Political Parties

The Economist Magazine Investigates Preppers

“Some Americans find survivalists sinister. After Adam Lanza shot 26 people in a school in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, the media made much of the fact that his mother was a gun-stockpiling prepper. Yet there is no evidence that preppers in general are more dangerous than their compatriots. On the contrary, when natural disasters strike, it is useful to have neighbours who know how to stormproof a house and have bandages to spare.”

-The Economist website, December 17, 2014

Late this morning, I stumbled on an article on The Economist website about preppers. I just finished reading “Preparing for the apocalypse: I will survive,” and thought I’d blog about it a little. The author (couldn’t find a name attached with the piece for some reason) did a pretty good job writing about preppers/survivalists, not falling victim to the usual stereotypes/generalizing echoed in a comment on the article. From “walrusandthecarpenter”:

Preppers are people who are unhappy with their life and can’t wait for the end of the world to come and the tables to turn. They are excited for it to happen.

Me? I like my smartphone. I have a first aid kit though.

“I like my smartphone.” What a goof.

Like I was saying, the author did a pretty good job (points deducted for trying to link those Westboro folks to preppers) with the material. I found what James Wesley, Rawles of SurvivalBlog.com-fame had to say particularly interesting. From the article:

So how might TEOTWAWKI come about? The biggest threat, says Mr Rawles, is a huge solar flare. The last big one, in 1859, known as the “Carrington Event”, disabled telegraph lines. A similar disaster today would “fry the circuitry” of electronic devices and take out the power grid “from end to end”. It would take years to reactivate. Perhaps 60% of the American population could die, predicts Mr Rawles…

I’ve seen some put that die-off figure at 90 percent.

There was also this about present-day preppers:

Survivalists vary politically—just as they are dispersed geographically—and their views colour their apocalyptic imaginings. Many are conservatives, worried about crime, terrorism and hyperinflation and sure that the state cannot be relied upon to protect ordinary citizens. But a fair number are environmentalists, convinced that the planet can only take so much abuse before it becomes uninhabitable. The movement is broad enough to encompass anyone who suspects that disaster is looming, for any reason. It used to be mostly “Bible-believing Christian conservatives”, says Mr Rawles, “But now we have a lot of alfalfa-munching Birkenstock-wearing leftists.” He adds: “The more the better.”

One more reason for me not to bash specific political ideologies/parties- except when they really ask for it, of course.

(Editor’s note: Any former readers of Boom2Bust.com out there remember when I used to savage “Dubya” and Hank Paulson? Thinking of that reminds me this giant economic mess belongs to both sides of the political aisle.)

Jason Charles, a New York firefighter of Doomsday Preppers-fame (blogged about here), is also featured in the piece.

You can read the well-written article in its entirety on The Economist website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Illinois Named Worst-Run State In America In 2014

“‘We don’t have the time to mess around. We are in deep, deep trouble financially,’ [Illinois Governor-elect Bruce] Rauner told a meeting of the Illinois Farm Bureau at a downtown Chicago hotel. ‘The next 24 months are going to be rough. And I apologize. I ain’t going to be Mr. Popularity for a little while. That’s OK. Four years from now I think, though, everybody will appreciate what we did.’”

-Chicago Tribune website, December 8, 2014

Talk about lists you don’t want to be on. In 2012 and 2013, Illinois was the 3rd worst-run state in the annual best- and worst-run states in America survey conducted by New York City-based financial news and opinion organization 24/7 Wall St.

So how did the “Land of Lincoln” fare in 2014? From the 24/7 Wall St. website on December 3:

How well run is your state? Assessing a state’s management quality is hardly easy. The current economic climate and standard of living in any given state are not only the results of policy choices and developments that occurred in the last few years, but can also be affected by decisions made decades ago, and by forces outside a state’s control.

Each year, 24/7 Wall St. attempts to answer this question by surveying various aspects of each state. To determine how well states are managed, we examine key financial ratios, as well as social and economic outcomes. This year, North Dakota is the best-run state in the country for the third consecutive year, while Illinois replaced California as the worst-run state

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Ouch. Worst part is, the people who brought us this mess are the same ones still in charge, more or less. It will be interesting to see how much of a difference Governor-elect Rauner- who ran on the Republican ticket- can make in the Democrat-controlled state.

24/7 Wall St. went into more detail about my home state’s latest “honor.” From the piece:

Illinois is the worst-run state in the nation. Like many other low-ranked states, more people left Illinois than moved there. Illinois lost more than 137,000 residents due to migration between the middle of 2010 and July 2013. A poor housing market may partly explain the exodus. Median home values fell 16.2% between 2009 and 2013, the second largest drop nationwide. Illinois has extremely poor finances by many measures. Just 39.3% of Illinois’ pension liabilities were funded as of 2013, worse than any other state. Further, the state’s reserves are estimated at just 0.5% of its general fund expenditure, the second lowest reserves rate nationwide. Both Moody’s and S&P gave Illinois the worst credit ratings of any state, at A3 and A- respectively. According to Moody’s, the state’s rating reflects its low fund balances and high pension obligations, as well as its “chronic use of payment deferrals to manage operating fund cash.”

