Saturday, September 24, 2016

Teetering on Global War in Middle East, Obama Failed Black Community, Economic Update


1edfBy Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com 
The ceasefire is basically over in the Syrian War after less than a week. The U.S. reportedly bombed a known Syrian military position five days into the cease fire and killed at least 83 Syrian soldiers and wounded more than 100.  The U.S. says it was just a “mistake,” but Russia says this “mistake” came with four U.S. warplanes and an attack that lasted 15 minutes.  Now, trust between the U.S. and Russia is gone, and diplomacy is largely off the table.  Is a wider Middle East war not too far behind?  In a word, yes.
The violence is increasing between the cops and the black community after two police shootings in Oklahoma and North Carolina. Is it really the fault of the police that the black community is in such disarray when it has been run for decades by Democrats?  There are high rates of unemployment, poverty, crime and children born out of wedlock.  Is the black leadership blaming their failed policies on the police?  It sure looks that way.  Louis Farrakhan says that President Obama has “failed the black community.”
The economy is bad and is going to get much worse according to many high powered multi-billion dollar fund managers. There is no wonder why the Fed did not raise interest rates after saying at the beginning of this year it would raise rates four times.  How many times has the Fed raised rates in 2016?  Zero, and that is why Gregory Mannarino of TradersChoice.net says the Fed not raising rates really means the “economy is in crisis.”
Join Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com as he talk about these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up.

Friday, September 23, 2016

"We Haven't Seen This Since The Great Depression" - Gallup CEO Destroys The "Recovery" Lie

By Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO at Gallup
I've been reading a lot about a "recovering" economy. It was even trumpeted on Page 1 of The New York Times and Financial Times last week.
I don't think it's true.
The percentage of Americans who say they are in the middle or upper-middle class has fallen 10 percentage points, from a 61% average between 2000 and 2008 to 51% today.

Ten percent of 250 million adults in the U.S. is 25 million people whose economic lives have crashed.
What the media is missing is that these 25 million people are invisible in the widely reported 4.9% official U.S. unemployment rate.
Let's say someone has a good middle-class job that pays $65,000 a year. That job goes away in a changing, disrupted world, and his new full-time job pays $14 per hour -- or about $28,000 per year. That devastated American remains counted as "full-time employed" because he still has full-time work -- although with drastically reduced pay and benefits. He has fallen out of the middle class and is invisible in current reporting.
More disastrous is the emotional toll on the person -- the sudden loss of household income can cause a crash of self-esteem and dignityleading to an environment of desperation that we haven't seen since the Great Depression.
Millions of Americans, even if they themselves are gainfully employed in good jobs, are just one degree away from someone who is experiencing either unemployment, underemployment or falling wages. We know them all.
There are three serious metrics that need to be turned around or we'll lose the whole middle class.
  1. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of the total U.S. adult population that has a full-time job has been hovering around 48% since 2010 -- this is the lowest full-time employment level since 1983.
  2. The number of publicly listed companies trading on U.S. exchanges has been cut almost in half in the past 20 years -- from about 7,300 to 3,700. Because firms can't grow organically -- that is, build more business from new and existing customers -- they give up and pay high prices to acquire their competitors, thus drastically shrinking the number of U.S. public companies. This seriously contributes to the massive loss of U.S. middle-class jobs.
  3. New business startups are at historical lows. Americans have stopped starting businesses. And the businesses that do start are growing at historically slow rates.
Free enterprise is in free fall -- but it is fixable. Small business can save America and restore the middle class.
Gallup finds that small businesses -- startups plus "shootups," those that grow big -- are the engine of new economic energy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 65% of all new jobs are created by small businesses, not large ones.
Here's the crisis: The deaths of small businesses recently outnumbered the births of small businesses. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the total number of business startups and business closures per year crossed for the first time in 2008. In the nearly 30 years before that, the U.S. consistently averaged a surplus of almost 120,000 more business births than deaths each year. But from 2008 to 2011, an average of 420,000 businesses were born annually, while an average of 450,000 per year were dying.
Bottom line: The two most trusted institutions in the U.S. are the military and small business. Most people know about our military's importance, but not as many appreciate the role small business plays in creating the majority of new jobs and in national security itself.
America needs small business to boom again. Small businesses are our best hope for badly needed economic growth, great jobs and ultimately accelerated human development. When we get small business to boom, we can save America, restore our middle class and once again lead the world.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trump: Trojan Horse for the Establishment or Mouth for the Common Man?


