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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Drones/UAV Circular Runways on: Today at 11:00:03 AM
I had the chance this weekend to test drive the latest Tesla in 'self drive' mode.  I'm not for self drive cars but the technology is amazing.  Obviously, jumbo jets have this mode too.  Connecting precise navigation with precise instrumentation and precise controls makes all kinds of things possible, like landing a plane at the point along a circular runway where wind direction and other factors are optimized.
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: the legal part of the left's fifth column on: April 25, 2017, 05:22:17 PM
*Another* Brockster judge (the left fifth's column)  blocks Trump again:

I was just going to look up the same thing and see if this was Obama's legacy. 

The left's goal is to always continue governing long after they leave office.
3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: "BART takeover robbery: 40 to 60 teens swarm train, rob weekend riders." on: April 25, 2017, 05:17:02 PM
"BART takeover robbery: 40 to 60 teens swarm train, rob weekend riders."
"because the people who are seen committing obvious crimes appear to be minors, the video cannot be put up on line."

I've heard of protecting the privacy of minors but never above trying to solve a crime.  If a "teenager" hasn't seen a parent in 2-3 years, are they really still minors?

I wonder if this is another case of white on black crime or Christian on Muslim crime that we so far too often see.  Lutherans out wilding??
4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: April 25, 2017, 11:13:11 AM

Xi urges restraint.  Isn't restraint what got us to this point? 

Are we moving really expensive assets around the globe and briefing congress only to allow him to continue to build his arsenal and threaten the world?  I hope not.
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Holocaust in the Ukraine on: April 25, 2017, 10:59:06 AM

Amazingly powerful photos.  I wonder what the Holocaust deniers think of this.

I can't help but think of my father who never told me they were the first medical unit at the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp in Buchenwald, Germany.  His buddy told me that everyone who was anywhere near it knew what was going on there based on the smell.
6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Infighting cools on: April 25, 2017, 10:35:43 AM

Feeling a little snarky, I was wondering who were the greatest staffers of all time were, maybe Erskine Bowles or Rahm Emmanuel wink, and which transformational President didn't have staff infighting...

If the Kushner-Bannon feud overshadowed coverage of the Gorsuch confirmation, that is a sign of a failed media more than a failing Presidency IMHO.  
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: European matters, France, The trouble with Emmanuel Macron on: April 25, 2017, 09:59:13 AM
The globalist ideal has been tabled by events.  Neither Macron nor anyone on his ideological team has any idea how to solve France or Europe's problems.

"Macron's is a remarkable achievement, because he represents optimism." - Where have we heard this before?

The trouble with Emmanuel Macron
James Poulos
 Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images
April 23, 2017
Emmanuel Macron, a French technocrat running an independent presidential campaign to put political distance between himself and his fellow established elites, edged out insurgent nationalist Marine Le Pen in the most closely watched French election of many Americans' lifetime. Macron nabbed nearly one-fourth of the vote in an 11-candidate field, followed closely by Le Pen. Now he'll face her one on one in the May 7 runoff. But the partisans of the West's mushy middle — favoring more liberal globalization, more financial and economic regulation in lieu of political agency, and no social unrest in the bargain, thanks — are already popping champagne.

"It's a political earthquake in this country and in Europe," one respected journalist told CNN. "Macron's is a remarkable achievement, because he represents optimism."

Yes, fellow Americans, this is how bad it's gotten abroad: Squeaking out a first-round win by symbolizing a future of niceness now strikes the status-quo-ites as the beginning of a world made new.

The reality is considerably grimmer. How dire it was, throughout the French campaign, to watch centrists left and right insist that only they could beat back the forces of "extremism," that catchall term which has served the West so poorly in organizing its resources against foes foreign and domestic. The continued rise of populist, nationalist, and, yes, even communist parties in Europe has shown just how extreme a reaction established neoliberalism has provoked in its failings to date — inadequate, costly efforts, by turns ham-handed, shambolic, and impotent, to manage everything from the Eurozone crisis to the immigration debacle.

Yes, it's all been a tall order; yes, the ruling (or is it managing?) classes should have seen it coming. And yes: However well-intentioned and authentic the likes of Macron and Co., who probably grasp how truly bad it can get in Europe, their ilk are still locked into policies guaranteed to further aggravate political extremism left, right, and Islamic. They think their political stalemate with Le Pen and her fellow travelers is a victory. Really, it spells a fiercer culture war.

The real story of France and Europe laid bare by Macron's whisker of a win is that simply no consensus exists among today's adult generations about how to refashion a future for Europe. Right now, there is really no question that the globalist center's ideal "future" has been tabled indefinitely by events. There's not even any falling back on an "end of history." History is skipping like a bad record, glitching over the same travails. An open-ended financial and economic predicament with no rational solution and no mores deep enough to cauterize the wound and start fresh. A continuous low-grade panic attack of police action and surveillance, struggling undermanned and under cultural constraints to prevent just enough terror attacks and abuses, whatever that magic number may be. A complete forfeit of any plan to push EU regulatory unification toward the singularity point that the European project had always envisioned, however abstractly, as its justifying goal.

Neither Macron nor anyone on his ideological team has the first inkling of how to surmount or steer clear of these impasses.
8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy, how best to tax business on: April 25, 2017, 09:07:35 AM
How Best to Tax Business
APRIL 21, 2017
Economic View
The details of the tax code may not make your heart sing, but they are enormously important and, at long last, they may be changing. In fact, the next 12 months are shaping up to be a critically important time.

Despite an uneven start, tax reform is on the agenda in Congress. And the ideas being considered, especially regarding business taxation, are not mere tweaks to our ossified system. They would profoundly alter how the government raises money and upend the incentives for private decision makers. This is fascinating to tax policy nerds like me. But it is important for everyone to understand.

The motivating force behind business tax reform is that the statutory corporate tax rate in the United States is one of the highest in the world. The high rate encourages all kinds of perverse behavior, such as leaving money parked in overseas subsidiaries and inverting corporate structures to take advantage of lower rates abroad.

The current corporate tax finds no fan in Kevin A. Hassett, the economist recently nominated by President Trump to lead the Council of Economic Advisers. Some of Mr. Hassett’s research suggests that our high corporate taxes may be so distortional that a cut in the rate might increase tax revenue.

