April 30, 2011

Empires of Prophecy and Daniel Chapter 2

In Daniel chapter 2, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream in which Daniel interprets. The dream and its interpretation applied toward the kingdoms that would rule the earth until Christ returns and sets up the final kingdom in which Christ will rule and reign on earth for a thousand years. The prophecy was given in or around the time of Babylon's rule in about 600 BC.

A more in depth summary of this chapter is as follows:

The king has a disturbing dream and asks his wise men to interpret it, but refuses to divulge its content. When they protest he sentences all of them, including Daniel and his friends, to death. Daniel intervenes and asks for a temporary stay of execution so that he can petition his God for a solution. He receives an explanatory vision in the night, and then relays the content and meaning of the king's dream the following day. Nebuchadnezzar has dreamed of an enormous idol made of four metals, with feet of mixed iron and clay. The image is completely destroyed by a rock that turns into a huge mountain, filling the whole earth. The idol's composition of metals is interpreted as a series of successive kingdoms, starting with Nebuchadnezzar. Finally all of these dominions are crushed by God's kingdom, a kingdom that will "endure forever".

History itself has interpreted the meaning of the dream. Daniel revealed that the head of gold represented the Babylonian empire (Daniel 2:37). Babylon crumbled, being over rode by the Medes and Persians. The Persians were then conquered under the leadership of Alexander the Great in 334BC and the Roman Empire then eventually came to rule the world for over a half century. The Roman empire was divided between the east and west with Rome, Italy and Constantinople, Turkey (Istanbul today) being he eastern leg; thus fulfilling the prophecy.

The Kingdoms are thus as follows:
1. Babylonian Empire---600 BC
2. Medio-Persian Empire---450 BC
3. Grecian Empire---300 BC
4. Roman Empire---150 BC to about 476AD

Doubting that Daniel could have predicted these events so long in advance? Many were skeptical until the Dead Sea Scrolls were found the caves in Qumran in the 1950's. These scrolls mentioned Daniel by name and provided authenticity to prophecies.

Here are a couple critiques on when Daniel was written:
Dead Sea Scrolls. When was Daniel written? The Dead Sea Scrolls provide the first proof that the book of Daniel existed before 165 BC, since Daniel was found among the manuscripts at Qumran. This early date is the result of radiocarbon dating of the Dead Sea manuscripts of Daniel. They imply that earlier copies of the book with older dates already existed.

Ezekiel's Reference. Most critics widely accept the book of Ezekiel as being written between 586 BC and 538 BC. What is fascinating is that the author, Ezekiel, refers to Daniel in Ezekiel 14:14, 20. This implies that Daniel was alive during his time. Daniel claims to be the author (Daniel 12:4) of the book which bears his name and to have lived during the life of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1-2) and Darius (Dan. 9:1). This implies that Daniel was a contemporary of Ezekiel and lived to see the fall of Babylon (Dan. 5:30-31).

Another good summary of Daniel 2 can be found here.

Comic Relief

April 29, 2011

Tornados Devestate the South: Set All Time Records

Luke 21:25-26: And there will be signs... upon the earth and distress (trouble and anguish) of nations in bewilderment and perplexity [without resources, left wanting, embarrassed, in doubt, not knowing which way to turn] at the roaring of the tossing of the sea. 26Men swooning away or expiring with fear and dread and apprehension and expectation of the things that are coming on the world; for the [very] powers of the heavens will be shaken and caused to totter.

Tornadoes Set Record: Most Tornadoes ever in the month of April in USA:

April 2011 has been a horrific month for severe weather so far with more than 900 reports of tornadoes, hundreds of tornado-related deaths and unthinkable destruction.

As the wild weather pattern continues this week, the month's total number of tornadoes continues to rise. There is a good chance that April 2011 will end up being the most active April on record for tornadoes.

With May and June typically being the most active months of the year for severe weather, people are wondering if the trend will continue and make 2011 a record-setting year.

Stats for April

The total number of tornado reports this month was up to 921 as of Friday morning.

It's important to note that these are the number of reports (or sightings), not confirmed tornadoes. Oftentimes multiple sightings of the same tornado are reported, and it will take quite some time until all the data is sorted through and the number of confirmed tornadoes is determined.

According to the SPC, the highest number of confirmed tornadoes recorded in the month of April (since 1950) was 267 in 1974.

If all of the tornado reports so far this month were confirmed, April 2011 would by far be the most active April for tornadoes. Even though the number of confirmed tornadoes will probably end up being quite a bit smaller, this month is still likely to beat the record.


-- AP/Concord, Ala.: “At least 297 have been killed across six states. At least 210 died in Alabama alone. Those who took shelter as the storms descended trickled back to their homes, ducking police roadblocks and fallen limbs and power lines to reclaim belongings. They are also frustrated by gawkers who drive by in search of a cellphone camera picture. … Those who escaped the twisters … hid in bathrooms, cramped closets, under porches and even in a car entombed by a collapsing basement garage. Many tell tales of having just minutes or mere seconds to make life-and-death decisions.”

--N.Y. Times, 4-col. lead, 1 line, italic: “After Storms Kill Hundreds, South Tries to Regroup” … Chicago Tribune, “Tornado nightmare staggers Deep South” … USA Today, “Greatest loss of life from single day of tornadoes in USA since 1974.”

--Paragraph du jour -- AP: “The death toll … seems out of a bygone era, before Doppler radar and pinpoint satellite forecasts were around to warn communities of severe weather. Residents were told the tornadoes were coming up to 24 minutes ahead of time, but they were just too wide, too powerful and too locked onto populated areas to avoid a horrifying body count.”

Largest Death Toll since 1925:

It was the largest death toll since March 18, 1925, when 747 people were killed in storms that raged through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. That was long before the days when Doppler radar could warn communities of severe weather. Forecasters have said residents were told these tornadoes were coming. But they were just too wide and powerful and in populated areas to avoid the horrifying body count.

April 28, 2011

David Wilkerson and His Vision

American Evangelist, Pastor, and Author David Wilkerson passed away. He was 79

The Rev. David Wilkerson, an evangelical minister and author who founded the Times Square Church to minister to the downtrodden in one of Manhattan’s seedier precincts, but whose later writings included apocalyptic predictions for New York City and beyond, died on Wednesday in an automobile accident in Texas. He was 79 and lived near Tyler, Tex.

He prophesied many things that he believed were to occur before the return of Christ in his work called, The Vision. Below is a listing of the major points outlined in his book.

