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4301  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Syria on: September 10, 2013, 10:25:30 AM
"Assad gets to stay in power... Putin-Assad will stall and dither forever."

Bret Stephens, WSJ, has a similar view:

"All Americans are reduced when Mr. Kerry, attempting to distinguish an attack on Syria with the war in Iraq, described the former as "unbelievably small." Does the secretary propose to stigmatize the use of chemical weapons by bombarding Bashar Assad, evil tyrant, with popcorn? When did the American way of war go from shock-and-awe to forewarn-and-irritate?

Americans are reduced, also, when an off-the-cuff remark by Mr. Kerry becomes the basis of a Russian diplomatic initiative—immediately seized by an Assad regime that knows a sucker's game when it sees one—to hand over Syria's stocks of chemical weapons to international control. So now we're supposed to embark on months of negotiation, mediated by our friends the Russians, to get Assad to relinquish a chemical arsenal he used to deny having, now denies using, and will soon deny secretly maintaining?"
4302  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Weak Recovery Explains Rising Inequality, Not Vice Versa on: September 10, 2013, 10:18:02 AM
It is good to see that prominent WSJ contributors, including my current favorite economist, reading the forum.

"The policies favored by those with a middle-out view—higher tax rates, more intrusive regulations, more targeted fiscal policies—will not revive the economy. More likely they will perpetuate the weak economy we have and cause real incomes—including for those in the middle—to continue to stagnate."
(More at the link, read it all)

The Weak Recovery Explains Rising Inequality, Not Vice Versa
Obama blames tax cuts that began under Reagan for today's slow growth. The data don't back him up.

By JOHN B. TAYLOR, professor of economics at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Last year at this time a debate raged about whether economic growth and job creation has been abnormally slow compared with previous recoveries from recessions in the United States. Now that the growth rate has declined to 1.6% over the past year from 2.8%, the debate is no longer about whether. It's about why.

The poor economic policies of the past few years is a reasonable explanation for today's weak economy. Fiscal policy has at best provided temporary stimulus before fading away with no sustainable impact on growth. More costly and confusing regulations—including the many mandates in the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank Act—have reduced the willingness of firms to invest and hire. The Federal Reserve has employed a variety of unconventional and unpredictable monetary policies with not very successful results.

The administration and its supporters are not about to blame the slow recovery on its own policies, or those of the Fed. Instead, President Obama and his supporters have been talking about "an economy that grows from the middle out," as he put it in Galesburg, Ill., in July. The fashionable middle-out view blames today's troubles on policies that took root in Ronald Reagan's administration.

The 1980s and '90s experienced a declining trend in unemployment rates, milder and less frequent recessions, and a lower inflation rate—all of which disproportionately benefited people with middle and lower incomes, especially compared with the 1970s. These decades were also characterized by widening inequality. The reason? "Washington," as Mr. Obama asserted in Galesburg, "doled out bigger tax cuts to the very wealthy and smaller minimum wage increases for the working poor."

Weak economic growth today, according to the middle-out view, is the consequence of a wider distribution, or dispersion, of income (more at the upper end). This growth in inequality, the argument goes, is the consequence of tax cuts since the 1980s, a trend toward deregulation (that actually began under the Carter administration), and fewer targeted federal programs.

The key causal factor of the middle-out view is that a wider income distribution slows economic growth by lowering consumption demand. Saving rates rise and consumption falls if the share of income shifts toward the top, according to middle-out reasoning, because people with higher incomes tend to save more than those with lower incomes.

The data for the recovery since mid-2009 do not support this view. The 5.4% overall savings rate during this recovery is not high compared with the 8.4% average since 1960. It is relatively low compared to past recoveries, such as the 9.3% savings rate during a comparable period during the recovery in the early 1980s.

Moreover, data do not support the view that tax cuts in the past 30 years are responsible for the widening income distribution. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the distribution of market income before taxes widened in the 1980s and '90s by about as much as the distribution of income after taxes.

The middle-out view fails to explain the weak economy and high unemployment today. It also fails to explain the strong economy and low unemployment in the 1980s and '90s.

Widening income distribution can be a concern, however, especially if it signals reduced income mobility and a growing inequality of opportunity. Consider data collected by Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez for the upper 10% and the lower 90% of the income scale. From the end of World War II until the mid-1960s, real income growth was strong for both groups and there was relatively little change in the distribution of income.

In the late 1960s and 1970s the growth of real income slowed dramatically for both groups, coinciding with the terrible economic policy of that period. Income growth sped up in the 1980s and '90s but was faster in the upper-income group than in the lower-income group. This is the period of the widening of the distribution. According to the latest data collected by Mr. Saez, real income of both groups has recently stagnated.

What caused the differential income growth in the 1980s and 1990s? Research shows that the returns to education started increasing in the 1980s. For example, the wage premium for going to college compared to high school increased. But the supply of educated students did not respond to the increase in returns. High-school graduation rates were declining in the 1980s and '90s and have moved very little since then. Test scores of American students fell in international rankings. With little supply response, the returns to those with the education rose more quickly, causing the income distribution to widen.
4303  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WSJ: Fannie & Freddie on: September 10, 2013, 10:06:48 AM
"Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, is moving forward a bill to wind down Fannie and Freddie over five years and cede their roles to the private sector."

Good to hear there is such a proposal.  Too bad that the do nothing alternative has all the momentum.

A Taxpayer-Friendly Alternative to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