In another paper, Mr. Hassett finds that corporate taxes depress wages for manufacturing workers. In a world where capital is mobile and labor is not, capital escapes from high-tax nations, leaving workers behind to bear the burden of lower productivity and reduced incomes.

The debate in Congress, however, has gone beyond a simple discussion of tax rates. The Better Way plan, championed by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Representative Kevin Brady, the Republican chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, promises fundamental changes in the nature of business taxation, most of which would, in my view, be steps in the right direction. There are four key issues.

WORLDWIDE VS. TERRITORIAL Most nations aim to impose taxes on economic activity that takes place within their borders. Such a system is called territorial. By contrast, the United States has a worldwide corporate tax. If a company based in the United States produces a product abroad and then sells it abroad, our Treasury takes a cut of the profits when they are brought back home.

The House tax bill would move our system toward international norms. American companies would be able to compete abroad on a level playing field with companies based in other nations. The tax incentive for corporate inversions would be eliminated.

INCOME VS. CONSUMPTION Many economists have argued that taxes should be levied based on consumption rather than income. Consumption taxes would do less to discourage saving and investment and would thus be more favorable to economic growth. In addition, consumption taxes are arguably fairer: They tax the standard of living people enjoy rather than the value of what they produce.

The House plan moves toward a consumption tax by allowing businesses to deduct their investment spending immediately, rather than depreciating it slowly over time. By exempting the income that businesses reinvest, the government would essentially be taxing consumed profits.

ORIGIN-BASED VS. DESTINATION-BASED TAXATION The corporate tax system is now origin-based. It levies taxes on the profit from goods produced in the United States, regardless of where they end up. An alternative, proposed in the House bill, would be to tax all goods consumed in the United States, regardless of where they are made. This destination-based approach would tax imports and exempt exports, which is sometimes called a border adjustment. In this way, the business tax would resemble many of the value-added taxes used in Europe.

Some advocates have argued that the switch to destination-based taxes would make American goods more competitive and reduce our trade deficits. Some critics have suggested that it would unduly hurt firms that rely on imports and their customers. Both arguments are probably wrong.

To be sure, the immediate impact of the change would be to discourage imports and encourage exports. But that in turn would mean Americans would supply fewer dollars in foreign-exchange markets, and foreigners would demand more dollars. As a result, the dollar would appreciate, making foreign goods cheaper for Americans, and American goods more expensive for foreigners. The movement in the exchange rate would offset the initial impact on imports and exports.

The main advantage of destination-based taxation is that it is easier to determine where a good is consumed than where it is produced. In a world where multinationals produce goods using parts from around the world, origin-based taxes invite firms to game the system with transfer pricing schemes. Destination-based taxation is less easily gamed.

DEBT VS. EQUITY Now, firms can deduct interest payments to bondholders, but they cannot deduct dividend payments to equity holders. This treatment encourages firms to rely on debt rather than equity, making them more financially fragile than they would otherwise be.

The House plan fixes this asymmetric treatment of debt and equity by no longer allowing firms to deduct interest payments. A business’s taxes would be based on its cash flow: revenue minus wage payments and investment spending. How this cash flow is then paid out to equity and debt holders would be irrelevant.

While I like the policy choices proposed by the House bill, not all economists agree. Some view the bill as too radical, risking too many unintended consequences. Others worry that transitioning from the old system to a new one is not worth the cost, even if the new one is better.

Without a doubt, the coming debate will involve immense politicking. Any large tax change creates winners and losers, and the losers are sure to make their voices heard. But what matters most is whether the changes are better for the United States over all, not for special-interest groups. The more voters understand, the better off we all will be.

N. Gregory Mankiw is a professor of economics at Harvard.
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trump Administration's first 100 days, Where's the beef? on: April 20, 2017, 03:56:32 PM
Giving credit for where due, President Trump made some great appointments including Justice Gorsuch, has shown strength in foreign policy, and made regulatory moves like approving the pipeline, but the largerl economic policy begs the question Walter Mondale asked of Gary Hartpence, where's the beef?

Scott Grannis:  "If we don't get substantial progress on healthcare and taxes before year end, the economy could weaken as uncertainty mounts and people delay income and investment decisions."

"No sign here of a Trump bump [on private sector job growth], and it's premature to expect one: we need to see meaningful tax and regulatory reform [first]."

Insanity is to expect better results without enacting better policies.

Economically, it is Year 9 of the Obama administration.  There isn't a tax increase that Obama and the Democrats added that has been repealed.  We have the highest corporate tax rates in the world, a medical device tax, Obamacare surcharge, and higher capital gains rates - all still in place.  America has the worst estate tax rate in a dozen years, confiscatory 48% (plus up to 10% in state rate).  Last time estate taxes were jacked up that dramatically we had a Great Depression going on.  We have the highest social welfare benefit participation in our history.  Why would anyone want to earn or build wealth?  We have the lowest worker participation rate for males and the worst hiring rules in our history and lowest entrepreneurial startup rate. Who would want to risk capital or hire someone today?  Who even knows how to do that legally anymore?

Trump took a weak first swing at healthcare reform by letting the House who couldn't get a majority to back it write it.  They have taken no visible shot at tax reform at this time. It's hard to get something, anything through congress, but with both chambers in his party, but it's not harder than what most other recent President faced.  

Treasury's Mnuchin said today: "We're 'pretty close' to bringing forward 'major tax reform' ".

Now would be a good time to get major tax reform done and done right - unless you want another year of the economic results of the Obama administration.

Mnuchin said he hoped passing a tax overhaul will not "take till the end of the year."

How could it get done any sooner?  They haven't proposed anything yet.
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics, Harvard Business School:Raising minimum wage kills jobs and companies on: April 20, 2017, 11:28:23 AM
A one dollar increase in the minimum wage leads to a 14 percent increase in the likelihood of exit [for a median level restaurant]!

Who knew?

We study the impact of the minimum wage on firm exit in the restaurant industry, exploiting recent changes in the minimum wage at the city level. The evidence suggests that higher minimum wages increase overall exit rates for restaurants.

Exit rate?  Exit means death of employer company, at least in the location of the minimum wage increase.

