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3851  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct, Reagan freed Mandela, ended apartheid on: December 08, 2013, 09:29:06 AM
I wonder if the anti-Reagan protestors of the 1980s (or press) now understand that Reagan's determination and success in toppling the Soviet Union led directly to the fall of apartheid.  Conversely, I wonder if or when Mandela understood that his choice in aligning with the worst oppressors was counter-productive in his cause to end oppression.

The New Yorker yesterday:

"Mandela’s release from prison and the collapse of apartheid were direct consequences of the demise of the Soviet Union; the South African regime could no longer rely upon its anticommunism as a counterbalance to its miserable human-rights record."

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2013/12/mandela-and-the-politics-of-forgiveness.html
3852  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics: Britain's' Laffer' effect on: December 06, 2013, 01:10:05 PM
False, static scoring of tax rate cuts (and the ignored damage from tax rate increases) needs to hit the trash bin forever.  "Extra growth and changed business behavior will likely recoup 45%-60% of that revenue [From a significant corporate tax rate cut in Britain].  The report says that even that amount is almost certainly understated, since Treasury didn't attempt to model the effects of the lower rate on increased foreign investment or other spillover benefits."

Dec. 5, 2013  WSJ Editorial        (Subscribe at https://buy.wsj.com/offers/pages/OfferMulti1a?trackCode=aaqa209l)

While America dawdles over tax reform, new evidence from Britain shows that cutting corporate tax rates is a tax revenue winner.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has cut Britain's corporate tax rate to 22% from 28% since taking office in 2010, with a further cut to 20% due in 2015. On paper, these tax cuts were predicted to "cost" Her Majesty's Treasury some £7.8 billion a year when fully phased in. But Mr. Osborne asked his department to figure out how much additional revenue would be generated by the higher investment, wages and productivity made possible by leaving that money in private hands.

The Treasury's answer in a report this week is that extra growth and changed business behavior will likely recoup 45%-60% of that revenue. The report says that even that amount is almost certainly understated, since Treasury didn't attempt to model the effects of the lower rate on increased foreign investment or other "spillover benefits." This sort of economic modeling is never an exact science, but the results are especially notable because the U.K. Treasury gnomes are typically as bound by static-revenue accounting as are the American tax scorers at Congress's Joint Tax Committee.

While the British rate cut is sizable, the U.S. has even more room to climb down the Laffer Curve because the top corporate rate is 35%, plus what the states add—9.x% in benighted Illinois, for example. This means the revenue feedback effects from a rate cut would be even more substantial. (more at link)  http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303997604579240072829229810?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop
3853  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Robert Bartley, The Seven Fat Years, and how to do it again - Still Relevant! on: December 06, 2013, 01:00:49 PM
My most referenced economics book, I wish I could just post the whole thing.  If you are interested in this sort of thing, growing our great country out of plowhorse stagnation, go read it!
http://www.amazon.com/Seven-Fat-Years-How-Again/dp/002901915X

December 3, 2013
Robert Bartley's 'The Seven Fat Years' - One of the Greatest Economics Books Ever Written
By John Tamny  http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2013/12/03/robert_bartleys_the_seven_fat_years_-_one_of_the_greatest_economics_books_ever_written_100770.html

Ten years ago in the fall of 2003, I finally read Robert Bartley's The Seven Fat Years. An economic history of the booming ‘80s, along with the slow-growth ‘70s that preceded the alleged ‘Decade of Greed," Bartley's book was a masterpiece. Most already know this, but Bartley was the editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal, and he sadly died ten years ago today.

I was never lucky enough to know Bartley, but he was always kind enough to return an occasional e-mail, including one about interest rates referenced in his book not long before he passed. Though The Seven Fat Years was published in 1992, it remains one of the most useful books an economically interested reader could ever buy. It explains very entertainingly how extraordinarily easy is economic growth, and to read it once again as I did for this belated review is to also see how very visionary was this revolutionary economic thinker.

What were the seven fat years? As Bartley writes early on, they took place from 1983-1990 when "the United States recovered its pre-1973 growth path." Why did it? That's pretty basic, though hard in practice thanks to the third rate thinkers who generally populate Congress and the White House, not to mention the deluded sorts who populate what is an increasingly fraudulent economics profession.

Bartley thankfully wasn't an economist, and possessing a mind not so polluted by charts, graphs and more than worthless measures of economic activity, he understood intimately that economic growth is as simple as keeping the price of work and investment light (taxes), trade among economic actors around the world free, regulation minimal, and the money used to measure real economic activity stable in value. The Seven Fat Years describes how we forgot basic economics in the malaise-ridden ‘70s, only for Bartley and others to revive Classical economics in the ‘80s; thus the 7-year boom.

The book begins with Bartley's observation that "In the years just before 1982, democratic capitalism was in retreat. Its economic order seemed unhinged, wracked by bewildering inflation, stagnant productivity, and finally a deep recession." He went on to note that "Economic confusions and a sense of futility sapped the morale of the Western people; leaders talked of "malaise" in America and "Europessimism" across the Atlantic."

What's so amazing about Bartley's words, or maybe not, is that they could have been written yesterday. History surely repeats itself, or rhymes, and just as Paul Krugman on the left and Tyler Cowen on the right talk at length about economic growth as something no longer attainable, the popular view among economists then was that "America had become a ‘debtor nation' and was declining as previous empires had." No, economic growth is once again as simple as getting the policy mix right. Bartley and a group of economic visionaries that included, but was not limited to Robert Mundell, Arthur Laffer, Charles Kadlec, Jude Wanniski, and Rep. Jack Kemp, authored a revolution that led to Ronald Reagan's election, and an eventual revival of economic growth thanks to a return to simple economic ideas that removed barriers to production.

These economic concepts were referred to then, and are now, as "supply-side" economics. Unfortunately a media that couldn't understand the concepts limited its flawed analysis of supply side to the Laffer (more on Laffer's brilliant contributions in a little bit) Curve, but it was really much more than that. Unlike demand-side thinkers who falsely presume growth is a function of stimulating consumption, Bartley and other Classical thinkers knew otherwise. They correctly understood that all demand is a function of supply, so in order to stimulate demand it was necessary for policymakers to stimulate the supply side of the economy; as in remove the tax, regulatory, trade and monetary barriers to production. It worked as the booming ‘80s revealed.

To read The Seven Fat Years is to know with certitude how very much Bartley would understand the problems of today. That is so because today's problems are in many ways a repeat of what happened in the 1970s. If there's disagreement with Bartley, and there's very little of that, it has to do with his assertion early on that "It seems that prosperity may bring discontents, real and imagined, that in turn consume the prosperity." My own view is that prosperity doesn't so much bring discontent as much as one of its negative tradeoffs is that it makes us flabby, and too often uncaring in terms of whom we vote into office.

Conversely, slow growth always and everywhere authored by government focuses the electorate. Reagan's election was the result of the failures of LBJ, Nixon, Ford, and Carter, and he revived economic growth through the implementation of the Bartley policy mix that President Clinton largely maintained such that the Reagan/Clinton era was marked by substantial growth. A booming economy essentially blinded voters to the importance of policy such that they elected second rate thinkers of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama variety; both presidents having revived the failed policy ideas of the 1970s; the unstable, cheap money that each sought the most consequential when it came to policy that's always inimical to economic growth.

Bartley would understand today precisely because he'd seen all of this before. Indeed, while it's popular to this day among the political and economic commentariat to blame OPEC for rising oil prices in the ‘70s, Bartley righted the false history about oil in correctly putting quotes around ‘oil shocks.' As he and the rest of the Michael 1 (the lower Manhattan restaurant where he, Laffer, Mundell and other leading Classical thinkers frequently talked policy) crowd knew well, oil wasn't suddenly expensive as much as the dollar in which it was priced was cheap.

Bartley wrote that "The real shock was that the dollar was depreciating against oil, against gold, against foreign currencies and against nearly everything else." About OPEC's non-role in an energy ‘crisis' created by U.S. monetary policy, Bartley observed that "In the confusion of the 1970s, no one noticed that OPEC told us plainly what was going to happen after the closing of the gold window." Put more simply, when the Nixon administration delinked the dollar from gold, the dollar's value plummeted on the way to the 1970s commodity boom.

Bartley would understand our present situation well simply because George W. Bush, like Nixon and Carter in the ‘70s, sought a weak dollar. The markets complied owing to the historical truth that presidential administrations always get the dollar they want. It staggers this writer to this day that so many otherwise smart people ascribe nominally expensive oil to OPEC and foreign demand much as smart people felt this way in the ‘70s. It's particularly unsettling that so many on the right who generally believe in free markets buy into this falsehood. Implicit there is that an oil market dating back to the 1860s still hasn't figured out how to match supply with demand. More to the point, when the right incorrectly tie expensive oil to scarcity they are explicitly suggesting ‘market failure' on the part of the energy industry. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

The money illusion that gave us high oil prices in the ‘70s, and that has given us similarly nosebleed oil in the 2000s brings with it economy-sapping investment implications. Not only is oil everywhere such that it's prosaic, it's also easy to tax for it being of the earth, or stationary as it were.

Later in the book Bartley noted that in the ‘70s "Nearly everyone had bet on constantly rising oil prices." When money is cheap, investment flows into the commoditized wealth that already exists over the stock and bond income streams representing wealth that doesn't yet exist. When oil and commodities are booming, the real economy is struggling. Bartley went on to write that "when money turned tight, the oil price couldn't go up and the loans [made to oil companies] couldn't be repaid." When we return to quality money, and eventually we will given the desire of Americans for growth, oil and commodity based economies here and around the world will face a rude awakening. History always repeats itself, and Bartley would not be fooled by today's energy ‘boom' in much the same way that he and the rest of the Michael 1 crew weren't fooled back in the ‘70s. As he put it, "At Michael 1 these events were not seen as an oil problem but a monetary problem."

Moving to the monetary policy that created the ‘70s crack-up that Bartley described, and that tells the story of the present too, the Michael 1 crowd very much decried Nixon's ill-conceived decision to rob the dollar of its gold definition. Better yet, they understood the change in investor preference from future concepts to the hard wealth of the present that similarly weighs on our economy today. Much as housing and commodities soared under Bush, in the ‘70s there was similarly according to Bartley a rush into "real assets such as gold or real estate."

In the ‘70s the prevailing economic view of a political class utterly confused by the slow growth that resulted from a weak dollar was that the economy needed more of the same. A weak dollar would boost exports despite devaluation always and everywhere existing as the economy-wrecking policy lever of the poorest countries.  The Michael 1 attendees correctly understood that "Money is a veil, and will not change the relative value of a jug of wine and a loaf of bread." To Bartley et al, money's sole purpose was as a measure of value that would facilitate the exchange of bread and wine, thus the importance of stability.

Instead, and pouring gasoline on the fire, the Nixon and Carter years were defined by regular devaluation of the unit of account (the dollar) such that investment dried up, and chaos reigned. Bartley described this era of floating money as a time when "price signals in the real economy would be subject to repeated disturbances that would detract from efficiency and growth." Yes, floating money that was in freefall gave us the growth-deficient ‘70s, but with the resumption of largely stable money in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the economy took off. Since 2000 we've re-entered an era of limp growth; the latter made predictable by a dollar that was both weak and unstable.

Notable about the ‘70s is that just like today, a sagging economy brought out of the woodwork a great deal of monetary mysticism. Milton Friedman's monetarism was rising in popularity then, and while its modern adherents of the Scott Sumner variety in no way measure up to Friedman (about the Nobel Laureate, Bartley wrote that "On most issues - Say's Law, price controls, energy, efficient markets, deficits, Keynes or whatever - he would be entirely at home at Michael 1), it's sad and happy at the same time that economic distress elevates incorrect thinking (Monetarism) as much as it does Classical thinking of the kind that Bartley was so instrumental in reviving.

It's on the subject of Monetarism in The Seven Fat Years that readers will be reminded of Arthur Laffer's certain genius. Monetarism then and now naively presumes that nirvana can be achieved if allegedly ‘wise men' control "the money supply." But as Bartley so helpfully wrote about Laffer's discredit of this failed idea, "Laffer would draw a tiny black box in the corner of a sheet of paper; ‘this is M-1,' currency and checking deposits. Still bigger boxes included money-market funds, then various credit lines. Finally, the whole page was filled with a box called ‘unutilized trade credit' - that is, whatever you can charge on the credit cards in your pocket. Do you really think, he asked, this little black box controls all the others." The Michael 1 crowd understood well that it didn't, but Friedman and other Monetarist thinkers believed it then, much as Sumner and others promote his monetary form of Keynesian mysticism today.

Laffer et al once again didn't bite. As Bartley further explained Laffer's explanation of the quantity theory of money, "The money supply, he insisted, was ‘demand determined.' What the big boxes demanded the little one supplied." Monetarists at present decry the Fed paying interest on reserves (IOR), and while the Fed should not be paying for bank reserves it needlessly created with the imposition of its adolescent QE policies, it does precisely because demand for money is so low. More comically for a truly dangerous theory is the more that money is corrupted by the creation of it clamored for by Monetarists, the lower is the demand for it. Money's sole purpose is as a stable measure of value, but so deluded are Monetarist thinkers by monetary aggregates that they can't see how very much their own policies work against the rising monetary aggregates they desire.

