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4501  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Congressional races - Lindsey Graham, Too much DC in SC on: August 26, 2013, 03:03:51 PM
Speaking of incumbents reelected that don't serve their constituencies well, look at South Carolina Republicans scramble to replace (RINO?) Lindsey Graham.

"Too much DC in SC" says Carolina Conservative Union Chairman, Bruce Carroll:
4502  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Wesbury: Doug is wrong on: August 26, 2013, 02:56:41 PM
Very funny Crafty.

He quotes the same numbers I did:  "New Orders for Durable Goods Dropped 7.3% in July".  Then the obligatory Obama-like straw man argument: "Today's weak report on durable goods is not the end of the world."  Oh, good grief, who said it was - based on one monthly report.  How about based on the policies of failure. "First, the durables report is notoriously volatile."  Of course it is, then why are we fixated on these reports, and touting them when they are up?  'If you take out the sectors that were sharply down(civilian aircraft), the report isn't so bad.'  Hmmm, OK.  Civilian aircraft is "likely to rebound sharply", yet it "looks like real GDP growth in the third quarter is coming in at roughly a 1.5% annual rate."  Then the rest of the economy is dormant or worse? "The recovery in home building should generate more demand for big-ticket consumer items, such as appliances."  - Huh?? It was the worst 4 years of the last 60 years, and down again last month!  "Monetary policy is loose (because the economy still stuck in neutral) and, for Corporate America, borrowing costs are low (because the Fed is printing the money and companies are SCARED TO DEATH those costs are going up) and balance sheet cash and profits are at or near record highs(already factored into current prices). Meanwhile, the obsolescence cycle should goad more firms to update their capital stock.  WHAT??  Companies are trimming their full time payrolls because of Obamacare and will need fewer machines to support fewer employers.  Right?

"The details show the economy is still a plow horse."  A plowhorse doesn't trot, pull backwards or behave "notoriously volatile".  A 1.5% growth gets us out of this funk - NEVER.  I think we all agree this economy sucks and are just arguing over word usage to describe what we all see.  Back to you, Brian.  )
4503  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race discrimination - Colin Powell, we're not there yet on: August 26, 2013, 10:37:35 AM
"But we're not there yet. We’re not there yet. And so we've got to keep working on it. And for the president to speak out on it is appropriate. I think all leaders, black and white, should speak out on this issue." - Colin Powell on Trayvon verdict, "I think that it will be seen as a questionable judgment on the part of the judicial system..."

Yet the last example he had of discrimination against himself was 1963??  "I’ve been refused access to restaurants where I couldn't eat, even though I just came back from Vietnam. "We can't give you a hamburger. Come back some other time." and I did, right after the civil rights act of 1964. I went right back to that same place and got my hamburger, and they are more than happy to serve me now." 

He rose to highest ranks, Chairman, Joint Chiefs and Secretary of State.  He was the most popular politician in the country.  His successor for Sec State was black.  We elected a black President.  Appointed and confirmed black Supreme Court Justices.  Good grief, how long shall we keep whining about "the residual effects of our history, the racism that existed by law, segregation, slavery..." ?

Adrian Peterson, party to a $100 million contract, compared the NFL with slavery. (,wp206)  I wonder if slave ancestors would agree, working round the clock, with education prohibited and families broken up.

Here is another idea.  Enjoy your freedom! 
4504  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Will; International community - it's a fiction on: August 26, 2013, 10:08:04 AM
On chemical weapons in Syria:

GEORGE WILL: Our military is rightly leery of making a gesture; they're not in the gesture business. And they have a feeling that's what they would be doing. Throwing -- lobbing cruise missiles, these standoff weapons, into a country to make us, what, feel or look good? The president on CNN this week said, the use of gas is going to require America's attention and hopefully the entire international community's attention. Now, some people believe in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Loch Ness Monster, others believe in the international community -- it's a fiction.
4505  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Market and the Economy - move oppositely on: August 26, 2013, 09:59:32 AM
"U.S. stocks edged higher in light volume on Monday after a steep drop in orders for long-lasting manufactured goods pushed back expectations the Federal Reserve will soon begin to wind down its economic stimulus."

Just clarifying here.  Bad economic news drives the market higher because it means the Fed cannot back off its easy money / artificial stimulation policy, but ... easy, fake money has nothing to do with why the market has outperformed all logic and reason over the last 4 years.  Got it.
4506  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 26, 2013, 09:38:14 AM
Brian Wesbury:  "The Right wants a recession to prove that government is too big."

No.  More like we see a giant boulder over our head and believe in gravity.

New home sales plunge 13.4%
Tim Mullaney, USA TODAY 4:17 p.m. EDT August 23, 2013
Sales of new homes plunged in July. The seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 394,000 missed analysts' expectations of 487,000.

The last 4 years were the worst 4 years of the last 60 years:

Mortgage rate went up to 4%!  Maybe it just affected homes...

U.S. durable goods post largest drop in nearly a year

(Reuters) - Orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods recorded their biggest drop in nearly a year in July and a gauge of planned business spending on capital goods tumbled, casting a shadow over the economy early in the third quarter.

The Commerce Department said on Monday durable goods orders dropped 7.3 percent as demand for goods ranging from aircraft to computers and defense equipment fell.

That was the biggest decline since last August and snapped three consecutive months of gains.

The Plowhorse Trot?  Or is it what Neil Young said about one of his songs, "This one starts off kinda slow - and then fizzles out altogether."
4507  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: August 26, 2013, 09:17:09 AM
Excellent discussion.  

(CCP wrote): "As for term limits I am not sure I am for them I was only siting Marc Levin's proposal.  I am not even sure he is committed to his proposals"

I have great respect for Levin, but when I heard him questioned on this it sounded like he was just throwing ideas into the mix.  The big idea is the constitutional convention - which I oppose.  Levin forgets that the people who want to tear up the constitution and start over are his opponents, not conservatives or so-called originalists.  His thought that things couldn't get any worse is badly mistaken.

(Bigdog wrote regarding term limits):  "I've never understood the allure of congressional term limits."

Implied is that there is an allure of term limits; they poll well.  Newt knew that in the Contract with America and Levin knows that now.  It creates the tempting us vs. them matchup, but solves nothing because the problems in congress are the fault of the voters and have nothing to do with members entering a 13th year.  

We have term limits now - elections - or as George Will calls them, bringing your representative back to the district for discipline.  There are at least 3 legitimate ways to get your member of congress to move along, take him or her down from within their own party, beat them in the general election, or if they just leave voluntarily.  The first option here needs to be taken more seriously.

The 90-98% reelection rates ( of mostly lousy elected officials indicate something is broken.   (Crafty wrote): "due in great part to gerrymandering".  This is right.  The reelection rate is for districts that have an incumbent running.  The gerrymandering means that most districts are not competitive.  In these cases, the failed incumbent needs to be kicked out and can only happen from within the party.  VERY few people get involved really picking the candidates from within the party, and the rest look at this condescendingly as getting involved with partisan politics.  Yes it is partisan politics and it is very important work.

The media, just lower than congress in credibility, is AWOL on exposing incompetence.  The members of congress get to make themselves look like good caring people, raise and receive money continuously, while no opposing view is often offered.

(BD writes) Intelligence oversight requires more experienced elected officials.  True for intelligence oversight, but most of the federal government  is far more intricate than it needs to be.  They are wrongly trying to be the solution for all problems and overseer of all industries, payer of all needy - instead of governing, in a limited fashion.  Did they really have major league baseball hearings?  While we were at war?! And over-taxed, over-spent, over-regulated and whatever else one find fault with.  

Article I, Section 4, Clause 2, "The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day."  - Can you imagine today if the congress, for the year, had forgotten to meet until December, that the members were back in their districts - in their fields, businesses or professions - not passing more and more laws mostly about what the rest of us shouldn't be doing.

We are on the wrong course because we vote wrong and most often don't even put the right choices on the ballots.  The wording and clauses of the constitution are the least of our problems.  The electorate is mostly misguided and we haven't had a great leader in a very long time to make any sense of it.  Weakening congress and empowering the permanent bureaucrat/technocrat class even further is not the answer.
4508  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Segregation, diversity, and clustering on: August 23, 2013, 09:15:47 AM
How diverse is your neighborhood really? This map by Dustin Cable at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service displays the population distribution of every person in America (as of the 2010 census) along racial and ethnic lines. The map features 308,745,538 dots, each smaller than a single pixel and each representing one person: Caucasians are blue, blacks are green, Hispanics are orange, Asians are red, and other races are brown.

The vast swaths of purple appear to show the racial diversity of some of America’s biggest cities. But if you zoom into the map and break these cities down at the neighborhood level, patterns of segregation become much clearer.

Cable uses the example of Minneapolis–St. Paul to illustrate a city where racial integration in the city as a whole appears far greater than it does in individual blocks of streets.

