Stop the Ride and Get Me Out of Here!

by Mark  

Alright...I've been on this ride for too long now.

Stop the ride and get me out of here!

A friend and faithful reader of Inside My Mind from Laughlin, Nevada relayed how her father lost a lung when he was around 20. He went on to lead a long, productive life. John Wayne, the star of Westerns and war films, lost a lung to cancer and went on to star in more movies. There are stories of many who have lost a lung and remained active and productive.

So what's wrong with me?

With my unique brand of chronic cluster headaches, which do not fit the normal mode, I am wondering what factor the clusters may play in my ongoing respiratory concern.

I learned last spring that I had lost all functionality of my right lung as a result of a non-specific bacterial infection. The doctors have not said I have been rid or cured of the infection. The doctors have not provided any type of antibiotic to attack the infection.

What was recommended was the removal of my teeth and tooth stubs, which were decaying as the result of a genetic condition. The issue in my mouth was suspected as being the source of the infection which attacked my lungs. The hope was that by pulling the teeth and getting dentures it would protect and keep the left lung safe.

What originally sent me to the doctor was the loss of 30 pounds of weight within a month, followed a couple of months later by another drop of 15 pounds in two weeks. Following surgery on my lungs and a three-week hospital stay, I continued to lose weight. I eventually gained back about 5 pounds. I stabilized a bit and gained another 2 pounds. Now, I am once more losing weight again. I have lost another 5 pounds or so in the last month.

The headaches have been extreme at times and beyond my ability to use my internal ignore button. The humidity has played havoc with my ability to take oxygen out of the air. The coughing and hacking seem on the rise. All of this feeds the depression with which I wrestle daily.

My pulmonologist has agreed that my best option, when I can afford to do so, is to get out of the Cornfield and to the desert where it is more arid and easier to breathe. For now, I am stuck on this ride, in the Cornfield, continuing to deteriorate.

What is going on?

Why have others had no problem after losing a lung, yet I seem to be going downhill?

Some have suggested I try acupuncture, a non-covered treatment by Medicare. I have had so many types of treatments tried and failed. I did, however, check with numerous cluster headache forums of others experiences with acupuncture. The general reaction from those who have been tried is that the treatment did not work and was a nightmare. Only one person spoke of minor relief, but short-lived.

It was innteresting to learn yesterday that reportedly the new Pope Francis also lost part of a lung to an infection. Yet, he doesn't seem to suffer from respiratory distress from what I could tell watching the news coverage.

How much of a factor are the cluster headaches, as the condition has been diagnosed, play into my scenario?

The vast majority of sufferers of clusters have what is known as episodic clusters. The clusters attack for a few months or weeks and are gone, sometimes for years before returning. In my case, the clusters have attacked for the last 18 years. I am lucky when I get one or two pain-free days in a year.

Unlike most who have clusters, where the cluster is centered in one place behind one eye, my clusters can attack the entire scope of my brain. I can have more than one attack going on at one times in separate lobes of the brain. My clusters also produce heart attack and stroke symptoms, leave me paralyzed in a part of my body from time to time, result in dizzy spells and major swings in blood pressure from moment to moment.

At times I am reduced to a blubbering mass in a corner. My speech can become slurred. There is difficulty in forming words, stammering, inability to remember my name or how to spell the word "a". I fall down unceremoniously when dizziness strikes as my blood pressure crashes from normal to near-death levels. Too many times I have literally fallen out of my chair, crumpling over and to the floor.

With all the false signals sent from my brain as the clusters attack, could the clusters also be shaping and intensifying the struggle with breathing?

All I know at this point is that I want the ride to stop and want to get out of here.

If something doesn't happen soon, not sure if I can find the will to keep fighting.

Today, The Work Begins

by Mark  

The anxiety and anticipation both are building. Today is the day the dental treatments begin to correct both my genetic condition that has destroyed my teeth and also perhaps stop the aspiration of infection that has destroyed my right lung.

At 2 p.m. (ET) I will sit down in the dentist's chair. The doctor will begin the extraction process. The process, including getting a new set of choppers, is scheduled over the next 8 weeks with a follow-up final on October 15.

I mentioned in my entry Wednesday in my personal blog, Inside My Mind, that the anxiety was starting to get the best of me. Last night as I was trying to watch "Necessary Roughness", I went through a panic attack. Thankfully, it was short-lived.

My fear is that when I get to the dentist's office and as he begins, I may have another one of my attacks.

Not sure how many teeth or stubs will be extracted today. Not sure if he will apply a local anesthetic or knock me out. I am keeping my fingers crossed for the latter.

The hope is that in 2 months from now I can proudly display my new teeth. The hope is that this does indeed nip the infection in the bud which turned my right lung into a dried up sponge and threatens my left lung.

With all this going on for the next 8 weeks, I will try to stay up with my daily routine. A lot will depend on how I am able to cope with the pain from the procedure. Adding what I know will be some misery to my other conditions is going to make for a testy time. Sure hope my ignore button is in good working order.

