Saturday, March 09, 2013

Video: How to Become Pope

With the Cardinals meeting on Tuesday to eventually elect a new leader for the Catholic Church, there have been countless articles and videos created to explain the interesting process of how the election occurs, but the video above is definitely the easiest explained, and most informative you will come upon on this important subject.

Essentially the process is (1.) be born a man, (2.) become a Catholic, (3.) become a Bishop, (4.) become a Cardinal and (5.) receive 66% of your fellow Cardinals votes and become the new Pope.

What say you?

Searching For My Next Book to Read - Any Suggestions

To the faithful and honorable readers of Pundit Press: I appeal to your vast knowledge and literary tastes, for I am in need of your assistance...

After years of strictly political reading - histories, biographies and as much information concerning American elections as possible - I have decided to invest myself in more fictional reading: J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit and soon the entire series, Stephen Crane's Red Badge and just this past week George Orwell's 1984.

I find the new pace relaxing as I shift from a strictly educating reading list to one of more literary and idealist tones. Although many will argue 1984 could not be described as anything but a political novel, I'd beg to differ as I view it as not only a retelling of the Soviet Union's bloody rise to power but of one man's fight for survival in a world where big brother knows all. A doomed fight for survival in a world of absolute cruelty.

With that said, I am looking for more classic American literature as well as fictional ideological novels for my enjoyment and personal pursuits, so consider the comments section an open thread and give me some ideas, thoughts and suggestions on what book I should jump into next.

Bonus points if it entails a military aspect, as I fell in love with the Red Badge of Courage as I was able to connect and relate with the main character - Henry Fleming - and his struggle to find himself in the regiment to which he enlisted and belonged to.

What say you?

Video: Obama Voters at Work

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Husband of Gabby Giffords Buys AR-15

From Breitbart:
Mark E. Kelly, gun-control proponent and husband to former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, recently purchased an AR-15 (an "assault weapon," he called it)—which he now says he intended as an illustration of the need for more stringent gun laws.

Kelly reportedly bought the AR-15 and a 1911-style semi-automatic pistol at Diamondback Police Supply in Tucson, Arizona.

Various sources contacted Breitbart News once Kelly made the purchase, and after we began investigating the details surrounding the purchase, Kelly announced on his Facebook that he was not going to keep the AR-15, which he has yet to pick up from the store.
Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly
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Timberwolves Harlem Shake Video

Credit IMAO:

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Video: Canada Mexico World Baseball Classic Fight

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Live Coverage: The Papal Conclave

Wondering who the next Pope will be? Perhaps this article from CNN will fill you in a little bit:

Some info as it happens:

Live video for mobile from Ustream

For many in Italy, the choice is already clear, according to John Allen, CNN's senior Vatican analyst.

"Around the dinner tables today in Rome, Cardinal Angelo Scola has the pole position," Allen said Monday.

Scola, an Italian, is the archbishop of Milan.

Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who heads the Vatican's office of bishops, is also a likely frontrunner, said Allen. And Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, an Argentinian who works as the Vatican prefect overseeing eastern churches, is well-known for his leadership and administrative skills, Allen said.

Another top contender for the papacy could be Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, said Woodard, the managing editor of the International Journal of African Catholicism. The 64-year-old cardinal currently heads the pope's council for justice and peace and has experience working with people of different faiths, Woodard said.
Pundit Press will be doing its best to provide live coverage of the conclave as it starts and continues.

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Woman To Pay Fine After Sending Son Named 'Jihad' To School With 'I Am A Bomb' Shirt

What the hell? From the Business Insider:
If there's one person in the room who can't call himself "the bomb" without freaking people out, it's the guy named "Jihad."

In this case it was a 3-year-old boy.

Jihad showed up at his school in Sorgues, France wearing a shirt that read "je suis une bombe" [I am a bomb] according to Le Parisen.

If that weren't enough, the back of the shirt read: "Jihad né le 11 September" [Jihad was born on September 11].
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Source: Paul has Sights Set on 2016

I don't think this really comes as a surprise, but it is interesting nonetheless. From CNN:
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, is so serious about running for president, he is actively taking all the steps "that someone in his position should be making," a GOP source familiar with Paul's activities told CNN.

His activities and travel plans indicate he wants to be a serious candidate with a real path to victory, the source said. He would be running to win-not to make a statement, an approach that his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, embraced in the most recent presidential election.

The first-term senator, who dominated national headlines this week with his nearly-13 hour filibuster, is staying in touch with grassroots activists who supported him and his father. Both Pauls are known for their libertarian leanings-though the younger Paul has notably struggled to woo some of his father's most ardent supporters.

According to the GOP source, Paul has a robust email list with more than two million addresses. He's been trying to build new relationships among grassroots supporters, by signing letters and sending emails for groups.
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Upstate Counties Lead Opposition to NY SAFE Act

Ever since its hurried and likely unconstitutional passage into law, the NY SAFE Act has faced considerable opposition from supporters of the second amendment in various forms: seven thousand marched on Albany, scores of lawsuits have been filed questioning its legality, and dozens of county governments have supported anti-SAFE Act resolutions.

Green counties have passed resolutions, yellow have proposed them and white have done neither
In fact, forty of sixty-two county governments within the State of New York have passed laws opposing the SAFE Act and calling for a repeal of its most egregious parts: such as limiting magazine capacity to 7 rounds, prohibiting the ownership of "assault weapons," and even limiting how many firearms you may posses to five under vague specifics.

I happen to live in Schoharie County, one of the earliest opponents of the NY SAFE act which passed our resolution opposing Governor Cuomo's signature law by a fifteen to one margin, and there will be a protest against the law on Saturday, March 16th, 1 PM in beautiful downtown Schoharie and all who support our cause should come down in support.

The county governments of New York State have really done an incredible job opposing the SAFE act, and you can't help but give them a round of applause, as Upstate in particular has united behind our right to keep and bear arms and committed their time and efforts towards hopefully repealing this horrific abomination at some point.

What say you?

Is Daylight Savings Time Today?

Yes, it's our favorite time of the year. Tonight, set your clocks forward an hour and lose that time that you should be sleeping. So "Spring Forward," comrades!

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Finding the Right Criminal Attorney

Finding the Right Criminal Attorney

The right attorney can make all the difference if you are ever in a legal issue. You need someone that will be on your side and know the law inside and out. Someone with the experience and education that you are looking for is just what may be necessary to figure out how to best get you justice and avoid trouble where there should be none. This is especially important in today's litigious society. Consider all of your options and make sure that you are able to take care of yourself or a loved one that needs the advice. This can be one of the most important decisions of your life and you are sure to want to be prepared and have the representation that you both want and deserve. Consider these factors as you are choosing which attorney you want to stand up for you in court.

