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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel vs. Hamas, THE GAZA WAR, When Strategies Collide, Walter Russell Mead on: July 25, 2014, 07:31:58 PM
WRM writes a bit like Stratfor and explains his analysis of motives and calculations on both sides in a very understandable way.  The way that Egypt and Saudi come into it is quite interesting.  I wonder if people here see it similarly.

In understanding both sides thinking it is pretty easy to predict this conflict goes on beyond our lifetimes unless you are quite a bit younger then me! Since Israel will never completely annihilate them this ends when Hamas and the people of Gaza give up their quest to destroy Israel which is also never.  Both sides have a strong motive to see the current conflict continue.

http://www.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2014/07/25/the-gaza-war-when-strategies-collide/

Walter Russell Mead
Published on July 25, 2014
THE GAZA WAR
When Strategies Collide
Many wars are fought over accidents and misunderstandings. This is not one of those times. With key interests at stake, the conflict in Gaza is likely to continue.

As the politicians, pundits, and foreign policy panjandrums of the world Western world wring their hands over the chaos and carnage in Gaza, it’s worth noting that there are solid reasons why peace is proving so elusive. Both sides have reason to think they can pull off a significant victory in the current round of fighting, and neither side thinks it can live with the consequences of a defeat. Until something happens to change the thinking on one or both sides, a cease fire will be hard to achieve.

HOPES FOR A WIN

Israel continues to fight because it believes that with more time, it can destroy enough tunnels and inflict enough damage on Hamas to significantly degrade the organization’s military strength and weaken it politically. Furthermore, both Saudi Arabia and Egypt are, perhaps for the first time, quietly rooting for Israel to crush the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Hamas. Given this, Israeli officials presumably think they have a golden opportunity for the extended and crushing war that they really need to inflict serious damage. Any war with the Palestinians involves political costs and setbacks for Israel, but at this particular moment, war in Gaza is less politically expensive than at other times. Given that Hamas is a significant and growing danger, Israeli leaders are likely to think, why not use the opportunity for all it is worth?

Hamas on the other hand is elated by its success in temporarily but significantly hampering operations at Ben Gurion Airport (arguably the most significant single Palestininan tactical accomplishment since the 1948 War). In addition its fighters have had unexpected success killing Israeli soldiers on the ground, and the Arab street is electrified by the conflict. The resulting publicity offers Hamas an opportunity to emerge from the isolation it faced after the overthrow of the Morsi government in Egypt. Since more Israeli progress on the ground will inevitably and tragically mean more civilian deaths, Hamas can also hope for big propaganda victories to offset any military setbacks that prolonged hostilities will bring. Hamas and its Turkish and Qatari allies can also hope that the longer the war lasts, the worse Egypt and Saudi Arabia will look. The Gaza war isn’t just a war between Israel and Hamas; it is a stage in the struggle between the Muslim Brotherhood and its Arab opponents. The longer Hamas can bear up under Israel’s military pressure, the more success it has in the intra-Arab struggle.

The hope of victory is one reason the two sides keep fighting; both Israel and Hamas also believe that defeat would impose unacceptable costs.


ISRAELI FEARS

For Israel, there are three big reasons why losing is unacceptable. First, as a small country surrounded by enemies and facing hostile public opinion in the world at large, Israel’s security depends in large part on its reputation for military supremacy. That reputation, Israelis feel, deters many more attacks and keeps opposition passive and political rather than encouraging it to be active and military. This is an advantage that Israel will not lightly give up; hostilities are unlikely to end until and unless the Israelis feel they have made their point.

That motive is always present, but it became much more important after a rocket from Gaza caused a significant interruption in service from Ben Gurion Airport. People don’t travel much across Israel’s land frontiers; the airport is Israel’s vital link with the rest of the world. Hamas and anti-Israel forces everywhere were wildly elated by this success, and Israel’s enemies now think they can imagine a new strategy to drive the Jewish state to its knees by cutting it off from the outside world. Israeli defense officials likely feel that they must now do two things: eliminate the capacity of Hamas to repeat this attack, and make the consequences so wounding and expensive to Hamas as to reduce the attractiveness of repeat efforts. This new factor is a military game-changer, and it greatly raised the stakes of the conflict. (The biggest political mistake of the war so far? The American officials who banned U.S. flights from using the airport made a cease fire much harder to obtain.)

Second, there are specific political reasons why Israel is intent on hitting Hamas as hard as it can. Some of this is about Palestinian politics. Fatah may be corrupt, incompetent and in the eyes of many Palestinians fatally compromised by its willingness to compromise with Israel, but the more the ‘resistance’ path championed by Hamas looks like a historical dead end, the less Fatah’s flaws matter in the competition for Palestinian leadership.

But Israel is after much bigger game than Hamas in this war. Weakening Hamas isn’t just an Israeli project: Riyadh and Cairo are rooting for the Gazan terrorists to lose as well.  This strange new band of brothers is Israel’s Plan B alliance in case the U.S. folds on Iran. The Saudis and their Egyptian allies also hate and fear Hezbollah; from an Israeli point of view a successful war against Hamas could be the first step in cooperative action against Hezbollah and, beyond it, Iran. Israel wants this war to go well because it could pave the way to more effective cooperation with the most populous and wealthiest of the Arab states.

It’s also worth noting, from the standpoint of very-long-term Israeli interests, that the willingness of the Saudis and Egyptians and their friends, even silently and tactically, to align with Israel is a promising sign that Israel may someday be accepted in the region. Israel has been given a chance to audition for the role of a tacit ally of the Sunni Arab world against both Sunni and Shia radicals; it doesn’t want to blow this chance and its desire to build its relations with neighboring Arab states may outweigh its concerns about annoying Europe or even the U.S.

The third big reason why Israel needs a win is the one that most of the press commentary focuses on: security. Hamas has developed a network of tunnels and a capacity to launch missiles against much of Israel. Israeli officials will want to see that capacity significantly degraded. From the Israeli point of view, the price of a war in Gaza is high, but the incremental political cost of a few more days of combat, could now be less than the benefits from substantial progress in dismantling tunnels, breaking up Hamas’ leadership and destroying its weapon and missile stockpiles.

Thus from an Israeli point of view, the costs of this particular war are lower than usual, thanks to the tacit Arab support from Hamas’ many Arab enemies, and the need for decisive military results is greater than usual. That would suggest that Israel is likely to want to continue fighting until either its goals are reached or it is clear that they cannot be within a manageable time frame or at an acceptable cost. That point doesn’t appear to have been reached yet.

THE STRATEGY OF HAMAS

Like Israel, Hamas’ war strategy seems to be guided by solid calculations about the organization’s vital interests, and the leadership appears to believe that this is a war that the movement can’t afford to lose.

The chief problem and the real enemy for Hamas is not, however, Israel. Israeli hostility is something Hamas understands and can deal with. The real problem for Hamas is the Saudi-backed Sisi government in Egypt. The current Egyptian government sees Hamas as an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, and crushing the Muslim Brotherhood as thoroughly as possible is Egypt’s top priority these days. Egypt’s Saudi patrons feel the same way; the Muslim Brotherhood looks to the Saudis like a challenge to their claim to lead the forces of orthodox Sunnism—and Hamas in the past has been willing to ally itself with Saudi’s arch enemies in Syria and Iran.

The change in the status quo that led to war with Israel had nothing to do with Israel itself; what has happened is that Egypt has systematically intensified the blockade of Gaza, hoping to throttle Hamas, disrupt its support, and put enough economic pressure on Gaza to force Hamas from power.

For Hamas, the pre-war status quo was a death sentence, allowing Egypt to quietly strangle Gaza. The business networks dependent on smuggling were hurting, civil servants weren’t getting paid, and residents were increasingly unhappy with a lousy economy and no progress in sight. Hamas is a cornered animal striking out in desperation. A return to the status quo ante is not acceptable to Hamas, which feels it absolutely must gain some relief or it will go under.

