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101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Buget: SPENDING went from <$2 Trillion in 2001 to $4 Trillion today on: August 08, 2016, 02:36:01 PM
Federal spending went from $2 Trillion in 2002 to $4 Trillion today in just two Presidencies. 

[Wish I could cut and paste the numbers in here, year by year.]

Amazingly, Republicans controlled the House of Representatives during 12 of those 16 years.

Are we nuts?!
102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bill Clintonomics 1.0 on: August 08, 2016, 02:15:35 PM
When did wages grow under Pres. Bill Clinton?  Only after passing pro-growth policies.
When will wages grow under Hillary Clinton if she wins and keeps her promises?  Never.

The facts of the Clinton economic growth record:  Bill Clinton's presidency gets credit for some impressive private sector growth but the lion's share of it came in the last 4 years after he co-opted the Republicans economic agenda.  See chart below.

Bill Clinton's economic policy achievements:
1) Passed NAFTA with majority Republican support, majority Democratic dissent.  Took effect 1994.
2) Passed Welfare Reform with majority Republican support, lacking majority Democratic dsupport, 1996.
3) Passed Capital Gains Tax Rate cuts  with majority Republican support, 1997.

Hillary Clinton -
 1) opposes free trade, 2) opposes welfare reform, and 3) wants to raise taxes further than Obama did on investment, and crush our fragile growth.  

Bill Clinton's economic results:
Venture capital grew 6 fold over 1995 levels in the years following the capital gains tax rate reductions.
Real wages, however, grew at 6.5 percent rate after the Bill Clinton-Newt Gingrich capital gains tax rate cuts compared with 0.8 percent growth rate after the Bill Clinton tax rate hikes of 1993.

Hillary Clinton now opposes the pro growth policies that worked for Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton -
Not satisfied with growing the private economy and balancing the federal government, returned to big government ways, attacked America's most successful company Microsoft in March 2000 with a DOJ lawsuit that triggered the tech stock crash of 2000 and the 2000-2001 recession.  Growth ended, see chart:

Chart source:  Washington Post

Hillary Clinton opposes all the policies that accelerated economic growth, favors all policies tied to big government growth, is running to continue Obama's slow growth, low growth polices.

Insanity or deception?  Candidate Hillary promises the results of the Bill Clinton administration while rejecting the policies responsible for that growth.
103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillbillary Clintonomics - When did wages grow under Pres. Bill Clinton? on: August 08, 2016, 12:27:04 AM
When did wages grow under Pres. Bill Clinton?  Only after passing pro-growth policies.
When will wages grow under Hillary Clinton if she wins and keeps her promises?  Never.

The facts of the Clinton economic growth record:  Bill Clinton's presidency gets credit for some impressive private sector growth but the lion's share of it came in the last 4 years after he co-opted the Republicans economic agenda.  See chart below.

Bill Clinton's economic policy achievements:
1) Passed NAFTA with majority Republican support, majority Democratic dissent.  Took effect 1994.
2) Passed Welfare Reform with majority Republican support, lacking majority Democratic dsupport, 1996.
3) Passed Capital Gains Tax Rate cuts  with majority Republican support, 1997.

Hillary Clinton -
 1) opposes free trade, 2) opposes welfare reform, and 3) wants to raise taxes further than Obama did on investment, and crush our fragile growth. 

Bill Clinton's economic results:
Venture capital grew 6 fold over 1995 levels in the years following the capital gains tax rate reductions.
Real wages, however, grew at 6.5 percent rate after the Bill Clinton-Newt Gingrich capital gains tax rate cuts compared with 0.8 percent growth rate after the Bill Clinton tax rate hikes of 1993.

Hillary Clinton now opposes the pro growth policies that worked for Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton -
Not satisfied with growing the private economy and balancing the federal government, returned to big government ways, attacked America's most successful company Microsoft in March 2000 with a DOJ lawsuit that triggered the tech stock crash of 2000 and the 2000-2001 recession.  Growth ended, see chart:

Chart source:  Washington Post

Hillary Clinton opposes all the policies that accelerated economic growth, favors all policies tied to big government growth, is running to continue Obama's slow growth, low growth polices.

Insanity or deception?  Candidate Hillary promises the results of the Bill Clinton administration while rejecting the policies responsible for that growth.
104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Paul Ryan's challenger on: August 05, 2016, 03:47:30 PM

Interesting, but:

1)  Can Paul Ryan's challenger even hold the seat in that majority Democrat district, Janesville, WI?

2)  Do we have a better idea who can be Speaker of the House?  We already tried to find one.
105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump - ECONOMIC STATEMENT on: August 05, 2016, 03:43:45 PM
This will form the foundation for Monday's economic address.  I note their numbers are the same I came up with this week, 94 million out of the workforce, 8 million unemployed, 102 million out of the workforce or unemployed!

58% of young African-Americans are either outside the labor force or unemployed.
  - Totally unacceptable.  Amazing that Trump gets this.  This cannot stand in a great nation.

Highest corporate taxes in the world.  6th highest capital gains taxes in the OECD.  I'm looking forward to a coherent and persuasive rejection of current policies.  No pressure, but we should hear Trump make his case and say game, set, match.  Hillary doesn't even wants to fix what's wrong.  She promises to double down on it.

- AUGUST 05, 2016 -


"We are in the middle of the single worst 'recovery' since the Great Depression. Economic growth is at 1.2 percent - the third straight quarter of less than 2 percent growth. Many workers today are earning less than they did in 1970, and household incomes are down nearly $2,000 under the Obama Administration.

We have the lowest home ownership rate in 51 years. The number of workers who work part-time because of poor business conditions increased by 5.8 percent last month. 102 million people are either outside the labor force or unemployed. 58% of young African-Americans are either outside the labor force or unemployed.

We hit a trade deficit of nearly $45 billion in the most recent month (an 8.7% increase), and nearly $800 billion last year - shipping millions of jobs overseas. Entire communities have been wiped out by offshoring.

The economy the media and the Clinton Machine is describing is an economy that doesn't exist for most Americans - it's an economy enjoyed by her donors and special interests, and one suffered through every day by millions of Americans."
106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe, 30,000 rejected asylum seekers in Sweden missing on: August 05, 2016, 03:05:23 PM
Such nice, law abiding people too.

30,000 people whose asylum application had been rejected and were scheduled for deportation, had gone missing. The police say they lack the resources to track down these illegals. Three Somali men in their 20s, who took turns raping a 14-year-old girl, received very lenient sentences -- and all three avoided deportation. On June 7, it was reported that British citizen Grace "Khadija" Dare had brought her 4-year-old son, Isa Dare, to live in Sweden, in order to benefit from free health care. **  In February, the boy was featured in an ISIS video, blowing up four prisoners in a car. The boy's father, a jihadist with Swedish citizenship, was killed fighting for ISIS.

**  I recall that our moderator/host some years ago didn't understand why I posted a video of a violent Muslim riot in Malmo Sweden in the healthcare thread.  I feel vindicated.  If you're going to join a global revolution to invade sovereign countries and destroy them, might as well go to where they have the most generous benefits, Sweden, Minnesota, etc.  They aren't coming for the weather...

June 1: The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå), released a report which showed that 11,007 people have been sentenced to deportation after being convicted of crimes.  There is no record that any were deported.

MUCH more at the link.
107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: August 05, 2016, 02:49:33 PM
"The Washington Post gave it four "Pinocchios","
We know that this is essentially meaningless except it gives us some fodder

When you figure in the double standard and media bias it is like getting 8 or 16 Pinocchios.    )

But is it really a lie, Doc, if she has been already diagnosed as having no regard for the truth?

Maybe she can take the insanity plea!
108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump, economic team, economic speech on: August 05, 2016, 09:48:58 AM
CCP:  Oh my God.  I can see the Dems dusting off of the "Daisy" commercials now:

The Daisy commercial might work the other way around this time.  Hillary won't protect us at the border or from ISIS immigration and there is enough footage of terror bombings to full a 60 second spot.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump revealed his initial list of economic advisers Friday, which includes 14 individuals from the worlds of finance and real estate.

Trump's list includes ...Stephen Moore, the longtime supply-side economist who founded the Club for Growth.

[Also David Malpass is on the list, a good economist and friend(?) or ally of Scott Grannis.]

Trump is set to unveil his policy agenda during a speech at the Detroit Economic Club on Monday. According to the campaign's press release, Trump's speech "will focus on empowering Americans by freeing up the necessary tools for everyone to gain economically."

Monday we switch to issues. If Trump can't beat Obama/Hillary in the debate over economic policy, we are sunk.
109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillbillary Clinton: Director Comey said my answers were truthful on: August 05, 2016, 09:11:10 AM
Truthful answers to whom?  Internal investigations?   She lied to the American people and the committee about every aspect of it.  Will this explanation hold up?

Blame the 'professionals':

Mrs Clinton also appeared to direct some of the blame for the whole imbroglio to her subordinates. After acknowledging that she "made a mistake" not using separate email addresses for personal and work messages, she said she had relied on the "judgements of the professionals" with whom she worked.

"In retrospect, maybe some people are saying, well, among those 300 people, they made the wrong call," she said. "At the time, there was no reason in my view to doubt the professionalism and the determination by the people who work every single day on behalf of our country."

Media fact-checkers have offered harsh reviews of Mrs Clinton's response. The Washington Post gave it four "Pinocchios", its lowest rating. Politifact labelled her statement "pants on fire".

She's counting on Bernie's synopsis, paraphrasing, people are tired of hearing about her lies and her crimes.
110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Tough Times for Higher Ed on: August 05, 2016, 08:51:29 AM
DDF:  "The credential doesn't mean squat.  Results do though.

I'm not as far over as DDF but I believe a lot of what is studied in college is fluff that should be enjoyed in peoples' free time.  The cost side is not being addressed.  They are copying the failed model of health care with third party pay and near zero accountability.

I'm glad my daughter went to college, worked really hard and got a technical (STEM) degree (math).  Yes it led to a job.  The degree won't be used to directly in her work but it sharpened her skills, broadened her, proved something about her and opened that particular door. I value my degree and regret not going further at the time.  We were paying $250 for a quarter, not $300,000 for a degree.

(Let's see, the cost of education went up 10 fold in a generation yet we don't allow an adjustment for inflation in a capital gain when taxing it.)
Tough times for higher ed: Glenn Reynolds

Glenn Harlan Reynolds 1:20 p.m. EDT August 4, 2016   USA Today
Not everyone — probably not even most people — will really benefit from college.

Gan Golan protests student debt in 2011, in Washington, D.C.(Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, AP)

Colleges, and graduate programs, are in trouble. Enrollments are falling — and not just at the PC-tainted University of Missouri — student debt is rising, and, worst of all in any bursting-bubble industry, the rubes seem to be catching on. This weekend, walking out of the drugstore, I saw Consumer Reports’ cover story, “I kind of ruined my life by going to college.” It was all about student loan debt and what it does to people’s lives. Hint: Nothing good.

I noted some years ago that trends in higher education couldn’t continue. The cost of college goes up every year; salaries, on the other hand, have grown much more slowly, if at all. This means that where today’s parents might have been able to comfortably fund their educations with loans and part-time work, today’s students can’t. Tuition is too high to cover with a waitressing job, and salaries are too low to comfortably pay back the debt after graduation. Or, sometimes, to pay it back at all.

When I wrote that book, student loan debt was approaching a trillion dollars. Now, Charles Sykes’ new book, Fail U.: The False Promise of Higher Education says that it’s $1.3 trillion, unsurprising given that tuitions of $60-70,000 a year are common now, and most students borrow to cover expenses.

The problem is that neither students nor society are getting their money’s worth.

Politicians sell education as a solution to economic inequality because it has two features that politicians love: It sounds good, and people won’t discover that it isn’t true until much later. Plus, when you push spending on education, you can always count on support from educators, who have a lot of influence in the media.

But as Sykes notes, “college for all” isn’t actually a good idea. Not everyone — probably not even most people — will really benefit from college. Fifty three percent of college grads under 25, he reports, are unemployed, or underemployed, working part-time or in low-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree.
111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary Lied to the Parents of the Murdered - Right over their Casket on: August 05, 2016, 08:33:57 AM
This story was stepped on by Trump responding to the Khans, also parents of a fallen soldier.

Clinton’s in-your-face lies to Patricia Smith — mother of Sean Smith, an American diplomat whom al-Qaeda-affiliated radical Islamic terrorists murdered in the September 11, 2012, Benghazi massacre. Hillary stared right at this mourning mother as her son lay in a casket just feet away, at Andrews Air Force Base that September 14.

As Smith told the Republican National Convention, “When I saw Hillary Clinton at Sean’s coffin ceremony, just days later, she looked me squarely in the eye and told me a video was responsible.” Hillary Clinton denies this. In fact, she questioned Smith’s mental capacity. The Democrat standard bearer told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, “I don’t hold any ill feeling for someone who in that moment may not fully recall everything that was or wasn’t said.”

However, strong evidence arose yesterday to corroborate Smith’s account and underscore the question with which she closed her emotional convention speech: “If Hillary Clinton can’t give us the truth, why should we give her the presidency?” Charles Woods, the father of former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods — who was slaughtered by al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists at Benghazi — appeared on Fox News Channel with the calendar that he carried on the day he met Clinton. “I keep this little book, and I’ve shown this to the public many times,” Woods told anchor Bill Hemmer. I jokingly say I keep my brains in my pocket, and I write down the important things that happen each day. And I’ve been doing this for many years. What I have written down here, this is verbatim what was written down soon after she spoke it. Here it is: “I gave Hillary a hug and shook her hand, and she said we are going to have the film maker arrested who was responsible for the death of my son.”

Clinton’s prophecy came true — the First Amendment be damned. The next day, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies hauled Nakoula Basseley Nakoula from his home in Cerritos, Calif. The Egyptian-born Coptic Christian director of the video Innocence of Muslims, subsequently was sentenced to a year in federal prison for using the pseudonym Sam Bacile and otherwise violating his probation after an unrelated 2010 federal bank-fraud conviction.

While Clinton can accuse Mrs. Smith and Mr. Woods of being too dimwitted to remember accurately what she told them up close, Hillary’s public lies at that ceremony are very much on the record. As the Washington Post’s transcript of Clinton’s remarks indicates, she tied the murders of Smith, Woods, Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, and U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens to “an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with.” Charles Woods said that Clinton “also lied to the American public” during the televised memorial. “She said basically the same thing in private to the families that were grieving,” Woods said. “And then a half an hour later, she said basically the same thing, as far as causation, to the American public.” Woods added: “She stood in front of my son’s casket and blamed the rage directed at American embassies upon the video that she said we had no part of.”

...Clinton’s flat-out lies to at least two bereaved parents while their valiant sons came home in flag-draped coffins. Clinton knew damn well that these men were butchered in a pre-meditated, militant-Islamic terrorist attack — not a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a spectacularly amateurish YouTube video. Clinton privately shared the real reasons behind these men’s deaths with her daughter, even as the terror assault roared on, and while Woods and Doherty still were alive. “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an al Qaeda-like group,” Hillary e-mailed Chelsea at 11:12 p.m. Eastern time on September 11, 2012. Hillary gave the truth to Libyan president Mohamed Magariaf at 11:49 p.m. “There is a gun battle ongoing, which I understand Ansar [al] Sharia is claiming responsibility for,” Hillary said. This group is al-Qaeda’s Libyan branch.

