Friday, February 19, 2010

Guard Evacuates Downed Helicopter’s Passengers

CHARLESTON, W.Va., Feb. 19, 2010 – Thirteen of the 17 passengers stranded in a remote region of West Virginia’s Pocahontas County have been evacuated from a Navy MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter that was forced to land in the area yesterday, National Guard officials said.

Rescued passengers are being evaluated by emergency services agencies and transported to a local hospital for further evaluation and treatment.

West Virginia Army National Guard medics still are at the landing site and are working with emergency crews to evacuate the remaining passengers, said Mike Cadle, the state public affairs officer.

The helicopter reportedly was carrying passengers from Fort Pickett, Va., to Camp Dawson in Preston County, W.Va. Three members of the West Virginia National Guard were on board the aircraft.

The aircraft was participating in Operation Southbound Trooper X, an annual military exercise focusing on the integration of U.S. and NATO tactics and procedures as well as interservice coordination and capabilities.

A West Virginia Army National Guard HH-60 Black Hawk helicopter located the downed aircraft at about 7:15 p.m. yesterday. Two medics were lowered to the landing site to assess the situation and assist the injured.

Rescue personnel reported several injuries to the passengers, but the extent of those injuries still is being determined.

A West Virginia Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft from the 130th Airlift Wing based here has been circling the site to maintain communications with the downed aircraft.

On-site rescue efforts are being coordinated by the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the West Virginia National Guard.

The National Guard is working with local officials to deliver food, water, blankets and other essential items to the rugged, snow-covered site, which lies in northwestern Pocahontas County.

(From a West Virginia National Guard news release.)

Tiger Woods to break his silence

Alternative diet author fails in attempt at alternative legal argument

Kevin Trudeau, author of the book The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About, has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $50,000 after inciting his fans to flood a judge’s e-mail account with letters of support, says a Reuters wire story.

According to the report, Trudeau, who’s also a well-known infomercial pitchman, “has long battled federal regulators over his marketing of alternative ‘cures’ for obesity, memory loss, disease and financial ruin,” and is currently in court “because an appeals court had thrown out a $37.6 million fine and a three-year infomercial ban against him for violating the terms of a 2004 Federal Trade Commission settlement with his book, ‘The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About.’”

But after Trudeau urged his fans to write to the judge hearing the case, that judge — U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman — said he saw Trudean’s tactic “as a threat to his safety,” chastised him in court and imposed the jail time.

Trudeau has since “apologized and posted a message on his Web site to stop the campaign.”

The National Public Sector Pension Underfunding Gap: $1 Trillion and Counting

What's the cost of underfunded public-sector pensions at the state and local level? $1 trillion and counting.

States may be forced to reduce benefits, raise taxes or slash government services to address a $1 trillion funding shortfall in public sector retirement benefits, according to a new study that warns of even more debilitating costs if immediate action isn't taken.

The Pew Center on the States released a survey Thursday of state-administered pension plans, retiree health care and other post-employment benefits in all 50 states that blamed a decade's worth of policy decisions for leaving them shortchanged.

The result for some states will be "high annual costs that come with significant unfunded liabilities, lower bond ratings, less money available for services, higher taxes and the specter of worsening problems in the future," the study said.
I've been detailing the problems in New Jersey for some time now, particularly how Gov. Jon Corzine claimed that he would fund the state pensions, only to turn around and say that municipalities could avoid their pension payment obligations to avoid raising taxes or cutting services.

The pensions are the ticking time bomb in state budgets nationally, and few are looking at the issue seriously. New Jersey attempted to deal with the problem a few years ago, but legislation stalled in the Assembly.

The state legislature is back at it again this time, and Gov. Chris Christie is demanding action - to rein in the costs and to demand that payments be made annually - forcing the state to deal with pension payments rather than ignore the obligation or shift the costs into the future. A referendum for mandating annual pension payments is being considered. Of course, even the referendum is pushing a phase-in, because mandating the full payment would be a $7 billion a year hit on a budget that is nearly $40 billion (including current obligations - pension costs would be nearly 25% of the state budget in just a few years' time).