There are reports of splits between the political and military leaders of Hamas in the run up to war, but it seems clear that whoever is now calling the shots in Gaza, so to speak, believes that Hamas is in a war for survival, and short of crushing defeat, Hamas is unlikely to accept a cease fire that restores the status quo ante.

Hamas wants a cease fire that will allow it to import enough goods into Gaza to keep the economy going and to allow it to rebuild its military stockpiles. If Israel and Hamas were the only two entities involved, this might not be so hard to arrange. They have had cease fires before, and while each hates the other and wants it destroyed, on a pragmatic, day by day basis, Israel and Hamas have managed to work things out for long periods of time.

The trouble is that it is hard for Hamas to force Egypt and Saudi Arabia to accept this deal. The Saudis and their allies are happy for Israel to pay the political price for a war against Hamas that they want the Jewish state to win. Meanwhile, it is Egypt that ultimately can decide on peace or war: when Egypt feels that Hamas has been weakened and punished enough that it’s OK to show it some mercy, then the balance of forces will shift and some kind of truce will become much easier to achieve.

Under the circumstances, Hamas’ strategy is a convoluted one: Hamas is trying to create such a hot crisis by staging a war with Israel that the U.S., Europe and an enraged Arab street will force Egypt and Saudi Arabia to give up their drive to starve Hamas out. That may yet work, but it is unlikely to work all that quickly. Neither Egypt nor the Saudis are particularly unhappy if Israel is getting bad press around the world; as far as they are concerned, if rampaging mobs burn every Israeli embassy in Europe, it is no skin off President Sisi’s nose.

This suggests that for Hamas as well as for Israel, the high price of a long (by Israeli-Palestinian standards) war may make sense. It will take time for the kind of political pressure to build that would lead Egypt to soften its blockade of Gaza; it’s hard to see a good reason (except for the obvious humanitarian one) why Hamas would give up before giving its strategy time to work.

WILL PEACE GET A CHANCE?

Many wars come about by accident or by misunderstanding. This particular war, however it was originally triggered, seems to be driven by the real interests of the chief parties involved. In such cases, peace is hard to make until the parties have seen how things go on the battlefield.

This doesn’t necessarily mean a long, drawn-out war. Gaza is a very small place and Hamas’ reserves are not very deep. It is not in Israel’s interests for the war to drag on and some more-horrendous-than-usual event could so shock public opinion around the world and in Israel itself that the calculus could change.

Nevertheless, the peacemaking wannabes have a tricky task ahead of them and the U.S. administration in particular will not enjoy some of the choices it must make. Barring a Hamas collapse, a political solution to the war involves getting not only Israel but also Egypt (and its Saudi backers) to accept some kind of arrangement that loosens the blockade enough to let Hamas survive.

The trouble is that neither the Egyptians nor the Saudis seem interested in making Barack Obama’s life any easier these days. Both countries bitterly resented his support for the Morsi government, and the ineffectiveness of his support deepened their contempt without dulling their anger. They do not trust him over Iran, Syria or Iraq, and they increasingly feel that they must organize the defense of the region without deferring to him. They may take a certain grim satisfaction in his discomfort if a Washington failure to broker a Gaza cease fire makes the Obama administration look weak.

Unhappily for the Obama administration, the best way for the U.S. to hasten the arrival of a durable cease fire in Gaza is to promise a more robust and hawkish policy in the rest of the region. The Israelis will be more willing to make concessions on a Gaza cease fire if they believe that the U.S. will back them more effectively against Iran, and the Saudis and Egyptians are more likely to give ground in Gaza if the U.S. offers real support in the rest of the region.

This is the opposite of the way much of the left and the press understands how the Middle East works, but the new Middle East is a more complicated place than it used to be. The battle between Sunni Arabs and Israelis is no longer the most important issue on the table for key Arab governments as well as for Israel. While that old conflict has not disappeared, it has been eclipsed by the new conflict between a resurgent Iran and the leading Sunni Arab states.

We must hope that American diplomats and other hopeful peacemakers grasp the new and sometimes counterintuitive dynamics of the region. Otherwise the Gaza war could drag on as the peacemakers chase red herrings and run up blind alleys. Fundamentally this war is one of the many dangerous consequences of the regional perception that the United States is in retreat; only by changing that perception can the Obama administration hope to stabilize the region and bring the killing, in Gaza and elsewhere, to an end.

Clausewitz wrote that in war, “the side that feels the lesser urge for peace will necessarily get the better bargain.” Both of the combatants are used to pain, loaded for bear, and feel their essential interests are in play. The most likely outcome is probably an uglier and longer war than usual, followed by another unhappy truce.
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 750 well documented Glibness lies, cronyism, broken promises, illegal acts on: July 25, 2014, 07:21:20 PM
I prefer to defeat the governing philosophy instead of finding flaws in the humans at the top, but lying to us, talking out of both sides of the mouth, misrepresenting everything, along with cronyism and corruption all seem to be an essential component of the governing philosophy.  Someone needs to expose it. 

This is from a blog called Dan from Squirrel Hill (Pittsburgh).  Nothing particularly new here, just a very nice job of compilation and sourcing.  Links and full explanations are included for every item. http://danfromsquirrelhill.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/obama-252/

1) Carried out military interventionism in Libya without Congressional approval
In June 2011, U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said that Obama had violated the Constitution when he launched military operations in Libya without Congressional approval.
In April 2014, Ralph Nader said that Obama should be impeached for his actions in Libya.

2) Gave a no-bid contract to Halliburton cronies – just like Bush did
In May 2010, it was reported that the Obama administration had selected KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton, for a no-bid contract worth as much as $568 million through 2011, just hours after the Justice Department had said it would pursue a lawsuit accusing the Houston-based company of using kickbacks to get foreign contracts.
Don’t be fooled by the words “former subsidiary.” These are the same Halliburton cronies that Bush gave a no-bid contract to.
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/13/obamas-mounting-hypocrisy/

3) Has an administration full of lobbyists, after promising he wouldn’t have any
On November 15, 2007, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Obama said that lobbyists
“… will not work in my White House.”
However, by February 2010, he had more than 40 lobbyists working in his administration. A list of them can be seen here.
http://washingtonexaminer.com/obama-makes-a-mockery-of-his-own-lobbyist-ban/article/17568
...
5) Broke his promise to close Guantanamo Bay   ...

Oops, the list is now 780.  (link is above)
3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics, One number decides national elections on: July 25, 2014, 07:00:15 PM
I think this is a rare truth coming from an analyst from the left.  If you divide the voters in half, those with incomes above 50k, roughly the median income and those below, Republicans win the upper group, but by not that large a margin and by a fairly predictable amount.  According to this analysis, Democrats win nationally when they carry those making less than 50k/yr by closer to 20 points and lose nationally when they carry that group by closer to 10 points.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/07/the-one-number-that-will-decide-this-years-election/374979/

"Republicans consistently win voters making $50,000 or more, approximately the U.S. median income. The margin doesn't vary too much: In 2012, Mitt Romney got 53 percent of this group's vote; in 2010, Republican House candidates got 55 percent. And Democrats consistently win voters making less than the median—but the margin varies widely."

4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics at the State & Municipal level on: July 25, 2014, 02:15:03 PM
Well, I'm not down with the amnesty, but that is a federal issue , , , and the federal courts have taken gay marriage away from the vote so I suppose he doesn't hurt on those two issues.
Good message that the Reps are the party of work, etc.
Let's see.

Yes, I wonder if a person can be wishy-washy on something like sovereignty and yet genuine and passionate on things like freedom and responsibility.  As you said, let's see.

