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3801  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Steve Forbes: Economic impact of Energy Production on: July 03, 2013, 10:40:02 AM
We don't all possess G M's gift of brevity.   wink

Steve Forbes: The U.S. is on its way to becoming the world's largest oil producer.

How much longer will we hear empty claims from President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the United States has only 3% of the world's oil supplies and therefore, "we can't drill our way out of the problem"? The recent increase in domestic oil and gas production is sending shock waves through the global energy economy and is bolstering the USA's standing among the energy-producing giants in the Middle East. Not only are U.S.-Middle East relations changing in a geopolitical sense, but also economically, as trade balances reflect increasing U.S. energy production.

According to a recent report from the Energy Information Administration, U.S. domestic crude-oil production in May exceeded oil imports for the first time in 16 years. Moreover, this past February, the U.S. met 88% of its own energy needs -- the highest rate since 1986. These milestones are in no small part due to the oil and natural gas boom and improved technologies such as hydraulic fracturing.

But that's not all. U.S. imports from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have decreased more than 20% since 2010 with the International Energy Agency predicting that the U.S. could become the world's largest oil producer by 2020, and possibly energy independent by 2035.

These developments have considerable implications on U.S. foreign policy. If we continue developing our energy and manufacturing sectors, no longer will the U.S. have to kowtow to dictators of volatile nations for fear of disrupting our energy supply or rocking international markets. And we will feel far less compelled to intervene in foreign conflicts to stabilize world energy supplies. Indeed, the calculus for determining a threshold for intervention in another sovereign nation is changing in a promising way. The U.S. will always have a vested interest in a stable Middle East but the prospect -- and eventual realization -- of U.S. energy independence tips the scale and lessens the ability of rogue dictators to exercise their geopolitical control.

Decreased dependency on foreign oil doesn't just impact American foreign policy; it also opens the door for the U.S. to no longer send hundreds of billions of dollars each year to countries not always friendly to the U.S. Representatives from OPEC member countries recently complained about the impact of the largely unexpected U.S. shale boom. Oil and gas imports from Nigeria, Algeria and Angola -- three of OPEC's African members -- have decreased to their lowest levels in decades. Between 2011 and 2012, exports from those countries dropped by 41%.

Additionally, the shale gas/natural gas boom here at home could spur an energy and manufacturing renaissance that will create thousands of new, high-paying jobs in dozens of states. However this manufacturing resurgence will never fully occur if agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and others maintain their usual bunker mentality while mandating excessive and costly regulations that effectively block new energy and manufacturing operations.

Consider the Alaska oil pipeline, which was mired in regulatory limbo for more than five years while bureaucrats scrutinized, litigated and studied its impact. But since its completion in 1977, the Alaska pipeline has delivered more than 16 billion barrells of oil to market, while maintaining an exemplary environmental record.

The Keystone XL pipeline, which would deliver crude oil from a friendly Canada is experiencing similar delays. Under review since 2008, the Keystone pipeline has been studied more extensively than the Alaska pipeline. The delay is not only costing the U.S. cheap energy from a reliable neighbor, but also thousands of good-paying jobs.

A Renewable Fuel Standard is another example of misguided government regulation. The RFS mandates the blending of an experimental, cellulosic ethanol into gasoline and is driving up costs for refineries that are either forced to purchase renewable fuel credits or face large fines for not using a biofuel that exists in laboratories, not commercially.

Then, there are the upcoming EPA ozone standards: tougher restrictions on smog levels that by some estimates, will cost $90 billion a year just to implement. Under newly proposed EPA ozone targets, even Yellowstone National Park would be out of compliance. Many cities are still struggling to comply with 2008 standards. A recent Heritage Foundation study revealed that by the year 2100, carbon-capping policies could cost the global economy a staggering $100 trillion.

The U.S. oil and natural gas boom is drastically improving our standing in the global economy and strengthening our foreign policy might. It can also create a manufacturing boom if Washington gets out of its own way. And Americans want this energy and manufacturing renaissance to occur. A recent Gallup survey showed that 48% of Americans place higher priority on economic recovery and job growth over mandating additional environmental protections.

It's time for Washington to take heed.
3802  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: The "Bright Side" of Global Warming in Britain on: July 03, 2013, 10:28:28 AM
First, a comment or two to the above regarding Death Valley, Vegas in summer etc.: Records are in the context of how short a time we have measured and measured accurately.  Also, they are in the context that here we just had a record long and cold winter, as did China, Russia and other places.  Good reporting would be that it is hot out, or cold out in a particular place, not that the planet is turning to molten rock - unless it is.  How much air conditioning did Vegas have 50 or 100 years ago?  If Vegas would prohibit air conditioning, which puts more heat outside than cold air inside, the outdoor temps in summer would not be so bad.  Just a thought.  Fewer people would fly there, hence less greenhouse gas.  We make choices.

From the Times of London: “Global Warming Has a Bright Side”:

    A SURGE in global temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions could create a boost for parts of the British economy, a government report will suggest this week.

    The National Adaptation programme, to be published tomorrow by Defra, the environment ministry, will suggest that farming, forestry and tourism will all benefit from warmer summers, while shipping will profit from the shorter sea routes caused by the melting of the ice caps.

    It will even say that rising warmth might boost Britons’ health, encouraging them to spend more time outdoors, where exposure to sunshine would boost vitamin D levels.

And the Telegraph reports:

    Climate change will be good for British farming, according to Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, with exotic crops such as melons already thriving. In a speech at the Oxford Farming Conference, she said that, although problems such as droughts would become more frequent, warmer weather would also mean a longer growing season and less frost damage, allowing the introduction of crops such as peaches, maize and sunflowers. Already 10,000 melons are expected to be harvested in Kent this year.
3803  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / President Coolidge 1926 on: July 03, 2013, 10:04:50 AM
It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history. Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced. They are reached by a gradual development over a length of time usually proportionate to their importance. This is especially true of the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence. Three very definite propositions were set out in its preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.

If no one is to be accounted as born into a superior station, if there is to be no ruling class, and if all possess rights which can neither be bartered away nor taken from them by any earthly power, it follows as a matter of course that the practical authority of the Government has to rest on the consent of the governed. While these principles were not altogether new in political action, and were very far from new in political speculation, they had never been assembled before and declared in such a combination. But remarkable as this may be, it is not the chief distinction of the Declaration of Independence. . . .

It was the fact that our Declaration of Independence containing these immortal truths was the political action of a duly authorized and constituted representative public body in its sovereign capacity, supported by the force of general opinion and by the armies of Washington already in the field, which makes it the most important civil document in the world.

 - From President Calvin Coolidge's "Address at the Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence" in Philadelphia, July 5, 1926
3804  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: July 03, 2013, 09:38:59 AM
We are perhaps in agreement but headed different directions with this.

If there is contamination of water supplies that cross state lines, the federal government certainly could justify jurisdiction over it.  But, a) we haven't seen a trace of evidence of that, b) we already have laws and enforcement mechanisms in place since the 1970s, c) the EPA as we knew it has more recently run astray and can't be trusted with any hint of new power or bureaucracy, and d) the states in with this problem, and there aren't any, already have protective agencies on both sides of any border should first try to resolve the problem, that doesn't exist, among themselves before imposing a solution, to no problem, from Washington DC.