By: Rep. Jeb Hensarling,  Dallas Morning News,  August 28, 2013

Soon we will mark the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis that wrecked our economy, left millions of Americans unemployed and from which we have yet to recover.
From a public policy perspective, the great tragedy of the financial crisis was not that Washington failed to prevent it, but that Washington helped lead us into it. The crisis largely started with a noble intention: Every American should own a home. The result was that well-meaning but misguided policies — principally the “Affordable Housing Goals” of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — either strong-armed or enticed financial institutions into loaning money to people to buy homes they sadly couldn’t afford. In fact, over 70 percent of the nontraditional mortgages that led to the crisis were backed by Fannie, Freddie and other taxpayer-subsidized programs.
In typical fashion, Washington responded to the crisis by passing a 2,000-page bill that did more to exploit the crisis than solve it.
Today, because it did not solve the problem, taxpayers have been forced to pay for the mother of all bailouts — nearly $200 billion for Fannie and Freddie. That’s unimaginable.
Today, taxpayers remain on the hook for more than $5 trillion in mortgage guarantees, roughly $45,000 per American family. That’s unconscionable.
Today, the federal government has a virtual monopoly on the housing finance system, enabling Washington elites — similar to those at the IRS — to control who can qualify for a mortgage. That’s unfair.
Americans deserve better.
We deserve a system that protects current and future homeowners so every American who works hard and plays by the rules can have opportunities and choices to buy homes they can actually afford to keep.
We deserve a system that protects hardworking taxpayers so they never again have to bail out big government-sponsored corporations like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or even those who irresponsibly bought expensive homes they couldn’t afford.
We deserve a system that finally breaks the Washington-induced destructive cycle of boom, bust and bailout.
That’s why the House Financial Services Committee, which I chair, recently approved the PATH Act — the Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners Act. The PATH Act creates a sustainable housing finance system by limiting government control, putting private capital at the center of the mortgage system and giving homebuyers more informed choices about their mortgage options.
With the PATH Act, we end the bailout of Fannie and Freddie and phase out their failed taxpayer-backed business model.
The PATH Act also protects the Federal Housing Administration, which is so overextended that it is heading for its own bailout. Today, FHA can use taxpayers to insure mortgages for millionaires and homes valued as high as $729,750. We return FHA to its traditional mission: serving first-time homebuyers and those with low and moderate incomes, as well as ensuring it will be able to insure loans to any qualified borrower if ever faced with another economic crisis.
Finally, the PATH Act removes artificial barriers to private capital to attract investment and encourage innovation.
Others, including some who profit from the status quo, have discussed different reform plans. I welcome them, but all of us must be careful. We cannot allow a plan to become law that simply puts Fannie and Freddie in the federal witness protection program, gives them cosmetic surgery and new identities, then releases them upon an unsuspecting public. We can no longer allow Wall Street investment firms to offload their credit risks on Main Street taxpayers under the guise of promoting homeownership.
No, America needs real reform and a healthier economy. The best housing program is not a subsidy, guarantee or tax credit; it is a good job in a growing economy. The PATH Act will strengthen our economy. It is our path toward real reform and a truly sustainable housing finance system that’s built to last.
 - Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, represents the 5th Congressional District and is the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. He may be contacted through
4304  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CNN: Stunning turn of events could change everything on Syria on: September 10, 2013, 09:35:22 AM
"The Russian offer is a good way for Putin to get back those chemicals, delivery mechannisms and other agents that he and the USSR sent to Assad's father and to the late Saddam Hussein.  We would not want to find that a permanent member of the UN Security Council had been trading those items in violation of the 1993 UN Treaty - would we?"

Yes, interesting to wonder what motivates Putin; he is certainly not concerned helping the US our Pres. Obama or the our best interests of the civilized world.  I was wondering if we will ever know what part of Assad's stock came from Saddam. 

Another post mentioned horse trading.  If Putin helps Obama save face here, what is he expecting in return?  ("Please tell Vladimir I will have more flexibility to [unilaterally disarm] after my reelection.")

(CNN) -- It's a stunning turn of events that could change everything on Syria.

Facing the threat of a U.S. military strike, the country's leaders Tuesday reportedly accepted a Russian proposal to turn over its chemical weapons.

Nothing scares a nation into pleading guilty and giving up its arsenal like "facing the threat of a U.S. military strike" that is "unbelievably small".  Something else is going on here.
4305  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Australia on: September 08, 2013, 12:45:11 PM
"it’s worth noting that Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Britain now all have prime ministers to the right of the US president. That’s a kind of American exceptionalism the world could do without."

Leading from behind, we now call it.  Hopefully this movement away from left governance, that arguably started in Sweden(?), will find its way over to the American colonies.

(Sweden's economy booms with cautious turn to the right,
4306  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rep. King to run on: September 08, 2013, 12:39:31 PM
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Long Island Congressman Peter King has thrown his hat in the 2016 presidential ring.

A good addition to the field.  Rep. Peter King was Chairman of the United States House Committee on Homeland Security, has served 20 years in the House.  If you are Republican from NY, the next step up for elected office is President.

(On first read, I had him confused with Rep Steve King, a leader in anti-amnesty, who declined to run for the open Senate seat in Iowa.)
4307  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: September 08, 2013, 12:20:41 PM
Not a freaking peep from MSM.
I get Scientific American and nearly every article about everything somehow has references to man made "climate change".
They refuse to admit, maybe just maybe they are wrong.
The left never does.

Not just no correction for new data (no warming since 1997 covers the entire Kyoto Protocol / Inconvenient Truth era), but also no real disclaimers in past work that the theories were unproven, that natural volatility obviously plays the largest role, no recognition of negative feedback forces and their role in cycles, factors unaccounted for such as clouds, or that the best models do not fit or explain past data, much less future data.

Instead they run with phony polls of scientists that group anyone who believes CO2 emissions play ANY role in climate as agreeing with alarmism's wildly exaggerated predictions. 
4308  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Greg Hicks: I've Been 'Punished' for Speaking Out - Benghazi on: September 08, 2013, 12:07:05 PM
Benghazi Whistleblower: I've Been 'Punished' for Speaking Out

4309  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / And now it's global COOLING! - UK Daily Mail on: September 08, 2013, 11:04:27 AM
And now it's global COOLING! Record return of Arctic ice cap as it grows by 60% in a year

    Almost a million more square miles of ocean covered with ice than in 2012
    BBC reported in 2007 global warming would leave Arctic ice-free in summer by 2013
    Publication of UN climate change report suggesting global warming caused by humans pushed back to later this month

A chilly Arctic summer has left nearly a million more square miles of ocean covered with ice than at the same time last year – an increase of 60 per cent.

The rebound from 2012’s record low comes six years after the BBC reported that global warming would leave the Arctic ice-free in summer by 2013.

Instead, days before the annual autumn re-freeze is due to begin, an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia’s northern shores.

Some eminent scientists now believe the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century – a process that would expose computer forecasts of imminent catastrophic warming as dangerously misleading.

The disclosure comes 11 months after The Mail on Sunday triggered intense political and scientific debate by revealing that global warming has ‘paused’ since the beginning of 1997 – an event that the computer models used by climate experts failed to predict.

In March, this newspaper further revealed that temperatures are about to drop below the level that the models forecast with ‘90 per cent certainty’.

The pause – which has now been accepted as real by every major climate research centre – is important, because the models’ predictions of ever-increasing global temperatures have made many of the world’s economies divert billions of pounds into ‘green’ measures to counter  climate change.

Those predictions now appear gravely flawed.

Only six years ago, the BBC reported that the Arctic would be ice-free in summer by 2013, citing a scientist in the US who claimed this was a ‘conservative’ forecast. Perhaps it was their confidence that led more than 20 yachts to try to sail the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to  the Pacific this summer. As of last week, all these vessels were stuck in the ice, some at the eastern end of the passage in Prince Regent Inlet, others further west at Cape Bathurst.

Shipping experts said the only way these vessels were likely to be freed was by the icebreakers of the Canadian coastguard. According to the official Canadian government website, the Northwest Passage has remained ice-bound and impassable  all summer.

The BBC’s 2007 report quoted scientist  Professor Wieslaw Maslowski, who based his views on super-computer models and the fact that ‘we use a high-resolution regional model for the Arctic Ocean and sea ice’.

He was confident his results were ‘much more realistic’ than other projections, which ‘underestimate the amount of heat delivered to the sea ice’. Also quoted was Cambridge University expert

Professor Peter Wadhams. He backed Professor Maslowski, saying his model was ‘more efficient’ than others because it ‘takes account of processes that happen internally in the ice’.

