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201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 20, 2014, 11:09:32 PM
They know Obama will grant amnesty.  Either next year after this Nov election or before he leaves office.   

Yes, ownership of a country that has both assets and liabilities.   

Doug's Dream Act:

Welcome to America.  At the signing of this agreement you now are a voting citizen of a country that owes US$18 trillion in debt among 318 million US citizens, equal to about $60,000 per man, woman and child.  If your extended family here is (let's say) 17 people and you accept this offer, then you are all now jointly and severally liable for 17 x 60,000 with your first monthly installment due at signing. You are now part owner of Yellowstone Park, the Grand Canyon and the largest Navy in the world.  We suggest you use your vote in a way that protects these assets, grows jobs, keeps your future tax liability low, and holds the other 318 million accountable for their share of the debt too.  If you decline, we understand and will charge you only for the immediate cost of your return travel.  Good luck.
202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why he left libertarianism on: May 20, 2014, 12:54:02 PM
Though I never heard the n-word, and he may well be wimping out for the sake of his marriage, his experience at a Libertarian convention is not dissimilar to mine.

Yes, not very convincing.  How many racists did he meet?  The 'tea party' is different now than Libertarian Party then because it includes people who are mostly trying to compete and win within the two party system. 

You don't go logically from libertarian to big government as you mature.  The reasonable wings of both parties support funding all the basic public services that he mentions.  Libertarian does not mean wacko on conspiracies, though once you declare that the two parties are the same, you are susceptible to that kind of thing.  No offense intended to those who tried in the past to make a difference going down that road! 

In 2008 it was tempting to turn on McCain - as he regularly turns on us.  But Obama is the consequence.  To this guy, a recent libertarian, that is a good thing?!  I don't buy it.

Rush L. calls these guys seminar callers.  Salon has one too.  I've met plenty of libertarians and none were hung up on racial differences. 

Smaller government advocates are all racists - sounds like writing from a script.  The party of liberty was instrumental in freeing blacks from slavery, one might recall.
203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs, spending: Tax Reform Useless Without Spending Reform on: May 20, 2014, 12:15:06 PM
I took note of this content before noticing the author was Ron Paul.  He gets this about half right (and half wrong) IMHO.

Tax Reform Useless Without Spending Reform

Recently, Republican leaders in Congress unveiled a "tax reform" plan that they claimed would provide the American people with a simpler, fairer, and more efficient tax system. While this plan does lower some tax rates and contains some other changes that may make next April a little less painful for Americans, there is little in it to excite supporters of liberty.

Taxes may even increase under this plan for some Americans, as it eliminates some of those tax deductions labeled “loopholes.” When I served in Congress I opposed bills that “closed loopholes” because closing loopholes is just a fancy way of saying raising taxes. Anything that leaves more money in the hands of the people is beneficial to both liberty and economic efficiency. As economist Thomas DiLorenzo put it, "...private individuals always spend their own money more efficiently than government bureaucrats do,” therefore sound economics, as well as a concern for liberty, requires opposition to any proposal to "let government bureaucrats spend more of the people's hard-earned money.”

Tax reformers also stray from sound economics when they endorse a tax system that is designed to direct consumption and savings. I share the concern that the current tax system distorts people’s behavior by discouraging savings. However, the solution is not for the government to create a tax code that punishes consumption in order to encourage savings. A truly efficient market is one where individuals are completely free to determine how to allocate their incomes between consumption and savings. No politician or bureaucrat can know the proper allocation of savings and investment that meets the needs of every individual, and government policies designed to cause individuals to devote more of their income to savings than they otherwise would distorts the market just as much as policies that encourage excess consumption.

The Republican tax plan adopts what is called “dynamic scoring.” Dynamic scoring is designed to recognize that tax cuts, by incentivizing work and investment, can increase revenue to the government. This is the argument of the famous Laffer curve. It has always seemed odd to me that a supposed free-market economist would argue for tax cuts on the grounds that it would enrich the state's coffers. After all, the more money the state has the greater its ability to violate our liberties. Does this mean that those concerned with liberty should vote against tax cuts? Of course not; the solution is to make sure tax cuts are big enough that they cost the government revenue.

When the contemporary tea party was new, I thought the over-riding theme was to cut spending first.  You also need to grow the economy in order to get relieve from the record high demand for government services.  He is right about a couple of concerns.  If you insist on tax cuts being revenue neutral, you have missed part of the point - smaller government.  And if you close all loopholes without gaining serious reductions in tax rates, you have actually increased taxes and sabotaged the potential for real reform.

I suggest moving in incremental steps.  Cut some spending up front and lock out baseline increases.  Make a big move toward right-sizing our regulatory burden.  Enact round one of tax rate cuts.  Get things rolling and repeat the incremental cut process.  I don't believe the electorate will go from supporting the furthest left President to slashing government down to a Ron Paul levels in a single step.  Something more like the penny plan has a better chance of slipping through:

204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Kerry: If We're Wrong on Climate Change, 'What's the Worst That Can Happen?' on: May 20, 2014, 11:57:12 AM
Kerry: If We're Wrong on Climate Change, 'What's the Worst That Can Happen?'

I'm not as old as Sec Kerry but old enough to know to quit asking what is the worst that can happen.

I'll take a shot at answering that.  In the U.S. alone, pursuing economy crippling policies ostensibly about climate control has brought a zero growth economy, accelerated income inequality, left 50% of black youth out of work, 100 million working age adults out of work, turned us against each other, run up between100 and 200 trillion in unfunded liabilities, cost us our national security, forced out manufacturing and ended our run as the world's greatest economy.  All that is before we enact whatever backwards steps he is now proposing.

 'What's the Worst That Can Happen?'

I guess an economy something like Afghanistan where we grow poppies and answer to warlords.. 
205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dream Act consequence: Surge of minor children crossing border alone on: May 20, 2014, 11:45:54 AM
Who could have seen this coming?

The Texas-Mexico border is being overrun by a surge of young illegal immigrants who are traveling alone.

... The large influxes of unaccompanied minor children are coming primarily from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador
206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Inappropriate arguments against Hillary that they used against opponents on: May 20, 2014, 11:40:11 AM


by BEN SHAPIRO  19 May 2014
The media are on a mission to protect Hillary no matter what the cost. And that means they’ll invalidate any attack on her as beyond the pale, over the top, and underhanded. Even if she or her husband have used precisely the same angles of attack on her opponents in the past.
Age and Health. This week, the media went berserk over Karl Rove’s suggestion that Hillary Clinton underwent brain damage. President Clinton, while maintaining that Hillary had to do six months of tough recovery, stated, “First, they said she faked her concussion and now they say she is auditioning for her part on ‘The Walking Dead.’” The media brayed that it would be entirely inappropriate for Republicans to talk about Clinton’s age or health.
Ignoring, of course, the fact that Bill Clinton had no problem attacking Bob Dole’s age in 1996. In typically passive-aggressive fashion, Clinton stated in a debate with Dole, “I can only tell you that I don’t Senator Dole is too old to be President, but it’s the age of his ideas that I question.”
What Did She Know and When Did She Know It? Hillary’s defenders have stated that questions about Benghazi have been answered. On Sunday, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) stated, “I think it’s a hunting mission for a lynch mob.” Not coincidentally, Feinstein praised Hillary to the skies, stating, “In my view, she’s in the prime of her political life. She’s got the energy; she’s articulate; she’s got the background; she’s got the smarts; she has all of the elements of a good leader.” Feinstein simply wrote off questions about why her State Department refused requests for additional security, why the State Department did not request military intervention, and why the State Department took part in manipulating talking points presented to the American people.
Meanwhile, Democrats and media personalities have dismissed the fact that Clinton refused to designate the Islamist terror group Boko Haram a terror group.
But it was Hillary on the floor of the Senate, standing with newspaper outstretched in 2002, the headline blaring, “BUSH KNEW.” She then stated, “We have learned that President Bush had been informed last year, before September 11, of a possible plot by those associated with Osama Bin Laden to hijack a US airliner.”
But when she was in a position of power, her ignorance was bliss – and now it’s off limits.
She’s Never Accomplished Anything. None of Hillary’s supporters seem to be able to answer the simplest question about her: with all of her power and prestige, what has she actually accomplished? And yet that question has now been deemed irrelevant – we all know what she’s done, even if no one ever knows what she’s done.
When Hillary Clinton was running against a young Senator named Barack Obama, however, Obama’s lack of accomplishment was central to Hillary’s campaign. “An untested man who offers false hope,” she said. “On a lot of these issues it is hard to know where he stands, and people need to ask that...Where’s the beef?”
She Goes Missing When Stakes Are Highest. When the manure hit the fan in Benghazi, Hillary went completely AWOL. In the aftermath of the attacks, she sent out uninvolved UN ambassador Susan Rice to take the hits on the Sunday shows. She then jetted off to Australia for a wine tasting. But we’re supposed to ignore her complete absence during the most critical period of her tenure as Secretary of State.
She wasn’t so generous to Obama during their 2008 race, when her campaign crafted an ad suggesting that if the red phone rang at 3 a.m., Obama wouldn’t be there to pick it up.
Hillary’s Marriage Is A Sham. Now that Bill and Hillary are back in the spotlight, many Americans are wondering just how their business relationship will work again in the White House. They’re wondering if they want the drama of the Arkansan Carringtons. That’s off limits. Or so say the media, who are the self-appointed arbiters of appropriateness (even when they’re spilling the juicy details of Bill’s Oval Office doings).
But it was Hillary attacking other women back when her husband was president. Not only did she attack Monica Lewinsky as an insane narcissist, she reportedly attempted to discredit “trailer trash” Gennifer Flowers. And she tried to have her husband’s campaign plant rumors that George H.W. Bush had cheated on Barbara Bush.
207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GOP making inroads with young black males on: May 20, 2014, 11:34:13 AM
The party of angry white men making inroads in another demographic, angry, young, black men.

Democratic Party Fears Realized as Young Black Males Defect to GOP
208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance Glibness: Obama: Americans are 'better off' now on: May 20, 2014, 11:27:10 AM
After 5 years of history's weakest recovery, Pres. Obama says we are better off now than at the very lowest point in the geconomic collapse caused by the takeover of Washington power from Republicans to the new congress of Pelosi-Reid-Obama-Biden-and Hillary.  I agree, we are better off now and will be even better off yet when the last of far leftists leaves their position of power.
209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China Cyber-espionage Indictments / Eric Holding the Wang Dong 5 on: May 20, 2014, 10:58:28 AM
I agree with Rogers and Ruppersberger (China thread), a good first step, and applaud the administration for everything it gets right including this.

Noted that they hurt their credibility with previous mis-steps, but their history of acting unpredictably and arguably psychotically in other pursuits could leave the adversary with the uncertainty of whether they will be appeased like a Syrian tyrant or pursued relentlessly like a filmmaker or neighborhood tea party leader.
210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Waiting for Ruth Bader Ginsburg to retire? on: May 19, 2014, 04:31:22 PM
The New Republic article recently suggested it is already to late to confirm a Ginsburg replacement.

I think the Wash Post author has it right; I doubt any Justice will hasten retirement unless their are personal considerations that we don't know.

When Democrats had 60 Senators, the talk was that this majority would be permanent and increasing.  Now they wonder how to use their remaining power before it ends - this year.
211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: May 19, 2014, 03:48:25 PM

Wesbury:  "What if we did become bearish? Would we actually tell people? Would we actually go public?  For the record, our firm manages many different asset classes in many different countries. If for some reason we thought US stocks were risky, we could always recommend products that would provide diversification in other asset classes."

