create greater attacks on our civil liberties as well as our resources, freedoms and quality of life.
2. Violent anti-Americanism that has engulfed the world. Because the phenomenon of “blow-back” is not understood or denied, our foreign policy is destined to keep us involved in many wars that we have no business being in. National bankruptcy and a greater threat to our national security will result.
If you look in on our own country, such men as Pastor Jeremiah Wright, the former preacher for Barack Obama, cursed America. Over 7 million Muslims cannot and will not assimilate into Western thought and do not feel America is their home. They bow to Muhammed five times daily and follow the Koran and wish to implement Sharia law into America.
Writer Sam Francis said, “You cannot separate a culture and its attendant civilization from the genetic endowments of its founding people, nor can you expect to transfer it to another people, i.e. [immigrants.]”
It is not in the cultural DNA of incompatible ethnic tribes to mesh with American life, and it’s even easier to condemn us for our creating wars around the world at every decade. No one supports America’s wars in Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Why should they? Why would they?
3. The ease in which we go to war, without a declaration by Congress, but accepting international authority from the UN or NATO even for preemptive wars, otherwise known as aggression.
The fact remains that George Bush must be tried as a war criminal for his war on Iraq. He created enormous human misery and he lied to the American people about a non-existent threat of weapons of mass destruction, which were totally created out of thin air.
4. A financial political crisis as a consequence of excessive debt, unfunded liabilities, spending, bailouts, and gross discrepancy in wealth distribution going from the middle class to the rich. The danger of central economic planning, by the Federal Reserve must be understood.
As our third president, John Adams said, “There are two ways to conquer a country: by the sword and by debt.” We are well on our way to self destruction by our $16 trillion debt soon to be $20 trillion at the end of Obama’s last term.
5. World government taking over local and US sovereignty by getting involved in the issues of war, welfare, trade, banking, a world currency, taxes, property ownership, and private ownership of guns.
Such UN mandates like Agenda 21 force us out of our independence and into outside control by outside entities. World government will never work because all politics and all workable ideas for free people start at the local level and all problems must be solved at the local level. World government resembles Marxism and we know where that leads.
American citizens need to wake up to their own demise. We need to get rid of the entire Congress and vote new minds and fresh thoughts into Washington DC. Mark Twain said, “Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress, ah, but I repeat myself.” Today, Americans stand like cows watching the rancher as he circles them and heads them toward the slaughter house.
In my bicycle adventure across America in 2010, near Denton, Texas, a man drove up behind me. He waved at me to stop. I pulled my bicycle to the side of the road.
Seconds later, the driver walked up to me, “My name is Dave Carder.”
“Frosty Wooldridge,” I said, extending my hand.
“I couldn’t help but wonder what you are doing on a 100 degree day riding a bicycle through Texas,” said Carder.
“Sweatin’, lots of sweatin’” I said. “Just making my way coast to coast across America.”
“I’m an endurance runner,” he said. “So, I have a feel for what you’re doing.”
After some small talk, we exchanged business cards and he drove away. Over the past two years, we kept contact through Facebook. While he didn’t say very much about his life when I met him, his website activities astounded me. He moved to Yellowstone National Park shortly after I met him. Over Facebook, I asked him why he had left his very successful life in Texas to move to a remote area in Wyoming.
“I needed to get out of the box,” he said. “I wanted to live a more minimal and happy life in the woods. Big city living may bring lots of money, but it also brings lots of stress, pressure and a feeling of being in a box.”
I said, “John Muir said something about.”
Muir said, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
In 2011, I bicycled down the Continental Divide through Yellowstone National Park, but Dave Carder ran in a 100 mile endurance race in another state. We just missed each other as I pedaled through Yellowstone.
On Facebook in 2012, he told his 1,600 friends that he and three women and four other men would run 2,400 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica Pier 59 in California on old Route 66. You can see the run at www.runitforward.cc . To tell you the truth, his running escapades defy my imagination, but at the same time, inspire me to my own greater potential.
All in all, I didn’t think much more about his run as I bicycled across the USA in 2012. But as luck would have it, his brother moved within several blocks of me in September. Dave Carder decided to visit his brother in Golden, Colorado last week.
He called and we made a lunch date. During the discussion, he talked about his run across America. Not only did he and his companions run across our country, they stopped at dozens of schools along Route 66 to start running clubs in disadvantaged communities. They brought healthy food to kids without food. They worked with local dentists to drill and fill as well as teach kids and parents how to brush and floss. They inspired kids to work through obesity problems toward healthiness in their lives. They created support systems to keep kids enthusiastic about health, wellness and doing well in school.
As I sat there listening to this man who is a boyhood friend of the seven time world champion of the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong, I felt my spirit move. I felt inspired by his true grit, his compassion for humanity, his sense of responsibility to others. Later, I talked about taking a backpacking trip to one of my favorite locations in the Colorado Rockies—a small pond at 11,000 feet near Vail, Colorado in the Mount Holy Cross area.
“You got time to go backpacking?” I said.
“I’m in,” Dave said.
On the weekend, my old friend Bob, Dave and I hoisted our packs over our shoulders and hiked from 8,000 feet to 11,000 feet to a little known pond with lodge pole pines surrounding its crystal clear waters. I call it my “Walden Pond of the Rockies.”
After a three hour hike through the golden colors of autumn, we reached the pond and set up camp. We hiked around the pond. Stunning beauty in magnificent colors!
“Hey, you might like this,” said Dave, as he pulled a flat smooth rock out of his pocket. “Do you see this?
It read, “Meg Annette Rork.”
On the other side, it read, “May the force be with you.”
“Yeah,” Dave said. “I found it while I was running along the Teton Range this summer. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would leave such a beautiful flat rock with a person’s name and a quote from Star Wars. I looked up her name and found out that she was a really beautiful woman who died at the age of 41. She had lived a fantastic life. She got married a month before she died. I Googled her to find out about her life story. From now on, I am going to carry this rock with me and take Meg on many adventures in my lifetime. It seems like a good thing to do.”
“Man,” I exclaimed, “that’s heavy duty profound. You have touched me deeply with that story. Good grief, what a terrible early death, but she lives on through her friends and that rock that you will carry on your adventures. Deeply touching my friend.”
“No telling what life brings to us or how fast it will end,” said Bob. “Nice to see you’re advancing Meg’s life a thousand fold.”
As usual around any campfire, mountaineers tell stories. We laughed as we sipped more hot chocolate. I told of my love affair with Henry David Thoreau.
“Well, I’ve got a surprise for you,” said Dave.
“Yeah, what’s that?” I asked.
Henry David Thoreau said, “If you advance confidently toward your dreams, and endeavor to live the life which you have imagined, you will meet with success unexpectedly in common hours. You will pass through invisible boundaries and you will live with the license of a higher order of beings.”
“Since you’re a Thoreau admirer,” he said. “You might like this.”
At that moment, Dave pulled out his smart phone and turned on the audio from the book Walden. In a split second, Henry David Thoreau began talking about his experiences on Walden Pond. He spoke quietly and simply. He spoke to us as we sat around the campfire. He spoke about life and the pursuit of living. He spoke to us from 150 years ago—through the amazing technology of a smart phone with an audio book download.
“Good grief!” I said. “This is fantastic! This is incredible.”
“Pretty neat,” said Dave.
For the next half hour, we listened to Thoreau espouse his wisdom, his ideas, his thoughts on life. He described everything about living on Walden Pond.
“I can’t thank you enough,” I said to Dave. “Just amazing!”
“I thought you might like this as a special treat in the wilderness on your special pond that you have shared with us,” said Dave.
A few moments in life stand out. Somehow, those moments cement themselves into your memory banks—never to be forgotten. That night, as I sat there with my college roommate Bob and my new friend Dave whom I had met on my bicycle ride across America in Texas in 2010, I knew that I would remember the magic of Walden Pond at 11,000 feet, the campfire and the amazing voice of Thoreau reaching out to all of us over the endless tracks of time. Dave showed us the rock with Megan Annette Rork that he would carry to further her life adventure. Bob sat back with a sense of peace and tranquility for his own remembrances in the woods. All three of us gathered for a photo flash near the campfire. It turned out fantastically with three dudes enjoying a singular moment in time.
“I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…to put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” ~Henry David Thoreau
“Rise and shine dudes,” I said next morning, slapping their tent nylon. “The sun is coming up over the mountains and will soon be upon the lake. Get out your cameras.”
We stood on the shoreline to watch the sun first hit the mountain tops, then work its way into the tree line, and finally, with slow moving drama, it reached the glass still waters of Walden Pond. The tall pines reflected off the water followed by the jagged rocks from the mountains above—they created a sublime tapestry of nature’s artwork. The combination of huge rocks along the shoreline, criss-crossing logs, dragon flies, water bugs and sunbeams—gave Thoreau’s musings a special accent on the transcendent.