He added: ‘This is not a cycle; not just a fluctuation. In the end, it will all just melt away quite suddenly.’

The continuing furore caused by The Mail on Sunday’s revelations – which will now be amplified by the return of the Arctic ice sheet – has forced the UN’s climate change body to hold a crisis meeting.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was due in October to start publishing its Fifth Assessment Report – a huge three-volume study issued every six or seven years. It will now hold a pre-summit in Stockholm later this month.

Leaked documents show that governments which support and finance the IPCC are demanding more than 1,500 changes to the report’s ‘summary for policymakers’. They say its current draft does not properly explain the pause.

At the heart of the row lie two questions: the extent to which temperatures will rise with carbon dioxide levels, as well as how much of the warming over the past 150 years – so far, just 0.8C – is down to human greenhouse gas emissions and how much is due to natural variability.
4310  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Canada offers to help Obama save face over pipeline on: September 08, 2013, 10:56:48 AM
Canada PM Ready to Introduce New Carbon-Emission Rules for Keystone Approval

 OTTAWA--Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has told U.S. President Barack Obama that he's ready to work on joint plan between the two countries to reduce carbon emissions in the energy sector in an effort to secure approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Friday.

The CBC, citing unnamed sources, said Mr. Harper wrote to Mr. Obama in late August, signaling he is ready to accept carbon-reduction targets proposed by the U.S. and prepared to work with the White House to address concerns raised about Keystone and its impact on greenhouse-gas emissions.

A spokesman for Mr. Harper declined to comment on any correspondence between the Canadian and U.S. leaders. A White House spokesperson declined to confirm Mr. Obama had received Mr. Harper's letter.

TransCanada Corp.'s (TRP) proposed Keystone XL project, which would carry heavy crude from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast, has sparked high-profile and vocal opposition from U.S. and Canadian environmentalists, who are concerned it will encourage to further development of the oil sands. The project is presently under review by the U.S. State Department, but ultimate approval rests with Mr. Obama -- who has said approval would hinge on the pipeline project's impact on greenhouse-gas emissions.
4311  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: IRS Scandals on: September 08, 2013, 10:54:28 AM
First this: "Time for some defenestrations pour encourager les autres."    Sometimes I need help to read the more widely educated posters.   Google pointed me first back to the forum.  smiley Then to these helpful translations I reprint for the benefit of others:

Defenestration is the act of throwing someone or something out of a window. The term was coined around the time of an incident in Prague Castle in the year 1618. (Oxford)

pour encourager les autres: in order to encourage the others —said ironically of an action (as an execution) carried out in order to compel others to obey or submit  (Meriam-Webster)

Back to the scandals, I am pleased to note that CNN is still following the IRS scandal (although they disclaim that the views expressed are only of the author).  So often these scandals are covered only by right wing sources to reporting to right wing readers/viewers.

IRS scandal: America needs the truth
By Ken Boehm, Special to CNN  (more at link)

(CNN) -- America can handle the truth. Even if that truth could include a coverup at the powerful IRS.  The IRS mission statement pledges to "enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all."  But public scrutiny has revealed details indicating a level of politicization totally at odds with that.

Look at the two eye-opening developments that have happened at the IRS since May: An acting IRS commissioner resigned, and another powerful IRS official refused to answer questions before Congress, pleading the Fifth Amendment.

Whatever is going on, there is only one way to proceed, and that is a professional and thorough investigation.  For people who haven't been following a lot of this, let me quickly get you up to speed:  The IRS inspector general released a report on May 14 describing how the agency had inappropriately targeted tea party and conservative groups that had applied for tax-exempt status.  Then the IRS put these groups through extra reviews, substantial delays and burdensome requests for information.

The reaction was immediate. The next day, President Barack Obama announced that the acting IRS commissioner was resigning.  That doesn't exactly happen every day.  Obama went on to say, "I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives."

After that shocking disclosure, several things happened:

• Senate and House committees launched investigations into the scandal.

• The FBI began a criminal investigation.

• The IRS inspector general expanded its ongoing investigation.

• IRS official Lois Lerner exercised her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by refusing to answer questions before Congress.

Some interesting developments emerged from all that.  For one, the original claim during IRS testimony -- that the scandal was the result of a couple of "rogue IRS agents" in the agency's Cincinnati field office -- didn't hold water.

It turned out that, according to frontline IRS agents in Cincinnati interviewed by House Oversight committee investigators, the Washington IRS office had played a key role in the handling of the tea party applications.

Retired IRS lawyer Carter Hull disclosed in testimony that IRS Counsel William Wilkins was one of his supervisors in the targeting of conservative groups. (The IRS has denied Wilkins' involvement in the targeting of specific groups.)

The inspector general's report found that Wilkins' office had sent the exempt organizations determination unit on April 24, 2012, "additional comments on the draft guidance" for considering applications of tea party groups for tax-exempt status (PDF).

The connections between Wilkins' office and the inappropriate profiling of conservative groups are especially noteworthy because there are only two appointees of the president at the IRS: the commissioner and the chief counsel.

Cynics may view this controversy as typical when the House is in the hands of a different party than the president, but guess what?

The Democrat-controlled Senate's Finance Committee has also weighed in.  That committee has called for three things: a hearing, an investigation and a request to the IRS for documents.

Montana Democrat Sen. Max Baucus, the committee chairman, stated bluntly, "Targeting groups based on their political views is not only inappropriate, it is intolerable, unacceptable and cannot be allowed."  Baucus promised a bipartisan investigation and has been true to his word. When the first week of August arrived, Baucus and his GOP counterpart, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, said the IRS failed to provide "most of the information requested by the Committee."

New details reshape IRS targeting scandal

As chairman of the ethics watchdog group National Legal and Policy Center, I had filed a complaint with the IRS in May 2011 showing that a purported charity called the Barack H. Obama Foundation -- named for the father of President Obama and run by his half-brother, Malik Obama -- had been raising funds in the U.S. by falsely claiming to be an IRS-approved charitable group.

I submitted proof that the foundation was not tax-deductible and had never even applied for that status despite the fact that it had been fundraising for about three years.  In fact, one of the foundation's directors admitted that an IRS application had never been submitted.  There was compelling evidence suggesting that the foundation was raising money on the Internet by misrepresenting itself as being IRS-approved when it really wasn't.

Suddenly, the foundation rushed an application to the IRS in late May 2011.  In the short span of about a month, Lerner -- the same person who took the Fifth Amendment rather than testify before Congress -- gave the Obama Foundation its tax-deductible status.  And, the IRS made that status retroactive for three years. 

The administration says there's no political basis for the IRS actions. If that's true, then it has nothing to lose.