"The contamination" would be from the fracking process."  - To that I have posted that the Dem Gov of Colorado drank the fracking fluid, and all state regulatory agencies have testified no instances of contaminated drinking water from fracking.  No doubt the opponents of civilization/fracking will come forward some day with East Anglia data, but for now, nothing credible has made it to these pages.

Let's ask the jurisdictional question a different, more personal way. (botched analogy warning)  At what level should we regulate Martial Arts Schools that reach across state and national lines with their scope and impact?  Local, state, federal, all of the above, or by some one world government that can cover the entire impact?  Visualize for one thing a great, big, new federal building housing thousands of new scientists, bureaucrats and enforcement and compliance agents with unlimited budgets labeled something like the new federal bureau of martial arts school department of monitoring, enforcement, compliance and new rules generation agency committed to killing off an industry they don't like. But the right answer is none of the above.  We don't have a problem, a complaint, or an incident; these schools are doing far more good than harm, and there are already plenty of far-reaching laws in existence at all of these levels to handle problems that could arise.  My point is that the original question leads to a solution not needed because we have not identified a problem.

"no new problem has been identified to be in need of a solution"
So then the point to make is there already is federal regulation.

Yes that would have been far more succinct.   smiley
3805  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / “innocent-bystander-in-chief”* line is not selling, 43% IBD/TIPP on: July 02, 2013, 11:49:45 PM
President Obama's approval rating tumbled to a record low as Americans reacted to the government's sweeping surveillance programs and other scandals, according to the latest IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index.

3806  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politico: What if Hillary did not run? on: July 02, 2013, 01:17:44 PM
In almost hysteria, a politco journalist asks, what if Hillary did not run?  This is a rare admission on the left that the Dem bench is empty.

“We would be at sea in a lifeboat with no food, no water, and no land in sight,” said one veteran Democratic operative who has worked on presidential campaigns, and who, like most people interviewed for this story, asked for anonymity to speak candidly about the former first lady. “There is no Plan B.”
"Such assessments wouldn’t sit well with Democrats who are looking at 2016 as the understudies to Clinton – Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Vice President Joe Biden, to name a few."

I already said Hillary will lose to Hickenlooper.

Speaking of yellow state governors, how come Andrew Cuomo isn't making the lib journalist short lists?

3807  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the market, Martin Feldstein WSJ on: July 02, 2013, 12:49:23 PM
Feldstein argues that the Fed should start to taper off now the QE program, not because the economy is healthy, but because they aren't working and the 'risks' that policy brings are growing.  Perhaps a monetary thread issue, but I quote him for the following spin-free, US economic data relevant to discussions here.  If the economy is in a stall, what other than QE was driving the market up?

Over the past year, unemployment has declined to 7.6% from 8.2%. However, there has been no increase in the ratio of employment to population, no decline in the teenage unemployment rate, and virtually no increase in the real average weekly earnings of those who are employed. The decline in the number of people in the labor force in the past 12 months actually exceeded the decline in the number of unemployed.

These poor labor-market conditions are unlikely to improve in the coming months. ... [The growth rate was] less than 2% in 2012, 1.8% in the first quarter of 2013, and a likely 1.7% in the second quarter [just ended]..."

Today's WSJ:

Might I add, if the economic growth rate nationwide is roughly zero during this boom in oil and natural gas (due to fracking) with the related containment on the cost of energy for businesses, manufacturing and consumers, please imagine what the health of the economy is if we put our only growth sector in handcuffs.
3808  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Earned distrust in federal government and solutions in search of a problem on: July 02, 2013, 11:03:07 AM
"I suggest that we don't regulate safe and healthy production.  What we do is prohibit ground water contamination. "

Fair enough!

Allow me to restate then:

In that ground water is an interstate phenomenon (contamination will not be limited to intrastate)  it seems logical the legal regime for it should be interstate, i.e. federal as well.

If I may, I think you are conflating more than one point:

a) the motives of some opponents of fracking;
b) the track record so far;
c) whether a state or federal legal regime should be the legal framework.

My point speaks specifically to the third of these; to it the first two are irrelevant.

At the risk of becoming annoying, I continue.  Again, what contamination crossing state lines?  Yes, federal would be the correct framework, if not for the fact we already regulate water contamination at the federal level, no new problem has been identified to be in need of a solution, the federal apparatus has proven it can bring down any industry it chooses without solving a problem, and the fact that this EPA is no longer under the control of congress nor is it a government run of, by or for the people.  A federal solution should be a last case answer for what states are unable to resolve amongst themselves, which is not the case right now in fracking.

The point of this discussion right now is the implication that we need new laws and new bureaucracies to address this new and growing threat to our environment.  But there are no instances.  There is no letter drafted by one state alleging their water supply has been contaminated by under-regulated or under-enforced activity in another state.  And it begs the question, contamination with what?  Fracking fluid? 

I don't think sounding off warning signals about federal government over-regulation before we head off into making a huge mistake is a small matter - or irrelevant.  It is not the motives of some, but the motives of all who oppose an industry with no evidence of pollution that are in question, IMHO. 

Turn this over to the Feds right now and they will destroy it.  It is no small matter.  North Dakota is not going to accept the energy policies of NY, Calif and DC at this point in time IMHO.  Worst case isn't a destroyed industry; we may see states secede over it.

Take the federal logic one step further out.  The U.S. must share an aquifer or two with Canada, and Belgium with France etc.  Isn't the only real solution for this one world government?  If not, why not?  We don't trusty the UN to do the right thing for the right reasons in our own best interests.  Well guess what?
3809  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: July 01, 2013, 07:04:19 PM
I'm not saying one was, I'm saying that it is the fear of this external dis-economy which drives the conversation.

I appreciate that but see the motives of the opponents quite a bit more cynically.  Please forgive my quibbling - as I continue to do so.   wink

Your point posed the question, "IF (emphasis mine) the question presented is the contamination of an aquifer..."

I would like to stop you right there because I have taken the time to gather, quote and publish, in these threads, statements from the regulatory authorities of every state involved in fracking claiming that there have been no incidents to their knowledge of contaminated ground water.  Please post otherwise (anyone), science, not NYT speculation.  I also posted Gov. Hickenlooper's testimony to the Senate Energy committee (D-Colo.) bragging that he drank the fracking fluid:

The article questions, who should be in charge of regulating fracking?

I suggest that we don't regulate safe and healthy production.  What we do is prohibit ground water contamination. 

Please understand (everyone) that there is a war against energy production and prosperity that goes far beyond science and pollution.  In war, one may need to take sides.  If fracking is destroying drinking water, let's stop it.  If it is not, let's legalize it.  These 'regulators' in MN are trying to stop SAND from crossing state lines in order to hinder oil and natural gas production in North Dakota.  Good grief.  So let's give power to people even further away from it.  Elites who know better than us like we do for everything else.