Some of the details of this reputed vision were:

  1. "Worldwide recession caused by economic confusion"
    • "At most a few more fat flourishing years, and then an economic recession that's going to affect the life style of every wage-earner in the world. The world economists are going to be at loss to explain what's happening. It's going to start in Europe, spread to Japan and finally to the United States."
    • There will be a move toward a worldwide, unified monetary system. The US dollar will be hit bad and it will take years for it to recover.
    • The only real security will be in real estate (until a somewhat later stage, at which point this apparent security will also disappear).
  2. "Nature having labor pains"
    • Environmentalists will come under heavy criticism.
    • There will be major earthquakes.
    • There will be a major famine.
    • Floods, hurricanes and tornadoes will increase in frequency.
    • "A new kind of cosmic storm appearing as a raging fire in the sky leaving a kind of vapor trail."[6]
  3. "A flood of filth and a baptism of dirt in America"
    • Topless women will appear on television, followed by full nudity.
    • Adult, X rated movies will be shown on cable television. Young people will gather at homes to watch this kind of material in groups.
    • Sex and the occult will be mixed.
    • There will be an acceptance of homosexuality, and the church will even say that it is a God-given gift.
  4. "Rebellion in the home"
    • "I see the new number one youth problem in America and the world as hatred towards parents."[6]
  5. "A persecution madness against truly Spirit filled Christians who love Jesus Christ"
    • There will arise a world church consisting of a union between liberal ecumenical Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church, using Christ in name only.
    • There will be a hate Christ movement.
    • There will be a spiritual awakening behind the Iron and Bamboo Curtains.
  6. Others
    • There will be another wave of riots.
    • There will be a fall in moral conduct.
    • There will be a new drug that will be popular with teenagers that will break down resistance and will encourage sexual activity.
    • Homosexual and lesbian ministers will be ordained and this will be heralded as a new breed of pioneer.
    • There will be nude dancing in church, but this will never be widespread.
    • There will be occult practices in churches.

April 17, 2011

World Leaders Continue Call for New World Order

Good article here on the continuing calls from world leaders for a new 'social contract.' This new social contract, or new world order, or whatever you want to call it is consistently described as a top-down solution that will better integrate socially people of all nations.

In addition, the members of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) recently came together to discuss the failure of the American Dollar as world reserve currency and called for a new international currency to replace the dollar. This they believed would help bring stability to the commodities market, thus eliminating many of the price shocks that have recently occurred.

From American Thinker, The Guide to the New World Order:

In his recent speech before the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Robert Zoellick, President of The World Bank Group, proposes that we must modernize multilateralism.

He is referring to the late 20th century understanding of multilateralism as a number of nations consulting and, perhaps, acting cooperatively to achieve a specific goal.

The realities of the economic power shifts that are taking place, he says, call for top-down integration of national economies into an interconnected whole now hopefully opportunely made possible by significant changes taking place in many, especially Near Eastern, countries.

We have lived through destructive Communist and Progressivist forms of Socialism during my lifetime. What New Social Contract on a world scale should I be looking forward to now?

Here is a hymn from Belgrade, from the land where I was born, which extols the virtues of one of the more recent top down managed systems invented by Socialist ideologues:

There is no unemployment but nobody works.

No one works but everyone receives wages.

All get wages but nothing can be bought with them.

Nothing is purchased but everybody owns everything.

Everybody owns everything but they are all dissatisfied.

All are dissatisfied but everyone votes for the system.

BRICS demand global monetary shake-up, greater influence

SANYA, China (Reuters) - The BRICS group of emerging-market powers kept up the pressure on Thursday for a revamped global monetary system that relies less on the dollar and for a louder voice in international financial institutions.

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa also called for stronger regulation of commodity derivatives to dampen excessive volatility in food and energy prices, which they said posed new risks for the recovery of the world economy.

Meeting on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, they said the recent financial crisis had exposed the inadequacies of the current monetary order, which has the dollar as its linchpin.

What was needed, they said in a statement, was "a broad-based international reserve currency system providing stability and certainty" -- thinly veiled criticism of what the BRICS see as Washington's neglect of its global monetary responsibilities.

The BRICS are worried that America's large trade and budget deficits will eventually debase the dollar. They also begrudge the financial and political privileges that come with being the leading reserve currency.

"The world economy is undergoing profound and complex changes," Chinese President Hu Jintao said. "The era demands that the BRICS countries strengthen dialogue and cooperation."

In another dig at the dollar, the development banks of the five BRICS nations agreed to establish mutual credit lines denominated in their local currencies, not the U.S. currency.

The head of China Development Bank (CDB), Chen Yuan, said he was prepared to lend up to 10 billion yuan to fellow BRICS, and his Russian counterpart said he was looking to borrow the yuan equivalent of at least $500 million via CDB.

"We think this will undoubtedly broaden the opportunities for Russian companies to diversify their loans," Vladimir Dmitriev, the chairman of VEB, Russia's state development bank, told reporters.

April 16, 2011

Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Freedom

Atlas Shrugged Part 1 has opened in theaters. Terrific celebration of the entrepreneur and the risk taker who seeks to chart his way in life and those who trek out to create their own wealth through human intellect and hard work. Excellent film.

'Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years


Some years ago when I worked at the libertarian Cato Institute, we used to label any new hire who had not yet read "Atlas Shrugged" a "virgin." Being conversant in Ayn Rand's classic novel about the economic carnage caused by big government run amok was practically a job requirement. If only "Atlas" were required reading for every member of Congress and political appointee in the Obama administration. I'm confident that we'd get out of the current financial mess a lot faster.

[Atlas Shrugged]
Getty Images

The art for a 1999 postage stamp.

Many of us who know Rand's work have noticed that with each passing week, and with each successive bailout plan and economic-stimulus scheme out of Washington, our current politicians are committing the very acts of economic lunacy that "Atlas Shrugged" parodied in 1957, when this 1,000-page novel was first published and became an instant hit.

Rand, who had come to America from Soviet Russia with striking insights into totalitarianism and the destructiveness of socialism, was already a celebrity. The left, naturally, hated her. But as recently as 1991, a survey by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club found that readers rated "Atlas" as the second-most influential book in their lives, behind only the Bible.

For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.

In the book, these relentless wealth redistributionists and their programs are disparaged as "the looters and their laws." Every new act of government futility and stupidity carries with it a benevolent-sounding title. These include the "Anti-Greed Act" to redistribute income (sounds like Charlie Rangel's promises soak-the-rich tax bill) and the "Equalization of Opportunity Act" to prevent people from starting more than one business (to give other people a chance). My personal favorite, the "Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act," aims to restrict cut-throat competition between firms and thus slow the wave of business bankruptcies. Why didn't Hank Paulson think of that?

These acts and edicts sound farcical, yes, but no more so than the actual events in Washington, circa 2008. We already have been served up the $700 billion "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act" and the "Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act." Now that Barack Obama is in town, he will soon sign into law with great urgency the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan." This latest Hail Mary pass will increase the federal budget (which has already expanded by $1.5 trillion in eight years under George Bush) by an additional $1 trillion -- in roughly his first 100 days in office.

The current economic strategy is right out of "Atlas Shrugged": The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you. That's the justification for the $2 trillion of subsidies doled out already to keep afloat distressed insurance companies, banks, Wall Street investment houses, and auto companies -- while standing next in line for their share of the booty are real-estate developers, the steel industry, chemical companies, airlines, ethanol producers, construction firms and even catfish farmers. With each successive bailout to "calm the markets," another trillion of national wealth is subsequently lost. Yet, as "Atlas" grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate "windfalls."

When Rand was writing in the 1950s, one of the pillars of American industrial might was the railroads. In her novel the railroad owner, Dagny Taggart, an enterprising industrialist, has a FedEx-like vision for expansion and first-rate service by rail. But she is continuously badgered, cajoled, taxed, ruled and regulated -- always in the public interest -- into bankruptcy. Sound far-fetched? On the day I sat down to write this ode to "Atlas," a Wall Street Journal headline blared: "Rail Shippers Ask Congress to Regulate Freight Prices."