Stable money in terms of value is heavily demanded, and as a result soars in terms of supply, but all of this confuses the Monetarist School. Then as now, monetarists got inflation backwards. Bartley noted that "With big inflation [meaning devaluation - always], for example, consumers would not want to hold currency. They would shift to high-interest deposits not counted in narrow aggregates, or to real assets like real estate or gold, not counted at all. This would mean that demand for money would fall, pull down the statistical aggregate. When the aggregate fell, the Fed would inject more bank reserves, fueling the inflation. Yet if the real economy swung into boom, say because taxes were cut, the demand for money would grow, pushing up the aggregates. Watching the aggregates grow because of higher money demand, the Fed would worry about inflation, choke off bank reserves, curtail the availability of credit, push up interest rates and stop the recovery."

The Reagan policy mix truly took hold in 1983; '83 when the Reagan tax cuts were finally fully implemented, and the economy soared. With a rising economy money demand naturally soared given the tautology that producers are demanding money when they offer up goods and services for sale. As the economy took off Friedman, wedded to a monetary theory that is rooted in confusion about inflation, made the rounds of Wall Street to argue that the recovery was inflationary even though the value of the dollar was on the way up. Rest assured that if and when the U.S. economy emerges from the Bush/Obama disaster, money demand and the aggregates that confused Monetarists will soar again. Modern believers in that which doesn't work like Sumner will first claim that they predicted the boom based on rising aggregates, then they'll claim an inflation problem despite a stronger dollar. Lost on the Monetarist crowd is the simple truth that the stable money values they dismiss are the only path to the rising money in circulation that they're asking for.

Not so the Michael 1 thinkers. Well aware that an economy is a collection of billions of individuals making infinite decisions every millisecond, they weren't so arrogant as to presume to know how many dollars an economy would need. Their solution was a return to quality money defined by gold. As Bartley wrote, the monetary "system needs an ‘anchor,' some method of judging how much money the world needs. If all nations use their monetary policy to fix the currency of nation n, the nth nation can use its monetary policy to anchor the whole system, to gold or some other indicator." Bartley knew well of gold's historical stability, so he called for monetary policy that would stabilize the price of the dollar by virtue of adjusting supply to meet demand; the gold price serving as the market signal that would tell the monetary authority whether there we too many or too few dollars in the system.

The above description brings up another minor disagreement with the author of this most essential of books. Paul Volcker gets a mostly free pass in an economic memoir which refers to him as a ‘saint.' In truth, and Bartley obviously knew this welll, Volcker not only regularly leaked against the Reagan tax cuts, but he also foisted Friedman's monetary policies on the economy in such a way that the Reagan Revolution almost never was. Administrations once again get the dollar they want, and as Reagan was for a strong dollar in the way that Nixon and Carter were not, the markets were going to correct the dollar upward no matter the ‘tight money' policies rooted in quantity theory imposed by Volcker. More to the point, stable money in terms of value has little to do with ‘tight money' as Bartley suggested in the book.  More realistically, stable money is heavily demanded as the unit used in trade and investment, so if stable money is the goal, the supply of the credible currency will naturally rise.

Volcker ultimately abandoned Friedman's Monetarism in late '82 such that the Reagan boom would soon begin, but in waiting until then he nearly made Reagan a one-term president. Notably, when he shed Friedman's failed policies that are perhaps unsurprisingly being revived today, Laffer and Kadlec concluded that he was following some sort of dollar price rule; a stable dollar always necessary for economic growth. Volcker surely looms large in any discussion of the ‘80s economic renaissance, but the story should be more about how he almost suffocated it as opposed to being a major factor in the seven fat years that Bartley chronicled.

It's also sadly true that while a dollar price rule loomed large in the recovery, Reagan and the Michael 1 crowd never achieved their goal of returning the dollar to a gold standard. We have the 2000s to thank for this not having happened, and as Bartley noted, resolving monetary policy in a way that rids the economy of unstable money was "the one big unfinished task of the Seven Fat Years." So true, but Rome wasn't built in a day.

About trade and the mythical ‘trade deficits' that still captivate those in the ever fraudulent economics profession, Bartley noted that "In all the pantheon of economic statistics, there is none so meaningless and misleading." He went on to write that we somehow "have trouble remembering that commerce takes place between consenting adults, that the bargain makes both sides richer in one way or the other. Instead, we tend to view trade as some kind of nationalistic competition." This misunderstanding which presumes that trade is war such that one side weakens the other is the driver of all manner of policy stupidity.

But as Bartley so expertly pointed out (thank goodness once again that he wasn't an economist), "In fact, international transactions are always in balance, by definition." Of course they are. We can only trade insofar as we produce something to trade with. We trade products for products, and our ability to demand that which we don't have is a function of our supplying what we do; that or borrowing from the production of others. All trade once again balances.

Back to trade ‘deficits,' Bartley revealed the absurdity of the calculation. As he wrote, "The export of an airliner is called trade. The export of a share of stock is called foreign investment." Why this is important has to do with his later point that "a rapidly growing economy will demand more of the world's supply of real resources and run a trade deficit." We are able to import a great deal in the U.S. precisely because we're able to export not just goods and services, but shares in our leading companies. With the exception of the Great Depression and other periods where bad policy has repelled foreign capital, we've always run a trade ‘deficit' precisely because the U.S. has been correctly seen by investors as the best locale in which to commit capital.

Of course to the economic and political commentariat, the eagerness of global investors to place their money in the U.S. is seen as a negative. Indeed, so debased is economic commentary today (just as it was then) that the investment inflows are decried as a negative signal for making us a ‘debtor nation.' Horrors! All that investment somehow weakens us. What's more horrific is that economics is generally a highly paid profession.

All of which brings us to worries about the budget deficit that reigned supreme then, and that still captivates far too many thinkers today. Bartley wrote that the "deficit is not a meaningless figure, only a grossly overrated one." Unfortunately, it being overrated means that this "great national myth" impacted policy then, just as it does today.

Rising deficits forced a giveback of some of Reagan's tax cuts, and then in modern times any tax cut is viewed in Washington through the prism of its impact on the deficit. Such an accounting abstraction did not cloud the minds of the grand thinkers at Michael 1. Internationalists all who understood per Mundell that "the only closed economy is the global economy," it was apparent to them that "it's not government borrowing that crowds out the private sector, but government spending."

Remember, a dollar is a dollar, and dollar credit is dollar credit. Dollar credit is everywhere (note this, Monetarists) in the world. Whether a government that tautologically lacks resources borrows or taxes the money it spends is economically of little consequence. Either way, limited capital is extracted from the more productive private sector and the investment driving the latter in favor of often wasteful government consumption. In that case, the only statistic that matters is how much government spends on an annual basis because the number is a clear signal of what the private sector is losing. Deficits are just finance, they're a waste of time, and any sentient being should understand that we'd be much better off economically if we had annual deficits of $500 billion per year out of $600 billion in annual spending, over balanced budgets of $3.5 trillion.

The above is important when we consider that much as it does today, Keynesian thinking dominated economic discussion in the ‘70s when Bartley et al led an intellectual revolt. To Keynesians there's no distinction between government and private sector investment. Ever worshipful of demand, they just want the money spent; hence their support of large government budgets.

Bartley obviously saw all of this in a different light. How the money is spent is crucial, and in response to the industrial policy types who felt then and do now that government should direct investment, Bartley wrote "Rank in order the most likely recipient of capital from an industrial planning bureaucracy:

(A) Steve Jobs's garage.
(B) IBM
(C) A company in the district of the most powerful congressman."

Hopefully readers get the point. Government, whether overseen by Republicans or Democrats, is by nature ‘conservative' in the non-ideological sense such that it very much resides in the ‘seen.' If government employees had a clue about what the future of commerce might be they certainly wouldn't be allocating capital from Washington. Instead, they would be making real money investing in the private sector. Government allocation of capital, though said to be stimulative, is logically the opposite. Government spending and investment means that the connected get credit over revolutionary thinkers like Jobs who got started in garages. With the above passage Bartley cleverly exploded the lie that is Keynesian government ‘stimulus.'

About the taxes that governments collect with an eye on redistributing the inflow, Bartley helpfully made plain throughout The Seven Fat Years that high rates of taxation make productive work more expensive. Taxes are a price, or better yet a penalty placed on productive work. To get more work, lower the price. It's that simple.

Looked at in terms of investment, he logically noted that the prospect of a capital gain "is the big jackpot that attracts entrepreneurial vigor." Along those lines he pointed out that "there were no high-tech startup companies founded in 1976, while more than 300 had been founded in 1968." No surprise there. Capital gains taxes were increased in the ‘70s until being reduced in 1978, and then as investors are buying future dollar income streams when they provide capital to entrepreneurs, high taxes on investment combined with dollar devaluation dried up investment altogether.

The economics profession almost to a man and woman elevates consumption above everything else, but there again the non-economist in Bartley revealed the absurdity of the thinking that informs this most worthless of professions. As he put it so well, "If you scraped up $100,000 and used it to buy a Rolls-Royce, you don't get taxed per luxury-driving mile. But if you use it to buy stock, providing the company with investment funds, and then you want to sell it to buy another stock, you only have paper to show for your $100,000, yet you still have to pay a tax." The capital gains tax is anti-company formation, and worse for a political class that worships at the altar of job creation, it's anti-job creation. To put it very simply, there are no companies and no jobs without investment first. We should abolish the capital gains tax.

It was said early on that The Seven Fat Years was quite the book in a visionary sense, and this should be stressed. Bartley wrote it in the early ‘90s when the economy was weak, but throughout had a very optimistic tone about the future. He wrote that "By 1990, a whole subculture was hooking itself together every night, posting messages, information, secrets and insults on tiny bulletin boards of silicon." I was in college at the time, but this in no way described my experience; the point being that a major informer of Bartley's optimism was an Internet future that most then didn't regard, and certainly didn't understand.

About banking, he spent a lot of time on the S&L debacle. He understood that the industry was regulated out of existence through caps on interest rates that could be offered, and then when near extinction, was allowed to swing for the fences; all while overseen by regulators totally and logically unequal to regulating that which they couldn't possibly understand. Bank regulators are the people who couldn't get jobs at banks. Naturally politicians played a role here too (remember the Keating Five?) in protecting errant S&Ls from regulators who were once again unequal to that which they were asked to do.

Where his visionary nature came into play with banking was in his assertion that "the essence of financial safety is diversification. And a financial system that outlaws diversification - breaking finance into a succession of narrow splinters - is a series of disasters waiting to happen." Bartley in a strong sense could see that the regulation of banks was their inevitable undoing; the latter taking place more recently. Bartley would have understood the problems within banks in 2008 very well for having seen what government was doing to them back in the ‘90s.

And to show how history always repeats itself, the response to the S&L crack-up was a great deal more regulation in the form of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) that economist Lawrence White referred to as "an Act of anger." FIRREA was the Dodd-Frank of its day that in Bartley's words "set out to ‘solve' the crisis of unprofitable thrifts by shrinking thrift profits, through higher insurance premiums, more indirect taxes, higher capital requirements, other increased regulation and a reduction in diversification authority."

Bartley seemed to sense that when we shackle any business with rules we reduce its profits, and with reduced profits, drive away the very talent that makes businesses more financially sound to begin with. Bartley correctly understood that the reforms of the early ‘90s were setting the stage for something much worse down the line, and he was proven very correct.

About the ratings agencies that were wrongly fingered for a financial ‘crisis' that was wholly a creation of government error, Bartley understood what too many did not in 2008. So many were quite eager to blame the drones toiling in agency cubicles for their flawed analysis of bonds that ‘tricked' the best investors in the world. What a laugh. As Bartley put it so well, "No one at Michael 1 would believe an individual bond rater could outguess the collective decisions of the market; if he could, he'd be rich and not have to work in such a stodgy place." So true, and his analysis is a reminder that we truly lost a great thinker when Bartley passed in 2003.

As a keen follower of the dollar, Bartley's brilliant book suggests that he would have foreseen our present economic problems early on. He would have known that spiking oil prices were a function of a cheap dollar that was going to author an economy-sapping rush into hard assets like housing least vulnerable to the devaluation. As a keen follower of finance, he would have known that the dollar's descent foretold major problems in a banking sector that was going to and did chase the money illusion into all manner of finance related to housing. And then having witnessed the wrongheaded re-regulation of the banks in the ‘90s, he likely would have written very presciently about how this was all going to work out.

Writing about the ‘70s toward the end of his book, Bartley observed that in that failed decade "the United States led the world to the brink of economic crisis without ever knowing it. It simply didn't understand what it was doing." Other than his tax cuts, President Bush in many ways mimicked the devaluationist, high spending, heavy regulating policies of Nixon and Carter, and a president who surely didn't know what he was doing similarly led the world into crisis once the results of his policies came to fruition.