With that in mind, expect the politicians to push the decision off still further into the future (making the problems that much more intractable).

Northern Illinois University struck by another student shooting

CHICAGO — Northern Illinois University was shut down briefly Friday after a student was shot near a residence hall just over two years after a disturbed student shot 21 people.

"NIU Public Safety officials are stating that the event appears to be an isolated incident between two individuals, and that the alleged assailant is in police custody," the university said in a campus alert posted on its website.

The university said that a student was injured in the shooting and transported to hospital but did not release any further details about the victim.

The campus was reopened shortly after the first alert was posted at 4:29 am and students were told to attend classes as usual.

Daniela Bedolla, 22, was studying in her dorm room when she heard a single gunshot around 4:00 am (1000 GMT.)

"It was really loud," she told the Chicago Tribune.

"I just thought it was drunk kids fooling around, or a car backfiring or something."

But then word spread that someone had been shot outside and people shouted to call 911.

Stephen Kazmierczak, 27, opened fire in a lecture hall at NIU on February 14, 2008, killing five students and wounding 16 others before turning his gun on himself.

He was described as an "outstanding" graduate student with no history of trouble but signs of erratic behavior in the two weeks prior to the slaying.

Indeed, We Need More Black Male Teachers

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is on a mission: He wants to tour several historically black colleges and speak directly with African-American male students about teaching in the nation’s public schools.

It’s a bold and unprecedented initiative – and comes at a critical time for black America.

Consider this: Only 1.7 percent of the nation’s 4.8 million public school teachers are black men. Most black boys may never be educated by someone who looks like them, and sadly, some African-American boys will never experience a black male role model in their public school classrooms.

“And people ask why black males are struggling," Duncan said in a recent interview. “I’ve talked to the first lady about it. I plan to visit black colleges and talk to freshmen and sophomores. I want to talk to them about a call to service."

One of Duncan's first opportunities to speak with black students will be at Xavier University in New Orleans, where he is scheduled to speak in May, his aides told Thursday.


Black farmers win $1.25 billion in discrimination suit

- Thousands of black farmers who were discriminated against by the U.S. Agriculture Department will be eligible to receive $1.25 billion in a settlement, the government said on Thursday.

The settlement of the case, known as Pigford II, is contingent on Congress approving $1.15 billion for the farmers, in addition to $100 million already provided in the Farm Bill.

For decades, black farmers said they were unjustly being denied farm loans or subjected to longer waits for loan approval because of racism, and accused the USDA of not responding to their complaints.

The original Pigford lawsuit, named after North Carolina farmer Timothy Pigford, was filed against the USDA in 1997, and settled two years later when the government compensated black farmers left out of USDA loan and assistance programs.

More than 13,000 farmers able to provide proof of their claims of discrimination were awarded $50,000 each and given debt relief in a package worth more than $1 billion.

But tens of thousands of claims were denied for missing the filing deadline. The settlement in Pigford II would allow these farmers to again make their claims.

"We have worked hard to address USDA's checkered past so we can get to the business of helping farmers succeed," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

"The agreement reached today is an important milestone in putting these discriminatory claims behind us for good," he added.

Black farmers able to demonstrate they suffered from discrimination and filed complaints between 1981 and 1997 will get up to $50,000 and debt relief.

A separate, more in-depth claims process could provide some farmers with up to $250,000 in damages. The final awards for those with successful claims will be determined by the actual amount of funds Congress releases and the number of claims.

"The plaintiffs can move forward and have their claims heard -- with the federal government standing not as an adversary, but as a partner," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

Any foreclosure on farms with pending claims will be halted until the claims are addressed. Those with successful claims will begin receiving payments in mid-2011.

"These are people who have been promised things over the past and they haven't transpired," said John Boyd Jr, founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association.

