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201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics, Lawrence Summers: Supply Side is the way forward on: September 08, 2014, 10:31:37 AM
Anything positive uttered on Supply Side Economics from a Democrat and former Obama adviser should go on our Cognitive Dissonance of the Left thread, but we will take a little political economic honesty anywhere we can find it.  We need to increase supply in the economy.  How would you do that?  One idea is to allow in tens of millions more unskilled workers and non workers and the other ideas include "development of energy resources and improvements to the business tax system".  Unmentioned is that, to the rest of the Dem party, development of energy is to leave fossil fuels in the ground while cronying up the uneconomic sources, and improvement of the business tax system means to raise the world's highest rates even higher!

Supply issues could hamper the U.S. economy

The U.S. economy continues to operate way below estimates of its potential that were made prior to the onset of financial crisis in 2007, with a shortfall of gross domestic product now in excess of $1.5 trillion — or $20,000 per family of four. Just as disturbing, an average economic growth rate of less than 2 percent since that time has caused output to fall further and further below those estimates of potential. Almost a year ago, I invoked the concept of “secular stagnation” in response to the observation that, five years after the financial hemorrhaging had been stanched, the business cycle was not returning to what had been previously thought of as normal levels of output.

Secular stagnation, in my version, has emphasized the difficulty in maintaining sufficient economic demand to permit normal levels of output. Given a high propensity to save, a low propensity to invest and low inflation, it has been impossible for real interest rates to fall far enough to spur the economy to its full potential, since nominal interest rates cannot fall below zero.

Given the various factors — rising inequality, the lower capital costs needed to enter dynamic businesses, slowing population growth, increasing foreign reserves and greater spreads between borrowing and lending cost — operating to reduce natural interest rates, it continues to seem unlikely to me that, as currently structured, the U.S. economy is capable of demanding 10 percent more output with interest rates that are consistent with financial stability. So ­demand-side secular stagnation remains an important economic problem.

But as the work of Northwestern University economist Robert J. Gordon in particular points up, it may well be that now supply-side barriers threaten to hold back the economy before constraints on the ability to create demand start to bind. Two ways of looking at the situation point up the difficulty.

First, while I have emphasized that U.S. GDP is still far short of what pre-crisis trends predicted, the unemployment rate, now at 6.1 percent, has reverted most of the way back to even relatively optimistic estimates of its normal level. In other words, even as growth has been poor, it appears that demand has been advancing rapidly enough to substantially reduce slack in the labor market. As Gordon rightly emphasizes, weak growth along with significant decreases in labor slack suggest a major slowing of the growth of potential output.

To be fair, one can quarrel with the use of the headline unemployment rate as a measure of slack in the labor market. But the degree to which the labor market appears to be normalizing is even greater if one looks at measures of job openings and vacancies, new unemployment insurance claims or short-term unemployment.

Second, even with Friday’s relatively weak employment figures, monthly job growth has averaged more than 225,000 since February. If this trend continued, what would happen to unemployment? This, of course, depends on what happens to labor force participation, which has been trending down in recent years because of the aging of the population and long-term structural trends. Assume, for simplicity’s sake, that participation rates remain constant (an optimistic assumption) and that the economy keeps on creating 200,000 jobs a month. A simple calculation reveals that the unemployment rate would fall to the 4 percent range by the end of 2016.

While such a low unemployment rate is conceivable, it seems more likely that employment growth will slow at some point, either because of employers having difficulty finding workers, rising wages or government policy decisions. In any of these cases, the economy would be held back not by a lack of demand but a lack of supply potential.

Why has supply potential declined so much? This will be hotly debated for years to come. Part of the answer lies in the effect of past economic weakness. Part of it is the brutal demographic realities of an aging population, the end of the trend toward increased women’s labor force participation and the exhaustion of the gains that could be won from an increasingly educated workforce. And part is the apparent slowing of productivity growth.

To achieve growth of even 2 percent a year over the next decade, active support for demand will be necessary but not sufficient. In the United States, as in Europe and Japan, structural reform — to both increase the productivity of workers and capital and to increase the number of people able and willing to work productively — is essential. Infrastructure investment, immigration reform, policies to promote family-friendly workplaces, development of energy resources and improvements to the business tax system will become ever more important.
202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, Lawrence Summers: a shortfall of 20k /family! on: September 08, 2014, 10:30:26 AM
Another view on the performance of the US economy by Democrat Lawrence Summers:

The U.S. economy continues to operate way below estimates of its potential that were made prior to the onset of financial crisis in 2007, with a shortfall of gross domestic product now in excess of $1.5 trillion — or $20,000 per family of four. Just as disturbing, an average economic growth rate of less than 2 percent since that time has caused output to fall further and further below those estimates of potential. Almost a year ago, I invoked the concept of “secular stagnation” in response to the observation that, five years after the financial hemorrhaging had been stanched, the business cycle was not returning to what had been previously thought of as normal levels of output.

"...weak growth along with significant decreases in labor slack suggest a major slowing of the growth of potential output."

Lawrence Summers is a professor at and past president of Harvard University. He was treasury secretary from 1999 to 2001 and economic adviser to President Obama from 2009 through 2010.

(I will posting the policy part of this that follows on the Political Economics thread.)
203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Hill: 2016 Republican dark horses, Pence, Kasich, Carson, Bolton on: September 08, 2014, 10:02:50 AM

1. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence
2. Ohio Gov. John Kasich
3. Dr. Ben Carson
4. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton

Read about all four at the link. Kasich fizzeld quickly in 2000.  Their comments on Carson are similar to ours.  I think John Bolton is better suited to advise than be the lead voice.  Here is what they wrote about Indiana Gov. Mike Pence

PROS: Pence has left the door open to a potential run and could quickly become a fast rising favorite if he joins the fray.

He has a long track record of both social and fiscal conservatism, leading fights against abortion rights and government spending dating back to his time in Congress. The Indiana governor is well-known in Washington, with a solidly conservative record, while his time as governor gives him distance from the unpopular town.

“The most interesting of the [dark horse] candidates right now is Mike Pence,” said the Indiana-based Savage. “People are talking about him very seriously.”

CONS: GOP strategists privately say Pence isn’t sparkling on the stump and lacks a signature achievement as governor. Plus, it’s harder to generate headlines or build a national fundraising base from a mid-sized Midwestern state like Indiana. He’d also have to choose between running for president and running for reelection.

Rock solid and un-flashy with chief executive governing experience might be just what we are looking for after the first 4 or 5 twists and turns in the Republican endorsement contest.
204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential: Is Jim Webb running? on: September 08, 2014, 09:50:40 AM
I'm sure everyone will say no, he can't mount a credible challenge, because Hillary is inevitable.  lol

A challenge from the right and from the left within the Democratic party would be good for Hillary, good for the party and good for the nation, IMHO.  Jump in Jim!

Any early endorsements?

Jim Webb could be Hillary Clinton's worst nightmare.

The former one-term Virginia senator and Vietnam War veteran is making sounds about running for president as a Democrat. He was in Iowa last month; a New Hampshire trip may be in the offing, and he's giving a major speech at the National Press Club in two weeks.

He seems an improbable candidate. He has taken illiberal positions, was President Ronald Reagan's Navy secretary, has few relationships within the Democratic Party, and has no serious fundraising network.

What he does possess is a long-held and forceful opposition to U.S. interventions in Iraq and Libya, and potentially Syria, as well as solid anti-Wall Street credentials. In Democratic primaries, these may be Clinton's greatest impediments to rallying a hard-core activist base.

In 2002, Webb warned of the perils of invading and occupying Iraq; he has been proven right by the violence and sectarian strife of the post-Saddam Hussein era. As a senator, Clinton voted for the war and supported it for years. She recently acknowledged she had been wrong.

As secretary of state, Clinton was the chief advocate in the Barack Obama administration for intervening against Muammar Qaddafi. When the Libyan dictator was toppled and killed in 2011, she thought it would be her signature foreign-policy achievement.

Webb, then a senator, adamantly opposed this venture. The U.S. has since withdrawn its personnel from Libya, and radical jihadists now occupy a compound belonging to the U.S. embassy.

Clinton recently said she disagreed with Obama's decision not to intervene in the Syrian civil war. Webb warns that the Syrian opposition includes not only elements friendly to the U.S., but also the radical Islamic State forces that have wreaked mayhem there and in Iraq, murdering thousands and beheading two American journalists. Syria, he has warned, is "Lebanon on steroids."

Clinton has close ties to Wall Street, a source of campaign funds for her and the Clinton Foundation. Since leaving office, she has received large speaking fees from hedge funds, private-equity companies and big banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Webb, 68, has long taken a populist, anti-Wall Street stance. In 2007, he delivered the Democratic response to President George W. Bush's State of the Union address. Webb declared that the health of American society should be measured "not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that exist on Main Street."

