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3751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness: Supreme Court Rules Unanimously Against Obama for the 13th Time! on: June 27, 2014, 12:08:09 PM

Supreme Court Rules Unanimously Against Obama for 12th and 13th Time Since 2012

By John Fund  National Review
3752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 27, 2014, 11:57:21 AM
Downturn caused by weather, and restocking??!  From ccp's post (Media Issues):

"Another drag on growth last quarter was probably also temporary: Companies sharply cut back on their restocking of goods. That wasn't unexpected. It occurred after companies had aggressively ramped up restocking in the second half of last year. The slowdown in the January-March quarter reduced annual growth by 1.6 percentage points, the government said. With growth strengthening since spring began, businesses are restocking at a faster rate again. Inventories grew 0.6 percent in April, the most in six months."

Downturn not caused by, as others including yours truly allege:
a) largest new entitlement
b) largest new taxes
c) largest new regulations - in the history of the republic.

To miss 3% shrinkage is colossal error.  To miss 3% shrinkage when you are an economist forecasting 3% growth is quit-the-profession level error.  To miss it AFTER IT HAPPENED is a jump-out-the-window danger alert.  I hope our own Brian Wesbury works on the first floor of the First Trust Towers!  

Plowhorse growth means slow and lousy growth, but steady and predictable.  They couldn't 'predict' this downturn in the first 2 3/4 months AFTER IT HAPPENED!  Did we really not know the first quarter weather by the end of first quarter?!  Other than amateurs like us and the 'pros' who always predict doom, who saw this coming?  It turns the term Professional Economist into an oxymoron, not one notch above professional journalist.

The greatest irony is that the number one threat that our economy faces, in the view of the current ruling class who just levied the above entitlements, taxes and regulations, is WARMING.  The greatest security threat we face in the world is WARMING.  Not a little fluctuation here and there, but worsening, spiraling, out of control, human caused and life as we know it ending WARMING.  Yet the reason our economy is tanking is UNEXPECTEDLY COLD WEATHER.  Go figure!
3753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics, Jonah Goldberg: Mr. Piketty's Big Book of Marxiness on: June 27, 2014, 10:09:43 AM
A long, thoughtful takedown and deconstruction of Piketty's twisted book aagainst capital, by Jonah Goldberg in Commentary Magazine, June 2014:
With the quick slide in sales of Hillary's travel notes, maybe we can get back to real issues! Excerpted here, read it all at the link. 

One: Piketty’s Charge

...It remains to be seen what history will make of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which was released in America in April. But it was so perfectly timed that it joined the ranks of those lightning-in-a-bottle books even before its publication. Piketty purports to offer a “general theory of capitalism,” in the words of the economist Tyler Cowen. His theory is that capitalism inherently leads to ever-widening income inequality that can be addressed only through heavy taxes on accumulated wealth. In December 2013, President Obama prepared the intellectual battlefield for Piketty by declaring that income inequality was now “the defining challenge of our time.” As the enormous and dense tome finally settled in at the top of the charts, Hillary Clinton previewed a presidential campaign stump speech of sorts, which largely focused on Piketty’s core theme: inequality. Even the pope got in on the act. Adding a religious dimension to Piketty’s theories on Twitter, he declared in late April that “inequality is the root of social evil” and called for “the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State.”

According to Boris Kachka of New York magazine, “One hundred and eighty years after Alexis de Tocqueville came back to France with the news that he’d found true égalité in America, his countryman has arrived on our shores to deliver the opposite news.”

Taken literally, the comparison between the two writers is ridiculous.
...Capital in the Twenty-First Century is the artillery shell his supporters have long been waiting for to begin the war against “economic inequality.”

Two: Piketty’s Claim

Piketty’s overarching argument is that Karl Marx was essentially correct when he identified what might be called the original sin of capitalism: the problem of “infinite accumulation.” This is the idea that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. According to Piketty, it’s what happened when capitalism was left to its own devices at the end of the 19th century, and it’s what is about to happen in the United States and Europe in the 21st. There was, he says, a brief flattening-out of inequality in the middle of the 20th century, thanks to the devastation of two world wars, which destroyed enormous amounts of wealth and fueled huge spikes in taxation. But otherwise the story has remained the same.

Piketty asks:

Do the dynamics of private capital accumulation inevitably lead to the concentration of wealth in ever fewer hands, as Karl Marx believed in the nineteenth century? Or do the balancing forces of growth, competition, and technological progress lead in later stages of development to reduced inequality and greater harmony among the classes…?

Given this either/or, Piketty essentially sides with Marx. I say “essentially” because there is much bickering about whether it is fair or right to call Piketty a Marxist. Paul Krugman, for instance, finds the idea ridiculous, despite the fact that the very title of the book is an homage to Marx’s Das Kapital and that Piketty says Marx asked the right questions even if some of his answers had “limitations.” Piketty himself rejects the Marxist label, presents his arguments in neoclassical terms, and describes himself as a social democrat.

Others have called Piketty’s approach “soft Marxism.” But with apologies to Stephen Colbert, I’d call it “Marxiness.” Piketty attempts to avoid Marx’s scientistic messianism by proffering caveats like “one should be wary of economic determinism.” Yes, one should. But Piketty has a grating habit of offering seemingly deflating qualifiers and “to be sures” only to proceed—à la an unreconstructed Marxist—to argue as if science and objective truth are unquestionably on his side.

He concludes that the problem with capitalism is that “there is no natural, spontaneous process to prevent destabilizing, inegalitarian forces from prevailing permanently.” Rather, capitalism is structurally (or objectively, as the old Marxists might say) inegalitarian. It is a rigged casino where the winners not only keep winning but don’t deserve their chips in the first place.

His proof comes in the form of r > g, already the most famous mathematical formula since E=MC2. R is the rate of return on capital (investments, interest on savings, rent from land). G is the growth rate of the broader economy. The problem, according to Piketty, is that the rate of return on capital is greater than the growth of the broader economy. He postulates that if capital grows faster than national income, specifically income earned through wages, over time the capitalists will come to own everything unless something stops that from happening.

Piketty dismisses the claim that the free market self-corrects. He essentially rejects the belief that the law of diminishing returns applies to capital. Most economists hold that if there’s too much capital chasing too few opportunities for investment, the return on capital will inevitably drop. Such corrections, in his view, are fleeting shifts in the current of an ever-rising tide of inequality. And even when they occur, they don’t amount to much:

Never mind that such adjustments might be unpleasant or complicated; they might also take decades, during which landlords and oil well owners might accumulate claims on the rest of the population so extensive that they could easily own everything that can be owned, including rural real estate and bicycles, once and for all. As always, the worst is never certain to arrive. It is much too soon to warn readers that by 2050 they may be paying rent to the emir of Qatar.

Piketty asserts that the return on capital (the r in r > g) holds steady at about 5 percent over time. This means that once you’re rich, you keep getting richer thanks to the miracle of compound interest. Inherited wealth, or old money, expands forever—or, as Piketty puts it in a memorable line, “the past devours the future.”

Piketty’s occasional concessions to uncertainty about his most dire predictions illustrate one reason he shouldn’t be considered an orthodox Marxist. He has no grand Hegelian theory of the ineluctable progression of History with a capital H. But who needs dialectical materialism when you have algebra?

Indeed, his primary claim to originality comes from a statistical tendency he discerns through masses of data, according to which the free market yields a society in which the rich not only get richer but get richer faster than everyone else and ultimately leave the poor behind. This is, he says, the “central contradiction of capitalism.” He goes on:

Once constituted, capital reproduces itself faster than output increases. The past devours the future. The consequences for the long-term dynamics of the wealth distribution are potentially terrifying, especially when one adds that the divergence in wealth distribution is occurring on a global scale.

According to Piketty, we are not only returning to levels of income inequality not seen since the 19th century. We are also looking at a potentially eternal future where the overclass rules at the expense of the ever-growing underclasses. It’s economic Morlocks versus Eloi all the way down.

Matters would appear to be hopeless. But not to worry. Piketty has hope. What gives him hope, and what excites so many of his fans, is that this central contradiction of capitalism can be overpowered by the state.

His key proposal is what he calls a “global wealth tax” of 5 to 10 percent off the top for billionaires, 2 percent for people worth 5 million euros or more, and 1 percent for millionaires below that. He also advocates a top marginal tax rate of 80 percent. And that ain’t the half of it—literally. It’s more like less than a quarter of it. “If one follows Piketty in assuming a normal return on capital of 4 percent for the 21st century,” Stefan Homburg of the University of Leibnitz has written, “a 10 percent tax on wealth is equivalent to a 250 percent tax on the resulting capital income. Combined with the 80 percent income tax, taxpayers would face effective tax rates of up to 330 percent.”

How and by whom this money would be collected is kept rather vague, in part because even Piketty concedes that this proposal is “utopian.” More interesting, he is not especially concerned about what to do with these revenues. Leveling the gap between the rich and the rest of us is a much larger priority for him than lifting up the poor. “Confiscatory tax rates on incomes deemed to be indecent” are worthwhile in their own right, he says. Such rates, which reached 90 percent in the United States at one point, were an “impressive U.S. innovation of the interwar years.” He says this even though he concedes that a high marginal tax rate on extremely high incomes actually “brings in almost nothing” (because the rich would simply stop taking proceeds in taxable form). He does concede in a wonderful understatement at the end of the book that “before we can learn to efficiently organize public financing equivalent to two-thirds to three-quarters of national income”—what his desired tax rates would amount to—“it would be good to improve the organization and operation of the existing public sector.” There’s a useful insight.

His comfort with punitive taxation is reminiscent of Barack Obama’s response in 2008 when asked if he would support a higher tax on capital gains even if he knew it would bring in less revenue. Obama answered that he would still favor raising such taxes for “purposes of fairness.” In short, some people don’t deserve the money they have, and the government should take it from them.
Three: Piketty’s Data

The general consensus even from very critical economists—and there are many—is that Piketty and his colleagues (chiefly his frequent writing partner, Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez) have masterfully collected an amazing amount of data that describe some very interesting trends over the past 300 years. They have made massive databases with information culled from tax returns, estate records, and virtually every other source they could find. They plausibly argue that such records are more valuable and accurate than conventional surveys because the sample size of responses from the wealthiest individuals are simply too small to give a clear picture of inequality. Capital in the Twenty-First Century is largely a repackaging of that work. But for Piketty and his fans, it amounts to nothing less than the spread of the Big Data revolution to economic history. Maybe so. But his analysis of those data is far more controversial.

One reason for the controversy is that Piketty oversimplifies the concept of capital. He depicts it “as a growing, homogeneous blob which, at least under peaceful conditions, ends up overshadowing other economic variables,” in the words of economist Tyler Cowen. But different kinds of capital have different rates of return. Right now Treasury bills yield barely better than a 1 percent return, while equities historically have a return of about 7 percent. As Cowen notes in an essay for Foreign Affairs, this alone reveals a certain blind spot in Piketty’s analysis: the hugely significant role of risk-taking in a free-market economy.

The most common and strongest complaint is that Piketty’s arrangement of the data paints a false picture of rising inequality in the United States. Harvard’s Martin Feldstein noted in the Wall Street Journal that Piketty fails to take into account important—albeit arcane—changes in the tax code that have caused business income to be counted on personal tax returns. “This transformation occurred gradually over many years as taxpayers changed their behavior and their accounting practices to reflect the new rules,” Feldstein writes. As an example, “the business income of Subchapter S corporations alone rose from $500 billion in 1986 to $1.8 trillion by 1992.” This leads Feldstein to conclude that Piketty “creates the false impression of a sharp rise in the incomes of high-income taxpayers even though there was only a change in the legal form of that income.”

Feldstein and Scott Winship, of the Manhattan Institute, identify another methodological problem. By focusing on tax returns (instead of household surveys and the like), Piketty fails to take into account the already sizable redistributive elements of our tax code. One in three Americans receives some means-tested government aid today. And that percentage will only grow as people live longer in retirement than ever before. In other words, social security, housing assistance, food aid, etc. don’t show up in Piketty’s portrait of inequality. Winship also notes that his method lumps together many young workers who might live at home and spouses who work only part time. Perhaps more significant, in Piketty’s data, capital gains are registered as a one-time windfall. In other words, if you buy shares in a mutual fund and you hold onto that asset for 25 years, the gains you realize when you sell are counted as income in a single year. But in fact, they’ve been earned over a quarter century. And by “excluding non-taxable capital gains,” Winship wrote in National Review,“most wealth accruing to the middle and working class, which comes in the form of home sales or 401(k) and IRA investments, is invisible in Piketty’s data.”