In one chapter of the book, an entrepreneur invents a new miracle metal -- stronger but lighter than steel. The government immediately appropriates the invention in "the public good." The politicians demand that the metal inventor come to Washington and sign over ownership of his invention or lose everything.

The scene is eerily similar to an event late last year when six bank presidents were summoned by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to Washington, and then shuttled into a conference room and told, in effect, that they could not leave until they collectively signed a document handing over percentages of their future profits to the government. The Treasury folks insisted that this shakedown, too, was all in "the public interest."

Ultimately, "Atlas Shrugged" is a celebration of the entrepreneur, the risk taker and the cultivator of wealth through human intellect. Critics dismissed the novel as simple-minded, and even some of Rand's political admirers complained that she lacked compassion. Yet one pertinent warning resounds throughout the book: When profits and wealth and creativity are denigrated in society, they start to disappear -- leaving everyone the poorer.

One memorable moment in "Atlas" occurs near the very end, when the economy has been rendered comatose by all the great economic minds in Washington. Finally, and out of desperation, the politicians come to the heroic businessman John Galt (who has resisted their assault on capitalism) and beg him to help them get the economy back on track. The discussion sounds much like what would happen today:

Galt: "You want me to be Economic Dictator?"

Mr. Thompson: "Yes!"

"And you'll obey any order I give?"


"Then start by abolishing all income taxes."

"Oh no!" screamed Mr. Thompson, leaping to his feet. "We couldn't do that . . . How would we pay government employees?"

"Fire your government employees."

"Oh, no!"

Abolishing the income tax. Now that really would be a genuine economic stimulus. But Mr. Obama and the Democrats in Washington want to do the opposite: to raise the income tax "for purposes of fairness" as Barack Obama puts it.

David Kelley, the president of the Atlas Society, which is dedicated to promoting Rand's ideas, explains that "the older the book gets, the more timely its message." He tells me that there are plans to make "Atlas Shrugged" into a major motion picture -- it is the only classic novel of recent decades that was never made into a movie. "We don't need to make a movie out of the book," Mr. Kelley jokes. "We are living it right now."

The hole in her universe

On the anniversary of Ayn Rand’s classic, some lessons on God and values | John Piper

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. As I write, the book ranks Number 237 at That is phenomenal for a 1,200-page novel that contains philosophical speeches, one of which stretches to 90 uninterrupted pages. The book has sold over 6 million copies. In one survey from 16 years ago, Atlas Shrugged was ranked second only to the Bible as the book that influenced people most.

My Ayn Rand craze happened in the late '70s when I was a professor of Biblical Studies at Bethel College. I read most of what she wrote and was both attracted and repulsed. I was blown away with powerful statements of what I believed, and angered that she shut herself up in what Jonathan Edwards called the infinite provincialism of atheism. Her brand of hedonism was so close to my Christian Hedonism and yet so far—like a satellite that comes close to the gravitational pull of truth and then flings off into the darkness of outer space.

She was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1905, graduated with a degree in history from the University of Leningrad in 1924, and emigrated to the United States in 1926. "I am an American by choice and conviction," she wrote. "I was born in Europe, but I came to America because this was the country based on my moral premises and the only country where I could be fully free to write." She died on March 6, 1982.

She abominated altruism. All self-sacrifice is evil because: "Sacrifice is the surrender of a greater value for the sake of a lesser one or of non-value. Thus altruism gauges a man's virtue by the degree to which he surrenders, renounces or betrays his values (since help to a stranger or an enemy is regarded as more virtuous, less 'selfish' than help to those one loves). The rational principle of conduct is the exact opposite: always act in accordance with the hierarchy of your values and never sacrifice a greater value to a lesser one."

Ayn Rand had no place for mercy, whereas Christianity has mercy at its heart. And the reason for the difference is that God was simply missing in Ayn Rand's universe. Since there was no God from whom she had received everything undeserved, and since there was no God who promised to reward every act that showed His supreme worth, she could only conceive of sacrifice as the immoral suicide of one's own values.

What Ayn Rand meant by altruism is seen in the words of Lillian Rearden to her husband in Atlas Shrugged: "If you tell a beautiful woman that she is beautiful, what have you given her? It's no more than a fact and it costs you nothing. But if you tell an ugly woman that she is beautiful you offer her the great homage of corrupting the concept of beauty. To love a woman for her virtues is meaningless. She's earned it, it's a payment, not a gift. But to love her for her vices is to defile all virtue for her sake—and that is a real tribute of love, because you sacrifice your conscience, your reason, your integrity and your invaluable self-esteem."

Since Ayn Rand had no place for a sovereign, all-sufficient God who cannot be traded with, she did not reckon with any righteous form of mercy. It is indeed evil to love a person "for their vices." But mercy in the Christian sense is not "because of" vices, but "in spite of" vices. It is not intended to reward evil, but to reveal the bounty of God who cannot be traded with, but only freely admired and enjoyed. It aims not to corrupt or compromise integrity, but to transform the values of the enemy into the values of Christ. While it may mean the sacrifice of some temporal pleasures, it is never the sacrifice of greater values to lesser ones. It is the sacrifice of lower values to higher ones.

Therefore, Ayn Rand's philosophy did not need to be entirely scrapped. Rather, it needed to take all of reality into account, including the infinite God. No detail of her philosophy would have been left untouched.

Mark of the Beast: National Internet ID card

Revelation 13:16-17
16And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

17And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

A new plan for an international internet ID card has surfaced. We have already seen the invention of an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device), which is the most likely device that will serve its purpose in fulfilling Revelation 13:16. With a proliferation of the internet and the ability to buy goods and services on line, this technology must be integrated somehow with the internet. The Defense department has unveiled a plan on the equivalent of assigning a unique identifier for every person that can use the internet in the name of security.

Imagine for a moment if this were to become law; that all must have a 'unique identity' online and that 'unique identifier' must be stored in a national database. One can see the power that such a move would bring to those who controlled these security measures. With one powerful threat, the government could threaten to pull the plug on the internet if one didn't use these identifiers to buy goods online. Combine this identifier number with an RFID chip and walla---we have the system of the beast.

Read this paragraph from a CNET article and notice the parallels.

Another concern: Although the White House is describing the NSTIC plan as "voluntary," federal agencies could begin to require it for IRS e-filing, applying for Social Security or veterans' benefits, renewing passports online, requesting federal licenses (including ham radio and pilot's licenses), and so on. Then obtaining one of these ID would become all but mandatory for most Americans.

Can one not also see this as necessary in order to buy or sell goods (Rev. 13)? We already have the RFID chip waiting in the wings to be rolled out on a national scale, now this. The technology has been developed--now the government is pushing us towards implementation.

Obama Administration Unveils Internet ID Plan

The Commerce Dept. unveiled a plan Friday to create a national cyber-identity system that would give consumers who opt in a single secure password and identity for all their digital transactions.

The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) will be a voluntary system designed to protect consumers from online fraud and identity theft -- which hit 8.1 million people last year, at a total cost of $27 billion. The problem: The current system of half-remembered passwords jotted down on post-it notes and based on pets and maiden names simply isn't good enough.

"Passwords just won't cut it here," said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who announced the initiative at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “We must do more to help consumers protect themselves, and we must make it more convenient than remembering dozens of passwords,” he said.

