By  Pat Austin

Hillary Clinton is still being coy about a 2016 presidential run.  When asked at a student conference in Tempe, AZ this week, Clinton said she is “obviously thinking about all kinds of decisions.”

I think it is inevitable that she will run; I think the inevitability of it is too much for her to resist. Assuming that, it seems more important than ever that we remember Benghazi 2011 and continue the fight to determine what really happened there.  It is certainly an issue that will come up should a Clinton 2016 campaign actually happen.

There are still far too many questions about what really happened in Benghazi.  What we know for certain is that four Americans were killed in Benghazi, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

We know that in the aftermath, then U. N. Ambassador Susan Rice made the Sunday talk show rounds for the purpose of reiterating the administrations talking points that the Benghazi attack was the result of an obscure YouTube video.

Recently, Donald Rumsfeld spoke to Breitbart TV and placed the blame for Benghazi right where it should have been all along:  on Hillary Clinton:

In this instance, there was widespread knowledge, as was pointed out by Congressman Issa, the British knew that there were al-Qaeda threats, and they pulled their people out because they knew they couldn’t protect them.”

“Our people knew there were al-Qaeda threats, and they not only did not protect them, but they didn’t pull them out. That, in my view, is a neglect of important responsibilities. The idea that it falls to someone down the line, I think, is a misunderstanding. Clearly, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the person responsible.”

 It is unconscionable to think that she is somehow not responsible for the death of those four men in Benghazi.  How is it possible that she was unaware of the lack of security at the consulate?  At best, if in fact she had no idea, it is a dereliction of duty on her part and should certainly preclude her from consideration as our Commander in Chief.

The entire Benghazi fiasco was a shameful enterprise from beginning to end; why was that consulate in place at all?  Why not in Tripoli?  Why were we using unarmed Libyans to guard the consulate?  How were they supposed to ward off an attack with bats?  Why were requests for increased security ignored?

For her part, during Congressional testimony Secretary of State Clinton denied knowledge of any cables requesting assistance.  Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) posed the question:

McCaul:  …Similar to September the 11th, 2001, there were warning signs prior to Benghazi September 11th. There was an April 6th, 2012 crude IED thrown over the wall of the U.S. facility in Benghazi. On May 22nd, 2012, Red Cross building in Benghazi hit by two RPGs. The brigades of the imprisoned Blind Sheikh took responsibility for that attack. On June 6th, 2012, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was targeted by an IED (inaudible) a big hole in the perimeter wall. Again, the Blind Sheikh brigade taking credit.

And then on August 16th, we have this cable that’s been widely reported — a classified State Department cable warning that the Benghazi consulate could not withstand a coordinated attack. And the regional security officer believed our consulate could not be protected at an emergency meeting less than one month before the attack on 9/11.

A contingency plan was supposedly drafted to move the operations to the CIA annex about a mile away from the compound. This cable is presumed to have been shared by senior staff. It was sent to your office. It was sent to the NSC. And even on September 11th, the day Ambassador Stevens was killed, he personally warned about, quote, “a growing problem with security in Benghazi and growing frustration with security forces and the Libyan police.”

Were you aware of this cable — this August 16th cable?

CLINTON: Congressman, that cable did not come to my attention. I have made it very clear that the security cables did not come to my attention or above the assistant secretary level where the ARB placed responsibility. Where, as I think Ambassador Pickering said, “the rubber hit the road.”

How is that possible?

Taken in conjunction with Clinton’s infamous “What difference, at this point, does it make,” it’s easy to understand why she never saw a cable, never followed up on it, and to this day passes the buck to others.

In recently unclassified documents, it is clear that the Benghazi attack was not about a video at all. General Carter Ham, who at the time was head of AFRICOM, made it clear that his command considered it “a terrorist attack,” information he shared with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

Yet Susan Rice went out and told the American people this was about a video.  Why was Susan Rice even out on the talk circuit at all?  Shouldn’t that have fallen to Secretary of State Clinton?  Could it be that Clinton just didn’t want those video clips used in Republican ads in 2016?  When asked, Rice said that Clinton had had a bad week, been under stress, and therefore she willingly picked up the slack.

Just the kind of woman we need for president, eh?  Lies to Congress, ignores cables from diplomatic outposts, passes the buck to underlings, and collapses under stress.

I doubt very seriously that Clinton was asked about Benghazi in Tempe this week.  While one young student asked, “If you don’t represent women in politics in America as a future president, who will?” I really wish she had asked “If you don’t tell us the truth about Benghazi, who will?”