"We've been really pressing the government for the past 20 years, and we want to make sure this thing really happens for us," he told Reuters, saying the ruling could benefit around 80,000 farmers.

President Barack Obama applauded both USDA for its efforts to right past wrongs and the Justice Department for "bringing these long-ignored claims of African American farmers to a rightful conclusion."


Though the settlement is a significant step forward, black farmers awaiting compensation still have one more hurdle to cross. Farmers will only receive payments if Congress approves the money by March 31.

Blanche Lincoln, chair of the Senate agriculture committee, expressed her support for upholding the settlement agreement.

"I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to help provide the compensation owed to African American farmers who have been victims of discrimination," she said.

Boyd pointed out that this is the second time the $1.15 billion request has come to Congress. It was not acted on in the previous budget.

"Taking this big step today by entering into an agreement with the black farmers really puts the pressure on the president and the agriculture secretary to finish the job by calling on leaders of Congress to finally bring long-overdue justice to black farmers," he said.

Conservatives gather

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney predicted to a gathering of conservatives that President Barack Obama won't win re-election.

Cheney stepped to the podium near the end of a talk Thursday by his daughter and said, "I think that Barack Obama will be a one-term president."

That brought loud and lengthy cheers from the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of the U.S. political right in Washington.

While Cheney provided the memorable sound bite from the conference's first day, the overall event features appearances by Florida gubernatorial hopeful Marco Rubio and U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who rocked the political landscape with is special election victory last month.

Speakers consistently railed against the policies of Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. The CPAC gathering is trying to build on the grassroots movement that was so apparent last summer and fall, as activists protested the Democrats' plans for healthcare reform.

This is a gathering of conservatives more than Republicans, as television personality Glenn Beck stressed in his comments Thursday, saying many participants were angry at Republicans for not staying true to conservative values.

UPDATED: 5 Muslim soldiers attempted to poison Ft. Jackson food supply

UPDATED: 5 Muslim soldiers attempted to poison Ft. Jackson food supply

This story is just breaking today, but it appears that 5 Muslim soldiers, who were part of the Arabic Translation program, were arrested back in December for trying to poison the food supply at Fort Jackson.

CBN News has learned exclusively that five Muslim soldiers at Fort Jackson in South Carolina were arrested just before Christmas. It is unclear whether the men are still in custody. The five were part of the Arabic Translation program at the base.
The men are suspected of trying to poison the food supply at Fort Jackson.
A source with intimate knowledge of the investigation, which is ongoing, told CBN News investigators suspect the "Fort Jackson Five" may have been in contact with the group of five Washington, DC area Muslims that traveled to Pakistan to wage jihad against U.S. troops in December. That group was arrested by Pakistani authorities, also just before Christmas.
Coming as it does on the heels of November's Fort Hood jihadist massacre, this news has major implications.

OK, I might as well skip the PC nonsense and be blunt. Since we are at war with radical Islam, how about we do some good old fashion racial profiling in the military? After Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's shooting spree at Fort Hood, one would have thought the military would have dropped the political correctness and started to get some deep background checks on all Islamic soldiers. Yes, I know it is unfair, but radical Islamic extremist count on our political correctness to hide in plain sight. Look at Hasan, the man was walking around with a big fat neon sign saying “I hate America” and our silly political correctness blinded us to the obvious.

I am sure we will be hearing a lot more about this story in the coming days.

The Manifesto Of Austin, Texas Crash Pilot Joseph Andrew Stack

Various new outlets are reporting that a plane intentionally crashed into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. While the details are still being uncovered, it appears that the man who owned the plane, Joseph Andrew Stack, left an online manifesto detailing his decision.
It’s also claimed that Stack set his house on fire before crashing his plane.

Here is the reported manifesto of Joseph Andrew Stack below. Draw your own conclusions.