There's so much happening over the next couple of weeks that I want to be able to comment on or give my view about, but will I be able?

The Republican National Convention begins on Monday. A week later the Democrats meet to give the nod to the President for a 2nd term. So much expected to happen, but taking care of my dental issue must take priority.

From Mark's Den, the anxiety and anticipation builds.

Just about 3 hours from now the work begins.

The Cornfield OOPs! File - August 4th

by Mark  

Sometimes we all say or do things we wish we could take back or do over. But life, especially in these days of Twitter, smartphones, 24-hour news, the blog-o-sphere and social media, captures almost any and all flubs, slips of the tongue, missteps, hijinks and bad behavior.

Today's edition provides 2 more entries. On the 1 had we have an election committee based in Congress having to say, "Mea culpa". On the other hand we have a state party disavowing the winner of its own primary for not towing the party line on all issues.

From the "Did I Say That" department we have the story of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee having to backtrack after making an accusation against casino mogul and Republican money man Sheldon Adelson.

The DCCC said in its retraction:

"In press statements issued on June 29 and July 2, 2012, the DCCC made unsubstantiated allegations that attacked Sheldon Adelson, a supporter of the opposing party. This was wrong. The statements were untrue and unfair and we retract them. The DCCC extends its sincere apology to Mr. Adelson and his family for any injury we have caused."

Of course this was after Adelson's attorney had sent a letter to the DCCC and threatened to sue.

The letter, dated Monday, asked the DCCC to remove all allegations surrounding Adelson from the DCCC website, agree not to republish any allegations surrounding Adelson and release a statement retracting and apologizing for "false claims."

"Breaking: House Republicans' Biggest Donor Approved 'Prostitution Strategy' in China" was the headline of a June 29 statement from the DCCC and a July 2 statement asked what House Republicans will do when their "Chinese prostitution money comes from billionaire Sheldon Adelson."

Politifact, an independent fact check organization, delivered a "Pants on Fire" for the DCCC point that recipients of Adelson donations were receiving dirty money, a fact seized upon in the attorney letter.

"As you and the DCCC surely knew when you spoke, the charges you made are outrageous and completely untrue," Clayton wrote in the letter. "Mr. Adelson does not tolerate prostitution - let alone, as you have said, make money from it. The fact is that Mr. Adelson has consistently objected to and maintained a strong policy against prostitution, a commitment that extends to his personal life."

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/02/adelson-gets-apology-retraction-from-dccc/

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/18/adelson-lawyer-threatens-suit-over-prostitution-claims/

Following the DCCC apology, an Adelson spokesperson offered this response:

"We are gratified that the DCCC has acknowledged it error.  More broadly, this should serve notice to those who would attempt to smear Mr. Adelson by repeating the false and inflammatory statements of a fired employee - that this is a very slippery slope."

http://politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2012/08/dccc-offers-retraction-apology-on-adelson-claims-130975.html

The allegations came from a filing in Nevada state court in which Steven Jacobs, the former president of Sands China Ltd, alleged wrongful termination and asserted that he had seen documents in which Adelson "personally approved" what he called "a prostitution strategy" at the company's casino operation in the Chinese special administrative region of Macau.

In a July 16 letter to the DCCC, attorneys for Adelson, 78, demanded that the committee retract the allegations and apologize to Adelson.

"Mr. Adelson does not tolerate prostitution, let alone, as you have said, make money from it," the attorneys wrote. "The fact is that Mr. Adelson has consistently objected to and maintained a strong policy against prostitution."

On July 20, Adelson filed suit in a Florida state court, claiming defamation against Jacobs and seeking unspecified damages for statements that his suit said "impugn Mr. Adelson's integrity and harm his reputation."

http://reuters.com/article/2012/08/03/us-democraticgroup-apology-adelson-idUSBRE87200V20120803

Wonder if any other Democratic statements will be retracted between now and the November 6th election.

Now we have from the "He's Not My Candidate" department we have a stiuation where the Tennessee State Democratic Party is disavowing the candidate who won the most votes in the recent primary for US Sentate.

The party of Cordell Hull, Estes Kefauver, and Al Gore Sr. and Jr. won’t have a standard-bearer — or at least not one it can stomach — in Tennessee’s next U.S. Senate race.

Less than 24 hours after a man espousing conservative and libertarian views surprised the state’s political scene by winning the Democratic nomination, the Tennessee Democratic Party disavowed him, saying he’s part of an anti-gay hate group.

The party said Friday that it would do nothing to help Mark Clayton, 35, who received nearly twice as many votes as his closest challenger in Thursday’s seven-candidate primary, winning the right to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker in November.