I felt bad pointing out a bias that he freely admits.  His job is to tell you why you should feel good about buying US and global securities, and secondly he looks for facts to support  that view.  He has used the false but true defense heavily: the economy keeps under-performing but the markets are still up.

He has been mostly right (since the last time he was wrong) but I have a hard time believing this market is 20% under-valued right now.

Time will tell.  Good luck.
212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy - Efficient Taxation on: May 19, 2014, 03:29:52 PM
The conservative or small government view is that tax rates should be as low as possible and people should be allowed to keep as much as possible of their legally obtained income, after paying a fair share of necessary public expenses.  The Herman Cain 9-9-9 plan comes to mind, keeping tax rates at single digits.

The big government or liberal-leftist view is that we should maximize the size of government because of all the good it can do.  As Hillary Clinton put it, "I have a million ideas. The country can't afford them all".

But Big Government Leftists are losing revenues because of other goals, codified in punitive taxation (and other ill-advised policies).

Maximizing revenues is not Obama's top tax goal.  When confronted with the facts of declining revenues with increasing capital gains tax rates, he admitted he is more concerned (as is Piketty) with holding back wealth ("spread the wealth around") than he is with maximizing revenue.

What tax rates maximize revenues?

The key determinant is the elasticity of taxable income.

Taking this from a post today (Alan Reynolds) on 'Economics':

"...ETI of 1.3 for the top 1%. This implies that the revenue-maximizing top marginal rate would be 33.9% for all taxes, and below 27% for the federal income tax."

Why not (worst case) limit the top federal tax rate to 25%, allow the private sector to grow, maximize our revenues and use the money to build back our infrastructure, invest in national defense, maintain our safety net, secure our borders, etc. with all the revenues.  Just wondering.
213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics: Of Course 70% Tax Rates Are Counterproductive! on: May 19, 2014, 02:57:15 PM
Alan Reynolds was debating and refuting Piketty long before political Washington had heard of him.  This is from 2 years ago and gives a good prebuttal to the sloppy methodology that Thomas Piketty uses to evaluate his own reckless proposals.  Piketty and others use an ETI (elasticity of taxable income) of 0.2 for what Reynolds believes ought to be 1.3 or higher.  In other words, if you tax 'taxable income' at 70%, 75% or 83% as proposed, how much LESS taxable income will top earners earn and report?  Remember, the highest earners have the greatest ability to move, change or reduce their taxable income.

Sure enough, France added a 75% tax bracket in 2013 as one more burden on its feeble (plowhorse) economy.
"French budget misses target on lower tax revenues"  Who knew?
"lower corporate tax revenues and lower income revenues, while revenues from the value-added tax (a regressive tax) were actually up"
Reynolds 2012: "If anyone still imagines the proposed "socially optimal" tax rates of 73%-83% on the top 1% would raise revenues and have no effect on economic growth, what about that 100% rate?"

Of Course 70% Tax Rates Are Counterproductive
Some scholars argue that top rates can be raised drastically with no loss of revenue. Their arguments are flawed.

May 7, 2012 7:25 p.m. ET
President Obama and others are demanding that we raise taxes on the "rich," and two recent academic papers that have gotten a lot of attention claim to show that there will be no ill effects if we do.

The first paper, by Peter Diamond of MIT and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, appeared in the Journal of Economic Perspectives last August. The second, by Mr. Saez, along with Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and Stefanie Stantcheva of MIT, was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research three months later. Both suggested that federal tax revenues would not decline even if the rate on the top 1% of earners were raised to 73%-83%.

Can the apex of the Laffer Curve—which shows that the revenue-maximizing tax rate is not the highest possible tax rate—really be that high?

The authors arrive at their conclusion through an unusual calculation of the "elasticity" (responsiveness) of taxable income to changes in marginal tax rates. According to a formula devised by Mr. Saez, if the elasticity is 1.0, the revenue-maximizing top tax rate would be 40% including state and Medicare taxes. That means the elasticity of taxable income (ETI) would have to be an unbelievably low 0.2 to 0.25 if the revenue-maximizing top tax rates were 73%-83% for the top 1%. The authors of both papers reach this conclusion with creative, if wholly unpersuasive, statistical arguments.

Most of the older elasticity estimates are for all taxpayers, regardless of income. Thus a recent survey of 30 studies by the Canadian Department of Finance found that "The central ETI estimate in the international empirical literature is about 0.40."

But the ETI for all taxpayers is going to be lower than for higher-income earners, simply because people with modest incomes and modest taxes are not willing or able to vary their income much in response to small tax changes. So the real question is the ETI of the top 1%.

Harvard's Raj Chetty observed in 2009 that "The empirical literature on the taxable income elasticity has generally found that elasticities are large (0.5 to 1.5) for individuals in the top percentile of the income distribution." In that same year, Treasury Department economist Bradley Heim estimated that the ETI is 1.2 for incomes above $500,000 (the top 1% today starts around $350,000).

A 2010 study by Anthony Atkinson (Oxford) and Andrew Leigh (Australian National University) about changes in tax rates on the top 1% in five Anglo-Saxon countries came up with an ETI of 1.2 to 1.6. In a 2000 book edited by University of Michigan economist Joel Slemrod ("Does Atlas Shrug?"), Robert A. Moffitt (Johns Hopkins) and Mark Wilhelm (Indiana) estimated an elasticity of 1.76 to 1.99 for gross income. And at the bottom of the range, Mr. Saez in 2004 estimated an elasticity of 0.62 for gross income for the top 1%.

A midpoint between the estimates would be an elasticity for gross income of 1.3 for the top 1%, and presumably an even higher elasticity for taxable income (since taxpayers can claim larger deductions if tax rates go up.)

But let's stick with an ETI of 1.3 for the top 1%. This implies that the revenue-maximizing top marginal rate would be 33.9% for all taxes, and below 27% for the federal income tax.

To avoid reaching that conclusion, Messrs. Diamond and Saez's 2011 paper ignores all studies of elasticity among the top 1%, and instead chooses a midpoint of 0.25 between one uniquely low estimate of 0.12 for gross income among all taxpayers (from a 2004 study by Mr. Saez and Jonathan Gruber of MIT) and the 0.40 ETI norm from 30 other studies.

That made-up estimate of 0.25 is the sole basis for the claim by Messrs. Diamond and Saez in their 2011 paper that tax rates could reach 73% without losing revenue.

The Saez-Piketty-Stantcheva paper does not confound a lowball estimate for all taxpayers with a midpoint estimate for the top 1%. On the contrary, the authors say that "the long-run total elasticity of top incomes with respect to the net-of-tax rate is large."

Nevertheless, to cut this "large" elasticity down, the authors begin by combining the U.S. with 17 other affluent economies, telling us that elasticity estimates for top incomes are lower for Europe and Japan. The resulting mélange—an 18-country "overall elasticity of around 0.5"—has zero relevance to U.S. tax policy.

Still, it is twice as large as the ETI of Messrs. Diamond and Saez, so the three authors appear compelled to further pare their 0.5 estimate down to 0.2 in order to predict a "socially optimal" top tax rate of 83%. Using "admittedly only suggestive" evidence, they assert that only 0.2 of their 0.5 ETI can be attributed to real supply-side responses to changes in tax rates.

The other three-fifths of ETI can just be ignored, according to Messrs. Saez and Piketty, and Ms. Stantcheva, because it is the result of, among other factors, easily-plugged tax loopholes resulting from lower rates on corporations and capital gains.

Plugging these so-called loopholes, they say, requires "aligning the tax rates on realized capital gains with those on ordinary income" and enacting "neutrality in the effective tax rates across organizational forms." In plain English: Tax rates on U.S. corporate profits, dividends and capital gains must also be 83%.

This raises another question: At that level, would there be any profits, capital gains or top incomes left to tax?

"The optimal top tax," the three authors also say, "actually goes to 100% if the real supply-side elasticity is very small." If anyone still imagines the proposed "socially optimal" tax rates of 73%-83% on the top 1% would raise revenues and have no effect on economic growth, what about that 100% rate?

Mr. Reynolds is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute and the author of "Income and Wealth" (Greenwood Press, 2006).
214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, Founder of Brookings, An Honest Liberal on Progressive Taxation on: May 19, 2014, 02:16:30 PM
“Within limits, the system of progressive taxation is defensible and effective.  Beyond a certain point, however, it dulls incentives, and may destroy the principal source of funds for new enterprises involving exceptional risks.”

–Harold G. Moulton, founder of the (liberal) Brookings Institution, Controlling Factors in Economic Development, The Brookings Institution, 1949, p. 292.
215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China (& Japan, South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc) on: May 19, 2014, 01:09:28 PM
I doubt we are trying to steal technological secrets from China to hand off to US industry. Not yet anyway.

Agree.  I see the distinction.  I wonder if Angela Merkel and others complaining of US spying see it.
216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / India elects conservative party in a landslide on: May 19, 2014, 01:05:33 PM
Any comments or observations from YA or others?
India's Narendra Modi leads conservatives to election day victory
India’s conservative opposition party won national elections in a landslide, results showed Friday, riding a message of optimism and clean, business-friendly governance to a historic parliamentary majority that could profoundly change the direction of the world’s largest democracy.
India aspires to become strong on the back of economic growth, more international trade, deeper global engagement
217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: liberal fascism, progressivism: George Will - How LBJ ruined America on: May 19, 2014, 12:16:26 PM
"How LBJ ruined America:  Great Society's decline: The high cost of Lyndon Johnson's grand project  By George Will "
George Gilder made this powerful point in "Wealth and Poverty", 1981, that the upside down incentives of the welfare state hurt the recipients even more than the multi-trillion dollar cost of it hurts the taxpayers. 

Thanks for posting this CCP, George Will really nails this.  It should be on the front page, all loaded with facts, and made required reading for anyone who wants to vote responsibly.  People have to dig deeply and find conservative opinion in order to get these basic facts about how these policies are ruining our country:

"For every adult man ages 20 to 64 who is between jobs and looking for work, more than three are neither working nor seeking work, a trend that began with the Great Society."

“the earthquake that shook family structure in the era of expansive anti-poverty policies has seen out-of-wedlock births increase from 7.7 percent in 1965 to more than 40 percent in 2012, including 72 percent of black babies."  !

Can people really not see that these programs undermine family, work and responsibility and are destroying our culture and diminishing the lives of the recipients?!  We pay people to not work,  We pay people to not marry.  We pay them to not take responsibility for their families.  And then we see more and more and more of these bad, behavioral choices.  We have effective marginal tax rate of over 100% at certain levels between dependency and self sufficiency screwing up both the businesses and the potential employees. 

Because pay our poor to not work, we need to import people even poorer to fill that gap.  Then we pay them not to work and on goes the cycle.  We don't count as income everything we pay all these people, nor count what we take in taxation from the remaining productive among us, then we marvel at the falsely measured, increasing gap between rich and poor.  Go figure.  What is it about Economics 1001 that we so blockheadedly refuse to accept?
218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China (& Japan, South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc) on: May 19, 2014, 11:23:54 AM
I would quite enthusiastically applaud them for this - if we were not guilty of the same thing(?).
219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: May 16, 2014, 04:27:48 PM
A. No one is too big to fail. We shouldn't be picking winners and losers. Let the creative destruction take place.

It is unfortunate that a person who rose up as high up as Geithner (Peter Principle) and has no idea that creative destruction is a positive term describing the foundation of growth in a dynamic economy.  The thinking behind his book and policy is the opposite - that people (and markets) left to themselves will fail and only the smartest and most clever of elite central planners can save us.