Pat Austin also blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

Rauner

By John Ruberry

Pity the Land of Lincoln–four of its last eight elected governors have been convicted of federal crimes–one of them, Rod Blagojevich, is still in prison. He’s inmate 40892-424. Blago’s successor and two-time running mate, fellow Chicago Democrat Pat Quinn, is running for a second full term.

The Republican nominee is Bruce Rauner, a multi-millionaire venture capitalist who survived a surprisingly tough primary battle last week over state Sen. Kirk Dillard, who is best known outside of Illinois for his appearance in a 2007 Barack Obama campaign commercial.

Running against “corrupt union bosses” has been a theme of Rauner’s campaign. Public-sector unions have destroyed Illinois, which once enjoyed a rare American economic trifecta–it was an industrial, financial, and agricultural powerhouse. The Prairie State now suffers from America’s second highest unemployment rate, nearly $6 billion in unpaid bills, and over $100 billion in public employee pension debt.

Quinn’s “temporary” 67 percent income tax hike was supposed to fix all three problems–but it failed, failed, failed.

Since he has no record to run on, Quinn unleashed an Obama-style class warfare attack on Rauner immediately after the primary, focusing on the GOPer’s muddled stance on raising the state’s minimum wage and businessman’s immense wealth. Last week in a rare press conference, state House Speaker and party boss Michael Madigan, yet another Chicago Democrat, proposed a millionaire income tax.

Four years ago, off-topic attacks on the anti-abortion stance of his Republican opponent Bill Brady served Quinn well, he eked out a win over the downstate state senator who ran a sloppy campaign and who was largely AWOL in the key battlefield in all Illinois elections–Chicago’s suburbs.  Rauner is pro-choice and a moderate on gay issues.

And this year’s Republican nominee lives in the suburbs and as he proved in the primary election, Rauner won’t let attacks on him go answered–and he’s willing to spend his own money to do so.

Cutting taxes and attacking what former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg identified as the toxic “labor-electoral complex” will be the heart of the Rauner general election campaign.

AFSCME anti-Quinn poster
AFSCME anti-Quinn poster

What will Big Labor do? Line up behind Quinn? The surprising answer is ‘maybe.’ Quinn can count on the support of trade unions such as the United Auto Workers, but the public-sector unions, who contributed over $5 million to his campaign for the 2010 race, might ignore Quinn this time. Government unions donated over $1 million to the Dillard campaign, and the public-sector unions are angry with Quinn for signing a pension fix bill late last year, one that Rauner says does not go far enough. Those unions are suing Quinn to have the new pension funding law overturned– they claim it is unconstitutional.

But the public-sector unions will probably continue to run anti-Rauner ads. The Illinois Freedom PAC, largely funded by government labor groups, spent over $3 million on ads attacking Rauner during the run-up to the primary. Democratic crossover votes for Dillard almost succeeded in Big Labor’s goal of stopping Rauner.

In November Quinn faces the threat of Democratic crossover votes ending his political career. Newton N. Minow, John F. Kennedy’s FCC chairman who famously dubbed television “a vast wasteland,” quoted his old boss when declaring his support for Rauner on Thursday, “Sometimes party loyalty asks too much.”

Illinois’ 2014 gubernatorial race: it will be one for the ages.

John Ruberry blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By Steve Eggleston

The situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate. Earlier in the week, after a sham of a referendum that purported to split the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, Russia annexed the peninsula. Now, with Russian troops not only consolidating their position in Crimea with prejudice but also remaining along the entirety of the border between Russia and Ukraine, ethnic Russians are agitating for the rest of eastern Ukraine to split off from Ukraine and join Russia. The Donbass region, which certainly appears to be the next Russian target, has the heart of Ukraine’s industry and mining.

On the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 front, the focus has shifted to an area about 1500 miles southwest of Perth, Australia, after analysis of images from both American and Chinese satellites suggested a rather expansive debris field. NBC News reports a civilian plane participating in the search spotted some sort of debris, but poor visibility conditions and the great distance from land otherwise hampered the search in that area, and nobody else has found anything, much less debris definitively from the aircraft.

Meanwhile, the airline’s CEO admitted that some of the cargo on board was lithium-ion batteries, which has caused a not-insignificant number of fires aboard aircraft and the craash of 2 cargo planes. The Daily Mail notes that the last positively-known altitude of the airplane, 23,000 feet, is a prescribed altitude designed to limit the spread of a fire on an aircraft.

