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Saturday, October 26, 2013

ObamaCare Train Wreck

by Phyllis Schlafly - Radio Commentary Link - eagleforum.org
       The problem with ObamaCare isn't only that it's careening toward a financial train wreck. It's also a slush fund to pay off Obama's political activists to carry out a massive invasion of privacy far bigger than the NSA's collection of personal data on American citizens. The Obama Administration let the cat out of the bag when it admitted it will give $655,000 in federal funds to three Planned Parenthood affiliates in Iowa, Montana and New Hampshire, plus $375,000 to Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. This money is to hire Navigators whose job is to assist citizens to report all their personal medical and financial information to the government. The Navigators' project is so intrusive that we wonder why we ever worried about data collection by the NSA.
       The navigators will also be hired from other pro-Obama organizations such as Organizing for America and the SEIU union, and that will surely sweeten the budgets of Democratic advocacy groups. Congresswoman Diane Black says that, since money is fungible, the Planned Parenthood grants amount to federal funding of abortion providers.
        The job of the navigators is to help seven million participants select their ObamaCare options and apply for benefits. Navigators will be given only 20 hours of training before they do their jobs. These navigators will have access to thousands of Americans' most personal and private financial, employment, medical history, and prescription-drug information, tax returns, Social Security number, date of birth, bank account number, and place of employment. Navigators will not have background checks or even be fingerprinted.
        The Federal Trade Commission is already worrying about the massive opportunity for consumer fraud. Scam artists can pose as navigators to take advantage of people trying to sign up for ObamaCare benefits. Potential for identity theft is great and obvious.