He is saying to a lot of immigrants and other groups, you can differ with conservatives on one issue (or two or three) and still vote conservative to move the country (state) in a better direction.  Certainly Reagan did that in his day with a wide range of voters.
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Will:Calif Gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari defines new conservatism on: July 24, 2014, 11:47:51 PM
I wonder what our Calif forum members think of the Calif R. Gov candidate.  I take from this column that George Will sees something good in Kashkari's brand of conservatism.  We are long overdue for new, real leaders who can begin to reach people and change minds.  Being on the top of the ticket on the nation's largest state presents an opportunity to do that.  Does anyone ever hold these Dems accountable for their record, reach out to all groups, offer an alternative?  Maybe he does.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/383510/californias-goldwater-20-george-will

In his own words, my first look at him:

6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / There goes another Senate seat, Iowa Dem couldn't be bothered with VA oversight on: July 24, 2014, 12:50:42 PM
http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/elections/2014/07/22/bruce-braley-three-fundraisers-on-day-of-missed-hearing/13004385/?sf28880685=%5B%22%5B%271%27%5D%22%5D

Braley under fire for missing VA oversight meetings

Des Moines Register, July 23, 2014

"Over a two-year period, Democratic (Senate candidate) U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley missed 75 percent of meetings for a committee that provides oversight over the Veterans Administration, including one meeting on a day he attended three fundraisers for his 2012 campaign."

Hey, he won that campaign.  Who needs oversight?
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science: Parts of the deeper ocean show cooling on: July 24, 2014, 12:40:54 PM
"OK, folks, what do we make of that?"

We have gone from the planet is being destroyed by an out of control heat spiral to concern about  "above average temperatures"? lol.

Weren't we in a warming phase before the industrial age?

Now we are in a warming "pause".  The buffer allowing the pause is believed to be the absorption of heat by the oceans.  Is that so?
---------------------------------------

There’s a new paper just out in the Journal of Physical Oceanography by Carl Wunsch of Harvard and Patrick Heimbach of MIT

http://ocean.mit.edu/~cwunsch/papersonline/heatcontentchange_26dec2013_ph.pdf

—both prominent figures in the field, neither known as a climate “skeptic”—that is likely to make waves (pun intended).  This sentence in particular appears significant:

Interpretation requires close attention to the long memory of the deep ocean, and implying that meteorological forcing of decades to thousands of years ago should still be producing trend-like changes in abyssal heat content.

In other words, it would not be unfair to suggest that ocean trends might have much longer-term causes than the emissions from your SUV alone.

And there’s this possibly inconvenient fact:

Parts of the deeper ocean, below 3600 m, show cooling.

And on p. 22 of the complete manuscript, the authors say this:

Direct determination of changes in oceanic heat content over the last 20 years are not in conflict with estimates of the radiative forcing, but the uncertainties remain too large to rationalize e.g., the apparent “pause” in warming.

In other words, “we don’t know.”

Steven Hayward, Powerline, yesterday  (more at link)
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/07/are-the-oceans-warming.php
8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, stock market , investment strategies: GM disappoints on: July 24, 2014, 12:11:20 PM
I'm not sure if General Motors falls under US Economy or Cognitive Dissonance of Government Programs.  Who saw THIS coming?

GM Debt Climbs to Over $40 Billion, Earnings Disappoint
http://markets.ft.com/research/Markets/Tearsheets/Financials?s=GM:NYQ

Other than trouble in housing, transportation, employment, healthcare, education, and global security on the brink of collapse, things look pretty good out there.

9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left, INCOME INEQUALITY IN 2010 on: July 24, 2014, 11:45:10 AM
Leftist power, leftist results, how did it all work out?
(skip to the bottom if you don't like my long intro)

In November 2006, based mostly on Iraq war fatigue, the American people transferred nearly all power in Washington to the left. The last initiative won by the lame duck George Bush was the surge; all domestic policy momentum shifted to the Democrats, led in name Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and in fact by the Presidential frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  What happened in that time?  Unemployment doubled.  Real estate crashed.  There was a financial run on the too big to fail institutions unprecedented at least since 1929.  Then there were the bailouts, TARP, a Presidential change, QE, cash for clunkers, cash for home buyers, cash for solar, cash for hybrids, cash for quitting work, artificially low interest rates and a debatable 'recovery' of sorts and a recession ending in the summer of 2009, the recovery summer of 2010 and so on.  If you invested everything you owned at the exact bottom of the market, you would have at least two or three times (nothing) today!

For the left, this was the perfect storm, complete control of the House, the White House, and the swearing in of the (stolen) 60th Democratic Senate seat in July 2009.  Tax increases on the rich became inevitable, along with the passage (or "deemed passed") of Obamacare along with a couple dozen more taxes that made it all possible.  As good as it gets!

Jumping forward, Republicans swept the House elections in Nov 2010 to be sworn in and take control of the one chamber in Jan 2011, limiting the growth and spread of leftism to just Republican caving and administrative over-reaches.  So the best year to judge the results of our leftist American storm was in their last big year, 2010, when George Bush had totally and completely left the building.

Here are the results of all this leftist euphoria, measured in terms of progress on their number one priority, income inequality.

Today's New York Times, Journal of the Left, Pravda on the Hudson, lifted from the trusted  Editorial Page, from one of their most trusted columnists, Nicholas Kristof, telling us how bad income inequality is, (drum roll please):

" In 2010, 93 percent of [all] additional income created in America went to the top 1 percent."
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/24/opinion/nicholas-kristof-idiots-guide-to-inequality-piketty-capital.html?_r=0
Idiot's Guide to Income Inequality

This, from the party of the middle class and the expanding underclass?? Unfortunately, the policies of cronyism, government takeover, class envy and punishment of personal achievement are not how you rise the tide that lifts all boats. 
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Paul Ryan on: July 24, 2014, 10:56:33 AM
Nice post and good work by Paul Ryan.  He has been quietly visiting and studying poverty in America, seeing what most people outside certain areas never see.  If we had everyone who can, fully participating in our economy, this would be a prosperous nation beyond our wildest imagination.  Instead we are saddled with programs intended to help that are holding millions and millions of people back unmercifully.

Paul Ryan may not be the person with the charisma to win over the nation from the Presidential podium, but he is most certainly the right person to lead the House Ways and Means committee and the next President with a positive agenda going forward.
11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors, Ban lifted on: July 24, 2014, 10:39:32 AM
"The Democrat Party is the new religion for 75-80% of American Jews."

Very funny, if it was not so true.  From my Jewish friends closer to home I have heard passion for general liberalism more than for the defense of Israel.  More American Jews should consider moving toward conservatism - for many reasons!

Israel is the canary in the coal mine.  As already demonstrated, when terrorist are not purging Jews, they are attacking gays, Christians, atheists, agnostics, infidels, and the 'wrong' sect of Islam, whether to them that is Sunni, Shia or moderate.  We don't stand with Israel because they are Jewish.  We stand with them because we are moral human beings, and we stand with them as a practical matter for our own self defense because the same people would like to kill us next.  

I don't like Mayor Bloomberg but he has got a couple of things right recently and deserves specific credit for that.  (The other was calling out Harvard and Ivy league schools for their one-sided political suppression.)
-----------------------------------------------
Ban lifted
http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/FAA-lifts-flight-ban-on-US-flights-to-Israel-368705

Interesting that the "FAA" lifted its ban after 36 hours.  Wonder if that was because it was the right thing to do or because they were getting hammered politically with criticism such as was posted here from Newt.  BTW, do we have a President in charge of our foreign policy or just administrative agencies acting on their own?  No mention of that in the story.  Maybe the President only learned of our policy flip flop in the news.
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education, only liberals can teach on: July 16, 2014, 07:13:22 PM
www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/07/the-wagner-case-decision.php
A 49 to 1 advantage is not good enough!
www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/07/the-wagner-case-decision.php
"Professor Wagner sought a full-time position legal writing position at the University of Iowa College of Law after working there on a part-time basis. She was well known as a stalwart social conservative among the school’s faculty, which at the time numbered 49 Democrats and one Republican. The law school is overwhelmingly liberal. When she didn’t get the job and an inferior candidate did, she brought her lawsuit in federal court under section 1983, the statute that allows civil rights claims against state actors to be litigated in federal court."

Read about the case at the link.
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, How inherited wealth helps the economy on: July 16, 2014, 07:06:56 PM
Greg Mankiw is head of the Harvard Economics Dept.
His blog:  http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/
This article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/22/upshot/how-inherited-wealth-helps-the-economy.html?smid=pl-share&_r=0

How Inherited Wealth Helps the Economy

JUNE 21, 2014

By N. GREGORY MANKIW

Is inherited wealth making a comeback?