However, lower quality restaurants, which are already closer to the margin of exit, are disproportionately impacted by increases to the minimum wage. Our point estimates suggest that a one dollar increase in the minimum wage leads to a 14 percent increase in the likelihood of exit for a 3.5-star restaurant (which is the median rating)...

11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Turkey, in democracy, demographics is destiny on: April 19, 2017, 04:16:29 PM

When democracy becomes tribal, the size of the tribe determines the outcome.  The Asian Muslims of Turkey have a far higher birth rate than the European heritage Turks.
Not mentioned is that the dictator likely stole the election, like Chavez in his recall.
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glenn Beck on Bill O'Reilly and FOX on: April 19, 2017, 04:08:40 PM
I'm no fan of Bill O'Reilly and I don't watch cable, but a company settling lawsuits is not evidence, and the most recent claim is not credible.

Glenn Beck laid this out on radio this morning. He went through the same thing. They declared they would get Bill O'Reilly for his views before they found out what he might have done wrong. Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity next.  The group is Media Matters and their mentor is Bill Clinton, not exactly a symbol for fighting sexual harassment.

No link but check or the blaze for the story if interested.
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam in America, Allah Akbar does not mean God is great on: April 19, 2017, 04:00:12 PM
14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / British elections on: April 19, 2017, 01:11:49 PM
Insights on the thinking of Theresa May calling early elections:

1.  A new election declares void any challenges to the last election.
2.  Head off the shrinking of the number of seats in parliament that would hurt Tories.
3.  May needs a greater majority to get things done domestically.
4.  Leverage against a new Scottish independence vote.
5.  Increase May's legitimacy to govern.  Gain power to execute Brexit.
6.  Hit the opposition while they are in disarray.

15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / RIP Turkey on: April 17, 2017, 10:01:42 AM
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Peggy Noonan on Steve Bannon on: April 17, 2017, 09:00:42 AM
Full text of the Bannon talk on poverty and capitalism here:
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: MIT professor refutes interpretation of evidence on: April 17, 2017, 08:43:21 AM

I don't know the truth but it was reported that Israeli intelligence declared 100% certainty this chemical attack was ordered by Assad.

Must say it would not be wise for Israel to wrongly manipulate Trump this early in his presidency.  A strike on an airfield that they could have done themselves is not much of a gain for the risk of losing their largest ally.
18  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Health Care or Tax Code first? on: April 17, 2017, 08:33:27 AM

Healthcare with two dozen taxes in it is part of tax reform.
19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Trump Administration, works, Jared, liberal money in WH on: April 17, 2017, 08:29:16 AM
It would seem they are not getting a good return on their investment, with a conservative picked for VP, an originalist picked for the court, the dismantling of the federal CO2 police, the return of a backbone to foreign policy using military strength to empower diplomacy, and tax rate cuts coming.

Trump could just as easily have turned this far to the left, and he hasn't.  MHO.
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Erdogan: one vote one last time? on: April 17, 2017, 08:06:06 AM
51-49 in favor of dictatorial, Islamist rule is a close vote when much of the opposition is already killed or in jail.

More analysis here:
21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: General "Forked Tongue" Warren confused on: April 17, 2017, 08:00:00 AM

Also, the exact strategy of our military is generally not something we want to print and send to the enemy.
22  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, Distinguishing unfairness from inequality on: April 14, 2017, 10:37:07 AM

There is immense concern about economic inequality, both among the scholarly community and in the general public. . . . However, when people are asked about the ideal distribution of wealth in their country, they actually prefer unequal societies. . . . Despite appearances to the contrary, there is no evidence that people are bothered by economic inequality itself. Rather, they are bothered by something that is often confounded with inequality: economic unfairness. Drawing upon laboratory studies, cross-cultural research, and experiments with babies and young children, we argue that humans naturally favour fair distributions, not equal ones, and that when fairness and equality clash, people prefer fair inequality over unfair equality. Both psychological research and decisions by policymakers would benefit from more clearly distinguishing inequality from unfairness.

Doug:  The public, social policy question is, how can we improve each person's life in real terms, not relative to someone else.   Media, politicians and 'experts' use a lot of data in this regard to lie and to deceive. Even this article does not acknowledge that pacetti's study is badly flawed.
23  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Brett Stephens - no loss on: April 13, 2017, 12:43:04 PM
but also a Hillary Clinton voter

Stephens did not say he voted for Hillary; Levin is saying he helped her by not supporting Trump.

Trump gave plenty of reasons to doubt him.  Hadn't heard of the nuclear triad, agreed with Bernie Sanders and on Iraq, dispose of NATO, etc.  Trump has educated himself and shifted since.  Trump was wrong on his economic analysis that won him the rust belt, Mexico, China and bad trade deals are the reasons for your troubles.  No, your Michigan problems reside in Washington DC and Lansing and they are excess taxation and over-regulation.  Among Trump's character revealed was labeling opponent Carly "That Face!" [and Ted, "lying Ted"; he paid no taxes because "I'm Smart"].  Not hard to be turned off that candidate.

Stephens is a foreign policy guy.  If you ignore the campaign and look at their histories, Clinton was the hawk and Trump was the Ron Paul.

Also beware of Stephens' immigration weakness, but my experience is that Bret Stephens is normally a great foreign policy thinker and writer - with the exception of the areas where I disagree with him.  )

Mark Levin is tough on people who disagree with him on anything.  Just hated Rubio, for example.  Turned against Trump too.

In the Levin link 'Trump’s GOP has left me', Stephens ends with:  "If I can’t get my Grand Old Party back, I’d rather help build a new one."

That is exactly what Levin says every broadcast evening.

In the other link, he criticizes Ted Cruz for running to win the right-most side of the Republican party instead of running to win the nation.  That is pretty much what I was saying then even though I agree with Ted Cruz on issues.
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Male-Female work death rate on: April 13, 2017, 10:42:41 AM
Crafty:  "I find this 95% datum to be quite useful in unbalancing those who allege/babble about income disparity."

The jobs where men are dying most might not high paying jobs but the extraordinary difference in death rates demonstrates that men and women choose and work different jobs.

