Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rangel Off the Hook, Rule of Law Off the Table

By Bill Wilson

On November 16th, the House ethics panel declared Representative Charlie Rangel guilty of 11 out of 13 counts of corruption. Rangel used a rent-stabilized apartment for campaign activities, failed to pay taxes on rental property in the Dominican Republic, and improperly used congressional letterhead to raise funds for a City University center to be built in his name. These were not small infractions.

Many such infractions might find an ordinary American being audited by the Internal Revenue Service, paying exorbitant fines, or worse, going to jail. The rule of law states that the law applies equally to citizens and public officials alike, and that neither may break the law. Therefore, whatever prosecution and incarceration the common citizen might have expected for Rangel’s conduct should apply equally to Rangel.

So, what did Rangel get? On November 18th, the panel recommended the House sentence him — to a censure. What’s that? It’s a lot like a reprimand, but according to a Congressional Research Service report, also “will generally involve a verbal admonition, such as a reading of the resolution, to be administered by the Speaker of the House to the Member at the bar of the House. In the case of a ‘reprimand,’ however, the resolution is merely adopted by a vote of the House with the Member ‘standing in his place,’ or is merely implemented by the adoption of the committee’s report.”

That’ll show him. Rangel will have to stand in front of the House, in front of a national audience on C-Span, and… listen to a resolution condemning him. Such a timid punishment is what one might expect in a 3rd grade classroom. How about a dunce cap, too?

Get full story here.

Nanny State Returns in Lame-Duck Session

By Rebekah Rast
When government authorities raided Rawesome Foods in Venice, Calif., in June, they weren’t there to tackle an illegal substance or behavior; instead, with guns drawn, they were after the milk and cheese.

Rawesome Foods is a specialty market, selling raw and organic foods, including unpasteurized milks and cheeses.

Government officials say the reason for the raid was for the protection of consumers, that eating and drinking raw products can lead to a host of food-borne diseases. Those who consume the products sold at Rawesome Foods know full well what they are eating and drinking and think the raid was about government control, not their health.
* * *

Currently being debated in the Senate is the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Passed more than a year ago in the House, this legislation broadens the authority of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and pushes more responsibility on farmers and food processors to prevent food-borne illnesses.
Get full story here.

Battered GOP Syndrome

Get permalink here.

Fed Stimulates the World, Not the U.S.

By Robert Romano
One curious effect that is becoming evident from the Fed’s ongoing easy money, low-interest rate policies, most recently with beginning purchases of $600 billion of U.S. treasuries, has been to stimulate overseas investment, where emerging markets are growing substantially, reports Bloomberg News.

“U.S. corporations have issued more than $1.07 trillion in debt so far this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Foreign companies also are tapping U.S. markets for cheap cash, selling $605.9 billion in debt through Nov. 15 compared with $371.8 billion for all of 2007,” according to Bloomberg’s David Lynch.

This has resulted in billions of dollars of overseas investments in Mexico, Peru, South Korea, Brazil, eastern Europe, China, India, and Russia, according to the report. These investments “illustrate why the Fed’s second round of bond buying may not reduce unemployment, which has stalled near a 26-year high.” Despite all of the cheap money, it is not being invested here.
In fact, U.S. unemployment has been at or above 9.4 percent for 18 straight months, the longest period of sustained high unemployment since the Great Depression. That result has given cause to Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) to introduce legislation eliminating the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate. Currently the Fed’s statutory mission includes maintaining full employment, a task that it has not succeeded in, despite more than doubling the money supply since the financial crisis began in 2007.

Get full story here.

Ed Lover Morning Show To No Longer Air On Power 105

Ed Lover Morning Show To No Longer Air On Power 105
C'mon son! The tri-state's airwaves will no longer feature an icon of Hip Hop.

Through television and radio, Queens, New York's Ed Lover (born James Roberts) has been a Hip Hop icon. Also working as an actor for nearly 20 years, Lover's knowledge and care for the culture has been apparent from his years hosting Yo! MTV Raps with partner Dr. Dré and working at radio since 1993.

Lover's latest post at New York's Power 105 (105.1 FM) has reportedly ended as of yesterday. Lover acknowledged fans and listeners in a tweet.

Frank Rich On Palin 2012

"If logic applied to Palin’s career trajectory, this month might have been judged dreadful for her. In an otherwise great year for Republicans she endorsed a 'Star Wars' bar gaggle of anomalous and wacky losers — the former witch, Christine O’Donnell; the raging nativist, Tom Tancredo; and at least two candidates who called for armed insurrection against the government, Sharron Angle and a would-be Texas congressman, Stephen Broden, who lost by over 50 percentage points. Last week voters in Palin’s home state humiliatingly 'refudiated' her protégé, Joe Miller, overturning his victory in the G.O.P. Senate primary with a write-in campaign.

"But logic doesn’t apply to Palin. What might bring down other politicians only seems to make her stronger: the malapropisms and gaffes, the cut-and-run half-term governorship, family scandals, shameless lying and rapacious self-merchandising. In an angry time when America’s experts and elites all seem to have failed, her amateurism and liabilities are badges of honor. She has turned fallibility into a formula for success.