Finally, if it’s late March, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is going on. While it took only 25 “second-round” games and 3 major upsets to wipe out every single bracket in Warren Buffett’s $1 billion challenge, Yahoo Sports, which is managing the contest for Buffett and Quicken Loans, had one bracket not entered into that challenge that survived the round of 64. Unfortunately, that bracket was busted in game 37, when 11th-seed Dayton knocked off 3rd-seed Syracuse.

by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

The Economist‘s cover story:

Mr Putin’s new order, in short, is built on revanchism, a reckless disdain for the truth and the twisting of the law to mean whatever suits those in power. That makes it no order at all.

Some of the more unsavory heads of state in Latin America have been borrowing a page from Putin: Last year I posted on Mary O’Grady’s article on how Cuba Studies ‘Putinismo’ for Survival Tips

behind the scenes, putinismo blends authoritarian political control and crony capitalism to produce a lock on power.

It’s not only indirect “putinismo”: Putin has been interested in Latin America all along.

Russia has been cruising through the region for quite a while. On November 2008, the day before Thanksgiving, I was at Fox News talking about Russian warships holding military maneuvers with Venezuela in the Caribbean, and a Russian ship was docked in Havana last month.

Following John Kerry’s announcement last year that the Monroe Doctrine is over (thereby sticking a “Kick me” sign on America), Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced in February this year that Russia is negotiating with Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua for establishing permanent military bases in those countries.

One could say that Putin interpreted Kerry’s announcement as a license to ride on in the Americas.

Frances Martel at Breitbart reports on PUTIN’S SLOW AND STEADY RECONQUISTA OF LATIN AMERICA

While the United States has maintained close ties with Colombia and Chile, helping the former end a guerrilla warfare crisis perpetrated by left-wing leaders in the nation, the generation of leaders calling themselves Bolivarian socialists in Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, and, to a lesser extent, Peru have all expanded their ties with Russia.

You must read Martel’s article in full. She is definitely not exaggerating when she concludes,

Vladimir Putin has spent more than a decade investing in the loyalty of a continent often left behind by the puppetmasters of international diplomacy. When–not if–he decides to continue his westward expansion, he will be able to rely on the support of the assorted wayward leftist regimes of Latin America.

Venezuela’s oil props up Cuba, so Putin (at least for now) doesn’t have to bother supplying Cuba’s ruined economy for as long as Venezuela does. But for his long-term game, Putin’s been gaining the loyalty of a continent the US seems to neglect.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on American and Latin American politics at Fausta’s Blog.

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Olimometer 2.52

It’s Friday the tip jar sits still at $155 for the week.

Only 8 $25 tip jar hits stand between me and not only this week’s goal but an outside chance of making the monthly goal and the mortgage.

We’ll have at least a fighting chance if you hit DaTipJar below.

 

With 61 more $20 a month subscribers this site will be able to cover its bills for a full year.

I would ask that you do subscribe by hitting the button below. If your finances allow it, consider choosing Hat level or better. A subscription comes not only with exclusive commentary, but on a weekly basis you will have the opportunity to get direct access to me by phone to provide feedback or suggestions to make sure this site is worthy of your financial support and patronage.


 

By A.P. Dillon

How many of you missed the news blip Ben Jealous left the NAACP to go be a Venture Capitalist?

He declined to specify his new salary but said it was about the same as it was at the NAACP — $285,000 in 2011, according to tax forms.

When he announced his departure from the organization in September 2013, Jealous said he planned to pursue university teaching and spend time with his young family. But Jealous says the opportunity to work with Kapor Capital was just too tempting, putting him on the cutting edge of helping people who are slipping further behind as the national economy grows. – CNS

Well, of course there’s the money. The article also says he’ll be commuting once a month from coast to coast. That’s pricey.

This isn’t just any venture capital firm. This one is about social justice and is called The Kapor Center For Social Impact (KCSI) which is, in part, funded by Kapor Capital. Kapor Capital was founded by Mitchell Kapor, who some might recognize at the founder of Lotus 1-2-3 and whose home was the subject of a lawsuit. Kapor’s wife, Freada, is involved with KCSI but also with “Level Playing Field Institute” (LPFI) which recently had Van Jones at one of their events.

KCSI and LFPI, from it’s ‘About Pages’ section seems to be very focused on STEM issue. STEM stands for Science Technology Engineering Mathematics and, for many kids focusing on those areas, is a ticket to a university. That was until Common Core came along and set kids back in math — a reality that supporters won’t even acknowledge. In fact, Bill Gates is now so panicked over the opposition, he’s dragging teachers in as human shields. Flashback:

“It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.” – Bill Gates, September 21, 2013

Gates has Paul Krugman Syndrome. You know, that affliction where because you are successful at one thing, you must therefore be an expert on all other topics? Meanwhile, Microsoft has battled with more bugs in their never-ending series of Windows revamps than people can count and Gates never finished college…but he’s is an expert on how kids learn, or something.