If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “Why did this have to happen?” The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time. The writing process, started many months ago, was intended to be therapy in the face of the looming realization that there isn’t enough therapy in the world that can fix what is really broken. Needless to say, this rant could fill volumes with example after example if I would let it. I find the process of writing it frustrating, tedious, and probably pointless… especially given my gross inability to gracefully articulate my thoughts in light of the storm raging in my head. Exactly what is therapeutic about that I’m not sure, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only anarchy. Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all. We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was “no taxation without representation”. I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that crap from only a few years of my childhood. These days anyone who really stands up for that principal is promptly labeled a “crackpot”, traitor and worse.

While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.

Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.

And justice? You’ve got to be kidding!

How can any rational individual explain that white elephant conundrum in the middle of our tax system and, indeed, our entire legal system? Here we have a system that is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand. Yet, it mercilessly “holds accountable” its victims, claiming that they’re responsible for fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. The law “requires” a signature on the bottom of a tax filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they understand what they are signing; if that’s not “duress” than what is. If this is not the measure of a totalitarian regime, nothing is.

How did I get here?

My introduction to the real American nightmare starts back in the early ‘80s. Unfortunately after more than 16 years of school, somewhere along the line I picked up the absurd, pompous notion that I could read and understand plain English. Some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having ‘tax code’ readings and discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section relating to the wonderful “exemptions” that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the “best”, high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do exactly what the “big boys” were doing (except that we weren’t steeling from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God). We took a great deal of care to make it all visible, following all of the rules, exactly the way the law said it was to be done.

The intent of this exercise and our efforts was to bring about a much-needed re-evaluation of the laws that allow the monsters of organized religion to make such a mockery of people who earn an honest living. However, this is where I learned that there are two “interpretations” for every law; one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us… Oh, and the monsters are the very ones making and enforcing the laws; the inquisition is still alive and well today in this country.

That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0. It made me realize for the first time that I live in a country with an ideology that is based on a total and complete lie. It also made me realize, not only how naive I had been, but also the incredible stupidity of the American public; that they buy, hook, line, and sinker, the crap about their “freedom”… and that they continue to do so with eyes closed in the face of overwhelming evidence and all that keeps happening in front of them.

Before even having to make a shaky recovery from the sting of the first lesson on what justice really means in this country (around 1984 after making my way through engineering school and still another five years of “paying my dues”), I felt I finally had to take a chance of launching my dream of becoming an independent engineer.

On the subjects of engineers and dreams of independence, I should digress somewhat to say that I’m sure that I inherited the fascination for creative problem solving from my father. I realized this at a very young age.

The significance of independence, however, came much later during my early years of college; at the age of 18 or 19 when I was living on my own as student in an apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My neighbor was an elderly retired woman (80+ seemed ancient to me at that age) who was the widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement. Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was social security to live on.

In retrospect, the situation was laughable because here I was living on peanut butter and bread (or Ritz crackers when I could afford to splurge) for months at a time. When I got to know this poor figure and heard her story I felt worse for her plight than for my own (I, after all, I thought I had everything to in front of me). I was genuinely appalled at one point, as we exchanged stories and commiserated with each other over our situations, when she in her grandmotherly fashion tried to convince me that I would be “healthier” eating cat food (like her) rather than trying to get all my substance from peanut butter and bread. I couldn’t quite go there, but the impression was made. I decided that I didn’t trust big business to take care of me, and that I would take responsibility for my own future and myself.

Return to the early ‘80s, and here I was off to a terrifying start as a ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ contract software engineer… and two years later, thanks to the fine backroom, midnight effort by the sleazy executives of Arthur Andersen (the very same folks who later brought us Enron and other such calamities) and an equally sleazy New York Senator (Patrick Moynihan), we saw the passage of 1986 tax reform act with its section 1706.