"Republican leaders who want to stop her, and they are legion, are utterly baffled about how to do so. Democrats, who gloat that she’s the Republicans’ problem, may be humoring themselves. When Palin told Barbara Walters last week that she believed she could beat Barack Obama in 2012, it wasn’t an idle boast. Should Michael Bloomberg decide to spend billions on a quixotic run as a third-party spoiler, all bets on Obama are off." - Frank Rich, writing for the New York Times.
posted by Joe

Malaysian Hacker Nabbed After Cracking Into Fed Reserve

Author: Dave Lewis

So, this hacker, Lin Mun Poo, flies in to the US after having breached the Federal Reserve network and gets busted with 400,000 credit card numbers. He was trying to sell some of them for $1000.
From NY Daily News:
The stolen card numbers were found on his encrypted laptop after he was nabbed, and officials said Poo had come to the U.S. to get more stolen cards and PINs and steal from ATMs.
Poo has also confessed to breaking into networks of several international banks and a major Defense contractor, the complaint states.
Found on his encrypted laptop? So, the safe money is on that this character was showing off the numbers on his laptop to a fed when he got nailed. Either that or he gave it up in a hope for a better deal. He was smart enough to gain access but, too stupid to get a money mule? Seems to have a few too many open loops in this story.
Article Link

Bernanke Throws a Hissyfit

Courtesy of Mike Whitney

ben bernanke Say what you will about Alan Greenspan, he was never a whiner. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for present Fed chairman Ben Bernanke. Bernanke's speech on Friday at a conference for the European Central Bank (ECB) was so full of crybaby blabber that attendees must have thought they'd ducked into a Frankfurt daycare center by mistake. What an embarrassment! For nearly an hour, Bernanke went on and on about how mean China is and how they manipulate their currency to gain competitive advantage. It was surreal; like listening to a serial arsonist complain about his wife smoking in bed. Here's a sample:

“Currency undervaluation by surplus countries is inhibiting needed international adjustment and creating spillover effects that would not exist if exchange rates better reflected market fundamentals,” Bernanke moaned.

Let's get this straight, when China's dollar peg was helping to recycle hundreds of billions of dollars into dodgy mortgage-backed securities and inflating a monstrous asset bubble that enriched Bernanke's crony friends on Wall Street, everything was hunky dory. But now that the Fed can't pump up another credit bubble by lowering interest rates, out come the handkerchiefs and everyone is supposed to feel sorry for poor little Bennie. Waah!

Why should China care about "market fundamentals"? China is doing what is right for China. What's wrong with that? Americans wish that their government would operate the same way and implement policies that support the interests of US workers instead of lining the pockets of multinational capitalists and bank-vermin.

Here's more from Bernanke:

"The exchange rate adjustment is incomplete, in part, because the authorities in some emerging market economies have intervened in foreign exchange markets to prevent or slow the appreciation of their currencies. ... why have officials in many emerging markets leaned against appreciation of their currencies toward levels more consistent with market fundamentals? The principal answer is that currency undervaluation on the part of some countries has been part of a long-term export-led strategy for growth and development. This strategy, which allows a country's producers to operate at a greater scale and to produce a more diverse set of products than domestic demand alone might sustain, has been viewed as promoting economic growth and, more broadly, as making an important contribution to the development of a number of countries."

That's right; China's export-led model is the root of its success, which is why it's not going to change anytime soon. And China has been helped every step of the way by congress's blanket support for labor-crushing "free trade" policies. If China has suddenly morphed into Frankenstein, Bernanke can only blame himself and the other members of the Washington political class.

Bernanke again: "However, increasingly over time, the strategy of currency undervaluation has demonstrated important drawbacks, both for the world system and for the countries using that strategy."

In other words, it's all a matter of whose ox is getting gored. None of this mattered when homeowners were getting swindled in the biggest home equity ripoff of all time ($8 trillion in lost equity) or when Bernanke was bailing out his oily bankster buddies by handing them $1.75 trillion in reserves for their garbage mortgage paper that no one else would buy. Even in the depths of the slump when millions of unemployed workers faced the end of their benefits, and food stamp use had skyrocketed to 10% of the population, and the lines at the homeless shelters could be seen winding from sea to shining sea, Bernanke still refused to help. He still opposed a second round of fiscal stimulus aligning himself instead with the GOP deficit hawks.

But all that has changed now, because the Fed is stuck at zero-rates and isn't able to affect the smooth transfer of wealth from one class to another--from indentured US workers to fatcat speculators. China has blocked Bernanke's ability to implement policy, so the Fed chief is throwing a hissyfit.

Bernanke again: "On its current economic trajectory the United States runs the risk of seeing millions of workers unemployed or underemployed for many years. As a society, we should find that outcome unacceptable. Monetary policy is working in support of both economic recovery and price stability, but there are limits to what can be achieved by the central bank alone. The Federal Reserve is nonpartisan and does not make recommendations regarding specific tax and spending programs. However, in general terms, a fiscal program that combines near-term measures to enhance growth with strong, confidence-inducing steps to reduce longer-term structural deficits would be an important complement to the policies of the Federal Reserve."