We watched the magic unfold. Slow moving, changing colors. Certain evolving of sunbeams on the still waters. A slight breeze kicked up to create ripples on the far end. The pine needles seemed to spin on their own with the water ripples.
After the lake filled with sunshine, we filtered some fresh water, ate some breakfast and loaded our backpacks.
We stood on the edge of the water for a group shot. Three smiling faces. Three exultant spirits. Three souls plus Megan Annette Rork smiled into the camera. Seconds later, we headed into the deep woods too silent to be real. Walden Pond would continue shimmering throughout the day while we made our way along the mountain riches and pure golden memories.
Down the mountain, we walked on golden gilded trail replete with endless fallen golden leaves raining down from branches above. Golden ribbons hemmed the slopes and traced the streams that meandered down the valley—orange to red, saffron to copper and yellow to gold. They rained down on us like gentle golden butterflies. They decorated pine trees like Christmas lights. They caught in the purple asters and snagged themselves in the heavy under brush.
Next summer, Dave Carder and his team will run from El Paso, Texas to Orlando, Florida to help establish running clubs in cities along the way. I urge you to donate your money and time to their efforts to make America a better, healthier and kinder place. Check him out at www.runitforward.cc . You will be inspired and happy to be a part of his legacy to serve the youth of America. His work will inspire you to create something good in your own community.
We will all swallow our cup of corporate poison. We can take it from nurse Romney, who will tell us not to whine and play the victim, or we can take it from nurse Obama, who will assure us that this hurts him even more than it hurts us, but one way or another the corporate hemlock will be shoved down our throats. The choice before us is how it will be administered. Corporate power, no matter who is running the ward after January 2013, is poised to carry out U.S. history’s most savage assault against the poor and the working class, not to mention the Earth’s ecosystem. And no one in power, no matter what the bedside manner, has any intention or ability to stop it.
If you insist on participating in the cash-drenched charade of a two-party democratic election at least be clear about what you are doing. You are, by playing your assigned role as the Democratic or Republican voter in this political theater, giving legitimacy to a corporate agenda that means your own impoverishment and disempowerment. All the things that stand between us and utter destitution—Medicaid, food stamps, Pell grants, Head Start, Social Security, public education, federal grants-in-aid to America’s states and cities, the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program (WIC), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and home-delivered meals for seniors—are about to be shredded by the corporate state. Our corporate oligarchs are harvesting the nation, grabbing as much as they can, as fast as they can, in the inevitable descent.
We will be assaulted this January when automatic spending reductions, referred to as “the fiscal cliff,” begin to dismantle and defund some of our most important government programs. Mitt Romney will not stop it. Barack Obama will not stop it.
And while Romney has been, courtesy of the magazine Mother Jones, exposed as a shallow hypocrite, Obama is in a class by himself. There is hardly a campaign promise from 2008 that Obama has not broken. This list includes his pledges to support the public option in health care, close Guantanamo, raise the minimum wage, regulate Wall Street, support labor unions in their struggles with employers, reform the Patriot Act, negotiate an equitable peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, curb our imperial expansion in the Middle East, stop torture, protect reproductive rights, carry out a comprehensive immigration reform, cut the deficit by half, create 5 million new energy jobs and halt home foreclosures. Obama, campaigning in South Carolina in 2007, said that as president he would fight for the right of collective bargaining. “I’d put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll … walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America,” he said. But when he got his chance to put on those “comfortable pair of shoes” during labor disputes in Madison, Wis., and Chicago he turned his back on working men and women.
Obama, while promising to defend Social Security, also says he stands behind the planned cuts outlined by his deficit commission, headed by Morgan Stanley board member Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, a Wyoming Republican. The Bowles-Simpson plan calls for cutting 0.3 percentage points from the annual cost-of-living adjustment in the Social Security program. The annual reduction would slowly accumulate. After a decade it would mean a 3 percent cut. After two decades it would mean a 6 percent cut. The retirement age would be raised to 69. And those on Social Security who continued to work and made more than $40,000 a year would be penalized with further reductions. Obama’s payroll tax cuts have, at the same time, served to undermine the solvency of Social Security, making it an easier target for the finance corporations that seek to destroy the program and privatize the funds.
But that is just the start. Cities and states are frantically staving off collapse. They cannot pay for most pension plans and are borrowing at higher and higher interest rates to keep themselves afloat. The country’s 19,000 municipalities face steadily declining or stagnant property tax revenues, along with spiraling costs. Annual pension payments for state and local plans more than doubled to 15.7 percent of payrolls in 2011 from 6.4 percent a decade ago, according to a study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. And local governments, which made some $50 billion in pension contributions in 2010, face unfunded pension liabilities of $3 trillion and unfunded health benefit liabilities of more than $1 trillion, according to The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. State and local government spending fell at a rate of 2.1 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to the Commerce Department. It was the 11th consecutive quarterly reduction in expenditures. And in the past year alone local governments cut 66,000 jobs, mostly those of teachers and other school employees, reported The Wall Street Journal, which accumulated this list of grim statistics.
The costs of our most basic needs, from food to education to health care, are at the same time being pushed upward with no control or regulation. Tuition and fees at four-year colleges climbed 300 percent between 1990 and 2011, fueling the college loan crisis that has left graduates, most of them underemployed or unemployed, with more than $1 trillion in debt. Health care costs over the same period have risen 150 percent. Food prices have climbed 10 percent since June, according to the World Bank. There are now 46.7 million U.S. citizens, and one in three children, who depend on food stamps. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency under Obama has, meanwhile, expelled 1.5 million immigrants, a number that dwarfs deportations carried out by his Republican predecessor. And while we are being fleeced, the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Bank has since 2008 doled out $16 trillion to national and global financial institutions and corporations.
Fiscal implosion is only a matter of time. And the corporate state is preparing. Obama’s assault on civil liberties has outpaced that of George W. Bush. The refusal to restore habeas corpus, the use of the Authorization to Use Military Force Act to justify the assassination of U.S. citizens, the passing of the FISA Amendments Act to monitor and eavesdrop on tens of millions of citizens without a warrant, the employment of the Espionage Act six times to threaten whistle-blowers inside the government with prison time, and the administration’s recent emergency appeal of U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest’s permanent injunction of Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act give you a hint of the shackles the Democrats, as well as the Republicans, intend to place on all those who contemplate dissent.
But perhaps the most egregious assault will be carried out by the fossil fuel industry. Obama, who presided over the repudiation of the Kyoto Accords and has done nothing to halt the emission of greenhouse gases, reversed 20 years of federal policy when he permitted the expansion of fracking and offshore drilling. And this acquiescence to big oil and big coal, no doubt useful in bringing in campaign funds, spells disaster for the planet. He has authorized drilling in federally protected lands, along the East Coast, Alaska and four miles off Florida’s Atlantic beaches. Candidate Obama in 2008 stood on the Florida coastline and vowed never to permit drilling there.
You get the point. Obama is not in charge. Romney would not be in charge. Politicians are the public face of corporate power. They are corporate employees. Their personal narratives, their promises, their rhetoric and their idiosyncrasies are meaningless. And that, perhaps, is why the cost of the two presidential campaigns is estimated to reach an obscene $2.5 billion. The corporate state does not produce a product that is different. It produces brands that are different. And brands cost a lot of money to sell.
You can dismiss those of us who will in protest vote for a third-party candidate and invest our time and energy in acts of civil disobedience. You can pride yourself on being practical. You can swallow the false argument of the lesser of two evils. But ask yourself, once this nightmare starts kicking in, who the real sucker is.
Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.
Source: Chris Hedges | Truth Dig
If you follow mainstream election coverage, you might think Mitt Romney has coasted to an honest, easy, well-deserved Republican nomination. Unfortunately for Republican voters, nothing could be further from the truth. The primary process has been an all-out slugfest and many of the delegates Romney has won may be the result of dirty tricks and even election fraud. The following narrative includes links to reports, first-hand testimonials, and video evidence highlighting actions taken by the GOP to ensure a Romney victory, at the expense of fracturing the party just prior to the general election. Party leaders at the county and state level have changed or violated party rules, cancelled caucuses, changed vote counts, thrown out entire counties of votes, counted public votes privately, called-in the SWAT team, and inexplicably replaced Paul delegates with Romney delegates to block Ron Paul from winning the nomination.
Iowa: Days before the caucuses, Paul held a commanding lead in the polls and all the momentum, with every other candidate having peaked from favorable media coverage and then collapsed under the ensuing scrutiny. Establishment Republicans, like Iowa’s Representative Steve King (R), attempted to sabotage Paul’s campaign by spreading rumors he would lose to Obama if nominated. Even though the Iowa GOP platform reads like a Ron Paul speech, shortly before the caucuses, Iowa Governor Terry Barnstad told Politico , “[If Paul wins] people are going to look at who comes in second and who comes in third. If Romney comes in a strong second, it definitely helps him going into New Hampshire”. The message from the Governor to voters of his state was: a vote for Ron Paul was a wasted vote.