Then there is Piketty’s use, or abuse, of r > g. “Pretty much every economics textbook will tell you that r > g,” writes American Enterprise Institute economist Andrew Biggs. “But none of the textbook models take from this that the capital stock will rise endlessly relative to the economy. Most of them hold that it stays pretty constant, and the historical evidence supports that view.”

Indeed, as Homburg notes, historical evidence shows that the divide between wealth and income doesn’t eternally widen simply because r is greater than g. The evidence for this can be found in Piketty’s own book, which shows that for the last two centuries, the wealth-to-income ratio in the United States and Canada has remained fairly stable. This North American exception is important because, unlike Europe and Japan, we were not subjected to the physical devastation of the world wars (a topic I will return to later).

Homburg, the American Enterprise Institute’s Kevin Hassett, and a team at the Sciences Po in Paris, moreover, argue that the recent widening of the wealth-to-income gap in the United States that Piketty reports is largely a function of a housing boom in the past 30 years. This fact complicates the story. The housing boom has benefited rich people, to be sure, but it has also been fueled by a massive expansion of home ownership among not only the wealthy but also the middle and lower classes (though not in proportion to gains by the wealthy). “The largest single component of capital in the United States is owner-occupied housing,” notes the liberal economist Lawrence Summers in his review of the book for Democracy. “Its return comes in the form of the services enjoyed by the owners—what economists call ‘imputed rent’—which are all consumed rather than reinvested since they do not take a financial form.”

Also, housing booms cannot go on forever. If you exclude housing from other forms of wealth or capital (Piketty explicitly uses the terms interchangeably), these economists argue, the return on capital is less robust. “In the U.S.,” the Sciences Po economists write, “the net capital income ratio of housing capital was the same in 1770 as it was in 2010 and there is neither a long run trend nor a recent increase of this ratio.” They add: “This type of situation, where a small share of the population owns most of the housing capital, appears to be far from the current situation of developed countries, where the homeownership rate varies between 40 percent and 70 percent. The diffusion of homeownership is likely to slow or even reverse the rise of inequality regardless of trends in housing prices.”  Ultimately, the Sciences Po economists found that their conclusions about inequality in recent years “are exactly opposite to those found by Thomas Piketty.”

Other critics raise a different objection. According to Saez, the largest portion of rising wealth has been in the growth of pension savings, which is a very good thing by most accounts. This is important for two reasons. First, pensions, while disproportionately held by the wealthy, are nonetheless very widely held (by teachers, policemen, autoworkers, et al.). Second, as Forbes’s Tim Worstall notes, pension wealth is generally not inheritable. Indeed, by design, it is intended to be spent.

But in order for Piketty’s invincible confidence that “the past will devour the future” to hold, wealthy people can’t spend down their money, because then it would circulate through the broader economy, raise the fortunes of others, and reduce their own net wealth. But one needs only to look outside the window to see that they do. The wealthy spend their money on cars, houses, boats, and, of course, their own children. Doing so depletes their own wealth holdings and increases the incomes of the less wealthy who provide these goods. They also spend it on museum wings, hospitals, charities of all kinds (even this magazine, a 501(c)3 to which you should be donating if you’re not already), and even progressive reform efforts of the kind Piketty surely endorses. Whatever the motive, they spend down their capital stock relentlessly—a major reason, in the United States and Canada especially, the wealth-to-income ratio has stayed relatively constant. As Feldstein notes, Piketty’s assumption about the rich might be true if every individual rich person lived forever. must conclude that what its supporters have hailed as an irrefutable mathematical prophecy might have to be downgraded by everyone else into the well-informed hunch from a left-leaning French economist—a significant drop in confidence level, as the statisticians might say.

And this is hugely inconvenient for those holding aloft Capital in the Twenty-First Century as though it were the Statistical Abstract of the United States—because that would mean all of Piketty’s policy proposals and dire predictions for the future are based on a guess about the future, a guess he has falsely portrayed as an immutable law.

Four: Piketty’s Faith

Appeals to scientific fact are powerful only if the science holds up. The problem is that Piketty’s whole case sits on what could be called a one-legged stool: Remove that leg and there’s nothing left to hold it up but faith. Marxism suffered from a similar weakness. So long as its “scientific” claims remained uncontested and unexamined, Marxism had a huge advantage. Once it became clear that the science in “scientific socialism” was nothing more than clever branding, all that was left was faith.

The radical philosopher Georges Sorel (1847–1922) recognized that Marx’s Das Kapital was next to useless as a work of scientific analysis. That’s why he preferred to look at it as an “apocalyptic text… as a product of the spirit, as an image created for the purpose of molding consciousness.” And for generations of revolutionaries, intellectuals, artists, and activists, it served that purpose well. Marxism lent to its acolytes a certainty they could call “scientific”—an indispensable label amidst a scientific revolution—but, as Sorel understood, that was a kind of psychological marketing, a Platonic “vital lie” or what Sorel called a useful “myth.” Indeed, Lenin’s most significant contribution to Marxism lay in using Sorel’s concept of the myth to galvanize a successful revolutionary political movement.

Marx tapped into the language and concepts of Darwinian evolution and the Industrial Revolution to give his idea of dialectical materialism a plausibility it didn’t deserve. Similarly, Croly drew from the turn-of-the-century vogue for (heavily German-influenced) social science and the cult of the expert (in Croly’s day “social engineer” wasn’t a pejorative term, but an exciting career). In much the same way, Piketty’s argument taps into the current cultural and intellectual fad for “big data.” The idea that all the answers to all our problems can be solved with enough data is deeply seductive and wildly popular among journalists and intellectuals. (Just consider the popularity of the Freakonomics franchise or the cult-like popularity of the self-taught statistician Nate Silver.) Indeed, Piketty himself insists that what sets his work apart from that of Marx, Ricardo, Keynes, and others is that he has the data to settle questions previous generations of economists could only guess at. Data is the Way and the Light to the eternal verities long entombed in cant ideology and darkness. (This reminds me of the philosopher Eric Voegelin’s quip that, under Marxism, “Christ the Redeemer is replaced by the steam engine as the promise of the realm to come.”)

For the lay reader of Capital, this might seem ironic, given Piketty’s own criticisms of the economics profession. He mocks his colleagues’ “childish passion for mathematics and for purely theoretical and often highly ideological speculation” and “their absurd claim to greater scientific legitimacy, despite the fact that they know almost nothing about anything.” He decries the “scientistic illusion” that emerges from statistical lightshows. “The new methods often lead to a neglect of history and of the fact that historical experience remains our principle source of knowledge,” he writes. It is true that the economists he’s talking about don’t deal with real-world data but with abstract mathematical models masquerading as economic theory. Nonetheless, he would be well advised to consider that towering trees of data can blind you to the more complex nature of the forest.

With almost the sole exception of left-wing Salon columnist Thomas Frank, virtually none of his reviewers—positive and critical alike—have commented on the fact that Piketty has a remarkably thumbless grasp of historical context. “Piketty’s command of American political history is, quite simply, abysmal,” Frank correctly declares. ...

...Piketty sees the super rich as an undifferentiated agglomeration—a single static class bent on protecting its own collective self-interests. But the rich are not a static class, any more than capital can be reduced to a homogenous blob. Fewer than 1 in 10 of the 400 wealthiest Americans on the Forbes list in 1982 were still there in 2012. (Lawrence Summers notes that if Piketty was right about the stable return on capital, they should have all stayed on the list.) Of the 20 biggest fortunes on the Forbes list in 2013, 17 (85 percent) were self-made. Of the three remaining entries, only one—the Mars candy family—goes back three generations. The Koch brothers inherited the business their father created, but they also greatly expanded it through their own entrepreneurial zeal. The Waltons of Walmart fame inherited the family business from Sam Walton, a self-made billionaire from quite humble origins.

Nor are the poor and the middle class static. As a statistical artifice, there will always be a bottom 1 percent, just as there will always be a top 1 percent. But that doesn’t mean that if you are born in the bottom 1 percent, you will stay there. Some of Piketty’s fans seem confused about this, appearing to believe that economic inequality is synonymous with low economic mobility. There may indeed be a link between inequality and low economic mobility. After all, rich people by definition have advantages poor people do not. But there is no iron law that says any individual person must stay in his narrow economic bracket for life; the Morlocks can become Eloi. Indeed, there remains an enormous amount of churn in our economy; 61 percent of households will find themselves in the top quintile of income for at least two years, according to data compiled by economists Mark Rank and Thomas Hirschl. Just under 40 percent will reach the top 10 percent, and 5 percent will be one-percenters, at least for a while.

Piketty himself offers an extensive analysis of the Forbes list of the wealthiest people in the world in an attempt to prove that today’s richest people are much richer than they were in 1987 and that the “largest fortunes grew much more rapidly than average wealth.” He says the data show that wealth grew by an inflation-adjusted 7 percent, even higher than the normal 4-to-5 percent return implicit in r > g. In what seems a generous nod, Piketty even concedes that if you jigger the timespan—starting from, say, 1990 instead of 1987—the rate of return might drop a bit. But one problem remains: Piketty leaves out that the people on the list are almost all different people.3 The economist Stan Veuger, writing for U.S. News & World Report, looked at the same list and found that the top 10 individuals collectively earned about 0.5 percent on their capital during the period Piketty says “the rich” got richer. And, Vueger notes: “If it weren’t for Walmart, the wealthiest people in the world would actually have lost about half of their wealth in the last 25 years.”

Five: Piketty’s Warning

Piketty’s insistence that “historical experience remains our principal source of knowledge” and that economists need to get out of their abstract cocoons becomes all the more tone-deaf when we get to the question he barely addresses at all: Why should we care? So there’s income inequality. So what? For his part, Martin Wolf of the Financial Times raved about Capital, but conceded that the work has “clear weaknesses. The most important is that it does not deal with why soaring inequality…matters. Essentially, Piketty simply assumes that it does.”

The Economist’s Ryan Avent objected to Wolf’s criticism noting that Piketty finds income inequality “unsustainable” because it will either lead to a few (or even a single person) owning everything or to bloody revolution. Piketty does suggest as much—but he makes nothing resembling a sustained philosophical, historical, or ethical case to support his views. Rather, he breezily and unpersuasively assumes and asserts such conclusions as if they are the sorts of things everybody knows. ...

Six: Piketty’s Threat

Piketty is convinced that income inequality “inevitably instigates…violent political conflict.” Is that actually true? And if it is, is such violence justified? Skepticism is warranted on both counts, as history suggests.

For example, the French Revolution was about inequality, but not first and foremost economic inequality. Inherited titles, the power of the Church, the unjust rule of what Edmund Burke called “arbitrary power,” and other tangible examples of legal or formal inequality played enormous and mutually reinforcing roles. The American Revolution, likewise, was about political inequality, as were later fights in this country over abolition and civil rights. Economic inequality was a symptom, not the disease—at least according to countless revolutionaries, abolitionists, and civil-rights leaders.

The postwar history of the West actually makes a hash of Piketty’s sweeping presumption. He argues that the years 1950 to 1970 were a “golden age” of economic equality. If so, why did the greatest period of social unrest in Europe and the United States in the 20th century come at the height of this golden age in the 1960s? That unrest spilled over into the 1970s, but the domestic terrorists who roiled Germany and Italy and the crime wave that devastated the United States had an extremely tangential relationship to income inequality at best. Then, pollsters tell us, in the 1980s—when the West took a wrong turn, according to Piketty, thanks to the policies of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan—social contentment started to rise and continued to rise, with the usual dips, all the way into the 1990s. One small example: In 1979, 84 percent of Americans told Gallup they were dissatisfied with the direction of the country. In 1986, 69 percent were satisfied.

So, just looking at the historical record, the notion that greater income equality by itself yields social peace seems insane.

