Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready." - Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff: Huge Taxes & Hard Times Coming!

What Is The Fiscal Cliff?

Hitting the national economy with that double whammy of tax increases and spending cuts is what's called going over the "fiscal cliff."

The "fiscal cliff" refers to the economic effects that could result from tax increases, spending cuts and a corresponding reduction in the US budget deficit beginning in 2013 if existing laws remain unchanged.

The deficit which is the difference between what the government takes in and what it spends is projected to be reduced by roughly half in 2013.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this sharp decrease in the deficit will likely lead to a recession in early 2013. This is the so-called Fiscal Cliff.

The laws leading to the fiscal cliff include the expiration of the 2010 Tax Relief Act and planned spending cuts under the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Because of the short-term adverse impact on the economy, the fiscal cliff has stirred a great deal of talk from both inside and outside of Congress and has led to calls to extend some or all of the tax cuts, and to replace the spending reductions with even more targeted cutbacks.

So what has caused of the consternation over this issue?

Well, negotiators are haggling over what threshold of income to set as the demarcation between current tax rates and higher tax rates.

They are negotiating over Estate Tax limits and tax levels, how to extend unemployment benefits, how to prevent cuts in Medicare payments to doctors and how to keep a minimum income tax payment designed for the rich from hitting about 28 million middle class taxpayers.

Washington has had two years to work on it. The Obama White House delayed negotiations until after the election - giving Washington only a few months to deal with a huge problem that they have known is coming for almost two years.

The Budget Control Act was a compromise intended to resolve a dispute concerning the public debt ceiling.

Some major programs, like Social Security, Medicaid, federal pay which of course includes military pay and pensions, and veterans' benefits, are exempted from the spending cuts.

Spending for defense, federal agencies and cabinet departments would be reduced through broad cuts referred to as budget "Sequestration."

So who came up with this?

Well, during a lame duck session in December 2010, Nancy Pelosi's Democrat controlled Congress passed the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010.

The act extended the Bush tax cuts for an additional two years and "patched" the exemptions to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) for tax year 2011.

This act also authorized a one-year reduction in the Social Security (FICA) employee payroll tax. This was extended for an additional year by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which also extended federal unemployment benefits and continued a freeze on Medicare physician payments.

On August 2, 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) as part of an agreement to resolve the debt-ceiling crisis.

The Act provided for a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. If you remember, it was called the "super committee" to produce legislation by late November that would decrease the deficit by $1.2 trillion over ten years.

When the super committee failed to act, another part of the BCA went into effect. This directed automatic across-the-board cuts - known as "sequestrations" - to take place split evenly between defense and domestic spending, beginning on January 2, 2013.

Also, the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, imposed new taxes on families making more than $250,000 a year, $200,000 for individuals, starting at the same time in January 2013.

Remember Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi famous said, "We have to pass the bill [ObamaCare] so you can find out what is in it" - well, they really should have read the new law before enacting it into law.

At the end of 2011, the fiscal patch to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) exemptions expired.

Technically, the AMT thresholds immediately reverted to their 2000 tax year levels, a drop of 26% for single people and 40% for married couples. Anyone over these reduced thresholds at the end of 2012 would be subject to the AMT.

That means, more taxpayers would pay more unless some legislation was passed like what was done back in  2007 that affects the exemptions retroactively.

Key laws leading to the fiscal cliff:
  • CBO projections of the sources of deficit reduction in the FY2013 budget, not counting economic feedback.
  • Expiration of tax cuts and the subsequent growth in the AMT: $221B (36.41%)
  • Expiration of 2% FICA payroll tax cut: $95B (15.65%)
  • Other expiring tax provisions: $65B (10.71%)
  • Affordable Care Act taxes: $18B (3.97%)
  • Spending cuts ("sequestration") under the Budget Control Act of 2011: $65B (10.71%)
  • Expiration of federal emergency unemployment insurance: $26B (4.28%)
  • Reduction in Medicare payment rates for doctors: $11B (1.81%)
  • Other changes (mostly revenue, primarily reflecting economic growth): $105B (17.30%)
A number of laws led to the fiscal cliff, including these provisions:
  • Expiration of the Bush tax cuts extended by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010;
  • Across-the-board spending cuts ("sequestration") to most discretionary programs as directed by the Budget Control Act of 2011;
  • Reversion of the Alternative Minimum Tax thresholds to their 2000 tax year levels;
  • Expiration of measures delaying the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate from going into effect (the "doc fix"), as extended by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012;
  • Expiration of the 2% Social Security payroll tax cut;
  • Expiration of federal unemployment benefits, and
  • Huge new taxes imposed by way of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 - aka ObamaCare.
Without new legislation, these provisions would automatically go into effect on January 1 or 2, 2013, except for the Alternative Minimum Tax growth, which can be changed retroactively until December 31, 2012.

Some provisions would increase taxes. For example, the expiration of the Bush and FICA payroll tax cuts and the new Affordable Care tax and AMT thresholds) while others would reduce spending (sequestration, expiration of unemployment benefits and implementation of the Medicare SGR).

On the other hand, some lawmakers intend to attach a bipartisan extension to the expiring wind-power tax credit. Unlike the provisions above, this will reduce, not increase, taxes by $1.3 billion.

Proposals to avoid the fiscal cliff involve repealing legislation containing certain of these provisions or passing new legislation to extend provisions that are due to expire.

But honestly, Washington is out of time.

So what is the baseline projection, if we follow the current law? Well, this scenario would have lower deficits and debt but also have lower spending and higher taxes.

The alternative fiscal scenario is estimated as another option only if some laws are changed. This would result in higher deficits and debt but lower taxes and higher spending. Basically the very problem we have now.

These are two completely different fiscal futures.

So would it help if we just went off this so-called cliff?

Well, that's the question that some folks around the country are wrestling with. Fact is that the United States public debt would continue to grow even if the fiscal cliff occurs.

But, over the next ten years, the smaller deficit will lower projected increases in the debt by as much as $7.1 trillion or about 70%, resulting in a considerably lower ratio of debt to the size of the economy.

For the first year (from fiscal year 2012 to 2013), federal tax revenues are projected to increase by almost 20% (specifically 19.63%), while spending outlays are expected to decline by 0.25%.

So in other words, everyone's taxes will go up dramatically while hardly any cuts are expected in the way Washington spends our money. In reality, it would be the highest tax increase since the days of War Mobilization and America's highest taxation which took place in World War II - all while unbridled spending takes place.

If Congress and the President do not act, allowing tax cuts to expire and mandated spending cuts to be implemented, the next decade will more closely resemble the baseline projection of lower deficits and debt but also have lower spending and higher taxes.

If they act to extend current policies, keeping lower tax rates in place and postponing or preventing the spending cuts, the next decade will more closely resemble the alternate fiscal scenario - which means we'll simply have more of the same.

If the so-called fiscal cliff takes place, the total deficit reduction or debt avoidance over ten years could be as high as $7.1 trillion, versus the $10–11 trillion debt increases if current policies are extended.

In other words, roughly 70% of debt increases projected over the next 10 years could be avoided by allowing the expiration of tax cuts and required sequestration expected at the end of 2012 in the absence of new legislation.

In the long run, lower deficits and debt should lead to relatively higher growth estimates. But, in the short run, real GDP growth in 2013 would likely be reduced to 0.5% from 1.1%.

This would mean that Obama has spent us into a certain recession and a 1.3% GDP contraction during the first half of the year followed by what most believe we be 2.3% growth in the second half.

Projected effects

Overall effects of the fiscal cliff are scary.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that allowing certain laws on the books during 2012 to expire or take effect in 2013 (the baseline scenario) would cut the 2013 deficit approximately in half and significantly reduce the trajectory of future deficits and debt increases for the next decade and beyond.

If Congress acts to extend current policies, the alternative scenario, then deficits and debt will rise rapidly over the next decade and beyond, slowing the economy over the long run and dramatically increasing interest costs.

The Congressional Budget Office, the CBO, estimates that if the baseline scenario is allowed to take effect in 2013, it would reduce federal spending by $103 billion and increase tax revenues by $399 billion (and another $105 billion "mostly in revenue") through September 2013 (the end of FY2013).