The "identity ecosystem" will create secure online IDs for Americans who elect to join the program, giving them a single credential -- such as a unique piece of software on a smart phone, a smart card, or a token that generates a one-time digital password -- which they can use to log on to a variety of websites.

Instead of having to remember all those disparate passwords, one for each site that conducts a secure transaction, a consumer would use that single credential to log in, with far more security than a password alone would provide, the agency said.

That log in could be anything: a smart card, a cell phone, a keychain fob, or some other type of gizmo.

And if a user so chooses, they can elect to have several log-ins from different credential providers. Want a key fob from Google and cell phone software from Verisign? Go for it, both will work -- though having two would reduce the simplicity factor, of course.

NSTIC also aims to protect consumers' privacy from the vast array of companies that collect data on their websurfing activity, letting them surf anonymously online. It would not create a centralized database of information, the agency said, because consumers will be able to choose from a variety of programs within the cyber-identity system.

But it's not ready yet. To make the proposal a reality, a multitude of companies have been enlisted to build software, develop new standards and make hardware that will make up the system, including Microsoft, IBM, the Secure ID Coalition and Wave Systems Corp, which exhibited a system for securely accessing a wide variety of websites with just a single password.

"This ecosystem will provide citizens with a variety of choices for authenticating their identity online while helping to protect their security and privacy," said Scott Charney, corporate vice president of Microsoft.

Jim Dempsey, a vice president with the Center for Democracy and Technology, agreed that the program would help address the problems of online threats.

"I think there's a model here perhaps for the broader question of cybersecurity ... the Administration, to my view, has conducted a very open process here," he said.

White House draft bill expands DHS cyber responsibilities

Under a White House plan, the Homeland Security Department will have far-reaching oversight over all civilian agency computer networks.

The proposal would codify much of the administration's memo from July 2010 expanding DHS's cyber responsibilities for civilian networks.

The White House, however, is taking those responsibilities further, according to a source familiar with the document. The administration drafted a legislative proposal to give DHS many, if not all, of the same authorities for the .gov networks that the Defense Department has for the .mil networks.

Federal News Radio recently viewed a draft copy of the legislative proposal.

"I have to question why the Executive branch is writing legislation," said the source, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about it. "This is not a proposal or white paper like the White House usually sends to Capitol Hill. This is the actual legislation."

The source said the 100-page document is going through interagency review. DHS sent the document around to agencies late last Friday and asked for comments by Monday. The source said few agencies had time to take a hard look at the document, especially in light of the possible government shutdown.

Sources on Capitol Hill and in government confirmed the White House is working on such a proposal.

A DHS spokesman said the agency doesn't comment on pending legislation.

Incorporates Senate cyber bill, OMB memo

The bill would bring together legislative proposals by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), as well as Office of Management and Budget's memo from July 2010 expanding DHS's authorities.

"The cybersecurity legislation being developed in Congress is a large, complex bill with wide-ranging implications, and several Senate committees are involved in its drafting," said committee spokeswoman Leslie Phillips. "The two primary committees of jurisdiction - Homeland Security and Commerce - completed the bulk of their work last August and ironed out several remaining differences by the end of March this year. However, other committees and the White House are critical to the completion of this bill."

In a statement, Lieberman said, "We have been waiting with great anticipation for the White House to weigh in on the best way to protect the American people from catastrophic cyber attacks. If the White House is on the same path we're on, the Senate should be able to approve comprehensive cybersecurity legislation this year."

Collins said in a floor statement in February about the new bill that the legislation would make DHS a strong partner in the process of securing agency networks, but the White House will be the central point for all cybersecurity across the government.

The Lieberman, Collins and Carper bill would establish a National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications in DHS.

"It would be located within the Department of Homeland Security to elevate and strengthen the Department's cyber security capabilities and authorities," Collins said. "This Center also would be led by a Senate-confirmed director. The Cyber Center, anchored at DHS, will close the coordination gaps that currently exist in our disjointed federal cyber security efforts. For day-to-day operations, the Center would use the resources of DHS, and the Center Director would report directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security. On interagency matters related to the security of federal networks, the director would regularly advise the President - a relationship similar to the director of the National Counterterrorism Center on counterterrorism matters or the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on military issues. These dual relationships would give the director sufficient rank and stature to interact effectively with the heads of other departments and agencies, and with the private sector."

A second source said the proposal also gives DHS much of the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) authorities that currently fall under OMB, such as policy development and issuance, and the creation of performance measures, guidelines and training.

The first source said the proposal actually goes further than previous bills and memos. The source said the DHS secretary would have broad authorities and oversight responsibilities similar to what Gen. Keith Alexander has with DoD's U.S. Cyber Command.

DHS oversees all civilian cybersecurity

The bill authorizes DHS, in coordination with OMB, "to exercise primary responsibility of operational aspects of IT security in agencies" that is consistent with OMB guidance. The DHS secretary "shall oversee agency security implementations, the implementation of policies" and compliance with policy and regulatory requirements.

DHS and OMB also would issue "compulsory and binding directives" oversee the implementation of agency information security policies, review agency information security programs, designate a person to receive information on security threats and issues and address incident response.

The bill exempts national security and DoD systems from DHS oversight.

Under one version of comprehensive cybersecurity legislation, DHS would get four senior vice president level executives for cybersecurity. But this latest proposal from the White House would change that by adopting DoD's hiring authorities.

The first source said DHS could make direct hires, set compensation rates as necessary and pay additional benefits and incentives. DHS also would establish a scholarship program for employees to pursue college or advanced degrees in cybersecurity, and it reactivates the industry-to-government and government-to-industry exchange program for cybersecurity professionals.

The authorities in the bill are similar to those the Office of Personnel Management approved for DHS in September 2009. DHS received Schedule A authorities for cyber positions.

The proposal also would give DHS a significant role in cyber-related procurements. The source said the language in the bill is "vague" about what kind of role DHS will play.

Google provision around data centers?

Additionally, the source said there is a provision toward the end of the document that could have far-reaching effects.

The provision states: "Prohibition, no law, rule, regulation or order or other administrative action of any state or political subdivision shall require a business entity to house a data center in such state or political subdivision there of as a condition to certify, licensure or approval in relating to operation of such entity."

The source said the provision means the government can't stop a company from doing business in a state, but if the state is doing a procurement, they can't tell the business to locate a data center in their state.

The provision also defines what a data center is and says the language will "promote efficiency and innovation"

The source called it the "Google provision" since the search engine giant hosts its data in centers around the world.

There are some exceptions, such as, if the data center is being used only for sate business and not shared among users across business sectors.

In addition to federal cybersecurity, the bill goes into details about cyber crime and critical infrastructure security.

For instance under cyber crime, the proposal would expand the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to include a series of criminal offensives for cyber attacks and confidentiality abuses. It also would expand the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to establish criminal penalties for cyber crime.

Under critical infrastructure protection, the bill lets the DHS secretary decide what is critical infrastructure, assess audit systems for cyber resilience and create an industry of third-party accreditors and evaluators to assess private sector owners and operators systems for meeting cybersecurity requirements.

The proposal also requires the development of voluntary consensus standards by industry, academic and government experts for each sector.