Let's ban dihydorgen monoxide while we're at it.
3810  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: July 01, 2013, 12:45:30 PM
Sorry, but which aquifer was contaminated?
3811  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bipartisan (?) Blank-Slate tax Reform on: July 01, 2013, 12:43:15 PM
The two ranking members of the Senate Finance Committee are starting a project of writing a new tax code and replacing the current 72,000 page monstrosity.  They have put their peers on notice that they have one month to report back on what deductions, exemptions and special treatments are worth keeping and why.  Otherwise we start from scratch, blank slate.  This is great news except for the fact that Max Baucus (D-MT) is lame duck, not running for reelection and not supported by his own party and Orrin Hatch serves in the minority party with no power and no chance of moving good legislation forward.  Still, this is a very positive development compared to the status quo of no one talking about the problem or a solution since the last Republican Presidential losers' debate of winter, 2012.
3812  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar - WSJ: Snowden had help on: July 01, 2013, 11:54:10 AM
Who Helped Snowden Steal State Secrets?
The preparations began before he took the job that landed him at the NSA.

Before taking the job in Hawaii, Mr. Snowden was in contact with people who would later help arrange the publication of the material he purloined. Two of these individuals, filmmaker Laura Poitras and Guardian blogger Glenn Greenwald, were on the Board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation that, among other things, funds WikiLeaks.

In January 2013, according to the Washington Post, Mr. Snowden requested that Ms. Poitras get an encryption key for Skype so that they could have a secure channel over which to communicate.

In February, he made a similar request to Mr. Greenwald, providing him with a step-by-step video on how to set up encrypted communications.
3813  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 01, 2013, 11:49:34 AM
One strategy for immigration the House could use would be to pass the good parts of the Senate bill individually instead of passing any version of comprehensive reform.  This would prevent the Senate from rolling over the House in conference committee for a bad deal.  If the 'gang' and the Senate are serious about security first, pass security first.  They aren't and they won't, so call the question.  If they are serious about building 700 miles of double fence, build it.  Same for e-verify and visa anti-over-stay enforcement.  Then come back for legalization.
3814  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: July 01, 2013, 11:41:26 AM
I read an AP version of the Egypt protest story yesterday and Strat and WSJ ( and I still cannot tell who is better or worse from our point of view, Morsi or whoever would replace him if the crowd today had its way.  Summarized by the last line in the WSJ editorial: "The alternatives are all ugly."
3815  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WSJ: Should Feds or States regulate fracking? on: July 01, 2013, 11:31:14 AM
Should the Federal Government Regulate Fracking?

"States aren't fully up to the task of regulating these risks."

Isn't it exactly the other way around?  The Federal government has been a complete failure in the regulation of the energy industry and states have presided over our greatest successes.

Let's say there is a hypothetical difference over how to regulate fracking on the border of North Dakota and Montana, a damage from one state that spills over to the other. Why not first let those two states try to resolve that before we turn to NY, Calif and DC for the 'answer'.

The answer out of Washington has been consistent.  Produce no energy.  Force the production to countries that are enemies of the US, who have drilling and refining etc techniques far worse than ours, then send them trillions of dollars to take up arms and attacks against us.

"Let states devise local solutions to what are mostly local problems."

Amen to that.
3816  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Best math-science pranks on: June 30, 2013, 11:11:19 PM
Let ρ=A. Is it possible to extend isomorphisms? We show that D′ is stochastically orthogonal and trivially affine. In [10], the main result was the construction of 𝔭-Cardano, compactly Erdős, Weyl functions. This could shed important light on a conjecture of Conway-d’Alembert.

 - 'The Best Science Pranks Ever Pulled', the one above is a Randomly-Generated Math Paper Accepted by a Math Journal

More links at the links.
Regular readers are well aware that dihydrogen monoxide -- H2O -- is water. But apparently many residents of Lee County, Florida are not. Just this past April Fools' day, two Florida deejays warned their listeners that dihydrogen monoxide was leaking from faucets across the state. Panic ensued, and the water utility was flooded with calls from concerned citizens, so many, in fact, that they were forced to issue a public statement.

3817  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Human Genetic Engineering in UK; 3 parent embryos on: June 29, 2013, 01:52:32 PM
UK to allow research into three-parent embryos
The UK government has decided that it will allow the creation of three-parent embryos to prevent the births of children with mitochondrial diseases. The announcement came after an extensive consultation carried out by the fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, last year which found that most Britons were not opposed to the procedure.

I understand that this is for the purpose of preventing a genetic disease but at some point, in my view, man pretending to take over for God with the design and evolution of life is not realistic or in our best interest.
3818  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, often criminal history, Liberty award? on: June 28, 2013, 11:23:06 PM
Could anyone imagine Clinton honoring their political enemy like this?
All they have to do when she runs against Bush is replay this image of him honoring her.   

I don't know what good it does, but I share your reaction to this.  We live in an anti-liberty tsunami.  How is liberty going in your business, Doc?  Coercive Paternalism might be a better descriptor than Liberty.  Though she was only Sec of State, these are the policies she is working to advance too.  The results are a human tragedy. 

Hillary was negligent in her own duties, failing to answer the security challenge in Benghazi and a co-conspirator to cover that up after the fact.  That is in addition to her prior, "long, sordid, and often criminal history".  But she wins the liberty award.  Unbelievable.

"Clinton traveled to 112 countries"

That is how we measure success in 2013?  These were the places where "Chris" Stevens could not reach her.  One million miles on the taxpayer dime and liberty moved backwards around the globe on her watch. 

But the elites honor the elites for "Liberty", while ignoring the loss of liberty of the people.
3819  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 28, 2013, 07:03:53 PM
"Justice Clarence Thomas, the sole dissenter, wrote that he would have overturned Grutter and thus the whole convoluted legal structure of racial preferences as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."

Only one Justice believes that convoluted, Grutter v Bolllinger, Univ of Michigan Law School, affirmative action decision deserves an overturn?  Preferential treatment for underrepresented minority groups, a compelling interest in promoting class diversity?  Good grief.  College applications, mortgages, everything must take race into consideration, and that is better than treating people equally?  These aims were listed in what Article or Amendment?  And they help whom?

This supports something I wrote previously, there is perhaps only one conservative on the Court.  Why are these common sense, constitutionally based views so often expressed sole dissent?
3820  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Public Opinion, the Court, and Justice Kennedy on: June 28, 2013, 06:44:10 PM
From the article:
But why would the Court respond to public opinion? Judges are not elected by the public. Isn’t the purpose of a counter-majoritarian institution precisely that it does not follow swings in public mood? Still, political scientists have amassed an impressive array of evidence in favor of the hypothesis that the Court follows changes in public opinion. But why?

"the social-psychological theory that people with more moderate ideological views are more likely to change their views in response to information about what others think. William Mishler and Reginal Sheehan found that: the impact of public opinion is greatest among moderate justices who are likely to hold critical swing positions on the Court."

I like to call these people palm trees; they lean with the wind.  We all want to be loved.  Those who lack core, guiding principals are the most vulnerable to this human desire.

As I posed previously, it's been 225 years under this constitution, what changed in gayness, what changed in the constitution?  Nothing, nothing.  It was public opinion that was changed, meaning the need for the Court to step in and settle the issue was becoming less necessary, if it was necessary at all in the first place.
3821  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Esquire argues for conviction of Zimmerman on: June 28, 2013, 06:33:25 PM

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman committed 2nd degree murder?  I don't see it.  Others may be following this a lot closer than me, I look forward to comments and observations.

My thoughts:  Let's assume the deceased, Trayvon, was up to nothing sinister.  Even if he was scoping out homes for invasion, that doesn't warrant anyone shooting him.  Zimmerman I think is a self appointed neighborhood watch volunteer with a chip on his shoulder, a wannabe cop without the training or disposition for it, upset about what isn't being done to stop the problems, even though there was a recent arrest.

