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4451  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy - Cancel missile defense for active unbalancing? on: August 02, 2012, 10:49:21 AM
Interesting Strat as usual.  Missing it seems in the summary of the Obama record was the decision to cancel missile defense installations in Eastern Europe where it appeared that appeasement of the Russians trumped the commitments made to Czech, Poland, Belarus and our own security.  Isn't that active regional unbalancing?

We were left to wonder what we received back for this major turnaround in strategy.  The answer it appears was nothing.  Just that he will have more flexibility to make even deeper disarmament concessions after the election.
4452  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Volunteer "Pravda" network of "reporters" on: August 01, 2012, 02:03:11 PM
Good question Obj (corrupt media comments on Pres 2012 thread) and I'm sure there is no great answer.  I resent having to go to right wing sites to get basic news and analysis that should be more widely available.  The market is making it's own correction but it's happening too slow and not in the way we might have expected.  As you mention, the huge successes of Rush L and Fox News are examples of movement, yet the so-called mainstream seem unchanged in spite of market share they surrender..  Obviously the circulation of stories and facts, opinions and analyses through sites like this is our way of getting the information out.

A Russian immigrant observed that it is worse, in a way, here than in the old Soviet Union with the real Pravda.  They have one state run media while we have a whole near-monopoly conspiracy of them, repeating and amplifying a message the rest of us find biased and deceitful.

One of the most insightful feature of the Rush L show now copied by others is the media montage.  They aren't just telling the same story, they are using the same words.  One of the first I picked up "gravitas" with the Cheney choice for VP.  The point of course to them is that is what George Bush lacked at the top of the ticket.  That word went from never used to in almost every sentence on every media outlet covering the choice.  Since then there have been dozens and dozens more examples.  Even Fox News on the radio is a parrot of the other networks IMO.  The choice of words covering an issue can be crucial.

Places like Powerline and others take on institutions like the NY Times regularly.  They got them today on the flaws in their poll and they've exposed them big time on a host of badly covered topics.  Still their readership is small compared to the bankrupting newspaper.  They also played a big part in taking down Dan Rather on his 'fake but true' story, but they did not take down the liberal bias of SeeBS.  Microsoft pulled back from but that didn't change the bias on cable.  My thought was that these exposures of bias caused errors would lead to a shake up and a correction.  Instead they take pride in their niche while their importance is diminishing.

I used to write opposition pieces for the local paper; my counterpoint ran across from the Mpls StarTribune (star and sickle) endorsement of Bill Clinton in 92.  In their editing, they cut a key paragraph that tied in with other points I was making.  After that I wrote 'no editing without my permission' on subsequent submissions and was never published there again.

Other conservatives advise not to write for them at all.  Don't help them improve their product.  Let it die and the best way to make them go away is to ignore them completely and get news from better sources.

I like to search for stories of interest from the accumulator sites, Real Clear Politics is one of the best, also Drudge, The Blaze, Free Republic and DBMA. )  Google News allows you to choose which outlet to read a current story.  Powerlineblog keeps a running referral to about 6 picks of noteworthy stories current on the web.  WSJ's James Taranto writes a Best of the Web piece every business afternoon, no subscription required, with excellent insights and humor.  Add in the Huffington Post, might as well turn to left instead of pretend mainstream to know what they are thinking and reading.  It is important to see and read the opponents in their own words, so don't leave those out no matter your view.

Seriously this forum is an excellent antidote because the posters here all share from their own unique reading lists on a wide range of topics and issues.  
4453  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music - Aaron Copland, Fanfare on: August 01, 2012, 12:44:57 PM
As much as I like Dick Morris, his lunch alert viewers deserve a longer version of the spectacular intro music, American composer Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man.  Enjoy:
4454  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / First Amendment Freedom of Speech, It's Chick Fil-A Appreciation Day! on: August 01, 2012, 12:19:36 PM
In celebration of the First Amendment, today is Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day

Restaurant Locator:

Enjoy a little lunch or dinner with your freedom of speech.
4455  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Foreign Policy of David Axelrod on: August 01, 2012, 12:08:11 PM
Who runs US foreign policy?  A Stanford Senior Fellow says political implications come first.

The Foreign Policy of David Axelrod
by Fouad Ajami (Senior Fellow and cochair, Working Group on Islamism and the International Order)
In the Obama administration, politics trumps grand strategy.

By latest count, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has logged 843,448 miles on the job: She is officially now the most traveled Secretary of State in U.S. history, 102 countries have seen her come and go. In one dispatch, it was breakfast in Vietnam, lunch in Laos, and dinner in Cambodia for our chief diplomat.

In the interim, campaign strategist David Axelrod has stayed close to home, Chicago and Washington, with one notable stop in Boston, where he sought to besmirch the gubernatorial record of Mitt Romney. But the foreign policy of Barack Obama is the foreign policy of David Axelrod. Gone is that hallowed past when the legendary George Marshall observed a strict separation between foreign policy and the political play at home: He had refused to cast a vote in presidential elections and he had bristled when the “political people” in President Truman’s circle of advisors intruded into the foreign policy domain.

We needn’t exalt the past—presidents always worried about the impact of foreign crises on their standing at home. Still, the subordination of foreign policy to the electoral needs of the Obama campaign stands apart in recent American history. Foreign policy has been masterfully neutralized in the Obamian world, taken off the board in this campaign.

Strategic Abdication in Afghanistan & Iraq

The meteoric rise of Barack Obama, the adoring crowds in Paris and Berlin, and the early dispatches from an Islamic world that looked upon him as a kindred spirit, concealed a political man with scant interest in foreign lands. Mr. Obama left the devotees to their own imagination; they read into him what they wished. He had come into office in the aftermath of an uncompromising American nationalist; he held aloft symbols of cosmopolitanism, and a supra-national elite took to him. But the animating drive of his foreign policy was his own quest for power.

Right from the start, he would play the foreign world safe. He had trumpeted Afghanistan as the “good war of necessity,” but he never gave the war his all. This was not Lyndon Johnson haunted by Vietnam, or George W. Bush pressing on in Iraq when all appeared lost in 2006–2007, defying the popular mood, launching a surge in the teeth of a hostile Congress, and a Republican party that had grown uncertain about Iraq.

Barack Obama came up with his own surge in Afghanistan, but he undercut the effort there by announcing a set date for American withdrawal in 2014—two safe years after his bid for reelection. There would be no “heat,” no soaring poetry about Afghanistan.

Early on, President Obama had talked of a “civilian surge” to go along with the additional military force he had dispatched—agricultural specialists, educators, engineers, and lawyers who would tackle the problems of the country from the bottom up in the provinces. By the second year of his presidency, Mr. Obama would say little if anything about the reform of Afghanistan. The early dream of “nation-building” was abandoned. It was well understood that this commander-in-chief was marking time in Afghanistan.

He had his Republican rivals on the horns of a dilemma: They could neither outflank him from the right by calling for more troops and a deeper commitment, nor urge writing off the entire venture as a doomed enterprise. Mission Accomplished, Mr. Obama had inoculated himself on Afghanistan.

The success of Mr. Obama’s (read: Axelrod’s) approach was made manifestly clear in the speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars that Governor Romney made on July 24. Hitherto, Mr. Romney had made the obligatory challenge to the Obama deadline. But he, too, now accepted 2014 as a set date for an American withdrawal. The Taliban needn’t worry: The electoral verdict in November 2012 is of no consequence to them. They could wait out the American presence. The Hamid Karzai reign of plunder and extortion would be ready for the plucking by then.

In the same vein, there were strategic gains secured in Iraq, but Mr. Obama headed for the exits. Politics clashed with strategic interests, and politics prevailed. It was well understood that the Iraqi government was eager for a residual American presence that would give it sufficient time to make its way in the region. Further, it was known that the Iraqis and the American military commanders on the scene had in mind an American force of roughly 20,000 military personnel, or close to it.

But Mr. Obama made the Iraqis an offer they were meant to refuse; a token force of less than 5,000, hardly enough to fend for itself, let alone offer the Iraqis any meaningful protection. Mr. Obama got the result he wanted. His surest applause line, in his acceptance speech this summer, will be the boast that he kept the promise to his base of bringing to an end the American campaign in Iraq.

A Fluke in Libya

Admittedly, Libya was the one exception to this foreign policy of strategic abdication. The Libyans were lucky: This was a solar-lunar eclipse. Mr. Obama had done his best to keep the struggle against Moammar Gaddafi at bay, but David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy had taken the plunge into Libya, and American power—decisive in the end—destroyed the Gaddafi dictatorship. Gaddafi had been particularly obtuse: He had stated for the world to hear his intention of bringing death and slaughter to the rebellious city of Benghazi.