Hallelujah. So Bernanke finally supports a second round of fiscal stimulus. Will wonders never cease? But doesn't that mean that Bernanke was wrong from the get go? Doesn't that prove that Milton Friedman, Anna Schwartz and all the nutcase "quantity of money" people were wrong and that the "aggregate demand" Keynesians were right?*

As steward of the world's reserve currency, the Federal Reserve is not used to other countries dictating monetary policy, but that is precisely what is happening. China is in the drivers seat now. The Fed can buy up two-thirds of next years issuance of US Treasuries (which Bernanke plans to do) in order to push a wall of capital into emerging markets, but if China continues to recycle its dollars into US debt and maintain its dollar peg, then the Fed will not succeed. And, it's a good thing, too. If the last 10 years have taught us anything, it's that the unipolar world--where one country dominates politically, economically and militarily--is not good for anyone. It's time for a change. "Let a thousand flowers bloom," as Mao would say.

China has tied Bernanke's hands. The least we can do is be grateful. 
*Many seem to think that Keynes would have supported the TARP and other bailouts. I assure you, there is nothing in Keynes "General Theory" that supports bailouts for crooked bankers. People who know very little about his ideas seem all-too-eager to brand any policy they don't care for as "Keynesian".
Originally published at CounterPunch, Tying Bernanke's Hands
Photo by Jr. Deputy Accountant  

America: move from dsyfunctional to functional in relationship with Israel

In at least three recent news articles (references provided below*), it is reported that in exchange for a three-month freeze in West Bank settlement construction, the U.S. will, if I understand the articles, give Israel 20 fighter jets. At least two news articles additionally cite that the U.S. will also pledge to oppose or otherwise not give support to any United Nations moves that are critical of Israel.

Two of the articles said that the construction freeze does not include East Jerusalem, which Palestinians consider to be their capital.

A three-month Israeli settlement freeze in exchange for expensive U.S. military hardware and diplomatic cover from the U.S. at the United Nations. From my perspective as a tax-paying U.S. citizen, this sure seems like Israel is gaining a whole lot at the expense of the image of the U.S. in the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as at the expense of the U.S. taxpayers (who "fund" the fighter jet gift).

It seems to me that the U.S. gets virtually nothing for what it is giving to Israel. And unless I'm greatly mistaken, this is not the first time America has behaved this way with Israel. If I was in a relationship with someone in which I was making big sacrifices of my time, money or efforts in order to get the other person to give, or give up something comparatively small in return, I think that most detached observers would consider this "dysfunctional" and unhealthy behavior.  

I want my country to do the right thing. Yes, Israel deserves it's own nation with secure borders, but so does Palestine. And there's a lot more that can be said for the argument that in the 1967 war Israel wrongfully seized East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza than can be said for the opposite viewpoint.
Israel is very dependent on U.S. diplomatic support and economic aid. Therefore I believe that ONLY the United States can apply the necessary pressures on Israel to persuade it to do the right thing concerning the Palestinians.  America needs to tie military and diplomatic aid to Israel to Israeli compliance with all applicable UN Resolutions and international conventions with regards to the lands it seized in the 1967 war. 
Communicate with your federal legislators, asking them to do all they can to bring America to do what it alone can do: apply the right pressures on Israel to help bring about a lasting, just peace between Israel and Palestine.

* An 11/15/10 AP article carried by ("US deal would allow Israel some West Bank building" -;  an online BBC news article ("Israel ponders US incentive offer on settlement freeze" -; and an online Christian Science Monitor article ("Netanyahu strikes a deal on Israeli settlements – could it freeze peace, too?" -

Saudi King in Wheelchair, Passes Duties to Son

On Friday, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was admitted to a hospital due to complications from back pain. The 86 year old monarch slipped a disc earlier this month. A photo was released showing him being escorted in a wheelchair around his palace in Riyadh.

AP Photo/Saudi Press Agency

King Abdullah also recently transferred his National Guard duties to his son, Mitab bin Abdullah, last week. Many see this as a sign that the elderly King is looking to lessen his royal role. He had been head of the Guard since 1962.

As for his hurt back, tests were run and doctors told the King to rest.

“The king felt more pain in his back, so further tests were carried out at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh,” said the Saudi Press Agency. “It appears he has a blood clot in addition to his slipped disc, which is pressuring the nerves so the medical team advised him to rest and monitor the situation.”
King Abdullah has been ruler of Saudi Arabia since 2005 when his ailing half brother King Fahd passed away after many years of poor health.
Source: Digital Journal, Washington Post

Post By

Irish finance minister will recommend IMF and EU Bailout

by CalculatedRisk on 11/21/2010 08:54:00 AM

Some breaking news from the Irish Times: Lenihan to seek Cabinet approval for financial bailout
Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said he would seek Cabinet approval later today for a financial bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union.
"I will be recommending to the Government that we should apply for a program and start formal applications," he said.
In addition to Ireland, the bond yields to watch are for Portugal and Spain to see if the problem spreads.

North Korea Has 'Secret' Nuclear Facility To Produce Enriched Uranium

The Institute for Science and International Security released a new satellite image on Thursday which it believes shows the construction of a 25 to 30 megawatt light-water reactor. DigitalGlobe

U.S. Official: New North Korean Nuke Plant 'Provocative,' Defiant

U.S. officials have been aware of North Korea's efforts to go nuclear for years, but the latest report of a new highly sophisticated uranium enrichment plant is a "provocative act of defiance," a senior administration official told Fox News late Saturday.