As for our neighbors, Indiana is ranked 28th and Wisconsin comes in at 26th in 2014- down from 19th and 21st- respectively.

That’s quite a hit (9 places) the Hoosiers took from last year. Wonder what’s behind the drop?

Curious as to where 24/7 Wall St. ranked your state in 2014? Head on over to their website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Chicago Selected To Join 100 Resilient Cities Network

Nice to see Chicago is finally not on some list you really don’t want to be on.

In all seriousness, the following sounds promising. From the Mayor’s Press Office last Wednesday:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced the City of Chicago was selected by the Rockefeller Foundation as one of 35 global cities to join the 100 Resilient Cities Network. The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Network (100RC) includes a leading community of pioneers, innovators, and highly esteemed cities ready to build urban resilience across the globe by improving their own capacities to prepare for, withstand, and bounce back rapidly from shocks and stresses. Chicago was selected for its emergency preparedness, continuing 21st century infrastructure improvements, economic diversity, and urgency to identify, prepare for and combat threats that are most likely to challenge its resiliency. As a part of the award, the City will be granted funding for no less than two years to hire its first Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), as well as expanded resources to strategize and execute long-term goals with a holistic focus on resilience at the neighborhood level…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

If the City of Chicago gets a CRO who’s actually qualified for the position (not picked because of clout/ties to “The Machine”), and doesn’t blow the wad pursuing foolish gun “control” initiatives, they might do okay with this project.

One more thing. What’s got the Rockefeller Foundation so spooked they’re bankrolling this 100 Resilient Cities Network? I’m guessing they’ve come to realize- like I did some years ago- life’s not going to be all about rainbows and unicorns anytime soon.

You can read that entire press release on the City of Chicago website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Peter Schiff Blasts U.S. Jobs Report, Irrational Exuberance 2.0, So-Called Experts

“Bullish U.S. jobs report keeps Fed on track for mid-2015 rate hike”
-Reuters website, December 5, 2014

“U.S. Stocks Rise After Strong Jobs Report”
-The Wall Street Journal website, December 5, 2014

“Hiring surged in November as employers added 321,000 jobs, crowning 2014 as the strongest year for job growth since 1999.”
-CNN Money website, December 5, 2014

Any readers thinking Friday’s U.S. jobs report sounded too good to be true?

Euro Pacific Capital’s Peter Schiff did, and in his Friday entry on The Schiff Report Video Blog on YouTube, the “crash prophet” let the Pollyannas have it. Schiff pointed out:

If you actually look beneath the surface of this “strong” report, there are a lot of problems. First of all, again, more than half of the jobs that were created were low-paying jobs. You’re talking about secretarial, administrative assistant-type jobs, waiters, bartenders, retail. Also jobs in leisure and hospitality, temporary services- that’s more than half the jobs. Also, there’s another report that comes out which is the household survey. This is the establishment survey- the non-farm number. But there’s a household survey, and that one was flat. Basically, no gain in jobs in November. And in fact, they reported about 150,000 decrease in full-time jobs. So it was made up by an increase in part-time jobs. And in fact, in that household survey, you find that the big job losers went to younger people. People 16 to 24- there was a big drop in their numbers in the workforce. But you had a record number of people 55 and older entering the workforce. Labor force participation, which is still 62.8, which matches the lowest level since 1978. The labor force participation for older people, who should be retiring- that’s going up. But the labor force participation for younger people, who should be entering the work force- that’s going down

Why can’t we produce full-time jobs for these millions of Americans who are working part time but who want full-time jobs? And the answer is- because we’re not creating full-time jobs. We’re really creating part-time jobs. And I believe a lot of these jobs have to do with an anticipation of a robust holiday shopping season and a robust 2015. Because everybody is convinced that we have this recovery that businesses are gearing up to prepare for. And I think they’re gearing up for a huge disappointment. I’ve described the recovery as a mirage, and the closer we get to when it’s supposed to start, I think the more people will see it for what it is. It is a fantasy, it is not a reality…

This is supposedly the best year for job creation since 1999- this is what the media is saying. Well if this is really the case, if this is the best year for job creation, why is the shopping season so poor? And why did the Republicans just win in a landslide in these mid-term elections that just happened, when the voters said the reason they were voting Republican, is because they were frustrated by a weak economy. They felt the economy was going in the wrong direction. Well everybody is so excited about this “miracle”- this economic miracle of a recovery- except for the people who are supposedly living in the miracle. Because to them, it’s not a dream, it is a nightmare.