For you who are unfamiliar, here is the core text of the IRS Section 1706, defining the treatment of workers (such as contract engineers) for tax purposes. Visit this link for a conference committee report ( regarding the intended interpretation of Section 1706 and the relevant parts of Section 530, as amended. For information on how these laws affect technical services workers and their clients, read our discussion here (


(a) IN GENERAL – Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new subsection:

(d) EXCEPTION. – This section shall not apply in the case of an individual who pursuant to an arrangement between the taxpayer and another person, provides services for such other person as an engineer, designer, drafter, computer programmer, systems analyst, or other similarly skilled worker engaged in a similar line of work.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE. – The amendment made by this section shall apply to remuneration paid and services rendered after December 31, 1986.


· “another person” is the client in the traditional job-shop relationship.

· “taxpayer” is the recruiter, broker, agency, or job shop.

· “individual”, “employee”, or “worker” is you.

Admittedly, you need to read the treatment to understand what it is saying but it’s not very complicated. The bottom line is that they may as well have put my name right in the text of section (d). Moreover, they could only have been more blunt if they would have came out and directly declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave. Twenty years later, I still can’t believe my eyes.

During 1987, I spent close to $5000 of my ‘pocket change’, and at least 1000 hours of my time writing, printing, and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or slug that might listen; none did, and they universally treated me as if I was wasting their time. I spent countless hours on the L.A. freeways driving to meetings and any and all of the disorganized professional groups who were attempting to mount a campaign against this atrocity. This, only to discover that our efforts were being easily derailed by a few moles from the brokers who were just beginning to enjoy the windfall from the new declaration of their “freedom”. Oh, and don’t forget, for all of the time I was spending on this, I was loosing income that I couldn’t bill clients.

After months of struggling it had clearly gotten to be a futile exercise. The best we could get for all of our trouble is a pronouncement from an IRS mouthpiece that they weren’t going to enforce that provision (read harass engineers and scientists). This immediately proved to be a lie, and the mere existence of the regulation began to have its impact on my bottom line; this, of course, was the intended effect.

Again, rewind my retirement plans back to 0 and shift them into idle. If I had any sense, I clearly should have left abandoned engineering and never looked back.

Instead I got busy working 100-hour workweeks. Then came the L.A. depression of the early 1990s. Our leaders decided that they didn’t need the all of those extra Air Force bases they had in Southern California, so they were closed; just like that. The result was economic devastation in the region that rivaled the widely publicized Texas S&L fiasco. However, because the government caused it, no one gave a shit about all of the young families who lost their homes or street after street of boarded up houses abandoned to the wealthy loan companies who received government funds to “shore up” their windfall. Again, I lost my retirement.

Years later, after weathering a divorce and the constant struggle trying to build some momentum with my business, I find myself once again beginning to finally pick up some speed. Then came the .COM bust and the 911 nightmare. Our leaders decided that all aircraft were grounded for what seemed like an eternity; and long after that, ‘special’ facilities like San Francisco were on security alert for months. This made access to my customers prohibitively expensive. Ironically, after what they had done the Government came to the aid of the airlines with billions of our tax dollars … as usual they left me to rot and die while they bailed out their rich, incompetent cronies WITH MY MONEY! After these events, there went my business but not quite yet all of my retirement and savings.

By this time, I’m thinking that it might be good for a change. Bye to California, I’ll try Austin for a while. So I moved, only to find out that this is a place with a highly inflated sense of self-importance and where damn little real engineering work is done. I’ve never experienced such a hard time finding work. The rates are 1/3 of what I was earning before the crash, because pay rates here are fixed by the three or four large companies in the area who are in collusion to drive down prices and wages… and this happens because the justice department is all on the take and doesn’t give a fuck about serving anyone or anything but themselves and their rich buddies.

To survive, I was forced to cannibalize my savings and retirement, the last of which was a small IRA. This came in a year with mammoth expenses and not a single dollar of income. I filed no return that year thinking that because I didn’t have any income there was no need. The sleazy government decided that they disagreed. But they didn’t notify me in time for me to launch a legal objection so when I attempted to get a protest filed with the court I was told I was no longer entitled to due process because the time to file ran out. Bend over for another $10,000 helping of justice.