Huffington Post reported that Paul was ahead by one point over Romney and Rick Santorum inentrance polls conducted by Edison Media Research for the AP before the caucuses. For the first time ever, the Iowa GOP changed the final vote count to a secret location . After the caucus, resultsfrom 8 precincts (including those with colleges, in a state where Paul won 48% of the youth vote) went missing. Interestingly, these were all precincts Romney lost in 2008. In addition, GOP officials discovered inaccuracies in 131 precincts. Though polling in a comfortable first place, Paul finished third in this non-binding straw poll, behind Romney and Santorum.
Iowa originally reported Romney in first, Santorum in a close second, and Paul third. After the recount, Santorum was named the winner with Romney in second. No mention was given to how the recount affected Paul’s vote count. Iowa GOP chairman, Matt Strawn, later resigned and wasreplaced by Paul supporter, A.J. Spiker and Paul went on to win the majority of delegates.
Florida: The Florida GOP broke party rules by switching to a winner-take-all state before the date allowed, which favors the candidate with the most money for advertising and attack ads. Senior Advisor to the Ron Paul campaign, Doug Wead, claims this was done specifically to favor Romney.
Nevada: There is bad blood between Paul’s supporters and establishment Republicans in Nevada. This dates back to 2008, when Convention Chair, Sue Lowden and her enlisted delegates got up andwalked out of the convention when it became apparent Paul’s supporters would claim a majority of the delegates. She claimed she would reconvene at a later time, but instead approved the McCain slate of delegates. This year, Paul supporters expected shenanigans; so his State Chairman, Carl Bunce, planned to win by outworking Romney. Just before the caucuses, he claimed to have “more IDs than Romney had votes in ’08″. This means through canvassing door-to-door and phoning voters, he had identified about 25,000 voters committed to show up and vote for Paul.
On caucus day, the media was denied access to most caucus sites and the few that were permitted were not allowed to take photos. Others were even ejected from sites. This CNN clip shows GOP staff preventing a Paul supporter from entering the premises to vote at a special caucus that was set up at the last minute for Newt Gingrich backer, Sheldon Adelson. Here, participants were asked to sign an affidavit (under penalty of perjury) stating they were Jewish and couldn’t vote earlier in the day due to “religious reasons”. CNN showed live coverage of votes being counted at this event, with Paul amassing nearly 60% of the votes. In some precincts in Clark County, the largest in Nevada, the number of ballots did not match the number of voters signed in at the caucus. Though votes were to be counted publicly, they were largely counted in private. The vote count was also inexplicably dragged out for several days, leading to a victory for Romney. Nevada State GOP Chairwoman, Amy Tarkanian resigned the day after the caucuses.
Another interesting note is that Paul’s 2012 votes had doubled, tripled, and more than quadrupled his2008 votes in every state leading up to the Nevada caucuses, yet Paul received only 88 more votes there. Of all the places for this to occur, Nevada, the country’s most libertarian state; is the last in which anyone would expect this.
In spite of these irregularities , Paul won 22 of 25 state delegates and replaced state party officials with Paul supporters. Romney supporters then formed their own state party, called “Team Nevada”. The RNC then bypassed the official state party in order to organize for Romney and send all funds to Team Nevada.
Colorado: Romney supporters were caught passing out fake Ron Paul slates at the state convention. The RNC has not investigated or even commented on the matter.
Minnesota: Doug Wead, claims the state party instructed members not to vote for any delegates under age fifty because most young delegates support Paul.
Missouri: WXIX Cincinnati’s Ben Swann covered the fiasco in St. Charles County. Temporary Chairman, Eugene Dokes, started the meeting by banning video recording devices, a first for this event. Robert’s Rules of Order require the temporary chairman to accept nominations and elect a convention chairman to run the event. Instead, he appointed a chair of his choice. The crowd immediately erupted with booing. Shortly after, Dokes adjourned the meeting without the required two-thirds majority, called the police on attendees, and left. In adherence to state rules, Paul supporter, Brent Stafford, along with one of the top parliamentarians in the state, reconvened in the parking lot and attempted to resume the event. Shortly after, the SWAT team arrived and arrested Stafford, who was following state party rules. Dokes later admitted on talk radio that he and otherstate party officials deliberately broke the rules to prevent Paul from winning.
Maine: Ben Swann reported on shenanigans in Maine . Even though only 84% of votes had been counted; State GOP Chairman, Charlie Webster, declared Romney the winner over Paul by less than 200 votes. Hancock and Washington Counties hadn’t voted yet because Webster cancelled the caucuses due to an impending snowstorm, promising they could vote later and their votes would be counted. The snowstorm never occurred and he later reneged on his promise, telling voters in those counties their votes would not be counted after all. Washington County was Paul’s strongest in the state in 2008. Though other states with close outcomes held recounts, this was never a consideration for Maine.
At least one of the counties that did vote claims the state party recorded its tallies incorrectly. Matt McDonald, pastor of a small community church in Belfast, was nominated as the chairman of his caucus. He says the state instructed the caucus chairmen not to read any of the vote totals aloud, but rather to send the results straight to Augusta without a public reading. McDonald made a motion to change this rule, and it was approved unanimously. McDonald says 22 voters showed up, resulting in 8 votes for Paul, 7 for Santorum, 5 for Romney, and 2 undecided. When he called the votes into Augusta, he was told they already had the results and the totals read 9 for Romney, 5 or Santorum, and 2 for Paul. When McDonald told her the tally had been counted publicly, he says “her voice changed and she said…we’ll record this”. Doug Wead claims, “On every occasion, the votes that were lost were Ron Paul votes and the person responsible for reporting them were Mitt Romney supporters…in one case the votes were actually transferred from paper to…a computer and the lady doing the transfer was a Mitt Romney person”. To date, these tallies have not been corrected and Romney is still credited with the straw vote win while the media continues to report that Paul never won a state contest.
Arizona: The Examiner’s Kevin Kervick reports “ballot stuffing, rule violations, and improper vote counting that occurred behind closed doors” at the convention. In addition, Paul supporters allege threats of physical violence from Romney supporters.
Michigan: Doug Wead reports, ” Michigan, unlike any other state…had a special party rule forbidding any precinct delegate vacancies from being filled at county conventions until after the state delegates and alternates were chosen. In other words, countless Ron Paul supporters attending county convention were forcibly blocked…because they weren’t elected precinct delegates in 2010-long before the Ron Paul 2012 campaign began”. Wead also claims “documented instances in multiple counties where county party officials “edited” the state delegation lists after the county conventions adjourned”.
Washington: At the state convention , a Ron Paul delegate claimed bubble ballot sheets were withheld in King County’s district 36. He also claims the 37 th district caucus was forced to conduct the meeting outside because Chairwoman, Lori Sotelo, was irritated when a Ron Paul supporter was elected to run the caucus, instead of her choice.
Ben Swann interviewed a voter in Pierce County, Washington; who claims the local Republican leadership passed out what they called a “unity slate” to voters and said it represented an equal distribution of delegates committed to Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich. The plan was to organize to block Ron Paul supporters, who outnumbered the other candidates’ supporters, from receiving the lion’s share of the delegates. The Republican leadership prevailed.
Alaska: In spite of last-minute rule changes and violations of party rules, Paul supporters oustedlongtime state chairman, Randy Ruedrich, and voted-in Paul supporter, Russ Millette. Ruedrich then tried to sabotage the state convention and transferred all of the state party’s $100,000 to the local Capital City Republicans in Juneau, effectively bankrupting the party now controlled by Paul supporters.
Georgia: This video shows GOP Chairwoman, Sue Everhart, at the Athens Clarke County GOP meeting admitting “shoddy treatment of the Ron Paul people at that  convention” and publicly apologizing. She presents the rule book that she helped to write and claims it won’t happen again. The video then shows the actual convention and party leaders breaking those rules to force their pre-selected slate of delegates and prevent Paul’s supporters from electing their own. Party leaders then adjourned the meeting illegally and ran out of the meeting.
Massachusetts: Paul won 16 of the 27 delegates selected so far in Romney’s home state. In addition, he swept all 6 from Romney’s home county. As a result (for the first time ever in the state), delegates were asked to sign an affidavit stating ” I certify under the pain and penalty of perjury, that on the first ballot at the 2012 Republican National Convention, I will affirmatively Vote for Mitt Romney, the winner of the 2012 Massachusetts Presidential Primary.” The state GOP then covered up Romney’s embarrassing loss by invalidating ballots and ousting the Paul delegates.
North Dakota: Ben Swann reports the selection of delegates was unfair: the GOP handed out pre-printed ballots with a slate of delegates with 60% of them being Mitt Romney supporters in a state where he won only 26% of the vote.
