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201  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.
202  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.
203  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. 
204  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.
http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/05/13/warren-buffet-donates-12-billion-to-abortion-groups/
205  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

http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas/article/178046

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

Very funny!
207  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
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-12/closing-wealth-gap-may-not-help-democrats-win-back-house.html
208  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.
http://www.conservative-daily.com/2014/05/10/tea-party-donors-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:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/05/12/president-obama-irs-scandal-watergate-column/8968317/

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
209  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:

http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1454.msg20739#msg20739
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 Powerlineblog.com 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.
210  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.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/book-review-stress-test-by-timothy-f-geithner-1399844566?tesla=y&mg=reno64-wsj&url=http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304431104579554872107561290.html

... 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*
211  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.

http://johnbtaylorsblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/gwartny-fike-table-3.jpg
212  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.
http://climateaudit.org/2014/05/09/mann-misrepresents-the-epa-part-1/

"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.  http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/05/michael-mann-is-a-liar-and-a-cheat-heres-why.php


John Christy, a lead author of IPCC 2001 report siad later in congressional testimony:
https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/hearings/ChristyJR_written_110331_all.pdf

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.
213  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.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2014/05/11/rubio_i_am_ready_to_be_president_hillary_gets_an_f_as_secretary_of_state.html
214  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:
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/377743/rubios-resurgence-eliana-johnson

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.
215  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?”

http://blogs.wsj.com/peggynoonan/2014/05/07/the-trouble-with-common-core/
216  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:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303701304579549842512581848

The Latest Storm of Climate Alarmism
The National Climate Assessment is not nearly as dire as its cheerleaders suggest.
 
By STEVEN F. HAYWARD
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)
217  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:
http://www.businessinsider.com/romney-debate-economic-plan-2012-10?op=1
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.
218  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...
219  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.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/05/on-the-economy-lets-get-back-to-basics.php
220  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.
221  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!
222  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? http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/aug/06/harry-reid/harry-reid-says-anonymous-source-told-him-mitt-rom/)
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.
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/05/harry-reid-sinks-deeper-into-the-abyss.php
223  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.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2014/05/07/hillary_clinton_no_reason_to_further_investigating_benghazi.html#ooid=JnZzJ0bTp96HreEDgB8CX_rW80mtmyzK

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.  
224  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
http://www.realcleareducation.com/articles/2014/05/08/coming_education_debate_an_opportunity_967.html

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.
225  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

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/five-chinese-weapons-war-america-should-fear-10388
...
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.

http://www.jamestown.org/programs/recentreports/single/?tx_ttnews[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)

226  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!
---------------------------------------------------------------

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2014/05/05/elites-talk-inequality-public-talks-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)
227  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.
-----------------------------------------------
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/07/hillary-s-state-department-refused-to-brand-boko-haram-as-terrorists.html

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.
228  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.
229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: May 07, 2014, 10:13:58 PM
It may well be as stated, but isn't this an advertisement?  Doesn't basic contrarian theory say that when everyone (e.g. 98%) thinks something it is already priced into the market?

Apologies for posting that if it was bogus.  The only fact check I did was to see the economist they quoted really is a Forbes contributor.  No doubt they take his words out of context but an investor should at least contemplate what they will do if things turn gradually or suddenly downward.  The 98% was some un-named, 'select' group.  Meaningless, I admit.  Still there seems to be more and more negative stories appearing.  Please see the previous post from NY Times.

I tend to agree that the market closes at market value every business day.  But that falls into the trap that people have all the right information and apply it rationally, not emotionally, which I think we proved false in politics and voting.  Was the market at market value the day before the 1929 crash?  The 1987 crash? Was it at market value the day before Fannis Mae, Freddie Mac, Countrywide Financial, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Washington Mutual etc all went under?  More likely we can say the writing was on the wall and no one wanted to read it. 
230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: May 07, 2014, 03:02:09 PM
More negative forecasting.  Take reports about the future with a grain of salt.

Wall Street: 98% Risk of Crash This Year
Tuesday, 06 May 2014
http://www.moneynews.com/MKTNews/wall-street-crash-market-strength/2014/04/24/id/567582/?promo_code=a3auptln&utm_source=taboola&utm_medium=referral

Earlier this year, a select group of Wall Street Insiders were surveyed, and the results were ominous. These financial experts and fund managers predicted a 98% chance a stock market crash will happen in the next six months.

Gary Shilling, one of Wall Street’s top economists, says the S&P Index could drop as low as 800, a 42% decline.
231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: May 07, 2014, 01:50:01 PM
"Where for example is a bill passed by the House calling for a stronger military budget?"  (Discuss if you wish in the American Foreign Policy thread.)

American foreign policy including the defense budget will be heavily discussed in the 2016 Republican primaries.  Until then, Republicans in the House voting more money for defense than the Senate and Pres will accept would only cause more money to be spent on things other than defense, IMHO.  The pitiful election of 2012 had enormous consequences.
232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China laughs at Buraq's "pivot" on: May 07, 2014, 09:37:48 AM

U.S. State Department spokeswoman:  "China's decision to operate its oil rig in disputed waters is provocative and unhelpful to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region."

Yes.  China fears that a tough stand like this could lead to the drawing of an Obama Red Line, ... or a dotted blue line, a double white line, a line in the sand, maybe an American-made string placed across the South China Sea!  

China's military advisers are saying, don't mess with this administration.  You saw what they did with Iran, in Benghazi, in Syria, and standing up for territorial integrity of Ukraine!  
233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: May 07, 2014, 09:23:10 AM
Glick:  "Republican Senator Rand Paul is an isolationist."

5+ years of Obama has lowered the bar for so may things.  Glick spells that out on this brilliantly.  Israel used to hope they had a leader in Washington who would stand with them militarily without hesitation in the event of attack, crisis or war.  Now they are happy to see a potential leader who would just stop funding and supporting Israel's enemies.

Rand Paul has needed to step forward on this because he is otherwise perceived as the opposite.  Paul's father carried anti-Israel baggage.  Rand retains his father's supporters, doesn't disavow his father's politics, but separates himself only by building his own record.

A few weeks ago he was quoting Roger Waters by name - on a different topic.  This move separates Rand from the allies of the enemies.

All the hopefuls cherry pick from Reagan what makes them the next Reagan.  Who really knows which one would really step up in a crisis.  What we can measure is who is committed to build and maintain sufficient military assets to deter, and to respond in a crisis, not only for Israel but in multiple corners of the globe - at the same time.

Rand Paul might prefer being called "complicated" rather than "isolationist" in these times of major threats and turmoil. 
234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Scalia whoops? on: May 06, 2014, 04:50:11 PM

Luckily none of us have ever mis-remembered anything - or posted without fact checking.   wink
235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Path.Science: White House unveils dire warning, calls for action on climate on: May 06, 2014, 04:33:52 PM
There is no question the atmospheric level of CO2, an inefficient greenhouse gas, has increased by one part per ten thousand over the last hundred years. 
There is no question the general temp trend since the last "Little Ice Age" has been that of gradual warming.
There is also no question that the Great Lakes froze over THIS YEAR and that Antarctica and parts of the Himalayas have gained ice mass most recently.