This would amount to a net total of $560 billion, roughly half the $1.2 trillion FY2011 deficit. 
And no, it's not only the rich, the wealthy, the successful who would be drastically effected.

Because of all of the hidden spending in ObamaCare, and stopping the Bush Tax-Cuts, the Obama White House estimates that a family of four with an income of $50,000 to $85,000 would pay an additional $2,200 in federal taxes.

Each piece of the fiscal cliff has varying effects on people at different income levels.

Low-income households are most affected by expiring expansions of the child tax credit and earned income tax credit.

Middle-income households are affected most by the payroll tax and income tax increases.

Households at the top income level are most affected by the income tax and the tax increases on unearned income such as capital gains.

Many experts have argued that the U.S. should avoid the fiscal cliff while taking steps to bring the long-term deficit and debt trajectory under control. 

For example, economist Paul Krugman recommended that the U.S. focus on employment in the short-run, rather than the deficit.

Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke emphasized the importance of balancing long-term deficit reduction with actions that would not slow the economy in the short-run.

Charles Konigsburg, who directed the bi-partisan Domenici-Rivlin deficit reduction panel, advocated avoiding the fiscal cliff while taking steps to reduce the budget deficit over time. He recommended the adoption of ideas from deficit panels such as Domenici-Rivlin and Bowles-Simpson that accomplish these two goals.

Other experts at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Carlyle Group have argued that allowing the tax increases and spending cuts to occur under current law may be necessary to create the "grand bargain" required to get the U.S. deficit and debt trajectory under control for the long-run.

In other words, allowing current law to take effect would create conditions under which legislators might be forced to enact better designed deficit reduction approaches of similar or greater magnitude.

Conservative budget experts have opposed calls to raise taxes or to allow defense sequestration, and have called on congressional leaders to return to normal budgetary process.

Patrick Knudsen, a Heritage Foundation fellow, argued that lawmakers should seek long-term stability by rejecting short-term fixes and "grand bargains."

According to former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the deep across-the-board cuts in defense spending required by the Budget Control Act will threaten military-dependent local economies and "do great damage" to American military strength and homeland security.

During November 2012, President Obama expressed a preference for replacing the more blunt cuts of the sequester with more targeted cuts, while raising income tax rates on the top 2% of earners.

The White House said they would veto of any bill that: 1 - averts defense cuts while leaving intact non-defense cuts; or 2 - excludes an increase in tax rates for top earners (the job creators).

As of November 30, 2012, Obama was calling for $1.6 trillion in higher taxes over ten years, and cuts of another $400 billion from Medicare and other benefit programs over a decade.

Obama also wanted another Stimulus Package of "at least $50 billion" in 2013. He said it is "to boost the economy." But some folks don't believe him and insist it is to pay off big Campaign Donors

Of course, Obama does not want to discuss where the money for his first almost One Trillion Dollar Stimulus Package went to because no one seems to know where all the money did go.

Democrats in Congress have dutifully marched to the tune that Obama has played. 

Congressional Republicans have proposed that the Bush tax cuts be extended in their entirety.

Republicans have dutifully marched to the tune set by the voters in this last November Election and have rejected Obama lame proposals. 

The Timeline Shows This Is All A Result Of Passing ObamaCare 

Some say that this has all come to a head because of Obama's desire for power. Some say it is the result of the federal government's expansion of power and taxation through ObamaCare.

I believe it all has to do with Obama's desire to "fundamentally change America" by bankrupting the country.

March 23, 2010: President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. One of this law's provisions is to impose new taxes on families starting in 2013.

December 17, 2010: Obama signed the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, patching the AMT through 2011 and extending the Bush tax cuts to the end of 2012.

August 2, 2011: The President signed the Budget Control Act of 2011. This act provided that, if the Joint Select Committee did not produce bipartisan legislation, across-the-board spending cuts would take effect on January 2, 2013.

February 22, 2012: Obama signed into law the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which extended the following provisions until December 31, 2012: the 2% Social Security payroll tax cut, federal unemployment benefits and the freeze on Medicare physician payments.

February 29, 2012: Ben Bernanke popularized the term "fiscal cliff" in his testimony before the House Financial Services Committee.

July 3, 2012: IMF head Lagarde warned that the threat of "going over the fiscal cliff" could weaken the US economy later in 2012. The IMF also reduced its projection for US growth in 2013 from 2.4 to 2.25 percent of GDP.

July 17, 2012: Bernanke pushed Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff, warning that a failure to do so will further dampen the sluggish economic recovery.

July 31, 2012: Reid and Boehner agreed on a continuing resolution that would pay for the day-to-day running of the government until the end of March 2013. This does not affect the fiscal cliff or the debt-ceiling.

August 7, 2012: Obama signed the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012, which directed his administration to detail in 30 days how they plan to implement the automatic cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act.

September 14, 2012: Obama released a 400-page report listing his proposal for spending cuts.

October 22, 2012: At the third of three presidential debates, Obama says sequestration "will not happen."

November 16, 2012: President Obama met with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to discuss the fiscal cliff and to try to come up with their initial plans immediately after the Thanksgiving break.

November 28, 2012: Certain Republicans, such as Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), supported "modifying tax expenditures as a way to raise revenue."

November 29, 2012: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner delivered a proposal containing $1.6 trillion in new taxes, $50 billion in stimulus spending, and $400 billion in federal health savings over the next decade.

As part of the proposal, the President wants an extension of the 2% payroll tax cut and authority to by-pass the Constitution and Congress and raise the debt ceiling whenever he wants to.

December 3, 2012: Both Republicans and Democrats remain in the early stages of negotiations for a possible solution. Republicans proposed adding $600 billion in spending cuts by increasing the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and reducing Social Security benefits.

But both parties continue to ridicule each other's proposals,such as when Jay Carney called a proposal "magic beans and fairy dust" or when Boehner called a proposal a "La-La Land offer."

December 5, 2012: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered to vote on President Obama’s proposal, as proposed by Treasury Secretary Geithner, as an amendment to H.R. 6156, the Russian trade bill, in the Senate. However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-Nev.), prevented the vote.

Reid's reported reasons was that the Russian trade bill "is to protect American jobs" and “there is no Geithner proposal." McConnell said he would introduce the bill as "a stand-alone vote."

December 5, 2012: Confirming leaks from the White House, Treasury Secretary Geithner told CNBC that the Obama Administration is "absolutely" willing to go over the fiscal cliff if Republicans refused to back off from their opposition to raising rates on wealthier Americans.

But according to Economists, it is the wealthier Americans who are the job creators in America - and taxing them more will reduce their ability to hire workers or invest in their businesses.

December 13, 2012: Both parties have publicly stated the negotiations are at a stand still. Several commentators have reported that a deal is not expected until after December 25, 2012 but not before

December 15, 2012: In confidential talks, Boehner proposed an increase in tax rates for those who earn over a million dollars.

December 17, 2012: According to media reports, various proposals were exchanged between President Obama and House Speaker Boehner to deal with the fiscal cliff.

These included: changing the Consumer Price Index for entitlements to a "chained" CPI, allowing marginal tax rates to increase on income over $400,000, a one- or two-year increase in the debt ceiling and increasing the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67.

December 18, 2012: Speaker Boehner announced that the House would vote on a "Plan B", which would raise tax rates on people earning more than a million dollars a year.

December 20, 2012: "Plan B" was pulled from consideration in the House because the Republican leadership could not find enough votes to pass the legislation. This was seen as a defeat for Speaker Boehner.

December 21, 2012: With just 10 days left before the end of the year, President Obama scaled back his proposals and urged Congress to adopt stopgap measures to: prevent taxes from rising on income under $250,000 a year, restore unemployment benefits and “lay the groundwork” for budgetary action next year.

December 26, 2012: The US Treasury Department announced that it will begin a series of measures, similar to the ones taken in the summer of 2011, to delay exceeding the current 16.4 trillion dollar debt ceiling.

December 27, 2012: Obama cuts short a vacation to Hawaii and returns to Washington D.C. in a last-chance attempt at a deal regarding the fiscal cliff.