Oklahoma: Kevin Kervick of The Examiner reports that the Oklahoma convention had to be moved to the parking lot because Robert’s Rules were ignored, delegate credentials were not verified, a convention chair was never appointed, motions made from the floor were ignored, the Chairman illegally elected a slate of Romney delegates, and the convention was closed without a two-thirds majority vote. Consistent with Robert’s Rules, Paul supporters reconvened in the parking lot to elect delegates. Paul supporters have now filed a law suit to ensure their delegates will be seated.
Virginia: Doug Wead claims “at a district convention, they coaxed the Ron Paul delegation outside and then locked the door. The pastor of the church that was hosting the event was, himself, locked out”.
U.S. Virgin Islands: Ron Paul won his first caucus, only to have the GOP take down the straw vote results from their website showing Paul the victor with 29% over Romney’s 26% and replaced with a note from the party claiming Romney won because he won more delegates. Paul’s Official Campaign Blogger, Jack Hunter, explains how every other contest determined the victor by the straw vote, except the one straw vote Paul won.
Alabama: An inexplicable gap exists between Paul’s popular vote count and his delegate vote count. This is odd because voters choose both on the same day and on the same ballot. Alabama Republican Party rules state that voters can only vote for one candidate and then must choose between his delegates. Statewide, Paul received only about one-third as many votes as his delegates. This means voters chose another candidate, but selected Paul’s delegates. No other candidate’s totals showed a similar pattern.
Louisiana: Ben Swann reports a clash between the old Louisiana State GOP leadership and newly-elected leaders who support Paul. Old Chairman, Roger Villere, angered attendees with last-minute rule changes the night before the convention. At the start of the convention, Villere attempted to recognize the former Chair of the Rules Committee, who had been voted out the night before. When new Chair, Alex Helwig, rose to address the delegation; Villere instructed security (comprised of off-duty Shreveport Police) to remove him . They arrested him for trespassing and broke several of his fingers. Next, an overwhelming majority elected a new Convention Chair, Paul supporter Alex Helwig. Members then turned their chairs to face Helwig, with their backs to Villere. In desperation, Villere instructed the police officers to remove the duly-elected Herford. They did so and dislocated his hipin the process, sending him to the emergency room. The reconvened group followed state party rules and went on to elect a majority of Paul delegates, which the state party later replaced with its own slate of Romney delegates. The Paul campaign has appealed to the RNC, but it is unlikely that the RNC will reinstate the Paul delegates.
Oregon: This YouTube video shows establishment Republicans in Congressional District 4 attempting to steal the ballot box and leave the premises when it became apparent the Ron Paul supporters were in the majority. A Paul supporter is chased away from the ballots and claims he was accosted by an establishment party member.
Wisconsin: MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell reports Romney violated state campaign laws by bribing voters with free subs.
In other states, Paul supporters claim vote-flipping occurred with electronic voting machines. Once about 40% of votes are reported, there is typically little variation in the final numbers. However on several occasions, at about 40% Romney’s trajectory “flipped” with the leader, which was often Paul. Austin Election Judge, Anne Beckett, has come forth publicly to claim she witnessed this firsthand.
Baseless allegations or a few isolated incidents may not be cause for concern, but there is enough video evidence in this report to disturb anyone who cares about fair elections. Rule changes, disregard for existing rules, cancelling elections, running off with ballots, secret vote counts, throwing out votes, threats, physical violence, and arbitrary replacement of delegates are activities unbecoming of a democratic society. Whether you’re a Ron Paul supporter, or even a Republican, is irrelevant. That the Republican Party will seemingly stop at nothing to ensure their selected candidate is the nominee should be deeply troubling for all Americans.
Source: Free Words
This summer while bicycling 3,400 miles across America from New Port Beach, Oregon to Washington DC, I met hundreds of Americans, tourists and bicycle travelers. I heard the craziest conversations in coffee houses and diners. You will be hearing some of their stories in the coming months. The ride:http://www.wusa9.com/news/
While traveling at 12 miles per hour, I really “see and feel” the landscape. I become part of it. I mesh with Mother Nature in a physical, mental and spiritual dance. Hard to describe, but it’s exquisite on multiple levels. When it’s hot, I sweat like a horse. When it’s cold, I pedal to keep warm. When it’s raining, I become a duck on a bike. It takes “true grit” to pedal a bicycle long distances.
You could say that the mountain passes that I climbed “etched” lots of memories into my thighs. Some call it “hard work” while I call it “hard play.” Many commented that it would be easier to ride on the flats of the Midwest. I responded that I would rather climb mountains to enjoy their rugged wildness.
My friend John Muir said, “Camp out among the grass and gentians of glacier meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of Nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” There is something special about bicycle travel that encapsulates Americans’ imaginations. I tried to capture my adventure in words:
“If the roar of a wave crashes beyond your campsite, you might call that adventure. When coyotes howl outside your tent–that may be adventure. When the wind rips at your tent pegs—that too, may be called adventure. While you’re sweating like a horse in a climb over a 12,000 foot pass, that’s adventure. When a howling headwind presses your lips against your teeth, you’re facing a mighty adventure. If you’re drenched from head to toe in sweat as you pedal across a desert, that’s adventure. If you’re pressing through a howling rainstorm, you’re soaked in adventure. But that’s not what makes an adventure. It’s your willingness to struggle through it, to present yourself at the doorstep of Nature. No more greater joy can come from life than to live inside the ‘moment’ of an adventure. It may be a momentary ‘high’, a stranger that changes your life, an animal that delights you or frightens you, a struggle where you triumphed, or even failed, yet you braved the challenge. Those moments present you uncommon experiences that give your life eternal expectation. That’s adventure!” Frosty Wooldridge How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World www.
But more than adventure greeted me on my journey across America. When you travel the blue and red highways of our country, you get to meet “Norman Rockwell America” or better yet, you get to meet “Andy and Barney of Mayberry RFD America.”
Kids in parks ran up to our loaded bicycles. They took pictures and wanted to touch our cycles and gear. Their parents introduced themselves. They snapped pictures with their smart phones of my sign “Across America” and immediately visited my website on adventure. They thanked us for keeping the “Spirit of Adventure” alive. They marveled at our journey.
In those towns, we thrilled to the architecture from 1880 to 1910 on the fronts of the buildings. We walked into some 120 year old post offices still operating. We ate breakfasts at old fashioned diners with real “down home” cooking. I fondly recall eating at the One Street Down Restaurant in Redmond, Oregon. Best oat meal and pancakes in the country. Another stop in Pinedale, Wyoming at the Rock Rabbit Restaurant served blue berry pancakes and omelets to fight for! But more than the food, the town folks enthralled us. Everybody shared their stories.
After riding through Hannibal, Missouri to visit Mark Twain’s former haunts, I pedaled down Old Route 66 along the Mississippi River. On my ride through Cincinnati, I picked up Route 50 to pedal through a bucolic hamlet named Milford, Ohio.
On the edge of town, I noticed a rusted 1950 Schwinn bicycle with flared handle bars. In the front basket, purple and white petunias exploded into the morning sunshine. On the rear rack, another basket of flowers curled their way through its back spokes and covered the seat. “Good grief!” I muttered. “That’s beautiful!”
On the back staked into the ground, a sign read, “Bikes in Bloom”.
I snapped a few pictures and figured that would be the end of it. But as I traveled down that 120 year old Main Street in Milford, Ohio, I noticed a bicycle in bloom in front of every merchant store front. I discovered incredibly beautiful bikes of every description decked out in flowers. I witnessed yarn woven into the shape of a Pac Man on the front wheels, rhinestone ropes curled around top tubes and yarned up seats and cranks. Big bikes in flowers and little bikes in flowers. The entire Main Street exploded in flowers and bicycles.
Every year, Milford, a cross roads for touring bicyclists, features “Bikes in Bloom” as a friendly competition of all the merchants. Tourists, locals and cyclists enjoy community, creativity and fellowship. I marveled at the beauty. Half way through town and 25 pictures later, I stopped at Bishop’s Bicycle Shop. What a blast! I met a bunch of long distance touring riders working there with Kelly, Chris and Jim. After a great stop, I continued on my way across America with vivid memories and an idea.
How about everyone reading this column all across America create a “Bikes in Bloom” in your own cities, towns and hamlets? I already introduced the idea to my Golden, Colorado city council. I presented photographic examples on an overhead projector like you see attached to this column. They loved it.
Let’s move America toward beauty, flowers, peace, joy and community fellowship. It’s fun, creative and positive on every level. To get more information, check with www.BishopsBicycleShop.com .
An aerial view of drought affected Colorado farm lands, 74 miles east of Denver, Colorado on Saturday, July 21, 2012 [Photo: USDA]
Severe drought spread rapidly across the central US this week, further damaging staple crops and heightening the risk of a global food crisis. The Midwest, where roughly one-third of the world’s staple grains are produced, is experiencing the deepest dry spell in over half a century.
The National Drought Mitigation Center in a statement Thursday reported “tremendous intensification of drought through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Arkansas, Kansas and Nebraska, and into part of Wyoming and South Dakota in the last week.” Almost 30 percent of the Midwest is under extreme drought, triple that of the previous week.
