Countries Move to Isolate the U.S.

Are other countries planning for a U.S. demise?

“I was in Australia earlier this month and there, as elsewhere on my recent travels, the consensus among the politicians I met (at least in private) was that Washington lacked the will for meaningful course correction, and that, therefore, the trick was to ensure that, when the behemoth goes over the cliff, you’re not dragged down with it. It is faintly surreal to be sitting in paneled offices lined by formal portraits listening to eminent persons who assume the collapse of the dominant global power is a fait accompli. . . . Greece’s total debt is a few rinky-dink billions, a rounding error in the average Obama budget. Only America is spending trillions. The 2011 budget deficit, for example, is about the size of the entire Russian economy. By 2010, the Obama administration was issuing about a hundred billion dollars of treasury bonds every month — or, to put it another way, Washington is dependent on the bond markets being willing to absorb an increase of U.S. debt equivalent to the GDP of Canada or India — every year. And those numbers don’t take into account the huge levels of personal debt run up by Americans. College-debt alone is over a trillion dollars, or the equivalent of the entire South Korean economy — tied up just in one small boutique niche market of debt which barely exists in most other developed nations.”

Same page there’s this:

I’m a Canadian, and you might be interested to know that the Harper government are working very hard (in the background) along the same lines as the Aussies. They are doing everything possible to diversify Canada’s export markets away from the US as fast as possible, for example the pipeline to move Alberta and Saskatchewan oil to world markets via the sea, not to the US. Ditto aeroplanes, rail cars, fibre-optic electronics, robotics, lumber, and a wide range of other products.

The quiet back-room planning is driven by the alarming extent to which the Obama administration has already deeply damaged the US economy (compared to Canada) with its policies, actions, and insane deficits. The Harper government are now moving to shut down US environmentalist activity in Canada — “We’re not going to be your National Park.” says the PM — and are already developping scenarios for maximum-possible disconnect from the States in the event Obama and his crew are returned to power in the coming elections.

via Instapundit.

Hummm… not good.  Not good.

Black Male Code – Good for Whites Too!

AP writer Jesse Washington recently wrote about having to tell his 12 y/o son about the Black Male Code as a result of the Trayvon Martin fiasco.

As I explained it, the Code goes like this:

Always pay close attention to your surroundings, son, especially if you are in an affluent neighborhood where black folks are few. Understand that even though you are not a criminal, some people might assume you are, especially if you are wearing certain clothes.

Never argue with police, but protect your dignity and take pride in humility. When confronted by someone with a badge or a gun, do not flee, fight, or put your hands anywhere other than up.

Please don’t assume, son, that all white people view you as a threat. America is better than that. Suspicion and bitterness can imprison you. But as a black male, you must go above and beyond to show strangers what type of person you really are.

via MSNBC.

This is a good start; but one should remove all references to race (do you really think it’s ok for white people to argue with the police?) and then beef it up a little.  Further, it’s not about dealing with people who might “have a badge or a gun,” it’s about being polite to everyone in society.  It’s getting a little crowed here and we all have to get along.

As an attorney I get asked on a regular basis something like, “What should I do when [insert interaction with police here.]  Here’s what I tell my generally white, generally upper middle class, generally men, who generally are driving a late model imported car about how to handle traffic stops:

  • pull over as soon as it’s safe when you see the “lights” come on;
  • turn the car OFF;
  • roll down ALL the windows, yes, the back one’s too;
  • remove the keys from the ignition and place on the dashboard;
  • make sure your foot is off the brake;
  • if dark, turn the interior lights on;
  • turn the radio off;
  • place your cell phone on the dashboard;
  • do NOT fidget trying to get your wallet out of your pocket (purse) or ins. card from the console;
  • do NOT turn around looking for the officer to approach;
  • keep your hands on the steering wheel or out the window;
If you simply do that you’re doing better than most people the officer pulled over that day and the interaction between you and the officer should go more smoothly than if you did not do these things. However that’s really only the beginning.  You should also:
  • Answer all of the officer’s questions simply and directly;
  • do NOT admit guilt – but do NOT argue;
  • if you’re asked for something you have to reach for, ask permission to get it (e.g. “My drivers license is in my wallet in my back pocket, may I get it?”;)
  •  describe all of your actions to the officer BEFORE you do them (e.g. “Proof in insurance is in my glove box it’s just a piece of paper but I also have a silver case for my sunglasses in there, I’m going to have to remove that first.”;)
  • follow all of the officers instructions, if you’re told to get out of the car, don’t argue or ask why, just get out of the car;
  • be polite, engage in a conversation as normally as possible;
  • if you have questions ask them but do not interrupt.