Yes, says Thomas Piketty, author of the best seller “Capital in the Twenty-First Century.” Inherited wealth has always been with us, of course, but Mr. Piketty believes that its importance is increasing. He sees a future that combines slow economic growth with high returns to capital. He reasons that if capital owners save much of their income, their wealth will accumulate and be passed on to their heirs. He concludes that individuals’ living standards will be determined less by their skill and effort and more by bequests they receive.

To be sure, one can poke holes in Mr. Piketty’s story. Since the book came out, numerous economists have been doing exactly that in book reviews, blog posts and academic analyses.

Moreover, given economists’ abysmal track record in forecasting, especially over long time horizons, any such prognostication should be taken with a shaker or two of salt. The Piketty scenario is best viewed not as a solid prediction but as a provocative speculation.
Photo
An undated photograph shows John D. Rockefeller, wearing a bow tie, and family members. Credit Rockefeller Archive Center

But it raises the question: So what? What’s wrong with inherited wealth?

First, let’s consider why parents leave bequests to their children. I believe that this decision is based on three principles:

INTERGENERATIONAL ALTRUISM This starts with the prosaic premise that parents care about their children. Economists simplify this phenomenon with the concept of “utility,” a measure of lifetime satisfaction or happiness. Intergenerational altruism within the family is modeled by assuming that the utility of Generation One depends on the utility of Generation Two.

And it doesn’t stop there, because future generations will also care about their children. Generation Two’s utility depends on Generation Three’s utility, which depends on Generation Four’s utility, and so on. As a result, each person’s utility depends not only on what happens during his own lifetime but also on the circumstances he expects for his infinite stream of descendants, most of whom he will never meet.

CONSUMPTION SMOOTHING People get utility from consuming goods and services, but they also exhibit “diminishing marginal utility”: The more you are already consuming, the less benefit you get from the next increase in consumption. Your utility increases if you move from a one- to a two-bathroom home. It rises less if you move from a four- to a five-bathroom home.

Because of diminishing marginal utility, people typically prefer a smooth path of consumption to one that jumps around. Consuming $50,000 of goods and services in each of two years is generally better than consuming $80,000 one year and $20,000 the next. People smooth consumption by saving in good times and drawing down assets when conditions are lean.

REGRESSION TOWARD THE MEAN This is the tendency of many variables to return to normal levels over time. Consider height. If you are much, much taller than average, your children will most likely be taller than average as well, but they will also most likely be shorter than you are.

The same is true for income. According to a recent study, if your income is at the 98th percentile of the income distribution — that is, you earn more than 98 percent of the population — the best guess is that your children, when they are adults, will be in the 65th percentile. They will enjoy higher income than average, but much closer to that of the typical earner. (This regression to the mean over generations, of course, has nothing to say about a nation’s overall income inequality, which is an entirely separate issue.)

This phenomenon is clearest for the most extreme cases. In their own times, John D. Rockefeller and Steve Jobs each created one of the world’s most valuable companies and made a ton of money along the way. They must have known it was unlikely that their children would accomplish the same feat.

Together, these ideas explain why top earners often leave sizable bequests to their families. Because of intergenerational altruism, they make their consumption and saving decisions based not only on their own needs but also on those of their descendants. Because of regression toward the mean, they expect their descendants to be less financially successful than they are. Hence, to smooth consumption across generations, they need to save some of their income so future generations can consume out of inherited wealth.

This logic also explains why many people aren’t inclined to reduce their current spending so they will have money saved for bequests. For those in the bottom half of the income distribution, regression toward the mean is good news: Their descendants will very likely rank higher than they do. Even those near the middle can expect their children and grandchildren to earn higher incomes as technological progress pushes productivity and incomes higher. Only for those with top incomes does the combination of intergenerational altruism, consumption smoothing and regression toward the mean lead to a significant role for inherited wealth.

From a policy perspective, we need to consider not only the direct effects on the family but also the indirect effects on the broader economy. Rising income inequality over the past several decades has meant meager growth in living standards for those near the bottom of the economic ladder, and one might worry that inherited wealth makes things worse. Yet standard economic analysis suggests otherwise.

When a family saves for future generations, it provides resources to finance capital investments, like the start-up of new businesses and the expansion of old ones. Greater capital, in turn, affects the earnings of both existing capital and workers.

Because capital is subject to diminishing returns, an increase in its supply causes each unit of capital to earn less. And because increased capital raises labor productivity, workers enjoy higher wages. In other words, by saving rather than spending, those who leave an estate to their heirs induce an unintended redistribution of income from other owners of capital toward workers.

The bottom line is that inherited wealth is not an economic threat. Those who have earned extraordinary incomes naturally want to share their good fortune with their descendants. Those of us not lucky enough to be born into one of these families benefit as well, as their accumulation of capital raises our productivity, wages and living standards.

N. Gregory Mankiw is a professor of economics at Harvard.
14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, Employment is going down. on: July 16, 2014, 07:01:13 PM
Friday, June 6, 2014  by Casey Mulligan, Economist, University of Chicago
http://caseymulligan.blogspot.com/2014/06/employment-just-went-down.html
Employment just went down
Please don't forget that the establishment survey excludes agricultural workers and many of the self-employed. The establishment survey has a lot going for it, but only for the part of the economy it covers. For anyone interested in the national economy, I recommend using the establishment survey plus unincorporated self-employed (from the household survey, seasonally adjusted) plus agricultural workers (also from the household survey, seasonally adjusted). See also the BLS on this matter.

One of the critiques of the household survey is that it is noisy month-to-month -- I agree. But my proposed augmentation of the establishment survey is not particularly noisy because the vast majority of its employment is from the establishment survey.

Changes from April 2014 to May 2014 (100s of workers):

+217 establishment survey
-213 unincorporated self-employed
-109 agricultural workers (excluding self-employed)
----------------------------------
-105 National employment change

[The average monthly change since December 2013 has been +152: just keeping up with population growth. The avg monthly change in 2013 was +171. This employment measure has increased 36 out of the past 40 months (going back to 2010, not counting this month). This month's change is 1.9 standard deviations below the average change since 2010.]
[2010 was the labor-market's low point by most employment measures. But unincorp self-employment has fallen another 567,000 since then. If you use the establishment survey, you miss that.]
Posted by Casey B. Mulligan, Univ. of Chicago
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: July 13, 2014, 04:02:47 PM
Doug posts:

"Meanwhile, fracking has no known incidents of poisoning ground water, and (posted elsewhere) the $100 Billion Germany is investing in solar will the delay the final destruction of the planet by 38 hours, according to peer-reviewed, scientific models."

If we replaced all coal with natural gas I wonder how much we could delay the end of humanity by.

Instead the left wants solar, etc that won't work for the bulk of what we need.


If you did 200 projects worldwide on a scale of the $100 Billion German solar project, you would extend life on this planet by one year (using THEIR math).

That calculation is meaningless, of course.  We aren't destroying the planet, the doom scenario is wildly exaggerated, and the energy production from these overly expensive sources is so minuscule that the gain from all them combined is meaningless.

Since that would do nothing, solve this a better way, through prosperity and free innovation.  We know nuclear has zero CO2 emissions and many improvements and variations of it are barely in development stages.  See next generation nuclear, pebble bed, Thorium, who knows?  What we will use for power 100 years from now isn't going to be gasoline, especially if bureaucrats are not in the lead.  Solar is great is some situations, and wind, and geothermal, but let them all compete on equal footing with every other idea.
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: July 11, 2014, 09:34:23 PM
Exactly so.

We won't impeach, but if we did, what would be the articles of impeachment against him?  Will anyone add, correct or fill in details to make the case:

1)  Fast and Furious, what exactly are we charging them with doing there?

2) IRS Targeting, applying the laws and enforcement mechanism unequally under the law with the intention of stifling opposition gaining unfair advantage in the election.