Mr. Obama’s reputation was in the scales of history, a mini-Rwanda appeared to be in the offing. Mr. Obama did right by the Libyans. But he tipped his hand. The Obama administration steadfastly refused to celebrate or claim the victory in Libya. That country would be kept at arm’s length, even as a parliamentary election handed a defeat to the Islamists, and went the way of a big secular/tribal coalition headed by a technocrat with an American doctorate. Libya would not be repeated elsewhere, it was a fluke, not a template. No Obama doctrine at work here.

Syria: “We Miss Bush’s Audacity”

The Syrians would come to envy the luck of the Libyans. For seventeen remorseless months, the Syrian people would be subjected to all kinds of cruelties. More than two dozen “torture centers” would mete out to a suffering population unspeakable barbarisms. Over 1,200 children have perished in this pitiless war of a regime against its own population; young children would be brutalized, used as human shields by the convoys of the security forces; benign farming villages would become code names for heartlessness.

“Massacres have become like breakfast to us,” a political activist recently observed. In the face of all this, the Obama policy has been one of total abdication. The Secretary of State has carried out her president’s brief: She has been running out the clock, seeking cover behind the arcane doings of the United Nations Security Council, making it appear as though deliverance hinged on a change in the attitude of Russia at the United Nations. Any “Model UN” high school team would have foreseen the vetoes of Russia—and China—at the Security Council. Truth is that Russian diplomacy has been a convenient alibi for a quiescent American policy.

The sophistry that has gone into arguing that “Syria is not Libya” is unworthy of a great liberal power. Nor can the exquisitely tortured discussions of the “difficult” borders of Syria stand any scrutiny. If anything, those sensitive borders and the spillover of Syria’s troubles and pathologies into Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey, should have long tipped the scales in favor of an interventionist Syria policy. There is will—and there are resources—in the region to upend the Syrian dictatorship, for Bashar al-Assad has unleashed a full-scale sectarian war that has unnerved and antagonized his neighbors.

But the world is what it is, and the regional powers await an American green light that has never come. Plainly, an American president boastful that he had quit Iraq can not stand before his “progressive” base and proclaim the assumption of a new burden in Syria.

“The tide of war is receding” is one of the favorite mantras of this administration and its leaders. But what is receding before our eyes is the American influence in the world order. Mr. Obama has narrowed the horizons of a country with historically wide vistas. In the Obamian world, that which can’t be done with drones and the daring of our SEALs is left untended. In a note of exquisite irony, Barack Obama had made much of his predecessor’s poor standing in Islamic lands. Trumpet the polls, fall to them: Mr. Obama’s standing in Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Survey, is now lower than George W. Bush’s standing. A placard carried by a group of Syrian protesters tells it all: “We miss Bush’s audacity.”  

Now it could be that the American people have been made weary by foreign engagements, and that the economic distress—our debt, our deficits, an anemic recovery, persisting high levels of unemployment—has made us reticent in the face of burdens abroad. That would be an irony all its own—a president who mismanaged the economy being rewarded for the lack of confidence his presidency itself has generated.

From the very beginning, Mr. Obama has been a herald of a “declinist” reading of America. We can’t aid the Syrians, our touch would sully them. We can’t identity ourselves with the democratic aspirations of the Iranians, for we must conciliate their rulers. We can’t defend the cause of liberty and freedom, for in that Obamian worldview, freedom is a fragile, uncertain bet the world over.

So our Secretary of State circles the globe, nine countries in thirteen days in one recent expedition. The bet of this president is that the American people will neither notice, nor care about, the erosion of the American ascendency that enabled this country to do good and to do well in the order of nations. Come November, the country will deliver its verdict on this stunted vision of its place in the world.
4456  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Polling for a News Story on: August 01, 2012, 12:03:29 PM
(Should be a Media Issue...)  At a time when Pres. Obama couldn't buy a good news story, he didn't need to.  The useful idiots in the biased polling business have stepped up to the plate to declare Obama with big leads in key states.  The poll becomes the news story hopefully in their mind giving the President a lift.  No .;can prove them wrong in July.  By late October they have to shape up their numbers to protect their rotten reputations.  Meanwhile these outliars will linger and figure into the most respected polling averages for some time to come.

Poll internals:

What they do in Florida for example is oversample Dems by 13 points.  In a best case year or 2008, Obama won Fla by 4.  In the most recent statewide contest wide nationwide implications, Republican Marco Rubio won Florida by a million votes and second place was a Republican.  So much for polling Dems at +13 to get a result of the Dem leading by 6.

4457  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: August 01, 2012, 11:11:44 AM
"Romney is a buffoon.  Too bad the Republicans couldn't find someone better.  Romney may still win, but it will be in spite of himself, not because of himself."

Is ad hominem - against the person - the best that you've got?  Notghing about governing philosophy or policy? Bob Shrum, a Dem operative, doesn't like him either.  And we were counting on his vote.

Gaffes that aren't gaffes and not a mention of the 2 things that did happened on the trip, the stand with Israel  speech in Jerusalem and the Reagan-like pro-freedom speech in Poland.

On the Olympics, they asked someone who ran them once and he gave an honest answer.  They'll get through it.

If you don't get the culture difference, maybe I can help you.  The GDP per capita of Israel is $32,300.  The GDP of West Bank - Gaza Strip is 1/11th of that, $2900.  One is a true Silicon Valley, they other is a third world country in the most negative ways, illiteracy, poverty, terrorism.  You don't know there is a cultural difference?  What a joke.  You ought to go read George Gilder's book 'The Israel Test'

"...Israel...a leader of human civilization, technological progress, and scientific advance. Tiny Israel stands behind only the United States in its contributions to the hi-tech economy. Israel has become the world's paramount example of the blessings of freedom."  Then he backs it up with data and examples.

To JDN and Mr. Shrum, there IS a cultural difference. 

I'll post the two excellent Romney speeches separately.

Must admit Shrum knows his losing Presidential campaigns though.  He holds the all time record for running them.  Pres. Gephart, Dukakis, Bob Kerrey, Al Gore, John Kerry, critics often point out a "curse" associated with the presidential campaigns that Shrum has worked on, since he has yet to claim victory for any of his candidates in eight presidential elections.

4458  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela - Hugo Chávez ruthlessly consolidates his power on: July 31, 2012, 06:05:51 PM

The Post’s View
Facing election, Hugo Chávez ruthlessly consolidates his power

By Editorial Board, Published: July 26  Washington Post

Having the caudillo at the top of the ticket makes a big difference: While most polls show Mr. Chávez leading opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, they also indicate that the opposition would trounce any of Mr. Chávez’s potential successors. The president’s personal popularity lingers with some Venezuelans, who do not fault him for the soaring inflation, power and food shortages and world-beating murder rate that have emerged during his 13 years in office.

Mr. Chávez, however, is leaving little to chance. He is pouring tens of billions of dollars, much of it borrowed from China, into the economy, producing a preelection boomlet. More significantly, he is employing all the leverage of a legal system and mass media that he has politicized and subordinated to his personal control. Just how far that process of corruption has advanced is illuminated in a report by Human Rights Watch, which concludes that “the accumulation of power in the executive, the removal of institutional safeguards, and the erosion of human rights guarantees have given the Chávez government free rein to intimidate, censor and prosecute Venezuelans who criticize the president or thwart his political agenda.”

4459  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness: Running on Bill Clinton's Record, "Our Plan" created 23 million jobs on: July 31, 2012, 05:58:14 PM
In Oakland, California, the president said "I’m also going to ask anybody making over $250,000 a year to go back to the tax rates they were paying under Bill Clinton, back when our economy created 23 million new jobs, the biggest budget surplus in history and everybody did well.”

ABC News:  "This pitch on occasion has meant that President Obama at times sounds as if he’s claiming some ownership of the Clinton economy – referring to “our plan” "
Bill Clinton cut capital gains taxes, declared that the era of big government is over, ended welfare as we knew it, worked with Republicans co-opting much of their agenda, passed the Reagan-inspired hemisphere-wide free trade agreement, backed away from healthcare when the people rejected it, grew the economy and balanced the budget.  What part of that reminds anyone of the Obama agenda or record?

Mitt Romney is not Bush and Obama is no Bill Clinton.

4460  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 31, 2012, 04:02:13 PM
"Israel was the aggressor in '67?!?"

For that to be true you would have to believe that all opposing air raids must complete their missions and all bombs must land and explode before it is "legal" to defend yourself.