Every state in the country had some counties under abnormally dry or drought conditions, making the disaster the most widespread US drought since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has declared 1,369 counties across 31 states disaster areas—officially the largest US disaster on record.
“It’s getting to the point where some of the damage is not reversible,” said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the center. “The damage is done, and even with rain, you’re not going to reverse some of these problems, at least not this growing season.”
With temperatures remaining in the triple digits across the Midwest, scattered rainstorms did little to restore moisture to topsoil. Iowa State University agronomist Roger Elmore said that over the week, “most of the state got a quarter- to half-inch of rain. We lose the equivalent of a quarter-inch of moisture every warm, sunny day.”
Meteorologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center have warned that the high heat and dry spell could extend through October. Through June, the year has been the hottest ever recorded for the US. Globally, land temperatures likewise broke all previous records last month. The extreme weather corresponds to projections issued by climatologists over the past three decades, indicating the worsening impact of global warming.
“This year is very emblematic of the type of thing we worry about with climate change,” David Lobell of global warming monitor Climate Central told ABC News. “The new normal for agriculture is going to be frequent episodes of very high temperatures. Temperatures at which pretty much any crop does not do very well.”
For the seventh consecutive week, the USDA on Monday downgraded its assessment of corn and soybean crops. For the week ending July 22, the portion of the corn crop rated in “poor” and “very poor” condition rose to 45 percent. Thirty-five percent of soybean acreage was rated poor to very poor. Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt told the World Socialist Web Site in a recent interview that a rating of “very poor” likely meant such crops were “approaching no yield.”
Since June 3, the portion of corn rated in “good” to “excellent” condition plummeted from 72 to 26 percent. Seven of the largest corn-exporting states now have only one percent or less of corn acreage assessed as “excellent.” A similar plunge was recorded in soybean acreage (65 to 31 percent).
The assessment is the worst since the drought of 1988, when small farmers went out of business en masse after a decade-long rural economic crisis.
The impact of the agricultural disaster on the global food supply is compounded by a speculative frenzy on grain futures on the Chicago Board of Trade. Last week corn futures surpassed all-time records at $8.2875 a bushel, before falling back on news of rain. As of Friday, corn for September delivery was trading at $7.9375 a bushel. Some analysts have suggested that corn futures for December delivery could fetch $9 or more per bushel in August if climate predictions prove correct.
With pastures in ruin and feed prices driven up in trading, smaller US livestock producers are facing the prospect of liquidating their herds. As a result, supermarket prices for beef, pork, and other meats are likely to surge in the coming year, after the initial influx of slaughtered herds. Prices for quick-to-market meats such as chicken and eggs, as well as dairy products, will likely rise more swiftly.
The USDA on Wednesday announced that supermarket prices would rise in coming months. Currently it projects beef prices will rise 4 to 5 percent, and dairy products 3.5 to 4.5 percent.
However, large meat producers are warning that cheaper meats such as pork and chicken will become “luxuries” if Washington does not suspend a program enabling the energy industry to secure up to 40 percent of the US corn crop for ethanol production.
“I’ll use the word catastrophe—that’s my definition,” Larry Pope, head of Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, told the Financial Times. In June, Smithfield moved to lock in feed costs on the futures markets before corn broke $8 a bushel. “I thought that $6 corn was the end of the world,” he said. “I never could have realized that I would be thankful to be buying it at $7.”
“Beef is simply going to be too expensive to eat,” Pope said. “Pork is not going to be too far behind. Chicken is catching up fast… Are we going to really take protein away from Americans?” He said US meat prices would rise by “significant double digits” per year.
Even a less drastic price increase in protein food sources would compell millions of low-income Americans to choose what they can afford to buy over the nutritional value provided.
The disaster bears brutal consequences for the populations of import-dependent countries across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean. In 2008, riots erupted in more than 30 countries after a similar confluence of severe weather and speculation drove up staple food prices. Among the billions of people living on $2 a day or less, the cost of food consumes as much as three-quarters of a family’s income.
Grain suppliers are beginning to default on deals with importers in Egypt, Libya, and Iraq. Egypt, the world’s largest consumer of wheat, is turning to Russia as the US drought deepens. However, Russia has also cut its wheat outlook by 3 million tons.
The US corn outlook negatively impacts wheat exports, as a poor corn harvest tends to mean wheat is held more tightly for domestic use. Because Egypt imports half of its wheat, and a quarter of its wheat imports originate in the US, any fluctuation in the grain’s price or supply sharply impacts living conditions in the country. Forty percent of the Egyptian population subsists on $2 a day or less.
The world’s population is subjected to the irrationality of the market, and the disjointed global food system. Barges loaded with Southeast Asia-bound grain have clogged Indian ports, creating delays of up to 25 days. Spotty rains in Asian growing regions may further compound food shortfalls and inflation.
“The deficit in rainfall will definitely cause food inflation to go up,” Dun & Bradstreet economist Arun Singh told Reuters. “The extent of the impact will be known only after the monsoon is over.” With monsoon season half over, some agricultural areas of the country have seen rainfall 68 percent lower than average. Food inflation in India is already 10.81 percent, significantly higher than general inflation; on lentils, chickpeas, potatoes, and other staples, the rise is far higher.
Source: Naomi Spencer | wsws.org
Last weekend, the Chicago Police Department collaborated with over 20 local churches in a giant effort to encourage Chicagoans “to get guns out of their homes.” WBBM News Radio has the story. “Using the lure of $100 gift cards, the Chicago Police Department is encouraging people to get guns out of their homes and turn them in this Saturday, during the annual gun turn-in program.”
The news report goes on to say, “[T]he Police Department is partnering with 20 churches.
First Deputy Supt. Alfonza Wysinger says anyone who turns in a real gun will get a $100 gift card. Replicas and BB guns are worth $10.
“‘No questions asked,’ Wysinger said. ‘Just show up at the church, and hand over the weapons to the CPD officer that will be there, and get your $100 gift card. So we strongly suggest that people come out that have weapons lying around the house, or weapons, maybe, that they don’t necessarily want in their house. This is a chance to get some money for their weapon, and get another dangerous weapon on [sic] the street.’”
The report then lists 23 churches that are identified as participating in the gun turn-in event.
See the report at:
But I particularly enjoyed a few of the comments that readers posted to the online report:
One guy wrote, “Gun thieves will be lined up for blocks.”
Another wrote, “They can arrest you for having a gun outside of your house.”
And another person wrote, “[Criminals] are turning in the guns they used in multiple crimes because the stupid politicians will destroy them thus getting rid of the evidence…”
And perhaps my favorite comment on the story was this one: “WOW. BOTH police and CHURCHES turning traitor against the Constitution.”
Truthfully, think about the absurdity of this gun turn-in program. As one reader noted, think of the money gun thieves will make on this program. As any tenured lawman knows, most guns are stolen to resell in order to get the money to purchase drugs, booze, sex, etc. Some are used in crimes, sure. But most are used for the purpose of making a buck. Imagine a gun thief who has perhaps 50 or 60 stolen guns in his possession: that guy has just made a small fortune OFF THE TAXPAYERS. Remember, there are “no questions asked.” And since the cops in Chicago seem to be doing this annually, how many gun thieves are stealing guns all year long and just saving up for the big payout, or how many start a gun-stealing frenzy just before the anticipated gun turn-in program? $100 for a stolen gun is often a higher bid than what the thief would get on the street. What a deal!
And think of this angle: what better way to get some quick dough by selling a gun or two that is totally inoperable, and then taking the money and buying a gun that actually works? Again, what a deal!
And another reader nailed it when he observed that taking a firearm outside your home is a CRIME in Chicago. In fact, I am surprised to learn that people in Chicago can even legally have a gun in their homes. You cannot legally carry a firearm in Chicago. So, the CPD is encouraging people to BREAK THE LAW. I can just imagine people all over Chicago caught carrying guns and telling the arresting officer, “I was going to take it to the gun turn-in program.” And you know what the cop would say, right? “Tell it to the judge.”
This brings up another point: why is there so much gun-related crime in Chicago, anyway? After all, Chicago has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the entire country. GUNS ARE ILLEGAL IN CHICAGO! So, pray tell, where is all of this gun-related crime coming from? I thought that passing laws restricting the ownership and possession of firearms was supposed to reduce crime? If that is truly the case, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York City, etc., should be the most peaceful places on earth! Of course, the truth is if you want to find peaceful communities, go to states such as Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Vermont where just about everybody is packin’ heat!
Plus, the point that another reader made about criminals turning in the guns with which they have committed crimes and thereby letting the authorities destroy those firearms–thus destroying the evidence–is a very astute observation. Way to go CPD!
But the icing on the cake for me is the point that one reader made when he said, “WOW. BOTH police and CHURCHES turning traitor against the Constitution.” Bingo!