3) A long list of 'passing' laws by administrative decree when he couldn't get the votes to pass in congress, as required by the constitution.  EPA rules, for one example.  Removing the work requirement for welfare, for another.

4) 13 Unanimous rulings in the Supreme Court against the administration for over-reach of executive power.  http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/381296/supreme-court-rules-unanimously-against-obama-12th-and-13th-time-2012-john-fund

5) Benghazi:  Putting Americans in harm's way, not sending help, then deliberately misleading the American people about what happened.

6) Immigration and border unenforcement.

7)  ...


17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: July 11, 2014, 02:15:02 PM
Politically I'm thinking it would be a bridge too far, even though both he and the nation thoroughly deserve it.

For one thing, we don't have direct proof tying the President to some of the worst offenses.  Hard to say if willful neglect in governing equals high crimes and misdemeanors.

Impeachment is a political solution that would fail, install Biden as President if successful, and  most certainly backfire on Republicans. 

Republicans have a public perception problem.  They need to be seen as relentlessly advancing real solutions to real problems - every time they get a camera or microphone to their podium.  They need to change hearts and minds and they need to win races.

People are seeing how bad Democratic policies and governing can be, but haven't fully jumped over to conservative governing principles.  This is an enormous and historic opportunity to win people over and change directions.  The over-reaches of power and lawless governing are abominable, but side issues to being on the wrong track headed the wrong direction.
18  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: July 11, 2014, 01:52:22 PM
EXACTLY the kind of material which this thread is about.  I look forward to giving that clip a proper listen.

It is quite insightful and worth your time IMHO.  Look forward to your comments.  Bringing the link forward:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRFsATqLjws#t=93
19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Without fracking we'd be fuct on: July 11, 2014, 01:47:42 PM

$6 /gallon, and getting worse.

Meanwhile, Germany is banning fracking, since - just ask Ukraine, it is so easy to buy energy from your friendly neighbor.  Gas price in Germany, $8.28 and getting worse.  http://www.eia.gov/countries/prices/gasolinewithtax.cfm

Meanwhile, fracking has no known incidents of poisoning ground water, and (posted elsewhere) the $100 Billion Germany is investing in solar will the delay the final destruction of the planet by 38 hours, according to peer-reviewed, scientific models.
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left, left fights left in Minneapolis on: July 11, 2014, 01:37:08 PM
I wrote about this race somewhere, probably under election fraud, but the ugliness exposes a rift in the Dem party.  Jewish liberal Democrat incumbent since 1972 Phyllis Kahn is facing a serious primary challenge from Islamic Somali immigrant Mohammed Noor.  Phyllis Kahn is a household name around here, on a par maybe equal to what Ted Kennedy was nationally.  The liberal lioness is now blowing the whistle on Democrat fraud they perpetrated earlier as it backfires against her.  More fraud incidentally than the Al Franken margin of victory that gave Obamacare it's 60th vote in the Senate.  Perhaps more interesting than cheating is the cultural divide in the party the race is exposing.   I wonder how well her position on gay rights fits with Sharia law, lol.  Minneapois-based Powerline is covering the race, calling it business as usual:
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/07/in-minneapolis-its-just-business-as-usual.php
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/07/109076.php


21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Peer Reviewed Fraud: scientific journal retracts 60 papers on: July 11, 2014, 01:15:56 PM
http://www.uk.sagepub.com/aboutus/press/2014/jul/7.htm

 Chen created up to 130 fake email accounts of "assumed and fabricated identities" that created a "peer review and citation ring." In other words, it appears that he suggested his own fake identities to the journal as reviewers of his papers.


That isn't very different than the IPCC cartel working behind the scenes to cherry pick studies and data, hand pick reviewers and block out dissent.
22  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe, Man beaten in Malmo, Sweden for displaying Israeli flag on: July 11, 2014, 01:06:43 PM
How come I can only find this story in Jewish press, picked up in the US on conservative sites?  I have posted other anti-Israel violence in Sweden third largest city.

http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/24733/Default.aspx

A Kurdish man living in Malmö, Sweden was beaten and seriously injured this week by a gang of local Muslims who took offense at the Israeli flag displayed in his apartment window. ...  Babak said that twice rocks were thrown through his windows. When he went down to the street after the last incident, he was confronted by at least 10 youths, most wielding iron rods and glass bottles. After demanding to know why he placed an Israeli flag in his window, the youths severely beat Babak.


http://www.jns.org/news-briefs/2014/7/7/man-assaulted-in-sweden-for-flying-israeli-flag
http://forward.com/articles/201529/sweden-man-beaten-for-hanging-israel-flag/
http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/swedish-jew-hospitalized-after-flying-israeli-flag/2014/07/08/
http://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/news/14903/sweden_man_severly_beaten_for_hanging_israel_flag_in_his_window
http://www.jta.org/2014/07/07/news-opinion/world/man-beaten-in-malmo-for-hanging-israeli-flag
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

41 percent of Malmös population consists of first or second generation immigrants.
The dismal experience of Malmö undermines the theory that immigration has benefited the Swedish economy.
http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2013/05/malmo-case-study-in-multiculturalism.html
23  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: July 11, 2014, 12:50:50 PM
Likewise! 

It is quite frustrating and disappointing that so many economic measures are loaded with so many errors, even before the people with an agenda add their spin.

How do they tout the recent growth in new homes sales without mentioning that other than the other hope and change years, we are building at about half the rate of the last half century?

PP spells it out so well (as usual).  The 'surge' in growth was when the feds were paying for part of your house.  Incentives like that create dependency, not wealth, and they artificially bumps up prices making them less affordable.  The rest of the growth comes from low interest rates.  But the rates don't just happen to be low but are artificially low based on unsustainable and destructive policies.  Why do we want unsustainable growth?

Some might say homebuilding and the hiring of plumbers and cabinet makers peaked and will never return to previous levels because nearly everyone now has a home.  But ask people like Bill and Hillary Clinton or john and Theresa Kerry, what is the right number of homes per 'household'?  http://www.snopes.com/politics/kerry/homes.asp
 If we all built 5 homes worth $30 million, that would stimulate more employment than we have people.  And it would only take less than a third of the money Bill Clinton has made out of office giving speeches.  Maybe (another) government program could solve this; if the homeless gave speeches under equal pay laws and the Fed accommodated that, we could have endless wealth!
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Wesbury on the end of QE3 on: July 10, 2014, 06:44:28 PM

June, 2014, Wesbury:  The Fed is Flying by the Seat of its Pants
July, 2014, Wesbury:  Fed Still Easy

Both Grannis and Wesbury have opposed QE as it was carried out.  Both believe Fed Policy has been too easy for far too long.  (As do we, I think.)  If the monetary or liquidity policy has been far too expansive for far too long, then what (do they say) is the consequence for that?  Nothing?  A large mistake has a large consequence, it seems to me, unless there is some other factor offsetting that imbalance.

Curious, what was Wesbury's forecast for Q1?   What is his Q2 forecast?  Q2 is over and if the problem turns out to be weather, again, we should know that by now!  Other pros estimate Q2 growth at 2.3% (about the same as they forecasted in Q1, off by more than 5 points.)  http://businessroundtable.org/resources/ceo-survey/2014-Q2  But if after months of revisions it turns out growth was negative, again, then we have been in a recession since December of last year - and no one knew!  If the economy hits the estimate, then combining the two quarter still means this is a no-growth, slightly contracting economy.  If we had hit all the positive estimates all along (and we didn't!) then we would still only be growing at half the rate we should be under better policies (that both Wesbury and Grannis would favor).  That is a little like hitting on 4 cylinders with a V8 engine.  We know we have all these new taxes and all these new mandates and yet we are so surprised to see the economy under-performing.  It is quite sad in many ways.

The countries we are emulating have half their younger workers not working.  Printing more euros and more dollars doesn't address any of what is wrong.
25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 09, 2014, 01:19:35 PM
Since the administration is hiding information, working this behind the scenes, blocking congress and won't tell the truth about this crisis involving minors dumped inside our borders by the tens of thousands, we might as well assume the worst while we look for the evidence to prove it.  They know these kids are coming and are linking them up with relatives here, illegals also.  We may as well assume they are arranging this surge with the same level of thinking that brought us Fast and Furious.

