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3751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics - Lincoln's 1860 campaign song on: April 07, 2014, 10:10:05 PM
I was looking for a quote or slogan about liberty in his reelection. Came across this song from his first election:
3752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Corruption on: April 07, 2014, 10:03:58 PM
Very bummed to see that Sen. Lee might have some dirt , , ,  cry

It doesn't seem that anything came out of this against Mike Lee.  The accusation is that he did business with someone he knew once and that it was not investigated.  Then they combined the story with Harry Reid, a known crook. I did not see the connection.
3753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Caption This on: April 07, 2014, 02:49:58 PM
3754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Foreclosures in MN on: April 02, 2014, 10:56:37 PM

Foreclosures way down. In Hennepin County (Mpls, suburbs) foreclosure rate is now 0.68%.


The Plowhorse Trot - ?   )

The Titanic had fewer drownings in the 6th year after the crash as well.
3755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 02, 2014, 10:50:52 PM
By this measure we are still worse than the bottom of the Obama recession.

Source: Econ Prof. John Taylor, Stanford.

Reagan cheated by using pro-growth policies.  Anyone can grow the economy that way!
3756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Comparing Recoveries, people working on: April 02, 2014, 10:38:15 PM
3757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Foreclosures in MN on: April 02, 2014, 10:13:58 PM

Foreclosures way down. In Hennepin County (Mpls, suburbs) foreclosure rate is now 0.68%.
3758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Issues Constitutional Law: Top 9 all-time USSC Justices? on: April 02, 2014, 09:49:37 PM
3759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: March 30, 2014, 07:32:51 PM
"Look carefully at Housing appreciation. The truth is that Housing as an investment is greatly overstated.  Housing over the long run appreciates at 2-3% per year and nothing more."

I like to assume zero appreciation and zero tax benefit when I buy.  The 2-3% appreciation quoted is above and beyond rent collected and debt potentially paid down.

"The years of 2002-2006 were an aberration,"

Since the houses did not change, I just assume the dollar buying them was worth less.  Then your loos was to hold anything that did not move with the dollar.

I find that broken houses can be bought for 50 cents on the dollar and then repaired with free labor and relatively small materials costs.  (I paid as low as 15 cents on the dollar of the previous sale in the current down cycle.)  This is not for everyone.  If you are able to repair and restore efficiently, you are in for the cost of your free labor plus maybe a little over 50% of the value.  For me, this takes out most of the risk for major market corrections.

On the upside, good real estate at least keeps up with inflation, and when the dollar is done and gone, people will still need a place to live.

3760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Common Core on: March 30, 2014, 06:54:53 PM
Oppose Common Core with all your energy.  And when it comes back under some other name, oppose that too.
3761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Internet scrub? Indicted San Francisco State Sen Leland Yee not pictured with... on: March 29, 2014, 11:02:57 AM
Who tipped off the powerful to scrub their photos?  The World Wide Web was incapable of coming up with an image of indicted, anti-gun, gun runner San Francisco State Sen Leland Yee pictured with San Francisco Rep. Nancy Pelosi or either of California Senators Barbara Boxer or Diane Feinstein as the bad news of corruption broke.  Jerry Brown was not so lucky:
John Edwards, no clout at all:

In other news, there is no record in George Orwell's 1984 that Oceana was ever in alliance with Eurasia.  Only in your mind and they can erase that too.

(Hat tip

3762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: March 28, 2014, 11:21:18 AM
Harry Reid used campaign funds to give granddaughter $17,000

Isn't that the same crime that sent James Traficant to prison?  (A Democrat who ripped the Clinton administration ruthlessly in the 1990s.)

Harry Reid is still majority Leader.
3763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Kobe Bryant on: March 28, 2014, 11:13:07 AM

Kobe clarified with a quote: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

What if we all just lived by THAT?
3764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Colbert's joke on: March 28, 2014, 10:55:00 AM

Except for the fact that there are two sets of rules, he should be widely called out on it same as if it was Rush L, Hannity, Beck would be if it was one of them who said it.

That said, calling for silencing a person is anti- free speech which is what they do, not what we do.
3765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / NASA Satellite: Liquid form of Ice/Snow traces discovered on surface of MN on: March 27, 2014, 03:58:17 PM

...comes as a surprise to the space exploration organization which has listed the state of Minnesota as “unsuitable for any and all biotic life” since mid-November.
3766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness or Media? Wash Post says people STARTING to quesition Competence! on: March 27, 2014, 02:53:52 PM
They didn't see a competence problem during Cash for Clunkers, Solyndra, Russian reset, the Queen sent Obama speech videos - in American video format?!  Norwegian ambassador who doesn't know the capital?  Susan Rice promoted?  Fast and Furious??!!

If we had a competent media people might know whether or not thew administration was competent.
3767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Libertarian Issues: Michelle Malken's visit to the (Pueblo Colo) pot shop on: March 27, 2014, 02:44:50 PM
Good story:

My contacts on the ground in Colo tell me the recent legalization of recreational and tourist purchasing has completely screwed up the pricing for the medical license holders.  It is taxed differently but the exact same supplies serve both markets.
3768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Ukraine on: March 27, 2014, 02:32:00 PM
Meanwhile Obama guts our military...

I wonder if they see the incongruity.
3769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Valerie Jarrett's Influence on Obama... on: March 26, 2014, 12:40:34 PM
Obj, Nice work.  I have no idea what the connection is between the President's closest adviser Valerie Jarrett being Iranian born and noting that when the world's number one sponsor of terror Iran suffered a popular uprising during his first year in office he had absolutely no reaction to it.

Paraphrasing Ronald Reagan:  Liberal elites are very smart people, Ivy Leaguers.  Stanford and Univ of Michigan in Jarrett's case - even smarter.  But most of what they know just isn't so.

Jarrett and Obama preferred the idea of talking to neo-holocaust-supporter Ahmadinejad to toppling the regime.

Liberals have an economic view that the rich get rich at the expense of the poor and a worldview that everything would be better if only the US was weaker.  Neither is so.

The roots of Obama's, Jarrett's and Axelrod's leftisms are all interesting, perhaps damning.  Still we need (in my view) to de-personalize this and fight against the policies and underlying philosophies.  We will still be fighting against failed, leftist philosophies long after this current cast of characters leaves the stage.
3770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: POTH Friedman" The morning after the morning after. on: March 26, 2014, 12:04:27 PM
"The morning after the morning after."  A cliche on a cliche.  I can't read NYT Thomas Friedman from the old neighborhood without wondering if this column is really his or from this random generated Friedman column site:  Go back and click Generate column more than once to get the humor in it.

"How do you say Moore’s Law in Russian? ... solar power, the price of which is falling so fast that more and more homes and even utilities are finding it as cheap to install as natural gas. Wind is on a similar trajectory, as is energy efficiency."  

Moore's law involved a doubling of price-performance every 18 months.  There is no similarity here.  Most (all?) solar manufacturers in the US are bankrupt while gas and oil producers are growing by leaps and bounds.  It was the surge in natural gas production that brought down US CO2 emissions!  A little irony for the global warming crowd.

Europe needs gas.  Ukraine needs gas.  Natural gas from Russia is Ukraine's no. 1 import.  Russia escalates the price and we give the difference in financial aid.  Our money goes to Russia and finances cross border tyranny.  Sound familiar?!