VERY interesting post and map.  Interesting that people choose segregation to such a large extent, nearly 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education overturned Plessy v. Ferguson and segregation laws were ruled illegal. 

If you look at the inner cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul (the example chosen) from a distance you see apparent diversity.  Then they show a map down to the neighborhoods and you see apparent segregation.  What they don't show is that if you zoom in even closer to the household or even the bedroom you again see diversity.  Millions and millions of Americans are either mixed race individuals or live in mixed-race households.

One in seven new marriages in the U.S. involve spouses from different racial groups. Pew 2011.  That proportion, I will guess, is even higher for unmarried couples.
4509  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IRS Scandal, Who Knew about targeting? Lois Lerner's Deputy - Holly Paz - knew on: August 23, 2013, 08:36:05 AM
(When does PROSECUTION begin in America?)

What About Lerner's Deputy?

Lois Lerner, the agent at the heart of the Internal Revenue Service scandal, was not the first person in a leadership position to know that conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status were being targeted. Her deputy Holly Paz was.

Ms. Paz testified in May before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that she learned of the targeting accidentally, after noticing an influx of tea party cases and asking Cincinnati agents for the criteria that were used to flag them. But according to interviews with other agents and newly released emails, it appears that how Ms. Paz learned of the criteria was no accident, and Congress wants answers.

GOP Reps. Darrell Issa and Jim Jordan sent Ms. Paz a letter this week asking her to explain certain "inconsistencies." Ms. Paz testified that she asked for the criteria from her employees after noticing the list of cases held for added scrutiny "was being over-inclusive." She said it was in June 2011 that she initially learned agents were using keywords on a "Be On the Lookout" spreadsheet to flag potential political cases. But Cindy Thomas, the manager of the Cincinnati office, had sent Ms. Paz an email making her "aware of a BOLO spreadsheet on March 16, 2011," or three months earlier. If Ms. Paz had the spreadsheet already, why did she need to ask her agents for the criteria?

Moreover, the same spreadsheet directed agents to flag "
  • rganizations involved with the Tea Party movement." So why did Ms. Paz testify that IRS agents saw "Tea Party" as a generic term for all potential political cases, not just applications from conservative groups?

Messrs. Issa and Jordan asked Ms. Paz to renounce her testimony or rectify it by September 3. Let's see if she sticks to her story.
4510  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / hermaphrodite recognition? Germany recognizes 3rd gender on: August 23, 2013, 08:26:04 AM
US govt removed the terms mother and father from FAFSA (college financial aid), replaced the discriminatory  terms with new discriminatory terms Parent 1 and Parent 2.  Now this.  Good grief.

Third Gender Option Introduced by Germany for Birth Certificates

Germany will permit parents to select a "third gender" on birth certificates for their children, should the child want to identify with a certain gender in the future.

Although some in Germany, including the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, have heralded the new legislation, others have argued that it poses complications to other state-issued documents, such as passports and marriage licenses. Currently, passports require a "male" or "female" gender option, and some groups argue that travel will become difficult if a German's passport simply has a blank space under gender;
4511  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Fracking without water on: August 23, 2013, 08:15:48 AM
As cries of protest from environmental and farming groups are on the rise, a new technology developed by GasFrac of Canada has the potential to make such concerns obsolete.  Liquid propane gas fracking, or LPG fracking, completely eliminates the need for water in fracking processes, leading inventor Robert Lestz to believe that the technology could have “a substantially game-changing impact on industry”.
4512  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The End of Global Sea Level Rise, Oops Tipping Point the other way? on: August 23, 2013, 08:09:12 AM

“As a result of the Sun entering a ‘hibernation’ phase, the Space and Science Research Corporation hereby declares that the past two hundred years of global sea level rise is expected to end no earlier than mid-2014 and no later than 2020. After that time, global sea levels are expected to begin a long term period of decline, lasting at least through the decade of the 2030’s. The estimated global sea level decline during that period will range from 20 to 25 cm from current levels.”
4513  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Can Hillary Clinton Survive Benghazi? - John Hinderacker on: August 23, 2013, 08:05:31 AM
Can Hillary Clinton Survive Benghazi?

Well, sure: she’s a Democrat. That’s the easy, cynical response, and let’s face it–it’s probably right. Still, by any normal standard Benghazi would be considered a career-ending debacle. Four men, including one of her own ambassadors, were murdered on Hillary’s watch, after they had pleaded with her State Department for better security. The cable denying the ambassador’s request for better protection went out over Hillary’s signature. THAT’S JUST A FORMALITY! The Democrats say. SHE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT IT! Oh, I see. She was just a figurehead. Small matters like mortal threats to American ambassadors are too minor to come to her attention. Right. Such attention to detail certainly qualifies her to be president!

Then there is the nagging question of what Hillary was doing during the seven hours or so when her ambassador, and those who tried to protect him, were being murdered by Islamic terrorists. Nothing, apparently. Which is just fine with the Democrats. Evidently they are content to have their political “leaders” play purely symbolic roles.

The aftermath is embarrassing, too. Hillary told the father of one of the murdered SEALs that the administration would stop at nothing to bring that lousy video maker to justice. The man must have thought she was a lunatic. Later, according to an eyewitness, Hillary erupted in rage against a Republican Congressman who suggested that Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Which, of course, she knew it was shortly after it began. Is it bad to be a cowardly liar? Not if you are a Democratic presidential candidate, evidently.

The aftermath didn’t end with the administration’s initial lies, either. It continues to this day. One might think that a Secretary of State who lost an ambassador on her watch would stop at nothing to make sure that the terrorists who carried out the attack were killed or otherwise punished. (Killed, preferably.) If this is a subject in which Hillary has taken interest, she has shown no sign of it. Her hunt for the terrorists who murdered Ambassador Stevens is on a par with O.J. Simpson’s search for the “real killers.”

Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State was a disaster by any rational evaluation. It started with the mis-translated “reset” button and went downhill from there. The current fiasco that stretches from Iraq to Tunisia is, at least in part, the result of the stunningly incompetent Obama/Clinton foreign policy from 2009 to 2013. It is probably true that most Americans don’t pay enough attention to understand how poorly served we have been in foreign affairs by Obama and Clinton. But Benghazi: that is something that just about anyone can grasp. When the State Department needed a leader–the one time in Hillary Clinton’s life when she wasn’t holding on to her husband’s coattails, when she was actually supposed to be in charge of something–there was no leader to be found.
4514  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt - Krauthammer on: August 23, 2013, 08:02:33 AM
Charles Krauthammer weighs in on Crafty's mini-poll.

What’s the United States to do? Any response demands two considerations: (a) moral, i.e., which outcome offers the better future for Egypt, and (b) strategic, i.e., which outcome offers the better future for U.S. interests and those of the free world.

As for Egypt’s future, the Brotherhood offered nothing but incompetent, intolerant, increasingly dictatorial rule. In one year, Morsi managed to squander 85 years of Brotherhood prestige garnered in opposition — a place from which one can promise the moon — by persecuting journalists and activists, granting himself the unchallenged power to rule by decree, enshrining a sectarian Islamist constitution and systematically trying to seize the instruments of state power. As if that wasn’t enough, after its overthrow the Brotherhood showed itself to be the party that, when angry, burns churches.

The military, brutal and bloody, is not a very appealing alternative. But it does matter what the Egyptian people think. The anti-Morsi demonstrations were the largest in recorded Egyptian history. Revolted by Morsi’s betrayal of a revolution intended as a new opening for individual dignity and democracy, the protesters explicitly demanded Morsi’s overthrow. And the vast majority seem to welcome the military repression aimed at abolishing the Islamist threat. It’s their only hope, however problematic, for an eventual democratic transition.

And which alternative better helps secure U.S. strategic interests? The list of those interests is long: (1) a secure Suez Canal, (2) friendly relations with the United States, (3) continued alliance with the pro-American Gulf Arabs and Jordanians, (4) retention of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, (5) cooperation with the U.S. on terrorism, which in part involves (6) isolating Brotherhood-run Gaza.

Every one of which is jeopardized by Brotherhood rule.

What, then, should be our policy? The administration is right to deplore excessive violence and urge reconciliation. But let’s not fool ourselves into believing this is possible in any near future. Sissi crossed his Rubicon with the coup. It will either succeed or not. To advocate a middle way is to invite endless civil strife.

The best outcome would be a victorious military magnanimously offering, at some later date, to reintegrate the more moderate elements of what’s left of the Brotherhood.

But for now, we should not be cutting off aid, civilian or military, as many in Congress are demanding. It will have no effect, buy no influence and win no friends on either side of the Egyptian divide. We should instead be urging the quick establishment of a new cabinet of technocrats, rapidly increasing its authority as the soldiers gradually return to their barracks.

Generals are very bad at governance. Give the reins to people who actually know something. And charge them with reviving the economy and preparing the foundations for a democratic transition — most importantly, drafting a secular constitution that protects the rights of women and minorities.