Seven: Piketty’s Capitalism

“The consequences for the long-term dynamics of the wealth distribution are potentially terrifying,” Piketty writes. For instance, Piketty fears that whenever the return on capital really starts to outstrip national growth, “capitalism automatically generates arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities that radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based.” That is open to debate, to put it mildly. Bill Gates, Sam Walton, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin, Fred Smith, and others became billionaires because they created goods and services of real value to consumers; there was nothing “arbitrary” about it. In fact, most of them didn’t achieve their wealth, strictly speaking, from “capital” in the Pikettyesque sense at all. They mostly earned it from technological innovation. Piketty seems to believe, without marshaling much if any evidence, that such accretions of wealth undermine meritocratic values—when in fact, in a very real sense, the wealth creation over the past 30 years collectively constitutes the most extreme example of meritocratic advancement the world has ever seen.

Do the masses resent their wealth? It doesn’t appear so, or if they do, it is not a major concern. As inequality has risen over the last 30 years, the share of the public who think that that the “rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer” has stayed fairly constant (80 percent told Harris pollsters they agree with that statement in 2013 compared with 82 percent in 1990). The number dipped a bit in the 1990s when inequality was increasing but wages were rising. But, in May, when Gallup asked voters what they saw as “the most important problem facing this country today,” a mere 3 percent volunteered the gap between rich and poor (which gives you a sense of how out of touch with the concerns of Americans some of Piketty’s biggest fans are and why, for instance, they wildly overestimated the significance of Occupy Wall Street at the time, and even in retrospect). Polls consistently find that Americans are much more concerned about creating jobs and making the economy grow than fighting income inequality or redistributing wealth. A poll in January conducted by McLaughlin & Associates (for the YG Network) found that Americans by a margin of 2:1 (64 percent to 33 percent) prefer expanding economic growth to narrowing the gap between rich and poor. In 1990, Gallup asked Americans whether the country benefits from having a class of rich people. Sixty-two percent said yes. In 2012, 63 percent said yes.

It seems that most Americans simply want a fair shake. They don’t really begrudge the success of others, and to the extent they do, they don’t want to do much about it. It’s hard to see how any of this amounts to an inequality-driven powder keg of social unrest waiting to explode.

A third claim—one can’t call them arguments because they don’t rise to that level—is that the super rich will rig democracy to their advantage. This, too, has a faint Marxist echo, featuring as it does the assumption that capitalist overlords form a homogenous political class bent on exploitation. One must only read the newspaper to know that this is nonsense on stilts. At this very moment, George Soros, Tom Steyer, and other liberal billionaires are in a hammer-and-tongs political battle with Sheldon Adelson, Charles and David Koch, and other conservative or libertarian billionaires. And the evidence that either side has the power to buy elections is discredited almost every November. This is not to say that our democracy couldn’t be healthier or that wealthy special interests do not cause real problems, but America is hardly being run today by characters out of a Thomas Nast cartoon. It’s being run, instead, by the son of a teenage single mother from Hawaii, the son of a barkeep from Ohio who became speaker of the House, and a miner’s son from Nevada who grew up in a shack with no running water before becoming majority leader of the Senate—none of them born into wealth, to put it mildly.

Eight: Piketty’s Choice

Piketty is shockingly unconcerned with the fact (which he acknowledges) that one of the driving forces of U.S. income inequality is rising global equality. The world’s poor are getting much richer, in large part because they are doing a lot of the sometimes backbreaking and manual labor that poor and middle-class people in rich countries once did. This clearly creates significant political and economic challenges for wealthy countries eager to maintain high domestic-living standards, but from the vantage point of someone who believes in universal economic rights, that is a small price to pay, no?

Thanks to capitalism, we have seen the single largest alleviation of poverty in human history. In 1981, 52 percent of humanity lived in “extreme poverty.” They could not provide for themselves and for their families such basic needs as housing and food. According to a recent study by Yale and the Brookings Institution, by the end of 2011, that number had fallen to 15 percent. They credit globalization, capitalism, and better economic governance (i.e., the abandonment of Marxism and similar ideologies). Even for economic nationalists, how is that not a staggering triumph for the ethical superiority of capitalism?

That is also the story of the West in the 19th and 20th centuries. Piketty might be right that whenever capitalism runs amok, the rich get richer faster than the poor get richer. Even so, the poor still get richer. The economic historian Deirdre McCloskey beautifully chronicles how for nearly all of history (and prehistory), the average human lived on the equivalent of $3 per day. What she calls the “great fact” of human advancement is that, thanks to the rise of democratic capitalism, that small figure no longer holds wherever democratic capitalism has been permitted to work its magic.

Even more troubling, Piketty places enormous emphasis on the role of the world wars as a great leveler of inequality and the primary driver of the postwar “golden age.” But ask yourself a question: If you were a remotely sane human in 1900 and you were given the choice of

(a) getting richer, though at a slower rate than the very wealthiest, so that in 1950 there was a lot of economic inequality but you and your kids were still much better off; or

(b) facing two horrendous and cataclysmic global wars in which whole societies were razed and a hundred million people died violently and you (along with the rich) were made poorer for it, and would die at a younger age,

What would you have chosen? It appears Piketty finds Option B awfully tempting. And that is madness.

Nine: Piketty’s Justice

In little more than a few throwaway sentences, Piketty asserts that confiscatory taxes on wealth are morally required as a matter of social justice. That an economist who has ensconced himself in the Parisian velvet of the social-democratic left for nearly all of his adult life believes such things is hardly surprising, particularly given his confidence that extreme wealth is essentially the arbitrary product of an “ideological construct.”
But this does not absolve him of the responsibility of making a case.

Piketty begins Capital in the Twenty-First Century with a quotation from the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the operating document of the French Revolution: “Social distinctions can be based only on common utility.” He concedes elsewhere in the book that the “social distinctions” to which it refers had to do with the hereditary “orders of privileges of the Ancien Regime” and not with economic inequality. Even so, he insists, we must breathe new life into the concept of “common utility”:

One can interpret the phrase more broadly, however. One reasonable interpretation is that social inequalities are acceptable only if they are in the interest of all and in particular of the most disadvantaged social groups. Hence basic rights and material advantages must be extended insofar as possible to everyone, as long as it is in the interest of those who have the fewest rights and opportunities to do so.

The notion that wealth—or, to put it another way, private property—is an arbitrary social distinction that can be erased for the betterment of the have-nots is incredibly radical. One might even call it Marxist (or at least “Marxy”). Given that, an argument on its behalf should be extended and defended. But aside from a perfunctory reference to the philosopher John Rawls’s “difference principle,” which says that justice should be weighted toward the least advantaged people in society, he does not do so. He is more than comfortable letting it sit as largely self-evident.

Where he breaks with Marxism is the means by which he would reward the have-nots: not the seizure of all property but the mere soaking of the rich in order to seize the returns on the means of production. Piketty’s obsession with tax hikes as a cure-all is almost a perfect mirror of how liberals see the supply-side obsessions with tax cuts. It is this idée fixe that allows him to summarily dismiss other proposals that might get us to his preferred destination without confiscating the ill-gotten gains of the well-to-do. For instance, Tyler Cowen and National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson point out that if Piketty’s assumptions about the long-term returns on capital are correct, then we would be crazy not to transform social security into a system of privately held investment accounts. Boldly expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit—which would necessarily increase the tax burden of the wealthy—might also do more to solve the problem, assuming it is a problem. An aggressive tax on consumption instead of income would, according to many economists, boost growth and have the added benefit of taxing the Gilded Age lifestyles of billionaires instead of merely taxing billionaires for the alleged crime of existing. But none of these has the satisfying bang of that 80 percent marginal tax rate—or, even more thrilling, the 10 percent “global tax” on billionaires’ filthy lucre.

And then, of course, there are the countless reforms that lie outside the realm of tax tables. The data are clear that marriage delivers roughly as much bang for the buck as going to college. Raising children in a stable two-parent home is a better guarantor of lifetime economic success than crude interventions by the state. But while Piketty is happy to opine at great length about the Gilded Age matrimonial lifestyles of the rich and famous, drawing deeply on Jane Austen and other sources to paint a vivid picture, he is uninterested in the same issues down the socioeconomic ladder.

Ten: Piketty’s Class

Why does Piketty reject the more romantic path of the classic Marxist? You know—“Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win”—that kind of thing?

One answer to this question explains not only Piketty’s thinking but the response to his work as well: Piketty is a member of the ruling class. Piketty’s way puts Piketty and his friends in charge of everything. A one-time adviser to the Socialist politician Ségolène Royal, a star academic and a columnist for Libération, Piketty is a quintessential member of what the economist Joseph Schumpeter identified as the “new class.” Schumpeter’s prediction of capitalism’s demise hinged on his brilliant insight that capitalism breeds anti-capitalist intellectuals. Educators, bureaucrats, lawyers, technocrats, journalists, and artists, often the children of successful capitalists, always raised in the material affluence of capitalism, would organize to form a class whose collective interest lay in seizing economic decisions from the free market. As Deirdre McCloskey writes: “Schumpeter believed that capitalism was raising up its own grave diggers—not in the proletariat, as Marx had expected, but in the sons of daughters of the bourgeoisie itself. Lenin’s father, after all, was a high-ranking educational official, and Lenin himself a lawyer. It wasn’t the children of auto workers who pulled up the paving stones on the Left Bank in 1968.” No, it was actually people like Piketty’s own parents.

There is a reason the most passionate foes of income inequality tend to be very affluent but not super rich, intellectuals like Paul Krugman and other journalists eager to set the threshold for confiscatory tax rates just beyond their own income levels. But this sort of class war—the chattering classes versus the upper classes—is only part of the equation. Power plays a huge part as well. A full-throated endorsement of classic leftist radicalism would set a torch to Piketty’s own tower of privilege. The State, guided by experts, informed by data, must be empowered to decide how the Rawlsian difference principle is applied to society. Piketty’s assurance that inequality “inevitably” leads to violence amounts to an implied threat: “Let us distribute resources as we think best, or the masses will bring the fire next time.” Once again the vanguard of the proletariat takes the most surprising form: bureaucrats (the true “rentiers” of the 21st century!). A revealing sub-argument running throughout Capital is that we need to tax rich people in ever more, new, and creative ways just so we can get better data about rich people! To borrow a phrase from James Scott, author of Seeing Like a State, Piketty is obsessed with making society more “legible.” The first step in empowering technocrats is giving them the information they need to do their job.

This is what places the Piketty phenomenon squarely in the tradition of Croly and, yes, Marx himself. Piketty’s argument, with its scientific veneer and authoritative streams of numbers, is a warrant to empower those who think they are smarter than the market—and who feel superior to those most richly rewarded by it.
3754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: soccer on: June 27, 2014, 09:28:33 AM
Soccer is a good game, like a really slow version of hockey.  Hockey is a great sport but actually moves too fast to be appreciated as a spectator sport, especially on television.  The cameras have no trouble keeping up with the action in soccer. 

The other difference, besides slow action, Coulter picks up in no.5.  Why would you design a sport of skill, proficiency, adroitness, and remove the top two things most capable of acquiring intricate control and skill?

Coulter: (5) "You can't use your hands in soccer. What sets man apart from the lesser beasts, besides a soul, is that we have opposable thumbs. Our hands can hold things. Here's a great idea: Let's create a game where you're not allowed to use them!"

Another game that (oddly) restricts the use of hands is volleyball.  Fingertip control would make it too easy to acquire skill!

I wonder if a soccer fan with a life threatening injury would choose a surgeon who is only allowed to use his feet.
3755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: June 25, 2014, 11:21:25 PM
As you said earlier, it is the policies.  Wesbury and others are looking for better results, reasons for optimism and ways to make money in THIS economy.  My interest is only in changing the policies.
3756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Plow horse! It's what's for dinner! on: June 25, 2014, 11:32:22 AM

1st Qtr US contraction is now at 3%.

GDP growth in North Dakota was 13%. It is as if we are not all pursuing th same policies.
3757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: iCleveland Indians targetted on: June 25, 2014, 11:20:29 AM

No. It is still legal to portray white people of Scandinavian ancestry as ruthless savages.
3758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Money, the Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: June 24, 2014, 05:12:44 PM
"Healthy" is the operative word there.  I don't see any reason to believe the U.S. economy will become "healthy" before it crashes.  Thus the very real risk that the dollar will lose its reserve status.