The bill states that owners and operators of critical infrastructure shall develop cybersecurity measures, and a senior accountable official must sign and attest to their implementation. The bill adds that form must remain on file and available for review, inspection and evaluations by third-party evaluators.

The bill continues to move through interagency review and there is no stated timetable for moving it to the Hill for formal consideration, sources say.

April 13, 2011

Forgetting God.

From Fighting Poverty & Greed in the most recent issue of WORLD:

The heart of the problem, he believes, is, "We are not a God-fearing people anymore. If people were going to church and being taught the necessities, we wouldn't be in this mess." A churchgoer, Felton says, "We have lots of churches without much teaching. . . . We have to go back to the basics: family, church, education. . . . For many men the trinity is women, alcohol, sports."

Famine, A product of our own doing.

As Ronald Reagan once said, "The best way to eternal life is by becoming a federal program." Subsidizing the cash crop of the most influential presidential primary state is equivalent to medicare, medicaid, social security on a lesser scale. Once again we fail to see the connection between this subsidy and millions of poor people around the world going hungry. Politicians can only see the votes while Consumers only see the lower subsidized gas prices when they fill up.

The Ethanol Catastrophe

Biofuels aggravate global warming and cause hunger. Why won't the U.S. stop subsidizing them?

We have been here before. In 2007 and 2008, the swift increase in biofuel production caused a food crisis that incited political instability and fueled malnutrition. Developed countries did not learn. Since 2008, ethanol production has increased by 33 percent.

The United States spends about $6 billion a year on federal support for ethanol production through tax credits, tariffs, and other programs. Thanks to this financial assistance, one-sixth of the world's corn supply is burned in American cars. That is enough corn to feed 350 million people for an entire year.

Government support of rapid growth in biofuel production has contributed to disarray in food production. Indeed, as a result of official policy in the United States and Europe, including aggressive production targets, biofuel consumed more than 6.5 percent of global grain output and 8 percent of the world's vegetable oil in 2010, up from 2 percent of grain supplies and virtually no vegetable oil in 2004.

This year, after a particularly bad growing season, we see the results. Global food prices are the highest they have been since the United Nations started tracking them in 1990, pushed up largely by increases in the cost of corn. Despite the strides made recently against malnutrition, millions more people will be undernourished than would have been the case in the absence of official support for biofuels.

We have been here before. In 2007 and 2008, the swift increase in biofuel production caused a food crisis that incited political instability and fueled malnutrition. Developed countries did not learn. Since 2008, ethanol production has increased by 33 percent.

Biofuels were initially championed by environmental campaigners as a silver bullet against global warming. They started to change their minds as a stream of research showed that biofuels from most food crops did not significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and in many cases, caused forests to be destroyed to grow more food, creating more net carbon-dioxide emissions than fossil fuels.

Some green activists supported mandates for biofuel, hoping they would pave the way for next-generation ethanol, which would use non-food plants. That has not happened.

Today, it is difficult to find a single environmentalist who still backs the policy. Even former U.S. Vice President and Nobel laureate Al Gore—who once boasted of casting the deciding vote for ethanol support—calls the policy "a mistake." He now admits that he supported it because he "had a certain fondness for the [corn] farmers in the state of Iowa"—who, not coincidentally, were crucial to his 2000 presidential bid.

It is refreshing that Gore has now changed his view in line with the evidence. But there is a wider lesson. A chorus of voices from the left and right argue against continued government support for biofuel. The problem, as Gore has put it, is that "it's hard once such a program is put in place to deal with the lobbies that keep it going."

Politicians can't stop such rent-seeking behavior. What they can do is craft well-considered policies that maximize social welfare. Unfortunately, when it comes to policies marketed as reining in global warming, protecting the environment, or creating "green jobs," we have a tendency to make hasty decisions that don't pass the test.

Government support for biofuel is only one example of a knee-jerk "green" policy that creates lucrative opportunities for a self-interested group of businesses but does very little to help the planet. Consider the financial support afforded early-generation renewable-energy companies. Germany led the world in putting up solar panels, funded by $75 billion in subsidies. The result? Inefficient, uncompetitive solar technology sitting on rooftops in a fairly cloudy country, delivering a trivial 0.1 percent of Germany's total energy supply, and postponing the effects of global warming by seven hours in 2100.

Given the financial stakes, it is little wonder that alternative-energy companies, "green" investment firms, and biofuel producers are lobbying hard for more government largesse, and marketing their cause directly to the public by highlighting its supposed benefits for the environment, energy security, and even employment—none of which withstand scrutiny. "The NASCAR deal will push American ethanol into the stratosphere," declared Tom Buis, CEO of the ethanol trade association Growth Energy.

At least one group is already sold: presidential contenders. In Iowa last month, possible Republican candidate Newt Gingrich derided "big-city attacks" on ethanol subsidies. And, in what must be music to the industry's ears, an Obama administration official declared that even amid the highest food prices the world has seen, there is "no reason to take the foot off the gas" on biofuel.

April 11, 2011

Signs of the Times

Terror Attack’: 1 Dead, Over 20 Wounded in Jerusalem Bus-Stop Blast

JERUSALEM (AP) — A bomb struck a crowded bus stop in central Jerusalem Wednesday, killing one woman and wounding more than 20 other people in what authorities said was the first major Palestinian militant attack in the city in several years.

The bombing brought back memories of the second Palestinian uprising last decade, a period in which hundreds of Israelis were killed by suicide bombings in Jerusalem and other major cities.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Israeli police blamed Palestinian militants. The attack came against the backdrop of a rising wave of violence that has threatened to upset more than two years of relative calm that has prevailed since an Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this month, five members of a Jewish settler family were knifed to death in their sleep at their West Bank home. And in recent days, Israel has carried out reprisals in Gaza in retaliation for rocket and mortar fire launched into southern Israel. On Tuesday, an errant Israeli strike meant for Palestinian militants killed four members of a Palestinian family in Gaza.

Adding to the tensions, peace efforts with Hamas’ rival, the Western-backed Palestinian government in the West Bank, have been stalled for months. Palestinian leaders condemned the attack.

For More: Read the rest of the story here.

27000 dead & counting......

Japan disaster: over 27,000 dead or missing

More than 27,000 people are officially dead or missing after the earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan on March 11th.

According to the National Police Agency, 9,811 people are confirmed dead as of 9 PM on Thursday.

The agency says it has received reports of 17,541 people missing.

Most of the dead and missing are from the 3 hardest hit prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima.

The number of confirmed deaths in Fukushima totals 839, far smaller than the more than 5,800 in Miyagi and about 3,000 in Iwate. This may be due to the suspension of search operations in areas within 20 kilometers of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, because of radiation leaks.

Figures appear almost certain to rise because of the absence of family members to report the dead and missing. In some areas, entire families appear to have perished in the tsunami that followed the magnitude 9.0 quake.

Emergency shelters are accommodating more than 200,000 people, mostly from the prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima, according to NHK figures. More than 30,000 people, mainly from Fukushima, have fled their hometowns to other prefectures.

Some survivors who have returned to their homes in areas where essential services have been restored are suffering from shortages of supplies, and are having to seek food at shelters for local residents.

The National Police Agency says at least 18,000 houses were destroyed by the quake and tsunami, and more than 130,000 homes were damaged.