He pushed a measure to slap a special tax on big bonuses paid out by Wall Street companies that received government assistance during the financial crisis. When it failed, he complained that Democrats, beholden to Wall Street, killed it.

If Webb decides to run -- fearlessness and unpredictability are his trademarks -- there's plenty of ammunition against him. He's against gun control, and he has made comments that angered feminists, many of whom consider Clinton a cause as well as a candidate, and environmentalists. He also has been involved in numerous personal controversies.

In a recent Virginia Senate debate, Republican Ed Gillespie sought to paint the moderate Democratic incumbent, Mark Warner, as too left, citing occasions when he didn't join Webb in voting along a more conservative line.

The maverick lawmaker had a few notable successes, passing a major veterans' education bill, putting criminal justice reform on the agenda, and calling for a pivot to Asia before Obama was elected. He has criticized executive overreach by both Bush and Obama.

A decorated war hero -- he received the Navy Cross for "extraordinary heroism" -- and author of nine books, he would run principally on the issues most likely to cut Clinton: opposition to an interventionist-centered foreign policy and softness toward Wall Street. He would bring more authenticity to these two issues than any other would-be Clinton challenger. In Iowa, he made no secret of his criticism of Clinton's tenure at State.

Clintonites will dismiss the Webb threat by pointing to his political weaknesses. But here's a safe bet: They will closely monitor his Sept. 23 Press Club speech.
205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness: Eliminate the schism between Sunni and Shia on: September 08, 2014, 09:13:21 AM
From reversing the rising of the oceans and ending the racial divide in America to eliminating the schism between Sunni and Shia that has been fueling so much of the violence in the Middles East, this President has a very high opinion of his governing and diplomatic skills!

Assuming he can actually do all these things, I'm thinking about supporting him for a third term.
206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Bush warned what would happen if we left Iraq early on: September 05, 2014, 11:48:12 PM
People are noticing lately that George Bush warned in 2007 exactly what would happen when we left:

“I know some in Washington would like us to start leaving Iraq now. To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we're ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to Al Qaida … It'd mean that we'd be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It'd mean we'd allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It'd mean we'd be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.”

Bush was told this scenario by his top military advisers.  Obama;s top military advisers would have told him the same thing if they were allowed to give him security briefings.  Instead Pres. Obama makes foreign policy decisions based on ignorance and political considerations, which turns out to not be a very good political consideration.
207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi poem on: September 05, 2014, 11:09:50 PM
Very powerful writing!

We hear again of the orders to stand down:
208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science, WSJ: Whatever Happened to Global Warming? on: September 05, 2014, 12:10:56 PM
Whatever Happened to Global Warming?

Now come climate scientists’ implausible explanations for why the ‘hiatus’ has passed the 15-year mark.By MATT RIDLEY
Sept. 4, 2014 7:20 p.m. ET    THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

On Sept. 23 the United Nations will host a party for world leaders in New York to pledge urgent action against climate change. Yet leaders from China, India and Germany have already announced that they won’t attend the summit and others are likely to follow, leaving President Obama looking a bit lonely. Could it be that they no longer regard it as an urgent threat that some time later in this century the air may get a bit warmer?

In effect, this is all that’s left of the global-warming emergency the U.N. declared in its first report on the subject in 1990. The U.N. no longer claims that there will be dangerous or rapid climate change in the next two decades. Last September, between the second and final draft of its fifth assessment report, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change quietly downgraded the warming it expected in the 30 years following 1995, to about 0.5 degrees Celsius from 0.7 (or, in Fahrenheit, to about 0.9 degrees, from 1.3).

Even that is likely to be too high. The climate-research establishment has finally admitted openly what skeptic scientists have been saying for nearly a decade: Global warming has stopped since shortly before this century began.

First the climate-research establishment denied that a pause existed, noting that if there was a pause, it would invalidate their theories. Now they say there is a pause (or “hiatus”), but that it doesn’t after all invalidate their theories.

Alas, their explanations have made their predicament worse by implying that man-made climate change is so slow and tentative that it can be easily overwhelmed by natural variation in temperature—a possibility that they had previously all but ruled out.

When the climate scientist and geologist Bob Carter of James Cook University in Australia wrote an article in 2006 saying that there had been no global warming since 1998 according to the most widely used measure of average global air temperatures, there was an outcry. A year later, when David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London made the same point, the environmentalist and journalist Mark Lynas said in the New Statesman that Mr. Whitehouse was “wrong, completely wrong,” and was “deliberately, or otherwise, misleading the public.”
We know now that it was Mr. Lynas who was wrong. Two years before Mr. Whitehouse’s article, climate scientists were already admitting in emails among themselves that there had been no warming since the late 1990s. “The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998,” wrote Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia in Britain in 2005. He went on: “Okay it has but it is only seven years of data and it isn’t statistically significant.”

If the pause lasted 15 years, they conceded, then it would be so significant that it would invalidate the climate-change models upon which policy was being built. A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) written in 2008 made this clear: “The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more.”

Well, the pause has now lasted for 16, 19 or 26 years—depending on whether you choose the surface temperature record or one of two satellite records of the lower atmosphere. That’s according to a new statisticalcalculation by Ross McKitrick, a professor of economics at the University of Guelph in Canada.

It has been roughly two decades since there was a trend in temperature significantly different from zero. The burst of warming that preceded the millennium lasted about 20 years and was preceded by 30 years of slight cooling after 1940.  (more at link)
209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Canada passes US on: September 05, 2014, 11:50:50 AM

'The Way Forward' and out of stagnation in the US receives an good example from the north.  Conservatives achieve economic success and win 3 elections in a row.

Is Canada Now More American than America?
Canada’s Burger King secret: Hold the taxes, hold the regulations.
By John Fund

The merger of U.S. hamburger giant Burger King with Tim Hortons, Canada’s favorite coffee shop, will create the world’s third largest fast-food company, with a total of 18,000 restaurants in over 100 countries. It is also a piercing wake-up call for the U.S., because the new company will make its global headquarters in Canada’s province of Ontario. That underscores what savvy businesses everywhere have learned — the U.S. is an increasingly less attractive place to do business. “Canada has quietly and politely become, well, more American than America,” says columnist Stephen Green.

Since 2003, more than 35 major U.S. companies have moved their headquarters and reincorporated overseas. Rather than rail against such “inversions,” as President Obama does, or call for an economic boycott, as Ohio’s Democratic senator Sherrod Brown does, we should figure out what is driving U.S. companies offshore. Here’s a clue: The U.S. now has the highest corporate tax rate of any industrialized country, and the Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration is “even now looking for ways it can unilaterally raise corporate taxes without going to Congress.”
Canada has long been our more socialist and, consequently, our poorer neighbor to the north. But that has changed over the last two decades. Starting in 1995, Canada has drawn back from a public-debt precipice, restrained government spending, and dramatically overhauled its tax system. Next year it will also begin unilaterally reducing tariffs on thousands of manufactured goods — recognizing that free trade makes for wealthier consumers and a more prosperous society.
The results have been dramatic. This year, Canada has a higher per capita household income than the U.S., an unheard-of development that no one saw coming. It ranks eightth in the annual Economic Freedom of the World index ( that the Fraser Institute compiles for over 150 countries, with especially strong marks in property rights and business freedom. By comparison, the U.S. ranks a pathetic 17th and is now categorized as only “mostly free.” “Unfortunately for the United States, we’ve seen overspending, weakening rule of law, and regulatory overkill on the part of the U.S. government, causing its economic freedom score to plummet in recent years,” said Fred McMahon of the Fraser Institute. “This is a stark contrast from 2000, when the U.S. was considered one of the most economically free nations and ranked second globally.”

While the U.S. eagle has plummeted in terms of economic freedom, the Canadian maple leaf has prospered. The consulting firm of KPMG looked at the tax costs of doing business in ten major nations. Setting the U.S. tax rate at a benchmark score of 100, it found that Canada’s costs were the lowest, 46.4 percentage points lower than the U.S. The United Kingdom, Mexico, and the Netherlands also beat out the U.S.

Canada’s strategy of lowering tax burdens on business was a conscious one, begun under the Liberal government of Paul Martin and accelerated since 2006 by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. The late Jim Flaherty, who served as Harper’s finance minister until March of this year, told me last year that the essence of smart taxation is “to raise the resources needed for prudent government while creating an environment where the private sector is encouraged to create the longer-lasting jobs a country needs to prosper.” He concluded that “if you can give people enough upward opportunity for average people, the talk will be on creating more of it rather than on redistributing a shrinking pie.”