Noting that Friday was 18 years to the day that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan gave his “irrational exuberance” speech, Schiff warned about the new “irrational exuberance” in America that easily surpasses 1996’s version. From the vlog:

If we’re going to talk about irrational exuberance in the markets, eighteen years ago is nothing compared to the irrational exuberance that we have today. Today, we are off the charts irrational and exuberant considering the enormity of the problem…

None of the so-called experts who are talking about the “economic miracle” and “these amazing numbers” and how “our economy is the envy of the world”- none of these guys saw the problems at the peak in 2000. They didn’t see the problems in the housing market or the coming financial crisis in 2007 and 2008. So they have a lousy track record when it comes to identifying in advance the problems that underlie the economy. And I think the problems that are underlying the economy now are bigger than ever, and the “experts” are blinder than ever.


“Does Today’s Overhyped Jobs Report Mean 1 Out of 4 Ain’t Bad?’
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Obama’s Foreign Policy In A Nutshell

I’m going to roll back things a bit today. Last night, I talked about the 1-hour Huckabee TV special “Threats To America” on FOX News. In the segment about China, KT McFarland, the FOX News National Security Analyst and host of FoxNews.com’s DEFCON 3, talked about how the Obama administration perceives our nation’s place on the world stage. McFarland told Huckabee viewers:

This administration came into office not thinking America should be the greatest power in the world. They thought if America gets taken back a peg or two, that’s going to make the world a better place. They don’t think America has necessarily been a force of good in the world. And as a result, they’re very comfortable with seeing the rising China, the rising Middle East, the rising Iran. And why? Because they think if America steps back, then somehow this global community is going to be in charge of things and we’ll all be at peace. When in fact, if it’s not America, then who is it? It’s Chinese rules. It’s Moscow rules. It’s Tehran rules. Or, even worse, it’s complete chaos.


KT McFarland on Obama’s foreign policy (starts at 2:37)
YouTube Video

I consider myself a lifelong student of U.S. foreign policy and international relations. And even have some academic and work experience in these areas as well. Having followed this administration’s dealings with the rest of the world since day one, I’d have to say McFarland- who’s held national security posts in the Nixon, Ford, Reagan administrations- seems pretty much spot-on in her assessment of Obama’s foreign policy.

“Somehow this global community is going to be in charge of things and we’ll all be at peace”

I used to think this might be possible (mostly skeptical however) back when I was a college/graduate student.

Then I wised up after observing how the real world works.

Got realpolitik? Because China, Russia, and Iran sure as hell do.

Remember what one of Barack Obama’s predecessors- John F. Kennedy- warned:

Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us.

Amen to that. I’m not saying idealism is necessarily a bad thing. Just that U.S. foreign policy makers need to start “keeping it real” again, as other nations will pursue national self-interest over the “global good” when the situation arises, the two cannot be mutually-satisfied, and the perceived benefits outweigh the costs.

When America “gets taken back a peg or two,” in many cases spurning the greater good (and inviting the ire of Uncle Sam/others) doesn’t look nearly as “expensive” as it once did.

And some still wonder why China, Russia, Iran, and others have been so active on the international stage the last couple of years…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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2015 Cook County Budget Holds Line On Taxes, Fines, And Fees- For Now

Cook County residents dodged a bullet this time around.

John Byrne and Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website Friday:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Friday won easy approval for her $4 billion 2015 budget proposal that includes no new taxes, fines or fees

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

For now. Byrne and Dardick added:

Preckwinkle earlier this year warned that the 2016 budget will be far more difficult to balance because debt payments will grow and the county will need to pay $144 million more into the county workers’ retirement system if she secures the pension fund changes she seeks from the General Assembly…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know I suspect those “new taxes, fines, or fees” are coming soon. I wrote back on May 22:

Last week, I blogged about the possibility of property and/or sales taxes going up soon in Cook County, Illinois. Dave McKinney and Brian Slodysko reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website on May 13 the hikes might occur as part of a pension “reform” bill.

Hal Dardick and Monique Garcia added on the Chicago Tribune website tonight:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle hit Springfield Thursday to try to build support for changes to the county pension plan that she says would halt its ongoing decline toward insolvency.

She met with Senate President John Cullerton House Speaker Michael Madigan, both Chicago Democrats, and also Republican legislative leaders. “I think she’s got a good chance to pass this bill,” Madigan said afterward…

Although Preckwinkle has not identified how she would pay for her plan, it calls for the county to put $144 million a year into the pension fund. If funded with property taxes, that would cost the average homeowner up to $65 more a year, starting in 2017, according to one internal county document the Tribune obtained.

Preckwinkle, however, said Wednesday that she has closed even larger budget gaps through cuts and other, smaller scale tax and fee increases without raising property taxes — while also lowering the county sales tax by a half-cent on the dollar…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Yet, McKinney and Slodysko wrote last week:

County officials do not believe they can cut enough from the budget to cover the cost, the source said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Only a matter of time now before those hikes kick in. As I also noted in that May post:

What’s that line I keep repeating on this blog?

