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51  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness, Geography Gaffe! on: September 12, 2014, 09:00:09 AM
 Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria.

This link is still up at WhiteHouse.Gov at this writing:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/10/background-conference-call-presidents-address-nation#.VBH-xrMzc7I.twitter

Background Conference Call on the President's Address to the Nation
...
ISIL has been I think a galvanizing threat around the Sunni partners in the region.  They view it as an existential threat to them.  Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria. ...



Please show us that border!



http://washingtonexaminer.com/in-the-best-of-hands-senior-obama-official-makes-terrible-geography-error/article/2553262
52  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: September 12, 2014, 08:45:38 AM
Note that in his interview with Chris Wallace, Romney laid the black hole that Libya has become at her feet-- and correctly so.  While Baraq went on vacation to Brazil, Hillary, Susan Powers, and Samantha Wuzhername crafted the "Lead from behind strategy" for Libya.  Presumably the  presumed gun running operation in Benghazi supplying Syrian rebels was her idea too.  Now Libya is an anarchic wasteland of Islamo-fascism-- just what we went to Afpakia to prevent.

"Presumably the  presumed gun running operation in Benghazi supplying Syrian rebels was her idea too."

The gun running out of Bengazi doesn't seem to be backed up with evidence, at least yet, so we still have no idea what the mission was.  The rest of that statement rings 100% true without the missing piece.

"Hillary, Susan Powers, and Samantha Wuzhername"  - Susan Rice and Cass Sunstein's wife, Samantha Power, lol.  Oddly, President Obama opposed his own policy in Libya, a difficult point to argue after the fact.  Ask Michelle about her entourage booking 60 rooms at a Spanish villa during the economic collapse and flying the family dog on a separate jet to Nantucket, he doesn't know how to stand up to strong women.
53  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: Cognitive Dissonance of the American People on: September 12, 2014, 08:12:04 AM
Americans are demanding economic growth from a President whose entire economic focus throughout his political career prior to being President was on anti-growth policies and rhetoric.

Americans are demanding military action in the Middle East from a President whose rise to power was based on promising to ignore these risks an just remove us from all military involvement in the Middle East.

Wouldn't it have been better to have chosen a President who had prior interest, experience, and/or expertise in these areas?
54  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: September 12, 2014, 07:58:40 AM
...
More than 90% of the 48 surveyed economists—not all of whom answered every question—said they expect the U.S. economy to improve relative to the first half of 2014. None see the economic outlook deteriorating. ...

The optimism is impressive!  But stated occasionally in the climate change context, a poll of scientists (who all agree with each other) is not science.  This looks more like a study of how 'scientists' let the views of their peers influence their work. 

I judge economists by how well they can explain the past and present, not by how well they foresee the future, which none can do reliably or accurately. 

"... only two (of 48) see growth falling below 2%."

Not mentioned, but how many of these 48 economists predicted a contraction greater than 2% for last winter?  None, I'm sure.
55  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science - earliest snowfall since 1888 on: September 11, 2014, 01:03:27 PM
Anecdotal stories of warming or cooling prove nothing and I will quit citing isolated examples of unusual cold and cooling as soon as the warming alarmists stop citing individual examples of warmth.
---------------------------------------------------
Rapid City sees earliest snowfall since 1888,  Sept 11, 2014
http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/crime/2014/09/11/inches-possible-black-hills/15434275/
---------------------------------------------------
Posted previously on Environmental Issues:
the Arctic has added ice area twice the size of Alaska over the last 2 years and increased the mass, thickness and density in the rest of it.  http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1118.msg83423#msg83423
--------------------------------------------------=

Here is an example of global warming:  When a freezer loses power, we don't find that some ice cube trays are melting while others that were liquid are freezing.  It may warm unevenly, but it all warms.

The man-made cause of warming hinges on the underlying assumption that the earth is still warming, warming significantly, warming more than the margin of error, warming at a faster rate than before the alleged cause started and more that it would be otherwise.  

As for now, it is not.
56  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Turkey says No to missions to hit ISIL on: September 11, 2014, 12:43:28 PM
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Sep-11/270333-turkey-refuses-us-permission-for-combat-missions-against-isis-official.ashx#ixzz3D163uu2K

Sep. 11, 2014
Turkey refuses US permission for combat missions against ISIS
57  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness - ISIS Speech on: September 11, 2014, 12:39:52 PM
Transcript, video:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/10/statement-president-isil-1

It was a stump speech billed as a foreign policy speech.  It was a speech about Middle East war and peace and Israel was not mentioned.  Homegrown terrorism was not addressed, nor was ISIS and their sympathizers coming in across our porous southern border.  Nor was any conjugation of the verb to deter, deterrent, deterrence.  What war was won, BTW, with air power alone?  Not mentioned.  No mention of the on-the-ground surge working or anything else learned previously in this fight.  But we did get a shout-out to the Dems running for their troubled reelection about job creation and health of the auto industry!

ISIL (Islamic State) is not Islamic.  Just like the Muslim Brotherhood is secular.  Good to know!


Deeper thoughts from a previous speech:

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Members...
I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war.  ...
We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of depravation, and still strive for dignity. We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that - for that is the story of human progress; that is the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.  - Pres. Obama accepting Nobel Peace Prize   Dec 10, 2009


While you were dithering, they were arming, financing, recruiting, organizing, taking over cities, regions and countries, raping, enslaving and beheading, Mr. President.  Welcome belatedly to the fight.


58  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: NYT starting to turn on BamBam in prep for the next liar in chief Hillary on: September 11, 2014, 11:50:16 AM
This is really a Clinton story.   The Clintonites are turning the screws to BamBam to clear the stage for their new exalted chosen one:  Hillary.
********NYT Baghdad Bureau Chief: Obama 'Ignored' Iraq, Is 'Ignorant of Reality'   ...

That's right.  They want her (or someone) to represent all of the hope and change, but without the incompetence and glibness.  Liberalism is not the problem,they mistakenly argue, it is the flawed messenger.  Obama kept a tee time 5 minutes after his 5 minutes of vacation interrupting outrage over a beheading video.  Hillary traveled some record number of miles willing to accomplish nothing just to prove her unending commitment to work endlessly.

If not ignorance or inexperience, Hllary has her own problems.  She was for, against, and now for the Iraq war?  Her healthcare passage and rollout would have been different.  Really?  Her competence and readiness for the 3am phone call was on display during the warnings prior, the 13 hours during, and the aftermath cover-up of the Benghazi attacks?  Not so.

She needs 3 things to win and succeed.  The first two are mutually exclusive and the third is impossible:

1.  A nearly complete break with the Obama administration, calling him out on his errors and failures.
2.  The full backing and support of the Obama political machine that won two presidential elections.
3.  To be a candidate with a gift for politics and communication on a par with Bill Clinton, Obama and Reagan.

she has done all the ground work to be ready to launch a campaign.  Taking the Sec State job, quitting after one term, writing the book, working the book tour, and obviously her previous efforts getting elected and serving in the Senate.   She has test marketed her product and I say it failed.  Next should be to take her message nationwide in support of Dem candidates across the country.  To be the de facto national leader of her party as Obama implodes.  We are well into Sept with a month and a half to go and, for whatever reasons, she has not done that.

Very shortly after the midterms she needs to announce her decision one way or the other.  She can bring her flawed product to market and finish her career very likely as a two time loser.  Or as many smart people do, exit the scene while still perceived to be on top.  If she chooses the latter, she better do it soon; her polling trend looks like that is the last right side up one already happened. 

Once she announces she is out, her polling numbers and the value of her opinion and endorsements will go up.  Look at her husband's numbers.  The Dem party will be forced to scramble, same as the Republicans are doing now.  The next year will be interesting.
59  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 911, Sept 11 anniversary on: September 10, 2014, 01:26:59 PM
Our 911 front page is up.

I (also) have an eerie feeling about the coming anniversary of 9/11.  It was not helpful or wise that our President told the extremists they are washed up, defeated, on the run, and Junior Varsity, whatever that means in Arabic.  The tough talk and reach out in his speech tonight out of both sides of his mouth won't help either.  If they are capable of hitting us, they will do it.  Maybe something big.  Maybe just a few, homegrown copycats.  Hopefully just small, failed attempts that we never hear about.