Common Core & STEM

So where KSCI and LFPI stand on Common Core? That’s kind of a mystery given what I found — or rather didn’t find — on their websites. When searching KSCI’s site for “Common Core” it looks like this group is not missing the dollars signs. A jobs posting blog entry is what I found:

Curriculet (www.curriculet.com) is looking for smart, savvy educators, English teachers in particular, to write curriculum for a long list of K-12 books using our digital reading platform. See the job description here.

Curriculets are layers of interactive curriculum consisting of Common Core aligned questions and quizzes, plus videos, images and text annotations. We pay as much as $500 per book… average length titles earn $250.

When I searched the LPFI site for “Common Core” only one hit came back and it became clear that LPFI is very highly connected.

Just a few reminders on STEM and Common Core from those actually involved in it:

By 8th grade, Common Core State Standar5ds will put our students about two years behind those of the highest-achieving countries.” – Dr. James Milgram, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Stanford University & former Common Core Validation Committee member

“If you want to take calculus your freshman year in college, you will need to take more mathematics than is in the Common Core.” – Jason Zimba, Common Core Standards Mathematics Writer

Just so we’re clear, here’s Caleb Bonham demonstrating how Common Core math is overly complex. Common Core Math is really the old failed “new math” just recycled because… this time it will work or something.

Paging Bill Gates! Those of us opposing Common Core aren’t trying to ‘send out kids back to what we had before‘, we want high standards but APPROPRIATE ones, PROVEN ones. Our kids are not code for you to play with. We’re not trying to send out kids backwards, but it would seem YOU are.

 

If you enjoyed this article, you should really check out other pieces written by Da Tech Guy’s Magnificent Seven writers and maybe hit that tip jar!

A.P. Dillon (Lady Liberty 1885), is a Conservative minded wife and mother living in the Triangle area of North Carolina. A.P. Dillon founded the blog LadyLiberty1885.com in 2009. After the 2012 election, she added an Instapundit style blog called The ConMom Blog. Mrs. Dillon’s writing, in addition to Da Tech Guy’s Magnificent 7, can also be found at StopCommonCoreNC.org, WatchdogWireNC and WizBang. Non-political writing projects include science fiction novellas that are, as of yet, unpublished. Her current writing project is a children’s book series.

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Olimometer 2.52

It’s Thursday and the tip jar sits at $128 for the week.

Only 9 $25 tip jar hits necessary to make the weekly goal and give us a good jump into the final week of the month.

Let us know we’re doing the job, please consider hitting DaTipJar below.

 

With 61 more $20 a month subscribers this site will be able to cover its bills for a full year.

I would ask that you do subscribe by hitting the button below.  If your finances allow it, consider choosing Hat level or better.  A subscription comes not only with exclusive commentary, but on a weekly basis you will have the opportunity to get direct access to me by phone to provide feedback or suggestions to make sure this site is worthy of your financial support and patronage.


 

by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

Lefties firmly believe the deceased Hugo Chavez “improved the economy drastically and ameliorated poverty drastically” because GDP went up, and fewer people were living below the poverty line by the time he died last year.

The numbers are there: GDP did go up, and yes, fewer people were listed as living below the poverty line. Whose numbers?

The numbers came from the Venezuelan government.

The International Monetary Fund keeps a List of IMF Member Countries with Delays in Completion of Article IV Consultations or Mandatory Financial Stability Assessments Over 18 Months. As of the writing of this post, Venezuela hasn’t held an Article IV consultation with the IMF in 99 months.

Let me translate that into plain English: The Venezuelan government has not allowed its own numbers to be verified for almost a decade.

It also stopped reporting a number of standard indicators several years ago:

Heavy government spending has fueled rampant inflation, which averaged an annual 22% during Mr. Chávez’s tenure. Its anticapitalist rhetoric and broad state intervention into the economy have led to a dearth of investment. Gross fixed capital formation declined to 18% of gross domestic product in 2011, from 24% in 1999, according to the World Bank. Net inflows of foreign direct investment stood at 2.9% of GDP during that same year, his first in office, nearly double the 1.7% in 2011. Capital flight from Venezuela intensified as Mr. Chávez pursued more interventionist policies, including capital controls and a fixed official exchange rate that — if you can get it — offers dollars at a quarter of the exchange rate that the greenback fetches in the black market. Stock market capitalization of companies listed on the Caracas Stock Exchange has gone from a paltry 7.6% of GDP in 1999 to a minuscule 1.6%.