Higher fees, fines, and taxes. Less government services.

As much as I hate saying it, that’s what Chicago and Cook County residents should be preparing themselves for down the road.

I’d say that probably applies to all Americans, come to think of it.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Byrne, John and Dardick, Hal. “Preckwinkle wins easy approval of $4 billion budget.” Chicago Tribune. 14 Nov. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-cook-county-budget-met-1115-20141114-story.html). 17 Nov. 2014.

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Quote For The Week

“Have you met Joe Biden?”

-U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC 4th District), on impeaching President Obama for issuing an Executive Order granting amnesty to illegal immigrants in the United States

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Hacker ‘Guccifer’: Chicago Targeted For Nuclear Attack In 2015

The recently-apprehended hacker known as “Guccifer” (Marcel-Lehel Lazar, an unemployed 43-year-old Romanian) is in the news today for something he told The New York Times while meeting with them. Andrew Higgins reported on the Times website yesterday:

Before agreeing to answer questions from The New York Times in prison, where he shares a cell with four others, including two convicted murderers, he read out a lengthy handwritten statement that he said explained the purpose of his hacking.

A potpourri of conspiracy theories about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the 1997 death of Princess Diana and alleged plans for a nuclear attack in Chicago in 2015, it said: “This world is run by a group of conspirators called the Council of Illuminati, very rich people, noble families, bankers and industrialists from the 19th and 20th century.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The Times article didn’t elaborate on the supposed nuclear strike. And as far as I can tell there’s been no mention of it elsewhere out in cyberspace.

Assuming “Guccifer” isn’t spinning this tale in an attempt to save his hide, some are already jumping to the conclusion that such an attack would be a “false flag” event perpetrated by this Illuminati.

But what if Mr. Lazar discovered the plans within the e-mails of those powerful individuals whose accounts he was known to hack? In other words, they had intelligence about the coming nuke attack in their possession (it’s conceivable having such power/prestige might afford them that privilege) but the event wouldn’t be of their doing.

If not them, then who?

Consider what I blogged back on June 1:

WBBM (Chicago) Political Editor Craig Dellimore recently interviewed Robert Holley, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Chicago, for the WBBM Newsradio show At Issue. From their exchange that was uploaded on the show’s web page today:

DELLIMORE: With all the headlines about street gangs, shootings, and corruption in and around Chicago, I think people can sometimes forget that terrorism is still a threat here, and is a major focus of what the FBI has to do. We haven’t had a major attack here- though there have been some plots thwarted. How real is the threat of terrorism these days?
HOLLEY: I would say, Craig, that the threat that we face now is probably more so than right after 9/11. Al-Qaeda Central has been thwarted in many of the attacks that they have been trying to conduct here in the West and against our allied partners overseas. Through Osama bin Laden being killed, and other leaders within core Al-Qaeda- the core leadership within Al-Qaeda- over the last several years, their ability to plan and conduct operations has been limited. What happened is, it is diffused to other groups. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula- we call them AQAP. Al-Qaeda in Islamic Magreb- AQIM. Al Nusra in Syria. So these are all significant threats- terrorism threats. Although they are headquartered overseas, they have an intent to strike here in the West. And they are actively plotting, recruiting, and training to conduct attacks here in the United States.
DELLIMORE: Is some of this theoretical, or do investigators uncover more concrete signs that Chicago could be a target, at least more so than we average folks might realize?
HOLLEY: I would never describe it as being theoretical. It is an actual threat. And there is no community in the United States that is immune from an attack on their communities. We saw what happened in Boston by two homegrown violent extremists. There have been multiple disruptions through different JTTF (unintelligible word) throughout the FBI in the United States over the last several years. You can look at Lubbock, Texas. Not a large metropolitan area, but had a significant attempt to conduct a terrorist attack there…

“The threat that we face now is probably more so than right after 9/11.”

Something for Chicago-area readers to chew on.

Personally, I suspect that if the bad guys got their hands on a nuke, New York City and Lower Manhattan in particular (Wall Street, One World Trade Center) would be in their crosshairs because of its economic and symbolic value. Washington, D.C., would be a close second due to its political importance.

As for Chicago? Well, some would argue Muslim extremists can’t do much more damage to the city than “The Machine” hasn’t already done.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Higgins, Andrew. “For Guccifer, Hacking Was Easy. Prison Is Hard.” The New York Times. 10 Nov. 2014. (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/world/europe/for-guccifer-hacking-was-easy-prison-is-hard-.html?_r=0). 11 Nov. 2014.