They are uniting undocumented children with undocumented families with the "promise" that the illegals escort them faithfully to their deportation hearing.  Who respects our deportation laws more than illegal aliens?

The circumstances indicate that the administration is a co-conspirator if not the designer of the operation, as they were with Fast and Furious.

This could be the scandal of all scandals, the one that actually offends Democrats and The Media (sorry for the redundancy), not just conservatives and Republicans.
26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Youtube, The Hillary Clinton Tapes on: July 09, 2014, 09:20:54 AM
This is back in the news because the NY Times took a month to get to it:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/08/us/08clinton.html

Also because liberals are out trying to defend her on this:
http://newsbusters.org/blogs/ken-shepherd/2014/07/08/testy-joan-walsh-defends-hillary-clinton-rapist-defense-hardball
Joan Walsh, Salon:  "I'm sure she would take that laughter back."    Ya think?

The laughter is real, she is laughing about the whole thing, getting him off on time served, ha ha, even though she believes he was guilty of raping a 12 year old girl and destroying the rest of her life, ha ha.  She was asked to take the case and took it.  She was confronted with the story; she brought it up in the interview - bragging about her past work!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2f13f2awK4

While the laughter is real, the Arkansas accent is soooo phony.  She is from Chicago, lived later in Washington and got elected as Senator from New York.  Is this accent something you can turn on and off?  In her case, yes! More recently:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaDQ1vIuvZI&feature=kp
27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi and related matters on: July 09, 2014, 07:43:19 AM
So, we're the Iranians extra upset by the YouTube video?

They were a leader in this area, pissed about unreleased 2013 videos since 1979.
28  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: DNC spokeswoman Martha Raddatz interviews Gov. Perry on: July 09, 2014, 07:33:04 AM

She appears to be auditioning (again) for an administration position.  Or is ABC News part of the administration?  Too bad that level of  partisanship is accepted in the so-called mainstream.  He handled it beautifully. 

I would think that as a rule in an interview with a dignitary, the Governor of Texas for example, the journalist would spend half the time letting them get their message out and half the time challenging them back with the tough, critical questioning, instead of all attack, all the time.  If they don't have a message worth hearing, then don't invite them on the program.
29  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law, House Lawsuit on: July 09, 2014, 07:07:49 AM
THE BOEHNER LAWSUIT AGAINST OBAMA IS BEGINNING TO TAKE SHAPE
The Boehner Lawsuit Against Obama Is Beginning to Take ShapeA vote on the resolution to authorize the legal action is set for the week before August break.

July 8, 2014
Starting next week, House Republicans will launch a highly visible—and likely tumultuous—three-week process of bringing to the floor legislation to authorize their promised lawsuit against President Obama over his use of executive actions.

"In theory, you could report out a resolution tomorrow and vote on it," said a House GOP aide on Tuesday. "But that is not the approach [the leaders] want to take."

Rather, the aim is to display—if not actually engage in—a more deliberative process, even if amid controversy. This drawn-out script builds toward a potentially dramatic floor vote held just days, or even hours, before the House adjourns on July 31 for its August-long summer break.  more at link)

http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/the-boehner-lawsuit-against-obama-is-beginning-to-take-shape-20140708
30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ObamaCare failing, as it was designed to do on: July 09, 2014, 07:04:03 AM
More Than Expected Will Drop Out Of Colorado’s Obamacare Program

Nearly twice as many people are expected to drop out of Colorado’s state-run health care exchange in the coming years than originally projected, leading to nearly $2 million lost in associated fees for the financially embattled program over the next two years.
http://dailycaller.com/2014/07/09/report-more-than-expected-will-drop-out-of-colorados-obamacare-program/#ixzz36yJp05ga
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Unreliable, Audit Finds
By JOHN MERLINE, INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
 Posted 07/08/2014 06:59 PM ET

Buried in a largely overlooked government audit of the Obama-Care exchanges is a finding that casts still more doubt on the reliability of the 8 million enrollment number commonly cited by the administration and the press.

In a section titled "Other Issues," an inspector general report released last week found that the HealthCare.gov marketplace couldn't show it had been reconciling its monthly enrollment numbers with insurance companies.

That's despite the fact that the law specifically calls for this reconciliation, and the fact that, as the IG report notes, "the federal marketplace obtained the services of a contractor to reconcile enrollment information."

Obama administration officials "stated that the system to support reconciliations had yet to be developed."

But as the IG makes clear, without this monthly reconciliation, the government "cannot effectively monitor the current enrollment status of applicants, such as ... termination of plans."

Perhaps Far Fewer Enrollees
In other words, there could be far fewer enrollees than advertised if these numbers were reconciled as required by law.

Investor's Business Daily: http://news.investors.com/politics-obamacare/070814-707833-obamacare-enrollment-numbers-unreliable-government-audit-finds.htm#ixzz36yKHET6C
-----------------------------------------

Most transparent administration in history, and they all seem so honest...

31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq, Terrorists Seize Chemical Weapons SIte on: July 09, 2014, 06:58:18 AM
The Associated Press
Published: July 9, 2014
     
UNITED NATIONS — Iraq said the Islamic State extremist group has taken control of a vast former chemical weapons facility northwest of Baghdad, where 2,500 chemical rockets filled with the deadly nerve agent sarin or their remnants were stored along with other chemical warfare agents.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/iraq-terrorists-seize-chemical-weapons-site-24476238
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I didn't know Iraq had WMD.  Was this under Saddam Hussein?

32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Billings Gazette: We Were Wrong on: July 09, 2014, 06:52:54 AM
So rare to admit it these days, especially for the media...

and "Finally, Obamacare has become synonymous with boondoggle."

http://billingsgazette.com/news/opinion/editorial/gazette-opinion/gazette-opinion-obama-earned-the-low-ratings/article_f7f51100-0eb8-5726-922f-b1bf460fcf87.html#.U7wU2UplLOU.email

Obama earned the low ratings

Sometimes, you have to admit you're wrong.

And, we were wrong.

We said that things couldn't get much worse after the sub par presidency of George W. Bush.

But, President Barack Obama's administration has us yearning for the good ol' days when we were at least winning battles in Iraq.

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal polls show that Americans are giving Obama lower marks than in 2006 when Iraq was going poorly for Bush and a tepid response to Hurricane Katrina sunk Bush's ratings.

It's not that popularity polling should be the final or even best measure of a president. There is that old saw that points out there's a difference between doing what is right and what is popular.

For us, though, it's the number of bungled or blown policies in the Obama administration which lead us to believe Obama has earned every bit of an abysmal approval rating.

Let's recap some of the mistakes:

- Maybe the worst and most widespread invasion of privacy occurred when the Obama administration continued a controversial National Security Agency program of spying on millions of citizens culling their phone records to intercepting online information. The administration has done nearly nothing to safeguard civil liberties or put in safeguards to protect our Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.

- The Obama administration has continued to ratchet down on emissions from coal-fired power plants while giving consumers little new innovation to replace the power supply. Meanwhile, Obama continues to thwart other energy projects that might be helpful to the economy, like the Keystone XL pipeline. The war on carbon might not be so bad if indeed it was being counterbalanced by true innovation.

- Iraq was an inherited quagmire from the Bush administration. But six years later, Obama has to own the current situation which, as this is being written, looks perilously close to civil war and a complete breakdown of government in Iraq. If that were to happen, the sacrifice of thousands of Americans' lives would be cheapened, if not in vain. His handling the situation seems uncertain and we can't help but wonder if the same type of inaction will lead to a civil war similar to Syria's?

- The Bowe Bergdahl situation is an example of right instinct, completely wrong handling of a prisoner exchange. The Obama administration should be lauded for not wanting to leave any American solider behind. But, surprising Congress, trading possible terrorists and not doing enough to vet the background of Bergdahl had the net effect of looking incompetent. What should have been an easy public relations victory for bringing a lost soldier home turned into a public relations nightmare, and continued to erode public confidence, leading some to wonder if Obama's team can't even get something as important as bringing home a captive soldier correct, what can it be successful at?