Among the innovations that Flaherty introduced was the Tax Free Savings Account, which allows Canadians to save more by setting aside money tax-free if it’s invested. Combined with the already established Registered Retirement Savings Plan, which is focused on building retirement income, Canadians now have more tax-free savings vehicles to help them remain independent over their lifespan than any people outside of Chile, which privatized its Social Security system in the 1980s.

No one suggests that Canada is a pure beacon of freedom. Harper’s Conservatives have a majority of seats in Parliament, but just shy of 50 percent of Canadians in the last election, in 2011, cast ballots for either the Liberals or New Democrats, both interventionist purveyors of big government. Canada’s single-payer health system delivers less innovation and longer waiting lists than Americans would be likely to tolerate, and many of Canada’s provinces are once again piling up debt and overspending.

But Canada proves that a country can climb out of a deep fiscal hole within a remarkably small number of years and build a prosperous society even while it retains large welfare-state programs.

That is a lesson for U.S. Democrats, who, rather than rail against Burger King’s lack of economic patriotism, should learn how Canada has avoided America’s economic stagnation. It’s also a lesson for Republicans, who often lack the courage of their convictions in calling for genuine economic reform. Canada’s economic example — and the political success of Harper’s Conservatives in winning three elections in a row — should stiffen their spines.
210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ISIS threatens to 'liberate' Chechnya and Caucasus on: September 05, 2014, 11:43:28 AM
News from a couple of days ago:
ISIS threatens to 'liberate' Chechnya and Caucasus

Interesting that our two greatest enemies will soon be at war with each other.

One might take from this that a post-Putin Russia could very easily or at least logically become a strategic ally of the United States.
211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obamacare website with American's most personal info hacked, still not secure! on: September 05, 2014, 11:36:28 AM
This is just one reason why we don't centralize all our personal and governmental functions, any more than necessary.

Foreigners hacked Obamacare website on July 8 – but HHS only discovered it 10 days ago
Malicious code was inserted into an Obamacare server and lay dormant, waiting for a command to attack other computers
212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Charles Krauthammer: Obama Writes Off Ukraine, use "Tripwires" not red lines on: September 05, 2014, 11:30:19 AM
Yes, Zbig got that right in 1994.  Who knew Russia would still have an eye on re-taking Ukraine and any/all of its old empire that it could!

Here is Krauthammer writing on the same mess today.  These 3 opinion pieces, VDH on deterrence, George Will on Putin acting like Hitler and Charles Krauthammer on the surrender of Ukraine should be read together IMO.  Quoting Krauthammer,

"...what NATO did not do. It did not create the only serious deterrent to Russia: permanent bases in the Baltics and eastern Poland that would act as a tripwire. Tripwires produce automaticity. A Russian leader would know that any invading force would immediately encounter NATO troops, guaranteeing war with the West.  Which is how we kept the peace in Europe through a half-century of Cold War. U.S. troops in West Germany could never have stopped a Russian invasion. But a Russian attack would have instantly brought America into a war — a war Russia could not countenance."

SEPTEMBER 4, 2014 8:00 PM
Obama Writes Off Ukraine
Putin’s invasion may be nothing new to Obama. For Ukraine, it changed everything.
By Charles Krauthammer

At his first press briefing after the beheading of American James Foley, President Obama stunned the assembled when he admitted that he had no strategy in Syria for confronting the Islamic State. Yet it was not nearly the most egregious, or consequential, thing he said.

Idiotic, yes. You’re the leader of the free world. Even if you don’t have a strategy — indeed, especially if you don’t — you never admit it publicly.

However, if Obama is indeed building a larger strategy, an air campaign coordinated with allies on the ground, this does take time. George W. Bush wisely took a month to respond to 9/11, preparing an unusual special ops–Northern Alliance battle plan that brought down Taliban rule in a hundred days.

We’ll see whether Obama comes up with an Islamic State strategy. But he already has one for Ukraine: Write it off. Hence the more shocking statement in that August 28 briefing: Obama declaring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — columns of tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery and a thousand troops brazenly crossing the border — to be nothing new, just “a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now.”
And just to reaffirm his indifference and inaction, Obama mindlessly repeated his refrain that the Ukraine problem has no military solution. Yes, but does he not understand that diplomatic solutions are largely dictated by the military balance on the ground?

Vladimir Putin’s invasion may be nothing new to Obama. For Ukraine, it changed everything. Russia was on the verge of defeat. Now Ukraine is. That’s why Ukraine is welcoming a cease-fire that amounts to capitulation.

A month ago, Putin’s separatist proxies were besieged and desperate. His invasion to the southeast saved them. It diverted the Ukrainian military from Luhansk and Donetsk, allowing the rebels to recover, while Russian armor rolled over Ukrainian forces, jeopardizing their control of the entire southeast. Putin even boasted that he could take Kiev in two weeks.

Why bother? He’s already fracturing and subjugating Ukraine, re-creating Novorossiya (“New Russia”), statehood for which is one of the issues that will be up for, yes, diplomacy.

Which makes incomprehensible Obama’s denial to Ukraine of even defensive weapons — small arms, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. Indeed, his stunning passivity in the face of a dictionary-definition invasion has not just confounded the Ukrainians. It has unnerved the East Europeans. Hence Obama’s reassurances on his trip to the NATO summit in Wales.

First up, Estonia. It seems to be Obama’s new red line. I’m sure they sleep well tonight in Tallinn now that Obama has promised to stand with them. (Remember the State Department hashtag #UnitedforUkraine?)

To back up Obama’s words, NATO is touting a promised rapid-reaction force of about 4,000 to be dispatched to pre-provisioned bases in the Baltics and Poland within 48 hours of an emergency. (Read: Russian invasion.)

First, we’ve been hearing about European rapid-reaction forces for decades. They’ve amounted to nothing.

Second, even if this one comes into being, it is a feeble half-measure. Not only will troops have to be assembled, dispatched, transported and armed as the fire bell is ringing. The very sending will require some affirmative and immediate decision by NATO. Try getting that done. The alliance is famous for its reluctant, slow, and fractured decision-making. (See: Ukraine.) By the time the Rapid Reactors arrive, Russia will have long overrun their yet-to-be-manned bases.

The real news from Wales is what NATO did not do. It did not create the only serious deterrent to Russia: permanent bases in the Baltics and eastern Poland that would act as a tripwire. Tripwires produce automaticity. A Russian leader would know that any invading force would immediately encounter NATO troops, guaranteeing war with the West.

Which is how we kept the peace in Europe through a half-century of Cold War. U.S. troops in West Germany could never have stopped a Russian invasion. But a Russian attack would have instantly brought America into a war — a war Russia could not countenance.

It’s what keeps the peace in Korea today. Even the reckless North Korean leadership dares not cross the Demilitarized Zone, because it would encounter U.S. troops and trigger war with America.

That’s what deterrence means. And what any rapid reaction force cannot provide. In Wales, it will nonetheless be proclaimed a triumph. In Estonia, in Poland, as today in Ukraine, it will be seen for what it is — a loud declaration of reluctance by an alliance led by a man who is the very embodiment of ambivalence.
213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: September 05, 2014, 11:17:18 AM
George Will very persuasively asserts that Putin represents a greater threat than ISIS.  (I would arguess that both represent grave threats.)
Vladimir Putin’s Hitlerian Mind
The Russian president’s fascist revival in Eastern Europe poses a unique threat to the West.
By George Will

The Islamic State is a nasty problem that can be remedied if its neighbors, assisted by the United States, decide to do so. Vladimir Putin’s fascist revival is a crisis that tests the West’s capacity to decide.

Putin’s serial amputations of portions of Ukraine, which began with his fait accompli in Crimea, will proceed, and succeed, until his appetite is satiated. Then the real danger will begin.

Suppose Ukraine is merely his overture for the destruction of NATO, the nemesis of his Soviet memory. Then what might be his version of the Gleiwitz radio-station episode 75 years ago?

On the evening of August 31, 1939, Nazi SS personnel pretending to be Polish partisans seized the station, which was about four miles inside Germany (Gliwice is now in Poland), proclaiming that Poland was invading Germany to achieve “our just [territorial] claims,” and shot a German prisoner dressed in a stolen Polish uniform, giving Hitler his pretext for declaring war the next day.

Putin has discarded the minor inhibitions of what NATO calls his “hybrid war” — giving slightly surreptitious aid to Russian separatists; brazenly infiltrating Russian soldiers in unmarked uniforms. Russia has invaded Ukraine, although the Obama administration likes the semantic anesthesia of calling it an “incursion.” Putin does not pretend that it will be, like President Nixon’s 1970 “incursion” into Cambodia, temporary.