Latest report:
"Women accounted for 43 percent of the hours worked in 2015, they accounted for only 7 percent of the fatal injuries."  [Men 93%, assuming only two genders]
25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Stratfor: Tillerson-Putin meeting on: April 13, 2017, 10:21:00 AM
"The length of the meetings and the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin granted Tillerson an audience is notable in and of itself."

   - That was my thought too.  I'm guessing some pretty frank discussions are going on behind the scenes and I'm guessing Tillerson is very good at this, diplomatic but not afraid to make his point.
26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Labor Dept. digs in its heels on: April 13, 2017, 10:07:59 AM
(MARC:  IIRC the idea is that the advisers would need to have fiduciary obligations to the advised?  Is this a bad thing?)

There are two sides to that argument.  Whether or not it is a good thing is one question, but whether or not this is MAJOR federal government legislation that ought to be argued and decided through the legislative branch for executive signature, constitutional process rather central planning politburo, is another thing.

Fiduciary responsibility sounds good but what it changes is the nature of who can sue whom for what.   Let's say you are a middle income earner and among a range of investments available at the start of the year 2000 your investment adviser leads a little too heavily into the best performing sector of the last 3 years, like some nice tech stocks like Lucent, Cisco, Nortel and JDSU, and the market collapses as it did.  When the world's greatest R&D company stock went from 160 to 2 as you owned it, maybe you don't lose money because you can sue your adviser who should have known with such obvious hindsight that this was in a position to fall heavily, he or she should have known that, and it was far too great a risk to be offered to this client.  And the jury agreed.

27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media, WSJ Bret Stephens moving to NY Times on: April 13, 2017, 08:18:33 AM

(Also a Pulitzer Prize winner)
28  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: April 12, 2017, 05:18:08 PM
I was wondering when we would see her entourage turn against her.  They have been able to use their power to keep people in line for a quarter of a century.  With the closing of the fake charity, they are just figuring out that power is gone - forever.  That leaves staff with nothing but their stories to sell.

Easy to believe they were denying responsibility for failure then; they still deny it now.  It was Bill and Hillary who made the private server decision.  People were supposed to move on, away from the controversy, right while she was still hiding and stalling on the release of documents under subpoena, including documents with all kinds of damning content.

Good riddance Clintons.

From the article:  "...Hillary’s talented and accomplished team of professionals and loyalists simply took it."

Huma, Podesta, et al, a "talented and accomplished team of professionals"?!  Good God.
29  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: April 12, 2017, 01:37:11 PM
My understanding has been that they are sedulously working on the ICBM thing AND making bombs small enough to put on them.

The point is to prevent them from having these two things in hand i.e. Nork threats of nuke war at this point in time are empty.

The good news is that North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear program in 1994 under intense diplomatic pressure (sarcasm alert) from President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeline Halflbright, consummated with billions in graft aid.
So that settles it.   wink

Fast forward:  "North Korea says it has conducted five successful nuclear tests: in 2006, 2009, 2013 and in January and September 2016."

That doesn't mean NK has a "working nuclear weapon" but they have the pieces of the puzzle including significant range delivery systems.

There seems to be a lot of positioning and gamesmanship going on right now, besides the administration making mis-statements intentional and unintentional.  For what purpose we don't know...
30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: July 27, 2015-- The Syrian Sham and the Iran Deal... and Iraq on: April 11, 2017, 10:09:40 AM
Great points.  Also missing words from the left is where did Assad's Chemical WMD come from, when it was reported here on the forum (and below) that Saddam was trucking them away from inspection and destruction, over to his closest ally and neighbor Assad during the 6 months notice we gave him to prepare for invasion and inspection.  If that is true, it negates the foreign policy narrative of the last 12 years for the left, the media and even the Trump campaign.

Doesn't "gassing his own people with chemical weapons" sound at least a little bit familiar?
"Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program"
A clause in a resolution that Hillary, Kerry and Biden all supported, and then what? Changed their minds when fake news indicated otherwise?

Same gas??

As Gomer Pyle might say, surprise, surprise, surprise!

Were we wrong to invade Iraq and topple Saddam with his WMD and his demonstrated willingness to use them, or were we just wrong to leave no stay behind force after all that was invested to end that threat?  Was the left (and the media) wrong once, twice or more in that costly conflict?

Syria said to have Iraq arms
Ex-official cites satellite images

October 29, 2003|By Douglas Jehl, New York Times News Service.
WASHINGTON — The director of a top U.S. spy agency said Tuesday that he believes that material from Iraq's illicit weapons program had been transported into Syria and perhaps other countries as part of an effort by the Iraqis to disperse and destroy evidence immediately before the recent war.

The official, James Clapper Jr., a retired lieutenant general, said satellite imagery showing a heavy flow of traffic from Iraq into Syria, just before the U.S. invasion in March, led him to believe that illicit weapons material "unquestionably" had been moved out of Iraq.

"I think people below the Saddam-Hussein-and-his-sons level saw what was coming and decided the best thing to do was to destroy and disperse," Clapper, who leads the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, said at a breakfast with reporters.

He said he was providing a personal assessment. But he said "the obvious conclusion one draws" was that there "may have been people leaving the scene, fleeing Iraq, and unquestionably, I am sure, material."

A spokesman for Clapper's agency, David Burpee, said he could not provide further evidence to support the general's statement.

Other U.S. intelligence officials said Clapper's theory is among those being pursued in Iraq by David Kay, a former UN weapons inspector who is leading the U.S. effort to uncover the weapons cited by the Bush administration as the major reason for going to war against Iraq.

Clapper's comments came as the CIA prepared to defend its prewar assertions that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and that it sought to reconstitute its nuclear program. The director of central intelligence, George Tenet, has written a letter to the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence saying the agency will be ready to provide an assessment by late November.

In the letter, the contents of which were described by several intelligence officials on Tuesday, Tenet proposed that a team headed by John McLaughlin, the deputy director of central intelligence, provide a briefing for the committee after Nov. 20, when the agency's internal review is expected to be completed.

Clapper's agency is responsible for interpreting satellite photographs and other imagery.
31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why government programs fail: "Then a Miracle Occurs" on: April 10, 2017, 12:55:54 PM
Why government programs fail...