Hillary blamed associates of al-Qaeda for this mayhem during a phone call at 3:04 p.m. the next day with Hisham Qandil, then prime minister of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood–led government. “We know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film,” she told him. “It was a planned attack — not a protest. Based on the information we saw today, we believe that the group that claimed responsibility for this was affiliated with al-Qaeda.” But, just two days later, Hillary Clinton looked into the sorrow-soaked faces of a mother and father and spat lies at them like a venom-spewing serpent. She then peered into TV cameras and duped the American people.
112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness Paying Ransom on: August 04, 2016, 11:24:43 PM
Of all the colossal failures of the Glibness Presidency, this will go down as one of their worst moments, getting caught paying cash to Iran for hostages.  An unmarked plane brought money while the hostages were told their plane would not take off until the other plane came in.

The explanation was that this goes back to 1979, it's their money, but no one asks why four previous Presidents neglected to settle it.  And if it was so urgent and important to this President or to America, why was it not done before the second half of year eight of his administration and timed during a hostage release?

It is against federal law to pay money for hostages so the administration must deny it, but this was something to see from both Obama and his spokesman.  They said of the Clintons, they lie with such ease.  One might say of these clown they do it without a care that everyone knows just how obvious the lie is.  The media can pass on their explanation.  It was a completely different staff working on completely different issues.  Just what we want to hear, two teams have no knowledge or coordination, no common person above them seeing the big picture, just technocrats working on mundane issues.  They just happened to have the exact same timing with the exact same sponsor of terror, same airfield(?), landing one plane with unmarked money and sending home hostages in another like a relay race hand off.  Quid. pro. quo.

Iran probably made the IED that killed young Khan in 2004.  Why didn't we pay Iran then?  Are they any less our enemy now?  Based on what?  Wishful [Glib] thinking?
113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Jill Stein on: August 04, 2016, 10:50:37 PM

It is a tough choice whether to call this candidate out as a flake or whether to encourage all our leftist friends to support her.  Maybe we can do both.
114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: My response to a passage in an NRO article on: August 04, 2016, 10:48:44 PM
"He was criticized by the parents of a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq and responded that they were really upset because he plans to keep Islamic terrorists out of the country — “I think that’s what bothered Mr. Khan,” Trump insisted. These are the parents of a fallen American soldier, and Trump accuses them of being enablers of Islamic terrorism based on the fact that they have criticized him."

Sorry, but NRO has allowed it hatred of Trump get in the way of its integrity. This is not even close.

Yes, there may be overheated rhetoric in this URLs but cumulatively they tell quite a different story:

No hijab for the Mrs when posing with Baraq:

Summarizing: The man advocates Sharia. In my considered opinion this is not only religion, but politics i.e. it is the advocacy of theocracy and as such is contrary to the American Creed and our Constitution. This may be a legal to hold opinion, but it is not a good American one.

He is/was an attorney for a law firm that was a registered agent for Saudi Arabia. He made his living on getting visas for Muslims getting into the US. Trump's proposed moratorium is a direct hit on his livelihood.

As an attorney, particular an expert in visas for Middle Eastern people, he must know quite well that the American president by law can Constitutionally exclude such people.

Thus his whole speech is a fraud and a lie. One may agree or disagree with Trump's call for a moratorium, but no legally literate person can call his idea unconstitutional.

The plan was to conflate the natural sympathy for the parents of the fallen (and his son's rep with comrades in arms was good) into sabotaging what was developing into one of Trump's most effective and most relevant points: That just as FBI Director Comey and other top officials have plainly stated the enemy is looking to use the refugees to place 5th column enemy agents/soldiers/spies in our homeland and that there is absolutely no meaningful way to vet the refugees.

When Obama brings in 10,000 and Hillary looks to expand that by 550% that is either madness, treason, or sheer lust for political power by continuing to dilute the American population with people who do not belief in America as part of a larger plan to "fundamentally transform America.

Is Trump a profound ass for what he said about the mother? Absolutely-- though the generality is not without merit. But that is far from reason to move America towards the giant fustercluck in which Europe now finds itself.

America's correct response is exactly what Trump has proposed: Actively support refugee camps there.

Well stated.  Clumsy is the crime.  Debate the issue honestly and Trump wins.  Trump didn't pick this fight but he chose to fight back and screwed it up.  He should have let the speech go by largely unnoticed and should be calling Hillary out from behind her surrogates to debate her failures.  This guy was being a political activist / political hack, but trying to take him out was a major miscalculation.  It cost Trump crucial momentum and time.  At the moment this broke people were talking about what a weak speech Hillary gave and the exposed DNC collusion. 
115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: August 04, 2016, 09:37:12 AM
We have tried to define the American Creed from our point of view and chart a course for getting back on that track.  Crafty wrote:

American Creed= Free minds, free markets, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of contract, right of self-defense (hence guns and knives, etc) property rights, privacy, all connected with responsibility for the consequences of one's action.  All this from our Creator, not the State nor majority vote.

Sometimes I lament this would be a lot easier if the left was right.  Maybe we don't need individual rights, would be better off ruled by a faraway leftist world government.  Wouldn't it be great if lifting up the incomes and lives of all low wage earners was as simple as passing minimum wage law to any number mandated.  Wouldn't it be great if we could have left Saddam Hussein in power pursuing nuclear weapons, supporting terrorism and nothing bad would have come out of that.  Or we could leave Iraq without a status of forces agreement and nothing bad would happen.  Wouldn't it be great if we could just let Russia be the 'world's policeman' in the Middle East, it will come out fine and the US didn't have to do all the heavy lifting.  Let China benevolently dominate the South China Sea.  Wouldn't it be great if we could endlessly tax the rich and they would ignore the disincentives and keep earning, producing, investing and growing jobs and the economy, and if all of our basics like healthcare for everyone could be free to us, paid for by someone we don't even know or not even paid for at all...

Maybe a way of backing into a 'way forward' strategy is to ask the important questions backwards.  What are all the falsehoods we would have to believe true for the left to have the best path forward and our vision wrong?
116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump, Crimea on: August 04, 2016, 09:10:40 AM
I can't find coverage of this that isn't anti-Trump to begin with, but Trump made a series of sloppy statements about Crimea and is paying a price for it in the media.

"Russia isn't going into Ukraine' meaning under his watch.  But they're already there, in Crimea.  That was under Obama. 'It isn't our fight' - except that is a change in stated policy; the west has not recognized the annexation.  But the west, not led by Obama, wasn't taking that fight to Russia or going in anyway.

Strange that the left can turn their failures into Trump's disqualifications.

117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How a Secretive Branch of ISIS Built a Global Network of Killers on: August 04, 2016, 08:51:32 AM
Must read.  Chiling.
New York Times
How a Secretive Branch of ISIS
Built a Global Network of Killers
A jailhouse interview with a German man who joined
the Islamic State reveals the workings of a unit whose
lieutenants are empowered to plan attacks around the world.

BREMEN, Germany — Believing he was answering a holy call, Harry Sarfo left his home in the working-class city of Bremen last year and drove for four straight days to reach the territory controlled by the Islamic State in Syria.

He barely had time to settle in before members of the Islamic State’s secret service, wearing masks over their faces, came to inform him and his German friend that they no longer wanted Europeans to come to Syria. Where they were really needed was back home, to help carry out the group’s plan of waging terrorism across the globe.

“He was speaking openly about the situation, saying that they have loads of people living in European countries and waiting for commands to attack the European people,” Mr. Sarfo recounted on Monday, in an interview with The New York Times conducted in English inside the maximum-security prison near Bremen. “And that was before the Brussels attacks, before the Paris attacks.”

The masked man explained that, although the group was well set up in some European countries, it needed more attackers in Germany and Britain, in particular. “They said, ‘Would you mind to go back to Germany, because that’s what we need at the moment,’” Mr. Sarfo recalled. “And they always said they wanted to have something that is occurring in the same time: They want to have loads of attacks at the same time in England and Germany and France.”

In this rare jailhouse interview, a former ISIS member from Germany tells his story and provides new insight into the militant group’s plot to attack Western countries.
Publish Date August 3, 2016.

The operatives belonged to an intelligence unit of the Islamic State known in Arabic as the Emni, which has become a combination of an internal police force and an external operations branch, dedicated to exporting terror abroad, according to thousands of pages of French, Belgian, German and Austrian intelligence and interrogation documents obtained by The Times.

The Islamic State’s attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 brought global attention to the group’s external terrorism network, which began sending fighters abroad two years ago. Now, Mr. Sarfo’s account, along with those of other captured recruits, has further pulled back the curtain on the group’s machinery for projecting violence beyond its borders.

What they describe is a multilevel secret service under the overall command of the Islamic State’s most senior Syrian operative, spokesman and propaganda chief, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. Below him is a tier of lieutenants empowered to plan attacks in different regions of the world, including a “secret service for European affairs,” a “secret service for Asian affairs” and a “secret service for Arab affairs,” according to Mr. Sarfo.

Reinforcing the idea that the Emni is a core part of the Islamic State’s operations, the interviews and documents indicate that the unit has carte blanche to recruit and reroute operatives from all parts of the organization — from new arrivals to seasoned battlefield fighters, and from the group’s special forces and its elite commando units. Taken together, the interrogation records show that operatives are selected by nationality and grouped by language into small, discrete units whose members sometimes only meet one another on the eve of their departure abroad.

And through the coordinating role played by Mr. Adnani, terror planning has gone hand-in-hand with the group’s extensive propaganda operations — including, Mr. Sarfo claimed, monthly meetings in which Mr. Adnani chose which grisly videos to promote based on battlefield events.

Based on the accounts of operatives arrested so far, the Emni has become the crucial cog in the group’s terrorism machinery, and its trainees led the Paris attacks and built the suitcase bombs used in a Brussels airport terminal and subway station. Investigation records show that its foot soldiers have also been sent to Austria, Germany, Spain, Lebanon, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia.

With European officials stretched by a string of assaults by seemingly unconnected attackers who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, Mr. Sarfo suggested that there may be more of a link than the authorities yet know. He said he was told that undercover operatives in Europe used new converts as go-betweens, or “clean men,” who help link up people interested in carrying out attacks with operatives who can pass on instructions on everything from how to make a suicide vest to how to credit their violence to the Islamic State.

The group has sent “hundreds of operatives” back to the European Union, with “hundreds more in Turkey alone,” according to a senior United States intelligence official and a senior American defense official, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence.

Mr. Sarfo, who was recently moved out of solitary confinement at his German prison because he is no longer considered violent, agrees with that assessment. “Many of them have returned,” he said. “Hundreds, definitely.”

The first port of call for new arrivals to the Islamic State is a network of dormitories in Syria, just across the border from Turkey. There, recruits are interviewed and inventoried.

Mr. Sarfo was fingerprinted, and a doctor came to draw a blood sample and perform a physical examination. A man with a laptop conducted an intake interview. “He was asking normal questions like: ‘What’s your name? What’s your second name? Who’s your mom? Where’s your mom originally from? What did you study? What degree do you have? What’s your ambition? What do you want to become?’” Mr. Sarfo said.

His background was also of interest. He was a regular at a radical mosque in Bremen that had already sent about 20 members to Syria, at least four of whom were killed in battle, according to Daniel Heinke, the German Interior Ministry’s counterterrorism coordinator for the area. And he had served a one-year prison sentence for breaking into a supermarket safe and stealing 23,000 euros. Even though the punishment for theft in areas under Islamic State control is amputation, a criminal past can be a valued asset, Mr. Sarfo said, “especially if they know you have ties to organized crime and they know you can get fake IDs, or they know you have contact men in Europe who can smuggle you into the European Union.”

The bureaucratic nature of the intake procedure was recently confirmed by American officials after USB drives were recovered in the recently liberated Syrian city of Manbij, one of the hubs for processing foreign fighters.

Mr. Sarfo checked all the necessary boxes, and on the third day after his arrival, the members of the Emni came to ask for him. He wanted to fight in Syria and Iraq, but the masked operatives explained that they had a vexing problem.

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“They told me that there aren’t many people in Germany who are willing to do the job,” Mr. Sarfo said soon after his arrest last year, according to the transcript of his interrogation by German officials, which runs more than 500 pages. “They said they had some in the beginning. But one after another, you could say, they chickened out, because they got scared — cold feet. Same in England.”

By contrast, the group had more than enough volunteers for France. “My friend asked them about France,” Mr. Sarfo said. “And they started laughing. But really serious laughing, with tears in their eyes. They said, ‘Don’t worry about France.’ ‘Mafi mushkilah’ — in Arabic, it means ‘no problem.’” That conversation took place in April 2015, seven months before the coordinated killings in Paris in November, the worst terrorist attack in Europe in over a decade.

While some details of Mr. Sarfo’s account cannot be verified, his statements track with what other recruits related in their interrogations. And both prison officials and the German intelligence agents who debriefed Mr. Sarfo after his arrest said they found him credible.

Since the rise of the Islamic State over two years ago, intelligence agencies have been collecting nuggets on the Emni. Originally, the unit was tasked with policing the Islamic State’s members, including conducting interrogations and ferreting out spies, according to interrogation records and analysts. But French members arrested in 2014 and 2015 explained that the Emni had taken on a new portfolio: projecting terror abroad.

“It’s the Emni that ensures the internal security inside Dawla” — the Arabic word for state — “and oversees external security by sending abroad people they recruited, or else sending individuals to carry out violent acts, like what happened in Tunisia inside the museum in Tunis, or else the aborted plot in Belgium,” said Nicolas Moreau, 32, a French citizen who was arrested last year after leaving the Islamic State in Syria, according to his statement to France’s domestic intelligence agency.

Mr. Moreau explained that he had run a restaurant in Raqqa, Syria, the de facto capital of the group’s territory, where he had served meals to key members of the Emni — including Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the on-the-ground commander of the Paris attacks, who was killed in a standoff with the police days later.

Other interrogations, as well as Mr. Sarfo’s account, have led investigators to conclude that the Emni also trained and dispatched the gunman who opened fire on a beach in Sousse, Tunisia, in June, and the man who prepared the Brussels airport bombs.

Records from French, Austrian and Belgian intelligence agencies show that at least 28 operatives recruited by the Emni succeeded in deploying to countries outside of the Islamic State’s core territory, mounting both successful attacks and plots that were foiled. Officials say that dozens of other operatives have slipped through and formed sleeper cells.

In his own interactions with the Emni, Mr. Sarfo realized that they were preparing a global portfolio of terrorists and looking to fill holes in their international network, he said.

He described what he had been told about the group’s work to build an infrastructure in Bangladesh. There, a siege by a team of Islamic State gunmen left at least 20 hostages dead at a cafe last month, almost all of them foreigners.