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Glenn Beck: ‘I Think We’re In The Most Dangerous Period Now Than The Republic Has Been In Since The Civil War’

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Glenn Beck, the American television/radio host and producer, political commentator, author, and entrepreneur down at his Dallas studio. I was already familiar with his work from FOX News and TheBlaze, and in-person he seemed like a pretty knowledgeable guy who’s able to grasp the big picture in terms of where our country is most likely heading. Here’s what the host of The Glenn Beck Program is saying these days about where U.S. President Barack Obama is going to try and take the country now that the midterm elections are over. To which he adds a dire warning. In an exchange with Bill O’Reilly on The O’Reilly Factor Wednesday night:

O’REILLY: So you’re sitting there with your pie up and your Fred MacMurray sweater and you’re watching the returns roll in- what are you saying to yourself? Are you cheering? Is it good for you? Do you feel vindicated? What’s the feeling?
BECK: My feeling is the President is disconnected from the American people entirely. You saw there was no humility in his press conference today. And he is also disconnected from the Democrats. Hillary Clinton has already separated herself, so now she’s going to play the moderate. He announced yesterday when the election was still going on- that’s usually when the president is quiet- he came out yesterday and said by Christmas he will have his Executive Order on illegal immigration. I think this president- and I hope this is not true- but I think this president is going to go more radical. He doesn’t have anything to lose. He is going to super-serve the uber-left. And the Republicans are not prepared for this. They’re playing politics circa 1975. And they’re not going to be prepared for it. I think we have a very bad scenario headed our way where somebody- because the Democrats won’t be blamed on it because they’ll say “We didn’t have anything to do with it” and “You know what? We’re not as extreme as he is.” And so somebody is going to be able to play the middle ground between the evil Republicans and this president. And I think it could get ugly. I think we’re in the most dangerous period now than the Republic has been in since the Civil War. From now until probably spring of 2017…


FOX News Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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So You Think Your Vote Doesn’t Matter?

A number of eligible American voters won’t be casting a ballot tomorrow because they think their vote doesn’t matter. Here’s something the National Rifle Association has been passing around in an e-mail to members that reinforces the idea that even a single vote is much more important than most people think:

In the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush defeated Al Gore by only 537 votes out of over 100 million cast.

In 2008, Minnesota Senator Al Franken defeated Norm Coleman by only 312 votes out of over 2.8 million cast.

And in a recent state legislative race in Florida, the election was decided by only 2 votes out of nearly 12,000 cast.

In the upcoming General Election, yours could be the deciding vote in any race or on any issue on the ballot…

A number of eligible voters won’t be casting ballots Tuesday because they’re skeptical of the major national political parties (“one monster with two heads”) or as a protest. I get it. But for those others that think their vote isn’t really necessary because there are lots of other people going to the polls (“how is one vote going to make a difference?”), they might want to keep the above in mind.

And that’s my public service announcement for the day…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Oak Park And Cook County Referenda For More Gun ‘Control’ In Illinois, U.S.

Here’s the latest from “ground zero” for gun “control” in the United States. Voters in Cook County and Oak Park (Cook County, Illinois) will have the opportunity to vote on the following referenda in next week’s election. For Cook County voters:

Shall the Illinois General Assembly enact the Illinois Public Safety Act (Senate Bill 3659) which would require universal background checks for firearm transfers and prohibit the sale and transfer of assault weapons, assault weapon attachments and high capacity ammunition magazines?

And for Oak Park Township voters:

Shall the Federal Government enact legislation requiring universal background checks of criminal and mental health history records for all transfers of ownership or possession of firearms, including transfers which occur at gun shows, over the internet and privately, as a step toward preventing the ownership or possession of firearms by criminals and those with serious mental illnesses, and as a step toward preventing gun trafficking altogether?

Regarding that Cook County referendum- I understand its primary purpose (along with other referenda appearing on the November 4 ballot) is to energize Democrats to vote in this mid-term election.

As for that Oak Park referendum- Your guess is as good as mine. I’m going to go with making a statement, seeing that both referenda are non-binding.

I will say this though. After the next mass shooting or terrorist attack on American soil with a significant number of casualties, expect the results of both (should voters “approve” them) to be trotted out by various politicians pushing more gun “control.”

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Chicago Faces $297 Million Budget Shortfall In 2015, $588 Million Deficit By 2017

I’ve been wanting to blog about the latest City of Chicago annual financial analysis for some time now. This afternoon I’m finally getting that chance. From Fran Spielman (who’s done a terrific job breaking those analyses down the past couple years I’ve been paying attention to them) on the Chicago Sun-Times website back in August:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ruled out a pre-election increase in property or sales taxes, but he’ll have to find another way to close a $297.3 million budget gap that assumes the Illinois General Assembly will lift the pension hammer hanging over Chicago.

State law requires the city to make a $550 million contribution to shore up police and fire pension funds that have assets to cover just 30 and 24 percent of their respective liabilities.

If Emanuel chooses to fund the payment with property taxes, the city’s levy must be raised in 2015 so bills issued the following year reflect the increase.