It says here that Robert Bartley wrote one of the best economic books of all time in 1992.  For readers who want to understand why the ‘70s and ‘80s were so different economically, including the seven fat years from 1983-1990, they should read his book. Even better, for those who want to understand what happened in the 2000s on the way to an inevitable crack-up, they should also read Bartley's book. History rhymes, and Bartley told the story of the 2000s in 1992.

John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets and Forbes Opinions
3854  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct, Nelson Mandela, RIP on: December 06, 2013, 12:49:50 PM
I agree we need to look at the whole picture and that the whole picture includes some rather unsavory parts.  That said:

a) The system he fought as a terrorist was nasty and brutal-- I've read that parts of the American Revolution were as well;
b) He was in solitary confinement for 18 years (one visitor a year for 30 minutes, one letter every six months IIRC) and in prison for 27 years;
c) He not only came out of this a sane man, but a better man-- and as that better man, unaided by a the American Creed as MLKing  was, articulated a better path, a forgiving path where a vengeful path would have been so much easier-- and divorced his nasty wife Minnie
d) elected democratically, he stepped down after 5 years, apparently not noticeably richer than when he came into office.

He set his own cause back by favoring failed economic polices and aligning with the wrong side, Soviet Union, Arafat etc.  Still, as well-noted above, he was one hell of an important historic figure.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303497804579240591294656698?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop
The bulk of his adult life, Nelson Mandela was a failed Marxist revolutionary and leftist icon, the Che Guevara of Africa. Then in his seventies he had the chance to govern. He chose national reconciliation over reprisal, and he thus made himself an historic and all too rare example of a wise revolutionary leader.
3855  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Truth about pre Obamcare, and Rep alternatives IMPORTANT POST on: December 06, 2013, 12:36:40 PM
Doug wrote:

BEGIN

Not mentioned often anywhere are some of the underlying facts:

1) The poor already had unlimited free healthcare in America.  This never was about helping the poorest among us.
2) The old already had coverage.
3) This was mostly to 'help' who didn't want help.
4) The problems with the old system mostly had to do with government already screwing up the market.  Healthcare wasn't a free market before Obamacare.
5) At the time of its passage, Republicans had the popular part in their own alternative - a plan to cover people with pre-existing conditions.  

END

This is important and needs to be fleshed out.  

1) Exactly how did the poor already have unlimited coverage?
2) "           "      "   "    old     "        "         "             "     ?
3) I would restate this as "this was to tax those who didn't really need much insurance".
4) Of course!  But we need to have specifics e.g. the fragmentation of the national market into 50 markets, exactly what are the limitations on HSAs-- and the benefits, etc
5) Yes, but we need citations of some sort.

Getting back to you with some citations on the above...

1) The poor already had unlimited free healthcare in America.  This never was about helping the poorest among us.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicaid
Medicaid
In 1966 welfare recipients of all ages received medical care through the Medicaid program. Medicaid was created on July 30, 1965 under Title XIX of the Social Security Act of 1965.
Health care in the United States, Government Health Programs
    Federal Employees Health Benefits Program
    Indian Health Service
    Veterans Health Administration
    Military Health System / TRICARE
    Medicare
    Medicaid / State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)
    State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)  ('Children's healthcare isn't just for children anymore!)  The program was designed to cover
        uninsured children in families with incomes that are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid.
One public hospital here alone spends half a billion a year on unreimbursed medical expenses, 3 million on translators, 100 million on 'foreign born' patients, etc. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/health/29immig.html  
(No one is alleging the poor didn't already receive free health care in America.)

2) The old already had coverage.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicare_%28United_States%29
Medicare
The Social Security Act of 1965 authorized Medicare and provided federal funding for many of the medical costs of older Americans.[19] The legislation overcame the bitter resistance, particularly from the American Medical Association, to the idea of publicly funded health care or "socialized medicine" by making its benefits available to everyone over sixty-five, regardless of need, and by linking payments to the existing private insurance system.
[Obamacare was not aimed at the aging; they already have a program.]

3) This was mostly to 'help' those who didn't want help.
"this was to tax those who didn't really need much insurance"
Nothing says personal accountability like a government mandate.
Identify people who don't want to pay their fair share and make illegal to pay only their share.

4) "The problems with the old system mostly had to do with government already screwing up the market.  Healthcare wasn't a free market before Obamacare."
http://www.coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/pressreleases?ContentRecord_id=5a785b7a-802a-23ad-4816-2aa18d62c3e4&ContentType_id=eb0b88e8-9875-4b39-be9b-3d886daf4835&abb8889a-5962-4adb-abe8-617da340ab8e&63a582cd-9897-45a0-be42-17095ad322e2&efd17605-54a8-44be-90b1-f3794c91987a&d741b7a7-7863-4223-9904-8cb9378aa03a&Group_id=c82e4d0c-906d-4071-bfdf-15e23b7100a3
Dec 04 2009:  New CRS Report Shows Government Already Controls 60 percent of Health Care in the U.S.

5) "At the time of its passage, Republicans had the popular part in their own alternative - a plan to cover people with pre-existing conditions."  
Citations:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/aroy/2011/09/28/paul-ryan-in-a-major-speech-proposes-universal-health-coverage-via-tax-credits/
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/03/12/174126064/ryan-budget-proposal-echoes-obamacare-while-rejecting-it
The Ryan[plan] ...  would have to "offer guaranteed issue and community rating" and that "insurers would be unable to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions."
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/355963/tom-prices-plan-replace-obamacare-andrew-stiles
http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/stories/2009/november/03/republican-health-bill.aspx
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/health/policy/04health.html?_r=0
Eric Cantor of Virginia, said high-risk pools and reinsurance programs would “guarantee that all Americans, regardless of pre-existing conditions or past illnesses, have access to affordable care.”

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/republicans-have-offered-three-alternative-health-care-reform-bills
Republicans Have Offered Three Alternative Health Care Reform Bills
August 21, 2009
The “Patients Choice Act” has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, which is set to release a Democratic-crafted bill from that committee when Congress returns after Labor Day.  In June, DeMint, chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, introduced the “Health Care Freedom Plan,” which was analyzed by the Heritage Foundation. The conservative policy think tank said DeMint’s bill could reduce the number of uninsured by 22.4 million people in five years.  It also provides grants to help people with pre-existing conditions gain access to affordable insurance, and allows Americans to purchase health savings accounts to pay for insurance.
---------------------------------

"The result of Obamacare so far is that we are seeing one new enrollee for every 50 who are losing their plan!"
http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/11/13/ObamaCare-cancellation-to-enrollee-ration-50-to-1
ObamaCare Cancellation to Enrollee Ratio: 50 to 1
Though the number is estimated to eventually hit as high as 10 to 15 million, right now the number of insurance policies canceled due to ObamaCare is 5 million. Wednesday, the Obama administration claimed that 106,185 Americans enrolled in ObamaCare. Except, according to the White House, those are not actual enrollments. Some have not paid for but have only only "selected a marketplace plan." Orwellian nonsense aside, that is still somewhere around a 50-to-1 ratio of cancellations to enrollees.

"Democrats are now upside down in 13 states with contested Senate races in less than a year. "
2014 is one 6 year senate term (Al Franken, et al) since Barack Obama's Hyde Park speech ("We are the ones we've been waiting for", "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal") and the exciting Dem sweep of 2008.  
http://www.electionprojection.com/blog/archives/nov13/2014-senate-elections-preview-110613.php
Of the 14 Republican seats up next year, just one, Susan Collins' seat in Maine, will be held in a state won by President Obama.  The other 13 are in states Mitt Romney won by at least 5 points, and nine of those are in states he won by 15 points or more.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/democrats-fear-obamacare-will-cost-them-the-senate-20131126
Landrieu's approval rating is now underwater; she tallied only 41 percent of the vote against her GOP opposition. In Arkansas, where advertising on the health care law began early, Sen. Mark Pryor's approval sank to 33 percent, a drop of 18 points since last year. A new Quinnipiac survey showed Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, who looked like a lock for reelection last month, in a dead heat against little-known GOP opponents. Even a Democratic automated poll from Public Policy Polling showed Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina running neck-and-neck against Republican opposition, with her job disapproval spiking over the last two months. These are the types of numbers that wave elections are made of.

Republicans need a pick up of 6.  Democrats are defending seats in 7 states won by Romney,
http://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/republican-gop-targets-blue-states-democrats-senate-2014-elections-100458_Page2.html

The median Dem dropoff from 2012 to 2013 elections was roughly 5 points (and it is getting worse).  Democrats must defend 13 Senate seats that Obama carried by 55% or less.  http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/12/04/democrats_2013_drop-off_problem.html#ixzz2midNyTOt

Nothing says repeal and replace like voting the perps out.
3856  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: December 06, 2013, 10:46:20 AM
I know Doug looked outside his Minneapolis window and cursed the big oils for all that snow.  grin
We had a lot of rabbits in the area this year.  The wild turkeys were not seen. 
I cursed the carbon producing scum all season.  It is their fault.
Thank God we are going to get a carbon tax.  I really don't mind paying higher prices to compensate oil companies who will be forced to pay this tax.
Nothing grander than financing the Democrat Party.  One third of my life or more already is devoted to their existence.

Yes, 42" of new snow in Two Harbors (by Duluth) with "highs" forecasted below zero.  No one needs to dream of a white Christmas here.  Most cruel is to keep hearing about global warming during this 17 year pause.  Are they nuts?  OTOH, it is a beautiful sunny day in the land of abrupt season changes!  Seems like only 2 days ago we were raking leaves.  Live cam out my frosty living room window this morning:

Snow totals: http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/285242/
3857  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Peggy Noonan: Low Information Leadership on: December 04, 2013, 01:07:10 PM
http://blogs.wsj.com/peggynoonan/2013/12/03/low-information-leadership/

"...the Obama White House isn’t organized. It’s just full of chatter. Meetings don’t begin on time, there’s no agenda, the list of those invited seems to expand and contract at somebody’s whim. There is a tendency to speak of how a problem will look and how its appearance should be handled, as opposed to what the problem is and should be done about it. "
...
"...when you apply this to the ObamaCare debacle, suddenly it seems to make sense. The White House is so unformed and chaotic that they probably didn’t ignore the problem, they probably held a million meetings on it. People probably said things like, “We’re experiencing some technological challenges but we’re sure we’ll be up by October,” and other people said, “Yes, it’s important we launch strong,” and others said, “The Republicans will have a field day if we’re not.” And then everyone went to their next meeting. And no one did anything. And the president went off and made speeches."
...
"If they thought he wasn’t very bright, they might give him some leeway on that question. [Lying, not knowing etc.] But they think he’s really smart.  So they think he knew.  And deliberately misled."
3858  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Blaze has more visitors than healthcare.gov on: December 04, 2013, 12:32:47 PM
After the Obama administration bragged of the traffic the new and improved website is handling, Glenn Beck pointed out that The Blaze has more visitors in that period of time than healthcare.gov.
3859  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care, Eliana Johnson: In the Trenches With the ObamaCare Army on: December 04, 2013, 12:30:04 PM
Eliana Johnson: In the Trenches With the ObamaCare Army
One group of navigators planned to sign up 5,800 people by March. So far: zero.

From the article:  "We have yet to see an application from start to finish," he says.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304439804579208103598316522?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

A good piece of journalism, I believe this is young Eliana's first time making the WSJ opinion page.
3860  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: IRS Flagged Groups for Anti-Obama Rhetoric, ABC, CBS, NBC slient on: December 04, 2013, 12:24:41 PM
Does anyone have an update to this story, of when the MSM, ouside of a WSJ opinion piece, has properly covered this bombshell?

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304213904579093491966449908?mod=WSJ_Opinion_RIGHTBelowPepperandSalt

IRS Documents Reveal Agency Flagged Groups for 'Anti-Obama Rhetoric,' Big Three Refuse to Report

ABC, CBS and NBC have so far refused to report the latest bombshell in the IRS scandal - a newly released list from the agency that showed it flagged political groups for "anti-Obama rhetoric." On September 18 USA Today, in a front page story, reported the following: "Newly uncovered IRS documents show the agency flagged political groups based on the content of their literature, raising concerns specifically about 'anti-Obama rhetoric,' inflammatory language and 'emotional' statements made by non-profits seeking tax-exempt status."

Not only have ABC, CBS and NBC not reported this story they've flat out stopped covering the IRS scandal on their evening and morning shows. It's been 85 days since ABC last touched the story on June 26. NBC hasn't done a report for 84 days and CBS last mentioned the IRS scandal 56 days ago on July 24.
----------------------------

I tried searching NY Times - nothing.
3861  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Wesbury: You guys are still wrong on: December 04, 2013, 12:09:42 PM
At this Plowhorse growth rate, we will grow out of this economic funk, ... um ... never.

"New home construction is up 20.8% from last year."  Stated differently:  Except for the other Obama years, this year was the worst year since data has been kept in the US.  We had more new home construction during the Jimmy Carter years at 22% interest rates than we do now.
http://www.census.gov/construction/pdf/bpann.pdf

Wesbury  9-5-2013:  "What we have here is a Plow Horse Economy that looks like it may be starting to trot."
Wesbury 12-2-2013:  "The Plow Horse Economy continues to move forward."  (not 'starting to trot'?)

