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LEON AT LANGLEY?? Print E-mail
Written by Jack Kelly   
Tuesday, 06 January 2009

There are, I suspect, quite a few jobs in government for which having no experience is not a liability.  But few would list CIA director among them.  Which is why Barack Obama's pick of Leon Panetta is causing so much consternation.

A former congressman, Mr. Panetta, 70, served as budget director and then as chief of staff in the Clinton administration.  But he's never spent a day in the intelligence community.

If you think it dangerous, at a time when we are engaged in two wars, to have a novice at the CIA, then you're likely appalled by the Panetta nomination.

But if you think of the CIA as a rogue, dysfunctional agency that needs to be reined in, you may think Mr. Obama's choice is inspired.

Because I think the CIA requires wholesale reform, I think better of the Panetta nomination than do most others.  But I have two huge concerns.
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A SHAMELESS HACK APPOINTMENT Print E-mail
Written by Ralph Peters   
Thursday, 08 January 2009

Would you ask your accountant to perform brain surgery on your child? That's the closest analogy I can find to the choice of Democrat Party hack Leon Panetta to head the CIA.

Earth to President-elect Obama: Intelligence is serious. And infernally complicated. When we politicize it - as we have for 16 years - we get 9/11. Or, yes, Iraq.

The extreme left, to which Panetta's nomination panders, howled that Bush and Cheney corrupted the intelligence system. Well, I worked in the intel world in the mid 1990s and saw how the Clinton team undermined the system's integrity (when Panetta was Clinton White House Chief of Staff).

The director's job at the CIA isn't a party favor. This is potentially a matter of life and death for thousands of Americans. But the choice of Panetta tells us all that Barack Obama doesn't take intelligence seriously.
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ARE CONGRESSMEN WORTH WHAT WE PAY THEM? Print E-mail
Written by Richard Rahn   
Thursday, 08 January 2009

Members of Congress each will receive a $4,700 pay raise this month, which will give them a salary of $174,000 per year. Do you think they are worth it?

Most of us would like to be in the position of voting for our own pay raises from an employer who has almost unlimited access to money, so when many others are taking pay cuts or losing jobs we would not have to worry.

Given that members of Congress were in a large part responsible for the current economic mess, it is hard to see how they can justify a raise, which they claim is merely a cost-of-living increase.

Part of the problem is that they give themselves pay raises based on the rate of inflation. If these increases depended on the rate of change (increase or decrease) in real per capita disposable income (i.e., after taxes) of the average citizen, Members of Congress would have an incentive to maximize economic growth rather than encourage inflation.

In the next few weeks, members of Congress will have an opportunity to pass a "stimulus package" that enhances economic growth or one that makes things worse.  Which do you think they will choose?
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REAL SELF-ESTEEM Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Joel Wade   
Friday, 09 January 2009

During nearly thirty years of studying many different philosophies and theories of psychotherapy and coaching, I have found that two principles of self-esteem are fundamental to building a life that works.

The first is that real genuine self-esteem is something you have to earn by yourself.  The second is that self-esteem is the reputation you have with yourself.

This is very different from the way that self-esteem is generally talked about today.  If you look at how self-esteem is used in the schools and in popular culture, you will find these principles stood on their head.

Self-esteem is no longer a personal quality that you earn over time through your choices and actions. It is now something to be given or taken away by somebody in authority. Self-esteem is "built" nowadays in somebody by other people saying only nice things to them - or taken away by others saying nasty things.

It is the perfect concept of self-esteem for liberals who want to control people's lives.
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NEWS FROM NASCAR Print E-mail
Written by To The Point News   
Friday, 09 January 2009

Racing great Jeff Gordon has just fired his entire pit crew.

Announced yesterday was Gordon's decision to support President Hussein's initiative to employ "disadvantaged" youth by replacing his current pit crew with unemployed youth from Harlem.

Gordon said his decision was prompted by a recent documentary on how young men in Harlem could remove a set of four wheels from a parked automobile in under 6 seconds, using only hand tools.  Gordon went on to explain that it took his existing crew 8 seconds using very expensive, high tech equipment. 

Gordon's management team applauded his decision, as many races are won or lost in the pits.  However, Gordon may have gotten a little more than he bargained for.
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ALL THIS ECONOMY NEEDS Print E-mail
Written by To The Point News   
Friday, 09 January 2009

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HALF-FULL REPORT 01/02/09 Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Friday, 02 January 2009

The HFR has recovered from its hangover bidding the annus horribilus of 2008 vale ad aeternam, goodbye forever, and welcomes you to what's coming for this brand new year of 2009!