December 28, 2012: According to confidential sources, the 112th Congress may not pass legislation to avert the fiscal cliff until January because Congress will not meet until December 31, 2012.

The 113th Congress is scheduled to convene January 3, 2013 at 12 p.m.

December 28, 2012: Speaker Boehner and President Obama turned negotiations over to Senator Harry Reid and Senator Mitch McConnell to create a last minute agreement. At last check, nothing was taking place to avert the so-called cliff.

It is interesting to note that The Boston Globe reported on Friday that the IRS may delay the impact of tax hikes by holding off on telling employers to change how much they withhold from workers.

Why the Fiscal Cliff Won't be Bad for State Governments?

An article on December 26th, asks if falling off the "fiscal cliff" is a bad thing?

It concludes that that might not necessarily be the case for some state governments that could begin collecting more in Estate Taxes on wealth left to heirs if the United States goes over the "cliff," allowing sharp tax increases and federal spending cuts to take effect in January.

In an example of federal and state tax law interaction that gets little notice on Capitol Hill, a full 30 states next year could collect $3 billion more in Estate Taxes if Congress and Obama do not act soon, estimated the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center which is a Washington Think Tank.

The reason they see this?

Well, the federal Estate Tax would return with a vengeance and so would a federal credit system that shares a portion of it with the 30 states.

They had been getting their cut of this tax revenue stream until the early 2000s. That was when the credit system for payment of state Estate Tax went away due to tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush.

With the return of the credit system next year as part of the "cliff," states such as Florida, Colorado and Texas - which have not collected estate tax since 2004 - could resume doing so.

California Democrat Governor Jerry Brown has already begun to add the anticipated estate tax revenue into his plans, including $45 million of it in his 2012-2013 revised budget. And yes, that's why we are in so much trouble in this state - "creative finances."

Greedy Democrats like Jerry Brown may or may not be jumping the gun

The outlook on the "fiscal cliff" coming up at year-end is looking fairly certain.

Weeks of inconclusive political drama over the "cliff" have focused largely on individual income tax rates and spending on federal programs such Medicare and Social Security, but many tax issues are also involved, including the Estate Tax.

At the moment, under laws signed a decade ago by Bush, the Estate Tax is applied to inherited assets at a rate of 35% after a $5 million exemption.

That means a deceased person can pass on an inheritance of up to $5 million before any tax applies.

Inherited property wealth passed to a spouse or a federally recognized charity is generally not taxed.
Obama wants to raise the rate to 55%  after a $1 million exemption.

Republicans have called for complete repeal of the estate tax, which we call the "death tax." Earlier this month Speaker Boehner actually called for freezing the Estate Tax at its present level just to help out some folks like Farmers who have a great deal to lose.

Obama and Democrats across the nation are way too greedy to allow folks to inherit what is left to them. They want it all, and if not all - than as much of it as they can get.

Besides Obama, States Stand To Gain With Cliff

If Congress and Obama do not act by December 31, numerous Bush-era tax laws will expire, including the one on estate taxes. That would mean the Estate Tax rate will shoot up next year to the Bill Clinton levels of 55% after a $1 million exemption.

It would also mean that for the first time in years, a portion of that estate tax would go to the states, through the return of the credit system.

Under that old law, estates paying the tax could get a credit against their federal tax bill for state estate tax payments of up to 16 percent of the estate's value.

If the fiscal cliff were allowed to take hold unaltered by Washington, 30 states would again automatically begin getting their share of federal estate taxes. The state laws are generally written so the state estate tax amounts are calculated under a formula based on the amount of the federal credit.

This would help states that have struggled with lower tax revenues since the 2007-2009 financial crisis and resulting recession.

Political greed has a way of working out that way, the more they tax - the less businesses can stay afloat and subsequently less tax revenues come in. Imagine that! 

An Increased "Death Tax" will take it's toll!

For places like California where land is worth so much, a $1 Million exemption on inherited property is not very much.

Because of this, we can expect to see Farms disappear instead of them being passed down one generation top the next.

Since they are barely holding on right now, it is almost for certain that increased inheritance taxes will be what finally kills many farms across the nation.

What will it cost you?

Fiscal deal failure would dent monthly budgets for millions

Families across the country might soon have to start trimming back their monthly budgets, with lawmakers running out of time and ideas for averting a crushing set of tax hikes.

President Obama, cutting his family vacation short, flew out of Hawaii late Wednesday and planned to be back in Washington by Thursday morning. He was definitely not happy about cutting another vacation short.

He is truly working on his golf game and doesn't like interruptions.

Of course it's not clear what Obama will do once in Washington, as of last Wednesday, Congressional leaders on all sides reported little to no bipartisan progress, or even conversations, toward a fiscal crisis deal over the Christmas break.

Obama aides and lawmakers are now talking about a scaled-down package as the most likely vehicle for solving the problem, something that could at least prevent most of the scheduled tax hikes.

But without at least a short-term fix, families are going to have to break out the calculators in the new year. And yes, thanks to Obama's tax hikes they will have to figure out how to make do with a lot less.

"You're going to have less money to spend in a very difficult economy with very little clarity on how the economy will pick up in the near future, or even in the long run," financial adviser Ed Butowsky said. "We are entering into a very difficult economic environment, unfortunately."

According to numbers crunched by the Tax Policy Center, millions of families will take a hit, to varying degrees.

For those making below $10,000, the tax increase amounts to roughly $300.

But those making between $40,000 and $50,000 would pay an additional $1,700 in 2013.

Up the pay scale a bit more, households earning $50,000-$75,000 would send an extra $2,300 to Washington.

And for those households making over $200,000 - but under $500,000 - the tax bill will grow by roughly $14,000.

And yes, believe it or not, the numbers go up from there!  Those American households making more than one million dollars a year could pay more than $200,000 in additional taxes.

So ask yourself, by taxing Americans more, will the Federal Government cut its spending? That's like asking an Addict if they get more dope would they stop using it. The answer is no.

Obama sees the Federal Government as his own private checking account the same as if it were set up by his grandma. And yes, when the money runs out, he does exactly as used to do as a kid - simply get more.

In my opinion, in an effort to change the country fundamentally Obama wants to kill the concept of the American Dream which says if we work hard and push ourselves, then we can get ahead and become prosperous even exceeding the dreams of our father's.

In my opinion, this whole litany of tax hikes is Obama's way of saying "Happy New Year Suckers" as he tries to bankrupt America.


Story by Tom Correa

Friday, December 28, 2012

Life In Rural Californa!

On Friday, December 28, 2012, I posted this message on our American Legion Post's website. I'm posting it here to give you a flavor of how life is here in Glencoe, California, population 189.

As the Second Vice Commander for Calaveras Post 376, American Legion, here in Glencoe, I'm responsible for the bar, the kitchen, the building, the morale of our members, the welcoming feeling of our post.

I've been told that I run the place, but I see it more as a team effort. And yes, since we only have a U.S. Post Office and an American Legion Post in Glencoe, our Veterans Club is a huge part of our community. We act as our Community Hall and focal point when folks get together here.

My job is to help keep it safe and trouble free, while at the same time making sure it is fun and family friendly for everyone who walks in the doors. Here is my message to our post:

Happy New Year

Well, Santa was here at the Legion last Friday. And yes, it appeared that everyone had a good time that night.

This years Santa even had stuffed Teddy Bear to hand out. And for you folks who have asked where all of those stuffed Teddy Bears came from, well they came from none other than our Service Officer Jeff Wilson.

It was his idea, he donated them, and they were a big hit with the kids that night. All in all, it was a great night for all.

We tried something different and served Open Faced Turkey Sandwiches that night instead of hamburgers and a second choice -- and I was told that it went over real well.

In the future, we are changing up the menu a little to offer a few different choices for Second Choice through the year. We've introduced BLT Sandwiches and soon we're going to try out some extra-large Stuffed Potatoes as well.

I am looking into getting the Newsletter started again with a menu or Second Choices and list of Special Events, so please watch for that in the near future.

As for Christmas, I'm hoping that your Christmas was filled with family, fun, and great surprises.