Thursday, March 24, 2011 03:01 +0900 (JST)

Reagan: 100 Timeless Ideas to Advance Freedom

Reagan @ 100: From the Reagan Ranch, a discussion on what made America great during his Presidency.

Soros Plots USA's Demise

Consider the following posted online at

What would you think if George Soros were organizing his fellow anti-American, globalist, neo-Marxist “thought leaders,” in pursuit of globally governed banking and finance, in a second Bretton Woods conference?

Would you consider that their goals include dragging American influence and incomes down, while confiscating much of our personal finances and giving them to other nations (and yes, the age-old financier network behind them) in the name of “communitarianism?”

Would you find their goal is to replace the bad influences of the IMF and the World Bank, with a much worse, more powerfully controlling, post-American global apparatus?

What would you think, if that meeting were being held this April 8th through 11th?

I got an email, last week; it was Tuesday the 22nd. It was from George Soros. To hear as straight from the dragon’s mouth as feasible, I had subscribed. In this emailed article, he lamented the inequities of wealth among the nation-states of Europe, under the strains of their continuing insolvency crisis. He warned of the dangers of national interest. Rather, he proposed, not surprisingly, a further blowing of the global insolvency bubble, so the more indebted European nations may get along owing, while their lending nations get along being owed — all the while, blending and worsening the financial and monetary crises and spreading this yeasty recipe further throughout the world, especially to America.

That was quite provocative.

Please be patient to let this article be a rather personal narrative and a kind of portal, and follow its links. Then, follow the links within the those articles. Perhaps, even one more layer. That will limit the redundancy involved and inform you as well as a book might, but in much less time. To begin, here are my observations upon receiving his email, “Oh. My. George. Soros on Europe’s Worsening Banking Crisis & the Most Evil Plan Yet.” Go ahead. Big Government will generously wait.

“’Most evil plan yet,’ was that an overstatement?” I wondered. No, knowing what one may see about Soros, it was not hyperbole and the statement was well with my soul. The next day, confirmation came from Dan Gainor of Business & Media Institute and Media Research Center, by his “Unreported Soros Event Aims to Remake Entire Global Economy,” first published in Business & Media Institute and at Fox News.

If you read nothing else stemming from this introduction, do peruse that. There, Gainor puts this iniquitous plan into context and elucidates. Nope, not going to excerpt, nor even quote. Just read it if you have not by now, please.

It was my privilege to interview Dan last Monday night, for about a half-hour. That discussion may be found here.

Again, no reiterations offered, except that I will repeat that the documentation shows we were raped by European banks, in their own, deep insolvency trouble in 2008, using us at exactly the time it hurt us the most — during the Mortgage Meltdown’s peak, right before the general election. You know how that went. (It was also swept along as in the sport of curling, by peculiarly timed internal operations, including those of Soros comrades, Herb and Marion Sandler, and Senator Charles Schumer’s tongue. One must not distract further, by going on about the Community Reinvestment Act(s), Franklin Raines and Fannie Mae, the Pelosi Congress and their shoot-to-miss regulations, Goldman Sachs and friends, etc.)

That being our reminder of how they operate, what may we expect from our nation’s finances being thoroughly and systematically controlled by a megacartel of despotic foreign interests?

For further reading

Just presented by colleague, Kelleigh Nelson:
Klaus Warns Euro Pact will Lead to Full Political Union,” in, 3/29/2011

See the observations of compatriot blogger, Maggie Thornton and the related articles she links at the bottom of her piece:
George Soros Bretton Woods II Conf: Changing Finance World-Wide — New World Order: God’s Gonna Cut You Down…

And three caveats about this subject matter

1. Yes, this is anti-American and grossly evil. It is warfare against our People. America has been given us at great sacred cost, to preserve and pass along our freedom to our progeny. Just as our Constitution rests squarely upon our Declaration of Independence, our freedom rests upon our personal, intra-national, and national sovereignties. There is no exception to this rule, whether it is assailed by any seemingly altruistic ideas and ideals of global governance, or of global finance. And even the most generous offerings of internationalism require its antecedent, nationalism.

2. One must neither be taken with, nor be deterred by any coincidences of ethnic heritage, when studying banking, globalism, and collectivism. While antisemites will at times present lies and distortions as facts, facts by their nature, can not be prejudiced nor bigoted. Each individual is a free and ontologically equal, moral (and immoral) agent, all are sinners, all are offered redemption.

3. Come, let us be conspiracy investigators, regardless of the connotations and prior concoctions. I suggest you start, or start afresh, with the startling and paradigm shifting research led by a gentleman named Norman Dodd, an energetic but humble young banker from the prior century, who eventually found himself going to Washington and working for Congress. (Much of the records of the Reece Committee have been destroyed, hidden, or buried, but they are still preserved.) If you saw Glenn Beck’s TV program last Friday the 25th, about the Federal Reserve, you will recognize Mr. Dodd’s interviewer.

One reason there are so many wild claims in this subject matter is that not enough people of discipline and sound epistemology engage in it. But remember your Alinsky and do not be intimidated by ridicule. There is a vast, worldwide conspiracy shown a few inches from your nose right now and many near the core of it meet next week in New Hampshire.

April 6, 2011

Boy Genius. Playing Beethoven at age 2. College Grad at age 12.

This 12 yr old boy genius has more smarts than the entire political brain dead leaders of our country combined.

Welfare State and Bureaucrat Economics

A well documented video on the egregious waste that is the United States Federal Government. Consider these two facts and take a peek at this thought out video.

  • California has more than 15,000 Bureaucrats getting pensions worth more than $100,000 a year.
  • 6 of the nation's 10 richest communities are suburbs of DC.

Consider the following article posted on this economic blog:
Here is a link in case the above video does not play: There Are too Many Bureaucrats and They Are Paid too Much

I met Dan Mitchell last week at the Kauffman Foundation. Every year, Kauffman holds a conference for economic bloggers. It's a lot of fun and I have participated 3 consecutive years.

I am a big fan of the Cato Institute. They stand for Individual Liberty, Free Markets, and Peace. Those are three admirable goals.

I just added them to my left sidebar under the heading "Taxpayer Friendly Sites". Inquiring minds may wish to bookmark their site.


Proving that some people can neither read nor think, I received an email from an apparent government sympathizer showing a graph by Calculated Risk on Government Employment Since 1976.

Interestingly, the Cato video posted a similar chart then went on to dispute it three ways, primarily by salary, second by mentioning quasi-government employees, and third by pointing out figures do not include military employees, postal workers, subsidy recipients, or contract jobs.

Here is a chart from the video.

Those numbers are from 2005. Care to guess where those numbers are now?

Quasi-Public Jobs

Bear in mind the numbers also do not include "Quasi-Public" jobs.

Please consider Current Decade of Job Losses vs. Great Depression; How Did Quasi-Public Jobs Fare? Who is Whining?
Public and Quasi-Public Jobs vs. Everything Else

Please see Mandel's article for a state-by-state breakdown.

Who is Doing all the Whining?

Who is doing all the whining and all the pissing and moaning? The answer of course is those who fared the best in the last decade: the police and fire unions, the teachers' unions, transit unions, and public unions in general.