Even more curious, several of the forms submitted by Malik Obama were stamped as being received by the IRS in July 2011. That's one month after Lerner approved the group's new tax status.
The administration says there's no political basis for the IRS actions. If that's true, then it has nothing to lose.
4312  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Australia - Conservatives sweep out labor down under on: September 07, 2013, 12:49:49 PM
Worst showing by Labor in a hundred years.
4313  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: September 07, 2013, 12:33:32 PM
I too find substantial elements of intellectual sloppiness in Paul e.g. his claim that the Constitution requires approval for what Baraq proposes here-- what about the War Powers Act?  I'm not saying that I have the answer here, I don't, but I think he should address the point.

Rubio continues to impress me as too young, and susceptible to getting rolled (e.g. immigration "reform"), but I am glad to read of your account of his preparation and comportment here.

I would also draw attention to Cruz.  Amongst the three of them, he has impressed me the most with expressing good guiding principles without making sloppy, inadvertent, or over the top comments that can later come back to bite him as sound bit.

Agree on all points. 

Rand Paul will be the anti-interventionist of the group and that view will likely have quite a bit of appeal coming into 2016 depending on events and what stumbles the others make.

It is an open question as to whether Rubio can recover with conservatives from his immigration reform debacle.  I think he can, and has the most charisma, best communication skills and most crossover appeal of those likely to run.

Ted Cruz would arguably be the President of the group, if elected.  Principled, fearless, and as you say, not prone to sloppy, over the top comments.

Add Paul Ryan to the group and we have an impressive amount of talent with no executive experience.  Chris Christie has that (and Jindal, and perhaps others).

George Will ripped Chris Christie for being Chris Christie today:

He should heed another politician who had a flair for fighting. “Being powerful,” Margaret Thatcher said, “is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
4314  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi and related matters on: September 07, 2013, 12:11:50 PM
I was thinking maybe of the one where the AQ guy is waving his AK as he dances in front of the flames (URL needed) but I'd also like the URL of the one you suggest too.

Nothing says 9/11/2016 in Benghazi to me like seeing our 2016 frontrunner throw up her arms during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing and scream, WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE NOW?!
4315  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: September 05, 2013, 12:25:58 PM
There was dissent in majority from Scalia, who agreed on the outcome, not its reasoning. And, as I noted elsewhere, there has been a consistent (though not necessarily constant) pushback on the Commerce Clause since the mid-1990's.

I see your point in Court opinions.  I don't know why we don't see a resulting federal rollback of jurisdiction over anything in those 18 years.  Instead the federal government marches forward, uses other rationale, even some they deny - like that Obamacare is a tax - that originated in the House.

To Crafty, from a previous post, I think you missed this: 

Matthew Sissel v. Dept HHS  The [Obamacare] origination case was dismissed by US District Court Washington DC.  The House had passed a shell bill, not a tax, and then went back and inserted Obamacare into it.  'Inelegant', but legal.(Not in my view.)
4316  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Obama's Economy Hits His Voters the Hardest on: September 05, 2013, 12:12:30 PM
Income inequality only got worse by attacking income inequality.  Who could have seen that coming? (
Or the opposite view, the NY Times pre-crisis/cause-crisis view that ending the Bush tax cuts would most certainly ease inequality: (

Labor requires capital (and vice versa).  Employees need employers (and vice versa).   You attack them without hitting us in an interconnected economy.

Can you imagine the uproar if Republican policies hit these groups in America this harshly!
Obama's Economy Hits His Voters Hardest
Young people, single women and minorities have fared the worst during the past four years.


For better or worse, a truism of American politics is that voters vote their pocketbooks. Yet according to a new report on median household incomes by Sentier Research, in 2012 millions of American voters apparently cast ballots contrary to their economic self-interest.

Each month the consultants at Sentier analyze the numbers from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and estimate the trend in median annual household income adjusted for inflation. On Aug. 21, Sentier released "Household Income on the Fourth Anniversary of the Economic Recovery: June 2009 to June 2013." The finding that grabbed headlines was that real median household income "has fallen by 4.4 percent since the 'economic recovery' began in June 2009." In dollar terms, median household income fell to $52,098 from $54,478, a loss of $2,380.

What was largely overlooked, however, is that those who were most likely to vote for Barack Obama in 2012 were members of demographic groups most likely to have suffered the steepest income declines. Mr. Obama was re-elected with 51% of the vote. Five demographic groups were crucial to his victory: young voters, single women, those with only a high-school diploma or less, blacks and Hispanics. He cleaned up with 60% of the youth vote, 67% of single women, 93% of blacks, 71% of Hispanics, and 64% of those without a high-school diploma, according to exit polls.

According to the Sentier research, households headed by single women, with and without children present, saw their incomes fall by roughly 7%. Those under age 25 experienced an income decline of 9.6%. Black heads of households saw their income tumble by 10.9%, while Hispanic heads-of-households' income fell 4.5%, slightly more than the national average. The incomes of workers with a high-school diploma or less fell by about 8% (-6.9% for those with less than a high-school diploma and -9.3% for those with only a high-school diploma).

This is a stunning reversal of the progress for these groups during the expansions of the 1980s and 1990s, and even through the start of the 2008 recession. Census data reveal that from 1981-2008 the biggest income gains were for black women, 81%; followed by white women, 67%; followed by black men, 31%; and white males at 8%.

In other words, the gender and racial income gaps shrank by more than in any period in American history during the Reagan boom of the 1980s and the Clinton boom of the 1990s. Women and blacks continued to make economic progress during the mini-Bush expansion from 2002-07. "Income inequality" has been exacerbated during the Obama era.

Mr. Obama has often contemptuously, and wrongly, branded the quarter-century period of prosperity beginning with the presidency of Ronald Reagan as a "trickle down" era. For many in the groups that Mr. Obama set out to help, a return to the prosperity of that era would be a vast improvement.

The Census Bureau data on incomes include cash government benefits, such as unemployment insurance, disability payments and the earned-income tax credit (but excludes Medicaid and food stamps). Most of the cash programs have surged in cost during the Obama presidency, yet incomes have still declined for the lowest-income eligible groups. This suggests that wages and salaries from employment have shrunk at an even faster pace than the Census data show. The shrinking paychecks of the past four years are consistent with two unwelcome anomalies of the recovery: a swift decline in labor-force participation to 63.4% from 65.5% during that period and a rise in part-time employment.

What all of this means is that the stimulus-led economic revival that began officially in June 2009—Vice President Joe Biden's famous "summer of recovery"—has only resulted in lower incomes for at least half of Americans, the very ones who were instrumental in electing Mr. Obama twice.

The president's announced economic policy goal, as well as that of progressives generally, is to spread the wealth. The left seems to have forgotten that when fewer American businesses and workers are creating wealth in the first place, something else is spread instead: misery.
4317  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics - AEI: More evidence that 'Fracking' got Obama reelected on: September 05, 2013, 11:21:52 AM
Ironic that he opposes this...

" it increased US disposable income by an average of $1,200 per US household in 2012 thanks to smaller energy bills as well as lower embedded energy costs in all other goods and services"

"Combined with upstream activity, the entire unconventional oil and gas value chain currently supports more than 2.1 million jobs."