We were slated to be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but Chris Zahniser said he wanted to open - so to the pleasure of a few of our friends, he did just that!

From what I've been told, it seems like they all had quite a party here on both days. And that's great, after all, if Chris is willing to open - it's great that he wasn't sitting here alone waiting for folks to come in.

I know that I've said it before, but I'm a big believer in that it is really important to make sure that those who are volunteering to help know how much they are appreciated. It is great having volunteers like Chris. He is such a great friend, and a wonderful asset to the post.

People like Chris for so many real good reasons. But mainly, well, he is just a nice guy. He has a great sense of humor and he knows how to give and take with friends.

And that's another important point, we have a lot of fun here. Maybe it's because we have such a small community here? Maybe its the fact that many of the folks who come in here go back a long ways knowing each other? Then again, maybe it's the fact that folks here are always ready and willing to reach out to shake a hand of a newcomer to the area, make them feel at home and included?

I've seen it. It happens just like that. Someone new walks in, and they are welcomed and treated like an old friend. That's rare in many places, but not here.

For me, I just think this is a friendly caring place to live. Caring? Absolutely.

A great example of that took place last month, Steve Gill and Paul Tadlock had some problems getting their firewood in and stacked for the winter. So a few of the guys got together to take care of that to where they are fixed up just fine.

Of course, you've heard me talk about Chris - but there are certainly others who keep this place running and open for our community. As someone said to me recently, we are our community.

And yes, I agree - we certainly are. Our American Legion Post is the center of what goes on in Glencoe. It is our place to celebrate life in the form of Christmas and birthdays, just as it is ours on Memorial Day or at memorial services for remembering those we've lost.

We are very fortunate to have a good group of friends here at the post.

Right after Paul Tadlock went to the hospital and subsequently had heart surgery, I was told to take his name off the schedule for bartender on Wednesday nights. I was really more worried about Paul than I was about his shift here at the post. Come to find out, Paul had a 5 way heart by-pass surgery.

His shift was taken cared of when Chris jumped in an took a few days, then I did for a day or two, but now we have Debbie Schmidt filling that spot.

Debbie not only volunteers to tend bar on Wednesdays, but also tends bar here on Saturdays from 1pm to 5pm - or longer, depending on her. And yes, for all of you who enjoy our Breakfasts on the first Sunday of the Month, you can thank Debbie for volunteering to help make our breakfasts a big hit. She is simply a great gal!

Paul came into the post last night and is looking great. He has given a great deal to our post in the form of 1st Vice for a few years, then as Post Commander for 6 years, and at one point doing more than just one Officer position at once.

Paul is a great guy who is always willing to volunteer to help out the post. Though he is taking some time off right now, I'm sure that I can wrangle Paul into helping us out in the future if needed. He's not the kind of guy to just sit around and not stay busy. And yes, he is still a very important part of our post.

And since we're talking about important people, let's talk about Jerry Combs. Everyone who knows Jerry knows full well that he volunteers more of his time than any four people put together.

Whether it's here at the Legion or the VFW Post in West Point, or some other organization, Jerry is the man who everyone looks to for help cooking meals for special events or bartending - or whatever else needs done.

Jerry's volunteered at the Legion for more years than anyone else in the area. Whether its bartendering, or cooking, or helping organize, Jerry has always been there for us. And yes, everyone is still talking about his Corned Beef Dinner that he prepared last year. It was simply too good to be true.

Recently, Jerry has allowed Terry Avalon to step in and bartend on Friday nights. Folks are asking me if Jerry is no longer bartending at the Legion, so I am here to say that that is just not the case. He is just taking off a day here and there. The man has truly earned some time off. He has volunteered for more than 15 years.

He and Terry are working out Friday nights, so don't be surprised if you come in and see Jerry behind the bar. And just the same, don't be surprised to see Terry. Terry is a wonderful friend and a super gal.

Volunteers keep our post going. All of us here, whether we're members or not, have a stake in keeping our post running. As I said before, our American Legion Post 376 in Glencoe is our community center. Besides it being a Veteran's club, it is the heart of our little town.

To me, within our post, we are absolutely blessed to have great friends and wonderful volunteers to make the post a go. We are truly blessed to have what we do.

And yes, as Second Vice Commander, I'd like to thank, Jerry Combs, Chris Zahniser, Terry Avalon, Debbie Schimdt, Steve Duman, Neil Steen, all of the great gals of our wonderful Post Auxiliary, and of course our Post Officers, for making our post run so well.

I want to take this time to wish all of you a Happy New Year.

There is a wonderful spirit of goodwill and fellowship that exists between folks up in these parts. And no, we are not just a bunch of folks living in the mountains who don't know their neighbors like the folks in the city.

Fact is, we are friends, neighbors, and community. And yes, I hope to see you all at the post to enjoy the fun, the jokes and the laughter, and of course the camaraderie.

And no, I don't care what you all say about my new one eyed horse - he's just what I was looking for!

So again, I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!

Your Second Vice,
Tom Correa

As you can see, California is not all city folks like those found in San Francisco or Los Angeles. We do have a Rural California.

Granted our lives are a bit slower and easier to handle because of the lack of stress and congestion, but our interests are the same. We love America and work for better lives.

So for you, our readers of the American Cowboy Chronicles, my wife and I want to thank all of you for visiting our blog and for visiting our advertisers. Your visits are a great sense of inspiration for us to put out more of what you want to see.

So yes, we are very grateful for your visits. And with that, we want to take this time to wish all of you a very wonderful, prosperous, Happy New Year!

May God Bless You All!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

RANDOM SHOTS - Sandra Bullock, NYC Newpaper Gives Addresses Of Gun Owners, Ranchers At Odds On Border, Chinese Forced Labor Camps, Rural Vote Went To Romney, and More!

New York Newspaper Faces Backlash After Publishing Map Of Gun Permit Holders

So let's see how this works. A citizen does nothing illegal by obtaining a gun permit, yet gets his name published in the local newspaper the same as if he were a child molester?

Imagine that for a moment. A local New York newspaper is drawing the ire of its readers after publishing an interactive map that shows the names and addresses of thousands of residents who have legally obtained handgun permits.

The online map was published by The Journal News along with an article under the headline: "The gun owner next door: What you don't know about the weapons in your neighborhood."

For me, I'm hoping our local newspaper publishes the names and addresses of everyone who legally contributed to the Obama re-election campaign, or who is legally registered as a Democrat.

Maybe we can get an online map published along with an article under the headline: "The fool next door: What you don't know about the Obama supporters in your neighborhood."

While that was being facetious, I'm being serious when I ask why hasn't the same Newspaper seen fit to publish the names and addresses of child molesters and rapists, and other criminals, yet has the gaul to publish the names and addresses of law abiding citizens who have done nothing to warrant such an attack on their privacy?

The newspaper obtained, and then published, the names and addresses of pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The article, in explaining the decision to publish the information, pointed to the school massacre in nearby Newtown, Connecticut, as an excuse to publish such an invasion of privacy.

The Journal News is using the school massacre as a way of saying that they are responding to the supposed concerns of some residents about which of their neighbors might have firearms.

But, unlike what the idiots at The Journal News assumed, their readers swiftly condemned their move to ridicule their neighbors.

They pointed out that the interactive map could make the gun owners a target, but also make clear to would-be robbers which homes do not contain a gun - and safer to rob!

"Do you fools realize that you also made a map for criminals to use to find homes to rob that have no guns in them to protect themselves?" one reader wrote on Facebook.

"You have just destroyed the privacy of these law abiding citizens and by releasing this list, you have equated them to that of sex offenders and murders," wrote another. "These are law abiding gun owners, they are no danger to anyone except for criminals. And with this information you have made them targets for both criminals and anti-gun lobbyist who I am sure are going to treat them like monsters."

The newspaper, in a written statement, defended the decision to run the names.

"The massacre in Newtown remains top-of-mind for many of our readers," the statement said. "In the past week, conversation on our opinion pages and on our website, LoHud.com, has been keenly focused on gun control.

"Our readers are understandably interested to know about guns in their neighborhoods. We obtained the names and addresses of Westchester and Rockland residents who are licensed to own handguns through routine Freedom of Information law public-records requests."