I wonder if we will leave any US diplomats guarded with only unarmed guards in third world countries ruled by competing militias.  And then tell available help to stand down.
60  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary Clinton’s Approval Numbers Return to Earth (Plunging) — WSJ/NBC Poll on: September 10, 2014, 01:13:38 PM
http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/09/09/hillary-clintons-approval-numbers-return-to-earth-wsjnbc-poll/
Hillary Clinton’s Approval Numbers Return to Earth — WSJ/NBC Poll

Hillary;s approval/disapproval numbers have slid from +37 and +31 down to +2, 43 approve, 41 disapprove.
(Those will slide further as we re-acquaint ourselves with her character, personality and record.)

Inevitable that she will run, win the nomination, and win the general election?  I don't think so.   )
61  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the J.V. Glibness - ISIS Speech on: September 10, 2014, 12:57:41 PM
A week ago he didn't have a clue strategy.  Tonight he has it all.  What changed?  Domestic politics driving foreign policy.

This is really a stupid question, but will he admit in any way that he was wrong?  Wrong on Iraq.  Wrong on Egypt.  Wrong to say al Qaeda is on the run.  Wrong on Syria.  Wrong on Libya and Benghazi.  Wrong on the Mexican border.  Wrong on Russia and Ukraine.  Wrong to call terrorists and beheaders JV.  If this were a serious speech and a serious change of policy, making right what was previously wrong would be the starting point.  It isn't.
62  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia-Georgia, Caucasus, Central Asia - NYT: Russia’s Next Land Grab on: September 10, 2014, 12:22:27 PM
NYT: Russia’s Next Land Grab

In the context of Putin running Russia, this seems quite plausible to me:

Russia’s Next Land Grab

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/10/opinion/russias-next-land-grab.html?_r=1

WASHINGTON — UKRAINE isn’t the only place where Russia is stirring up trouble. Since the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Moscow has routinely supported secessionists in bordering states, to coerce those states into accepting its dictates. Its latest such effort is unfolding in the South Caucasus.

In recent weeks, Moscow seems to have been aggravating a longstanding conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan while playing peacemaking overlord to both. In the first week of August, as many as 40 Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers were reported killed in heavy fighting near their border, just before a summit meeting convened by Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.

The South Caucasus may seem remote, but the region borders Russia, Iran and Turkey, and commands a vital pipeline route for oil and natural gas to flow from Central Asia to Europe without passing through Russia. Western officials cannot afford to let another part of the region be digested by Moscow — as they did when Russia separated South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia, just to the north, in a brief war in 2008, and when it seized Crimea from Ukraine this year.

Conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is not new. From 1992 to 1994, war raged over which former Soviet republic would control the autonomous area of Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region with a large Christian Armenian population of about 90,000 within the borders of largely Muslim Azerbaijan. The conflict has often been framed as “ethnic,” but Moscow has fed the antagonisms. That war ended with an Armenian military force, highly integrated with Russia’s military, in charge of the zone. The war had killed 30,000 people and made another million refugees.

Even today, Armenia controls nearly 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory, comprising most of Nagorno-Karabakh and several surrounding regions. Despite a cease-fire agreement since 1994, hostilities occasionally flare, and Russian troops run Armenia’s air defenses. Moscow also controls key elements of Armenia’s economy and infrastructure.

More to the point, Russia has found ways to keep the conflict alive. Three times in the 1990s, Armenia and Azerbaijan signed peace agreements, but Russia found ways to derail Armenia’s participation. (In 1999, for example, a disgruntled journalist suspected of having been aided by Moscow assassinated Armenia’s prime minister, speaker of Parliament and other government officials.)

An unresolved conflict — a “frozen conflict,” Russia calls it — gives Russian forces an excuse to enter the region and coerce both sides. Once Russian forces are in place, neither side can cooperate closely with the West without fear of retribution from Moscow.

The latest violence preceded a summit meeting on Aug. 10 in Sochi, Russia, at which Mr. Putin sought an agreement on deploying additional Russian “peacekeepers” between Armenia and Azerbaijan. On July 31, Armenians began a coordinated, surprise attack in three locations. Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham H. Aliyev, and defense minister were outside their country during the attack and Mr. Aliyev had not yet agreed to attend the summit meeting. But the Armenian president, Serzh A. Sargsyan, had agreed to; it’s unlikely that his military would have initiated such a provocation without coordinating with Russia. (The meeting went on, without concrete results.)

Before the meeting, Moscow had been tightening its grip on the South Caucasus, with Armenia’s tacit support. Last fall, Armenia’s government gave up its ambitions to sign a partnership agreement with the European Union and announced that it would join Moscow’s customs union instead.

Renewed open warfare would give Russia an excuse to send in more troops, under the guise of peacekeeping. Destabilizing the South Caucasus could also derail a huge gas pipeline project, agreed to last December, that might lighten Europe’s dependence on Russian fuel.

But astonishingly, American officials reacted to the current fighting by saying they “welcome” the Russian-sponsored summit meeting. Has Washington learned nothing from Georgia and Ukraine? To prevent escalation of the Caucasus conflict, and deny Mr. Putin the pretext for a new land grab, President Obama should invite the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia to Washington and show that America has not abandoned the South Caucasus. This would encourage the leaders to resist Russia’s pressure. The United Nations General Assembly session, which opens next week, seems like an excellent moment for such a demonstration of support.

Washington should put the blame on Russia and resist any so-called conflict resolution that leads to deployment of additional Russian troops in the region.

Finally, the West needs a strategy to prevent Moscow from grabbing another bordering region. Nagorno-Karabakh, however remote, is the next front in Russia’s efforts to rebuild its lost empire. Letting the South Caucasus lose its sovereignty to Russia would strike a deadly blow to America’s already diminished ability to seek and maintain alliances in the former Soviet Union and beyond.
63  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The economy is back, baby!!! on: September 10, 2014, 10:26:06 AM

1989 happened to be the end of the Reagan era, followed by endless, no-new-taxes tax increases, beginning in 1990.

That said, there are many problems with this type of analysis. 
a. Median family size is shrinking, so that measurement isn't particularly useful.
b. Tracking "the share of wealth owned by the top 3% of American families" over such an extended period doesn't show the mobility in and out of that group.
c.  We don't count most of the income received at the lower end of the scale.
d.  Every time an illegal or anyone else walks into this economy with nothing, the median goes down even if no one else's income or wealth has changed.

Far more enlightening IMHO are the analyses that take specific groups from specific points in time and then track their income and wealth mobility going forward.
64  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia's Great Power Strategy - NYT: Russia’s Next Land Grab on: September 10, 2014, 09:56:10 AM
In the context of Putin running Russia, this seems quite plausible to me:

Russia’s Next Land Grab

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/10/opinion/russias-next-land-grab.html?_r=1

WASHINGTON — UKRAINE isn’t the only place where Russia is stirring up trouble. Since the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Moscow has routinely supported secessionists in bordering states, to coerce those states into accepting its dictates. Its latest such effort is unfolding in the South Caucasus.

In recent weeks, Moscow seems to have been aggravating a longstanding conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan while playing peacemaking overlord to both. In the first week of August, as many as 40 Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers were reported killed in heavy fighting near their border, just before a summit meeting convened by Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.

The South Caucasus may seem remote, but the region borders Russia, Iran and Turkey, and commands a vital pipeline route for oil and natural gas to flow from Central Asia to Europe without passing through Russia. Western officials cannot afford to let another part of the region be digested by Moscow — as they did when Russia separated South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia, just to the north, in a brief war in 2008, and when it seized Crimea from Ukraine this year.

Conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is not new. From 1992 to 1994, war raged over which former Soviet republic would control the autonomous area of Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region with a large Christian Armenian population of about 90,000 within the borders of largely Muslim Azerbaijan. The conflict has often been framed as “ethnic,” but Moscow has fed the antagonisms. That war ended with an Armenian military force, highly integrated with Russia’s military, in charge of the zone. The war had killed 30,000 people and made another million refugees.

Even today, Armenia controls nearly 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory, comprising most of Nagorno-Karabakh and several surrounding regions. Despite a cease-fire agreement since 1994, hostilities occasionally flare, and Russian troops run Armenia’s air defenses. Moscow also controls key elements of Armenia’s economy and infrastructure.

More to the point, Russia has found ways to keep the conflict alive. Three times in the 1990s, Armenia and Azerbaijan signed peace agreements, but Russia found ways to derail Armenia’s participation. (In 1999, for example, a disgruntled journalist suspected of having been aided by Moscow assassinated Armenia’s prime minister, speaker of Parliament and other government officials.)

An unresolved conflict — a “frozen conflict,” Russia calls it — gives Russian forces an excuse to enter the region and coerce both sides. Once Russian forces are in place, neither side can cooperate closely with the West without fear of retribution from Moscow.