You may be right.  But we will lose that status when we deserve to lose it, not because of other entities or events around the globe.  I looked at the IMF list of countries with Albania, Algeria, Angola, etc. and I don't see a perfect data set coming from there either.  IMF without the USD and a few other strong and free countries isn't anything formidable.  Japan had what we are trying to avoid, China isn't without risk, and Europe has some dead wood: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

The US economy will be healthy the instant we repeal the current nonsense and destructiveness.  Whether that is before or after the crash is up to the voters.
3759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: June 24, 2014, 04:58:17 PM
Strange how he quotes such good sounding news.  Headline is up 18.6%, but sales are up 16.9% from a year ago (meaning they were down year to year just one month ago) and average price is up 1.7% from a year, then he couches it in caveats, "There has been a lot of volatility over the past year...a few factors are weighing on sales. First, the homeownership rate remains depressed as a larger share of the population is deciding to rent rather than own. Second, buyers have shifted slightly from single-family homes... Third, financing is still more difficult than it has been in the past."  My guess is pp will not be highly impressed with this news.

Housing is regional and neighborhood by neighborhood as much as it is a national market.  Along with all the weaknesses pointed out by pp, I certainly see pockets of strength in our area.  Even in strength, they are only back to one decade ago levels.

"a larger share of the population is deciding to rent rather than own" (This is not bad news in the rental property business!)  What it means though is that housing is tied to people's incomes.  Fewer people have good jobs and good credit after all the economic disruption and the Obama non-recovery.  It also means there is upside potential in the housing market if and when we finally turn our economic policies around.
3760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Money, the Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: June 24, 2014, 04:10:39 PM
He also has a FAR better track record than we do over the last six years.

I agree with Wesbury on the reserve currency debate.  If we keep going down the tubes while other nations get their act together, then that status shifts to the next USA of the world.  In the 1960s-1970s, the communists didn't buy oil from the Arabs in US Dollars because somebody liked us.  It was a reluctant business decision, based on stability and predictability of value.  At the point where we lose reserve currency status, it will be a symptom, not a cause, of everything that is wrong.

Obama, Pelosi-Reid years aside, the IMF and the yuan are no contest for a healthy US economy.  ( And if they ever do get their collective act together, that only helps us all the more.
3761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: June 24, 2014, 03:49:57 PM
"From Crafty above:  "a) Stopping Iran from going nuclear will require war and it will be a major war-- the task is quite difficult, and the blowback would be HUGE ;"

"Are there not military steps short of all out war that would significantly set back the Iran nuclear program?  I find it hard believe the military of the United States of America could not inflict damage on Iran's ambitions in a relatively short series of strikes, if ordered."

"Significantly set back" subtly shifts the standard I set in important ways-- my intention is to speak of "winning", not endless war.  Based on serious Stratfor reads I have posted here over the years addressing this exact point it is my opinion that Iran presented a very substantial challenge to US military capabilities when these pieces were written and we were in Iraq in strength, and far more so now that we are nearly out of the mid-east altogether with a substantially diminished and tired military.  Most likely we do not know where all of their operations are; they have been diversifying and been digging in quite deep for years-- these are not stupid people.

Unless we go serious nuclear in the first round, there will be a second round-- "Setting the Iranians back" opens up world wide terrorist war-- the Iranians have considerable capabilities in this regard and will use them as they redouble their efforts.  Our support in the world would be nearly zero and our opposition its reciprocal.  What do you think would happen to the conversation in China between the civilian government and their military?

What political effect would this have on support for Islamic Fascism in the Muslim world?

1) The argument here is theoretical.  Pres. Obama is not going to do any of this.  But it is important for us to say what we would do.

2) The step-down from totally stopping them to significantly setting them back was intentional.  Assuming you are right, that we can't find all the facilities and can't hit all the targets... well then what?  Assuming nothing imaginable can stop them totally, what hits would set them back significantly and buy us more time.

3) The first round can't be nuclear - and it can't take out enormous Iranian civilian casualties!

4) Hoping you (or obj) can follow up what was referred to as a Rand Paul plan.  (I think I mis-understood something.)  Rand Paul sees terror safe havens as no threat and thinks Iran going nuclear is none of our business (unless I am mis-understanding him):  Has Rand Paul or his father have ever said our interventions in WWII were warranted"  Instead he blamed the US(?):
...which is unacceptable if your ancerstors were Jewish and mine were in the first medical team to enter one of the largest, liberated  concentration camps:
I have no time for the no-threat-to-us argument for homicidal maniacs acquiring nuclear power.  We have the only capability in the world to do or to stop certain things, and with that perhaps comes the responsibility to at least consider a pre-emptive blockage of major evil.  JMHO

5) Of course there will be consequences (blowback).  But it is blowback for attacking compared with blowback for not attacking, not compared with none.  See GM and ccp's comment.  Paraphrasing, they are going to hit us anyway.  They are going to hit us soon.  They are going to hit us hard.   "Nuclear 9/11s are coming, plan accordingly."   "There will be dirty bombs in NYC."

6) Stepping down from total stoppage even further, perhaps this is a 12 or 17 step process.  Let's assume the process is partly political and partly a need to negotiate from a position of strength (cf. Khadafy).  After negotiations without action have failed, we take strike one.  Not our biggest but our most effective first strike.  They don't know exactly what the rest of our intelligence is or what our next strike will be.  So we head back to the negotiating table.  And so on.  Let them disrupt, scramble and move facilities, while dealing with the US (and allies?) acting from a position of strength.

7) "Our support in the world would be nearly zero and our opposition its reciprocal."  What is a worthwhile use or purpose of any multi-national organization if not nuclear non-proliferation.  Are we alone in that?  With Israel, are there really only two nations seriously opposed to Iran going nuclear?  I thought that was what Saudi wanted.  And Kuwait, Qatar, Emirates, Jordan wanted.  And former Iraq - Sunni Iraq, and Kurds.  Europe sees no threat? India, Japan?  What about Russia and China, doesn't another big power just devalue and compete with their power?   No one wants to see a war break out but don't they all (almost all) want to see Iran contained?

8.) "What do you think would happen to the conversation in China between the civilian government and their military?"   - This is a VERY interesting question, and I don't know where you are going with it.  I think you are insinuating things would get worse, and that may be.  But since China is already totalitarian and in opposition to our interests nearly everywhere, maybe the next chain of events or tipping of the balance could actually turn things for the better.  At some point they can forget about a million man army if a billion people stood up and said enough - is enough.
3762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "There's only one political genius in the Clinton family and he isn't running." on: June 24, 2014, 08:29:44 AM

Tone deaf material from Chelsea as well as Hillary at the link.  He concludes with:

"Here is a prediction: I have no idea who will be elected president in 2016, but it won’t be Hillary Clinton."

Breakfast in America!
3763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 1975: Hillary the public defender of rapist of 12 year old girl. on: June 24, 2014, 08:16:48 AM

And the story was not that had to defend evil as part of her chosen profession, but laughed about his guilt.  She violated his right to attorney client privilege, not just our sense of decency.

Does anyone think a tea party Senate candidate could get away with this?
3764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Liberalism poison is everywhere. on: June 24, 2014, 07:55:36 AM
So I am reading this article supposedly about Robert E Lee when the  author suddenly makes a left turn comparing the "fire-eaters" who were "incendiary" Southern politicians who wanted to bring back the African slave trade to expand slavery and cotton to, get this the Tea party politicians of today:

"The fire-eaters were a minority then, as the Tea Partiers (their spiritual descendants) are today, but like today’s Tea Party they promoted extremist agendas and pounded down on wedge issues that sundered the nation and very nearly destroyed it."

What in the heck does the Tea Party have to do with advocates of slavery?  Answer:  they are the Union soldiers fighting for freedom.

Nice catch.  Quite obnoxious and obsessive that they can't put their hatred aside long enough to tell an unrelated story.
3765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: June 24, 2014, 07:49:52 AM
As always, Glick is informed, intelligent, and thoughtful.
However with regard to Iran, she does not spell out what I recently saw spelled out elsewhere. 
a) Stopping Iran from going nuclear will require war and it will be a major war-- the task is quite difficult, and the blowback would be HUGE ;
b) The American people are in no mood for no action, particularly under this Commander in Chief;
c) The US military is in little mood for action, particularly under this Commander in Chief;
d) The US military's budget is contracting, and the military is in no shape for this and the other theaters requiring our attention at this time (Russia-Europe, South China Sea, various parts of Africa, etc)
Thus, though her diagnosis is excellent, ultimately isn't it irrelevant?
Thus, does not Rand Paul's most recent offering (see his thread here) have appeal of its own?

I re-read both Iran and Rand Paul threads and am still missing what you refer to.

I have not seen a Rand Paul foreign policy argument that was not filled with straw: we must do absolutely nothing to affect each crisis because all out war is a bad idea.

From Crafty above:  "a) Stopping Iran from going nuclear will require war and it will be a major war-- the task is quite difficult, and the blowback would be HUGE ;"

Are there not military steps short of all out war that would significantly set back the Iran nuclear program?  I find it hard believe the military of the United States of America could not inflict damage on Iran's ambitions in a relatively short series of strikes, if ordered.

As ccp suggest, isn't our policy of doing nothing about Iran's nuclear ambitions is how we get the greatest "blowback" to the US and Israel, Middle East, Europe, etc.

Like the results from canceling missile defense that offended Putin, maybe by letting Iran and the caliphate go nuclear they will like us!
3766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Poland and Obama's foreign policy on: June 24, 2014, 07:15:01 AM

"the country's strong alliance with the U.S. isn't worth anything and is even harmful because it creates a false sense of security."

A gaffe is when a politician is caught on tape telling the truth.

How are those missile defense sites coming?
U.S. Cancels Part of Missile Defense That Russia Opposed
Published: March 16, 2013
MOSCOW — The United States has effectively canceled the final phase of a Europe-based missile defense system that was fiercely opposed by Russia and cited repeatedly by the Kremlin as a major obstacle to cooperation on nuclear arms reductions and other issues.
Sept. 18, 2009  ...President Obama's decision yesterday to scrap a missile-defense agreement the Bush Administration negotiated with Poland and the Czech Republic. Both governments took huge political risks—including the ire of their former Russian overlords—in order to accommodate the U.S., which wanted the system to defend against a possible Iranian missile attack. Don't expect either government to follow America's lead anytime soon.
3767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: June 23, 2014, 06:21:30 PM
Rand Paul has endorsed Barack Obama's foreign policy - more so than Hillary has. I don't follow him there.
3768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillbillary Care would have eliliminated private health care on: June 23, 2014, 03:56:23 PM
Above was told to me yesterday by a VA doctor.This was rejected once by a national referendum.

3769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AP/ Washington Post Debunked! Prosecutors: Gov. Walker part of criminal scheme on: June 20, 2014, 11:02:52 AM
Prosecutors: Gov. Walker part of criminal scheme


Democrats are giddy over the unsealing of “secret” documents that charge Scott Walker’s recall campaign with illegal coordination with outside conservative groups. To name just a few: USA Today: “Prosecutors: Wis. Gov. Scott Walker in criminal scheme.” Associated Press: “Prosecutors: Gov. Walker part of criminal scheme.” Washington Post: “How the State of Wisconsin alleges Scott Walker aides violated the law, in 1 chart.”

If you didn’t know better, you might think this is a big story, highly damaging to one of America’s most successful governors. In fact, the current frenzy merely demonstrates the laziness and bias of reporters who don’t understand the events they write about.

Here is what is going on: a group of partisan local prosecutors launched a never-ending “John Doe investigation” into essentially every conservative group in the state of Wisconsin. The “investigation” is a scandal, a naked effort to shut down conservative speech. Federal Judge Rudolph Randa described how the investigation proceeded in an Order dated May 6, 2014:

Early in the morning of October 3, 2013, armed officers raided the homes of R.J. Johnson, WCFG advisor Deborah Jordahl, and several other targets across the state. ECF No. 5-15, O‘Keefe Declaration, ¶ 46. Sheriff deputy vehicles used bright floodlights to illuminate the targets‘ homes. Deputies executed the search warrants, seizing business papers, computer equipment, phones, and other devices, while their targets were restrained under police supervision and denied the ability to contact their attorneys. Among the materials seized were many of the Club‘s records that were in the possession of Ms. Jordahl and Mr. Johnson. The warrants indicate that they were executed at the request of GAB investigator Dean Nickel.