By Donald J. Boudreaux

In a famous Sidney Harris cartoon, a senior professor reviews a long and complicated mathematical proof that a younger colleague has written on a chalkboard. Pointing calmly at part of the proof, the elder scholar tells the younger “I think you should be more explicit here in step two” — a step that appears on the chalkboard as “Then a miracle occurs.”

This witty depiction of an unscientific means of reaching a conclusion sadly describes an actual step in the reasoning of far too many people who call for government intervention. People identify a problem in reality and then demonstrate how that problem can be “solved” by government. But far too many such demonstrations feature a “then a miracle occurs” step. This step is the assumption that politicians and other government agents are superhuman — that when they are elected or appointed to political office, they are miraculously transformed into beings consistently more altruistic, knowledgeable, and wise than are business executives, consumers, and other people who operate only in the private sector.
32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Government Makes the Poor Poorer on: April 10, 2017, 12:40:13 PM
A good article by Stephen Moore.  I could add quite a few more examples.  SSI is a contract with the government to stay poor.  So is Food Stamps, Section 8, FAFSA and Obamacare. We used to talk about the success of programs being measured by how many people no longer need assistance.  Now we just measure programs by how money they can transfer to how many people.

For all the obsession in Washington and in college faculty lounges over income inequality, why isn’t there more outrage over government policies that exacerbate the problem? There are hundreds of programs that make the poor poorer and increase poverty in America. Many of them were exposed last week by my colleagues at the Heritage Foundation forum on this very topic.

Economist ‎Don Boudreaux of George Mason University unmasked two such policies. One is trade protectionism. Trade barriers raise prices and “act as a regressive tax” on Americans, Boudreaux explains. They also stunt the very innovation process that makes goods and services widely available to people at affordable prices to begin with. Think about who the consumers are that shop for those everyday low prices at Wal-Mart. It’s not Hillary Clinton.

Minimum wage clearly fits into this category as well. In every other industry, Boudreaux notes, when something is more expensive, we buy less of it. Why do some economists think that isn’t so when it comes to buying labor? Especially for the young and the lowest skilled, minimum wage becomes a toll that prevents many from entering the work force and gaining the skills that can make a low income or middle class worker a high income worker. This is so obvious that one wonders why liberals keep championing the minimum wage cause.

Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute points out that the fuel economy standards promoted by the leftist environmentalists add thousands of dollars to the cost of a new car. He estimates that these “green” policies could mean that 5 million fewer Americans each year can’t afford a new car. And, again, those 5 million victims are surely not people like Al Gore or the board members of the Sierra Club.

Another green policy that hurts the poor is the anti-fracking crusade of the environmentalists. In my book with Kathleen Hartnett White, Fueling Freedom, we point out that the lower cost of electricity due to cheap shale natural gas has benefited low income households to the tune of well over $4 billion a year. This is four times the benefit of the low income home energy assistance program. So if liberals really care about the poor, why not get rid of LIHEAP and promote fracking instead?

Social Security is the greatest swindle of the poor ever. A new study by Peter Ferrara for the Committee to Unleash Prosperity shows that the average poor person who works 40 hours a week during his or her working life would retire with a larger monthly benefit and would have $1 million or more in an estate that could be left to a spouse or children at death if they could simply put their payroll tax dollars into a personal 401k retirement account and tap into the power of compound interest.

Under Social Security poor (and middle class) households leave next to nothing for their kids at death. So Social Security robs nearly every low and middle income family with a full time worker of at least $1 million over their lifetime. What a deal!

Occupational licensing laws — in trades like moving companies, realtors, hair dressers, limousine services, beauticians, physical therapy and on and on — ‎stunt small business start-ups, destroy jobs, and raise prices for lower income consumers. What about the right to make a living?

Big government advocates defend these statist occupational barriers to entry by arguing that they are needed to uphold professional service quality. Professor Boudreaux shows evidence that, to the contrary, licensing requirements reduce service quality by shrinking competition in the industry.

Arguably the program that has set back upward income mobility ‎for the poor the most is the government school system in inner cities. Every study finds abysmal educational outcomes and even unsafe environments for schoolchildren despite cities spending upward of $20,000 per child. In Catholic inner-city schools, these same kids could and should be receiving a better education at half the cost. Yet liberals who champion the poor oppose school choice programs that would raise educational achievement and future earnings. (Look at the disgraceful treatment of Trump’s education chief Betsy DeVos).

These examples merely scratch the surface of scores of governmental polices that are regressive. Could it be that the gridlock and polarization in Washington would be ended by a bipartisan reform movement to scout out and remove laws and rules that hurt those at the bottom of the income scale the most? One universal goal that we should all agree on and aspire to is equality of opportunity — which these laws squelch.

Where are Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi and the class warfare warriors on reversing government policies that are stealing money and opportunities for low income and minority families? Do they care about protecting the poor? Or do they care more about protecting big government? It’s time to really find out.
33  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media, Ministry of Truth Issues, The Dopes at Snopes on: April 10, 2017, 12:13:58 PM
"Who awards truth to something like the Clinton Administration ending nuclear weapons in North with words and gifts the Obama Administration ending the nuclear threat in Iran with words and cash, or believing that Putin was going to remove weapons from his Middle East ally?"

With the horrors yet to come, this will be Obama's true legacy.

From famous people reading the forum to just great minds thinking alike...

While we were writing about the partisan peabrains at PolitiFact, Steven Hayward at Powerline followed up with a post called "The Dopes at Snopes".  )

He writes about the gender pay inequity over at Thin Lizzies's office (Elizabeth Warren) where they pay women 71 cents to the men's dollar.  They use all the same logic to justify Elizabeth Warren's misogyny that applies to the economy as a whole, why the whole fake news issue is bogus:

Fairly comparing pay rates between men and women who work in Senator Warren’s office is therefore a challenge because not many of her staffers hold the same job titles, and even among those who do, pay discrepancies between men and women are not obvious when education and experience are factored in.

That explanation should be used to give Warren 4 pinnochios, not against her critics pointing out her hypocrisy.

It's a shame the self appointed fact checkers are no better at it and no more accurate or unbiased than the rest of the media and politicians they cover.
34  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Trump Transition/Administration, Jared Kushner on: April 10, 2017, 11:41:49 AM
CCP (China thread):  "China Learns How to Get Trump’s Ear: Through Jared Kushner"
This seems true of everybody - got to suck up to such a "nice" man. (kushner)
This is all too weird.