By David Haggith and originally published at thegreatrecession.info/blog
I crave the opportunity to see an antiestablishment candidate win the election. I would exult in seeing our corrupt establishment shattered. So, while I do not like Trump the man (as it would appear he has never done anything that didn’t entirely serve his own self-interest and pompous ego), I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing him upset establishment Republicans and establishment Democrats alike. (And, yes, they are “alike,” so let’s just call them “the establishment” because whether they are Republican or Democrat is not relevant; both parties exist to serve the same rich people and themselves either way.)

I’ll even acknowledge that perhaps it takes someone as brazen and blusterous as Trump in order to stand up to such a powerful assemblage of egoists as we have embedded in congress and in the president’s administration, which now rules by decree. Nearly all of them strive to make sure you have only globalist options to vote for; but their new-world odor is, I’m sure, a stench that rises all the way to heaven.

This derelict congress is a worse evil than either candidate as it continues to sink the US deeply into debt with no plan or action to right the economy since it first capsized in the waves of the Great Recession. Each party is more worried that the other party will get credit than they are concerned about saving the nation, and there is nothing less patriotic than putting your party before you country.

My desire to see the economy righted and the establishment overturned (peacefully), however, is exactly what makes me cautious about any gold-plated politician who has lived all of his life in the realm of the one percenters and who has defaulted on more grandiose debts than anyone I know. Nevertheless, while I have never liked this particular publicity whore, I’d put up with his relentless boasting and forgive his audacious past if it takes that kind of brassy, risk-taking adventurer to find someone with enough spine to stand up to the intimidations of congress. I’m willing to admit that it might take all of that, so whether or not I like him is not important unless it is leading me to see flaws that may mean Trump is not what he makes himself out to be.


Call a spade a spade even if it trumps everything


Overturning a vast global establishment is the kind of battle that will take someone with unbelievable tenacity, intelligence, and courage. The opponents are rich, and you can be sure some are willing to kill to keep the status quo that is making them immensely rich (and have killed).

Unfortunately, I have seen often in life that bellicose people are usually nowhere near as brave as they sound. People like Ike, who was strong in war and humble in attitude, are usually the ones with real courage. It is not usually the most blustery people who have the deepest strength to carry through with the right thing for the right reasons, regardless of cost to themselves.

Trump is aptly named for how often he blows his own horn in order to create his own image; but his actions show he backed out of previous presidential races when it was clear they weren’t going to be an easy win after getting lots of publicity for teasing people with the possibility that he’d run. He has also backed out of many a business deals when things got rough, rather than push forward to try to make things work.

You can do that in business through bankruptcy, but you don’t have the option when you are president and things are not going your way; and a triumphant Trump is guaranteed to have a congress that does not go his way (unless he capitulates to the Republican side … as he now appears to be doing with every decision he makes).


Is Donald Trump a Trojan Horse?


Trump looks like victory to us antiestablishment voters on the outside, but what lurks inside of this man? Is he as hollow as his mouth is big? (You could land an airliner in that thing and still have room to park the USS Nimitz.) The reservations I’m going to express about Trump in this short series this week are based solely on his political actions, not on the brassy stuff that I personally dislike. That’s why I cleared those concerns out of the way first to make it clear that I acknowledge that a huge ego could be what it takes to combat the establishment.

Much to my disappointment, Trump’s actions run completely opposite of his words every time we see him make an actual political decision. While Trump sounds so bold in his political incorrectness that I might be inclined to think as many others do that he was actually trying to throw the election by being as unlikable to the majority as he can be, I know and he knows (and you do, too) there are a lot of angry people who need someone to voice their anger.