Many in private sector fields have been hammered silly with rapidly rising healthcare costs and lower paychecks (assuming they have a job at all). Meanwhile those with the most benefits and those who have suffered the least are the ones unjustifiably bitching to high heavens about how unfairly they are being treated.
The above chart is from A Decade of Labor Market Pain by Mike Mandel.

In another related story: Stephen Moore documents the rise of the class of government workers and explains the seismic shift in the philosophy from a nation that once valued opportunity to a nation that now puts a premium on security.


We've Become a Nation of Takers, Not Makers

If you want to understand better why so many states—from New York to Wisconsin to California—are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.

It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills?

Every state in America today except for two—Indiana and Wisconsin—has more government workers on the payroll than people manufacturing industrial goods. Consider California, which has the highest budget deficit in the history of the states. The not-so Golden State now has an incredible 2.4 million government employees—twice as many as people at work in manufacturing. New Jersey has just under two-and-a-half as many government employees as manufacturers. Florida's ratio is more than 3 to 1. So is New York's.

Even Michigan, at one time the auto capital of the world, and Pennsylvania, once the steel capital, have more government bureaucrats than people making things. The leaders in government hiring are Wyoming and New Mexico, which have hired more than six government workers for every manufacturing worker.

Now it is certainly true that many states have not typically been home to traditional manufacturing operations. Iowa and Nebraska are farm states, for example. But in those states, there are at least five times more government workers than farmers. West Virginia is the mining capital of the world, yet it has at least three times more government workers than miners. New York is the financial capital of the world—at least for now. That sector employs roughly 670,000 New Yorkers. That's less than half of the state's 1.48 million government employees.


Don't expect a reversal of this trend anytime soon. Surveys of college graduates are finding that more and more of our top minds want to work for the government. Why? Because in recent years only government agencies have been hiring, and because the offer of near lifetime security is highly valued in these times of economic turbulence. When 23-year-olds aren't willing to take career risks, we have a real problem on our hands. Sadly, we could end up with a generation of Americans who want to work at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The employment trends described here are explained in part by hugely beneficial productivity improvements in such traditional industries as farming, manufacturing, financial services and telecommunications. These produce far more output per worker than in the past. The typical farmer, for example, is today at least three times more productive than in 1950.

Where are the productivity gains in government? Consider a core function of state and local governments: schools. Over the period 1970-2005, school spending per pupil, adjusted for inflation, doubled, while standardized achievement test scores were flat. Over roughly that same time period, public-school employment doubled per student, according to a study by researchers at the University of Washington. That is what economists call negative productivity.

But education is an industry where we measure performance backwards: We gauge school performance not by outputs, but by inputs. If quality falls, we say we didn't pay teachers enough or we need smaller class sizes or newer schools. If education had undergone the same productivity revolution that manufacturing has, we would have half as many educators, smaller school budgets, and higher graduation rates and test scores.

The same is true of almost all other government services. Mass transit spends more and more every year and yet a much smaller share of Americans use trains and buses today than in past decades. One way that private companies spur productivity is by firing underperforming employees and rewarding excellence. In government employment, tenure for teachers and near lifetime employment for other civil servants shields workers from this basic system of reward and punishment. It is a system that breeds mediocrity, which is what we've gotten.

Most reasonable steps to restrain public-sector employment costs are smothered by the unions. Study after study has shown that states and cities could shave 20% to 40% off the cost of many services—fire fighting, public transportation, garbage collection, administrative functions, even prison operations—through competitive contracting to private providers. But unions have blocked many of those efforts. Public employees maintain that they are underpaid relative to equally qualified private-sector workers, yet they are deathly afraid of competitive bidding for government services.

President Obama says we have to retool our economy to "win the future." The only way to do that is to grow the economy that makes things, not the sector that takes things.

Mr. Moore is senior economics writer for The Wall Street Journal editorial page.

Copyright 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

April 1, 2011

Comic Relief

Not-so-great escape

A criminal in Dayton, Ohio, may have robbed a bank, but he chose what some would call a politically correct getaway vehicle. Dayton police say the suspect, whom they did not identify, hopped on board a public bus minutes after robbing a KeyBank branch on March 16. Alerted to his getaway method by witnesses, police were able to catch up to the bus a mile down the road and arrest the man without incident.

The Left's Political Football: Poverty

Sure the Health care law will forever change our nation, but it is also the many other subtle changes to our society by this administration that continue to erode democracy and replace it with the friendly, benevolent welfare state. The latest change is that the poverty rate will no longer be calculated on a standards of living based calculation (i.e. the amount needed to pay for basic necessities) but rather on an equality based calculation (i.e. Below 33% of the average income level). Thus, even if living standards would double, 1/3rd of our country will be 'poor' even if our poor's living standards were hypothetically better than the wealthiest on earth. This change only furthers to illustrate the fact that liberals have never really been fighting for the poor in their 'war on poverty', but rather using the poor as a means to achieve their political aims, using the poor as a political football in the process. The goal is not to eliminate poverty, but rather to make sure that their rants against inequality will forever be justified.

Poverty politics

Poverty | Playing with the numbers to increase those defined as poor, Washington is set to wage a costly war on inequality in the name of fighting poverty | Marvin Olasky

As you pay your federal income taxes this year, the amount that goes for welfare benefits depends in part on Mollie Orshansky, perhaps the most influential person you've never heard of. But on Sept. 1 her influence will begin to diminish in a way likely to increase welfare costs without increasing compassion toward the poor—if Congress doesn't step up.

In 1963 and 1964 Mollie Orshansky, a staff economist at the Social Security Administration, asked the question: Below what income is a person "poor"? She called the meeting of basic needs a "poverty threshold" and calculated a number based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "economy food plan" and typical American spending patterns.

Economists have updated the threshold every year by using the Consumer Price Index to account for inflation, but the simple basis for calculation has remained the same. On Sept. 1, though, the Obama administration will unveil a Supplementary Poverty Measure (SPM) calculated on a different basis. Adoption of the SPM would increase accuracy in some ways but also affect state budgets and probably increase federal deficits.

It would also make a radical conceptual leap by defining the enemy not as poverty but inequality. American poverty-fighting for three centuries has rested on a principle that no citizen should go without a basic level of food, shelter, and clothing. The question was always, "What are the basics?" It was not, "How much income does a poor person have relative to an affluent person?"

Europeans have already made poverty relative. The European Union defines poverty as an income below 60 percent of the national median, whatever that median is. If rich and poor both double their income, the poverty rate does not change: Everything's relative. With almost no public attention or discussion, the United States is taking a large step toward Europeanization.

Why the change now? You can read online, if you dare, about a dozen academic papers presented at the Allied Social Science Association's annual meeting in Denver in January. Those, in turn, play off of 15 years of discussions sparked by a 1995 recommendation of the National Academy of Science. But the easier way to understand what's happening is to start with Mollie Orshansky's legacy.

Orshansky saw that a half-century ago families of three or more people typically spent about one-third of their after-tax income on food. Logically, she multiplied basic food costs—enough to eat, but not salmon and raspberries—by three to come up with poverty thresholds for various family sizes. She then defined as poor those with insufficient cash income to pay for basic needs. That seems intuitively right.