The "stunning" show of sophistication by the North Koreans -- as witnessed by U.S. scientist Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the U.S. Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory who gets regularly glimpses of the North's secretive nuclear program -- has set off alarm bells in Washington.

Read more ....

Obama claims end to U.S. combat role in Afghanistan by 2014


US President Barack Obama gives a media briefing at the end of a NATO summit in Lisbon on Saturday Nov. 20, 2010. NATO planned Saturday to deliver a historic invitation for Russia to join a missile shield protecting Europe against Iranian attack, a milestone for an alliance that was built to defend against Soviet forces.(AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

President Barack Obama on Saturday said for the first time he wants U.S. troops out of major combat in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the date he and otherNATO leaders set for moving Afghans into the lead role in fighting theTaliban.

Allies had different interpretations of that target’s meaning.

Capping a two-day summit of 28 NATO leaders in this Atlantic port city, Obama said that after a series of public disputes withAfghan PresidentHamid Karzai — and despite the likelihood of more to come — the U.S. and its NATO partners have aligned their aims for stabilizing the country with Karzai’s eagerness to assume full control.

“My goal is to make sure that by 2014 we have transitioned, Afghans are in the lead and it is a goal to make sure that we are not still engaged in combat operations of the sort we’re involved in now,” Obama told a closing news conference.

For some U.S. allies, 2014 is more than a goal when it comes to shifting their troops from a combat role.
“There will not be British troops in large numbers and they won’t be in a combat role” by 2015, British Prime Minister David Cameron said. But he added, however, Britain has no intention of abandoning Afghanistan any time soon.

“We may be helping to train their army, we may still be delivering a lot of aid, in effect, because we don’t want this country to go back to being a lawless space where the terrorists can have bases,” Cameron told Sky News television.

Canada is ending its combat role in 2011.

If Obama’s expectation about ending the U.S. combat mission in 2014 holds, it would mark a turning point in a war now in its 10th year, a conflict that once appeared headed for success but that drifted into stalemate during George W. Bush’s second term in the White House.

Obama entered office in 2009 pledging to end the Iraq war, which he opposed from the outset, in order to shift forces, resources and attention to Afghanistan — a fight he says the U.S. cannot afford to lose.
It remains far from sure, however, that even an expanding and improving Afghan army will prevail without U.S. combat support.

As the U.S. experience in Iraq showed, insurgencies can prove more resilient than predicted and newly assembled government security forces can take longer than expected to become competent and experienced enough to stand on their own.

At their annual gathering, NATO leaders also proclaimed “a true fresh start” in relations with Russia. They agreed to construct a missile defense over Europe, signed a long-term partnership accord with Afghanistan and expressed hope that the U.S. Senate would act quickly to ratify a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia that some Republicans oppose.

Before returning to Washington, Obama met with European Union leaders. They released a statement on cooperation across the Atlantic to create jobs, avoid protectionist trade policies, and promote innovation and investment.

Afghanistan and its struggle against the Taliban dominated the NATO summit, which came just weeks before Obama is to receive an internal review of U.S. war strategy. The report is expected to conclude that despite slower-than-expected progress against the Taliban, the current approach is largely on track.

Last December, Obama ordered an extra 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, hoping to regain momentum from a resurgent Taliban, the radical Islamist group that harbored Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida lieutenants prior to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, in New York and Washington.
The U.S. has about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan; other countries have about 40,000.

Many European countries see the U.S. as overemphasizing the value of military force in Afghanistan. They eagerly embraced Saturday’s agreement to begin handing off security responsibility in early 2011, with a full transition targeted for the end of 2014.

“Here in Lisbon we have launched the process by which the Afghan people will become masters in their own house,” NATO Secretary-GeneralAnders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark said after allied leaders reached a consensus on the handover date.

“We will make it a reality, starting early next year,” he added.

The allies appear not to have lined up a schedule for troop reductions to coincide with the phased turnover of security control to Afghan forces. But they do seem to agree that after this year the main military focus should be on training Afghans.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday in Chile that only a “fraction” of the current allied forces in Afghanistan are likely to remain past 2014. They probably will function as trainers and advisers instead of fighting, he said.

U.S.Gen. David Petraeus, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, gave the allied leaders a private briefing on how he foresees the transition to Afghan control unfolding, district by district and province by province, starting in 2011. In its public statement, NATO did not reveal the names of the first provinces expected to be transferred to Afghan control.

Karzai has aired a long list of grievances against NATO in recent years, including excessive killing of civilians and what he called U.S. efforts to undermine his re-election campaign last year. He predicted the transition will succeed “because I found today a strong commitment by the international community. This will be matched by the people of Afghanistan.”

The NATO leaders, after agreeing on Friday to build jointly with the U.S. a missile shield to protect Europe, later invited Russia to become part of that effort.

After the formal NATO-Russian conference, Obama met for 15 to 20 minutes with Russian PresidentDmitry Medvedev in a private room at the conference site with only a translator present, according to the White House.

“It was not formal, it wasn’t planned, but the two leaders have developed a very strong rapport,” Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for communications, told reporters aboard Air Force One during the return flight to Washington. He said the president “wanted to make sure … he got some time alone” with the Russian leader.