So, suppose Putin, reprising his Ukrainian success, orchestrates unrest among the Russian-speaking minorities in Latvia, Lithuania, or Estonia. Then, recycling Hitler’s words that his country “could not remain inactive,” Putin invades one of these NATO members. Either NATO invokes Article 5 — an attack on any member is an attack on all — or NATO disappears and the Soviet Union, NATO’s original raison d’être, is avenged.

Although no one more thoroughly detested Hitler’s regime that General Erwin Rommel served, Winston Churchill acknowledged in January 1942 in the House of Commons the talent of Britain’s enemy: “We have a very daring and skillful opponent against us, and, may I say across the havoc of war, a great general.” Putin is, the West should similarly acknowledge, more talented and dangerous than either Nikita Khrushchev or Leonid Brezhnev. Their truculence was not fueled by fury. Putin’s essence is anger. It is a smoldering amalgam of resentment (of Russia’s diminishment because of the Soviet Union’s collapse), revanchist ambitions (regarding formerly Soviet territories and spheres of influence), cultural loathing (for the pluralism of open societies), and ethnic chauvinism that presages “ethnic cleansing” of non-Russians from portions of Putin’s expanding Russia.

This is more than merely the fascist mind; its ethnic-cum-racial component makes it Hitlerian. Hence Putin is “unpredictable” only to those unfamiliar with the 1930s. Regarding the roles of resentment and vengeance, remember where Hitler insisted that France formally capitulate in 1940 — in the railroad carriage near the town of Compiègne, where Germany signed the 1918 armistice.

Since its emancipation by the Soviet Union’s demise, Ukraine has been ravaged by corruption that frays national sentiment, which even before this was a tenuous phenomenon. In The Long Shadow: The Legacies of the Great War in the Twentieth Century, David Reynolds of Cambridge University cites a British diplomat’s 1918 analysis:

Were one to ask the average peasant in the Ukraine his nationality, he would answer that he is Greek Orthodox; if pressed to say whether he is a Great Russian, a Pole, or an Ukrainian he would probably reply that he is a peasant; and if one insisted on knowing what language he spoke, he would say that he talked “the local tongue.”

Ukraine may be an ethnic casserole susceptible to diminishment by Putin’s ladle. But the Baltic States, by virtue of their NATO membership, are, regardless of their histories or sociologies, decisively different. And given Putin’s animus, nourished by his negligibly resisted success in Ukraine, he is more dangerous than the Islamic State.

This group is perhaps 20,000 fighters possessing some artillery and armor but no air force. It is an island of tenuously occupied territory in a sea of hostile regimes — those of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Iraq’s Kurdish region, which has its own regime. These command approximately 2 million troops who, with ample air power, can pulverize the Islamic State whenever the regimes summon the will to do so.

U.S. participation in this should be conditional on the regional powers’ putting their militaries where their mouths (sometimes) are in the fight against radical Islamists. U.S. participation in defense of the Baltic States is unconditional.

— George Will is a Pulitzer Prize–winning syndicated columnist.
214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: Only Deterrence Can Prevent War on: September 05, 2014, 11:12:00 AM
Hanson follows up on my "disproportionate response" post with an excellent "peace through deterrence" article.  Never more timely than now.

Only Deterrence Can Prevent War
Most aggressors take stupid risks only when they feel they won't be stopped.
By Victor Davis Hanson

Only lunatics from North Korea or Iran once mumbled about using nuclear weapons against their supposed enemies. Now Vladimir Putin, after gobbling up the Crimea, points to his nuclear arsenal and warns the West not to “mess” with Russia.

The Middle East terrorist group the Islamic State keeps beheading its captives and threatening the West. Meanwhile Obama admits to the world that we “don’t have a strategy yet” for dealing with such barbaric terrorists. Not long ago he compared them to “jayvees.”

Egypt is bombing Libya, which America once bombed and then left. Vice President Joe Biden once boasted that a quiet Iraq without U.S. troops could be “one of the great achievements” of the administration. Not now.
China and Japan seem stuck in a 1930s time warp as they once again squabble over disputed territory. Why all the sudden wars?

Conflicts rarely break out over needed scarce land — what Adolf Hitler once called “living space” — or even over natural resources. A vast, naturally rich Russia is under-populated and poorly run. It hardly needs more of the Crimea and Ukraine to screw up. The islands that Japan and China haggle over are mostly worthless real estate. Iran has enough oil and natural gas to meet its domestic and export needs without going to war over building a nuclear bomb.

Often states fight about prestigious symbols that their own fears and sense of honor have inflated into existential issues. Hamas could turn its back on Israel and turn Gaza into Singapore — but not without feeling that it had backed down.

Putin thinks that grabbing more of the old Soviet Republics will bring him the sort of prestige that his hero Stalin once enjoyed. The Islamic State wants to return to 7th-century Islam, when the Muslim world had more power and honor.

The great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges once summed up the Falklands War between his country and Britain as a fight “between two bald men over a comb.” In fact, Britain went to war over distant windswept rocks to uphold the hallowed tradition of the British Navy and the idea that British subjects everywhere were sacrosanct. The unpopular Argentine junta started a war to take Britain down a notch.

But disputes over honor or from fear do not always lead to war. Something else is needed — an absence of deterrence. Most aggressors take stupid risks in starting wars only when they feel there is little likelihood they will be stopped. Hitler thought no one would care whether he gobbled up Poland, after he easily ingested Czechoslovakia and Austria.

Saddam Hussein went into Kuwait believing the U.S. did not intervene in border disputes among Arab countries. Deterrence, alliances, and balances of power are not archaic concepts that “accidentally” triggered World War I, as we are sometimes told. They are the age-old tools of advising the more bellicose parties to calm down and get a grip.

What ends wars?

Not the League of Nations or the United Nations. Unfortunately, war is a sort of cruel laboratory experiment whose bloodletting determines which party, in fact, was the stronger all along. Once that fact is again recognized, peace usually follows.

It took 50 million deaths to remind the appeased Axis that Germany, Italy, and Japan in 1941 were all along far weaker than the Allies of Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States. The Falklands War ended when Argentines recognized that boasting about beating the British was not the same as beating the British.

Each time Hamas builds more tunnels and gets more rockets, it believes this time around it can beat Israel. Its wars end only when Hamas recognizes it can’t.

War as a reminder of who is really strong and who weak is a savage way to run the world. Far better would be for peace-loving constitutional governments to remain strong. They should keep their defenses up, and warn Putin, the Islamic State, Iran, North Korea, and others like them that all a stupid war would accomplish would be to remind such aggressors that they would lose so much for nothing.

Even nuclear powers need conventional deterrence. They or their interests are often attacked — as in the case of Britain by Argentina, the U.S. by al-Qaeda, or Israel by Hamas — by non-nuclear states on the likely assumption that nuclear weapons will not be used, and on the often erroneous assumption that the stronger power may not wish the trouble or have the ability to reply to the weaker.

If deterrence and military readiness seem such a wise investment, why do democracies so often find themselves ill-prepared and bullied by aggressors who then are emboldened to start wars?

It is hard for democratic voters to give up a bit of affluence in peace to ensure that they do not lose it all in war. It is even harder for sophisticated liberal thinkers to admit that after centuries of civilized life, we still have no better way of preventing Neanderthal wars than by reminding Neanderthals that we have the far bigger club — and will use it if provoked.

215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness: Obama absent for start of NATO meeting on: September 05, 2014, 11:04:57 AM
Imagine NATO without the US...
“We call on Russia to end its illegal and self-declared annexation of Crimea,” Rasmussen said.  [NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen] “We call on Russia to pull back its troops from Ukraine” and stop the flow of arms to separatists.  Rasmussen said the gathering of the leaders should telegraph a "clear message" to Ukraine that NATO stands with the nation and supports its reforms.

President Obama was nowhere to be found during the beginning of a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine commission in Wales on Thursday.
Obama was "noticeably absent" from the start of the meeting, according to a White House pool report

He had more pressing matters.
216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: September 04, 2014, 10:33:50 PM
Sean Trende at RCP knows his stuff, but doesn't know yet what will happen this year with maybe 10 tossup Senate seats.

Democrats lead Republicans [currently] in the generic ballot, 42.5 percent to 42 percent.  Republicans had a healthy lead at this point in 2010: 47 percent to 41.7 percent.

But look closely. The difference is not found in a stronger Democratic vote at the expense of Republican votes.  It is found in a greater pool of undecided at the expense of Republicans. Democrats aren’t doing better.  Republicans are doing worse.
It’s ...consistent with a story that this election is not as high-interest as 2010, and that undecided voters have not yet engaged fully with the process.  When they do engage, Obama’s unpopularity will make it unlikely that they will vote Democratic.