Mr. Sarfo said that for Asian recruits, the group was looking specifically for militants who had emerged from Al Qaeda’s network in the region. “People especially from Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia — they have people who used to work for Al Qaeda, and once they joined the Islamic State, they are asking them questions about their experiences and if they have contacts,” he said.

In his briefings with the German authorities, and again in the interview this week, Mr. Sarfo raised the possibility that some of the recent attackers in Europe who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State’s leader during their assaults might have a more direct link to the group than officials believe.

Mr. Sarfo explained that the Emni keeps many of its operatives underground in Europe. They act as nodes that can remotely activate potential suicide attackers who have been drawn in by propaganda. Linking them are what Mr. Sarfo called “clean men,” new converts to Islam with no established ties to radical groups.

“These people are not in direct contact with these guys who are doing the attacks, because they know if these people start talking, they will get caught,” he said of the underground operatives.

“They mostly use people who are new Muslims, who are converts,” he said. Those “clean” converts “get in contact with the people, and they give them the message.” And in the case of some videotaped pledges of allegiance, the go-between can then send the video on to the handler in Europe, who uploads it for use by the Islamic State’s propaganda channels.

The intelligence documents and Mr. Sarfo agree that the Islamic State has made the most of its recruits’ nationalities by sending them back to plot attacks at home. Yet one important region where the Emni is not thought to have succeeded in sending trained attackers is North America, Mr. Sarfo said, recalling what the members of the branch told him.

Though dozens of Americans have become members of the Islamic State, and some have been recruited into the external operations wing, “they know it’s hard for them to get Americans into America” once they have traveled to Syria, he said.

“For America and Canada, it’s much easier for them to get them over the social network, because they say the Americans are dumb — they have open gun policies,” he said. “They say we can radicalize them easily, and if they have no prior record, they can buy guns, so we don’t need to have no contact man who has to provide guns for them.”

Tanks captured by Kurdish militias in Syria last year. The Arabic writing identifies them as belonging to Jaysh al-Khalifa, or the Army of the Caliphate, an elite Islamic State unit. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
Training Days

Since late 2014, the Islamic State has instructed foreigners joining the group to make their trip look like a holiday in southern Turkey, including booking a return flight and paying for an all-inclusive vacation at a beach resort, from which smugglers arrange their transport into Syria, according to intelligence documents and Mr. Sarfo’s account.



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That cover story creates pressure to keep things moving quickly during the recruits’ training in Syria, and most get a bare minimum — just a few days of basic weapons practice, in some instances.

“When they go back to France or in Germany, they can say, ‘I was only on holidays in Turkey,’” Mr. Sarfo said. “The longer they stay in the Islamic State, the more suspicious the secret service in the West gets, and that’s why they try to do the training as quickly as possible.”

Mr. Sarfo’s facility in both German and English — he studied construction at Newham College in East London — made him attractive as a potential attacker. Though the Emni approached him several times to ask him to return to Germany, he demurred, he said.

Eventually, Mr. Sarfo, perhaps because of his burly build — 6-foot-1 and around 286 pounds when he arrived in Syria, though he has lost weight since then — was drafted into the Islamic State’s quwat khas, Arabic for special forces.

The unit only admitted single men who agreed not to marry during the duration of their training. In addition to providing the offensive force to infiltrate cities during battles, it was one of several elite units that became recruiting pools for the external operations branch, Mr. Sarfo said.

Along with his German friend, he was driven to the desert outside Raqqa.

“They dropped us off in the middle of nowhere and told us, ‘We are here,’” he said, according to the transcript of one of his interrogation sessions. “So we’re standing in the desert and thought to ourselves, ‘What’s going on?’” When the two Germans looked more closely, they realized there were cavelike dwellings around them. Everything above ground was painted with mud so as to be invisible to drones.

“Showering was prohibited. Eating was prohibited, too, unless they gave it to you,” Mr. Sarfo said, adding that he had shared a cave with five or six others. Even drinking water was harshly rationed. “Each dwelling received two cups of water a day, put on the doorstep,” he said. “And the purpose of this was to test us, see who really wants it, who’s firm.”

The grueling training began: hours of running, jumping, push-ups, parallel bars, crawling. The recruits began fainting.

By the second week, they were each given a Kalashnikov assault rifle and told to sleep with it between their legs until it became “like a third arm,” he said, according to his interrogation transcript.

The punishment for failing to keep up was harsh. “There was one boy who refused to get up, because he was just too exhausted,” Mr. Sarfo told the authorities. “So they tied him to a pole with his legs and his arms and left him there.”

He learned that the special forces program involved 10 levels of training. After he graduated to Level 2, he was moved to an island on a river in Tabqa, Syria. The recruits’ sleeping spots now consisted of holes in the ground, covered by sticks and twigs. They practiced swimming, scuba diving and navigating by the stars.

Throughout his training, Mr. Sarfo rubbed shoulders with an international cadre of recruits. When he first arrived at the desert campus, he ran laps alongside Moroccans, Egyptians, at least one Indonesian, a Canadian and a Belgian. And out on the island, he learned of similar special units, including one called Jaysh al-Khalifa, or the Army of the Caliphate.

A 12-page criminal complaint indicates that the Islamic State tried to recruit at least one American into that unit, but he declined to enroll.

The man, Mohamad Jamal Khweis, a 26-year-old from Alexandria, Va., traveled to Syria in December, only to be captured by Kurdish troops in Iraq in March. In his debriefing with the F.B.I., he explained that early on, he was approached by members of the unit. “During his stay at this safe house, representatives from Jaysh Khalifa, a group described by the defendant as an ‘offensive group,’ visited the new ISIL recruits,” the complaint says. “The representatives explained that their group was responsible for accepting volunteers from foreign countries who would be trained and sent back to their countries to conduct operations and execute attacks on behalf of ISIL. The group’s requirements, among other things, were that recruits had to be single, would train in remote locations, must be free of any injuries and had to stay reclusive when returning to their home countries.”

Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the Islamic State’s spokesman, also commands a unit called the Emni, which has become both an internal policing force and an external operations branch.
The Big Man

As he progressed through the special forces training, Mr. Sarfo became closer with the emir of the camp, a Moroccan, who began to divulge details about how the Islamic State’s external operations effort was structured, he said. Mr. Sarfo learned that there was one outsize figure behind the group’s strategies and ambitions. “The big man behind everything is Abu Muhammad al-Adnani,” he said.

“He is the head of the Emni, and he is the head of the special forces as well,” Mr. Sarfo added. “Everything goes back to him.”

Born in the town of Binnish in northern Syria, Mr. Adnani is said to be 39, and is the subject of a $5 million bounty from the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program. But details about his life remain a mystery. There are very few available photos of him, and the one used on the State Department’s website is years old.

Mr. Sarfo explained that when recruits to the special forces finished all 10 levels of training, they were blindfolded and driven to meet Mr. Adnani, where they pledged allegiance to him directly. Mr. Sarfo was told that the blindfolds stayed on the whole time, so that even Mr. Adnani’s best-trained fighters never know what he looks like.

To the world, Mr. Adnani is better known as the official spokesman of the Islamic State, and the man who put out a global call this year for Muslims to attack unbelievers wherever they were, however they could.

“Adnani is much more than just the mouthpiece of this group,” said Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington who tracks the group’s leadership. “He is heavily involved in external operations. He is sort of the administrative ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ at the top of the pyramid,” who signs off on attack plans, the details of which are handled by his subordinates.

During his time in Syria, Mr. Sarfo was contacted by other German fighters who wanted him to be an actor in a propaganda film aimed at German speakers. They drove to Palmyra, and Mr. Sarfo was told to hold the group’s black flag and to walk again and again in front of the camera as they filmed repeated takes. Syrian captives were forced to kneel, and the other German fighters shot them, showing an interest only in the cinematic effect.

One turned to Mr. Sarfo immediately after killing a victim and asked: “How did I look like? Did I look good, the way I executed?”

Mr. Sarfo said he had learned that videos like the one he acted in were vetted by Mr. Adnani himself in a monthly meeting of senior operatives.

“There’s a vetting procedure,” he said. “Once a month they have a shura — which is a sitting, a meeting — where all the videos and everything that is important, they start speaking about it. And Abu Muhammad al-Adnani is the head of the shura.”

Mr. Sarfo said he had started doubting his allegiance to ISIS during his training, after seeing how cruelly they treated those who could not keep up. Making the propaganda video provided his final disillusionment when he saw how many times they recorded each scene in the five-minute film. Back in Germany, when he had been inspired by similar videos, he had always assumed they were real, not staged.

He began plotting his escape, which took weeks and involved sprinting and crawling in a field of mud before crossing into Turkey. He was arrested at Bremen Airport, where he landed on July 20, 2015, and he voluntarily confessed. He is now serving a three-year term on terrorism charges.

Among the Islamic State’s innovations is the role of foreigners, especially Europeans, in the planning of attacks.

Mr. Sarfo’s account agrees with investigation documents and the assessments of terrorism experts, who say that French and Belgian citizens like Mr. Abaaoud are more than just operatives and have been given managing roles.

“It’s a creative and interesting operational road map, to be able to lean on someone like Abaaoud, who has his own network abroad,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, chairman of the Center for the Analysis of Terrorism in Paris. “They gave him the autonomy regarding tactics and strategy, even if the operation as a whole still needs a green light from the Islamic State’s leadership.”

Looking at the current leaders of the Emni, investigators have homed in on two in particular. They go by the aliases Abu Souleymane, a French citizen, and Abu Ahmad, described as Syrian. Both are considered top lieutenants of Mr. Adnani, according to the senior American defense official and senior intelligence official.

The two men play a direct role in identifying fighters to be sent overseas, in choosing targets and in organizing logistics for operatives, including paying for smugglers to get them to Europe and, in at least one case, sending Western Union transfers, according to European intelligence documents.

A glimpse into the possible role of Abu Souleymane came from one of the hostages held by suicide bombers inside the Bataclan concert hall in Paris in November.

After gunning down dozens of concertgoers, two of the suicide bombers retreated into a hallway with a group of hostages, forcing them to sit against the windows as human shields, said the hostage, David Fritz-Goeppinger, 24. In the two-and-a-half-hour standoff that ensued, Mr. Fritz heard one of the bombers ask the other, “Should we call Souleymane?”

The second operative appeared annoyed that the first had asked the question in French, and ordered him to switch to Arabic.

“I immediately understood that, yes, this was the individual, maybe not the individual who had organized the attack, but who held a place in the hierarchy above them,” Mr. Fritz said in a telephone interview. His testimony is also included in a detailed, 51-page report by France’s antiterrorism police. “They were absolutely, like soldiers,” awaiting orders, he said.

Souleymane, whose full nom de guerre is Abu Souleymane al-Faransi, or Abu Souleymane the Frenchman, is believed to be a French national in his 30s who is of either Moroccan or Tunisian ancestry, according to Ludovico Carlino, a senior analyst with IHS Conflict Monitor in London. Mr. Carlino says he believes that Souleymane was promoted to be the top terrorism planner for Europe after Mr. Abaaoud’s death.

A snapshot of the other senior leader, Abu Ahmad, appears in the account of a man who investigators have concluded was supposed to be part of the team of Paris attackers: an Algerian named Adel Haddadi. Mr. Haddadi said he and another member of the team, a former Lashkar-e-Taiba member from Pakistan named Muhammad Usman, were separated from two other attackers after they reached Greece by boat.

Mr. Haddadi, 28, and Mr. Usman, 22, were eventually arrested in a migrant camp in Salzburg, Austria. The two men sent alongside them became the first suicide bombers to detonate their vests outside the Stade de France during the November attacks.

After arriving in Syria and being routed to the international dormitory there in February 2015, Mr. Haddadi worked as a cook in Raqqa for months before a member of the Emni came to see him, according to French and Austrian investigation documents.

“One day, a Syrian came into the kitchen to see me and said that someone called Abu Ahmad wanted to see me,” Mr. Haddadi was quoted as saying in the Austrian record of his interrogation. He was driven to a five-story building, where another Syrian holding a walkie talkie radioed Abu Ahmad. They waited for hours before the Syrian got orders to drive the recruit to the next location. In the street, a Saudi man wearing all white was waiting, and asked Mr. Haddadi to go on a walk.

After 300 yards, they reached an empty apartment building and sat down. “I was scared, I wanted to leave, but he talked the whole time,” Mr. Haddadi told the authorities.

“He said only positive things about me, that Daesh trusted me and that I now needed to prove myself worthy of that trust. He said that Daesh was going to send me to France,” Mr. Haddadi added, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “The details, he said, I would get them once I arrived in France.”

Sometime after that, Abu Ahmad arrived. Mr. Haddadi described him as a Syrian man between 38 and 42 years old, slim with a long, black beard, and dressed all in black. He was, Mr. Haddadi said, “the giver of orders.”

Abu Ahmad brought Mr. Haddadi together with three other potential attackers, with the last man, Mr. Usman, being introduced just a day before they all set out for Europe. Mr. Haddadi and two of the other men were native Arabic speakers, and Mr. Usman spoke enough Arabic to communicate with them, the interrogation documents said.

The day of their departure, Abu Ahmad came and gave them his Turkish cellphone number, instructing them to store it in their phone as “FF,” to avoid registering a name. He gave Mr. Haddadi $2,000 in $100 bills, and they were driven to the Turkish border. A man met them in Turkey to take their photographs, and returned with Syrian passports. Another smuggler arranged their Oct. 3 boat trip to Leros, Greece.

All of these logistical steps, as well as Western Union money transfers, were organized by Abu Ahmad, one of the senior lieutenants running the Islamic State’s efforts to export terror. Until his arrest in December, Mr. Haddadi remained in touch with Abu Ahmad through messages on Telegram and via text messages to his Turkish number, according to the investigation record.

Abu Ahmad’s Turkish number was found somewhere else, too: written on a slip of paper in the pants pocket of the severed leg of one of the suicide bombers at the Stade de France.
118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / European Prisons Fueling Spread of Islamic Radicalism WSJ on: August 04, 2016, 08:36:47 AM
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European Prisons Fueling Spread of Islamic Radicalism  WSJ
Convicted terrorists sit atop the social pecking order in many facilities, using jail time to plot new attacks or groom petty criminals for jihad
Fleury-Mérogis Prison, Europe’s largest, has become a hotbed of Islamist radicalism.
July 31, 2016
PARIS—After his capture in Belgium, the Paris terror suspect Salah Abdeslam was transferred to a prison cell in France where the paint on the walls was still fresh.

Prison staff had spent three weeks renovating the space, bolting down furniture and installing video cameras to make sure the 26-year-old’s solitary confinement went smoothly, said Marcel Duredon, a guard at Fleury-Mérogis, the high-security facility on the outskirts of Paris.

Still, the measures did little to calm the ruckus that erupted in the cell blocks as dusk fell and word spread about the prison’s newest inmate, the last surviving suspect in the Nov. 13 attacks.

“Some welcomed him as the messiah,” Mr. Duredon said.

The rise of Islamic State has caught Europe’s prison systems flat-footed. Convicted terrorists, some of whom serve prison terms as brief as two years, sit atop the social pecking order in facilities like Fleury-Mérogis.