The latest violence preceded a summit meeting on Aug. 10 in Sochi, Russia, at which Mr. Putin sought an agreement on deploying additional Russian “peacekeepers” between Armenia and Azerbaijan. On July 31, Armenians began a coordinated, surprise attack in three locations. Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham H. Aliyev, and defense minister were outside their country during the attack and Mr. Aliyev had not yet agreed to attend the summit meeting. But the Armenian president, Serzh A. Sargsyan, had agreed to; it’s unlikely that his military would have initiated such a provocation without coordinating with Russia. (The meeting went on, without concrete results.)

Before the meeting, Moscow had been tightening its grip on the South Caucasus, with Armenia’s tacit support. Last fall, Armenia’s government gave up its ambitions to sign a partnership agreement with the European Union and announced that it would join Moscow’s customs union instead.

Renewed open warfare would give Russia an excuse to send in more troops, under the guise of peacekeeping. Destabilizing the South Caucasus could also derail a huge gas pipeline project, agreed to last December, that might lighten Europe’s dependence on Russian fuel.

But astonishingly, American officials reacted to the current fighting by saying they “welcome” the Russian-sponsored summit meeting. Has Washington learned nothing from Georgia and Ukraine? To prevent escalation of the Caucasus conflict, and deny Mr. Putin the pretext for a new land grab, President Obama should invite the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia to Washington and show that America has not abandoned the South Caucasus. This would encourage the leaders to resist Russia’s pressure. The United Nations General Assembly session, which opens next week, seems like an excellent moment for such a demonstration of support.

Washington should put the blame on Russia and resist any so-called conflict resolution that leads to deployment of additional Russian troops in the region.

Finally, the West needs a strategy to prevent Moscow from grabbing another bordering region. Nagorno-Karabakh, however remote, is the next front in Russia’s efforts to rebuild its lost empire. Letting the South Caucasus lose its sovereignty to Russia would strike a deadly blow to America’s already diminished ability to seek and maintain alliances in the former Soviet Union and beyond.
65  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mob of teens gets shot by CCW holder on: September 10, 2014, 09:35:43 AM

"He fatally shot one of the robbers, a 15-year-old known gang member who was already the victim of another non-fatal shooting on August 1.  The teen had previously been charged with armed robbery, auto theft, theft, and fleeing.  Police have arrested another two 14-year-old males, a 16-year-old male, a 17-year-old female...  Police say this particular group is responsible for multiple armed robberies that have recently hit Milwaukee. Police say the group may be responsible for dozens of robberies over just the past three days. ...The Daily Caller reports that a “similar incident involving a Milwaukee robbery gang occurred in July. A nurse carrying a concealed carry permit shot a 15-year-old assailant as he and a 17-year-old accomplice attempted to steal her car. "


Examples of what the mainstream media, in another context, call "unaccompanied children".  Maybe Homeland Security could help them locate their parents.
66  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: "Thirteen Hours" documentary on: September 10, 2014, 09:30:06 AM
Superb one hour documentary by Bret Baier this weekend on FOX called "Thirteen Hours" featuring intense interviews with three men who were there.  If someone can find a link for it, please post it here.

Try this link for part 1 of 5 and for links to the rest:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTOeU1HaeFQ

I have not seen this but it seems the truth of what happened is far worse than we imagined.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hear is another report on the book, 13 Hours, followed by interviews with the surviving witnesses.  I will predict that a movie based on this book will be next year's blockbuster.  Good luck to the lame duck and his JV former Sec State getting this avoidable tragedy and the cover up to fade into the background.  As they say at the end, you are hearing what happened for the first time.

http://spectator.org/articles/60385/reliving-benghazis-13-hours

SPECIAL REPORT AND INTERVIEW
RELIVING BENGHAZI’S 13 HOURS
Five survivors of the attacks of Sept. 11-12, 2012, speak out.

By Ross Kaminsky

On September 11 and 12, 2012, in an attack by Islamist militants on the U.S. Diplomatic Compound (unofficially sometimes called a consulate) in Benghazi, Libya, Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed — the first death of an American ambassador by a violent act since 1979. Chris Stevens had earned the admiration and respect of many local Benghazans by making improved relations between Libyans and Americans his calling — one that he was willing to take great risks to accomplish. Also killed that fateful night was the affable State Department computer specialist Sean Smith, known ironically to his friends in the online gaming world as “Vile Rat.”

Far more people would have died had it not been for the efforts of the Annex Security Team, a group of private security contractors, each of whom had served in the United States Marines, Army, or Navy, working for an organization called the Global Response Staff (“GRS”), who risked their lives and defied orders by leaving the nearby CIA Annex in order to save the State Department staff at the Diplomatic Compound.

But the terrorists weren’t finished. A few hours after the “consulate” burned, killing Stevens and Smith by smoke inhalation in what was supposed to be a safe haven within the primary residence on the walled property, they massed in force and attacked the CIA Annex to which the Team and the evacuated State Department staff had fallen back.

In that series of firefights, two more men, Glen “Bub” Doherty — who had arrived from Tripoli as part of a group of reinforcements — and Tyrone “Rone” Woods — a Team member and former Navy SEAL who also had paramedic training — lost their lives. Another member of the team, Mark “Oz” Geist, suffered devastating injuries to his arm (requiring 15 surgeries so far), while a Diplomatic Security agent, Dave Ubben, was also badly hurt.

The deaths of Bub and Rone, and the injuries to Oz and Ubben, occurred in the last major violent episode of the battle: a series of mortar attacks that were too precise to have been just “good luck” for the terrorists and belie the Obama administration’s early claims of a disorganized protest that simply turned violent.

The story of the attacks on both Compounds, the bravery of the Annex Security Team and others — as well as the apparent cowardice of some, including the CIA station chief on location — is told in a riveting new book entitled 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi.

The book, written by New York Times bestselling author Mitchell Zuckoff in collaboration with the remaining members of the Team, is a riveting account of heroism and tragedy, something that you might expect to find (and equally not be able to put down) in a Tom Clancy novel and from which there will no doubt be a most adrenaline-pumping movie.

After all, how could a director improve on Oz, his body pounded and his left arm shredded by a mortar blast, about to be carried on a stretcher to the evacuation airplane, standing up and saying “Hell no! I walked into this country and I’m going to f***ing walk out of this town”?

Of the five surviving Team members, three use their real names in the book: Mark “Oz” Geist (Marines), Kris “Tanto” Paronto (Army), and John “Tig” Tiegen (Marines). Two others use pseudonyms, going by Jack Silva (Navy) and Dave “D.B.” Benton (Marines). Each of them, including Rone, is a father, making even more remarkable the risks they took for their countrymen and more scandalous the reasonable conclusion that but for poor decision-making by high-ranking State Department and others the deaths in Benghazi, and perhaps the attack itself, might never have happened.

The book begins with Jack’s arrival in Benghazi, being wary of surveillance as soon as arriving at baggage claim, and being shown to the CIA Annex by Rone, who “told Jack that the summer in Benghazi would be his last job for the GRS… he wanted to spend more time with his wife and to help raise their infant son.”

After descriptions of the other team members — in which you really feel as if you know them at least a little bit — and an introduction to Ambassador Stevens, whose “optimism was tested from the start by instability and violence,” 13 Hours moves quickly into the violent events of the night of September 11 and the morning of September 12, 2012, beginning with the State Department Compound’s Libyan gate security fleeing — though they were unarmed in any case — allowing in “armed invaders ([who]… roamed freely through the dimly lit Compound, firing their weapons and chanting as they approached the buildings in packs, some stealing what they could carry, all trying to find the Americans.”

Your next enthralling hour or two of reading is of battles and tactics and bravery and confusion which for civilians is only imaginable as a 21st century Alamo — under attack by al Qaeda instead of Santa Ana’s army: “As Tig moved to join in, a [friendly] 17 February militiaman on the west side of Gunfighter Road fired two rocket-propelled grenades toward the men outside the Compound gate. The grenade-firing militiaman was positioned about twenty yards behind Tig, who heard the alarming sound of shells whizzing over his head. The grenades didn’t faze the attackers, who kept firing.”

And while I’ve offered an example involving John “Tig” Tiegen, every member of the team demonstrated almost inconceivable — again, at least to civilians — courage and determination. They would (and do) say that it’s simply what they were trained to do. Which does not lessen my admiration for them by even the smallest measure.