Ukraine Sees Gazprom (Russian energy) Charging 37% More for Gas in Q2

Let's just replace that with solar panels and windmills.  The weather forecast in Kiev is cloudy with a light wind diminishing during the coldest part of the night.  Good luck cooking your meals and heating your homes with wishful thinking.

How does such a great thinker, 3 time Pulitzer Prize winner, not see the leverage Russia has right now over Europe with energy?
3771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: March 26, 2014, 09:59:53 AM
I gave a little rant yesterday over in Monetary policy about how are our problems (and solutions) are not monetary.  That said, I thought the followup should go here - on the optimistic side, or else in a doomsday thread.

ccp:  Doug,  So how long can we go on with this charade?

It hasn't really occurred to me that we won't snap out of this.  The world and the economy looked this bad just before the Reagan revolution.  The table is set and we are one good leader away from solving this, IMO.

When we were poised to win a tea party victory in 2010, GM said and I agreed that this was a two election fix.  From there we won the House but blew TWO good chance to win the Senate and an almost perfect opportunity to take back the White House.  

Yet the same opportunity is still presenting itself, $4 trillion in debt later and with a deteriorating workforce and work ethic.  Is it too late now? No.  Is is to late if we blow it again?  God help us!  I don't know.  At some point if we choose the policies of Venezuela or Greece, we will get the results of Venezuela or Greece - or Haiti or the Republic of the Congo, with our goal of perfect income equality even as it approaches zero.

Nate Silver, of fame for his perfect Obama victory predictions now says the R's will pick up 6 seats in the Senate, plus or minus 5. ( Assuming he is right at 6, Republicans could easily lose the Senate in 2016 even while taking the White House.  If we are going to turn this ship around, the number of new Republican Senators this year needs to be closer to the 11 that are winnable than the 6 that are expected.

Pew published recently that new voters will soon be majority non-white.  Dems think that means majority Dem because they own non-white vote.  (  But they have not earned their vote with the results of their policies and owning non-whites has been illegal for 150 years.  Wise, older black conservative Thomas Sowell says, as I have said, the Republicans don't need to win the black vote but they need to chip the Dem black vote down from 90% to 80%, a critical mass that would allow all blacks to believe they have a choice - especially a school choice!  (  [Similar arguments obviously can and need to made with Hispanics, women, gays, Asian-Americans, young people etc.]

What we have gained through Obama is clear data that the liberal, leftist policies don't work, for white or non-white, at home or abroad.  What we do with that new data from a policy and marketing challenge is up to us.
3772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / It isn't a Monetary Problem on: March 25, 2014, 10:44:18 PM
Monetary policy lately has been like adding gas to a car that already had the tank full but had 3 flat tires and 2 brakes struck on.  The additional gas won't go in, didn't do any good or harm, and the car keeps showing the same lousy symptoms after the gas spills out on the ground.

A tight dollar not was the problem of the last decade and a loose dollar was not the solution.  (Nor was cash for clunkers, ACA, raising the minimum wage, immigration reform, Solyndra, shovel-ready jobs or any other phony initiative we have seen.)  The loosening and tightening of reserves will only matter after the real problems that are preventing economic expansion are addressed.  For now the excess reserves just sit idle.

A friend who runs a venture capital business told me last week that banks have plenty of money to lend but will only put 50% into a good company transaction instead of perhaps 80% previously and suggested they only lend to known entities whom they know and trust.  They will not lend to unknowns or startups.  The price and quantity of money (on the sidelines) is not the limiting factor right now.  Instead there is a shortage of proven, solid companies wanting or needing expansion capital in an environment poisoned by over-taxation and over-regulation.  Loose money did not stimulate and tightening now will not significantly affect our stalled, Pelosi/Reid, Obamanomic economy.
3773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Energy Prices are Tied to Economic Health on: March 24, 2014, 01:45:34 PM
The building of the pipeline will result in mostly temporary job creation, but it is the flow of energy in the pipeline that will support long term economic growth and real job creation.

In 2004, the International Energy Agency prepared an analysis with the collaboration of the OECD Economics Department and with the assistance of the International Monetary Fund Research Department:  

“.  . . a sustained $10 per barrel increase in oil prices from $25 to $35 would result in the OECD as a whole losing 0.4% of GDP in the first and second year of higher prices. Inflation would rise by half a percentage point and unemployment would also increase.”

So moved, and then some.
3774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: European matters, Venice secession: ‘Repubblica Veneta’ on: March 24, 2014, 01:30:58 PM
Inspired by Scotland's hopes for independence and hot on the heels of Crime'a 95% preference for accession to Russia, 89% of the citizens of Venice voted for their own sovereign state in a ‘referendum’ on independence from Italy. As The Daily Mail reports, the proposed ‘Repubblica Veneta’ includes the five million inhabitants of the Veneto region and has been largely driven by the wealthy 'who are tired of supporting the poor and crime-ridden south' (Venice pays EUR71bn in taxes and receives only EUR21bn in services and investment). The ballot appointed a committee of ten who immediately declared independence from Italy. Venice may now start withholding taxes from Rome.
3775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, Russian Leader: Влади́мир Влади́мирович Пу́тин on: March 24, 2014, 01:15:32 PM
From the previous post, WSJ:  "Even the most hard-headed (and forgiving) realist by now must suspect that Mr. Putin is destined to become increasingly a source of instability rather than of stability."

Interesting POTH today:  
"3 Presidents and a Riddle Named Putin"

I would note that it was not one of the three Presidents, but a VP named Cheney who got him right from the start.

Pres. Reagan said: Mr. Gorbchev, if you seek peace, prosperity... open this gate... Tear Down.This Wall!

Pres. Obama said: We who lead the United States and the free world are committed to unilateral disarmament and drawing meaningless, rhetorical lines in sands.  Mr. Putin, I will have more flexibility after my reelection.  Have At Our Allies!
3776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: March 24, 2014, 12:34:32 PM
I am hugely appreciative of PP's truth telling on housing.   

"Non SA dropped from 519k to 283k." (non seasonally adjusted [actual] home sales)

As one of many who are invested in housing, the rosy scenario spinning of Wesbury [hummed to the melody of The Plowhorse Trot] is appealing but I am better off knowing the truth.

As people's favorite expense, housing is an indication of how well people are doing economically.  It has great appreciation in great economic times.  But more so than gold, I value it as something people still need and value no matter how low it goes and no matter how badly our economy disintegrates.
3777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 24, 2014, 12:06:54 PM
While I was on vacation I heard that President Vladimir Putin Russia re-drew their boundaries outward and U.S. President Barack Obama released his NCAA bracket picks.

President Obama promised that he would have flexibility after his reelection.  He is exercising his newly discovered flexibility in the same way he did before his reelection:

    Pres Obama at the wheel of a golf cart today at @AndrewsAirForce. (Radio pool photo by Wm McDonald @TalkRadioNews)

    — Mark Knoller (@markknoller) March 22, 2014
3778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Malaysian Air 370 on: March 24, 2014, 11:54:16 AM
Malaysian Prime Minister strangely sounds like all doubt has been removed:

Officials Say Missing Malaysia Airlines Plane 'Ended in the Southern Indian Ocean'

I have not yet heard that they identified a single part or person.  Did I miss something?  (Or did they?)
3779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dallas Fed President: QE Was A Massive Gift Intended To Boost Wealth on: March 24, 2014, 11:49:28 AM
An important story surprisingly missed by most of MSM:

courtesy of the president of the Dallas Fed, via Bloomberg.