Why would investors let prices fall to zero, if real value remains.  What stopped the 1987 crash?  The market dropped from over 2700 to 1700s, but did not fall further as investors caught their breath and jumped back in.  I remember a big, local investor was on Nightline the night of the crash and calmly said that he intended to be making some buys the next morning as it looked like there were some good values out there.  Why should it fall to zero? 

The DJIA was positive for the 1987 calendar year...and regained its pre-crash peak in less than years.

If something is fundamentally wrong in the market or in the economy, fix what is fundamentally wrong.  Not just plug holes.
May 16, 2014, "Obama to loosen lending standards to boost home ownership."
220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: How do we answer this? on: May 15, 2014, 03:36:32 PM

Comparing tea party scrutiny to scrutiny of ACORN??  Those are convicted felons who co-mingled taxpayer monies with their political causes.  What did the tea party do to deserve what they got? 

" least some additional scrutiny was required for groups of all types that had names that sounded political"

  - Were the donors to progressive groups TEN TIMES AS LIKELY, compared to non-donors, TO BE PERSONALLY AUDITED BY THE IRS LAST YEAR??  I don't think so.  Were they intimidated, as I am, to never give money to those groups?  I don't think so.

Nothing on progressive donors being be personally more likely to receive a full IRS audit in the article.  Nothing on the delays to get certified that cost tea party the right to participate in the 2012 election.  Perhaps progressive groups  were given 'some scrutiny as legal cover for the worst abuse of power since - well - before Nixon and Watergate. 

Were progressive groups asked the same intrusive questions asked of the tea party groups?
(If they were asked all of these, why did they NOT speak up at the time?)

“Provide a list of all issues that are important to your organization. Indicate your position regarding each issue.”
“Please explain in detail the derivation of your organization’s name.” (in a letter to the Ohio-based 1851 Center for  Constitutional Law)
“Please explain in detail your organization’s involvement with the Tea Party.”
“Provide details regarding your relationship with Justin Binik-Thomas.” (a Cincinnati-area Tea-Party activist)
“Provide information regarding the Butler County Teen Age Republicans and your relationship.”
“Submit the following information relating to your past and present directors, officers, and key employees: a) Provide a resume for each.”
“The names of the donors, contributors, and grantors. … The amounts of each of the donations, contributions, and grants and the dates you received them.”
“The names of persons from your organization and the amount of time they spent on the event or program.” (for events)
“Provide copies of the handbills you distributed at your monthly meetings.”
“Fully describe your youth outreach program with the local school.”
“Please provide copies of all your current web pages, including your Blog posts. Please provide copies of all of your newsletters, bulletins, flyers, newsletters or any other media or literature you have disseminated to your members or others. Please provide copies of stories and articles that have been published about you.”
“Are you on Facebook or other social networking sites? If yes, provide copies of these pages.”
“Provide copies of the agendas and minutes of your Board meetings and, if applicable, members ship meetings, including a description of legislative and electoral issues discussed, and whether candidates for political office were invited to address the meeting.”
“Do your issue-related advocacy communications compare to the positions of candidates or slates of candidates on these issues with your positions? Provide copies of these communications. What percentage do these constitute of your issue-related advocacy communications?”
“Do you have a close relationship with any candidate for political office or political party? If so describe fully the nature of that relationship.”
“Apart from your responses to the preceding, estimate the percentage of your time and what percentage of your resources you will devote to activities in the 2012 election cycle, in which you will explicitly or implicitly support or oppose a candidate, candidates or slates of candidates, for public office.”
221  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons, Washington Post: Yes a brain injury on: May 15, 2014, 08:56:33 AM
Yes, a brain injury.  No, it shouldn't be Republicans pointing it out.
Why did Hillary Clinton wear those glasses after her concussion?

Technically, Republican strategist Karl Rove was correct when he suggested that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suffered a “traumatic brain injury” after a fall in 2012. A concussion is the most common form of mild traumatic brain injury, according to experts in the field. It is caused by a blow to the head or an action that bounces the brain around in the skull, such as whiplash from a car accident.

Symptoms can include headache, dizziness, sensitivity to light and blurred vision, all of which can occur even when MRI and CT scans are normal, said Steven Galetta, a neuro-opthalmologist at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.
Rove’s comment that when Clinton appeared in public after recuperating “she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury,” referred to a lens or lenses that the former first lady wore for a short period after her concussion and a subsequent blood clot that developed in her brain. Known as a Fresnel prism, the device helps treat double vision, especially for close-up viewing, experts said.

Special lines in the prism bend light seen by one eye and align it with the image seen by the other, according to Galetta and a representative of the company that distributes the lenses. The prism can be in the form of a clear plastic overlay that is pasted to the lens of eyeglasses in cases, such as Clinton’s, when the double vision is expected to be temporary, or can be ground into the lens for longer-term use, according to Laura Balcer, director of the Concussion Center at NYU Langone medical center. When built into the eyeglass lens itself, the prism is not visible, Balcer said.

On Tuesday, Rove distanced himself from a provocative report in Monday’s New York Post, saying he does not believe — as the newspaper asserted he had said — that Clinton suffered “brain damage” when she fell and sustained a head injury in December 2012. The fall was attributed to dehydration from a stomach virus, and Clinton subsequently developed a blood clot, which was treated.

Stomach flu? Or ...?
222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / World Trade, Global Map: which export makes each country the most money on: May 15, 2014, 08:41:32 AM
This map shows which export makes your country the most money
Australia makes the most money from coal. Who knew?

Using data from the CIA Factbook, we labeled every country in the world by its highest valued export, a.k.a. the commodity that makes the country the most money in the global market. Click on any of the maps below (at the link)to see an enlarged version.
223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: May 14, 2014, 10:02:42 PM
" I did not fault the bailouts at the time"

What about now?  This seems to me to be perhaps THE central question-- what DOES one do in such moments?  

Avoid such moments!

Important questions.  I hope others join in.

My thoughts:

a) These crises are government policy failures, not market failures.  Why didn't the government correct all that it was doing wrong once it finally knew we were headed into a crisis.  Instead, when we saw we were bleeding we kept cutting in our open wounds and ordered more and more band-aids.

b) The Federal Reserve and Federal Govt have no business bailing out private businesses and investments selectively, other than those insured by the federal government.

c) I have no idea why the mortgage business is 90+% federal, or why we make any other federal private sector loan or equity guarantees.  Partnering up with some businesses and not others violates my sense of equal protection under the law.  Now it is the rule rather than the exception.

d) All that said, elections have consequences and we need to put some trust in our leaders to act in our best interests in an emergency, then face the scrutiny of history in the aftermath.  Geithner is partly right in the hypothetical: It is possible for there to be a situation where an injection of money or temporary stoppage of trading or other emergency action could conceivably be in the public's best interest, limit the losses, break the momentum and allow sanity creep back into the markets.  Was he right in this instance?  I have no idea.  Nor does he.  Should we now pass enabling legislation to grant greater emergency powers, greater bailout powers that go wider, deeper and make money printing and distribution even easier in a crisis?  No.  We should address the underlying problems and welcome the role of risk, up and down, in all private investments and transactions.

e) Back to point a, this collapse was avoidable.  It was set up by multiple years of free interest.  We were already in a crisis-rescue pattern, making things far worse, crying wolf.  But pre-2008 was not the crisis, it was the bubble.  Why weren't interest rates at market rates then?  And then why call it market failure?  What a cruel irony.The financial collapse was powered by a poorly thought-out federal government policy of bullying federally backed lenders into extending credit based on criteria other than creditworthiness.  It was a recipe for disaster.
224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Geithner's Government to the rescue! on: May 13, 2014, 06:13:06 PM
"Respect to Geithner for forthrightly stating his hypothesis.  Let's discuss it: "

I say he is corrupt and dishonest.  Let's discuss it anyway.

"Aggressive government intervention will lead to a stronger financial system less dependent on the taxpayer."

Uh, we don't know that.  He is so clairvoyant, yet did not see this coming, could not and did not name the causes, doesn't know the solutions, and could care less about constitutional limits that might have restricted his authority to act.

"there will be shantytowns and soup lines across the country [if he had not acted so boldly]"

  - Really?  No.  Most ordinary investors would still own their home, their portfolio at a lower value.  Values might have gone further down and then would have come back just like they did.  Why wouldn't they?  What stoped the crash in 1987?

"We were in the midst of a classic financial panic"

  - Really, what is a "classic" financial panic to someone of Geithner's age, experience or education?  "similar to the bank runs in the Great Depression"  No, it wasn't similar to the bank runs of the 1930s.  There was no bank run.  Because of policies he supports, people mostly have no savings in banks.

"The losses suffered on Wall Street seemed welcome and deserved, and of no consequence to the vast majority of Americans."  - Because of the politics he supports.

"There was little memory of how panics kill economies, but the panic was already killing ours. American households lost 16% of their wealth in 2008 alone, several times as large as the losses at the start of the Great Depression, during which unemployment rose to 25% and total output fell more than 25%."

  - Again, when did panic kill an economy and why did these losses occur?  He doesn't know.

"Financial crises are devastating, but unlike threats to national security, Americans don't give their presidents much in the way of emergency authority to fight them."

  - He mocks congressional and constitutional limits.

"That reluctance stems from the fear of "moral hazard"—the valid concern that market actors who can expect a bailout in case things go wrong will be encouraged to take too many risks. That same fear typically makes governments, even when they do have the authority, too slow to act."

  - He mocks the dangers of establishing moral hazards, while softening with the words: valid concern.  It IS a valid concern.

"And so the government had very limited weapons with which to combat the financial crisis of 2008. On "Lehman weekend" (Sept. 13-14), it had no ability, in the absence of a willing buyer, to prevent the investment bank from collapse."

  - OMG, not the loss of an investment bank!  We have friends there!

"And that's why Presidents Bush and Obama had to ask Congress for successive waves of emergency authority."

  - He perhaps never raised a kindergardner.  We don't say "had to" for what was really "chose to".

Ultimately, Congress provided both presidents with the authority to prevent the collapse of the financial system and get the economy growing again. Yet the actions we took were highly controversial, deeply unpopular on the left and the right, and met by vocal skepticism from academics and the public.

That was partly because what one has to do in a panic is the opposite of what seems fair and just. In a financial crisis, the natural instinct is to let creditors suffer losses, let firms fail, and protect taxpayers from any risk of loss. But in a financial panic, a strategy based on those instincts will lead to depression-level unemployment.

Instead, the government and the central bank have to step in and take risks on a scale that the private sector can't and won't. They have to reduce the incentive for investors, lenders and depositors to run and liquidate assets in panic selling. They have to raise the confidence of businesses and individuals that there will not be a systemwide collapse—breaking a vicious cycle in which the fear of a financial-system collapse and a deep recession feed on each other and become self-fulfilling.

  - What is the heroic and "creative" thing he did if we had to do it all.  Where is the evidence that it would all go to zero if investment houses went under.  Why were investment houses going under??

Breaking this cycle requires a massive injection of cash into the economy, as directly as possible into the hands of those who will spend it, to offset the loss of private earnings and the collapse in private demand. It also requires doing whatever it takes to keep the financial system from collapse.

  - He refers to the cycle as if he recognizes it, it happens all the time and we know the result if we don't flood it with funny money.  How about one example from the past that he learned from?  

The banking system is like the power grid; the economy simply can't function if the lights go out and people can't get access to credit.

  - Looks like the power grid is another subject he knows nothing about.  Power gets re-routed when segment or sector fails.  I think what he means is an over-loaded, out of date power grid.  They should be proud of their political win, shooting down VP Cheney's grid modernization plan a dozen years ago.  Sets up the panic.