Plowhorses don't trot; they just pull heavy loads until they die.  A pretty good analogy, come to think of it.
3862  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 04, 2013, 10:54:06 AM
I share your frustration.  Still it is important to lay the blame for Obamacare on those who support it, not those who oppose it.

Ben Carson had it right.  If Obama is going to continue to sell it, Republicans especially in the Senate should be calling for a new authorization vote to see how that sale is going.

What is wrong with Obamacare was not a bogged down website, it is the whole concept from start to finish, mostly the fact that we are handing our individual liberties, choices and privacy over to the government never to get them back.

The problems before Obamacare were two-fold:  Not enough people insured and healthcare costs were going up too fast.  Too many young people who could afford it were uninsured because they thought it was a lousy value; they would be paying for other people's problems and for a lot of coverage they didn't think they needed.

Enter Obamacare.  It makes all of that much worse in price and desirability but adds a government mandate, enforced by the IRS, that is just about to go into effect - or be delayed like everything else.

Not mentioned often anywhere are some of the underlying facts:

1) The poor already had unlimited free healthcare in America.  This never was about helping the poorest among us.
2) The old already had coverage.
3) This was mostly to 'help' who didn't want help.
4) The problems with the old system mostly had to do with government already screwing up the market.  Healthcare wasn't a free market before Obamacare.
5) At the time of its passage, Republicans had the popular part in their own alternative - a plan to cover people with pre-existing conditions.  

The result of Obamacare so far is that we are seeing one new enrollee for every 50 who are losing their plan!

Republicans disagree on tactics for ending the failed program, and the clock is ticking.  As ccp suggest, a number of people and groups are going to come to rely on it making repeal harder later.

Democrats are now upside down in 13 states with contested Senate races in less than a year.  

Obamacare needs to be repealed by the people left who passed it - Democrats.  Where is their plan?

If we merely legalize free choice in a free country, the government plans can compete on a level playing field.

With Obamacare in place we get this, the central planners method of allocating scarce resources, replacing individual choice:


Please read the details that explain the chart at this pdf!
http://www.jec.senate.gov/republicans/public/?a=Files.Serve&File_id=96b779aa-6d2e-4c41-a719-24e865cacf66
3863  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: December 03, 2013, 09:05:51 AM
The Catholic Church has a long history of such corporatist (fascist) thinking.

This is sad to me.  I am only a non-member who sometime attends but a good part of my family is Catholic.  I understand that people had failed views of economics centuries ago, but we have quite a bit of new data since then.  Economic Freedom and capitalism have lifted billions(?) of people up out of poverty.  Big Government, and even charity, has lifted up virtually none.
3864  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics - Pope Francis expresses economic views on: December 02, 2013, 02:27:42 PM
People who dismiss the importance of the pontiff and his views on other matters such as gay rights, abortion and birth control are suddenly quite exuberant to hear Pope Francis disparage "trickle-down theories".   (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium_en.pdf)  Before I can really comment, I will need to read what is written in its entirety  sad  and learn if there is a question about context and meaning coming through the media reports, such as this one:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/pope-francis-denounces-trickle-down-economic-theories-in-critique-of-inequality/2013/11/26/e17ffe4e-56b6-11e3-8304-caf30787c0a9_story.html
Pope Francis denounces ‘trickle-down’ economic theories in critique of inequality

Kevin Williamson at National Review wrote: 

"... But there is no reason for Pope Francis to take that view [all power relationships as zero-sum: If somebody else gets a little more power, he has a little less]. If ever the Church’s economic thinkers get over their 19th-century model of the relationship between state and market, they might appreciate that spontaneous orders and distributed economic forces could produce some truly radical outcomes in a world in which a billion or more people shared a vision of justice and mercy. The pope’s job in part is to supply that vision; unhappily, the default Catholic position seems to be delegating economic justice to the state, under the mistaken theory that its ministers are somehow less selfish than are the men who build and create and trade for a living rather than expropriate. Strange that a man who labored under the shadow of Perón has not come to that conclusion on his own."


The Pope is quite right (IMHO) to criticize the worship of money and materialism:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thou_shalt_have_no_other_gods_before_me.

He is out of his realm to think that a lifetime of studying poverty (the lack of wealth creation) leads to very much insight into the creation of wealth, which is the pathway out of poverty.

Most offensive to me is the (media) implication that he supports government programs that emphasize collective taking, not individual giving.

Ed Morrisey of Hot Air took the time to read Evangelii Gaudium and says that this is not a new turn toward socialism or communism.  http://hotair.com/archives/2013/12/02/pope-francis-and-the-media-missing-the-forest-for-a-couple-of-trees/
3865  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Mark Steyn: Ice Everywhere, But No Hockey Sticks on: December 02, 2013, 01:49:41 PM
Ice Everywhere, But No Hockey Sticks    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/365220/ice-everywhere-no-hockey-sticks-mark-steyn
By Mark Steyn    December 2, 2013 
News from Santa’s Grotto:  (http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2013/12/arctic_ice_cap_grows_29_in_one_year.html)

    Global warming hysterics at the BBC warned us in 2007 that by summer 2013, the Arctic would be ice-free. As with so many other doomsday predictions by warmists, the results turn out to be quite the opposite.

Meanwhile, down the other end at Santa’s summer vacation condo:  (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2013/09/23/antarctic-sea-ice-hit-35-year-record-high-saturday/)

    Antarctic sea ice has grown to a record large extent for a second straight year, baffling scientists seeking to understand why this ice is expanding rather than shrinking in a warming world.

Antarctic ice is now at a 35-year high. But scientists are “baffled” by the planet’s stubborn refusal to submit to their climate models. Maybe the problem with Nobel fantasist Michael Mann’s increasingly discredited hockey stick is that he’s holding it upside down.  (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/359731/times-climbs-hockey-stick-mark-steyn)

Nonetheless, the famously settled science seems to be re-settling:  (http://usfinancepost.com/scientists-increasingly-moving-to-global-cooling-consensus-9198.html)

    Scientists Increasingly Moving To Global Cooling Consensus

Global warming will kill us. Global cooling will kill us. And if it’s 54 and partly cloudy, you should probably flee for your life right now. Maybe scientists might usefully consider moving to being less hung up on “consensus” – a most unscientific and, in this context, profoundly corrupting concept.
3866  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential - Scott Walker continued on: December 02, 2013, 01:43:10 PM
I haven't seen him speak very much.  I assume he has governing competence but not much charisma.  This is his 'Face the Nation' appearance yesterday.  I think he is quite steady, decisive and articulate.  Definitely a serious candidate to contend with if he wins reelection and enters the Presidential race, IMHO.
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/12/01/scott_walker_republicans_need_an_optimistic_message_for_2014.html

Coincidentally, George Will on Scott Walker:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/george-will-scott-walker-wisconsins-action-governor/2013/11/29/6057663c-577d-11e3-8304-caf30787c0a9_story.html

Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s action governor

By George F. Will, Published: November 29 2013
MILWAUKEE

In 2011, thousands of government employees and others, enraged by Gov. Scott Walker’s determination to break the ruinously expensive and paralyzing grip that government workers’ unions had on Wisconsin, took over the capitol building in Madison. With chanting, screaming and singing supplemented by bullhorns, bagpipes and drum circles, their cacophony shook the building that the squalor of their occupation made malodorous. They spat on Republican legislators and urinated on Walker’s office door. They shouted, “This is what democracy looks like!”

When they and Democratic legislators failed to prevent passage of Act 10, they tried to defeat — with a scurrilous smear campaign that backfired — an elected state Supreme Court justice. They hoped that changing the court’s composition would get Walker’s reforms overturned. When this failed, they tried to capture the state Senate by recalling six Republican senators. When this failed, they tried to recall Walker. On the night that failed — he won with a larger margin than he had received when elected 19 months earlier — he resisted the temptation to proclaim, “This is what democracy looks like!”

Walker recounts these events in “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge” (co-authored by Post columnist Marc Thiessen). Most books by incumbent politicians are not worth the paper they never should have been written on. If, however, enough voters read Walker’s nonfiction thriller, it will make him a — perhaps the — leading candidate for his party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

Act 10 required government workers to contribute 5.8 percent of their salaries to their pensions (hitherto, most paid nothing) and to pay 12.6 percent of their health-care premiums (up from 6 percent but still just half of what the average federal worker pays). Both percentages are well below the private-sector average. By limiting collective bargaining to base wages, Act 10 freed school districts to hire and fire teachers based on merit, and to save many millions of dollars by buying teachers’ health insurance in the competitive market rather than from an entity run by the teachers’ union. Restricting collective bargaining to wages ended the sort of absurd rules for overtime compensation that made a bus driver Madison’s highest paid public employee.

Act 10’s dynamite, however, was the provision ending the state’s compulsory collection of union dues — sometimes as high as $1,400 per year — that fund union contributions to Democrats. Barack Obama and his national labor allies made Wisconsin a battleground because they knew that when Indiana made paying union dues optional, 90 percent of state employees quit paying, and similar measures produced similar results in Washington, Colorado and Utah.

Walker has long experience in the furnace of resistance to the looting of public funds by the public’s employees. He was elected chief executive of heavily Democratic Milwaukee County after his predecessor collaborated with other officials in rewriting pension rules in a way that, if he had been reelected instead of resigning, would have given him a lump-sum payment of $2.3 million and $136,000 a year for life.

To fight the recall — during which opponents disrupted Walker’s appearance at a Special Olympics event and squeezed Super Glue into the locks of a school he was to visit — Walker raised more than $30 million, assembling a nationwide network of conservative donors that could come in handy if he is reelected next year. Having become the first U.S. governor to survive a recall election, he is today serene as America’s first governor to be, in effect, elected twice to a first term. When he seeks a second term, his opponent will probably be a wealthy rival who says her only promise is to not make promises. This is her attempt to cope with an awkward fact: She will either infuriate her party’s liberal base or alarm a majority of voters by promising either to preserve or repeal Act 10.

Walker is politely scathing — a neat trick — of Mitt Romney’s campaign, especially of Romney’s statement that “I’m not concerned about the very poor” because “we have a very ample safety net.” The imperative, Walker says, is to “help them escape the safety net.”

“Outside the Washington beltway,” he says pointedly, “big-government liberals are on the ropes.” No incumbent Republican governor has lost a general election since 2007. Since 2008, the number of Republican governors has increased from 21 to 30, just four short of the party’s all-time high reached in the 1920s. He thinks Republican governors are in tune with the nation. If reelected, he probably will test that theory.
3867  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: marijuana gossip on: December 02, 2013, 01:33:07 PM
The Motley Fool
 5 Jaw-Dropping Facts About Legal Marijuana

I have favored 'de-criminalization' over legalization, a subtle but important difference.

"On #1   Best selling drug?  Who would grow it and sell it?"  Anyone with a profit motive.

"On #2  Kind of sad that the driving force for legalization is tax revenue. "  Agree

"On #3 I didn't know the government was sponsoring studies on use of marijuana for glaucoma.  It can lower intra-orbital pressures but my understanding is the affects were too erratic and there are so many better drugs that the use for this is dubious."   I believe they can measure and control dosage much better now. (And it's going up at an alarming rate!)

"Hashish IS NOT addictive, it's basically the resin from the marijuana flower and is nothing more than a more potent delivery device for THC."  Addictive and habit-forming are synonyms.

"5 other jaw breaking facts about marijuana.
1. It has 424 compounds that turns into over 2000 when lit.
2. Those 2000 compounds release numerous poisons including hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide."

They now vaporize - heat only to the temp that releases the drug - and not light it.  Releases fewer toxins.

"kids under 21 should not get access and should be treated like booze and advertising should be the same as tobacco when it comes to kids." Agree, but good luck with that when it is available everywhere.  See my first point, decriminalize it, not endorse it.
3868  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US-China: A Military Strategy to Deter China on: December 02, 2013, 01:12:23 PM
BD's post of a Russia-Japan alliance is quite interesting.  I'm sure it is too provocative for the US administration to talk publicly about a military conflict with China, but I would hope we have a plan in place.  This seems like a thoughtful piece on the subject.

A Military Strategy to Deter China    By T.X. Hammes
http://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2013/12/01/a_military_strategy_to_deter_china_106987.html

China’s announcement of an Air Defense Identification Zone last weekend made Seth Cropsey’s commentary “America Has No Military Strategy for China” extremely timely.  He is absolutely correct on two key statements.  First, an escalation between China and Japan would be disastrous and, even more importantly, the United States has no strategy for a conflict with China.  Secretary Cropsey notes that the AirSea Battle concept is the “sole U.S. preparation” but that it is not a strategy.

While no set of actions can guarantee continued peace between China and the United States, carefully considered national and military strategies will reduce the probability of a conflict.  The United States National Strategy makes that an explicit goal.  In his November 2011 address to the Australian Parliament, President Barack Obama stated U.S. National Strategy would:

“continue our effort to build a cooperative relationship with China.  … all of our nations have a profound interest in the rise of a peaceful and prosperous China.”