CO2 was higher in the past, followed by glacialization, not a heat spiral.  http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-higher-in-past.htm

Earth was warmer in the past, including periods 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000 years ago.  http://qualimetrics.com/global-warming-a-natural-occurrence/

And there is no doubt that the solution that leftists have to this contradictory data is to create a large, intrusive world government.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/06/us-usa-climatechange-idUSBREA4503Q20140506   Pres. Obama
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/06/climate-change-affects-all-solutions-new-york-summit  Ban Ki-moon

Give up sovereignty, prosperity, personal freedom and choices, they say.

Coincidentally, that is what they wanted before they discovered cyclical changes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRhq-yO1KN8&feature=kp  John Lennon:
Imagine there's no countries... Nothing to kill or die for
Imagine no possessions.... No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man.
Imagine all the people, Sharing all the world
236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / George Will joins with Bigdog and Doug in opposing "Common Core" on: May 06, 2014, 03:52:04 PM
George Will: Common Core Disregards The Creativity Of Federalism
(link below)
GEORGE WILL: The advocates of the Common Core say, if you like local control of your schools, you can keep it, period. If you like your local curriculum you can keep it, period, and people don't believe them for very good reasons. This is a thin end of an enormous wedge of federal power that will be wielded for the constant progressive purpose of concentrating power in Washington so that it can impose continental solutions to problems nationwide. You say it's voluntary. It has been driven by the use of bribes and coercion in the form of waivers from No Child Left Behind or Race to the Top money to buy the compliance of these 45 states, two of which, Indiana and I believe Oklahoma have already backed out, and they will not be the last. Watch the verb align in this argument. They are going to align the SAT and ACT tests with the curriculum. They are going to align the textbooks with the tests. And sooner or later you inevitably have a national curriculum that disregards the creativity of federalism. What are the chances, Juan, that we're going to have five or six creative governors experimenting with different curricula or one creative constant permanent Washington bureaucracy overlooking our education? We've had 50 years now of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. 50 years of federal involvement that has coincided with stagnation in test scores across the country.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2014/05/06/george_will_common_core_disregards_the_creativity_of_federalism.html
237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NY Times: Stocks were more expensive than now - three times in last century on: May 06, 2014, 03:37:31 PM
Other viewpoints.
Trouble ahead, trouble behind.  Casey Jones you better... Watch your speed.
--------------------------------------

INVESTOR OUTLOOK  NY Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/06/upshot/time-to-worry-about-stock-market-bubbles.html?hpw&rref=&_r=0

Time to Worry About Stock Market Bubbles
MAY 6, 2014
With relatively little fanfare, the stock market has become expensive again.

While the rest of economy has been growing frustratingly slowly for almost five years, stocks have been rising at a boomlike clip. An investment in the Standard & Poor 500-stock index would have doubled from early 2009 through early 2013 and then gained an additional 18 percent over the last year.

Relative to long-term corporate earnings – and more in a minute on why that measure is important – stocks have been more expensive only three times over the past century than they are today, according to data from Robert Shiller, a Nobel laureate in economics. Those other three periods are not exactly reassuring, either: the 1920s, the late 1990s and in the prelude to the 2007 financial crisis.
238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / American Creed: Federalist Papers, No. 47, Distribution of Power on: May 06, 2014, 10:48:04 AM
"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

 - James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 47: The Particular Structure of the New Government and the Distribution of Power Among Its Different Parts

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed47.asp
239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Putin’s Ukraine strategy driven by three goals: survival, empire and legacy on: May 06, 2014, 08:54:49 AM
Copying Ambassador Basora's piece into this thread by request:

This looks about right to me, "Unless and until the West takes a seriously strong stand against Putin’s undeclared war against Kiev and commits to keeping Ukraine united and independent, Putin will continue on his present path of stealth conquest."

Foreign Policy Research Institute

http://www.fpri.org/articles/2014/05/putins-greater-novorossiya-dismemberment-ukraine

Putin’s “Greater Novorossiya” - The Dismemberment of Ukraine
Adrian A. Basora, Aleksandr Fisher  
About the Author:  http://www.fpri.org/contributors/adrian-basora  
(more at the link, sources, footnotes)  May 2014

On April 17, Vladimir Putin introduced a dangerously expansive new concept into the Ukraine crisis. During his four-hour question and answer session on Russian TV that day he pointedly mentioned “Novorossiya” – a large swath of territory conquered by Imperial Russia during the 18th century from a declining Ottoman Empire. This historic Novorossiya covered roughly a third of what is now Ukraine (including Crimea).

Subsequent comments and actions by Putin and his surrogates have made it clear that the Kremlin’s goal is once again to establish its dominance over the lands once called Novorossiya. Furthermore, it is clear that Putin hopes to push his control well beyond this region’s historic boundaries to include other contiguous provinces with large Russian-speaking populations.

Most commentators and media are still focusing on Putin’s annexation of Crimea and on the threatened Russian takeover of the eastern Ukraine provinces (oblasts) of Donetsk and Luhansk. But the far more ominous reality, both in Moscow’ rhetoric and on the ground, is that Putin has already begun laying the groundwork for removing not only these, but several additional provincesfrom Kiev’s control and bringing them under Russian domination, either by annexation or by creating a nominally independent Federation of Novorossiya.

Unless the U.S. and its European allies take far more decisive countermeasures than they have to date, Putin’s plan[1] will continue to unfold slowly but steadily and, within a matter of months, Ukraine will either be dismembered or brought back into the Russian sphere of influence.

Putin’s convenient and expansive (though historically inaccurate) ‘rediscovery’ of Novorossiya now appears to include the following provinces in addition to Crimea: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Kherson, Mikolaiv and Odessa. If he can turn this vision into a reality, Moscow would dominate the entire northern littoral of the Black Sea and control a wide band of contiguous territory stretching all the way from Russia’s current western boundaries to the borders of Romania and Moldova (conveniently including the latter’s already self-declared breakaway province of Transdnistria).



If all of these provinces are either annexed by Russia or form a nominally independent federation of ‘Greater Novorossiya’, the population of Ukraine would drop from 46 million to 25 million. This would not only subtract nearly 45% of Ukraine’s 2013 population but also roughly two thirds of its GDP, given that the country’s eastern and southern provinces are far more industrialized than those of the center and west.[2]

So far, neither financial sanctions nor international condemnation of Russia’s aggressions against Ukraine have had the slightest deterrent effect against Putin’s strategy. Instead, he is now steadily undermining Kiev’s control of the country’s eastern oblasts in small slices – currently at the rate of two or three strategic centers per day – the same pace and playbook that enabled Russia to establish total control of Crimea within a matter of weeks.

Given its track record so far, the weak government in Kiev and its even weaker military and security forces are obviously powerless to put a stop to Putin’s Novorossiya strategy. Meanwhile, the western powers continue to talk but take actions that are patently having no deterrent value. Unless the U.S. and its European allies can manage a quantum leap in their sanctions and counter-measures, Putin’s strategy seems likely to continue to unfold, slowly but steadily, likely without need for any overt large-scale Russian military intervention other than menacing moves on Ukraine’s borders.

If this happens, not only will the map of Ukraine be dramatically redrawn, but the entire geopolitical balance of Europe will be decisively altered. And, needless to say, the fate of democracy in the region, which has already suffered worrisome erosion in several post-communist countries over the past few years, will be severely compromised.