Another reader was even more direct. He said, “The government and so called churches will be the downfall of this great country’s Constitution.” Amen!
It grieves me to say that a sizeable percentage (if not a majority) of today’s churches are as culpable in the dismantling of our Constitution and Bill of Rights as any entity one can think of. So many pastors and churches today are unwilling to take a stand against almost ANYTHING that might have political overtones. I doubt that most of them would say “Boo” to the devil himself–especially if he came dressed in a government uniform. They are all about making people feel good, entertaining people, and stroking people’s egos.
In fact, let me ask my church-going readers to try an experiment. The next time you go to church, ask your pastor where he or she stands on the Second Amendment. Ask them, “Would our church participate in a police-sponsored gun turn-in program?” Ask them, “If the President declared a ‘national emergency,’ and FEMA (or any federal or State agency) asks you to ask your congregation to turn in their firearms, would you agree to do so?” Go ahead: ask them! Then observe their reaction very carefully.
You can count on this: virtually no pastor whose church is receiving federal “faith based initiative” taxpayer monies would take a public stand for the Second Amendment under those conditions. Count on it. So maybe you should also ask your pastor if your church is receiving federal “faith based initiative” monies. All over America, literally thousands of churches are accepting federal tax dollars to help support their daycare centers, their after-school programs, their “Christian” schools, their food banks, etc.
Contrast today’s churches to those of Colonial America. In those days, gun racks for the rifles that had been brought to church were as common as coat racks. In fact, many times, the church basement or back room was used as a place in which caches of firearms were commonly stored.
I realize the times in which we live do not remotely resemble those of Colonial America, but the spirit and attitudes of the pastors and men of the church should still be the same: that freedom is fragile and that firearms are “the people’s liberty teeth” (George Washington), that, “An armed society is a polite society” (Robert Heinlein), and, “No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms” (Thomas Jefferson).
And while these milquetoast preachers are preparing their sermonettes, they should read what the Lord Jesus said: “He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” (Luke 22:36) Of course, the Roman sword was the First Century equivalent to a Twenty-First Century handgun: it was the weapon of choice for personal, close quarter combat. In today’s parlance, Jesus said if you don’t have the money, sell your clothes if you have to, and buy a GUN! That’s a far cry from churches in Chicago asking people to give up their guns, isn’t it?
I don’t know about anyone else, but I will take the word of Jesus over the word of Barack Obama and his Chicago Gestapo any day!
The Barack Obama administration is quietly in the process of rigging use of the US Census of 2010, which deliberately counted millions of illegal aliens, for the purpose of restructuring the apportionment of the US House of Representatives. Accordingly, as candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor of one of the negatively affected states (Montana), Mr. Bob Fanning and I have joined with several others in becoming amici curiae in a pending federal lawsuit brought by the State of Louisiana against the US Secretary of Commerce, et al., which was filed January, 13, 2012 in the United States Supreme Court.
What has happened is, the US Census Bureau erroneously claims that it “‘is required by the U.S. Constitution count everyone living in this country, regardless of immigration or citizenship status.’” Accordingly, they have counted millions of illegal aliens in the 2010 Census and are using those figures to apportion the US House of Representatives. If this egregious misinterpretation of the US Constitution is allowed to stand, five states (Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, and Ohio) will lose representation in the US Congress to which they are lawfully entitled, while three states (California, Texas, and Florida) will be awarded additional representation in the US Congress to which they are not lawfully entitled. And, of course, this will also directly impact the makeup of the Electoral College, which ultimately elects the President of the United States.
Of course, this manipulation of the 2010 US Census also impacts the election of the US President, as those states that are granted more seats in the US Congress are also granted more votes in the Electoral College as the Electoral College is composed of a “Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress. . . .” (Article. II. Section. I. Clause. 2. US Constitution). And, as everyone knows, under the US Constitution, it is the Electoral College that ultimately elects the President of the United States. Thus, the states of Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, and Ohio, will be unjustly denied their lawful votes in the Electoral College, while California, Texas, and Florida, are being unjustly granted unlawful votes in the Electoral College. Would it not be extraordinary if the margin by which President Obama is re-elected in the Electoral College would be provided by the manipulation of the census data under his control? Again, this would be an outrage!
In essence, the Obama administration is rigging the US Census to steal a congressional seat from the State of Montana. This rigging will keep Montana from having a second congressional representative. If the illegals in California, Texas, and Florida are not included, then Montana will receive two congressional seats and four electoral votes. Under Obama’s rigging plan, Montana will continue to have only one congressional seat and three electoral votes.
Considering the major media and even most “conservative” talking heads have said virtually nothing about this monstrous misallocation of constitutional government is just the latest example of how truly out of touch the people who are entrusted to inform the American people really are.
The plaintiff in this case is the State of Louisiana, which has now been joined and supported by amici U.S. Border Control, U.S. Border Control Foundation, U.S. Justice Foundation, Institute on the Constitution, Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, English First, English First Foundation, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, The Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, Public Advocate of the United States, Policy Analysis Center, Virginia Del. Bob Marshall, Oklahoma Rep. Charles Key, Maryland Del. Don Dwyer, Washington Rep. Matt Shea, Wyoming Sen. Kit Jennings, as well as Candidate for Governor of Montana, Bob Fanning, and Candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Montana, Chuck Baldwin.
Attorneys filing this brief before the US Supreme Court are Herbert W. Titus, William J. Olson, John S. Miles, Jeremiah L. Morgan (of the law firm of William J. Olson, P.C. of Vienna, Virginia) and Gary G. Kreep (of the U.S. Justice Foundation).
As citizens of the State of Montana, and as candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor of the State of Montana, Bob Fanning and I are outraged at this unconstitutional manipulation of the 2010 US Census, and the subsequent unconstitutional and unlawful misapportionment of the US House of Representatives. We are further outraged that our own governor, Brian Schweitzer (the incumbent Democrat governor who is term-limited out of office after the completion of his current term) has done nothing to prevent the people of the State of Montana from being denied the rightful seating of an additional US House member from the Montana delegation to Washington, D.C. He has not served as Montana’s watchman, to make certain that our State is being treated fairly by the Obama administration. Louisiana has been forced to go it alone, as the only State willing to bring this challenge. By not joining the lawsuit against the Obama administration, what Governor Schweitzer in essence is doing is allowing illegal aliens to deny the due representation of the citizens of Montana in Washington, D.C. This is an outrage!
It is a gross misinterpretation of the US Constitution to claim that the US Census is supposed to “count everyone living in this country.” Article. I. Section. I. Clause 3. as amended by Section. 2. of the 14th Amendment authorizes “a targeted decennial census of the ‘respective numbers’ of ‘the People’ of the several States, not a wholesale count of the numbers of persons found ‘living’ in the United States.” The term “the People” is a technical term used in the U.S. Constitution to refer to the polity, that is, the people who constituted the government and who are legal citizens of the nation. Only by such a tailored count can the constitutionally-authorized decennial census serve the purpose for which that census has been required–the apportionment of representation of the people of the several states in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“It is manifestly untrue that the decennial census ordained by the Constitution is to be taken without regard to a person’s ‘immigration or citizenship status.’ The decennial census is conducted for the apportionment of representation in the House of Representatives, the members of which are ‘chosen every second Year by the People of the several States.’ (Article. I. Section. 2. Clause. 1. US Constitution). The first sentence of the 14th Amendment establishes a symbiotic relationship between a person’s United States citizenship and that person’s State citizenship. Thus, whether a person is part of ‘the People’ of a State is largely, if not exclusively, dictated by a person’s ‘immigration or citizenship status.’ Any census that ignores that connection is fatally flawed.”
In the afore-mentioned lawsuit, we are asking the US Supreme Court to preserve the integrity of the US House of Representatives and Electoral College.
I can tell you that the people who want to disassemble constitutional government in this country are hoping that no one notices what the Obama administration is doing to manipulate the 2010 US Census to unlawfully reconstruct the US House of Representatives and Electoral College. Well, I can tell you, Bob Fanning and I (along with the other amici curiae supporting Louisiana in this lawsuit) are not going to let that happen!
I will be holding a press conference to blow the whistle on what is taking place to deny the people of the State of Montana (along with the people of the states of Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio) their lawful representation in Washington, D.C. I am also using the influence and outreach of this column to alert the American people as to how the Obama administration is attempting to manipulate the US House of Representatives and Electoral College.
It is more than interesting also that the “anointed” establishment neocon Republican Montana gubernatorial candidate, Rick Hill, has, himself, not even bothered to alert the people of Montana to this travesty. Why not? Rick is a career politician who once served in the US House of Representatives from Montana. One would think he would want to protect the people of the State of Montana from this outrage. But he has said nothing! Plus, have you heard anything about this from any of the “conservative” talking heads on FOX News? No you haven’t! Why not? Why is it left to this column to alert you to this gross violation of constitutional government?