Over the years some problems with her formula have emerged: For one, people today normally spend closer to one-sixth of their income on food rather than one-third. We spend more money on wants, not needs, and those defined as poor can receive food stamps, housing, childcare, and other government benefits.

Statisticians have not counted those benefits as part of a family's gross income, so the resources available to some poor families are greater than officially measured. Factor in underground and illegal economies—people paid in cash and not reporting income for tax purposes—and it's not surprising that consumer expenditure surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show the lowest fifth of U.S. households spending up to twice as much as their reported pretax income.

Some in America—particularly homeless persons and most immigrants—are still severely poor, but government data show most persons defined as poor having a home and car in good repair. Typical possessions also include air conditioning, two color televisions, cable or satellite service, a VCR or DVD player, and a cell phone, as well as a refrigerator, stove, microwave, and a washer and dryer.

So which hardships should be emphasized? The small numbers of persons who are homeless and hungry, or the large number—44 million in 2009—defined as poor but, by the standards of most of the world, materially rich? To ask this is not to diminish the real problems many Americans face—including fatherlessness, stupefying public schools, bad work habits, and crime—but to observe that the problems are often spiritual and cultural more than material.

News releases about poverty rarely show those non-dollar problems, and the stats are misleading. Poverty thresholds do not take into account where people live (city, suburb, town, farm) or how. Families with two parents working are less likely to be poor, so the typical poor household with two children has one parent. Many more young people are cohabiting, which leads to economies in some situations but many more transitory relationships and accompanying upheavals.

Statisticians and savvy politicians have been aware of these problems, but the measure of poverty stayed the same. And it's hard to get it right: A one-size-fits-all poverty line is hard to draw, and the definition of poverty is a political football. If it changes, some states now classified as poorer will be enriched by federal funds, and some that do better in fighting poverty will lose.

Last year with Democrats dominant at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, the Obama administration moved toward changing in four ways the definition of who is poor. Officials embedded radical ideas among some sensible proposals. Among the noncontroversial: When calculating the Supplemental Poverty Measure, take into account welfare payments that those classified as poor receive from about 80 programs. Doing that reduces hugely the number of people defined as going without the basics.

A second SPM change will reflect changing social relationships, with cohabiting couples treated as if married, and the default family pattern seen as one adult and two children rather than 2 + 2. That's realistic but troubling—and given how often cohabiting couples break up, this calculation may mask some poverty problems.

The third SPM change—take into account geography—has a political edge. Housing costs tend to be higher and unemployment greater in states that are more unionized and less oriented toward free enterprise. If the Supplemental Poverty Measure becomes the norm, blue states in general will get more money, red states less.

The fourth SPM change could be the most controversial: Instead of assessing basic needs, the poverty measure will be based on what Americans at the 33rd percentile pay for food, clothing, shelter, and utilities, plus an additional one-fifth of that for other purchases.

For determining whether a household is officially poor, the SPM will count as income money from all sources plus the value of food stamps, housing and utility subsidies, and government nutrition programs. The SPM will subtract from income taxes, work-related expenses, medical out-of-pocket expenses, and childcare costs.

Got it? One thing you may have skipped by in that complicated formula is the designation of the 33rd percentile as the poverty marker. Why 33 percent? The Census Bureau usually reports in quintiles, so why not 20 percent? Maybe because that would substantially lower the number of persons counted as poor.

Using the 33rd percentile, though, the typical "poverty threshold" will climb from the current $22,000, in round numbers, to $25,000 for a household with two adults and two children. (Remember, they spend more than that.) Suddenly millions more will be defined as poor, the poverty rate will jump from about 14 percent to about 16 percent, and a drumbeat for more federal spending can pick up intensity.

Another reason for the 33rd percentile might be that it has some history behind it. Franklin Roosevelt famously spoke in 1937 about one-third of the nation being ill-housed, ill-clad, and ill-nourished: Even if most of that one-third is now decently housed, clothed in ways that make children around the world imitate us, and over-fed (although sometimes still ill-nourished), it's still the bottom third. Liberals who see inequality as the enemy cannot stand this.

Conservatives, though, should criticize the concept that if everyone's income doubles over the course of a decade, the number of people considered poor does not change: That will move us from "A rising tide lifts all boats" to "Your boat is still bigger than mine." Furthermore, our real public-policy goal for those now classified as poor should be not to trap more in welfare but to create more economic opportunities for them to leave poverty.

It's fun, in a policy-wonk way, to play with numbers. For example, adding the cash value of food stamps reduces the number of officially defined poor people by 2 million. Other changes increase the numbers. But it's a bit like the joke about the old person delighted to learn that, due to border changes, her town in Russia was now part of Poland: "Wonderful—I couldn't stand any more of those Russian winters."

It's no joke, though, if we play with numbers instead of concentrating on helping those who are truly tired, aching, and without hope. It's no joke if the federal government increases the clout of officials whose power depends on defining more people as poor. It's no joke if we head down a relativizing road that makes envy rather than enterprise our national pastime.

America's Muslim Preacher Rallies in Support of Gadhafi

Farrakhan defends Libya's Gadhafi as 'brother'

Warning that destruction could be on America's doorstep because it oppresses “God's chosen people,” Minister Louis Farrakhan, the controversial Nation of Islam leader, defended Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi today, calling the U.S. action in Libya hypocrisy.

Speaking from the pulpit of Chicago's Mosque Maryam, the Nation of Islam's international headquarters, purchased 40 years ago with a $3 million loan from Gadhafi, Farrakhan blamed demons for altering President Barack Obama's moral conscience and driving the assault on Gadhafi, who he calls a brother.

“It is a terrible thing for me to hear my brother called all these ugly and filthy names when I can't recognize him as that,” Farrakhan said to the crowd assembled at the mosque on Chicago's South Side. “Even though the current tide is moving against him … how can I refuse to raise my voice in his defense? Why would I back down from those who have given so much?”

Though they haven't spoken since 2005, Farrakhan and Gadhafi have been allies for decades. In 1996, around the time Gadhafi shifted from pan-Arab to pan-African ambitions, Farrakhan was criticized for traveling to meet the leader in Tripoli.

The following year, Gadhafi addressed Nation of Islam members via satellite, lauding Farrakhan for being a “courageous freedom fighter” who galvanized African-Americans at the Million Man March in Washington, D.C., and Muslims in nations around the world. During that speech, Gadhafi panned America for taxing poor people, who the Libyan leader said do not benefit from space exploration or support of “a Hebrew state.”

“Consequently,” he said, “the voice of Louis Farrakhan will be heard among the simple people louder than the president of the United States.”

On Thursday, Farrakhan said scenes from an earthquake- and tsunami-ravaged Japan inspired him to warn the American people about an impending natural disaster that will punish them for their arrogance.

“A major earthquake is on the way to you and me and us,” he said. “Death and destruction is at the door of all of us, and we are worse prepared than the Japanese.”

Farrakhan cautioned Obama that he was being used as a pawn to oppress his own people in Africa. He insisted several times that Jews controlled the media and pressured Obama to take so-called humanitarian action in Libya, but not in other places such as the Gaza Strip.

“The stupid mistake we make is assuming the president is the supreme power,” Farrakhan said. “The mad dogs are growling and grinding in Washington, D.C.,” referring to one of Gadhafi's nicknames, “Mad Dog of the Middle East.”