Earlier, the NATO allies in private made their pitch to Medvedev for cooperation on a missile shield, but the Russian leader stopped short of accepting in full. He agreed to work with NATO on an assessment of missile threats, which Fogh Rasmussen said would enable both sides to get a better technical grip on what it would take to counter the most troubling missile threats.

Medvedev appeared less than impressed with the NATO venture.

“It’s quite evident that the Europeans themselves don’t have a complete understanding how it will look, how much it will cost,” the Russian leader told reporters. “But everybody understands the missile defense system needs to be comprehensive.”

He added: “It should also be a full partnership. Our participation has to be a full-fledged exchange of information, or we won’t take part at all.”

Obama was more upbeat.

“We agreed to cooperate on missile defense, which turns a source of past tension into a source of potential cooperation against a shared threat,” he said.

The summit also was notable for decisions it did not make. It stuck to the status quo, for example, on U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe. Germany and some other European allies want the U.S. to withdraw the estimated 150-200 nuclear bombs stored in five NATO countries. Allied leaders chose instead to put off any action to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in NATO strategy.

Obama said the U.S. would host the 2012 NATO summit, but did not say where.
Associated Press writers Alan Clendenning and Slobodan Lekic, and Anne Gearan in Santiago, Chile, contributed to this report.

The First Victory Against The Police State May Come Against The TSA

November 21, 2010 @ 8:31 am

There is a growing public resistance campaign across U.S. airports against the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for routinely performing creepy pat-downs on passengers of all ages and all backgrounds and also submitting them to naked body scanners that are not only intrusive and unnecessary, but, according to scientists from Johns Hopkins University, are harmful to people's health.

Despite making no difference in airport security and the fight against government manufactured terrorism, the TSA's unpopular screening measures have not yet been terminated by the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that the TSA falls under. But that may change in the near future as there exists the possibility that millions of fed-up Americans will join John Tyner, who refused to be subjected to the TSA's perverted security ritual at San Diego International Airport on Saturday, and take collective action against the government's invasion of their humanity.

Derek Jeter May Get 3 yr / $45 Million Contract From New York Yankees

Derek Jeter will go in history as one of the all time great Yankees to ever have stepped on the Bronx baseball field. Although Jeter just finished his worst year in his 16 year career with the Yankees – hitting .270 with a .340 on-base percentage and .370 slugging percentage – rumors are that he will receive a 3 year offer worth $45 million from the Yankees to stay onboard.

Last year was Derek Jeter’s final year in his 10 year, $189 million contract with the New York Yankees.
Something tells me we’ll be seeing Jeter back at short stop for the next 3 years.

What do you think?
via ESPN

Robert Holland

Five Ways the New York Giants Can Slow Down The Prolific Mike Vick

The Giants have the unenviable task tomorrow night of stopping the most explosive player in the NFL right now, Mike Vick.

Coming off last week’s debacle against Dallas (a despicable game that I saw with my own eyes), the New York Giants (6-3) prepare for what could be the pivotal fault line of their season. This Sunday (8:20pm EST) they play the Philadelphia Eagles (6-3) and, given the Eagles utter demolition of the Redskins this past Monday, you’d be hard-pressed to find any “expert” picking the Giants in this game.

The main reason for this would be the evolution of Mike Vick. Finally back as a starting quarterback following his dog-fighting related jail sentence, the 30 year old Vick has shown a new-found sense of maturity as much on the field as off of it. Beyond simply possessing otherworldly athleticism, Vick seems to have acquired a new-found capacity to read the game. His dissection of the Washington secondary (on the heels of an equally impressive victory over Indianapolis) is downright scary for the Tom Coughlin and the Giants.

With that in mind, here are five basic ways the Giants can at least try and slow down Mr. Vick that don’t involve over-zealous PETA demonstrators.
  • Set the tempo early: Especially against Washington, but in other games, the Eagles have jumped out to an early lead. Even if it’s only a single touchdown, the manner of the score can mean a lot. In other words, keeping Vick and co. from a 50 yard touchdown (a big play) could help boost the confidence of the Giants defense.
  • Picking their poison: Obviously, stopping Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin is far easier said than done, but why take any chances? Doubling them may open up space underneath, but forcing the Eagles into a more protracted drive creates greater opportunity to get a turnover. The idea of making Brent Celek and Jason Avant beat you must sound fairly appealing to the Giants Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell.
  • Knowing the down and situation: As important as it is to cushion against a big play, it’s equally important to make it tough on the Eagles in short-yardage situations. The Giants would rather make Vick complete a pass on 3rd and 5 than let him run for it. And to that end, their ability to wrap up on tackles can’t slip for even a second.
  • Keeping the Eagles offense off the field: The best way to stop Mike Vick and the many dangerous aspects of Philadelphia’s offense is for Eli Manning and the Giants offense to stay on the field. This inevitably asks a lot of the New York offensive line, but the Eagles defense (while talented) is the weaker of the two units.
  • Staying at home on play-action: The first play from scrimmage last Monday saw Desean Jackson catch an 88 yard touchdown pass. Vick was allowed the outrageous amount of time to throw because the Redskins pass-rush bit heavily on the fake to running back LeSean McCoy. Having the presence of mind to avoid biting on the run (and sealing Vick’s escape route off to the opposite side) is crucial.
Of course, even if the Giants accomplish all of these things, the Eagles can still win the game. Ultimately, luck plays an undeniable part. Execution by both teams will make the difference. One factor (which no one is talking about) is the fact that the Eagles offensive line is, by itself, not particularly formidable. While Vick’s talent and Andy Reid’s play-calling has managed to hide this fairly well, the right circumstance may bring this fact back to the surface. If the Giants can get an early lead and force the Eagles into more predictable strategy, they could exploit the mismatch they have upfront.