More evidence the shale revolution probably got Obama reelected
James Pethokoukis | September 4, 2013, 9:15 am

President Obama really should visit North Dakota and see for himself America’s energy revolution. A new report from IHS Global Insight highlights just how much impact unconventional oil and gas activity may be having on the US economy. For starters, it increased US disposable income by an average of $1,200 per US household in 2012 thanks to smaller energy bills as well as lower embedded energy costs in all other goods and services. IHS thinks that figure will to grow to just over $2,000 in 2015 and reach more than $3,500 in 2025.

Then there are the jobs:

    The new study widens the breadth of the research to include the full energy value chain (upstream, midstream and downstream energy and energy-related chemicals) and the overall macroeconomic contributions on the manufacturing sector and broader U.S. economy. Midstream and downstream unconventional energy and energy-related chemicals activity currently support nearly 377,000 jobs throughout the economy, the study finds. Combined with upstream activity, the entire unconventional oil and gas value chain currently supports more than 2.1 million jobs. Total jobs supported by this value chain will rise to more than 3.3 million in 2020 and reach nearly 3.9 million by 2025.

Without the shale revolution, election year 2012 might have seen the official unemployment over 9% in November instead of 7.8%. And the average American would have faced a higher cost of living and lower income. More importantly now, the US energy industry continues to be a real economic bright spot.
4318  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Syria - Israeli Strike on Syrian Nuclear Facilities, 2007 on: September 05, 2013, 11:16:28 AM
This could go under a number of different topics, but I haven't noticed the gratitude expressed by this administration, the media or U.N. that Israel took a much more serious action 6 years ago than what is contemplated now.

 Israel Struck Syrian Nuclear Project, Analysts Say

Published: October 14, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 — Israel’s air attack on Syria last month was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, according to American and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports.
4319  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential - Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, compare and contrast on: September 05, 2013, 11:06:45 AM
Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, compare and contrast

(This is from a conservative, Paul Mirengoff on Powerline, who ripped Sen. Rubio endlessly on immigration.)

Marco Rubio and Rand Paul both questioned John Kerry and his sidekicks during yesterday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Syria. Rubio was very skeptical about the president’s idea of attacking the Assad regime; Paul was adamantly opposed to it.

They were coming from different places. Rubio said he favors taking out the Assad regime, though he acknowledged the risks of doing so. Paul wants a “hands off of Syria.”

But the contrast I want to discuss is the contrast in presentation.

Rubio was organized and analytical — more so, probably, than any other Committee member — laying out our three broad options for proceeding. Paul was all over the place, asking one rhetorical question after another in a rapid fire manner.

Moreover, Rubio had a clear position on each of the options he laid out. Paul had no answers to his own questions. He claimed the answers are “unknowable.”

His was argument by throwing up hands — since there’s so much uncertainty, we shouldn’t act. The obvious fallacy is that we also don’t “know” what the result of inaction will be.

If Rubio and Paul seek the presidency, they will be debating each other in about a year. I won’t vote for either, but my money in the debates will be on Rubio.

Paul’s act will appeal to his father’s base, and probably a bit further than that. But unless Paul becomes more of a match for Rubio when it comes to organization and analysis, the Republican rank-and-file probably will be considerably more impressed by the Senator from Florida than by his rival from Kentucky.
4320  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: September 05, 2013, 10:55:39 AM
US v. Lopez (1995), US v. Morrison (2000) came up earlier as limiting the over-reach of the commerce clause.  But Gonzalez v. Reich 2005 seemed to me to do the opposite. (?)  Federal law has supremacy - when growing a plant for personal consumption, legal under state law, never to cross state lines.  Sounds like WIckard-Filburn was affir

From today's WSJ:

"California argued a decade ago that its medical marijuana law let individuals grow their own for personal use, but the Supreme Court ruled in Gonzales v. Raich in 2005 that federal law had supremacy. Defenders of ObamaCare even used the Raich precedent to claim that the feds could force all Americans to buy health insurance."

Justice Stevens delivering the opinion of the Court in Gonzales v. Raich, 2005:  Well-settled law controls our answer. ...  Our case law firmly establishes Congress’ power to regulate purely local activities that are part of an economic “class of activities” that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. See, e.g., Perez, 402 U.S., at 151; Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111, 128—129 (1942). As we stated in Wickard, “even if appellee’s activity be local and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may still, whatever its nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce.”

It certainly reads (to the layman) that after Lopez, 1995 and Morrison, 2000, (although before the Roberts' opinion in NFIB v. Sebelius), that the central and controversial point of Wickard v. Filburn, federal jurisdiction of a purely local activity, was still the 'law of the land' in Gonzales, 2005.  
4321  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues, Speed limiters on European cars on: September 05, 2013, 10:06:01 AM
I could put this under Europe but you know it will come to the US next.

Under the proposals new cars would be fitted with cameras that could read road speed limit signs and automatically apply the brakes when this is exceeded.
4322  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: September 05, 2013, 09:24:51 AM
I admit to being a bit glib in my answer, in a perhaps vain search for wittiness  cheesy

No, there are too many already, in the sense of pulling against rather than for the productive process.  Too many of our great minds go into compliance of overly burdensome regulations rather than becoming inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs.  The smartest guy by far in our school district growing up, with a Yale law degree, made a career at a public utility in employee benefit compliance.  God Bless him for making a choice that worked for him, to work normal hours and be with his kids growing up, but this economy needs as many as possible of our best and brightest to go into some of those things mentioned above, finding the next abundant clean energy source, curing cancer, etc.
4323  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: September 04, 2013, 12:45:51 PM
Let the low information voters bask in the obamacare awesomeness!

At this point, let it burn. Let's just find out exactly what's in it.

We already know a hundred trillion dollars of unfunded liabilities does not scare these people or force change.

To the Republicans in congress:  If you fund it, it is YOUR failure.  Did you get nominated and elected by telling your constituents you would vote to continue whatever programs flaming liberals that preceded you passed?  Or did you promise to do everything in your power to stop this.

My advice: Do what you said you would do when you were elected.  Vote only for government that you support.  Our government should be the size and scope of the smallest of what the House, Senate and President all support, and larger only when you control all three.
4324  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: September 04, 2013, 12:35:20 PM
campaign on stopping Iran from getting finished nuclear weapons...
One a loser issue -  Two telegraphs intentions"

Yes.  You state what you would do on foreign policy, but run with an economic freedom and prosperity focus.  Stopping rogue nations from proliferating, threatening, or using dangerous weapons should be a given, not an issue.  Obama should have knocked out Iran's nuclear and Syria's chemical stockpile when he learned of them, not after genocide.  If the UN security is skewed in favor of oppression and murderous dictators, he should have formed a new group - somewhere in his first 5 years!