On the same day, the Club‘s accountants and directors, including O‘Keefe, received subpoenas demanding that they turn over more or less all of the Club‘s records from March 1, 2009 to the present. The subpoenas indicated that their recipients were subject to a Secrecy Order, and that their contents and existence could not be disclosed other than to counsel, under penalty of perjury. The subpoenas’ list of advocacy groups indicates that all or nearly all right-of-center groups and individuals in Wisconsin who engaged in issue advocacy from 2010 to the present are targets of the investigation.

The case in which Judge Randa ruled was brought by the Club For Growth and Eric O’Keefe. Plaintiffs alleged that the purported investigation was in reality an unconstitutional infringement of their First Amendment rights, intended to deter the expression of conservative speech. Judge Randa agreed. In his May 6 Order, he found that the partisan “investigation” had no legal basis:

The defendants are pursuing criminal charges through a secret John Doe investigation against the plaintiffs for exercising issue advocacy speech rights that on their face are not subject to the regulations or statutes the defendants seek to enforce. This legitimate exercise of O‘Keefe‘s rights as an individual, and WCFG‘s rights as a 501(c)(4) corporation, to speak on the issues has been characterized by the defendants as political activity covered by Chapter 11 of the Wisconsin Statutes, rendering the plaintiffs a subcommittee of the Friends of Scott Walker and requiring that money spent on such speech be reported as an in-kind campaign contribution. This interpretation is simply wrong.

Judge Randa analyzed the law as it relates to campaign finance. He noted that the conservative groups denied any coordination, and their denials appear to be well-founded. But, in any event, their activities were constitutionally protected and cannot be the basis of a criminal investigation:

It is undisputed that O‘Keefe and the Club engage in issue advocacy, not express advocacy or its functional equivalent. Since § 11.01(16)’s definition of “political purposes” must be confined to express advocacy, the plaintiffs cannot be and are not subject to Wisconsin‘s campaign finance laws by virtue of their expenditures on issue advocacy.

However, the defendants argue that issue advocacy does not create a free-speech “safe harbor” when expenditures are coordinated between a candidate and a third-party organization. Barland at 155 (citing Fed. Election Comm’n v. Colo. Republican Fed. Campaign Comm., 533 U.S. 431, 465 (2001)); see also Republican Party of N.M. v. King, 741 F.3d 1089, 1103 (10th Cir. 2013). O‘Keefe and the Club maintain that they did not coordinate any aspect of their communications with Governor Walker, Friends of Scott Walker, or any other candidate or campaign, and the record seems to validate that assertion. However, the Court need not make that type of factual finding because — once again — the phrase “political purposes” under Wisconsin law means express advocacy and coordination of expenditures for issue advocacy with a political candidate does not change the character of the speech. Coordination does not add the threat of quid pro quo corruption that accompanies express advocacy speech and in turn express advocacy money. Issue advocacy money, like express advocacy money, does not go directly to a political candidate or political committee for the purpose of supporting his or her candidacy. Issue advocacy money goes to the issue advocacy organization to provide issue advocacy speech. A candidate‘s coordination with and approval of issue advocacy speech, along with the fact that the speech may benefit his or her campaign because the position taken on the issues coincides with his or her own, does not rise to the level of “favors for cash.” Logic instructs that there is no room for a quid pro quo arrangement when the views of the candidate and the issue advocacy organization coincide.

Judge Randa concluded that the Club For Growth was likely to prevail on the merits, and he issued an order directing the partisan prosecutors to cease their unconstitutional investigation:

Therefore, for all of the foregoing reasons, the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that the defendants’ investigation violates their rights under the First Amendment, such that the investigation was commenced and conducted “without a reasonable expectation of obtaining a valid conviction.” Kugler v. Helfant, 421 U.S. 117, 126 n.6 (1975); see also Collins v. Kendall Cnty., Ill., 807 F.2d 95, 101 (7th Cir. 1986); Wilson v. Thompson, 593 F.2d 1375, 1387 n.22 (5th Cir. 1979).

Judge Randa’s conclusion is politely phrased, but understand what he is saying: the partisan prosecutors are so obviously wrong on the law that they could not have had a reasonable expectation of convicting anyone of anything. Their so-called investigation was in fact mere harassment, intended to chill the exercise of First Amendment rights by conservatives.

The next stage involved procedural maneuvering that I won’t try to explain. The prosecutor defendants appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and argued that Judge Randa lacked jurisdiction to order them to terminate their faux investigation. The Court of Appeals issued an order to the effect that Judge Randa would need to make a finding that the defendants’ appeal was frivolous in order to retain jurisdiction. That resulted in another Order, dated May 8, 2014, in which Judge Randa described the discredited prosecutors’ appeal as “the height of frivolousness.” He continued:

To be clear, the Court is absolutely convinced that the defendants’ attempt to appeal this issue is a frivolous effort to deprive the Court of its jurisdiction to enter an injunction.

An appellate judge has now ordered certain pleadings in the case to be unsealed, an order to which the Club For Growth did not object. The hysterical accusations against Scott Walker that the Associated Press, the Washington Post and others are now gleefully celebrating are simply the unfounded assertions that the prosecutors made in a failed effort to justify their partisan investigation. They are precisely the allegations that have been resoundingly rejected by the federal judge who has presided over the case and who has found the defendants’ investigation to be a naked violation of the conservative groups’ constitutional rights.

So the reporters who are now trumpeting the discredited prosecutors’ assertions either have no understanding of the case, or they are part of the partisan witch hunt that gave rise to the unconstitutional investigation in the first place.
3770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: June 20, 2014, 10:26:43 AM

Doug: Obama understands that he is weakening the U.S., which is his intention.  His interests are not ours.

Obj:  That is outrageous of you to say about him.  Unfortunately you are right!  (You are also right that Bill Ayers wrote his main book.)

Not just Obama but for the 40% who still cling to him, it is tempting to think the world would be safer if power were more evenly distributed around the world and everyone took responsibility for their part in it.  In fact though, it isn't so.  Where the US retreats, people like the Mullahs of Iran, the Taliban, al Qaida and its iterations and affiliates, a KGB guy in Russia and the New Soviet Union, and a old communist Politburo backed by the Peoples Liberation Army are the ones who step in to fill the void.  The void is not filled by the honest, hard working, peace loving people and nations around the world.

Crafty: What is "TIA?"

My understanding, TIA = Thanks in advance.  TAC = The adventure continues.
3771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bureaucracy, Regulations: 12 Trademarks Declared Less Offensive Than Redskins on: June 20, 2014, 09:54:39 AM
Crafty from race, origin, discrimination thread:  "I just went to and bought two t-shirts"

And ccp mentioned Cracker Barrel.

From Daily Caller:

12 Trademarks Declared Less Offensive Than Redskins

(I am very tempted to not post the details, but here goes...)

In a ruling Wednesday morning, the United States Patent and Trademark Office cancelled six federal trademarks for the name of the Washington Redskins. (RELATED: US Patent Office Cancels ‘Redskins’ Trademark)

Currently, federal trademark law does not allow the registration of any names that bring individuals or groups into contempt or disrepute. The PTO cited this rule in their decision regarding the Redskins’ name.

Here are twelve other trademarked names that apparently didn’t come up on anyone’s offense radar.

Figgas over Niggas: This pending trademark seeks to cover a line of “Apparel for dancers, namely, tee shirts, sweatshirts, pants, leggings, shorts and jackets.” “Niggas,” of course, is a slang version of the word “nigger,” a term considered highly offensive towards black Americans.

Kraut Kap: Another recently-filed trademark, this one for a line of plastic lids. “Kraut” was made famous in World War II as a derogatory term for opposing German soldiers, as well as Germans in general.

Dago Swagg: A label created for a line of clothing. ”Dago” is a corruption of the common name Diego, and is used in English-speaking countries as an offensive term for those of Italian descent, and occasionally people from other Mediterranean countries as well.

Cracka Azz Skateboards: Unsurprisingly, this trademark was taken out for a line of skateboards and longboards, as well as associated clothing such as bandannas. While the USPTO helpfully notes that “The wording ‘cracka azz’ has no meaning in a foreign language,” “cracka” is a slang version of “cracker,” which in this context is a term of derision for whites, used primarily within the black community.

You Can’t Make A Housewife Out Of A Whore: This trademark for T-shirts and hats appears to imply that women involved in prostitution can never transition into the domestic role of a housewife. Such an accusation would certainly “bring them into contempt or disrepute,” the stated reasoning for eliminating the Redskins trademark.

Blanco Basura: A seemingly innocuous phrase, Blanco Basura, rendered into English, is actually the highly offensive slur “white trash.” White trash is a derogatory insult that typically refers to poor, white Americans, who have a penchant for crime and a patent disrespect for authority. Apparently, they thought they could go unnoticed designing a hateful beer.

Home Cookin Biscuit Head: Intentionality, as we well know, is not required in order for something to be highly, highly offensive. They should’ve done their due diligence before designing this logo for the restaurant industry. The term “biscuit head” has its origins in the Korean War, when American GIs picked this unseemly term to describe the shape of Koreans’ heads.
by TaboolaSponsored Content
‘’: This is a classic example (Safe For Work) of a harmful stereotype used to justify condescension toward teens in the form of countless hours of sex-ed in high school. It wrongfully supposes that all teens are sex-crazed maniacs, who given the chance, will opt for trading their sexuality on a website for fame and fortune.

Gypsy Soule Women Who Live By Their Own Rules: This line of makeup containers and tote bags is a double whammy. “Gypsy” is a term for the itinerant Romani people that derives from the erroneous belief they originated from Egypt, rather than India. In addition, the “Live by their own rules” component hearkens to the common stereotype that Romani routinely ignore the law and engage in criminality.

Mammy Jamia’s: A company going by the name of A & S Cairns Limited has decided to attach its good name to an antebellum slur used to refer to an enslaved black woman who was in charge of household affairs, particularly caring for white children. The product? Frozen fruits and vegetables. Was it really worth it, A &S?

Uppity Negro: Intended to be imprinted on mugs and apparel, this trademark references the frequently used adjective “uppity” to describe blacks who agitated for greater respect and civil rights in the Jim Crow-era South.

All Natural My Dadz Nutz Carmelized Jumbo Redskins: Available at, this line of savory peanuts is unlikely to run into trouble for applying “redskin” to a line of peanuts. One might argue the two terms describe different things, and so the overlap does not matter, but that hasn’t stopped the old name for Brazil nuts from fading away. Kaffir limes, meanwhile, are a discouraged name in the Oxford Companion to Food, as “kaffir” is a highly offensive term for blacks in South Africa.
3772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness, I can't believe he lied to us! on: June 20, 2014, 09:41:52 AM
"The temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago."

"We also know that the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated 5 or 10 years ago."

Sen Jeff Sessions asked 4 former EPA Directors if any of them agree with these statements.  If you do raise your hand.

You must see them look at each other with hands down in the video at approximately the 2:00 minute mark.

The record will reflect that no one raised their hand.

Media issue, please show (on that thread) where any mainstream outlet ran this exposed lie, that is the foundation for his economics, front and center to the partially duped American people.
3773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glick: U.S. Starts Down Road to Next 9-11... on: June 20, 2014, 09:29:16 AM
Thank you for posting this great piece.  Wouldn't it be great if we had a US President who understood what was happening as well as this one columnist.
3774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: June 19, 2014, 06:11:11 PM
Keeping up with our leader while the world is engulfed in flames:

Last weekend: Middle East burns while Barack Obama played his 175th and 176th (18 hole) rounds of golf as president.

This week: Mr. Obama's world this week consisted of flying to the University of California-Irvine to give a speech about a) himself (check the text if you doubt it) and b) climate change. On Wednesday he was in New York City for a midtown fundraiser, an LGBT fundraiser and a third, $32,000 per person fundraiser at the home of Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

Meanwhile they are working "around the clock" on a response for Iraq and of course are "focused like a laser" on jobs while the black youth not employed rate remains at 61.4%:
3775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries, Sunni Shia split on: June 19, 2014, 05:46:35 PM
From a link in a post from Mike (MT from FB) on the Middle East forum, I found this article quite helpful in explaining the split in Islam between Sunni and Shia.  A list of Middle East countries with populations and percentages of each follows this excerpt.