Yet despite everything, and this is the intention of the surviving members of the Team, if one person comes through the book as most memorable and, although I hesitate to suggest degrees of heroism, a man whom the other heroes themselves see as a hero, it is Tyrone “Rone” Woods, whom everyone on the team liked, trusted, and respected, and who lost his life in a terrorist mortar attack on a roof in Benghazi:

The former SEAL with the King Leonidas beard, who’d extended his stay in Benghazi to help protect Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who intended to retire from GRS operator trips to work with his wife, who was eager to raise his infant son and see his two older boys grow into men, who instinctively and compulsively watched over his fellow operators, who led the rescue charge into the Compound, who searched through a burning building for two missing men, and who answered the first two explosions by rising with a machine gun and returning fire, had absorbed the deadly concussive force of the explosion.

13 Hours recognizes but deliberately avoids partisan politics. Regarding some of the most common questions about what happened in Benghazi, such as “During the attack, was the U.S. military response appropriate, and if not, why not?”

Most answers have fallen on one side or the other of a partisan divide… Media reports have run the gamut on who, if anyone, in Washington deserves blame and punishment, and whether the attacks should be considered a tragedy, a scandal, or both. However, by early 2014 one conclusion had gained considerable traction across partisan lines: The attacks could have been prevented. That is, if only the State Department had taken appropriate steps to improve security at the Compound in response to the numerous warnings and incidents during the months prior.

Yes, the brave men of Benghazi are simply telling their story, but the words of Pericles ring as true as ever: “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” Simply as a matter of “the buck stops here” management responsibility, one can’t avoid the feeling that 13 Hours means that Hillary Clinton has more ’splainin’ to do if she seeks to be the next president of the United States.

As you look beyond the incredible story, the events in Benghazi offer as many questions as answers. Again, one cannot help but ask questions that might have political implications despite the authors’ explicit declarations that they are not trying to make political statements but simply to get the truth of that night’s events into the public sphere.

On Monday, in an exclusive interview for The American Spectator, I asked a few of these and other questions of Mark “Oz” Geist, Kris “Tanto” Paronto, and John “Tig” Tiegen — three men who after enduring Benghazi have been willing to risk their own now-civilian privacy in order to tell their story:

Ross Kaminsky: Many aspects of that night seem like they might have been preventable. Let’s start with the initial situation on the ground. What did you make of it at the time and what do you make of it in retrospect?

Mark Geist: It was about like every other Third World country I’d been in… kind of a piece of crap. It was a lawless city. After the fall of Gaddafi, it was controlled by several different militias and they were all vying for control of various entities within the city, like the airport, the port, commerce, things like that, so they can make money.

RK: Did you think that the State Dept. security people, the State Department more broadly, even the CIA, had taken their own security seriously enough and done enough to be prepared for what could happen in a lawless city, much less in a lawless city on September 11th?

John Tiegen: Our side, we took measures, from the get-go, when we first got into Benghazi. For the State Dept. guys I’d say no. Even the very first trip that I did down in Benghazi, they were shorthanded. There’d be only like two Americans on that Compound, no principal officer, just two RSOs [Regional Security Officers] sitting there, not doing anything. Or they’d go on a move and only leave one American on the Compound. They were always understaffed and basically no security. I mean, the guys at the gate, they had no weapons; I don’t even think they had batons. There was a total lack of security over there.

RK: Did you think at the time that there was an unsafe reliance on Libyans for the security at the Compounds?

MG: My personal opinion is because of the relationship that people felt they had with the Libyans — most of the Libyans who lived there were supportive of us — it gave a false sense of security to some people. You have a town that’s controlled by militias. The militias weren’t friendly. At best, they were neutral to us. Some of them I guess were quasi-friendly but not somebody you’d want to trust your life to.

RK: One thing that I don’t really know even after reading the book: What was your team’s explicit responsibility, if any, for the State Department Compound?

JT: We had no requirement to go rescue them or do anything with them. We were augmenting our time to even escort the ambassador to the different events he was attending, just so they’d have extra security.

RK: During the attacks, you told the Team Leader that you wanted aerial military support as well as surveillance. What happened and didn’t happen when you made that request?

JT: It was Tanto who made that request. He made it pretty quick. He requested the IR and a Spectre gunship within 10 or 15 minutes. They just kinda said “Roger that. We’ll look into it.” All we ever got was the IR (drone surveillance), obviously.

RK: Did you ever figure out why?

JT: No.

RK: What do you make of the fact that you never figured out why?

MG: I think somebody was either afraid to make the decision or they felt that the situation wasn’t as grave as it was, which could lead you to the conclusion that maybe that’s [also] why they had us stand down and hold off for 30 minutes. Because they thought it could be handled in an easier manner, or they didn’t want the exposure or something.

RK: It’s not as if you guys are the type of people to call and say you need help except in the absolute worst possible situations. I just can’t imagine who would hear a call from any one of you and say “Well, maybe it’s not that serious.” I suppose that’s more of a comment than a question…

Multiple voices: I would agree. I would agree with that.

RK: You talk in the book about the CIA station chief in Benghazi, whom you call “Bob,” and who refused to be interviewed for the book, as I gather from the book’s notes. Bob made some decisions which you’ve made clear you believe cost American lives. What did Bob do or not do, and what were the impacts of his actions or inactions, and perhaps you can include any thoughts on why he did what he did.

JT: Initially it would be to coordinate with [supposedly friendly militia] 17th Feb[ruary] guys so they knew we were coming. But it doesn’t — it shouldn’t — take 30 minutes to coordinate. That’s just “Hey, we have guys coming over. Don’t shoot at them…” kind of thing.

RK: In the book, you go a little further… it really seems that you guys think that Bob was a bit of a coward.

JT: Well, there were quite a few incidents in Benghazi before this where somebody would get tied up at a checkpoint, even at gunpoint, and he wouldn’t let the QRF team leave, not even just to get to the area. We don’t just rush in and start shooting people just because something happened. We go in, assess the situation, and then we adapt to it. And he just never would — I don’t know, maybe he just didn’t know what our capabilities really were. He just blatantly didn’t want us to ever do anything.

[Note: The Daily Beast reported in May 2013 that “Bob” received “one of the [CIA’s] highest intelligence medals.”]

RK: Tell us what that time was like from the moment when you guys got into the vehicles to get ready to go [from the CIA Annex to the State Department Compound which was under attack], waiting for Bob to give you the “go,” and what happened over the next 30 to 40 minutes.

JT: A lot of anger. A lot of us were getting extremely pissed off.

RK: What did Bob say to you?

JT: He told me directly, he just looked right at me when I got out of the car, “Hey, you need to stand down. You need to wait.” And that was it. It wasn’t, “You need to wait for this.” It was just, “You need to wait.” And from previous experiences, his “stand down” or even just “wait” meant “you ain’t gonna leave this compound.”

RK: Did he use the actual words “stand down” or did he just say “wait”?

JT: He used the words “stand down.”

RK: So do you believe that the delay caused by the CIA station chief probably cost the lives of Sean Smith and Chris Stevens?

JT: I strongly believe that if we had left immediately, they’d still be alive. They didn’t die of gunshot wounds or knife stabbing. They died of smoke inhalation. And that takes time. It’s not something that just happens in a split second. Their house was on fire. Every second counts. Firefighters know every second counts. So, yeah, it directly impacted their deaths.

Kris Paronto: Yes.

MG: I wasn’t there at the time that the stand down order was given, but in any emergency situation, every second is critical. And how you use that time is critical. And to save those five people there and the 20-plus people at the Annex, the time had to be used in a very efficient manner. With the delay, I think we’re lucky that they all didn’t die.

RK: So Bob was a CIA guy. One thing I’m still trying to understand is why was there a relatively significant CIA presence in Benghazi at that time?

JT: They’re trying to gather information on terrorists. [Islamic radicals] were all over [the port city of] Derna [about 150 miles northeast of Benghazi]. Derna was pretty much overrun by [terrorists] months before Benghazi. So they’re out there collecting intel.

KP: Initially, they were out there trying to find the yellow cake [uranium] that Gaddafi had.

RK: Some people wonder whether the CIA was trying to send arms to Syria through Libya. Do you have any opinion about that?

JT: I’ve been there three trips and I never once even heard them talk about running AKs or anything. Yeah, they would try to find the shoulder-fired missiles, but they did that in just about every country, so [terrorists] couldn’t shoot down airliners. But for running AKs and stuff, I even went to the port with them and that never came up, and I was in a meeting there and they were just discussing the situation at the port. That’s all it was.

[Note: Another new book on Benghazi continues to assert that the State Department and Ambassador Stevens were involved in highly secret arms transfers, both within Libya (to keep large quantities of weapons out of the hands of the most radical militias) and from Libya to Turkey and then on to Syria.]

RK: Did this experience change how you think about government and bureaucracy?