In a true financial panic, the moral imperative is to ignore moral hazard and first put out the fire. This is counterintuitive. It feels deeply unfair. And it creates some unfortunate collateral beneficiaries in terms of the firms protected from their mistakes. But this is the only way to ultimately protect the innocent victims of the crisis from the calamitous damage of economic depressions.

Because two presidents were willing to put politics aside and deploy a massive and creative rescue, we prevented economic catastrophe and got the economy growing again in about six months. We kept the ATMs working, saved the auto industry, fixed the broken credit channels so that the economy could grow, recapitalized the banking system, and restored much of the damage to America's savings.

"The conventional wisdom in early 2009 was that the financial rescue would cost $1-$2 trillion. In fact, the financial system paid for the protection we provided "

  - No, we don't know the full damage that was done.

"and taxpayers have already earned tens of billions of dollars in profits on these programs."

  - Did I mention up front that he is dishonest?

Herein lies the central paradox: The more aggressive the government is in designing a rescue plan, the easier it is to force more restructuring in the financial sector, and the better the chances of leaving the surviving system stronger and less dependent on the taxpayer.

  - Oh Good Grief!  Yes there should be crisis management, but as he brags of his power as the head of the NY Fed, all of the leadup to the crisis including the implosion of the financial sector happened under his watch without him ever uttering that he had a clue.  Does Geithner know what went wrong leading us into this crisis?  What re-structuring did Geithner propose prior?  Nothing.  What he supported with his "designing a rescue plan" was everything that caused the crisis needing the rescue.

"It is true that we were not able to do all that was important or desirable. The rescue was unorthodox and messy, and the country is still living with the deep scars of the crisis. Long-term unemployment remains alarmingly high. There are very high levels of poverty and appalling inequality, not just in income and wealth, but in the opportunities Americans have for a quality education or economic mobility."

  - Bunk.  The crisis eased inequality by destroying wealth.  The recovery 'worsened' inequality.  Education was UNAFFECTED.  Concern for inequality and mobility is the opposite of supporting the policies that only bails out the wealthiest and most poliically connected among us.

"But we did do the essential thing, which was to prevent another Great Depression, with its decade of shantytowns and bread lines. We put out the financial fire, not because we wanted to protect the bankers, but because we wanted to prevent mass unemployment.

"we are a stronger country today and in a much stronger position to confront those challenges because America passed its stress test."

  - We don't know that.

In bold, he indicates that he knows with such certainty what we had to do and exactly how bad it would have been if we hadn't.  In fact, the reason both sides acted was because we faced total uncertainty about those unknowns.  What we do know is that after the fall and recovery we would not be carrying forward this precedent, that there is no real risk taking at the highest and richest levels of this country.  With risk taking gone, all that is left is to stomp out the rewards of risk taking.

"You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." - Rahm Emanuel

What they wanted before the crisis was a bigger, stronger, more powerful government.  What they wanted during the crisis was a bigger, stronger, more powerful government.  What they wanted after the crisis was a bigger, stronger, more powerful government.  Are we sure the crisis had anything to do with the actions they took?

ps.  I did not fault the bailouts at the time, but find it sickening to see the disease brag about the cure.
225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Late Term Abortion on: May 13, 2014, 11:34:19 AM

Note to the bloody Dr. Gosnell, former Speaker of the House Nanacy Pelosi and former State Senator from Iliinois, Barack Obama:  If the baby is flopping on the table, it isn't a late term abortion that you are performing, NO MATTER the wishes of the mother.

From Crafty's link:  "Poll after poll shows the majority of Americans support [a limit on abortions after 20 weeks] and women are more in favor of a 20-week limit than men."

Note to all current and future tea party candidates:  There isn't a political possibility of forcing rape victims to carry pregnancy to full term.  If you oppose abortion, then focus on what is politically possible - where we have wide and deep political agreement - which is to place a limit on late term abortions, the most human-like of all the fetuses. 
226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Warren Buffet pays for 2.7 million abortions on: May 13, 2014, 10:09:31 AM
Imagine this with the politics reversed and you would have a story.  What if liberals cared about protecting the weakest and most innocent among us.  What if tea partiers supported widespread use of a procedure that was killing off African-American unborn at 3 times the rate of that for Caucasian-Americans.  What if the Koch brothers were caught paying $1.2 Billion, financing the equivalent of 2.7 million abortions, killing the unborn of the poor and non-white disproportionately.  And what if the Supreme Court wouldn't let even a majority of good caring liberals stop them, in any state, for any reason...

"... liberal billionaire Warren Buffett has donated more than $1.2 billion to abortion organizations from 2001 to 2012.  That’s equal to the cost of roughly 2.7 million first-trimester abortions – more than twice the number of abortions that occur in an entire year in the United States.
227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics: freedom and inequality, USSC Justice Pitney, 1915 on: May 13, 2014, 09:33:34 AM
A little reflection will show that wherever the right of private property and the right of free contract coexist, each party when contracting is inevitably more or less influenced by the question whether he has much property, or little, or none, for the contract is made to the very end that each may gain something that he needs or desires more urgently than that which he proposes to give in exchange. And since it is self-evident that, unless all things are held in common, some persons must have more property than others, it is from the nature of things impossible to uphold freedom of contract and the right of private property without at the same time recognizing as legitimate those inequalities of fortune that are the necessary result of the exercise of those rights

   - Supreme Court Justice, Mahlon Pitney, 1915, Coppage v. Kansas

228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: May 13, 2014, 09:22:37 AM

Very funny!
229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Congressional races: Income Inequality won't help Dems in the House on: May 13, 2014, 09:02:16 AM
Democrats trying to win back the U.S. House of Representatives this year have seized on the issue of income inequality to beat Republicans.

There’s just one problem: the districts where Democrats have the best shot to win Republican-held seats show some of the smallest gaps between rich and poor in the U.S., an indication of just how hard it will be for their message to take hold with voters.

Of the 100 congressional districts ranked as having the greatest gap between rich and poor, not one is held by a Republican whose seat is considered up for grabs this November
230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IRS Scandal, What Nixon never dared to do! on: May 13, 2014, 08:54:32 AM
If you gave to the tea party, you are 1000% more likely to be audited.

Nice country we live in.  With so many scandals and deceptions, people forget that this one is outrageous!  Especially the people who not at all politically aligned with the tea party are not feeling or expressing enough outrage (IMHO).  Do people think your government will only take freedom away from others?

A nice recap of the scandal here:

The timeline of the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups reveals nothing less than a scandal. It is a scandal that blew into public view a year ago this week and about which the press has been far from curious.

In 2009, the president of the United States commented in a commencement address that the IRS would soon be auditing the president of the university and the Board of Regents for refusing to grant him an honorary degree. Supporters of the president dismissed critics who worried that the "joke" was a "dog whistle" intended to declare open season on the president's political opponents.

In January 2010, the president in his State of the Union Address publicly berated the six Supreme Court justices in attendance for their decision in Citizens United, which held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and labor unions.

In the wake of Citizens United, many political groups formed in opposition to the president applied to the IRS for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, which does not require the disclosure of donors. Senators of the president's party called on the IRS to investigate these groups.

In March 2010, employees in the IRS branch office tasked with reviewing applications for tax-exempt status were instructed to give special scrutiny to certain applications for 501(c)(4) status, later memorialized in a "Be on the Look Out" (BOLO) list of targeted terms. Over the next two years, the IRS slow-walked the applications of many such groups, limiting their ability to participate in the 2010 and 2012 political campaigns.

In March 2012, the IRS commissioner testified before a House committee that there was "absolutely no targeting" by the IRS of political organizations opposed to the president. The subcommittee chairman requested the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) to investigate. The IRS commissioner resigned later that year.

On May 10, 2013, four days before the public release of the TIGTA report, the IRS director Exempt Organization Director (IRS director) apologized for the "absolutely inappropriate" actions of low-level IRS branch office employees and denied any involvement by high-level IRS officials in Washington, D.C.

On May 14, 2013, TIGTA publicly released its report detailing the IRS' inappropriate targeting of the president's political opponents. The president directed the secretary of the Treasury to hold accountable those IRS employees responsible for the targeting, and the attorney general announced that the Department of Justice would launch a criminal investigation. The following day, the acting IRS commissioner resigned.

On May 22, 2013, the IRS director asserted her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and refused to testify before a House committee. She was placed on administrative leave. The following month, it was revealed that she received a $42,000 bonus. She retired in September.

On Jan. 9, 2014, it was revealed that the Department of Justice attorney leading the investigation was a donor to the president's campaigns. A week later, the Justice Department revealed it would not bring any criminal charges. Attorneys for many of the targeted political groups complained that they had never been contacted in the investigation.

On Feb. 2, 2014, the president stated in a televised interview before the Super Bowl that although there "were some bone-headed decisions out of a local (IRS) office ... (there was) not even a smidgen of corruption."

On May 7, 2014, the House voted 231-187 to hold the former IRS director in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate in its investigation (six members of the president's party voted with the majority). The House also voted 250-168 to request the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate (26 members of the president's party voted with the majority).

To paraphrase Matthew McConaughey in A Time to Kill: Now imagine the president is a Republican.

We've already seen that movie, and it was called Watergate.

In that scandal, aggressive reporting by the media and thorough investigations by the FBI, Justice Department and a Senate Select Committee painstakingly uncovered the facts of the illegal break-in at the Democratic National Committee's headquarters months before the 1972 presidential election. One of the three articles of impeachment charged that President Nixon had attempted to use the IRS against his political opponents.
*more at link*

Paul L. Caron is professor of law at Pepperdine University. He blogs at TaxProf Blog
231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: May 13, 2014, 08:21:50 AM
Unless I misunderstand, this is a big deal?

Yes, wouldn't you think so?  But No.  We already knew they were lying, cherry picking and altering data and deceiving.  We already knew their models are all wrong - built on false premises, omitting major natural phenomena and putting out wrong forecasts, and no one seems to care.  They poll the scientists and public on vague questions and assert that 98%, or 66%, all agree (on what??).  Human caused warming is false but true.  We can't measure it, and the data, models and forecasts are all false, but we are emitting CO2 and there is some fraction of a degree per century, temporary, human caused warming.  It is unmeasurable and less than the variations in the sun, the oceans, the clouds, and many other things, but it is true.

I don't know where the line is when people will get fed up with being lied to - on a number of topics.  This forum and especially this thread exposing deceit is a great resource for following it.   Posts going back to the first page here exposed most of this, just not the emails, texts and the full extent of their agenda motive and their abandonment of scientific methods.

Look back at this post:
BBG: Damn Liars & Stats    September 06, 2008
"...Mann includes at this site a large number of temperature proxy data series. ... nless the data is measured with error, you never, ever, for no reason, under no threat, SMOOTH the series! And if for some bizarre reason you do smooth it, you absolutely on pain of death do NOT use the smoothed series as input for other analyses! ... The tree ring data is not temperature (say that out loud). This is why it is called a proxy.  Because it is a proxy, the uncertainty of its ability to predict temperature must be taken into account in the final results. Did Mann do this?"

Also in a 2008 BBG post: "no rise in temperatures since 1998".  Add 6 more years to that!  Where is the warming??!  When warming does in fact come back, we will know it is cyclical, not on a straight line upward.  It is cold here still.  How come global warming has nothing to do with the temperature outside?  It does of course, but only the data that supports the theory.