...Shia and Sunni traditions disagree strongly on two related matters: the question of divinity in the succession from Muhammad and the role of the clergy in the practice of Islam. While the Sunni believe that all humans, past and present, have had the same relationship to God, the Shia hold that Ali and the eleven leaders of the Shia faith who followed him — the twelve Imams — were divinely inspired and infallible in their judgements. The Twelfth Imam is believed not to have died, but to have passed into “occultation,” to return someday as the “Mahdi” or guided one, to lead a perfected Islamic society.  (Much more at the link)

Pop.: 28,513,677
% Shia: 19%
% Sunni: 80%

Pop.: 32,129,324
% Shia: –
% Sunni: 99%

Pop.: 7,868,385
% Shia: 67%
% Sunni: 29%

Pop.: 677,886
% Shia: 70%
% Sunni: 30%

Pop.: 76,117,421
% Shia: –
% Sunni: 90%

Pop.: 69,018,924
% Shia: 90%
% Sunni: 9%

Pop.: 25,374,691
% Shia: 63%
% Sunni: 34%

Pop.: 6,199,008
% Shia: –
% Sunni: 15%

Pop.: 5,611,202
% Shia: 2%
% Sunni: 92%

Pop.: 2,257,549
% Shia: 25%
% Sunni: 60%

Pop.: 3,777,218
% Shia: 36%
% Sunni: 22%

Pop.: 5,631,585
% Shia: –
% Sunni: 97%

Pop.: 32,209,801
% Shia: –
% Sunni: 99%
Pop.: 2,903,165
% Shia: 2%
% Sunni: 21%

Pop.: 159,196,336
% Shia: 20%
% Sunni: 77%

Palestinian Territory
Pop.: 3,152,361
% Shia: –
% Sunni: 95%

Pop.: 840,290
% Shia: 14%
% Sunni: 86%

Saudi Arabia
Pop.: 25,795,938
% Shia: 5%
% Sunni: 95%

Pop.: 39,148,162
% Shia: –
% Sunni: 70%

Pop.: 18,016,874
% Shia: 13%
% Sunni: 74%

Pop.: 9,974,722
% Shia: –
% Sunni: 98%

Pop.: 66,893,918
% Shia: 15%
% Sunni: 85%

Pop.: 2,523,915
% Shia: 16%
% Sunni: 80%

Pop.: 20,024,867
% Shia: 36%
% Sunni: 63%
3776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq Advisers and the Obama Doctrine on: June 19, 2014, 05:13:51 PM
Nothing stops terrorists like advisers on the ground, each with a phone and a pen.

Obama Doctrine, mentioned elsewhere as failed:
"...what could be called an "Obama doctrine" on the use of force. Obama's embrace of multilateralism, drone strikes, and a light U.S. military presence in Libya, Pakistan, and Yemen, they contend, has proved more effective than Bush's go-heavy approach in Iraq and Afghanistan."

It's been a few years since anyone argued that approach is working around the world.

I don't see why we want to pretend to be engaged, just to take partial credit for failure.
3777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: June 19, 2014, 05:03:03 PM
3778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / National Journal, Peter Beinart: A UNIFIED THEORY OF HILLARY on: June 19, 2014, 01:31:23 PM
More disciplined than Bill Clinton, more hands-on than Barack Obama, this article goes through her strengths and weaknesses as a candidate and policy maker with serious analysis.

Lacking the author's same interest in balance, I pick out this: 
The so-called smartest woman in the world started her law career by failing the Washington DC Bar Exam in 1973.  2/3rds of the test takers that year passed the exam.
3779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We say ISIS, they say ISIL. What is "The Levant"? on: June 19, 2014, 01:04:18 PM
ISIL’s advance puts Saudi Arabia between Iraq and a hard place
Analysis: The kingdom is trapped between Sunni fighters it dislikes and expanding Iranian clout in Baghdad
June 17, 2014 11:59PM ET
by Tom Kutsch @tomkutsch
The battle between Iraq’s government and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which threatens to plunge Iraq back into the chaos of sectarian civil war, puts Saudi Arabia in an increasingly awkward position

So what is "The Levant"?  The eastern Mediterranean.  We think they are fighting for Iraq and Syria(?) and they think they are fighting for control of the region which also includes, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel.
3780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin, LGBT, "discrimination", & discrimination. on: June 19, 2014, 12:53:17 PM
Are there four other white guys on this board that would like to sign a petition to the Trademark Office describing how we cannot sleep eat or calm down over the name Cracker Barrel?

Why are not 50 Senators spending their time with this?   No time between raising cash I guess.  One absurd meaningless crusade is as much as they can handle.

Very funny!  Yes, another agency without oversight.
3781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: IRS manages to vaporize Lerner's emails. on: June 19, 2014, 12:51:18 PM
Lerner Emails (Really) Gone
How green! The IRS recycled former-IRS official Lois Lerner's computer hard drive, making it impossible to retrieve the lost emails that would undoubtedly be another smoking gun on the Tea Party targeting scandal. An IRS spokesman said, "We believe the standard IRS protocol was followed in 2011 for disposing of the broken hard drive. A bad hard drive, like other broken Information Technology equipment, is sent to a recycler as part of our regular process." Furthermore, the magnetic tapes -- the backup system the IRS uses -- only keeps information for six months before it's written over with new information. In other words, they did a thorough job of "losing" those emails. Meanwhile, ABC and NBC ignored the story while making room for a report that Britain's royal baby, Prince George, was learning how to walk. More...
For fuller coverage see

The irony (and elephant in the room) is that this is the agency that controls the record keeping of all Americans with its enormous federal powers.  It galls me that you have to be a right winger to feel outrage over this.

The IRS is part of the executive branch of the federal government.  Over the months they have been trying to hide find the Lois Lerner emails, all the chief executive above them had to do was order all of his government, the White House in particular, to release to the committee their copy of whatever email exchanges with Lois Lerner that they had.  Part of his deny, delay, deflect, and divert attention strategy is that: HE DID NOT DO THAT. 

This scandal and coverup goes all the way to the top!  If the IRS knew for months, he knew for months (or should have know, same thing).  Administration of the IRS is part of his sworn responsibilities.  He chose to have his White House NOT cooperate with this investigation.  Delay as long as possible and then not disclose is not what people thought they were choosing with "the most transparent administration ever".

IRS, ATF, INS, NSA, DOJ etc., without oversight, eventually will evoke some nazi analogies...

My latest thought is that the House and Senate should take up impeachment after the 2016 election and before the end of his term, out of principle, leaving not enough time on the clock to swear in the Vice President as his replacement.  Appoint the special investigators now, get all the information now, and mark history with the precedent that this country does not tolerate this kind of governance.
3782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: June 19, 2014, 11:34:39 AM
Very witty but what implications for US strategy?  IMHO this piece is full of them.

From near the ending of the article:

"Many say hopefully that Tunisia is building the new model. “The Tunisians proved you can make compromises without losing your existence,” said Emad Shahin, an Egyptian political scientist close to many Islamists, who spoke by telephone from Washington because he, too, had been forced to flee Egypt.

No, Tunisia is quite different than Egypt, Iraq, Syria, etc.  Note that the Egyptian political scientist close to many Islamists, "spoke from Washington because he had been forced to flee Egypt".

If there is any truth to the idea that the US projection of strength or weakness influences events around the world, then the implication for the US for the long run is clear.  Short version, be the opposite of an Obama-led America.  Even when he orders an aircraft carrier moved "in case it is needed in Iraq", it has no meaning without resolved leadership.
Instead of help, he says, "We can't do it for them".

The Cheney article had it right.  Also Thomas Sowell today, comparing our post-war presence in Germany and Japan to our abandonment of Iraq and Afghanistan.

We can't instantly undo the damage of our recent and current policies, especially with him still in office.
My view forward, US Strategy should:
Rebuild our economy.
Rebuild our military.
Rebuild our leadership.
And hope there is a world left to influence and protect by the time we get our act back together.

What should the US do, right now, with the President we have, to truly make a difference in what appears to be out of anyone's control?  I don't think anyone knows.  He can't draw a red line, he can't commit troops or anything else, He can't gather trust and support from even his own country or congress, his words have lost meaning, even President Obama's actions, like ordering an aircraft carrier to the region "in case it is needed", have lost all meaning.

Lost in the historical archives is the 1991 Saddam Hussein surrender speech where he declared victory for waiting out the American invasion.  "We won because we persevered."  Even hanged, Saddam has more influence in Iraq today than does our current, can't wait to leave, President.
3783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: June 18, 2014, 08:45:17 AM
The current border crisis proves that the 2006 fence law was not followed.  This ongoing tragedy is caused by the President and Congress announcing they would like to make all illegal minors into US citizens, and it is enabled by the fact our borders are still porous.

The decline previously in illegal immigration was caused by the lack of opportunity here compared with faster growth rates south of the border.  A no-growth, high unemployment economy is not an acceptable substitute for border security. 
3784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Money, the Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: June 18, 2014, 08:29:54 AM
Doug:  I am going to challenge you here.  Go back and you will see him consistently warning that this would come.

You are right he has warned that QE has gone on too long, should have tapered sooner, and we are risking price increases ahead.  At the same time he seemed to be in denial that the money supply was going up at an alarming rate all this time.  He denies that the stock market's remarkable (nominal) rise was largely more money chasing the same old companies in a stagnant economy.  He keeps giving us other reasons for the equity increases, but growth in actual goods in services has been at a fraction of the rate of monetary expansion over the last 5 years. 
3785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues, IRS scandal, Lois Lerner lost emails on: June 17, 2014, 10:52:50 PM
Late afternoon on Friday the 13th, the IRS informed Congress on page 15 of a 27 page letter that 26 months that the Lois Lerner emails had been destroyed.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) knew this for months, even before the current IRS commissioner testified that his agency would produce all of them!

I don't see where the details of how this transpired were reported in the mainstream media, NY Times, for example.  I google the details and see nothing but right wing sites.  I'm bet NYT etc covered the President alleging it was a "phony scandal" with precision.  How about covering the evidence that proves him wrong?
3786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Money, the Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: June 17, 2014, 10:36:03 PM
"The long-awaited acceleration in inflation is finally here"

Wesbury is the expert, my my thoughts...

Inflation is / was the increase of the money supply we all saw happen while growth in goods and services was approximately zero.  Price increases are what most certainly follow excess money growth as a consequence.

CPI is a notoriously inaccurate economic measure (like almost all other highly reported economic measures).  The real amount of inflation is unknown. 

The above quote is surprising; long awaited, like we all knew this was coming.  I don't recall him warning us much of the dangers of what we were doing with our money supply.  I thought it was us warning him!  Maybe it's just me, but what I was hearing from the optimists was denial of what was most certainly happening. 
3787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: June 17, 2014, 03:36:40 PM
I'm thinking Doug has nailed it. 

Bringing this forward:

Did anyone get it right last time, this early in that race?

Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2007, 12:51:04 AM »
It's so far off, it's hard to say how it'll all unfold, but I will say that Obama is the front runner for the nomination, if not the presidency.

Understood that it is a long shot that a front runner won't run and she most certainly is playing the part of candidate running right now.

Everyone wants their portrait to hang in the halls of glory as President of the United States.  Surely no one on her staff is telling her she is a lousy candidate, lousy campaigner, lousy manage and lousy person.

The job itself is very hard.  We need someone who wants to DO THE JOB, which is to lead the greatest nation in the world.  Current occupant wanted to be President, like the title loves the perks, but does not want to do the job:
Middle East burns while Barack Obama played his 175th and 176th (18 hole) rounds of golf as president.

Couple hundred thousand per speech, or get questioned about Keystone, Benghazi, ISIS, Crimea.

Crafty: "Without her, the Dems have NO ONE."

(They have NO One with her! )  In 1992, the Dems had no one, if Mario Cuomo did not run.  Just a few small fish out there, the Governor of Arkansas, etc.  The Dems had no one in 2012 (a failed incumbent) and still won.