The final step on that long democratic path should be elections. First municipal, then provincial, then national. As was shown in the post-World War II democratizations, the later the better.

After all, we’ve been here. Through a half-century of cold war, we repeatedly faced precisely the same dilemma: choosing the lesser evil between totalitarian (in that case, communist) and authoritarian (usually military) rule.

We generally supported the various militaries in suppressing the communists. That was routinely pilloried as a hypocritical and immoral betrayal of our alleged allegiance to liberty. But in the end, it proved the prudent, if troubled, path to liberty.

The authoritarian regimes we supported — in South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Chile, Brazil, even Spain and Portugal (ruled by fascists until the mid-1970s!) — in time yielded democratic outcomes. Gen. Augusto Pinochet, after 16 years of iron rule, yielded to U.S. pressure and allowed a free election — which he lost, ushering in Chile’s current era of democratic flourishing. How many times have communists or Islamists allowed that to happen?

Regarding Egypt, rather than emoting, we should be thinking: what’s best for Egypt, for us and for the possibility of some eventual democratic future.

Under the Brotherhood, such a possibility is zero. Under the generals, slim.

Slim trumps zero.
4515  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues, Who else thinks we are near the Tipping Point on Global Warming? on: August 22, 2013, 10:23:38 PM
Of course this could go in Pathological Science.  A Soviet survivor put it best, paraphrasing:  The US media is worse than Soviet Pravda.  There you had only one state newspaper lying to you and you knew they were lying.  Here it is more believable after you hear three four, five different sources telling you the exact same lie - or ten unoriginal sources in this case spewing the same drivel.

    "Global Warming Tipping Point Close?"--headline,, Jan. 27, 2004

    "Warming Hits 'Tipping Point' "--headline, Guardian, Aug. 11, 2005

    "Earth at the Tipping Point: Global Warming Heats Up"--headline, Time, March 26, 2006

    "Global Warming 'Tipping Points' Reached, Scientist Says"--headline,, Dec. 14, 2007

    "Twenty Years Later: Tipping Points Near on Global Warming"--headline, Puffington Host, June 23, 2008

    "Global Warming: Those Tipping Points Are Closer Than You Think"--headline,, April 29, 2009

    "Have We Reached the Tipping Point for Planet Earth?"--video title,, May 11, 2010

    "Must-Read Hansen and Sato Paper: We Are at a Climate Tipping Point That, Once Crossed, Enables Multi-Meter Sea Level Rise This Century"--headline,, Jan. 20, 2011

    "Earth: Have We Reached an Environmental Tipping Point?"--headline, BBC website, June 15, 2012

    "In spite of the continued released [sic] of 90 million tons of global warming pollution every day into the atmosphere, as if it's an open sewer, we are now seeing the approach of a global political tipping point."--Al Gore, interview with Washington Post, Aug. 21, 2013
4516  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: August 21, 2013, 10:32:55 AM
For whatever we each think of the Egyptian military, interesting that everyone from John Bolton at AEI to Thomas Friedman at the NY Times recognize that rule by the Muslim Brotherhood is the worst possible outcome.  (Yet the media portrays them as the oppressors.)

4517  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bernancke actions are causing the next financial crisis on: August 21, 2013, 08:52:51 AM
For his piece, Brilliant Fed Chair and the Clueless President, we should at least give Mort Zuckerman credit for getting the second half right.

If we look at the financial crisis period alone, my view is not that what Bernancke did was right but that he might be forgiven for taken such bold and decisive actions and preventing a freefall from doing far more damage than it did.  That said, I agree with Crafty.  Propping up failed organizations, rewarding failure, and not allowing the bankruptcy process to work properly were all bad aspects of his governance, and tend to make recurrence likely.  Worse yet are his actions and inactions before and after the crisis.

I posted recently people should run and scream when you hear crony government terms public-private partnerships.  That is exactly what we had - on steroids - with the Bernancke-managed bail ous and mergers of banks, investment houses and insurance companies, some insured, some not, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, AIG, and on and on.  Though the aim was to minimize the fall and what the Fed would ultimately have to cover, this  was the unauthorized war powers act for monetary affairs.  The precedent now set is that the Fed has no monetary limits.

Let's say we forgive about 6 months of actions taken in a crisis that thwarted a worse meltdown and likely saved the Treasury money, how does the rest of his governance look?

Coming into the housing-caused financial crisis, did we know housing values were insane - and over-leveraged?  Yes, without a doubt.  Did anyone say or do anything about it?  No.  For the Fed Chair as a co-conspirator in the mess to not have seen an abrupt correction coming is somewhere between negligent and criminal. 

After the crisis, it is argued that monetary policy is just about right for the conditions.  Price levels have been relatively steady.  I call steering the car away from accidents - by looking in the rear view mirror.  We don't yet know the damage done by current, reckless policies.

In 1977, Congress amended the Federal Reserve Act to give the Fed a dual mandate, to maximize employment in addition to keep price levels stable.  The Bernancke Fed, post-crisis, gave itself a third mandate; it took on the role of financier and enabler of the trillion dollar a year Obama deficits.

Zuckerman may believe Bernancke did this impossible job brilliantly.  I say he did it recklessly, issuing trillions in pretend bonds that in fact have no buyers.  When the crisis was over, he had no business playing unauthorized games with the US Dollar and Treasury.  As described previously, the economy was a car running with three flat tires and his only tool was to add more and more gasoline, while saying that the flat tires of over-spending, over-taxing and over-regulating are not under his jurisdiction.  Maybe so but he was the enabler.  It the fiscal geniuses had to pay their way, or at least borrow it, some form of responsibility would have hit the powers in Washington far sooner.  For five years and counting he is acting as if we are still in a financial meltdown, while in fact he is CAUSING the next one. 

Most strange is that he is being 'let go' by the administration for not going far enough - in the wrong direction.

4518  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Federal Reserve's Next Hundred Years on: August 20, 2013, 11:39:23 AM
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, is chairman of the Joint Economic Committee

The Federal Reserve's Next Hundred Years
The bickering over Bernanke's successor is a sideshow. What's really needed is a debate about Fed policy.
The bickering between the Summers and Yellen camps should not distract the country from what should be an opportunity to seriously examine the future direction of Federal Reserve monetary policy. That is the goal of legislation that I introduced earlier this year, the Centennial Monetary Commission Act.

The bill would create a 12-member, bipartisan commission that would objectively review the Fed's performance in terms of output, employment, prices and financial stability over its first 100 years. The commission would also study what legislative mandate the Fed should follow to best promote economic growth and opportunity.
I believe the best way to grow jobs and the economy is for the Fed to focus on preserving the purchasing power of the dollar, as reflected in the Sound Dollar Act, which I introduced last year. Stanford economist John B. Taylor shares this view of the Fed's ideal policy. However, since 1977 the Fed has operated under a dual mandate: to maintain stable prices and to maximize employment.
4519  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fed, Monetary Policy: QE benefits the already rich at the expense of the poor on: August 20, 2013, 11:33:36 AM
"QE has tended to benefit the already rich at the expense of the poor"

The article is about the UK, but I wonder what Obama, Bernancke et al think about THAT.
4520  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: August 20, 2013, 10:16:54 AM
Meanwhile, the American people say otherwise:

Classic media work.  Call Muslim Brotherhood the legitimate government.  Call their ouster a coup.  Ignore their calls for death to America, death to Christians, death to Jews and Israel, death to women's rights, gays, rape victims, and efforts to take over the entire region, etc.  Label the military the oppressor.  Poll the result.  Make the poll result into a news story that drives policy.

If you push-polled the other direction, you would get the opposite result.
4521  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: August 20, 2013, 09:35:21 AM
"Quick snap mini-poll for us here-- what should the US do?
a) Suspend aid and stay out of it; b) keep aid going i.e. support military; c) or?"

The present situation involves a bad group killing off the capabilities of a much worse group.  
The only answer for the U.S. is to stay quiet as a church mouse.  This crisis is (mostly) not about us.

Yes, keep aid going.  The time to suspend aid would have been in reaction to the elected leader destroying the constitution.  Our aid is to Egypt; they are the ones lacking a constitutional government and using it in ways that some might find controversial.

Of course, as I write, the Obama administration is doing the opposite, publicly taking the death-to-America side and suspending aid.

Bret Stephens, WSJ today:
Stephens: A Policy on Egypt—Support Al Sisi
In a zero-sum game, the U.S. should hold its nose and back the military.

A better foreign policy would be conducted to keep our nightmares at bay: stopping Iran's nuclear bid, preventing Syria's chemical weapons from falling into terrorist hands, and keeping the Brotherhood out of power in Egypt.
4522  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mark Steyn, Consensus in Egypt on: August 19, 2013, 12:34:24 PM
(I'll come back to answer the poll.)

Mark Steyn's column, Consensus in Egypt, is a don't miss, read it all.