Didn't Dan Rather start the false but true defense?  They went to broadcast with the smoking gun.  It was a 1970s military typewriter document showing that Bush's military record was weak.  Within days it was exposed by rightwingers on that their smioking gun was made using a Microsoft proportional spacing font, obviously not available in the early 1970s.  Confronted with exposed, amateur fraud, Rather and CBS argued that although the evidence was false, the  larger story was true.
232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of left - The Bailout Secretary, Geithner, writes a book on: May 12, 2014, 09:58:36 PM
I don't want to help this guy publicize a book, but this WSJ review should save us the trouble or finding and reading it.

... Mr. Geithner makes a persuasive case that he is the man most responsible for the federal bailouts of 2008.

Some prefer to credit his Treasury predecessor, former Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson. Others focus on the role of former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. But Mr. Geithner insists that, time and again as the crises flared in 2008, he was the most consistent and tireless advocate for government aid to struggling firms. His core principle is that, during a crisis, the creditors of large financial institutions should not suffer any losses.
Bear Stearns was heavily exposed to subprime mortgages, had been planning to file for bankruptcy protection, and its regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission were prepared to protect customer brokerage accounts. This was standard practice when securities firms failed. But Mr. Geithner intervened to give the firm short-term liquidity and arranged a sale to J.P. Morgan, a move that put U.S. taxpayers on the hook for some of Bear's risky mortgage paper. And so the taxpayer safety net was stretched to cover not just commercial banks but Wall Street investment houses as well.
...Mr. Geithner's difficulty in understanding the health of large financial firms. He admits that he didn't see the mortgage crisis coming and didn't grasp the severity of the problems after it appeared. He didn't require that the banks he was overseeing raise more capital because his staff's analysis couldn't foresee a downturn as bad as the one that occurred.

None of this is particularly surprising in a man who, at the time he became president of the New York Fed, had never worked in finance or in any type of business—unless one counts a short stint in Henry Kissinger's consulting shop. At Dartmouth, Mr. Geithner "took just one economics class and found it especially dreary."
*more at link*
233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics Textbooks: Different coverage of market failure and government failure on: May 12, 2014, 06:12:32 PM
I wonder which books have the worst balance?  Krugman and Wells 'Macroeconomics' covers 27 cases of market failure.  None of government failure.
234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Science is Settled? The Smoking Gun was a Manufactured Misrepresentation on: May 12, 2014, 05:51:18 PM
Regarding the Hockey Stick of IPCC 2001 evidence now indicates, in my view, that an IPCC Lead Author working with a small cohort of scientists, misrepresented the temperature record of the past 1000 years by (a) promoting his own result as the best estimate, (b) neglecting studies that contradicted his, and (c) amputating another’s result so as to eliminate conflicting data and limit any serious attempt to expose the real uncertainties of these data.

"alarmists needed tree ring data to negate the overwhelming evidence of temperature variation in the past, e.g., the Medieval Warm Period. The problem was that the same tree ring data that the alarmists needed to smooth out past ups and downs in the Earth’s climate showed cooling, not warming, after 1960."

Michael Mann and his co-conspirators simply deleted the data that didn’t fit their theory, without disclosing that they had done so.

John Christy, a lead author of IPCC 2001 report siad later in congressional testimony:

The Hockey Stick curve depicts a slightly meandering Northern Hemisphere cooling trend from 1000 A.D. through 1900, which then suddenly swings upward in the last 80 years to temperatures warmer than any of the millennium when smoothed. To many, this appeared to be a “smoking gun” of temperature change proving that the 20th century warming was unprecedented and therefore likely to be the result of human emissions of greenhouse gases. …

We were appointed L.A.s in 1998. The Hockey Stick was prominently featured during IPCC meetings from 1999 onward. I can assure the committee that those not familiar with issues regarding reconstructions of this type (and even many who should have been) were truly enamored by its depiction of temperature and sincerely wanted to believe it was truth. Skepticism was virtually non-existent. Indeed it was described as a “clear favourite” for the overall Policy Makers Summary (Folland, 0938031546.txt).

In our Sept. 1999 meeting (Arusha, Tanzania) we were shown a plot containing more temperature curves than just the Hockey Stick including one from K. Briffa that diverged significantly from the others, showing a sharp cooling trend after 1960. It raised the obvious problem that if tree rings were not detecting the modern warming trend, they might also have missed comparable warming episodes in the past. In other words, absence of the Medieval warming in the Hockey Stick graph might simply mean tree ring proxies are unreliable, not that the climate really was relatively cooler.

The Briffa curve created disappointment for those who wanted “a nice tidy story” (Briffa 0938031546.txt). The L.A. [Michael Mann] remarked in emails that he did not want to cast “doubt on our ability to understand factors that influence these estimates” and thus, “undermine faith in paleoestimates” which would provide “fodder” to “skeptics” (Mann 0938018124.txt). One may interpret this to imply that being open and honest about uncertainties was not the purpose of this IPCC section. Between this email (22 Sep 1999) and the next draft sent out (Nov 1999, Fig. 2.25 Expert Review) two things happened: (a) the email referring to a “trick” to “hide the decline” for the preparation of report by the World Meteorological Organization was sent (Jones 0942777075.txt, “trick” is apparently referring to a splicing technique used by the L.A. [Michael Mann] in which non-paleo data were merged to massage away a cooling dip at the last decades of the original Hockey Stick) and (b) the cooling portion of Briffa’s curve had been truncated for the IPCC report (it is unclear as to who performed the truncation.) …

When we met in February 2000 in Auckland NZ, the one disagreeable curve, as noted, was not the same anymore because it had been modified and truncated around 1960.

Where did the green line go?  It was covered up and then cut off at the point where it contradicted the 'hockey stick'.

If tree ring data is unreliable, fine.  But then why did they allow the earlier data to rely on it?  These graphs make the inference that we are measuring the same phenomenon, the same way, over an extended period of time.  In fact, we weren't.  And that fact, among so many others, was kept from even the lead authors of the report!

Now we see honest scientists backing off while we see crooked politicians doubling down.
235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential, Rubio grades HRC on: May 12, 2014, 12:38:42 PM
One potential matchup for 2016 is Marco Rubio vs. Hillary Clinton.  Compare the passion is Rubio's recent Senate rant against tyranny with Hillary Clinton's record of refusing to name Boko Haram terrorist, and saying - still - of Benghazi: What difference, at this point, does it make?

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: How big a problem is this going to be for Hillary Clinton? How much of this can be used against her?

RUBIO: Well, I'm sure she's going to go around bragging about her time in the State Department. She's also going to have to be held accountable for its failures, whether it's the failed reset with Russia, or the failure in Benghazi that actually cost lives...

KARL: So what grade do you give her as secretary of state?

RUBIO: I don't think she has a passing grade. In fact, if you look at...

KARL: You think she's an F?

RUBIO: Yes. Because if you look at the diplomacy that was pursued in her time in the State Department, it has failed everywhere in the world. So here's what I would say, if she is going to run on her record as secretary of state, she is also going to have to answer for its massive failures.
236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Senator Marco Rubio on: May 12, 2014, 10:30:56 AM
Eliana Johnson writes about Rubio at National Review today:

At the time of my reading this, I noticed that all the comments on Rubio are ruthlessly negative because of the immigration fiasco. Same with commenters on sites like free republic, (and here?). That is probably the only way Dems can win this time around, if Republicans eat all their own.
Rubio’s Resurgence
Tea-party hero Marco Rubio is gaining credibility with the GOP establishment.
By Eliana Johnson

Marco Rubio is flashing across a lot of television sets in Colorado right now. On Wednesday, the Chamber of Commerce began airing ads in the state in both English and Spanish in which Rubio makes the case for Republican representative Cory Gardner, who is challenging incumbent Democratic senator Mark Udall in the November election. Early polls suggest that the race will be among the most competitive of the cycle.

The Chamber is pleased with the results. “We are getting phenomenal feedback at the local level,” says Scott Reed, the organization’s senior political strategist. “We think this is a real incubator for a message and a messenger to appeal to Hispanic voters all over the country, even with a fast-talking Cuban.”
That reaction — and praise from the Chamber that is directly challenging the Tea Party in some races — is one sign of Rubio’s rising stock in the Republican political establishment. Look also to New Hampshire, where Rubio headlined three fundraisers on Friday and where the state’s representative to the Republican National Committee told the Associated Press that Rubio, who rode to office in the tea-party wave of 2010, “comes across as a serious and thoughtful mainstream conservative.”
Rubio seems to have no doubt, telling ABC’s This Week on Sunday — citing his nearly 15 years as a public officeholder — that, yes, he is ready to be president.  

Remarks like these are one indication of how Rubio is apt to profit in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes if things continue to break his way – that is, if New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who six months ago was considered the potential frontrunner for the Republican nomination, does not bounce back from Bridgegate, and if Jeb Bush decides not to run. In that case, Rubio is the most likely to become the establishment favorite for the nomination, although he will have competition, especially from candidates who are governors.

“The so-called establishment wants to make sure they have folks that can win,” says Republican strategist Kevin Madden. “Rubio clearly has a profile that is very attractive as a national candidate. He can also attract a growing part of the electorate with Hispanic voters and also some moderate to conservative Democrats.”

At the same time, Rubio has far more reach into the tea-party world than do Christie and Bush, the candidates the establishment has already courted — and been spurned by — this campaign season. Christie has long battled skepticism from the Right, which remains scornful about his embrace of President Obama days before the 2012 election; he finished dead last in a February poll of tea-party activists. Bush finished second to last in the same poll. Among the party’s most conservative voters, the former Florida governor is handicapped by his support for immigration reform and for the Common Core educational standards, against which the tea-party base is waging a vocal revolt; Bush lacks the conservative bona fides that would help conservatives overlook his own support for a sweeping immigration overhaul.

In fact, Rubio’s first supporters at the national level were insurgents. The former Florida house speaker came to national political fame as a hero of the tea-party movement. In 2010, former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint, now president of the Heritage Foundation, hailed then-candidate Rubio’s “articulate and passionate support for conservative principles” and lamented that he was “being overlooked by some in the Republican party at a time when his leadership is needed most.” Rubio’s insurgent candidacy, which drove former Florida governor Charlie Crist from the Republican party, was endorsed by both the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Club for Growth.

Chris Chocola, president of the Club for Growth, endorsed Rubio in 2010 and still considers him an insurgent force. “It’s ironic to call Rubio an establishment figure, given where he started his Senate race, which is very anti-establishment,” Chocola says. Four years into Rubio’s Senate term, Chocola calls the decision to support his candidacy a “great” one and says he’s “proud to have an association” with Rubio. “We think he’s done a great job,” he adds. “If he did run for president, he’s got a record that would be appealing to many conservatives.”

His rating with the American Conservative Union, which ACU chairman Al Cardenas, a Rubio pal, calls the “gold standard to determine whether you’re a true conservative,” suggests as much. Rubio has consistently scored in the top 10 percent and, in 2013, was one of six senators who scored a perfect 100.
237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Education: Peggy Noonan, The Trouble With Common Core on: May 10, 2014, 09:42:10 AM
First my thought that we will not advance our causes if we spend all our time on defense, opposing the endless stream of liberal leftist bad ideas.  That said, C.C. cannot be ignored and Peggy Noonan sums up the main reason why very well:

It isn't that we disagree with the abstraction that students should be taught and master a core curriculum of great building blocks for life in school, we disagree with WHO should decide what those are.

Noonan:  "The irony is that Core proponents’ overall objective—to get schools teaching more necessary and important things, and to encourage intellectual coherence in what is taught—is not bad, but good. Why they thought the answer was federal, I mean national, and not local is beyond me."