Many use jail time to forge ties with petty criminals from the predominantly Muslim suburbs that ring European cities, authorities say, grooming them for jihad missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria—or attacks at home.

Now the return over the past year of an unprecedented number of jihadists from Islamic State territory is placing European prisons in an even bigger bind. To keep militants off the streets, authorities are throwing many of them in jail, but that is injecting battle-hardened radicals into overcrowded prisons. Researchers estimate that 50% to 60% of the roughly 67,000 inmates in the French prison system are Muslims, who represent just 7.5% of the general population.

Prison officials are also faced with a difficult choice between absorbing hardened militants into the general prison population, where they might radicalize others, or to concentrate them in special wards where they may be better able to hatch plots.

“We’re sitting on a time bomb,” says Adeline Hazan, who heads a state agency tasked with auditing French prisons.

Last week, a French teenager who had recently been released from Fleury-Mérogis stormed a church in the north of France with an accomplice and killed a Roman Catholic priest celebrating Mass. Adel Kermiche, 19, wrote that he met his “spiritual guide” in the prison, where he was being detained for twice trying to travel to Syria, according to police, who reviewed messages he posted on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app. The “sheik,” as Kermiche referred to him, “gave him ideas,” he wrote.

Eighty-two French nationals have been convicted of terrorism since the summer of 2012 and 154 alleged terrorists are in jail awaiting trial, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office. In addition, more than 1,000 inmates are under surveillance by intelligence services as suspected Islamist radicals, according to French officials.

The influx, authorities warn, is transforming facilities designed for punishment into incubators for future terror attacks. The moment Mehdi Nemmouche completed a prison term for armed robbery in 2012, prison administrators flagged him to intelligence as a radical Islamist who was a threat to national security, according to a Paris prosecutor. He later traveled to Syria and then resurfaced in May 2014 at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, where he allegedly shot four people dead—an allegation he denies.

Mohamed Merah—who killed three paratroopers, a Jewish schoolteacher, and three children in 2012 before being shot dead by police—was also radicalized in a French prison, authorities say. When he entered prison, for snatching a woman’s handbag, Mr. Merah was “just a kid banging on his cell’s door shouting for his PlayStation,” says Philippe Campagne, a prison guard who knew him.

Mr. Abdeslam himself was once a petty criminal who in 2010 served time in a Belgian prison for attempted car robbery. His partner in that crime, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was sentenced to the same prison. Months later, both men were released. Mr. Abaaoud eventually traveled to Syria, tapping Mr. Abdeslam to shepherd suicide bombers across Europe, where they mounted attacks that killed 130 people in Paris, according to police.

Now re-incarcerated, Mr. Abdeslam has joined an informal class system that a 2015 audit of French prisons conducted by a state agency described as “astonishing.”

Within that system, Islamist radicals act as an “aristocracy,” the audit said, dictating prison etiquette to other inmates by forbidding them to take showers naked or listen to music. Televised matches of women’s tennis are also banned by inmates in some cells, the audit said.

A 52-year-old inmate who has been in and out of prison for a decade said radicals who once kept to themselves have begun reaching out to thieves and drug dealers to expand their following.

“They’re now willing to promote their cause by whatever means possible,” he said.

The audit found that radicals have little trouble communicating beyond prison walls. French intelligence recovered contraband mobile phones from one jail showing that many inmates had contacted people in Syria and Yemen. A popular wallpaper for such phones, the audit noted, was the Islamic State’s flag.

Terror attacks come from many sources—Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the truck attacker who mowed down 84 people in Nice on July 14, wasn’t known to have any connection to terrorist groups, prosecutors say. Officials though are most concerned about the conversions taking place in prisons.

Mohamadou Sy, 24, who served part of a three-year sentence for drug dealing in Fleury-Mérogis, recalls how a retinue of “soft-spoken and well-educated” men regularly made the rounds in the prison yard. They bonded with other inmates, he said, by teaching hand-to-hand combat, a useful skill in prison.

“If you’re weak, you’re done,” said Mr. Sy, who was transferred to another prison from Fleury-Mérogis five months ago.

In an attempt to disrupt the aura around radical inmates, governments across the continent have begun to experiment with special measures, such as segregating radicals from other prisoners by housing them on special floors or wards.

Implementation has been piecemeal and sluggish. Only a fraction of the terrorists in French and Belgian jails have been transferred to these new units so far and legal challenges could constrain authorities from holding radicals in solitary confinement for long stretches of time. Assigning radicals to live together in a special ward, meanwhile, also risks being challenged in court as an extrajudicial form of punishment, officials say.

In Belgium, the West’s biggest supplier of Islamic State fighters on a per capita basis, two prisons have been retrofitted with special wards to house radicals. Opened in April, each of the new wards has room for only 20 prisoners.

The Belgian government wants to keep radicals among the general prison population as long as possible and transfer them to the new wards only once they are caught recruiting other prisoners, according to Sieghild Lacoere, spokeswoman for the Belgian Justice Ministry.

“We don’t want to create a Guantanamo,” she said.

That softer approach hinges on the prisons’ experimental use of “de-radicalization” therapy, which aims to reintegrate radicals into European society. Doctors, social workers and state-approved imams are brought into prisons to meet with radicals and attempt to rehabilitate them before their release. Critics of this approach, who point to at least one high-profile failure in Germany, say it is ineffective and distracts from the primary goal of securing public safety.

In France, which has spawned more Islamic State fighters in absolute numbers than any other Western country, authorities have begun grouping radicals together in special units. But the arrangement has failed to fully isolate them from other inmates. The units are often located in cell blocks that house other prisoners and where messages can be passed between cells using bedsheets or word-of-mouth.

The initiative has stirred an internal debate among top officials in President François Hollande’s Socialist government. While some ministers publicly praise the measures as a long-overdue reform, other officials are seething in private, according to people familiar with the matter.

Former Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who resigned in January to protest the government’s plans to strip terrorists of their French citizenship, expressed “grave reservations” over the idea of grouping radicals together.

“This is madness,” said a former counterterrorism official. “We are putting together terrorists who didn’t know each other and belonged to different groups, and helping them create tight, impenetrable networks,” the official said.

Fleury-Mérogis, located on the outskirts of Paris, is Europe’s largest prison, with 4,200 inmates spread across 445 acres. A netting of metal wires stretches over its rooftops to prevent inmates from escaping aboard helicopters.

In 2004, the prison received a new inmate: 23-year-old Amedy Coulibaly. Convicted of armed robbery, Mr. Coulibaly spent 22 hours a day locked up in his cell.

“Prison changed me,” Coulibaly would later tell French journalist Warda Mohamed after his release in 2008. Ms. Mohamed, a French journalist who interviewed Coulibaly as part of a documentary on prison life, said she didn’t publish the comments at the time.

“I learnt about Islam in prison. Before that I wasn’t interested, now I pray,” Coulibaly told Ms. Mohamed, she said. “Just for that, I’m glad I went to prison.”

Prosecutors say Djamel Beghal cultivated a circle of followers around him in prison and radicalized one of the Charlie Hebdo gunmen.
Prosecutors say Djamel Beghal cultivated a circle of followers around him in prison and radicalized one of the Charlie Hebdo gunmen. PHOTO: STAVEL CHRISTIAN/MAXPPP/ZUMA PRESS
His mentor, according to court documents, was 39-year-old Djamel Beghal, an al Qaeda recruiter who was serving a 10-year prison sentence in a cell near Coulibaly’s for his involvement in a 2001 plot to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

Mr. Beghal managed to cultivate a circle of followers around him because he was a “man of science and religion,” Coulibaly would tell police in 2010, according to a transcript of the interrogation. Coulibaly was being questioned on suspicion he had joined Mr. Beghal in a plot to break a terrorist out of prison. Both men were tried and convicted of taking part in the plot.

By the time Coulibaly was released in March 2014, the officials who run France’s prison system realized they had a big problem. In May, Paris’ top prison administrators wrote a letter to the government raising the alarm about the growing influence of radicals inside their walls, according to the 2015 audit.

The letter, the audit said, described the prisons as being “on the verge of a breakdown.”

In one facility, the audit said, a dozen prisoners jailed on suspicion of terrorism had managed to attract a following of 20 other inmates with no history of radicalization. During a cell search, authorities found an Islamic State headband along with a map of the Paris region railways network, according to the audit.

Some women visiting the prison, the audit said, were under pressure to change out of their jeans and T-shirts into hijabs—a scarf that covers the head and torso—before meeting inmates. Women who refused were insulted by prisoners and ordered to cover up.

In the fall of 2014, the warden of Fresnes, one of France’s oldest prisons, decided to shake things up. Stéphane Scotto rounded up 22 radical inmates and transferred them to a single floor.

The group was singled out, he said, because they had begun “dictating their own rules inside the prison, forbidding inmates from talking to women, taking showers naked or listening to music.” One inmate had posters and photos in his cell torn down by the group, Mr. Scotto recalled, adding: “I could no longer allow that,” he said.

The push for a revamp was too late to prevent the next attack.

In January 2015, Coulibaly gunned down a police officer in the street and four shoppers in a kosher grocery before being killed in a police raid.

Across Paris, televisions inside Fresnes prison broadcast news of Coulibaly’s attacks to the inmates. At the time, Mr. Sy was inside Fresnes, awaiting trial for drug dealing. His prison cell, he recalled, was right above the unit Mr. Scotto had created for radicals. The group was ecstatic about Mr. Coulibaly’s bloody exploit.

“They all shouted Allahu akbar,” Mr. Sy recalled. “I could hear them preaching to other inmates through the window.”

In a video filmed before his death, Coulibaly pledged allegiance to Islamic State and calmly explained that he had coordinated attacks with Chérif Kouachi, whom he had also met inside Fleury-Mérogis prison. Days earlier Kouachi and his brother Said had killed a dozen people during an attack on the newsroom of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

The bloodshed persuaded the government the prison system was in need of retooling. It launched a pilot project designed to create criteria for identifying radical inmates and finding a way to rehabilitate them.

The two-month program worked with inmates who volunteered to meet with social workers, sociologists, former inmates and terrorism victims.

“The idea was to create a dialogue,” says Ouisa Kies, a Paris-based sociologist who ran the program.

While Ms. Kies was conducting her research, Salah Abdeslam was allegedly at work shepherding radicals across Europe to stage a terrorist attack that would rank as the bloodiest in French history.

When the group struck—killing 130 people at the Bataclan concert hall and in restaurants and bars across Paris’ nightlife district—Mr. Abdeslam slipped away, allegedly ditching his explosive suicide vest.

The government accelerated its plans to overhaul the prison system, announcing plans to set up anti-radicalization units in four prisons, including Fleury-Mérogis and Fresnes. Prison staff was tasked with identifying inmates for the unit.

As of May, about 10 inmates had been transferred to a floor in Fleury-Mérogis dedicated to holding 40 radicals.

The new units are expected to hold a wide spectrum of radicals, ranging from Islamic State recruiters to the hundreds of French nationals jailed after returning home from Syria to people imprisoned for simply speaking out in support of terrorists.

“We are creating the best conditions for the worst to happen,” said the former antiterror official who is critical of the program.

One inmate slated for the radicals unit at Fleury-Mérogis is Karim Mohamed Aggad, the older brother of a suicide bomber who attacked the Bataclan.

Mr. Mohamed Aggad has denied playing any role in the November attacks.

“I’ll go to the unit. Like a laboratory rat,” Mr. Mohamed Aggad told a court in June. He was sentenced to nine years in jail on July 6 on terrorist association charges for traveling to Syria in December 2013 with his younger brother and joining Islamic State. His lawyer Francoise Cotta said her client didn’t get a fair trial and that judges were “guided by fear” rather than reason in their ruling. She plans to appeal the ruling.

Under questioning from police, Mr. Mohamed Aggad recounted how he and his brother filled out an Islamic State form shortly after their arrival in Syria, specifying whether they planned to fight in the Syrian civil war or become a suicide bomber, according to court documents.

“We chose to fight,” Mr. Mohamed Aggad told police.

Mr. Mohamed Aggad told police he became disillusioned with the war and returned to France in April 2014, leaving his brother behind.

After his arrest, he was sent to Fleury-Mérogis, where he received a visit from his mother.

“What are they going to do?” Mr. Mohamed Aggad asked her, according to court documents. “Open my skull and take the radical part out of my brain?”
Copyright ©2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam in Minneapolis, Somalis, Ramadan, wilding, rape threats on: August 04, 2016, 08:05:46 AM
Sarah Penskey is not her real name.

Sarah Penskey was in her garage unpacking boxes on a sunny morning in late June when she was approached by several bearded Somali men in their early to mid-20s.

It was the last week of Ramadan, and the men were wearing traditional Islamic robes.

The uninvited visitors to this posh Minneapolis neighborhood known as Linden Hills – situated among tall trees just off of Thomas Beach on Lake Calhoun – ground to a halt beside Penskey’s house that morning.

They came in a white RAV 4 Toyota and a dark-colored van, catching her unawares as she walked out of her garage to put something in her trash can.

It was just the day before that another group of Somalis had driven through the neighborhood and approached her as she was turning on her sprinkler, but they were younger, in their late teens and dressed in basketball shorts, not robes.

Penskey, blonde with an hourglass figure, quickly became an object of their curiosity.

“Hey, you have a beautiful house,” they said. “You’re beautiful, too. Can we move in with you?”

“Thank you. Have a nice day at the beach,” she replied, dismissively, walking back into her house and doing her best to, as she says, “diffuse the situation.”

The older group that showed up the next day was not so subtle. Nor would they be so easily dismissed.

“Hey, hey… hey,” they yelled as she was taking out her trash.


“We want to live in your house. We want to marry you.”

“No, I already have a husband, but have a good day,” Penskey replied.

The men starting jostling with each other and yelling things that were hard to understand. At least five other cars were driving recklessly through the narrow streets, setting off bottle rockets, their passengers hanging off of the door frames, some even riding on the hood, yelling, “Jihad!”

They ran over some neighbors’ lawns and reportedly beat up one resident’s dog.

“Do you know Shariah law?” one of the older men in robes yelled at Penskey.

Having lived overseas, Penskey knew about Shariah law and its rules for man-woman relationships and Muslim-non-Muslim relationships.

“Yes,” she said, walking back toward her garage.

“We can kidnap you and rape you!” the men shouted back at her.

She shut the garage door and ran inside to call police.

“I didn’t yell at them. I didn’t do anything, just tried to shut the door and get back inside, so it’s like there were some bad apples one day, and then there were some really bad apples the next,” Penskey told WND in a phone interview Wednesday. Her husband was not home during either of her first two encounters with the Somali men.

Many neighbors called police on the second morning of what some are calling the Somali “wilding,” a day of brazen intimidation that started in Linden Hills using fireworks and fake guns and spread to the adjacent beach on Lake Calhoun.

“On the second day, multiple neighbors were running out, trying to get license plate numbers, and were on the phone with the police. They were running outside, barefoot. One woman came and swept up her child and took her back in the house,” Penskey said. “Imagine six cars driving 50 mph through a residential street, then slamming on the brakes, driving on lawns, exploding fireworks. They almost hit one child and actually did hit one of their own.”