By  Mark Steyn
August 18, 2013 8:09 AM

everywhere except Washington people are thinking strategically
Eighty per cent of Egyptians say things are worse than under Mubarek.

...(as Bernard Lewis once warned) America is harmless as an enemy but treacherous as a friend.

Whatever regime emerges in Cairo, it will be post-American.

A year before the fall of Mubarak, David Pryce-Jones, in a conversational aside, quoted to me Lord Lloyd, British High Commissioner to the old Kingdom of Egypt in the Twenties: “Ah, the jacarandas are in bloom. We shall soon be sending for the gunboats.” There’s more wisdom about Arab springs in that line than in all the blather of Obama, Clinton, Kerry and Anne Patterson combined.

4523  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: August 19, 2013, 12:09:51 PM
Just as the Soviet Union suffered something like 75 years of “bad weather” on its farms following the revolution, much the same is happening in tropical Venezuela:

    U.S. Rice Farmers Cash in on Venezuelan Socialism: U.S. Exporters Benefit as Production Falls in Latin American Country

    STUTTGART, Ark.—Steve Orlicek, a rice farmer here, is living the American dream. He owns a thriving business; he vacations in the Bahamas.

    His good fortune springs from many roots, including an unlikely one: He is a prime beneficiary of the socialist economic policies of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s late president and critic of what he called U.S. “imperialism.”

    It is a paradoxical legacy of Mr. Chávez’s self-styled socialist revolution that his policies became a moneymaker for the capitalist systems he deplored. During his 14 years in power, he nationalized large farms, redistributed land and controlled food prices as part of a strategy to help the poor. But these policies turned Venezuela from a net exporter to a net importer of rice—from farmers like Mr. Orlicek. “The rice industry has been very good to us,” Mr. Orlicek said, sitting in his newly renovated home, appointed with a baby grand piano played by his wife, Phyllis.

    It isn’t just rice. Production of steel, sugar and many other goods has fallen in Venezuela, leading to occasional shortages. Until recently, Venezuela was largely self-sufficient in beef and coffee. Now it imports both.
4524  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: August 19, 2013, 11:10:13 AM
A very insightful read, written by someone who actually knows how to create jobs.

"The government keeps telling the very people whose jobs it destroys that if we only tax the rich more, everything will be better."

T.J. Rodgers: Targeting the Wealthy Kills Jobs
My investment in my company helps maintain 3,470 permanent positions. What's not 'fair' about that?

One of the signature themes of the Obama administration is that the American dream is under attack due to "income disparity." The words divide the country into haves and have-nots, suggesting a national condition that needs to be corrected—presumably by "progressive" taxation as a mechanism for income redistribution. The American dream has traditionally been one of individual success that is rewarded and admired. But we are now urged to become a zero-sum society in which those achieving the American dream are envied and even resented.

The American dream is not politically affiliated. The last time it was alive and well was the period from Ronald Reagan's second term in office through Bill Clinton's second term in office. In those 16 years, we enjoyed continuous low taxes, low government spending and economic prosperity.

Since 2000, the economy has staggered under the record government spending and deficits of two presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The result of that spending spree has been lower real wages and higher and more-persistent unemployment. The Federal Reserve has pushed interest rates to near-zero, and, for the first time ever in the U.S., that Depression-era medicine has not worked—a scary situation reminiscent of Japan's decade-plus economic demise.

According to the latest 2012 IRS income-tax data, the top 1% of American taxpayers earned 20% of all income and paid 36% of all taxes. The top 5% earned 36% of all income and paid 58% of all taxes. Will even higher taxes help the economy? My experience in Silicon Valley tells me that high and so-called progressive taxes are a major cause of the country's current economic problems, not the solution.

In Silicon Valley, the rich commonly reinvest their wealth close to home. For example, I have reinvested most of my net worth in 8.5% of the shares of my own company.

Since its 1982 founding, Cypress Semiconductor has been a net creator of jobs and wealth. We have returned $2.2 billion more to the economy through stock buybacks, share dividends and spinouts than we have taken out in total lifetime investments. That figure doesn't count the $4 billion in wages the company has paid or the taxes paid on those wages. Currently, my investment helps maintain 3,479 permanent, high-paying jobs with good health-care benefits that are now threatened by more taxes.

A couple of years ago, I decided to invest in my hometown of Oshkosh, Wis., by building a $1.2 million lakefront restaurant. That restaurant now permanently employs 65 people at an investment of $18,000 per job, a figure consistent with U.S. small businesses. If progressive taxation in the name of "fairness" had taken my "extra" $1.2 million and spent it on a government stimulus program, would 65 jobs have been created?

According to recent Congressional Budget Office statistics on the Obama administration's 2009 stimulus program, each job created has cost between $500,000 and $4 million. Thus, my $1.2 million, taxed and respent on a government project of uncertain duration, would have created about one job, possibly two, and not the 65 sustainable jobs that my private investment did.

On the other end of the capital-intensity scale, Cypress Semiconductor required huge investments to create jobs in its chip-manufacturing plants. Between 1983 and 2003, those investments totaled $797 million and led to the creation of 4,033 jobs at an investment of $198,000 per job created. Thus, my own experience on the cost of job creation ranges from $18,000 to $198,000 per job, compared with $500,000 to $4 million per job created by the Obama stimulus program.

This data squares with the broad numbers showing that private investment is more efficient than government spending in creating jobs. In other words: Every dollar that is taxed away from private investment and spent by government produces fewer jobs than the jobs destroyed by the loss of private investment.

Yet the politics of envy, promoted most notably by President Obama himself, continuously stokes the idea that the wealthy are not paying their "fair share." This injured sense of unjust rewards was summed up on a radio show I heard the other day, when a caller said of the rich: "How much more do they need?"

How much more do I need? How many more jobs do you want?

Even European socialist democracies are starting to understand that tax-and-spend policies kill jobs. For example, both Italy and Spain have repealed their incentive programs for solar energy (along with their "green jobs") because the countries have calculated that for every job created by government investment in green energy, somewhere between 4.8 jobs (Italy) and 2.2 jobs (Spain) are lost because of the reciprocal cuts in private investment. I am aware of these figures because from 2002-11 I was a major investor in and chairman of SunPower, the world's second-largest solar-energy company, also based in Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley is today's brightest example of the traditional American dream still at work. The investments for most startup companies must come from individuals who can wait 10 years to get a return on investment. Only very wealthy Americans can afford that.

Like many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, I have reinvested in the next generation of entrepreneurs, in my case via the Sequoia Fund and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, two venture-capital firms that gave me a shot at the American dream. I also serve as a board member of their portfolio companies.

Does anybody really believe that moving investment decisions from Silicon Valley to Washington by raising taxes on venture capitalists and their investors would make Silicon Valley more productive? Consider the Solyndra debacle: It was obvious to most of us here that the solar-energy company had zero chance of survival. That's why the company had to be government-funded near the end; no real investors were willing to step up.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, President Obama insulted America's entrepreneurs by telling them: "You didn't build that." Progressive taxation is just another tool used by government to take over an ever-larger part of the U.S. economy. The horrible irony is that the government keeps telling the very people whose jobs it destroys that if we only tax the rich more, everything will be better.

Mr. Rodgers is the founder and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor
4525  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: August 19, 2013, 10:50:45 AM
"The first time I read anything about plants doing better is this article that picks on a single plant only to further their agenda:
****Poison Ivy is Growing Out of Control, Thanks to Climate Change"

In our untouched forests I actually see less poison ivy than when I was a kid.  CO2 is a factor; so is heat, shade, water.  But yes, isn't it funny that was the only thing they could think of, not that enhanced CO2 is helping to feed the planet or the other most obvious point:  Increased plant growth is a negative feedback factor preventing the dreaded spiraling effect.  The higher the CO2 level, the higher the rate CO2 is removed from the atmosphere by plants.  Who knew?!

There is a website I have watched for a long time called ( that rather than denying warming or enhanced CO2 levels, just studies, publishes and editorializes on the mostly positive impact of it.
4526  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) and the 4th & 9th Amendments on: August 19, 2013, 10:38:14 AM
"Are you sure it isn't the NSA, Google, organized crime, Chinese, Russians, Nigerians or Iranians just sparking hits while they troll the net?"

Some hits perhaps are computer driven, Google, etc, but I there are different hit rates on different topics based on interest level.  The Dog Brothers organization attracts the interest of people who never join and the forum has readers who never post - including 'famous people caught reading the forum.   wink

I disagree with you on Snowden.  He did not make any effort to become a legitimate whistle blower and his leaks jeopardize our security.
4527  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Canadian and American on: August 19, 2013, 10:18:43 AM
"How can we argue this is ok after just arguing that Obama birthplace was an issue?   Both have (had) mother's who were American citizens."

Yes, hypocrisy again rears its ugly head.  Maybe a court needs to rule, but natural born citizen in my view would include both people for the reasons you state.  You don't lose citizenship for you or your offspring by traveling while pregnant.

