Dead Cats: OCare, 09/16/13, (9)33: James Brody

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Hanson – Age of Myth; Noonan – Vlad Takes Exception

MIDDLE EAST: Times of ISR – Syrian chemicals go south; Phillips – Putin checkmates America; Rogin – Hillary finesse escape.

DOMESTIC: Weisenthal – Yellin’s case; Fox: 70 agencies with armies.

HEALTH CARE: Boyle – TEA  Conservatives push; West Chester – Defund OCare; Boyle – Martin warns of deals; Fund – Congress exempt; Hooper – GOP communication; Roy – BO betrays unions.

NSA: FISA court releases opinions; Speigel – NSA spies on international payments.

PA: Murphy – Coal country; Field – Nutter for Senate.

END NOTES: Urbanski – Miss America candidate in fatigues & tattoos.


“I believe that we are witnessing the gradual, or possibly not so gradual, decomposition of the emotional consensus that put Obama into the White House in 2008 and, not without a struggle, returned him in 2012.” Roger Kimball

Fourteen Days Till Obama Care – Ted Cruz

– 71 percent of small businesses say Obamacare will make it harder to hire workers.

– Obamacare takes roughly $1 trillion out of the private economy through 20 new or increased taxes.

– Half of small businesses say they will cut hours or replace full time workers with part time workers.

– About 17 million seniors will face higher premiums for Medicare Part D.

– Obamacare could force nearly one million Americans to work less and go on welfare.

September 16, 2013

1620: The Mayflower departed Plymouth, England, for the New World.

1893: In one of the wildest land runs in history, about 100,000 settlers poured into a section of Oklahoma called the Cherokee Strip, to claim homesteads.

1908: William Crapo “Billy” Durant founded General Motors in Flint, Michigan.

1919: Congress granted a national charter to the American Legion.

1940: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Selective Training and Service Act, the first peacetime military draft in the United States. (Bennett & Cribb, 2010)

Victor Davis Hanson, PJM: “Syria in the Age of Myth

“Myth I. Conservatives opposed to bombing Syria are isolationists.

“Hardly. It would be better to call conservative skepticism a new Jacksonianism that is not wedded to any Pavlovian support for intervention or particular political party.

“Instead, Jacksonians wish to husband U.S. power and prestige. Only that way can we ensure that we have both when existential crises loom—and many are now on the horizon. . .

“Myth II. John Kerry is far worse than Hillary Clinton at secretary of State.

“True, poor Kerry is played hourly by the Russians and Syrians. He seeks to lecture and pontificate, not persuade and inspire. He ends up doing neither well. The secretary freelances into embarrassment. At times Kerry warns of imminent bombing; at times he champions sober negotiation; at times both and again neither. He talks ponderously and long. Even the Russians cannot stand the pomposity and cry no mas.

“Kerry tries to resonate Obama’s orders. But he cannot—both because presidential directives, to the extent that there are any, are incoherent and unserious, and because, like Obama, Kerry made his career damning just the sort of unilateral preemptory military action—without allies, the UN, public support, or an authorization from Congress—that he is now demagoguing for. . .

“Myth III. America is now in decline after being humiliated in Syria.

“Syria was a diplomatic disaster and emblematic of the larger Obama foreign policy catastrophe.

But America will survive it, and it will become a textbook example of what not to do, analogous to Kennedy’s disastrous Vienna summit with Khrushchev, or the sad decision to forfeit a won Vietnam to the communists in 1974-5, or Jimmy Carter’s annus terribilis of 1980. Yet Syria is not an historic date marking America’s descent into permanent decline.

“America’s longer-term, post-Obama indicators are in our favor. We lead the world in innovation. Immigrants still seek the U.S. We will be more energy secure than at any time since the 1930s. Our deficits are sinking after sequestration, with fossil fuel expansion and cheaper energy.

Our top universities have never more dominated world-wide rankings.  Obama’s neo-socialism is waning; even he postpones elements of an unpopular Obamacare.