Speaking to a London group, Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, noted the massive additions to the Fed balance sheet and advocated for a much faster elimination of the Fed’s policy towards quantitative easing, ideally ending in October.

QE effect on shoppers:

QE effect on income inequality:

3780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia-China: Gazprom on: March 24, 2014, 11:25:57 AM
There are a number of stories out there now abut the tightening of relations between Russia and China.  This chart n Gazprom explains quite a bit of it:
3781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: March 21, 2014, 10:36:05 PM
"If China’s economic troubles force it to reduce purchases of U.S. treasury securities, and the Fed continues to taper its own purchases, there’s no telling what could happen to interest rates. There could be serious risks to America’s ability to fund itself. "

I think they mean there could be serious risks to our continuing ability to not fund ourselves.
3782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama campaign poster on: March 17, 2014, 09:07:03 AM
3783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Democrats are potential Republicans - not the enemy on: March 17, 2014, 09:05:35 AM
Yes, there is quite an art and a skill to gaining trust and changing hearts and minds, and not just insult the idiocy of liberalism.

"He's saying the same things, but in a more welcoming manner."
3784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel: "This plane is likely intact - it was landed in a terrorist plot." on: March 17, 2014, 08:57:31 AM
It looks like this was a flight that went exactly according to plan. Iran is complicit?  Makes you glad that Pres Obama did everything he could do in 2009 to support the popular democratic uprising against the the world's number one sponsor of terrorism.  Oh, that's right, he did absolutely nothing when that opportunity to stand down tyranny and terrorism was front and center.

The US cannot be the world's policeman?  That's right but then accept that no one is going to do it.  Planes and countries will disappear from time to time, not our problem.  Maybe the UN can call an emergency meeting to condemn this act.  Nothing says we are serious about stopping terrorism and rogue military offensives like gutting our defense and intelligence budgets.
3785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: March 17, 2014, 12:15:39 AM
3786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How Obama / Demcrat / leftist policies hurt the poor, George Will on: March 16, 2014, 11:22:55 PM

Democrats are making income inequality worse

By George F. Will, Published: March 14

Someone who is determined to disbelieve something can manage to disregard an Everest of evidence for it. So Barack Obama will not temper his enthusiasm for increased equality with lucidity about the government’s role in exacerbating inequality.

In the movie “Animal House,” Otter, incensed by the expulsion of his fraternity, says: “I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture.” Such thinking gives us minimum-wage increases that do very little for very few. Meanwhile, there are farm bills, like the one Obama signed last month at Michigan State University.

MSU was one of the models for the land-grant colleges created under the 1862 Morrill Act, whose primary purpose was to apply learning to agriculture. Today, we apply crony capitalism to agriculture. The legislation Obama lavishly praised redistributes wealth upward by raising prices consumers pay. Vincent Smith of Montana State University says small non-farm businesses are almost 30 times more likely to fail than farms, partly because the $956 billion farm legislation continues agriculture’s thick safety net. The geyser of subsidies assures that farm households will continue to be 53 percent more affluent than average households.

Certain payments are, however, restricted. People making more than $900,000 annually are ineligible.

Seventy percent of Agriculture Department spending funds food services. Nearly 48 million people — almost as many live on the West Coast (in California, Oregon and Washington) — receive food stamps. This dependency, inimical to upward mobility, is assiduously cultivated by government through “outreach initiatives” to “increase awareness” and “streamline the application process.”

Between 2000, when 17 million received food stamps, and 2006, food stamp spending doubled, even though unemployment averaged just 5.1 percent. A few states have food stamp recruiters. An award was given to a state agency for a plan to cure “mountain pride” that afflicts “those who wished not to rely on others.”

Nearly two-thirds of households receiving food stamps qualify under “categorical eligibility” because they receive transportation assistance or certain other welfare services. We spend $1 trillion annually on federal welfare programs, decades after Daniel Patrick Moynihan said that if one-third of the money for poverty programs was given directly to the poor, there would be no poor. But there also would be no unionized poverty bureaucrats prospering and paying dues that fund the campaigns of Democratic politicians theatrically heartsick about inequality.

The welfare state, primarily devoted to pensions and medical care for the elderly, aggravates inequality. Young people just starting up the earnings ladder and families in the child-rearing, tuition-paying years subsidize the elderly, who have had lifetimes of accumulation. Households headed by people age 75 and older have the highest median net worth of any age group.

In this sixth year of near-zero interest rates, the government’s monetary policy breeds inequality. Low rates are intended to drive liquidity into the stock market in search of higher yields. The resulting boom in equity markets — up 30 percent last year alone — has primarily benefited the 10 percent who own 80 percent of all directly owned stocks. Charles Wolf writes in the Weekly Standard: “The financial sector’s profits rose from 18 percent of total corporate profits preceding the recession in 2007 to 23 percent in 2013.”

Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, says the total reserves of depository institutions “have ballooned from a pre-crisis level of $43 billion to $2.5 trillion.”

And? “The store of bank reserves awaiting discharge into the economy through our banking system is vast, yet it lies fallow.” The result is a scandal of squandered potential:

“In fourth quarter 2007, the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $14.7 trillion; at year-end 2013 it was estimated to be $17.1 trillion. Had we continued on the path we were on before the crisis, real GDP would currently be roughly $20 trillion in size. That’s a third larger than it was in 2007. Yet the amount of money lying fallow in the banking system is 60 times greater now than it was at year-end 2007.”

The monetary base having expanded 340 percent in six years, there is abundant money for businesses. But, says Fisher, the federal government’s fiscal and regulatory policies discourage businesses from growing the economy with the mountain of money the Fed has created. This is why “the most vital organ of our nation’s economy — the middle-income worker — is being eviscerated.” And why the loudest complaints about inequality are coming from those whose policies worsen it.
3787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US-Russia: Walter Russell Mead - Putin's Mask Comes Off, Will Anybody Care? on: March 16, 2014, 05:23:53 PM
Very insightful, IMHO.

Advantage: Russia   Putin: The Mask Comes Off, But Will Anybody Care?  - Walter Russell Mead

Russia appears to be deliberately fomenting more violence in Ukraine, possibly in advance of an invasion. Putin is no Hitler, but Hitler would recognize his moves.

Violence is spreading throughout Ukraine on a course that looks exactly like conscious and deliberate Russian preparation for a wider war. Without telepathic powers it is impossible to know what is going on in the mind of the one man who can control developments in Ukraine, but overnight the chances of additional Russian military action against its helpless neighbor appeared to grow. On Friday in Donetsk conflict between pro-and anti-Russia groups left one man dead and 26 injured. Now in Kharkiv two more are dead in a similar way as clashes spread through the city. Pro-Russian groups, including it is said ‘rent-a-mob’ demonstrators bussed in from Russia, seem to be behind the violence.