“The only time that Clayton has voted in a Democratic primary was when he was voting for himself,” the party said in a news release. “Many Democrats in Tennessee knew nothing about any of the candidates in the race, so they voted for the person at the top of the ticket. Unfortunately, none of the other Democratic candidates were able to run the race needed to gain statewide visibility or support.

“Mark Clayton is associated with a known hate group in Washington, D.C., and the Tennessee Democratic Party disavows his candidacy, will not do anything to promote or support him in any way, and urges Democrats to write-in a candidate of their choice in November.”

http://tennessean.com/article/20120804/NEWS02/308040024/TN-Democrats-dump-own-Senate-candidate

Seems that Clayton is not following the party line. He is against same-gender marriage. The group he is associated with in Washington DC promotes opposition to the issue and has been cited by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, which Clayton denies.

Democrats are being asked to vote for the write-in person of their choice in November.

From the Cornfield, may the gaffes, the flubs, the misspeak and stupid actions roll on...otherwise I will have nothing to write about.

Government Motors (GM) in a Slump

by Mark  

Government Motors aka GM is in a slump. That's not good news for taxpayers who own a substantial percentage of the company and have a multi-billion dollar loan out.

Mitt Romney may have gotten it wrong.

He's been running ads bashing President Obama for car dealerships that were forced to close after the General Motors bailout and bankruptcy restructuring in 2009. But GM's bigger problem may be a stock price that's in retreat, prolonging the day on which U.S. taxpayers will get back their remaining $26.5 billion investment in the company.

GM is a vastly better company than it was three years ago, when massive losses forced it into an unusual Chapter 11 filing, with Uncle Sam providing much of the funding needed for a fresh start. But the automaker has hit a rough patch this year. Second-quarter earnings tumbled 41 percent from 2011, and overall revenue fell, too. Losses in Europe are the biggest drain on GM's profits.

But the huge automaker has also stalled in its home market. North American car sales are up 14 percent so far this year, but GM's sales have risen only three percent. Its market share has fallen from nearly 20 percent a year ago to less than 18 percent. GM's stock price, which enjoyed a nice runup for the first three months of 2012, has since fallen back to about $20, leaving it flat for the year.

The downshift seems to have scotched any notion of the government selling its stake in the company prior to the November elections, since that would amount to a taxpayer loss of roughly $17 billion, and a major embarrassment for Obama. The government can hold onto its shares as long as it likes, and sell when the price is high enough to get all its money back. But the stock would have to hit about $53 for Uncle Sam to break even—a threshold that seems a long way off.

http://usnews.com/news/blogs/rick-newman/2012/08/02/more-bad-news-for-obama-a-slump-at-gm

While both candidates slug it out over who was right and who was wrong about GM, the taxpayers just want to know when or if they will be repaid.

From the Cornfield, with so much invested in GM, it is good for the American taxpayers if GM can shrug off this slump and start climbing out of the hole it is sliding back down into.

Liberal Profs: We Will Discriminate

by Mark  

Conservatives will nod in agreement and shout, "See we told you they were hypocrites." Why? Because of a new study that is coming out in the September issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science. In that issue, liberal professors admitted they would discriminate in hiring practices against conservative scholars and employees.

It’s not every day that left-leaning academics admit that they would discriminate against a minority.But that was what they did in a peer-reviewed study of political diversity in the field of social psychology, which will be published in the September edition of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Psychologists Yoel Inbar and Joris Lammers, based at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, surveyed a roughly representative sample of academics and scholars in social psychology and found that “In decisions ranging from paper reviews to hiring, many social and personality psychologists admit that they would discriminate against openly conservative colleagues.”

This finding surprised the researchers. The survey questions “were so blatant that I thought we’d get a much lower rate of agreement,” Mr. Inbar said. “Usually you have to be pretty tricky to get people to say they’d discriminate against minorities.”

One question, according to the researchers, “asked whether, in choosing between two equally qualified job candidates for one job opening, they would be inclined to vote for the more liberal candidate (i.e., over the conservative).”

More than a third of the respondents said they would discriminate against the conservative candidate. One respondent wrote in that if department members “could figure out who was a conservative, they would be sure not to hire them.”

Generally speaking, the more liberal the respondent, the more willingness to discriminate and, paradoxically, the higher the assumption that conservatives do not face a hostile climate in the academy.

http://washingtontimes.com/news/2012/aug/1/liberal-majority-on-campus-yes-were-biased/

Does this study confim the conservative perspective?

Is it true then that liberals are on one's side only as long as the opinion and perspective is in lockstep with their own view?

From the Cornfield, perhaps this is why I get such grief for not seeing things the same and accused of going against my own interests when I do not have the opinion of those on the left on many issues.

Suppress the White Vote?

by Mark  

An op-ed over at BuzzFeed.com contends that there is an attempt by Team Obama, the campaign to re-elect President Barack Obama, to try and suppress the white vote in the upcoming election. The writer, John Ellis, claims there is an active campaign to keep whites from turning out at the polls on November 6.