“Even a slashed military is still far stronger than the next dozen militaries combined. One American worker, amid economic doldrums, still produces almost three times the goods and services of three Chinese workers. And so on.

“Myth IV. Syria is another Iraq

“Obama cannot finish a speech without blaming George Bush and damning Iraq—a campaign about which he admitted in 2004 that “there’s not much of a difference between my position on Iraq and George Bush’s position at this stage.”

“Before invading Iraq, Bush spent a year winning public opinion (70% at the time of invasion), sought UN approval, won joint congressional authorization, and forged an alliance of 40 countries. . .

“Myth 5. Obama is permanently weakened by Syria and now an impotent president.

“Don’t believe that Obama is “ruined” and his administration is “shattered.” Three and a half years is a long stretch for a president, especially given the capabilities of the Obama team and an obsequious media. Every time Obama experiences another self-inflicted mess—from the Obamacare shake-down congressional spectacle to the 2010 midterm rebuke to the serial scandals— he manages to rebound. Already he is claiming his ineptitude was by design and that only his craft brought Putin to the table and averted a crisis; millions still believe such preposterous fantasies.

“He is also a genius at diverting attention through another domestic war or foreign crisis (would that our enemies abroad hear the same slurs from Obama that he reserves for his conservative opponents at home: imagine Putin as a “fat cat,” or a warning to Assad that we “punish our enemies.”)

Benghazi, the AP, the NSA and the IRS debacles are put on the back burner by Obama’s Syria follies. . .

Peggy Noonan, WSJ: “Vladimir Putin Takes Exception”

Thx Ted,

“A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an op-ed piece.

“He twisted the knife and gloated, which was an odd and self-indulgent thing to do when he was winning. Vladimir Putin, in his essay in the New York Times, may even to some degree have overplayed his hand, though that won’t matter much immediately. As a public posture, grace and patience would have brought him a lot further, impressing people and allowing them to feel some confidence in the idea that he’s seriously trying to offer an actual path out of the Syrian mess.

“But maybe he doesn’t think he has to win anyone over anymore—and maybe that’s the real news. In any case, the steely-eyed geopolitical strategist has reminded us that he’s also the media-obsessed operator who plays to his base back home by tranquilizing bears, wrestling alligators and riding horses shirtless, like Yul Brynner in ‘Taras Bulba.’

“Clearly he is looking at President Obama and seeing weakness, lostness, lack of popularity. His essay is intended to exploit this and make some larger points, often sanctimoniously, about how the U.S. should conduct itself in the world. And so he chided American leadership, implicitly challenged its position as world leader, posited the U.N. Security Council, where Russia has done so much mischief, as the only appropriate decision-making body for international military action, and worried the U.N. will ‘suffer the fate’ of the League of Nations if ‘influential countries” continue to take action without authorization.

He does not doubt chemical weapons were used in Syria but doubts it was the government that used them. It was probably the rebels, he asserts, in an attempt to “provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons.’

“Still, in general, Mr. Putin made a better case in the piece against a U.S. military strike than the American president has for it. And he did so, in a way, by getting to the left of the president, who he implies is insufficiently respectful to international bodies. Mr. Putin was candid about his primary anxiety—a spillover from Syria that could threaten Russian stability. . .”


Times of Israel: “20 trucks with Syrian chemical equipment said sent to Iraq”

“Twenty trucks laden with equipment used in the manufacture of chemical weapons were driven across the border from Syria into Iraq on Thursday and Friday, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustaqbal reported on Sunday.

“The trucks were ‘heavily protected’ by security forces, and were not inspected by border guards, the paper reported, adding that its sources confirmed the illicit cargo.

“There was no confirmation of the report in Al-Mustaqbal, a newspaper associated with groups opposed to the regime of President Bashar Assad.

“Sunday’s report came amid ongoing claims by the leader of the Free Syrian Army, Salim Idriss, that Assad was busy hiding his chemical weapons so that, when UN inspectors arrive to record and ultimately oversee the destruction of his stockpiles, a sizable amount of his WMD stocks will not be affected. . .”