“New York residents have the right to own guns with a permit and they also have a right to access public information,” said Janet Hasson, president and publisher of The Journal News Media Group.

 Robert Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government and an expert in the state’s Freedom of Information law, has said all government records and data are presumed public unless a specific statute bars their release. Names and addresses are specifically deemed public records, he said.

But Why?

The Journal News has not answered why they would do such a horrible thing and put people at risk.

“We knew publication of the database would be controversial, but we felt sharing as much information as we could about gun ownership in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings,” said CynDee Royle, editor and vice president/news.

 “People are concerned about who owns guns and how many of them there are in their neighborhoods,” she said. “Our Freedom of Information request also sought specifics on how many and what types of weapons people owned. That portion of the request was denied.”

So that's it? The reason they did this is because they can? That's their whole justification if an adult or child gets hurt during a robbery of those homes, or say another that has been marked as defenseless? People are concerned and want to know, and we can, so we did, that's their whole justification.

The map showed the locations of pistol permit holders -- though did not specify whether those shown actually owned a weapon. Since rifles and shotguns can be bought without a permit, that information was not included.
The newspaper separately noted that the reporter on the story "owns a Smith & Wesson 686 .357 Magnum and has had a residence permit in New York City for that weapon since February 2011."

But honestly, this falls under the heading of not right.

Why stupid? Well, by getting the names and addresses of these law abiding citizens and posting them because they violate the agenda of that newspaper, it goes to the concept that just because you can - doesn't make what you did right.

The Journal News did something that they can legally do, but it wasn't right that they did it. No matter how they want to frame it, it just isn't right to treat law abiding citizens with such contempt simply because they are doing something that you don't like.

I was actually hoping that someone would publish the home addresses of The Journal News Staff because they are responsible for this.

Janet Hasson, Publisher, The Journal News/LoHud.com
3 Gate House Lane, Mamaroneck, NY 10543
(914) 694-5204

Dwight R Worley, Reporter, The Journal News/LoHud.com
230-6 139th Ave., Queens, NY 11413
(718) 527-0832
Work Email: dworley@lohud.com
Twitter: @dwightworley FB: LinkedIN: http://...

Cynthia R Lambert (aka CynDee Royle), Editor, The Journal News/LoHud.com
17 McBride Ave., White Plains, NY 10603
(914) 948-9388
Work Email: croyle@lohud.com

Robert F. Rodriguez, Visual Editor, The Journal News/LoHud.com
420 Riverside Dr, Apt 7A New York, NY 10025-7748
(212) 222-4566

Nancy Cutler, Opinion Editor, The Journal News/LoHud.com
9 Woodwind Ln., Spring Valley, NY 10977
(845) 354 3485 Home Phone
(845) 578-2403 Work Phone
Work Email: ncutler@lohud.com

Barbara L Nackman, Reporter, The Journal News/LoHud.com
279 Farrington Ave Tarrytown, NY 10591
(914) 332-5185
Work Email: bnackman@lohud.com
Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy, Reporter, The Journal News/LoHud.com
306 Quaker Rd Chappaqua, NY 10514
(914) 238-4607
Work Email: svenugop@lohud.com

Michael J Risinit, Reporter, The Journal News/LoHud.com
42 Robinson Lane Wappingers Falls, NY 12590
(845) 454-2278

Seth Harrison, Photographer, The Journal News/LoHud.com
107 Valleyview Rd Irvington, NY 10533
(914) 231-5411
Work Email: sharriso@lohud.com

Ed Forbes, Digital Editor, The Journal News/LoHud.com
Mount Kisco, NY 10549
(914) 696-8488
Work Email: eforbes@lohud.com

David McKay Wilson, Columnist, The Journal News/LoHud.com
104 Topland Rd Mahopac, New York 10541
Work Email: dwilson3@lohud.com

Journal News Employees

An interactive map with publicly available information about The Journal News employees including home addresses, phone numbers and photos.

 The Journal News Staff - Where They Live!  

By publishing their home addresses, maybe they can learn how vulnerable one can feel when people do things to innocent people.

By experiencing the possibility of a threat just as they have caused others, maybe they will rethink their actions in the future?   I can only hope so.

The actions of anti-gun folks like The Journal News just proves more than ever that we have to bond together to fight them.  
SECOND SHOT!  

Ranchers split over proposal to waive environmental reviews for US border security plan

In Arizona, wWhen Dan Bell drives through his 35,000-acre cattle ranch, he speaks of the hurdles that the Border Patrol faces in his rolling green hills of oak and mesquite trees -- the hours it takes to drive to some places, the wilderness areas that are generally off-limits to motorized vehicles, the environmental reviews required to extend a dirt road.

John Ladd offers a different take from his 14,000-acre spread: the Border Patrol already has more than enough roads and its beefed-up presence has flooded his land and eroded the soil.

Their differences explain why ranchers are on opposite sides of the fence over a sweeping proposal to waive environmental reviews on federal lands within 100 miles of Mexico and Canada for the sake of border security.

The Border Patrol would have a free hand to build roads, camera towers, helicopter pads and living quarters without any of the outside scrutiny that can modify or even derail plans to extend its footprint.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the bill authored by Utah Republican Rob Bishop in June.

But prospects in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate are extremely slim and chances of President Barack Obama's signature even slimmer. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified in Congress this year that the bill was unnecessary and "bad policy."

Still, an idea that House Republicans kicked around for years has advanced farther in the legislative process than ever before and rekindled discussion over how to balance border security with wildlife protection.

The debate raises some of the same questions that will play out on a larger scale when Congress and the president tackle immigration reform: Is the U.S. border with Mexico secure, considered by some lawmakers to be a litmus test for granting legal residency and citizenship to millions? Has the U.S. reached a point of border security overkill?

Heightened enforcement -- along with a fewer available jobs in the U.S. and an aging population in Mexico -- has brought Border Patrol arrests to 40-year lows.

The U.S. has erected 650 miles of fences and other barriers on the Mexican border, almost all of it after a 2005 law gave the Homeland Security secretary power to waive environmental reviews.

The administration of President George W. Bush exercised its waiver authority on hundreds of miles after years of court challenges and environmental reviews delayed construction on a 14-mile stretch in San Diego.

The Border Patrol, which has doubled to more than 21,000 agents since 2004, has also built 12 "forward operating bases" to increase its presence in remote areas. Instead of driving long distances from their stations every shift, agents stay at the camps for several days.

Lots more needs to be done, according to backers of Bishop's bill to rewrite rules on millions of acres of federal land managed by the Interior and Agriculture departments, including more than 800 miles bordering Mexico and 1,000 miles bordering Canada.

The bill would waive reviews required under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and 14 other laws in dozens of wilderness areas, national forests and national parks.

"It's a paralyzing process now," said Bell, 44, as his GMC truck barreled down a dirt road on a 10-mile stretch of his ranch that borders Mexico. "They wanted to put this road in for a decade, probably even longer. They broke ground on it last year."

Bell, a burly, third-generation rancher who leases his land from the Agriculture Department, acknowledges there are noticeably fewer border crossers since the government built a fence on the eastern part of his ranch, near Nogales. In the ranch's west end, the Border Patrol opened one of its camps in 2005 -- a collection of shipping containers that agents use as a base while alternating 12-hour shifts.

Yet migrants continue crossing in some rugged reaches that are well outside of cellphone range. Bell says waiving environmental reviews within 100 miles of the border may be unnecessary but that a 25-mile zone would help immensely.

"There are areas where the agents can't get to," he said. "By the time they get out of the station and get to these remote areas, then hike another two or three hours just to get close to the border, they have to come back because their day is pretty much eaten up. It's really difficult when there's no access out there."

Ladd, a fourth-generation rancher whose spread near Douglas is in a flatter, more easily traveled area of mesquite-draped hills, thinks the Border Patrol has gone far enough. The agency installed four 80-foot camera towers on his land about six years ago. In 2007, it completed a fence along the 10.5 miles of his ranch that borders Mexico.

Rainfall that runs downhill from Mexico is stopped by debris caught in the mesh fence and an adjoining raised road, Ladd says. The water is diverted to other areas, causing floods and soil erosion on his property.