Rather than pursue policies that might stimulate investment, the government’s response to shrinking productive capacity and high inflation has been price caps. The result? Shortages of food and other basic necessities, periodic electric brown- and blackouts, and far fewer jobs: the labor force participation rate has dropped from 52% to 46% in the Chávez era.

Does that sound like a “drastically improved” economy?

But let’s look at GDP some more, with the numbers that are available: Chavez made the Venezuelan economy increasingly dependent on oil exports. In 1999, oil accounted for 80% of all exports. Back then the Annual Average Domestic Crude Oil Price (AADCOP) was $16.56. By the time of his death last year, the number had risen to 95% at an AADCOP of $91.17. GDP had to go up, if only because all the eggs in that one basket got pricier; even then Chavez didn’t do all that well:

There was strong economic growth from 2004 to 2008 but GDP fell in 1999, 2002, 2003, 2009 and 2010. From the time Chávez took office in 1999 to 2011 Venezuela’s economy grew by an average of 2.8% per year. During this same period Latin America as a whole grew by 3.3% per year and Brazil grew by 3.4% per year.

While Venezuela’s oil production decreases, Cuba still receives 100,000 barrels of its oil per day.

How about reducing poverty?

According to the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America, the percentage of the population living under the poverty line in Venezuela fell from 49.4% in 1999 to 27.8% in 2010. That is a pretty good record but there were similar trends across Latin America. In the region as a whole poverty dropped from 43.8% in 1999 to 31.8% in 2010. A few countries, like Peru, Brazil and Panama, faired even better than Venezuela. Poverty rates in Peru dropped sharply from 54.7% in 2000 to 31.3% in 2010—all three have solidly capitalistic economies.

There are no verifiable data available on income distribution, but again, according to government numbers

The country now boasts the fairest income distribution in Latin America, as measured by the Gini coefficient index.

In 2011, Venezuela’s Gini coefficient fell to 0.39. By way of comparison, Brazil’s was 0.52, in itself a historic low.

So every Venezuelan now has a more equal slice of the cake. The trouble is, that cake has not been getting much bigger.

“Venezuela is the fifth largest economy in Latin America, but during the last decade, it’s been the worst performer in GDP per capita growth,” says Arturo Franco of the Center for International Development at Harvard University.

The Gini numbers do not include moneys kept by corrupt officials or “Tier II Kingpins” drug lord Cabinet members.

Venezuela ranks 181 out of 189 in the World Bank Economy Rankings.

Chavez’s true legacy is a ruined country with murder rates doubling or tripling over a decade, Communist control of all institutions and media, falling oil production, crumbling infrastructure, a moribund private sector (what little is left of it after the expropriations and nationalizations), soaring inflation, fleeing capital, power outages and food shortages, and now, electronic food rationing cards.

Drastically, yes. Improved, no.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on Latin American and US politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

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Olimometer 2.52

It’s Wednesday and yesterday a pair of tip jar hits moved us to $101 toward our goal of $365 to pay the mortgage and the writers.

After two dismal weeks it’s vital to get those 11 $25 tip jar hits necessary to make the weekly goal to even have an outside chance of making the mortgage this month

We’ve done a lot in the last 10 days from CPAC to NLRC. but it can’t be done without you.

 

With 61 more $20 a month subscribers this site will be able to cover its bills for a full year.

I would ask that you do subscribe by hitting the button below.  If your finances allow it, consider choosing Hat level or better.  A subscription comes not only with exclusive commentary, but on a weekly basis you will have the opportunity to get direct access to me by phone to provide feedback or suggestions to make sure this site is worthy of your financial support and patronage.


 

By Tim Imholt

Every time I turn on the news Experts and Intellectuals appear and present opinions on a large number of subjects on which they are ignorant. It is particularly tragic when their opinion serves to limit future debate on a subject, as for instance the current global warming (oops, that’s now climate change) debate.

I need to warn you that a this blog entry is partially a rant, but I feel qualified to do this since for a large part of my career I have been and still am considered an expert. Staying at the top of my game in my field as well as virtually any field takes a good bit of study in the field.

Besides my direct work, for many years I have read a technical work and 8 or so magazines each week. Then I’d read technical manuals, proposals, project definitions, etc. I constantly learn new computers, languages, software, and data-base methods. This is what leads to the ignorance for subjects outside my immediate area.