Several of the Somalis carried black flags that Penskey said resembled the ISIS flag.

A man in his sixties was reportedly threatened by one Somali who demanded that he erase the picture of his license plate from the man’s camera.

Police took up to three hours to arrive. The dispatchers told Penskey they didn’t have enough officers on duty to confront 20 or more men. The police did periodic drive-bys to monitor the situation. When they did show up, the worst offenders were gone.

The police report says officers arrived to find a female victim, Penskey, who was “very distraught and alone. Crying.”

She had called 9-1-1 three times that day. An officer arrived once earlier but only wrote a minor traffic ticket to one of the rioters. The main instigators had fled before police got there.

Read WND’s initial report from earlier this week on the terrorizing of Linden Hills by Somali refugees.

Police: ‘This is a very unusual case’

John Elder, public information officer with the Minneapolis Police Department, told WND Wednesday there have been no arrests in the incident to date.

“There remains an active investigation, and I am very limited in what I can say due to the fact that it is an active investigation,” Elder said. “We continue to work with the community, and continue to interview folks, but no arrests have been made at this point.”

WND asked if any arrests were anticipated.

“I can’t comment on that,” Elder said.

Is this type of activity common in Minneapolis?

“This is an unusual case, yep,” the officer said.

The case is being investigated as a situation involving potential terroristic threats. Penskey said the FBI has also visited her and is taking the case very seriously.

Day 3: Men in robes return

And the terrorizing of Linden Hills didn’t stop after that second day.

The men returned for a third straight morning, June 28, and this time Penskey’s husband was home, standing out in the yard as they approached.

It was the younger group of Somalis this time, not the older ones dressed in robes. Within minutes, the older provocateurs were back, however, with their robes and their duffel bags, their flags and their bottle rockets, shouting their threats in this strange form of jihad.

But this time they had a surprise for the targets of their terror.

“They slowed the car down, waved at my husband with the windows open and played a recording of what sounded like a woman being raped, blasted it from their car speakers,” Penskey said. “Then they parked their car, and my husband came upstairs and said call 9-1-1 now and stay away from the windows.”

The robed Somalis scared vacationers off the beach that morning, reportedly using their duffel bags as fake guns, pointing them at families and pretending to shoot them, one by one.

120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Looks like we were gun running to Syrian opposition-- including , , , on: August 03, 2016, 04:49:27 PM

Selling arms to al Qaida, ISIS?  Or whom?

Is that what they mean by experience to be President?  Aiding and abetting our enemies?

Did Congress ever approve a war against Libya?

President Obama's biggest regret: not planning for the aftermath in Libya.  Who talked him into that one?

She lied to the American people.  She lied to the families of the murdered.

I will not vote for her.
121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Trade Issues / Freedom to Trade on: August 02, 2016, 11:35:20 AM
If elected, let us hope Trump does not do too much damage here.

If elected, I think he is threatening to be a loose cannon to scare rivals, adversaries and allies into concessions on trade and other things.  But he is promising us a better deal for America.  Consumers facing huge tariffs and a federal government trying to 'protect' jobs and pick winners and losers in the private economy is another Great Depression waiting to happen.  That is not a better deal for America and would be catastrophic for the world.

Too bad Hillary doesn't have the [balls?] to stand up for any of the policies that worked for President Bill Clinton.  Maybe it's lucky for us that she keeps taking Bernie's side of the Democratic split on the issues so that people other than leftists won't be tempted to support her.
122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clinton on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace on: August 02, 2016, 11:21:30 AM

"The woman is a case study in pathology."

She calls the families of the Benghazi victims liars essentially:
"I don’t hold any ill feeling for someone who, in that moment, may not fully recall everything that was or wasn’t said.”
“Recalling” something that wasn’t said is inventing it, but Clinton is the inventor here. Smith joins Kate Quigley and Charles Woods in recalling Clinton’s blaming the video and her promise to have the video maker arrested.

Wallace played the clip of Rep. Gowdy questioning Comey on her receipt and forwarding of classified information via email. In his answers Comey declared Clinton’s public statements to be false.
“That’s not what I heard Director Comey say,” Clinton said. “Comey said that my answers were truthful and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people.”

Wallace asks Clinton about the private email server that she used for her official State Department business. Everything she says is premeditated, cold-blooded, false and fraudulent.  Consider her characterization of the misconduct giving rise to the scandal. Let us pay special attention to this, for it is truly twisted. She characterizes her “mistake” in using the private Clinton email server as “not using two different email addresses.” That’s what she said. Really.

The manifold falsity of this characterization of her “mistake” is astounding. She deserves some kind of recognition for the skill she puts into it.
123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Why I Was Wrong About Liberal-Arts Majors on: August 02, 2016, 10:29:03 AM

"Philosophy, literature, art, history and language give students a thorough understanding of how people document the human experience. Technology is a part of our human experience, not a replacement to it."

Good point Bigdog.  I would add that 'college degree equivalent' and 'graduate degree equivalent' can equal or surpass the value of the college degree.  Maybe organizations will come to recognize that. The academic material is available online at no charge, see MIT OCR and EDx.  The credential can cost a quarter million and up.  The hardest part is to get hired and up to speed with a company.  They need the credential and experience to justify the hire.  After that, key employees are known for their capabilities and achievements on the job, not their college, major or credential coming in.  Many entrepreneurs have also been able to get around traditional credentialing.  State licensing boards are constantly fighting the practice of entering a profession through an unconventional path.
124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential, Swing District Omaha and the 269-269 electoral tie on: August 02, 2016, 10:16:19 AM
Red state splits its electoral votes by congressional district, as does Maine.  Obama won Omaha.  Hillary wants it.

The tie goes to the House of Representatives.  I'm hoping they pick neither.  )
125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media, Ministry of Truth, NY Times on: August 02, 2016, 10:07:36 AM
James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal captures the shameless partisanship of the New York Times in just a few sentences. The sentences come from editorials that appeared in 2012 and 2016 regarding the views of the Republican presidential candidates on Russia.

Here is the New York Times on March 29, 2012:

Two decades after the end of the cold war, Mitt Romney still considers Russia to be America’s ‘No. 1 geopolitical foe.’ His comments display either a shocking lack of knowledge about international affairs or just craven politics. Either way, they are reckless and unworthy of a major presidential contender.

Here’s the Times today, July 27, 2016:

Regardless of whether Mr. Putin is out to help Mr. Trump, voters would be right to question the judgment of a candidate who has shown so much admiration for such a dangerous adversary.

Credit:  James Taranto, WSJ
126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Globalization isn't killing factory jobs.Trade is why manufacturing is up 40% on: August 02, 2016, 09:44:58 AM
Globalization isn't killing factory jobs. Trade is actually why manufacturing is up 40%

Foreign trade took a beating at both major party conventions, with speakers blaming free-trade agreements for all but wiping out U.S. manufacturing and eliminating millions of middle-class jobs. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have promised to renegotiate or abandon trade agreements with key U.S. trading partners such as Mexico and Canada. That would be a colossal mistake.

The number of manufacturing jobs in the United States has indeed been in a long decline since the late 1970s, but that disguises the true story of American manufacturing. Nostalgia for a bygone era blinds politicians and voters alike to the reality of a revitalized sector of the American economy that is thriving in a global market.

American factories and American workers are making a greater volume of stuff than ever — high-tech, high-value products that are competitive in markets around the world. In the last 20 years, which include enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement and China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, real, inflation-adjusted U.S. manufacturing output has increased by almost 40%. Annual value added by U.S. factories has reached a record $2.4 trillion.

What has changed in recent decades is what our factories produce. Americans today make fewer shirts, shoes, toys and tables than we did 30 years ago. Instead, America’s 21st century manufacturing sector is dominated by petroleum refining, pharmaceuticals, plastics, fabricated metals, machinery, computers and other electronics, motor vehicles and other transportation equipment, and aircraft and aerospace equipment.

We produce more manufacturing value with fewer employees than in years past because today’s workers are so much more productive. They are better educated, equipped with more sophisticated capital machinery and turn out more valuable products than their parents’ generation. And as a result they are better paid, with total manufacturing payrolls rising during the last decade even as the number of workers declined.

The political anger about lost manufacturing jobs should be aimed at technology, not trade.
The political anger about lost manufacturing jobs should be aimed at technology, not trade. According to a recent study by the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University, productivity growth caused 85% of the job losses in manufacturing from 2000 to 2010, a period that saw 5.6 million factory jobs disappear. In that same period, trade accounted for a mere 13% of job losses.

In fact, globalization and trade agreements have made a huge contribution to the ongoing success of American manufacturing. Access to expanding global markets allows U.S. manufacturers to enjoy economies of scale, reducing their per-unit production costs and enhancing their competitiveness. The additional revenue can be reinvested in research and development, leading to new products and expanding market share. This is why U.S. jobs in trade-oriented industries typically pay 18% more than non-trade-connected jobs.

Imports also play a critical role in the success of U.S. manufacturing. Measured in terms of value, more than half of what Americans import each year is not for consumption but for production. Being integrated into global supply chains allows U.S. manufacturers to source more affordable parts, components, raw materials and production equipment, making their final products more competitive. Hiking up tariffs on imported steel, to cite just one of Trump’s recent proposals, would raise production costs for a broad swath of U.S. industry, from autos to appliances, making them less competitive at home and abroad.

Like technology, globalization has allowed American manufacturing workers to “trade up” to more challenging and better-paying work. It has enabled the American manufacturing sector to specialize in what we do best: making products that embody American engineering and innovation. And thanks to trade agreements and lower trade barriers generally, we can then sell more of what we make to people in other countries, in exchange for apparel and other lower-tech products that we make less of but still need. In that way, trade blesses Americans twice over: It creates a better mix of jobs and delivers lower prices for everyday consumer goods.

Global trade has put some Americans out of work. But the total numbers are small compared with the overall national job churn. Indeed, millions of U.S. jobs are eliminated each year by technology and changing consumer tastes, only to be replaced by new jobs that are being created by the same dynamic forces.

The right response to anxieties about trade is to invest more in education, retraining and enhanced labor mobility, not to pick trade fights with other nations that would put in jeopardy the success of America’s modern, competitive manufacturing sector.

Daniel Griswold is a senior research fellow and co-director of the Program on the American Economy and Globalization at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Did Snopes carry water for Dems? on: August 02, 2016, 09:30:37 AM

It's good to know but quite an uphill battle to know Snopes, PolitiFact, Google and Facebook are all against us in addition ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, AP, Reuters, NYT, LAT, WashPost, StarTrib etc, (plus nearly all k-12 teachers, college professors and curriculum writers).

This article makes it sound like PolitiFact is the more reliable source.  In this one case, yes.  Overall, no, IMHO.  They are not generally able to keep their bias out of it.

I think I'd rather see two opposing sides debate a fact rather than have one source of unknown reliability become known as definitive.
128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential - Kahn on: August 01, 2016, 09:06:11 PM
Once again, we the people are chasing shiny objects,  not discussing or debating crucial issues

"...who killed her son?"

Wouldn't you think that is the question?  Secondly, who squandered the gains his son fought for?  Why?

“If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America,” said Khan

Actually, Trump made a (different) proposal in 2015.  Khan's son died in 2004.  The statement is not exactly true.  On goes the smear.

Trump said:  "...radical Islamist terrorists who killed him and the attempts by such people to enter the United States and do us further harm represent the real problem."

   - True and something current leadership and their successors are unable to say.,icked-into-smearing-donald-trump

"he [Trump] doesn’t have the sense to come in out of the rain. The Republicans sent an amateur to do battle with professionals, and so far, the results aren’t pretty."
129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela - forced labor, the government ran out of other peoples' money on: August 01, 2016, 10:34:25 AM
From the US political point of view, how come liberals say they care about others but won't talk about the economic crisis just across the gulf from us?  Why are we pursuing their policies?

Venezuela's new decree: Forced farm work for citizens
by Patrick Gillespie, Rafael Romo and Osmary Hernandez   CNNMoney
July 29, 2016: 3:31 PM ET

Venezuelans cross into Colombia to get food
A new decree by Venezuela's government could make its citizens work on farms to tackle the country's severe food shortages.

That "effectively amounts to forced labor," according to Amnesty International, which derided the decree as "unlawful."

In a vaguely-worded decree, Venezuelan officials indicated that public and private sector employees could be forced to work in the country's fields for at least 60-day periods, which may be extended "if circumstances merit."

"Trying to tackle Venezuela's severe food shortages by forcing people to work the fields is like trying to fix a broken leg with a band aid," Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas' Director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

President Nicolas Maduro is using his executive powers to declare a state of economic emergency. By using a decree, he can legally circumvent Venezuela's opposition-led National Assembly -- the Congress -- which is staunchly against all of Maduro's actions.
According to the decree from July 22, workers would still be paid their normal salary by the government and they can't be fired from their actual job.

It is a potent sign of tough conditions in Venezuela, which is grappling with the lack of basic food items like milk, eggs and bread. People wait hours in lines outsides supermarkets to buy groceries and often only see empty shelves.

Venezuela once had a robust agricultural sector. But under its socialist regime, which began with Hugo Chavez in 1999, the oil-rich country started importing more food and invested less in agriculture. Nearly all of Venezuela's revenue from exports comes from oil.
With oil prices down to about $41 a barrel from over $100 about two years ago, Venezuela has quickly run out of cash and can't pay for its imports of food, toilet paper and other necessities. Neglected farms are now being asked to pick up the slack.

Maduro's actions are very similar to a strategy the communist Cuban government used in the 1960s when it sought to recover sugar production after it declined sharply following the U.S. embargo on Cuban goods. It forced Cubans to work on sugar farms to cultivate the island's key commodity.

It's important to note that Maduro has issued decrees before and they often just languish. In January, his government published a decree that put in place mechanisms to restrict the access and movements to the money in the accounts. In other words, a kind of bank freeze. However, that hasn't happened yet.

The National Assembly is expected to discuss the decree on Tuesday. But it would largely be symbolic: under Venezuelan law, the Assembly can't strike down a decree.
This latest action by Maduro may also be a sign that at least one other leader may be calling the shots on this issue. Earlier in July, Maduro appointed one of the country's defense ministers, Vladimir Padrino, as the leader of a team that would control the country's food supply and distribution.
Related: Venezuela's health care crisis
It's powerful role, especially at a time of such scarcity in Venezuela.
"The power handed to Padrino in this program is extraordinary, in our view, and may signal that President Maduro is trying to increase support from the military amid a deepening social and economic crisis," Sebastian Rondeau, an economist at Bank of America, wrote in a research note.
Venezuela is the world's worst economy, according to the IMF. It's expected to shrink 10% this year and inflation is projected to rise over 700%. Beyond food shortages, hospitals are low on supplies, causing many patients to go untreated and some to die.
The country's electoral authorities are still reviewing the petition, which Maduro strongly opposes.
CNNMoney (New York)
First published July 29, 2016: 2:06 PM ET

130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of Hillbillary Clinton on: August 01, 2016, 10:10:53 AM
Is this an emotional appeal or a logical appeal?