Ladd, 57, thinks the bill would allow the Border Patrol to "run roughshod" over ranches and farms.

"Be careful what you wish for, they're going to tear it up," Ladd tells other ranchers. "Once they get in, it pretty well turns into a parking lot. It's really hard to get them out."

Ladd says the 37 miles of roads on his ranch are enough for the Border Patrol's needs. "Why do you need new ones?" he asks.

The Interior Department raised concerns in a survey of Arizona's Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge last year that found nearly 8,000 miles of off-road vehicle trails, blaming much of it on smuggling and Border Patrol activity. It urged the Border Patrol to rely on tools like radars and cameras, which are less threatening to wildlife.

Critics of the Border Patrol's growth have long called new fences, roads and other infrastructure a threat to Sonoran pronghorn, Mexican grey wolves, jaguars and other border wildlife.

A Government Accountability Office report in 2010 offered fodder for both sides of the debate. It found Border Patrol supervisors generally felt land laws didn't hinder them on the job but that the agency sometimes encountered roadblocks. An unnamed agency took four months to review a Border Patrol request to move a camera tower in Arizona, by which time traffic had moved to another area.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat who has led opposition to the bill that has largely split along party lines, calls the effort a disguised step toward repealing environmental laws.

"The border has become a very convenient excuse to go after laws that have been on the books for four or five decades," he said. "You plant your flag on the 100 miles (of border) and then build from there."

Bishop dismisses that criticism as a scare tactic and a "lousy argument."

"Sovereign countries control their borders. Anything that stops us from that is a violation of why we are a nation," he said.
THIRD SHOT!

Beer Sales Help Rebuild 16th Century Monastery

Monks in a small Northern California town are rebuilding a 16th Century Spanish monastery with help from what may seem an unlikely source: beer.

The first phase of the building's decades-long restoration project in the Sacramento Valley town of Vina has been completed, with the Chapter House of Ovila now standing, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

In the 1930s, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst bought the former Trappist monastery— the Santa Maria de Ovila — and imported it from Spain for an estate that was never realized. He had planned to use parts of the church for an indoor swimming pool changing room.

Once that project was scrapped, Hearst donated the monastery's pieces to the city of San Francisco, but the dismantled building sat forgotten in Golden Gate Park for more than 60 years.

The Vina monks eventually convinced the city to let them rebuild it there, and with the help of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in nearby Chico have raised millions to get started.

The brewers created a series of Ovila Abbey ales inspired by Belgian Trappist monks, an order that to this day makes some of the finest beers in the world.

Sierra Nevada Brewing and the monks have raised $7 million over the past 12 years to help with the historic and painstaking reconstruction.

The gothic, limestone building that housed Cistercian monks for hundreds of years is finally erect again.

Still, Father Paul Mark Schwan said another $2 million is needed to finish the project: the building is still without the proper window glass, floors and electricity needed to finish it.

"Will it take another 12 years?" Schwan told the paper. "I prefer it not."

FOURTH SHOT!

White House resorts to Name Calling and Blames "Congressional Stupidity" For Cliff

 President Barack Obama had to cut short another one of his many vacations to get back to Washington and do something that he doesn't like to do - that of doing the business of government.

He had cut his annual taxpayer paid Hawaii Christmas vacation to resume talks to avoid the "fiscal cliff" of automatic year-end tax hikes and spending cuts. If you remember during the last debate with Mitt Romney, Obama said that there was no worry about the nation getting to this fical cliff. I guess he was just kidding!

The White House has now called on Congressional Republicans not to stand in the way of a resolution in the U.S. Congress.

“What we need is for the Senate Minority Leader not to block a vote and for Boehner to allow a vote,” a White House official told ABC News. “The hits from our economy are not coming from outside factors they’re coming from Congressional stupidity."

That's right, his people in the White House actually used the term "Congressional stupidity" to describe resistance to the Obama agenda.

Of course if folks in Congress would say "Presidential stupidity" than they'd probably be called racist, but that's a whole nother subject for another day. Critics of the president are alll called racists.

Obama is now seeking a stripped down deal to prevent tax rates from rising on all but the wealthiest Americans and to stop steep across-the-board spending cuts.

The White House last week proposed a broader package that would have let tax rates stay low for those making up to $400,000, a compromise from the president's previous rate hike threshold of $250,000.

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner was unimpressed with the offer and sought unsuccessfully to push his own proposal through Congress, but members of his own Party balked at rate hikes of any kind.

Talks broke down after that and the president and lawmakers left town for the holiday.

The focus will shift to the Senate for a deal, where Obama will rely on an ally, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to work out a bill that the top Senate Republican, Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, will not obstruct.

But even though Obama is trying an end-run on the issue, the House of Representatives must also pass the measure.

"Congressional stubbornness risks again damaging the fragile economy, just as the nation's near-default in 2011 - the result of a stalemate over raising the national borrowing limit - dealt a nascent economic recovery a setback," said an administration official - which was no surprise to anyone.

"If you think about the possibility of Congress failing to act to avert the fiscal cliff, combined with the abomination of what occurred in the summer of 2011, hits to our economy aren't coming from external factors, they're coming from congressional stupidity," the official said.

Since name calling is not a really smart negotiation tactic, I can't wonder why the administration is such a bunch of dumb asses. Especially when they know darn well that they have put off negotiations for the better part of an entire year while Obama shirked his job as president and assumed the role of Campaigner and Chief.

Calling folks names like stupid and pointing fingers is nothing new to this White House, it is just the way they do business. They shirk their duties and their responsibilities, and they get fools to vote for them. And yes, that's just the way it is.
FIFTH SHOT!

More Proof Chinese Forced Labor Camps Manufacturing Goods For Sale In The U.S.

On December 26, 2012, it was reported that an Oregon woman who found a Chinese laborer's plea for help hidden in a box of Halloween decorations says she thinks the letter, which describes brutal conditions inside a work camp, is authentic.

Julie Keith, 42, of Portland, bought a Halloween graveyard kit from Kmart last year and tucked it away in a storage box. When she opened the kit this October, she found the letter tucked in between two Stryofoam headstones.

“If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization,” the unsigned letter read. “Thousands people here who are under the persicution [sic] of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever."

The writer said the product was made in Masanjia Labor Camp in Shenyang, China, where laborers work for 15 hours a day without time off on the weekends and holidays, making only 10 yuan ($1.61) per month.

The China director at Human Rights Watch, Sophie Richardson, told The Oregonian that the organization could not confirm the origin or authenticity of the letter.

But Keith told Fox News that she thinks it isn’t a fake, after analyzing the product packaging and showing it to a Chinese co-worker at the Portland Goodwill store where she works, who said it looked authentic.

“I fully believe it is real,” she said, describing how the headstones where the letter was found inside of were sealed together and the box was closed with tape. “It had to of come from where they said.”

Keith posted an image of the letter on Facebook and said she’s been criticized online from people who fear retribution against the workers, as the letter contains their exact location at the camp they are stationed – “Unit 8, Department 2.”

But she added that she is “just trying to spread awareness.”

“It would be nice if these companies were aware of what was happening,” she said.

ICE's Homeland Security Investigations said Tuesday that it is looking into the letter, The Oregonian reported.

Keith told Fox News that she spoke to ICE agents and gave them the box of decorations and the letter, but hasn’t received any updates.

Sears Holdings Corporation, which owns Kmart, said in a statement that it is also investigating the matter.

"Sears Holdings has a Global Compliance Program which helps to ensure that vendors and factories producing merchandise for our company adhere to specific Program Requirements, and all local laws pertaining to employment standards and workplace practices," the company said.

"Failure to comply with any of the Program Requirements, including the use of forced labor, may result in a loss of business or factory termination.”

LAST SHOT!
Republicans Took The Rural America Vote!

That's right, while folks in the city voted for Democrat Barack Obama in the last election, Republican Mitt Romney won rural America.

It appears that a decline in turnout in Rural America is almost entirely attributable to the decision by Democratic voters in Rural America to stay home. As a result, Democrats this year left a good number of rural votes on the table.