MG: I was in the Marine Corps for 12 years. We don’t do the job that we do because of government or higher-ups in the chain of command. We do it because there’s a need to serve people and protect people. To me, it’s a calling. It’s just something I do. Like a firefighter who runs to the fire instead of away from it. We’re the same way.

RK: Does the government understand national security?

KP: This administration, I’d say no.

RK: I know what you’re going to say but I’m going to ask you anyway: What goes through your mind when someone calls you a hero?

JT: I’m no hero. I mean, this is something we’ve been trained to do. We all joined the military and we like doing it. We like protecting people, obviously.

MG: It seems to me that everybody should just be this way, be there to help people who can’t help themselves. If doing that… that’s just helping other people. That ain’t being a hero.

RK: How are you guys doing now? Are you happy? Do you miss that aspect of your life? Do you feel like that was just a chapter of your life and now you’re on to a new one, or do you feel as if you’re missing something fundamental?

JT: We’re always going to miss it. I mean, you’re working around people who think the same. The camaraderie that was there. I mean, God, I miss it every day. It was fun. I enjoyed it.

RK: So did you give it up mainly because you have kids?

JT: I’d probably say yes. That’s one of the main reasons. I mean, I went back. I did two trips. My twins are only two and a half. They weren’t even six months old when Benghazi happened. The first trip was kinda hard. The second trip was even harder. I just said, “That’s it.”

MG: I can’t work doing that anymore, at least not in that capacity, due to my injuries. It’s hard to say why… but I’d go back in a heartbeat. But I also am glad that I’m able to be home now because out of — I started contracting in 2004, so since 2004 I’ve probably been gone for two thirds of that time. So my two older kids, one who’s 18 and one who’s 13, I’ve missed a lot of their growing up. So it’s really nice to be home but there’s always that — like we said — camaraderie, being around people who think like you and can understand why you think the way you do and why you look at things the way you do. You, having grown up on a military base, probably understand that a little more than most. But the civilian population doesn’t think like we do.

KP: Plus it’s a job where you get to take out terrorists. I mean, you’re taking out the bad guy. It’s not as if you’re sitting around not accomplishing anything. It’s a very rewarding job even though the public doesn’t get to know about it.

RK: Last question for you: What question should you be asked that people are missing and not asking you?

MG: The thing that should be asked is, “Why did we write the book?” And the answer to that is because it’s the story that hasn’t been told. The media has talked about the beginning and what should have been done and they’ve talked about all the things that happened since and why people did what they did. But nobody’s asked the question of what happened during those 13 hours. Not because we care about some political thing — but because we want people to know what happened on the ground. And to honor Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty and the sacrifices they made to try to save Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith. And to honor them, too. Because they were serving their country, in a different way than we did, but they were serving their country and they died doing it. You know, no one has honored them the way they should be honored, all four of them who died.

Published today, 13 Hours may indeed set the record straight on what really happened during a night which has itself become a political RPG and could threaten the presidential aspirations of the next would-be President Clinton, whose infamous “what difference at this point does it make?” should be disqualifying, even if her failure to protect Ambassador Stevens were somehow overlooked.

More importantly, 13 Hours is also an incredible, harrowing, engrossing story of American warriors demonstrating heroism and bravery at a level that most of us can barely imagine — fighting against a much larger, well-armed radical militia force and saving the lives of many despite cowardice, cynicism, and incompetence all around them.
67  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Govt programs, spending: Welfare recipients can use EBT card for marijuana on: September 09, 2014, 11:04:01 PM
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/sep/9/welfare-marijuana-jeff-sessions-tackles-loophole/
Welfare recipients can use debit (EBT) cards for marijuana
68  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: WSJ: The myth of Obamacare's Affordability on: September 09, 2014, 11:00:33 PM
The Myth of ObamaCare's Affordability
The law's perverse incentives will have the nation working fewer hours, and working those hours less productively.
By Casey B. Mulligan
... I estimate that the ACA's long-term impact will include about 3% less weekly employment, 3% fewer aggregate work hours, 2% less GDP and 2% less labor income. ...

Casey Mulligan is my latest, favorite economist.  A couple of recent posts:

http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1411.msg78914#msg78914
WSJ: The Economist Who Exposed ObamaCare

http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1023.msg78921#msg78921
The Redistribution Recession:How Labor Market Distortions Contracted the Economy
69  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How Scottish (Scotland) independence (from England, Britain, UK) hurts the US on: September 09, 2014, 01:30:17 PM
This columnist, Niles Gardner, has credibility with me.  That said, 4 of these points are opinion and open to question.  Only one 2. Britain’s nuclear deterrent will have to be moved is a solid fact.  But that point stands alone as a huge issue IMHO.  Making Britain a weaker nuclear power makes the world a more dangerous place.

What I find odd about the issue is that it is (our family's alleged homeland) Scotland that is too liberal and the rest of the UK that is too conservative for them.  The vote is later next week, Sept 18, and the polling is about even.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/nilegardiner/100285670/the-united-states-should-be-nervous-about-the-scottish-independence-referendum/

1. The Special Relationship will be undercut.
2. Britain’s nuclear deterrent will have to be moved
3. The coalition against Isil will be weakened
4. US markets will take a hit
5. An independent Scotland will be an insignificant ally to the U.S.

Details on each at the link.  Expanding on no. 2: Britain’s nuclear deterrent will have to be moved
The UK’s entire nuclear deterrent is based in Scotland, and all Britain’s nuclear bases and warheads will have to be moved out of the country, a huge headache not only for London, but also for Washington.  Any threat to Britain’s status as a nuclear power is a matter of great concern for the United States. The Nato alliance was originally conceived as a nuclear alliance, one that has been underpinned since its founding by the American, British and (at times) French nuclear deterrents. Anything that undermines Britain’s position as an independent nuclear power and weakens Nato is a matter of significant concern to the United States.
---------------------------------

No doubt the anti-nuke movement will prevent much of the arsenal from being re-located, and potentially put out of service, like Obama is doing here.

70  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: September 09, 2014, 09:38:57 AM
Romney (and Palin, and us for that matter) foresaw what a catastrophe Buraq would be.
This does not mean Mittens should run again.

Romney foresaw but didn't make the case strongly enough or reach enough people.  Same for us.

He did a nice job in this interview of making the case of administration failure and what our policies should be, without making it at all about himself.
71  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Wesbury: Why stocks keep rising on: September 08, 2014, 04:48:16 PM
Eloquent, as usual.  A little smug about being right the last 60 months or so, after missing the last crash.

Who was right or wrong during the run up is not the same question as who is right today.

What do we know happens after a long run up in stock prices?

a.  It will go up further
   or
b. It will come to a screeching and painful halt and decline.

Quoting BW:  ""Stock markets fell an additional 40% after TARP was passed [in 2008]."   - He is making a different point but what was his prediction then?  40% further crash?  That is an awful lot of lost value[tens of trillions?] to have missed so recently to be smug about anything now (IMHO).  I predict the market now will do either a. or b. above, go up or go down.  I would not base optimism on this column because I believe he is cherry picking his facts.  Other facts are not so positive.  For example, what about the dearth of startups?
72  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: September 08, 2014, 04:38:50 PM
I'm headed out for a couple of hours.
Would someone be so kind as to post the following here on this thread:
1) Romney's piece last week in the Washington Post;
2) Romney's interview yesterday on Chris Wallace's Sunday morning show on FOX.  I must say I found him quite presidential-- and sounding like a much better candidate than before.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mitt-romney-the-world-needs-a-mighty-us-military/2014/09/04/f5234064-342d-11e4-a723-fa3895a25d02_story.html
Mitt Romney: The need for a mighty U.S. military

By Mitt Romney, September 4 2014

Russia invades, China bullies, Iran spins centrifuges, the Islamic State (a terrorist threat “beyond anything that we’ve seen,” according to the defense secretary ) threatens — and Washington slashes the military. Reason stares.

Several arguments are advanced to justify the decimation of our defense. All of them are wrong.

The president asserts that we must move to “a new order that’s based on a different set of principles, that’s based on a sense of common humanity.” The old order, he is saying, where America’s disproportionate strength holds tyrants in check and preserves the sovereignty of nations, is to be replaced.


It is said that the first rule of wing-walking is to not let go with one hand until the other hand has a firm grip. So, too, before we jettison our reliance on U.S. strength, there must be something effective in its place — if such a thing is even possible. Further, the appeal to “common humanity” as the foundation of this new world order ignores the reality that humanity is far from common in values and views. Humanity may commonly agree that there is evil, but what one people calls evil another calls good.