Moreover, there were scattered signs today that the next step is already upon us. Unconfirmed reports from local sources claim Russian troops landed in the Kherson region today—and were repelled. The story is starting to get picked up by news agencies, but rumors run rife at times like this. If true, it would mark the first direct military action by Russia outside Crimea and would be a major escalation of the most serious European international crisis since the Yugoslav wars. Here’s how the FT is reporting it:

    Ukraine’s foreign ministry described the events as a “military invasion by Russia” and called on Russia to “immediately withdraw its military forces from the territory of Ukraine”.

    “Ukraine reserves the right to use all necessary measures to stop the military invasion by Russia,” the ministry added in a statement.

If that is what is happening, and the preponderance of evidence suggests that it is, Putin appears to be following the Adolf Hitler strategy manual pretty much to the letter.

Putin is no Hitler, and from the standpoint of power he isn’t even a Brezhnev.  Still, his actions in Ukraine have been following Adolf’s playbook pretty closely. Adolf wanted to tear up the Treaty of Versailles. Putin is attempting to rip up the post-Cold War settlement in Europe and Central Asia. Like Hitler’s Germany, Putin’s Russia is much weaker than its opponents, so it can’t achieve its goal through a direct military challenge against its primary enemies. Like Hitler’s Germany, Putin’s Russia must be clever until it grows strong, and it must play on its enemies’ hesitations, divisions and weaknesses until and unless it is ready to take them on head to head.

“Keep them guessing” is rule number one. Nobody was better than Hitler at playing with his enemies’ minds. For every warlike speech, there was an invitation to a peace conference. For every uncompromising demand, there was a promise of lasting tranquillity once that last little troublesome problem had been negotiated safely away. He was so successful at it (and Stalin, too was good at this game) in part because his opponents so desperately wanted peace. French politicians like Leon Blum and British leaders like Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain were as hungry for peace (it was the Depression after all, and both countries had suffered immensely in World War One) as Barack Obama and Francois Hollande are today. Commendably and properly, they wanted to fix their domestic economies, create a more just society at home, repair their infrastructure and cut their defense budgets. They were not in the mood for trouble overseas, and so a cold blooded con man found them to be easy marks.

Putin has played on western illusions very successfully for a very long time. Remember all those ‘experts’ (many, alas, in government service) who thought that the Medvedev presidency represented a real shift in Russian politics? How shocked and disappointed people were when Putin stepped smoothly back into the top job? It is the oldest trick in the book: bait and switch. Humiliate John Kerry by making him cool his heels for three hours in the Kremlin, and then dangle hope of a cooperative relationship. Hold out a ‘helping hand’ when the Obama administration has gotten itself into an embarrassing predicament over its Syria red line, then kick Uncle Sam in the teeth at Geneva.

There was never a good reason to believe any of Putin’s talk of peace and cooperation. After the Cold War, America and its allies jammed NATO expansion down Russia’s throat. The European Union worked to expand right up to Russia’s frontiers while making it crystal clear that Russia could never be a member. Putin is no Hitler, but neither is he a Konrad Adenauer, determined to accept defeat and to cooperate wholeheartedly in building his country’s future within the lines drawn by the victors. And the US made Adenauer’s Germany a much better offer than it made Putin’s Russia. You would have to be living in what the Germans call das Wolkenkuckkucksheim, cloud-cuckoo-land, to believe that a man like Putin would passively accept the post-Cold War order.

But cloud-cuckoo-land is exactly where many westerners live, in a resolutely post-historical world where foreign policy is about development, human rights, non-proliferation and trade. If Putin tells us he lives there too, we are hungry to believe him. We don’t want to live in a difficult world. Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers were having a fabulous time in cloud-cuckoo-land back in the 1930s and many of them clung to their illusions until the last possible moment. We want to live in a stable and secure world order but we don’t want to make the sacrifices world order requires—and so we will gaze deeply into the eyes of anybody who is willing to tell us what we most want to hear.

Hitler’s situation was like Putin’s in another way. Like Russia now, Germany in the 1930s was weaker than its western opponents, but its leader had much more power to change course. Hitler’s Germany was an opportunistic predator; it could move quickly, change direction on a dime, and lay plans in secret. His western opponents ran democratic governments where everything moved very slowly, secrets were regularly published in the press and big foreign policy moves were telegraphed well in advance. Hitler used what he had, and took advantage of his supreme personal power and control of the press to make Germany a much more aggressive and dynamic international actor than his lazy, contented and slow-moving opponents. Hitler could move at speed that made his rivals’ heads spin and frequently left them gaping in flat footed amazement at his quick strikes and rapid changes of course. He knew that surprise was one of his chief advantages and he used it to the hilt.

President Putin is not a stupid man. He knows that Russia faces stronger but slower moving opponents. He knows that deception, misdirection and surprise are among his most effective tools. We must expect him to use them often and to use them well. The west ended up looking utterly flatfooted and clueless as Putin moved into Crimea just as it did in 2008 when he moved into Georgia. That is the way Russia wants it.

This use of surprise, by the way, can be very far reaching. Hitler stunned the west by signing his famous non-aggression pact with Stalin, dividing eastern Europe between them. He then surprised Stalin again by attacking him in June of 1941. For people like Hitler and, in his very different way, Putin, blitzkrieg is a tactic for diplomacy and not just for war. We would be total fools not to suppose that Putin and his closest associates are looking for game changing diplomatic moves that would spoil America’s day.

Putin is using another one of Hitler’s favorite methods in Ukraine: turn your ethnic minorities in other countries into a Trojan horse— whether or not that is what those people actually want. Hitler did this with the Sudeten Germans in what is now the Czech Republic. The FT again:

    Russia said on Saturday it was looking at requests for help from civilians in Ukraine, a statement which appeared to resemble those made two weeks ago in justification of its military incursion into Crimea.

    “Russia is receiving numerous requests for protecting civilians. These requests will be given consideration,” the foreign ministry said. It added a string of claims that Ukrainian militants and mercenaries were threatening civilians, which could not immediately be verified.

There is nothing here that couldn’t have been taken directly out of Adolf’s Guide for Aspiring Hegemons.

Using another instrument that Putin shares with the German, a well tuned, centrally controlled and well funded state propaganda machine with international outlets, you then elevate the ‘mistreatment’ of that minority into a major issue. You scream and rant and rave, demand redress, and fill the airwaves with your warnings and your laments. You can always organize at least some of them to march and wave flags. When the other country’s police (or, better yet, angry counter-mobs) respond, you raise the temperature. Oppression! Murder! Genocide!

It worked for Hitler in the Munich crisis, and it is exactly the card Putin has played in Crimea and perhaps will play in other parts of the ex-Soviet space. After using the German minority in Czechoslovakia as a tool, Hitler gave the west a brief respite (more soft talk about peace) before turning to his next target: Poland. Once again, it was the German minority that gave him his opening. Polish thugs were trampling on their rights. Their protests were being crushed by heartless barbarians. Babies were being ripped from their mothers’ wombs by bloodthirsty Polish mobs. Whatever.

Again, it was Hitler’s propagandist Goebbels who taught the world an important lesson: when you lie, go big. This has been exactly what Russian propaganda over Ukraine has done. And if it works here, we can expect to see the same kind of thing tried elsewhere: in Central Asia, perhaps, when Putin decides the time has come to reunite the Russian motherland with the gas and oil wealth of countries like Kazakhstan. The Baltic republics, already familiar with Putin’s play of the Russian minority card, are braced for more trouble, and well they should be.