- The VA scandal showed that wait times for veterans access to health care was so bad that some veterans actually died before they could get the medical care they were entitled to. While the VA system was not invented by the Obama administration, after six years of management, it's clear that problems were not be corrected quickly enough and that our nation was not living up to the promise it made to take care of soldiers. The most recent debacle led to the sacking of retired Gen. Eric Shinseki, but it was another black eye for the administration which appeared to look incompetent when it comes to taking care of wounded, or in-need veterans.

- Speaking of health care, Obama had also pledged that his administration would embrace new stem cell technology, and part of the hope and change we heard so much about would happen as lives improved through medical innovation. But as his presidency has continued, we see little evidence that Obama is pushing for new cures, science or solutions when it comes to medical problems.

- For years now, reports by watchdog organizations and journalists that have shown despite Obama's promises of being more transparent, his administration has actually cracked down on journalists, spied on citizens and retaliated against those who leak information to the press. In fact, the Obama administration has become so opaque and difficult that it has earned the reputation of being far worse than Nixon, the disgraced president whose terrible clampdown of information led to federal law being changed for more transparency.

- Finally, Obamacare has become synonymous with boondoggle. To be fair, there has not been enough time to judge whether the comprehensive health care reform program works, but one thing is certain: The public presentation and roll-out of the program was so riddled with technical glitches and problems, it greatly undermined the public's confidence in the system.

These are all signs — none of them definitive on their own, necessarily. However, when taken in completely, these demonstrate a disturbing trend of incompetence and failure. It's not just that Americans are in a sour mood about national politics. That's probably part of it. Instead, Obama has become another in a line of presidents long on rhetoric and hopelessly short on action.

Obama's hope and change have left liberals and conservatives alike hoping for real change, not just more lofty rhetoric.
33  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: America's Inner City, Chicago: 82 shootings in 84 hours on: July 08, 2014, 10:35:28 PM
"Personal responsibility and economic growth would run contrary to the needs of the dems/racial industrial complex."

That's right.  But it shouild be clear by now to some very key constituencies that these policies are failing those people.
34  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: July 08, 2014, 10:38:04 AM
I am having trouble finding a surprisingly thoughtful piece by the former mayor of NYC (Blumenthal? Bloomberg?) on fracking

 http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1096.msg80668#msg80668
35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: July 08, 2014, 09:12:16 AM
The "pre-crash levels" are also known as "the bubble".


Okay, then down 50% from the previous 50 year average.
36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: America's Inner City, Chicago: 82 shootings in 84 hours on: July 08, 2014, 08:13:26 AM
My point looking into America's inner cities is not gun violence but the culture in the neighborhoods where that is happening.  This is IMO largely the result of our failed policies in the war on poverty.  George Gilder wrote about this in 1981 in "Wealth and Poverty" and the consequences he described then couldn't be more true today.  Government provides the necessities, lives without purpose, men without responsibilities, neighborhoods without home ownership, children without two loving parents in the home, businesses leave the area, schools fail, the cycle gets worse.

Instead of fighting poverty and a poverty mentality, pursue wealth and a wealth mentality.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-chicago-murder-shooting-violence-edit-0708-20140708,0,2426321.story
37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economy under-performing by 10% on: July 08, 2014, 07:56:15 AM
"We are very likely still in a recovery, but the problem—as illustrated in the chart above—is that the economy is more than 10% below where it could or should be if long-term growth trends are extrapolated. This is without doubt and by far the weakest recovery in history. I think the reasons for this weak growth are a huge increase in regulatory burdens (e.g., Obamacare), a significant increase in top marginal tax rates, a hugely burdensome, complicated, and distorting tax code, and the developed world's highest corporate tax rates."  - Scott Grannis  June 25, 2014


It means we have given up over $11 TRILLION in economic activity over this period of wrongheaded economic policies.  That is the difference between young people getting a good start and not getting a good start.  That is not very different from my view. 

Accompanying chart:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-vmSGbRCiJ4Y/U6tD2fG1fII/AAAAAAAAQ-I/7gXooXOhqoQ/s1600/Real+GDP+vs+trend+50.jpg
38  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: July 08, 2014, 07:46:25 AM
While looking through Scott Grannis today I notice this chart showing the new homes 'recovery' in perspective:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-fqMBZcvT7JA/U6oVBE1reXI/AAAAAAAAQ8Q/sDyr93uxZHs/s1600/New+Home+Sales.jpg
http://scottgrannis.blogspot.com/2014/06/steady-and-slow-improvement-is-boring.html

From that other source we keep hearing how good housing is since hitting rock bottom instead of how poor it is compared to better economic times.  Highest in 5 years is still down 60% from pre-crash levels.
39  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: July 08, 2014, 07:30:51 AM
Scott Grannis has been cautioning us on our take of things and he is no partisan hack.

Agree, Scott Grannis gives honest analysis.  It was Krugman's choice to go from respected academic to partisan hack and it is a long accumulated, well earned characterization of his columns, even if poorly documented by me in that short post. 

I doubt if Grannis believes the combination of fiscal and monetary excesses caused no damage just because large price increases do not show up yet, nor does he use the sluggish Obama economy to slam the conservative viewpoint.

For one thing, Scott Grannis acknowledges that the Fed's strategy has destroyed the incentive to save in this country.  What are the long term consequences of that?  Nothing?
http://scottgrannis.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-bond-markets-pessimism-is-vindicated.html

40  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Immigration issues, Open Borders, Amnesty, Free Stuff, Limited Time Offer on: July 07, 2014, 07:34:12 PM
Michael Ramirez illustrates what the mainstream media will not put into words:



http://news.investors.com/photopopup.aspx?id=707625
41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Heading off global warming by limiting 1st world emissions on: July 07, 2014, 07:30:17 PM
This chart perhaps tells it all:



if the climateers’ disaster scenarios are correct, then Germany’s investment of $100 billion in solar power schemes “can only reduce the onset of Global Warming by a matter of about 37 hours by the year 2100.”  A similar calculation would show the futility of the Obama administration’s “green” initiatives.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/07/04/message-to-the-president-data-shows-co2-reduction-is-futile/
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/07/why-does-obama-want-to-reduce-co2-emissions.php
42  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy, Bret Stephens, WSJ, The Coming Global Disorder on: July 07, 2014, 06:24:10 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRFsATqLjws#t=93
90 minutes with Bret Stephens. He is quite knowledgeable, thoughtful and insightful.

The Book: http://www.amazon.com/America-Retreat-Isolationism-Coming-Disorder/dp/1591846625
America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder Hardcover – November 18, 2014
by Bret Stephens

A Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist argues that the resurgence of isolationism in the U.S. is an invitation to global disorder of a kind last seen in the 1930s

Americans are weary of acting as the world's policeman, especially in the face of our unending economic troubles at home. President Obama stands for cutting defense budgets, leaving Afghanistan, abandoning Iraq, appeasing Russia, and offering premature declarations of victory over al Qaeda. Meanwhile, some Republicans now also argue for a far smaller and less expensive American footprint abroad.

Pulitzer Prize–winning Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens rejects this view. As he sees it, retreating from our global responsibilities will ultimately exact a devastating price to our security and prosperity. In the 1930s, it was the weakness and vacillation of the democracies that led to war and genocide. Today the regimes in Tehran, Damascus, Beijing, and Moscow continue to test America’s will.

Americans have often been tempted to turn our backs on a world that fails to live up to our idealism and doesn’t easily bend. But succumbing to that temptation always leads to tragedy. The mantle of global leadership is a responsibility we must shoulder for the sake of our freedom, our prosperity, and our safety.

America in Retreat is a warning and manifesto by one of America’s foremost foreign-policy thinkers. It will be hotly debated as the latest crises force our leaders to make difficult choices.