The 2012 president election, boiled down to its remaining variables, is about two things: (1) white voters who voted for Barrack Obama last time and have since grown disillusioned and, (2) white voters who stayed home in 2008 rather than vote for John McCain but may vote this time. The Obama campaign's goal is to make both groups stay home rather than vote. It's not a "negative campaign" they're running. It's purposefully toxic.

The math is simple. In 2008, black turnout was way up. Hispanic turnout was up. Young voters flooded the polls. Barack Obama won a substantial majority (53.4%) of the vote, the largest majority for a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson’s landslide in 1964.

The white vote, as a percentage of the total vote, was down. Obama captured 43% of the white vote, the highest percentage of white votes garnered by a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson (President Clinton also received 43% of the white vote in his 1996 re-election campaign).

Fast forward to 2012. Black turnout indicators are down, substantially. Hispanic turnout indicators are down, substantially. The youth vote, as a percentage of the total vote, is expected to revert to form. White voters are now expected to comprise 75% of the total electorate.

If President Obama gets 40% of the white vote, he has a chance to win re-election. If President Obama gets 35% of the white vote, he's finished.

Right now, depending on which poll you look at, President Obama is running somewhere north of 35% and south of 40% among white voters. The danger for Team Obama is that there will come a moment – “anything is better than this” – that will cause the bottom to fall out of the president’s support among white voters. If that happens, he will fall into Mondale country (35%) and lose in a landslide.

So the purpose of the president’s campaign is to make sure, if such a thing can be made sure, that that doesn’t happen. Thus the chemical warfare campaign, the war to end all wars.

http://buzzfeed.com/johnellis/can-obamas-chemical-warfare-keep-the-white-5krk

Do you see an attempt to suppress white voter turnout?

Is Team Obama in its tactics trying to make up for the lack of enthusiasm with minority voters?

From the Cornfield, should race be a factor at all in any election especially the presidential election?

10 Career Fields Not to Pursue

by Mark  

A worth reading article in US News & World Report discusses 10 job fields that may be dying out and will never come back. Some of the jobs, many will applaud the death and loss. But what about those who have been working in these fields?

Here is the list of 10 Jobs That Might Be Gone for Good:

1.  Telemarketers (unemployment rate: 31.4 percent).
2.  Helpers, construction trades (27.8 percent).
3.  Iron and steel workers (25.3 percent).
4.  Packers and packagers (18.6 percent).
5.  Grounds maintenance workers (16.1 percent).
6.  Tax preparers (15.9 percent).
7.  Restaurant and fast food workers (14.8 percent).
8.  Models, demonstrators, and product promoters (14.6 percent).
9.  Childcare workers (10.4 percent).
10. Travel agents (7.9 percent).

To read the analysis and breakdown: http://usnews.com/news/blogs/rick-newman/2012/08/03/10-jobs-that-might-be-gone-for-good

From the Cornfield, how do you feel about some of these jobs and the prognosis for the field's survival?

Restricting Protests at Military Funerals

by Mark  

Before Congress adjourned and members retreated back home for the next 5 weeks, a bill was passed and now awaits the signature of President Barack Obama, which targets the hateful stance of members of the Westboro Baptist Church. The bill places restrictions on protests at military funerals.

Once enacted, the bill is sure to raise a court challenge from the WBC group.

CNN lays out the drive to place the restrictions on protestors such as WBC and others:

A comprehensive bill on veterans affairs awaiting President Barack Obama's signature includes provisions that would expand restrictions on protests at military funerals such as those carried out by Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas.

Under the "Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012," which won final congressional approval Tuesday, protesters must be at least 300 feet from military funerals from two hours before they start until two hours after they end.

Violators could face unspecified fines and up to two years in prison.

The Kansas church has attracted nationwide attention for its angry, anti-gay protests at the funerals of U.S. military members.

It won an appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court last year in a case that tested the competing constitutional rights of free speech and privacy.

There was no immediate response Thursday to a CNN e-mail to the Westboro Baptist Church seeking comment.

Led by pastor Fred Phelps, the church believes God is punishing the United States for "the sin of homosexuality" through events including soldiers' deaths.

Members have traveled the country shouting at grieving families at funerals and displaying such signs as "Thank God for dead soldiers," "God blew up the troops" and "AIDS cures fags."

According to the church website, they will continue protesting at military funerals. It was unclear whether enactment of the new law would change the church's plans or whether the church would mount a legal challenge against it.

The new restrictions expand on provisions in a federal law passed in 2006 that banned protests within 300 feet of national cemeteries from an hour before a funeral to an hour after it, with violators facing fines and up to a year in prison.

The Supreme Court case involved a protest by Westboro members outside the 2006 funeral for Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder in Westminster, Maryland, near Baltimore.

Snyder's family sued the church in 2007, alleging invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy. A jury awarded the family $2.9 million in compensatory damages plus $8 million in punitive damages, which were later reduced to $5 million.