Fact is that Romney soundly won rural counties across the entire nation by 59% to Obama's 39%.
The good news is that the 2012 results mark a comeback for Republicans in Rural America.

Believe it or not, in 2008, candidate Barack Obama severely reduced the Republican Party’s rural advantage -  winning nearly 6% more of the rural vote than John Kerry had in 2004.

Obama didn’t close that gap by turning Republicans into Democrats. Republican turnout increased in 2008 in rural counties, but Obama vastly increased the turnout of Democrats living in rural counties at the time.

Remember, the popular vote turned out very close this year indicating that Obama is just not as popular as some in the media are making out. Many believe that an indication of how unpopular Obama is in the nation was demonstrated by the way that rural Democrats stayed home this year.

Turnout was down in 2012 from four years ago.

Most demographic groups voted more Republican in local, state, and for Congress this year than they did in 2008, though the shifts weren’t enough to change the result for the presidency.

One thing that Obama supporters and the media, or the White House, doesn't want to talk about: The vote for Obama was down more than nine percent from 2008 - that's nearly 7 Million less votes for Obama in 2012 than in 2008.

About a third of that decline was due to lower Democratic turnout in rural counties.

Contrast that with the fact that Republican presidential candidates got about the same number of votes in each of the last three elections - between 12.3 and 12.9 million votes.

Democrats Kerry and Obama received just over 8 million rural votes in the 2004 and 2012 elections. In 2008, however, Obama won about 10.6 million rural votes.

Yes, turnout was up in rural America in 2008, an increase of about 3.2 million over the average turnout in rural counties in 2004 and 2012.

But 2.24 million votes out of that increase were Democratic votes. When turnout increased in rural counties in 2008, 70 percent of that increase was attributable to Democratic voters.

Moreover, the turnout in rural counties was disproportionately strong in 2008. In 2008, the rural vote accounted for 18.3% percent of the national total.

Or, think about it this way: One third of President Obama’s decline in votes from 2008 was due to results from rural counties. But those counties make up only 17 percent of the nation’s voters.

The lesson seems to be that there are a lot of Democrats living in rural communities who just don’t vote for one reason or another.

Why did President Obama do so well in 2008, and yet lose more than 2.2 million rural votes four years later?

Well, back in 2008 the Obama campaign certainly concentrated more on rural communities and rural concerns, a huge number of farm and ranch groups supported the Democrat because they thought he support farmers and ranchers - and would enforce anti-trust laws in the food industry.

Four years later, well Rural American found out that Barack Obama was all talk and no action.
His promises about anti-trust enforcement came to nothing, and the President barely set foot in rural America during the campaign this year.

It's a possibility that rural Democrats stayed home because the President didn’t deliver on promises from 2008, and he didn’t show up at all during the 2012 campaign.

There may be another reason why rural Democrats stayed home this year. Some believe that people with minority political beliefs hate to come out into the open and be noticed.

For me, well, when I read that - my bullshit detector went off.

You see, while it might be true tat the majority of rural Democrats don't want to be known, from my experience liberals living in Rural America are one of the biggest problems that we in Rural America have to contend with.

While some expert somewhere might really believe that folks with liberal attitudes keep quiet in rural America, or that they participate less in public affairs, or vote less, that's not the experience everywhere. And honestly, it's certainly not the case here.

Most of us know who the liberals are in our area, with a population of 189 in Glencoe, we pretty much know there names and where they live. We also know who they support and what kind of liberal Communist ass changes they want to bring into our lives.

While some educated statistics collector thinks he knows something about liberals in rural America, and he might go on and on about how there may be some sort social pressures that are disproportionately suppressing the rural Democratic vote, I don't see that happening at all.

If anything, liberals are more organized and willing to tell their neighbors how to live - than conservatives would be - and that lends to their desire to get into politics. Liberals crave political influence.

And yes, that's the reason why so many rural communities are always having to battle their desire to change things from what traditionally works to some Communist way of life that has been a proven failure.

For me, I believe that the decline in Democrat turnout in rural counties is due mostly to a decline in the number of Democratic voters in rural areas.

Yes, maybe having Obama in the White House has changed something for the better? After all, there is a real possibility that rural Democrats have learned that not everything is Bush's fault, and Obama is all talk and no action - all promises and nothing delivered.

There is a possibility that rural Democrats found out that Obama is like teats on a bore hog. And yes, that's probably more the truth.

TRIVIA

Actress Sandra Bullock is known for doing some really outstanding roles. While filming "Two if by Sea" in 1996, Sandra Bullock found out the hard way that she's allergic to horses.

Though she looks great as a Cowgirl, and she still loves horses, she now can't get too close to them.

Story by Tom Correa

Sunday, December 23, 2012

School Security vs Half Hearted Measures

I feel sorry for those who have written to inform me that I should have understanding for Adam Lanza and those of his ilk. I feel sorry for all of you who have written saying that I should be more understanding for those in America who hate us enough to kill our children.

I'm not sorry for hating Adam Lanza who killed those children in Newtown Connecticut, but he's not alone.

I absolutely hate James Eagan Holmes who walked into that movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, with evil in mind. They are the same person.

They have no known criminal record prior to the shootings. They watch a lot of violent movies and play a lot of violent video games, and they both have absolutely no regard or respect for the lives of others.

They are no different than a radical Muslim terrorist like Major Nidal Hasan in Fort Hood. They are no different than those who hijacked planes on 9-11. And yes, they are no different then others who vehemently hate so much that they want to destroy the innocent.

I hate people like Adma Lanza, Holmes and people like Nadal Hasan, who want to kill our children and attack the innocent.Yes I really do hate people who hurt or harm the innocent - especially children.

I fell the intensity of emotion, the same hateful conviction, but unlike Lanza and his ilk, I know that evil is evil.
And yes, most of us might hate people like Lanza vehemently. But what we hate is evil, and would not do harm to good people.

So Are Guns The Enemy?

Most of us know that we should recognize the enemy for who they are.

The enemy is not the citizen who follows the rules and leads a good and honorable life. The enemy is not the man or woman who drives a car and takes their kids to school, or those who goes to church and pray. The enemy is not those who have guns to protect their families. The enemy is not a knife or a car, or any other useful piece of equipment that we also use for a multitude of well intentioned reasons.

The enemy is the selfish, the self-absorbed, the one who hates for no reason, the one who wants the innocent harmed, the one who wants to curtail our liberties, and yes - the enemy may also be the one who shifts the focus away from the true problem and over to something that fits their personal or political agenda.

Yes, while I hate Adam Lanza for killing those children, I also hate those who refuse to face the real problem, to recognize the real issue of securing our children. I hate those who will wash their hands of responsibility when Americans get hurt or killed because of their inaction.

And no, that is not my way of talking about not sending in my fellow Marines into Benghazi Libya to save those you were later killed - even though Marines were only an hour away and could have been there to do what Marines do best. Kick ass and protect others.

But then thinking about it, there is one huge similarity between what happened in Benghazi Libya and Newtown. You see, I can't help but wonder if our embassies around the world have beefed up their security since the murders that took place in Benghazi? Something that has not been done at our schools around the country.

I worked in Security for years and saw clients try to cut corners to appease insurance companies and bosses who wanted the issue looked at. I know how it is to have a problem with security, and watch people do nothing about it. And yes I've seen people who want to do the minimum to achieve the maximum protection.

People have a tendency to want the easy quick fix even to a complicated problem. And yes, just as what took place in Benghazi Libya which was a wake up call for more security at other embassies, the school shooting in Newtown Connecticut should be a wake up call.

It should be a call to get people off their ass and really do something about possible violent acts against school kids.

Do we need to move all of our children to abandoned prisons where tall fences topped with concertina wire and guard towers surround the facility? Can we protect our children, once "we get them in"? Do we want our children to go to school behind prison walls, or be made to feel like "protected prisoners"?

Should we now stress the construction of vehicle and personnel "sally ports" for visitors who come to a school?  For those who don't know what a "sally port" is, allow me to explain.

A "sally port" is a secure, controlled entryway, as that which you would enter in fortification or a prison. A guard in a protected location, today usually physically remote from the actual sally port, will have control over the middle space between the two doors. One door closes before the other will open.