You get the idea.  Now, would it be fair to say that this should become the Upper Middle Class Imported Car Driving White Male Code?  Of course not.  This is advice for everyone regardless of age, race, gender, and automobile country of origin.

If we keep trying to focus on ways that we’re different we’ll never discover all the ways that we’re the same.  When it comes to dealing with authority figures, we’re all very much the same.

U2’s Bono on Band’s Tax Dodging

U2 singer Bono is known for his antipoverty activism, which includes calls on most world governments to spend more on foreign aid. Yet when it comes to the finances of Bono’s own company, he’s apparently a bit more of a Scrooge. Moreover, he’s loath to admit it, as an interview with author Jason Mattera caught on tape showed. …

Mattera: By dodging taxes on royalties are you raiding the poverty programs you purport to champion?

Bono: No.

Mattera: No? Don’t you want governments to be generous with other people’s money and not yours?

Bono: I don’t have control over that…

Mattera: How do you not have control over that? It’s your company. Are you not in charge of your own company?

Bono: It’s not my company.

Mattera: You have no say in what U2 does?

Bono: Not particularly.

Mattera: You don’t? You don’t have a say in what U2 does?

Bono: No.

Mattera: You’re the front man of your band, which has made you hundreds of millions of dollars … you have no idea why it moved from Ireland to Holland?

Bono: I don’t have that answer.

Mattera: It wasn’t take advantage of a much lower tax rate?

Bono: I don’t have that answer.

Mattera: You are seriously going to say that you don’t have that answer?

Bono: I don’t have that answer.

via TheBlaze.com.

In the end, Bono’s a 1%-er.

The Laffer Curve is a reality.  When taxes go up too much, revenue goes down.  The revenue just disappears… people move, stop working, go underground, etc.  Sad though that Bono’s such a hypocrite.

Chicago Man, 80, Charged After Shooting Burglar

Neighbors say they’re “outraged” that an 80-year-old owner of a local tavern has been charged after shooting a burglar who broke into his home in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side.

“What does it say to me and other senior citizens that we will be arrested if we defend ourselves?” asked Anita Dominique, head of the block club in the neighborhood. “This is an outrage.”

Police say Homer Wright was inside his home in the 6400 block of South Morgan Street about 6:30 a.m. Monday when someone broke through several boards and entered through a rear bathroom window and tried to steal some liquor. Wright grabbed a handgun and shot the burglar in the lower right leg, police said.

Anthony Robinson, 19, of the 6000 block of South Wood Street, was charged with felony burglary after he was treated at St. Bernard Hospital and Health Care Center and released.

Wright was charged with one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon after police discovered he had two prior weapons convictions from 1968 and 1994, officials said. Records show Wright also was convicted of theft in 1990. Wright turned his gun over to detectives.

via Chicago Tribune.

This is kinda a fine line here.  If Mr. Wright is really a felon, then he probably shouldn’t be handling any firearms.  But as a society we need to face up to the fact that the police cannot be everywhere and as it turns out Mr. Wright does have a very real need to be able to defend himself.

What I wonder is why throw the book at Mr. Wright and not the countless gang bangers running around with guns?  I still want to know how many weapons possession cases Anita Alvarez has referred to the fed’s for prosecution.