Instead of including that payment in the financial analysis now used as a substitute for Chicago’s preliminary budget, the mayor left it out, assuming he will get both revenue and reform before the payment is due

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

$297.3 million budget shortfall for Chicago in 2015- assuming the city gets “relief” from that State of Illinois-mandated $550 million pension fund contribution.

From what I’ve read, that looks to be a big assumption.

Still, the projected 2015 budget gap that’s being advertised by City Hall is significantly rosier than a year ago (big election coming up in February 2015 you know).

I blogged back on August 1, 2013:

The latest financial analysis is out, and the budget gap in 2014 is projected to be $339 million. Still crappy, but a lot better than what could be in store for the “Windy City” by 2015. Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

The day of financial reckoning for Chicago is not far off, with the city budget shortfall expected to near a record $1 billion in 2015 if major changes are not made to the government worker pension systems, city officials said Wednesday.

That stark assessment, contained in the annual financial analysis prepared by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s top budget officials, overshadowed the fact that the city needs to close an expected $339 million budget gap predicted for next year.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Returning to that Sun-Times piece from this August, Spielman added:

As for the more manageable, $297.3 million gap, sales and property taxes are off the table. But [Budget Director Alexandra] Holt refused to rule out other tax and fee hikes after exhausting further cost-cutting that might include layoffs

Last year’s financial analysis projected a $338.7 million shortfall that would balloon to $994.7 million in 2015 and $1.15 billion in 2016 without a painful mix of employee concessions and new revenues. This year’s version takes the 2017 shortfall down to $587.7 million, but only if the mayor’s risky assumptions are correct.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

That classic Benny Hill skit about why one shouldn’t assume things comes to mind right now.

Okay. Looking at the actual 2014 annual financial analysis on my laptop screen right now, I see that $297.3 million budget shortfall projected for Chicago in 2015, a $430.2 million gap in 2016, and that $587.7 million deficit in 2017 that Spielman mentioned.

The trend is definitely not Rahm’s and the City’s friend in this instance.

Here’s what I see going down for the “Windy City.” The Machine will mobilize as many kissing cousins (Democrats elsewhere in the state) as it can to get Mayor Emanuel his much-desired pension “reform.” Basically “kicking the can down the road.” If full reform isn’t achieved, perhaps partial “relief”?.

Of course, the City of Chicago will still have those snowballing budget shortfalls to contend with. At first, I anticipate a lot of stupid spending still going on, with only some belt-tightening and layoffs here and there (“Kiss Your Clout’s Ass” Day soon to be a much celebrated event?). And fees, fines, and taxes will be heading up (but not property and sales taxes initially). But I suspect as Chicago’s “day of reckoning” gets closer, all these measures will be intensified.

Think major cost-cutting in conjunction with a much stronger attempt to increase incoming revenues.

Like my forecast for the rest of the nation- regrettably, I see things getting a lot worse before they get better again.

You can view the entire 2014 City of Chicago Annual Financial Analysis on the City of Chicago website here (.pdf format).

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Spielman, Fran. “City budget puts off day of reckoning until after election.” Chicago Sun-Times. 1 Aug. 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/city-budget-puts-day-reckoning-until-after-election/fri-08012014-1210am). 23 Sep. 2014.

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General McInerney’s September 7 Mystery Book Revealed?

Earlier today, I wrote the following on Survival And Prosperity:

On Monday, I learned retired United States Air Force Lieutenant General and FOX News military analyst Thomas McInerney had issued a dire warning regarding terrorism directed against the United States. The former commander of the 11th Air Force appeared on the FOX News Channel last Saturday, and told viewers:

On the 7th of September, a major news network and a major publishing network are going to put out a book, and it’s going to be earth-shattering of what’s happening and what happened. And, the fact is, we may even see on 9/11/14 MH370 resurface again. We should be prepared for anything. We should go to DEFCON 1- which is our highest state of readiness- and be prepared as we lead up to 9/11.

When pressed for more details about that September 7 date, McInerney said he couldn’t elaborate. He did add:

It is going to be extremely important, and America should take notice…

While I noted that “a quick search of the Internet revealed nothing except speculation,” earlier this evening I decided to take another crack at identifying this mysterious book General McInerney said would be coming out on September 7, 2014.

I think I may have succeeded.

Sifting through coming releases on Amazon.com, I spotted this book:

The REAL Benghazi Story: What the White House and Hillary Don’t Want You to Know, by Aaron Klein.

According to its description:

Bigger than Watergate! Bigger than Iran-Contra!

Ten times bigger than both, Rep. Steve King has said.