43  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Krugman and price levels at minimum velocity on: July 07, 2014, 06:12:24 PM

(Broken record here but...) There is a difference between inflation and price level increases even though we conflate the terms.  Mr. Krugman, Nobel award winner, no one ever said M = P, they said MV = PQ.  Price increases are a consequence of excessive money supply increases, but not a big threat when the economy is running nowhere near peak velocity.  The question is, how big will be the price level increases AFTER normal velocity returns? 

Crafty wrote:  "Many of us here predicted massive inflation by now , , ,"  (emphasis added)

Krugman writes as if the final score is in, but the damages are not all known by now and posted.  We have seen but the tip of the iceberg of the consequences of these wrongheaded policies. 

Surprising (not really) that any professional who was off on economic growth by -200% last quarter (Wesbury, Krugman, etc.) would be smug about how right or wrong amateurs are at (straw argument) forecasting.

Average GDP growth the last 7 years was 0.4T/yr.  http://www.statista.com/statistics/263591/gross-domestic-product-gdp-of-the-united-states/
QE has been averaging 3/4 Trillion per year (in press reports), so the money supply is growing at nearly twice the rate of real output, by my count.  To say that will have no consequence seems insincere, to put it nicely.  Krugman is setting up is to blame the aftermath of these policies on Obama's successor, while still blaming Obama's predecessor for his current failures.  The technical term for that level of analysis is ... partisan hack.
44  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 07, 2014, 09:18:48 AM
It's OK, I'm told amnesty will create millions of jobs and contribute to the tax base.

Plowhorse!

After all these years and all these mistakes, liberal politicians and liberal voters just don't seem to get that all these well-intended programs come with serious unintended consequences.  Serious enough to take down our economy, our culture and our country.

Same goes for the amnesty and immigration ideas.

The followers who believe them scare me more than the leaders who lie to them.

As Rush L has long said, we don't want to persuade or change them, we want to defeat them.

Handcuffing investors, businesses and employers is not how you help middle class employees.


I notice that Obama is pivoting away from abstract talk about income inequality to "the more politically palatable theme of lifting the middle class".   http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/with-democrats-split-on-inequality-issues-obama-shifts-talk-away-from-income-gap/2014/07/04/102f1f32-02be-11e4-b8ff-89afd3fad6bd_story.html

Unfortunately there is no accompanying pivot to economic policies that work.
45  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Full time job losses and part time job increases on: July 07, 2014, 08:57:17 AM

Yes.  Historic increases in taxes and regulations levied against the hiring of full time employees leads to...   less hiring of full time employees.

Who could have seen this coming?
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=2112.msg66637#msg66637
Obama Care in particular, which we know mandates additional employer health care costs for new full-time employees, freezes the motivation of employers to hire new full-time employees.

http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=985.msg81381#msg81381
Obamacare has a myriad of disincentives to dissuade employment, full time employment, or employment beyond 50 employees.

http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=2390.msg69979#msg69979
The challenges of Obamacare for business – particularly those small businesses with employees near the magic “50 employee” threshold for Obamacare regulations – will be extraordinary.

http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1791.msg68932#msg68932
 "Why France Has So Many 49-Employee Companies

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/obamacare-cost-2-3-million-jobs-article-1.1602363
Nonpartisan group finds Obamacare will shrink workforce by 2.3 million full-time jobs


It was a joke I heard in Steamboat Colorado years ago in a ski-bum comedy skit:.  To the roommates, "Hey guys, I got the job!"  "Great!"  "Now I just need 4 more part time jobs to pay rent!"

Now it is the story of the US Economy:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/08/02/198432/most-2013-job-growth-is-in-part.html
Most 2013 job growth is in part-time work, survey suggests

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/21/us-usa-economy-jobs-analysis-idUSBRE97K05K20130821?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&dlvrit=992637
Reuters: Obamacare Is Creating Nation of Part-Time Workers

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-07-03/june-full-time-jobs-plunge-over-half-million-part-time-jobs-surge-800k-most-1993
June Full-Time Jobs Plunge By Over Half A Million, Part-Time Jobs Surge

Is that really what we wanted??
46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / In the US Senate races, Minnesota looks familiar except upside down on: July 07, 2014, 08:02:43 AM
A lot of predicted Republican Senate pickup races are still close or still led by the Democrat.  The Republicans need to nearly run the board in 2014 in order to hold the majority in 2016 and give a new Presideent a chance at reforming the federal government.  Putting MN in play is one step in the right direction.  Here the far right, the establishment right, and the common sense right all agreed on the same candidate, while the incumbent Al Franken has a vulnerable record of agreeing 100% with a failed President.  Democrats also have a weak incumbent Governor and a one-party-rule legislature to reelect.  Energy and turnout could favor the challengers.
----------------------------------------------------------------
http://www3.atr.rollcall.com/al-franken-mike-mcfadden-minnesota-senate-2014/?dcz=

Al Franken knows the story — just not from this side.

In 2008, a first-time candidate dogged by his career history faced a formidable incumbent dragged down by an unpopular second-term president. The result: now-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., defeated then-Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, in a shockingly close race that only ended after a months-long contentious recount and legal battle.

Now Coleman’s handpicked candidate wants to return the favor in 2014. Franken will face a wealthy investment banker and first-time candidate, Mike McFadden, in November — and this time, he’s the senator battling an unpopular president’s drag on the ballot.

“The atmosphere right now is pretty toxic,” Coleman said in a recent phone interview. “This is a time when it’s good to not be of Washington. Mike is part of a solution, and Franken is part of the problem.”
...
“Every sentence about Norm Coleman in 2008 was a verb, a noun, and George W. Bush,” mused one former Coleman adviser.
...
A recent survey by the Democratic autodial firm Public Policy Polling showed Obama with a 44 percent approval rating in Minnesota, down from 50 percent in May of 2013.
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: July 07, 2014, 07:33:54 AM
I think Rand Paul has it right on policy, the flat tax, but Mike Lee and Marco Rubio have a better grasp on the the politics of it.  To point out the obvious, tax reform that never becomes law is not tax reform.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/lee-and-rubio-working-new-pro-growth-pro-family-tax-reform-plan_784307.html

Lee and Rubio Working on New 'Pro-Growth, Pro-Family' Tax Reform Plan

In a statement to THE WEEKLY STANDARD today, Lee responded to TPC's analysis and announced that he's already working with Florida senator Marco Rubio on a "new, comprehensive, pro-family, pro-growth tax reform proposal that we hope to introduce later this year."

Lee's full statement:

I thank the Tax Policy Center for their thorough work on my initial proposal to reform the individual income tax code and restore tax fairness to middle-class parents and families.

As I announced upon its introduction, the Family Fairness and Opportunity Tax Reform Act was meant as a first draft of a broader project to make the entire tax code simpler, fairer, and more pro-growth.

Initial estimates suggested the plan would yield a modest overall tax cut compared to the pre-Obamacare baseline. TPC's model scores it somewhat lower than that, and that's valuable information we can incorporate into the next revision.

Senator Marco Rubio and I have already begun work on a new, comprehensive, pro-family, pro-growth tax reform proposal that we hope to introduce later this year. Elimination of the Parent Tax Penalty should be a top priority for conservatives, and at the center of the overdue tax reform debate.
48  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: July 07, 2014, 07:28:04 AM
...when the next presidential election rolls around, Ronald Reagan's 1980 victory will be as long ago as D-Day was at that time.

http://theweek.com/article/index/264270/rand-paul-marco-rubio-and-the-new-era-of-conservative-policy-ideas
49  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: July 07, 2014, 06:12:20 AM
Will try to find a good review- summary.

No matter how right the case for impeachment is, it still:

a) fails without Dem support, and

b) installs Joe Biden as President.

The two strategies are not mutually exclusive.  As you argue the merits of the lawsuit,  you are building the case for impeachment.

   
The main remedy is the next election.
50  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2016 Presidential, Obamas and Valerie Jarrett back Elizabeth Warren, not Hillary on: July 07, 2014, 05:59:36 AM
http://nypost.com/2014/07/06/this-means-warren-obama-backs-challenger-to-hillary/

Ed Klein, author of Blood Feud.
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