FYI to JDN, if you wait until you are dead to respond, you did not act in self defense.  To the contrary, you failed to act in self defense.
4461  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 31, 2012, 01:32:37 PM
And it wasn't hate speech for a certain chancellor if all of Germany agreed with him...  What a bizarre criteria for distinguishing between right and wrong.

While you were driveling around I think you forgot to answer the question, are they our best ally in the region?

Or are they a rogue nation ready to make more unprovoked attacks on neighbors as you suggest?

How can they be both?
4462  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 19.9% unemployment supplement on: July 31, 2012, 01:23:17 PM
Link to explanation of calculations made in the previous post:

Includes this chart:

By this measure, 'real' unemployment has doubled in the 6 years since Pelosi-Reid-Obama took control of congress and then the executive branch.

Whatever it is we are doing, ostensibly trying to help the middle class by attacking investors and businesses, it isn't working!
4463  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Constant Workforce U6 Unemployment Rate is 20% on: July 31, 2012, 01:04:46 PM
Crafty, I'll do my best to answer that.

When you adjust the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) reported unemployment to the unemployment rate if we were to hold the workforce participation rate constant, the 9 million that left the workforce during the Obama years already includes the 3.1 million workers that left for disability pay.  

Here is the combined chart showing 20% unemployment for U6 assuming a constant workforce participation rate for the Obama years.

Definitions for U-1, U-3, U-6 and all other BLS unemployment measures can be found here:

The following chart shows around 9 million leaving the workforce during the Obama years:

Maybe more clear at this link:

It should be noted that the declining labor force participation rate is not unique to Obama.  The rate for males has been declining over a long period and the workforce participation rate for females peaked in 2000.  The important point is that we cannot continue straight line decline unless we also lighten the public sector spending load at the same rate, sharing that burden with fewer and fewer workers - which simply is not going to happen.  Instead it is logically and empirically the opposite; the higher the number of adults who don't work, the more that will receiver increasing benefits from our ever-expanding plethora of programs.

4464  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 31, 2012, 12:16:29 PM
Obj, your points on Obama and his background and disdain for all that made America great are well-founded.  More important though is to capture a significan number of the hearts and minds of the 69,456,897 people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008.  These people I think are more victims of a sort were experiencing disincentive denial.  They believed for the moment you can attack the rich, stomp out wealth, handcuff employers and strangle businesses without hurting the economy overall or hurting working people.  It's just not so and the evidence is all around us.  Saying that the destruction of the republic and our economy was intentional is probably not the most attractive argument for bringing them back.  There is no need to prove it was intentional, even if it was at the top, we only have to show it didn't work.
4465  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 31, 2012, 11:45:17 AM
"forcibly taking over Jerusalem, giving no compensation, and calling land in the occupied territory your "capital" is illegitimate." - JDN from Glibness thread

Hate speech IMO if you won't back it up.  Defense of your country is "illegal"?  Please cite the law along with a complete list of countries who have broken it.

Singling out Israel while looking the other way for all others reeks of antisemitism.  The same group that puts Assad and Khadafy on the Human Rights Commission lashes out constantly at Israel for committing acts of self defense.

The real question IMHO is this:  Has our half-hearted, wishy-washy support for our best ally in the region* Israel featuring equal respect for the terrorists who attack them been helpful or counterproductive to Middle East peace?

* In your world, who is our best ally in the region?  Which country seeks peace than Israel and more representative of our ideals?

Meanwhile we bow to unelected Arab royalty, Pres. Assad of Syria is a reformer, and Mrs. Arafat is oh so kissable.
4466  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America on: July 31, 2012, 10:36:06 AM
Frank Gaffney has some credibility with me.  The line at the end looks a bit like a cheap shot, an avowedly gay man rooting for the wrong team, but it is quite odd and dangerous as he points out that gay activism is politically aligned in this country with Islamic extremism.  No, we aren't going to pass an Islamic law tomorrow to stone all gays to death, but that is only because we do not accept the basic tenets of Islamic law in civilized society.

Interesting that Muslim congressman Keith Ellison supports gay marriage.  That plays well in Minneapolis, but I did not hear him say that on his trip to Mecca.

You don't see that many Catholic pro-abortion activists.  Maybe Islam is more tolerant.
4467  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: July 30, 2012, 06:24:07 PM
No. I still did not catch any supported reason why you believe that, just a smear.
4468  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama Promised Not To Run Negative Ads In 2008 on: July 30, 2012, 06:21:15 PM
We're gonna run a different kind of campaign, we're not gonna go around doin' negative ads.  - Barack Obama - April 2008, Wilson, NC
4469  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Romney’s Remarkable Speech in Jerusalem, By Daniel Pipes on: July 30, 2012, 06:16:21 PM

The Corner

Romney’s Remarkable Speech in Jerusalem
By Daniel Pipes
July 30, 2012

Mitt Romney, the all-but-official Republican presidential nominee, delivered a stem-winder of a speech to the Jerusalem Foundation yesterday, packing emotional support with frank policy statements. The contrast with Obama could hardly be more dramatic. Indeed, one could go through the speech and note the many refutations of Obama. For example, the opening comment that “To step foot into Israel is to step foot into a nation that began with an ancient promise made in this land” directly contrasts with Obama’s crabbed statement in Cairo about “the aspiration for a Jewish homeland [being] rooted in a tragic history.”

Also, in contrast to the nonsensical Obama administration stance on Jerusalem being Israel’s capital — sneaking into change captions that mistakenly identified it as that and going through verbal gymnastics to avoid calling it that — Romney came out and plainly called Jerusalem “the capital of Israel.”

Many of his statements are paeans to the Jewish state and its extraordinary ties to the United States. Some quotations, with my italics on the key words in each quotation:

    Our two nations are separated by more than 5,000 miles. But for an American abroad, you can’t get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country than you do in Israel. . . .

    It is my firm conviction that the security of Israel is in the vital national security interest of the United States. . . .

    We have seen the horrors of history. We will not stand by. We will not watch them play out again. It would be foolish not to take Iran’s leaders at their word. They are, after all, the product of a radical theocracy. … We have a solemn duty and a moral imperative to deny Iran’s leaders the means to follow through on their malevolent intentions.

    . . . our alliance runs deeper than the designs of strategy or the weighing of interests. The story of how America – a nation still so new to the world by the standards of this ancient region – rose up to become the dear friend of the people of Israel is among the finest and most hopeful in our nation’s history. Different as our paths have been, we see the same qualities in one another. Israel and America are in many respects reflections of one another.

    . . . the enduring alliance between the State of Israel and the United States of America is more than a strategic alliance: it is a force for good in the world. America’s support of Israel should make every American proud. We should not allow the inevitable complexities of modern geopolitics to obscure fundamental touchstones. . . . A free and strong America will always stand with a free and strong Israel. . . .

    By history and by conviction, our two countries are bound together. No individual, no nation, no world organization, will pry us apart. And as long as we stay together and stand together, there is no threat we cannot overcome and very little that we cannot achieve.

But of the whole speech, it is the final words that most struck me: “May God bless America, and may He bless and protect the Nation of Israel.” When last did a politician ask the Lord to protect another country?

Comments: (1) Obama and Romney stand as far apart on Israel as they do on the sources of economic growth. (2) Over and over again, Romney returned to the moral bonds between the two countries; yes, there are mutual benefits from our connection, but ultimately it reflects something higher and greater than any of us. (3) If he is elected, it will be fascinating to watch to what extent the outlook expressed today will translate to the workaday policy issues. I expect it will have a substantial effect.
4470  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: July 30, 2012, 06:00:04 PM
If you already posted why my version of the facts is wrong or anything that supports your version of the facts, I missed it.  Are the other 192 nations in the United Nations all legitimate and just Israel is illegitimate?

If your story is right and they are the worst of 193 nations, why stop at denying them a capital?  Obama is bragging that he, in the first person, has given them record levels of aid.  If they are an illegal nation, why have an embassy at all?  Why not cut off trade?  Cut off aid.  Kick them out of the UN if they are illegitimate in borders and actions.  But Obama proposes none of that.  Why not? He wants it both ways.  Being deceitful is complicated.
4471  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Romney says Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel on: July 30, 2012, 03:33:28 PM
Romney says Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel

That was easy. 

In other news, Sacramento is still the capital of California, lol.
4472  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Basher Assad, a different leader, a Reformer - HRC, March 2011 on: July 30, 2012, 03:27:24 PM
Here's Mrs. Clinton's fuller quote, from March 27, 2011, answering CBS's Bob Schieffer on why the U.S. was prepared to intervene against Moammar Gadhafi but not against Assad: "There's a different leader in Syria now," she explained. "Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he is a reformer." - Hillary Clinton, current Secretary of State, advancing that viewpoint to support validate her policy.  Not surprising since she previously had quite a kiss with Mrs Arafat at the conclusion of a hate-Israel speech:

In 2007, Nancy Pelosi enthused that "the road to Damascus is a road to peace."   The lady wants to be Speaker of the House - again.