This is why the latest news from eastern Ukraine is so ominous: in the Adolf Hitler playbook, stirring up ethnic strife is something you do when the time has come to intervene. If Putin’s plan was to send troops into eastern Ukraine, we’d see Russian speakers in the streets protesting, sometimes with violence, and demanding ‘protection’.  “Defending Russian nationals from fascist mobs when the Ukrainian government is unwilling or unable to do so” is just the kind of fig leaf Putin needs; as of today, he’s got it.

But when dealing with a calculating player who has read people like Sun Tzu and Machiavelli, studied under the grandmasters of the old KGB and knows how Adolf did it, we shouldn’t be too confident that we know what’s coming next. Deception, disinformation and disguise are vital to Putin’s kind of foreign policy, and it is very much in his interest to keep us off-base and baffled as much as he can. With that caveat, it’s worth noting what the three likeliest alternatives are.

First, the violence could be a preparation for an invasion that has already been decided in the Kremlin. This is unlikely to happen before the referendum in Crimea — Russia won’t want to upstage its own propaganda spectacle. Let a thumping majority (however acquired) vote for annexation, and then more violence takes place in eastern Ukraine… then boom. More riots, more incursions, more referendums.

Second, it could be that no invasion is intended or wanted at this time. Instead, Russia wants both to demonstrate its power to create crises inside Ukraine and to make the country as ungovernable as possible. A number of western commentators have been consoling themselves with the ‘Putin is trapped’ approach to Ukraine, but looking at the west’s situation the trap may be on our end. We are the ones who now have some kind of obligation to keep Ukraine’s corrupt and incompetent government alive and to keep its chronically lame, oligarch-dominated economy from withering away. We are also the ones who will be blamed if (when) economic miracles fail to occur.

We can also be blackmailed. Are we going to pay Gazprom’s outrageous gas bill for Ukraine, or are we going to let the country freeze in the dark next winter? If the West has taken on the role of paymaster and protector of the Ukrainian state, do we expect Putin to make this any cheaper or easier for us?

Meanwhile, unrest in the east can make Ukraine a much, much more expensive and difficult client for the west — and also increases the nervousness in the Baltic republics and former Warsaw Pact countries. Putin may think that a destabilized Ukraine where he can stir the pot at will is a pretty good thing for Russia — and he can quietly wait to see what develops as he plans his next steps. If nothing else, Ukraine’s is going to make people in places like Kazakhstan pay a lot more attention to Russia’s wishes than before. Let Ukraine simmer and flip your Soviet reconstruction focus to the east. The west didn’t lift a finger to protect Ukraine; the Kazhaks and others will feel very much left alone in a small room with a large bear.

Third, it’s also possible that Moscow is moving opportunistically. It may not have a long term plan, but sees the advantages of stirring things up in eastern Ukraine. Scaring Ukraine and the west is a good thing in itself. And who knows— it may turn out that further opportunities develop.

Any one of these scenarios is plausible, and any one of them offers Putin the prospect of a clear, prestige-enhancing win. The second two look like the smartest plays from the Kremlin’s point of view, but the west would be foolish to assume that Putin calculates the odds in the same ways we do.

We must hope that western leaders finally wake up to the nature of the opponent they face. Putin, I say again, is no Hitler. He isn’t as powerful as Hitler and he isn’t as evil as Hitler. Compared to Stalin, he’s a choirboy. But he’s a smart and able adversary of the west who believes that world politics is a zero sum game. He believes that Russia can only survive and thrive by reconstituting a great power between China and Germany, and that this can only be done by rolling back the post-Cold War expansion of western power across the old Warsaw Pact and the former Soviet Union.

Dealing effectively with Putin doesn’t require a new Cold War. American foreign policy doesn’t have to become, and shouldn’t become Russo-centric. But unless we take counsel with our allies and put the kind of intellectual and political energy into blocking Russian moves that Russia puts into thinking them through and making them, the world will become a significantly uglier place and it will be much harder to get some important things done.

The biggest cost to Putin of his Crimean adventure may not be the western sanctions, but rather the way that his Ukraine policy makes it harder for him to go back to gulling a complacent west. Not that he won’t try. Once he’s taken as much of Ukraine as he thinks he can get at this point, he is likely to launch a peace offensive, aiming to separate the Germans and the other Europeans from the Americans and let time weaken the outrage that now rolls through the west. Unfortunately, there will be people who are ready to be gulled yet again, but the quick vision the world has seen of the real nature of Putin’s policy and his ruthlessness will make at least some of the people harder to fool once more.
3788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness: Me and Bobby McGee on: March 13, 2014, 01:50:10 PM
Freedom's just another word for nothing left to - delay.
3789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: March 13, 2014, 01:44:29 PM
Wow! It must be recovery summer again!

We should have everyone back to work again by 2042, assuming nothing else goes wrong.
3790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Affordable Health Care? on: March 13, 2014, 10:33:38 AM
The whole point of health care reform (and the first name of the act) was (is) affordability.  Affordability has two components, the cost of your healthcare and the size of your income.

To address the affordability 'crisis' we committed maybe a trillion dollars so far to a program that made costs go up, incomes go down, and made affordability much worse.  (The law of holes suggests it is time to stop digging?)

Another approach (looking backward or looking forward) would be to grow personal, household and national incomes to make basic expenses like food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and yes, healthcare, more affordable.

Imagine instead if we had legalized free enterprise, encouraged the productive use of capital, removed burdensome regulations, simplified and lowered tax rates, opened up competition (in all industries), employed idle labor, and massively grown the private sector instead of this 7 year project of super-sizing our federal government.  What would that do or have done to the affordability of health care?
3791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races, FL-13, Sink, Sank, Sunk on: March 13, 2014, 09:57:23 AM
Most expensive congressional race in history ($11 million)
David Jolly (R) beat Alex Sink (D) in a district Obama carried in 2008 and 2012.

Despite millions spent, Dems are down 4 points from Obama's 2012 vote.  Nationally, Obama received 51% of the vote in a magical turnout year.  Take away 4% and give most of it back to the Republican and Dems don't win the divided states and districts.

In this case, the Libertarian won 5% too.  Someone can explain to me how a strategy that allows Dems to win with significantly less than 50% of the vote advances libertarian ideals.  I fail to see it.
3792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: At This Rate, 28 Years To Get Everyone Back To Work on: March 11, 2014, 11:03:17 AM
I put the title of this in US economics.  Here is the entirety.  Unsurprisingly, these anti-growth policies are not growing us out of these doldrums.

March 10, 2014
At This Rate, It Will Take 28 Years To Get Everyone Back To Work
By Louis Woodhill  (Forbes contributor)

From a jobs perspective, the economy treaded water in February. We didn't drown in unemployment, but nor did we manage to swim closer to the prosperity shore. It was a "blah" month, in the midst of the worst economic recovery in American history.

Full-time-equivalent* (FTE) jobs increased by 147,000, thanks mostly to a large decline in the number of part-time workers. This was enough to move the nation 45,000 FTE jobs closer to full employment. While this was better than average for a month in President Obama's so-called "economic recovery" (America is 2.2 million FTE jobs farther away from full employment now than it was in June 2009), it's not great. At this rate, it would take us almost 28 years to get everyone back to work.