The operation of the doors of the sally port, and the movement of all persons, materials and/or vehicles through the sally port, is what provides security.

This sally port guard will have the means to check the personnel, or their escorts, and/or the credentials of all those persons, materials and vehicles to be passed into the protected space through the first opened door, prior to its opening. He will then monitor the sally transit to ensure that procedures are followed before entrance can be obtained.

Sally ports are used to restrict the flow of people to one at a time so that intruders cannot pass into the classified or secure area on a cleared person's coattails.
If we assume that a fortification is needed, then can we depend on that fortification to work without security professionals to secure it? No, we can't.

Building fenced in facilities with concertina wire, guard towers, sensors, and sally ports for both vehicle and personnel entry, at all of our schools is pretty unrealistic.

So What Can We Do?

Well, how about hiring trained armed professionals to have on site in case of emergencies? What is wrong with having a "policeman or woman" on site? Why can't school districts pony up the money and pay for either armed security professionals or on site police officers from their local Police Department?

And no, I'm not talking about some under-trained armed security guard like the ones who stood by and watched as a person was assaulted in Seattle.

If you remember, in February of 2010, five security cameras underneath downtown Seattle picked up the graphic beating of a 15 year old teenage girl in Seattle's Metro bus tunnel while uniformed Seattle Metro security guards simply looked on and did nothing to help.

No, I'm talking about on site members of the local Police Department or armed security "professionals." I'm talking about having trained personnel on site who know how to use deadly force to stop an armed intruder like Adam Lanza.

National Rifle Association, vice president Wayne LaPierre has called for armed guards in schools, saying that plan is the fastest way to prevent another massacre like the massacre this month at a Connecticut elementary school.

“That’s the one thing we can do immediately that can make our children more safe,” he said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” We’ve got to get at the real cause.”

LaPierre, the gun rights advocacy group’s chief executive officer, made his original call for armed officers in every school a week after killer Adam Lanza mercilessly murdered 26 people, include 20 first-graders, inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut.

Adam Lanza,supposedly had an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and two handguns that he had taken from his mother, Nancy Lanza, who was the legal owner of the guns and Lanza's first victim.

We know for certain that the two handguns were found in the school building. But yes, there seems to be some confusion about whether or not Lanza had the AR-15 in the school. But why?

First reports from the authorities there said that upon a search of Lanza's car - that that is where they found the AR-15 rifle. But since then, there have been all sorts of claims about the whether he had the rifle or not.

Since the talk about increasing School Security has been shifted away from the prime issue of ensuring the security of our children, and instead is now being focused on Gun Control measures, I can't help but wonder what Democrats will do if they get another ban and another school shooting takes place?

Address The Problem!

Why not look at the problem for what it really is, our schools need better security. And yes, why not tackle the problem of securing our schools right now?

Democrats and some Republican politicians are openly considering new gun-control regulations, yet we need more security.

Friends, that's the same as promising a man a empty cup when he needs a drink of water. It does nothing to solve the problem right now and in the near future.

Wayne LaPierre says limiting Second Amendment rights is not the answer. And yes, I agree.

He said that the answer to gun violence in schools is an armed security force that can protect students, made up of trained volunteers stationed at every school across the country.

"It's not just our duty to protect [our children], it's our right to protect them," LaPierre said at a news conference.

"The NRA knows there are millions of qualified active and reserved police, active and reserve military, security professionals, rescue personnel, an extraordinary corps of qualified trained citizens to join with local school officials and police in devising a protection plan for every single school."

“The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he told NBC News.
“If it’s crazy to call for armed guards in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy,” Mr LaPierre said Sunday.

And yes, I agree with Wayne LaPierre 100%!

We need to protect our children today - and not legislate the problem away with some sort of pipe dream that says that a supposed ban will stop violence from taking place upon our kids.

And No, Democrats Do Not Understand That Bans Only Work If Citizens Respect The Law.

Why can't they understand that criminals don't abide by the law or anything else?

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who apparently sees the Sandy Hook School Massacre as an opportunity to further her cause of banning all guns, has vowed to introduce legislation next month to reinstate a ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.

Lawmakers have also proposed federal background checks for gun purchases, an attempt to keep weapons away from people with mental health problems.

But again, how exactly does that accomplish anything when a person like Lanza steals the guns from someone else - in this case his mother - to commit evil?

It doesn't do a damn thing to address the problem.

The Left's answer is more regulation and no action. Yes, all talk and no action.

Why is it that Democrats like Feinstein don't understand that action gives hope and builds confidence?

Democrats and Gun Control advocates slammed the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre for proposing a force of armed security guards at schools across the country as a response to the Connecticut school shooting.

One Democrat politician who was quick to criticize but is without even the slightest hint of doing something to actually help address the problem facing schools, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., who actually said, "It is beyond belief that following the Newtown tragedy, the National Rifle Association's leaders want to fill our communities with guns and arm more Americans."

Did you read a solution in his quote? No, I didn't either.

How about Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who said  that armed guards are only part of a possible solution and called for the ban on high-capacity magazines.

“We have to go beyond that,” she said on ABC’s "This Week.” “We cannot have an armed guard in every classroom, in every doorway.”

"Every classroom" and "every doorway"?

Where the hell did that come from?

Someone should let Amy know that we're talking about one Cop to one School - for Christ's sake, even the Chinese government did that very thing after a nutcase over there attacked 22 elementary school kids with a knife on the same day that Adam Lanza did his horrid deed.

Arming Teachers!

Yes, without using volunteer security or hiring trained security professionals to man a facility, we should instead arm and train school administrators and teachers.

And before you write me and tell me something to the effect of "What the Hell am I thinking?"

Please take this into consideration. As times change, so too does job requirements.

For example, about 35 years ago I looked into becoming a U.S. Park Ranger at Yosemite National Park. I was a little surprised at the time that the NPS (National Park Service) was looking for armed law enforcement rangers in the national park system.

It seemed just a few years before that that Rangers weren't armed. But the fact is, times changed.

So yes, maybe it is time that all of America's schools do what is done in other countries. Arm our teachers.

Now granted, that would mean drug testing and background checks. So yes, I know that many of today's teachers might have a problem getting a permit to carry a gun because they probably can't pass either.

But then again, I really believe that almost all of our teachers out there can and would if they knew that it is for the security of the children under their care and responsibility.

Banning Guns Is Not The Answer!

The answer is better security.

Since we somehow found a way to make it feasible to hire school psychologist, nutritionist, and a host of other Staff Support positions, why can't our schools cut some fat and add Security?.

Maybe some of those high paid positions at various school districts, school administrators, and high paid teachers would take a cut in pay so that schools can afford better security? Then again, maybe not.

But for those out there who think banning guns, even if there were a way to ban all guns, would be the answer - ask yourself if that really would make our society more secure?

OK, I just have to throw this in.

When I was in the private security field after leaving the Marine Corps, I had a boss who used to say, "If a law banning guns works so well, then pass a law to ban all guns - and then go ask the President of the United States if he'd like to give up his Secret Service security because there is now a ban on guns?"

Fat chance that he would. Fact is that even if there were a ban on all guns, every single one of them, America's criminal element would still do drive by shooting -  and yes, nut cases like Adam Lanza would still steal someone else's guns to do their evil.

So if we pass another gun ban, will the President feel safe enough to give up his security? You can bet he would not.

And also, think about this, why is it that the NRA's Wayne LaPierre is criticized and mocked for suggesting that we give a little bit of the security that is afforded to our politicians in Washington everyday?

And ask yourself this, is the President more important than a small child in Newtown Connecticut, or anywhere else in America?

When a couple of prevention choices of either putting trained security or arming our teachers in the schools isn't seen as worth the price of a child, we have bigger problems than guns.

Remember, there are a number of people who can replace the President in his position in the Executive Branch of our government at any given moment - yet we provide him with enormous security measures.

But really, who replaces little 6 year old Emily if she is killed because we only put out half hearted measures that didn't stop a crazy with a gun or a knife from getting into a school - or once he was inside we were helpless to fight back and did nothing?


Story by Tom Correa