The Benghazi scandal may have been covered up by the White House, but the truth is about to come out. “The Real Benghazi Story” is a groundbreaking investigative work that finally exposes some of the most significant issues related to the murderous September 11, 2012, attack – information with current national security implications. Investigative journalist and New York Times bestselling author Aaron Klein provides the answers many have longed for, from the secretive activities transpiring inside the doomed facility to shocking new details about the withholding of critical protection at the U.S. special mission. Learn about what really happened to Ambassador Chris Stevens that ill-fated night, the central role Hillary Clinton actually played in the scandal – and more! Also answered for the first time is why the State Department hired armed members of the al-Qaeda-linked February 17 Martyrs Brigade to protect the facility. New reasons are revealed for not sending air support or Special Forces during the assault, while extensively probing not only jihadist groups but also possible state actors behind the attack. These are just some of the new details to be revealed in this game-changing book.

Now, General McInerney said:

On the 7th of September, a major news network and a major publishing network are going to put out a book…

WND (formerly WorldNetDaily) fits the bill for that major news network/publishing network description. From WND.com:

Founded by Joseph and Elizabeth Farah in May 1997, it is now a leading Internet news site in both traffic and influence…

WND consistently ranks as the “stickiest” news site on the Internet, meaning readers spent more time on it than on any other – including giants CNN, MSNBC and ESPN.

WND often ranks at the top of the news pack in number of pageviews per user and minutes per page – two other important categories measured by Internet ratings agencies.

It is a Top 500 website, according to Alexa.com, the search and ratings agency affiliate of Amazon.com, and the No. 1 independent news site. WND currently attracts nearly 5 million unique visitors a month and more than 40 million pageviews, according to its own internal monitoring software.

WND also has a publishing arm- WND Books- that was founded in 2002 by the Farahs and has multiple New York Times best-sellers to its credit.

As to that September 7 date? Well, according to those vendors that will be selling Klein’s book, the release date of The REAL Benghazi Story isn’t until 2 days later- September 9. Now, release dates being postponed/pushed back is not unheard of. Perhaps that was the case here and McInerney hadn’t been informed about the change when he appeared on FOX News last Saturday. Or maybe he really meant the book is being released the week of September 7, seeing that the day falls on a Sunday?

I have one more reason to believe The REAL Benghazi Story is the “earth-shattering” book General McInerney was talking about.

Both are closely associated with the September 11, 2012, event in which a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked and resulted in American casualties.

Tatiana Lozano wrote on the CNSNews.com website on June 18, 2014:

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney says he believes the evidence will show that President Obama and top administration officials were guilty of a “dereliction of duty” both during and after the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya that cost the lives of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

“Verification of what the National Command Authority knew and when they knew it is extremely important as it will show, I believe, that there was dereliction of duty by the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of State, and the CIA Director,” Lt. Gen. McInerney said at a joint conference with military and legal experts held by the Heritage Foundation and the Benghazi Accountability Coalition on Monday.

“That is a very serious charge. That is a very serious charge, and it was done in violation of the law of the United States,” declared Gen. McInerney, who served as an assistant vice chief of staff in the Air Force’s Washington headquarters, and was part of a group calling for a select committee to investigate the events in Benghazi back in March…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I wonder if Klein has been able to determine “what the National Command Authority knew and when they knew it”?

And prove Thomas McInerney’s suspicions correct.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Lozano, Tatiana. “Gen. McInerney: Evidence Will Show ‘Dereliction of Duty’ in Benghazi.” CNSNews.com. 18 June 2014. (http://cnsnews.com/news/article/tatiana-lozano/gen-mcinerney-evidence-will-show-dereliction-duty-benghazi). 27 Aug. 2014.

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Proposed National ‘Enhanced’ Body Armor Ban Details

Speaking of body armor tonight, have you heard of the federal legislation that’s been proposed by a California Democratic Congressman to ban Americans not in the military or law enforcement from selling, purchasing, using, and possessing such personal protective gear? From the website of U.S. Representative Mike Honda (D-CA, 17th District):

Responsible Body Armor Possession Act Keeps Military Armor out of the Wrong Hands

Congressman Honda’s act bans the sale and possession of new enhanced body armor

Jul 31, 2014 Press Release

Washington, DC- Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA17) today introduced the Responsible Body Armor Possession Act of 2014, which allows law enforcement to respond to active shooters more effectively. It accomplishes this by prohibiting the sale, purchase, use, or possession of enhanced military-grade body armor by anyone who is not a member of law enforcement, active duty military, or other authorized users.

“There is no reason this type of armor, which is designed for warfare, should be available in our communities except for those who need it, like law enforcement,” Congressman Honda said. “There’s nothing more dangerous than what a well-armored, unstoppable active shooter can do. This bill is common-sense and long overdue.”

The U.S. News & World Report website highlighted the finer points of the proposed “enhanced” body armor ban. Steven Nelson reported August 8:

Honda’s “Responsible Body Armor Possession Act,” introduced July 31, would prohibit civilians from buying or owning armor – including vests, shields, helmets and other items – rated Type III or higher on the National Institute of Justice’s penetration resistance scale…

Weaker armor rated Type I or Type II would remain available to the public if the legislation becomes law. However, many bullet-resistant items on the market now, such as bulletproof backpacks for school children, are rated Type III and would therefore be banned.