The church appealed the case in 2008 to a federal appeals court, which reversed the judgments a year later, siding with the church's allegations that its First Amendment rights were violated. The case then went to the Supreme Court, which issued a narrow ruling based on the facts of the specific appeal.

By an 8-1 vote, the high court said members of Westboro Baptist Church had a right to promote what they call a broad-based message on public matters such as wars.

A majority of states across the nation have responded to the protests with varying levels of control over the Westboro church protesters.

Church members say their broader message is aimed at the unspecified actions of the military and those who serve in it. They believe U.S. soldiers deserve to die because they fight for a country that tolerates homosexuality.

http://cnn.com/2012/08/02/politics/military-funerals-protests/index.html

From the Cornfield, while WBC and others may have the right of free speech, there is no right to espouse one's views in the face of those who mourn. Free speech comes with responsibility.

Roseanne Barr Still Running for President

by Mark  

The star of the hit 90s show, Roseanne, is still running for president even though she lost the bid to be the Green Party candidate. After the loss, Roseanne Barr formed the Green Tea Party.

At that time, Roseanne announced her platform was:

1.  Legalization of marijuana
2.  More support for Palestinians
3.  Federal law to forgive all student loan debt
4.  Shut down all U.S. military bases in foreign countries

In making her announcement, Barr tweeted, "I will put the Electoral College and its racist foundation into the mainstream dialogue of this election cycle."

Today, the news came out that Roseanne is now the candidate for the Peace and Freedom Party.

Now, her White House quest has taken a different turn. She announced Thursday that she will run for president on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. Her running mate, Barr said in a news release, will be Cindy Sheehan, whose son,U.S. Army Spec. Casey Sheehan, was killed in Iraq in 2004. In August 2005, the Gold Star mother mounted a lonely antiwar protest outside President George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas.

"The American people are sick and tired of this 'lesser evil’ garbage they get fed every election year,” Barr said via the news release. “Both the Democrats and the Republicans do the same evils once they’re in office. I’m here to tell the voters: if you want to tell the government and the two domineering parties that you’re sick and tired of all their evil, register in the Peace and Freedom Party and vote for me and Cindy.”

In the release, Sheehan, who was vilified by the right for her Crawford vigil, said she was honored to be selected as Barr’s running mate. “I am excited about the chance to infuse the message of socialism with the heart and soul that is missing from political discourse,” she said.

http://latimes.com/news/politics/la-roseanne-barr-peace-and-freedom-party-candidate-20120802,0,3965135.story

From the Cornfield, this could lead to a very interesting campaign, if Roseanne can manage to capture the media attention and comments from presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.

The Cornfield Or Bibilical Egypt?

by Mark  

I am really starting to wonder if I am still living in the Cornfield or have been transported through time or by a tornado, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, to biblical Egypt.

Indiana is suffering, along with the rest of the nation, from a drought of historical proportions.

In addition, West Nile virus (that Egypt thing again) is running rampant in the state's mosquito population. Today we just had our first confirmed human cases of the virus in Marion and Hamilton counties in the center of the state.

On top of that county fairs and even the state fair, which just opened, are also being plagued by swine flu. Some fairs have shut down exhibits to prevent spread to the human population.

What's next?

Will there be locusts?

Will the water go bitter?

No, wait, we have that problem too...I forgot.

Blue-green algae is spreading throughout the state's waterways. Some dogs have already been killed by the tainted water and humans have come down with illness.

I am waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop.

Gas prices are going through the roof. Food prices have started to rise.

What's next?

From the Cornfield...or is that bibilcial Egypt...Iohn, Frankie and I keep trying to survive the pestilence, the plague and whatever else gets thrown our way.

http://wishtv.com/dpp/news/local/marion_county/6-more-ind-cases-of-human-flu-linked-to-hogs

http://indystar.com/article/20120803/LOCAL/120803045

http://wishtv.com/dpp/news/local/marion_county/human-cases-of-west-nile-reported

http://wthr.com/story/19192566/indiana-reports-11-influenza-a-cases-statewide

Toxic Blue-Green Algae Attacks Waters in Cornfield

West Nile Virus Spreads as Drought Drags On

Gas Prices Spiral Upward!

Drought Worsens in Cornfield

Consequences of Ongoing Drought

Scenes of Drought Around the Cornfield

Drought Intensity Upgraded in Cornfield

Drought Along the Wabash Expanded

Gas Prices Spiral Upward!

by Mark  

Gas prices in the Cornfield and across the state are out of control and not in a good way. On Monday in my National Gas Prices - A Snapshot - July 30th, I wrote:

Here in the Cornfield, gas costs ranged from $3.27 up 9 cents in the state capitol of Indianapolis to $3.23 down 3 cents in Terre Haute and $3.29 unchanged in the Cornfield.