Melanie Phillips: Putin Checkmates America

“President Obama has obviously thought long and hard about the significance of his Tomahawk missile strike on Syria peace-in-our-time deal with Russia’s President Putin. Apparently, Iran is quaking in its uranium boots. Said Obama:

‘My suspicion is that the Iranians recognize they shouldn’t draw a lesson that we haven’t struck [Syria] to think we won’t strike Iran … My view is that if you have both a credible threat of force, combined with a rigorous diplomatic effort, that, in fact you can you can strike a deal.’

“ ‘A credible threat of force’? What’s he been smoking?

“This incredible self-delusion is at a commensurate level with the incalculable damage this man has done to the interests of America and the west and the increased danger in which he has placed the world. The dithering over Syria, and dilution of that threat of force to ‘unbelievably small, limited’ (John Kerry), not to mention the trumpeted advance warning of these ‘unbelievably small, limited’ strikes so that Assad has had time to move his chemical weapons to at least 50 sites (including Iraq, where the Syrian Islamists claim that, guess what, some of this stuff was exported to Syria by Saddam pre the 2003 war, the suspicion some of us have so often aired in response to the imbecilic ‘no WMD were found so that proves there never were any WMD’ mantra) have now made any threat of force ever by Obama’s America into a global joke. . .

Josh Rogin, Daily Beast: “Congress: Hillary’s Benghazi Investigation Let Top Officials Escape Blame”

“The State Department’s investigation into the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was not independent and failed to hold senior State Department officials accountable for the failures that led to the death of four Americans, according to a new investigative report compiled by the House Oversight Committee.

“The Administrative Review Board, chosen by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, unfairly placed the blame for the terrorist attack on four mid-level officials while ignoring the role of very senior officials in Clinton’s State Department for decisions about security in Benghazi, according to the new report led by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA). Also, the structure of the ARB and the culture in Clinton’s State Department raised questions about the independence and integrity of the review, according to Issa’s committee.

“The ARB blamed systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies within two bureaus, but downplayed the importance of decisions made at senior levels of the Department. Witnesses questioned how much these decisions influenced the weaknesses that led to the inadequate security posture in Benghazi,” the report stated. “The ARB’s decision to cite certain officials as accountable for what happened in Benghazi appears to have been based on factors that had little or no connection to the security posture at U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya.”

“The Daily Beast first reported in May that the four officials removed from their jobs and placed on administrative leave as a result of the State Department’s ARB report on Benghazi had never been told what they were accused of, never been given any opportunity to appeal their punishments, and never were officially fired. One of the officials, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Ray Maxwell, had little to no role in Libya security policy and was not even alleged to have been connected to the security failures leading up to the Benghazi attack.

“The Daily Beast first reported last month that the Kerry State Department decided to allow those four officials to return to work in the State Department, although not in their previous jobs. Although former Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering, the head of the ARB, said that responsibility should be placed at the assistant secretary level, top officials including Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Beth Jones were never disciplined. . .


Joe Weisenthal, SF Gate: “The Case for Janet Yellen in One Sentence”

“In the middle of the night this past Friday, the price of gold quickly dropped on a report in the Japanese business newspaper Nikkei that the White House had decided to appoint Larry Summers as the next Fed chair and that the announcement would likely be made next week.

“The White House later denied the report, but the implication of the market’s reaction is clear: Larry Summers is viewed as the “hawkish,” tight-money alternative to Janet Yellen, and as such, that should mean a strong dollar and weak gold.

“But this hawkish vs. dovish dichotomy is not really that useful. At least in the current context, neither is expected to have a meaningful impact on the future of Quantitative Easing (the wind-down process of which is likely to begin before either would take the top job) and both would likely extend zero interest rates for a long time.

“So what makes Yellen the superior choice?

“In a post in July, Cardiff Garcia made the case for Janet Yellen, and included one sentence which has really stayed with us:

“Not that Yellen can predict the twists and turns of the economy with perfect clarity — nobody can — but rather she has consistently shown a deep early understanding of the underlying pressures building in the economy and the scale of their potential consequences.