On March 16, 2011—the day after the first mass demonstration against the regime—John Kerry said Assad was a man of his word who had been "very generous with me." He added that under Assad "Syria will move; Syria will change as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States." This is the man who might be our next secretary of state.
4473  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics: 3.1 million added to disability rolls on: July 30, 2012, 03:14:31 PM
Bringing this info forward also:

"since June 2009, fully 3.1 million workers signed up for disability benefits."
4474  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Implied Unemployment Rate on: July 30, 2012, 03:09:56 PM
Bringing this GM post forward in the process of gathering info to answer Crafty's question.  "The real unemployment rate actually rose in January to 11.5%".  To this we might add the disability increase.  Posting disability numbers separately.  I will look deeper into it later.

Implied Unemployment Rate Rises To 11.5%, Spread To Propaganda Number Surges To 30 Year High
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/03/2012 09:35 -0500

Sick of the BLS propaganda? Then do the following calculation with us: using BLS data, the US civilian non-institutional population was 242,269 in January, an increase of 1.7 million month over month: apply the long-term average labor force participation rate of 65.8% to this number (because as chart 2 below shows, people are not retiring as the popular propaganda goes: in fact labor participation in those aged 55 and over has been soaring as more and more old people have to work overtime, forget retiring), and you get 159.4 million: that is what the real labor force should be. The BLS reported one? 154.4 million: a tiny 5 million difference. Then add these people who the BLS is purposefully ignoring yet who most certainly are in dire need of labor and/or a job to the 12.758 million reported unemployed by the BLS and you get 17.776 million in real unemployed workers. What does this mean? That using just the BLS denominator in calculating the unemployed rate of 154.4 million, the real unemployment rate actually rose in January to 11.5%. Compare that with the BLS reported decline from 8.5% to 8.3%. It also means that the spread between the reported and implied unemployment rate just soared to a fresh 30 year high of 3.2%.
4475  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney in Israel on: July 30, 2012, 12:36:20 AM
Another take on this trip is that Romney is shoring up support from conservative Republicans and evangelicals who have a concern or passion for Israel in numbers larger than Jewish Americans.
4476  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 109 million US adults 45.5% unempolyed, underemployed or not in the labor force on: July 29, 2012, 11:51:47 PM
Obj, I also consider George Will an independent.  His views are his own; they come out mostly conservative but not aligned with anyone or any movement.  In the context of this thread, we have been reading a lot of analysis from Brian Wesbury for one, who is a great economist but works for an investment house and I think has been trying to put lipstick on a pig in terms of this economy.  He says we are plowing forward but we really are standing still while multiplying our debt burden which means we are really moving backwards at an alarming rate.

By great economist I still mean that he is a economist who writes with the same conventions as the other economists, using misleading measures for things like growth rate, poverty rate, unemployment rate, among others, because that is the language they speak.

I tried to make a different point recently by questioning why they don't use a baseline growth rate where anything below that breakeven line would be considered a cut.  With a more honest measurement IMO it might be easier to see or admit that we are in about the 5th year of man made recession.  If we are not recovering it isn't a slow recovery or any other kind of recovery.  I think GW is making that same point in his own way.

Crafty, I don't know if I understand your question correctly but I think I would try to answer in a more simple manner:

There are how many adults in the USA?  Of that number, how many work at least full time?  How many don't.

Not in the numbers below, but more descriptive economically might be to measure how many adults work full time in the private sector, pulling the wagon, and how many do not.  The answer I believe is that less than 30% work full time or more in the private sector pulling the load and more than 70% do not.

Less than half of working age Americans work full time, here is a source:

These numbers are about a year old:

Only 47% Of Working Age Americans Have Full Time Jobs

The total non institutional civilian labor force (Americans 16 years and older who are not in a institution -criminal, mental, or other types of facilities- or an active military duty) is reported as 238.889 million. Of these, we see:

    Employed: 139.206 million people (58.3% of labor force)

    Unemployed: 14.485 million people (6.1% of labor force)

Obviously, that can't be the total picture, we're only at 64.4%. This is why:

    Part time employed for economic reasons: 8.931 million people. This concerns people who want a full-time job but can't get one.

    Part time employed for non-economic reasons: 18.184 million people. Non-economic reasons include school or training, retirement or Social Security limits on earnings, but also childcare problems and family or personal obligations.

But the by far largest category "missing" from both the Employed and Unemployed statistics is the "Not In Labor Force": 85.2 Million people.

The BLS definition states: "Not in the labor force (NILF). A person who did not work last week, was not temporarily absent from a job, did not actively look for work in the previous 4 weeks, or looked but was unavailable for work during the reference week; in other words, a person who was neither employed nor unemployed." (Clearly, this does include lot of unemployed people).

To summarize: 108.616 million people in America are either unemployed, underemployed or "Not in the labor force". This represents 45.5% of working age Americans.

If you count the "Part time employed for non-economic reasons", you get 126.8 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed, working part time or "Not in the labor force". That represents 53% of working age Americans.

So only 47% of working age Americans have full time jobs. While the official unemployment rate is 9.4%. Something's missing somewhere.

A few more factoids on the topic:

    Today, the long term unemployed make up 42% of total unemployed. That is to say, of course, those who are actually counted as unemployed instead of "Not in the labor force".

    43.2 million Americans receive foodstamps. That's 18.1% of all working age Americans. If they all have on average 1.5 dependents, which is probably a reasonable estimate, a full one third of the US population receives at least part of their food through this system.
4477  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - George Will Growth Recession on: July 29, 2012, 03:10:19 PM
Famous people reading the forum, this is George Will taking a stab at a point I have been trying to make.   I was saying we are below the 'baseline' for 'breakeven' growth.  It is really negative growth or a growth deficit.

George Will said today:  "We're in a growth recession.  That sounds like an oxymoron.  It isn't.  We're now in the 4th year of a recovery and we're growing but receding at the same time because we're not growing fast enough to create enough jobs to even take account of the natural growth of the workforce."

Go to about 12:20 of the This Week video:
4478  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 29, 2012, 02:37:55 PM
JDN, I agreed with you at the beginning, "Perhaps better to give it up". lol.

No, I don't have any best friends who broke into their neighbor's house, stole a major city, car, jewelry, whatever, and are still my best friend, and that isn't what happened, good grief.  Why have these threads if you can't or won't read them.  Enemies of Israel attacked Israel and lost land in the process.  Which part of that was ILLEGAL?  Did it happen some other way?  Israel is occasionally accused of taking a disproportionate response.  I hope so.  If you (or Carney or Obama) side with Israel's enemies, just say so.  I guess you did.

Israel to you and these others is an illegitimate nation, and the other 192 nations in the UN are fine.  Unbelievable.  We could pick dozens of examples to show how absurd that is.  Why is North Korea a legitimate nation?  Did they rightfully acquire the land under their capital?  Did the US acquire the land under Washington D.C. through war?  Why do we recognize our own country or capital.  Considering the anti-border enforcement movement, maybe you don't.  Why can't you see Israel is being singled as appeasement to the enemies of Israel, not because they are worse than all 192 others.  Why is that right, it isn't, and what did we gain through that policy, nothing.

If you and others side with the enemies of Israel, fine, but then why do we have to hear all the BS about how they are our ally and we stand by them.  They are but we don't.
4479  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 28, 2012, 03:37:03 PM
"I guess the question is from whose perspective."

I was asking YOU.  

cap·i·tal [kap-i-tl] noun
1. the city or town that is the official seat of government in a country, state, etc.: Tokyo is the capital of Japan.

If NK says somewhere other than Pyongyang or outside the country is the Capital of North Korea, it wouldn't be so.  

If I have one dog and one cat but then I say my cat is a dog, how many dogs do I now have?  Still just 1.  Saying a cat is a dog doesn't make it so.  

The official seat of the government of Israel is in Jerusalem.  Is it not?

You think the President's spokesman does not know that?

"As for Jay Carney, perhaps Tel Aviv isn't the capital, but then neither is Jerusalem.  So maybe he doesn't know; I don't know, but he knows and I know that the legitimate capital of Israel is not Jerusalem."

Wikipedia: "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel..."

CIA Fact book:  "Country: Israel, Capital: Jerusalem"

Israel is not a legitimate country so where they locate the official seat of their government is not the capital?  Is that what you're thinking?  193 countries in the UN, where else do we not recognize a capital?