The ban would not apply to body armor already in private hands, but Honda says law enforcement might want to encourage people to turn in the items anyhow. “If there are records of sales [law enforcement] could track those down,” he says…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I’m not so sure this bill has got much mileage.

While those who support it may think doing so will create or enhance a “tough on crime” image, constituents may instead interpret this proposed ban as what some are claiming is yet another attempt by those in Washington to reduce the American citizenry into unarmed, now unprotected sheep ready to be led to the slaughterhouse if it comes to that.

“Oh, behaaave!”

Anyway, below is a copy of the legislation:

Body Armor Ban Bill


H.R.5344, Responsible Body Armor Possession Act of 2014
Scribd File

You can track the progress of the proposed “enhanced” body armor ban legislation over on Congress.gov here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Nelson, Steven. “Congressman Guns for High-Performance Body Armor Ban.” U.S. News & World Report. 8 Aug. 2014. (http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/08/08/congressman-guns-for-high-performance-body-armor-ban). 12 Aug. 2014.

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Illinois Governor Pushes Ban On ‘Assault Weapons,’ ‘High-Capacity’ Ammo Magazines

As Democratic lawmakers can’t figure out why shootings and murders have erupted with renewed vigor in Chicago this summer (hints: bare-bones Chicago Police Department, gun-related laws already on the books but not enforced, and shooters not going to jail or for too short a stint), they’ve resorted to pushing more gun “control” laws on law-abiding constituents who have had nothing to do with the outbreak in violence. From a press release on the Illinois Government News Network website Sunday:

Governor Quinn Fights for Stronger Gun Laws Across Illinois
Congresswoman Kelly Joins Governor to Urge General Assembly to Pass Illinois Public Safety Act and Take a Stand Against the Violence

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn, joined by Congresswoman Robin Kelly, today visited the site a recent fatal shooting in Chicago’s Morgan Park neighborhood to urge legislators to stand with families and communities and take action against gun violence. The Governor pushed passage of the Illinois Public Safety Act, legislation that would ban the sale or delivery of assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines in Illinois and require background checks for the transfer of guns. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to make Illinois neighborhoods safer.

“The recent epidemic of violence in Chicago is unacceptable and we must join together to fight back,” Governor Quinn said. “Public safety is government’s foremost mission and Illinois should not wait any longer to act. There are too many victims of a war being waged on our streets, a war fueled in part by the availability of deadly, military-style assault weapons that have no purpose other than killing.

“We must work together to protect the lives of those we love and stop what’s happening in our communities. I urge the Illinois General Assembly to take a stand and pass this legislation that will save lives and protect communities.”

The Governor today was joined by Congresswoman Robin Kelly who recently released the Kelly Report on Gun Violence in America, the first-ever Congressional analysis of the nation’s gun violence epidemic that offers a blueprint for ending the crisis.

Senate Bill 3659 – the Illinois Public Safety Act – was introduced during the recent spring Legislative session by State Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) and supported by Governor Quinn. It bans the possession, delivery, sale and purchase of assault weapons, large capacity ammunition feeding devices such as magazines or clips, and .50 caliber rifles and cartridges in Illinois. Valid Firearms Owners Identification Card (FOID) holders who possess any of these devices at the time the law is enacted would be allowed to keep them, but could not transfer or sell them except to a family member. The legislation also requires background checks for the transfer of firearms except to a family member or at a gun show…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Of course, the bad guys won’t obey what’s stipulated in the Illinois Public Safety Act if it becomes law. But here’s what’s really messed-up about the bans the Democrats are pushing.

According to Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics, so-called “assault weapons” and .50 caliber rifles are rarely used in crimes- particularly murders- around the state of Illinois.

From Table 20, “Murder by State, Types of Weapons, 2012” on the FBI’s “Crime in the U.S. 2012” web page (last year I could find pertinent data available for):

Illinois (“limited supplemental homicide data were received”)
Total murders (“Total number of murders for which supplemental homicide data were received”): 509
Total firearms: 439
• Handguns: 429
• Rifles: 4
• Shotguns: 2
• Firearms (type unknown): 4

439 firearm-related murders in Illinois in 2012. With a rifle (type unknown) definitely used in only 4 of those homicides.

Ban “assault weapons” and .50 caliber rifles. Yeah, that will solve the rampant violence.

Something tells me these Democratic politicians are trying to dupe voters into thinking they can end the ongoing carnage in this election year with such legislation.

Not going to happen, as the so-called Illinois Public Safety Act doesn’t even come close to getting to the root of the problem.

See “hints” above.

You can read that entire press release on the IGNN website here. And that 2012 FBI report table here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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