Zimmerman was sick of people like Trayvon before he met him.  By the time they were fighting, Trayvon no doubt was not liking Zimmerman either, or his attitude. I assume we don't get to know exactly how the fight started, but at some point it was Trayvon on top of Zimmerman pummeling him.  Zimmerman had plenty of injuries to corroborate that part, even if he was the one who provoked the fight.

Two guys are fighting and the one who is inflicting injuries at the end, ends up getting shot.  I see stupidity,  but I don't see murder.  2nd degree murder is the crime if Zimmerman had just shot him in the first place.  This was a fight with no proof of who struck first.  The injuries make self defense look plausible, even if he had foot in mouth, tough guy rhetoric in police interviews.  The legal question is whether Zimmerman waived his right of self defense when he chose to follow, and perhaps provoke a fight.  I would say he didn't.

If just shooting is what he was intending, why did he call the police?  If he intended to shoot, why would he have gotten engaged in a fist fight first while carrying a loaded gun?  Why get your nose broken if you are carrying a gun intending to kill.  Seems to me that by fighting, he was trying not to kill him with a gun, at least part way through the encounter. This was a stupid, avoidable fight that ended badly.  I don't take Zimmerman's side at all.  But I don't see this as murder beyond reasonable doubt.

What say others?
3822  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America on: June 27, 2013, 01:11:39 PM
Wow  cry cry angry

Americans banned from Britain based on (anti-)free speech censorship and Islamist extremism appeasement.  I can't imagine what the Obama administrations' reaction to this will be, defending the Americans!  Will he take back the hope and change speeches he sent to them in an unreadable format?  Send back the Churchill bust - again?  Worse??
3823  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed, Constitutional Law, Scalia, Krauthammer on: June 27, 2013, 01:04:28 PM
Justice Scalia in dissent:  "It takes real cheek for today's majority to assure us, as it is going out the door, that a constitutional requirement to give formal recognition to same-sex marriage is not at issue here—when what has preceded that assurance is a lecture on how superior the majority's moral judgment in favor of same-sex marriage is to the Congress's hateful moral judgment against it."

Crafty and others have this right in my humble layman's opinion, the Court leaped in front of the political process that was already moving their direction, ended the debate and forced the outcome.  Just like Roe.  What changed in either gayness or in the constitution regarding gayness in the first 224 years that the Supreme Court failed to find this right?  Nothing, just a growing political acceptance.  Like Obama who was against it before he was for it, the Court's majority said in effect, let's get out in front of this and put our names in the history books.

Another way to implement change is called consent of the governed.  Even the abolition of slavery, the end of a slightly more severe discrimination than unrecognized marriage lacking federal benefits, went through the constitutional amendment process.

Charles Krauthammer appears to have been reading the forum:

"Overall, the decision, I think, will inevitably lead to the overturning of all the laws in all the states that disallow gay marriage and it is in the rational the Kennedy opinion. The Kennedy opinion says that the states are sovereign on the issue of marriage and thus the federal government cannot impose its definition in the states.

If Kennedy had stopped with that, it would have been a conservative decision, it would have been essentially been a way of saying status quo prevails, those states that allow it will allow it, and those will do otherwise. But he had a second rationale, it wasn't just the federalist one, and the second rationale was the reason that the federal government cannot discriminate in states in which it is allowed between a gay couple and a straight one is because it undermines the equal protection clause. So, it is a form of discrimination.

So the logic of that is why is it only discrimination if you discriminate against a couple, a gay couple, in a state that allows it like New York and not a discrimination in a state that doesn't allow, like Texas -- it doesn't even allow the marriage in the first place. So in this opinion, I think it is absolutely inevitable seed of overturning all -- essentially nationalizing gay marriage in a way that Roe nationalized and abolished all the abortion laws." (Special Report, June 26, 2013)
3824  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in Constitutional Law, Government by the Elites on: June 27, 2013, 09:58:01 AM
Seeking greater clarity in disagreement...  I agree Ted Olson (and perhaps BD and many others) see something noble and historic in the changing of marriage to included gay marriage. 

The problem of course is that marriage is not marriage, but using the same word for a changed meaning.  Marriage as it was, now heterosexual-marriage is (or was) the joining of a man and a woman to become husband and wife, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, until death do they part (or something like that).  Gays and singles have always had the right to wait, opt in, or opt out of that institution, with no legal difference in status than anyone else who waited, opted in, or opted out of that institution.  Although half of marriages fail, the institution was so great that we needed to change it!

Marriage which meant heterosexual-marriage, is a unique union.  Gay unions no doubt are capable of their own beauty and uniqueness.  Do all heteros pursue or find lifelong happiness in hetero-marriage?  No.  Is it a good idea to encourage, through preferential laws, lifelong bonding for gays and lesbians who want and choose that too?  Maybe yes.  Should gays have all rights to associate, pursue happiness, bond, create unions, make legal designations?  Yes.  Will any change of words, meanings or definitions make gay marriage an identical bond to heterosexual-marriage?  No.

The issue in Windsor was ESTATE TAXES.  Does anyone remember that?  Estate taxes on after-tax, accumulated wealth are wrong in a free society in the first place, and secondly they are discriminatory in the way they are levied.  Did the noble work of forcing the political view of Anthony Kennedy along with 4 liberals on the nation change the fact that estate taxes are still discriminatory against everyone including me who did not get their status upgraded yesterday by this supreme political body?  No.

"It's an individual right that this Court again and again and again has said the right to get married [man and woman b ecoming husband and wife], the right to have the relationship of [one man, one woman] marriage is a personal right. It's a part of the right of privacy, association, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

The Court has NOT said "again and again and again" that other relationships are identical to hetero-marriage.  That law is new and was passed by 5 people out of 314 million, against the vote of the people and their elected representatives, no matter how right you or anyone else may think they got it.  It was the estate tax law that was discriminatory in Windsor, and still is.  Strike THAT down along with all other discriminatory taxation.  MHO

Something creepy happened in Prop 8.  The point of 'props' on ballots is to put the people over their elected representatives.  The elected representatives then chose not to stand by the will of the people and the Court ruled those who did defend it lacked standing.  So current law that is changing society was set by one judge.

Like other subjects in monarchies, we are lucky that our elites are benevolent and infinitely wise.
3825  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: June 27, 2013, 08:24:46 AM
CCP,  Good points.  As mentioned in the media issues post, they can send out a false message 92 times on broadcast multiplied by every other source that picks that up and amplifies it, call opposition flat earth, then poll on the false message and create more 'news' stories to perpetuate it.  They pass or just deem economically harmful policies creating more need for government help and the downward cycle accelerates.  Meanwhile, our greenhouse gases were declining without their help due to fracking they oppose and would decline much further if we built emission-free nuclear.  But no, because the goal of the eco movement has always been to bring down prosperity.

Meanwhile, every politically connected crony in the green movement somehow got rich off of our failure.  Go figure.
3826  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Energy Politics: Our Cabonated President (and the war on GDP) on: June 26, 2013, 07:16:08 PM
"every $1 billion spent complying with an EPA rule threatens 16,000 jobs and cuts GDP by $1.2 billion—and the agency is now writing scores of multibillion-dollar rules."