In fact, this is roughly what we saw in 2010 [just a little earlier in the process].
217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Corruption on: September 04, 2014, 06:01:27 PM
Kind of sad.  He seemed like a good guy.  The state Virginia really cleaned up.  His successor is Clinton crony, Terry McAulliffe.  It's funny what is legal and what is not, and who gets off scot-free and who gets convicted of multiple felonies.  Hillary was certainly worse, between cattle futures and Whitewater.  She is the current frontrunner for President and McDonnell is headed to prison.

There shouldn't be any tolerance for even the appearance of helping one company or industry over another and yet they do it all the time.
218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Aug. ISM non-mftg index beats consensus on: September 04, 2014, 05:47:16 PM
" ISM Non-Manufacturing Index Increased to 59.6"

The economy seems to do best in the contrived measurements.  How many people don't work in America, how many people don't work full time (hundreds of millions), how many even know or remember what full time, private sector employment is anymore?

 0.0: That is the manufacturing and non-manufacturing index level today combined for all the companies that never started over the last 8 years since Pelosi-Obama-Reid took power.

" the Plow Horse economy may be starting to trot"

Last time Wesbury said that, we were headed into negative growth territory with an economy too weak to withstand winter.  No mention that it is still the worst economic recovery in 80 years, perhaps more.  I think Wesbury is conflating market success with overall economic performance, which is stuck in an intentional, no-growth pattern of stagnation. Plow horses don't trot, especially when pulling a heavy load.
219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq - ISIS #2 'awwwwwwwwseeeeeeeeeya!' on: September 04, 2014, 01:12:14 PM

This seems like great news, a hit in the inner circle.   Also good to learn about rival hockey.  )
220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party Reagan: A Time for Choosing on: September 03, 2014, 02:02:06 PM
Do we have a Reagan thread?

Government was smaller then and the private economy was stronger then than now.  Right?  Is this any less relevant today?

More on same topic:

Reagan Biographer Stephen Hayward, Extremism and Moderation
221  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Recreational Pot Not Bringing In Tax Money That Was Expected on: September 03, 2014, 01:28:29 PM
Taxing something to death is not legalization as required by the referendum IMO.  What a joke.  They way it is bought, around the tax, is still illegal.  People would rather buy illegally than pay a 30% tax.  (  Maybe there is some lesson there for tax policy if not for drug policy. 

Who could have seen this coming?

Those who buy it once as a novelty pay a little extra and pay a small tax  - once.  Those who are heavy users ALL have medical license, and avoid the tax.  (Can you say "chronic pain"?)  The occasional users in between all know someone and buy it the same way they used to, off the 'street', from unknown origins, untaxed and unregulated.

DENVER (CBS4) – High hopes for tax money isn’t as expected as the state’s legal marijuana industry isn’t bringing in as much money as anticipated. In fact, tax revenue is way below expectations.  When voters approved recreational marijuana salesthe state predicted it would pull in more than $33 million in new taxes in the first six months. The actual revenue came up more than $21 million short.  The problem is that buying pot is less expensive on the streets where people don’t have to pay taxes or fees.  Medical marijuana is also less expensive than recreational pot, so those with medical cards are sticking to buying that way.
222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Worse than Glib, Obama's reaction to 911 was empathy for the hijackers on: September 03, 2014, 12:57:36 PM
"The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers..."

   - Barack Obama, September 19th, 2001, in the Hyde Park Herald
"We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair."  (Archives)
223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Winning the Latino Vote on: September 03, 2014, 12:49:51 PM
The piece is right.  The liberal hold on these groups is based on a combination of lies, deception and fallacious thinking on the liberal side.  Also peer-group following and momentum.  You just are a Dem and hate or distrust Republicans and never gave it any critical thought.  Combine that with sloppy thinking and poor messaging on the conservative side and you have electoral victory without producing any positive results.  Witness Obama v. Romney, 2012. 

Most conservative messaging is aimed at firing up the base while alienating all others.  It should be aimed at conservatives clarifying what they believe, which is not putting the needy out to pasture, and putting a positive face on it all to those who should be open to a conservative message or philosophy.

Example:  Paul Ryan said he was wrong to say "we are a nation of makers and takers".  That is badly over-simplified.  His mother with social security survivor benefits was a taker, at least in any way that is helpful to say politically.  Nor are relatives of mine who take a retirement benefit from the government that they earned working.  Some of those comp plans were poorly negotiated and retired people way too early costing the people way more than they should but are not either the fault of the recipient not the best place to focus going forward.

Liberal policies harm liberal constituent groups.  If we can't make that case today and offer persuasively a better alternative, when will it ever be easier?
224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues, Cool summer follows cold winter on: September 02, 2014, 09:31:07 AM
After a cold winter, [Boston Globe] "Cool summer doesn’t invalidate climate change"

Really, nothing does, if you truly believe!

Climate change is a fact; it has been going on since the beginning of the earth.  The validity of a direct link, however, between higher CO2 levels, man-made CO2 levels alone causing higher temperatures has been broken.

While the alarmists question the credentials of a Harvard educated, MIT atmospheric physicist, this Boston Globe columnist served on the Boston city council for 5 years in the 1990s.  If you don't believe him, he says re-read the same, discredited UN IPCC bunk, as if that is a second source. 

Anyone want to bet whether he has read past the sensational headlines?

Much more on this topic on the Pathological Science thread.
225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Daily Mail piece debunked? on: September 01, 2014, 11:21:21 PM

Both of these sites (2 posts) have bunk and de-bunk backwards, and both de-bunk themselves quite nicely.  The attacks center around the smearing of critics and non-denial denials of what the critics are saying.  They "debunk" by calling Richard Lindzen, Atmospheric Physicist at MIT, and Roy Spencer, climatologist and Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a former NASA scientist, and others "psuedo" scientists, while calling their own discredited people "peer reviewed". 

It is the alarmists who manipulated the data and processes and published bunk.  Yes, there is CO2 gain and yes, there has been warming over the last 500 years and many others times before that, but no, none of the alarmists claims has come true or is about to.

Nobel prize winner Al Gore said 7 years ago that the Arctic would be free of ice in 7 years.  Corrupted IPCC scientists stood by while Gore made all kinds of claims based on tampered and cherry picked data.  " An Inconvenient Truth".  The claims are being proven false.  Instead of warming accelerating, warming stopped ("paused") according to all of them.  Instead of becoming ice-free in 7 years, the Arctic has added ice area twice the size of Alaska over the last 2 years and increased the mass, thickness and density in the rest of it.

The Arctic has "added ice area twice the size of Alaska" over the 2 years since I watched the liberal drivel IMAX documnentary, "To the Arctic", with alarmist scare narration delivered by Meryl Streep:  But now the bears are again prospering.  Mother Nature still has cycles.  Who knew?

This year featured ships stuck in Antarctic ice as well:

Don't beliieve your own lying temperature sensors, but it was the coldest winter where I live in more than 30 years:  Not exactly spiraling heat, nor is there proof that atmospheric trace component CO2 is the lead component of global temperature change.  It is a weak correlation, if any.

Is the record cold just here?  No.  Brisbane (Australia) hit a 103 year record low, and Nashville hit its coldest temp on record.

Yes, the warming stopped 16-17 years ago.  If the data manipulators allege .001 degree warming since then, ask them for the mathematical margin of error of the sampled data, not counting their well documented, measurement and manipulation errors.

The warming period preceded the industrial age by hundreds of years.  But the allegation, debunked, is that the warming is spiraling out of control.  Really?  The data says no and the models are false.  The "hockey stick" is a well-discredited lie.  We knew that before the last 17 years proved it.

The IPCC folks stood behind Al Gore, like James Hansen with his secret algorithms for altering raw data, and Michael Mann of Hide-the-Decline and stack-the-peer review fame, published their bunk.  Then others like Lindzen and Spencer de-bunked it.  And now the alarmists respond by re-stating the original bunk, while smearing their critics, financed by Koch, etc. as if that sets it all straight.  It doesn't.

Where did their models predict that warming would or could pause?  They didn't. 
226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trust Iran? on: September 01, 2014, 08:17:42 AM
227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: September 01, 2014, 07:41:26 AM
You don't insert external costs into a transaction by passing a ban.

We don't advance equal protection by applying laws to different products and industries differently.

Martial arts in a public healthcare state arguably has an external cost.  The answer is to pass a ban?
Good luck with majority-decides-your-choices thinking.
228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen. Rand Paul on: August 29, 2014, 12:28:25 PM
What do we think of Rand's article?