There are those who claim that a multipolar world is preferable to one led by a strong United States. Were these other poles nations such as Australia, Canada, France and Britain, I might concur. But with emerging poles being China, Russia and Iran, the world would not see peace; it would see bullying, invasion and regional wars. And ultimately, one would seek to conquer the others, unleashing world war.


Some argue that the United States should simply withdraw its military strength from the world — get out of the Middle East, accept nuclear weapons in Iran and elsewhere, let China and Russia have their way with their neighbors and watch from the sidelines as jihadists storm on two or three continents. Do this, they contend, and the United States would be left alone.

No, we would not. The history of the 20th century teaches that power-hungry tyrants ultimately feast on the appeasers — to use former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour’s phrase, we would be paying the cannibals to eat us last. And in the meantime, our economy would be devastated by the disruption of trade routes, the turmoil in global markets and the tumult of conflict across the world. Global peace and stability are very much in our immediate national interest.

Some insist that our military is already so much stronger than that of any other nation that we can safely cut it back, again and again. Their evidence: the relative size of our defense budget. But these comparisons are nearly meaningless: Russia and China don’t report their actual defense spending, they pay their servicemen a tiny fraction of what we pay ours and their cost to build military armament is also a fraction of ours. More relevant is the fact that Russia’s nuclear arsenal is significantly greater than our own and that, within six years, China will have more ships in its navy than we do. China already has more service members. Further, our military is tasked with many more missions than those of other nations: preserving the freedom of the seas, the air and space; combating radical jihadists; and preserving order and stability around the world as well as defending the United States.

The most ludicrous excuse for shrinking our military derives from the president’s thinking: “Things are much less dangerous now than they were 20 years ago, 25 years ago or 30 years ago.” The “safer world” trial balloon has been punctured by recent events in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria and Iraq. “Failures of imagination” led to tragedy 13 years ago; today, no imagination is required to picture what would descend on the United States if we let down our guard.


The arguments for shrinking our military fall aside to reveal the real reason for the cuts: Politicians, and many of the people who elect them, want to keep up spending here at home. Entitlements and programs are putting pressure on the federal budget: We either cut defense, or we cut spending on ourselves. That, or raise our taxes.

To date, the politicians have predictably voted to slash defense. As Bret Stephens noted in Commentary magazine this month, the Army is on track to be the size it was in 1940, the Navy to be the size it was in 1917, the Air Force to be smaller than in 1947 and our nuclear arsenal to be no larger than it was under President Harry S. Truman.


Washington politicians are poised to make a historic decision, for us, for our descendants and for the world. Freedom and peace are in the balance. They will choose whether to succumb to the easy path of continued military hollowing or to honor their constitutional pledge to protect the United States.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fox News SUnday:

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/fox-news-sunday-chris-wallace/2014/09/07/mitt-romney-obamas-handling-global-issues-key-lawmakers-discuss-strategies-dealing-isis#p//v/3771928351001
73  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: lightweights for spokespersons on: September 08, 2014, 11:02:52 AM

(From the article)

about Benghazi, “Dude, this was like two years ago."


As suggested, maybe we aren't his targeted demographic.
74  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics, Lawrence Summers: Supply Side is the way forward on: September 08, 2014, 10:31:37 AM
Anything positive uttered on Supply Side Economics from a Democrat and former Obama adviser should go on our Cognitive Dissonance of the Left thread, but we will take a little political economic honesty anywhere we can find it.  We need to increase supply in the economy.  How would you do that?  One idea is to allow in tens of millions more unskilled workers and non workers and the other ideas include "development of energy resources and improvements to the business tax system".  Unmentioned is that, to the rest of the Dem party, development of energy is to leave fossil fuels in the ground while cronying up the uneconomic sources, and improvement of the business tax system means to raise the world's highest rates even higher!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/lawrence-summers-supply-issues-could-hamper-the-us-economy/2014/09/07/274ce00c-352f-11e4-9e92-0899b306bbea_story.html

Supply issues could hamper the U.S. economy

The U.S. economy continues to operate way below estimates of its potential that were made prior to the onset of financial crisis in 2007, with a shortfall of gross domestic product now in excess of $1.5 trillion — or $20,000 per family of four. Just as disturbing, an average economic growth rate of less than 2 percent since that time has caused output to fall further and further below those estimates of potential. Almost a year ago, I invoked the concept of “secular stagnation” in response to the observation that, five years after the financial hemorrhaging had been stanched, the business cycle was not returning to what had been previously thought of as normal levels of output.  http://larrysummers.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/NABE-speech-Lawrence-H.-Summers1.pdf

Secular stagnation, in my version, has emphasized the difficulty in maintaining sufficient economic demand to permit normal levels of output. Given a high propensity to save, a low propensity to invest and low inflation, it has been impossible for real interest rates to fall far enough to spur the economy to its full potential, since nominal interest rates cannot fall below zero.

Given the various factors — rising inequality, the lower capital costs needed to enter dynamic businesses, slowing population growth, increasing foreign reserves and greater spreads between borrowing and lending cost — operating to reduce natural interest rates, it continues to seem unlikely to me that, as currently structured, the U.S. economy is capable of demanding 10 percent more output with interest rates that are consistent with financial stability. So ­demand-side secular stagnation remains an important economic problem.

But as the work of Northwestern University economist Robert J. Gordon in particular points up, it may well be that now supply-side barriers threaten to hold back the economy before constraints on the ability to create demand start to bind. Two ways of looking at the situation point up the difficulty.

First, while I have emphasized that U.S. GDP is still far short of what pre-crisis trends predicted, the unemployment rate, now at 6.1 percent, has reverted most of the way back to even relatively optimistic estimates of its normal level. In other words, even as growth has been poor, it appears that demand has been advancing rapidly enough to substantially reduce slack in the labor market. As Gordon rightly emphasizes, weak growth along with significant decreases in labor slack suggest a major slowing of the growth of potential output.

To be fair, one can quarrel with the use of the headline unemployment rate as a measure of slack in the labor market. But the degree to which the labor market appears to be normalizing is even greater if one looks at measures of job openings and vacancies, new unemployment insurance claims or short-term unemployment.

Second, even with Friday’s relatively weak employment figures, monthly job growth has averaged more than 225,000 since February. If this trend continued, what would happen to unemployment? This, of course, depends on what happens to labor force participation, which has been trending down in recent years because of the aging of the population and long-term structural trends. Assume, for simplicity’s sake, that participation rates remain constant (an optimistic assumption) and that the economy keeps on creating 200,000 jobs a month. A simple calculation reveals that the unemployment rate would fall to the 4 percent range by the end of 2016.


While such a low unemployment rate is conceivable, it seems more likely that employment growth will slow at some point, either because of employers having difficulty finding workers, rising wages or government policy decisions. In any of these cases, the economy would be held back not by a lack of demand but a lack of supply potential.

Why has supply potential declined so much? This will be hotly debated for years to come. Part of the answer lies in the effect of past economic weakness. Part of it is the brutal demographic realities of an aging population, the end of the trend toward increased women’s labor force participation and the exhaustion of the gains that could be won from an increasingly educated workforce. And part is the apparent slowing of productivity growth.

To achieve growth of even 2 percent a year over the next decade, active support for demand will be necessary but not sufficient. In the United States, as in Europe and Japan, structural reform — to both increase the productivity of workers and capital and to increase the number of people able and willing to work productively — is essential. Infrastructure investment, immigration reform, policies to promote family-friendly workplaces, development of energy resources and improvements to the business tax system will become ever more important.
75  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, Lawrence Summers: a shortfall of 20k /family! on: September 08, 2014, 10:30:26 AM
Another view on the performance of the US economy by Democrat Lawrence Summers:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/lawrence-summers-supply-issues-could-hamper-the-us-economy/2014/09/07/274ce00c-352f-11e4-9e92-0899b306bbea_story.html

The U.S. economy continues to operate way below estimates of its potential that were made prior to the onset of financial crisis in 2007, with a shortfall of gross domestic product now in excess of $1.5 trillion — or $20,000 per family of four. Just as disturbing, an average economic growth rate of less than 2 percent since that time has caused output to fall further and further below those estimates of potential. Almost a year ago, I invoked the concept of “secular stagnation” in response to the observation that, five years after the financial hemorrhaging had been stanched, the business cycle was not returning to what had been previously thought of as normal levels of output.

"...weak growth along with significant decreases in labor slack suggest a major slowing of the growth of potential output."