Choosing the right criminal attorney in the Bronx can be a very time consuming task. However, you want to make sure that the person or firm that you choose has the experience and the know how to get you where you need to be with the least amount of stress possible. Choose an attorney that can stand up for you and be that lawyer in case you are arrested in New York City.

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Friday, March 08, 2013

TSA Screeners Allow Agent with Fake Bomb to Pass Through Security at Newark Airport

From the New York Post:
An undercover TSA inspector with an improvised explosive device stuffed in his pants got past two security screenings at Newark Airport — including a pat-down — and was cleared to get on board a commercial flight, sources told The Post yesterday.

The breach took place Feb. 25, when the Transportation Security Administration’s special operations team — the agency’s version of internal affairs — staged a mock intrusion at the airport.

“This episode once again demonstrates how Newark Airport is the Ground Zero of TSA failures,” a source said.

The “bomber” was part of the four-person “Red Team” that posed as ticketed passengers and filed through the B1 checkpoint of Terminal B — home of American Airlines, JetBlue and Delta, sources said.

With the inert “bomb” stashed somewhere in his pants, he got through the magnetometer undetected at around 11 a.m. He was then pulled aside for a physical screening, and a TSA agent failed to discover the IED and allowed the “bomber” to go to his gate.

“He did have a simulated IED in his pants,” the source said. “They did not find it.”
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Video of WBC Brawl between Canada and Mexico

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Video of WBC Fight Between Mexico and Canada

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Rachel Maddow Openly Mocked in Interview, Claims she is "Not Biased," then Refuses to Answer Questions

Almost every day, the website Reddit has someone either on television, the radio, or garnered their fame from the internet answer questions. These are called "AMAs," or "Ask Me Anything," and are considered interviews and the people asking questions are actual users of the site.

Today, Rachel Maddow did not want to answer everything. In fact, she hardly answered any questions during her time on Reddit. Towards the end of it, Maddow refused to answer the most popular questions, answered others ridiculously, and ended up being openly mocked by users who accusingly stated that "she is in the back pocket of the Obama administration, just like MSNBC/NBC."

On Reddit, "upvotes" determine the most popular comments and questions. Maddow openly ignored the most popular ones. For example, the question "What do you think is the single worst offense being committed by the Obama administration right now?" was utterly disregarded.
Maddow confirming on Twitter that it is indeed her answering questions
This more specific question was also ignored:
Rand Paul's anti-drone filibuster lasted 13 hours, but no Democrat besides Ron Wyden showed floor support. Individuals at your network have even been openly hostile to Paul.

John Brennan has been on the wrong side of numerous controversial post-9/11 issues. Four years ago, his advocacy of torture forced him to withdraw for top CIA spot. Yesterday all but two Democrats voted to confirm him.

So after ceding authority on drones to Repulicans (sic), Democrats gave near unanimous approval to a scoundrel.
  • Hasn't this been a pathetic showing for "progressive" Democrats?
  • Are power and party so much more important than (alleged) principles?
  • Was Democrats' anti-war talk of the 00's just opportunistic sloganeering for electoral success? If not, what happened to them?
In response to Maddow's refusal to answer questions, users openly griped that she carried out the "Worst AMA ever...."

Another user derided: "have you read the rest of her answers/non-answers? no possible chance she bites on this one. If she does she'll just talk around the issue and use empty rhetoric."

In response to her refusal to answer another question, a user remarked:
It's never going to happen. If you have ever seen her on Bill Maher, a liberal show, she can't handle any negatives about the Obama administration nor can she have a constructive conversation. If fact, one Bill Maher show she claimed that the other panelists were attacking her when all they were doing was pushing her for answer she didn't want to give. She is in the back pocket of the Obama administration, just like MSNBC/NBC.
Maddow was also mocked for the rare answers she did give. Asked the question, "Do you think you're biased?" Maddow responded:
Not more than the average bear. I try to be open about where I'm coming from and what I believe, while also being trustworthy about the facts of what's going on in the world.
Users again mocked Maddow for her obvious lie. User totentanz777 quipped, "Today I Learned (TIL) Rachel Maddow is a bear." Another jeered, "Wake up."

In all, after over an hour of questions, Maddow answered just over a dozen. Her non-answers however, at least to Redditors, spoke much more loudly.

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New York SAFE Act Makes Owning Five or More Firearms a Felony

We have to pass it to find out what's in it.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's aggressive reaction to December's Sandy Hook shootings placed New York State on the path of the strictest gun control law in the country. Froced through the Assembly and State Senate, it was packed full of goodies from mostly Downstate politicians until the final bill has so many provisions that many don't know the full extent of the consequences.

For example, we found out that New York did not exempt its own police from the ten-round magazine restrictions. Now we're finding out that the "common sense" restrictions of the NY SAFE Act are anything but.

Perhaps the most distressing is the fact that it purposefully restricts legal gun ownership. There is not a grandfather clause for legally purchased "assault" weapons and is totally unrealistic, especially for rural Upstate.

Upon further inspection, it appears that the law is even worse than originally thought.

Not coming from the tin-foil crowd, it appears that the law will make it illegal to own more weapons than King Andrew thinks you "need."

For example:

N.Y. PEN. LAW § 265.03

A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the second
degree when:
(1) with intent to use the same unlawfully against another, such
(a) possesses a machine-gun; or
(b) possesses a loaded firearm; or
(c) possesses a disguised gun; or
(2) such person possesses five or more firearms; or
(3) such person possesses any loaded firearm.
Such possession shall not, except as provided in subdivision one or seven of section 265.02 of
this article, constitute a violation of this subdivision if such possession takes place in such person's home or place of business.
Criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree is a class C felony.

N.Y. PEN. LAW § 265.04

A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the first
degree when such person:
(1) possesses any explosive substance with intent to use the same
unlawfully against the person or property of another; or
(2) possesses ten or more firearms.
Criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree is a class B
So possession of five or more firearms is illegal, even if you owned them before the gun law went into effect. Worried that it may be a gun grab? Well, don't sweat it, because New York State has an arbitrary definition of what a "firearm" is:
3. "Firearm" means (a) any pistol or revolver; or (b) a shotgun having one or more barrels less than eighteen inches in length; or (c) a rifle having one or more barrels less than sixteen inches in length; or (d) any weapon made from a shotgun or rifle whether by alteration, modification, or otherwise if such weapon as altered, modified, or otherwise has an overall length of less than twenty-six inches; or (e) an assault weapon.
Do you feel safer yet?