Therefore, I unashamedly appeal to readers to help Bob and I carry this fight to preserve the integrity of the US House of Representative and the Electoral College to the US Supreme Court. Please go to our web site at:
I also highly encourage readers to visit the web site of the law firm filing this brief. William J. Olson, Herbert Titus, et al., have been at the front lines in helping to defend constitutional government for longer than many of us have been alive. Bill Olson and Herb Titus have defended a sizeable number of patriot organizations and individuals against federal usurpation for decades. I don’t know of another law firm with the credentials and track record of fighting for constitutional government, Second Amendment rights, and individual liberty anywhere in the country than the law firm of William J. Olson, P.C.
To learn more about this lawsuit and the Olson law firm, go to:
In the meantime, each of us should be using our individual and collective sphere of influence to trumpet this attempted travesty as loudly as possible! I especially encourage readers in the states of Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, and Ohio to demand of every elected public office holder in their respective states to use every means possible to defend the lawful rights of their states to proper representation in the US House of Representatives and the Electoral College. The people of America simply must not allow this flagrant manipulation of the 2010 US Census to take place! If the Obama administration gets by with this now, think how the states’ representation in Congress will be abused in the future.
As I sit in my office seat at my computer desk with an empty screen before me, I look out my window at the endless snows at 8,000 feet. To the west of me, the Rocky Mountains cut their majestic profiles into the evening sky. Lodge pole pines blanket the valleys that sweep down into Clear Creek. A herd of 50 buffalo search for grass beneath two feet of fresh snow. Below me, the lights of Denver sparkle for as far as the eye can see.
The sun rises and sunsets across the wide Colorado sky make for majesty too amazing to paint in words. I know most Americans have visited this state so they know what I am talking about. Tonight, horsetail clouds caught the last rays of a strawberry sunset. They glowed red on their front sides and swished into gray and white on their back sides. The sky shimmered with steel blue and silver. My eyes lingered at their beauty.
Earlier today, 30 elk walked by my window on their foraging route that has been an endless cycle for centuries. I love living in the wilds where coyotes, fox, deer, elk, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, finches and black capped chickadees visit my feeders regularly. On occasion, a black bear greets my wife Sandi and me on our hikes through the wilderness.
This fall, we hiked up to the top of Bergen Park picnic area at 9,000 feet where we ate dinner while three deer munched on grass not 20 feet away. With the golden aspen sharing their riches, we enjoyed the setting sun glowing through the forest as it created visual magic all around us.
For these blessings, I am mighty glad to be a country boy living on a country road surrounded by wilderness. As John Denver sang, “Thank God I’m a country boy!”
I truly am thankful for all my blessings. I enjoy good health, a roof over my head, passion, purpose and a sense of God, country and community. Our two boys, Dan and Trevor visited on Christmas Eve. We shared dinner, conversation and a few meaningful gifts. Both Dan and Trevor, tall, smart and handsome, enjoy their lives in balance and positive life paths. Dan created his own computer company while he leads a local band. He loves skiing, para-sailing, writing songs, playing guitar, piano and violin. Trevor continues on his college path toward an eventual doctor’s degree. He’s a backpacker, cyclist, artist and poet. He’s also a kind and considerate young man. We’re proud that both of them contribute to America as solid citizens.
After working on my latest book for two years, How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World, it finally published and I hope it makes a positive impact on teens, middle agers and retirees alike. If a farm boy like me can travel the planet from very humble beginnings, anyone can do it.
The usual array of Christmas letters and pictures caught us up on the comings and goings of our friends. Nice to see most of them enjoying their lives! Of course, tragedy struck me with the death of my brother John last February and another friend Mike is about to leave the planet from cancer.
The circle of life continues. My longtime college friends Bob and Marie are proud grandparents of Leo from their daughter Rexanne. We visited them in Winter Park with their many friends.
Last weekend, I skied with my friend Tony for some great runs at Winter Park, Colorado. Nothing beats a stupendous ski run down a 12,000 foot peak. I feel like I’m 21 as I turn the skis and cruise through the magic of an aspen glade in deep powder.
During the winter for the past 20 years, I have been a volunteer ski instructor for the handicapped at the National Sports Center for the Disabled at Winter Park, Colorado. www.NSCD.org I have taught countless teens, adults and older persons how to ski with disabilities that range from war wounds, amputations, blindness, MS, MD, CP and traumatic brain injuries. I am inspired by their courage and tenacity to live fruitful and meaningful lives.
On Thursday nights, we dance country two step at the Grizzly Rose in Denver. On Saturday nights, Sandi and I dance six and eight count swing, cha cha, sulsa, waltz and other dances at the Electric Cowboy. We taught swing dancing at the Buchanan Recreation Center, Evergreen, Colorado at the Christmas party.
As I looked back at some of our bicycle touring on the Continental Divide this past summer, I have to pinch myself at being this old and yet able to pedal my touring cycle for thousands of miles. Perhaps the picture of me snoozing on a guard rail with the sign saying, “Continental Divide Ride 2011 with Tim, Bob and Frosty” says it all. Did I really see an 800 pound grizzly take down a cow elk in Yellowstone National Park and feast on his lunch for two hours? Did I meet my old college roommate John and talk for seven hours to catch up. From a teacher, he’s become a top novelist who has met and befriended Stephen King. His books enthrall! Is the power of the Internet (created by Al Gore, of course) simply amazing for connecting us worldwide? Was that night where were we slept in a teepee on the plains or rode a jackalope in DeBois, Wyoming a lot of fun or what? How about that young couple riding 24,000 miles around the world on bicycles that we met in Ludden, Wyoming? I check them out to see their progress at www.foodcyclist.com John and Kate put on quite a show with their video camera and writing. Many blessings on your journey my friends.
That amazing backpack trip into Chicago Basin with four 14,000 foot peaks highlighted my summer. We rode the ancient Silverton train from Durango to our drop off spot. We hiked six miles into base camp at 11,200 feet by a roaring white water stream. We camped out among a billion wild flowers in full bloom. Joe, Al and I summitted all four of them as we met people from around the world. We saw shooting stars just like John Denver’s song, “I’ve seen fire in the sky….” At the top of the peaks for the next two days, we gazed in wonder for 100 miles in all directions.
This reflection of the year 2011 is probably much like your Christmas letter. You must admit, we Americans enjoy a fabulous country. Even the poorest among us enjoy opportunities, food, shelter, education, medical care and hope. While 2011 may not have been so good on the world stage or many individual lives, here in America, at least for today, we carry hope within our hearts and we work toward a better tomorrow for future generations.
God bless America and God bless you and your family. Happy New Year, Sandi and Frosty Wooldridge.
Many times I hear the ostriches among us exclaim, “What freedoms have we lost? America is the freest country on earth.” We have all heard that, right? Of course, part of the problem is that, thanks to our education system, media, and churches, many Americans do not even know how to define liberty and freedom. The truth is, America’s Founding Fathers were willing to pledge their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” and fight a bloody revolutionary war for far fewer abridgments of liberty than we Americans endure every day of our lives today. FAR FEWER!
To answer the second part of the ostrich argument first: no, America is not the freest nation on earth. According to the Index of Economic Freedom, which is produced by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, the United States just barely makes it in the top ten, ranked at number nine in the world.
According to Deroy Murdock, “Among the 179 countries examined in the Index, Hong Kong is ranked first, followed by Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Ireland, and Denmark. These nations all outscored the U.S. across ten categories, including taxes, free trade, regulation, monetary policy, and corruption.
“America barely made the top ten. Bahrain was tenth, with 77.7 points, one decimal point behind America’s 77.8 score. Chile reached No. 11 with 77.4, just 0.4 points behind the United States.
“Even worse, with a score below 80, the U.S. is spending its second year as a ‘mostly free’ economy. As it departed the family of ‘free’ nations in 2010, it led the ‘mostly free’ category. Even within this less-than-illustrious group, America now lags behind Ireland and Denmark.”
See Murdock’s report at:
Just ask any small businessman how free the United States is! The regulations, restrictions, prohibitions, assessments, fees, taxes, surcharges, permits, licenses, etc., are worse than almost any industrialized nation in the world. Remember the CEO of Coca Cola recently saying that it was easier doing business in China than in America? Well, he was telling the truth!
Thanks to political correctness, environmental wackoism, and socialistic/fascist ideology running rampant in Washington, D.C., and even many State capitols, “the land of the free” has become “the land of the oppressed.” Being able to drive a car, have a job, shop at a mall, watch sports on television, or even vote, is NOT the mark of a free people. Folks in China and other oppressed nations routinely do all of the above.
Virtually every activity once considered a “right” is now regulated or prohibited by either the federal or State and local government. Few states (thankfully, my home State of Montana is one of them) recognize the right of people to marry without getting a State marriage license. And can anyone imagine Paul Revere riding throughout Boston with a license plate and registration on his horse? And can anyone further imagine Sam Adams or those militiamen at Lexington and Concord registering a gun or being asked to get a concealed carry permit? Yeah, right!