It was extremely significant that labor force participation continued to move up during February, after its big surge in January. This confirmed that allowing extended unemployment benefits to expire in late December was the right thing to do.

Progressives predicted that limiting unemployment benefits would cause people to drop out of the labor force, but the exact opposite occurred. It turns out that people respond to incentives. Who knew?

February's employment numbers also lent support to the theory that the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing produces the opposite effect of what the Fed intends and expects. The Fed increased the size of the monetary base by eight times as much in February as it did in January ($102.3 billion vs. $12.7 billion), and the rise in FTE jobs slowed from 678,000 to 147,000.

The financial markets appear to have figured out that quantitative easing has been a bad thing for the economy. The stock market has continued to make new highs in spite of (really, because of) the Fed's determination to "taper."

OK, so as of February 2014, America had 2.0 million fewer FTE jobs than it did in November 2007. Meanwhile, our working age population has grown by 13.9 million. During these 75 months, Labor force participation has plunged by three full percentage points. This amounts to 7.4 million Americans giving up on being self-supporting. What are our two great political parties offering to get our economy moving again?

President Obama delivered his plan, in the form of his FY2015 budget. Here is a quote from Obama's "Budget Message" that summarizes his approach:

"But there is clearly much more we can and should do to invest in areas like infrastructure, innovation, and education that will create jobs, economic growth, and opportunity."

When Obama (or any other progressive) uses the word "we," he is not referring to "We, the People," he is referring to "We the federal government." The essence of the progressive approach is to transfer more and more money to unelected, unaccountable "experts" in the federal bureaucracy. The presumption is that these experts will deploy this capital to produce economic returns superior to those that the private markets could manage if people were allowed to keep and invest their own money.

In short, the Obama approach is, "More Amtracks! More Solyndras!"

As George Gilder explained in his brilliant and important 2013 book, Knowledge and Power, the progressive approach cannot work. Progressive programs take power (money is a form of power) away from the people with the knowledge required to make effective use of it. Governments invariably deploy resources to serve political ends, not the interests of ordinary citizens.

The progressive road leads to Venezuela (which may be why progressives are so sympathetic to socialist dictators).

OK, progressivism won't work. So, what are conservatives offering? Thus far, mostly clueless confusion.

Congressman Dave Camp, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, unveiled his tax reform plan. The idea that our Byzantine tax code could be "simplified" by a plan that runs 979 pages is questionable. However, the Camp plan's fatal flaw is that it is not strongly "pro-growth" (and may not, on balance, be pro-growth at all).

If we look at the Camp plan through the lens of Knowledge and Power, we see that it would do little to help foster the next generation of Apples and Googles. Entrepreneurs need a simple, stable tax code, and one that allows them to reinvest all of their profits in growth. This would provide the fastest route to full employment, because most incremental high-paying jobs come from new companies that are growing fast.

The Camp tax plan looks like the result of a three-year battle among big-company lobbyists, which is basically what it is. It is apparently "dead on arrival," and it should be.

When and if Republicans are ready to stop being "the Stupid Party," they will get behind the FairTax (which is a national sales tax). Because it does not tax savings and investment at all, the FairTax would produce the best alignment of knowledge (which resides in the minds of entrepreneurs scattered throughout the country) and power (capital).

The FairTax (coupled with a stable dollar) would deliver eye-popping rates of real economic growth. This combination would get America to full employment much faster than most people would believe possible.

For their part, FairTax advocates must realize that pro-growth tax reform cannot and should not be "revenue neutral," as scored by the CBO. Their proposed 23% FairTax rate is much too high. On a present value basis, a 15% tax rate would provide the federal government with more than enough revenue for any constitutional purpose.

There were some positive vibes from conservatives this week. In his speech to CPAC, Senator Ted Cruz laid out a ten-point plan for national revival. Most of it was on target, both economically and politically.

Crucially, Cruz devoted one of his ten points to the dollar. He said:

"We need to audit the Federal Reserve. Unaccountable power in Washington, debasing our currency, driving up the cost of food and gas and the basic stuff of life, is hurting Americans who are struggling across this country. I'll tell you what else it's doing, it's fueling the abuse of power of Petro-Tyrants like Putin."

Unfortunately, auditing the Fed is not enough. Under Janet Yellen, the Fed is operating with no rules at all. From a Knowledge and Power perspective, this produces so much "noise" in the communication channel (our system of market prices) that vital economic signals are being distorted and corrupted. This leads to, well, exactly what we have seen for the past 13 years-the slowest real economic growth in American history.

If we are going to have fast economic growth and full employment, we need what Gilder calls "a low entropy channel." This will require that Fed monetary operations be based upon rules. Accordingly, Republican candidates must not only criticize the Federal Reserve, and support "auditing the Fed", but also back Congressman Kevin Brady's "Centennial Monetary Commission Act." America needs fundamental monetary reform, and the Fed is not likely to reform itself.

The one place that Senator Cruz went off the rails of sound economic policy was in his call for "...a strong balanced budget amendment." As George Gilder points out in Knowledge and Power, whether you are a company or a nation, assets matter much more than liabilities.

Ronald Reagan did not pull America out of stagnation and despair in the 1980s by balancing the budget. He did it by getting the economy growing rapidly. This produced a massive increase in the value of the federal government's principle asset-its share of the present value of future GDP. This, in turn, made Reagan's deficits irrelevant. Interest rates fell during Reagan's presidency, despite "record" budget shortfalls.

While calls for a balanced budget amendment might play well in Republican primaries, they will be political poison in general elections. In the general election, candidates calling for a balanced federal budget will be cornered into explaining how they propose to perform surgery (spending cuts) without anesthesia (strong economic growth, which will require cutting taxes).

Surgery without anesthesia has never been popular with patients. Nor would be large cuts in the federal safety net, until fast economic growth is providing most people with the opportunity to earn wage income to replace the withdrawn federal support.

The economy has now been so bad for so long that our elites have accepted quasi-depression as the "new normal." The Democrats are now offering ideas that amount to "economic hospice care."

For example, Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced a bill that would bar employers from conducting credit checks on job applicants. All this use of government coercion could possibly accomplish is to reallocate jobs from people with good credit to people with bad credit. And, of course, there is President Obama's strident call for a $10.10/hour minimum wage, which would give some workers a raise, but would cost others their jobs.

Meanwhile, in general, are Republicans continuing to validate their label, "the Stupid Party," by focusing on deficits, rather than upon economic growth.

America is tired of treading water on the jobs front. It needs Republican candidates that will step forward with big, pro-growth ideas. Memo to Republican candidates: read Knowledge and Power. Then come out for a stable dollar, the FairTax, and a return to regulatory sanity.


*FTE jobs = full-time jobs + 0.5 part-time jobs
3793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen. Rand Paul - CPAC on: March 11, 2014, 10:47:24 AM
Rand Paul won the CPAC straw poll.  His speech made quite an impact with his extended quote of and reference by name of Roger Waters, Pink Floyd:

Paul continued an assault on Obama's record, getting laughs when he asked how history will remember the president, and later quoting Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters in asking whether former supporters of the president now believed they had "trade[d] your heroes for your ghosts? … Did they get you to exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?"