Trump knows he can tap into a huge vault of anger; and, as a media mogul himself, he knows better than anyone how to play the media for free publicity by being outrageous — something for which he’s always had a near whacky knack. We’ve seen him do it for years, even when he was not running for office or when he ran and quit. He’s done it to keep the Trump name, as a brand, always in the media, always on the public mind, always associated with “greatness” and “wealth” because that is the kind of real estate he develops and sells. He caters to the wealthy. That’s his brand, and nothing could give it more cache than the presidency of the United States.

While those are my reservations, it’s his latest political actions that concern me. In the few places where we have seen Trump make actual political decisions so far, his choices have been 100% pro-establishment as I pointed out in a recent article titled “Whirled Politics: Would you rather be Trumped or Pillaried?” I wished very much to see something different than what I am seeing.

From Trump’s choice of a 180-proof neocon vice presidential candidate to an embedded Goldman-Sachs campaign financial manager to the Heritage Foundation’s dream team of budget advisors he assembled, Trump has selected people who wholly embody the establishment. Everything these people have ever done or said has been in support of the Wall Street one-percenters, in support of financial deregulation, and, for the most part, in support of the military-industrial complex at the cost of any debt imaginable. The team he creates says everything about where he intends to head.

To be clear, I am for a strong military and not against all wars. I believed and still do believe that going to war in Afghanistan was right and justifiable, but it was stupid later on to divert available resources from Afghanistan to Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11 nor with sponsoring terror against the US nor with developing weapons of mass destruction. We should have spent that money winning the peace in Afghanistan by building something good there in the place of what we tore down. Instead, we created a power vacuum in the now disintegrated nation or Iraq, which is rife with internal rivalries and, so, became the ideal incubator for ISIS. That is exactly the kind of result I told friends I feared when I first heard King George Bush II wanting to engage Iraq in a war.

I think neocons have taken us into ill-conceived, unjust, pre-emptive wars aimed at recreating the world in our image. We have slaughtered hundreds of thousands of unseen people who never raised a finger against us and most likely never would have in wars that have been monstrous failures. After Iraq, we backed a coup in Crimea, a civil war in Libya, and seem to be shooting ourselves in the foot in Syria because we’ve returned to the Vietnam practice of fighting wars from Washington. (That, however, is due to Obama and his ilk, not due to the neocons.) We’ve now got war everywhere.

If we think the people who remain alive in those countries are going to thank us for killing their brothers and sisters or sons and daughters or their fathers and mothers in order to save them from a single despot, we are sadly and deeply self-deluded. We may think the despot was their deepest concern; however, as with all people, it turns out family is first. We have created nations filled with people who hate us just because we think we know best what government is good for them (and, frankly, for oil and the economic gain that fighting brings us).

Politicians like Killary and Trump’s VP, Pence, backed these wars 100% and have spent a nation’s ransom trying to force change upon a world that has no intention of changing — a world that, if it did become democratic, would use its vote to declare war on us for killing their brothers and sisters. Hillary started some of these wars herself (at least, initiated our involvement in them). Pence strongly advocated for every one.

Power-drunk politicians in both parties support these missions in order to control the world and its wealth, for most of them are globalists and elitists at heart who serve Wall Street. The rest are misguided fools whose minds have been consumed by their own dogma. They vote for these wars because numerous American corporations get wealthy making equipment to replace the machinery that gets blown up; they get wealthy pumping fuel into the engines and making new tires to replace rubber that is too worn to meet the road. The more of that equipment we burn through, the more they can get the government to pay to replace it.

These politicians are owned by the corporations that make this hardware. The best of them believe that, by serving those corporations, they are serving the American economy; the worst of them are courtesans who simply love to be wined and dined and admired.

And why do I point all that out? Because these are the people Trump is assembling has his leadership team. So, if you think Trump is any threat to the establishment, you may be riding a Trojan horse. As soon as I learned that Trump chose Larry Kudlow and Steven Moore to be his Senior Economic Advisors, I feared he was selling out to the establishment in order win Republican support (and probably because Trump is a big-idea man who always looks to others to come up with the particulars that will make a big idea work, but he’s picked the wrong others).