But look at the difference just 5 days later:

Here in the Cornfield, gas costs ranged from $3.59 up 32 cents in the state capitol of Indianapolis (but an average cost of $3.948 and rising) to $3.89 up 66 cents in Terre Haute and $3.89 up 60 cents in the Cornfield.

What is going on?

There is speculation of refinery and pipeline problems could be causing the drastic increase.

Gas prices in Indianapolis continued a sharp rise this week with many stations flirting with the $4 mark.

At the web site indygasprices.com, the average price in Indianapolis was listed at 6:35 a.m. this morning at $3.94.

Just one week ago, the average price in Indianapolis was listed at $3.49.

"Our wholesale prices beginning last Thursday have really gone up," said Scot Imus, executive director of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. "I'm not sure exactly why."

The average price in Indianapolis is now 38 cents higher than the national average, which remained today at $3.56.

Indiana is one of seven states in the nation, Imus said, that imposes a sales tax on gasoline. That puts the state at a comparable disadvantage to other states in terms of gas prices, he said.

http://indystar.com/article/20120803/NEWS/120803008

With gas prices rising in the past week, many Hoosiers have been curious what's behind the price tag.

To understand the prices seen at the pump today, the last six weeks must be examined. At the time the wholesale price of gas was only $2.37 a gallon, residents were paying about $3.40 a gallon.

Then summer refinery problems hit, says Indianapolis commodities broker Lannie Cohen of Capitol Commodity Services. Cohen follows gas, oil, corn and other commodity prices for a living.

"Citgo in Illinois, Phillips 66 in Illinois, and the pipeline in Wisconsin coming through Canada has been shut down,” Cohen said. “They're supposed to restart it, and they've had delays as well on the restart."

All facilities that feed finished product to the Midwest. Without that supply, prices started moving up. But retailers waited to pass the entire increase in wholesale prices on to customers.

At the same time drought gripped the nation, and corn prices skyrocketed.

"It's going so high they've had to idle some of these ethanol plants, because the cost of the ethanol is as much as the gasoline,” Cohen says.

http://wishtv.com/dpp/news/local/marion_county/gas-prices-at-highest-since-may

From the Cornfield, the pain, not just at the pump, keeps getting more intense and sharper as each day passes.

Cornfield Congressman in Hot Water On Overseas Trip

by Mark  

Indiana's 5th District Congressman Dan Burton (not my representative, I'm in the "bloody" 8th District) is in hot water following a trip to the kingdom of Bahrain. It is not the trip itself, but rather how the trip was paid for that is raising eyebrows across the Cornfield and within the halls of Congress.

When U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., and his wife, Samia, arrived in Bahrain in April, they were greeted with a huge welcome poster featuring oversized smiling headshots of the Burtons.

The veteran lawmaker, who is the third-ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, met with the crown prince, after which a local pro-government newspaper ran a picture of the two men under the headline, "Bahrain's reforms are hailed." The paper reported that Burton had "lauded His Majesty for his statesmanship (and) steps to modernise Bahrain and promote reforms," amid continuing pro-democracy protests.

When the congressman returned to Washington from Bahrain, he took to the House floor to praise Bahrain's leaders and criticize protesters

Burton's soothing words for the embattled government weren't the only unusual thing about this trip.

The $20,966 cost of the trip, including business-class flights for Burton and his wife, was paid by a nonprofit group, the Bahrain American Council, created last year by the lobbying and public relations firm Policy Impact Communications to promote the Bahraini government line in Washington.

Members of Congress are not allowed to accept travel funds from any entity that "employs or retains" a lobbyist. The rule was instituted in 2007 after the Jack Abramoff scandal, which involved the corrupt lobbyist paying for luxury junkets for members of Congress and other officials.

http://indystar.com/article/20120802/NEWS05/208030317

What is at contention is whether the group that paid for the trip falls under the lobbyist ban. Burton says no, but others say yes.

The Bahrain American Council says it doesn't have any lobbyists working for the organization. The group, that supports the council, however is a registered lobbyist.

So is Burton guilty of a breach of House ethics?

Seems the House Ethics Committee approved the trip.

But that hasn't stopped the controversy swirling around Burton.

From the Cornfield, while this may be skirting the ban, I believe that Burton and his wife would have adhered more to the spirit of the ban if they had paid for their own trip.

War On Coal? Real Or Fabricated

by Mark  

In Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and other coal producing states, there is a perception that the Administration of President Barack Obama is waging a war on coal. To many of those affected workers (miners) and coal mine operators, the issue is not so much about the environment, but about economic survival, jobs.

As CNN reports, some operators are now openly blaming the President for shutdowns and layoffs.

The leader of a shuttering Ohio coal mining operation on Friday blamed the Obama administration for the shutdown and for hurting the economy generally with he called a "war on coal," an assertion the White House pushed back on as false and misleading.