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Making a Firm Fiscal Footing

Making a Firm Fiscal Footing
March 8, 2013

Life is not always as easy as it could be. Sometimes things just get in the way and those plans that you and your loved ones made might fall by the wayside. You have to make sure that both you and your family is taken care of, no matter what the situation is. This is why it is important to consider all options and determine how best to go forward and live your life. Sometimes finding yourself in trouble fiscally is something that everyone has to go through in one part of their life or another. It is a bad feeling, but something that you can get out of and overcome. It will not be easy, and is should not be. It is a learning experience for you to make sure that the foundation for the rest of your life is set and that your family can take care of itself, no matter what the financial settings or place.

This is why you should consider what can help you out in a situation like this. There are many ways to get you back on the right footing. Of course, you can take another job to try and make up for the difference. You can check out another mortgage to see how this would affect you in the long run. You can try and sell some of the stuff around the house and get yourself some extra cash that you may need in the short term. You can cash out your retirement or insurance accounts to get that boost that you can use. You can also look into payday loans and see if they are the right fit for you. These loans can be an option if everything else is something that you may or may not to do. Consider how these loans can affect you and get you the money that you need for the short term so you can pay off those bills and make sure that your family has just what they need when they need it. These can be a great tool to make sure that you are ready and set, even if your overall financial setting appears to be difficult or even dire. Consider payday loans and all of your options and see if they are the right choices for you to make. Research can be a great tool.

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Columbus Title Loans

Need that money right now? Maybe you are in a difficult position because you just switched jobs. Maybe your next paycheck won't be coming in until next week. Maybe your bills are just becoming too much for this part of your life. With a family and all sorts of responsibilities to tend to, you want to make sure that you are prepared.

This is why  Columbus Title Loans may be exactly what you need. You can get approved quickly and receive the money that you need when you need it. You can go through the simple process and make sure that the money is there. You can apply online or talk to someone over the phone that can help you get your loan check quick-- in a day, or even in a few hours! When you are struggling and need a helping hand, consider all options and how they can help you out.

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Comet Panstarrs Information

A comet will be visible to the naked eye tonight in the Northern Hemisphere:
NASA calls such a comet a "rare delicacy" for watchers. Over the course of this month, Comet Panstarrs should be visible to those who look. But it could be tricky.

How rare are comets visible to people without telescopes or binoculars? Experts say they only appear every five or 10 years. Even at that rate, not every comet is visible to everyone on earth. That makes Panstarrs something worth taking the time to spot.
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Photo of Chavez in Coffin

Here he is being saluted by Raul Castro:

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Papal Conclave to Begin March 12th

From Hot Air:
The cardinals have just announced that the date for the start of the papal conclave will be March 12th, next Tuesday:
“The eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals has decided that the Conclave will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013.

“A “pro eligendo Romano Pontifice” Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica in the morning. In the afternoon the cardinals will enter into the Conclave.”
At least in the press office, I was literally the first person to be handed the announcement. I happened to wander over to the information table when a messenger handed me the bulletin and said something including, “Prima.” I asked a press office official to help me translate, and she informed me that I had the news first — and that I’d better do something with it, fast.
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Big East, Catholic 7 Confirm Conference Split

I'm not really sure what to make of this, but the Big East conference has split - with the current conference's seven Catholic institutions chartering the new Big East conference, which will keep the legendary name and Madison Square Garden, and is likely to expand with the addition of other Catholic schools, while the other members seek new homes in the ACC, Big Ten and a new conference altogether.

Now, granted I'm no expert in why athletic conferences split in the NCAA, but I find it curious that this split is being led by the Catholic institutions apart of the old Big East conference and that their potential new membership is also primarily Catholic, although three secular universities are also set to re-join the realigned Big East as well.

Maybe I'm reading into this too much, but I really don't understand the breakdown of this split between the secular and religious universities. Why are the Catholic institutions leading this? And why are the secularists by and large just forming a new conference?

So... What say you about this interesting realignment of the legendary Big East conference and the unusual nature of the religious vs. secular split involved?

BB Guns, Cupcakes, and Toy Soldiers Oh My

A mom in Michigan made 30 chocolate cupcakes for her son Hunter's class birthday party.  She brought the cupcakes to the office so that they could bring them to the classroom, which they accepted.  Within 15 minutes of dropping off her cupcakes, she received a phone call about said cupcakes to tell her that they couldn't be served.

You see Hunter helped his mom decorate the cupcakes and used toy soldiers to do so.  These soldiers were replicas of those who served in WWII.  The school, in their infinite wisdom, decided that those soldiers were upsetting to the children and "insensitive".    The school has doubled down and defended this action:
“These are toys that were commonplace in the past,” she wrote. “However, some parents prohibit all guns as toys. In light of that difference, the school offered to replace the soldiers with another item and the soldiers were returned home with the student.”
“Living in a democratic society entails respect for opposing opinions,” she stated. “In the climate of recent events in schools we walk a delicate balance in teaching non-violence in our buildings and trying to ensure a safe, peaceful atmosphere.”
First, one would think that someone with the education she must have she would understand that do not live in a democracy, we live in a Constitutional Republic.  Look, I understand that there are many parents who do not give their children guns to play with, I respect that.  But I don't see how exposing our children to WWII soldiers is really giving them guns to play with.  These soldiers have been rightly labeled "The Greatest Generation", have we forgotten how much they sacrificed in order to keep the American way of life?  This isn't hyperbole, fascism and totalitarism was on the march and those soldiers gave their lives so it wouldn't reach our shores.

Hunter's dad has had this to say:
Fountain said it was beyond outrageous to compare American soldiers to deranged mass murderers.
“In our politically correct society they can’t separate the good from the bad,” he said. ”I’m sure hammers are allowed in schools — although a lot of people are killed by hammers.”
We have become so politically correct in our society that we can't see the forest thru the trees.
Another similar incident is making some news as well.