[How U.S. Interventionists Abetted the Rise of ISIS]

The timing of the rise of ISIS matches the timing of the election of Barack Obama, and the start of a new US policy of non-intervention, along with the abandonment of all gains made at great cost before him.  It was built by prisoners released instead of being sent to the closing of Guantanamo.  9/11 (and WWII too) arose out of a period and policy of non-intervention and reduced preparedness.  Both Pres. Obama and Rand Paul need to stand up and recognize evil and the threat of letting it grow, spread and prosper.

"Al Baghdadi even served four years in a U.S. prison camp for insurgents, at Bucca in southern Iraq -- a time in which he almost certainly developed a network of contacts and honed his ideology."

Rand Paul will not make us safer.  And he will not be electable (IMO) running on the foreign policy of Barack Obama.  He says that will bring independents and liberals to him, which I doubt, but it certainly will distance him from much of the conservative base.  The world is not going to be safer, nor are the threats going to get smaller in the last two years of this administration coming into the next election, and facing the next President.

Rand Paul needs a Sister Souljah moment pretty soon with his father to tell him publicly he is wrong, it is not helpful, so stop it.
229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Paul Ryan - The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea on: August 29, 2014, 11:53:32 AM

Paul Ryan is stepping up his game.  Paul Ryan subbed for Sean Hannity for a 3 hour nationwide radio show yesterday.  He was already into a monologue when I started listening that I thought was very inspirational, talking very clearly and persuasively about the direction we should be headed.  He has a new book out, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea".

I'm not convinced he could win, but he is a very sharp guy with a great background and has his head on straight.  He would be a great choice for President IMHO.
230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues - Plastic Bag Ban on: August 29, 2014, 11:12:56 AM
"There is no reasonable room I have seen for the right to take the lead.  You would have to be very, very quick to beat the left to the punch."

I disagree.  First you have to be emotionally available.  For example, I see no reason that a Rep could not seize upon the plastic bag issue, using the ED analytical framework I describe.  Yes the left has yapped about PBs first, but with no discernable limiting principle.  Lots of people intuitively understand the lack of cost-benefit in watermelon thinking and the lack of limiting principle and here we have a great chance to establish the principle while simultaneously allaying concerns that Reps are always going to find the analog the of the definition of gyres to quibble about.

The Rep who gets on our front with this, and similar problems will be seen as a uniter, the kind of leader that we need, blah blah.

[Add GM's link to the points made below.  "Without presenting any quantitative evidence, the editors wrote that plastic bags pose a huge cost to the environment..."  In 2011, the United Kingdom’s Environment Agency released a study that evaluated nine categories of environmental impacts caused by different types of supermarket bags. The study found that paper bags have a worse effect on the environment than plastic bags in all nine impact categories, which include global warming potential, abiotic depletion, acidification, eutrophication, human toxicity, fresh water aquatic ecotoxicity, marine aquatic ecotoxicity, terrestrial ecotoxicity, and photochemical oxidation.]

Since yesterday's posts:
On second try, California plastic bag ban passes Assembly

Crafty,  Respectfully, may I assume this 'solution' (above) is not the approach you are describing?  But do you support this ban?

Giving credit where due, Crafty's gave support to this quite a ways back:
"plastic bags at the grocery store foul our planet, both land and sea, at great cost to marine life in particular."

I trust our host but still would like to see the math and science on this problem and this policy.  What about stores other than grocery, dollar store, home depot, mall stores, etc.  Why is it okay to target one industry and not all?  What about the other plastic wrapping in a grocery store?  I have made a conscience effort to take and use fewer plastic bags in all stores since that post of yours, while awaiting convincing evidence.  

We could asses everything a packaging tax.  But I am already paying a waste disposal charge - to my local government who chooses and pays the hauler and landfill.  Why am I paying a flat rate - for water, sewer, garbage - when my usage is a tiny fraction of my neighbors?  And I pay nothing in marginal cost for adding more bags to whatever garbage is there now.  It is actually against the law to NOT bag my garbage.  Reforming that is a better approach.

Common sense conservatism says that excessive waste is stupid, and wrong.  Libertarian principles say that people should retain choices - until they are hurting someone else.  Business economics tells businesses that packaging serves a valuable purpose, increasing quality and satisfaction while decreasing (direct) costs.  "External Dis-economies" tell us that the business and consumer can't feel the entire cost, therefore the government should intervene by levying that cost onto that transaction.  But that is not at all what is happening here!

I thought carbon was the largest problem on earth.  Toward that end, nuclear power is the only major source that is carbon-free.  (We didn't come to agreement on that either.)  Paper bags in place of from grocery stores triple the greenhouse gas emissions of plastic, require 4 times the water consumption to produce, and emit harmful methane in the landfiull.  How does that math  compare with the math on this ban?  [See GM's post.]  Re-use bags carry harmful bacteria, also viruses.  Even more so after we ban dangerous chemicals.  We could wash more, but these are current facts, repeatably measurable.  Public health and public healthcare costs are affected.  Where is that externality measured?  Government mandates have consequences, and usually not the intended ones.  My proposal is that new taxes and new regulations should require the passage of an accompanying, unintended consequence statement, not just an environmental impact statement.  

How mush clearer will the ocean be after this ban goes into effect?  They will tell us none until everyone, everywhere does it.  How much clearer will the ocean be and how much healthier will marine life be after the inland states follow?  None, so we switch over to the landfill argument.  What proportion of landfills are excessive grocery bags?   More importantly, we will feel better about ourselves if we pass more laws, and more laws are certain to follow this one.

The lesson learned in California is that government makes better choices than people.  Good luck translating that into conservative, free market enthusiasm.

The Republican who gets out in front of plastic bag bans (and soda bans, gun bans, SUV bans, campfire bans) across the country won't be the nominee.  Speaking for the 10% who need facts, evidence and reason (I don't buy that either), I will be emotionally available to these kinds of policies after I see the math and the science that supports it.  

The issue regarding ocean crap IMHO is proper disposal.  The fact that we generate too much waste is way more complicated than a grocery store plastic bag ban.  For one thing, why do I have to buy two or three of something when I need only one?  Maybe government could pass a law...
231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: August 28, 2014, 05:40:22 PM
Great discussion here, jumping in a little late.

Answering the last, first: "Name me positions where the right is in the lead against external diseconomies"

The greatest external dis-economy I see in the US economy is the power of excessive government to tax and regulate beyond reason or proportion, choking out private businesses and transactions.  The right is the only side sounding off against that.

It is true that the left is so far out front on all issues environmental.  They are on it before there is a problem.  There is no reasonable room I have seen for the right to take the lead.  You would have to be very, very quick to beat the left to the punch. 

The right has sided with the environment plenty though.  A Republican President started the EPA and a family member, Republican, was the first national director of water quality.  He applied rigorous math and science to the priorities of measurement and cleanup of water supplies.  No partisan.  Not exactly what I see today.

One point of environmental lead for the right might be to attack the level of carbon emitted by excessive governments, federal, state and local.  Their total likely amounts to 40% of our carbon emissions and 40% of our garbage and ocean filth output.  What part of THAT could we cut back?

Where we weren't in the lead, it seems that Republicans have (almost?) never rolled back environmental standards.  The air and the water have never (in the last 50 years or so) been cleaner.  Give liberals some credit and lock in the gains.  But the success of the programs removes a lot of the future urgency.  Growing the economy would help people quite a bit more right now, IMHO.

If Dems say gas mileage should be 100 mpg by mandate, should Republicans say 105?  If they say do it in one year, we could say 6 months, even if the technology to do so either practically or affordably does not exist?  Again, it is hard to be out front when the anti-commerce, anti-freedom side is already all over it.

"Quibbling about the definition of gyres , , ,"

So what is a gyre?  I have no idea, but the "facts" stated in the article are intuitively unbelievable.  If I read it correctly, 40% of the oceans are so clogged in plastics and garbage that navigation is jeopardized.  I sincerely doubt that.  Of the people here who live near the coast, what percent of what you see is disgusting and what percent is beautiful?  Either 40% has some trace in it, or if it is all drifting to the same places, then a tiny percentage of the oceans, maybe .001%, are too clogged for surface travel or sea life.  These pollutants never break down, yet see fish are tearing them apart as fast as they can to their own demise.  Which is it?  And why does a liberal publication run the facts in the opinion section.  Crafty sees a real problem.  Fine.  Let's wait for those real facts.

This discussion started earlier with the idea of banning plastic bags in San Francisco.(?)  But if this is "a perfect issue to illustrate free market environmentalism", isn't the answer is to add the environmental cost of a plastic bag to the transaction?  That is NEVER what is proposed.