“This is true. . .”

Fox: “Armed EPA raid in Alaska sheds light on 70 fed agencies with armed divisions”

Thx Ted,

“The recent uproar over armed EPA agents descending on a tiny Alaska mining town is shedding light on the fact that 40 federal agencies – including nearly a dozen typically not associated with law enforcement — have armed divisions.

The agencies employ about 120,000 full-time officers authorized to carry guns and make arrests, according to a June 2012 Justice Department report.

“Though most Americans know agents within the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Prisons carry guns, agencies such as the Library of Congress and Federal Reserve Board employing armed officers might come as a surprise.  . .”


Matthew Boyle, BigGovt: “Tea Party: Conservatives Push New Spending Resolution to Defund ObamaCare”

“This week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was forced to withdraw his latest plan for a Continuing Resolution (CR) to extend funding of the government. Cantor’s plan was criticized by conservative activists and organizations because the plan, while allowing a House vote on defunding ObamaCare, was written in a manner that would allow the Senate to quickly restore the funding. Within 24 hours of Tea Party Patriots’ Exempt America rally, Cantor withdrew his CR bill when the flaws in the plan were reported in Breitbart News and other conservative media. Breitbart News obtained a document in which Cantor explained his plan.

“Shortly after Cantor withdrew his plan, House conservative members, led by Reps. Tom Graves (R-GA), Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Mark Meadows (R-NC), introduced a CR bill that defunds Obamacare and avoids a loophole for the Senate to reinstate funding. Upon introduction Thursday, the new conservative CR had 43 sponsors and the lead sponsor is Graves.

“‘After weeks of working with and listening to members on how to approach the government funding deadline, it’s clear that House Republicans are united around two goals: keeping the government open and protecting our constituents from the harmful effects of Obamacare,’ Graves said in a release. “ “‘Today, my 42 cosponsors and I are putting forward a plan that achieves both goals.’ . . .”

West Chester TEA: Defund ObamaCare

“As of today we must be encouraging our Congressmen and Congresswomen to support U.S. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) Stability, Security and Fairness Resolution (H.J.Res. 62), a plan to fund the government for Fiscal Year 2014

while fully delaying and defunding Obamacare until 2015

Among our Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation only three have signed up as co-sponsors. They are Congressman Pitts, Congressman Perry, and Congressman Marino.

   (1) Call and thank them. (2) Call all other Congressmen especially your own Congressman.

Tell them to get serious about defunding Obamacare including supporting Congressman Graves’ resolution. Tell them you are tired of everyone getting waivers and exemptions except for the average working person and small business people. It is time for fairness. It is time to exempt everyone for this “train wreck.”
Below are the telephone numbers for the PA Congressional delegation.

District Name Party   Phone  
1 Brady, Robert D   202-225-4731  
2 Fattah, Chaka D   202-225-4001  
3 Kelly, Mike R   202-225-5406  
4 Perry, Scott R   202-225-5836  
5 Thompson, Glenn W. R   202-225-5121  
6 Gerlach, Jim R   202-225-4315  
7 Meehan, Pat R   202-225-2011  
8 Fitzpatrick, Michael G. R   202-225-4276  
9 Shuster, Bill R   202-225-2431  
10 Marino, Tom                      R   202-225-3731    
11 Barletta, Lou                     R   202-225-6511    
12 Rothfus, Keith                      R   202-225-2065    
13 Schwartz, Allyson Y.                       D   202-225-6111    
14 Doyle, Mike                       D   202-225-2135    
15 Dent, Charles W.                     R   202-225-6411    
16 Pitts, Joseph R.                    R   202-225-2411    
17 Cartwright, Matthew                       D   202-225-5546    
18 Murphy, Tim                       R   202-225-2301    

  Sign Petition to defund Obamacare here

Rep. Graves Introduces Plan To Keep Government Open, Stop Obamacare

“ Today, U.S. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) introduced the Stability, Security and Fairness Resolution (H.J.Res. 62), a plan to fund the government for Fiscal Year 2014 while fully delaying and defunding Obamacare until 2015.
“After weeks of working with and listening to members on how to approach the government funding deadline, it’s clear that House Republicans are united around two goals: keeping the government open and protecting our constituents from the harmful effects of Obamacare. Today, my 42 cosponsors and I are putting forward a plan that achieves both goals,” said Rep. Graves.