The Carbonated President
Obama unveils a war on fossil fuels he never disclosed as a candidate.

President Obama's climate speech on Tuesday was grandiose even for him, but its surreal nature was its particular hallmark. Some 12 million Americans still can't find work, real wages have fallen for five years, three-fourths of Americans now live paycheck to check, and the economy continues to plod along four years into a quasi-recovery. But there was the President in tony Georgetown, threatening more energy taxes and mandates that will ensure fewer jobs, still lower incomes and slower growth.

Mr. Obama's "climate action plan" adds up to one of the most extensive reorganizations of the U.S. economy since the 1930s, imposed through administrative fiat and raw executive power. He wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by 2020, but over his 6,500-word address he articulated no such goal for the unemployment rate or GDP.

The plan covers everything from new efficiency standards for home appliances to new fuel mileage rules for heavy-duty trucks to new subsidies for wind farms, but the most consequential changes would slam the U.S. electric industry. These plants, coal-fired power in particular, account for about a third of domestic greenhouse gases.

Last year the Environmental Protection Agency released "new source performance standard" regulations that are effectively a moratorium on new coal plants. The EPA denied that similar rules would ever apply to the existing fleet, or even that they were working up such rules. Now Mr. Obama will unleash his carbon central planners on current plants.

Coal accounted for more than half of U.S. electric generation as recently as 2008 but plunged to a mere 37% in 2012. In part this tumble has been due to cheap natural gas, but now the EPA will finish the job and take coal to 0%.

Daniel Shrag of Harvard, an Obama science adviser, told the New York Times Monday that "Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they're having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what's needed." At least he's honest, though in truth Mr. Obama's target is all forms of carbon energy. Natural gas is next.

The higher costs will ripple through the energy chain, which is precisely Mr. Obama's goal. Only by artificially raising the cost of carbon energy can he make even heavily subsidized "renewables" competitive.

In general every $1 billion spent complying with an EPA rule threatens 16,000 jobs and cuts GDP by $1.2 billion—and the agency is now writing scores of multibillion-dollar rules. Keep in mind that last month the Administration quietly raised the "social cost" of carbon by 60% in a regulatory filing related to microwave ovens. That means the EPA can jack up costs by 59.99% and still justify them by claiming the higher benefits.

This regressive burden won't merely be borne by average American consumers and utility rate-payers—especially in the Midwest and Southern regions that use the most coal. This also threatens one of the few booming parts of the economy, the energy revolution driven by shale gas and unconventional oil. The return of manufacturing to the U.S. depends on this cheap abundant energy, and it could as easily re-relocate overseas as the U.S. becomes less competitive.

For good measure, Mr. Obama also declared that he will approve the Keystone XL pipeline "only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution." Yet the oil in Alberta won't stay in the ground if Mr. Obama blocks the route to the Gulf of Mexico. It will be shipped by rail and boat to China and elsewhere. The only question is whether America will benefit from this shovel-ready project that will create tens of thousands of jobs.

Speaking of futility, Mr. Obama's ambitions will have no effect on global atmospheric carbon concentrations. Emissions are already falling in the U.S., thanks primarily to the shale gas boom, but emissions are rising in the developing world. Mr. Obama pandered to the climate-change absolutists by saying "We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society." But he never explained how his plan will reduce warming, or why climate models have failed to predict the warming slowdown of the last dozen or so years even as more CO2 is pumped into the atmosphere.

Most striking about this Obama legacy project is its contempt for democratic consent. Congress has consistently rejected an Obama-style "comprehensive" anticarbon energy plan. That was true even when Democrats ran the Senate with a filibuster-proof majority in 2009-2010 and killed his cap-and-trade energy bill. The only legislative justification for Mr. Obama's new plan is an abusive interpretation of the Clean Air Act, which was last revised in 1990 and never mentions carbon as a pollutant.

So instead Mr. Obama will impose these inherently political policy choices via unaccountable bureaucracies, with little or no debate. Mr. Obama might have at least announced his war on carbon before the election and let voters have a say. Instead he posed as the John the Baptist of fossil fuels in locales such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia—taking credit for the shale fracking boom he had nothing to do with and running ads attacking Mitt Romney as anticoal.

Now safely re-elected, Mr. Obama figures he can do what he pleases. The Americans who will be harmed will have to console themselves with 99 weeks of jobless benefits, food stamps and ObamaCare.
3827  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The legal warriors involved. on: June 26, 2013, 06:52:51 PM

Nothing says freedom like receiving federal benefits.
3828  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Today's 'Immigration' ruling on: June 26, 2013, 05:27:09 PM
Gay couples can immigrate under DOMA ruling

The Supreme Court’s ruling that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional should immediately open up immigration benefits to same-sex partners in states where their unions are recognized as marriages.

The 5-4 decision ruled that federal benefits pertaining to marriage couples cannot be denied to same-sex couples who are married, and that states can recognize those marriages. The issue at hand was an inheritance case, but analysts said the ruling signals the same principle applies to all federal benefits such as Social Security and taxes.

“This is a huge day not only for the LGBT movement, but also for the immigrant rights’ movement,” said Jorge Gutierrez, who leads the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project for United We Dream, a group of young illegal immigrants. “This Supreme Court decision affirms that all [trespassers] should be treated fairly and with justice.”
3829  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Justice Scalia in Windsor dissent on: June 26, 2013, 05:24:04 PM
Justice Scalia in Windsor dissent:

"In the majority's telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated. It is hard to admit that one's political opponents are not monsters, especially in a struggle like this one, and the challenge in the end proves more than today's Court can handle. Too bad. A reminder that disagreement over something so fundamental as marriage can still be politically legitimate would have been a fit task for what in earlier times was called the judicial temperament. We might have covered ourselves with honor today, by promising all sides of this debate that it was theirs to settle and that we would respect their resolution. We might have let the People decide.

But that the majority will not do. Some will rejoice in today's decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters so much to so many. But the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent."
3830  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 92 Climate Change Stories without a mention of the 15 year 'Pause' in warming on: June 26, 2013, 05:19:41 PM
The low information voter could be watching, tivo-ing, and watching again every broadcast story of the planet's greatest crisis and still have no f-ing clue what is (not) going on.

Networks Fail to Mention ‘Lull’ in Warming in All 92 Climate Change Stories

President Barack Obama’s new climate change initiative will purportedly share “a national plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change and lead global efforts to fight it.” Although he intends to demand action, most Americans do not see climate change as a “major threat,” according to Pew Research.

The Washington Post reported Obama will include “a plan to limit carbon-dioxide emissions from existing power plants.” That’s an agenda item the media will love. It was just a month ago when CBS “This Morning” interviewed Time magazine senior writer Jeffrey Kluger on May 11 who said “we have to curb the use of fossil fuels.”

No doubt the broadcast networks will cheer the president’s efforts, since they’ve spent years warning of the threat of climate change, even in the face of science that challenges their view. This year they’ve worried about many things including “raging infernos, surging seas, howling winds,” reported alarmist claims that weren’t accurate and connected weather to climate when scientists disagree. The networks have also completely ignored the “lull” in warming in recent years, in all 92 stories about climate change they reported in 2013.

One ABC report was typical, warning: “Many cities had record warmth, including Washington, D.C. where a lack of action on manmade climate change is likely to mean 2012 is just a glimpse into an unpleasant future, according to many scientists.”