'Natural born' is a term in contrast with legalized immigrant.  Ted Cruz never had to apply for citizenship - he was born with it.  Same goes for Barack Obama; he was just confusing his detractors by presenting phony documents, applying for multiple social security numbers etc.
The issue in citizenship is the opposite.  A tourist's or trespasser's baby does not gain citizenship by birth location alone, IMO.  The baby is a member of the family first.  If the family is Mexican or Japanese, Canadian, or from anywhere else, so is the baby.  If that is not clear enough in the constitution, then an amendment is needed.
4528  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Victor Davis Hanson on: August 19, 2013, 10:04:39 AM
A conservative we know, but a Democrat? huh

The Democrats should try to hang onto these members who put common sense above mindless ideology.  I will hazard a guess that it has been a long time since Dr. Hanson called himself a California Democrat.

I have called Walter Russell Mead my favorite Democrat; I will have to move VDH onto that list.

Many prominent conservatives come to their views by way of the Democrat party.  Jeanne Kirkpatrick never renounced that side, just joined up with Reagan, Kemp, Bennett and others on certain issues.  Rick Perry was a Dem (in Texas).  Reagan was a Democrat - and a union leader.  Crafty Dog admits coming from liberalism, somewhere in his formative youth...(??)  I also remember when Dr. CCP was a middle of the road moderate!

In my family, people choose either side.  The last time they thought Democrats were better, my grandfather voted for Woodrow Wilson.  He soon regretted it and learned from the mistake.
4529  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: August 19, 2013, 09:37:50 AM
"If the point is that Dingy Harry et al were in the wrong, then wouldn't the Reps be wrong here?"

Yes, hypocrisy cuts both ways.  In this case Dems accuse R's of contemplating what they themselves do regularly.

My view with spending authorizations is that one congress has no power to bind the next congress to spend money.  The congress of 2009 never had the authority to bind the voters of 2013 and beyond.

"not funding Obamacare is NOT shutting down the government ... because presumably the rest of the government will be funded-- or am I missing something here?"

That is the way I thought it was designed to work.  A bill goes to the House, to the Senate and then to the President.  Instead, a bill passes in the House.  The Senate ignores or intentionally changes that and passes a different bill.  A joint committee writes a 'compromise' to send back to the House, to the Senate and then to the President.

It is in this second loop where Republicans get screwed and end up with the stark choice of funding everything or closing the government.  Their own bill was clear - to fund everything except healthcare.  That will no longer be the issue and they don't have enough bully pulpit to say that it is.

Government spending be the smallest number of what the House, Senate pass and President will sign.  That, and no more, is the amount we all agree on.  In fact, it is the biggest spenders who force the choice of fund it all or shut down the government.
4530  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fracking the Left on: August 18, 2013, 02:05:53 PM
Are Democrats About to Fracture Over Fracking?

Asked whether natural gas is important to the state's economy, 77 percent of Pennsylvania Democrats said it was somewhat or very important. Just 22 percent called it not very important or not important at all.

  - survey taken by Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. and the University of Michigan

 "The flip side to appeasing the environmental lobby is that you open yourself up to getting roasted on killing jobs in Pennsylvania," said one Democrat working one of the campaigns.

(The point of fracking is that natural gas is a far cleaner and more efficient energy source for things like heating homes and powering manufacturing facilities than coal, oil. etc., not just a a gain of local drilling jobs.)
4531  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the left - Funding "the law of the land"? on: August 18, 2013, 01:38:50 PM
Republicans will cause a constitutional crisis if they fail to fund Obamacare in the new budget, because it is the law of the land, and requires more than a vote by one chamber to be repealed.

If so, then what about the Nuclear Waste Policy Act passed in 1982 requiring the construction a nuclear waste storage site at Yucca Mountain?

"Although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has robbed Yucca Mountain of funding, and although President Barack Obama has commissioned a blue-ribbon panel to look at other nuclear-waste alternatives, Yucca Mountain is still the law of the land."

"The D. C. Circuit Court of Appeals this week delivered a scathing rebuke to the Obama administration, ordering it to restart work on the Yucca licensing process."
4532  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Thoughts on Egypt on: August 18, 2013, 01:18:44 PM
Steven Hayward writes at Powerline:

Here’s a historical counter-factual thought experiment for you: suppose the German military, in the spring of 1933, decided that the ascension of Hitler and his Nazis was bad news for Germany, moved to remove Hitler by a coup, outlawed the Nazi party, and in ruling henceforth by military decree thereby ended more than a decade of democratic weakness that was the Weimar Republic.  What judgment would you cast?

Of course you can only approve of this course with the perfect hindsight of knowing what actually happened after 1933 (or after 1938, when the Munich agreement may have forestalled a military move against Hitler).  Without today’s hindsight, a Wilsonian idealist in 1933 might well have condemned the German military, just as today’s State Department can’t speak with a clear voice about how we should think about the problems in Egypt.

So let’s be clear: the Muslim Brotherhood is a fascist political faction with murderous intent.  Full stop.  They not only deserve to be put down; they need to be put down if Egypt—and possibly the region as a whole—is going to have a future in the modern world.   The military rulers are absolutely correct to outlaw the Muslim Brotherhood.
There can be little doubt that the current violence is a deliberate provocation of the Muslim Brotherhood.
4533  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Reuters: Fracking water's dirty little secret - recycling on: August 18, 2013, 12:36:35 PM

Analysis: Fracking water's dirty little secret - recycling

By Nichola Groom

LOS ANGELES | Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:53pm EDT

(Reuters) - The oil and gas industry is finding that less is more in the push to recycle water used in hydraulic fracturing. Slightly dirty water, it seems, does just as good a job as crystal clear when it comes to making an oil or gas well work.

Exploration and production companies are under pressure to reduce the amount of freshwater used in dry areas like Texas and to cut the high costs of hauling millions of barrels of water to oil and gas wells and later to underground disposal wells.

To attack those problems, oilfield service companies like Halliburton, Baker Hughes and FTS International, are treating water from "fracked" wells just enough so that it can be used again. Smaller companies like Ecosphere Technologies Inc have also deployed similar methods.
4534  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Dying of dehydration due to fracking. Good grief. on: August 18, 2013, 12:24:51 PM
As the URL says, this is a tree hugger site  grin  By itself that does not mean it is wrong however.  Fracking uses lots of water, and this thread has many articles about water tables declining dramatically, even without fracking, so upon first blush this sounds plausible.

I hope that ours is a tree hugger site as well. )  That said, this is their logic: fracking uses water, and a small, shallow well near fracking needs re-drilling, therefore A caused B.  Not to detract from their other agenda items they start with the disclaimer, "it is important to note that fracking is not the only problem here".

Unmentioned is that fracking is the reason CO2 emissions are down nationwide, alleviating droughts, if you subscribe to the theory.  In the upper midwest the 'environmentalists' oppose the use of sand in fracking and in Texas it is based on water.  All politics is local.  The author makes no effort to hide his disdain for urban sprawl and the greening of the desert.  Most telling is that they opposed fracking before pinpointing a reason.  I support studying and following all these developments - scientifically - but as I search water issues related to fracking, I keep getting pointed to the the same study in the same county in west Texas. 

So let's look at Crockett TX:

"Fracking accounts for 25% of water use" in Crockett County.  From there, on to it being a national problem.   Crockett county has a population density was 1.46 people per square mile.  How much water are we talking about?  The county has 3000 people and the "Texas town running out of water after using it for fracking" has a population of 160.  No problem for an alarmism site to drift its logic back and forth and back between "large urban centres sucking water out of west Texas", fracking, and a well issue in one small town.  FYI to, a small town having to re-drill its well is not unprecedented in west Texas or human history.   But the proximity to fracking makes this newsworthy because a cause-effect relationship is so easily implied, and supporting the agenda is the main determinant of news.

Where I live, we are up to our eyeballs in abundant clean water.  Natural gas and nuclear power are the cleanest, abundant forms of energy in current use here, both opposed by 'environmentalists'.  But people are still moving away - to climates warmer and drier.
4535  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Flashback, Princeton Physicist Freeman Dyson, climate alarmism skeptic on: August 18, 2013, 10:59:39 AM
Princeton Physicist Freeman Dyson on Yale Environment 360, an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues.

'It’s a fact that they don’t know how to model it. The question is, how does it happen that they end up believing their models?'

From the 2009 interview:

...the five reservoirs of carbon all are in close contact — the atmosphere, the upper level of the ocean, the land vegetation, the topsoil, and the fossil fuels. They are all about equal in size. They all interact with each other strongly. So you can’t understand any of them unless you understand all of them. Essentially that was the conclusion. It’s a problem of very complicated ecology, and to isolate the atmosphere and the ocean just as a hydrodynamics problem makes no sense.