Or rather what might be coming - for as we learned near the start of last year in The 2008 Carpe Diem Filter,  history is stochastic, a series of uniquely unrepeatable events.  There is no such thing as the future, and you can't make predictions about something that doesn't exist.

You certainly can about nature (like what time the sun will rise tomorrow), but not about what people will do, because they haven't decided yet - and in particular, the extent to which they decide to treat problems as opportunities (the carpe diem filter).

Nonetheless, there are some things that look exceedingly likely.  So here goes.

Don't be surprised if 2009 is as weird a year as 2008.  A president who worships at a God Damn America church is worshipped as the savior of America - but for how long?  The media will focus on his every word and deed, and will shout hosannas of positive news regarding everything he touches.  But sooner or later it will dawn on folks that he is no more competent a president than he is a golfer - or bowler.
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IS BLAGO CRAZY AS A FOX? Print E-mail
Written by Jack Kelly   
Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, had Milorad Blagojevich, Illinois' notoriously corrupt governor, arrested Dec. 9 because he feared "Hot Rod" was about to sell the senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.

At the time of the arrest, the FBI released portions of wiretaps in which Mr. Blagojevich discussed, in profane terms, what he wanted in exchange for picking the successor Mr. Obama preferred: a Cabinet post, or a cushy job with the Service Employees International Union.

Since he had to know the FBI had been investigating him, many wondered why Hot Rod would speak so brazenly and recklessly on a line on which he ought to have suspected the FBI was listening.

"He's utterly mad, completely and totally off his rocker," wrote Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown Dec. 10. "I've long since come to the conclusion that Rod Blagojevich is the stupidest governor in all of our 50 states." said Michael Barone, editor of the Almanac of American Politics.

But if Hot Rod is crazy, he's crazy like a fox, and if he's stupid, he's smarter than most of the other Democrats in Illinois.
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GROUNDHOG DAY IN ISRAEL Print E-mail
Written by Jack Kelly   
Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Irit Sheetrit, 36, a mother of four, was killed Monday night in the Israeli town of Ashdod when a Grad-type rocket struck the bus stop where she had run for cover.  Four others were injured in the attack.

Earlier in the day Hani al-Mahdi, 27, was killed, and a dozen others wounded when a Grad rocket struck the construction site in Ashkelon where they were working.

The deaths of Ms. Sheetrit and Mr. al-Mahdi passed largely unnoticed outside of Israel, as had the deaths of dozens of others in preceding months.  Outside of Israel, the news media are concerned only that the Israeli response to the attacks might be "disproportionate."

What's truly disproportionate is that some 6,000 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israel from Gaza since 2001, most of them since Israel unilaterally withdrew from there in 2005.
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THE HEROIC CRIMES OF ISRAEL Print E-mail
Written by Ralph Peters   
Monday, 29 December 2008

Dead Jews aren't news, but killing terrorists outrages global activists. On Saturday (12/27), Israel struck back powerfully against its tormentors. Now Israel's the villain. Again.

How long will it be until the UN General Assembly passes a resolution creating an international Holocaust Appreciation Day?  The UN seems always ready to denounce Israel's "crimes."

What have those crimes been? Not "stealing Palestinian land," but making that land productive, while exposing the incompetence and sloth of Arab culture.

Israel's crime isn't striking back at terror, but demonstrating, year after year, that a country in the Middle East can be governed without resort to terror. Israel's crime hasn't been denying Arab rights, but insisting on human rights for women and minorities.

Israel's crime has been making democracy work where tyranny prevailed for 5,000 years. Israel's crime has been survival against overwhelming odds, while legions of Arab nationalists, Islamist extremists and Western leftists want every Jew dead.

But Israel's greatest crime was to...
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WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE AND WON'T Print E-mail
Written by Richard Rahn   
Friday, 02 January 2009

Many had warned, but few who were in a position to act even tried to avoid the very predictable economic calamities of 2008. This was the year that proved Ronald Reagan's old adage, "The government is not the solution; it is the problem."

As we enter the New Year, the question is again, "Will those in charge do what is necessary to avoid the very obvious new economic wrecks coming?"

The U.S. government has now explicitly said there are financial institutions (and other companies - autos, etc.) that are "too big to fail." If that is (arguably) true, then they must be more highly regulated than the smaller institutions, particularly in terms of capital adequacy.

The reason is quite simple. If the government guarantees the debt of big companies, those institutions will have a much lower cost of capital than their smaller competitors, which is not only unfair but will destroy new and smaller companies, thus killing much of the job and productivity creating innovation in the U.S. economy.