The Growing Rift With Saudi Arabia Threatens To Severely Damage The Petrodollar

The number one American export is U.S. dollars.  It is paper currency that is backed up by absolutely nothing, but the rest of the world has been using it to trade with one another and so there is tremendous global demand for our dollars.  The linchpin of this system is the petrodollar.  For decades, if you have wanted to buy oil virtually anywhere in the world you have had to do so with U.S. dollars.  But if one of the biggest oil exporters on the planet, such as Saudi Arabia, decided to start accepting other currencies as payment for oil, the petrodollar monopoly would disintegrate very rapidly.  For years, everyone assumed that nothing like that would happen any time soon, but now Saudi officials are warning of a "major shift" in relations with the United States.  In fact, the Saudis are so upset at the Obama administration that "all options" are reportedly "on the table".  If it gets to the point where the Saudis decide to make a major move away from the petrodollar monopoly, it will be absolutely catastrophic for the U.S. economy.
The biggest reason why having good relations with Saudi Arabia is so important to the United States is because the petrodollar monopoly will not work without them.  For decades, Washington D.C. has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep the Saudis happy.  But now the Saudis are becoming increasingly frustrated that the U.S. military is not being used to fight their wars for them.  The following is from a recent Daily Mail report...
Upset at President Barack Obama's policies on Iran and Syria, members of Saudi Arabia's ruling family are threatening a rift with the United States that could take the alliance between Washington and the kingdom to its lowest point in years.
Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief is vowing that the kingdom will make a 'major shift' in relations with the United States to protest perceived American inaction over Syria's civil war as well as recent U.S. overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said on Tuesday.
Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that the United States had failed to act effectively against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said.
Saudi Arabia desperately wants the U.S. military to intervene in the Syrian civil war on the side of the "rebels".  This has not happened yet, and the Saudis are very upset about that.
Of course the Saudis could always go and fight their own war, but that is not the way that the Saudis do things.
So since the Saudis are not getting their way, they are threatening to punish the U.S. for their inaction.  According to Reuters, the Saudis are saying that "all options are on the table now"...
Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, ploughs much of its earnings back into U.S. assets. Most of the Saudi central bank's net foreign assets of $690 billion are thought to be denominated in dollars, much of them in U.S. Treasury bonds.
"All options are on the table now, and for sure there will be some impact," the Saudi source said.
Sadly, most Americans have absolutely no idea how important all of this is.  If the Saudis break the petrodollar monopoly, it would severely damage the U.S. economy.  For those that do not fully understand the importance of the petrodollar, the following is a good summary of how the petrodollar works from an article by Christopher Doran...
In a nutshell, any country that wants to purchase oil from an oil producing country has to do so in U.S. dollars. This is a long standing agreement within all oil exporting nations, aka OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The UK for example, cannot simply buy oil from Saudi Arabia by exchanging British pounds. Instead, the UK must exchange its pounds for U.S. dollars. The major exception at present is, of course, Iran.
This means that every country in the world that imports oil—which is the vast majority of the world's nations—has to have immense quantities of dollars in reserve. These dollars of course are not hidden under the proverbial national mattress. They are invested. And because they are U.S. dollars, they are invested in U.S. Treasury bills and other interest bearing securities that can be easily converted to purchase dollar-priced commodities like oil. This is what has allowed the U.S. to run up trillions of dollars of debt: the rest of the world simply buys up that debt in the form of U.S. interest bearing securities.
This arrangement works out very well for the United States because we can wildly print money and run up gigantic amounts of debt and the rest of the world gobbles it all up.
In 2012, the United States ran a trade deficit of about $540,000,000,000 with the rest of the planet.  In other words, about half a trillion more dollars left the country than came into the country.  These dollars represent the number one "product" that the U.S. exports.  We make dollars and exchange them for the things that we need.  Major exporting countries (such as Saudi Arabia) take many of those dollars and "invest" them in our debt at ultra-low interest rates.  It is this system that makes our massively inflated standard of living possible.
When this system ends, the era of cheap imports and super low interest rates will be over and the "adjustment" to our standard of living will be excruciatingly painful.
And without a doubt, the day is rapidly approaching when the petrodollar monopoly will end.
Today, Russia is the number one exporter of oil in the world.
China is now the number one importer of oil in the world, and at this point they are actuallyimporting more oil from Saudi Arabia than the United States is.
So why should Russia, China and virtually everyone else continue to be forced to use U.S. dollars to trade oil?
That is a very good question.
In fact, China has been making a whole lot of noise recently about the fact that it is time to start becoming less dependent on the U.S. dollar.  The following comes from a recent CNBC article authored by Michael Pento...
Our addictions to debt and cheap money have finally caused our major international creditors to call for an end to dollar hegemony and to push for a "de-Americanized" world.