So now we come to the present. After my experience with the CPA world, following the business crash I swore that I’d never enter another accountant’s office again. But here I am with a new marriage and a boatload of undocumented income, not to mention an expensive new business asset, a piano, which I had no idea how to handle. After considerable thought I decided that it would be irresponsible NOT to get professional help; a very big mistake.

When we received the forms back I was very optimistic that they were in order. I had taken all of the years information to Bill Ross, and he came back with results very similar to what I was expecting. Except that he had neglected to include the contents of Sheryl’s unreported income; $12,700 worth of it. To make matters worse, Ross knew all along this was missing and I didn’t have a clue until he pointed it out in the middle of the audit. By that time it had become brutally evident that he was representing himself and not me.

This left me stuck in the middle of this disaster trying to defend transactions that have no relationship to anything tax-related (at least the tax-related transactions were poorly documented). Things I never knew anything about and things my wife had no clue would ever matter to anyone. The end result is… well, just look around.

I remember reading about the stock market crash before the “great” depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn’t it ironic how far we’ve come in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem; they just steal from the middle class (who doesn’t have any say in it, elections are a joke) to cover their asses and it’s “business-as-usual”. Now when the wealthy fuck up, the poor get to die for the mistakes… isn’t that a clever, tidy solution.

As government agencies go, the FAA is often justifiably referred to as a tombstone agency, though they are hardly alone. The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes unless there is a body count (unless it is in the interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough). In a government full of hypocrites from top to bottom, life is as cheap as their lies and their self-serving laws.

I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.

I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are. Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer. The cruel joke is that the really big chunks of shit at the top have known this all along and have been laughing, at and using this awareness against, fools like me all along.

I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.

The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.

Joe Stack (1956–2010)

Stimulus funds going to slashed programs

By Matt Kelley

WASHINGTON — More than $3.5 billion in economic stimulus funds are going to programs that President Obama wants to eliminate or trim in his new budget.

The president's budget released this month recommends getting rid of Army Corps of Engineers' drinking-water projects, which got $200 million in stimulus funds, and a Agriculture flood-prevention program, which received $290 million from the stimulus, a USA TODAY review of stimulus spending reports show.

ONE YEAR LATER: Stimulus spending breakdown

STOCKS CLOSE LOWER: Bernanke signals end of stimulus

The administration's budget plan says the corps and USDA programs are inefficient and duplicate similar, more effective work by other agencies. The proposed cuts indicate the programs shouldn't have gotten money from the $862 billion stimulus package, said Tom Schatz of the non-partisan budget watchdog Citizens Against Government Waste.

"It's certainly inconsistent, and it would have been better to have this realization a year ago," Schatz said. "But if inconsistency means they're going to cut the programs, it's OK. It's the other way around that bothers us."

White House budget office spokesman Thomas Gavin said the administration wasn't being inconsistent. Unlike the annual spending bills, the corps and USDA programs in the stimulus law didn't mandate funding for specific projects selected by members of Congress, Gavin said in an e-mail. That allowed agencies to "invest (stimulus) funds where they can do the greatest good," Gavin said.

The stimulus law, however, requires the corps' stimulus money to be spent only on projects that Congress had previously approved for funding.

Obama's proposed budget also includes $334 million in cuts to programs that got more than $3 billion in stimulus money. They include:

A $100 million cut in funding for maintenance and construction in national forests. The Forest Service got $650 million for such projects in the stimulus package, of which $55.6 million has been spent, according to USDA reports. The White House budget says the Forest Service doesn't need as much money because it is building fewer roads.
A $44 million decrease in funding for an Interior Department program to thin trees and brush on federal land to mitigate wildfires. The stimulus provided $15 million for the program. The administration says it is reorganizing the program, which has been less effective than it should be because it didn't focus on preventing the fires most likely to threaten homes.
Obama signed the stimulus package a year ago today, an occasion that the administration is marking with events at the White House today and across the country this week.