Do you remember the Denise's husband Martin from the Cosby Show?  His real name is Joseph C. Phillips, he is married with children and living in the Los Angeles area.  His son is 15 years old.  He used his own money to buy himself one of those air BB  guns.  He was very proud of his purchase, I am sure that he used money he earned at his dad's restaurant was part of that pride.  His son was showing a picture (yes, you read that correctly) on his phone to his friends.  A teacher happened to be walking by.  The teacher not only confiscated the phone, he also questioned the boy's mental state.  To make matters worse, his parents were not contacted by the school.  His son finally told him about the incident days after it happened.  Phillips (a Facebook friend of mine) was furious.  Part of the letter he sent to the school:
It may come as a shock to Mr. DeLarme, It may even be news to you, but my son is not the only boy in Woodland Hills with a BB gun. There are quite a few boys attending your school who not only own BB guns, but own real guns as well. (Some of them play air soft with my son!) Their fathers, mothers, and brothers also own guns and shoot regularly. Owning a gun is NOT a sign of mental illness. Owning a BB gun is NOT an indication of mental instability! Certainly, showing friends a photograph of a gun is NOT a warning sign that a student is a potential danger to his classmates! I object, in the strongest of terms, to my son being treated as a potential danger and to his being threatened with law enforcement. I further object to not being notified! If Mr. DeLarme truly believed my son presented a danger, both my wife and I should have been notified immediately!
Turns out this teacher is a strong advocate of gun control.  Shocker!!!
 "…our country's position on gun control and violence is what makes such situations probable."
It is not only acceptable, but preferable, that a teacher reach out about a student that they feel is mentally unstable and who could potentially cause harm to others.  But that doesn't mean that every 15-year-old who shoots air guns is that danger.  Plenty of children play with air guns or paint guns.  My nephew used to love to play with paint guns when he was younger.  It was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  He is all grown and has never shot anyone.  As far as I know, he doesn't even own a gun today.  But the most reprehensible part of this story is that they were threatening this child with law enforcement without contacting his parents.  This is a minor we are talking about here.  A parent has the right to know that his child is being looked at as a danger to others.

We have gone way too far.  Schools have a responsibility to protect their students to the best of their abilities.  That doesn't give them the right to treat children who are interested in WWII soldiers and BB Guns as criminals and a danger to society. 

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Hypocrisy: Senate Democrats Blast Republicans for Halligan Filibuster

Just one hour before the epic filibuster of Rand Paul, Senate Republicans unanimously filibustered the judicial nomination of former New York solicitor general Caitlin Halligan, which has caused uproar within the Senate Democrats caucus: accusing Republicans of abusing the gang of 14's 2005 framework on judicial filibusters.

The Gang of 14's agreement, which although not actual Senate policy remains the unofficial framework, was crafted after Senate Democrats filibustered several of President Bush's judicial nominees (yes, they did, and they will, once in the minority again, filibuster) and Senate Republicans responded by pushing for a nuclear option to bar judicial filibusters.

It set a broad agreement among those fourteen signatories, and has since become an unsaid rule of almost  everyone since then, that no judicial filibusters would be sought except in "extraordinary circumstances" as determined by individual conviction.

But according to Senate Republicans, namely Senator Grassley: Ms. Halligan, while serving as solicitor general, argued that "gun manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers contributed to the 'public nuisance' of illegal handguns in the state," and essentially stated that the aforementioned could be held legally liable.

And it could be argued with the second amendment's rightful meaning constantly being challenged in the courts, her position is potentially one of extraordinary circumstance to the future of American gun rights.

However, in all honestly, lets face it - both sides are hypocrites on judicial filibusters. Neither wants their ideological counterpart assuming control of one court district in this nation and both have a long and rich history of using hyperbole in their efforts to derail such nominations. When Republicans regain control of Senate leadership, the Democrats will return to their filibuster role and so on and so forth.

So could Senate Democrats stop using the bully-pulpit for judicial filibuster reform that they will only be whining is unfair when they one day return to the minority and just admit obstructionism is a feature of a minority faction in 21st century American legislative politics, and is ingrained within both parties.

What say you?

N. Korean General: Pyongyang has Nuke-Tipped ICBMs on Standby

From Yon Hap News:
A North Korean general said Thursday that the country has placed long-range missiles armed with nuclear warheads on standby, as Pyongyang said it will not bow to the United Nations resolution condemning its latest atomic weapons test.

According to the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), Colonel General Kang Pyo-yong said soldiers are already positioned to launch a war of reunification if the order is given by its leaders. The paper said the general made clear at a speech given at a rally in Pyongyang that intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and other rockets capable of attacking pre-set targets have been armed with various types of atomic warheads.
"Why won't anyone take me seriously?!"
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The Lion Sleeps Tonight

So I was getting my internet fix on the morning's news this a.m.
when I ran across the lion in California which, or who, became a
casualty in a small police action sans jungle.

Our boys in blue shot a lion?  Let's see, poaching, hunting without
a license, hunting without permission, hunting out of season, dis-
charging a firearm in a populated area, disturbing the peace, and --
death by cop.  (Where is PETA when a lion needs them?)

But, not to worry, the powers that think they be are asking all the
right questions, as in:

1.  Was the lion acting in a manner leading up to the situation
which the staff should have been aware of?

2.  Was said lion being fed properly?

3.  (And my personal favorite)  Was the lion under undue stress?

Call me crazy, but I would answer: yes, no, and hades yes!

A few facts are in order here, for Daniel Caffey's few who can
handle the truth:  A lion, living up to the resident bwana's
specific nomenclature, the king of beasts, was only acting  LIKE
A  LION.  What the foxtrot?  A lion is a lion is a  lion.

Giving the king of beasts an anthropomorphic nom de plume,
feeding him in human fashion, three squares a day, letting him
sleep at night and face human visages through iron bars by day --
does not make said lion a docile pet who lolls around the house
like a laid off couch potato.

Of course he was not being fed properly.  He is a lion.  Meat they
eat.  Fresh meat, warm meat, bloody meat.  After the chase, the
flop, the kill and the drag to the den where a good time is
enjoyed by all.  This is a lion, not a Portuguese Water Dog.

Undue stress?  Are you kidding me?  Not to be condescending here,
you know, that's where you talk down to people, undue stress?

In the jungle where lions get to be lions 24/7, in hundreds of
quadrilateral luscious miles of fresh air, fresh green, and fresh
meat, the only living things they see -- they kill and eat.  They are

As lions, they view not the world through iron bars.  Bars are
foreign to them.  Would you expect to take a lion to Downey's in
Santa Barbara and expect him to drink a gin and tonic, eye the women
and make with the one liners: so, babycakes, come here often?  What's
your sign?  Me Leo.

And yes, he was acting in a manner the staff should have been aware
of -- he was acting like a lion.  No, he was not being fed properly, until
his last attempt at a meal.  And yes, he was under mucho stress -- can
you say -- like a caged lion?

And so he bites the hand that feeds him.  What would a sane person
expect?  And as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west,
every lion will continue to act in that manner until by prophet bards
foretold, when with the ever encircling years comes round the age
of gold -- and then and only then will the lion lie down with the

And with the exact same certainity, humans sans common sense will
continue to attempt the impossible -- ascribing human characteristics
to lions.  It will not work -- ask the staff.

Comet Information 3/8/2013

A comet will be visible to the naked eye tonight in the Northern Hemisphere:

NASA calls such a comet a "rare delicacy" for watchers. Over the course of this month, Comet Panstarrs should be visible to those who look. But it could be tricky.