China, the largest U.S. creditor with $1.28 trillion in Treasury bonds, recently put out a commentary through the state-run Xinhua news agency stating that, "Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated."
For much more on all of this, please see my previous article entitled "9 Signs That China Is Making A Move Against The U.S. Dollar".
But you very rarely hear anything about this on the evening news, and most Americans do not understand these things at all.  The fact that the U.S. produces the de facto reserve currency of the planet is an absolutely massive advantage for us.  According to John Mauldin, this advantage allows us to consume far more wealth than we actually produce...
What that means in practical terms is that the United States can purchase more with its currency than it produces and sells. In theory those accounts should balance. But the world's reserve currency, for all intent and purposes, becomes a product. The world needs dollars in order to conduct its trade. Today, if someone in Peru wants to buy something from Thailand, they first convert their local currency into US dollars and then purchase the product with those dollars. Those dollars eventually wind up at the Central Bank of Thailand, which includes them in its reserve balance. When someone in Thailand wants to purchase an imported product, their bank accesses those dollars, which may go anywhere in the world that will take the US dollar, which is to say pretty much anywhere.
And as Mauldin went on to explain in that same article, a significant amount of the money that we ship out to the rest of the globe ends up getting reinvested in U.S. government debt...
That privilege allows US citizens to purchase goods and services at prices somewhat lower than those people in the rest of the world must pay. We can produce electronic fiat dollars, and the rest of the world accepts them because they need them to in order to trade with each other. And they do so because they trust the dollar more than they do any other currency that is readily available. You can take those dollars and come to the United States and purchase all manner of goods, including real estate and stocks. Just this week a Chinese company spent $600 million to buy a building in New York City. Such transactions happen all the time.
And there is one other item those dollars are used to pay for: US Treasury bonds. We buy oil and all manner of goods with our electronic dollars, and those dollars typically end up on the reserve balance sheets of other central banks, which buy our government bonds. It's hard to quantify the exact amount, but these transactions significantly lower the cost of borrowing for the US government. On a $16 trillion debt, every basis point (1/10 of 1%) means a saving of $16 billion annually. So 5 basis points would be $80 billion a year. There are credible estimates that the savings are well in excess of $100 billion a year. Thus, as the debt grows, the savings also grow! That also means the total debt compounds at a lower rate.
Unfortunately, this system only works if the rest of the planet has faith in it, and right now the United States is systematically destroying the faith that the rest of the world has in our financial system.
One way that this is being done is by our reckless accumulation of debt.  The U.S. national debt is now 37 times larger than it was 40 years ago, and we are on pace to accumulate more new debt under the 8 years of the Obama administration than we did under all of the other presidents in U.S. history combined.  The rest of the world is watching this and they are beginning to wonder if we are going to be able to pay them back the money that we owe them.
Quantitative easing is another factor that is severely damaging worldwide faith in the U.S. financial system.  The rest of the globe is watching as the Federal Reserve wildly prints up money and monetizes our debt.  They are beginning to wonder why they should continue to loan us gobs of money at super low interest rates when we are beginning to resemble the Weimar Republic.
The long-term damage that we are doing to the "U.S. brand" far, far outweighs any short-term benefits of quantitative easing.
And as Richard Koo has brilliantly demonstrated, quantitative easing is going to cause long-term interest rates to eventually rise much higher than they normally should have.
What all of this means is that the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve are systematically destroying the financial system that has enabled us to enjoy such a high standard of living for the past several decades.
Yes, the U.S. economy is not doing well at the moment, but we haven't seen anything yet.  When the monopoly of the petrodollar is broken, it is going to be absolutely devastating.
And as I wrote about the other day, when the next great economic crisis strikes it is going to pull back the curtain and reveal the rot and decay that have been eating away at the social fabric of America for a very long time.
Just check out what happened in Detroit recently.  The new police chief was almost carjacked while he was sitting in a clearly marked police vehicle...
Just four months on the job, Detroit’s new police chief got an early taste of the city’s hardscrabble streets.
While in his patrol car at an intersection on Jefferson two weeks ago, Police Chief James Craig was nearly carjacked, police spokeswoman Kelly Miner confirmed today.
Craig said he was in a marked police car with mounted lights when a man quickly tried to approach the side of his car. Craig, who became police chief in June, retold the story Monday during a program designed to crack down on carjackings.
Isn't that crazy?
These days, the criminals are not even afraid to go after the police while they are sitting in their own vehicles.
And this is just the beginning.  Things are going to get much, much worse than this.
So let us hope that this period of relative stability that we are enjoying right now will last for as long as possible.
The times ahead are going to be extremely challenging, and I hope that you are getting ready for them.