Lawrence Summers is a professor at and past president of Harvard University. He was treasury secretary from 1999 to 2001 and economic adviser to President Obama from 2009 through 2010.


http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45150

(I will posting the policy part of this that follows on the Political Economics thread.)
76  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Hill: 2016 Republican dark horses, Pence, Kasich, Carson, Bolton on: September 08, 2014, 10:02:50 AM
http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/216862-the-2016-republican-dark-horses

1. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence
2. Ohio Gov. John Kasich
3. Dr. Ben Carson
4. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton

Read about all four at the link. Kasich fizzeld quickly in 2000.  Their comments on Carson are similar to ours.  I think John Bolton is better suited to advise than be the lead voice.  Here is what they wrote about Indiana Gov. Mike Pence

PROS: Pence has left the door open to a potential run and could quickly become a fast rising favorite if he joins the fray.

He has a long track record of both social and fiscal conservatism, leading fights against abortion rights and government spending dating back to his time in Congress. The Indiana governor is well-known in Washington, with a solidly conservative record, while his time as governor gives him distance from the unpopular town.

“The most interesting of the [dark horse] candidates right now is Mike Pence,” said the Indiana-based Savage. “People are talking about him very seriously.”

CONS: GOP strategists privately say Pence isn’t sparkling on the stump and lacks a signature achievement as governor. Plus, it’s harder to generate headlines or build a national fundraising base from a mid-sized Midwestern state like Indiana. He’d also have to choose between running for president and running for reelection.
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Rock solid and un-flashy with chief executive governing experience might be just what we are looking for after the first 4 or 5 twists and turns in the Republican endorsement contest.
77  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential: Is Jim Webb running? on: September 08, 2014, 09:50:40 AM
I'm sure everyone will say no, he can't mount a credible challenge, because Hillary is inevitable.  lol

A challenge from the right and from the left within the Democratic party would be good for Hillary, good for the party and good for the nation, IMHO.  Jump in Jim!

Any early endorsements?
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=2112.msg50643#msg50643

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-09-07/could-jim-webb-mount-credible-challenge-to-clinton

Jim Webb could be Hillary Clinton's worst nightmare.

The former one-term Virginia senator and Vietnam War veteran is making sounds about running for president as a Democrat. He was in Iowa last month; a New Hampshire trip may be in the offing, and he's giving a major speech at the National Press Club in two weeks.

He seems an improbable candidate. He has taken illiberal positions, was President Ronald Reagan's Navy secretary, has few relationships within the Democratic Party, and has no serious fundraising network.

What he does possess is a long-held and forceful opposition to U.S. interventions in Iraq and Libya, and potentially Syria, as well as solid anti-Wall Street credentials. In Democratic primaries, these may be Clinton's greatest impediments to rallying a hard-core activist base.

In 2002, Webb warned of the perils of invading and occupying Iraq; he has been proven right by the violence and sectarian strife of the post-Saddam Hussein era. As a senator, Clinton voted for the war and supported it for years. She recently acknowledged she had been wrong.

As secretary of state, Clinton was the chief advocate in the Barack Obama administration for intervening against Muammar Qaddafi. When the Libyan dictator was toppled and killed in 2011, she thought it would be her signature foreign-policy achievement.

Webb, then a senator, adamantly opposed this venture. The U.S. has since withdrawn its personnel from Libya, and radical jihadists now occupy a compound belonging to the U.S. embassy.

Clinton recently said she disagreed with Obama's decision not to intervene in the Syrian civil war. Webb warns that the Syrian opposition includes not only elements friendly to the U.S., but also the radical Islamic State forces that have wreaked mayhem there and in Iraq, murdering thousands and beheading two American journalists. Syria, he has warned, is "Lebanon on steroids."

Clinton has close ties to Wall Street, a source of campaign funds for her and the Clinton Foundation. Since leaving office, she has received large speaking fees from hedge funds, private-equity companies and big banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Webb, 68, has long taken a populist, anti-Wall Street stance. In 2007, he delivered the Democratic response to President George W. Bush's State of the Union address. Webb declared that the health of American society should be measured "not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that exist on Main Street."

He pushed a measure to slap a special tax on big bonuses paid out by Wall Street companies that received government assistance during the financial crisis. When it failed, he complained that Democrats, beholden to Wall Street, killed it.

If Webb decides to run -- fearlessness and unpredictability are his trademarks -- there's plenty of ammunition against him. He's against gun control, and he has made comments that angered feminists, many of whom consider Clinton a cause as well as a candidate, and environmentalists. He also has been involved in numerous personal controversies.

In a recent Virginia Senate debate, Republican Ed Gillespie sought to paint the moderate Democratic incumbent, Mark Warner, as too left, citing occasions when he didn't join Webb in voting along a more conservative line.

The maverick lawmaker had a few notable successes, passing a major veterans' education bill, putting criminal justice reform on the agenda, and calling for a pivot to Asia before Obama was elected. He has criticized executive overreach by both Bush and Obama.

A decorated war hero -- he received the Navy Cross for "extraordinary heroism" -- and author of nine books, he would run principally on the issues most likely to cut Clinton: opposition to an interventionist-centered foreign policy and softness toward Wall Street. He would bring more authenticity to these two issues than any other would-be Clinton challenger. In Iowa, he made no secret of his criticism of Clinton's tenure at State.

Clintonites will dismiss the Webb threat by pointing to his political weaknesses. But here's a safe bet: They will closely monitor his Sept. 23 Press Club speech.
78  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness: Eliminate the schism between Sunni and Shia on: September 08, 2014, 09:13:21 AM
From reversing the rising of the oceans and ending the racial divide in America to eliminating the schism between Sunni and Shia that has been fueling so much of the violence in the Middles East, this President has a very high opinion of his governing and diplomatic skills!

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/09/obama-goes-on-meet-the-press-reality-fails-to-intrude.php
http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/president-barack-obamas-full-interview-nbcs-chuck-todd-n197616

Assuming he can actually do all these things, I'm thinking about supporting him for a third term.
79  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Bush warned what would happen if we left Iraq early on: September 05, 2014, 11:48:12 PM
People are noticing lately that George Bush warned in 2007 exactly what would happen when we left:

“I know some in Washington would like us to start leaving Iraq now. To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we're ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to Al Qaida … It'd mean that we'd be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It'd mean we'd allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It'd mean we'd be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.”
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Bush was told this scenario by his top military advisers.  Obama;s top military advisers would have told him the same thing if they were allowed to give him security briefings.  Instead Pres. Obama makes foreign policy decisions based on ignorance and political considerations, which turns out to not be a very good political consideration.
80  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi poem on: September 05, 2014, 11:09:50 PM
Very powerful writing!

We hear again of the orders to stand down:
http://www.businessinsider.com/book-benghazi-stand-down-order-2014-9
81  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science, WSJ: Whatever Happened to Global Warming? on: September 05, 2014, 12:10:56 PM
Whatever Happened to Global Warming?
http://online.wsj.com/articles/matt-ridley-whatever-happened-to-global-warming-1409872855

Now come climate scientists’ implausible explanations for why the ‘hiatus’ has passed the 15-year mark.By MATT RIDLEY
Sept. 4, 2014 7:20 p.m. ET    THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

On Sept. 23 the United Nations will host a party for world leaders in New York to pledge urgent action against climate change. Yet leaders from China, India and Germany have already announced that they won’t attend the summit and others are likely to follow, leaving President Obama looking a bit lonely. Could it be that they no longer regard it as an urgent threat that some time later in this century the air may get a bit warmer?

In effect, this is all that’s left of the global-warming emergency the U.N. declared in its first report on the subject in 1990. The U.N. no longer claims that there will be dangerous or rapid climate change in the next two decades. Last September, between the second and final draft of its fifth assessment report, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change quietly downgraded the warming it expected in the 30 years following 1995, to about 0.5 degrees Celsius from 0.7 (or, in Fahrenheit, to about 0.9 degrees, from 1.3).

Even that is likely to be too high. The climate-research establishment has finally admitted openly what skeptic scientists have been saying for nearly a decade: Global warming has stopped since shortly before this century began.

First the climate-research establishment denied that a pause existed, noting that if there was a pause, it would invalidate their theories. Now they say there is a pause (or “hiatus”), but that it doesn’t after all invalidate their theories.

Alas, their explanations have made their predicament worse by implying that man-made climate change is so slow and tentative that it can be easily overwhelmed by natural variation in temperature—a possibility that they had previously all but ruled out.