This is failed Presidency. There are no such things as prosperity through higher taxes, freedom through larger government programs, or shaping world events by "leading from behind".
4325  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: September 04, 2013, 12:22:36 PM
We already have too many lawyers.  Why make it any easier?

If it is an Obama proposal, it is probably aimed at the wrong outcome for the wrong reasons.  I have no standing to know how long law school should be.  It seems to me that if shortened, then more good lawyers will need an additional law degree in their specialty to be qualified, like tax law lawyers have right now.

To answer your question, if people with law degrees are more plentiful, competition increases and the cost of hiring one should go down.  If most lawyers can't find work in law anyway, more will have to enter other professions (entrepreneur, corporate management, etc.) with a better understanding of law.

Everyone proficient in my business, residential rental property, has lawyer level knowledge of housing law, learned the hard way.  Everyone who is an expert in my previous occupation, exporting, had a lawyer level knowledge of export law, more knowledge than a lawyer not working in export law.  Same for securities etc.  

It sounds to me like Obama wants to create an additional level, (Masters vs Juris Doctor)?  In Medicine they seem to be transferring Doctor responsibilities to LPNs, Physician Assistants, etc.  Maybe CCP has a view of how that is going.  In law, there are tasks like advising and preparing routine legal documents that require less training than litigating constitutional issues, for example.
4326  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs, budget process - De-fund Obamacare debate on: September 04, 2013, 11:52:18 AM
Sean Hannity had a recent radio debate with Sen. Mike Lee and Karl Rove.  Both sides the debate, meaning that we are screwed.

Mike Lee could not answer how he would get suport from more than 44 Senators much less Pres. Obama to ever sign a bill that will defund the signature accomplishment of his Presidency.  Rove could not answer how else he would stop it before it is fully implemented and too big with too much momentum to stop.

Rove who is a polling expert said that the American people side with Republicans in opposing Obamacare but don't side with Republicans if it leads to a government shutdown.

Lee argues that Obamacare, if funded right now with Republicans fingerprints in both chambers, will never be repealed.  Lee refuses to accept responsibility for a government shutdown if the Republican majority House fully funds all of government except Obamacare, while the Democrat majority Senate and President refuses to pass and sign that bill.

Rove says we have been through this before and Republican lost.  Lee says no, there was nothing equivalent to Obamacare at stake in 1995 or 2011.

Actually the shutdowns from November 14 through November 19, 1995 and from December 16, 1995 to January 6, 1996 led to better spending discipline and a balanced budget that Democrats now brag about.  The more recent brinksmanship led to at least a pause in the trillion dollar deficits.

I side with Mike Lee; do what is right and let polling take care of itself.  In reality this strategy will fail because Republicans will not stand together while Democrats own the bully pulpit and the message from the media.
4327  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: September 04, 2013, 11:15:43 AM
I wish Wesbury would show up here to see him try to defend his position from Doug's deconstruction.

Thanks G M.  As always, I would love to be proven wrong.  My view of this train wreck is not a  pretty sight.
4328  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: September 04, 2013, 11:06:49 AM
Good investment advice today from the WSJ:

4329  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: September 04, 2013, 11:03:07 AM
U.S. Knew Syrians Were Preparing for Chemical-Weapons Attack

The Obama administration had advanced warning of possible chemical attacks by the Assad regime in the last year but was able to forestall such an outcome through diplomatic efforts.

That's according to senior administration officials, speaking to reporters after the U.S. released evidence of a chemical-weapons attack last week in the Damascus suburbs. One official said when an attack was imminent, the U.S. deployed either direct messaging to the Assad regime or conducted public diplomacy, which included speeches from President Obama.

Flashback, President Obama, Aug 2013 on Martha's Vineyard, shows his concern for impending Syrian chemical weapons assault on civilians, women and children:

Imagine if this was Bush...
4330  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness - Genocide does not justify Action on: September 04, 2013, 10:40:20 AM
Barack Obama, 2002, genocide can be contained without American intervention.  In 2007: Preventing genocide does not justify an American presence.

He is speaking about Iraq [adapted for Syria 2013] from a 2002 speech, links are below.

    "Now let me be clear--I suffer no illusions about [Bashar al-Assad]. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied U.N. resolutions, thwarted U.N. inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.

    He's a bad guy. The world, and the [Syrian] people, would be better off without him.

    But I also know that [Assad] poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the [Syrian] economy is in shambles, that the Syrian military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

In 2007 Obama asserted that American troops should be withdrawn from Iraq [Syria] even if that would result in genocide:

    "Well, look, if that's the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now--where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife--which we haven't done," Mr. Obama told the AP. "We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven't done. Those of us who care about Darfur don't think it would be a good idea."

Credit: James Taranto, WSJ     

Speech quotes:

4331  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Syria on: September 04, 2013, 10:14:28 AM
"And is it personal relationships or Russia..." [ that may be keeping us from killing this genocidal dictatorship at the head]?

Good question.  If that is the right policy, either way we are not doing it for the wrong reason (IMO).  What do we gain from appeasing Putin?  He will attack us?  (doubtful)  He will blackmail us and expose Snowden secrets?  (already happening)  We will lose his cooperation on other matters?  (what cooperation?)

My reason to not intervene is that I see no good outcome with or without intervention.  Don't inject America and anti-Americanism into an Arab-Muslim vs. Arab-Muslim * conflict without a good outcome possible or likely.  (* More precisely, Sunni, Arab, Kurdish, Turkoman, Shia, Alawite, Imami, Ismailis, Shafi'i Madhhab, Hanafi, Hanbali vs. same or similar)

If one side truly wished to be a permanent ally of the US and Israel in exchange for our support, and offered genuine peace, stability and containment upon victory, then we should negotiate our help.  That is not the case.

This in fact has turned into a big political diversion over a nothing policy - a proverbial "shot across the bow".  The President over his Presidency has taken bigger shots at Fox News and Rush Limbaugh than he has at the al-Assad regime.
4332  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: September 04, 2013, 09:33:42 AM
"No concern expressed by Wesbury that the number one criteria for picking the next chair is that he/she must strongly support the wrong side of the dual mandate.  Good luck America."

Actually, he had a separate piece supporting Larry Summers over  , , , whatshername precisely because he would take a harder line on monetary policy.

That is good, Summers is marginally better than Janet Yellen, but what I mean is that Wesbury's optimism doesn't flinch in the face of:

a) The Marginal tax rate increase, anti-investment act

b) The Obamacare anti-employment act

c) Explosion of other new regulations, anti new businesses act

d) The resulting shrinking of the workforce, based on the above

e) Growth slowdowns in the former high growth areas of the world, China, India, Korea, etc.

f) The declared War on Fracking, refusal to build nuclear, anti-pipeline, anti-drilling policies - trying to take down the only economic good news going

g) Impending Middle East wars, resulting spikes in oil prices etc.

and now,

h) The President announcing his number one criteria in picking a Fed chair for the next 6 years is that his choice will be committed to running the Fed in the exact opposite direction of what we know is right, a sole focus on sound money.