This year, Tom Donilon, the National Security Advisor, clarified and reinforced the Administration’s determination to continue its rebalance to Asia.

“To pursue this vision, the United States is implementing a comprehensive, multidimensional strategy: strengthening alliances; deepening partnerships with emerging powers; building a stable, productive, and constructive relationship with China; empowering regional institutions; and helping to build a regional economic architecture that can sustain shared prosperity.”

Thus, the United States has a clearly articulated national strategy to encourage peaceful growth in the region. Unfortunately, as Cropsey noted, the United States has failed to express a coherent military strategy to support its national strategy.

Deepening the confusion concerning U.S. military strategy is the tendency of many observers to assume that CSBA’s paper, AirSea Battle: A Point-of-Departure Operational Concept, expressed the U.S. military strategy for a conflict with China.  The paper postulated that in the “unthinkable” case of a war with China, U.S. efforts would include a “executing a blinding campaign against PLA battle networks, executing a suppression campaign against PLA long-range, principally strike systems, seizing and sustaining the initiative in air, sea, space and cyber domains.” This paper stated it was not proposing a strategy but only a concept for overcoming China’s area denial/anti-access capabilities.

Perhaps the biggest weakness of the ASB concept is that it scares our allies without deterring China.  Since most ASB technology is top secret, U.S. officials are unable to discuss it with our allies.  As a result, many allies assume the United States will follow the plan described in CSBA’s paper and initiate immediate, extensive attacks on Chinese territory. Our allies are obviously concerned that China will see such attacks as emanating from allied territory and respond in kind.  In short, U.S. allies are being asked to offer bases without any knowledge of what actions the U.S. intends to take from those bases.  Not a great way to reassure allies. Unfortunately because this operational approach relies heavily on cyber and space capabilities, it creates the unintended consequence of raising the value of a first strike.  Thus it is escalatory.  In a crisis, both militaries will know that the one that strikes first will achieve significant tactical and operational advantages.

ASB also fails to deter China.  Because it is apparently dependent upon space and cyber systems, China may well feel it can degrade those systems enough to defeat the operational approach.  Further, China may well believe the United States cannot afford ASB or at very least will not field the capabilities for a decade or more.  A military strategy that offers a relative inexpensive defeat mechanism or a window of vulnerability has little deterrent value.

To eliminate the confusion and reassure other nations, the United States needs to go beyond simply declaring that ASB is not a strategy.  It must clearly state U.S. military strategy for a possible conflict with China.

What Should a Military Strategy Do?

The first and most important function of a military strategy is to support the national strategy.  Therefore, any military strategy must encourage or, at very least, not discourage the continued growth and integration of China’s economy with that of the global economy.  A U.S. military strategy for Asia must achieve five objectives:

1. Deter China from military action to resolve disputes while encouraging its continued economic growth;

2. Assure Asian nations that the United States is both willing to and capable of remaining engaged in Asia;

3. Ensure access for U.S. forces and allied commercial interests to the global commons;

4. Achieve victory with minimal risk of nuclear escalation in the event of conflict; and

5. Be visibly credible today.

Ideally, a military strategy would also provide guidance for matching limited defense resources to appropriate force structures and equipment buys. Given the fact that China has a thermonuclear arsenal, a military strategy must emphasize deterrence and, if that fails, should escalate in a deliberate, transparent way.

Outline for a Strategy

Professor Eliot Cohen proposes that a strategy should include critical assumptions, ends-ways-means coherence, priorities, sequencing, and a theory of victory. Without listing, examining and challenging assumptions, it is not possible to understand a strategy. With assumptions identified, coherence in ends-ways-means becomes possible. These elements should not be treated separately.  If goals are selected that exceed available means, one does not have a strategy.  Priorities are required because a nation will not have the resources to do everything at once.  Sequencing flows from priorities.  Finally, a strategy must have a theory of victory – an answer to the question “how does this end?” It must express how the strategy achieves war termination on favorable terms.

A Proposed Military Strategy

I propose a military strategy I am calling Offshore Control: Defense of the First Island Chain that takes advantage of geography to block China’s exports and thus severely weaken its economy. 

Assumptions

I have listed five key assumptions below.

1. China starts the conflict.  Assuming China initiates the conflict presents the most difficult military situation for the United States.

2. There is a high probability that a conflict with China will be a long war.  For the last 200 years, wars between major powers have generally run for years rather than months.  Further, the United States would find a protracted conflict most challenging.

3. Any major conflict between the United States and China will result in massive damage to the global economy.  The integrated global economy means that, like WWI, the opening of the conflict will cause major economic contraction.

4. The United States does not understand China’s nuclear decision process.  Therefore, it is critically important that the U.S. strategic approach minimize escalation.  If escalation is required, deliberate and transparent escalation is better than a sudden surprise that could be misinterpreted.  This approach certainly violates the generally accepted precept that escalation in war be violent and sudden to achieve maximum effect.  However, that maxim was developed before the advent of offsetting nuclear arsenals.

5. In space or cyber domains, a first strike provides major advantages.  Thus any operational approach that requires the robust use of space and cyber capabilities is inherently destabilizing in a crisis.

Ends, Ways, and Means Coherence

The combination of decreasing defense budgets and rapid increases in procurement costs for new weapons suggests a strategy for conflict with China should assume limited means, at least to start.  In addition to limited means, the United States must accept that China’s nuclear arsenal imposes restrictions on the way American forces may attack Chinese assets.  The United States must select ways that minimize the probability of escalation to nuclear conflict simply because no one can win in a major nuclear exchange. With limited means and restricted ways, the ends selected therefore also should be modest.   They must attain U.S. strategic goals but not risk a major nuclear exchange.

This logic leads to the concept of Offshore Control.  Operationally, Offshore Control uses currently available but limited means and restricted ways to enforce a distant blockade on China.  It establishes a set of concentric rings that denies China the use of the sea inside the first island chain, defends the sea and air space of the first island chain, and dominates the air and maritime space outside the island chain.  No operations will penetrate Chinese airspace.  Prohibiting penetration is intended to reduce the possibility of nuclear escalation and make war termination easier.

The denial element of the campaign plays to U.S. strengths by employing primarily attack submarines, mines, and a limited number of air assets inside the first island chain.  This area will be declared a maritime exclusion zone with the warning that ships in the zone will be sunk.  While the United States cannot initially stop all sea traffic in this zone, it can prevent the passage of large cargo ships and tankers.  In doing so, it cripples China’s export trade, which is central to China’s economy.



The defensive component will bring the full range of U.S. assets to defend allied soil and encourage allies to contribute to that defense.  It takes advantage of geography to force China to fight at longer ranges while allowing U.S. and allied forces to fight as part of an integrated air-sea defense over their own territories. In short, it flips A2/AD to favor allies rather than China.  Numerous small islands from Japan to Taiwan and on to Luzon provide dispersed land basing options for air and sea defense of the apparent gaps in the first island chain. Since Offshore Control will rely heavily on land-based air defense and short-range sea defense to include mine and counter-mine capability, we can encourage potential partners to invest in these capabilities and exercise together regularly in peacetime. 

In keeping with the concept that the strategy must be feasible in peacetime, the United States will not request any nation to allow the use of their bases to attack China.   The strategy will only ask a nation to allow the presence of U.S. defensive systems to defend that nation’s air, sea, and land space.   The U.S. commitment will include assisting with convoy operations to maintain the flow of essential imports and exports in the face of Chinese interdiction attempts.

The dominate phase of the campaign will be fought outside the range of most Chinese assets and will use a combination of air, naval, ground and rented commercial platforms to intercept and divert the super tankers and post-Panamax container ships essential to China’s economy.   Eighty percent of China’s imported oil transits the Straits of Malacca.  If Malacca, Lombok, Sunda and the routes north and south of Australia are controlled, these shipments can be cut off.  This reduction in energy supply will have a negative effect on China’s economy.

However, the United States must recognize that the dramatic reduction in China’s trade will significantly reduce its energy demands.  Thus, energy interdiction is not a winning strategy.  Exports are of much greater importance to the Chinese economy.  Those exports rely on large container ships for competitive cost advantage.  These ships also are the easiest to track and divert. Naturally, China will respond by rerouting, but the only possibilities are the Panama Canal and the Straits of Magellan – or, if polar ice melt continues, the northern route.  U.S. assets can control all these routes. While such a concentric campaign will require a layered effort from the straits to China’s coast, it will mostly be fought at a great distance from China—effectively out of range of most of China’s military power.

Ends

That leads us to modest ends.  Offshore Control is predicated on the idea that the presence of nuclear weapons makes seeking the collapse of the Chinese Communist Party or its surrender too dangerous to contemplate.  The United States does not understand the Communist Party decision process for the employment of nuclear weapons but it does know the Party is adamant it must remain in control of China.  Thus, rather than seeking a decisive victory against the Chinese Communist Party, Offshore Control seeks to use a war of economic attrition to bring about a stalemate and cessation of conflict with a return to a modified version of the status quo.

Theory of Victory

Offshore Control seeks termination of the conflict on U.S. terms through China’s economic exhaustion without damage to mainland China’s infrastructure or the rapid escalation of the conflict.  It seeks to allow the Chinese Communist Party to end the conflict in the same way China ended its conflicts with India, the United Nations in Korea, the Soviet Union, and Vietnam.  It allows China to declare it “taught the enemy a lesson” and thus end the conflict. Offshore Control does not seek decisive victory in the traditional military sense but secures U.S. objectives effectively.  It recognizes the fact that the concept of decisive victory against a nation with a major nuclear arsenal is fraught with risks if not entirely obsolete.

Conclusion

President Obama has presented a U.S. national strategy that sets goals and the diplomatic, economic and political paths necessary to achieve them.  While one can argue about how effectively they are being executed, the diplomatic, economic, and political paths have been defined.  However, the United States has failed to articulate a coherent military strategy to support its national strategy.  It is time to correct that deficiency.  Offshore Control: Defense of the First Island Chain is a starting point for a discussion with our allies and friends in the region.  It seeks to provide the military component of the U.S. national strategy in Asia.

The major goal of Offshore Control is to deter China by presenting it with a military strategy that cannot be defeated. This directly addresses one of the most worrying aspects of the current situation in Asia.  Like the Germans before WWI, the Chinese may believe they can win a short war.  In particular, they may believe their growing capabilities in space and cyber might neutralize U.S. power in the region.  By showing that Offshore Control can be executed with today’s force even with dramatically reduced access to space and cyber, the United States and its allies can dispel the notion of a short war.  The only way China can defeat such a strategy is to invest hundreds of billions of dollars over a decade or more to create a global sea control navy.  And even that will not be a guarantee it wins such a conflict.

T. X. Hammes served 30 years in the Marine Corps and is now a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at the National Defense University (NDU).
3869  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Life and Death: Typhoon Haiyan: How a Catastrophe Unfolded, Philippines on: December 01, 2013, 09:59:35 AM
This WSJ piece begins to tell the story of the massive storm last month:
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304465604579217671422015220?mod=trending_now_3


 
3870  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mark Steyn, always funny, Dissent is the Highest Form of Tax Bracket on: December 01, 2013, 09:43:40 AM
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/365151/dissent-highest-form-tax-bracket-mark-steyn

In Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger, the eponymous Auric Goldfinger observes:

    Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times, it’s enemy action.

That may be overly generous.

A couple of weeks back, cancer patient Bill Elliot, in a defiant appearance on Fox News, discussed the cancelation of his insurance and what he intended to do about it. He’s now being audited.

Insurance agent C Steven Tucker, who quaintly insists that the whimsies of the hyper-regulatory bureaucracy do not trump your legal rights, saw the interview and reached out to Mr Elliot to help him. And he’s now being audited.

As the Instapundit likes to remind us, Barack Obama has “joked” publicly about siccing the IRS on his enemies. With all this coincidence about, we should be grateful the President is not (yet) doing prison-rape gags.

Meanwhile, IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, in his testimony to the House Oversight Committee over the agency’s systemic corruption, answers “I don’t recall” no fewer than 80 times. Try giving that answer to Wilkins’ colleagues and see where it gets you. Few persons are fond of their tax collectors, but, from my experience, America is the only developed nation in which the mass of the population is fearful of its revenue agency. This is unbecoming to a supposedly free people.
3871  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Trade Issues / Freedom to Trade on: December 01, 2013, 09:41:30 AM
This anti-NAFTA article, 'not necessarily the view of mises.org', makes a couple of valid points:
"genuine free trade doesn’t require a treaty"
"The worst aspects of Nafta are the Clintonian side agreements"

At the time, I was in the international trade business and believed that a true, free trade agreement could be written on the back of a cocktail napkin, not in a 2000 page document.  It is the rest of the Obamacare-like details of NAFTA that were harmful, not the free trade aspect.