The Latest Partisan Educational Scandal: What Kids Are Learning in School Right Now

These are tales of contemporary America.
It began when I visited a family with children in Maryland in my son’s old school and the cute kid showed his school assignment. My friend took a photograph of it and wrote to me:
PLEASE, if you want to publicize it do so, BUT please white out the handwritten answers, because in this age of totalitarianism, they could easily go after/persecute the child and his family. The school might be able to identify the child from his handwriting.”
Such is the fear now.
The fifth grade was learning vocabulary, supposed to choose the appropriate word from a list to replace the phrases in one of the words on the list.  The subtle indoctrination is horrifying.
  1. The speaker called on us to take part in the organized refusal to attend performances of theatres that use non-union actors.
  2. Greenpeace is taking part in a series of actions to stop the killing of whales.
  3. The king of Norway presents the Nobel Peace Prize in a formal event in honor of the occasion held in Oslo.
  4. The separate companies were brought together and formed into one large corporation.
  5. The people in the courtroom eagerly awaited the decision at the end of the trial.
  6. Conditions in the jail take away the self-respect of the prisoners housed there.
  7. The immigrants were kept from going on their way by inspectors who demanded to see their papers.
  8. Students felt that their privacy was being treated in a disrespectful and improper way when their lockers were being searched in a rude manner.
  9. The separation of the different races in public schools was outlawed in 1954.
  10. During the fire drill, students moved out of the school in an orderly way.
  11. The children will remain in the state’s care and control until their parents can be located.
Just to make the point clear, I did not cherry-pick these examples. These are the first 11 which constitute the first page.
I don’t know if it is necessary to say this, but it is an extraordinary degree of politicization and it is all toward the left side.
If you need a list of why, I say this:
  1. Union activism (the teachers all belong to one; Right to Work states? Corruption, the union I was a member of betrayed the workers.)
  2. Environmentalist cause.
  3. Undeserved prize won by their leader
  4. Monopoly; evil corporations.
  5. Possibly neutral but law and order; no justice
  6. Prisoner rights
  7. Poor treatment of immigrants
  8. Poor treatment of students; the radical Weatherman of the 1960s called their school policy, “Jailbreak.”
  9. Racism! Injustice of America.
  10. But you have to obey our authority. We are only justifying rebellion when we tell you to.
  11. Remember we own you if we decide to do so.
Just to show some potential different questions:
5. Potentially dangerous problems in the jail, where violent criminals were kept, required strict conditions.
7. The inspectors did their job and protected the public by keeping immigrants from going on their way by demanding to see their papers.
8. Unfortunately, the amount of drugs and weapons in school required violating the privacy of some students because of a disrespectful and improperly behaving minority.
9. It was a proud day for America when school discrimination was ended in 1954.
Bonus story: One friend, who is a lecturer of sociology, said that the far right controls the media in America! She also teaches her students that the corporations are doing better than ever, making record profits, because they’ve downsized and are overworking everyone. [Obamacare makes it tempting to make workers part-timers so greedy companies get blamed!]
The pro-Obama people seem to think there’s an economic recovery, but then are telling me that they haven’t seen so many empty storefronts of businesses that have closed!