She compares the implementation of C.C. to the implementation of O'Care.  She quotes this caricature that sums up all the real examples of stupidity within Common Core:

Louis CK was right “Late Show With David Letterman,” when he spoofed the math problems offered on his daughters’ tests: “Bill has three goldfish. He buys two more. How many dogs live in London?”
238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Steven Hayward reads the 829 National Climate Assessment for you on: May 10, 2014, 09:29:37 AM
"The mitigation chapter implicitly recognizes the unreality of the conventional climate agenda, and it concludes with an acknowledgment that we need much more research on affordable low- and non-carbon energy sources along with more basic climate science research into key "uncertainties." Anyone else who talks this way gets called a "denier."  "

Steven Hayward of UC Boulder, Pepperdine, AEI, Reagan Biographer and Powerline blogger fame brings the latest alarmism report down to earth in yesterday's WSJ:

The Latest Storm of Climate Alarmism
The National Climate Assessment is not nearly as dire as its cheerleaders suggest.
May 8, 2014 6:55 p.m. ET
The third National Climate Assessment, released Tuesday by the White House, may not do anything to protect Americans from the effects of climate change, but it has done its primary job—generating alarming headlines in the media and setting the stage for a renewed push by the Obama administration for its climate-policy agenda.

Coming barely six weeks after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's most recent alarmist report—also duly trumpeted in the media—we have now reached the junkie's-craving phase of the climate-change story, where bigger and more frequent fixes are necessary to keep alive the euphoria of saving the world. Confronted with polls and surveys finding that the public is tuning out climate change as a matter of vital concern, the climate campaign seemingly persists in thinking that one more report will turn the tide in its favor.

At 829 pages—plus a separate 137-page "highlights" summary—the National Climate Assessment is yet another behemoth report that few will entirely read, let alone fully comprehend or be able to judge. It can, however, be summarized by a sentence from the online introduction to the report: "Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present."

The report was produced by "more than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee." Each chapter was assembled by specialists in subfields, though the complete roster of participating scientists includes a number who have expressed caution or skepticism about many of the claims popular today, such as climate-change-induced increases in damaging droughts, violent "superstorms," species extinction and air pollution.

In coming weeks, knowledgeable critics will no doubt do the tedious job of noting the report's omissions of contrary or confounding scientific findings. But this will likely have little effect on the shape of the climate debate, which is deluged with clichés and slogans such as "97% of scientists agree" and "only the fossil-fuel industry" stands in the way of solutions. Never mind that one of the lead authors of the report's chapter on "Adaptation" is an employee of Chevron. CVX -0.05%

The report argues that significant economic impacts of human-caused climate change in the U.S. are already occurring: "Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont are all observing climate-related changes that are outside of recent experience." These are less scientific facts than they are political statements. While climate changes can indeed be measured in economic terms, proof that they are "human-caused" is far from definitive.

In this respect, the report loosely tracks the economically risible 2006 "Stern Review" in Great Britain; its principal author, Nicholas Stern, later admitted that the report was crafted purely with political aims in mind. With the deep-Malthusian John Holdren advising President Obama and overseeing U.S. climate policy, does anyone think this report wasn't also politically calculated?

More interesting are the chapters on what should be done, which account for barely 100 pages of the 829-page report. Missing from the admirably short chapter on "Mitigation," the term of art for suppressing hydrocarbon energy, is any of the dreamlike slogans that we can replace fossil fuels easily, quickly, or cheaply if only we'd ratify the Kyoto Protocol and step up subsidies for renewable-energy sources.

The mitigation chapter implicitly recognizes the unreality of the conventional climate agenda, and it concludes with an acknowledgment that we need much more research on affordable low- and non-carbon energy sources along with more basic climate science research into key "uncertainties." Anyone else who talks this way gets called a "denier."

This refreshing realism, almost wholly ignored in the media coverage, sets the stage for the longer chapter on "Adaptation," which is woefully incomplete in many respects. It laments rather than celebrates that a great deal of adaptation and planning, such as better water management and developing heat-resistant crops, is already happening spontaneously without a central policy, and will be necessary even if future climate change occurs for entirely natural reasons. And yet, as with the latest U.N. report on climate change, the chapter requires careful reading to see that climate realism—a responsible, "no regrets" policy that skeptics have recommended for more than two decades—is slowly if grudgingly gaining the upper hand in the inner councils of the climate establishment.

This will not slow the Obama administration's drive to kill off coal-fired power, block the Keystone XL pipeline...  (more at link)
239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney supports raising minimum wage on: May 10, 2014, 09:18:06 AM
Oy vey , , ,

I take back the thought that Romney might have been a great President.  Why wouldn't he point out any ONE of the points on his own 59 point economic plan:
Probably because he hasn't read it and doesn't believe in his own plan. (Minimum Wage isn't in there!)  Instead he endorses more of the Obama-leftist shrink the workforce plan. 

Shall we bring back Cash for Clunkers as well?

President Obama's magnificent political success can be attributed to one main cause:  weak opponents.
240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: May 10, 2014, 09:09:20 AM
Looking at a couple of news stories gone by, I wonder how much air support in Benghazi the $3 million spent on Presidential golf outings might have bought...
241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, Sen Jeff Sessions on: May 09, 2014, 09:35:36 PM
Like the foundation of a home, America’s economy must be built on something real, something solid, and something firmly planted. Neither federal stimulus in the form of easy money, nor fiscal stimulus in the form of government borrowing, can produce real, lasting prosperity or a sound financial future. …

No government regulator, no matter how intelligent, can see into the future or micromanage the economy. Let us consider the testimony of former Chairman Alan Greenspan, before this very committee, in January of 2001. Chairman Greenspan came to alert Congress about an urgent policy decision it would have to make. And what was that decision? Whether to raise interest rates? Reduce subprime lending? Reform entitlements? No, Chairman Greenspan came to warn us that we would have to decide how to spend all of the surplus money after we soon paid off the entire federal debt of the United States. He predicted budget surpluses “well past 2030 despite the budgetary pressures from the aging baby boom generation,” and said that “the highly desirable goal of paying off the federal debt is in reach before the end of the decade.” But, Greenspan warned that after “continuing to run surpluses beyond the point at which we reach zero or near-zero federal debt,” we would need to “eschew private asset accumulation.” He added for emphasis that “the emerging key fiscal policy need is to address the implications of maintaining surpluses beyond the point at which publicly held debt is effectively eliminated.”

The Federal Reserve is not infallible. Our responsibility as legislators is to provide oversight. We are one small voice for the people in this process. In 2011, the Fed forecasted growth of between 3.5 and 4.3 percent in 2013. Actual growth was an anemic 1.9 percent—roughly half. This is a drastic over-estimation, not a small miss. And, the Fed overestimated 2013 growth in every formal quarterly prediction for each year since 2011. …

Let us consider whether the stimulus policies of the last five years have produced the results predicted by the Fed. Since 2007, interest rates have been near zero and the federal government has added $8.3 trillion to the debt. But where do we stand?

* The population has grown by 15 million since 2007, yet there are still 500,000 fewer people working than in 2007.

* The workforce participation rate has fallen to 63 percent of the civilian population, which is the lowest level in 36 years.

* Median household income has fallen an average of $2,268 per household. The low income cohort has grown while the middle income group has shrunk. The middle class is getting smaller in America.

While the stimulus mindset in Washington has at least, so far, been better for the investor class and the political class, it has not been good for the working class. Not only has this stimulus failed American workers, but it has left us with record debt and an economy dependent on unprecedented policies that cannot continue. …

The time has come to return to first principles: spend what you have, plan for the future carefully, lay out policies that are prudent and can be maintained long-term, don’t borrow what you cannot pay back. Here are ways we can improve the economy and economic stability—without government stimulus:

* Produce more American energy

* Eliminate all costly and wasteful regulations

* Make the tax code more globally competitive

* Ensure fair trade so our workers can compete on a level playing field

* Adopt an immigration policy that serves American workers

* Turn the welfare office into a job training center

* Streamline the government to make it more productive, and

* Balance the federal budget to restore economic confidence

These are all concrete steps that will work. We need to return to those principles and move this country forward.
242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the left- Rbt Reich's 6 Principles of Populism on: May 08, 2014, 11:50:38 PM
First this, from wikipedia:  Populism is a political doctrine in which one sides with "the people" against "the elite".

Reich is as far left as they come, in my view.  Therefore it is funny when we find areas of agreement.  The so-called populism argument is one conservatives need to articulate to win.  The left uses it heavily in their rhetoric but not in their governance.  A purer leftist like Reich might actually want them to embrace it.  Reich starts with this, also showing that the purer conservative thought is populist:

Who made the following comments? (Hint: Not Warren, and not Bernie Sanders.)

A. We "cannot be the party of fat cats, rich people, and Wall Street."

B. "The rich and powerful, those who walk the corridors of power, are getting fat and happy..."

C. "If you come to Washington and serve in Congress, there should be a lifetime ban on lobbying."

D. "Washington promoted moral hazard by protecting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which privatized profits and socialized losses."

E. "When you had the chance to stand up for Americans' privacy, did you?"

F. "The people who wake up at night thinking of which new country they want to bomb, which new country they want to be involved in, they don't like restraint. They don't like reluctance to go to war."

(Answers: A. Rand Paul, B. Ted Cruz, C. Ted Cruz, D. House Republican Joe Hensarling, E. House Republican Justin Amash, F. Rand Paul )

Skipping forward, here are Reich's six principles, with my comments:

1. Cut the biggest Wall Street banks down to a size where they're no longer too big to fail.  I don't know about making banks smaller, but stop bailing out the Wall Street financial industry.

2. Resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act, separating investment from commercial banking...  No, but he is right in concept.  If you want federal insurance, there will be limits on risk taking.

3. End corporate welfare -- Yes, but also end the over-taxation, over-regualtion that corp welfare is intended to mitigate.

4. Stop the National Security Agency from spying on Americans.  No, but stop the abuses.

5. Scale back American interventions overseas.  Okay, but replace interventions with successful deterrence, not disarming, surrendering or pretending to not see the evil in the world.

6. Oppose trade agreements crafted by big corporations.    Free trade agreements should not be crafted in the shadow of big government either.  A real free trade agreement can be written on one side of a cocktail napkin.  Anything more is government regulated trade.  This concept is better labeled 'freedom to trade', a basic economic right.
243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: May 08, 2014, 12:31:35 PM
...Secession and quite possibly violent resistance are all but inevitable at this point, IMHO.

Possibly true, but I think discussion of the s-word or taking up arms is out of bounds politically.  For one thing, the deep divisions  are not geographical.  I would love to see an inside the nation, opt-out plan where I could give up my claim to government benefits and cronyism perks in exchange for lower levels of taxation and regulation.  But its not going to happen.

More realistically, the conservative movement could - win over the Republican party, win the House, gain more than 10 seats in the Senate and put forward a half dozen really good Presidential candidates that would run against leftist-fascism this time instead of running against each other - all this year!
244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the left, Harry Reid off the deep end on: May 08, 2014, 10:44:26 AM
Only 30 seconds and there isn't a word in here that is true.  This is the Majority Leader of the US Senate?  
(And Mitt Romney didn't pay income taxes for 10 years?
This guy is reckless and nuts, and somewhere close to half the country supports what he is doing?

“Pollution” isn’t causing global warming, the Koch brothers are not the “two richest people in the world,” and the idea that the brothers are somehow one of the “main causes” of climate change is delusional, even if you buy into the anthropogenic global warming theory. The U.S. is not the main emitter of CO2–China is–and within the U.S., Koch Industries is far down the list of CO2 emitters. Koch doesn’t do any coal mining or oil extraction, to my knowledge, and it doesn’t own power plants. No doubt refineries emit some CO2, as do all manufacturing operations, but Koch Industries is not one of the major emitters in the United States, let alone the world.
245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary Clinton: No Reason To Further Investigate Benghazi on: May 08, 2014, 10:37:00 AM
You wish!