And, beyond Europe, Putin will have taken a giant step towards creating his new Moscow-dominated Eurasian Union. This is a potentially massive geopolitical and economic bloc stretching through the Caucasus into post-Soviet Central Asia – with obvious negative global repercussions.

Putin’s Vision of “Greater Novorossiya”

Novorossiya (literally, New Russia) refers historically to a very large section of present-day Ukraine lying north of the Black Sea and stretching from Luhansk and Donetsk in the east to Odessa in the west. Russia, and subsequently the USSR, controlled this region from the 18th century until the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. But in the Soviet period it was part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic rather than directly part of Russia.

Ominously, however, on April 17, when Putin evoked the memory of historic Novorossiya, he also exclaimed that only “God knows” why Russia surrendered this region in 1922 to Ukraine.

Just a few weeks earlier, Putin had described Nikita Khrushchev’s decision to incorporate Crimea into Ukraine in 1954 in a remarkably similar vein. The analogy seems all too obvious.

Furthermore, as if Putin’s concept of correcting historic anomalies were not sufficiently threatening, he quickly expanded his description of Novorossiya to include territories that lie well beyond its actual historical boundaries, most notably by explicitly including Kharkiv – a major city and important oblast that was never part of that historic region.

Furthermore, Putin and his hard-line Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, along with the Kremlin’s prolific propaganda machine, also regularly attempt to legitimize Russian intervention by focusing on the high number of “Russians” in Ukraine overall. Lavrov has also repeatedly claimed that Moscow has a right to protect Russian “citizens” in Ukraine – thus adding a further argument in favor of defining the new version of Novorossiya quite expansively.

http://www.fpri.org/docs/resize/image_2-400x307.png

Putin’s Motives and Russian Grand Strategy

Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine strategy is driven by three goals: survival, empire and legacy.

First and foremost, Putin sees the fate of Ukraine as an existential issue both for himself and for the authoritarian regime that he and his inner circle have gradually rebuilt over the past fifteen years. The Orange Revolution of 2004 was a deep shock to Putin because of the echoes it created in Russia and because Ukraine seemed to be on the brink of becoming a major source of longer-term “democratic diffusion” right on Russia’s long southwestern border. Fortunately for Putin, however, the luster of this revolution quickly wore off once its leaders gained office and failed to live up to their reformist promises. From the start there was infighting between Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko; reforms were postponed; the Ukrainian economy spiraled downward and corruption remained rampant.

By the time Yushchenko’s presidency ended in 2010, many voters had come to see Viktor Yanukovych as a preferable alternative. Yanukovich also reportedly benefited from substantial financial and “political technology” support from Moscow. For Putin, Yanukovych was a promising alternative to the western-oriented “Orange” leaders, since he seemed likely to maintain strong trade and financial ties with Russia, show proper deference towards Moscow and, above all, keep Ukraine out of NATO. But it turned out that too many Ukrainians were unwilling to follow the Putin/Yanukovich script.

When Yanukovich fled Kiev on February 21, it must have seemed to the Kremlin that a second wave of the Orange Revolution had taken control of Ukraine. Putin no doubt trembled with fury – but also with fear.

Putin’s second driving motive for going all out to reassert as much dominance as possible in Ukraine combines his goals of restoring a Russian empire and of burnishing his personal legacy. It is abundantly clear that Putin seeks to restore Russia to its former imperial glory, and in so doing to secure for himself a place in history as one of the greatest Russian leaders of all time. In a 2005 speech, Putin famously stated that “the breakup of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.”[3]

Putin’s comments on the Soviet Union, taken together with his current vision of Novorossiya, should make it crystal clear to the West that the crisis in Ukraine is not a small-scale conflict, nor simply an internal political problem between eastern and western Ukraine. Rather, a de facto war for control of Ukraine has begun – and Ukraine, in turn, is only a part (though a very important one) of Putin’s strategic plan to re-establish Russian hegemony over as much as possible of the former Soviet Union, and thus to reassert Russia’s role as a major global power.

Repeating the Crimea Playbook, Province by Province

Although his strategy in Ukraine is highly ambitious, Putin is clearly convinced that the most effective tactic is to proceed one stealthy step at a time. He will avoid overt military intervention if at all possible so as not to shock the western powers into genuinely painful countermeasures. Putin is clearly repeating the Crimea pattern in eastern Ukraine, having already established de facto control of over a dozen key locations in its most important eastern province, Donetsk. This is Ukraine’s most industrialized oblast[4], with a population of 74.9 percent Russian speakers and very strong industrial ties to Russia.



The next three oblasts most immediately threatened by Russian stealth takeovers are Luhansk with 68.6 percent Russian speakers, Zaporizhia with 48.2 percent. Kherson with 24.9 percent also belongs on the immediately endangered list, despite its lower percentage of Russian-speakers, because Russia needs to control it along with Donetsk in order to create a “land bridge” between Russia and Crimea. A further “favorable” factor from Moscow’s viewpoint is that Kherson – along with Donetsk, Zaporizhia and part of Luhansk – falls largely within the boundaries of historic Novorossiya.

Beyond these four provinces, there have already been major Russian incursions into the two contiguous provinces of Luhansk and Kharkiv (which has a 44.3 percent Russian speaking population). And, as mentioned earlier, Putin has also proclaimed publically, even though inaccurately, that Kharkiv is part of Novorossiya.

To the west of the six oblasts mentioned above are Mykolaiv and Odessa, which have 29.4 percent and 41.9 percent Russian speakers, respectively. The strategic port city of Odessa has already seen the same type anti-Kiev agitation and organization of a secessionist movement that are the hallmarks of the Crimea playbook. Christian Caryl, an American journalist and editor of Foreign Policy’s Democracy Lab, has recently interviewed Odessans who are excited about the prospect of an autonomous Novorossiya state. He quotes one citizen as exclaiming, "A population of 20 million, with industry, resources. With advantages like that, who needs to become a part of Russia? By European standards that's already a good-sized country.”[5]

Language, Ethnicity and Attitudes



In claiming a Russian right to intervene in these eastern and southern provinces, it is clear that Moscow will use a maximalist definition of “Russians”. This means counting the number of Russian speakers rather than the number of ethnic Russians.[6] This is to Putin’s advantage, since the number of ethnic Russians in these provinces is much lower than the number of Russian speakers. Furthermore, not only do many Ukrainians living in the east and south acknowledge Russian as their native tongue, but an additional significant percentage speak the language fluently, which Moscow could well use as a further rationale either for the annexation of these provinces or to create an enlarged version of Novorossiya that would in fact be subservient to Moscow.

Beyond fueling ethnic and linguistic differences to justify Russia’s incursions into Ukraine, Putin is working systematically to create a permanent rift between eastern and western Ukrainians based on pre-existing differences of perspective and attitude, and by building upon manufactured confrontations and grievances.

Recent public opinion polls conducted by the Baltic Surveys/The Gallup Organization show that the linguistic and ethnic divisions between western and eastern Ukraine also correlate with the two regions’ viewpoints on a variety of issues including: Russia’s military excursion in Crimea, the EuroMaidan protests that ousted Yanukovich, and the upcoming presidential election on May 25.[7] According to the poll, over 94 percent of western Ukrainians believed Putin’s actions in Crimea constituted an invasion, while only 44 percent of eastern Ukrainians believed the same. In fact, 45 percent of eastern Ukrainians believed that the referendum in Crimea on joining Russia is a legitimate right of the residents of Crimea to express their opinion about the future of Crimea.