In the last 2 weeks, every half-prominent Dem is asking themselves, is this my time, especially if she suddenly announces herself out.  She can't drop out until book sales peter out.   Whoops, maybe now:

April 19, 2007
Huge Increase in Hillary's Negatives Changing Presidential Race
There has been a sudden and highly significant shift in the Democratic Presidential race: Hillary Clinton is rapidly losing her frontrunner position to Barack Obama as her negative ratings climb.
According to the Gallup poll, most Americans don't like Hillary Clinton and the number of people who view her negatively has been steadily increasing ever since she announced her candidacy for President in January.
Hillary isn't wearing well. It seems as if the more people see her, the less they like her. Now, for the first time, her low likeability levels are costing her votes, as Democratic party voters are abandoning her to support Barack Obama.
In February, Hillary had a 19 point lead over Obama. He is now only 5 points behind her.

3788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary Gaffes are going to need their own thread - Keystone Pipeline on: June 17, 2014, 08:32:29 AM
Hillary went to Canada, took questions and has no opinion on Keystone Pipeline!

Let's see.  It's our closest ally.  It's their biggest product.  We are their biggest customer.  It is the safest way by far to ship the stuff.  It is a State Department issue.  And she doesn't have an opinion.

Do you believe that?  I don't believe that.

Of course we should build the pipeline.  (Unless she is a NAFTA supporter who opposes cross-border trade.)
But if and when she says that:
a) She loses support from her wacky base.
b) Her approval numbers go down further
c) She guarantees herself a challenge from the left.

So...  The whole charade is more popular, more profitable, more successful and more fun if she does NOT run or make "Hard Choices".
3789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Head of Real Clear Politics: 5 Reasons Hillary Won't Run on: June 17, 2014, 08:18:34 AM
Famous people reading the forum?  The number of people in the world who now believe Hillary Won't Run has doubled to two!  (It was getting lonely over here.)

5 Reasons Hillary Won't Run
By Tom Bevan - June 17, 2014

Hillary Clinton's minions are hard at work assembling a political machine and fine tuning it for another go at the White House. Mrs. Clinton is doing her part preparing for a run as well, churning out a bland memoir about the "hard choices" she faced as secretary of state and coyly positioning herself (again) as the inevitable nominee of the party. But after the troubled beginning to her book tour, we're beginning to see the reasons why Hillary may eventually decide to pull the plug on a 2016 presidential run. Here are five:

1) She's just not that good at campaigning. If the last two gaffe-prone weeks have reminded us of anything about Hillary, it’s that she’s a mediocre politician at best. Her shortcomings are significant: she can be stiff and wooden in public; she lacks the aura of a natural politician; she’s not a great public speaker, and she can come across as politically flat-footed and tone deaf -- as she did with her “dead broke” response to a rather benign question about relating to the financial challenges of the average voter. People still seem to believe that the Clinton name is synonymous with political skill, but that assumption is only half-true: If Hillary possessed even half of Bill’s political talent and acumen, she wouldn’t have lost to Barack Obama in 2008.

2) The “fire in the belly”question. Certainly, Mrs. Clinton shares her husband’s seemingly limitless ambition. It’s been the driving force behind their existence as individuals and as a couple for more than four decades. But I’m with Mike McCurry on this one: Hillary Rodham Clinton is going to be 67 years old on October 26. Does she really want to spend her golden years working 16 hours a day shaking hands at high school gyms in Dubuque, Iowa, and rubbing elbows at diners in Manchester, New Hampshire? Especially when she can burnish her legacy with meaningful work through the Clinton Global Foundation -- while making millions a year at $200,000 a pop for 45-minute speeches -- and spend time with her soon-to-be born grandchild.

3) It ain’t gonna be a coronation. HRC must have been taken aback last week when two members of the traveling sisterhood – Diane Sawyer of ABC News and Terry Gross of NPR – actually pressed her with uncomfortable questions about Benghazi and gay marriage, respectively. Hillary didn’t respond well in either situation, and the ensuing coverage was instructive. If she can’t count on favorable press coverage during the choreographed rollout of a self-reverential memoir, what does that tell us about how she’d do in debates against a determined opponent? And does Clinton really want to face the scrutiny, not to mention the slings and arrows, that come with any campaign?

4) Obama is leaving a mess. President Obama’s second term is complicating matters significantly for Hillary. His foreign policy, which Clinton helped direct for four years – is adrift. The situation has unraveled dangerously in Syria and now Iraq. The infamous “reset” with Russia is a joke. Obama’s job approval rating is on the slide, and not only on foreign policy. He’s struggling to stay relevant in Washington or to move any sort of domestic agenda forward, which will be made even more difficult if Republicans take the Senate in November. It’s hard to see how any of these dynamics change for the better in the next two years -- and they may get worse. Hillary will not want to be seen as running for Obama’s third term, yet she won’t be able to distance herself too far from his record. That will be a tough needle to thread politically (see point #1).

5) The country wants real change. America was mesmerized by Obama’s call for change in 2008. It was one of the narratives that propelled him over Hillary in the first place. Eight years later, Obama has failed to deliver much of what he promised on uniting the country and changing business as usual in Washington. As a result an even stronger populist, anti-establishment, anti-incumbent fervor is coursing through the electorate. That does not bode well for Hillary Clinton, who embodies the elite establishment -- and the past. If the famed Clinton political acumen still exists in that family, Hillary will figure this out and take a pass on 2016.

Tom Bevan is the co-founder and Executive Editor of RealClearPolitics
3790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential - Gov. Scott Walker on: June 16, 2014, 07:51:09 PM
My favorite political reporter, Eliana Johnson, covering Scott Walker's visit with donors:

JUNE 16, 2014 4:00 AM
Scott Walker Gets Ready
The Wisconsin governor meets donors — in Chris Christie’s territory.
By Eliana Johnson

Scott Walker is already thinking about how to defeat Hillary Clinton. “You gotta move it from a personality race, because if it’s a personality race, you got a third Clinton term,” the Wisconsin governor told a lunchtime crowd of about 30 last Tuesday assembled at the Lakewood, N.J., home of Rich Roberts, one of his biggest financial backers. “The only way we win that election is to transform her personality to Washington versus the rest of us. Senator Clinton is all about Washington, everything about her is all about Washington.”

Walker is up for reelection in November — his third time on the ballot in four years, he likes to point out — but it is almost certainly his presidential ambitions that brought him to the Orthodox Jewish enclave of Lakewood, where he toured the town’s yeshiva and lunched with Roberts and his friends. Roberts has always donated to Republicans, but after selling his pharmaceutical company for $800 million in 2012, he began pouring a lot more money into the coffers of GOPers, including Walker, Senator Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Senator Rand Paul (Ky.), and former Florida congressman Allen West.

With Walker at his side, Roberts recounted receiving threatening e-mails after donating $50,000 to ward off Walker’s recall from the governorship. “With three days to go until the election, now I’m receiving all these threats, so what am I going to do? I wired him another $50,000,” Roberts said to laughter and applause.
As Walker shook hands, posed for pictures, and spoke to the group gathered in Roberts’s dining room and an adjoining room — men and women separated by a wall, as is sometimes customary among Orthodox Jews — the broad outlines of a campaign platform were clear. In a 20-minute speech and a question-and-answer session that followed, he touted his expansion of school vouchers to religious institutions, cited his victory on tort reform, and recounted staring down Wisconsin’s public-sector unions and the protesters who stormed the state on their behalf.

You could see him taking subtle shots at his potential rivals. The governor took a swipe at his friend Chris Christie on Christie’s home turf, touting his own success reducing property taxes in Wisconsin after a decade of steady increases. New Jersey’s astronomical property taxes are notorious, and Christie, who has a full-blown budget crisis on his hands right now, has done little to address the problem.

On foreign policy, Walker positioned himself firmly in the establishment camp, dismissing arguments that Republican voters want to see the United States reduce its engagement with the world. “I don’t believe that,” he said. Without naming him specifically, he rejected the idea that Kentucky senator Rand Paul has captured the hearts and minds of Republican voters on matters of foreign policy. “I believe fundamentally the reason why many young voters are suspect about foreign policy and the wars and many things like that is that they just haven’t been properly administered,” he said.

Walker also threw some elbows at Washington Republicans, criticizing them for harping on issues like the debt and the deficit without offering a positive vision for the future. “We have to be optimistic,” he said. He pointed to a particular senator who “constantly talks about how horrible the debt is.” Walker said that, while he shares the sentiment, the issue has limited popular appeal. At times, he said that listening to the senator harping on it makes him “want to slit my wrists because I’m just like, ‘My God, this is so awful, I cannot believe this.’”

The Obama administration, of course, came in for the harshest judgments. Walker accused the president of relying on his “​political shop”​ to make decisions of national and global import. He cited the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five high-profile Taliban prisoners: “I think what happened with the exchange — remember that movie years ago, Wag the Dog?” He fears, he said, that Obama’s political advisers — trying to cope with the political flak over the ongoing scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs — jumped at the opportunity to make the exchange happen, without clearing the decision with the secretaries of state and defense, who would have put the brakes on such a deal.

As Walker was garnering applause from the lunch crowd, the aides he had in tow were getting less positive feedback. Though operating on friendly turf, they acted skittish, guarded, and unfriendly. An event organizer complained that the governor’s team was dismissive and difficult to deal with, and that she found it nearly impossible to get Walker on the phone with his host.

Since Walker rose to national prominence when he faced down the unions in 2011, Republican donors have admired his steeliness, his calm, and his quiet resolve. But they have privately wondered whether he has the star power and political judgment necessary to succeed on the presidential level. This event offered a small sample size, but maybe the donors also need to wonder about his team. After all, Walker was less than 40 miles from Trenton, where the man who just six months ago seemed to have an inside track for front-runner status in the fight for the Republican presidential nomination had his fortunes reversed by his own aides.

Walker brought a national message to this gathering at a top donor’s home, an indication of the seriousness of his presidential ambitions.​ For the time being, Hillary Clinton is sucking up all the media oxygen. For three days last week, the Drudge Report featured a photograph of a pregnant Chelsea Clinton in leather pants over a headline about the $600,000 salary she earned at NBC News. The low-key Wisconsin governor is a stark contrast to that flashiness, and he is hoping a wholesome Midwesterner becomes Hillary Clinton’s worst political nightmare.

— Eliana Johnson is a political reporter for National Review Online.
3791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: June 16, 2014, 05:06:15 PM
I would note that apparently Brat's opposition to the Ex-Im Bank, a.k.a. the Bank of Boeing, led to a 2+% drop in its stock the next day.

The issue of funding the export-import bank splits the right.  On the surface, it is a pro-business program helping businesses and jobs.  Other countries do it.  But more importantly, it is a question of where in the constitution is the federal government empowered to do things like this?  If nowhere, then end it.

It is a test your principles (or character) to oppose the over-reaches of government and subsidies that seem to benefit you.
3792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How did 800 ISIS fighters rout 2 Iraqi divisions (30,000 Iraqi Army soldiers)? on: June 16, 2014, 04:13:25 PM
I don't see a precise answer here, but an interesting question:

How did 800 ISIS fighters rout 2 Iraqi divisions?
Jun. 12, 2014
An image from a video posted by a group supporting the al-Qaida breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows a militant in front of a burning Iraqi army Humvee in Tikrit, Iraq. (The Associated Press)

By Andrew Tilghman and Jeff Schogol
But the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, apparently has routed an estimated 30,000 Iraqi Army soldiers who were trained by the U.S. military and given billions in sophisticated American military equipment.

The stunning outcome reflects widespread desertions among the Iraqi units in the north as well as the Sunni-Shiite sectarian tensions that underlie the military battles, experts say.

“It’s a relativity small force that managed to take the city [of Mosul], and it’s shocking that they were able to do that,” said Charlie Cooper, who studies Islamic extremism for the Quilliam Foundation in London.

“To me, that suggests there is collusion or at least deliberate capitulation on the part of Sunni tribes in western and northern Iraq,” Cooper said. “It’s likely that this happened because Sunni tribes in the area let it happen.”

Check this ISIS slideshow. Contains pics of US made military material taken from #Iraq army:
3793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Astronomy : Two more planets beyond Pluto? on: June 16, 2014, 03:59:32 PM
At least two more large planers in our solar system out past Pluto?