I have a file full or articles on Kudlow that I keep in my “Idiot Box” where I store the stupid things economists and Wall Street moguls say. Larry is soon to become (again) an article of his own.

That is the team assembled inside the Trump horse. On the outside, it is all Trump, brazen and shiny and bold. On the inside, it is entirely Wall-Street warriors and neocon combatants. In the next article in this series, I’ll dig into the Kudlow-Moore tax plan which gives us the major components of Trump’s action plan in order to show how deeply establishment Trump’s plan is in its debt-based economic expansion and its retreaded, spiffed-up, establishment ideas that got us where we are today.


Be careful that you don’t believe something just because you want to believe it so badly. That is how the citizens of Troy were conquered in the Trojan war. I’d love to have an anti-establishment candidate roll in, too. Sadly, I don’t think I do. The time to hold Trump to task is now, not after the establishment makeover turns him into their Trojan Trump card, but while they are trying so that they don’t succeed.


The brazenly boisterous, blusteringly bellicose, trumpeting Trump. Who is the man behind that mighty mouth?


If there is one thing certain about Trump it is that he stirs up conversations all over the globe, but is he anything more than a grand snake-oil salesman? Has he ever stood for or served anything greater than himself? Does he exemplify integrity of leadership in the deals he makes, or does he just pursue whatever course is expedient at the time, regardless of how selfish or wrong? Does he own his failures or blame them on others? Does he play by the rules as he demands impoverished immigrants do or treat rules as inconveniences to be ignored by the wealthy when they go against his own wealth building? Does he care at all about whom he hurts or ever even stop to think about it? Is he a man who is willing to speak out against stupid political correctness, regardless of personal cost, or just an opportunist who loves to hear himself and who knows how to tap into public rage as a potent force for his own purposes? Is he force or farce? Is he more interested in building a brand or in building a nation? Here are a variety of biographical or semi-biographical books from all sides about Donald Trump, including from his own mouth:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hillary Strangelove & Obama Flashbacks

A reader sent me an image of Hillary imposed with images of Peter Sellers from the movie Mysterious Doctor Strangelove.
I bit of digging turned up other interesting images and articles.

Hillary Strangelove

strangelove
Origin is unknown, but a Boston Globe had an editorial back in 2008 with that same title: Hillary Strangelove
AMERICANS have learned to take with a grain of salt much of the rhetoric in a campaign like the current Democratic donnybrook between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Still, there are some red lines that should never be crossed. Clinton did so Tuesday morning, the day of the Pennsylvania primary, when she told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that, if she were president, she would “totally obliterate” Iran if Iran attacked Israel.

This foolish and dangerous threat was muted in domestic media coverage. But it reverberated in headlines around the world.

Responding with understatement to a question in the British House of Lords, the foreign minister responsible for Asia, Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, said of Clinton’s implication of a mushroom cloud over Iran: “While it is reasonable to warn Iran of the consequences of it continuing to develop nuclear weapons and what those real consequences bring to its security, it is probably not prudent in today’s world to threaten to obliterate any other country and in many cases civilians resident in such a country.”

A presidential candidate who lightly commits to obliterating Iran – and, presumably, all the children, parents, and grandparents in Iran – should not be answering the White House phone at any time of day or night.
President Obama has done or even said little of anything that merits praise.

But he did get one thing perfect in this 2008 flashback.

obama-on-hillary
Inquiring minds may wish to consider the September 15, 2016 Wall Street Journal Op-Ed by Peggy Noonan Travel Back to an Early Clinton Scandal.
“Voters have the impression Hillary isn’t trustworthy. She’s been reinforcing it since 1993.”