Everything to do with Trump is weird.  It's weird when he gets things right!  I actually think Kushner is getting trust and assignment on the merit system.  Trump sees something in him, certainly have to bring him in.  Liberal pundits can't stand the nepotism aspect - like he can't be fired.  He can't be fired as son and law, but he can be reassigned or sent back to make money.  Doesn't Trump have a whole lot of other relatives that are closer?  It would be weirder if Donald Jr was in that role, or Melania or Tiffany.  Non-relatives that are that close to the top have the same kind of loyalty, or they fail.

Every top manager has people they trust, people who tell it to them straight, get to the point, don't waste their time, can sort out what is important and make the boss look good. With every President, we distrust the person in that role.  Unelected power, etc.  There tends to be turnover in that role.  Valerie Jarrett lasted the whole two term Presidency.  What were her qualifications?  The President trusted her.

I'd rather see a President choose someone like a Milton Friedman to whisper in his ear on every issue and decision, a Thomas Sowell, Victor Davis Hanson, Mark Steyn.  We are lucky this non-ideological President is governing as conservatively as he is.  So far...
35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Stand back, professional journalists at work! PolitiFact on: April 09, 2017, 10:16:24 AM
We already knew these phony 'fact checkers' are Democrat operatives with self-appointed titles, but this kind of thing exposes that fact check for everyone.

Who awards truth to something like the Clinton Administration ending nuclear weapons in North with words and gifts the Obama Administration ending the nuclear threat in Iran with words and cash, or believing that Putin was going to remove weapons from his Middle East ally?

Only a dishonest partisan could believe those kinds of statements.

You can keep your doctor and keep your health plan if you like it too. 'We are fact checkers and we know it's true because we want to believe it and our Democratic leaders said it is so.'  A better indication is that they are lying when their lips move.
36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Senate, McConnell, Garland out, Justice Gorsuch confirmed on: April 09, 2017, 10:01:57 AM
No one really likes Mitch McConnell (or any other congressional leader) but as mentioned earlier, he deserves extraordinary credit for this turn of events that followed Scalia's sudden, election year death.

He took and used his opponents' words against them, the Biden rule, and Reid and Schumer, and held firm in a situation where elected Republicans normally fold.

Accused of Republicans stealing back this seat, in truth he boldly put the appointment and confirmation directly in the hands of the American people exactly as envisioned by the Founders.

Republicans stuck together and Democrats did not. Red-state Democrats up for reelection fled  their party's leadership like rats from a sinking ship.  Televised hearings exposed the fiction that this man is outside of any reasonable mainstream of judicial thought .  Regarding the ill-advised filibuster, Democrats, for the moment, earned the label of 'the stupid party'.
37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Trump Administration, great appointees: UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on: April 09, 2017, 09:28:11 AM
What a pleasure it is to see her elevated to the national and international stage.  Besides principles, substance and skill, what a great demeanor she has.  I would be happy to see her as Pence or Rubio's running mate, or the first woman President.

US Ambassador to the United Nations will not be the highest office she will attain.
38  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries: on: April 09, 2017, 09:02:31 AM
Bombings at Egyptian Coptic churches kill 36, injure more than 100

Looks like this was (also) committed by Islamist militants, not Lutheran refugees fleeing Scandinavia.

Moral equivalence is disappearing before our eyes.
39  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Behold the beauty of Sweden's diversity! on: April 08, 2017, 05:31:06 PM

A suspected terrorist targeted young children as he drove a hijacked lorry into a crowded shopping street in Stockholm, witnesses claimed last night.

Infants’ buggies were sent “flying through the air”, one Swedish broadcaster reported, as the vehicle zigzagged along the pedestrianised Queen Street shopping district and embedded itself in the window of a department store.

“It swerved from side to side. It didn’t look out of control, it was trying to hit people,” a second witness, Glen Foran, an Australian tourist, told Reuters. “It hit people, it was terrible. It hit a pram with a kid in it, demolished it.”
Any chance the latest UK or Sweden attack was committed by a Lutheran extremist named Lars?
40  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Strange, I was told Trump was Putin's sockpuppet on: April 07, 2017, 08:19:28 AM

Russia warns of 'negative consequences' if U.S. targets Syria

Reuters April 6, 2017

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russia's deputy U.N. envoy, Vladimir Safronkov, warned on Thursday of "negative consequences" if the United States carries out military strikes on Syria over a deadly toxic gas attack.

"We have to think about negative consequences, negative consequences, and all the responsibility if military action occurred will be on shoulders of those who initiated such doubtful and tragic enterprise," Safronkov told reporters when asked about possible U.S. strikes.

When asked what those negative consequences could be, he said: "Look at Iraq, look at Libya."

And Trump responds...
41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: April 07, 2017, 08:17:23 AM
Not our problem.

Could be argued either way.  It became partly our problem with 1) his predecessor's red line promise.  A promise now kept.

2) The war is spinning out the refugee crisis, giving terrorists a path to the west. Our problem, in part.

3) The Syrian war is a threat to Israel. The Levant in ISIL includes Israel, a US security Interest.
42  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Syria chemical attack was ‘direct order’ from Assad on: April 06, 2017, 12:13:23 PM
I have read: 1) this was a chemical weapons use by the government of Syria, 2) that the rebels in Syria did this to blame Assad and gain support for their side, and 3) that this was unfortunate accident of spill or explosion.

Hearing all that makes me want to pause for the facts to come in, though none of the above change the situation in Syria where Assad already has crossed that red line and the rebrls and other forces have problems of their own.

Syria chemical attack was ‘direct order’ from Assad, Liberman says

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of being directly responsible for a chemical attack this week that left scores dead and spurred international outrage and calls for action against Damascus.

In an interview with the Yedioth Ahronoth daily published Thursday, Liberman said that he has “100 percent certainty” that Assad himself was directly responsible for the attack, but also said Israel would not become involved militarily to stop the bloodshed.

“The murderous chemical weapons attacks on citizens in Idlib province in Syria and on a local hospital were carried out on the direct order and planned by the Syrian president, Bashar Assad, using Syrian planes,” he said.