So far, the Washington governing class has failed to even discuss this disastrous consequence of the bailouts, let alone figure out a solution.
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INVESTING IN IRAQ Print E-mail
Written by Richard Rahn   
Sunday, 28 December 2008

Baghdad, Iraq.  Would you invest in Iraq? Many people think it is crazy to even ask the question.

But strange as it may seem, there may already be some good investment opportunities in Iraq, and chances are there will be many high-yielding investments in the country in the next few years.

When you arrive at the international airport in Baghdad and are greeted by a security company that puts an armored vest on you, and then loads you into a highly armored vehicle manned by tough guys with automatic weapons, just to get you to a hotel, you are thinking, "This is the last place where I would ever invest."

The good news is that much of Iraq, other than Baghdad (outside the Green Zone and other high-security compounds) and a few other places, is returning to normal and is safe, and parts of it, such as the Kurdish region, are actually booming. This means there are increasing potentially profitable private investment opportunities, on a risk-adjusted rate of return basis.

This past week, the Washington-based Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) hosted a conference in Baghdad where about 100 representatives of 15 of the 18 Provincial Investment Commissions (PICs) came to discuss how they more effectively attract foreign investment.

If the Iraqis didn't think things were getting more peaceful and normal, it is unlikely they would waste time traveling some distance to Baghdad by automobile to learn how they might obtain more private foreign investment in their provinces. 
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LEAN INTO LIFE IN 2009 Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Joel Wade   
Friday, 02 January 2009

I would like for all of us to have a happy, successful, and inspiring year in 2009. One way of helping that along is to focus on what there is to do, what positive steps you can take to improve your life - like practicing gratitude, optimism, kindness, living with integrity, and taking effective action.

But it is important also to know what traps to avoid. The antithesis of happiness, effectiveness, and optimism is depression. It's a serious problem that can bring an otherwise promising life into stagnation and hopelessness. Like a sailor entering the doldrums on the open sea, you can want to move out of it all you want, but with no wind at your back, the task is daunting.

If you are feeling depressed there may be a biochemical or physiological tendency toward this that makes it more difficult for you. But there are some clear practices that can exacerbate the problem, and recognizing these and doing your best to avoid them, along with certain positive interventions,  can help quite a bit.
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HALF-FULL REPORT 12/26/08 Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Friday, 26 December 2008

The best news this week is that with this issue of the HFR, we get to raise a tin cup of moonshine and say adios to 2008.  Come what may in 2009, it is such an incredible relief to get this sucker over with.

It is, of course, not good news that during Christmas, millions of Americans have been stranded in airports and train stations due to massive winter storms all across the country.  Yet being stranded gives one time to think - and hopefully one thought that will occur to them is that global warming is laughably ridiculous...

... By the way, out of every 100,000 molecules of air, how many do you suppose are molecules of CO2, the evil gas environuts say causes global warming?  39.  How many are man-made molecules of CO2?  1.  That's one-onehundrendthousandth.  Man-made greenhouse gas emissions are irrelevant to the world's weather...

... So now Blago is going to subpoena Zero's chief of staff.  Watching this scandal unfold is almost as much fun as seeing Princess Caroline Kennedy's assumed royal prerogative of being anointed US Senator from New York crashing and burning...

...But now let's focus on what is truly good and uplifting news this week.  For the first time ever, Christmas was celebrated as an official holiday in Iraq.  And let's close this last HFR of 2008 with this heartwarming thought.  Christmas yesterday was celebrated by more people in more places on all seven continents (even scientists in Antarctica) - by far - than any other celebration of any kind, religious or otherwise, in the world.
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THE WISDOM OF KIPLING Print E-mail
Written by Jack Kelly   
Monday, 22 December 2008
Our government now owes more money than all of us in the country put together possess.

As of Sep. 30, federal financial statements showed approximately $56.4 trillion in debts, liabilities, and unfunded promises for Medicare and Social Security, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation reported.  The Federal Reserve estimated total household net worth at that time at $56.5 trillion.  

Since then the stock market has crashed, tens of billions of dollars of personal wealth have evaporated, and the government has committed $700 billion to bail out financial institutions.

A government which long has been morally and intellectually bankrupt is now financially bankrupt too.

I used to infuriate my English teacher in high school by declaring that all anyone needed to know about life could be found in the works of Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936).  She was not a fan of the bard of the barrack-room.  But the more I see of the world, the more sure I am that this is so.  We need the wisdom of his poem below.  You can be sure that the poem to be read at Mr. Obama's inauguration will be its antithesis.
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