Why are we dumping garbage into the ocean?  We don't need to.  Who is doing that?  I'm not doing that.  Governments control garbage.  If San Francisco is doing that, STOP DOING IT!  Non-coastal areas are not doing it.  Are they saying that is just what blows into the water off of litter on the streets?

What is the cost of cleaning up one ocean square mile, acre or hectare?  And how many plastic bags does it contain?  Certainly that is quantifiable, at least with estimates.  Add up the cost, assess it to the perpetrators, and start the cleanup.  Who is proposing that?  I have not seen it.

"...the underlying fact that we are crapping up the oceans" 

If so, then let's take the gathering and presenting of those facts seriously.  And make our response to it effective and proportionate.

We were crapping into Lake Superior decades ago; there it was taconite tailings.  It was wrong and it was stopped.  No one has a right to do that.  Maybe liberals were out front stopping that, but isn't the issue non-partisan?
232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: (US) Foreign Policy - Disproportionate Response on: August 28, 2014, 10:20:40 AM
Liberals and anti-Israelis often admit Israel is being bombed and attacked but blame or accuse Israel of making a disproportionate response.  It seems to me this is an entire topic in itself, which we should address regarding US foreign policy.

Isn't disproportionate response the essence of deterrence and deterrence is the essence of national security.

Denying the right to do that is put our national security at risk.  (And same obviously for Israel)

Looking it up on Google I see wikipedia calls it "Massive retaliation" and Foreign Policy magazine calls it "An eye for a tooth":

Deterrence is tough to achieve against the suicide bomber types but I think we have learned that leadership (such as OBL) value their own live, just not those of the rank and file.

Current example.  I.S. is threatening to behead another journalist if US does not end air strikes.  Shouldn't it be the other way around.  You behead one American and you set your own mission back by years.

Thoughts anyone?
233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Defeciti over $500B this year, future looks worse on: August 28, 2014, 07:23:05 AM
I doubt if those numbers fully capture the new health care losses.

I wonder what the correlation is between defense spending reductions and future war impending.
234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left, Dan Rather on: August 26, 2014, 08:07:20 AM
Dan Rather on war against Islamic murderers, unless you would send your own son or daughter, shut up.

Why doesn't that same logic apply to the 99% always wanting to keep raising taxes on the 1%?
235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: August 25, 2014, 01:39:24 PM
Silence to violence is not leadership.  Is the looting of private stores right?  Wrong?  Or check with our focus group guy.  Dearest leader Hillary says the latter.

In contrast, Dr. Carson said something about personal responsibility and can back it up with specific policies.
236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: August 25, 2014, 12:57:03 PM
Well, my position is we should wait for the facts.  Given that I am hard put to fault Hillary for keeping her mouth shut.

I agree, but we are not in her targeted constituencies.  And I think she didn't say wait and see, she said run and hide.
237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary on Ferguson on: August 25, 2014, 11:33:03 AM
Speaking of Cruz' view on foreign policy, what is HRC's view on Ferguson ? ? ?

Not ready for prime time.
238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strategy to use Ocare in the Senate races on: August 21, 2014, 08:45:44 AM
Republicans should circle back to the Obamacare failure, especially in the NINE Senate toss up races.  Great article:
239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 21, 2014, 08:34:51 AM
Interesting media question posed, what would happen to the level of protests and violence in Ferguson if the media cameras were not rolling? Certainly the race baiters would go home.
240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 21, 2014, 07:45:48 AM
I am not bothered by bias (or wierdness) at the Huffington Post in the same way I am with ABC, NBC, CBS, NYT, LAT, Mpls Startribune, etc., so called mainstream.  They can do what they want with their brand name, and we can call them out on it.
241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: August 21, 2014, 07:30:56 AM
POTH tries to explain the unexplainable:

But if her election is already a certainty, why lose the Senate.  Those are 6 year terms!
242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: August 21, 2014, 12:11:59 AM
 I love the personal story. It's hard to say what we can learn from Nixon. He was both a fool and a political genius. He won 49 states that year.

Hill doesn't just need loyalty, she is obsessed, with it. Something is amiss here IMHO.

What greater loss did O have than losing the House? And now the Senate.
243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: August 20, 2014, 10:43:49 AM
I believe the point of stumping for others is to create loyalties and political indetedness .  I can think of only one scenario where she won't ever need that.
244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin, LGBT, "discrimination", & discrimination. on: August 19, 2014, 11:55:10 AM
Anyone heard anything on the autopsy of  the US ambassador to Libya?

Was he as valuable as this guy?

Maybe we can send Eric Holder there to get at the "truth".  And interrupt a golf trip to announce it.

I have long complained that equal protection under the law has no meaning with this group of ruling bullies or to anyone else on their side of the aisle.  They don't even have equal curiosity.
245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, Ferguson, MO on: August 19, 2014, 11:35:53 AM
Strange, strange story.  Proves me right on one thing.  Look away from these breaking stories, unless there is something you can do to help, until the facts begin to come in.

More than a dozen witnesses - plus three autopsies - corroborate the police story (that I never heard in the media).  He was coming toward the officer.

But what was the uproar about?  Too many black getting shot by whites?  Really?  The odds are 15-fold higher in the other direction.  In fact, the fear of a black being shot is to be shot by another black.  That is tragic.

Did "protesters" really believe he was gunned down in broad daylight for no reason?  Did the officer have a history of that?  Did the police department have a history of that?  No.  But if that is what he had done, the man isn't any more dead the last 40 to be gunned down in Chicago.  But this one rose high in the news.  Partly because the news ran it wrong.  And partly because the protests are planned and orchestrated, not spontaneous.

One might ask, as I have done in the "America's Inner City" thread, what else is going wrong in these neighborhoods and with these people that is keeping them out of productive activities and responsibilities.  Comments?
246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary candidacy on: August 19, 2014, 11:24:02 AM
While it appears to all observers (including myself) that I am losing my bet that she won't run, won't win the nomination if she does run and won't win the Presidency if she does run, today a couple of articles today seem to show the tides may be turning:
Hillary Clinton's SUmmer Slide, Hillary is inevitable no longer
By Tom Keane,  Boston Globe Columnist   August 19, 2014
Clinton’s numbers have dropped by 10 or more points
(Not much new here except that someone besides us is saying it.)

Hillary Clinton Not Campaigning Much for her Party in 2014
By Michael Barone - August 19, 2014

Just about everyone noticed Hillary Clinton's scathing comments on President Obama's foreign policy in her interview with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg.  But almost no one has noticed where Clinton hasn't been seen. That's on the campaign trail or at fundraisers for Democrats running for the Senate.

Why isn't she out campaigning for Democrats?
a)  This is going to be a lousy year for Dems.
b)  The candidates don't want her there.
c)  She isn't very good at campaigning.
d)  She doesn't like doing it.
e)  She doesn't want to face the difficult questions that come with being out there:

 Barone:  "That might force her to weigh in on Obamacare, illegal border crossings and fracking."

In other words, maybe she isn't running after all.   )

247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: August 19, 2014, 11:08:46 AM
"Latest scientific study points to volcanic activity and magma displacement being responsible for glacial melting and rising oceans"

Don't get your hopes up for this to fly in the MSM.  Next thing we know this too will be explained away as being due to fracking.

It was a great post nonetheless.  There is a lot more going on in climate than the alarmists would like to tell us.  People seem to understand this in polling.
248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: August 19, 2014, 11:06:20 AM
As I have been hammering for several years now, the Reps are utterly divided on foreign affairs and much of the core attitude that used to underlie Rep political strength on foreign affairs is gone.  With good reason the American people do not trust the competence of either party to lead this nation in war.  Which is a real big fg problem because it sure looks like a big war is coming!

Looked at through a political lens, Hillary's strategy is very interesting, potentially quite dangerous for us. 

Riddle me this:  How will the Reps respond to it?  More hawkish?  More Dovish?  How will each of the potential Rep nominees respond to it?  The American voter?  Given the American voter's well-earned distrust and looming war, is he/she likely to go for untested neophytes like Cruz or Paul? or Rubio? or?

(Oh and by the way, how does it square with what each of us thinks is best for American and the world?  This probably would be better answered in the Foreign Policy thread where I also posted it.)

Tangent:  I wonder why no one seems to note that Hillary's recent distancing from Baraq by pointing out that she, Petraeus, and Sec Def Paneta also supported arming the FSA in the early days of Syria, is also exactly what Sen. John McCain and Lindsay Graham advocated , , ,

She chose to serve BHO and carry out his vacuous foreign policy.  Now, assuming she's running, she needs to both distance herself from him - on foreign policy - while still getting 100% support from him and his staff, loyalists and band of campaign outlaws.  So she gave an interview ripping him, then immediately called him to "clarify".  Got ripped back badly by Axelrod, and still failed to distance herself.  (And WE are the ones screwed?)