Proposals for Hillary’s Campaign Slogan Taken

How about “War you can believe in”? What about “Lies you can believe in”?
Those seeking complete honesty may wish to consider “I’ve been lying for decades but so has everyone else”.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The World Is Turning Ugly As 2016 Winds Down

By Brandon Smith and originally published at alt-market.com
I have to say that the negative reverberations in our current economic and political environment are becoming so strong that it is impossible for people to not feel at least some uneasiness in their gut. I imagine this is the same kind of sensation many felt from 1914 to 1918 during World War I and the terrible birth of communism, or perhaps in the early 1930s at the onset of the Great Depression and the rise of fascism. Some global changes are so disturbing that they send shockwaves through the collective unconscious before they ever hit the mainstream. People know that something is about to happen, even if they cannot yet clearly define it.
At the beginning of August in my article “2016 Will End With Economic Instability And A Trump Presidency” I stated that:
"I believe a softer downturn will begin before the election (the U.S. presidential election) takes place, most likely starting in September. This will give a boost to the Trump campaign, or at least, that is what the polls will likely say. I would also watch for some banking officials and media pundits to blame this downturn on Trump’s rise in the polling data. The narrative will be that just the threat of a Trump presidency is “putting the markets on edge."
Unfortunately, it would seem so far that this prediction was correct. Currently global markets have crossed into severe volatility with a vengeance after around three months of eerie calm. Why? Well, as I warned in the same article linked above as well as numerous others since the beginning of this year, the Federal Reserve is determined to continue raising interest rates into a recessionary environment as they almost always do, and equities markets addicted to cheap debt cannot tolerate even one additional rate hike from the central bank.
So far all evidence suggests that the Fed plans to raise rates again soon; I believe at the end of this month.  The only seemingly "anti-hike" voice at the Fed so far has been board member Lael Brainard, but even her statements promote a false narrative that a America is on track to "recovery".
Many normally “dovish” members of the Fed have openly suggested that now is the time to hike.  Voting members at the Fed have been vocal about a shift in policy.  The latest example being head of the Bank of Cleveland, Loretta Mester. She argues that rates have remained “too low for too long,” and rejected notions that lower rates are necessary to maintain stability.
This is the same kind of language Fed members used right before the rate hike in December 2015, the first rate hike in around a decade.  And, to add to the fervor, even JP Morgan Chase head Jamie Dimon is calling for interest rates to rise.
Get ready folks, because all the naysayers that claimed another rate hike is “impossible" are probably about to be proven wrong yet again.
My warning on an accelerating Trump campaign being blamed for weak stock markets has also come true. Already, Bloomberg is launching the meme that the idea of Hillary Clinton losing the election to Trump “because of her health” is a “landmine for vulnerable markets.”
This is some incredible spin by the elitist controlled media, but again, very predictable. The globalists are setting the stage to blame the economic collapse they created on conservative movements. Clinton’s “health issues” are being set up as the scapegoat for a Trump win, which conjures additional social unrest as many on the Left will argue (in the event of a Trump win) that Trump prevailed on a technicality. That is to say, the extreme Left will argue that Trump’s presidency is not legitimate.
Another scenario is also possible but I think less likely — the potential for Clinton to bow out of the election due to her health, causing a rationale for a postponed election. I do not think a postponed election really serves the interests of the elites, but it would certainly trigger massive chaos if it occurred. Only in the strangest of any election year in American history could this even be thought of as a legitimate danger.
Another global indicator, oil, is tumbling yet again as all the jawboning from OPEC on a “production freeze” has failed to boost crude prices for more than a week at a time. Frankly, no one is buying the hype anymore. Those who bet on the WTI index shooting past $50 to $60 a barrel this year should have been paying more attention to alternative analysts. The only other factor that has kept oil from crashing down into the $30 range has been random inventory draws. These reports, though, are little more than a stop gap. Companies have been shifting crude to different facilities in order to create the illusion of inventory draws and higher demand. But usually within a week the reports catch up to the real supply and an inventory spike sends oil crashing down again.
Add to this the latest news that Congress has passed a bill allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government for their part in the attack, and you have a recipe for a dumping of the dollar as the world’s petrocurrency. Even if Obama vetoes the bill, I believe a two-thirds majority of congress will override that veto. A catastrophe in oil markets is inevitable.
Whether in oil markets or other sectors of finance and social stability, make no mistake, catastrophe is exactly what national governments are preparing for.
This is most obvious today in the European Union. The German government in their first revision of their civil defense plan since the cold war has warned the public to prepare for an unspecified event by stockpiling at least 10 days worth of food and five days worth of water. Germany is also debating the idea of placing troops on the streets to “protect against ISIS.”
And Germany is not alone. French presidential candidate Nickolas Sarkozy has made some highly disturbing statements on security in a recent interview, outlining measures he believes will best protect the public from “militants.” From Reuters:
France needs to get tough on militants by creating special courts and detention facilities to boost security, the country’s former President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a interview published in Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.
Every Frenchman suspected of being linked to terrorism, because he regularly consults a jihadist website, or his behavior shows signs of radicalization or because is in close contact with radicalized people, must by preventively placed in a detention center,” Sarkozy said in the interview.
Sarkozy, who announced last month his candidacy for the April 2017 presidential election, has said there is no place for “legal niceties” in the fight against terrorism.
Even in the face of Islamic extremism and terrorism, the concept of “detention facilities” where people are held without charge and without trial on the mere suspicion of being a danger to society should horrify anyone with any sense. The fact of the matter is, these violations of personal freedom and of due process are NEVER used for only one group of people. Totalitarian governments ALWAYS use one group as an excuse for the police state, then over time they expand the police state outwards to oppress everyone.
This is the kind of rhetoric that liberty movement activists in the U.S. fought against in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA); but it is making a resurgence in Europe and in America as well. If you think Sarkozy is a marginal example, I recommend you re-watch this interview with Gen. Wesley Clark, who argues that “radicalized people” who are disloyal to the U.S. government should be placed in internment camps. He suggests that Britain, Germany and France need to take similar measures. It would appear that they are doing just that.
Never forget that “radicalism” is an arbitrary designation, and the label can be applied to just about anyone for any reason. A trend in police state language is growing in the mainstream in the name of fighting terrorism, but the abrupt urgency in Europe is rather odd. Only a few months ago, EU leaders were using some outrageous mental gymnastics in order to avoid confronting the notion of Islamic terrorism. Now, they are suddenly concerned? Why?
I believe Europe is about to witness a catalyst for financial crisis, and they are using terrorism as an excuse to preposition martial law resources before this event takes place. They don’t care about stopping ISIS, but they do care about locking down and controlling an angry citizenry in the wake of an economic downturn. If a few more terrorist attacks occur in the meantime, then hey, that only helps the elites in their efforts to pacify the public for the sake of “security.”
Official preparedness warnings from Germany, for example, are of little use to the public. A supply of a mere ten days of food and five days of water is useless during any sizable crisis. But, the German government can now say that they “tried to warn people.” Sarkozy’s statements are the most blatant call for a police state I have yet seen from an establishment puppet politician, and this should worry people. The fact that he is being so open and honest about the end game indicates to me that a dangerous shift is imminent.
It would appear, according to EU government behavior, that whatever is about to happen globally is going to hit hardest in Europe first and then spread to the U.S. and the rest of the world. I recommend readers watch the EU very carefully over the next few months. If you have any financial or survival preparations you have been putting off, I suggest you take care of them before the end of this year. From what I see so far, geopolitically and economically the global situation is only going to become more unstable in the near term.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Look At One Of Hillary Clinton's Early Scandals