Sixty-six percent of citizens in western Ukraine said they viewed the Euromaidan events positively while only 7 percent of citizens in eastern Ukraine said the same. While 34 percent of citizens in western Ukraine said they would vote for Petro Poroshenko, the “chocolate oligarch”, in the upcoming presidential election, only 7 percent of eastern Ukrainians agreed, and 11 percent said they would vote for Serhiy Tihipko, a former member of Yanukovich’s Party of Regions who has taken a pro-federalization stance.

Perhaps most importantly, 59 percent of citizens in eastern Ukraine are already in favor of joining Russia’s Customs Union as opposed to 20 percent who are in favor of joining the European Union.

The total population of Putin’s ideal Greater Novorossiya (Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, Kherson, Dnepropetrovsk, Mykolaiv, Odessa, and Crimea), would be approximately 21 million. This would be a sizable potential addition to the Customs Union with Russia, Belarus, Armenia and Kazakhstan, which would give Putin’s Russia even stronger economic leverage against the European Union.

Russian journalist Yulia Latynina views Putin’s tactics in Crimea and eastern Ukraine as a new military strategy, in which the government controls and distorts information to cast Russia and the pro-Russian separatists as the victims. She argues that this “is far more important than achieving a military victory. To come out the winner in this scenario, you don't have to shoot your enemy. All you have to do is either kill your own men — or provoke others into killing them — and then portray it as an act of aggression by the enemy with all of the attendant media spin.”[8] Due to this media spin, all of the Ukrainian government’s attempts at diffusing the situation in the eastern provinces have horribly backfired.

Implications for Moldova and Beyond

Even assuming that Putin achieves his ambitious vision of a Greater Novorossiya, there is no guarantee that Putin will stop at Odessa. In fact, the contrary seems likely. Moldova would also be directly threatened. In March, the separatist de facto government in Transdniestria asked to be incorporated into the Russian federation.[9] Putin could thus easily repeat the same tactics that were successful in Crimea and are working in eastern Ukraine, in Transdniestria. This breakaway region would become independent from Moldova and possibly join the Novorossiya federation.

It is beyond the scope of this essay to discuss the potential impact of this scenario on the weak remainder state of Moldova or, for that matter of the putative rump state of central and western Ukraine. Suffice it to say that, if Ukraine and the West do not act decisively against Russian “irredentism” in eastern Ukraine, any state in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, or Central Asia with a Russian speaking minority could well be at risk of either dismemberment or of de facto Russian domination as the price of avoiding it.

Can Putin be Stopped?

It is hard to envision any realistic scenario whereby the current Ukrainian government in Kiev might stop this slow and steady dismemberment of the country. Given pro-Russian separatists’ success in seizing government buildings all across eastern Ukraine with impunity, what options does the current Ukrainian government have?

If Ukraine can manage to make serious military efforts to counteract the gradual slicing off of its provinces, Moscow will blame the resultant bloodshed on Western-instigated “fascists” in Kiev and would likely intervene militarily to assure the victory of the pro-Russian separatists whom they are currently instigating and assisting with semi-covert military support. Putin has already expressed indignation towards Ukraine’s miniscule “anti-terrorist operations” in the east and has called these actions a “grave crime.”[10]

Given Ukraine’s likely ineffectiveness in dealing with Russia’s incursions into its territory, what options does the West have in dealing with Russia’s increased aggression and imperialistic ambitions?

The U.S., its NATO allies and the European Union are left with two basic options. The first is to continue the current pattern of de facto acquiescence. The West can continue its current course of public condemnation and minor punitive economic and financial sanctions that stop short of really serious pain on either side. If so, Putin will almost certainly ignore the West’s sanctions, despite their toll on the Russian economy. He will thus move steadily ahead with his plan to either separate and federalize eastern and southern Ukraine, or incorporate it into Russia.

The alternative is for the West to undertake truly deep and thus mutually painful economic sanctions that would sharply reduce Russia’s oil and gas exports and revenues, decimate foreign investment and wreak havoc with that country’s economy. This would require going very far beyond the half-hearted European support for intensified sanctions against Russia that we have seen so far, especially among European countries with strong trade ties to Russia.[11]

And, given the insulation of Putin and his ruling elite from economic pain, there would also need to be a strong show of military resolve. The U.S. would need to at least double the number of its forces stationed in Europe (currently only 66,000 vs. 400,000 during the Cold War) and NATO would have to move several thousand European, Canadian and American troops to the eastern borders of Poland and the Baltic republics, and to northeastern Romania.

As of now, the West has not committed a substantial number of troops to the defense of Eastern Europe, despite its treaty obligations to defend these NATO members. On April 23rd, the U.S. sent 150 American troops, with 450 more expected to join them, to Poland as part of a military exercise.[12] However, these 150 troops are dwarfed by Russia’s 40,000 men stationed at the Ukrainian border.[13] From Putin’s expansive perspective, these micro-exercises are derisory at a time when he has held military exercises near Ukraine involving troops in the tens of thousands.

Putin will not be deterred by anything short of a commensurate show of resolve by the Western powers.

Unless and until the West takes a seriously strong stand against Putin’s undeclared war against Kiev and commits to keeping Ukraine united and independent, Putin will continue on his present path of stealth conquest. He will implement his own vision of Novorossiya as a step towards re-establishing a “Greater Russia” – one that continues its aggressive expansionism well beyond Ukraine and in which he plays a major role on the world stage dedicated to undercutting the West and its democratic values.
240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Putin’s “Greater Novorossiya” - The Dismemberment of Ukraine on: May 05, 2014, 07:38:44 PM
This looks about right to me, "Unless and until the West takes a seriously strong stand against Putin’s undeclared war against Kiev and commits to keeping Ukraine united and independent, Putin will continue on his present path of stealth conquest."

Foreign Policy Research Institute

http://www.fpri.org/articles/2014/05/putins-greater-novorossiya-dismemberment-ukraine

Putin’s “Greater Novorossiya” - The Dismemberment of Ukraine
Adrian A. Basora, Aleksandr Fisher 
About the Author:  http://www.fpri.org/contributors/adrian-basora 
(more at the link, sources, footnotes)  May 2014

On April 17, Vladimir Putin introduced a dangerously expansive new concept into the Ukraine crisis. During his four-hour question and answer session on Russian TV that day he pointedly mentioned “Novorossiya” – a large swath of territory conquered by Imperial Russia during the 18th century from a declining Ottoman Empire. This historic Novorossiya covered roughly a third of what is now Ukraine (including Crimea).

Subsequent comments and actions by Putin and his surrogates have made it clear that the Kremlin’s goal is once again to establish its dominance over the lands once called Novorossiya. Furthermore, it is clear that Putin hopes to push his control well beyond this region’s historic boundaries to include other contiguous provinces with large Russian-speaking populations.

Most commentators and media are still focusing on Putin’s annexation of Crimea and on the threatened Russian takeover of the eastern Ukraine provinces (oblasts) of Donetsk and Luhansk. But the far more ominous reality, both in Moscow’ rhetoric and on the ground, is that Putin has already begun laying the groundwork for removing not only these, but several additional provincesfrom Kiev’s control and bringing them under Russian domination, either by annexation or by creating a nominally independent Federation of Novorossiya.