Republicans will have the same heart wrenching debate over foreign policy that Americans are having with themselves.  Marco Rubio is hawkish. Rand Paul is dovish.  Mike Pence is busy exercising his executive experience.  This will play out.  The hawks need to demonstrate they aren't warmongers and the doves need to convince people they aren't pushovers.  The key will be to keep the debates positive and substantive.  In the end, we need to strengthen America from within and they all agree on that.

It is the Dems who can't run on abstractions.  They had their chance and they blew it.

Forgotten about Hillary Clinton's empty foreign policy experience is that her victorious rival named a special envoy to all the difficult areas, 24 in all, leaving her free to take unlimited trips to nowhere.
Obama administration’s 24 special envoys represent an unprecedented expansion of this mechanism
249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Congressional races: And the Least interesting... on: August 19, 2014, 10:47:33 AM
Steven Hayward says Montana Democrats have found someone who can sit comfortably next to fellow MENSA member Barbara Boxer:

Less than 2 minutes will give you a good feel for the depth of the Dem field.
250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Most Interesting Candidate - Jeff Bell, NJ Senate on: August 19, 2014, 10:42:07 AM

The Most Interesting Candidate in the World
Column: Jeff Bell and the Republican future
It's not a party unless it's a Jeff Bell party

It's not a party unless it's a Jeff Bell party

BY: Matthew Continetti
August 15, 2014 5:00 am

Jeff Bell was a reform conservative before it was cool. He’s spent his career arguing with a risk-averse Republican establishment. He pushed Ronald Reagan to embrace the supply-side doctrine of tax cuts before deficit reduction. He spent the 1990s warning the GOP that its tax policy favored investment capital over human capital, corporate interests over working families. He designed a family-friendly flat tax that reduced payroll taxes, increased the child tax credit, taxed capital gains and regular income at the same rate, and ended business expensing. Payroll tax relief and a generous child tax credit are elements of today’s reform conservatism. Bell was there first.

Bell’s career has been a mix of thought and action. He was born and raised in New Jersey, and graduated from Columbia University. He fought in Vietnam. He was an aide to Richard Nixon and to Ronald Reagan, and was active in the conservative movement more generally. In 1978, he upset liberal Republican Clifford Case in the New Jersey Senate primary, losing to Bill Bradley in the general election. He’s the rare political consultant whose views of the world are more expansive than those expressed on Morning Joe.

While advising clients, Bell published two books—both recommended—and articles for National Review and the Weekly Standard. I got to know him when I joined the Standard in 2003. I’ve been in awe of his theoretical and practical intelligence ever since.

I once asked Bell which books best represent the future-oriented, dynamic, cheerfully populist, optimistic, supply-side worldview of President Reagan and Jack Kemp. He thought for a moment and told me to read The Cultural Pattern in American Politics and The Transatlantic Persuasion by Robert Kelly, and The Economy in Mind by Warren Brookes. Try getting that response from James Carville.

Bell repeated history in June of this year when he won, for the second time, the New Jersey Republican primary for Senate. He’s continued to surprise a lot of people by keeping the race between him and incumbent Cory Booker within 10 points. The press has largely ignored his campaign for horserace reasons. Washingtonians don’t think he’ll win.

The other day I watched an interview Bell gave to NJTV news. The questions dealt with process: where the polls stood, how much money has been raised, what the “ground game” looks like. But the questions missed the point. The reason to study Bell’s campaign isn’t his social media strategy. It’s his agenda.

Bell isn’t just running against Booker. He’s also running against the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy, which began in 2008 under Ben Bernanke and continues under Janet Yellen. Defenders of the Fed say its actions since the financial crisis have prevented a depression and sustained the recovery that began in June 2009. Bell says the Fed is responsible for the dreariness of that recovery—its shallow growth, its mediocre job creation. He says the Fed has helped deficit spenders in government, CEOs, and Wall Street bankers and investors. It’s harmed consumers and savers.

“While Washington has gotten free financing from the Fed, families planning for college, retirees living on a fixed income, and everyone else hoping to earn a decent return on their savings rather than speculating in the markets have fallen behind,” Bell writes on his website. “It is a travesty that our monetary policy has deprived seniors, parents, and savers in billions of income so Congress can rack up more debt.”

The value of the dollar is the top issue of his campaign. Bell attacks Yellen and the Fed as much as he attacks Booker. Indeed, one of his chief attacks is that Booker voted for Yellen. Bell has a plan to establish a new gold standard. Most importantly, though, he frames his agenda in terms of “restoring middle class prosperity.” The economy remains voters’ top concern, but voters continue to resist Republican economics as favoring business, the rich, and the connected. By focusing on the Federal Reserve, money, and the rising cost of living, Bell is doing more than trying to win an election. He is reshaping the Republican economic message.

Most of the GOP candidates on the trail this year will criticize the Obama economy. But, when it comes to saying what they would do differently, they won’t be more specific than calls for budget cuts and income and corporate tax cuts. They will be parroting the GOP message of the last 30 years, a message that has been producing diminishing returns.

Bell’s diagnosis is radical, comprehensive, and visceral. He knows that voters who aren’t conservative find it difficult to draw the connection between the Balanced Budget Amendment and their daily life. Talk about how these voters are paying more for less, though, and you are likely to find an audience.

I have become leery of single explanations for our troubles. I cannot say that adopting a gold standard would magically restore American prosperity. But I do think the case for the Federal Reserve has been overstated. The Fed can’t take credit for avoiding a depression while shirking responsibility for our subpar economy. The news is so disappointing that some economists have said we are in the middle of a long-term secular stagnation.

Since history runs only once, and in just one direction, there is no way of proving the counterfactual that things would be worse without zero interest rates and quantitative easing. The progressive heirs to Franklin Roosevelt’s belief in “bold, persistent experimentation” should be the last people to dismiss proposals from outside of the mainstream.

It is precisely the outlandishness of Bell’s vision that makes it worthy of attention. Even as America is rocked by domestic malaise and global crises, our elites return to the same old ideas. This should be a moment for contrarian original thinking. Confidence in government is low. The gap between the public and the caste is wide.

Obamacare is less popular than ever, yet Republicans don’t talk about it. A majority wants to see the illegal immigrant children from Central America returned home—in fact, a majority wants to see reductions in legal immigration—yet Washington’s priority remains comprehensive immigration reform. Americans overwhelmingly support Israel in its fight against terrorists, yet the picture painted by the media is one of Israeli aggression and Palestinian helplessness.

If you relied only on polling data, you’d be knowledgeable of the priorities and wishes of voters. But you wouldn’t have a clue about the priorities and wishes, the buzzwords, action items, clichés, and worldview, of the bipartisan American elite. For that, you’d have to turn to the media, whose concerns are entirely orthogonal, and even harmful, to the interests of the American people.

Nowhere is the divergence clearer than in perceptions of inflation. It’s true that the rampant inflation some conservatives predicted when the Fed announced its “extraordinary measures” has not appeared. But it is also true that inflation is difficult to measure, that growth in wages has been slow, that the cost of health care and tuition continue to rise. Voters complain about rising prices even as experts say the voters don’t know what they are talking about. Who is a politician better off siding with?

Last year, American Principles in Action, a group associated with Jeff Bell, released its own autopsy of the 2012 election. The report noted that, after unemployment, voters in the 2012 exit poll said “rising prices” were their top concern. “What voters dubbed ‘rising prices’ is really a declining standard of living,” the report said, “which many perceive to be the consequence of the ‘shrinking value of the dollar,’ as one Ohio focus group participant told us.” Experts may dismiss Jeff Bell’s calls for monetary reform, but that focus group participant in Ohio is likely to listen—and vote.

The report issued six recommendations to GOP candidates: Don’t avoid social issues but use partial-birth abortion and Common Core as wedges against your opponent; use the social issues to appeal to religious Hispanic voters; call for an end to the Fed’s inflationary policies; attack Obamacare for lessening the American standard of living; go after “the student loan racket”; and celebrate middle-class workers instead of “job creators.” As far as I can tell, Jeff Bell is the only Republican Senate nominee to adopt such an agenda wholeheartedly.

While I disagree with him on immigration reform, and believe an amnesty would hurt precisely those Americans he is trying to help, I am excited to see, for once, a candidate try something bold and original. Jeff Bell may be a lone voice in 2014, but he was also a lone voice calling for supply-side tax cuts in 1978.

Thirty-five years ago, Bell prophesied the future of conservative politics. He’s doing the same today.
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