Great line except Paul must not know Roger Waters is an unapologetic anti-Israeli, Anti-Semite (?), and Rand Paul's father had some controversies with comments and newsletter writings on that topic.

Waters supports "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions" against Israel, opposes the policies of Israel, but explains that he is not anti-Jew: "To peacefully protest against Israel’s racist domestic and foreign policies is NOT ANTI-SEMITIC."

The actual lyrics quoted were quite appropriate to his speech.  I love Pink Floyd music (, but this is a controversy Rand Paul did not need to step in.  
Nice piece on Rand Paul here by Roger L Simon, proprietor of PJ Media:

"You could almost say that Paul is the ONLY interesting candidate on the immediate horizon — Republican or Democrat." ... "He seems future oriented, unlike the rest of the potential candidates who mouth platitudes, liberal and conservative, bashing each other in the most tedious manner imaginable."
Other CPAC winners:  Jack Kemp (won in 1986, 1987, and 1993), Phil Gramm (1995), Steve Forbes (1998), Gary Bauer (1999), Rudy Giuliani (2005)  George Allen (2006)... the all-time winner with four CPAC straw poll wins is Mitt Romney (2007-2009), and again in 2012.
(Not too many Presidential winners on that list.)
3794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politico: Ted Cruz 'Crushed' Gridiron Speech, Even Impressed Democrats on: March 10, 2014, 12:05:50 PM
Politico: Ted Cruz 'Crushed' Gridiron Speech, Even Impressed Democrats

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) wowed the beltway elite and even Democrats during Saturday's annual Gridiron event, showing why the Ivy Leaguer has confounded and been vilified by many with whom he shares the same intellectual pedigree.

The annual D.C. roast is hosted by the exclusive Gridiron Club, which is composed of D.C.'s mainstream and "elite" journalists.

Cruz has degrees from Princeton and Harvard, which those in the permanent political class covet, and he can do their social rituals better than they can. Yet Cruz refuses to be co-opted by them politically, instead choosing to be a staunch conservative who represents the grassroots that sent him to Washington to fight against both political and media establishments.

Politico's Mike Allen said that Cruz, "crushed his speech – even Dems said he knocked it out of the park." In an appearance with Secretary of State John Kerry and Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist, the Florida gubernatorial candidate who wants to be loved by the permanent political class, Cruz called himself the "anti-Crist" in what could be the perfect description of Cruz's brand of politics.

He also made fun of his filibuster and tense relationship with the GOP leadership:

    And when Leader McConnell wants something, who am I to say no?… Twenty-one hours and 19 minutes [in the filibuster] – hearing nothing but my favorite sound. We’re talking Biden territory. And so typical of how this town works, they cut me off just as I was coming to my point.

    By the way, does anyone know the record for the longest speech ever at this dinner? I looked it up, and in the late 1800s, New York Senator Chauncey DePew enthralled his audience until well past midnight. So LOOSEN UP THOSE WHITE TIES, settle back, and what do you say we make Gridiron history? [Applause]

    ...n front of conservative and tea-party audiences, I am hailed as the anti-Obama. But tonight, I’m the anti-Crist.

He also said his relations with McCain have greatly improved because "This week… he’s only once demanded a public apology from me. As wackobirds go, that’s pretty good." He also poked fun at his having been born in Canada, mocked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and compared his Cuban dad to Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL), who was also from Cuba:

    Canadians are so polite, mild-mannered, modest, unassuming, open-minded. Thank God my family fled that oppressive influence before it could change me.

    I might add that Canadians are also extremely efficient. No red tape at all in handling my application to renounce citizenship. They had that thing approved before I even sent it in. The simple truth is that for a very brief time my family lived on the plains of Calgary. That does not make me a Canadian. Although Elizabeth Warren says that it does make me an Algonquin Indian. Of course, my family is Cuban… At first, when he got here, my dad washed dishes for 50 cents an hour. He was so low on the totem pole where he worked that even Marco Rubio's father bossed him around.

Cruz also blasted Obama's executive orders and his disregard for the law: "We are still a nation of laws. You just have to check with Barack Obama every day to see what they are."
3795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 10, 2014, 11:59:33 AM
War and economic turmoil around the globe is interesting.  Meanwhile the Pres and First Lady enjoy their 3rd vacation of the new year on the taxpayer dime with a little R&R in the Florida sunshine.

The fact of the matter is what the president is doing this weekend in Florida is essentially what the president would be doing if he stayed back at the White House,' Earnest told reporters traveling with Obama. (golf)
3796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US State Dept: President Putin's Fiction, 10 False Claims About Ukraine on: March 10, 2014, 11:54:44 AM

President Putin's Fiction: 10 False Claims About Ukraine
Washington, DC
March 5, 2014

    1. Mr. Putin says:  Russian forces in Crimea are only acting to protect Russian military assets. It is “citizens’ defense groups,” not Russian forces, who have seized infrastructure and military facilities in Crimea.

    The Facts:  Strong evidence suggests that members of Russian security services are at the heart of the highly organized anti-Ukraine forces in Crimea. While these units wear uniforms without insignia, they drive vehicles with Russian military license plates and freely identify themselves as Russian security forces when asked by the international media and the Ukrainian military. Moreover, these individuals are armed with weapons not generally available to civilians.

    2. Mr. Putin says:  Russia’s actions fall within the scope of the 1997 Friendship Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

    The Facts:  The 1997 agreement requires Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, which have given them operational control of Crimea, are in clear violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

    3. Mr. Putin says:  The opposition failed to implement the February 21 agreement with former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

    The Facts:  The February 21 agreement laid out a plan in which the Rada, or Parliament, would pass a bill to return Ukraine to its 2004 Constitution, thus returning the country to a constitutional system centered around its parliament. Under the terms of the agreement, Yanukovych was to sign the enacting legislation within 24 hours and bring the crisis to a peaceful conclusion. Yanukovych refused to keep his end of the bargain. Instead, he packed up his home and fled, leaving behind evidence of wide-scale corruption.

    4. Mr. Putin says:  Ukraine’s government is illegitimate. Yanukovych is still the legitimate leader of Ukraine.

    The Facts:  On March 4, President Putin himself acknowledged the reality that Yanukovych “has no political future.” After Yanukovych fled Ukraine, even his own Party of Regions turned against him, voting to confirm his withdrawal from office and to support the new government. Ukraine’s new government was approved by the democratically elected Ukrainian Parliament, with 371 votes – more than an 82% majority. The interim government of Ukraine is a government of the people, which will shepherd the country toward democratic elections on May 25th – elections that will allow all Ukrainians to have a voice in the future of their country.

    5. Mr. Putin says:  There is a humanitarian crisis and hundreds of thousands are fleeing Ukraine to Russia and seeking asylum.

    The Facts:  To date, there is absolutely no evidence of a humanitarian crisis. Nor is there evidence of a flood of asylum-seekers fleeing Ukraine for Russia. International organizations on the ground have investigated by talking with Ukrainian border guards, who also refuted these claims. Independent journalists observing the border have also reported no such flood of refugees.