On the other hand, the real alternative to free trade agreements is the continuation of trade barriers mostly designed to keep US goods out of other countries.

http://mises.org/daily/6585/The-NAFTA-Myth
3872  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Barack Obama has the U.S. economy on lockdown on: November 29, 2013, 11:55:34 AM
"The no-decision on the Keystone XL pipeline and its union jobs; the 2,000-page regulatory law draped in 2010 across the entire financial sector; the shutdown in 2010 and then the slow-walking of offshore oil drilling; siccing the EPA on the utilities industry and the National Labor Relations Board on all industry; a 2010 FCC decision to regulate Internet growth; a significant tax increase this year; support this month for jacking up the federal minimum wage to over $10, certain to smother new jobs; the Justice Department's $13 billion looting of J.P. Morgan JPM -0.47% bank; and of course Hurricane ObamaCare."

Daniel Henninger: Worse Than ObamaCare
Obama's biggest failure is that he hobbled the U.S. economy.  More at the link:
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303653004579210172838389630
3873  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Vladimir Lenin (and Barack Obama): "We recognize nothing private." on: November 29, 2013, 11:43:35 AM
Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet state and godfather of modern totalitarian politics, once explained the totalitarian worldview this way:

"We recognize nothing private."

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB30001424052702304791704579216630468814424

The article goes on to discuss China, but is applicable IMO to Obamacare and big government intrusions here as well.
3874  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Charles Krauthammer: An outbreak of lawlessness on: November 29, 2013, 11:16:27 AM
Charles Krauthammer

An outbreak of lawlessness     November 28, 2013

For all the gnashing of teeth over the lack of comity and civility in Washington, the real problem is not etiquette but the breakdown of political norms, legislative and constitutional.

Such as the one just spectacularly blown up in the Senate. To get three judges onto a coveted circuit court, frustrated Democrats abolished the filibuster for executive appointments and (non-Supreme Court) judicial nominations.

The problem is not the change itself. It’s fine that a president staffing his administration should need 51 votes rather than 60. Doing so for judicial appointments, which are for life, is a bit dicier. Nonetheless, for about 200 years the filibuster was nearly unknown in blocking judicial nominees. So we are really just returning to an earlier norm.

The violence to political norms here consisted in how that change was executed. By brute force — a near party-line vote of 52 to 48 . This was a disgraceful violation of more than two centuries of precedent. If a bare majority can change the fundamental rules that govern an institution, then there are no rules. Senate rules today are whatever the majority decides they are that morning.

What distinguishes an institution from a flash mob is that its rules endure. They can be changed, of course. But only by significant supermajorities. That’s why constitutional changes require two-thirds of both houses plus three-quarters of the states. If we could make constitutional changes by majority vote, there would be no Constitution.

As of today, the Senate effectively has no rules. Congratulations, Harry Reid. Finally, something you will be remembered for.

Barack Obama may be remembered for something similar. His violation of the proper limits of executive power has become breathtaking. It’s not just making recess appointments when the Senate is in session. It’s not just unilaterally imposing a law Congress had refused to pass — the Dream Act — by brazenly suspending large sections of the immigration laws.

We’ve now reached a point where a flailing president, desperate to deflect the opprobrium heaped upon him for the false promise that you could keep your health plan if you wanted to, calls a hasty news conference urging both insurers and the states to reinstate millions of such plans.

Except that he is asking them to break the law. His own law. Under Obamacare, no insurer may issue a policy after 2013 that does not meet the law’s minimum coverage requirements. These plans were canceled because they do not.

The law remains unchanged. The regulations governing that law remain unchanged. Nothing is changed except for a president proposing to unilaterally change his own law from the White House press room.

That’s banana republic stuff, except that there the dictator proclaims from the presidential balcony.

Remember how for months Democrats denounced Republicans for daring to vote to defund or postpone Obamacare? Saboteurs! Terrorists! How dare you alter “the law of the land.”

This was nonsense from the beginning. Every law is subject to revision and abolition if the people think it turned out to be a bad idea. Even constitutional amendments can be repealed — and have been (see Prohibition).

After indignant denunciation of Republicans for trying to amend “the law of the land” constitutionally (i.e. in Congress assembled), Democrats turn utterly silent when the president lawlessly tries to do so by executive fiat.

Nor is this the first time. The president wakes up one day and decides to unilaterally suspend the employer mandate, a naked invasion of Congress’s exclusive legislative prerogative, enshrined in Article I. Not a word from the Democrats. Nor now regarding the blatant usurpation of trying to restore canceled policies that violate explicit Obamacare coverage requirements.

And worse. When Congress tried to make Obama’s “fix” legal — i.e., through legislation — he opposed it. He even said he would veto it. Imagine: vetoing the very bill that would legally enact his own illegal fix.

At rallies, Obama routinely says he has important things to do and he’s not going to wait for Congress. Well, amending a statute after it’s been duly enacted is something a president may not do without Congress. It’s a gross violation of his Article II duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

A Senate with no rules. A president without boundaries. One day, when a few bottled-up judicial nominees and a malfunctioning health-care Web site are barely a memory, we will still be dealing with the toxic residue of this outbreak of authoritative lawlessness.
3875  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Coffeecare on: November 29, 2013, 11:11:06 AM
Offered in the same spirit as Bigdog's Affordable Boat Act post at: http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1411.msg77023#msg77023
(I hope that everyone procures their affordable boat by the Jan 1 dealine.)

This is CoffeeCare, if buying coffee was like buying health insurance:

3876  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 29, 2013, 10:51:55 AM
"does rational choice explain if Iran is negotiating in good faith or not? What insight does rational choice theory give us in this case?"

If we assume Iran has no intention of abiding by any meaningful restrictions and sees this as all take and no give, then a scholarly theory is not necessary to analyze such a simple framework.  More interesting is to study the Obama (G5+1) side to understand what motivates such recklessness.

Not 'rational choice', but look to a theory I would call 'saving face'.  When one side is caving in a negotiation, the winning side can offer little fig leafs for the losing side to use for cover in order to make the capitulation happen.  President Obama and Sec. Kerry can point to this complex agreement and say blah, blah, blah while Iran proudly proclaims that sanctions are lifted, hard currency is coming in, and nuclear enrichment will be uninterrupted.
3877  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 29, 2013, 10:31:47 AM
Obama-ites are asking Dem Senators to find examples of people having a positive experience with Obamacare and bring forward their stories.  The President himself brought forward the story of Jessica Sanford.  Oops.

President Obama used Jessica Sanford as an Obamacare success story during his October 21 health care event. However, only three days later, Sanford turned into another Obamacare failure.

CNN reports that Sanford, a 48-year-old single mother from Washington state, purchased health insurance from the Washington state exchange. She was so excited that she emailed the President expressing her gratitude. He read the email during a health care event at the White House Rose Garden.

Three days later, Sanford said that she started receiving letters from her state’s exchange explaining that its tax credit calculator was incorrect, and instead of receiving a federal tax credit, she was not eligible. That meant the cost of her insurance would be higher than she anticipated—so high that she said she could not afford it.

“It was like riding a big rollercoaster,” she said. “They have my credit card, they have the payment date and then, you know, once again I’m knocked down, and this time it’s to zero. And at my rate of pay, with my family size, I just don’t understand why I wouldn’t get at least a little help with a tax credit.”

“It was a huge disappointment,” Sanford said. “Especially since I had, you know, my story had been shared by the President.”

Sanford is not alone, according to CNN’s report. Other Washington state residents also had their tax credits miscalculated.
http://blog.heritage.org/2013/11/19/obamacare-success-story-obamacare-failure-story-just-3-days/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1oPktLLrmQ
3878  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential, Executive Experience? on: November 29, 2013, 10:27:09 AM
A successful, two term or more, conservative Governor of a swing state would be a nice qualification for a Republican nominee.  One might argue that Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio is almost a Reagan, but lacks the 8 years experience actually governing our largest state, a crucial distinction.  Obama had no executive experience and look what happened.  But on the other hand, now he has nearly 5 years real experience as President, Commander in Chief, Leader of the free world, and is still a disaster.  Perhaps aimed at current front runner Chris Christie, Marc Levin points out that Lincoln had no executive experience and argues we should take a larger measure of the person:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/11/27/mark_levin_republican_nominee_in_2016_doesnt_need_executive_experience.html

"Lincoln is considered our greatest, if not our second greatest president by most. He was never a governor. He was never a senator. He was an extraordinary man, and he was a public man, and people knew much about him. The Lincoln-Douglas debates -- and those weren't the only debates! He gave some magnificent speeches too. But again, all that aside. My point is to categorize and say we have to have a person who's served as governor because they make executive decisions. Okay great.

And that'll be the strength of that candidate, should that candidate run. But thats not the test. The test is to get the right person. And the right person will make mostly the right decisions. Take a measure of the person. So if you have somebody who has been a governor, or just a garden variety Republican. Whether they're a big-government Republican or a RINO. I don't care if they've been a governor or not. I'm not interested. They have to come to the office or seek the office with a certain set of a principles and value that we share. Someone who is intelligent, confident, and articulate and knowledgeable, and has a capacity for the office. They've been governor, great. If they haven't, fine."
3879  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stupid Stuff My President Says on: November 27, 2013, 10:23:22 PM
“The problem is that I’m president of the United States; I’m not emperor,”

“We underestimated the complexities of building a website,”

“The private sector is doing fine,”

"OK, on the website, I was not informed directly that the website would not be working the way it was supposed to. Had I been informed, I wouldn’t be going out saying, ‘Boy, this is going to be great.’  I’m accused of a lot of things, but I don’t think I’m stupid enough to go around saying, ‘This is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity’ a week before the website opens if I thought that it wasn’t going to work. So clearly, we and I did not have enough awareness about the problems in the website."

[Wait: Were you informed indirectly?]

“We live in the greatest nation in the history of the world,”  “I hope you'll join with me as we try to change it.”

“If I had a son he’d look like Trayvon.”

“They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them,”

“Those jobs weren’t as shovel-ready as I thought,”

He either means to say what he does, or doesn't mean to.  Pick one.
http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/johnransom/2013/11/22/stupid-stuff-my-president-says-n1751311/page/full
3880  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Dr. Ben Carson on: November 27, 2013, 09:48:53 PM
More at the link below.  Carson has the right.
---------------------------------------------------------
Obamacare was promoted as one thing and turned out to be something quite different. In the real world, it is frequently possible to gain legal relief in the case of a fraudulent deal, but in the case of Obamacare, we are being told that it is the law of the land and that you simply must live with it.

When you place misdeeds by the government beyond the reach of normal mechanisms of recourse, you establish a condition ripe for abuse. If a bill is passed under false pretenses, shouldn’t we question its legitimacy and. at the very least, reintroduce the bill after disclosing the aspects that were hidden previously? If the bill still passes after such disclosure, it would then become legitimate. We must remember that we are talking about one-sixth of the U.S. economy. We should not be playing fast and loose with the laws and details surrounding the most important possession we have: our health. I think this would be a fair-minded solution to anyone who does not have ulterior motives in health care reform.
...
We are better than this. We must reject the notion that slick political maneuvering and dishonesty are inevitable in government and must be tolerated. We no more need to tolerate such things than we need to tolerate tyranny. The choice is ours. Let us call upon our leaders and representatives to change the culture to one of trust and decency consistent with our Judeo-Christian values. If they refuse, we the people must remove them from office, which is our duty to ourselves and to our progeny.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/nov/26/carson-a-health-care-lemon/#ixzz2luNo0oDX
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter
3881  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IRS Targeting, Wilkins Testifies: I Don't Recall - 80 Times on: November 27, 2013, 09:38:23 PM
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/365080/william-wilkins-irs-chief-counsel-testfies-targeting-tea-party-groups-eliana-johnson

expressing gross dissatisfaction with Wilkins’s testimony and, in a letter sent to him on Wednesday, offering him the opportunity to amend it. “In your testimony, you stated ‘I don’t recall’ a staggering 80 times in full or partial response to the Committee’s questions,” committee chairman Darrell Issa and Ohio representative Jim Jordan wrote. “Your failure to recollect important aspects of the Committee’s investigation suggests either a deliberate attempt to obfuscate your involvement in this matter or gross incompetence on your part.”

The most pertinent subject on which Wilkins’s memory failed him was the nature of his communications with Treasury Department officials: in particular, whether he discussed the applications of tea-party groups with anybody at the Treasury Department, whether he discussed with Treasury Department officials regulatory guidance for 501(c)(4) entities engaged in political activities, and whether he discussed with them the inspector general’s report that blew the lid off of the targeting scandal in mid May.

In the summer of 2011, former IRS official Lois Lerner and her senior adviser sought guidance from lawyers in Wilkins’s office on the processing of two “test” applications from conservative groups, whose treatment was intended to guide how Cincinnati agents would process the bulk of the tea-party cases. Wilkins told the committee he was unaware of their involvement in the issue but did know about the draft guidance on the treatment of tea-party applications that, on April 25, 2012, emerged from Lerner’s meetings with lawyers reporting to him. (The guidance was never finalized.)