After doing this 6 days a week, I am exhausted. In my newspaper I go the comics and sports page first; maybe to skip the others. What little spare time is available goes to my house and kids, then a James Bond novel or to something on television.

This same rut and 70 hour work-weeks apply to most ‘Experts’. What this means is that they can’t keep up on current events or politics. Then we add to the mix those experts who are also classed as ‘Intellectuals’.

Most of this idea comes from Thomas Sowell’s excellent thought in his book “Intellectuals and Society”. He defines an intellectual as someone who works with an idea or opinion as his final product. University professors, critics, and expert consultants never need produce anything but the idea; and having produced it they move on never waiting to see an outcome. It may take as much intellect, study, and practice to be a neurosurgeon, but he is not an intellectual and typically lacks the time to present ideas.

Eric Hoffer’s Opinion

Eric Hoffer was a longshoreman and philosopher. His books were insightful and remain in print. During the height of his popularity (the 60s and 70s) he was interviewed in several hour long TV shows, twice by Eric Sevareid and twice by Bill Moyers.  These can be found on the net in various places if you use Google and are well worth seeing.

The interviewer commented on Hoffer’s ‘seeming dislike’ of intellectuals. Hoffer first paused to clarify the current use of the term in government and academia. He defined that ‘Intellectual’ as someone who by virtue of his background (education, college, etc.), ancestry (parents or teachers), or position (expert or bureaucrat) feels he is more qualified to run my life than I am.

Then he exploded; I don’t DISLIKE them, dislike does not begin to describe my feeling, I HATE THEM, I LOATH THEM, I DESPISE THAM.

Role of Experts

I don’t hold ENTIRELY with Hoffer’s attitude. I don’t mind that they think they could run my life better than I. I am slightly irritated when people like a boss’s wife take that position. I am inconvenienced when someone like an administrative assistant at a church takes that position.

But major problems begin when that expert writes government laws or regulations… now it becomes do it their way of face fines, jail, etc. There are more problems with regulations, but that is for another blog.  For today I will leave you with this thought.  Do we trust the ‘talking heads’ on opinion shows more than we trust ourselves?  More than we trust our own opinions?  These talking heads make their living giving opinions about the opinions of these other Intellectuals and Experts who we just showed don’t really do much of value.

The government Intellectuals and Experts don’t produce anything and we seem to take as Gospel the words of others who don’t produce much.  So I implore everyone who reads this.  Do you own homework.  Form your own opinions.  Please don’t just regurgitate the opinions of others then yell at those who disagree with those opinions.  It is our civic duty to be an informed electorate.  Do your duty.

Tim Imholt PhD is a scientist, an occasional contributor Pj Media and  the author of several works of fiction.  You can buy his latest,:  The Forest of Assassins and more below.

by Linda Szugyi

So I’m finally getting around to reading a book my dad gave me awhile back. The Land That Never Was is a nonfiction account of a self-aggrandizing Scot who, in the 1820s, swindled large numbers of people out of large amounts of money by inventing an imaginary Central American nation and appointing himself ruler of it.

Some people merely invested in loans backed by fictitious national holdings.  Others traded their life savings for phony currency and phony land grants, boarded ships bound for this phony utopia, and wound up stranded in the untamed jungles of the Mosquito Coast.

Good times, I’m sure.

But that’s not why I’m writing.

The subtitle of this book is “Sir Gregor MacGregor and the Most Audacious Fraud in History.”  While this claim may have been true when the book was published in 2003, it may now be superseded in both audaciousness and deceit with the passage of Obamacare.

But that’s not why I’m writing, either.

I’m writing because the author of this book, David Sinclair, incidentally provided some history of Simón Bolívar, a famous figure in the South American struggle to gain independence from Spain.  (Please enjoy the proper accent marks from the “insert custom character” feature.  I won’t be bothering with that again.)

Normally, I would have paid little attention to the information on Simon Bolivar, and probably would have forgotten most of it as soon as I finished the book.  Because normally, the name would be completely unfamiliar to me.  Simon Bolivar would have been one of many characters that played a part in the story of Gregor MacGregor (whose name I would have remembered, because dang what an awesome Scottish name).

However, in addition to the hobby of reading, or at least vainly attempting to read, books that my dad recommends, I also have the hobby of reading and then heaping scorn upon textbooks that children are forced to study in school.  Thanks to the latter hobby, the name Simon Bolivar is familiar to me:  he was one of the historical figures featured in a recurring sidenote, “Character Trait,” in the Harcourt social studies textbook People, Places, and Change.