“This plan is straightforward. We will achieve long-term stability by funding the government for the next fiscal year. Additionally, the resolution includes the three House-passed appropriations bills that affect our national security and our veterans. Our troops, their families and our veterans should not have their priorities put on hold,” Graves continued. “Finally, our plan will achieve fairness for every American by fully delaying and defunding Obamacare until 2015. This approach builds upon the Obama Administration’s policy of delaying portions of Obamacare and relieves taxpayers of the burden of funding a program that is not being implemented.”

Stability, Security and Fairness Resolution Summary

Stability: Keeps the government open for FY2014.

A Continuing Resolution for FY2014 for the nine non-security bills, with overall spending at the post-sequestration number of $967.4 billion.

Security: Prioritizes funding for national security and veterans.

Includes the Defense, Homeland Security and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bills for FY2014 as passed by the House.

Fairness: Provides healthcare fairness and taxpayer relief by defunding and delaying Obamacare until 2015.

Sign the petition to defund Obamacare here

Matthew Boyle, BigGovt: “Tea Party Patriots Leader: Beware of Backroom Last-Minute Obamacare Funding Deal”

“Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin warned conservatives on Sunday evening that they should be wary of a potential move from House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to fund Obamacare in a Continuing Resolution (CR) at the last minute as the fiscal year is ending.

“‘I think that when we are dealing with people who have continually and repeatedly made backroom deals and voted under the cover of darkness over and over and over and over, that we have to expect that that’s what they’re going to do again,’ Martin said in an appearance on Breitbart News Sunday with Stephen K. Bannon on Sunday night. ‘We must watch and keep the pressure on and do everything that we can to make sure that does not happen.’

“Technically, unless Cantor abruptly ends a long-planned scheduled recess week as he has publicly suggested he might, there are only five working days for the House left in September before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. At that time, Congress needs to pass a new CR and the president needs to sign it or the government will shut down.

“‘On Tuesday when the House of Representatives gets back in [from the weekend], they’re going to have to make a decision very quickly,’ Martin said. ‘There are only five legislative days left. They have this week from Tuesday to Friday. They’re out next week. And then they have one more day before we hit October 1, and October 1 is when our new fiscal year starts for government.’. . .”

John Fund, NRO: “Congress’s Exemption from Obamacare

“Make Congress get insurance the same way the little people do? Hill denizens howl in fury.

“Prostitution. Bribery. Blackmail. Thuggery. Hypocrisy.

“Those were just some of the incendiary words thrown around the U.S. Senate last week, and that doesn’t count what people said in private.

“The Senate may still have a reputation as a genteel club, but lawmakers seemed to abandon rules of decorum completely last week in arguments about whether Congress should be treated like the rest of the country when it comes to Obamacare.

“Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, has demanded a floor vote on his bill to end an exemption that members of Congress and their staffs are slated to get that will make them the only participants in the new Obamacare exchanges to receive generous subsidies from their employer to pay for their health insurance. Angry Senate Democrats have drafted legislation that dredges up a 2007 prostitution scandal involving Vitter. The confrontation is a perfect illustration of just how wide the gulf in attitudes is between the Beltway and the rest of the country — and how viciously Capitol Hill denizens will fight for their privileges. . .”

Molly Hooper, The Hill: “Angry House Republicans demand better communication from leaders (Video)”

“. . . the rift on what to do on ObamaCare has opened up a civil war within the GOP.

“That deep division is flaring at a time when fiscal showdowns are front and center following the August recess. A number of lawmakers, who spoke with The Hill on the condition of anonymity, say they are upset that their leaders don’t appear to have a strategy and didn’t communicate more with them during the summer break.