Stimulus spending: A year later

A year ago today, President Obama signed the economic stimulus bill, which the Congressional Budget Office now says will cost $862 billion. The law provides $626 billion in spending and $236 billion in tax cuts. USA Today's Matt Kelley looks at where the bulk of the money has gone so far in some of the largest spending programs.

Art imitating life – or vice versa?

By Michael Swartz

When a company devotes millions of dollars to the production and airing of a Super Bowl ad, they are at the mercy of several factors – one of those being an exciting game if you happen to have a spot airing in the fourth quarter.

We all know that the game itself came down to a late interception returned for a touchdown to secure the New Orleans Saints' victory; fortunately for Audi this occurred after their commercial aired. For all the pregame talk about the pro-life ad sponsored by Focus on the Family and featuring the mother of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, the "green police" commercial sponsored by Audi may have the most lasting impact.

The ad opens with an innocuous transaction at a grocery store where the cashier cheerfully asks, "Will that be paper or plastic?" When the hapless customer answers "plastic" he's rudely greeted by an officer from the "green police" who advises the customer, "you picked the wrong day to mess with the ecosystem, plastic boy!" From there, numerous people run afoul of the law for having batteries in the trash, throwing away an orange rind (a "compost infraction"), possession of incandescent light bulbs and plastic water bottles, and having the temperature of their hot tub too high. The only escapee is the one driving the sponsor's diesel-powered car at the "eco checkpoint." Even the classic rock band Cheap Trick redid their 1970's song "Dream Police" into "Green Police" for the spot.

Great humor works because it has an element of truth in it, and this commercial reflects a number of moves already made by government. Indeed, traditional incandescent light bulbs will be going away after next year due to government edict and several regions of the globe ban the use of plastic grocery bags. Nanny staters constantly proclaim society needs to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

So far, though, America hasn't gotten to the point where we have the government snooping through our garbage for contraband non-recyclable material or uniformed officers breaking into our backyards to check the temperature of the hot tub. But the spot is believable because we now can't dismiss the possibility given the cap and trade legislation slowly seeping its way through Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency's willingness to take advantage of a 2007 Supreme Court ruling allowing them to regulate carbon dioxide to promulgate new restrictions on commerce and daily life, all in the name of combating so-called manmade climate change.

It's this climate fear that Audi plays to with their ad, on both sides. For those who believe they should do more to save the planet, the car is sold as an eco-friendly mode of transportation. On the other hand, those who are skeptical about our impact on the climate but believe the way of the future may well be reflected in the commercial might be persuaded to buy one simply to be left alone.

Obviously Audi is attempting to sell cars with this Super Bowl ad just as other sponsors pushed online services, beer, or snack food. While the vast majority of these ads were written and produced to be humorous in some sly way or another, the Audi spot will have a longer-lasting impact for its product because this humor made the consumer think.

Many found it funny only because it stretched what we believe into something of a tall tale. It's when the tall tale becomes reality that the spot loses its humor, and in the coming decade we may see the Audi ad as prophetic of how society evolved.

Michael Swartz, an architect and writer who lives in rural Maryland, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer for Americans for Limited Government.

Congressional Dump

ALG Editor's Note: William Warren's award-winning cartoons published at are a free service of ALG News Bureau. They may be reused and redistributed free of charge.

"Pay No Attention to that Debt Behind the Curtain!"

By Bill Wilson

If government-owned-and-operated Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's net liabilities of about $6.3 trillion were added to the national debt, it would total about $18.7 trillion today. That's a whopping 129 percent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product, which currently stands at $14.463 trillion.

Americans concerned about the future solvency of the nation should not only find that number startling, but use it as a call-to-action to reduce the debt, because those liabilities may very well be added to the total national debt in the not-so-distant future.

The truth is, that debt ought to be counted based upon the fact that taxpayers own the companies. Remember that Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE's) Fannie and Freddie were nationalized in September 2008 as the companies succumbed to the market crash.