Chicago: 1 Night, 8 Shot, 2 Dead

A 22-year-old man was fatally shot in a Far South Side liquor store Saturday evening, police said, and a 46-year-old man was killed about 45 minutes later.

At least six others were shot on the South and West sides overnight.

via Chicago Tribune.

While notable, not a record.

At the time of the story, 36 hours ago, there was no word from the mayor about how he was going to stop the carnage.  Today there was news on that:

One week after dozens of people were shot in a deadly outburst of street violence, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Garry McCarthy sought Monday to assure the public they are focused on combating gang crime.

The announcement of a gang crackdown on the West Side was the first joint appearance by Emanuel and McCarthy since news broke that 10 people were fatally shot over the March 17-18 weekend, including a 6-year-old girl. Police say gangs are largely responsible for the violent start to 2012 in Chicago, which has seen fatal and nonfatal shootings on the rise.

via Chicago Tribune.

Good luck.  My guess is that you’re going to have to get about 1,500 new kids into the police academy.  That would really put more cops on the street.  All the cops I know can’t get too wrapped-up in gang matters because they spend every shift running from call to call to call to call.  Cops on the street need to have a little down time to work the issue on the streets, cultivate contacts, bring in informants, and keep the little kids out of trouble.  Right now there’s just no time for any of that.

And then we have to look at Anita Alvarez, and the elected judges of Cook County.  The message needs to be sent that if you’re a gang-banger and get caught you’re going to do serious time.  Every weapons possession by a felon needs to be referred to the U.S. Attorney’s office for federal prosecution.

Eventually the gang will get the message… but you can’t send this message when you’re short 1,500 people.

Holding a Gun Gives You a Bias

I’m not saying the “researchers” (a/k/a ivory tower academics) got it wrong, but they definitely have not thought through all the conclusions.

A new study from the University of Notre Dame found that if you’re holding a gun, you are more likely to think others are packing heat as well.

[T]he study was led by Notre Dame’s Associate Professor of Psychology James Brockmole, a specialist in human cognition and how the visual world guides behavior, with a colleague from Purdue University.  The research team conducted five experiments where participants, who either held a toy gun or a neutral object, viewed images of people on a computer screen and were asked to determine if they were holding a gun or another object, such as soda bottle or cellphone:

The researchers varied the situation in each experiment — such as having the people in the images sometimes wear ski masks, changing the race of the person in the image or changing the reaction subjects were to have when they perceived the person in the image to hold a gun. Regardless of the situation the observers found themselves in, the study showed that responding with a gun biased observers to report “gun present” more than did responding with a ball. Thus, by virtue of affording the subject the opportunity to use a gun, he or she was more likely to classify objects in a scene as a gun and, as a result, to engage in threat-induced behavior, such as raising a firearm to shoot.

[…]

The researchers showed that the ability to act is a key factor in the effects by showing that simply letting observers see a nearby gun did not influence their behavior; holding and using the gun was important.

Brockmole said that this study shows that “people have a hard time separating their thoughts about what they perceive and their thoughts about how they can or should act.” Brockmole said in addition to “theoretical implications for event perception and object identification,” this research could also be considered for law enforcement and public safety implications. The infamous shooting of Amadou Diallo by plain clothes New York City police officers in 1999 comes to mind as an example. Diallo was unarmed and when approached by police at his doorstep who asked him to show his hands. Diallo reached into his pocket with his wallet in hand. In the low morning light, police identified this object as a gun and shot Diallo 19 times.

via TheBlaze.com.

I say the “researchers” are missing the much bigger picture here.  While unfortunate, it’s far more common for an armed criminal to shoot an unarmed victim than for a police officer to shoot an unarmed uncooperative person.

Maybe they should apply their research to why criminals shoot first and ask questions later.   Perhaps while the criminal is standing in the convenience store holding the gun, they have a hard time separating their thoughts about what they perceive and their thoughts about how they can or should act.

Cops kill maybe 100 folks a year nationwide.  Criminals kills 50,000 folks each year with guns.  Which is the bigger picture?