The attack on the rebel-held village of Khan Sheikhoun, in which at least 72 people were killed, among them 20 children, has been blamed on Assad by the US and EU, among others.
43  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Nuclear Power, MIT, Jump-Start Research, Transportable Molten Salt Reactor on: April 06, 2017, 10:58:28 AM

The researchers specifically want to test designs for a small, transportable molten-salt-cooled reactor, intended for off-grid purposes such as generating electricity for remote villages or worksites. Molten-salt reactors, first researched in the 1950s, are a subject of growing interest in the field because of the potential they offer for greater safety and lower costs compared with traditional nuclear power plants.
44  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Senate Republicans to invoke the "constitutional" option on Gorsuch nomination on: April 06, 2017, 10:39:05 AM
Advise and consent.  That's not nuclear, it's constitutional.  And it makes the next confirmation easier.
45  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Health Care - Costs of single payer system in Canada are unsustainable on: April 06, 2017, 10:25:57 AM
"Health care spending as a share of program spending and health care
spending as a share of the economy, shows clearly that the recent period
of 1998 to 2015 saw provincial governments increase health care spending
at an unsustainable pace. "

Falling short on efficacy measures too:
"It’s performing poorly across a range of indicators including wait times, access to medical technologies and supply of doctors."

Coverage is not universal for:  drugs, dental, and out-patient services.

Throw those in and the whole system collapses - sooner.

My first objection to government-run health care is that innovation, as we knew it, essentially ends. 
46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Scott Gottlieb on: April 06, 2017, 10:15:19 AM
IF I recall Scott Gottlieb had worked with George Gilder on the biotech report:
Here it is :

Betsy DeVos was opposed by Democrats for being too inexperienced and lacking knowledge.  Gottlieb is opposed by Democrats for being too experienced and knowledgeable.  Go figure.
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: probably no real tax cuts for the people who need it most on: April 06, 2017, 09:44:48 AM

That's right.  And why are we constantly trying to divide conservatives?

From the article:
"A carbon tax, a VAT, a BAT, and raising taxes on investors are all bad ideas. It would be one thing if Washington were planning to abolish the income tax or the corporate tax altogether. But to add another revenue stream in return for a promise of some other tax cuts, which invariably make the code even more progressive … conservatives should not waste their time on this issue."

" it doesn't replace the federal income tax unless we repeal the 16th amendment"

"Taxes are like government programs. Once in place, they only grow."  (G M)

Republicans (conservatives?) just won the House, Senate and White House.  They should have cut tax rates, spending and the deficit on the first day, retroactive to the first of the year - by whatever amount that could be agreed on.

All these new ideas are so clever and complicated that they will never be understood and passed in time to do any good.  By the time they could get passed, Democrats will just raise them back up anyway.

R's act like Democrats, thinking this is some kind of permanent political majority - after winning by -2.5 million votes.

How about governing with some sense of urgency, like we believe what we said - that the left's policies, taxes and programs are destroying the country.
48  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trade Issues: Trump advisers wrong on Korean trade agreement on: April 06, 2017, 09:22:05 AM
Anti-free trade tough talk requires reliance on false facts.
Trump Advisers Are All Wrong about South Korea Trade Deal

The Wall Street Journal reports: “Mr. Trump’s nominee for U.S. Trade Representative singled out Mexico and South Korea during his Senate confirmation hearing as sparking American trade deficits. ‘In some cases, the rules don’t seem to be working as well as others,’ Robert Lighthizer said. Critics say the deal has led to a flood of South Korean cars, auto parts, memory chips, motors and pumps into the U.S., weighing on American competitors and jobs. A U.S. Trade Representative report this month said the pact… doubled the U.S. trade deficit in goods with South Korea.”

National Trade Council boss Peter Navarro has likewise claimed “We lost 100,000 jobs because of that South Korean deal. Our trade deficit has doubled, and, more importantly, 75 percent of the damage that has been caused by that deal has been to the auto industry itself, which, of course, is based in Michigan.”

Navarro, Lighthizer and the Journal’s unnamed critics are entirely wrong about the March 15, 2012 Korea/U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). 

KORUS could not possibly have “led to a flood of South Korean… memory chips, motors and pumps into the U.S.” because memory chips were already duty-free before that FTA, and so were motors (HS code 8501) and pumps (8413).

KORUS could not possibly explain the post-recession 2010-2015 rise in U.S. imports from South Korea because most U.S. tariffs were scheduled to be reduced from 2016 to 2021 – not from 2010 to 2015.

KORUS had precisely zero effect on U.S. imports of Hyundai and Kia vehicles before 2016 because the U.S. tariff on Korean cars (HS code 8703) was 2.5% before KORUS and remained at 2.5% through 2015.  Ironically, when U.S. tariffs on autos and other products finally did come down in 2016, total U.S. imports from South Korea fell 2.6% (by $1.9 billion).

 The Korean tariff on imports of U.S. cars was cut from 8% in 2012 to 4% in 2015 and zero in 2016 and a 10% Korean tariff on U.S. trucks was eliminated.  Even before Korea cut its tariff on U.S. cars to zero in 2016, U.S. exports of cars to So. Korea tripled from $418 million in 2011 to $1.3 billion in 2015, according to the USTR.  Incidentally the USTR also notes that “Korea is currently our fifth-largest market for agricultural exports thanks to KORUS,” with farm exports up 208% from 2011 to 2015.

What has been most changed about the auto industry since KORUS is that South Korea exported a sizable share of its auto industry to the United States, displacing previous Korean imports and adding to U.S. auto exports. More than half the Hyundais sold in the U.S. are now assembled in Alabama, and more than 40% of Kias in Georgia (contrary to Peter Navarro,  82.5% of U.S. auto industry jobs are not in Michigan). The Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento have 67% domestic content. Hyundai has invested $2.8 billion in the U.S. and plans to add $3.1 billion more.

U.S. Korea Trade  (graph at link)

As the Graph shows, U.S. routinely ran sizable trade deficits with South Korea long before the FTA (and the U.S. routinely runs surpluses with other FTA countries, Australia and Singapore).  The U.S. trade deficit with South Korea and other countries came way down in 2009-2011 because deep recessions always slash U.S. imports, particularly industrial imports.