The taxpayers own the companies, and the companies owe $6.3 trillion in debt. Therefore, the taxpayers owe another $6.3 trillion. Right?

Wrong. As reported by, "White House budget director Peter Orszag delayed a decision on whether to bring the companies' $1.6 trillion in corporate debt and $4.7 trillion mortgage obligations onto the federal budget. As the director of the Congressional Budget Office, Orszag criticized the Bush administration for keeping the 2008 rescue of the government-sponsored enterprises off budget… At the time, Orszag said 'the degree of federal control over Fannie and Freddie is so strong, we are incorporating them into the federal budget.'"

The White House's reasoning? According to the Bloomberg report, "We want to be sure, that as we move to reform the GSEs, we are focused on retaining strong market stability in our housing sector," said Michael Barr, assistant Treasury Secretary for financial institutions.

In other words, if the debt were reported as it should be, the effects to the economy would be devastating. So, they're lying about it, and pretending instead that the companies "are privately owned and controlled," as noted by the Obama $3.83 trillion budget. And yet, as pointed out by Bloomberg, the companies may need another $77.4 billion from the Treasury to stay solvent over the next two years.

Will that be considered off-budget too? That aside, there is good reason to assume that off-balance-sheet liabilities may soon be added to government budgets the world over. As noted by the Wall Street Journal's Richard Barley, "Will the next stage of the crisis involve markets effectively forcing governments' unfunded off-balance-sheet liabilities back center stage? Western governments will be hoping they don't—but there are signs it is happening already." Indeed.

The story of Greece's off-balance-sheet liabilities raising its reported 2009 debt is telling. That nation is in quite a pickle, too, after its socialist government saw fit to revise its reported debt from €251.2 billion at 99.6 percent of the nation's GDP, as Greece's National Statistical Service reported in May 2009, to about €294 billion at some 116.5 percent of GDP that it will top this year, as reported by AFP.

The thinking behind the revisions, according to the New York Times, was apparently entirely political, and rife with unintended consequences.

Mr. Orszag, meet Manolis Kontopirakis.

Manolis Kontopirakis, former head of Greece's National Statistical Service, reports the Times, "said the huge discrepancy between the initial forecast of 3.7 percent of gross domestic product for the 2009 deficit and the final figure of 12.7 percent was the product of two factors: the excessive optimism of the previous conservative government and the new Socialist government's desire to put the blame on its predecessor and make any economic rebound seem more impressive."

The report continues, "But the officials failed to anticipate the impact the new figure would have on world financial markets. 'The new government completely underestimated the market reaction,' he said. 'They just didn't expect the turmoil.'"

So, the Greeks did the right thing in telling the truth, albeit for the wrong reasons. The U.S., on the other hand, knows intuitively what the market implications will be if Fannie and Freddie are reported as on-budget, and is simply not telling the truth. Again, for the wrong reasons.

The U.S. can improve upon this Baumian "pay no attention to that debt behind the curtain" routine by finally bringing truth to the nation's budgeting, and leveling with the people once and for all about the true liabilities the nation faces. At ALG, we are certain that if the net liabilities of, say, Fannie, Freddie, the Federal Reserve, Medicare, and Social Security for starters were all on-budget, the public uproar would be sufficient to force Congress to actually reduce the debt for the first time in over 50 years.

Let's start with Fannie and Freddie. The Obama Administration may want to, as a political matter, indefinitely maintain control of the mortgage giants. If so, then those liabilities should be counted as on-budget, accepting that the taxpayer-assumed liabilities will in all likelihood affect the nation's credit rating one way or another.

If, on the other hand, the public decides that $6.3 trillion in new debt is simply too much of a risk, then the mortgage giants should be sold off piece by piece, and the government should get out of the mortgage industry all together. But, Obama cannot have it both ways, where the political benefits of control are preserved without incurring the financial costs that are plain for the world to see.

Just ask Greece.

Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government.