Derrick Smith Must Resign or Be Expelled — Dems Own It

The Democratic party was silent prior to the election of State Rep Derrick Smith on the issue of his resigning or getting off the ticket for allegedly accepting a $7000 cash bribe from an undercover FBI agent posing as a daycare center owner in exchange for a $50000 grant.

The silence of the Democrats is now over as they are calling for the resignation of Derrick Smith in unanimity, as if from a chorus, they are signing the same song, “Get out!”

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Minority Leader Robert Cross found an issue they can agree as they named members to a committee to investigate the charges and to call on Smith to “Get out!”

via Examiner.com.

Silent?!  The Dems weren’t silent:

The growing pressure on Democratic state Rep. Derrick Smith contrasts with the silence from party leaders who avoided such criticism in the days after the arrest, when it might have affected his primary race.

Some, including U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and Ald. Walter Burnett, 27th, encouraged voters to support Smith to ensure the West Side seat stays in Democratic hands. But that changed the day after his easy victory over Tom Swiss, a former Cook County Republican Party official.

Now Democratic leaders are moving to oust Smith and pick a replacement to run in the November general election.

Davis said that while he asked voters to cast their ballots for Smith, it was about ensuring the seat stayed in Democrat control and was not a show of support for Smith. Davis said Smith should not appear on the November ballot given the ethical cloud he now faces.

“I was glad to see Derrick win the election, but I think in reality one can say that Democrats won the election,” Davis said. “I don’t think they were necessarily voting for Derrick, but I think they were saying ‘Democrat, Democrat, Democrat.'”  …

Quinn likewise refused to call for Smith’s resignation before the election, only to change his tune Wednesday while on a trade mission in Brussels.

“The governor believes Rep. Smith should resign” because the charges represent a “cloud hanging over” him, said Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson.

House Speaker Michael Madigan poured more than $60,000 into the race before Smith’s arrest.  Madigan has declined to comment on the situation.

via Chicago Tribune.

The Illinois Machine, made up of both Democrats and Republicans, is working overtime here.   The Machine is controlled by Chicago Democrats — the GOP’ers in their mist are really just tolerated because they play along — and they own this.

Jesse White, Danny Davis, Michael Madigan, Lisa Madigan, Pat Quinn… what have you done for the poor folks whom you represent?  Quinn’s new budget calls for cutting Medicaid spending by $2.7 billion next year.  Well who’s that going to hurt Governor?

Last year this cabal doubled our income taxes.  This year they want to kill Medicaid.  How about stopping the corruption that costs our cities and state billions every year?

The whole lot-of-’em need to be kicked out to the street and have their pensions cancelled.

Golf Ethics

Here is a golf ethics question for you.

What if you were playing in the club championship tournament finals and the match was halved at the end of 17 holes. You had the honor and hit your ball a modest two hundred fifty yards to the middle of the fairway, leaving a simple six iron to the pin. Your opponent then hits his ball, lofting it deep into the woods to the right of the fairway. Being the golfing gentleman that you are, you help your opponent look for his ball. Just before the permitted five minute search period ends, your opponent says: “Go ahead and hit your second shot and if I don’t find it in time, I’ll concede the match.”

You hit your ball, landing it on the green, stopping about ten feet from the pin. About the time your ball comes to rest, you hear your opponent exclaim from deep in the woods: “I found it!”. The second sound you hear is a click, the sound of a club striking a ball and the ball comes sailing out of the woods and lands on the green, stopping no more than six inches from the hole.

Now here is the ethical dilemma:

Do you pull the cheating bastard’s ball out of your pocket and confront him with it or do you keep your mouth shut.