Hillary promises to oppose every economic measure that worked for her husband, enact the opposite policies yet delivery the same results.  It's almost unbelievable

Welfare Reform
Bill Clinton:  "End welfare as we know it." Unemployment dropped.
Hillary Clinton:  Expand welfare in ways never before imagined.

Bill Clinton:  Free trade benefits all sides.  Fought his own party to pass NAFTA.
"Expanded trade benefits all peoples in all nations"  President Bill Clinton’s farewell address
Hillary Clinton: I was for it before I was against it and will be for it again after the election.  Or not.

Taxes on Capital
Bill Clinton lowered the top capital gains taxes rate by roughly a third from 28% to 20%, the lower bracket from 15% to 10%, and sparked an economic boom that created $20 million jobs.
Hillary Clinton wants "taxes on the rich" raised further no matter how many times they have already done that achieving dismal results.  There are 2 million more Americans on food stamps during this 'recovery' while the government and the crony rich got richer.

Bill Clinton enacted Newt Gingrich's policies and the private sector flourished.  Hillary promises to enact Bernie Sanders' and Venezuela's policies and get Reagan-like results.  What is the appeal of using false logic to win votes?
131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the left, Socialism for the Uninformed, Thomas Sowell on: July 30, 2016, 08:50:14 AM
I have a feeling all the people who really need to read Thomas Sowell regularly don't.  For one thing Hillary, socialism and all your Bernie inspired policy proposals are anti-science and anti-economics, a denial that incentives and disincentives affect behavior and outcomes. 

Socialism for the Uninformed

Thomas Sowell
By Thomas Sowell
Published May 31, 2016

Socialism sounds great. It has always sounded great. And it will probably always continue to sound great. It is only when you go beyond rhetoric, and start looking at hard facts, that socialism turns out to be a big disappointment, if not a disaster.

While throngs of young people are cheering loudly for avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, socialism has turned oil-rich Venezuela into a place where there are shortages of everything from toilet paper to beer, where electricity keeps shutting down, and where there are long lines of people hoping to get food, people complaining that they cannot feed their families.

With national income going down, and prices going up under triple-digit inflation in Venezuela, these complaints are by no means frivolous. But it is doubtful if the young people cheering for Bernie Sanders have even heard of such things, whether in Venezuela or in other countries around the world that have turned their economies over to politicians and bureaucrats to run.

The anti-capitalist policies in Venezuela have worked so well that the number of companies in Venezuela is now a fraction of what it once was. That should certainly reduce capitalist "exploitation," shouldn't it?

But people who attribute income inequality to capitalists exploiting workers, as Karl Marx claimed, never seem to get around to testing that belief against facts — such as the fact that none of the Marxist regimes around the world has ever had as high a standard of living for working people as there is in many capitalist countries.

Facts are seldom allowed to contaminate the beautiful vision of the left. What matters to the true believers are the ringing slogans, endlessly repeated.

When Senator Sanders cries, "The system is rigged!" no one asks, "Just what specifically does that mean?" or "What facts do you have to back that up?"

In 2015, the 400 richest people in the world had net losses of $19 billion. If they had rigged the system, surely they could have rigged it better than that.

But the very idea of subjecting their pet notions to the test of hard facts will probably not even occur to those who are cheering for socialism and for other bright ideas of the political left.

How many of the people who are demanding an increase in the minimum wage have ever bothered to check what actually happens when higher minimum wages are imposed? More often they just assume what is assumed by like-minded peers — sometimes known as "everybody," with their assumptions being what "everybody knows."

Back in 1948, when inflation had rendered meaningless the minimum wage established a decade earlier, the unemployment rate among 16-17-year-old black males was under 10 percent. But after the minimum wage was raised repeatedly to keep up with inflation, the unemployment rate for black males that age was never under 30 percent for more than 20 consecutive years, from 1971 through 1994. In many of those years, the unemployment rate for black youngsters that age exceeded 40 percent and, for a couple of years, it exceeded 50 percent.

The damage is even greater than these statistics might suggest. Most low-wage jobs are entry-level jobs that young people move up out of, after acquiring work experience and a track record that makes them eligible for better jobs. But you can't move up the ladder if you don't get on the ladder.

The great promise of socialism is something for nothing. It is one of the signs of today's dumbed-down education that so many college students seem to think that the cost of their education should — and will — be paid by raising taxes on "the rich."

Here again, just a little check of the facts would reveal that higher tax rates on upper-income earners do not automatically translate into more tax revenue coming in to the government. Often high tax rates have led to less revenue than lower tax rates.

In a globalized economy, high tax rates may just lead investors to invest in other countries with lower tax rates. That means that jobs created by those investments will be overseas.

None of this is rocket science. But you do have to stop and think — and that is what too many of our schools and colleges are failing to teach their students to do.
132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clinton, You don't say, Mr. President on: July 30, 2016, 08:35:07 AM
Ask not who’s the most qualified to be president

Obama really said this Wednesday night:

“I can say with confidence there has never been a man or woman — not me, not Bill, nobody — more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America.”

You don’t say, Mr. President? So why don’t we size up her, uh, qualifications, eminent as they might be, compared to some of the prior, lesser 44 occupants of the office.

Dwight Eisenhower was the Supreme Allied Commander. Hillary ran the Bimbo Eruptions Unit.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Hillary wrote “It Takes a Village.”

Teddy Roosevelt charged up San Juan Hill. Hillary dodged sniper fire on the tarmac at Tuzla.

Honest Abe, Crooked Hillary.

Lincoln slept in the Lincoln bedroom. Hillary rented it out.

Reagan said, “Tear down this wall.” Hillary said, “Delete them all.”

William Howard Taft threw out the first pitch at a baseball opener. Hillary threw the first vase at a president.

Gerald Ford appointed Justice Stevens. Hillary abandoned Ambassador Stevens.

George Washington wrote letters to John Paul Jones. Hillary wrote a check for $850,000 to Paula Jones.

JFK said, “Ask not….” Hillary said, “Don’t ask.”

George H.W. Bush built oil rigs. Hillary rigged elections.

Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. Hillary delivered three speeches to Goldman Sachs … for $675,000.

Andrew Johnson was the first impeached president. Hillary is the wife of the second.

Washington could not tell a lie, Nixon could not tell the truth, Hillary could not tell the difference.

Harry S. Truman was a haberdasher. Hillary donated her underwear to charity for a $2 tax write off.

James Madison wrote the majority of the Federalist Papers. Hillary served on the Wal-Mart board of directors.

Truman: “The buck stops here.” Hillary: Pay for play.

Calvin Coolidge: “The business of America is business.” Hillary: the Clinton Foundation.

FDR defeated Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Hillary defeated Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley.

James Garfield was shot by a disgruntled office-seeker. Hillary was a disgruntled office-seeker.

William Henry Harrison: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too. Hillary: Me Too.

Lincoln: “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” Hillary: “Are you sure about that?”

In 1953, Truman drove his own car back to Independence, Missouri. Hillary hasn’t driven a car since 1996.

Washington turned down the invitation to become king. What would Hillary have done?
133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Clinton Crime Family Foundation on: July 30, 2016, 08:31:33 AM
Unsolvable mystery:, For all the good they do, including $2 Billion unaccounted for and an FBI investigation in process, can anyone figure out why no one mentioned the Clinton Foundation in the convention...
134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science, science isn't a belief system on: July 30, 2016, 07:52:16 AM

Hillary Clinton pauses while speaking during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia on July 28, 2016.DANIEL ACKER/BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES

ON THURSDAY NIGHT, Hillary Clinton made history when she became the first woman to lead a major presidential ticket. In a speech filled with reminders of her experience and her plans for reform, one remark stood out: “I believe in science!” she said, chuckling. “I believe climate change is real, and that we can save our planet while creating millions of good paying clean energy jobs.”

Delegates filling the convention hall in Philadelphia roared in approval. Pockets of Twitter, too. Just as quickly, though, reactions turned cynical: How awful it is, in this day and age, that a presidential candidate must say she believes in science? In the retelling, Clinton’s laugh became a nod to the absurdity of the moment.

Yes, it’s absurd that a presidential candidate has to explicitly declare an allegiance to science. But the problem with what Clinton said runs deeper. Science is not a philosophy or a religion. It is a method—imperfect, yet powerful—of testing and accumulating knowledge. It’s not something you believe. You can believe that the scientific method is a good way of amassing knowledge. You can use that knowledge to shape policy.

Yet that’s not how American politics—especially in this election—talk about science. “When people say ‘Do you believe in climate change or global warming,’ that is the wrong framing,” says Cristine Russell, a veteran science reporter now at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “Science is not a belief system.”

Of course, the word “science” has come to represent much more than the scientific method. More than ever, it shapes American culture and is a subculture unto itself. To be giddily fascinated and informed by the discoveries of neuroscientists and physicists and climate scientists is a privilege. When Clinton says she believes in science, she’s using the language of a community, fostered by the Internet, that builds cachet out of scientific curiosity. A love for the products of science has become cultural currency.

It has also become political shorthand. Both US political parties have adopted positions on issues informed by science, and as those issues have become more divisive and the positions more extreme, some people have characterized them as either “pro-science” or “anti-science.” But of course the platforms don’t actually have anything to do with science as a practice. Both sides may choose different evidence to rely on, or interpret that evidence differently. At the extremes, some groups may ignore evidence entirely.

Nowhere is that divide more apparent than climate change. The science here has reached all-but-inescapable conclusions. Some policymakers, primarily liberal, have formed policies that depend upon those conclusions. Others, mostly conservative, have made policies that dispute those conclusions (for all kinds of different reasons). But to the public, that divide now gets framed in terms of acceptance and denial—states of belief. “The idea that you can believe your own facts is an unfortunate consequence of the whole climate denial movement,” says Russell.

And now the Democrats have adopted those same words and tactics. Theparty platform echoes Clinton’s belief framework: “Democrats believe that climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and future.” In a short film shown at the convention on Wednesday, director James Cameron explicitly focused on an emotional message about the dangers of a warming climate to target swing voters.

Clinton’s line suggests that she’s at least in on the joke. It was a laugh line—offset by a pause, thrown out in a mocking, sing-song voice: “And I-I-I believe in science!” She’s intentionally using emotional rhetoric, both as a jab at her opponents and a signal to supporters.

But even if Clinton understands how silly it is to conflate belief in science with belief in the products of the scientific method, her line is still problematic. Clinton’s target is Donald Trump, who has claimed that climate change is a hoax—that the evidence for it isn’t real, or true. But Republicans could hear her tone as mocking not their candidate, but them.

People who remain unconvinced that humans are a significant contributor to climate change are not necessarily anti-science (whatever that means). Many have simply grown distrustful of climate scientists and their relationship with the government. They’re not wrong to be skeptical. Science in its purest form is the best method humans have yet come up with to apprehend the world around them. But it’s humans who execute it—people with hopes and dreams and fears. To deny the potential for bias is to marginalize a huge number of potential voters who have doubts, or who hope scientists describing an impending apocalypse are wrong.

Clinton did not say that she believes in science unequivocally—she likely understands the imperfections in the research she uses to guide her policy positions. But by playing the science card for laughs, she risks alienating the voters she’s trying to attract. In this narrative, not only does Clinton become the candidate of the “pro-science” voters, but she validates the opposition of people who think science is just another way of knowing.

To reinforce the idea of science as something you can believe or not believe, to force Americans into “pro-science” and “anti-science” camps, robs science of its power. It changes the practice of science from a method for understanding into a dangerous political weapon. And in the end, that makes science smaller. At its best and most objective, science can heal divides, answer questions, solve problems. It’s not a talking point.
135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion on: July 30, 2016, 07:22:02 AM
I wonder if leftists who write anti-bullying laws are careful enough to exclude they most obvious violation of the stronger harming the weak and most vulnerable among us, abortion.

Is this a hate crime?
136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media, Ministry of Truth Issues on: July 30, 2016, 06:36:53 AM
The authors also don't consider that the globalist movement is not just about free trade but is even more importantly about the erasure of "borders", concept of country and sovereignty , and nation hood.

I am not against fair trade but I don't want to see our country disappear and we become subjects of the UN or some other single world leadership .

The left and the bureaucrats may mix and conflate these but free trade and giving up sovereignty are two different matters.

Also, government picking winners and losers in industry via selective taxation  (tariffs) is an act of leftism no matter who commits it.
137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bernie Sanders leaves the Democratic Party on: July 28, 2016, 02:50:04 PM
He stayed just long enough to run for the nomination.

Bernie supporters, ask yourselves honestly now that Bernie has had a taste of the money and is bought off by Hillary...

Who better supports your ideals, Hillary of Jill Stein?  The Queen of Crony Government or the real heiress to the Bernie movement?

Can Jill Stein Lead a Revolution?
The Green Party candidate wants disillusioned Bernie Sanders supporters to join her—not Hillary Clinton.

New thread Crafty?
138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential, Did Trump trap Hillary on deleted emails? on: July 28, 2016, 02:39:23 PM
Trump said:

"I've never spoken to him. I don't know anything about him other than he will respect me," Trump said during a press conference this morning at his golf club in Doral, Florida. "I have nothing to do with Russia."

"By the way, if they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do," he continued. "They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted."

"Now these are lying, bad people, folks," Trump said of the Clinton campaign. "These are bad, bad people and they're’ incompetent people."

“Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing."

Funny how the news sources omit half of the point he made, losing its meaning:

The Hillary campaign responded:
"This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent. That’s not hyperbole, those are just the facts. This has gone from being a curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security.",

Oops, I thought these 33,000 emails were only about yoga and wedding plans, NOTHING to do with national security.  Otherwise they are under subpoena and evidence of obstruction, right?

As James Carville said:  “I suspect she didn't want Louie Gohmert (the oversight committee) rifling through her emails,”
That's why she setup the private server.  If it was in fact secured, Russia and the rest of the hackers in the world won't have her emails.

139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary's First Felony, "Cattle Straddles" on: July 28, 2016, 12:25:13 PM
Hillary's First Felony, "Cattle Straddles"    - Memorize the name for future access to the links and articles.  I have no link fo the 1994 WSJ article; it was emailed to me in pdf by the deputy editor.

1 in 31 trillion are the odds that Hillary told the truth about her amazing commodity trades.  Quoting the Journal of Economics and Finance: "Economists from the University of North Florida and Auburn University investigated the odds of gaining a hundred-fold return in the cattle futures market during the period in question. Using a model that was stated to give the hypothetical investor the benefit of the doubt, they concluded that the odds of such a return happening were at best 1 in 31 trillion."  
Stating it the other way around, the odds are 31 trillion to one that Tyson Foods was buying state government favors from the Governor by depositing rigged commodity trading profits with his wife, with her knowledge.  

Facts of Hillary's trades were analyzed by a former IRS chief prosecutor of commodities trading crimes and published in the WSJ article below.  The commodity trader that Tyson Foods referred to Hillary was convicted of this exact crime for trades done with other clients during this exact same time period.  

Quid pro quo.  It was the NY Times that broke this case in 1994: "During Mr. Clinton's tenure in Arkansas, Tyson benefited from a variety of state actions, including $9 million in government loans, the placement of company executives on important state boards and favorable decisions on environmental issues."