Do you realize what an odd discussion this is?
4480  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: July 28, 2012, 01:41:59 PM
Yes. Great speech!  Anyone who has had their business swallowed up or nearly so by the regulatory red tape can feel that passion.

For me, taxes cost more than food, shelter, clothing, transportation and healthcare combined, but regulations are worse.

A great line in there:

Take the heavy boot off the throat of America's job creators and LET THEM BREATHE!

We spend $1.75 trillion on red tape.  There is your deficit and then some.
4481  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: July 28, 2012, 01:25:40 PM
Deception and distraction are what they sell.  Economic disaster is what you buy if you buy it.  At their very best they can accuse opponents of exactly what they are doing in plain sight, whether it is false context or refusing full disclosure.
4482  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 28, 2012, 12:56:40 PM
Not following you JDN.  You didn't say what is the capital of Israel.  In what city is the Knesset?  Wouldn't that be the capital?  In what country is Jerusalem?

If the right answer is that the capital of Israel is in Tel Aviv, why didn't Jay Carney say that?
4483  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 27, 2012, 06:26:08 PM
The way we normally determine where the Capital is in a state of foreign land is ... ASK THEM.

The Capital of North Korea is ... Pyongyang.  How do we know that?  They said so.

Israel has declared in Israeli law that Jerusalem is the Capital.  How could the Capital be anywhere else?  Is Israel a less legitimate nation than North Korea?  Less of an ally??

Barack Obama and team don't want to say the longer story.  Israel says the Capital is Jerusalem, Israel's enemies object.  We the Obama administration side with the enemies on this one.  (Bush's fault.)

Life is complicated, foreign policy too, if you don't or can't distinguish between good and evil.
4484  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: July 27, 2012, 06:17:09 PM
There seems to b e a misconception, Romney is running for President of Bain Capital, been there done that.  Were you going to reply on what is the minimum number of years of tax returns made public required by law to be President and their exact deadlines he seems to have missed?  You've added Donna Bazille to the list of people who won't vote for him until he releases at least 4, 6 or was it 12 returns?  Funny.

If Hillary went all the way back honestly without a statute of limitation she would be an options trading felon.  And no one cares.  Not running for President?  Well she was.

"Romney could end these discussions overnight by releasing his tax returns"

That just isn't so, is it?

Romney's tax returns will tell you what tax policy was and some implications of it at the time of the returns.  You should already know that or else that information is available elswhere.  There is no reason to believe he hasn't followed all applicable laws or missed any reporting requirements to the various agencies. 

Unlike the Senator who was  the 60th vote to pass Obamacare, Al Franken, who owed taxes in 17 states amounting to over $50,000 or the Obama's Secretary of the Treasury who had filed wrong in 10 years of returns counting 4 years wrong twice.

Like the Registrar of Records for Hawaiian birth records, maybe some middle level IRS manger can certify that the former Governor is up to snuff on his returns and payments.  Would that satisfy you?  No.

He's running for POTUS.  You have to be 40 and a natural born citizen. Do you have any questions of him as to what he might do as President? 
4485  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness - What is the Capital of Israel? on: July 27, 2012, 09:59:52 AM
Jay Carney Refuses To Identify Capital Of Israel Twice In White House Press Briefing

White House Press Briefing,  July 26, 2012
4486  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness source found - UC Berkley Prof. George Lakoff on: July 27, 2012, 12:14:14 AM
If you have already seen Pres. Obama's You didn't build that speech in context AND Elizabeth Warren's Someone else paid for that rant, then this video is a must see.

Obama and Warren bungled it.  Even the liberal professor, leader of progressives credits the taxpayers for what government has accomplished.!

George Lakoff - No One Got Rich On Their Own
4487  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mark Steyn: Stimulus so far = 1567 Golden Gate Bridges on: July 26, 2012, 11:40:53 PM
Obama implies we should get the rich to pay their fair share and build some infrastructure.  But with just the stimulus money spent so far we could have built the equivalent of 1567 Golden Gate Bridges in today's dollars.  Instead it was squandered.  With just the existing spending in our federal budget 2011 we could build 6788 Golden Gate Bridges.  Instead we got what?

Steyn says: "Instead of roads and bridges, Obama-sized government funds stasis and sclerosis: The Hoover Dam of regulatory obstruction, the Golden Gateway to dependency."
"In Obama's "visions," he builds roads and bridges. In reality, the President of Dependistan has put nothing but roadblocks in the path to opportunity and growth."
4488  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Walter Russell Mead on the budget pressures facing higher education on: July 26, 2012, 03:35:15 PM
From WRM's American Interest website, selected as 'notable and quotable' in the WSJ:

[The University of Missouri] has just announced that it is closing its university press after losing its annual subsidy of $400,000. Now professors and students are up in arms over the closure, decrying the move as an attack on scholarly discourse and taking to Facebook petitions to protest the decision.

Look past the uproar, however, and it is clear that this is part of a wider trend. A number of other universities, including prestigious schools like Rice, have shuttered their presses, and six more have joined it in the past three years alone. As state budgets contract, and as private universities face higher costs, schools across the country are all finding out the same thing—the money just isn't there.

Fewer university presses with higher standards would probably serve humanity better than the current system. Some of the problem stems from the nature of the tenure system, in which every academic in the country is under pressure to publish books whether he or she has anything worth saying or not. In that sense the university press problem is a symptom rather than a cause of academia's woes. Parts of the university press system work like vanity presses, where the driving force in the system is the author's need to be published rather than the reader's need to know.

What's going on here, however, is less about quality than it is about money and the outmoded foundations of American institutions and practices built in the post World War Two era. The baroque inefficiency of the academic enterprise—and especially the research model university, which . . . has built a system that demands enormous outside resources to continue to function.

In a handful of cases, notably the best endowed private universities, there is enough money on hand to make this system work. But less affluent private universities and virtually all public universities face a harsher climate. And as state governments in particular face claims on their tight revenues from more powerful constituencies than university faculty and staff, the public universities are being systematically starved of cash.

There are two ways for the system to respond. One is by cheese paring: cutting costs on "extraneous" or "non-core" activities while trying to preserve the heart of the old model. This looks like simple common sense to most administrators, and it is often the thinking that leads to the closure of university presses as well as other activities that, in the cold light of a budget crunch, suddenly look like frills.

The second way is more difficult, but it is ultimately what the academy must do: it must reinvent itself and radically restructure. This would involve not merely closing down an expensive university press but rethinking the relationship of scholarship to teaching, and re-examining the relevance of the "publish or perish" system for the large group of disciplines and institutions where it doesn't really make sense.
4489  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New home sales double dip on: July 26, 2012, 03:17:47 PM
"Sales of new U.S. homes unexpectedly dropped in June from a two-year high..."

"Unexpectedly", lol.

Employment is down, incomes are down, wealth is down,growth is down, confidence is down, 62% say we are on the wrong track, why wouldn't new home sales be down?

Who buys the new homes that drive home construction employment, the lowest income quintile?
4490  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy: Tax Fairness on: July 26, 2012, 03:08:24 PM
Good data presented here by Ari Fleischer in the WSJ a few days ago taken from the latest CBO study.  The top 20% make 50% and pay 70% of federal taxes, while the middle quintile pays 9% of the burden and the lowest pay essentially nothing and receive the most back. The wealthy "haven't been asked to do their fair share"??  What a crock.

Ari Fleischer: The Latest News on Tax Fairness
A new Congressional Budget Office reports shows the share of taxes paid by the top 20% has gone up over the last 30 years, while the share of taxes paid by everyone else has gone down.


If fairness in paying taxes means the amount you pay is based on the amount you make, then the only group in America paying at least a "fair share" is the top 20%—people who make more than $74,000. For everyone else, the tax code is a bargain.

You wouldn't know this from President Obama's rhetoric, but our tax system, according to a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), is incredibly progressive. Consider: The top 1% of income earners pay an average federal tax rate of 28.9%. (See the nearby table.) The average federal tax rate on the top 20% is 23.2%. The 20% of taxpayers earning between $50,100 and $73,999 pay an average 15.1%, and so on down the line. The CBO report includes payroll as well as income taxes paid.

There's also another way of looking at fairness, and that's the tax burden. Here, consider the top 20% of income earners (over $74,000). They make 50% of the nation's income but pay nearly 70% of all federal taxes.

The remaining 30% of the tax burden is borne by 80% of the taxpayers, those who make less than $74,000. In short, this group's share of taxes paid, 30%, is lower than the share of income they earn, 50%.

Yet President Obama says that "for some time now, when compared to the middle class," the wealthy "haven't been asked to do their fair share."