Naomi Davis: Issues in the African-American Community

Local community organizer Naomi Davis put together a top-ten list of issues impacting the African-American community in her area of Chicago.  Not a bad list:

  1. NORFOLK & SOUTHERN/CREATE. Opportunity Of A Lifetime.  Multi-billion, multi-decade south side economic impact with America’s richest companies without a single negotiated community benefit/jobs plan.
  2. CRIMINALIZATION OF BLACKNESS.  Gulag Economy.  Jim Crow/John Burge/Howard Morgan, and millions of our young caught up in a culture of violence without guidance, in a system designed to profit from their downfall.
  3. FORECLOSURE FRAUD TSUNAMI.  Rape & Rescue.  Three generations of wealth stripped from our community on purpose, and now investor/gentry with federal subsidies are available to help rebuild…about us without us.
  4. 50% UNEMPLOYMENT.  City of Big Shoulders & U of C.  Some of our neighbors in public housing suffer with over 90% unemployment when worker-owned cooperatives like Evergreen in Ohio successfully partner the poor with universities and government in laundries, urban ag, solar enterprises…and more.
  5. SCHOOL CLOSING & TURNAROUNDS.  Mis-education Incorporated.  Follow the money and you’ll discover the real reason for ignoring parent and community protests, while some local politicians and preachers are purchased.
  6. NEIGHBOR-OWNED BUSINESSES.  We Are Colonized.  Our wealth is extracted rather than circulated in our communities by retailers we permit to take our money without reinvesting, also siphoning out scores of millions in LINK dollars.
  7. SUFFERING SENIORS.  Limited & Isolated.  Too many own homes they can’t afford to repair on fixed incomes, and live isolated from neighborhoods while their taxes fund TIF community developments that don’t help, but hurt.
  8. SMALLER GOVERNMENT.  The Rich Get Richer.  Privatizing government work creates a fat plutocracy with often questionable net savings to the public, and eliminates middle-class incomes which stabilize us.
  9. THE BLACK TAX.  Equal Enforcement & Traffic Justice.  Note the skin color of the 99% in traffic court and the amount of money extracted from our communities in traffic camera tickets and booted vehicle revenues.
  10. POLITICAL CORRUPTION.  Chicago Is #1.  In “Leading The Pack,” UIC Professor and former Alderman Dick Simpson document what we already knew: behind-closed-doors, under-the-table, business-as-usual politics here is destroying us.

via Naomi Davis email.

I wonder what race-neutral solutions she would propose?

Labor Unions and Politics

On March 10 there was this story in the LA Times I meant to write about:

Labor unions rethinking their role in politics
As top union leaders gather in Florida on Tuesday to determine labor’s political strategy this year, the influential AFL-CIO appears poised to endorse President Obama’s reelection — despite some lingering dissatisfaction with his record.

But the way in which unions back him and other Democrats this year is likely to take a very different form than in past campaigns.

Concluding they need to be more independent of the Democratic Party, many unions are increasingly financing their own efforts instead of writing large checks to candidates and the party.

via Los Angeles Times.

I was simply thinking how labor unions don’t really help working people and how laughable it is that “they need to be more independent of the Democratic Party.”  They are dying and it is the Democratic Party who’s keep the life support machines plugged-in.

Then, three days later, March 13:

Leaders of the influential AFL-CIO  labor federation announced Tuesday it voted “proudly and enthusiastically” to endorse President Obama’s reelection effort.  …

The vote, among the AFL-CIO’s 57 member executive council, was unanimous.

Labor leaders had in the past been vocal about dissatisfaction with the Obama White House on a host of issues, from Obama’s compromise in extending the George W. Bush tax cuts to perceived shortcomings in the administration’s stimulus and healthcare reform packages.

But AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said he had been heartened the administration’s renewed push on jobs and combating inequality, a pivot that occurred around Labor Day last year.

via Los Angeles Times.

How embarrassing it must be to have to endorse and carry water for a guy who really hasn’t helped you one bit.  On a unanimous vote the union agrees that the AFL-CIO and the Democratic party are in a symbiotic relationship; each would die without the other.

These stories actually appear out of order.  The endorsement story should be first — describe how Obama has not done everything the unions have wanted and yet they have no where else to turn.  Then, as a result of their lack of options politically, the union(s) will seek other ways to engage in outreach and influence besides giving directly to candidates.  Well of course they will… they have no other choice.