Syukuro Manabe, right here in Princeton, was the first person who did climate models with enhanced carbon dioxide and they were excellent models. And he used to say very firmly that these models are very good tools for understanding climate, but they are not good tools for predicting climate. I think that’s absolutely right. They are models, but they don’t pretend to be the real world. They are purely fluid dynamics. You can learn a lot from them, but you cannot learn what’s going to happen 10 years from now.

What’s wrong with the models... the basic problem is that in the case of climate, very small structures, like clouds, dominate. And you cannot model them in any realistic way. They are far too small and too diverse.

So they say, ‘We represent cloudiness by a parameter,’ but I call it a fudge factor. So then you have a formula, which tells you if you have so much cloudiness and so much humidity, and so much temperature, and so much pressure, what will be the result... But if you are using it for a different climate, when you have twice as much carbon dioxide, there is no guarantee that that’s right. There is no way to test it.

...enhanced carbon dioxide has a drastic effect on plants because it is the main food source for the plants... So if you change the carbon dioxide drastically by a factor of two, the whole behavior of the plant is different. Anyway, that’s so typical of the things they ignore. They are totally missing the biological side, which is probably more than half of the real system.’s a fact that they don’t know how to model it. And the question is, how does it happen that they end up believing their models? But I have seen that happen in many fields. You sit in front of a computer screen for 10 years and you start to think of your model as being
real. It is also true that the whole livelihood of all these people depends on people being scared. Really, just psychologically, it would be very difficult for them to come out and say, “Don’t worry, there isn’t a problem.” It’s sort of natural, since their whole life depends on it being a problem. I don’t say that they’re dishonest. But I think it’s just a normal human reaction.
4536  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Christie makes his case, I am unpersuaded on: August 16, 2013, 10:21:25 AM
I am also unpersuaded by Christie but he certainly is one of the ones to watch.  A case I made last time around was to look for a two term Governor - of a purple state.  That didn't lead us to any great candidates but it was a former Governor who won the nomination.  Most of the other  candidates of current interest, who are perhaps better on the issues, lack executive experience, as did our current President.

In his feud with Rand Paul, Christie was perhaps right on the policy of security first but tone deaf I thought on the liberty and privacy concerns involved.

In that feud and with his hurricane courtship with Obama, there is an ego involved, putting himself first.  That can be good and bad in politics.
4537  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 16, 2013, 10:01:21 AM
Scott Grannis thinks the numbers in the preceding piece are quite inaccurate.

"According to SMRA calculations, the Fed owned about 31.47% of the total outstanding ten year equivalents. This is above the 31.24% from the prior week, and higher than the 30.99% from the week before"

"with every passing week, the Fed's creeping takeover of the US bond market absorbs just under 0.3% of all TSY bonds outstanding: a pace which means the Fed will own 45% of all in 2014, 60% in 2015, 75% in 2016 and 90% or so by the end of 2017 (and if the US budget deficit is indeed contracting, these targets will be hit far sooner). By the end of 2018 there would be no privately held US treasury paper. Still think QE can go on for ever?"

The point is not that this will happen.  It won't. The point is that this course will change.  It has to.

Separate from the fact that the amount and percentage is increasing, it is remarkable that debt is not debt.  We owe ourselves a very significant and increasing portion of that total.  

First, we borrow in our own currency, a luxury most countries don't have.  It allows us to pay back, actually issue replacement debt, in devalued dollars that we never pay back, but replace again in devalued dollars.  A free lunch of sorts - if you believe in that sort of thing.  Now it turns out, well exposed on these pages, that we don't even pretend to borrow the actual amounts of our budget shortfalls from anyone.  We just sort of invent the money.  We get to spend the money, inject it with all the multipliers into the economy (keeping for time from falling below zero growth), and never even borrow it much less worry about paying it back.  We magically 'buy' the debt with nothing but electronic entries, not by selling off national parks or federal office buildings.  Then we point to poorly measured M-2 or M-nonsense indices and say that the money supply and the price level didn't even go up.  Just more free lunch!

Problem is that we know there is no free lunch, just an accounting puzzle.  The costs of these massive free lunches are out there lurking, whether Bernancke, Wesbury, Grannis, or any of us can immediately or demonstrably point to them or not.

The point of liberal governance, and Wesbury's plowhorse theory as well, is that our private sector is so strong that none of these impending certainties - funny money catching up with us, rising interest rates catching up with us, rising tax rates catching up with us, massive regulatory state catching up with us, lowered workforce participation rate and expanding disability and food stamp loads catching up with us, historically low rates of real business start ups, Obamacare's impending burden on employers, or just the market rising faster than the economy for 5 years and counting - not one of these things nor all of them combined will ever bring it all down.

I don't buy it.
4538  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George F. Will: Obama’s unconstitutional steps worse than Nixon’s on: August 15, 2013, 01:36:36 PM
“Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”  - Former Pres. Nixon.  Aren't we forgetting a branch or two?

Obama’s unconstitutional steps worse than Nixon’s     by George F. Will

President Obama’s increasingly grandiose claims for presidential power are inversely proportional to his shriveling presidency. Desperation fuels arrogance as, barely 200 days into the 1,462 days of his second term, his pantry of excuses for failure is bare, his domestic agenda is nonexistent and his foreign policy of empty rhetorical deadlines and red lines is floundering. And at last week’s news conference he offered inconvenience as a justification for illegality.

Explaining his decision to unilaterally rewrite the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he said: “I didn’t simply choose to” ignore the statutory requirement for beginning in 2014 the employer mandate to provide employees with health care. No, “this was in consultation with businesses.”

He continued: “In a normal political environment, it would have been easier for me to simply call up the speaker and say, you know what, this is a tweak that doesn’t go to the essence of the law. . . . It looks like there may be some better ways to do this, let’s make a technical change to the law. That would be the normal thing that I would prefer to do. But we’re not in a normal atmosphere around here when it comes to Obamacare. We did have the executive authority to do so, and we did so.”

Serving as props in the scripted charade of White House news conferences, journalists did not ask the pertinent question: “Where does the Constitution confer upon presidents the ‘executive authority’ to ignore the separation of powers by revising laws?” The question could have elicited an Obama rarity: brevity. Because there is no such authority.

Obama’s explanation began with an irrelevancy. He consulted with businesses before disregarding his constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” That duty does not lapse when a president decides Washington’s “political environment” is not “normal.”

When was it “normal”? The 1850s? The 1950s? Washington has been the nation’s capital for 213 years; Obama has been here less than nine. Even if he understood “normal” political environments here, the Constitution is not suspended when a president decides the “environment” is abnormal.

Neither does the Constitution confer on presidents the power to rewrite laws if they decide the change is a “tweak” not involving the law’s “essence.” Anyway, the employer mandate is essential to the ACA.

Twenty-three days before his news conference, the House voted 264 to 161, with 35 Democrats in the majority, for the rule of law — for, that is, the Authority for Mandate Delay Act. It would have done lawfully what Obama did by ukase. He threatened to veto this use of legislation to alter a law. The White House called it “unnecessary,” presumably because he has an uncircumscribed “executive authority” to alter laws.

In a 1977 interview with Richard Nixon, David Frost asked: “Would you say that there are certain situations . . . where the president can decide that it’s in the best interests of the nation . . . and do something illegal?”

Nixon: “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

Frost: “By definition.”

Nixon: “Exactly, exactly.”

Nixon’s claim, although constitutionally grotesque, was less so than the claim implicit in Obama’s actions regarding the ACA. Nixon’s claim was confined to matters of national security or (he said to Frost) “a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude.” Obama’s audacity is more spacious; it encompasses a right to disregard any portion of any law pertaining to any subject at any time when the political “environment” is difficult.

Obama should be embarrassed that, by ignoring the legal requirement concerning the employer mandate, he has validated critics who say the ACA cannot be implemented as written. What does not embarrass him is his complicity in effectively rewriting the ACA for the financial advantage of self-dealing members of Congress and their staffs.

The ACA says members of Congress (annual salaries: $174,000) and their staffs (thousands making more than $100,000) must participate in the law’s insurance exchanges. It does not say that when this change goes into effect, the current federal subsidy for this affluent cohort — up to 75 percent of the premium’s cost, perhaps $10,000 for families — should be unchanged.

When Congress awakened to what it enacted, it panicked: This could cause a flight of talent, making Congress less wonderful. So Obama directed the Office of Personnel Management, which has no power to do this, to authorize for the political class special subsidies unavailable for less privileged and less affluent citizens.

If the president does it, it’s legal? “Exactly, exactly.”
4539  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 15, 2013, 01:31:23 PM
" I am of the opinion that the low interest rate policy not only FAILED but was COUNTER PRODUCTIVE.  Therefore does it not follow that its cessation is a nullity or even a good thing?  Albeit not necessarily for the market!!!"