This gal is going to survive the scrutiny of a Presidential election and win 45 states?  I don't think so.

ROBIN ROBERTS, ABC NEWS: Benghazi, the new investigation. Are you satisfied with the answers and are you content with what you know what happened?

HILLARY CLINTON: Absolutely. I mean, of course there are a lot of reasons why -- despite all of the hearings, all of the information that’s been provided -- some choose not to be satisfied and choose to continue to move forward. (Vast Right Wing Conspiracy?) That’s their choice. And I do not believe there is any reason for it to continue in this way, but they get to call the shots in the Congress.

Then why did you lie about the cause of the attack?  Where were you when the US decided to surrender and send no help?  Did you rise up and object?  Who witnessed that?  Why did they close the embassy in Tripoli for security risk if what happened in Benghazi was merely a video protest that just got out of control?  Since you utteredt he same words BEFORE the Ben Rhodes memo, were you the author of that national lie?

To all these officials of all administrations, we shouldn't have to wait and buy your damn books to find out what happened when we trusted you with our national security interests.  
246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Senator Marco Rubio on Education on: May 08, 2014, 10:21:51 AM
Coming Education Debate an Opportunity
By Marco Rubio

Growing up, my parents taught me that hard work and education were the keys to achieve a life better than their own.

Unfortunately, they didn't make enough money to save for my college tuition, nor did I qualify for academic scholarships. Instead, I had to rely on Pell grants and student loans to pay for my undergraduate and legal education. Without these financial assistance programs, I never would have been able to afford a higher education. But even with them, I racked up over $100,000 in student loans, which I only finished paying off a couple years ago.

My story is not unique. Over 70 percent of new graduates last year had student loan debt. Making this worse is the fact that our economy is failing to provide these graduates with enough middle and higher-income job opportunities.

According to reports this week, soon the U.S. Senate will consider ways to help students obtain higher education without crushing them with loan debt. My hope is that, unlike most things in Washington these days, it won't be another political show - with the Democrats in power offering a take-it-or-leave it proposition that inevitably requires more government spending. I and others have some ideas that can make a real difference for students, and I hope we'll get a chance to consider those too.

Part of dealing with the current situation begins with recognizing how much things have changed since I and other policy makers graduated. For example, information technology, automation and globalization have dramatically changed the workplace, eliminating many labor-intensive jobs and replacing them new higher-skilled positions.

These jobs, unfortunately, are not readily available to just anyone. As many have found, finding a good job means you need a good education. And as many recent graduates have found, getting an education isn't always enough - it has to be the right degree at the right price from the right institution in order to pay off.

Today, our higher education system is too expensive and too inflexible, forcing many Americans to choose between spending four-years on a campus or receiving no higher education at all. And many online programs offered by traditional institutions come with the same high tuition rates as degrees earned on campus, so Americans who wish to earn a degree from home are still restricted. And too many alternative methods of learning a trade remain unaccredited and unrecognized as viable education options.

This year, I've proposed several reforms to fix each of these shortcomings. I proposed ways to open additional pathways to earning a degree or vocational certification, as well as ways to increase employment opportunities for those with non-traditional educations. I've introduced an alternative to traditional student loans that would make it easier for private investors to finance students' educations with the promise of paying back a share of their future earnings. I introduced reforms specifically aimed at helping the single parents and others who do not have the time or resources to spend four years on a traditional college campus.

But in order to expand access to higher education, we also need to help young students succeed on the front end of their education journey. We need to make it abundantly clear to all children that a high school diploma is an important step toward financial success, but that it is no longer sufficient on its own. We also to encourage student access to the many innovative ways that exist to help them pursue post-secondary education.

Across our communities, there are flourishing examples everywhere of schools, non-profits and charities coming together to make a difference in the lives of young people. Recently, I visited Booker T. Washington Senior High in Miami's Overtown area, and saw examples of how students are being empowered with community support. The school has an infusion of City Year members - a trained team of young people serving full time for a year as tutors, mentors, and role models.

When my wife Jeanette and I arrived at the school, we could feel the tremendous energy of these mentors. They serve as coaches who support students' academic goals, collaborate with teachers and administrators, and provide research-based interventions to at-risk students. The results are compelling, showing that a majority of students served by these City Year mentors see a spike in their reading and math scores. And by getting these students on the right track early on in their education careers, we increase their chances of success and not having to play catch-up later. We need to make more people aware of these types of successes, and we need to encourage more charitable giving and participation to these efforts.

There are other local examples of programs in place to help high school students learn skills that lead directly to good-paying work after graduation. For instance, in South Florida, the local school district has partnered with a car dealership to create an innovative approach to career education.

The students in this program attend traditional high school classes each morning, then go to auto dealerships where they are trained to be certified technicians. When they finish high school, they graduate not just with a high school diploma but also with a job-ready industry certification from an automobile manufacturer.

Communities all across America would benefit from programs and partnerships like these. By combining these sorts of community-based initiatives with a reformed and modernized higher education system, a century of extraordinary opportunity can be opened to our people.

The time to act is now. With the changes our economy has undergone, more Americans are experiencing extraordinary economic insecurity. Now more than ever, our people need skills, knowledge and credentials to capitalize on their potential - and on the potential of this new era. When the issue is considered again in Congress, I hope this important issue that impacts so many of our young people won't fall prey to politics as usual in Washington.

Marco Rubio is the junior United States Senator from Florida, serving since January 2011. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives from 2007 to 2009. His committee assignments currently include Commerce, Science and Transportation; Foreign Relations; Intelligence; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship. He and his wife, Jeanette, have four young children and live in West Miami.
247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 5 Chinese Weapons America should fear on: May 08, 2014, 10:14:08 AM
Long, detailed article.  Read it all.

Five Chinese Weapons of War America Should Fear
DF-21D Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile

The most dangerous weapon to U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region is the Dong Feng-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM). Somewhat prematurely dubbed “the Carrier Killer”, the DF-21D is a medium-range ballistic missile specifically designed to attack American aircraft carriers, skirting the defenses of a U.S. naval task force to attack ships from above at hypersonic speeds.[tt_news]=40962&tx_ttnews[backPid]=63&cHash=58a1431157b7cdaf1fa05e53957cbcf7#.U2uc3VOJVld
Chengdu J-20 Fighter
China’s first fifth-generation fighter, the J-20 is a large, twin-engine aircraft currently in the demonstrator phase. The J-20’s mission set is unknown, but the aircraft’s robust design seems to support it going in a number of different directions. The aircraft promises to be long-range, fast- and low-observable—if not outright stealthy. China has built three prototypes, the latest flew in early March 2014. The aircraft is projected to enter service some time around 2020.
Anti-Satellite Weaponry

For decades, American space-based military assets have given U.S. forces a considerable advantage on the battlefield. Satellites are essential to the American way of war. This is especially true in the Asia-Pacific, where distances from the continental United States are measured in thousands of miles.  China has at least an operational weapon, the SC-19. A derivative of the DF-21, the SC-19 ballistic missile is equipped with the KT-2 (a kinetic kill vehicle). Launched into space, the KT-2 is guided to target by infrared sensors. The KT-2 does not have an explosive warhead but destroys enemy satellites by colliding with them. ...

Chinese ASAT weapons could target a variety of American satellites, including intelligence collection, communications, and navigation satellites. The loss of such satellites would make it difficult to perform reconnaissance missions over China. It would also interfere with air, land and sea navigation, slow communications, and prevent the use of GPS-guided weapons.
Type 071 Landing Platform Dock

Power projection is becoming increasingly important to China, particularly to enforce territorial claims in the East and South China Seas. China’s ability to land amphibious troops on some island chains such as the Senkaku, Paracel and Spratly islands could embolden the leadership to do exactly that.

China has three amphibious assault ships of the Type 071 class, Kunlunshan, Jinggangshan and Changbaishan. The three ships are what western naval observers would call China’s “Gator Navy”: ships designed to transport and land marines on hostile shores. Three more Type 071s are expected, as well as six amphibious ships with full-length flight decks like the American Wasp-class.
Offensive Cyber Operations

The People’s Liberation Army believes establishing “electronic dominance” early on is critical to their success in a future conflict. Of the five Chinese weapons that America fears the most, the most enigmatic is China’s ability to mount offensive cyber operations.
(Much more at link)

248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Elites focus on inequality; real people just want growth on: May 08, 2014, 10:00:27 AM
"Would voters prefer a candidate focused on “more economic growth” or “less income inequality”? No contest. Growth beat inequality, 80 percent to 16 percent."

Then how 'bout we focus on GROWTH!

Elites focus on inequality; real people just want growth

The economic debate is now sharply focused on the issue of income inequality. That may not be the debate Democrats want to have, however. It’s negative and divisive. Democrats would be better off talking about growth — a hopeful and unifying agenda.

Democrats believe income inequality is a populist cause. But it may be less of a populist issue than an issue promoted by the cultural elite: well-educated professionals who are economically comfortable but not rich. There’s new evidence that ordinary voters care more about growth.

Growth and inequality are not separate issues. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz wrote, “Politicians typically talk about rising inequality and the sluggish recovery as separate phenomena when they are in fact intertwined.  Inequality restrains and holds back our economic growth

The question is whether Democrats want to talk about punitive and confiscatory policies aimed at curbing the power of the wealthy and special interests or an agenda aimed at growing the economy for everyone.

Policies aimed at reducing inequality gain more traction with voters when they are pitched as pro-growth policies. Issues like raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment benefits, pay equity for women, student-loan debt relief, increasing the earned income tax credit and closing tax loopholes for the rich.

The argument is straightforward: More fairness means more growth. When the incomes of the poor and the middle class are growing, consumption — the principal driver of economic growth — goes up. So do tax revenues and investment in business and education.

Former President Bill Clinton, in a speech at Georgetown University last week, called inequality “a severe constraint on growth.” He defended his administration’s pro-growth agenda. “My commitment was to restore broad-based prosperity to the economy,” Clinton declared, “and to give Americans a chance.”  He noted that 7.7 million Americans were lifted out of poverty during his eight years in office.

During the last four years of Clinton’s presidency, the nation’s economic growth rate averaged 4.5 percent a year — three times as high as last year. Plus we had a budget surplus. Yes, incomes grew for the richest 20 percent of Americans during the 1990s. But, as Clinton noted, they grew faster for the poorest 20 percent. “It worked out pretty well,” he said. Even though the left criticized his policies of financial deregulation, welfare reform, free trade and balancing the budget.   We now have evidence from the GlobalStrategyGroup, a Democratic consulting firm, that the growth agenda is more popular than the inequality agenda.  Asked how much of a priority it should be for Congress to “promote an agenda of economic growth that will benefit all Americans,” 78 percent called it extremely or very important. Growth topped the list. At the bottom: addressing income inequality (50 percent) and spreading wealth more evenly (43 percent).

Would voters prefer a candidate focused on “more economic growth” or “less income inequality”? No contest. Growth beat inequality, 80 percent to 16 percent. Growth also came out ahead of “increasing wages,” “expanding the middle class,” “economic justice to level the playing field for middle- and low-income Americans” and even “more economic fairness.”

That doesn’t mean Democrats have to choose between growth and inequality.  The GSG poll showed that Democratic policies aimed at reducing inequality are seen as promoting growth. Solid majorities (ranging from 54 percent to 74 percent) said that providing more income opportunity for all, increasing spending on education and infrastructure, making seniors’ retirement more secure, increasing the minimum wage and asking the wealthy to pay more taxes would lead to more economic growth rather than less.