OhioAmerican Energy, which is a subsidiary of Murray Energy Corporation, issued a statement announcing its coal mining operations near Brilliant, in southeastern Ohio, would be closing five years earlier than expected.

Its founder, Robert Murray, personally went to tell the operation's employees there that they were being laid off. The company said that the operation employed 239 people "at its peak," though there were no firm numbers as to the number that lost their jobs Friday beyond that 32 would be reassigned to other positions.

Company leaders -- who have been donors to Republicans -- claimed the "regulatory actions by President Barack Obama and his appointees and followers (are) the entire reason" for the closure. In fact, they predicted more layoffs to come unless there is a major shift in the political landscape.

"There will be additional layoffs, not only at Murray Energy, but also throughout the United States coal industry due to Mr. Obama's 'war on coal' and the destruction that it has caused so many jobs and families in the Ohio Valley area and elsewhere," Murray said.

Yet White House spokesman Clark Stevens rebutted that view, pointing to "flexibilities for clean coal standards over the last three years" and the fact U.S. coal production is on the upswing. There were more U.S. coal miners working this year, for instance, than any year since 1997 and U.S. coal exports rose 31% over the previous year, he said.

"The president has made clear that coal has an important role in our energy economy today, and it will in the future," Stevens said. "(That) is why the administration has worked to make sure that, moving forward, we can continue to rely on a broad range of domestic energy sources from oil to gas, to wind and solar, to nuclear, as well as clean coal."

http://cnn.com/2012/08/02/politics/ohio-coal-mining/index.html

What is the reality?

Is the Administration trying to force wean the nation off coal?

Is the Administration getting ahead of the jobs to replace those in the coal industry that may be lost?

From the Cornfield, there are political implications in all of this as well. Ohio, for example, is a must win in November.

The Fight Goes On...Paul Still Tilting At Windmills

by Mark  

Could the ongoing challenge by Texas Congressman Dr. Ron Paul and his Liberty Movement spell trouble for the Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay, Florida the week of August 27th?

Will presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney find his coronation to be not so regal?

Here's the latest in the hostile takeover bid by the Liberty Movement on the Republican Party.

Divisions among Maine Republicans deepened Wednesday over Romney backers' attempt to purge Ron Paul supporters — who the Romney camp fears could wreak havoc at the Republican National Convention — from the state's delegation.

Peter Cianchette, a Bush donor and ambassador, and Maine Republican National Committeewoman Janet Martens Staples Saturday filed a challenge to 14 pro-Paul delegates and alternates, as the Boston Globe reported. Both were listed as Romney endorsers in a campaign press release in February.

Today, 23 members of the state Republican committee signed on to a letter to party chairman Charlie Webster denouncing the move, and demanding Staples' own resignation.

"The recent actions taken by National Committeewoman Jan Staples against the Maine Delegation are destructive to party unity, blur our focus on maintaining Republican majorities in the Maine House and Senate and provide fodder for opponents in the Democrat Party to attack our candidates in upcoming races," they write in the letter, provided to BuzzFeed by a Maine Republican.

"It is with great sadness and humility that I am calling a special meeting of our body. I thought that we had finally began healing after the convention. I thought we were ready to move on, work out our differences and strengthen our party in the House and Senate," Jonathan Pfaff a Cumberland committeeman and Paul supporter wrote in an email circulating the letter. "Unfortunately, our National Committeewoman, Jan Staples, has other priorities. She has decided to put her own personal agenda ahead of Maine Republicans. Some have argued she's done this out of spite for her unsuccessful bid to be re-elected. Some have argued that she's being offered a deal by Mitt Romney's campaign."

Pfaff complained: "As an example of Ms. Staples sentiments, she was recently quoted in the Portland Press Herald as saying, 'For us, it's trying to get back control of our party.' Who exactly is she trying to get back control from? We are all Republicans."

http://buzzfeed.com/buzzfeedpolitics/paul-delegate-purge-sparks-gop-civil-war-in-maine#HTWF2

Who will win in this tug-o-war?

Will the revolution result in handing the presidency back to President Barack Obama?

Will the Liberty Movement and its state delegate slates be accepted by the Credentials Committee the weekend before the convention?

Will this help the Liberty Movement in 2016?

From the Cornfield, as the fight goes on, one wonders if winning the White House is not a goal this year.

The Mideast Watch - August 2

by Mark  

A powder keg waiting to explode is the way many perceive the Mideast. The events in the region could set off in many people's estimates a cascade that could emesh the US of A in more military action.

Jordan: A spokesman for U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the Pentagon chief and Jordan's King Abdullah agree that Syrian leader Bashar Assad must give up power.

Spokesman George Little made the statement after Panetta met with the king in Amman on Thursday.

Little said the two men discussed the prospects for a political transition after Assad is gone.