It was an artificial stimulus.  Yes, it was counter-productive and it failed because it didn't address the underlying problems.  It stimulated some things at the expense of other things, distorted incentives and diverted resources from best use.  Still, the beginning of the end of the monetary injection will most likely trigger the market downward in the short run as we may already be seeing.

Rising interest rates means that equities have to compete with other, safer places to tuck money, such as bonds, CDs, Treasuries, etc. instead of being the only category offering a possible return.
4540  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 14, 2013, 04:35:50 PM
Even if they are all wrong, there seem to be a lot of articles coming out about an impending downturn.  Not to feed the frenzy, but this one is called...

10 Reasons the Market Has Peaked
by Doug Kass, President of Seabreeze Partners Management Inc.

1. Rising interest rates pose more of a threat to growth than many believe. At the core of my pessimism is that the U.S. economy will not likely be able to hold up in the face of an increase in interest rates and a higher cost of capital. The Fed's four-year-plus strategy of quantitative easing is growing increasingly more ineffective -- it has neither created jobs nor stimulated innovation. (Apparently, the San Francisco Fed now agrees.) Kick-starting asset prices and the production of economic growth of only 2% (in real terms) underscore the failure of trickle-down monetary policy and simply do not guarantee a self-sustaining recovery that will continue under its own momentum.

As I have previously written, the stock market, the consumer and the corporate and public sectors are addicted to low interest rates.

To date, the market has comfortably absorbed a doubling in the five-year U.S. note yield and a 110-basis-point increase in the 10-year U.S. note yield. The next rise in rates, however, will likely exact more of an economic and market toll (particularly on housing).

If you don't think the market is the beneficiary of quantitative easing and you think tapering is nonevent, consider that the Fed has printed $600 billion of new money this year. This has generated only a 1.5% increase in GDP or $300 billion this year. But thus far in 2013, there has been a 20% rise in the value of U.S. stocks -- that is a rise of $3.5 trillion (on a base of $20 trillion total market value). So, a change of policy (i.e., tapering), is more significant and impactful than most argue.

The "taper is not tightening" argument is semantics because less asset purchases equals less accommodation. Moreover, it is now the markets that have tightened policy over the last two months, as the Fed has begun to lose control of rates. (Note: The yield on the 10-year U.S. note resides at 2.66% this morning, only a few basis points from the recent high yield. In my judgment we are close to the line in the sand, where rates will adversely impact economic activity.)

2. Economic fragility. The recent data indicate that the domestic economy is growing moderately but steadily, but job growth is weak in quality, retail sales seem to be stalling, automobile sales have essentially flatlined since November 2012, and housing appears to be pausing (as measured by lower purchase applications, slowing traffic, reduced order books and rising cancelations).

I challenge anyone (excluding the economic perma-bulls) to say (with confidence) that the U.S. economy is at escape velocity. I don't believe it is self-sustaining without the benefit of continued quantitative easing. As expressed earlier, any further increase in interest rates will be a headwind to growth.

3. The economic prospects for China, the straw that stirs the drink of global growth, are uncertain. I am not only suspect of publicly stated China growth rates but I am increasingly concerned with the rapid pace of credit growth, which has been increasingly sourced from the more risky and less transparent Chinese shadow banking sector.

China's credit growth relative to its GDP growth has been too rapid, so the country's leadership is committed to slowing credit. This raises the risk of a banking crisis and subpar (5% or less) real economic growth.

This downturn in growth will likely have a systemic financial impact on China's banking industry (which could feed into non-Chinese banks), global economic growth and on the pricing of risk assets. (Note: I would recommend both Goldman Sachs' recent "Top of Mind" and Hedgeye's Moshe Silver's column in this week's Fortune for lengthier discussions of this issue.)

4. An expected 2013 tapering is likely a policy mistake. I anticipate a September tapering despite the economy still growing at less than its potential. In listening to the Fed fiesta over the past month, it appears that most Fed members want out of quantitative easing for two basic reasons: 1. It is increasingly clear that QE is having a reduced or more marginal impact on growth; and 2. it is also clear that some feel exiting a $4 trillion balance sheet will be a challenge.

This could be a policy error, especially if consensus and Fed economic projections are wrong-footed, as I think they are. If I am right, investors will begin to see tapering as premature relative to economic activity. Though tapering has been well-telegraphed and should start moderately -- let's say a $15-billion-per-month reduction from $85 billion -- if I have to quantify, I would guess that the S&P falls maybe up to 50 points in anticipation of it.

I recognize that though tapering lies ahead, tightening does not. That said, corrections can occur anytime, despite quantitative easing and despite zero interest rates as far as the eyes can see. Look at the weakness in the Nikkei. The hedge fund community's favorite regional stock market is almost 10% off its high despite even more expansive quantitative easing than in the U.S.

5. The Fed head selection represents a more significant market event than consensus believes. My money is on Larry Summers. The selection of Summers (the favorite) or Geithner (a very long shot) could cost the S&P something like 50 points, while the selection of Kohn or Yellen (second favorite) could be a marginal positive for the markets.

Though Summers has broad experience and is intellectually gifted, he would probably be difficult to work with, and the reduced transparency in a Summers-led Fed would likely increase asset price volatility. Both Yellen and Kohn are as qualified intellectually/academically and understand the workings of the Fed as they have been there forever. Also, they are highly respected by the other Fed members.

6. Politics will return to the front burner in the coming months. The September-October political agenda is lengthy, including the debt ceiling, government spending and immigration, tax and government-sponsored enterprise reform.

Though market participants have become inured to the nonsensical rhetoric, a lengthy fight and impasse could again weigh on consumer and corporate confidence as it has previously.

7. The bull market is long in the tooth. We now lie almost 54 months from the generational low of March 2009. Over the past six decades, the average bull market has been about 43 months, the longest bull markets have lasted 56 and 60 months. (Note: The longest bull streaks didn't face the structural economic headwinds that we face today; they had long runways of growth and technological innovation ahead of them.)

Moreover, the intermediate leg of the bull market, which commenced in November 2012, has already climbed by almost 30% in only eight months.

8. Changing leadership seen as a negative. As I recently wrote, sector/group leadership changes are typically a negative sign for markets. (And, as Jim Cramer suggested on Real Money yesterday, "It's hard to find leaders.")

Former market-leading financials (Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) is -4% off its high), housing (the most distributional pattern, with the iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF (ITB) -18% off its high), health care and biotech (iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology Index Fund (IBB) is -4% off high) sectors are all extended and in recent weeks have begun to show signs of lost momentum, underperformance and possibly distribution. At the same time, materials have improved, but few others have, suggesting that a broader-based (and healthier) sector rotation is not yet in place.

9. Breadth weakens. Though most indices are within 1% of an all-time high, new peaks have not been confirmed by breadth or by new 52-week highs since mid-July. This is particularly true with regard to NYSE (all issues) breadth, which includes a number of bond-equivalent stocks/ETFs. The same non-confirmation has developed in the Nasdaq Composite and S&P 600 indices. Relatedly, the McClellan Summation Index has rolled over (Hat tip, Chuck Berry!) and could go down further before even reaching a moderate oversold status.

10. Valuations are stretched. As I expect only 2%-4% growth in S&P earnings for 2013 and 2014, any further stock price gains are very dependent on improving valuations and multiple expansion.

S&P profit forecasts are for $107 a share for 2013, $110 a share for 2014, and $114 a share in 2015. Given these estimates and given the deep structural global economic issues (disequilibrium in the U.S. jobs market, continuing deleveraging, etc.) I deem an appropriate/reasonable P/E as between 14x to 15x (slightly under the five-decade average of 15.2x), a contraction in valuations from current levels

Finally, let's look at the "Shiller P/E ratio." My friend/buddy/pal FT Advisors' Brian Wesbury recently wrote the following:

    In terms of market calls, few academics or economists can match Yale University economics professor Robert Shiller. In his 2000 book, Irrational Exuberance, he argued that 10-year averages of corporate earnings smoothed out the ups and downs of the business cycle. Then, using this "cyclically adjusted" level of earnings and comparing it to current stock prices, he claimed to generate a better version of the P/E ratio. Shiller's timing couldn't have been better. The "Shiller P/E ratio" was at an all-time high in 1999-2000, a clear signal of overvaluation and a reason to sell.

Today, Shiller's valuation work says that stocks are back to being in overvalued territory.

At the end of July, Shiller's ratio was 23.8, the highest since 2008.
4541  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Left alert: Robert Reich, 'Savage' inequality in America is deeply dangerous! on: August 14, 2013, 09:31:57 AM
It is quite strange to hear the far-left punditry call the most far-left possible governance - not far enough left.  I should have sent my previous de-bunk of this straw to Reich last time.  He clearly does not read the forum.  Now it seems the inequality worsened under Pelosi-Reid and then under Obama.  Hmmm.  What policies then are needed to cure it?  Why won't he say it, if you want all to be equal you must use what in math they call lowest common denominator.  For incomes to be equal with people who don't produce or don't produce abundantly, others must stop or slow their efforts.  How does THAT make us better off?