Without question, this game will prove critical when the season is over. It’s an opportunity for the Giants to either demonstrate their determination not to repeat last season’s second half collapse or, once again, falter in the latter part of the year in Tom Coughlin’s roller coaster regime.

by Hayden Bird

Departing Democrat Iowa Governor Gives Unions $100 Million Parting Gift At Taxpayers' Expense

I have railed against term limits here in Michigan for elected representatives of the people for two good reasons: 1) since term limits were put in place, things in Lansing have gotten worse, not better; and 2) there is nothing more dangerous than a lame duck. Lame ducks can turn into mad ducks in the blink of an eye. Case in point today is departing Democrat Governor of Iowa Chet Culver. From The Des Moines Register via drudge: Culver OKs state pay raises
Gov. Chet Culver's administration agreed Friday to offer pay increases for state employees that will cost taxpayers more than $100 million, despite Republican requests that the decisions be delayed until Terry Branstad becomes governor in January.
That's just in the first year. Iowa taxpayers will swallow a whole lot more in subsequent years.
A Branstad spokesman called the deal "reckless," and House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen said it would likely lead to layoffs.
The unions are throwing a party where taxpayer money will be thrown into a big swimming pool and members will be invited to swim in it like Scrooge McDuck:
...Union members will formally meet to accept or reject the state's offer later this month, but Danny Homan, president of Council 61 for AFSCME, said: "In my mind, this is done."
Gee - ya think?
The wage hike plan would give members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, better known as AFSCME, a 2 percent across-the-board increase for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and another 1 percent raise the following calendar year on Jan. 1, which is what the group had requested. This 2- and 1- percent increase, under the contract, would be given in each of the next two contract years.

In addition, many union members who are not at the top of their pay grade would receive an additional 4.5 percent raise, known as a step increase, for certain professional milestones or for job longevity and other career advancements.

"The state accepted the union's proposal," said Homan. "I believe that probably ends this process."
Iowa is one of only 6 states to offer absolutely 'free' health insurance to state government employees and their families. They have spared no expense. Tack on lower out-of-pocket health costs, such as deductibles and office co-payments, than private-sector workers, and what you have here is a racket against Iowa taxpayers.

Hillary Clinton: TSA Should Make Airport Screening Less Intrusive - With Video

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says officials should try to make the new airport security measures, including full body scans and intimate pat-downs, less intrusive.
Clinton says there’s clearly a need for the tighter security. But she says the government should explore ways to “to limit the number of people who are going to be put through surveillance .” She says she understands “how offensive it must be” for some people to undergo the searches. She says there’s a need to strike “the right balance” and to “get it better and less intrusive and more precise.” Would she submit to a pat-down? “Not if I could avoid it,” Clinton says. “No. I mean, who would?” She made the comments in interviews aired Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Posted By Pat Dollard.

US pastor who slammed Facebook admits to a having had a three-way relationship

A NEW Jersey pastor who slammed Facebook as a “portal to infidelity” – and told married church leaders to delete their accounts or resign – has admitted to having a three-way sexual relationship with his wife and a male church assistant.

Yesterday the Rev Cedric Miller – the 48-year-old leader of Living Word Christian Fellowship Church in Neptune Township – confirmed that he given evidence in 2003 in a criminal case against the assistant involved in the Miller’s threesome. The relationship had ended by that time, and the case was eventually dismissed.
Rev Miller and his wife Kim

Miller hit the headlines this week when he issued his Facebook edict. He said it came about because much of the marital counselling he has performed over the past year and a half has concerned infidelity that stemmed from the social network site.

He claimed that Facebook ignites old passions and ordering about 50 married church officials to delete their accounts with the social networking site or resign from their leadership positions. He had previously asked married congregants to share their login information with their spouses and now plans to suggest that they give up Facebook altogether.
I’ve been in extended counselling with couples with marital problems because of Facebook for the last year and a half. What happens is someone from yesterday surfaces, it leads to conversations and there have been physical meet-ups. The temptation is just too great.
One parishioner, Pat Dawson, a minister at the church, uses her Facebook account to see photos of her relatives. She is unmarried and therefore not required to delete her account, but she agrees with Miller about the dangers such sites can create.
I know he feels very strongly about this. It can be a useful tool, but it also can cause great problems in a relationship.
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says 81 percent of its members have used or been faced with evidence plucked from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social networking sites in divorce cases over the last five years.

About one in five adults uses Facebook for flirting, according to a 2008 report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. And a do-it-yourself divorce site in the United Kingdom, Divorce-Online, reported late last year that the word “Facebook” was appearing in about one in five of the petitions it was handling.

Posted by Barry Duke

Washington Post Calls United States Marine Corps “The Few, The Proud, The Problem” Over DADT

Washington Post:
After 17 years, “don’t ask, don’t tell” may finally be on its way out. Even if the Senate resists the latest efforts to end the policy, it appears that most members of the military – from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on down – support the law’s repeal.