Originally published at zerohedge.com
In recent months the mainstream media has worked itself into a frenzy trying to defend Hillary from the various scandals surrounding her campaign.  There is seemingly no end to the "plumes of smoke" emanating from the Clinton camp including questions over Benghazi, missing emails, pay-for-play at the Clinton Foundation, strange "medical episodes", etc, etc, etc.  All the while, the press simply can't bring themselves to understand why voters never quite view her as a trustworthy candidate. 
The problem, says Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, is that the Clinton's have been embroiled in so many scandals dating all the way back to the 1970's that their name has been branded into the American psyche as being synonymous with the word "scandal" itself.  While millennial voters are most familiar with the recent scandals (and we all know how well that is playing out for her, see: "Hillary's Growing "Millennial Problem" Forces A Reset"), older voters have been hearing about the Clinton escapades for over a quarter century since they first entered public life on the national level in the early 90's.  
As such, the Wall Street Journal took a walk down memory lane by recounting one of Hillary's early scandals that emerged shortly after she entered the White House and came to be known afterward as "Travelgate."  It was out of this first scandal that Hillary's critics said she first "revealed the soul of an East German border guard."
Then she—not he—messed it up. It was the first big case in which she showed poor judgment, a cool willingness to mislead, and a level of political aggression that gave even those around her pause. It was after this mess that her critics said she’d revealed the soul of an East German border guard.
It all started less than four months after the Clinton's moved to D.C. when 7 men working in the White House travel office were suddenly fired.  The same people had been running the White House travel office for 30 years and had successfully served multiple Presidents of both parties along the way.
Hillary