    6. Mr. Putin says:  Ethnic Russians are under threat.

    The Facts:  Outside of Russian press and Russian state television, there are no credible reports of any ethnic Russians being under threat. The new Ukrainian government placed a priority on peace and reconciliation from the outset. President Oleksandr Turchynov refused to sign legislation limiting the use of the Russian language at regional level. Ethnic Russians and Russian speakers have filed petitions attesting that their communities have not experienced threats. Furthermore, since the new government was established, calm has returned to Kyiv. There has been no surge in crime, no looting, and no retribution against political opponents.

    7. Mr. Putin says:  Russian bases are under threat.

    The Facts:  Russian military facilities were and remain secure, and the new Ukrainian government has pledged to abide by all existing international agreements, including those covering Russian bases. It is Ukrainian bases in Crimea that are under threat from Russian military action.

    8. Mr. Putin says:  There have been mass attacks on churches and synagogues in southern and eastern Ukraine.

    The Facts:  Religious leaders in the country and international religious freedom advocates active in Ukraine have said there have been no incidents of attacks on churches. All of Ukraine’s church leaders, including representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, have expressed support for the new political leadership, calling for national unity and a period of healing. Jewish groups in southern and eastern Ukraine report that they have not seen an increase in anti-Semitic incidents.

    9. Mr. Putin says:  Kyiv is trying to destabilize Crimea.

    The Facts:  Ukraine’s interim government has acted with restraint and sought dialogue. Russian troops, on the other hand, have moved beyond their bases to seize political objectives and infrastructure in Crimea. The government in Kyiv immediately sent the former Chief of Defense to defuse the situation. Petro Poroshenko, the latest government emissary to pursue dialogue in Crimea, was prevented from entering the Crimean Rada.

    10. Mr. Putin says:  The Rada is under the influence of extremists or terrorists.

    The Facts:  The Rada is the most representative institution in Ukraine. Recent legislation has passed with large majorities, including from representatives of eastern Ukraine. Far-right wing ultranationalist groups, some of which were involved in open clashes with security forces during the EuroMaidan protests, are not represented in the Rada. There is no indication that the Ukrainian government would pursue discriminatory policies; on the contrary, they have publicly stated exactly the opposite.
3797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: March 10, 2014, 11:51:09 AM
China stocks hit 5 year low. major indexes across the region registering steep declines

NYSE and S&P Margin Debt at (another) all time record high

Jobs report: At This Rate, It Will Take 28 Years To Get Everyone Back To Work

US stocks at record highs

If the writing was on the wall, what more would it need to say?
3798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Asian Geopolitics? Where is the Malaysian airliner? on: March 10, 2014, 10:24:32 AM
More likely terror than science, I did not realize they still have not discovered what happened to the Malaysian airliner.  North Korea has been playing around with shooting missiles at moving objects.  Given the location, more likely this was done by either a terrorist group in possession of serious weaponry or exploded from above by the the two men who boarded with stolen passports.

Many Chinese aboard, among others.  Assuming foul play, still hard to say who was the target, what was the motive?

We still don't know what happened to flight MH370
USA TODAY ‎- 52 minutes ago
The fate of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared three days ago with 239 people aboard remained a mystery Monday

Maybe it would help if we knew what happened to TWA flight 800 over Long Island, NY.
3799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen.Ted Cruz on: March 09, 2014, 05:44:53 PM
What has Cruz said about the Russian invasion of Ukraine?

Looks like he has speaking out on the crisis since at least last December as co-sponsor of Senate Resolution 319:

January 23, 2014:
The President and Congress should unite in a coherent and sustained program to support the opposition and encourage Yanukovych to both rescind his restrictions on the rights of the Ukrainian people and renounce violence against those engaged in protest... The Department of State should be commended for implementing visa bans against Ukrainian officials this week. We should follow-up swiftly with targeted economic sanctions as well, including freezing the assets of those responsible for the violence.

January 28, 2014, 12:39 pm
Cruz: Putin plays chess, Obama plays checkers on foreign policy
He also called on Obama to take a more active role in helping pro-democracy protesters in Ukraine who are trying to break the grip of Russian influence.
The Obama administration should consider short-term and long-term steps such as setting up a free-trade zone to help bolster the Ukrainian economy and protect it from Russian economic coercion, he said.
Cruz said the United States should share the expertise of American companies to assist in the development of Ukraine’s domestic shale gas reserves and assist with the construction of liquid natural gas import infrastructure so that the former satellite state does not have to depend on Russia as a source.

February 19, 2014
Ted Cruz: The World Cannot Afford to Be Distracted as Ukrainians Are Brutalized by Their Own Government

Feb 28, 2014
Ted Cruz: "Stand Up To Putin's Power Grab... Stand With Ukraine"
"look into suspending Russia from the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Security Council"
the U.S. needs to suspend "Russian membership in the Group of Eight (G8)," and we need to do so "immediately."

Cruz argued for immediately passing a new free trade treaty with Ukraine and “looking at existing treaties between the United States and Russia, and considering abrogating those treaties.”  He said Russia should be kicked out of the G-8.
3800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen. Rand Paul on: March 09, 2014, 05:07:39 PM
Fox News interview video.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul warned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday over the occupation of southern Ukraine, with the libertarian-leaning Republican claiming that “if he’s going to act like a rogue nation, he will be isolated.”

Paul spoke to Fox News’ Greta van Susteren at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where he delivered a speech on Friday. “What will you do about Putin and Ukraine?” the reporter asked the prospective 2016 presidential candidate.

Often criticized by right-wing hawks for his push to limit American involvement overseas Paul’s response indicated a willingness to articulate clear consequences to aggression without resorting to military confrontation. “We have to tell him that his behavior is unacceptable. He needs to be isolated,” the senator said. “And if he’s going to act like a rogue nation, he will be isolated.”

“I don’t think that involves a military option,” Paul continued, “and I think that most of the party has come to my way of thinking on this, that there really isn’t a military option for us there. That doesn’t mean that we don’t react, and that we don’t let Putin know in clear and uncertain terms that what he’s done is unacceptable.”

The senator also noted that if Russia pushes beyond Crimea and invades the rest of the country, an international response may be the least of Putin’s problems. “If he tries to further occupy Ukraine, my prediction is Ukraine becomes Syria,” he said, referencing the bloody 3-year civil war ravaging that country. “If Ukraine becomes Syria it’ll be a disaster for Russia, and he better think twice about it. Because one Ukrainian teenager with $200 of explosives could disrupt his pipelines.”

“So they’re not going to submit to the will of Russia,” he concluded. “They’re not going to submit to subjugation. So I think this hand is not yet over.”

Libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said on Sunday that he would have responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by “drilling every possible conceivable place” in the U.S. if he were president.

Following his Saturday win in the Conservative Political Action Conference presidential straw poll, Paul was asked by Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday if he was willing to let Russian President Vladimir Putin have the Ukraine peninsula of Crimea.

“If they annex Crimea, Ukraine will almost certainly come within the Western orbit,” Paul explained. “So, it will backfire on them. Because you will be taking Russian-speaking voters that have been speaking for Russian-speaking presidents of Ukraine, you’ll be taking them out of the population.”

“The other thing I’ve said is, that I would do something differently from the president,” the Kentucky Republican added. “I would immediately get every obstacle out of the way for our export of oil and gas.”

“And I would begin drilling in every possible conceivable place within our territories in order to have production we can supply Europe with if it’s interrupted from Ukraine.”
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