But there’s one part of the military where resistance is greater than in any other: the United States Marine Corps.

That is clear from early reports about a survey sent to 400,000 active duty and reserve service members on “don’t ask, don’t tell” that will be officially released next month. More than 70 percent of respondents, spanning all branches of the military, said the effect of repealing the prohibition on openly gay troops would be positive, mixed or nonexistent. But about 40 percent of the Marine Corps respondents expressed concern about lifting the ban.

Top Corps leaders, past and present, haven’t been shy about stating their concerns. While serving as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace said in 2007 that “homosexual acts between individuals are immoral and . . . we should not condone immoral acts.” (He later clarified that the comment reflected his personal religious views.) While serving as Marine Corps commandant, Gen. James Conway told reporters in August that “an overwhelming majority [of Marines] would like not to be roomed with a person that is openly homosexual.” Most recently, the current commandant, Gen. James Amos, while expressing support for the survey, echoed Conway’s comments, eliciting a mild rebuke from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Mike Mullen.

What is it about the Marines? Compared with the other services, why do a disproportionate number of them overtly resist ending “don’t ask, don’t tell”?

I have studied, taught and interviewed Marines for 15 years and have gained great appreciation for the history and culture of the Corps, so much so, in fact, that I began teaching at the Marine Corps War College in Quantico almost three years ago.

Marines have survived and thrived as a service in part because they exemplify everything warrior. (I have never seen as many trucks with gun racks as I do driving on the Quantico base.) They pride themselves on being the toughest service, serving in the most austere environments under the most demanding circumstances. This pride has been forged throughout history, from Iwo Jima to Khe Sanh, from Fallujah to Helmand province.

In the Corps, the creed that “every Marine is a rifleman” means that no matter the Marine’s specialty, he or she is ready to fight. Marines do battle where the stakes are high and the quarters close. Although they have individual specialties, they all have infantry in their blood.

As a rule, ground pounders are more conservative, resistant to change and likely to uphold tradition. This equates to a fear of the unknown – in this case, serving in combat with an openly gay Marine.
Every Marine sees himself or herself as on the front lines, if not at the moment, then ready to deploy at any time. The Marine Corps is a smaller service than the other branches, with a greater singularity of purpose. That attitude is part of Marine Corps exceptionalism broadly, as well as when it comes to the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Anything that could dilute the warrior ethos will face a challenge.

I am an openly gay woman, equally comfortable at Quantico and in Dupont Circle. Each of these worlds holds negative stereotypes about the other, and like all stereotypes, they tend to break down on an individual level. Yet for some in both cultures, the notion of a gay Marine seems almost impossible, as though this most masculine and punishing service simply isn’t for gay people.

You don’t need to spend time with Marines, as I have, to realize how important the warrior ethos is to them. Simply turn on the television and see how the Corps markets itself: Do you have what it takes to join the few, the proud? When discussing their high retention numbers with the Marine Corps leadership a few years ago, I was told that the Corps prides itself on not having to pay big bonuses, as the other branches do, to keep people in the force – the honor of being a Marine is all the reward offered or desired. It’s part of why there are no former Marines, only retired Marines. Once you’ve joined the tribe, unless you do something that goes against the Corps’ values of honor, courage and commitment, you never leave.

In the Marines, anything that seems to contradict or challenge that warrior culture is treated like a foreign particle entering a body’s immune system – it is rejected. This visceral reaction will not change if we dismiss those who value these traditions.

But the Marine Corps culture itself, I believe, will eventually lead the service to support the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Although I am not closeted, the fact that I am gay does not come up in my job as a professor at the War College. Nor should it. I am not a Marine. I have not been in combat with Marines. The students at the college are the future leaders of the Corps, and I lead respectful debates in class on issues from grand strategy to counterinsurgency operations. I’m sure that my sexuality does not fit with the private views of every Marine. But it doesn’t have to. I was hired by the college as a professional and honored as the 2010 outstanding Marine Corps University civilian professor. In my experience with the Marines, professionalism trumps sexuality.

I am very sympathetic to the strain that the Marine Corps is under and would never support a policy change that I thought would hurt the Corps in a time of war. I have researched the implications of repealing the law, willing to land wherever the facts led me. The argument that we can’t repeal the policy because it would impair troops on the ground from carrying out their missions is specious; the opposition to the policy on practical or logistical grounds is surmountable.

The values of honor, courage and commitment are inseparable from the Marines. By definition, gay and lesbian Marines break one or more of these core tenets every time they have to hide or lie about who they are. Eventually, gay Marines must out themselves by upholding Corps values, or continue compromising the very values that make them Marines.

Repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” would not mean that hundreds of gay and lesbian Marines would immediately come out of the closet. But it would mean that they could keep their personal and professional integrity. The examples from other countries where homosexuals are allowed to serve suggest that many will go about their lives as normal, but without the fear of being discharged if discovered.