Wesbury may not flinch but markets do.  The view that these policies and circumstances don't matter to an economy is easily proven wrong.  The Dow, NASDAQ and S&P 500 are up 100% since 2009 lows.  People investing new money today (what new money?) think the lines below can only go up?  In the face of all we know right now?  To that view I say good luck.

4333  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: September 03, 2013, 03:52:45 PM
"The US (in 2013) is not Argentina, or Weimar Germany, or Yugoslavia,"

   - No, but he does recognize that people see the resemblance. 

"QE can be unwound without creating hyper-inflation."

   - The typesetters forgot to put a question mark at the end of that uncertainty.   He may be right; hyper-inflation may not be the worst ailment to come out of the QE 'unwinding'.  We may soon know the real answers to this.  Or will they keep the economic news bad enough to keep the faucet open 3 more years.

Isn't the fact that everyone agrees an unwinding is required in itself evidence that the markets and the economy currently have a drug-like addiction to the wrong-headed, ongoing, multi-trillion dollar, artificial monetary stimulus.  BTW, how many net full time jobs did it create?  At what cost??

No concern expressed by Wesbury that the number one criteria for picking the next chair is that he/she must strongly support the wrong side of the dual mandate.  Good luck America.
4334  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Syria on: September 03, 2013, 03:36:01 PM
Nothing says stop the ceaseless killing of civilians like fine social dining and enjoying a laugh and a story or two over a fine bottle of US taxpayer provided wine.  If the party affiliation was opposite, as pointed out, the left (and media) would be all over this.  

A serious military strike on Syria, if taken, should kill the threat at the head, which means likely killing both spouses of the first couple and perhaps their children.  Didn't we already meet with them, warn them, etc.?  But instead we hear of "a shot across the bow" as the "proportional" response to alleged genocide. Are these personal relationships that may be keeping us from making such a strike really not noteworthy?  I disagree.
4335  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of Glibness Cabinet- John Kerry speaks of atrocities on: September 03, 2013, 03:09:08 PM
“This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter,” he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (When is the time to be 'spectator to slaughter'?)  “Neither our country nor our conscience can afford the cost of silence.” ("I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.")  Kerry said that Assad had used chemicals after repeated warnings from the president, Congress and U.S. allies.  ("[The American military] raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, bl(ew) up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages like Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside")

Too bad not to have leaders with credibility in a time of crisis.
4336  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues - The butchured Butler on: September 03, 2013, 02:35:38 PM
Michael Reagan complains that this movie contains a "bunch of lies" about his father:

My question, why does it take a family member to do that?  Don't we have a media to take care of that?  Shouldn't the writers, directors and producers be deathly afraid of being called on the carpet for putting out a 'reality-based' movie full of falsehoods and having their reputations permanently destroyed by the inaccuracies?  Well, they aren't.  The reviewers simply call the movie 'Oscar bait".
4337  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Syria on: September 03, 2013, 02:14:42 PM
Is this any more a defense or reason than the left's use of the Saddam/Rummy handshake?

No, but the left did take power back in Washington using such tactics, and the right must play on their field since honest policy debates never happen.

There was a reason the US cooperated with Iraq in 1983, opposing Iran.  Rumsfeld (reportedly) tried to leverage our support there for his help with terrorism in Lebanon.  Hillary saying Assad is a reformer showed naivete or ignorance.  What was Kerry thinking at this dinner other than - Look! I'm dining with world leaders!
4338  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Syria on: September 03, 2013, 12:47:52 PM
Right when we found out Chemical weapon use was awful, the President's advisers also found out it would be a good way to further divide the Republican party with themselves, to divide Republicans with the American people, and to keep tax reform  and Obamacare repeal off the table.

Didn't Hillary recently call Assad a reformer?  And didn't Kerry recently say to Assad: Shall we enjoy another bottle of Dom Romane Conti?

4339  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama Vetoed Israeli Strike on Iran, Israel’s former NSC chief says on: September 03, 2013, 11:39:34 AM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was about to order an attack on Iran in September 2012, but canceled the operation in response to U.S. pressure, the former head of Israel’s National Security Council said last month. Gen. Giora Eiland (retired) added that Israel “has a real ability to destroy Iran’s nuclear program,” and that it is possible that the American veto was related to the presidential election then in progress.

“At the time [September 2012] the Prime Minister thought that we had gotten to a critical point on the Iranian issue and planned to carry out attacks,” Gen. Eiland said at a closed-door conference held on August 19, adding that “Israel did not have in principle approval of U.S. military operations, unless Americans require one – cut prevented any action. ” According to Eiland, the issue was raised at a meeting between Netanyahu and the Americans, who said that the planned attack was out of the question for them, which led to its cancellation.

Since the cancellation of the planned Iran’s nuclear program has continued to progress. Today, argues Eiland, Israel again faces a difficult choice. “Time has passed and we stand before exactly the same decision, with less time. ” He added, “The lack of resolution is dramatic.”

In an interview, Gen. Eiland said, “There are many things Israel can do things independently. In the case of construction in Jerusalem, an assault in Gaza or other issues relating to our area we do not need to ask the Americans when we act, even if they do not like it. Yet when it comes to something with broader concerns to U.S., we cannot act against their judgment. “

The best scenario for Israel, Eiland believes, is an American attack on Iran, but “the lack of U.S. enthusiasm for action in Syria signals that this possibility is not realistic.” The issue of prospective US approval of an Israeli attack remains an open question. “There are variables that have changed since last year primarily in the internal affairs of the United – States, which was then in full swing in elections,” the retired general said. In September 2012, when Eiland headed Israel’s National Security Council, Obama was in trouble due to his poor performance in the first televised debate with Romney. He may have preferred to avoid a war that could harm his re-election campaign.

Do circumstances today allow Netanyahu to attack? That is difficult to assess. But while the Syrian story and Obama’s hesitations occupy the headlines, it is important to remember that the real drama is  in Iran.
4340  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / 'Climate Change' will push hurricanes away from the Atlantic coast - new study on: September 03, 2013, 11:32:25 AM

a new study says climate change could eventually help safeguard the U.S. Atlantic Coast from hurricanes.

Climate change might alter atmospheric conditions so that future hurricanes may be pushed away from the East Coast, according to a study published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The warming caused by greenhouse gases—could redirect atmospheric winds that steer hurricanes.

By the next century, the study's authors report, atmospheric winds over the Atlantic could blow more directly from west to east during hurricane season, pushing storms away from the United States.

The study was conducted by meteorologists Elizabeth Barnes at Colorado State University; Lorenzo M. Polvani of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York; and Adam H. Sobelband at Columbia University.

4341  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: September 03, 2013, 11:01:38 AM
"What am I missing?"

"The consistent SC move away from the from the Commerce Clause cases that you and GM cite."

Point well taken.  I know Roberts made a point about the commerce clause but I don't see how that translated into any new limit or pullback on any federal government power.  The movement is most certainly in the other direction.