In the post History Matters, I discussed the “Character Trait” treatment of George Washington in the very same textbook.  Of all the things for which to remember the Father of our Country, the authors and editors of this dog’s hash of a textbook chose “citizenship.”  Because . . . well, I can only conclude that it was the least flattering yet most benign trait they could come up with.

Do you know what would have been a great character trait to assign George Washington?  Integrity:

17th September, 1796 Farewell Address:  “I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain (what I consider the most enviable of all titles) the character of an ‘Honest Man.'”

The authors and editors decided instead to reserve the trait “integrity” for none other than Simon Bolivar.  At the time I read it, the name meant nothing to me.  Yet, the description of this dude as the “George Washington of South America” naturally rose my hackles a bit, first because I knew they had screwed GW out of the “integrity” label, and second because I am wary whenever some multicultural figure is casually equated with America’s founders.

Then I started reading about Simon Bolivar in The Land That Never Was, and my wariness became well-founded.  According to David Sinclair, Simon Bolivar saw himself not as the South American George Washington, but as the South American Napoleon, “to the extent that he would even stand in the famous pose of the French Emperor, with his right hand tucked inside his tunic . . . .” (The Land That Never Was, pg. 144)

Now, my subsequent internet research (which ate half my Sunday right up, by the way) did not produce a simple picture of the man who was Simon Bolivar.  My point is not to demonize him, nor minimize his importance.

My point is to heap scorn upon our education textbook industry.  Not only do they over-simplify the rich and complex stories of nations in a way that makes all of them interchangeable and therefore virtually meaningless, they can’t even get the basic facts right.

To wit:

IMG_5784

“In 1811, Bolivar first freed his native Venezuela.”

Um, no he didn’t.

It may or may not be fair to coin Simon Bolivar the “George Washington of South America.”  The comparison was made early.  George Washington’s family even sent Bolivar a medallion with a lock of George Washington’s hair inside.  On the one hand, he emancipated slaves, and he spoke passionately about freedom, and he fought passionately to free his native land from Spanish rule.

On the other hand, his authoritarian inclinations led him to draft a constitution that created a lifetime president and a highly restricted suffrage.  Also, he once wrote “I am convinced, to the very marrow of my bones, that our America can only be ruled through a well-managed, shrewd despotism.

It may or may not be accurate to say that Simon Bolivar embodied the trait of integrity.

But it is definitely not accurate to say that Simon Bolivar freed Venezuela in 1811.  According to The Land That Never Was, Bolivar gave an important speech in favor of Venezuelan independence in 1811.  (pg. 142)  He joined the military effort to oust Spain months later, and promptly suffered a crushing defeat at Puerto Cabello that was so bad he wrote, “my soul is crushed to such an extent that I do not feel able to command a single infantryman. . . .” (pg. 142)

Hey, folks at Harcourt.  The first attempt at independence in 1811 failed.  Spanish troops reconquered the colony.  The Spanish weren’t beaten until 1821, and Venezuela as an autonomous nation wasn’t founded until 1829.

Just, you know, technically speaking.  Not that history really matters to a post-American world.

I’m actually going to add a short bio to this week’s post.  I never did identify with modern liberalism, possibly thanks to my middle school social studies teacher who was so mean and also so biased that she told us liberals were generous and conservatives were stingy.  I knew anything she said couldn’t possibly be right.  I write at No One Of Any Import, and if you’ll just subscribe and be patient I’ll write something very entertaining there soon.

By:  Pat Austin

It has not been a particularly good week to be Mary Landrieu.  Two statewide polls have found that the incumbent Senator is running behind challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy.

Hickman Analytics has Cassidy up 46-42 while earlier this year Rasmussen conducted a poll and found Landrieu trailing Cassidy 44-40.

Rabid Democrat and NOLA contributor Robert Mann suggests in a column this week that Landrieu may lose her election, but it won’t be because of her Obamacare vote.  Obamacare, he brightly contends, “is working”!  In fact, he says, Democratic candidates should campaign full throttle on Obamacare!

 

Wonderful advice, I think:

Perhaps one lesson for Landrieu and other Democrats is that they must effectively and aggressively champion the health care law to the party’s base, not just meekly defend it

Absolutely excellent advice. I hope all the Democrats across the nation campaign on Obamacare.  Really, I think that would work out very well.