The key to reconciling Marine culture with the open service of gay men and women will not be found among the rank and file or even among closeted service members; it must come from Corps leaders. Most research on how to integrate minority groups into the military has a common thread: the utmost importance of leadership to the process. The fact that the current and prior Marine commandants have expressed discomfort at the prospect of the demise of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is unfortunate because the generals risk creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, hurting the Corps they desire to protect.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” will be reversed in time. And as the military survey indicates, a majority of the Corps does not see a risk in the repeal. How the change affects the Marines is up to the leadership. A Marine officer once told me that, besides all Marines being riflemen and riflewomen, what sets them apart is discipline: “If the law changes,” he said, “we will comply with the law. You can take that to the bank.”
I believe he’s right. The United States Marine Corps is the most professional force in the world. There is no reason to think that it will be less adept at integrating gays than Britain, Canada or Australia (just three of the 26 countries that allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network).

The current leadership should look to a fellow Marine for guidance. Staff Sgt. Eric Alva stepped on a landmine and lost his right leg only three hours into ground operations in Iraq in 2003; he was the first service member to be wounded there. He also happens to be gay. Alva received a medical discharge and has gone on to work for the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” At an event in 2007, he came out publicly, saying, “I’m an American who fought for his country and for the protection and the rights and freedoms of all American citizens – not just some of them, but all of them.”

The Marine Corps leadership should not only accept such sacrifices but honor those who make them. The Corps’ motto, “semper fidelis,” means “always faithful.” There is no qualifier for sexual orientation. Once a Marine, always a Marine.

Tammy S. Schultz is director of national security and joint warfare at the U.S. Marine Corps War College. The views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Marine Corps University. She will be online Monday, Nov. 22, at 11 a.m. ET to chat. Submit your questions before or during the discussion.

Posted By Pat Dollard

TSA security groping leaves 61-year-old bladder cancer survivor soaked in own urine

101120-sawyer-vsml-2p.grid-3x2.jpg Due to his medical condition, Sawyer asked to be screened in private. "One officer looked at another, rolled his eyes and said that they really didn't have any place to take me," said Sawyer. "After I said again that I'd like privacy, they took me to an office."
Sawyer wears pants two sizes too large in order to accommodate the medical equipment he wears. He'd taken off his belt to go through the scanner and once in the office with security personnel, his pants fell down around his ankles. "I had to ask twice if it was OK to pull up my shorts," said Sawyer, "And every time I tried to tell them about my medical condition, they said they didn't need to know about that."
Before starting the enhanced pat-down procedure, a security officer did tell him what they were going to do and how they were going to it, but Sawyer said it wasn't until they asked him to remove his sweatshirt and saw his urostomy bag that they asked any questions about his medical condition.

"One agent watched as the other used his flat hand to go slowly down my chest. I tried to warn him that he would hit the bag and break the seal on my bag, but he ignored me. Sure enough, the seal was broken and urine started dribbling down my shirt and my leg and into my pants."
Sawyer was forced to walk through the airport drenched in his own urine, then board his plane and wait until after takeoff before he could clean himself up in the plane's toilet.
Britain says it will stick to the 2014-15 deadline for ending combat operations in Afghanistan, despite apparent wavering from US defence and senior Nato officials over the date.

At a summit of Nato leaders in Lisbon to chart the exit strategy and a four-year transition to Afghan control of security, the UK government tonight stressed that 2015 was an unconditional deadline for an end to British combat operations.

“The British people want to see an end to our combat role,” said a Downing Street spokeswoman. “That would be 2015.”

The commitment by David Cameron was restated yesterday by his defence secretary, Liam Fox.
Asked whether UK troops would withdraw from combat by the end of 2014 “whatever happens”, Fox replied: “We certainly don’t want to be in a combat role.”

General Sir David Richards, the head of the armed forces, told the Commons defence committee this week the deadline was “very doable”, and the prime minister had not simply “plucked it from thin air”.
General Sir Nick Carter, just returned from Kabul, where he was deputy to General David Petraeus, US commander of Nato troops in Afghanistan, told the Commons committee the timetable for withdrawal from combat operations was “entirely reasonable”.

“If we can’t we should pull our fingers out … but we need to continue to plan for contingencies,” he said.
The end of 2014 deadline is a political imperative, British officials say. However, they also suggest it depends what exactly is meant by “combat”.

In Lisbon, senior Nato officials made plain that the plan being unveiled tomorrow for the exit strategy was “conditions-based”; that Afghan “towns, cities, districts and provinces” would not be turned over to the control of the Afghan army and police unless they were “irreversibly” ready. That raised the issue of the “conditions” possibly not being met by the end of 2014 and complicating any pullout.

Richards told the MPs British forces “will continue to be [engaged in] military operations in support of the Afghan army and police … They will continue to need much help.” He suggested there might be up to 1,000 British troops mentoring, training, and assisting Afghan forces.

British officials say this could include helicopters but also military support in the form of air strikes and special forces.

Fox said the government did not know how many troops would need to remain in the country in non-combat roles after 2015. Asked on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme whether Britain would keep “large numbers” there, he replied: “Well, we may or may not, it will depend as we go through this as a coalition. That’s one of the things we will be discussing over the next two days, exactly how we see the shape of transition happening.”

The Nato secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, described the pullout by 2014 as a “realistic” road map. “We hope that they will be able to take such lead responsibility all over Afghanistan by the end of 2014. But obviously this process must be conditions-based.”

Criteria for what conditions would be sufficient for a withdrawal of combat troops have changed – for example, lowering expectations about the state of Afghan governance – and could change again, say British officials.

by Chris Jones