Astrophysics > Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
Extreme trans-Neptunian objects and the Kozai mechanism: signaling the presence of trans-Plutonian planets?

...The analysis of several possible scenarios strongly suggest that at least two trans-Plutonian planets must exist.
3794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward, The Dave Brat Message, constitutional, free market conservatism on: June 16, 2014, 03:54:06 PM
Is it the Eric Cantor loss, or the Dave Brat win.  The Brat campaign was not single issue on anti-amnesty.  Immigration came up but was not the center of the agenda that won.  Look at what won:

What Dave Brat Taught Conservatives
A real free-market agenda remains more popular than redistribution.


June 12, 2014 7:14 p.m. ET
With Washington determined to take a lesson away from Dave Brat's rout of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, let's make sure it's an enduring one. Let's talk "reform" conservatism.

Yes, immigration came up in this race, though it didn't get ugly until the end. It happens that Mr. Brat, an economics professor, spent the bulk of his campaign rallying voters to a traditional free-market, pro-growth economic agenda. It centered on a tough criticism of crony capitalism and a clarion call for a flatter and more efficient tax code.

Mr. Brat reprised his themes for Fox News's Sean Hannity the night of his victory, explaining: "We need to take free markets seriously. That means we have to put an end to all these tax credits and tax deductions and loopholes. [Michigan Rep.] Dave Camp had a good bill which simplified the tax code and had a Reagan-esque 10 and 25 percent rate. That made sense and it was going to be pro-growth." This clearly resonated with the 56% of voters who chose to rout a sitting majority leader.

Mr. Brat's victory is surely awkward for a new wing of the conservative movement that has taken to arguing that the whole free-market, supply-side, Reaganesque agenda is passé. Humbly declaring themselves the "reform" conservative moment, this group has made some waves with their manifesto "Room to Grow"—including introductions by former Bush speechwriter Pete Wehner and National Affairs Editor Yuval Levin. "Room to Grow" has some interesting ideas, all overshadowed by the book's central premise: That conservatives need to embrace government to better endear themselves to the "middle class."

The authors are clear that politics, not principle, needs to drive conservative policy. Nowhere is that clearer than in the chapter by former Bush Treasury official Robert Stein on tax policy. A summary: Marginal tax rates are no longer popular because they don't give much to the middle class. Republicans instead need to embrace redistribution and lard the tax code with special, conservative-approved handouts for said middle class—namely a giant tax credit for children, similar to that proposed by Utah Sen. Mike Lee. (The book has many more tax-credit suggestions, too.)

Absent from the chapter is any recognition of why Reagan, and the party, embraced tax cuts. It's this thing called "economics." Cutting taxes on capital—and cutting high marginal rates—spurs investment, which grows the economy, which benefits everyone, including the middle class. The good politics follows. The middle-class beneficiaries of Reagan's economic boom showed their own appreciation by signing up for a conservative political realignment that lasted decades.

Mr. Stein never uses the word "capital" in an entire chapter on tax policy. It's also devoid of a corporate tax reform—perhaps because talking about "corporations" isn't a middle-class thing. Defenders of the new agenda have struggled to explain how tax distortions are "pro-growth." AEI scholar James Pethokoukis has taken to arguing that supply-side economics is about a greater supply of children and to justify redistribution. Mr. Levin and National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru this week explained that conservative redistribution is now acceptable, since it counters liberal redistribution.

The biggest cheerleaders for the conservative "reformers" are liberal commentators such as Ezra Klein. No surprise: They understand that "Room to Grow" is a capitulation to the left's inequality and middle-class talking points. They are more than happy for future tax fights to center solely on which party gets more money to divvy up among Solyndra, parents, welfare, farmers and so on.

What matters to the "reformers," explained New York Times columnist Ross Douthat last year, in praising the Lee tax plan, is moving conservative tax policy beyond "1979." This again confuses policy and politics. Good economic policy doesn't have a sell-by date. ( Adam Smith ? Ugh. He is just so 1776.)

What can require periodic overhaul is political messaging. The "reformers" are right that, politically, selling a cut to a 39.6% top rate is harder than was Reagan's job of selling a cut to a 70% rate. What they miss is that the past 40 years have provided entirely new and powerful selling points for a flatter, cleaner code. Americans have grown frustrated with the insane complexity of taxes, furious over the crony loopholes, and wary of the power all this hands abusive IRS bureaucrats.

Which gets us back to this week's rout. Mr. Cantor never endorsed the more dramatic proposals of the "reformers," though he spoke broadly kind words about "Room to Grow." His "Making Life Work" agenda made him a poster boy of that new GOP impulse to focus on populist initiatives that cater to the middle class.

Mr. Brat openly derided "Making Life Work," referring to its "catchy little phrases to compete with Democrats for votes." As he told Mr. Hannity: "I do not want the federal government trying to make my life work." Mr. Brat also ably tied together the cronyism/complexity/growth arguments to make the case for real tax reform (rather than Democrat-lite tax spending).

The hallmark of conservative policy innovation is the use of markets to limit government and expand citizen freedom and choice. That's reform. The lesson of the Brat-Cantor race is that the traditional reform concept is still popular (and populist). At least when it's delivered with economic understanding and conviction.
3795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: June 16, 2014, 08:41:12 AM
Yes the Larry Summers view certainly is misguided, if accurately quoted and portrayed.  And the response posted is right on the money and worth reading more than once.

If not Summers, it could be said about almost any leftist politician, they think the laws and forces of economics and human spirit don't apply to their failed ideas.

I have said often, capital employs labor.  And a greater investment in capital makes labor more productive resulting in higher pay.  The responder says money is not capital and is right, but when money becomes capital, it employs labor.

Without capital, no one gets employed.  Poor people don't employ anyone.  Poor economies with anti-business, anti-employment, anti-economic freedom rules and customs employ no one at a good wage.  Wealthy people who have had it with business and investment and keep their money on the sidelines employ almost no one compared with the when they were risking their capital and building their businesses. 

Capital is a substitute for Labor?  What bunk!

Let's take a simple example.  Our business digs ditches or moves earth for building foundations.  Our capital is in shovels and we employ a few laborers.  Over time, our business or at least the industry if invested with capital now owns giant diesel powered powered products from Cummins and Caterpillar and we now can dig with one person in one machine what used to take a thousand people to do.  By Summers math, or Obama, etc. that productivity gain just put 999 workers out of work.  Same as the Obama argument that the ATM (which hit the market in the 1970s) is costing us jobs.  That argument is wrong in so many ways.  Innovation improves and grows jobs.  If yo9u can't see that intuitively, you can easily see it empirically.

We could analyze the math and see that jobs grew at the machinery companies and supply chains etc. and trace and calculate all of that.  The biggest advancement though is that much larger jobs are now possible.  A guy holding a shovel is displaced, but if he also responds to the changes in a dynamic world, he moves quickly from that to bettering himself.  When we remove all incentives, responsibilities and consequences, likely he doesn't.

More simple is to understand that the dynamic economy that fosters innovation will grow and prosper and an economy burdened with rules slowing and stopping change does not.  Economic success includes monetary prosperity but also is tied to things like health, education, environment and longevity.

Economies that innovate, prosper.  Nothing unleashes human innovation like a private, freedom based risk capital system.  Look around the world.  Look through human history.  Compare the Heritage Freedom indices with the results the leading countries are attaining.  Yet we keep hearing every argument in politics that pulls in the opposite direction.  Capital is no longer tied to jobs, good grief!

If leftist lived by the rules they impose on the private sector, they would be forced to disclose the harm they inflict with their policies and get sued for the damages.
3796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on Brazil on: June 16, 2014, 07:51:18 AM
I appreciate hearing from someone in Brazil about Brazil.

Yes!  Honored to hear about what is happening first hand.  I am am encouraged by your optimism.  I hope you are correct about throwing the leftists out this year.  The fight for individual freedom over state power needs to go on across the globe.  It is a difficult fight.  Brazil certainly has the potential to grow a great and free economy for the benefit of all the people.

I will appreciate hearing your views on any topic!
3797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillbillary Clintons can relate to Middle class? Hillary issinking like a stone. on: June 13, 2014, 05:42:15 PM
Chelsea Clinton received a whopping $600,000 annual salary from NBC for her (almost negligible) work there.

They are just like us, student debt, etc.  How much does your kid make for doing "almost negligible work"?

Hillary is sinking like a stone.  (Who knew?)  It's almost too late for her to step out gracefully while she is still on top:
Clinton’s Popularity Drops to 52% as 2016 Edge Shrinks
Hillary Clinton’s popularity continues to slide as she takes on a more political posture and Republicans raise questions about the deadly 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Libya on her watch.
Fifty-two percent of Americans view the former secretary of state favorably, down from 56 percent in March and 70 percent in December 2012, according to the Bloomberg National Poll.
The decline means Clinton wouldn’t enter a possible 2016 race as a prohibitive favorite over key Republican rivals. While she still bests them in head-to-head matchups, she doesn’t have majority support against any of them.

She doesn't have very much further to fall to be under 50% favorable, down from 18 time most admired woman.

After Hickenlooper wins reelection in Nov, I wouldn't expect HRC to be Dem front runner for very long.   wink

3798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: June 13, 2014, 10:51:24 AM
That will require someone else making a better and clearer case.

Yes it does!

(previously) " the Rep field is strikingly weak"

Doesn't that always appear to be the case before a real leader emerges?  It is darkest before sunrise?  I would say instead that the Republican field is strikingly wide and deep.  Each looks small right now, some with no foreign policy experience, like Reagan, some with no executive experience, like Lincoln, but we need one person to rise to a level of greatness in leadership that we haven't seen in a long time.  It is easy to be pessimistic after a long stretch of weak and flawed candidates, but if there is not one person left in this country who can connect with energy and emotion to the ideas of freedom and strength, then we deserve the demise that is otherwise coming.
3799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: June 13, 2014, 10:37:18 AM
If we have the ability to turn things around now in Iraq,  we should negotiate now for our help what we should have negotiated before leaving, a lasting security presence, a well-located, permanent, American military base, and protections in the Iraqi constitution to guarantee individual freedom in Iraq worth protecting.  If that is not what we want, or is not attainable, or if there are no good guys left to help, then... we let them slug it out and step in again later with air power next time they pose a direct threat to our interests.

This President has lost all credibility and is incapable of leading or visualizing an end game.  He already did his Mission Accomplished dance on Iraq, while these players were waiting us out.   The question is more hypothetical to me.  If we had a great president who has credibility and capability, what could and should he or she do now and what should have done throughout the Obama years in Iraq?

From the article:
"Iraq is a major oil-producing country that shares borders with Iran and Syria. The United States has a large embassy in Iraq, and the country has attracted sizable foreign investment. "We're committed to this country," [James Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq], said. "Its stability is important." Growing chaos in Iraq would lead to a spike in oil prices and would likely spread instability throughout the region."

This President wants high energy prices and is NOT committed to the stability of Iraq.  He is committed  only in the sense of focus group polling problems at home and the obvious black eye these developments put on his record in history.

Optimistically, reforming the problems in the Middle East is a 300 year project that hasn't started yet.  The immediate world peace plan is not top down, but is coming out of the ground in places like North Dakota, Texas and Canada.  Produce enough affordable energy for the needs of the developed world without relying on terrorists in war zones.  Get our own act together and rebuild our own capabilities because trouble around the world is most certainly still brewing.
3800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: June 13, 2014, 10:06:19 AM
It is always a pleasure to see Hillary squirm about her lying.

Yet, sadly half the country could care less about lying with the ubiquitous come back,
"they all do it".  Ever point out her lying to a lib.  When boxed in with logic this is ALWAYS the comeback.

In my view lying should automatically cancel one out for any public office.

I didn't listen to the exchange but lying was only one of the character defects exposed.  Maybe people will get tired of the lying or maybe it is something else about her that will end this charade.  Her temper, her arrogance, her record of failure, her lack of people skills, lack of professional management skills, and especially her inability to admit she is wrong -  all come to mind.

Most importantly, whether the name is Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton, whether it is the first half-black or the first woman President,  people should be tired of having their country led in the wrong direction.  People are being lied to everytime they hear that these policies bring economic recovery, prosperity, world peace or a strong America.   After trying these policies, everyone should now recognize failure.
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