Wilkins met with President Obama on April 23, two days before the guidance was provided.
3882  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bill Ayers wrote Barack Obama's 'Dreams from My Father' on: November 26, 2013, 11:33:59 AM
The President's main income is book royalties.  No surprise to anyone reading the forum, but terrorist Bill Ayers wrote this Barack Obama 'autobiography' and now freely and publicly admits it.

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2013/11/jack-cashill-vindicated-bill-ayers-book-promotion-event-announces/

3883  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 26, 2013, 11:24:05 AM
Death spirals, not death panels !!   grin

Actually both!

The (stated) purpose was to get more people insured.  Young people were not buying health insurance because it was too expensive, a lousy value for them.  The answer was to pass a law prohibiting low cost policies and weigh the rest down with all kinds of coverage people don't want or need and make them pay for other people's care.  Maternity coverage for celibate men and women with hysterectomies.  No customization.  We will get more people insured by canceling the majority of all existing policies.  The cost per family will go up by $3400 instead of down by $2500, a $6000 per family per year 'rounding error'.  Instead of making it affordable we will call it "Affordable".  It is the most important item on the entire agenda, so we will have it start right after the next election.

We didn't get the cost down.  We didn't get more people covered.  But we did get government to take control of our lives.  Mission Accomplished!
3884  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bureaucracy in action: The Fourth Branch of the US Govt. on: November 26, 2013, 10:53:23 AM
A few weeks after taking office in 2009, Mr. Obama issued a memorandum to government agency heads ordering them to minimize the use of non-competitive contracts, calling them potentially "wasteful, inefficient, subject to misuse."

CBS/Reuters November 25, 2013, 10: 30 AM
Obamacare agency rushed in contractor without bids, documents show
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obamacare-agency-rushed-in-contractor-without-bids-documents-show/

"representatives of the agency were unavailable to comment on the contract "

Asked about how Novitas was awarded the contract and the work it is doing... a company official told him, "We're not going to be able to get into this right now."
3885  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel and its neighbors, The Goal of Obama's Foreign Policy on: November 26, 2013, 10:38:16 AM
Caroline Glick at the Jerusalem Post is particularly harsh on President Obama today.

The Goal of Obama's Foreign Policy

By Caroline Glick - November 26, 2013

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/11/26/the_goal_of_obamas_foreign_policy_120781.html#ixzz2llp35Oz5

Last paragraph: 

His goal is not to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. It isn’t even to facilitate a rapprochement between America and Iran. The goal of Obama’s foreign policy is to weaken the State of Israel.

Read more: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/11/26/the_goal_of_obamas_foreign_policy_120781.html#ixzz2llpFs2xL
Follow us: @RCP_Articles on Twitter

3886  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Denver Post: Colorado ACA enrollment at one half of 'worst case' projection on: November 26, 2013, 10:32:11 AM
Enrollment in the Affordable Care Act through Colorado's health insurance exchange is barely half the state's worst-case projection, prompting demands from exchange board members for better stewardship of public money.

The shortfall could compromise the exchange's "ability to deliver on promises made to Colorado citizens" and threatens the funding stream for the exchange itself, according to board e-mails obtained by The Denver Post in an open records request.

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_24593942/board-strife-colorado-exchange-far-behind-projected-enrollment#ixzz2llmf4SR9
3887  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AEI: Up to 100 million employer health care policies will cancel next year on: November 26, 2013, 10:25:55 AM
Last week, an analysis by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, showed the administration anticipates half to two-thirds of small businesses would have policies canceled or be compelled to send workers onto the ObamaCare exchanges. They predicted up to 100 million small and large business policies could be canceled next year.

According to projections the administration itself issued back in July 2010, it was clear officials knew the impact of ObamaCare three years ago.

In fact, according to the Federal Register, its mid-range estimate was that by the end of 2014, 76 percent of small group plans would be cancelled, along with 55 percent of large employer plans.

The reason behind the losses is that current plans don't meet the requirements of ObamaCare, which dictate that each plan must cover a list of essential benefits, whether people want them or not.

"Things like maternity care or acupuncture or extensive drug coverage," said Veuger. "And so now the law is going to force them to buy policies that they could have gotten in the past if they wanted to but they chose not to."

Some plans already have been canceled and employers are getting sticker shock at the new, higher prices under ObamaCare.

One of them is David Allen, president of a company bearing his name in Boulder, Colorado. He told a Congressional hearing recently that his carrier discontinued his company policy because it wasn't compliant with ObamaCare.

"It does not meet the minimum standards as stipulated under the law. Due to this one change," he said, "our premiums are now scheduled to increase by 52.3 percent in January 2014."

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/11/26/evidence-shows-obama-administration-predicted-tens-millions-would-lose-plans/
3888  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NY Times: The sleaziest of the hypocrites, Media Bias on Open Display on: November 26, 2013, 10:06:24 AM
Somewhere in the congressional thread over the summer I think we came to agreement that both parties were guilty of hypocrisy on the question of ending the filibuster in the Senate.  Republicans threatened to change the rules and Dems screamed about how wrong it was.  Now Dems did it and Republicans are upset.  It depends on who is in power.  Bias from the inside the political arena perhaps is normal, expected, even 'rational'.

Good thing we have these great unbiased institutions reporting on it all known as the mainstream media, who can just look at it with consistency and objectivity. 

Enter the NY Times.  It would "desecrate" the Senate if the R's do it, but merely allow for a vote if the Dems do it.

NYT, 2005, A Republican proposal that never happened "would DESECRATE the Senate’s time-honored deliberative role and of its protection of minority rights":     

"Of all the hollow arguments Senate Republicans have made in their attempt to scrap the opposition’s right to have a say on President Bush’s judicial nominees, the one that’s most hypocritical insists that history is on their side in demanding a “simple up-or-down vote” on the Senate floor. Republicans and Democrats have used a variety of tactics, from filibuster threats to stealthy committee inaction on individual nominations, in blocking hundreds of presidential appointments across history, including about one in five Supreme Court nominees. This is all part of the Senate’s time-honored deliberative role and of its protection of minority rights, which Republican leaders would now desecrate in overreaching from their majority perch."

"Democrats have hardly been obstructionists in their constitutional role of giving advice and consent; they have confirmed more than 200 Bush nominees, while balking at a mere seven who should be blocked on the merits, not for partisan reasons. This is a worthy fight, and the filibuster is a necessary weapon, considering that these are lifetime appointments to the powerful appellate judiciary, just below the Supreme Court. In more than two centuries, only 11 federal judges have been impeached for abusive court behavior. Clearly, uninhibited Senate debate in the deliberative stage, with the minority’s voice preserved, is a crucial requirement."

    "Senator Frist, with the help of Vice President Dick Cheney, would sidestep a Senate precedent requiring two-thirds’ approval for a rules change and instead have a simple majority strike down the filibuster on judicial nominees. He promises that there would be no effect on other legislation, but the damage would be incalculable. Democrats are already vowing procedural paybacks and gridlock."

    "A few moderate senators from both parties – realizing that the Senate’s prestige is at stake, as much as its history – are seeking a compromise. We hope President Bush will step in to help find a solution. Otherwise, warns his fellow Republican Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the result will be the harmful crimping of minority rights in a proud deliberative body and “a dark, protracted era of divisive partisanship.” "


That all makes sense as long as they are consistent.

NY Times, 2013:

    "For five years, Senate Republicans have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees."

    "In a 52-to-48 vote that substantially altered the balance of power in Washington, the Senate changed its most infuriating rule and effectively ended the filibuster on executive and judicial appointments."

"From now on, if any senator tries to filibuster a presidential nominee, that filibuster can be stopped with a simple majority, not the 60-vote requirement of the past. That means a return to the democratic process of giving nominees an up-or-down vote, allowing them to be either confirmed or rejected by a simple majority."

"Republicans warned that the rule change could haunt the Democrats if they lose the White House and the Senate. But the Constitution gives presidents the right to nominate top officials in their administration and name judges, and says nothing about the ability of a Senate minority to stop them. (The practice barely existed before the 1970s.)"


http://patterico.com/2013/11/21/hysterical-hypocrisy-on-filibusters-from-the-new-york-times/

3889  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: From our Pat on: November 25, 2013, 01:41:31 PM
"affordability issues"

Yes.  Besides all the inside housing issues, sales and values don't keep going up when employment, disposable income and affordability are all headed down.  If your family's healthcare cost just doubled or your job or hours were eliminated because of the healthcare law, do you have more or less to spend on the new house?

It is an inter-connected economy.
3890  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 25, 2013, 01:34:04 PM
Who says Obama can't turn an economy around ? Unfortunately it's Iran's.

Yes, it takes hard to currency to procure nuclear components.  I thought this would be the story under the Lucy pulling the football out from Charlie Brown headline.  We aren't gullible, are we?
3891  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics at the State & Municipal level on: November 25, 2013, 01:30:59 PM
Why does Obama only create jobs in the states that voted against him? Strange...

Yes.  I can't figure out why he want those new jobs to be in Texas when Detroit needs them more?  (BTW, how is cash for clunkers working out in Detroit?)

He takes credit for the oil boom in North Dakota while opposing it and while stopping any improvements (Keystone Pipeline?) in transporting the new oil.  Strangest of all is during this period of having a laser-like focus on jobs, he is not even curious how North Dakota has had the lowest unemployment rate for his entire Presidency:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/11/22/october-state-unemployment-rates/3673397/

What else is N.D. doing right?  They aren't moving there for the climate, -14 degree windchill tonight!
http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/n-d-house-passes-m-tax-cut-bill/article_e47a77ea-b3b0-11e2-9057-001a4bcf887a.html
N.D. House passes $250M tax cut bill
May 03, 2013 12:18 am  •  By Nick Smith
BISMARCK, N.D. _ The North Dakota House passed a bill containing
$250 million in personal and corporate income tax cuts on Thursday.
Senate Bill 2156 passed by an 89-1 vote.

-- Senate Bill 2171 expands the Homestead Property Tax Credit. It changes the income eligibility requirements to open the program to more seniors who own homes. It also raises the limit on total assets a person can own and qualify for the program from $250,000 to $500,000. It passed the House by a 90-0 vote.
3892  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bureaucracy and Regulations in action: The Fourth Branch of the US Govt. on: November 25, 2013, 01:08:04 PM
"Rationing Bone Marrow
The feds want to control who can donate despite shortages."
Get used to the words "government" and "rationing" appearing together alot in the next 38 months.

Government inefficiency is perhaps a redundancy.

I wonder what the price of 8-track tape players would be right now if the government had taken over that industry.  All we know for sure is that they would still be state of the art.

3893  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / False job numbers: Did the White House know? on: November 25, 2013, 10:08:51 AM
The Census is our private data, taken forcibly and unconstitutionally from us by the government, and then shared with leftist political thugs. The White House and the campaign and control of the 2010 Census operation are all one and the same.  I watched the campaign work the inner city this past campaign. They knew exactly who they were looking for and skipped the others.  That information didn't come from "data mining".  It came from the Census, food stamp rolls etc.  Finally a reporter has emerged with an informant is on the edge of this massive scandal.  Maybe more activists and insiders will begin to see the lies they were told and come forward with their stories.
-----------------------------------------------------------
False job numbers: Did the White House know?

By John Crudele,  NY Post
November 23, 2013
False job numbers: Did the White House know?
Photo:  Rahm Emanuel and President Obama at a DNC fundraising event in 2011.


Let me be the first to ask: Did the White House know that employment reports were being falsified?

Last week I reported exclusively that someone at the Census Bureau’s Philadelphia region had been screwing around with employment data. And that person, after he was caught in 2010, claimed he was told to do so by a supervisor two levels up the chain of command.

On top of that, a reliable source whom I haven’t identified said the falsification of employment data by Census was widespread and ongoing, especially around the time of the 2012 election.

There’s now a congressional investigation of how Census handles employment data. And we can hope that we’ll find out this was just an isolated incident.

But let me tell you why it might not be.

Back in 2009 — right before the 2010 census of the nation was taken — there was an announcement that the Obama administration had decided that the Census Bureau would report to senior White House aides.

The rumor was that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was in charge of the nationwide head count.

The chief of the Commerce Department usually oversees the Census, which determines how many congressional representatives and how much money each state gets for the next decade. But the Obama administration had decided — the story went — that Emanuel was a better guy for the job.

The idea that a political creature like Emanuel would be calling the shots on how states would be redistricted in coming elections sent Republicans into a tizzy.

“This is nothing more than a political land grab,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

Other Republicans expressed similar dismay. And the tension got so high that Judd Gregg, a Republican senator from New Hampshire, even withdrew his nomination to be Commerce secretary. (Gary Locke assumed that post.)

And why wouldn’t the Republicans be bothered? Even though the average American might think the census is nothing more than a nuisance, by Washington’s two most important standards — votes and money — it’s anything but.

So here’s where my story picks up.

Back in 2010, I started getting reports that the Census Bureau had some very unusual hiring practices. Census takers and supervisors — at risk of heavy fines — were reporting to me that large numbers of people were being hired only to be fired shortly afterward. And then rehired.