“Shortly after Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz unveiled his intention in mid-July to turn up the heat on House Republicans on ObamaCare funding, a GOP lawmaker walked to Boehner’s office to warn the Speaker of the impending public relations battle, according to a lawmaker close to the situation.

“The source said that Boehner was asked to “get in front of the issue or else the battle will be set for us.”

“But the Speaker and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) opted not to publicly shoot down Cruz’s ideas. Cruz has been subsequently joined by other senators, most notably Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

“Over the five-week recess, GOP lawmakers dealt with angry constituents on a daily basis, provoked by the conservative crusade to defund ObamaCare by any means necessary — even at the risk of a government shutdown.

“But leaders did not appear to get that message, one lawmaker said, noting they spent much of the summer fundraising. . .”

Avik Roy, Forbes: “Obama to Labor Unions with Multi-Employer Health Plans: Drop Dead”

“. . . A number of labor unions participate in multi-employer health plans, also known as Taft-Hartley plans. These plans allow unions to organize, say, all the restaurant workers in a particular county, taking advantage of the economies of scale that come from a larger insurance pool.

“The problem is that, thanks to Obamacare’s employer mandate and its subsidized insurance exchanges, businesses with fewer than 50 employees now have an incentive to drop health coverage for their employees and let those workers get coverage on the exchanges. It’s a better deal for those workers, and a better deal for their employers. But it’s a big blow to the labor unions who organize the plans, because workers no longer need unions to negotiate or obtain their health coverage.

“As a result, the unions most affected by this problem—like Joseph Nigro’s SMART; or Joseph Hansen’s United Food and Commercial Workers International Union; or D. Taylor’s UNITE-HERE hotel, airport, food service, gaming, and textile union—have been raising a ruckus, demanding that the White House reinterpret the Affordable Care Act so as to ensure that Obamacare’s exchange subsidies, which were intended for the uninsured, would also be available to their members. . .

ALSO: Eric Boehm, PA Independent: “Pennsylvania labor unions echo national concerns about Obamacare”

HARRISBURG — Union leaders in Pennsylvania are echoing concerns expressed by the national AFL-CIO about the implementation of the federal health care law.

“At this week’s national conference of the AFL-CIO, an umbrella group for dozens of labor unions, union leaders approved a resolution formally calling for changes to the Affordable Care Act. The AFL-CIO said it’s concerned about the affordability and accessibility of health insurance under Obamacare, and also worries that workers’ hours may be cut back as an unintended consequence of the law.

“It’s a notable change from 2010, when unions were among the loudest supporters of the Affordable Care Act.

“‘There are still things that need to get fixed,’ Rick Bloomingdale, president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, said on Friday after returning from the conference.

“On the whole, unions’ biggest complaint with the ACA is that the federal government would recognize so-called ‘multi-employer plans’ as employer-based health plans. Those types of plans were legalized by the Taft-Hartley Act and are widely used by labor unions to pool insurance costs between unions and management.

“Since the Treasury Department says it will view multi-employer plans the same way as other employer-based health coverage, so individuals enrolled in those plans will not be eligible for government subsidies. Without the subsidies, insurance would be more expensive. . .”

NSA . . .

Brian Fung, WaPo: “The FISA court will release more opinions because of Snowden”

“Call it the Edward Snowden effect: Citing the former NSA contractor, a federal judge has ordered the government to declassify more reports from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

In an opinion from the FISC itself, Judge F. Dennis Saylor on Friday told the White House to declassify all the legal opinions relating to Section 215 of the Patriot Act written after May 2011 that aren’t already the subject of FOIA litigation.

“The court ruled that the White House must identify the opinions in question by Oct. 4.

“‘The unauthorized disclosure of in June 2013 of a Section 215 order, and government statements in response to that disclosure, have engendered considerable public interest and debate about Section 215,’ wrote Saylor. ‘Publication of FISC opinions relating to this opinion would contribute to an informed debate.’

“The ruling comes in response to a petition by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking greater government transparency. But because the ACLU already has a similar FOIA case pending in another court, Saylor wrote that the new FISC order can only cover documents that don’t relate to that case. . .”