Needless to say, the press at the time was very surprised by the move to brutally fire non-political, career White House staff so early into Bill's term.  Under pressure to answer for the firings, the White House initially offered up multiple stories that seemed to evolve daily.  Per the Wall Street Journal:
Under criticism the White House changed its story. They said that they were just trying to cut unneeded staff and save money. Then they said they were trying to impose a competitive bidding process. They tried a new explanation—the travel office shake-up was connected to Vice President Al Gore’s National Performance Review. (Almost immediately Mr. Gore said that was not true.) The White House then said it was connected to a campaign pledge to cut the White House staff by 25%. Finally they claimed the workers hadn’t been fired at all but placed on indefinite “administrative leave.”
Sound familiar?  It's just a cough...no, it's just allergies...no, it's heat and dehydration...no, it's pneumonia...
Hillary even alleged that Bill Dale, a 30-year veteran of the travel office, was embezzling funds and called into the FBI to investigate.  While the FBI initially balked at the case due a lack of any evidence, they eventually relented and indicted Dale on embezzlement charges.  The trial lasted two weeks but it only took the jury two hours to acquit Dale of all charges.  
Then, suddenly new details emerged from the notes of a White House staffer that suggested Hillary's plan all along was to privatize the White House travel office and put it out for "competitive bid" to private companies.  And, as it turns out, Hillary had already identified the perfect winner of the "competitive" bidding process as none other than Harry Thomason, who just happened to be a long-time friend and fundraiser for the Clintons and had provided travel services for their 1992 campaign.  
It emerged in contemporaneous notes of a high White House staffer that the travel-office workers were removed because Mrs. Clinton wanted to give their jobs—their “slots,” as she put it, according to the notes of director of administration David Watkins—to political operatives who’d worked for Mr. Clinton’s campaign. And she wanted to give the travel office business itself to loyalists. There was a travel company based in Arkansas with long ties to the Clintons. There was a charter travel company founded by Harry Thomason, a longtime friend and fundraiser, which had provided services in the 1992 campaign. If the travel office were privatized and put to bid, he could get the business. 
As the scandal grew, Hillary repeatedly denied any knowledge of the the firings, claiming under oath that she had “no role in the decision to terminate the employees” and that she did not “direct that any action be taken by anyone.”  Unsurprisingly, Hillary also had a difficult time remembering the specifics of her conversations with various staffers connected to the scandal.  Perhaps she fell and bumped her head back in the early 90's as well?
Of course, after 3 years passed an investigation by the GAO found that, in fact, Hillary did play a direct role in the firing of the 7 travel office employees.  Moreover, a memo originally written by White House Chief of Staff, David Watkins, surfaced which directly connected Hillary to the event saying “there would be hell to pay” if staffers did not conform “to the first lady’s wishes.”
But, of course, by that time, the scandal had passed, the press had moved on and Hillary was able to simply dismiss any new questions as a futile effort of right-wing conspiracy nuts to raise doubts about a scandal that had been put to bed long ago.  A plan that the  Wall Street Journal dubbed the "Clinton Scandal Ritual":
"Clinton Scandal Ritual: lie, deny, revise, claim not to remember specifics, stall for time. When it passes, call the story “old news” full of questions that have already been answered. 'As I’ve repeatedly said . . .'"
Seemingly not much has changed over the past 25 years....
The amazing thing is that some people are still willing to accept people of this ilk as the leader of their country...