The statute of limitations had expired by the time these trades were known.  The crime is otherwise a felony for all involved.  

The Mystery of Hillary's Trades
By David L. Brandon
7 April 1994
The Wall Street Journal

(Copyright (c) 1994, Dow Jones & Co., Inc.)
As former head of the IRS chief counsel's Commodities Industry Specialization Team in the mid-1980s, I have followed with great interest the media stories on Hillary Clinton's excellent adventures in the commodities markets. As a proud capitalist and free market proponent (and an avid beef eater), I would be the first in line to salute this woman's success with cattle futures. But based on my years of experience with these markets, her story just doesn't add up. In fact, the chances of someone making almost $100,000 in the futures markets on her first try are about as great as walking into a casino in Las Vegas, hitting the million-dollar jackpot on your first try at the slots, then walking out never to play again. It just doesn't happen that way.

For those unfamiliar with the details of Mrs. Clinton's remarkable venture into the commodities markets, she allegedly made more than $99,000 in cattle futures (and other commodities) in late 1978 and 1979, withdrawing from trading just before the markets went bust. No explanation has been offered of how Mrs. Clinton managed to satisfy state laws that require futures investors to demonstrate a minimum net income and net worth, nor how a novice could have such uncanny timing.

There is, in fact, a much more probable explanation for Mrs. Clinton's good fortune. The media have already suggested that trades may have been moved to Mrs. Clinton's account after gains had been realized. However, the stories thus far have not clearly focused on a common trading strategy called a "straddle" that was very much in vogue at the time.

Straddles have the unique ability to produce exactly equal and offsetting gains and losses that can be transferred or used by the straddle trader for a variety of purposes. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, straddles were used for all kinds of illegal activities, ranging from tax evasion to money-laundering and bribes. In fact, this activity prompted a number of legal and regulatory changes by the Reagan administration to curb the abuses.

Although it sounds somewhat esoteric, a commodities straddle is a relatively simple trading device.

A commodities futures contract is nothing more than an agreement between two parties to buy or sell a certain type of commodity (in Mrs. Clinton's case, cattle) for a stated price on some date in the future. If the price of the commodity goes up before the contract delivery date, the individual who agreed to buy the commodity will realize a gain equal to the difference between the current price and the contract price. The individual who agreed to sell will realize a loss in an equal amount. Conversely, if the price goes down, the buyer will lose and the seller will gain.

A straddle is created when an investor enters into contracts to both buy and sell the same commodity. In this case, any gain on one contract will be exactly offset by a loss on the opposite contract. While straddle trading today is used in a variety of legitimate ways, these transactions lend themselves to all sorts of abuses as well. Before regulatory changes in the 1980s, it was common to enter into straddles to wipe out large capital gains for tax purposes. For example, an investor who realized a $100,000 capital gain in the stock market might enter into a large straddle in the commodities market. When the commodity price moved, the investor would close the loss leg of the straddle and realize a $100,000 loss, which offset his gain in the stock market. The investor was not required to report the unrealized $100,000 gain in the opposite leg of the straddle until that leg was closed in the following year. Typically, the investor entered into another straddle in the following year, thereby indefinitely rolling over the capital gain into subsequent years.

Another ploy common during that time required the assistance of a friendly broker. An investor could create a straddle using two separate investment accounts with his broker. After the straddle had moved, so that a gain and an offsetting loss had been created, the friendly broker simply wrote in the name of the investor's tax-exempt retirement fund on the account that held the gain leg of the straddle. The result was that a loss was realized that was reported on the investor's tax return, while the gain went unreported in the tax-exempt retirement account.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the IRS began noticing large numbers of individual tax returns that curiously showed commodities losses just big enough to wipe out unrelated capital gains; no corresponding commodities gains, which would suggest a straddle, ever appeared on subsequent returns. Even more curiously, the profile of these investors always had one thing in common, which was limited experience or no prior experience in commodities trading. In the early 1980s, an IRS agent in Chicago thought to look into one taxpayer's retirement fund and, of course, found the hidden gain leg of the straddle.

After that experience, the IRS redoubled its efforts to seek out thousands of missing straddle gains. It found them in retirement accounts, in London, in the Cayman Islands -- almost anywhere a taxpayer thought he might hide them from the IRS. With respect to these thousands of mysterious, isolated commodities transactions that showed up on tax returns, the IRS uncovered some form of questionable trading in virtually 100% of the cases it investigated. Well before the close of the 1980s, the IRS had assessed more than $7 billion in delinquent taxes and penalties attributable to these transactions and eventually settled these cases out of court for approximately $3.5 billion.

While most of the IRS's efforts were directed at finding hidden gains of the ubiquitous straddle, the trading device could just as easily be used to openly transfer gains while hiding the offsetting loss. If someone desired to make an illicit payment to another party, a straddle could be used to accomplish this purpose with no incriminating or suspicious-looking bank withdrawals or deposits. In fact, the IRS found numerous incidents of straddles being used for money-laundering purposes.

Does Mrs. Clinton's trading activity fit the profile of the illegitimate straddle trader? She was a novice in the commodities markets who, against all odds, realized large gains. Although she intermittently realized losses, it does not appear that she ever had to risk her own capital beyond her initial $1,000 deposit, which itself may have been insufficient to cover even her first transaction (which netted her $5,300). According to the trading records released by the White House, most of Mrs. Clinton's gains were recorded as intra-month transactions. This means that these records include no information regarding key elements of the trade, such as the type and quantity of the contracts, acquisition dates, acquisition prices, etc. Such information is needed to determine whether trades were part of a prearranged straddle.

It also appears that Mrs. Clinton's broker, Robert L. "Red" Bone, was no stranger to the spicier practices of commodities trading, according to The Wall Street Journal's front-page article last Friday.

It seems more than coincidental that Mr. Bone was a former employee of Tyson Foods and that Mrs. Clinton's investment adviser, James Blair, was the company's legal counsel. Tyson, the poultry concern, is one of the largest employers in the state of Arkansas. The fact that the Clintons withheld disclosing only those tax returns that included their commodities gains until the transactions were reported by the New York Times in February also appears quite suspicious. From my standpoint as a former government staff attorney with extensive experience in these matters, Mrs. Clinton's windfall in the late 1970s has all the trappings of pre-arranged trades.

How would a straddle have been used in Mrs. Clinton's case? The Journal has already reported that gains theoretically could have been transferred to Mrs. Clinton's account, while "others" may have absorbed losses. Such a transaction could be accomplished with a straddle.

A party desiring to transfer cash to another's personal account for legal or illegal purposes could enter into a straddle in a particularly volatile commodity, such as cattle futures in the late 1970s. After gains and losses were generated in the opposite sides of the straddle, the gain side would be marked to the beneficiary's account, while the loss side would remain in the account of the contributor. The contributor might even be entitled to use the loss to offset other gains. Such a transaction would be not only well-hidden from government authorities but potentially tax-deductible.

No direct evidence of wrongdoing has been produced in the case of Mrs. Clinton's trading activity. In fact, no conclusive evidence of anything has been produced. In order to settle the legitimate questions surrounding her trades, a satisfactory explanation is needed for her apparently low initial margin deposit and whether the requirements relating to an investor's minimum net income and net worth were satisfied. In addition, the details of her numerous intra-month trades should be provided, as well as the details of the trades of persons who may have had a special interest in how well she did. If it is discovered that certain interested parties happened to realize losses in cattle futures at the same time, and they were comparable in size to the gains reported by Mrs. Clinton, this would amount to a "smoking gun."

This is not a matter of partisan politics. Even if the public had never heard of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the circumstances surrounding her unusual good fortune would still appear suspicious to anyone awake to abuses of the commodities markets. In this writer's experience, the normal trading world just doesn't work that way.

Mr. Brandon was a career attorney in the Office of Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service from 1983 to 1989. During that time he also served as head of that department's Commodity Industry Specialization Team, which was responsible for coordinating and developing the IRS's legal positions on tax issues arising in connection with commodities transactions.

Dow Jones & Company - copyright, reprinted with permission

Bringing more links forward:

A few days after Hubbell’s resignation, the New York Times ran a lengthy story about Hillary’s commodity trades. Her aides and lawyers had finally provided financial records to the Times, but only after the newspaper made clear that it was preparing to publish a detailed account of her trading profits.

Initially, senior aides to the Clintons said in March 1994 that Hillary “based her trades on information in the Wall Street Journal.” That explanation was subsequently dropped. An aide to Hillary then said she had withdrawn from the market in the fall of 1979 because she had found trading too nerve-racking in the final months of her pregnancy. But another White House aide quickly declared that excuse “inoperative” after it was disclosed in April 1994 that Hillary made $6,500 in a commodities-trading venture in 1980 but failed to report that profit to the IRS.

Shortly after that, Hillary took responsibility—in her standard combination of singular acknowledgment and plural blame—for her aides’ confusing answers to reporters, saying they stemmed from her being away, working on other issues. “I probably did not spend enough time, get as precise,” she explained, “so I think that the confusion was our responsibility.”
A reporter asked whether her criticism of the Reagan era as a decade of unabashed greed appeared hypocritical in light of her recently disclosed commodities-trading windfall.

“I think it’s a pretty long stretch to say that the decisions we made to try to create some financial security for our family and make some investments come anywhere near” the “excess of the 1980s,” she replied. Inverting reality, she claimed that it was her father’s stubborn frugality and quest for financial security that had helped her succeed at trading commodities.

Mrs. Clinton traded with Mr. Bone[known crook], the chief broker in 1978 at the Springdale, Ark., offices of Ray E. Friedman & Co., or Refco. In 1981, Mr. Bone was fined $100,000 and barred from trading for three years after an investigation of allegations that he had been allocating winning positions to favored clients.

New Records Outline Favor for Hillary Clinton on Trades
Published: May 27, 1994

WASHINGTON, May 26— The White House today released new records showing that Hillary Rodham Clinton received preferential treatment from her commodities broker in the late 1970's, when she was allowed to trade in cattle futures without depositing the cash that normally would have been required.

Mrs. Clinton ultimately turned a $1,000 investment into profits of nearly $100,000. The records showed that she had earned her initial $5,300 in profits without depositing $12,000 in cash that ordinarily would have been needed for the purchase of a contract for 400,000 pounds of cattle.

In such margin trading, brokerages are required to deposit $1,200 per cattle contract with the commodity exchanges, and they typically demand that their customers put up the money in case, as sometimes happens, the market moves against them and the customers lose more than their original investment. Margin Rules Ignored

Several commodities experts said the failure to enforce the margin requirements had amounted to favorable treatment. But Mr. Kendall said she would have been liable had the market turned against her.

"I don't think it was a favor," he said. "She was under margin, that's true, but she was still on the hook. If they needed the money, they could have gotten it from her. They knew who she was. She violated no rules. Margin is for the protection of the broker."

The documents did not conclusively settle questions raised by some commodity experts about whether her broker had improperly allocated winning trades to her account.

"It doesn't suggest that there was allocation, and it doesn't prove there wasn't," said Leo Melamed, the former head of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, to whom the White House directed press questions. "I told them I couldn't say it wasn't."

Merton H. Miller, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, agreed. "It doesn't answer the questions people were asking," he said in a telephone interview this afternoon. "It's her account number, but it doesn't necessarily they were her trades." Explanation Changes

Mrs. Clinton earned the commodities profits in 1978 and 1979 with trading advice from James B. Blair, the general counsel of the Arkansas-based Tyson Foods and a close friend of both Clintons. Mrs. Clinton initially said that she had placed all of her trades herself and had made her decisions by consulting Mr. Blair, other advisers and The Wall Street Journal. Later, she acknowledged that Mr. Blair had placed many of her trades.

From the beginning, some experts suspected that Mrs. Clinton's good fortune had stemmed from favorable treatment by her broker, Robert Bone, a good friend of Mr. Blair's. Mr. Bone was disciplined by commodity regulators both before and after Mrs. Clinton's trading.

Mr. Blair and Mrs. Clinton traded with Mr. Bone, the chief broker in 1978 at the Springdale, Ark., offices of Ray E. Friedman & Co., or Refco. In 1981, Mr. Bone was fined $100,000 and barred from trading for three years after an investigation of allegations that he had been allocating winning positions to favored clients. Mr. Bone was also accused of "serious and repeated" violations of recordkeeping rules and margin requirements.

Margin requirements, former commodity regulators explained, are a matter between brokerages like Refco and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which wants to make sure the costs of trades are covered. Generally, brokers in turn require their customers to put up the money. But in the late 1970's, Refco permitted many of its customers to trade without putting up their margins in advance.

Earlier this year, the White House made public documents concerning commodity trading from Mrs. Clinton's personal files. Today, the White House released records of her account maintained by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Promises to Buy or Sell

Futures trading is essentially a bet on the price of cattle, soybeans or some other commodity. A speculator enters into a contract promising to buy or sell a given amount of cattle, say, at a certain price on a specific date in the future. The contracts are typically sold and resold months before they expire. Speculators can gamble that the price of cattle will rise or fall, depending on the type of contract. If the prices move favorably, the speculators sell their contracts and reap profits.

In 7 of Mrs. Clinton's 32 transactions, the Mercantile Exchange records are missing at least one segment of the transactions described in her personal documents. Mr. Melamed said this could stem from poor recordkeeping or a mistake by a clerk or it could reflect trading in large blocks of stock.

He said these were unlikely to be part of a scheme to allocate winning trades to Mrs. Clinton's account, since all of the transactions with missing data involved trades over more than one day.

"If this were predominantly day trading, you would hear me saying something different," Mr. Melamed said. "If there was anything wrong, there's no way the Federal Government, the exchange or anyone else would have gone to Mrs. Clinton and said, 'You violated something.' " Constency Noted

Mr. Kendall, the Clintons' lawyer, noted that Mrs. Clinton's personal records and the Chicago Mercantile documents were consistent. "At no point do they contradict," he said.

All of the records released by the White House make clear that Mrs. Clinton ran substantial risks in her trading. On one day in July 1979, for example, she held contracts for two million pounds of cattle, worth around $1.36 million.

What would have happened if the market had moved against her, and Mrs. Clinton had run up large losses? Professor Miller said no records would ever make clear what understandings might have existed between brokers and customers.

"Suppose that first trade had gone the other way and she had lost $5,300," he said. "Would she have paid it? She says she would have, but the question is, Did someone agree to vouch for those trades and say, in effect, 'Don't worry about it'? I'm not suggesting it did happen, but there's no way to say it didn't."
140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Trump-Pence, My endorsement on: July 28, 2016, 12:18:03 PM
Hillary will open up felon votes, illegal votes, no-ID votes, foreigner votes, maybe pre-school votes, and I barely exaggerate.  All but the last is already in motion. This will be the last close election if we give them four more years to transform the electorate.
I do have one question though.... what's your issue with American citizens voting in their elections, as listed above (the felons)? They are American citizens last time I checked.