The graph includes services which, like farm products, were an important part of the deal.  The U.S. trade surplus in services with Korea rose from $6.9 billion in 2011 to $10.7 billion in 2016.  With services included, U.S. imports from South Korea did not rise at all from 2014 to 2016 ($81.4 billion in both years), and goods imports fell in 2016.

South Korea’s imports of goods from the U.S. rose from $29.7 billion in 2009 to $46.3 billion by 2014 before falling 8.4%to $42.4 billion in 2016.  Even with services included, South Korea’s imports from the U.S. fell from $66.5 billion to $63.9 billion since 2014.

KORUS could not possibly have had anything to do with the 2014-2016 drop in Korean imports from the U.S. because that agreement lowered rather than raised Korean tariffs.

South Korea’s demand for imports weakened because annual growth of industrial GDP fell to 2.5% from 2012 to 2015 – down sharply from a 6% pace from 2000 to 2011. One reason for Korea’s post-2014 import slump is that China’s imports from South Korea fell from more than $20 billion in October 2014 to $10-12 billion recently. 

The Trump Administration’s top trade advisers are entirely wrong about what happened when with respect to trade between the U.S. and South Korea.  KORUS had no effect at all on U.S. imports of auto, chips, motors or pumps between 2009 and 2015, because the U.S. auto tariff was unchanged until 2016 (when overall U.S. imports fell) and most other industrial products were already tariff-free before KORUS.

The Korea-U.S. trade deficit in goods did not rise from 2011 to 2015 (or fall in 2016) because of U.S. auto tariff cuts in 2016, but because the U.S. economy strengthened after 2010 and the Korean economy weakened after 2014. 
Blaming free trade agreements helped elect Trump.  Now what?  Double down on wrong?

49  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media or the 'right' get it wrong too, Tucker Carlson, Peggy Noonan on: April 06, 2017, 09:09:46 AM
Stop using false facts and fake news of the left.  Famous people NOT reading the forum.
Please see economics and political economics threads for the debunking of Piketty-Saez.
Also the implication that a penalizing investment doesn't hurt income from labor is denial of science.
Tucker Carlson & Peggy Noonan Mimic Piketty & Saez

In a recent Wall Street Journal column defending Obamacare 3.8% surtax on investment income on joint returns above $250,000, Peggy Noonan ends by quoting Tucker Carlson’s Fox News interview with Paul Ryan which questioned the now-suspended health plan’s elimination of that surtax:

“Looking at the last election, was the message of that election really, ‘We need to help investors?’ I mean, the Dow is over 20,000. Are they really the group that needs the help?…“The overview here is that all the wealth, basically, in the last 10 years, has stuck to the top end. That’s one of the reasons we’ve had all the political turmoil, as you know. And so, kind of a hard sell to say ‘Yeah, we’re gonna repeal Obamacare, but we’re gonna send more money to the people who’ve already gotten the richest over the last 10 years.’ I mean, that’s what this does, no? I’m not a leftist, it’s just—that’s true.”

Mr. Carlson used the word “wealth” rather than income. He said, “all the wealth …  in the last 10 years, has stuck to the top end.”  He surely meant income, however, since the latest wealth estimate from the Survey of Consumer Finance was in 2013, and wealth of the top 1%, like income of the top 1%, clearly fell from 2007 to 2013. Despite “shared prosperity” Clinton campaign chatter, there were no gains to share. John Weicher at the Hudson Institute notes that, “Between 2007 and 2013, the poor became poorer, but so did the rich and the people in between.”

Tucker Carlson is not a leftist and neither is Peggy Noonan. Yet to define what is “true” about income growth over 10 years, they are relying wholeheartedly on the socialist team of French economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez. 

When media celebrities disparage the “top end” they do not mean Fox News anchors (who earn millions); they mean the “Top 1%” who earned more than $442,900 in 2015 according to Piketty and Saez.  When claiming all the gains over the last 10 years have “stuck to” the top 1%, Carlson appears to have accepted the same source Hillary Clinton abused when she claimed “more than 90 percent of [income] gains have gone to the top 1 percent.”   

What “stuck to the top end,” to use Tucker Carlson’s phrase, is the Top 1% share of gains since 2009.  Prior losses are forgotten.  The “last 10 years” is simply redefined as starting with 2009, not 2007.

In the latest version of this ruse, Saez says, “Top 1% families … capture[d] 52% of total real income growth per family from 2009-2015.”  Of the many deceptions the Piketty-Saez team has inflicted on us over the years, this one may well be the most politically popular and most economically ridiculous. It has fooled many fools.

What goes unmentioned, is that the Top 1% first “captured” 49% of the losses from 2007 to 2009.  Students of New Math might imagine the 52% gain from 2009 to 2015 compensated for the 49% loss from 2007 to 2009, but that deserves an “F” grade (because the 52% gain is calculated from a much smaller base).

Avg Income of Top 1 Percent

The graph shows what actually happened to average pretax incomes of the Top 1%, as estimated by Piketty and Saez.

From 2007 to 2015, average real incomes of the Top 1% fell by 11.9%, even before taxes.

Top incomes fell much more after taxes because top tax rates were increased from 35% to 39.6% in 2013, the arbitrary and discriminatory 1990 PEP/Pease limits on exemptions and deductions were restored, and an extra 3.8% Obamacare surtax was inflicted on those supposedly privileged stockholders. 

When conservative media commentators rely on deceptive leftist statistics to make their points, they might as well be leftists.
50  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Block grant Medicaid and let the States run their state on: April 05, 2017, 09:19:30 AM
What Congress can learn from the Rhode Island miracle

State waivers offer a workable alternative to the Medicaid crisis

By Stephen Moore - - Sunday, April 2, 2017

 In 2009 Rhode Island received a waiver from federal Medicaid rules in exchange for a cap on federal costs.

When Rhode Island received its Medicaid waiver one of every five residents was enrolled and costs were growing by 7.5 percent annually. Under the waiver, the state’s official Medicaid documents show that costs rose an average of only 1.3 percent a year from 2009-2012 — far below the 4.6 percent rate in the other 49 states
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