He's right that the system isn't fair, but not because the top 1% pay too little. It is because they pay too much.

Mr. Obama has said that some wealthy employers pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries. True, some are able to lower their effective federal tax rate by giving millions to charity. Or because they derive much of their income as capital gains or from tax-free municipal bonds.

But middle- and low-income Americans who do not invest also pay lower rates thanks to the deductions they receive, such as a $1,000 per child tax credit (which phases out for couples who make more than $110,000), or the Earned Income Tax Credit, which no one making more than $50,000 is supposed to receive.

The CBO report ("The Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, 2008 and 2009") covers the years 1979-2009. It makes plain that the impression conveyed by the president about what upper-income Americans pay in taxes does not hold up to scrutiny.

First of all, the share of taxes paid by the top 20% has gone up over the last 30 years, while the share of taxes paid by everyone else has gone down. It has gone up despite the tax cuts enacted by President Clinton in 1997 and by President Bush in 2001 and 2003. But that makes no difference to the president. The only group of taxpayers he calls on to "sacrifice" are those already doing all the tax sacrificing.

The top 20% in 1979 made 44.9% of the nation's income and paid 55.3% of all federal taxes. Thirty years later, the top 20% made 50.8% of the nation's income and their share of federal taxes paid had jumped to 67.9%.

And the top 1%? In 1979, this group earned 8.9% of the nation's income and paid 14.2% of all federal taxes. In 2009, they earned 13.4% of the nation's income but their share of the federal tax burden rose to 22.3%.

Meanwhile, the federal tax burden on middle- and lower-income earners is lighter. In 1979, the bottom 20% paid barely any taxes at all, just 2.1%. Now their share of taxes is a minuscule 0.3%. The burden on the middle-income earners ($34,900 to $50,100) has dropped too. In 1979, they paid 13.6% of all federal taxes; in 2009 they paid 9.4%.

One reason our country is so divided is because the president keeps dividing us. If taxes need to be raised to fight a war or fund a cause, the president should ask everyone to pitch in. If the need is national, the solution should be national—and that includes all of us.

But that's not how Mr. Obama governs. We learned during the 2008 campaign that he believes in spreading the wealth around. And recently we learned he doesn't believe that successful people made it on their own. Without the government, the president tells us, job creators and entrepreneurs would not be able to make it in America.

It's really the other way around. Without job creators and the successful, the government wouldn't have any money. So next time Mr. Obama meets someone in the top 1% or even the top 20%, instead of saying they're not paying their fair share, he should simply say thank you.
4491  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness continues on: July 26, 2012, 02:47:51 PM
Pres. Obama yesterday: "...our union may not be perfect, but it is perfectible."

Meaning:  The founders and the 43 Presidents before me were a little off the mark but my vision for the country is right.

A week ago:

"The mistake of my first term—couple of years," the president allowed, "was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right." At times, Obama confessed, he'd forgotten that "the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times."

No, Mr. President.  The mistake of your first term was policy; you got it wrong.
4492  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH - Iraq Ironies on: July 26, 2012, 02:40:53 PM
Iraqi Ironies

Victor Davis Hanson

Jul 26, 2012

Amid all the stories about the ongoing violence in Syria, the most disturbing is the possibility that Syrian President Bashar Assad could either deploy the arsenal of chemical and biological weapons that his government claims it has, or provide it to terrorists.

There are suggestions that at least some of Assad's supposed stockpile may have come from Saddam Hussein's frantic, 11th-hour efforts in 2002 to hide his own weapons of mass destruction arsenals in nearby Syria. Various retired Iraqi military officers have alleged as much. Although the story was met with general neglect or scorn from the U.S. media, the present director of national intelligence, James Clapper, long ago asserted his belief in such a weapons transfer.

The Bush administration fixated on WMD in justifying the invasion of Iraq while largely ignoring more than 20 other writs to remove Saddam, as authorized by Congress in October 2002. That obsession would come back to haunt George W. Bush when stockpiles of deployable WMD failed to turn up in postwar Iraq. By 2006, "Bush lied; thousands died" was the serial charge of the antiwar left. But before long, such depots may finally turn up in Syria.

Another staple story of the last decade was the inept management of the Iraq reconstruction. Many Americans understandably questioned how civilian and military leaders allowed a brilliant three-week victory over Saddam to degenerate into a disastrous five-year insurgency before the surge finally salvaged Iraq. That fighting and reconstruction anywhere in the Middle East are difficult under any circumstances was forgotten. The press preferred instead to charge that the singular incompetence or malfeasance of Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld led to the unnecessary costs in American blood and treasure.

But perhaps that scenario needs an update as well. Journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran's new book, "Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan," is a blistering critique of the Obama administration's three-year conduct of the Afghanistan war and its decision to surge troops, chronicling stupid decisions, petty infighting, arrogance and naiveté. In an earlier book on Iraq, Chandrasekaran had alleged that America's Iraq dilemmas were the result of a similarly bungling Bush administration.

So was the know-it-all reporter right then about Iraq, or is he right now about Afghanistan, or neither, or both? And will the media revise their earlier criticism and concede that America's problems in conducting difficult wars in the Middle East are inherent in the vast differences between cultures -- fault lines that likewise have baffled even Barack Hussein Obama, the acclaimed internationalist and Nobel laureate who was supposed to be singularly sensitive to customs in that part of the world?

In 2008, we were told that predator drone attacks, renditions, preventative detentions, military tribunals, the Guantanamo detention center and the surging of troops into difficult wars were all emblematic of Bush's disdain for the Constitution and his overall ineptness as a commander in chief. In 2012, these same continuing protocols are no such thing, but instead valuable antiterrorism tools, and seen as such by President Obama.

For all the biases and incompetence of Nouri al-Maliki's elected government in Iraq, the Middle East's worst dictatorship now seems to have become the region's most stable constitutional government. Given Iraq's elections, the country was relatively untouched by the mass "Arab Spring" uprisings. And despite sometimes deadly Sunni-Shiite terrorist violence and the resurgence of al Qaeda, Iraq's economy, compared with some of the other nations in the Middle East, is stable and expanding.

The overthrow of Saddam was also supposed to be a blunder in terms of grand strategy, empowering our enemies Iran and Syria. True, Saddam's ouster and the subsequent violence may have done that in the short term. But how about long-term, nine years later?

The Assad dynasty seems about to go the way of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Bin Ali and Libya's Muammar Gadhafi. Syria's grand ally, Iran -- which barely put down popular demonstrations in 2009 -- has never been more isolated and beleaguered as it deals with sanctions, international ostracism and growing unpopularity at home.

Who knows whether Saddam's fall, trial and execution, coupled with the creation of an Iraqi constitutional government, triggered a slow chain reaction against similar Arab tyrannies.

The moral of the story is that history cannot be written as it unfolds. In the case of Iraq, we still don't know the full story of Saddam's WMD, the grand strategic effects of the Iraq war, the ripples from the creation of the Iraq republic, or the relative degree of incompetence of any American administration at war in the Middle East -- and we won't for many years to come.
4493  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Romney and the 2002 Olympics on: July 26, 2012, 01:55:45 PM
This is a pretty good story about Mitt's management of the SLC Olympics 2002:

Romney and the Olympics: What the SLC Games say about a Mitt Romney presidency

By Lisa Riley Roche , Deseret News    July 25 2012
"Both supporters and critics of Romney's three years as the CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee say his experiences in Utah offer insights into what he would bring to the White House. "
"Romney's expertise is data-driven analysis."
"Bullock, who was Romney’s No. 2 at SLOC as chief operating officer of the Olympics, said Romney has had to tone down his personality since throwing his hat in the ring."
“I wish the rest of the world knew Mitt as we did,” Bullock said. “He’s just a blast to be around.”
“I always found him very unique because he was a leader and an executive."
“If he ever got in the White House, that would absolutely mirror what he did in the Games,” Eynon said. “When Mitt says he would cut nonessential things … I would take him at his word.” 
"Gillespie said Romney’s ability to focus on what’s important and give up what isn't, no matter how much pressure there may be not to, will win over voters." 

Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, who’s heading the planning for Romney’s transition to the White House, said the results of the Olympics speak for themselves.

“Discouragement was replaced by belief. The $400 million deficit was replaced by a $100 million surplus. The 2002 Winter Olympic Games are widely respected as among the best ever put on,” Leavitt said.

Romney accomplished this, he said, by applying the principles learned at Harvard Business School and put in practice building a personal fortune estimated at $250 million: Start with tearing apart the books and bringing in experts from both the finance and Olympic world.