In most urban settings, one cannot build a shed on their own property, add a room on their house, or even pour a driveway without asking a variety of government bureaucrats for permission–and paying them hundreds of dollars in fees, of course. And did you know that the federal government even tells your local plumbing contractor how many gallons of water your toilet can flush? Well, they do! You call this freedom? Our Founding Fathers wouldn’t have!
To answer the first part of the ostrich question, the freedoms we Americans have lost are literally too numerous to count. A recent report at the American Dream web site makes a very salient argument as to just how many freedoms have been lost in the good old U.S. of A.
The report states, “Once upon a time, our founders thought that they were guaranteeing our freedoms by adding a Bill of Rights to the Constitution.
“But today there are a lot of freedoms that we simply do not have any longer.
“In America today, you do not have the right to say whatever you want. If you say the wrong thing on a blog or a website it can have dramatic consequences.
“In America today, you do not have the right to do raise your own children as you see fit.
“In America today, you do not have the right to grow whatever food you want and you do not have the right to eat whatever food you do grow.
“In America today, you do not have the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
“In America today, you do not have a right to privacy. In fact, you should expect that everything that you do is watched, tracked, monitored and recorded.”
The report then goes on to list several real-life examples to prove the assessments listed above.
See the American Dream report at:
And, of course, the ultimate symbol of a free people is the right to keep and bear arms. And while most states theoretically recognize a citizen’s right to own and possess a gun, the vast majority of them only do so–not as a right guaranteed to a free people by their Creator–but as a privilege granted to approved subjects by the limited benevolence of the State. At last count, only four states recognize the right of their citizens to keep and bear arms without any kind of State license: Alaska, Arizona, Vermont, and Wyoming. (For clarification, the State of Montana allows open carry Statewide and concealed carry in unincorporated areas, but people carrying concealed in incorporated cities, must have a CCW permit. We passed legislation this year to expunge the incorporated city CCW requirement, but our Democrat governor vetoed it. But Montana will be the fifth State soon!)
To view a current map of Constitutional Carry states, click here:
So, the next time you hear someone say, “What freedoms have we lost? We are the freest nation on earth,” why not give them a copy of this column? And then tell the ostrich to get his head out of the sand and his rump off the couch before the little remnant of freedom we have left is also completely eviscerated.
Plutocrats aimed another weapon at the nation’s poor and at small and midsized farmers, this time thru the 2012 agriculture appropriations bill, H.R. 2112, which the House passed on June 16. The 82-page bill returns some federal spending to 2006 levels and others to 2008 levels.
Now being reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, the final version of HR 2112 will lay the terrain on which the 2012 Farm Bill will be crafted. The House Agriculture Committee began preparatory hearings on the 2012 Farm Bill this week, reports NSAC.
Key sections provide deep cuts to domestic food programs, threatening food banks, low-income seniors, women and children, and farmers markets supported by WIC vouchers issued thru the Women, Infants and Children program.
HR 2112 also made deep cuts to rural development, conservation and eco-remediation programs, and to local and regional food system development programs. This can be seen as nothing other than a punitive response to the growing local food sovereignty movement.
Earlier this year, Maine and Vermont enacted home rule ordinances to protect small farms from the overreaching hyper-regulation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA), which became law in January. On June 10, the State of Maine passed a Joint Resolution in support of local food sovereignty.
One positive provision in HR 2112 prohibits the Food and Drug Administration from spending any funds to authorize genetically modified salmon. Contrary to some media reports, Congress did not “ban GM salmon,” nor did the House “pass a law” thru HR 2112. A federal law is enacted only after Congress (both the Senate and the House of Representatives) passes it and the US President signs it.
GIPSA Rules Defunded
By far, though, the most controversial cut in HR 2112 relates to “GIPSA Rules,” which would begin ending unfair trade practices in the meat industry. Everyone who eats animal products should understand how this works, because these rules not only benefit small operators, but also product quality, food security and the environment.
HR 2112 prohibits GIPSA – the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration – from using funds to finalize antitrust rules in the meat industry.
This overturns a key provision in the 2008 Farm Bill, which required the USDA to develop those rules.
“Some question whether the Appropriations Committee can overturn national legislation,” said National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson in a press conference today.
Speaking for a coalition of cattle and hog producers and poultry growers, Johnson demanded that President Obama keep his campaign promise to reform livestock and poultry markets.
“The GIPSA Rule reinstates the USDA’s long-held interpretation of the Packers and Stockyards Act that was overturned by 2005 and 2006 court cases,” he said.
In both those cases, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s rejection of the jury verdict. In the 2005 case, London v. Fieldale Farms, the jury awarded London $164,000. In the 2006 case, Pickett v. Tyson, the jury awarded $1.28 billion to Pickett for eight years of price fixing by Tyson.
Substantively, the London court held that an operator must show harm to the entire industry, not just the plaintiff.
Under the GIPSA rules, “Farmers and ranchers no longer have to prove unfair practices harm the entire industry, only that the abuses damaged plaintiff,” said Johnson.
This is the usual standard in tort law. Can you imagine being hit by a car and having to prove the defendant’s action was harmful to all drivers? Of course not. The court ruling flies in the face of common sense and entrenches monopolistic power.
In Pickett, U.S. District Court Judge Lyle Strom absurdly reasoned that price manipulation is allowed if the perpetrator has a business interest in doing so. By this logic, companies can do whatever they want to improve profits, despite laws against such actions.
Judicial corruption aside, the USDA’s failure to fully enforce the Packers & Stockyards Act of 1921 and other anti-corporate farming laws has resulted in the loss of nearly a million operators in the beef, pork, poultry and specialty meat market over the past 30 years.
This chart shows figures just for the pork industry, from info derived from the National Pork Board’s 2010 Quick Facts. Ninety percent of family hog operations and 95% of midsized operations have folded in the past 34 years.
When Congress passed the Packers & Stockyards Act of 1921 (PSA), it sought to bust the monopoly of the Big 5: Armour, Swift, Wilson, Morris, and Cudahy, which then controlled 75% of the meat packer market.
Today, four firms control 85% of the market: Tyson (IBP), Cargill (Excel), ConAgra (Monfort), and Farmland National Beef.
Clearly, PSA enforcers have not done their job.
Though mandated over three years ago, the USDA still has not formalized the GIPSA rules. At today’s meat coalition press conference, speakers urged the USDA to finalize the rules.
Defunding the GIPSA Rules clarifies federal priority to protect the rich at the expense of the rest of us.
The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) explains that these firms use their monopoly power to “manipulate markets, deny or severely restrict market access to independent livestock producers, and use unfair practices like confidentiality clauses to the detriment of both contract producers and independent producers.”
Mike Callicrate of R-CALF USA calls it “predatory pricing.”
“The big packers, so called, stand between hundreds of thousands of producers on one hand and millions of consumers on the other. They have their fingers on the pulse of both the producing and consuming markets and are in such a position of strategic advantage they have unrestrained power to manipulate both markets to their own advantage and to the disadvantage of over 99 percent of the people of the country.”
So spoke Wyoming Senator John Kendrick in 1921, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, arguing the need for the Packers and Stockyard Act.
Market concentration is even worse today.
Food, Bombs and Wall Street
While lawmakers claim the need to cut government spending, they won’t touch the military’s outrageous budget for domestic surveillance and illegal resource wars. Instead, cuts apply to the US social safety net thru HR 2112.
There’s the $1.2 trillion US military budget that could use substantial reduction. And, the Obama Administration reported to Congress last week that the Libya invasion alone will cost $1.1 billion by September.
Certainly, food not bombs is a more sane policy after Wall Street collapsed the global economy with its criminal trading schemes.
Instead of arresting anyone from Wall Street, authorities instead continue to arrest Food Not Bombs members, who refuse to obey a law against feeding hungry people in Florida.
Just last month, the FDA cited the Food Safety Modernization Act for authority in declaring it no longer needs credible evidence to seize food that may be contaminated, entirely ignoring the Fourth Amendment. Given the increasing frequency of the FDA’s illegal raids on small ops not involved in interstate commerce and whose product sickened no one, we can expect more small producers to be shut down.
In HR 2112, efforts to control trading in futures by the Dodd-Frank Act are stymied by funding cuts. In commenting on the bill, Congressmen Sam Farr and Norman Dicks describe the cut this way:
“The bill provides $171.93 million for Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), a reduction of $136 million (44%) below the request (which proposed an increase for the implementation of the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation) and $30 million (15%) below 2011. At a time of volatile commodity prices, including oil and energy, and only three years after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, inadequate funding of CFTC is an unacceptable risk to the markets on which our economy depends.”
On this we agree.
You can also call or write your Senators, asking them to:
- Oppose Section 721 of HR 2112, which prevents the USDA from adopting fair market, anti-monopoly GIPSA rules;
- Increase funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to rein in Wall Street trading which is artificially spiking food prices; and
- Restore program funding for rural development and local food systems.