" income, wealth, and power have become more concentrated at the top than they've been in ninety years."

"Make no mistake: The savage inequality America is experiencing today is deeply dangerous."

Oh good grief.  Among the bunk:  static, snapshot analyses always avoid the facts of income mobility.  Every new worker, illegal, immigrant or otherwise, brings down the median without lowering any one person's income.  Every successful retiree who moves from producing income to living off of earned, accumulated wealth moves down in income while moving up in leisure and perhaps quality of life.  Our measures of income for the poor do not measure their income.  Our measures for income of all do not include their wealth.  The top 1%, 5%, 20% or 50%, or bottom quintiles or half, are NOT the same people when you make comparisons versus a year ago, a decade ago or in this case, over three and half decades.   The only interruption in the Reich income inequality scare was when the Pelosi-Reid-Obama congress precipitated the recent, historic collapse of wealth in this country.  But after the devastation, paraphrasing Wesbury, the plow horse continues to plow and not everyone is equally invested and pulling.

The real test of an economy is what opportunities or choices do you have, not just what is your immediate outcome.  
4542  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / War on the rule of law, Lerner Used Personal E-mail to Conduct Official Business on: August 13, 2013, 10:50:40 PM
Eliana Johnson continues to expose this scandal at National Review.

"one tax-law expert told National Review Online that the information she disclosed about one group constitutes a felony"

"[Lerner] is demanding immunity in exchange for her testimony"

  - Doesn't that imply she can deliver someone higher up with her testimony?
 IRS’s Lerner Used Personal E-mail to Conduct Official Business, Investigators Say
By  Eliana Johnson
August 13, 2013 12:01 PM

Embattled Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner sent official documents from her government e-mail address to a personal account, according to House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa and his colleague, Ohio congressman Jim Jordan.

“This raises some serious questions concerning your use of a non-official e-mail account to conduct official business,” the GOP lawmakers wrote in a letter to Lerner demanding all documents from her non-official account for the period between January 2008 and the present. “Additional documents related to the Committee’s investigation may exist in these non-official accounts over which you have some control, and the lack of access to this information prevents the Committee from fully assessing your actions,” they explained. Issa and Jordan are requesting that Lerner produce the documents by August 27.

The use of personal e-mail accounts to conduct government work also has the potential to impede federal-records requests by the public because personal accounts are not archived by the government. Controversy erupted, for example, over former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson’s use of a government account under the name Richard Windsor which, like a personal account, would not be captured by records requests relating to Jackson.

Lerner, the former director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations unit, was placed on administrative leave in late May after refusing to resign her post. She invoked her Fifth Amendment rights in testimony before the Oversight Committee and has yet to speak at length about her knowledge of the IRS’s targeting of tea-party groups. E-mail correspondence recently unearthed by the House Ways and Means Committee shows Lerner exchanging messages with an FEC attorney about two conservative groups; one tax-law expert told National Review Online that the information she disclosed about one group constitutes a felony.

Congressional investigators have not yet called Lerner back to testify; she is demanding immunity in exchange for her testimony.
4543  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: August 13, 2013, 10:28:31 PM
I'm working on getting BBG to come around some more.  grin We miss him.

Thank you.  I second the motion.
4544  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science - Surviving CO2 400 PPM on: August 13, 2013, 02:28:55 PM
A rare BBG sighting in this thread yesterday, take a look! "State-Funded Science: It’s Worse Than You Think!"

Apparently the reason the world did not explode and people didn't suffocate at 400 ppm (parts per million) CO2 is because we missed it.  Next summer for sure!  Wrap up you unfinished business.  It's still coming.

I would be more worried if atmospheric CO2, at such thin levels was decreasing.
4545  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Daily Show rips Chris Matthews on: August 13, 2013, 02:15:46 PM

3 minute video, pretty funny.
4546  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness - wanting to break right on: August 11, 2013, 10:23:17 PM
Photo of the Day, With Commentary on Golf and Benghazi

Reporters have followed President Obama to Martha’s Vineyard, where they are standing by to inform us of any wonderful deeds He might perform. Today, pool reporters were ecstatic that they were permitted to watch Obama play golf. You can read their #kneepadmedia–Brad Thor’s hashtag–tweets about the golf outing here. Zeke Miller, a political reporter for Time, tweeted this photo of Obama, taken just after he missed a putt:

The pool report says: “He let out a little, ‘Ooooh,’ as it happened.” Like his fellow reporters, Miller apparently found the photo more adorable than it might seem to the average American, who–for example–may have been cut back to 29 hours a week because of Obamacare. Miller also tweeted the pool report’s description of Obama’s reaction to the missed putt:

    First putt was a miss, which Obama reacted to by leaning back & kicking his knee up, as if trying to coax the ball into breaking right.

So I’m wondering: when do you suppose our intrepid press corps will report on Obama’s whereabouts and actions during the Benghazi crisis in the same detail, and with the same enthusiasm, that they devote to his missing a putt?

4547  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: baseball on: August 11, 2013, 12:05:16 PM

This is a great piece.  I like that they transition into other sports and into learning psychology.  In tennis, the relationship between server and receiver is very similar to that of pitcher and batter.  Pete Sampras was one of the most successful servers of all time.  Asked about his serve in a US Open interview he said that what he does is try to get up as high in the air as he can, hit as hard as he can, and aim for the corners.  What he didn't say is that unlike the 100th or 1000th best player in the world with a similarly hard serve, he gives off almost no discernible information to the receiver about which serve to which corner he is about to hit until it is too late to react.  Obviously Finch also has that same ability.

The 10,000-hour 'rule' to master a skill is interesting.  A followup is that I think it takes a pretty high level of talent and inclination in order to dedicate total concentration into anything for that duration.  That the virtuoso violists spend a disproportionate amount of their time on self-directed practice is evidence of that.  In tennis, the Dad of an 11 year old who went on to become the top junior in the region by 13 told me his daughter would play out entire matches in her head while just 'hitting' a pretend ball against the side of the house.  That is not the intensity level of the ordinary player.
4548  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Too-easy money makes market too risky on: August 11, 2013, 11:08:38 AM

A market correction of this sort seems just as likely to me as the Wesbury scenario that things just keep plowing forward, especially if the market sees a good likelihood of artificial stimuli ending.  Calling the timing of it is always dubious.

170 of the S&P 500 are already tanking.  The largest of the politically connected, crony companies are still holding up the growth in this market.

Note President Obama's comment that commitment to 'dual mission' of the Fed is central to his Fed Chair pick .  He wants this sick and stalled economy under his watch propped up to maintain its 1% growth rate for the duration, no matter the long term cost.  Maybe we can go that far before crashing and maybe we can't.

Too-easy money makes market too risky
The liquidity-fueled rally of the past 9 months is easy to like. But recent history tells us higher prices based on easy money carry extreme dangers, so a violent drop could lie ahead.
4549  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: POTH: Pollution Economics on: August 11, 2013, 10:50:42 AM
Interesting ideas, but dangerous to move seamlessly between putting filthy poisons in the air and regulation of carbon dioxide.  Note that the author's profile gives a good disclosure of bias on the topic (as does the Pravda designation earned by the publication).

The filth in the air in China comes from the industrial plants that put filth in the air in China.  The filth with all its components kills the quality of life and kills life itself. 

The science of CO2 is not so simple.  Are we sure that the human act of using fossil fuels and consequential CO2 has killed the quality of life and killed life itself?  What was life expectancy and quality of life on the planet before and after the use of fossil fuels?

The point isn't to stomp out the use of clean coal, natural gas, unleaded gasoline etc BEFORE we find the replacement.  The point IMHO is to find the efficient replacement and watch how quickly the old sources become a thing of the past.

4550  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy - Backyardianism on: August 11, 2013, 10:31:24 AM
In the 1970s Henry Kissinger wrote of a world that was bi-polar militarily and multi-polar economically.  What would you call the state of things after the collapse of the Soviet Empire?

A post of Denny S. in this thread 3 1/2 years ago pointed us to the concept of "Backyardianism".

"Eisenhower let the Russian invade Hungary in 1956 but Kennedy did not let them set up missiles in Cuba. Eastern Europe is Russia's back yard while the Caribbean is America's back yard. Those are hard facts on the ground.

Russia let America invade Grenada but did not let America set up missiles in Poland. Just the mirror image of the above Eisenhower/Kennedy policies. Backyardianism at work."

Perhaps America is/was the power of the world of last resort, but around China the power is China.  Russia never stopped pursuing back its influence and domination over former Soviet republics and as far as it can reach in other directions.  The EU may have no army but works its influence to pull 28 nations in a common direction.  Iran in Iraq, Syria, Bahrain.   Pakistan in Afghan, Kashmir.  Around Venezuela, the wannabe influence was Chavez.
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