"I heard Mitt over and over again giving a speech talking about the need to separate 'want-to-haves' from 'need-to-haves.' He set clear priorities, made hard decisions and stuck with them." 

4494  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues: POTH would rather be in Fallujah on: July 26, 2012, 01:01:06 PM
When Bush won 'unexpectedly' in 2004, NYT reporters were reportedly telling each other they didn't even know anyone who voted for Bush.  Rush L humorously pointed out that they would have to send "foreign correspondents" out to the heartland to find out what happened.

Let the record reflect that 61 years after the oil discovery the POTH has now sent an opinion reporter out to Williston, North Dakota to file a condescending and derogatory * report on a boom that has the potential to change geo-politics.

I know it was a day trip because the hotels are booked and she certainly doesn't have any friends there.

*  "There are certain things that journalists do as a public service because you, the noble reader, are probably not going to do them for yourself — like attending charter revision meetings or reading the autobiography of Tim Pawlenty. Going to Williston is sort of in this category."  - Gail Collins, NY Times
4495  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Senate votes 51-48 for a recession on: July 26, 2012, 12:47:10 PM
Raise taxes on employers and small businesses in a zero growth economy and you have a guaranteed recession, if all other factors are constant.

Senate Votes to Raise Taxes on Small Businesses

Yesterday, the Senate narrowly voted (51-48) to raise taxes on 1.2 million small businesses, which will likely kill more than 700,000 jobs at a time when nearly 13 million Americans are out of work. Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Jim Webb (D-VA) joined all Republicans in bipartisan opposition to the tax hike.

Raising taxes on "only the rich" polls well as a plurality of people still believe you can soak someone else and not yourself, your family, your neighbors in an  integratively interconnected economy.  It just doesn't happen to be true.  Labor requires capital and employment requires employers with enough funds to meet a payroll and profit incentives to drive economic growth.

The Senate is actually bluffing or positioning because they know they don't have the votes in the  House.

Two Dem Senators, Joe Lieberman and Jim Webb, crossed party lines.
4496  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 25, 2012, 11:32:07 PM
From Crafty's WSJ/Henninger post:

Barack Obama is explicitly seeking a mandate to make the public economy pre-eminent. That is the unmistakable meaning of "You didn't build that."

Correct, no matter the meaning of 'that'.  Some of us have been begging for that kind of clarity from Republicans for a few years here.

Clinton used to blur the differences and co-opt his opponents' agenda.  RINOs do that too.  In 2008, Obama was cautious and cryptic, speaking in platitudes, even when he told a plumber we need to spread the wealth.  Now the President sounds hate-filled and angry: "You didn't build that!"  A far cry from hope and change.

The lines are drawn; it's the chicken and the egg.  One side says you couldn't have your business if not for the public sector.  The other side argues that you can't fund our public sector without a healthy private sector.

Both are right but voters have to choose which is pre-eminent.
4497  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential -specious shiny objects on: July 25, 2012, 05:17:17 PM
Famous people reading the forum?

Romney responding to a reckless Biden remark: "We have very serious problems confronting our nation and American families are hurting, yet the Obama campaign continues to try to divert voters' attention with specious shiny objects. "
4498  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Moving Backward on: July 25, 2012, 02:44:33 PM
President on the trail, is:  “going to ask anybody making over $250,000 a year to go back to the tax rates they were paying under Bill Clinton, back when our economy created 23 million new jobs.”

That's great - for a campaign with a motto of "forward".  Are they going to compete in a 1990's global economy too.  Maybe have an internet boom, dot com and housing bubbles too.  Can he get our competitors to set the clock back 20 years too?  How about rolling back regulations on businesses 20 years, lol.

Or he could ask his own advisers, the tax increase will cost the economy a couple million jobs.

"extending for one year the Bush tax cuts for families making less than $250,000"

The Obama plan sets the tax rate increase coming problem in motion for a third time, as if the first two didn't do enough damage.

Insanity: Do the same thing, expect a different result.
4499  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney - VFW speech lays out foreign policy differences on: July 25, 2012, 02:15:54 PM
Romney to VFW, skipping intro:  ...
Just consider some of the challenges I discussed at your last national convention:

Since then, has the American economy recovered?

Has our ability to shape world events been enhanced, or diminished?

Have we gained greater confidence among our allies, and greater respect from our adversaries?

And, perhaps most importantly, has the most severe security threat facing America and our friends, a nuclear-armed Iran, become more or less likely?

These clear measures are the ultimate tests of American leadership. And, by these standards, we haven’t seen much in the President’s first term that inspires confidence in a second.

The President’s policies have made it harder to recover from the deepest recession in seventy years … exposed the military to cuts that no one can justify … compromised our national-security secrets … and in dealings with other nations, given trust where it is not earned, insult where it is not deserved, and apology where it is not due.

From Berlin to Cairo to the United Nations, President Obama has shared his view of America and its place among nations. I have come here today to share mine.

I am an unapologetic believer in the greatness of this country. I am not ashamed of American power. I take pride that throughout history our power has brought justice where there was tyranny, peace where there was conflict, and hope where there was affliction and despair. I do not view America as just one more point on the strategic map, one more power to be balanced. I believe our country is the greatest force for good the world has ever known, and that our influence is needed as much now as ever. And I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion: This century must be an American Century.

In 1941, Henry Luce called on his countrymen – just then realizing their strength – “to create the first great American century.” And they succeeded: together with their allies, they won World War II, they rescued Europe, they defeated Communism, and America took its place as leader of the free world. Across the globe, they fought, they bled, they led. They showed the world the extraordinary courage of the American heart and the generosity of the American spirit.

That courage and generosity remains unchanged today. But sadly, this president has diminished American leadership, and we are reaping the consequences. The world is dangerous, destructive, chaotic. And the two men running to be your commander-in-chief must offer their answers to the challenges we face.

Like a watchman in the night, we must remain at our post – and keep guard of the freedom that defines and ennobles us, and our friends. In an American Century, we have the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world. In an American Century, we secure peace through our strength. And if by absolute necessity we must employ it, we must wield our strength with resolve. In an American Century, we lead the free world and the free world leads the entire world.

If we do not have the strength or vision to lead, then other powers will take our place, pulling history in a very different direction. A just and peaceful world depends on a strong and confident America. I pledge to you that if I become commander-in-chief, the United States of America will fulfill its duty, and its destiny.

American leadership depends, as it always has, on our economic strength, on our military strength, and on our moral strength. If any of these falter, no skill of diplomacy or presidential oratory can compensate. Today, the strength of our economy is in jeopardy.

A healthy American economy is what underwrites American power. When growth is missing, government revenue falls, social spending rises, and many in Washington look to cut defense spending as an easy out. That includes our current President.

Today, we are just months away from an arbitrary, across-the-board budget reduction that would saddle the military with a trillion dollars in cuts, severely shrink our force structure, and impair our ability to meet and deter threats. Don’t bother trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of this, unless that rationale is wishful thinking. Strategy is not driving President Obama’s massive defense cuts. In fact, his own Secretary of Defense warned that these reductions would be “devastating.” And he is right.

That devastation starts at home. These cuts would only weaken an already stretched VA system and impair our solemn commitment that every veteran receives care second to none. I will not allow that to happen.

This is not the time for the President’s radical cuts in the military. Look around the globe. Other major powers are rapidly adding to their military capabilities, some with intentions very different from ours. The regime in Tehran is drawing closer to developing a nuclear weapon. The threat of radical Islamic terrorism persists. The threat of weapons of mass destruction proliferation is ever-present. And we are still at war and still have uniformed men and women in conflict.

All this and more is ongoing in the world. And yet the President has chosen this moment for wholesale reductions in the nation’s military capacity. When the biggest announcement in his last State of the Union address on improving our military was that the Pentagon will start using more clean energy – then you know it’s time for a change.

We’re not the first people to observe this. It is reported that Bob Gates, the President’s first secretary of defense, bluntly addressed another security problem within this administration. After secret operational details of the bin Laden raid were given to reporters, Secretary Gates walked into the West Wing and told the Obama team to “shut up.” He added a colorful word for emphasis.

Lives of American servicemen and women are at stake. But astonishingly, the administration failed to change its ways. More top-secret operations were leaked, even some involving covert action in Iran.

This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a national security crisis. And yesterday, Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, quote, “I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks.”

This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation by a special counsel, with explanation and consequence. Obama appointees, who are accountable to President Obama’s Attorney General, should not be responsible for investigating the leaks coming from the Obama White House.

Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed, and punished. The time for stonewalling is over.

It is not enough to say the matter is being looked into, and leave it at that. When the issue is the political use of highly sensitive national security information, it is unacceptable to say, “We’ll report our findings after Election Day.”