Just since Jan. 1, 2013, ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news programs have aired 92 stories about “climate change” or “global warming.” Not a single one of those stories mentioned the “warming plateau” [of the last 15 years] reported even by The New York Times on June 10.
3831  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market, crisis, what crisis? on: June 26, 2013, 04:10:31 PM
"OK folks, for those of us who believe interest rates are going to start really climbing, what investments do we avoid and what do we do to protect ourselves?  What does a hunker down strategy look like?"

For most, the question is what debt to get out of.  How many dollars and how many people are still owing on adjustable mortgages and equity lines of credit?  That effect equals a cut in pay and a cut in disposable income, offset by what that is happening positively? (strike 1)

"Some 12 million Americans still can't find work, real wages have fallen for five years, three-fourths of Americans now live paycheck to check, and the economy continues to plod along four years into a quasi-recovery. "

  - Today's WSJ editorial on the Carbonated President.  He will intentionally increase our energy costs in all ways that he can through the Executive Branch acting alone.  "That effect equals a cut in pay and a cut in disposable income, offset by what that is happening positively?"  - Same as the effect of higher interest costs on household debt. (strike 2)

Back to the blurred distinction between the market and the economy, there is quite a bit of news lately about trouble with investments in emerging markets where these multi-national companies have been going to grow their profits beyond what the struggling US economy can sustain. (strike 3)
Barron's:  Emerging Markets: More Pain Coming
Stocks, bonds and currencies in emerging markets have plummeted in recent weeks, and the charts suggest they have farther to fall.

No, I don't have crisis investment advice better than to tell most people to vote differently.
3832  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Bisexuals still left out of marriage by unconstitutional state restrictions on: June 26, 2013, 03:32:04 PM
First this: "And the definition here is one of Constitutional criteria; the failure to apply the C. is what would be political."

I agree with you, but what is political about getting it right with the constitution is that if J. Kennedy's political view happened to be the opposite, he would have gone with his political view instead of with the constitution. (My humble opinion based on his record)

The test is how disciplined each Justice is in adhering to the actual words and meanings in the constitution when it leads them to a vote or decision that is opposite of their personal view.

One interesting part of DOMA, it was often used as a rare example of conservatives using the federal government to dictate law onto the states.  This was not true though because DOMA did not control marriage at the state level; it only defined federal benefits under federal law.

I still don't understand:

a) How is a law that adds gay-marriage to a group receiving special treatment and special benefits in law, to the exclusion of all others, any more constitutional than the old law?

b) How were gays discriminated against in any way that people who are long-term single are not?  Why not, from a constitutional perspective, strike down all preferences and penalties for recognizing marriage instead?

c) What other gender distinctions are left that still need to be struck down?  
3833  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Constitutional Law: A Political body over-rules a political body on Marriage on: June 26, 2013, 10:12:02 AM
If marriage means anything, marriage means nothing?  Except for federal benefits.  Now when we go to cut federal benefits it will be an attack on gays.

President Kennedy (Anthony Kennedy) decided the case, and had no trouble finding 4 liberals to go along with him.

Supreme Court strikes down key part of Defense of Marriage Act

3834  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: June 24, 2013, 05:43:48 PM
Your points are valid and well received.  Wesbury and I both blur the distinction between the market and the economy.  When he starts spinning that things other than 'the market' are doing fine economically, I like to get back up on my soapbox and offer the other side of it.  Apocalypse or not, the under-performance of this economy, caused by unnecessarily harmful policies, is a human tragedy.
3835  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Dubois: Race, A crisis of Black Men Left Behind on: June 24, 2013, 05:36:21 PM
 "He completely ignore the number one cause of the problem."
"Though there is much I think it misses, that was an interesting article. "

The main theme of ACORN, community organizing, most inner city programs and Obama's path to political power, including his reelection with 98% of black vote, is 'welfare rights'.  How can we pay more people, deserving our not, to be unproductive.

Pres. Obama never pivoted off of that to inspire personal responsibility, economic achievement or even self-sufficiency.  In his view, that message belongs to his opponents.

Number one cause of the troubles experienced by inner city black males is not drug law, but ubiquitous welfare.  The government became the provider making the husband obsolete and unnecessary.  Losing that role, the black male too often wanders off into either trouble or idleness.

The problem is not racial IMO.  It affects people of all races and plenty of black males choose to live wonderfully productive work lives full of success.  But this problem does afflict blacks disproportionately.

The elephant in the room is that our perverted welfare system is hurting the recipients even worse than it hurts those who are footing the bill.

3836  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Wesbury: Back to normal on: June 24, 2013, 01:51:59 PM
This is the new normal?  Trillions of wealth lost never recovered?  New growth line far below the old growth line?  Approaching a majority of adults who won't participate in the workforce.  Combined tax rates jumping past the 50% mark.  Regulations worse than ever.  Industries nationalized.  Downgraded credit rating.  Other countries looking for a new, world currency.  We are unable to sell our own bonds.  America's interests in foreign Policy ignored around the world.  Wesbury is right.  This IS the new normal.

Wesbury: "...fearing an end to QE is giving QE too much credit in the first place."

An injection rate of $85 BILLION A MONTH is not a serious drug habit?  If it wasn't having an effect, why are they doing it?

"we don’t think QE actually works. Yes, the monetary base has jumped dramatically, but the M2 measure of money is still growing along its long-term 6% trend."

Money expansion HAS hit the money supply, apologies for the redundancy, but it has not hit velocity, because money shortage, since at least 2009, has had nothing to do with why this economy is stuck with its parking brake on.

"Everyone knew the Fed would say it, then slow it, then stop it,…and only then raise interest rates and unwind it. And each will only happen when the Fed thinks the economy can handle it."

In other words this Plowhorse-strength economy cannot stand on its own hoofed feet, according to the top decision makers today, with the market concurring.

I am stuck with my conclusion that the ability of big companies to continue to make big money in collusion with big government keeping out under-financed startups through over-regulation tells us shockingly little about where the US economy is heading.

If Republicans were in charge, people would be furious about these high profits of established companies thinning their workforces that he refers to.
3837  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: June 24, 2013, 01:16:07 PM
We now live in the age of "pass it to find out what's in it".
We really are living in insane times.

That's right.  This didn't need to turn into an Obamacare-style, tax code-style, Dodd-Frank-style, 1200 page attack on forests that no one will read, full of special treatment, provisions and exceptions for special groups, along with misprints and stupidity:  I hope the proponents of it will hold up the vote and allow debate and amendments before passing what they intend to be the law of the land.

The WSJ ran an editorial today again belittling the opponents for their petty concern over border security.  As I pointed out previously, their own characterization of the security status was already quite misleading.  They are entitled to their opinion, but mis-characterizing facts, cheapening the motives of the opponents, showing reverence to Chuck Schumer and dividing the conservative movement are not ways to build a coalition of any value.

"At least the Corker-Hoeven plan has the virtue of smoking out the politicians who have been using the "border security first" demand as cover for their real objection, which is to immigration per se."

Good grief. Did they forget about 1986 and 2006 or do they really not know the Lucy holding the ball for Charlie Brown history of this?  They are confusing legal and illegal immigration, just as they accuse opponents of doing so.  If the security is so certain, why not security first - just this once?  If the bill is so good, why not let us read it before demanding support or calling us all anti-immigrant? 