Voters in Louisiana are tired of Katrina Mary and her Obamacare kickback.  Louisiana Purchase Mary had a backroom deal in the Obamacare vote in which she was bought for $300 million in Medicaid funding and also got national Democratic support for her brother’s mayoral campaign.  Mitch Landrieu won his mayoral race in February with 64% of the vote.

Mary Landrieu has won three Senate elections in Louisiana; she’s been there since 1997, which is quite long enough, I think.  While she does have serious name recognition in Louisiana I think that this time that won’t work in her favor.  Rep. Cassidy is the first real serious challenger for Landrieu.  As Brian Hughes at the Washington Examiner points out, Landrieu has always had weak opponents and has still managed to barely squeak out wins.

After her Obamacare vote her poll numbers plummeted.  Despite Bob Mann’s head-in-the-sand perspective (“The very idea that Obamacare is unpopular is wrong,” he says!)  Louisiana voters in the majority dislike the monstrous bill and many of us recognized early on that it was doomed to failure because of its overreach into our lives and because of the lies around which is was sold (“You can keep your doctor!).  Really, who ever believed that one?

All that being said, Landrieu will not go without a fight.  She has taken out lots of ad time and will have much nationwide Democratic support (translate: dollars) behind her.  Rep. Cassidy will need financial support and a good turnout to defeat her.

But, I think it can be done.  It’s time for Landrieu to consider retirement.  I’m sure Obama will have a nice ambassador job for her somewhere.

 

Pat Austin also blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

Florida Palm TreesBy John Ruberry

Tuesday is primary election day in Illinois and most of the drama is on the Republican side. The winner of the GOP gubernatorial race stands a very good chance of defeating unpopular Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn.

The US Senate race until recently hasn’t been attracting much attention in the Land of Lincoln. Competing for the opportunity to face longtime incumbent Dick Durbin  are Doug Truax and Jim Oberweis.

Truax, 43, is a political newcomer who is a West Point and an Army Ranger School graduate. He runs his own healthcare consulting business. Oberweis, 67, has been serving as a state senator for a year. He enjoys terrific name recognition, his Oberweis Dairy stores can be found throughout the Chicago area.

This is the seventh time Oberweis has run for office in twelve years–and his third time running for the US Senate. “Obi” has competed for governor and twice for the US House–and after spending $10 million of his own money on these contests, he can only look at his state Senate run as a victory. Oberweis is known for his gaffes and his overall sloppy campaign style. He’s Joe Biden with a full head of hair.

Oberweis is concluding his worst campaign effort yet. Last week NBC 5 Chicago’s MaryAnn Ahern discovered that a little more than a week before the primary, Oberweis, who has been ducking debate challenges from Truax, was at his second home in southwestern Florida. When Ahern contacted Oberweis by telephone, he refused to reveal his location to her.

I can’t imagine even Dick Durbin stooping that low.

Morton Grove, IL on Wednesday
Morton Grove, IL on Wednesday

Oberweis and his wife claim their Florida home as a homestead exemption, gaining a $50,000 tax credit. If they used their Sugar Grove, Illinois home for the same purpose, they’d get only a $6,000 break. Oberweis’ wife has a Florida driver’s license and is registered to vote in the Sunshine State. She won’t be voting for her husband on Tuesday.

As for the Florida trip, Obi claimed that he promised his wife that he’d spend her birthday with her. Of course the Oberweises could have done that in Illinois, which got hit with another snowstorm while they were walking among the palm trees.

Prior to the Florida trip and its fallout, the better-known Oberweis enjoyed a huge lead in the polls. But should the political gadfly win, Durbin will certainly hand him his next defeat. If Truax pulls ahead and beats Oberweis, he still faces an uphill challenge. Maybe even an up-mountain challenge. But if 2014 turns into a wave election, as the American Thinker’s Richard Baehr muses, Truax can score an upset.

Durbin, 69, is just sort of there. He has never been well-liked even in this Democratic state. For nearly his entire adult life Durbin has been a politician, or worked for a politician. Durbin, the second-ranking senator in the Democratic caucus, never votes against the party line.

Professional pols have destroyed Illinois–which has the lowest credit rating of the states and suffers from an unemployment rate much higher than the national rate. The Prairie State has the most-underfunded public pension system of the 50 states.

Illinois just might vote for real change.

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Olimometer 2.52

It’s Sunday a new week and I hate to start it on a down note but we’ve now had three straight weeks without making our goal.

Without 15 $25 tip jar hits we will have no prospect of making mortgage this month.

I’m going to bluntly say I need you to hit this tip jar if you if this experiment is going to succeed.

Your call.

 

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