Exactly who in the White House betrayed these secrets? Did a superior authorize it? These are things that Americans are entitled to know – and they are entitled to know right now. If the President believes – as he said last week – that the buck stops with him, then he owes all Americans a full and prompt accounting of the facts.

And let me make this very clear: These events make the decision we face in November all the more important. What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain? I’ll tell you right now: Mine won’t.

The harm done when national security secrets are betrayed extends, of course, to the trust that allies place in the United States.

The operating principle of American foreign policy has been to work with our allies so that we can deter aggression before it breaks out into open conflict. That policy depends on nurturing our alliances and standing up for our common values.

Yet the President has moved in the opposite direction.

It began with the sudden abandonment of friends in Poland and the Czech Republic. They had courageously agreed to provide sites for our anti-missile systems, only to be told, at the last hour, that the agreement was off. As part of the so-called reset in policy, missile defenses were sacrificed as a unilateral concession to the Russian government.

If that gesture was designed to inspire good will from Russia, it clearly missed the mark. The Russian government defended the dictator in Damascus, arming him as he slaughtered the Syrian people.

We can only guess what Vladimir Putin makes of the Obama administration. He regained the Russian presidency in a corrupt election, and for that, he got a congratulatory call from the Oval Office. And then there was that exchange picked up by a microphone that President Obama didn’t know was on. We heard him asking Dmitry Medvedev to tell Mr. Putin to give him “space.” “This is my last election,” President Obama said, and “After my election I’ll have more flexibility.”

Why is flexibility with Russian leaders more important than transparency to the American people?

President Obama had a moment of candor, however, just the other day. He said that the actions of the Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez have not had a serious national security impact on us. In my view, inviting Hezbollah into our hemisphere is severe, serious, and a threat.

But at least he was consistent. After all, this is the president who faltered when the Iranian people were looking for support in their struggle against the ayatollahs. That uprising was treated as an inconvenient problem for the President’s policy of engagement, instead of as a moral and strategic opportunity. That terrible misjudgment should never be repeated. When unarmed women and men in Tehran find the courage to confront their oppressors, at risk of torture and death, they should hear the unequivocal voice of an American president affirming their right to be free.

I will leave Reno this evening on a trip abroad that will take me to England, Poland, and Israel. And since I wouldn’t venture into another country to question American foreign policy, I will tell you right here – before I leave – what I think of this administration’s shabby treatment of one of our finest friends.

President Obama is fond of lecturing Israel’s leaders. He was even caught by a microphone deriding them. He has undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was. And even at the United Nations, to the enthusiastic applause of Israel’s enemies, he spoke as if our closest ally in the Middle East was the problem.

The people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world. And the chorus of accusations, threats, and insults at the United Nations should never again include the voice of the President of the United States.

There are values, causes, and nations that depend on American strength, on the clarity of our purpose, and on the reliability of our commitments. There is work in this world that only America and our allies can do, hostile powers that only we can deter, and challenges that only we can overcome.

For the past decade, among those challenges has been the war in Afghanistan. As commander-in-chief, I will have a solemn duty to our men and women in uniform. A president owes our troops, their families, and the American people a clear explanation of our mission, and a commitment not to play politics with the decisions of war.

I have been critical of the President’s decision to withdraw the surge troops during the fighting season, against the advice of the commanders on the ground. President Obama would have you believe that anyone who disagrees with his decisions is arguing for endless war. But the route to more war – and to potential attacks here at home – is a politically timed retreat.

As president, my goal in Afghanistan will be to complete a successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014. I will evaluate conditions on the ground and solicit the best advice of our military commanders. And I will affirm that my duty is not to my political prospects, but to the security of the nation.

We face another continuing challenge in a rising China. China is attentive to the interests of its government – but it too often disregards the rights of its people. It is selective in the freedoms it allows; and, as with its one-child policy, it can be ruthless in crushing the freedoms it denies. In conducting trade with America, it permits flagrant patent and copyright violations … forestalls American businesses from competing in its market … and manipulates its currency to obtain unfair advantage. It is in our mutual interest for China to be a partner for a stable and secure world, and we welcome its participation in trade. But the cheating must finally be brought to a stop. President Obama hasn’t done it and won’t do it. I will.

We’ll need that same clarity of purpose and resolve in the Middle East. America cannot be neutral in the outcome there. We must clearly stand for the values of representative government, economic opportunity, and human rights. And we must stand against the extension of Iranian or jihadist influence.

Egypt is at the center of this historical drama. In many ways, it has the power to tip the balance in the Arab world toward freedom and modernity. As president, I will not only direct the billions in assistance we give to Egypt toward that goal, but I will also work with partner nations to place conditions on their assistance as well. Unifying our collective influence behind a common purpose will foster the development of a government that represents all Egyptians, maintains peace with Israel, and promotes peace throughout the region. The United States is willing to help Egypt support peace and prosperity, but we will not be complicit in oppression and instability.

There is no greater danger in the world today than the prospect of the ayatollahs in Tehran possessing nuclear weapons capability. Yet for all the talks and conferences, all of the extensions and assurances, can anyone say we are farther from this danger now than four years ago?

The same ayatollahs who each year mark a holiday by leading chants of “Death to America” are not going to be talked out of their pursuit of nuclear weapons. What’s needed is all the firmness, clarity, and moral courage that we and our allies can gather. Sanctions must be enforced without exception, cutting off the regime’s sources of wealth. Negotiations must secure full and unhindered access for inspections. As it is, the Iranian regime claims the right to enrich nuclear material for supposedly peaceful purposes. This claim is discredited by years of deception. A clear line must be drawn: There must be a full suspension of any enrichment, period.

And at every turn, Iran must know that the United States and our allies stand as one in these critical objectives. Only in this way can we successfully counter the catastrophic threat that Iran presents. I pledge to you and to all Americans that if I become commander-in-chief, I will use every means necessary to protect ourselves and the region, and to prevent the worst from happening while there is still time.

It is a mistake – and sometimes a tragic one – to think that firmness in American foreign policy can bring only tension or conflict. The surest path to danger is always weakness and indecision. In the end, it is resolve that moves events in our direction, and strength that keeps the peace.

I will not surrender America’s leadership in the world. We must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose, and resolve in our might.

This is very simple: if you do not want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your President. You have that President today.

The 21st century can and must be an American Century. It began with terror, war, and economic calamity. It is our duty to steer it onto the path of freedom, peace, and prosperity.

Fewer members of the Greatest Generation are with us today – and they can’t hold the torch as high as they have in the past. We must now seize the torch they carried so gallantly and at such sacrifice. It is an eternal torch of decency, freedom and hope. It is not America’s torch alone. But it is America’s duty – and honor – to hold it high enough so that all the world can see its light.

Believe in America.

Thank you and God Bless the United States of America.
4500  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena, Frank Marshall Davis on: July 25, 2012, 10:48:54 AM
I see why they call him a mentor, not his father.  Barack Sr. was an economist I thought, not a goat herder.  Yes, Barack Jr. came to his leftist views through his mother and presumably whomever she was listening to or hanging with in her own activism, including Davis.

Regarding "Soviet Agent", I believe his file includes photographing Hawaiian coastline but not known exchanges with Soviets.

From Wikipedia:
"Frank Marshall Davis knew Barack Obama from as early as 9 or 10, until he left Hawaii for Occidental College in 1978 at the age of 18.

Barack Obama’s 1995 autobiography, Dreams from My Father, included several examples of Obama receiving advice from Frank Marshall Davis:

    Obama’s grandmother (Toot) and Gramps have an argument over whether Gramps should give Toot a ride to work after she had been threatened at a bus stop by a black panhandler. Obama looks to Frank to sort it out in his mind. (p. 89-91)
    When Toot is having difficulty convincing the drug-abusing young Obama to apply for college, it is again Frank who is able to convince Obama that college is necessary. (p. 96-98)
    Frank tells the young Obama “…you may be a well-trained, well-paid nigger, but you’re a nigger just the same.” (p. 97)

Davis told Obama that black people "have a reason to hate [white people)" (Dreams from My Father, p. 91). He also advised the college-bound Obama to "keep your eyes open" and "Stay awake" otherwise he would be "trained" against his own interests. (p. 97) Obama explained how he carried out Davis's advice. "To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets." (p. 100).
Reading about Davis, I notice the name Vernon Jarret is prominent among the activists, father in law to Valerie Jarret.  Reading about Valerie Jarret, there is no indication of a connection to Obama before Valerie hired Michelle instantly upon meeting her and wanted to meet her fiance Barack.  Quite a coincidence.
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