How rare are comets visible to people without telescopes or binoculars? Experts say they only appear every five or 10 years. Even at that rate, not every comet is visible to everyone on earth. That makes Panstarrs something worth taking the time to spot.

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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Michael Ramirez White House Tour Cartoon 3/7/2013

The always brilliant Michael Ramirez of Investors Business Daily penned this ironically critical cartoon of the White House's recent announcement to end tours of the, ahem, "people's house" due to sequestration.

White House: U.S. Can Stop a North Korean Nuke Strike

Very interesting. From the USA Today:
The White House said Thursday that the United States is fully capable of defending against a North Korean ballistic missile strike.

Earlier Thursday, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously for new sanctions against North Korea, which carried out a third nuclear test Feb. 12. Pyongyang threatened a nuclear strike against the United States.

"The United States is fully capable of defending against any North Korean ballistic missile attack," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

North Korea is prepared to "exercise the right to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors," and Washington is "set to light a fuse for a nuclear war," according to a statement from a Foreign Ministry spokesman carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

Carney said the rogue regime "will achieve nothing by threats or provocations."
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Senate Confirms Brennan CIA Nomination 63-34

The United States Senate voted today to confirm John Brennan as the nation's top intelligence chief on a 63-34 vote that marked the end of one of Washington's more interesting political stories the past couple of days, as the confirmation faced delays over lingering questions concerning Benghazi and an thirteen hour filibuster on the Senate floor by Rand Paul and others to voice concerns about the administration's drone program.

Both sides of the vote were bipartisan, as thirteen Republicans supported the Brennan nomination (Marco Rubio, who joined Paul during his filibuster yesterday, among them), and three Democrats were opposed, including both Vermont Senators and Ed Merkley of Oregon.

In the end, although I appreciate the Paul filibuster and respect the convictions that led to do it, I have no problems with the confirmation of John Brennan to lead the CIA. His years of experience within the CIA, expertise with drone strikes on enemy combatants overseas and his professional nature make him a damn decent choice to lead our intelligence apparatus.

What say you?

Iowa Sixth Graders Beg White House Not to Cancel Their Tour Due to Sequester

Something tells me that the President gets some sort of obscene pleasure from inflicting this kind of pain on children. From Politicker:
A group of sixth graders from St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Waverly, Iowa has turned to the internet to save their school trip to the White House. The children were scheduled to tour the White House on March 16, but their visit was cancelled yesterday along with all other tours of the presidential residence due to “staffing reductions” caused by the so-called “sequester” budget cuts that took effect last Friday after lawmakers failed to make a deficit reduction deal. In an effort to muster support and salvage their trip, the school posted a brief video on Facebook featuring a plea from the children.

“The White House is our house, please let us visit!” the sixth graders say in the clip.

According to Christi Line, the principal of St. Paul’s Lutheran, the trip is a “big event” for the children, who are in their final year at the private, Christian school.

“This is our first White House trip and we’d hoped to make it an annual event,” Ms. Line told Politicker in a phone call this evening. “This is a new capstone project that we have initiated this year for our sixth grade.”

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Senators Kirk and Manchin Oppose Schumer Background Check Proposal

With Senate Democrats failing in their push for reinstating the assault weapons ban last month, it was all but guaranteed Liberal Democrats, do-something Republicans, and pro-second amendment Democrats would rally behind a compromise proposal spearheaded by Senator Schumer requiring universal background checks for basically every gun sale.

A bipartisan coalition of Senators, led by Chuck Schumer and joined by fellow Democrat Joe Manchin and Republicans Tom Coburn and Mark Kirk, have been working to reach a bipartisan consensus on closing existing loopholes in the current background check process, while ensuring second amendment rights are protected.

But if yesterday's joint statement by Senators Manchin and Kirk is any indicator, that coalition might have just been busted by the current proposal being pushed by Senator Schumer, which would require universal background checks for every single gun sale in America, including private transactions that would place a burden on private sellers to verify that the buyer is not prohibited from purchasing a firearm.

The statement announced both Senators could not support the current proposal by Schumer: as it burdens law-abiding citizens and they simply want to make sure firearms do not end up in the hands of criminals, or those deemed mentally unfit, and that the bill introduced does that meet that standard, although they will be continuing to work towards an eventual commonsense compromise.

I'm beginning to believe the Senate is unlikely to move on the issue of gun control in the near future, due to the presence of pro-second amendment Senators within both parties, and the simple fact the proposals submitted by various Democrats have just gone too far towards either prohibition of certain guns and near registration of all purchases, both of which are blatantly in conflict with our second amendment right to bear arms.

What say you?

Graham, McCain Blast Paul Filibuster

I am extremely disappointed in John McCain and Lindsey Graham for this. From the Washington Times:
Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster didn’t thrill all of his colleagues.

Almost exactly 24 hours after the Kentucky freshman began his information-seeking filibuster against CIA nominee John O. Brennan, fellow Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham took to the Senate floor to denounce his demands and say he was doing a “disservice” to the debate on drones.

“I don’t think what happened yesterday was helpful to the American people,” said Mr. McCain, Republicans’ presidential nominee in 2008 — who topped Mr. Paul’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul, in that year’s primary.

And where even Democrats praised Mr. Paul for using Senate rules properly to launch a filibuster, Mr. McCain said it was an abuse of rules that could hurt the GOP in the long run.
Rand Paul
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Krauthammer: Rand Paul's Filibuster 'Stroke of Political Genius'

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North Korea: We Will Preemptively Nuke the United States

The rulers of North Korea are insane. This statement is likely a threat that was levied to prevent the UN from imposing more sanctions, but nonetheless has a destabilizing effect on the region. Imagine what would happen if Iran got a nuclear weapon.
Kim Jong-Un

From NBC:
North Korea threatened to exercise its "right to pre-emptive nuclear attack" Thursday, hours before the United Nations Security Council slapped new sanctions on Pyongyang over its latest nuclear test.

"Now that the U.S. is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war, the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will exercise the right to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country," the North's foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency. "The U.S. is massively deploying armed forces for aggression, including nuclear carrier task force and strategic bombers, enough to fight a nuclear war under the smokescreen of 'annual drills'."

A spokesman for South Korea's defense ministry told Reuters that the military was "watching the North's activities and stepping up readiness."

Later on Thursday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed sanctions aimed at North Korea's financial transactions and illicit cargo shipments, and its criminal activities such as drugs and counterfeiting.