Unless the U.S. and its European allies take far more decisive countermeasures than they have to date, Putin’s plan[1] will continue to unfold slowly but steadily and, within a matter of months, Ukraine will either be dismembered or brought back into the Russian sphere of influence.

Putin’s convenient and expansive (though historically inaccurate) ‘rediscovery’ of Novorossiya now appears to include the following provinces in addition to Crimea: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Kherson, Mikolaiv and Odessa. If he can turn this vision into a reality, Moscow would dominate the entire northern littoral of the Black Sea and control a wide band of contiguous territory stretching all the way from Russia’s current western boundaries to the borders of Romania and Moldova (conveniently including the latter’s already self-declared breakaway province of Transdnistria).



If all of these provinces are either annexed by Russia or form a nominally independent federation of ‘Greater Novorossiya’, the population of Ukraine would drop from 46 million to 25 million. This would not only subtract nearly 45% of Ukraine’s 2013 population but also roughly two thirds of its GDP, given that the country’s eastern and southern provinces are far more industrialized than those of the center and west.[2]

So far, neither financial sanctions nor international condemnation of Russia’s aggressions against Ukraine have had the slightest deterrent effect against Putin’s strategy. Instead, he is now steadily undermining Kiev’s control of the country’s eastern oblasts in small slices – currently at the rate of two or three strategic centers per day – the same pace and playbook that enabled Russia to establish total control of Crimea within a matter of weeks.

Given its track record so far, the weak government in Kiev and its even weaker military and security forces are obviously powerless to put a stop to Putin’s Novorossiya strategy. Meanwhile, the western powers continue to talk but take actions that are patently having no deterrent value. Unless the U.S. and its European allies can manage a quantum leap in their sanctions and counter-measures, Putin’s strategy seems likely to continue to unfold, slowly but steadily, likely without need for any overt large-scale Russian military intervention other than menacing moves on Ukraine’s borders.

If this happens, not only will the map of Ukraine be dramatically redrawn, but the entire geopolitical balance of Europe will be decisively altered. And, needless to say, the fate of democracy in the region, which has already suffered worrisome erosion in several post-communist countries over the past few years, will be severely compromised.

And, beyond Europe, Putin will have taken a giant step towards creating his new Moscow-dominated Eurasian Union. This is a potentially massive geopolitical and economic bloc stretching through the Caucasus into post-Soviet Central Asia – with obvious negative global repercussions.

Putin’s Vision of “Greater Novorossiya”

Novorossiya (literally, New Russia) refers historically to a very large section of present-day Ukraine lying north of the Black Sea and stretching from Luhansk and Donetsk in the east to Odessa in the west. Russia, and subsequently the USSR, controlled this region from the 18th century until the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. But in the Soviet period it was part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic rather than directly part of Russia.

Ominously, however, on April 17, when Putin evoked the memory of historic Novorossiya, he also exclaimed that only “God knows” why Russia surrendered this region in 1922 to Ukraine.

Just a few weeks earlier, Putin had described Nikita Khrushchev’s decision to incorporate Crimea into Ukraine in 1954 in a remarkably similar vein. The analogy seems all too obvious.

Furthermore, as if Putin’s concept of correcting historic anomalies were not sufficiently threatening, he quickly expanded his description of Novorossiya to include territories that lie well beyond its actual historical boundaries, most notably by explicitly including Kharkiv – a major city and important oblast that was never part of that historic region.

Furthermore, Putin and his hard-line Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, along with the Kremlin’s prolific propaganda machine, also regularly attempt to legitimize Russian intervention by focusing on the high number of “Russians” in Ukraine overall. Lavrov has also repeatedly claimed that Moscow has a right to protect Russian “citizens” in Ukraine – thus adding a further argument in favor of defining the new version of Novorossiya quite expansively.

http://www.fpri.org/docs/resize/image_2-400x307.png

Putin’s Motives and Russian Grand Strategy

Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine strategy is driven by three goals: survival, empire and legacy.

First and foremost, Putin sees the fate of Ukraine as an existential issue both for himself and for the authoritarian regime that he and his inner circle have gradually rebuilt over the past fifteen years. The Orange Revolution of 2004 was a deep shock to Putin because of the echoes it created in Russia and because Ukraine seemed to be on the brink of becoming a major source of longer-term “democratic diffusion” right on Russia’s long southwestern border. Fortunately for Putin, however, the luster of this revolution quickly wore off once its leaders gained office and failed to live up to their reformist promises. From the start there was infighting between Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko; reforms were postponed; the Ukrainian economy spiraled downward and corruption remained rampant.

By the time Yushchenko’s presidency ended in 2010, many voters had come to see Viktor Yanukovych as a preferable alternative. Yanukovich also reportedly benefited from substantial financial and “political technology” support from Moscow. For Putin, Yanukovych was a promising alternative to the western-oriented “Orange” leaders, since he seemed likely to maintain strong trade and financial ties with Russia, show proper deference towards Moscow and, above all, keep Ukraine out of NATO. But it turned out that too many Ukrainians were unwilling to follow the Putin/Yanukovich script.

When Yanukovich fled Kiev on February 21, it must have seemed to the Kremlin that a second wave of the Orange Revolution had taken control of Ukraine. Putin no doubt trembled with fury – but also with fear.

Putin’s second driving motive for going all out to reassert as much dominance as possible in Ukraine combines his goals of restoring a Russian empire and of burnishing his personal legacy. It is abundantly clear that Putin seeks to restore Russia to its former imperial glory, and in so doing to secure for himself a place in history as one of the greatest Russian leaders of all time. In a 2005 speech, Putin famously stated that “the breakup of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.”[3]

Putin’s comments on the Soviet Union, taken together with his current vision of Novorossiya, should make it crystal clear to the West that the crisis in Ukraine is not a small-scale conflict, nor simply an internal political problem between eastern and western Ukraine. Rather, a de facto war for control of Ukraine has begun – and Ukraine, in turn, is only a part (though a very important one) of Putin’s strategic plan to re-establish Russian hegemony over as much as possible of the former Soviet Union, and thus to reassert Russia’s role as a major global power.

Repeating the Crimea Playbook, Province by Province

Although his strategy in Ukraine is highly ambitious, Putin is clearly convinced that the most effective tactic is to proceed one stealthy step at a time. He will avoid overt military intervention if at all possible so as not to shock the western powers into genuinely painful countermeasures. Putin is clearly repeating the Crimea pattern in eastern Ukraine, having already established de facto control of over a dozen key locations in its most important eastern province, Donetsk. This is Ukraine’s most industrialized oblast[4], with a population of 74.9 percent Russian speakers and very strong industrial ties to Russia.



The next three oblasts most immediately threatened by Russian stealth takeovers are Luhansk with 68.6 percent Russian speakers, Zaporizhia with 48.2 percent. Kherson with 24.9 percent also belongs on the immediately endangered list, despite its lower percentage of Russian-speakers, because Russia needs to control it along with Donetsk in order to create a “land bridge” between Russia and Crimea. A further “favorable” factor from Moscow’s viewpoint is that Kherson – along with Donetsk, Zaporizhia and part of Luhansk – falls largely within the boundaries of historic Novorossiya.