Spiegel: “’Follow the Money’ – NSA Spies on International Payments”

“The National Security Agency (NSA) widely monitors international payments, banking and credit card transactions, according to documents seen by SPIEGEL.

ANZEIGE:The information from the American foreign intelligence agency, acquired by former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, show that the spying is conducted by a branch called “Follow the Money” (FTM). The collected information then flows into the NSA’s own financial databank, called “Tracfin,” which in 2011 contained 180 million records. Some 84 percent of the data is from credit card transactions.

Further NSA documents from 2010 show that the NSA also targets the transactions of customers of large credit card companies like VISA for surveillance. NSA analysts at an internal conference that year described in detail how they had apparently successfully searched through the US company’s complex transaction network for tapping possibilities.

PA . . .

Rep. Tim Murphy, Pgh. Post-Gazette: “Pennsylvania is coal country

“And we cannot afford to be misled by talk of how ‘dirty’ it’s supposed to be

“This fall, 380 workers at the Hatfield’s Ferry and Mitchell Power Stations in southwestern Pennsylvania will lose their jobs when the two coal-fueled plants are permanently shut down. FirstEnergy, after just having invested hundreds of millions of dollars in environmental upgrades to the facilities, announced the decision was based in part on ‘the cost of compliance with current and future environmental regulations.’

“Since most of these new regulations weren’t adopted by Congress, how did we get here?

“The author of these regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency, is mired in the outdated view that virtually any use of fossil energy in power generation poses an imminent threat to public health. Not true. What has been lost in today’s energy debate is the incredible technological advancements that have led to cleaner air and water.

“Those opposed to fossil energy still present the false narrative of “dirty coal,” which is an insult to the thousands of southwestern Pennsylvanians who work in the mines and throughout the coal industry supply chain.

“These workers live in our communities, send their kids to local schools and reside in the towns where these plants are located. None of them wants to return to the old days of contaminated rivers and open smokestacks. Yet from the Aug. 6 editorial in the Post-Gazette titled ‘Coal Barons: GOP Lawmakers Try to Turn Back the Hands of Time,’ one would think Downtown Pittsburgh workers are still changing their dress shirts at mid-day because of soot in the air, when, in fact, over the last 50 years Pittsburgh rebuilt and redefined itself largely by environmental reform and progress. . .”

Nick Field, PoliticsPA: “Nutter for Senate?”

“An intriguing possible development emerged today as it appears that Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter may have his eye on statewide office.

“According to Chris Brennan of the Daily News, the political and public relations firm Fleck Consulting has registered the website domains and

The connection to Mayor Nutter and Fleck Consulting is likely Lindsey Perry. Perry currently works at Fleck but was a political consultant for Nutter’s 2011 re-election campaign and then became an assistant city solicitor. An invitation for an October 3rd Nutter fundraiser was sent from Ms. Perry.

“Michael Nutter is currently serving his second term as Mayor and is set to leave office in January 2016.

“Nutter, through a spokesman, said he was ‘unaware’ of the websites, did not authorize their creation and is ‘not considering any run for the U.S. Senate,’. . .”


Dave Urbanski, The Blaze: “Tattoo-Wearing Soldier Theresa Vail Makes Big Run to Miss America Top-10 Finish”

“While Theresa Vail didn’t become the 2014 Miss America — the crown went to Nina Davuluri from New York this year — the tattoo-wearing, bowhunting, M16-shooting National Guard soldier made it all the way into the top-10 group of semifinalists Sunday night.

“Vail stood with other semifinalists from Oklahoma, New York, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Texas, Minnesota, Maryland, and Florida.

“Miss Kansas was a hit with readers of TheBlaze over the last week after they learned about her background, patriotism, and skills not typically associated with a beauty pageant contestant.

“She’s also a skydiver, boxer, and a mechanic (or ‘grease monkey,’ as she notes in her pageant video). A People magazine profile notes that she had to cease motorcycle racing after breaking all the fingers in her right hand, but Vail can still skin a deer and possesses a fab squirrel stew recipe. . .”

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