After the vote, Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that the "entire world stands united in our commitment to the de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula and in our demand that North Korea complies with its international obligations."
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UPDATE: Filibuster Ends - Rand Paul's Epic Filibuster Eclipses Twelve Hours

UPDATE: Senator Paul's filibuster has finally concluded after twelve hours and fifty-five minutes on the Senate floor, as he discovered the limits of endless filibuster: inability to use the restroom, and after thirteen hours, calls his epic stand to end. 

Okay, I honestly cannot find another subject worth writing about right now.

Senator Rand Paul's (R-KY) now multi-senator filibuster of John Brennan's nomination to head the CIA, due to concerns over the federal government's predator drone program and its potential targeting of citizens both home and abroad, has eclipsed twelve hours on the Senate floor.

The filibuster, the first significant one-man stand since Bernie Sanders took to the floor in 2010 to denounce extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and the longest in almost two decades, started shortly before 12 eastern time and has continued unabated ever since.
Senator Rand Paul, who has now led the longest filibuster  in decades
Joined by colleagues from both sides of the aisle, Senator Paul - obviously exhausted from his day long marathon of speaking and answering questions - has become the number one news story in America. Its impossible to escape his filibuster on any news website, news channel and the hashtag #standwithrand is dominating twitter.

And good for him: he's standing against an administration that will not answer a simple question of if they would ever use a drone strike to target American citizens not on the battlefield in the Hindu Kush ranges, Pakistani villages or Yemeni cities, but on American soil with no judicial oversight or due process.

Although not the biggest fan of Senator Paul personally, he has definitely gained my respect for his twelve hour filibuster against the Obama administration's nontransparent actions, and I only hope he and those in Washington, specifically the floor of the Senate, can hold through the night and remain a beacon of light...

What say you about this incredible story?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Video of Lion Attack Coverage

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Michelle Obama, John Kerry, and White House to Honor 9/11 Supporter and Anti-Semite

Something like this should not come as a shock to anyone who has followed the Obama Administration over the last four years.

On Friday, the State Department, with special guests Michelle Obama and John Kerry, will be honoring Samira Ibrahim. Who is Samira Ibrahim? I'll let her previous statements speak for themselves.

On Israel and Jews, she enjoys quoting Adolf Hitler:
“I have discovered with the passage of days, that no act contrary to morality, no crime against society, takes place, except with the Jews having a hand in it. Hitler.”
Regarding the September 11, 2001 attacks, Ibrahim said that the United States should "burn."
It is "very sweet news" when Jews are killed
When Jewish civilians were murdered, she tweeted:
“An explosion on a bus carrying Israelis in Burgas airport in Bulgaria on the Black Sea. Today is a very sweet day with a lot of very sweet news.”
This seems like a person the Obama Administration could really look up to.

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Rand Paul Filibuster

Senator Rand Paul's ongoing filibuster of John Brennan's CIA nomination, over Paul's concerns involving the federal government's use of drone strikes, has eclipsed six hours on the Senate floor and has attracted fellow Republicans Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, along with Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden to join him in support.

Although nowhere close to deceased Senator Strom Thurmond's record-holding twenty four hour filibuster of the Civil Rights Act, Paul's marathon filibuster has attracted national attention to the use of drone warfare against United States at home and abroad.

It should be interesting to see how long Senator Paul's filibuster lasts, but regardless of length, it has definitely made a point of civil libertarians concerns with the government's ability to order drone strikes at will and even within the United States.

Stay tuned for updates on the epic filibuster unraveling on the Senate floor.

Syrian Rebels Kidnap 20 UN Peacekeepers

From the Times of Israel:
Syria rebels near the village of Jamla on the Golan Heights have captured a convoy of United Nations vehicles and kidnapped 20 Filipino UN employees, according to a video released by the rebels on Wednesday.

The kidnappers were negotiating with UN forces and demanding that the Syrian regime remove all its troops from the area adjoining the Syrian side of the border with Israel.

The video clip showed a number of gunmen standing alongside the UN vehicles, while their apparent leader announced his demands. Some of the United Nations employees can be seen inside the vehicles.

In a second video, the same rebel spokesman is seen accusing the UN, the Assad regime and Europe of “collaborating with Israel.”

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White House Cancels All Tours... Even Self-Guided Ones "Because" of Sequester

This is such an asshole move. Especially I'll be visiting Washington for the first time in over half a decade next month. From the Washington Times:
The White House announced Tuesday that it was canceling all public tours of the president’s home because of the sequester spending cuts.

“Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House Tours will be canceled effective Saturday, March 9, 2013 until further notice. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule affected tours,” the White House said in an email.

The notice comes as both the White House and Congress try to find cuts to their own budgets as part of $85 billion in cuts to the entire government.

As President Obama was returning from visiting wounded veterans at Walter Reed Medical Center, a reporter shouted a question about the decision to cancel the tours as Mr. Obama was walking from Marine One to the Oval Office.

He simply smiled and waved.
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Senator Rand Paul Filibustering Brennan Nomination

HT: USA Today

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is filibustering the administration's nomination of John Brennan, currently the chief counter-terrorism adviser to President Obama, to head the CIA over concerns over the constitutionality of drone strikes against United States citizens at home and abroad in our ongoing War on Terror.

He launched his filibuster shortly before noontime and has held the Senate floor for over two hours as of now and appears ready to hold onto the floor for several more before yielding. He says his one-man filibuster has nothing to do with politics - pointing to his votes in favor of both Kerry and Hagel - and that he wants to bring attention to a topic that deeply concerns him.

This is the first true Senate filibuster since Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and several allies filibustered the extension of the Bush tax cuts in December of 2010 which lasted more than eight hours.

Although I'm not entirely in agreement with Senator Paul, I admire his convictions that have pushed him to remain on the Senate floor, passionately expressing his beliefs, in the art of the one-man filibuster that is so rare in modern politics it instantly attracts public attention and, often, admiration.

His filibuster is being streamed live on C-SPAN2.

The Constitution's Amazing Longevity

When the Constitution was being crafted in secrecy with shuttered windows and closed doors, allowing the men convened to openly converse their bloodless coup of the current American government, the delegates were seemingly of too many viewpoints to ever reach agreement and succeed in their mission.

Whether it be large states versus their small counterparts arguing over proportional representation, or slave holding delegates pushing to provide their "peculiar institution" with legal protection, or Hamilton arguing for near monarchy to rule America - compromise seemed rather impossible and the convention's fate, doomed.

However, the perseverance of federalists to obtain a new national government, and the influence of men who believed change was needed, but safeguarded the liberties of their states and people jealously, resulted in an Constitution that although was far from Madison's original version was a masterpiece in checks and balances and limited government.