Rather than regulating commerce, the movement in government (ACA for example) is toward coercive paternalism, which was not a founding principle.

BD, I hope the new school year is starting out well for you.
4342  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Syria on: September 03, 2013, 10:30:44 AM
OK,  so what when Jordan's king falls and the Palestinians take over and Israel is beset from Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan (all aided by Iran)?  What when Iran goes nuke and much of the Arab world with it?  What when Israel tries to take out Iran's nukes? 

I don't see who are the good guys in Syria so I don't support this intervention or tipping the balance.  I support containment and improving our own readiness.  But if I were in congress I think I would vote for authorization of use of force and put this right back on the President to do (or not do) the right thing based on best judgment of the advice and information he is getting from our intelligence and our military.  There is so much we don't know from here.  The rebels have a history with Sarin gas too, for example.  But I would not want the Commander in Chief's hands tied due to the concerns well-articulated above.

Striking the nuclear facilities in Iran, adding support for the King of Jordan, having Israel's back, these are responses too.  Much of what is happening in Syria is not about us.

Elephant in the room:  If intervention (in Syria) is right, for Syria, for the region and for the world, then the structure and composition of the UN Security Council is wrong. The moral compass of 2013 planet earth goes through Putin and the oppressors in the Chinese ruling committee?!  Are we joking?  What is our Nobel prize winning, Befuddlement in Chief going to do about THAT?    (nothing)
4343  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: September 03, 2013, 10:02:23 AM
"under Ronald Reagan's policies, median African American household incomes increased by 84 percent"

"The poverty rate dropped during the 1980s from 14 percent down to 11.6 percent."

"The black unemployment rate dropped by 9 percentage points."

"The number of black-owned businesses increased by 38 percent"

Market capitalism based on economic freedom is the best and only way of moving large numbers of people from poverty to prosperity.

How do we communicate that better is the question.  We post here and Mona Charen gets published in many places but we are reaching ourselves mostly, preaching to the choir not reaching the people who are unemployed, in poverty or in need of or in search of a better life.

The answer in part is more charismatic leaders, a clearer message, make fewer errors and not allow ourselves to get distracted and off-message.  But we also need to reach into more venues, not just the same audience over and over.  We need to confront the Democrat demographic with the facts in more persuasive ways.

One big place we lose is the inner city.  Democrats own the message and now own the get out the vote operation.  Their message is vote Dem because Republicans want to take away what you have, free this and free that, from food stamps to housing vouchers, disability checks, Grandma's meds and your 'Obama' cell phone. They want you to be poor and themselves to be rich.  If Republicans win you will lose they are told, but in fact, Dems are taking away your choices and opportunities while Republicans support a well funded safety net - just not in place of the American Dream.

4344  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: September 02, 2013, 12:22:47 AM

1) Suck up the complete loss of face and do nothing?
2) Do something vapid and meaningless in order to pretend to save the face of our clueless CiC and our nation
3) Do something substantial that genuinely weakens and/or takes down Assad?
4) Or?

ALL OF THESE HAVE HIDEOUS POSSIBLE OUTCOMES , , , but the fight will be what the fight will be.  WHAT SHOULD AMERICA DO NOW?

Rachel posted a very relevant article in the Israel thread today-- the real question here is Iran and its nuke program..."

My thoughts at the moment:  Obama is taking it to Congress as his way of getting out of it.  Some people I highly respect favor intervention in Syria, Bret Stephens, WSJ, is one:

Two reasons to oppose that view.  The outcome in Syria yes could become worse for us than the way things are, and we have 3 more years with no Commander in Chief.  This no time to bite off what we can't chew.

I favor specific strikes on known WMD stockpiles of sworn enemies - anywhere.  That is different than a provocative, 'shot across the bow'.

Bait and switch:  Our response to Syria should be to take out nuclear facilities in Iran - right now - if a plan is in place to do that successfully.  N.K. too.  It would send a message to Assad (and others), plus Iran supports the Syrian regime. 

Saving face:  Rather than breaking our promises, we are just falling a behind on our work.  So many tyrants - so little time.
4345  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Natural Gas buildout for transportation on: August 31, 2013, 02:26:35 PM
CCP,  Great stuff, this is a big deal IMO.  NG is at least 30% cleaner than gasoline and it is American-made or North American made if we can keep the fracking revolution alive.  50% of American homes already have a pipeline hooked up.

Also if we completed the Yucca Mountain facility and built new, clean, safe nuclear facilities in this country, our CO2 output would drop even further and become a model for the world.  Environmentalists would have to find productive work - another boost for the economy.
4346  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 31, 2013, 10:33:16 AM
The key now for Obamacare's success is to get young people to sign up.

Karl Rove's Crossroads group put out this helpful ad.

4347  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: European matters - European threat levels elevated? on: August 31, 2013, 08:58:25 AM
News from our allies...

IN 2013 EUROPE    (

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose.”

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels ..

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be right, Mate.” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is cancelled.” So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level.

And as a final thought – Greece is collapsing, the Iranians are getting aggressive, and Rome is in disarray. Welcome back to 430 BC.
4348  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India - slowest rate of growth since 2009 on: August 30, 2013, 11:48:37 PM
Slowdowns in China and India don't help us, nor does our stagnation help them.

India’s GDP growth for the April to June quarter was a dismal 4.4 percent, the government said today. It was the slowest rate of growth since 2009. ”It was a weaker performance than most economists had been expecting,” the BBC reports, “and was a slowdown from the first three months of the year, when growth was 4.8%.”

4349  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government spending, deficit, and budget process: David Malpass on: August 30, 2013, 05:12:21 PM
Optimism or impending train wreck?  You make the call.  The deficit is falling temporarily and then forecast to skyrocket.

On their present course, spending and debt are forecast to rise sharply starting in 2015, even with severe underfunding of national defense. Government health-care spending will more than double over the next decade to $1.8 trillion annually in 2023, while annual debt-service costs will quadruple to $823 billion as interest rates normalize.

Over the last century, government's fiscal machinery has been mostly gas pedal, little brake. In 1913, the 16th Amendment gave Washington open-ended power to tax income and borrow against it, with no offsetting restraint on spending or debt.

Constitutional limits on the scope of federal activity have gone unenforced. Automatic entitlement spending sidesteps the constitutional requirement that "No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law."

Going a step further, Congress has embedded the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau inside the Federal Reserve, giving it access to limitless funding (up 80% from 2012 to 2013, reaching over $500 million) and no congressional control over spending, mission creep or staff. CFPB unionized on May 9 and is expected to have over 1,500 employees in 2014, double the number in 2012.

4350  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: August 30, 2013, 04:44:53 PM
The greatest leaders respond to the challenges of their times:

"We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."  - Winston Churchill

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." - John Kennedy

“In no event are we considering any kind of military action that would involve boots on the ground, that would involve a longterm campaign.”  “We’re not considering any open commitment.”  - Barack Obama
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