Democrats already have credibility on the inequality issue. Asked which party can be trusted “to enact policies that will lead to more income opportunity for all,” Democrats lead Republicans 46 percent to 34 percent.

What Democrats lack, however, is credibility on the growth issue. Asked which party can be trusted “to enact policies that will lead to more economic growth,” it’s a dead heat: Democrats 39 percent, Republicans 39 percent.  After George W. Bush and Barack Obama, voters aren’t sure which party can deliver prosperity.

What’s driving the inequality frenzy? New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote, “If you are a young professional in a major city, you experience inequality firsthand. But the inequality you experience most acutely is not inequality down, toward the poor; it’s inequality up, toward the rich.”  They’re the people who are buying Thomas Piketty’s book advocating redistribution of wealth.

These days, a lot of American politics is a war between two elites. For years, polls have revealed that the wealthier you are, the more likely you are to vote Republican. But the better educated you are, the more likely you are to vote Democratic. So in 2012, we got a race between Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who represented the elite of wealth, and Obama, who represented the elite of education.

The debate over inequality is a debate between these two bitterly antagonistic elites. An army of country-club conservatives doing battle with an army of NPR liberals. The fabulously wealthy Koch brothers, for example, versus the fabulously well-educated Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a former Harvard professor.

What do ordinary voters want? They want an economic boom.

Ronald Reagan got elected in a recession and delivered a boom in his second term. Clinton got elected in a recession and delivered a boom in his second term. Voters’ deep dissatisfaction with Obama right now is due mostly to his failure to deliver on the economy. (more at the link)
249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary's State Department Refused to Brand Boko Haram as Terrorist on: May 08, 2014, 09:51:41 AM
One must ask WHY?  Afraid to call terror what it is? 

“There was a concern that putting Boko Haram on the foreign terrorist list would in fact raise its profile, give it greater publicity, give it greater credibility, help in its recruitment...”

So did this mass kidnapping.

Hillary's State Department Refused to Brand Boko Haram as Terrorist

Under Hillary Clinton, the State Department repeatedly declined to fully go after the terror group responsible for kidnapping hundreds of girls.

The State Department under Hillary Clinton fought hard against placing the al Qaeda-linked militant group Boko Haram on its official list of foreign terrorist organizations for two years. And now, lawmakers and former U.S. officials are saying that the decision may have hampered the American government’s ability to confront the Nigerian group that shocked the world by abducting hundreds of innocent girls.

In the past week, Clinton, who made protecting women and girls a key pillar of her tenure at the State Department, has been a vocal advocate for the 200 Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, the loosely organized group of militants terrorizing northern Nigeria. Her May 4 tweet about the girls, using the hashtag #BringOurGirlsBack, was cited across the media and widely credited for raising awareness of their plight.

On Wednesday, Clinton said that the abduction of the girls by Boko Haram was “abominable, it’s criminal, it’s an act of terrorism and it really merits the fullest response possible, first and foremost from the government of Nigeria.” Clinton said that as Secretary of State she had numerous meetings with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and had urged the Nigerian government to do more on counterterrorism.

What Clinton didn’t mention was that her own State Department refused to place Boko Haram on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2011, after the group bombed the U.N. headquarters in Abuja. The refusal came despite the urging of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and over a dozen senators and congressmen.

“The one thing she could have done, the one tool she had at her disposal, she didn’t use. And nobody can say she wasn’t urged to do it. It’s gross hypocrisy,” said a former senior U.S. official who was involved in the debate. “The FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department really wanted Boko Haram designated, they wanted the authorities that would provide to go after them, and they voiced that repeatedly to elected officials.”

In May 2012, then-Justice Department official Lisa Monaco (now at the White House) wrote to the State Department to urge Clinton to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization. The following month, Gen. Carter Ham, the chief of U.S. Africa Command, said that Boko Haram “are likely sharing funds, training, and explosive materials” with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. And yet, Hillary Clinton’s State Department still declined to place Boko Haram on its official terrorist roster.

Secretary of State John Kerry eventually added Boko Haram and its splinter group Ansaru to the list of foreign terrorist organizations in November 2013, following a spate of church bombings and other acts that demonstrated the group’s escalating abilities to wreak havoc.

‪Being placed on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations allows U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies to use certain tools and authorities, including several found in the Patriot Act. The designation makes it illegal for any U.S. entities to do business with the group in question. It cuts off access to the U.S. financial system for the organization and anyone associating with it. And the designation also serves to stigmatize and isolate foreign organizations by encouraging other nations to take similar measures.

The State Department’s refusal to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization prevented U.S. law enforcement agencies from fully addressing the growing Boko Haram threat in those crucial two years, multiple GOP lawmakers told The Daily Beast.

“The one thing she could have done, the one tool she had at her disposal, she didn’t use. And nobody can say she wasn’t urged to do it. It’s gross hypocrisy.”
“For years, Boko Haram has terrorized Nigeria and Western interests in the region with few consequences,” Sen. James Risch told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “The U.S. government should have moved more quickly to list them as a terrorist organization and brought U.S. resources to track and disrupt their activities. The failure to act swiftly has had consequences.”

Risch and seven other GOP senators introduced legislation in early 2013 that would have forced Clinton to designate the group or explain why she thought it was a bad idea. The State Department lobbied against the legislation at the time, according to internal State Department emails obtained by The Daily Beast.

In the House, leading intelligence-minded lawmakers wrote letter after letter to Clinton urging her to designate Boko Haram as terrorists. The effort in the House was led by then-Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King and Patrick Meehan, chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

Meehan and his Democratic counterpart Jackie Speier put out a lengthy report in 2011 laying out the evidentiary basis for naming Boko Haram a terrorist organization, including the group’s ties to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and to Somalia’s al-Shabab terrorist organization.

In an interview Wednesday, Meehan told The Daily Beast that if Clinton had placed Boko Haram on the terrorism list in 2011, U.S. law enforcement agencies now being deployed to Nigeria to help search for the girls might have been in a better position.

“We lost two years of increased scrutiny. The kind of support that is taking place now would have been in place two years ago,” he said. The designation would have “enhanced the capacity of our agencies to do the work that was necessary. We were very frustrated, it was a long delay.”

Moreover, Meehan and others believe that the Clinton State Department underestimated the pace of Boko Haram’s growth and the group’s intention to plan operations that could harm U.S. critical interests abroad.

“At the time, the sentiment that was expressed by the administration was this was a local grievance and therefore not a threat to the United States or its interests,” he said. “They were saying al Qaeda was on the run and our argument was contrary to that. It has metastasized and it is actually in many ways a growing threat and this is a stark example of that.”

Not everyone agrees that Clinton’s failure to act had significant negative effects. A former senior U.S. counterterrorism official told The Daily Beast that despite the State Department’s refusal to put Boko Haram on the terrorism list, there were several other efforts to work with the Nigerian government on countering the extremist group, mainly through diplomatic and military intelligence channels.

“Designation is an important tool, it’s not the only tool,” this official said. “There are a lot of other things you can do in counterterrorism that doesn’t require a designation.”

Had Clinton designated Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organization, that wouldn’t have authorized any increased assistance to the Nigerian security forces; such assistance is complicated by the Leahy Law, a provision that prevents the U.S. from giving weapons to regimes guilty of human rights violations.

“The utility was limited, the symbolism was perhaps significant, but the more important issue was how we were dealing with the Nigerians,” this official said, noting that three Boko Haram-related individuals were personally sanctioned during Clinton’s time at State.

Meehan and his Democratic counterpart Jackie Speier put out a lengthy report in 2011 laying out the evidentiary basis for naming Boko Haram a terrorist organization, including the group’s ties to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and to Somalia’s al-Shabab terrorist organization.

In 2012, more than 20 prominent U.S. academics in African studies wrote to Clinton, urging her to not to label Bok Haram as a foreign terrorist organization. “An FTO designation would internationalize Boko Haram’s standing and enhance its status among radical organizations elsewhere,” the scholars said.

Inside the Clinton State Department, the most vocal official opposing designating Boko Haram was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, who served in that position from 2009 to 2013. Several officials said that the Nigerian government was opposed to the designation and Carson was focused on preserving the relationship between Washington and Abuja.

Carson defended the decision to avoid naming Boko Haram a terrorist organization in a Wednesday phone call with reporters.

“There was a concern that putting Boko Haram on the foreign terrorist list would in fact raise its profile, give it greater publicity, give it greater credibility, help in its recruitment, and also probably drive more assistance in its direction,” he said.

The U.S. has plenty of ways to assist the Nigerian government with counterterrorism even without designating Boko Haram, Carson said. The problem has long been that the Nigerian government doesn’t always want or accept the help the U.S. has offered over the years.

“There always has been a reluctance to accept our analysis of what the drivers causing the problems in the North and there is sometimes a rejection of the assistance that is offered to them,” Carson said. “None of that has anything to do with putting Boko Haram on the foreign terrorist list.”

Twenty female senators wrote to President Obama Tuesday urging him to now push for Boko Haram and Ansaru to be added to the United Nations Security Council al Qaeda sanctions list. (Earlier this year, Boko Haram’s leader express solidarity with al Qaeda affiliates in Afghanistan, Iraq, North Africa, Somalia and Yemen, according to the SITE Monitoring Service, which tracks jihadist communications.)
“In the face of the brazen nature of this horrific attack, the international community must impose further sanctions on this terrorist organization. Boko Haram is a threat to innocent civilians in Nigeria, to regional security, and to U.S. national interests,” the senators wrote.

The White House declined Wednesday to say whether or not the president will push for Boko Haram to be added to the U.N. list.

“Boko Haram, the terrorist organization that kidnapped these girls, has been killing innocent people in Nigeria for some time,” National Security Council spokesman Jonathan Lalley told The Daily Beast in a statement. “We’ve identified them as one of the worst regional terrorist organizations out there. That’s why last November we designated them as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. And we're actively exploring -- in partnership with Nigeria and others -- broader multilateral sanctions against Boko Haram, including UN Security Council sanctions."

Representative for Clinton did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: May 08, 2014, 09:40:50 AM
I will attempt to state what I see as the essence here:

Quite correctly, the American people have lost confidence in the competence and the integrity of our government, both Rep, Dem, and institutional to act successfully in foreign affairs.  Couple that with the change from a uni-polar world to a multi-polar world and the lack of articulation of a vision that addresses that and the net result politically is what we have.

That's right.  We were most credible when we built up a formidable arsenal for deterrence than when we went in on the ground, constrained by rules and circumstances, and tried to change societies.

I disagreed with Colin Powell on Iraq that if you break it you must fix it.  It was already broken.  Our job was shock and awe, to take down the regime for the 23 reasons stated on the military authorization.  Let tyrants around the world they may face consequences.  But after that it was at our discretion how much, how long or whether to help shape what followed.  Staying on was noble but hurt our credibility abroad and our confidence at home, and a few thousand American casualties.  Same for the discussions here of what should or should not have been the mission in Afghanistan.  Before that, Vietnam. 

People are right to be skeptical of our ability to affect change around the world.  That does not mean the right answer is to disarm and do nothing in the face of a world plagued with genocide, tyranny, terror and grave and gathering threats.  The lessons of WWII in particular I think was for people and nations to recognize threats earlier and rise up to the military challenge sooner. 

When this eight year apology tour is over, maybe we can have a leader who is proud and can articulate that during the time that the we were the powerful nation on earth, the United States used its enormous power for good in the world.  We freed and protected a lot of people and conquered no new lands.  This work isn't done.
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