They also discussed the problem of Syrian refugees entering Jordan, Little said.

http://azstarnet.com/news/world/panetta-asks-israel-for-patience-on-iran/article_e8f2c553-2db4-5258-aa3b-696c74cde2b5.html

Israeli/Egyptian Relations: A friendly letter from the new President of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, to his counterpart in Israel, had been hailed as an unexpected sign that Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood intended to maintain cordial ties with Israel.

That sign was fleeting, however.

In a day of diplomatic confusion that involved not only Egypt and Israel but also the visiting American Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta, Egyptian and Israeli officials contradicted each other's accounts of how or even whether the two Presidents had communicated, leaving the state of relations roughly where they began - in uncomfortable uncertainty.

http://smh.com.au/world/dispute-over-letter-leaves-egyptisrael-relations-confused-20120801-23fkq.html

An aide to Israeli President Simon Peres says a disputed letter from Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi was sent by the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv and cleared for publication by officials there.

Egyptian state media on Wednesday quoted Morsi's spokesman as denying any such letter had been sent to the Israeli Nobel peace laureate.

"We received it from the embassy in Tel Aviv," an official at Peres's office told AFP.

"We checked it with them and we asked them to check whether it was okay to publish it and they got back to us and confirmed it was okay to publish it," he said.
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Morsi, Egypt's first Islamist president, has kept Israel at arm's length since he took office on June 30.

http://smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/israel-stands-by-disputed-morsi-letter-20120801-23dhl.html

Iran: Iran has increased its support for the Taliban by allowing the militants to open an office in the country while considering the supply of surface-to-air missiles, according to Afghan and Western officials.

 By helping the Taliban, Iran aims to derail a decade-long "strategic partnership" signed between Afghanistan and America in April. Tehran would also have the option of stirring violence in Afghanistan in retaliation for any US strike on its nuclear facilities.

A member of the Taliban's "Shura", or ruling council, was allowed to set up an office in May in the eastern Iranian city of Zahedan. Two months later, intercepted communications showed members of the Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps discussing plans to send surface-to-air missiles to Afghanistan, although there was no evidence of the weapons actually being dispatched.

If they were given to the Taliban, this would mark a significant escalation of Iranian support. Iran's Shia regime was an enemy of the Sunni Taliban when the latter ruled most of Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. When Taliban forces captured the city of Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998, they murdered nine Iranian diplomats.

http://telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/9444402/Taliban-opens-office-in-Iran.html

Turkey: Turkish warplanes and helicopter gunships have attacked Kurdish rebel positions in the south east of the country.

Turkey is increasingly concerned that Kurdish rebels are trying to expand their reach by establishing bases in conflict-ridden Syria.

http://telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/turkey/9447124/Turkey-launches-air-strikes-against-Kurdish-rebels.html

Egypt: Egypt's Islamist president swore in his first new government Thursday, led by a devout Muslim and including five members of his Muslim Brotherhood in unglamorous but ideal ministries for a group whose long-term aim is to Islamize the most populous Arab nation.

The Cabinet is a far cry from the inclusive administration that President Mohammed Morsi has repeatedly promised. No other political factions came on board to join. Women and Christians received only token representation, and figures from the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak last year were left out.

The choices seemed aimed at playing down fears that the country's first ever government formed under the Muslim Brotherhood's aegis will seek to impose quick and radical change. Seven members of the outgoing, military-backed government, including the foreign, finance and culture ministers, have also kept their jobs, a move by Morsi and Prime Minister Hesham Kandil that may have been designed to inspire stability.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/M/ML_EGYPT?SITE=NMALJ&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

Egypt's prime minister-designate pledged on Thursday that his new 35-member Cabinet would be a "people's government" and called on Egyptians to rally behind it and the nation's newly elected president in the face of "grave challenges."

http://detroitnews.com/article/20120802/NATION/208020423/1020/rss09

Egyptian Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi will keep his post as defense minister in the country's first government since former President Hosni Mubarak's resignation last year.

Officials announced on Thursday that Tantawi would be part of the new Cabinet chosen by Prime Minister Hisham Qandil.  Tantawi, a hold-over from the Mubarak era, also ruled the country after the former president's departure.

http://voanews.com/content/egypts-defense-minister-keeps-post-in-new-cabinet/1453604.html

Lebanon: The 17-month long conflict in Syria has harmed neighboring Lebanon's agriculture sector, which employs about 15 percent of the population.  And with nearly 80 percent of Lebanon's exports passing through Syria, recent closings of the main border crossing to commercial traffic have Lebanon's farmers fearful that, if the conflict continues, their livelihoods will be devastated.

In the Bekaa Valley, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are grown for domestic consumption and export to Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf countries.

But as the conflict in Syria intensifies, Antoine Howayek, the president of Lebanon's Farmers' Association, said farmers here are having trouble getting their produce to these markets over land.

http://voanews.com/content/syria_crisis_hurts_lebanese_farmers/1452673.html

From the Cornfield, the US of A presidential election may very well be decided on what happens in The Mideast.

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