If losing your privilege to vote is one of the lawful penalties of being convicted of a felony or of certain crimes, then one has not fully paid his or her debt when released.  Has this particular penalty been struck down in any court as unconstitutional?  Oddly, it is put forward by Democrats not out of fairness but out of political advantage.  7 out of 10 felons register Democrat:

Interesting that you use the word "privilege." That's what your rights are, are they? "Privileges?"By the way, they've also shown that most wouldn't even bother voting, and this person typing this, would never vote Democrat.

By the way, they have laws against cruel and unusual punishment. Most people buy into that crap. I don't. Even arguing it or discussing it is ridiculous and leads no where.

I don't think I feel like asking your permission for my rights that YOU grant to no one, especially because you fear that it may not lead to the candidate of your choice being elected, and especially while you expect me to work and pay for it through taxes.

I think there was a war started over that once.

DDF,  I like hearing your view on this.  I also noticed I chose the word privilege over right, had second thoughts about it as I wrote.  Is it a right or a privilege?  We used to not let 18, 19, 20 year olds vote.  It took a constitutional amendment to change that.  Can you lose a right?  Can a penalty be for a lifetime?

Of course it is controversial and I see your side of it.  A lot of the real 'felons' are never caught, never prosecuted.  A lot of good people are charged or plea to 'crimes' of no real note or victim. Some are innocent and some guilty people reform.  Still we take pride in the rule of law here and the point I made I think explains one side of this issue.
141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary Commodity trading odds 1 in 31 trillion,Journal of Economics and Finance on: July 28, 2016, 12:05:23 PM
To the top, Previously posted, I had trouble digging out this information.  I will try to weave it all together on the next post, searchable as Hillary's First Felony, Cattle Straddles

he odds of doing what she did without cheating the system are one in 31 trillion against her, best case.  Assuming that the return is made in the most efficient way possible, this probability falls to approximately 1.5×10−16

In a Fall 1994 paper for the Journal of Economics and Finance, economists from the University of North Florida and Auburn University investigated the odds of gaining a hundred-fold return in the cattle futures market during the period in question. Using a model that was stated to give the hypothetical investor the benefit of the doubt, they concluded that the odds of such a return happening were at best 1 in 31 trillion.[14]
 Anderson, Seth C.; Jackson, John D.; Steagall, Jeffrey W. (September 1994). "A note on odds in the cattle futures market". Journal of Economics and Finance 18 (3): 357–365. doi:10.1007/BF02920493.

142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Trump-Pence, My endorsement on: July 28, 2016, 10:18:56 AM
Hillary will open up felon votes, illegal votes, no-ID votes, foreigner votes, maybe pre-school votes, and I barely exaggerate.  All but the last is already in motion. This will be the last close election if we give them four more years to transform the electorate.
I do have one question though.... what's your issue with American citizens voting in their elections, as listed above (the felons)? They are American citizens last time I checked.

If losing your privilege to vote is one of the lawful penalties of being convicted of a felony or of certain crimes, then one has not fully paid his or her debt when released.  Has this particular penalty been struck down in any court as unconstitutional?  Oddly, it is put forward by Democrats not out of fairness but out of political advantage.  7 out of 10 felons register Democrat:
143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Top 10 Hillary Lies and Exaggerations on: July 28, 2016, 08:36:52 AM
Link below.  I will be working on my own list.

10.  Under Sniper Fire - Smiling and waving
9.  Dead Broke - Total Assets $1.8 million
8.  In Accordance with the Rules - Federal Judge ruled it violated government policy
7.  Grandparents came over here - No so but she thought of them as immigrants
6.  Bin-Laden Was Her Reaction To The Helicopter Crash
5.  DOMA, Defense of Marriage Act was to stop Republicans from going further
4.  College costs won't be a burden
3.  Campaign will be Carbon Neutral
2.  Veterans Affair Scandals Are Not “As Widespread As it Has Been made Out To Be”
1.   I have been very consistent, Same sex marriage, trade deals, immigration policies
144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: July 26, 2016, 10:48:46 PM
Currently Trump has 23% of the Latino vote.  Romney had 27%.

I'm guessing the Latino vote will have a stronger than usual turnout.

Trump needs to start paying attention to this right now.

That's right.  Maybe he can come up with something like the Rubio plan tempered by how it would have come out of a conservative Republican House.  Keep the people who have been here a period of time and are invested, not the criminals and freeloaders.  Let them pay a fine, earn an opening and agree to join us as law abiding, tax paying citizens.  Build a wall and start securing the country.

Everybody who is a legal, votiing Hispanic knows and likes somebody who isn't legal and faces deportation if we suddenly enforce our laws.

On the other hand, legal Hispanics are probably among those people that Democrats are worried are being under-counted as Trump supporters.  They don't want to tell their friends or strangers but they are among those whose jobs and pay are being crushed by the influx of illegals.  If a day came when we knew that every Hispanic who is here is legal, their own standing and confidence (and income) would rise.

23% versus 27% isn't that bad if it is being under-counted - except that Romney lost!  If Trump can take that proportion up to the mid 30s and win 10-15% of blacks instead of 2-5%, this is whole new ballgame.  And if he can't make progress into traditional Democratic groups, he loses.
145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: From PP repost from hot gas, leave the two party system? on: July 26, 2016, 12:46:53 PM

Agree, well written.

Pat will leave the R party until it (or a new party) is re-formed by Trump.  But Trump is now in charge of the party the way I understand it.  Reince and everyone else serves at his pleasure.  Reince is also doing everything asked of him by Trump.  Any timidity in a shakeup is now Trump's.  He wants to say "you're fired" selectively.

If Pat means wait for all of congress to be reformed in Trump's image, the timing of that is never.

If Pat thinks forming a third party, two parties on the right, is a better idea, he is wrong and at odds with Trump who could have much more easily launched a third party caampaign.

My daughter's commencement speaker was the band director at a college renowned for their music.  He hit all the right notes, follow your dream, save the world, etc.  Strike out on your own and do anything you want, all by yourself, to make the world a better place.  But if you really want to make a difference, form 'a band'.  In politics, that is 'a party'.  Major parties have more impact than minor ones.

The two party system works better than the alternatives although we seem to currently be at an all time low point.  The best way to reform the party of the right is from within.  Ted Cruz's de-funding ideas didn't work because we didn't have the votes.  Build a wall didn't work because we didn't have the votes - or the right people to carry out the law.  Conservatives sit in their homes and businesses being conservative but mostly don't organize, give a dollar or lift a finger to save the country.  People like Boehner and Cantor can occasionally be defeated from within, but not when the left controls the debate and we keep losing on their terms. 

I've written the-way-forward rants before and our side has done none of it, really done the opposite.  Our 18 month campaign of ideas resulted in Obama's approval rating rising while the country and the world deteriorate under his watch.  Trump's messaging is still mostly wrong.

Trump is running as a great person, not as a new movement.  Pat started a website and would like to start a movement.  Great.  But more than half of the right will not join and then we are divided and the left wins.  To be fair, the left wins anyway so no big, new loss.

We can get special privileges and treatment and cronyism out of government by doing the things that already are our principles, simplifying the tax code, treating everyone the same, ending the goodies that go beyond a genuine safety net.  You keep American manufacturers here and see new companies formed faster by streamlining the red tape and knocking down the disincentives.  That is already our platform.  You hold politicians to their promises through the primary process and the elections, and we don't. 

So I oppose his strategy by commend his activism.  I wish everyone took it that seriously.
146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: July 26, 2016, 12:14:21 PM
ccp:  Hillary has already made her honorary chairwoman of her campaign!  As usual with the libs.  When finally caught , some slight embarrassment, maybe an apology but never real consequences.

Debbie knows where some of the bodies are buried. 
147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The clothing parade, Michelle Obama on: July 26, 2016, 12:06:07 PM
From a Dem point of view, Michelle is the star coming out of this convention.  No doubt she has the highest approval of all Dems.  If Hillary loses, that becomes immediately relevant.  I have posted previously I fear her politically more than Hillary.  Ironic how powerful Dem women make their rise off the accomplishments of a man.  Tonight's big speaker?  Bill Clinton.  Maybe they should suggest that strategy, marrying a rich and powerful man, to the little people.

Also in this election leaks is the fact that little guy Bernie, average contribution $27, was demanding a plane for his entourage for the entire campaign in exchange for his support. 

He doesn't see himself as a phony little guy; he sees himself as a former one.  Next up, book deals!
148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: July 26, 2016, 11:54:34 AM

If Vlad really wanted to torch the Hildabeast he would release her Clinton Foundation corruption just before the election.  We all know what went on.  Since Comey won't do anything and allowed her and her criminal lawyers to destroy evidence Vlad may well have copies.  Would that be great!

Why would he do that when he can sit on them and use them as leverage if the Dowager Empress becomes president?

Good points.  That was the risk of cheating, of corruption, of deception and of communicating over an unsecured server.  Give an enemy leverage, career ending leverage.  Hillary's only defense against damaging releases is that everyone already knows she is a crook.  There are books out there documenting it.

I believed all along that deleted emails will become public over time from a variety of sources and that the worst ones will come out last.  The tell-all books from her friends will mostly come out too late to matter and most of the media would rather be a co-conspirator than report.  Still, there is more info out there and big secrets are hard to keep.

Assuming Putin has control over these even if it was a private Russian hack, it is an interesting game theory exercise to ponder how he will best use it to his advantage.  First he has to show he has it and is willing to use it:  Check.  Now if they communicate over keeping something secret, he will have that too!

Which candidate would make a better partner for Putin, Trump or Hillary, through his eyes?  The answer is not clear or obvious.  The Hillary side wants us to presume Putin prefers Trump, because what?  The Democrat would be so tough on him?  What did Obama say, tell Vladimir I will have more flexibility after my reelection...  Putin may prefer Trump for reasons different than people think, a more rational person to deal with.  He may prefer Hillary as the pushover.  Or is Hillary more of a hawk than Trump?  Trump would build an arsenal that would make Putin's look puny? 

Also assume that various people, even the Clintons, have dirt on Trump beyond the Trump University, commenting on breasts and business bankruptcies to expose. 

Look for this to keep getting uglier. 
149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Debbie wasseerman Schultz on: July 26, 2016, 11:30:09 AM

I consider it 100% her fault that I take pleasure in her political demise.

Instead of serious arguments and contests over issues, for them it is always, lie, cheat, deceive, dodge and spin, never allowing us to just defeat them straight up.

These leaks expose what was already obvious to everyone.

Her fall is to cover her real leader, Bill and Hillary.  It was the Hillary campaign that rigged the system.  Vasserman Schultz (as in Sargent Schultz, "I know nothing") was the puppet.
150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trump-Pence, My endorsement on: July 25, 2016, 09:47:49 AM
Here is my whole-hearted, lukewarm, lesser of evils, unapologetic endorsement of Trump-Pence for President in 2016, and my advice to others on the fence.

I started this as a Rubio supporter.  Trump beat Rubio in his own state, in his own party.  Trump needs Florida to win in November.  Trump needs Rubio -in the Senate.  Rubio needs Trump for turnout in Florida, for Commander in Chief and to sign the badly needed reform in Washington.  America needs bothTrump and Rubio and all of us or else leftism will be permanent.  As unlikely as it seemed a short time ago, this is our team.

These are my biggest objections to Trump (other than his personality) and how he addressed these to win my vote:

1)  He is profoundly wrong on Kelo and private, crony government takings.

2)  He is profoundly wrong on trade.

3)  Trump is not a true, limited government conservative.

(1) On Kelo, his answer was to offer a list of potential Supreme Court picks representing the type of Justices he will appoint.  This is not a promise or a perfect answer but it is a great list that addresses that concern as well as it is possible.  There is a risk that Trump (or any Republican) will make a bad pick and there is the certainty that Hillary will make nothing but bad picks for the Courts from a constitutional conservative point of view.

(2)  On trade, Trump promises to re-open trade agreements bilaterally and get better terms for America.  I am not on the same page as Trump in his view of what has gone wrong.    America can compete with anyone on a level playing field.  Our problems are internal, excess taxation and excess over-regulation. These are both areas that Trump is actively addressing and that Hillary will make worse, much worse.  

Trump promises the new agreements will be better for America.  They are not better if they include high tariffs paid by American consumers, a trade war, a falling economy or a rising cost of living.  He can't let that happen and deliver on his promise.  Trump is willing to threaten tariffs with Mexico, China and others.  The threat must be real but the end point must be no tariff.  If he stands true on his promise, we will win concessions without new tariffs and he will not trigger a trade war or the next Great Depression.

More importantly, the sovereignty loss in "trade" agreements is real and Trump will not give away our country the way President Obama and Hillary Clinton have and would.

(3)  Regarding limited government conservatism, Donald Trump was not among my top 100 choices of the 17 running and those who might have.  Mike Pence, on the other hand, is as good of a limited government conservative as we can hope for in high elective office and he is Trump's pick for his VP choice.  Worst case, no matter how badly Trump governs we are one heartbeat away from a chance at having great, limited government, conservative President.  With Hillary there is no such hope or chance.  Far more optimistically, the Pence pick and other limited government promises such as relief on taxes and regulations are positive indicators of the direction the Trump Presidency will take.

Then there is the Gary Johnson (non-)alternative.  This is a binary choice, Trump v. Hillary.  Johnson is disqualified.  When asked whether it was wrong for the United States to intervene in WWI? In WWII? Johnson's entire answer was, "I don't know"!
For all our differences over Iraq, Iran, Syria and ISIS, if you don't know the answer to that one at this point in your life and are running for President, you aren't going to be my choice for Commander in Chief!

Hillary Clinton starts this race with 242 electoral votes in hand out of 270 required, the so-called "Blue Wall".  18 states including NY, Calif, etc. and D.C. have gone Democratic in the last six presidential elections. If she loses within these, she has also loses the swing states and loses the election in a landslide. Trump running with Mike Pence will win all the solidly Republican states, more states but less than half the electoral votes.  Gary Johnson and all other minor party candidates combined will win zero states.  Trump-Pence will open the contest in the Midwest, so called rust belt states, and can make Clinton spend resources in NY and NJ.  But mostly, any Republican ticket needs to run the table in the well-known swing states to win.

Anyone who leans at all right, despises Hillary, lives in any contested state, and then does not vote for Donald Trump, the only alternative to Clinton, is securing her election and a permanently leftist, anti-constitutional country.  Sure they say this every year and it's true every year, but the consequences of screwing up this time have never been worse.

Herb Brooks told his gold medal hockey team after they beat the Soviet Union and were facing Finland in the finals, "Lose this one and you will take it to your grave".  Complain about Trump all you want, but sit this one, help Hillary win, and ... ditto ... you will take the consequences of that to your grave.

Trump is far from perfect but there is no acceptable alternative remaining.  You take all that is wrong with Trump or you and your children and your grandchildren will be ruled forever by leftists.   No pressure.

Hillary will open up felon votes, illegal votes, no-ID votes, foreigner votes, maybe pre-school votes, and I barely exaggerate.  All but the last is already in motion. This will be the last close election if we give them four more years to transform the electorate.

This Rubio supporter, almost-never-Trump-type will be voting for Trump-Pence on November 8 with no apologies!
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