To WSJ: Taking cheap shots at your readership is not how you will get immigration reform or subscriptions renewed.
3838  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Dubois: Race, A crisis of Black Men Left Behind on: June 24, 2013, 10:45:18 AM
"there are more African-Americans in the corrections system today—in prison or on probation or parole—than there were enslaved in 1850. As of 2004, more black men were denied the right to vote because of a criminal record than in 1870, when the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, giving blacks the right to vote."

Posted under race because he makes that his focus.  My view is that America's underclass and inner city problems disproportionately hit people of color but are not uniquely racial problems.

This a long and very interesting article written by a former spiritual adviser to President Obama.  His observations, awareness of the problem and historical data are quite good.  This is perhaps the biggest problems in America, tied to so many other challenges.  Imagine our economy if America's underclass suddenly got up and participated full time in the economy.  His keen insights, including failure of the war on drugs, however completely ignore the number one cause of the problem.
3839  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs - The 'Farm Bill' failed in the House on: June 24, 2013, 10:28:11 AM
The opponents included most Democrats, because there is a "$1 billion cut" in the food stamp program (readers here know a cut is not a cut), along with some Republicans that doesn't believe a welfare program belongs in the farm bill.  The urban Democrat - rural Republican, big government coalition has been fractured.

Separate the two and let them stand on their own merits, says Stephen Moore, WSJ

Maybe someone can tell me what states in this union cannot afford to feed their own people in 2012, requiring a federal program, and how a monstrous bill like this is justified by a simple mention in the constitution of regulating interstate commerce. 
3840  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The IRS's Best Friend in Congress - on: June 24, 2013, 10:10:58 AM
Young journalist Eliana Johnson keeps some coverage of this story alive as our attention disorder mainstream keeps moving on to other topics.  At the moment this is a lead opinion piece at WSJ, Powerline, Real Clear Politics and National Review.

The IRS's Best Friend in Congress
Rep. Elijah Cummings says the House investigation is a 'witch hunt.' Yet revealing evidence keeps coming.


The House Oversight Committee's investigation into the Internal Revenue Service's discrimination against conservative groups continues—but at least one unenthusiastic member seems to think the committee's work is done.

Over the objections of Chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) last week released online the full, 205-page transcript of an interview that committee investigators conducted with an IRS employee in Cincinnati named John Shafer. Mr. Cummings explained that he was compelled to release the Shafer transcript because it explodes Mr. Issa's "conspiracy theories"—chiefly, that the White House played a role in the targeting of conservative groups, and that it was orchestrated out of IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C. In fact, Mr. Issa has never said the former, and much that is known so far about the IRS scandal suggests that the Washington connection is substantial.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (right) and Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, June 6.

Mr. Cummings's enthusiasm for defending the IRS may make him a lonely figure among the 22 Republicans and 16 Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, but he is likely to find an ally in his chief counsel on the committee. She is Susanne Sachsman Grooms, who worked for the IRS between 2008 and 2011 as an adviser to the deputy commissioner for services and enforcement and then as a senior counselor to the chief of criminal investigations. At the time, the deputy commissioner for services and enforcement—her boss—was none other than Steven Miller, who held the post of IRS commissioner from November 2012 until his resignation in May after the scandal broke. Mr. Cummings also has a strong tie to the Obama administration: His staff director on the Oversight Committee, David Rapallo, is a former White House lawyer.

The release of the Shafer transcript came after a June 12 interview with Politico in which Mr. Cummings labeled the Oversight Committee's investigation a "witch hunt"—in other words, something that should end immediately. A few days before that, in a June 9 CNN interview, he said, "The IG made some recommendations, those recommendations are being adopted by the IRS . . . I think we're in great shape."

As it happens, the revelation of Mr. Shafer's testimony isn't likely to discourage the investigation.

Mr. Shafer, the manager of an IRS screening group in the Cincinnati office, told committee investigators that in February 2010 one of his employees brought a tea-party application for nonprofit designation to his attention.

Given the media coverage that the tea party was receiving, Mr. Shafer deemed the application a "high profile" matter and alerted his managers to its existence. Shortly thereafter, according to his testimony, lawyers in the IRS's Washington, D.C., office said, "We want to look at the case." On the evidence of the Washington office's interest in that initial case, Mr. Shafer said IRS agents in Cincinnati then held the applications of tea-party groups until they were given "further direction" from D.C.

Case closed, according to Mr. Cummings, who wrote in a letter to Mr. Issa: "These statements by the screening group manager appear to directly contradict your allegations of political motivation."

If Mr. Shafer or Mr. Cummings could read the minds of IRS officials in Washington, that might be true. In reality, Mr. Shafer was unable to say why officials in Washington were so interested in the tea-party cases or whether the officials' interest was politically motivated.

"Did you have an understanding at the time about what the reason was for sending the cases [to Washington] for review?" investigators asked him. "No," he responded. They pressed further. "Do you have personal knowledge of the motivations of Washington and how they worked the tea party cases?" "I do not," Mr. Shafer said.

The testimony offered by other Cincinnati IRS employees—which I have reviewed in full, un-redacted form—contradicts Mr. Cummings's claims and those of Obama administration officials, such as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who has pointed the finger at "line employees" in Cincinnati. The IRS interviews suggest that the agency's officials in Washington closely controlled the review of tea-party cases.

Consider Gary Muthert, the Cincinnati IRS screener who told investigators that he began singling out tea-party applications at the request of Mr. Shafer, who told him "Washington, D.C., wanted some cases."

And there is Elizabeth Hofacre, the Cincinnati IRS agent who for several months in 2010 was charged with handling all tea-party applications. She told the committee that she understood the "lookout list" used to flag the applications of tea-party groups was also intended to flag those of Republican and conservative groups. When the applications of liberal groups came in, she sent them along for general processing.

Ms. Hofacre also told the committee's investigators that IRS lawyers in Washington were controlling her every move. "I was taking all my direction from EO Technical," she told investigators, referring to the group of IRS tax lawyers in Washington that handles tax-exempt organizations. She went on to say that she had "no autonomy" in her handling of the cases, and she termed the behavior of IRS officials in Washington in the matter "very unusual."

Mr. Cummings's efforts have drawn attention away from these troubling accounts, which have been partially released by the House Oversight Committee—and instead bogged the committee down with questions of whether to release full interview transcripts.

Mr. Issa opposes releasing the full transcripts. Disclosing them, he says, threatens to compromise the investigation by providing future witnesses a "road map" of the scope and content of likely questions. It also provides them with time to formulate their answers and to ensure that their testimony corroborates that of other witnesses. Mr. Cummings, who has already made his position clear by unilaterally releasing the Shafer transcript, has called the committee chairman's position on the matter "bulls---."

Many questions remain for the committee to address, even if Mr. Cummings might disagree. Who at the IRS, for instance, developed the intrusive and exhaustive questions that were sent to the tea-party groups? Why did so many of those groups have to wait years for their applications to be processed, and why are many more still waiting? Who specifically were the IRS officials in Washington directing the Cincinnati agents targeting the tea-party organizations?

If the House Oversight Committee can overlook the distractions thrown up by one of its members, the answers may prove illuminating about the way Washington has worked during the Obama administration.
3841  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Senate Immigration Bill, 1187 pages, Released late Friday, Vote Monday, Read it! on: June 23, 2013, 11:54:36 AM

Has every Senator read it and thought through all implications and consequences, intended and unintended, before they cast their vote?