Beyond these four provinces, there have already been major Russian incursions into the two contiguous provinces of Luhansk and Kharkiv (which has a 44.3 percent Russian speaking population). And, as mentioned earlier, Putin has also proclaimed publically, even though inaccurately, that Kharkiv is part of Novorossiya.

To the west of the six oblasts mentioned above are Mykolaiv and Odessa, which have 29.4 percent and 41.9 percent Russian speakers, respectively. The strategic port city of Odessa has already seen the same type anti-Kiev agitation and organization of a secessionist movement that are the hallmarks of the Crimea playbook. Christian Caryl, an American journalist and editor of Foreign Policy’s Democracy Lab, has recently interviewed Odessans who are excited about the prospect of an autonomous Novorossiya state. He quotes one citizen as exclaiming, "A population of 20 million, with industry, resources. With advantages like that, who needs to become a part of Russia? By European standards that's already a good-sized country.”[5]

Language, Ethnicity and Attitudes



In claiming a Russian right to intervene in these eastern and southern provinces, it is clear that Moscow will use a maximalist definition of “Russians”. This means counting the number of Russian speakers rather than the number of ethnic Russians.[6] This is to Putin’s advantage, since the number of ethnic Russians in these provinces is much lower than the number of Russian speakers. Furthermore, not only do many Ukrainians living in the east and south acknowledge Russian as their native tongue, but an additional significant percentage speak the language fluently, which Moscow could well use as a further rationale either for the annexation of these provinces or to create an enlarged version of Novorossiya that would in fact be subservient to Moscow.

Beyond fueling ethnic and linguistic differences to justify Russia’s incursions into Ukraine, Putin is working systematically to create a permanent rift between eastern and western Ukrainians based on pre-existing differences of perspective and attitude, and by building upon manufactured confrontations and grievances.

Recent public opinion polls conducted by the Baltic Surveys/The Gallup Organization show that the linguistic and ethnic divisions between western and eastern Ukraine also correlate with the two regions’ viewpoints on a variety of issues including: Russia’s military excursion in Crimea, the EuroMaidan protests that ousted Yanukovich, and the upcoming presidential election on May 25.[7] According to the poll, over 94 percent of western Ukrainians believed Putin’s actions in Crimea constituted an invasion, while only 44 percent of eastern Ukrainians believed the same. In fact, 45 percent of eastern Ukrainians believed that the referendum in Crimea on joining Russia is a legitimate right of the residents of Crimea to express their opinion about the future of Crimea.

Sixty-six percent of citizens in western Ukraine said they viewed the Euromaidan events positively while only 7 percent of citizens in eastern Ukraine said the same. While 34 percent of citizens in western Ukraine said they would vote for Petro Poroshenko, the “chocolate oligarch”, in the upcoming presidential election, only 7 percent of eastern Ukrainians agreed, and 11 percent said they would vote for Serhiy Tihipko, a former member of Yanukovich’s Party of Regions who has taken a pro-federalization stance.

Perhaps most importantly, 59 percent of citizens in eastern Ukraine are already in favor of joining Russia’s Customs Union as opposed to 20 percent who are in favor of joining the European Union.

The total population of Putin’s ideal Greater Novorossiya (Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, Kherson, Dnepropetrovsk, Mykolaiv, Odessa, and Crimea), would be approximately 21 million. This would be a sizable potential addition to the Customs Union with Russia, Belarus, Armenia and Kazakhstan, which would give Putin’s Russia even stronger economic leverage against the European Union.

Russian journalist Yulia Latynina views Putin’s tactics in Crimea and eastern Ukraine as a new military strategy, in which the government controls and distorts information to cast Russia and the pro-Russian separatists as the victims. She argues that this “is far more important than achieving a military victory. To come out the winner in this scenario, you don't have to shoot your enemy. All you have to do is either kill your own men — or provoke others into killing them — and then portray it as an act of aggression by the enemy with all of the attendant media spin.”[8] Due to this media spin, all of the Ukrainian government’s attempts at diffusing the situation in the eastern provinces have horribly backfired.

Implications for Moldova and Beyond

Even assuming that Putin achieves his ambitious vision of a Greater Novorossiya, there is no guarantee that Putin will stop at Odessa. In fact, the contrary seems likely. Moldova would also be directly threatened. In March, the separatist de facto government in Transdniestria asked to be incorporated into the Russian federation.[9] Putin could thus easily repeat the same tactics that were successful in Crimea and are working in eastern Ukraine, in Transdniestria. This breakaway region would become independent from Moldova and possibly join the Novorossiya federation.

It is beyond the scope of this essay to discuss the potential impact of this scenario on the weak remainder state of Moldova or, for that matter of the putative rump state of central and western Ukraine. Suffice it to say that, if Ukraine and the West do not act decisively against Russian “irredentism” in eastern Ukraine, any state in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, or Central Asia with a Russian speaking minority could well be at risk of either dismemberment or of de facto Russian domination as the price of avoiding it.

Can Putin be Stopped?

It is hard to envision any realistic scenario whereby the current Ukrainian government in Kiev might stop this slow and steady dismemberment of the country. Given pro-Russian separatists’ success in seizing government buildings all across eastern Ukraine with impunity, what options does the current Ukrainian government have?

If Ukraine can manage to make serious military efforts to counteract the gradual slicing off of its provinces, Moscow will blame the resultant bloodshed on Western-instigated “fascists” in Kiev and would likely intervene militarily to assure the victory of the pro-Russian separatists whom they are currently instigating and assisting with semi-covert military support. Putin has already expressed indignation towards Ukraine’s miniscule “anti-terrorist operations” in the east and has called these actions a “grave crime.”[10]

Given Ukraine’s likely ineffectiveness in dealing with Russia’s incursions into its territory, what options does the West have in dealing with Russia’s increased aggression and imperialistic ambitions?

The U.S., its NATO allies and the European Union are left with two basic options. The first is to continue the current pattern of de facto acquiescence. The West can continue its current course of public condemnation and minor punitive economic and financial sanctions that stop short of really serious pain on either side. If so, Putin will almost certainly ignore the West’s sanctions, despite their toll on the Russian economy. He will thus move steadily ahead with his plan to either separate and federalize eastern and southern Ukraine, or incorporate it into Russia.

The alternative is for the West to undertake truly deep and thus mutually painful economic sanctions that would sharply reduce Russia’s oil and gas exports and revenues, decimate foreign investment and wreak havoc with that country’s economy. This would require going very far beyond the half-hearted European support for intensified sanctions against Russia that we have seen so far, especially among European countries with strong trade ties to Russia.[11]

And, given the insulation of Putin and his ruling elite from economic pain, there would also need to be a strong show of military resolve. The U.S. would need to at least double the number of its forces stationed in Europe (currently only 66,000 vs. 400,000 during the Cold War) and NATO would have to move several thousand European, Canadian and American troops to the eastern borders of Poland and the Baltic republics, and to northeastern Romania.

As of now, the West has not committed a substantial number of troops to the defense of Eastern Europe, despite its treaty obligations to defend these NATO members. On April 23rd, the U.S. sent 150 American troops, with 450 more expected to join them, to Poland as part of a military exercise.[12] However, these 150 troops are dwarfed by Russia’s 40,000 men stationed at the Ukrainian border.[13] From Putin’s expansive perspective, these micro-exercises are derisory at a time when he has held military exercises near Ukraine involving troops in the tens of thousands.