And we know this Constitution was a success by the simple fact it has stood two hundred and twenty years, through forty-three different Presidents and numerous wars - including a bloody civil war that reaped six-to-seven hundred thousand young souls from their prime over the questions of slavery and secession - and still thrives today.

But few of the delegates expected the document to last long, as many expected their constitution to maintain Republican values for their generation and would ultimately be replaced by the next, and so on and so forth. It is a opinion that Thomas Jefferson expressed often that one generation had no right to shackle the next in what they believed to be proper governance and he would undoubtedly be shocked by its near originality so many generations removed from the convention.

Yes, there have been amendments to alter and advance the nation's constitution, but by and large it remains the same functioning framework as two hundred and twenty years ago, and against the current of most legal structures concerning national governance, has only strengthened the bond of the nation with its unexpected longevity and overwhelming support from a populace of almost annoyingly varied ideology and interest.

So, although random... I wish our representatives today, from both parties, would stop and consider what it took for the assembled delegates, owing allegiance to twelve different and rather diverse colonies, to form a government of the people, by the people and for the people that has survived longer than most monarchs or empires, and how we can use that eighteenth statecraft today to resolve our, in comparison, meager political issues.

What say you?

The Transparent Imposter

Ya know, back a long time ago, when I watched the inaugural
dance between whatshisname and whatshername, and the
other whatshername was singing "At Last," like many other
Americans, I said to the television, "Well, lets give him a
chance.  Maybe as a newcomer he will make a difference in
sleazy, dirty, lying, whoring, power hungry, money hungry
politics."  Yeah, I said that to the TV.

And as it turns out, whatishisnameagain did make a difference.

He made politics more sleazy, more dirty, mucho mas more
lying, gives a new name to whoring, and the greatest trans-
parence is in the power hungry, money hungry thing.

Has to, he does, win the Ignobel Peaceless Prize for money-
grubbing, and lying, and stealing, you know, the SIX TRILLION
dollar thing.

But, he is the boss of the circuit now.  When he gets booted out
in 2016, he will go down as the highest paid, bar none, public
speaker in history, surpassing the feats of the great P.T. Barnum.
His fee will probably double or triple Clintons', both of them,
Bushs', both of them and the Stooges, all three of them.

Alas and alack, I hasten to add, he will be the highest paid
public speaker in history who actually will have nothing to say.

Seriously.... what will he say?  I came, I played ball, did golf,
ate good, partied like Clooney, with Clooney, became real big
in politics, went in broke, came out rich -- who wants to pay
to hear that?

Funny thing though, seriously, the infamous imposter is bringing
out the best in the opposition; not the opposing party, they are on
the nitwit tour themselves.  I mean the real opposition -- the people
in American who do the work, the thinking, and to quote George
Bailey, the people who do the living and the dying in this community.

Give a listen, or a read, to what Roger Ailes said, on or about the same
day when all of us on the internet were told not to say anything bad
about his "excellency."

Roger Ailes, in Vanity Fair said this, and it is as succinct, as to the
point, and dead on accurate as anything in print about his highness:

And I quote:  "Obama's the one who never worked a day in his life.
He never earned a penny that wasn't public money.  How many
fundraisers does he attend every week?  How often does he play
basketball and golf?  I wish I had that kind of time.  He's lazy,
but the media won't report that."  End of quote.

There you have it.  The worst president in history actually brings
out the best in those who actually do the work in this country.

Say, why not get rid of Joe Biden and have Reggie Love become
the Vice Pres?   Just sayin'.

Hugo Chavez - A Champion of the Poor?

This from 2010:

Analyst estimates Chávez’s family fortune at around $2 billion

Criminal Justice International Associates (CJIA), a risk assessment and global analysis firm in Miami, estimated in a recent report that the Chávez Frías family in Venezuela has “amassed a fortune” similar to that of the Castro brothers in Cuba.
According to Jerry Brewer, president of CJIA, “the personal fortune of the Castro brothers has been estimated at a combined value of around $2 billion.”
“The Chávez Frías family in Venezuela has amassed a fortune of a similar scale since the arrival of Chávez to the presidency in 1999,” said Brewer in an analysis published in their website.
Brewer said that Cuba is receiving about $5 billion per year from the Venezuelan treasury and in oil shipments and other resources.
We believe that organized bolivarian criminal groups within the Chávez administration have subtracted around $100 billion out of the nearly $1 trillion in oil income made by PDVSA since 1999.”
From ABC News Jan 2013:
1. Venezuela has gone from being dependent on oil to being extremely dependent on oil.
Former minister Gerver Torres points out that in 1998 oil represented 77 percent of Venezuela's exports but by 2011 oil represented 96 percent of exports. That means today only around 4 percent of the goods that Venezuela exports are non-oil products! The Venezuelan economy relies almost exclusively on the price of oil and the ability of the government to spend oil revenues. This will take years to reverse because of item two below.
2. The Chavez government has crippled private businesses and national industry through expropriations and nationalizations.
The Chavez government has expropriated or nationalized numerous companies (no one seems to be able to count them all) involved in various sectors including aluminum, cement, gold, iron, steel, farming, transportation, electricity, food production, banking, paper and the media. The number of private companies in industry has dropped from 14,000 in 1998 to only 9,000 in 2011, according to Torres.
Companies need investment to grow and hire new workers. One of the biggest failures of the Chavez government has been to drive away both domestic and foreign investors. In 2011 Latin America enjoyed a record of more than $150 billion in foreign investment with Brazil receiving $67 billion. Venezuela's neighbor Colombia received $13 billion while Venezuela received only $5 billion. To avoid expropriation and find investment a number of Venezuelan companies have moved to Colombia, Panama and the United States.
3. The Venezuelan currency is a mess.
The new currency, the Bolivar fuerte, is anything but strong. The Bolivar fuerte has lost nearly two-thirds of its value since it was launched in 2008. Many analysts expect Venezuela will have to go through a painful devaluation sometime this year or next. This will further reduce the value of wages and sharply increase the costs of imports of basic staple goods. Life will get tougher for most Venezuelans but Chavez probably won't be around to see it.
4. Prices in Venezuela have gone up by 23 percent a year for more than ten years.
Inflation in Venezuela has averaged 23 percent during 1999-2011 compared to a Latin American average of 4.6 percent. Imagine what life would be like if the price of groceries went up 23 percent every year. This craziness combined with stringent price controls has completely distorted the economy, creating black markets and shortages. In 2012 Venezuela will again have one of the highest inflation rates in the world.
5.Under Chavez Venezuela has become one of the most violent countries on the planet.
The murder rate per 100,000 citizens has risen from 25 in 1999 to 45.1 in 2011. This is not an economic stat per se but violence has an economic impact. It is more challenging and dangerous than ever to do business and go to work in Venezuela. When you consider these points, it's hard to call the economic legacy of Chavez and his band of 21st Century Socialists a good one.
From Amnesty International:

Police and security forces

Public security remained a major concern and, according to latest figures released by the Institute of National Statistics, more than 21,000 people were killed nationwide in 2009. There were allegations of police involvement in killings and enforced disappearances.
  • In September, Wilmer José Flores Barrios became the sixth member of the Barrios family to be killed in circumstances suggesting the involvement of members of the Aragua State Police. At the end of the year, Venezuela had not adopted measures to protect the family, nor had it ordered an effective investigation into these crimes.
  • In March, eyewitnesses saw three labourers – Gabriel Antonio Ramírez, José Leonardo Ramírez and Nedfrank Xavier Cona – being bundled into an unmarked car by a group of between 17 and 20 police officers in the city of Barcelona, Anzoátegui State. At the end of the year, the whereabouts of the men remained unknown. Six police officers were under arrest at the end of 2010 in connection with the incident; a higher-ranking officer remained at liberty.

Repression of dissent

Those critical of the government were prosecuted on politically motivated charges in what appeared to be an attempt to silence them.
  • In March, Oswaldo Álvarez Paz, a member of an opposition party and ex-governor of the Zulia State; Guillermo Zuloaga, owner of TV station Globovisión; and Wilmer Azuaje, an opposition candidate for the governorship of Barinas State, were detained for several days on spurious charges. The charges remained pending at the end of the year.
  • Richard Blanco, Prefect of Caracas, was released in April, after four months in prison, but continued to face unsubstantiated charges of inciting violence and injuring a police officer during a demonstration against an education law in 2009.
  • In November, the trial began of trade unionist Rubén González, general secretary of Sintraferrominera, the union representing workers at the state-run iron mine CVG Ferrominera Orinoco in Bolivar State. He was charged with inciting a crime, curtailing people’s freedom to work, and violating a security zone following his participation in a strike in 2009. He had been in pre-trial detention for over a year and the charges against him appeared to be disproportionate.
People boast on how he was "democratically elected":
He cemented his rule by rewarding allies. Opportunists, notably senior military officers and the tycoons known as “boligarchs”, got rich manipulating government contracts. Civilian ideologues and Cuba got power and influence. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary people got jobs in a bloated bureaucracy. And millions of the poor got social services, scholarships and handouts, notably fridges, tumble dryers and washing machines. Those who voted against him were often barred from government jobs and benefits.
Other Latin American governments knew of the abuses, that elections were free though not fair, but stayed silent. Venezuela’s hollowed economy required huge imports from its neighbours to keep shelves stocked. Why risk the bonanza? Plus Chávez offered discounted oil, called time on Yankee meddling and told the IMF to stuff itself.
Venezuela hasn’t invited international observers to watch its elections since 2006, although it does allow “witnesses” to the process

Somehow this man is a hero to the left:
Hollywood liberals Sean PennMichael Moore and Oliver Stone have paid tribute to Venezuelan president Hugo Chávezwho died on 5 Marchafter a long battle with cancer, at the age of 58.
Penn, who first met Chávez in Venezuela in 2007 and attended a candlelit vigil for the stricken firebrand in Bolivia in December, bemoaned the politician's lack of credibility in North America. "Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion," he said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. "I lost a friend I was blessed to have. My thoughts are with the family of President Chávez and the people of Venezuela." Penn added: "Venezuela and its revolution will endure under the proven leadership of vice president [Nicolas] Maduro."
Oliver Stone, who celebrated Chávez's presidency and the successes of left wing politicians across South America in his 2009 documentarySouth of the Border, said the Venezuelan leader would be remembered fondly by historians as a champion of the poor. "I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people and those who struggle throughout the world for a place," he said in a statement. "Hated by the entrenched classes, Hugo Chávez will live forever in history. My friend, rest finally in a peace long earned."
Michael Moore, who met Chávez at the Venice film festival in 2009 and posted pictures of himself with the president, tweeted: "Hugo Chávez declared the oil belonged 2 the ppl. He used the oil $ 2 eliminate 75% of extreme poverty, provide free health & education 4 all. That made him dangerous. US approved of a coup to overthrow him even though he was a democratically-elected president."
If this is a hero, what does a villain look like?  Oh yeah, I forgot George W. Bush.

I would like to give Kudos to Think Progress of all sources.  They had the balls to stand up to the crazies on the left:
Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-NY) released a statement today praising former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, despite the latter’s record of harsh crackdowns on his political opponents and state-sanctioned persecution against Venezuela’s Jewish population. Serranotweeted a statement praising Chavez as an a champion of the oppressed, writing that “Hugo Chavez was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless. R.I.P. Mr. President.” Serrano’s office later released a statement expanding on the tweet:
President Chavez was a controversial leader. But at his core he was a man who came from very little and used his unique talents and gifts to try to lift up the people and the communities that reflected his impoverished roots. He believed that the government of the country should be used to empower the masses, not the few. He understood democracy and basic human desires for a dignified life. His legacy in his nation, and in the hemisphere, will be assured as the people he inspired continue to strive for a better life for the poor and downtrodden.
While even Chavez’s critics admit that he did attempt to address the plight of Venezuela’s poorest, the decline in economic inequality in Venezuela reflected a broader egalitarian trend in Latin America, and can’t be fully credited to Chavez’s policies. However, Chavez’ policies harmed Venezuela’s poorest in other ways: the value of the Venezuelan currency dropped while prices soared, making it harder for people to buy basic necessities, and crime skyrocketed.
Moreover, Chavez hurt the vulnerable in Venezuela in other ways. Chavez’s state-run media hounded Venezuela’s small, beleaguered Jewish population — he himself once said “Don’t let yourselves be poisoned by those wandering Jews.” A study released by the Kantor Center at Tel Aviv University found that Chavez’s rule “witnessed a rise in antisemitic manifestations, including vandalism, media attacks, caricatures, and physical attacks on Venezuelan Jewish institutions.” Indeed, roughly half of Venezuelan Jews fled the country because of “the social and economic chaos that the president has unleashed and from the uncomfortable feeling that they were being specifically targeted by the regime.”
Chavez also attacked Venezuela’s democratic political system. Human Rights Watch reported in 2012 that “the accumulation of power in the executive and the erosion of human rights protections have allowed the Chávez government to intimidate, censor, and prosecute critics and perceived opponents in a wide range of cases involving the judiciary, the media, and civil society.” Contra Serrano, Venezuela’s elections were not certified as “free and fair” by international monitors of late: Chavez had not allowed international election monitors to observe Venezuelan elections since 2006.

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