I don't think so.
3842  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues: 650 miles of fencing? Or 36.3 miles? on: June 22, 2013, 12:36:05 PM
Depends on what the meaning of is is.  Or 'fence' in this case...

Most often I agree with WSJ editorials, but must rip them here:

WSJ editorial, 6/19/2013:

"For some Republicans, border security has become a ruse to kill reform. The border could be defended by the 10th Mountain Division and Claymore antipersonnel mines and it wouldn't be secure enough."
[Fewer crossings] "Some of this decline is surely due to the lousy U.S. job market"

    - 'ya think?

"... but some results from the border security mobilization that began in the 1990s and really got going after 2006. Today more than 21,000 agents patrol the border. Enforcement spending is up more than 50% in a decade for everything from 650 miles of fencing to military aircraft, marine vessels, drones, surveillance equipment, infrared camera towers and detention centers."

    - 650 miles of fencing?  Is it a fence or a BARRIER?

Pres. Obama made a similar claim and PolitiFact judged it "Mostly False":

 "The (border) fence is now basically complete."
Barack Obama on Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 in a speech in El Paso

Others maintain (accurately) that only 36.3 miles of the 700 miles called for in the 2006 law have been built.

"legislation was passed [2006] to build a 700-mile double-layer border fence along the southwest border. This is a promise that has not been kept.  Today, according to staff at the Department of Homeland Security, just 5 percent of the double-layer fencing is complete, only 36.3 miles."

This is true, but the law was amended after the change in congress to give DHS discretion on what fence to build and their discretion was to stop building the double layer fence that was called for in the 2006 law.

'We won't get fooled again.'  - George W. Bush

3843  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness Faceplant Edition - in photos on: June 22, 2013, 11:42:00 AM

"And then Obama compared himself to me. . ."
3844  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the left - “negative feedback loop from hell” on: June 22, 2013, 10:56:52 AM
This observation from Crafty's post in US Economics is too good to leave in just one thread:

... a “negative feedback loop from hell,” where states that are suffering with large debt overhangs and dwindling tax revenues don’t have the money to pay or invest in things like infrastructure, education, and public safety. As those services begin to deteriorate over time, states will be forced to raise taxes, which only reinforces the decline.

The concept applies to nations as well.
3845  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Still More Evidence That ObamaCare Is Costing Jobs, Gallup / IBD on: June 22, 2013, 10:44:26 AM
Gallup found that more than four in 10 companies have frozen hiring because of Obama-Care, and almost one in five have cut workers to minimize the cost of the law.

Another 38% said they'd "pulled back on their plans to grow their business."

The biggest job growth categories are now temp and part time.

"local governments across the country have been cutting part-time hours to 29 or fewer a week so they can avoid ObamaCare as much as possible"

Did ANYONE see this coming?
"Why France Has So Many 49-Employee Companies
"The ACA requires businesses with 50 or more employees to offer “affordable” insurance to anyone working 30 or more hours per week—which must cost no more than 9.5 percent of the worker’s household income. In addition, businesses must also provide insurance for dependents, though potentially at an additional cost to the employee."
3846  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: POTH: CA seeks health care for illegals on: June 22, 2013, 10:15:42 AM

Shocked that we were mis-led by politicians.  No Obamacare for illegals that are legalized only meant you will pay for it in other taxes, and it allows them to leave that cost off-budget for CBO scoring on both Obamacare and immigration reform.

If California won't treat them, Hennepin County Medical Center (Minneapolis) provides no questions asked healthcare (or go to any other sanctuary city).

The Feds will add the coverage back in after the bills are passed and fully implemented, or else the Dems will still have that hatchet to hold over the head of selfish, uncaring, white Republicans.
3847  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: June 22, 2013, 09:56:27 AM
"The smartest guy I knew in law school would fire up a doobie before settling in to read securities regulations."

In college, there was reportedly more use by the top 10% than by the bottom.  That said, a small loss of IQ for someone starting at 150-160 might make interactions with the other 99.9% more interesting, while the same loss at the low end might render one dysfunctional. 

"There are tens and tens of millions of people who smoke pot to less effect that people who drink."

Agree, but less damage than the drug with the most damage brings to mind Huma claiming what she did was legal and ethical because Hillary approved it.  A low bar.

Curious to hear about your choice to not drink alcohol.  Maybe at my beer summit with BD.  wink

"IMHO the two should face similar legal treatment."

Yes.  Similar and different.  Colorado is struggling with what to do with THC levels for driving law standards.  The effect is not harmless but quite different than alcohol.  Maybe we should measure remaining IQ instead of the amount lost to the drug.

"Permanent IQ reduction and memory loss."

I am reminded of the pot crazed burglars who broke in and stole from the doughnut shop but in the end they forgot to empty the register.
3848  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Holy Excrement!!! on: June 21, 2013, 05:06:41 PM

The big story was that some obscure state Senator from Illinois was among those under surveillance.  Not mentioned is that he had known links to terrorists.

He was looked at (allegedly), not charged or apprehended.

My view of the Patriot Act is that if my number is found in the speed dial or call log of a terrorist, even by mis-dial, I expect to be looked at until cleared.  Same Senator kicked off his political campaign (allegedly) in the living room of an unrepentant terrorist.
3849  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: Bicameral coverage and Media Bias on: June 21, 2013, 04:59:55 PM
The Senate, by 4th of July, will pass an Immigration bill that is going nowhere.  This probably the number one political event of our time, based on the exuberance of liberals and the panic and fright of conservatives.  The House opposes the bill and the majority controls what gets through its committee and what comes to its floor for a vote.

Meanwhile the House, one chamber again but controlled by the other party, has voted 37 times to repeal Obamacare.  Repeal is not supported by the majority in the Senate.  No coverage, no excitement, no panic because everyone knows it is going nowhere.

Healthcare is every bit as big an issue as immigration.  Why are these two non-events covered differently?
3850  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: The Economist, No Warming Since 1998 on: June 21, 2013, 04:46:37 PM
This is already case closed and well reported, but I will keep going since our President is still gearing up for another big fight against "global warming".  WTF else is 'climate change' if not natural fluctuations or liberal code for slow the economy and 'save the planet'.
 "Since 1998, the warmest year of the twentieth century, temperatures have not kept up with computer models that seemed to project steady warming; they’re perilously close to falling beneath even the lowest projections".

"there's no way around the fact that this reprieve for the planet is bad news for proponents of policies, such as carbon taxes and emissions treaties, meant to slow warming by moderating the release of greenhouse gases. The reality is that the already meagre prospects of these policies, in America at least, will be devastated if temperatures do fall outside the lower bound of the projections that environmentalists have used to create a panicked sense of emergency."
The phony movie 'An Inconvenient Truth' was released in 2006 with cherrypicked data picked by quack scientists to help elect the Pelosi-Reid agenda in congress and elect the Senate's furthest left member to the White House.  At the moment of that trickery, we were 8 years into a no warming plateau, impossible according to their own models.  Now it is 15 years and counting and we still stop pipelines and fight for backward economic movement.

When the data doesn't fit the model, this crowd 'adjusts' the data instead of scrapping the phony model.

Like BBG, I survived 400 PPM.

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