Putin will not be deterred by anything short of a commensurate show of resolve by the Western powers.

Unless and until the West takes a seriously strong stand against Putin’s undeclared war against Kiev and commits to keeping Ukraine united and independent, Putin will continue on his present path of stealth conquest. He will implement his own vision of Novorossiya as a step towards re-establishing a “Greater Russia” – one that continues its aggressive expansionism well beyond Ukraine and in which he plays a major role on the world stage dedicated to undercutting the West and its democratic values.

 
241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: May 05, 2014, 07:24:28 PM


If she can go past her role in this, she sure hasn't shown how.  If Hillary can't win over a lead female, liberal journalist from NPR, who can she win over?

MARA LIASSON, NPR: I think that it did give the story a new set of legs, and I think that even if nothing else comes out between now and 2016 this will be an issue in the 2016 race if Hillary Clinton runs.
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2014/05/04/mara_liasson_new_emails_show_benghazi_will_be_an_issue_if_hillary_runs_in_2016.html
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"The brazenness and scope of the disinformation would make any KGB colonel sigh with admiration." - Mona Charen (below)

She may run and win but opponents will have plenty of material with which to expose her true, wicked self.
It was David Geffen who said, "Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, .
A prominent conservative female journalist nails it for Benghazi:

Could You Lie to a Bereaving Father?
Mona Charen - May 2, 2014

The Ben Rhodes memo revealing the duplicity of this administration on the subject of Benghazi reminds us about the character of those involved. That President Barack Obama could lie so evenly and so passionately (remember the second presidential debate?) is not perhaps surprising at this stage. But let's not forget what it took for Hillary Clinton to lie to the grieving father of an American hero.

First, a refresher on the facts (as they were certainly known to the principals):

A convoy of well-armed terrorists rolled into the complex housing the American consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012. The attackers sealed off streets leading to the consulate with trucks and then commenced the attack on the building using rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47s, mortars and artillery mounted on trucks. Ambassador Chris Stevens called Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks for help, saying, "Greg, we're under attack." Hicks, who was in Tripoli, conveyed this up the line, but no help arrived.

The terrorists killed Stevens and another American and set the building ablaze. (Two more Americans would die later attempting to protect the annex.) As soon as the next morning, Congressman Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, described the attack as a "commando-style event" with "coordinated fire, direct fire, (and) indirect fire." A few days later the Libyan president said that it was a planned terrorist attack. He also said that the idea it was a "spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous." Yet a well-orchestrated disinformation campaign by the Obama administration managed to put the press off the story and mislead the American people.

The brazenness and scope of the disinformation would make any KGB colonel sigh with admiration. At 10:32 on the night of the attack, Clinton issued a statement deploring violence in response to "inflammatory material posted on the Internet." In the days that followed, the president and his spokesman repeatedly invoked the supposedly offensive video as the cause of the attack. The president and secretary of state even filmed commercials to play in Muslim countries denouncing the video while also upholding America's tradition of religious and political freedom. "We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others," said the president. "But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence."

But as the State Department finally disclosed a month after the attack (and as had been widely reported before then), there was no protest outside the American consulate in Benghazi. Nothing. Not a peep.

As the Rhodes memo makes clear, the president sent his U.N. ambassador to the Sunday shows to lie. Susan Rice was "to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy." Rice did as she was told. The election was less than two months away. A foreign policy failure would not be politically convenient, so it would be made to go away. It's one of the minor injustices of this sorry story that Rice has received more condemnations than the president or secretary of state, who pulled the strings.

Clinton began to peddle the "Internet video" story from the first moments after the guns went silent in Benghazi. When the Libyan ambassador to the U.S. apologized to her on Sept. 13, 2012, for the "terror attack," she ignored this and burbled on about "the innocence of Muslims."

The president, vice president and Clinton welcomed the bodies of Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Glen Doherty to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Sept. 14. According to Woods' father, the vice president used remarkably offensive locker room talk about the deceased Navy SEAL, but Clinton stayed on message. She greeted the man whose son had bravely attempted to fight off far more numerous and better-armed terrorists on the roof of the CIA annex and who gave his life. Did she praise the courage and self-sacrifice of the decorated Navy SEAL? Did she express regret that he had been left nearly alone to fight off the Islamist terrorists? No. Not even the flag-draped coffins spread before Clinton could shake her iron determination to stick with the script. She told Woods they would catch the guy who made the Internet film and make sure he was punished.

Most politicians are capable of stretching the truth on occasion. But this question, this setting and this egregious a lie suggest that Clinton's conscience -- if she ever had one -- is growing flaccid from disuse.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/05/02/could_you_lie_to_a_bereaved_father_122493.html#ixzz30tFaGjA0

242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: True unemployment rate - Brookings on: May 02, 2014, 12:04:31 PM
The number of adults in the labor force dropped an estimated 806,000 in April. Adults reporting they hold a job in the household survey actually fell 73,000. Thus, the 0.4 percent drop in the unemployment rate (to 6.3%) reflected bad news—a smaller workforce—rather than good news.

http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/jobs/posts/2014/05/02-big-payroll-gains-anemic-labor-force-growth-burtless
----------------------------------------
Plowhorse?  Or is it lipstick on a pig?

(Media question: Isn't a drop of 800,000 adults in the workforce in April a bigger story than job gains that are just under the breakeven rate?)


243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 02, 2014, 11:53:55 AM
This could go under Glibness but by causing zero growth in the economy and pointing to income inequality as if it were a new and unnatural phenomenon, President Obama and the Democrats have brought back the illusion that political economics is a zero-sum game.  They think like Putin, you can only get what you take from someone else.  It is not so.

The worse they do with the economy the more we need them, so they say.

As Scott G pointed out, the liberals and leftist point to the industries with the very most government intrusion, like energy, transportation, housing, healthcare and education, and conclude the the free market left to itself simply does not work.  When mortgages became 90% federal, CRAp was instituted, the Fed dropped real interest rates to free money for an extended period, they told us the market just can't be trusted!

No one wants a market with no regulation.  What we want from government is to enforce a level playing field for the private sector to flourish.
244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / True Unemployment rate on: May 02, 2014, 11:33:37 AM
U.S. Adds 288,000 Jobs in April

Great.  Now unemployment at the pre-crash workforce participation rate is down to 9.9%, 18% if you count the underemployed at the old participation rate.  


Still more than twice as bad as when voters gave the no confidence vote to Republicans after 51 consecutive months of job growth.  Who knew THIS would happen?

After Five Years Of Obamanomics, A Record 100 Million Americans Not Working
http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2014/01/24/after-five-years-of-obamanomics-a-record-100-million-americans-not-working/

US Needs To Generate 262K Jobs Each Month To To Breakeven
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/us-needs-generate-262k-jobs-each-month-get-back-breakeven

Looking forward to Wesbury's take.  wink  Plowhorse begins to trot?  Or did he already use that one - before the 0.1% winter surge?
245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, Piketty, inequality, wealth tax on: May 02, 2014, 10:06:28 AM
"What, if anything, is right about Piketty?"

He did a serious study on income inequality and put the results of his study in Section I of the book.  That is worthy of reading and understanding, but he did not get it right.  He ignores the progressive taxation effect and ignores the wealth transfer effect to the poor and to the middle class.  Taking those into account, income inequality is stagnant.  A 'problem' already 'solved'.