Ideas Have Consequences: When A Nation Rejects God

Ideas Have Consequences: When A Nation Rejects God 
by William Gray 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto… Thyself

In 1 Samuel 8, Israel makes a most wicked demand of Samuel: “Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations” (1Sam 8:5). Two verses later, Yahweh confirms that this is not a rejection of Samuel, but a rejection of God Himself as the King of Israel (1Sam 8:7; cf. 10:19). And though Samuel spends nine verses warning them that they’re replacing the Omnipotent God with a puny human (1Sam 8:10–18), they don’t back off. “No,” they shout, as defiantly as resolutely. “But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1Sam 8:19–20).
In chapter 12, Samuel demonstrates their wickedness to them by praying down a thunderstorm that destroys their wheat harvest (1Sam 12:16–18). Now, a thunderstorm at wheat harvest time in Israel is like getting six inches of snow in L.A. on the Fourth of July. And so Israel gets the picture, and they actually repent. They ask Samuel to intercede for them because they’ve acknowledged that they have “added to all our sins this evil by asking for ourselves a king” (12:19).
Yahweh’s Response: Gracious Forgiveness
Now, there can be no mistake that Israel’s demand for a king was a wicked breach of covenant loyalty to Yahweh. And the apprehension of that wickedness should lead to fearful repentance. But once it had—once Israel acknowledged her sin and called out for intercession—Yahweh’s immediate response is: “Do not fear.”
Let that land on you! He doesn’t dismiss an ounce of what they’ve done. He doesn’t sweep any of their faithlessness under the rug. In fact, He reaffirms it. The Hebrew is emphatic there: “Youindeed have committed all this evil. Yes. You’re guilty. But: do not fear.” This is astounding! A king just doesn’t treat treasonous subjects this way. Traitors who have been disloyal to the throne don’t hear, “Do not fear.” They get their heads chopped off! How can God be so gripped with righteous anger one minute, and then abound with merciful forbearance the next?  What is thebasis of this gracious forgiveness?
The Basis of His Forgiveness
Verse 22: “For Yahweh will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because Yahweh has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.”
The basis of God’s gracious forgiveness is His covenant faithfulness—His unwavering commitment to uphold the honor and glory of His own name. See, because Yahweh has bound Himself in covenant to Israel—because He has made them a people for Himself—for Him to abandon them and break that covenant with them would be to dishonor His own name, to besmirch His own reputation.
And this concept of covenant faithfulness characterizes Yahweh’s dealings with Israel throughout their history. 2 Samuel 7:23 says that God redeemed Israel for Himself as a people, and to make a name for Himself.  Psalm 106:7–8 says that He saved Israel at the Red Sea for the sake of His name, that He might make His power known. Jeremiah 13:11 says that God made Israel cling to Him so that “they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise and for glory.” The Lord had always told them, “The acts of grace which I pour out on you are not designed to make much of you, but to make much of Me. All of this is for My name’s sake.”
Beyond that, at the times in Israel’s history where they had absolutely blown it, their leaders who had remained faithful to Yahweh prayed for grace on the basis of God’s own commitment to Israel in covenant. Moses couldn’t even get down from Mount Sinai before the people had prevailed upon Aaron to make them the golden calf. God sees it and tells Moses, “Leave me alone. I’m going to destroy them, and I’ll start over with you.”
And then Moses prays on the basis of God’s covenant faithfulness. He says, “O LORD, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, ‘With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever’” (Exod 32:11–13). Do you see what Moses does? He says, “You swore, Lord! You swore by Yourself! Don’t break your covenant, and give Egypt a reason to speak evil of Your great name!” And what does God do? On the basis of His love for His own name, He relents (Exod 32:14; cf. also Deut 9:27–29Josh 7:8–9Dan 9:15–19).
Yahweh’s faithfulness to Israel is grounded in His free, sovereign pleasure to enter into covenant with them and make them a people for Himself. And even though they had sinned in this great way, their righteousness was never the basis for God’s election of that nation. And because of that, their failures would not send him away. One commentator puts it this way: “Israel was inextricably held in the iron grip of God’s love.” And even if they are disobedient and the covenant curses come upon them, “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29).
And dear friends, I hope you can see how this translates to our situation—how this is enormously relevant for you and me as New Testament believers. Just as God had entered into covenant with Israel, owing to nothing in them but based entirely on His sovereign pleasure, He has united you to His Son Jesus Christ by faith, and has grafted you in to the rich olive tree of New Covenant blessings. And so even when we sin grievously, even when we act like we haven’tbeen transferred from the dominion of darkness to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col 1:12-13), even if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself (2Tim 2:13). The great assurance for the believer in any age who is covenant-bound to Yahweh is that He pursues our benefit with the same zeal that He has for His own reputation.
Matthew Henry writes, “Had he chosen us for our good merits, we might fear He would cast us off for our bad merits; but, choosing us for His name’s sake, for His name’s sake He will not leave us.”
Our hope rests securely in God’s love for His own name.
Our Response to His Forgiveness
And so if the basis of God’s gracious forgiveness is His covenant faithfulness, what is our response to it? Samuel tells us in vv. 20–21: “…yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. You must not turn aside, for then you would go after futile things which can not profit or deliver, because they are futile.” Don’t fear. Don’t run away. Serve.Pursue Yahweh all the more.
Now, why would sinners need to be told this? Because the flesh’s natural response to being found guilty is to run from God. Our first parents taught us that, didn’t they? Adam ate the fruit, their eyes were opened, they saw they were naked, and they were ashamed so they covered up (Gen 3:7). And when Adam heard God coming, he ran and hid because he was ashamed (Gen 3:10).
And don’t we do the very same thing, friends? When we’ve blown it again, and find ourselves in that familiar place of confession, we wonder, “Why in the world would He ever take me back?” Our natural response is to turn and hide from Him in shame, to continue to wallow in the sorrow of our sin. We even ask ourselves how bad we have to feel before we can go back again! But God commands us to run to Him! And do you know why? Because the basis of your acceptance is notyour worth to Him, but His worth to Him! All your hope rests on how much the glory of His namemeans to Him!
And do you know why else? Because there’s nowhere else to go. Seriously. Where would you go? Who else can forgive your sin? Who else can profit? Who else can deliver? Who else can make you “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 1:24)? Nobody can. Just as He taught Adam and Eve by replacing their fig leaves with loincloths: Only God can provide covering for sin (cf. Gen 3:21).
Don’t Run From, Run To
And so when you’re in that familiar spot—on your face again, confessing that same sin again, after asking for another king to rule over you again—don’t fear. Don’t wallow in your guilt. Don’t try to make atonement. Yes, you have committed all this evil, but don’t respond to that sinful impulse to hide from Christ. There is no one else who can deliver you from that sin. So don’t turn aside from following Him. Pursue Him all the more. He won’t abandon you, because He’s been pleased to make you a people for Himself. And because He has given His Word, He pursues your benefit with the same allegiance that He has for His own name. Spurgeon says, “I tell you, if He were to shut you out, dear soul, whoever you may be, … [He would] alter His whole character and un-Christ Himself.” Spurgeon says, He wouldn’t be Jesus anymore! But of course our Lord is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
This is God’s covenant faithfulness. His faithfulness to Himself is the basis of His faithfulness to His people. And may that reality delightfully compel your faithfulness to Him as you walk by faith in Christ Jesus.