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Living Faith

By Ravi Zacharias and originally published at rzim.org
I have little doubt that the single greatest obstacle to the impact of the Gospel has not been its inability to provide answers, but the failure on the part of Christians to live it out. I remember well in the early days of my Christian faith talking to a close Hindu friend. He was questioning the experience of conversion as being supernatural. He absolutely insisted that conversion was nothing more than a decision to lead a more ethical life and that, in most cases, it was not any different from other ethical religions. I had heard his argument before.
But then he said something I have never forgotten: “If this conversion is truly supernatural, why is it not more evident in the lives of so many Christians I know?” His question is a troublesome one. In fact, it is so deeply disturbing a question that I think of all the challenges to belief, this is the most difficult question of all. I have never struggled with my own personal faith as far as intellectual challenges to the Gospel are concerned. But I have often had struggles of the soul in trying to figure out why the Christian faith is not more visible.
After lecturing at a major American university, I was driven to the airport by the organizer of the event. I was quite jolted by what he told me. He said, “My wife brought our neighbor last night. She is a medical doctor and had not been to anything like this before. On their way home, my wife asked her what she thought of it all.” He paused and then continued, “Do you know what she said?” Rather reluctantly, I shook my head. “She said, ‘That was a very powerful evening. The arguments were very persuasive. I wonder what he is like in his private life.'”
Because my Hindu friend had not witnessed spiritual transformation in the life of Christians, whatever answers he received were nullified. In the doctor’s case, the answers were intellectually and existentially satisfying, but she still needed to know, did they really make a difference in the life of the one proclaiming them? The Irish evangelist Gypsy Smith once said, “There are five Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, and some people will never read the first four.” In other words, the message is seen before it is heard. For both the Hindu questioner and the American doctor, the answers to their questions were not enough; they depended upon the visible transformation of the one offering them.
1 Peter 3:15 offers the defining statement: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer (apologia) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Notice that before the answer is given, the one giving the answer is called to a certain prerequisite. The lordship of Christ over the life of the apologist is foundational to all answers given. Peter, of all the disciples, knew well how to ask questions and also how fickle the human heart is. He knew the seductive power of the spectacular in momentary enthrallment. He knew what it was to betray someone and to fail. He knew what it was to try to explain the Gospel—as he did at Pentecost. Peter’s strong reminder of the heart of the apologist is the basis of all apologetic attempts.
With character in mind, there follow two immediate imperatives: the quality of life lived and the clarity of answers given. The way the Christian’s life is lived will determine the impact upon believers and skeptics alike. This is a defining line because the claim by the believer is unique. The claim is that of a “new birth” in Christ. After all, no Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim claims his or her life of devotion to be supernatural, yet they often live a more consistent life. And how often does the so-called Christian, even while teaching some of the loftiest truths one could ever teach, live a life bereft of that beauty and character? In apologetics the question is often asked, “If there is only one way, how is it that there are few in all of creation who qualify?” That question is actually more potent than the questioner realizes. It should further be raised, “Out of the few who actually qualify, why are even fewer living it out?”
When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well (John 4:1–26) she raised one question after another as if that were really her problem. It would have been very easy for the Lord to call her bluff with some castigating words. Instead, like a gentle and nimble-handed goldsmith he rubbed away the markings of sin and pain in her life until she was amazed at how much true gold he brought out in her. He gave her hope, knowing all along who she was on the inside. Jesus was clear: The value of the person is an essential part of the message.
This means the apologist’s task begins with a godly walk. One ought to take time to reflect seriously upon the question, Has God truly wrought a miracle in my life? Is my own heart proof of the supernatural intervention of God? That is the apologist’s first question.

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

(1) Excerpted from Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend (Thomas Nelson, 2007), ed. by Ravi Zacharias.