"... witness Warren's use of the toaster.  This is effective persuasion technique."

Elizabeth Warren: It is impossible to buy a toaster that has a one-in-five chance of bursting into flames and burning down your house. But it is possible to refinance an existing home with a mortgage that has the same one-in-five chance of putting the family out on the street–and the mortgage won’t even carry a disclosure of that fact to the homeowner. Similarly, it’s impossible to change the price on a toaster once it has been purchased. But long after the papers have been signed, it is possible to triple the price of the credit used to finance the purchase of that appliance, even if the customer meets all the credit terms, in full and on time. Why are consumers safe when they purchase tangible consumer products with cash, but when they sign up for routine financial products like mortgages and credit cards they are left at the mercy of their creditors?
The difference between the two markets is regulation.
 http://www.democracyjournal.org/5/6528.php?page=all

Warren uses deception and a straw argument.  Conservatives don't favor a world without consumer protection law and conservatives don't support unregulated mortgage practices.  The mortgage meltdown didn't come from lack of regulation; it came out of the botched intervention by government in the mortgage market.  Conservatives support regulation rules exactly as Warren implies, that a consumer ought to be able to look at the front page of a mortgage document and know what they will be required to pay.  Her toaster story tells us nothing about the differences between conservative and leftist policies.  Is the choice of a fully disclosed, adjustable rate mortgage analogous to a frayed cord on a toaster?  No.  And UL (Underwriters Laboratories) is a private company headquartered in Northbrook, IL.  Not all solutions come from government programs and regulations.  


If he (Piketty) is wrong, we will need to be able to condense our answer into bullet point sound bit size--

1. Their 'solution' does not address the perceived problem.  Witness year 6 of the Obama administration and the way the French socialists had to so quickly back off of their new 75% tax bracket on the rich.  Tax increases kill jobs and over-regulation worsens inequality.

2.  To a hammer, every problem looks like a nail - the one tool toolbox.  To Warren, Piketty, Obama, and all government-centric, 20th century leftists, every problem and challenge we face need the same solution, another tax on the rich.  Take from Peter, give to Paul, and Mary, and the others.  Poverty, hunger, homelessness, healthcare, climate change, and now income inequality all (surprisingly) need exactly the same thing, a tax on the rich and a wealth transfer to the poor.  It was what they wanted to do before they even discovered the problem, just as the hammer knows what it wants to do before it sees the nail.  But this problem wasn't a nail, it was your finger you just hit. Capital employs labor. Stomping out wealth also stomps out jobs and stomps out the revenues to pay the people who can't work.  Ouch!

3. A logic fallacy as old as the Latin language: Cum Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc.  With this, therefore because of this.  The wealth tax idea follows an impressive income inequality study in the book, therefore we should do what he suggests to address it.  Piketty proposes to end wealth.  What our side sees in the data is that amazing wealth is achievable but there are far too many people who are not participating in the wealth side of the economy.  

4.  Piketty's main contention:  Rates of returns on investments (before taxes) are too high and growth rates are too low.  Therefore we should choke off investment returns and make economic growth even worse?!

The opposite is what makes sense.  Get more and more people into the investment side of the economy and pursue the economic policies that maximize our growth rate.  
246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance Glibness: Recession didn't hit everyone on: April 30, 2014, 04:25:51 PM
http://washingtonexaminer.com/obama-biden-vacation-tab-reaches-40-million-2.9-million-alone-for-two-obama-2014-golf-outings/article/2547892

Obama-Biden vacation tab reaches $40 million --- $2.9 million alone for two Obama 2014 golf outings

I don't know what the right amount to spend is but these purveyors of income inequality rage are unrestrained and unapologetic.
247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: April 30, 2014, 04:16:29 PM
"How much are we up since the bottom?  How much over 140%?"

I agree with Crafty's larger point but there is no one on earth who was all out on the the way down, all the way in at the exact bottom, holding still and able selling safely before the next downturn.  Good luck getting that return; you will be the first!  Peak to peak we are up more like 18% over 7 years, so a Wesbury follower who didn't fold in the last crash or panic before the nest peak is making about a 2% return.  That seems underwhelming for the risks endured.

Dow 10 year chart:
248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, stock market, investment strategies: Real growth Q1 was 0.1% on: April 30, 2014, 12:10:16 PM
US growth slows sharply to 0.1%
First-quarter GDP misses forecasts by a wide margin
http://www.ft.com/home/us

Brian Wesbury:
Weak GDP growth in Q1 should have been expected, but also should be ignored.
https://www.ftportfolios.com/retail/blogs/Economics/index.aspx

Good grief, let's ignore the latest actual data!  And please show me where he expected this.  What else will we learn later that we should have expected?

Dem consultants say don't use the R word (Recovery).  Americans aren't buying that this is a recovery.  That report was issued before real growth was adjusted to zero.  http://news.yahoo.com/advice-democrats-dont-recovery-073618756--election.html

BW was right, looking backwards, on the ever-increasing value of existing investments in entrenched companies.  The posters here have been right on the correlation of no-growth policies with no growth results.  We aren't growing jobs.  We aren't growing incomes.  We aren't growing capital.  We aren't growing wealth.  We aren't starting enough new businesses to replace our stagnating and failing ones.  We have no plan to meet our already legislated obligations except to keep raising taxes and spending with monetary imagination.  But let's put a smiley face on it and call it plow horse strength!
249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, Thomas Piketty: (Extinguishing) Capital in the 21st Century on: April 30, 2014, 11:45:49 AM
Reaction by Greg Mankiw, Chair of Harvard Econ Dept:

The book has three main elements:
A history of inequality and wealth.
A forecast of how things will evolve over the next century
Policy recommendations, such as a global tax on wealth.
Point 1 is a significant contribution. I like this part of the book a lot.

Point 2 is highly conjectural. Economists are really bad at such things. In particular, the leap from r>g to the conclusion of a growing role of inheritance in society seems too large to me. Many capital owners consume much of the return on their capital, so wealth does not grow at rate r. This consumption ranges from fancy cars and luxurious vacations to generous charitable giving. In addition, unless mating is perfectly assortative, or we return to an era of primogeniture, wealth per family shrinks as it is split among children.  So, from my perspective, Piketty tries to draw way too much from r>g. (Quick Quiz for econonerds: (a) What does r>g tell you in a standard overlapping generations model? That the economy is dynamically efficient (that is, it has not over-accumulated capital). (b) And what is the magnitude of bequests in that model?  (Zero)

Point 3 is as much about Piketty’s personal political philosophy as it is about his economics. As we all know, you can’t get “ought” from “is.” Like President Obama and others on the left, Piketty wants to spread the wealth around. Another philosophical viewpoint is that it is the government’s job to enforce rules such as contracts and property rights and promote opportunity rather than to achieve a particular distribution of economic outcomes. No amount of economic history will tell you that John Rawls (and Thomas Piketty) offers a better political philosophy than Robert Nozick (and Milton Friedman).

The bottom line: You can appreciate his economic history without buying into his forecast.  And even if you are convinced by his forecast, you don't have to buy into his normative conclusions.
http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2014/04/first-thoughts-on-piketty.html
250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Smoking gun found, does any one care? on: April 30, 2014, 11:01:26 AM
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