I theorized at the time that Census was trying to make the job-creation totals look better nationwide in those bleak months leading up to the midterm congressional elections.

This employment policy seemed too coordinated. The regional higher-ups at Census couldn’t be doing this on their own; there had to be a grander plan.

I still don’t know what was going on.

But then I heard about the falsification in Philly. This time, however, it wasn’t the employment numbers that were being doodled with. This time it was the unemployment data, which are gathered at the Census Bureau and handed over raw to the Labor Department.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself on this, but Philadelphia is pretty close to Washington, DC. And the census taker who was caught cheating — a guy named Julius Buckmon — had been canvassing the DC area when he was filling out forms for people who didn’t exist.

And the Census Bureau had been inexplicably downsized in recent years from eight regions to only six, giving more control to whoever had seized control.

The supervisor who was fingered by Buckmon did admit that he told other survey takers to hand in half-filled-out interviews. And the White House always has pretty good influence at the Census Bureau, even if it didn’t get its wish for Emanuel.

Maybe it’s just my deeply ingrained distrust of authority — especially when it resides in Washington — or my hope that a good story will last, but I’m betting 60/40 that the White House had grand plans for Census. And some of those may have been carried out.
http://nypost.com/2013/11/23/cooked-census-reported-to-obama-and-rahm/
3894  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China - America Has No Military Strategy for China on: November 25, 2013, 09:57:41 AM
http://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2013/11/25/america_has_no_military_strategy_for_china_106978.html

November 25, 2013
America Has No Military Strategy for China
By Seth Cropsey

Given the intense media focus on the woes of Obamacare’s rollout, it’s not surprising that no one paid much attention when Japan scrambled its fighters three days in a row beginning on October 24th in response to Chinese military aircraft’s incursions into Japan’s airspace as the so far bloodless maneuvering over claims to Japan’s Senkaku islands sharpens.

A miscalculation that drew fire has the potential to enmesh us in a dispute that serves no one’s interest.  An escalation of such a dispute would be disastrous.  Yet the U.S. has no strategy for a conflict with China.  The sole U.S. preparation for such an outcome is a set of ideas known as the AirSea Battle, (ASB). 

The ASB is a concept that has taken root in the U.S. Defense Department as the Obama administration talks about rebalancing forces from the Middle East to Asia, and as the American high command gradually accepts the possibility that China may be a strategic competitor to the U.S.  The idea of ASB—a new approach to coordinating military services’ roles in combat, and not a strategy—comes in two parts: to preserve large American forces’ ability to bring power to bear by destroying an enemy’s command and control infrastructure;  and to defeat the defenses that allow the launch of low-cost, proliferating, and increasingly accurate missiles. ASB means to accomplish this by new, almost revolutionary, cross-Service combinations of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, that are reflected in equally coordinated operations.

On October 10th the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, chaired by Representative J. Randy Forbes (R-VA) held a public hearing on the Air-Sea Battle concept at which senior admirals and generals from all the military services testified.  The discussion between the knowledgeable elected representative and high-level officers was congenial, informed, and—in unanswered questions—alarming.  Representative Forbes asked the officers to explain the strategy on which the AirSea Battle concept is based.  They couldn’t.  Forbes noted the challenges to East Asia’s stability and America’s historic position as a defender of this stability raised by China’s growing military power.  He observed that these challenges deserve a strategy worthy of the name, and warned against one that is determined by today’s weapons or the reduced force that will exist in the future.

Forbes’ point is solid.  Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz famously remarked that because “the enemy (at war games played at the Naval War College) was always Japan, and the courses were so thorough…nothing that happened in the Pacific was strange or unexpected” in the war that followed.  Nimitz was on target: surprise is part of warfare, and Japan certainly surprised us at the war’s beginning.

However, our surprise was strategic readiness. The island-hopping campaign, amphibious warfare, the role of aircraft carriers—all had been anticipated and rehearsed as elements of the strategy to defeat Japan.  Even unrestricted submarine warfare, illegal on the day the war started, had been contemplated and quickly became part of an effective interdiction, rollback, and suppression strategy.  The strategy and the organizational tools and the force structure and levels necessary to make it work had been envisioned and were under construction when the war began—largely thanks to Congressman Forbes’s predecessor Carl Vinson, the “Father of the Two-Ocean Navy."

China is not an enemy of the U.S. However, its ambition for regional hegemony, increasing armed strength, active effort to deny U.S. forces’ access to the Western Pacific, and increasingly troublesome disputes with its neighbors—in several cases, our allies—over territorial claims in the South China Sea all point to substantial difficulties ahead in relations between Washington and Beijing.  China’s challenges to the rule of law, the global commons, liberal capitalism, and human rights are worth defending, and we need a strategy to do so.  Miscalculation, the escalation of what began as a minor incident, and rising Chinese nationalism press the question of potential conflict.  Preventing conflict is key: strategy, operational posture, readiness, resilience, and sustainability are its essential elements.  We should be prepared, and we are not.

Warfare, like life itself, changes constantly.  Success requires adaptation.  Where adaptation falters consequences follow.  In our own Civil War, the industrialized manufacture of repeating weapons, breech-loading naval guns, steam-propulsion, and armor-plating transformed the technology of warfare globally, but not its strategies, operations, or tactics.  But not soon enough.  Indeed, until virtually the end of World War I, commanders “came on in the same old way,” as Wellington commented on Napoleon’s conduct of Waterloo.  The machine gunfire of World War I pushed men into defensive trenches from which they emerged to be cut down by the millions.  The tank, which protected its operators from enemy fire while simultaneously attacking an enemy, did not appear on the battlefield until late 1916, and not in numbers nor accompanied by tactics to end the carnage.

Today, the expanding accessibility of relatively low-cost and increasingly accurate missiles questions a long-standing assumption of American strategy, that we could bring to bear land and naval power at a great distance from the U.S. in forward and en route sanctuaries, thus exploiting the strategic depth of two great oceans.  If a million dollar missile can incapacitate or sink an aircraft carrier or a large amphibious ship that costs many billions—or destroy a U.S./allied base within missile range—we must either respond or accept the possibility that large parts of our military will become vulnerable or irrelevant, and in the loss of their regional punch grow weak in their usefulness to the nation’s position as a global power.

This is where the AirSea Battle comes in.  With is anti-access and area denial strategy, China is challenging our strengths on her maritime approaches.  ASB’s notion of integrating forces especially naval and air capabilities to destroy or otherwise reduce an enemy’s ability to keep us out of the area we require for applying power has great merit.  But the ASB office devotes itself more to large changes in technical jointness than to crafting a strategy based on what integrated U.S. and allied forces can achieve.

An analogy is useful here.  While coordination between an operating surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurses, and post-operative care are essential to surgery, perfecting such coordination offers no guidance about how to perform a difficult surgical procedure, much less what strategy a patient should use to preserve or improve health.

The ideas offered by the ASB, while necessary, are neither based upon, nor do they serve as the basis of, strategy for any region of the world where countries, most notably China, are actively building the command and control, intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, and offensive capability to deny the U.S. and its allies access to the seas far off its coast.  The ASB office public document does not include the word “China.”  So, although the U.S. Defense Department acknowledges the challenge of China’s anti-access efforts, we have no strategy to defeat it nor does there appear to be a plan to construct one.

The U.S. military faces a growing problem in securing the access that would be needed to project power as China’s expanding reach threatens our bases or treaty allies in the Western Pacific.  The House Armed Services Committee’s expressions of concern were bipartisan and serious. The ASB is one of several approaches to managing risk, but by its authors’ own admission, it is a concept, not a plan.

We have no strategy on which to base the design of weapons or tactics to meet this challenge.  We should.  A sensible one would be based upon forward defense in a long war; command of the air and seas; close integration of ground forces to dominate the littorals, islands, archipelagoes, and straits; and building and deploying the forces required to assure a potential adversary that taking on the U.S. is a fool’s errand. 
-----------------
Seth Cropsey is a Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute.  He served as a naval officer from 1985 to 2004 and as undersecretary of the Navy in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations.  He is most recently author of Mayday: The Decline of American Naval Supremacy.
3895  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: November 25, 2013, 09:54:07 AM
"With the new rules, it's very possible to run on the promise to repeal Obamacare"

A very interesting point , , , if we beat Hillary

Yes.  the keyword is possible.  Also possible is that Republicans will blow the third straight chance to re-take the Senate, the second straight chance to take back the Presidency, and live under a growing, cancerous statism forever.
3896  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Jefferson to J. Milligan, 1816 on: November 25, 2013, 09:49:26 AM
"To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father's has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Milligan, 1816

Profound!  I would like to save and remember that.
3897  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: November 25, 2013, 12:28:51 AM
This view agrees with BD that Democrats will 'rue the day'...

"For conservatives upset about the filibuster changes, consider this: since the nationwide direct election of Senators started in 1913, the Republican Party has never held sixty seats in the Senate following an election. The filibuster, when used as a partisan weapon, forces a national grand coalition government that sanctifies minor changes to status quo. Its demise means it’s now possible for conservatives to pass their agenda."  - Henry Olsen, AEI
3898  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran's view: 'We Will Continue Nuclear Activities' on: November 25, 2013, 12:18:31 AM
Iran's Foreign Minister:   “The (nuclear) program will continue and all the sanctions and violations against the Iranian nation under the pretext of the nuclear program will be removed gradually,”

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13920903000343

    “The (nuclear) program has been recognized and the Iranian people’s right to use the peaceful nuclear technology based on the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) and as an inalienable right has been recognized and countries are necessitated not to create any obstacle on its way,” [Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad] Zarif said in a press conference in Geneva on Saturday morning.

    “The (nuclear) program will continue and all the sanctions and violations against the Iranian nation under the pretext of the nuclear program will be removed gradually,” he added.

    He said the next six months will be a serious start towards “the full removal of all UN Security Council, unilateral and multilateral sanctions, while the country’s enrichment program will be maintained.” “Production of 5-percent-enriched uranium will continue in the country similar the past,” Zarif continued.

    “None of the enrichment centers will be closed and Fordo and Natanz will continue their work and the Arak heavy water program will continue in its present form and no material (enriched uranium stockpiles) will be taken out of the country and all the enriched materials will remain inside the country. The current sanctions will move towards decrease, no sanctions will be imposed and Iran’s financial resources will return,” he continued.
    …
    “This is a great success that the attempts made by the Zionist regime’s leaders to misrepresent Iran’s peaceful nuclear program and the Iranian people’s face were foiled,” he said.
    …
    “Iran’s enrichment program has been recognized both in the first step and in the goals section and in the final step as well,” Zarif said.

    “The fact that all these pressures have failed to cease Iran’s enrichment program is a very important success for the Iranian nation’s resistance,” he added.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/11/how-iran-sees-the-geneva-deal.php
3899  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: November 22, 2013, 11:47:15 AM
"I actually like Jindal though we noted how poor his performance of the State of the Union rebuttal a couple of years ago was.  But he might get better."

The criticism there was only about delivery.  His handlers tell him he talks too fast, so he slowed it down too much.  He IS better than that and has executive experience as a two term governor.  Is a little bit underwater right now with his approval rating but that is coming up as good results start to come from his policies.
3900  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Risk of Obamacare enrollee data being mined for election purposes on: November 22, 2013, 11:32:43 AM

Yes, where did we first hear that the top secret, highly successful, campaign data mining operation was really the illegal leaking of private data by partisan government workers also working on the campaign?  And that the government workers gathering our private data and the campaign workers using that same data were actually the same people?  wink
 
In answer to ccp's question, how can we get this investigated, it is good to see people are following up on the points made here on the forum:

Same healthcare 'navigator' caught by James O'Keefe releasing private data for political purposes was also regional field director for Organizing for Action, Barack Obama's campaign arm.

As I wrote earlier, if you investigate, you will find it is the same people and same data.  Highly illegal.  No consequence.
------------------
http://www.examiner.com/article/busted-enroll-america-employee-latest-sting-video-former-ofa-official

Earlier Thursday, we reported that James O'Keefe released a video showing an Obamacare navigator conspiring to release personal data obtained through the healthcare website for partisan political purposes. The plot thickened, however, when the Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft revealed on Wednesday that Christopher Tarango, the navigator in O'Keefe's video, was also the regional field director for the El Paso office of Organizing for Action, Barack Obama's campaign arm.

"In fact," Hoft said, "Tarango is mentioned on Obama’s official Organizing for Action website."

Tarango, Hoft added, was a top official with Obama's campaign arm.

"Now he’s working for Enroll America – and he’s willing to release private data for political purposes,"

"there's a lot of talent that got sucked into Enroll America, but we are all Obama people."

SMU political science professor Matthew Wilson told KDFW there are strict barriers regarding the sharing of information and resources.  "The difficulty is, how bright a line can you draw between the non-partisan activities and the specifically political activities when it's exactly the same people doing both?"
-----------------

Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder will be all over this, I'm sure!  A special prosecutor?  RICO prosecution? 

An organized, criminal operation undermining our electoral system - on a national scale, large enough to swing a Presidential election is treason, is it not?  Or was this, too, "just the Cincinnati office"?
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