When the climate scientist and geologist Bob Carter of James Cook University in Australia wrote an article in 2006 saying that there had been no global warming since 1998 according to the most widely used measure of average global air temperatures, there was an outcry. A year later, when David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London made the same point, the environmentalist and journalist Mark Lynas said in the New Statesman that Mr. Whitehouse was “wrong, completely wrong,” and was “deliberately, or otherwise, misleading the public.”
We know now that it was Mr. Lynas who was wrong. Two years before Mr. Whitehouse’s article, climate scientists were already admitting in emails among themselves that there had been no warming since the late 1990s. “The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998,” wrote Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia in Britain in 2005. He went on: “Okay it has but it is only seven years of data and it isn’t statistically significant.”

If the pause lasted 15 years, they conceded, then it would be so significant that it would invalidate the climate-change models upon which policy was being built. A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) written in 2008 made this clear: “The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more.”

Well, the pause has now lasted for 16, 19 or 26 years—depending on whether you choose the surface temperature record or one of two satellite records of the lower atmosphere. That’s according to a new statisticalcalculation by Ross McKitrick, a professor of economics at the University of Guelph in Canada.

It has been roughly two decades since there was a trend in temperature significantly different from zero. The burst of warming that preceded the millennium lasted about 20 years and was preceded by 30 years of slight cooling after 1940.  (more at link)
82  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Canada passes US on: September 05, 2014, 11:50:50 AM

'The Way Forward' and out of stagnation in the US receives an good example from the north.  Conservatives achieve economic success and win 3 elections in a row.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/387201/canada-now-more-american-america-john-fund

Is Canada Now More American than America?
Canada’s Burger King secret: Hold the taxes, hold the regulations.
By John Fund

The merger of U.S. hamburger giant Burger King with Tim Hortons, Canada’s favorite coffee shop, will create the world’s third largest fast-food company, with a total of 18,000 restaurants in over 100 countries. It is also a piercing wake-up call for the U.S., because the new company will make its global headquarters in Canada’s province of Ontario. That underscores what savvy businesses everywhere have learned — the U.S. is an increasingly less attractive place to do business. “Canada has quietly and politely become, well, more American than America,” says columnist Stephen Green.

Since 2003, more than 35 major U.S. companies have moved their headquarters and reincorporated overseas. Rather than rail against such “inversions,” as President Obama does, or call for an economic boycott, as Ohio’s Democratic senator Sherrod Brown does, we should figure out what is driving U.S. companies offshore. Here’s a clue: The U.S. now has the highest corporate tax rate of any industrialized country, and the Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration is “even now looking for ways it can unilaterally raise corporate taxes without going to Congress.”
 
Canada has long been our more socialist and, consequently, our poorer neighbor to the north. But that has changed over the last two decades. Starting in 1995, Canada has drawn back from a public-debt precipice, restrained government spending, and dramatically overhauled its tax system. Next year it will also begin unilaterally reducing tariffs on thousands of manufactured goods — recognizing that free trade makes for wealthier consumers and a more prosperous society.
The results have been dramatic. This year, Canada has a higher per capita household income than the U.S., an unheard-of development that no one saw coming. It ranks eightth in the annual Economic Freedom of the World index (freetheworld.com) that the Fraser Institute compiles for over 150 countries, with especially strong marks in property rights and business freedom. By comparison, the U.S. ranks a pathetic 17th and is now categorized as only “mostly free.” “Unfortunately for the United States, we’ve seen overspending, weakening rule of law, and regulatory overkill on the part of the U.S. government, causing its economic freedom score to plummet in recent years,” said Fred McMahon of the Fraser Institute. “This is a stark contrast from 2000, when the U.S. was considered one of the most economically free nations and ranked second globally.”

While the U.S. eagle has plummeted in terms of economic freedom, the Canadian maple leaf has prospered. The consulting firm of KPMG looked at the tax costs of doing business in ten major nations. Setting the U.S. tax rate at a benchmark score of 100, it found that Canada’s costs were the lowest, 46.4 percentage points lower than the U.S. The United Kingdom, Mexico, and the Netherlands also beat out the U.S.

Canada’s strategy of lowering tax burdens on business was a conscious one, begun under the Liberal government of Paul Martin and accelerated since 2006 by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. The late Jim Flaherty, who served as Harper’s finance minister until March of this year, told me last year that the essence of smart taxation is “to raise the resources needed for prudent government while creating an environment where the private sector is encouraged to create the longer-lasting jobs a country needs to prosper.” He concluded that “if you can give people enough upward opportunity for average people, the talk will be on creating more of it rather than on redistributing a shrinking pie.”

Among the innovations that Flaherty introduced was the Tax Free Savings Account, which allows Canadians to save more by setting aside money tax-free if it’s invested. Combined with the already established Registered Retirement Savings Plan, which is focused on building retirement income, Canadians now have more tax-free savings vehicles to help them remain independent over their lifespan than any people outside of Chile, which privatized its Social Security system in the 1980s.

No one suggests that Canada is a pure beacon of freedom. Harper’s Conservatives have a majority of seats in Parliament, but just shy of 50 percent of Canadians in the last election, in 2011, cast ballots for either the Liberals or New Democrats, both interventionist purveyors of big government. Canada’s single-payer health system delivers less innovation and longer waiting lists than Americans would be likely to tolerate, and many of Canada’s provinces are once again piling up debt and overspending.

But Canada proves that a country can climb out of a deep fiscal hole within a remarkably small number of years and build a prosperous society even while it retains large welfare-state programs.

That is a lesson for U.S. Democrats, who, rather than rail against Burger King’s lack of economic patriotism, should learn how Canada has avoided America’s economic stagnation. It’s also a lesson for Republicans, who often lack the courage of their convictions in calling for genuine economic reform. Canada’s economic example — and the political success of Harper’s Conservatives in winning three elections in a row — should stiffen their spines.
83  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ISIS threatens to 'liberate' Chechnya and Caucasus on: September 05, 2014, 11:43:28 AM
News from a couple of days ago:
ISIS threatens to 'liberate' Chechnya and Caucasus
http://rt.com/news/184836-isis-putin-kadyrov-syria/

Interesting that our two greatest enemies will soon be at war with each other.

One might take from this that a post-Putin Russia could very easily or at least logically become a strategic ally of the United States.
84  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obamacare website with American's most personal info hacked, still not secure! on: September 05, 2014, 11:36:28 AM
This is just one reason why we don't centralize all our personal and governmental functions, any more than necessary.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2744241/Foreigners-hacked-Obamacare-website-July-HHS-just-discovered-10-days-ago-claims-no-consumer-data-stolen.html

Foreigners hacked Obamacare website on July 8 – but HHS only discovered it 10 days ago
Malicious code was inserted into an Obamacare server and lay dormant, waiting for a command to attack other computers
85  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Charles Krauthammer: Obama Writes Off Ukraine, use "Tripwires" not red lines on: September 05, 2014, 11:30:19 AM
Yes, Zbig got that right in 1994.  Who knew Russia would still have an eye on re-taking Ukraine and any/all of its old empire that it could!

Here is Krauthammer writing on the same mess today.  These 3 opinion pieces, VDH on deterrence, George Will on Putin acting like Hitler and Charles Krauthammer on the surrender of Ukraine should be read together IMO.  Quoting Krauthammer,

"...what NATO did not do. It did not create the only serious deterrent to Russia: permanent bases in the Baltics and eastern Poland that would act as a tripwire. Tripwires produce automaticity. A Russian leader would know that any invading force would immediately encounter NATO troops, guaranteeing war with the West.  Which is how we kept the peace in Europe through a half-century of Cold War. U.S. troops in West Germany could never have stopped a Russian invasion. But a Russian attack would have instantly brought America into a war — a war Russia could not countenance."

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/387151/obama-writes-ukraine-charles-krauthammer

SEPTEMBER 4, 2014 8:00 PM
Obama Writes Off Ukraine
Putin’s invasion may be nothing new to Obama. For Ukraine, it changed everything.
By Charles Krauthammer

At his first press briefing after the beheading of American James Foley, President Obama stunned the assembled when he admitted that he had no strategy in Syria for confronting the Islamic State. Yet it was not nearly the most egregious, or consequential, thing he said.

Idiotic, yes. You’re the leader of the free world. Even if you don’t have a strategy — indeed, especially if you don’t — you never admit it publicly.

However, if Obama is indeed building a larger strategy, an air campaign coordinated with allies on the ground, this does take time. George W. Bush wisely took a month to respond to 9/11, preparing an unusual special ops–Northern Alliance battle plan that brought down Taliban rule in a hundred days.

We’ll see whether Obama comes up with an Islamic State strategy. But he already has one for Ukraine: Write it off. Hence the more shocking statement in that August 28 briefing: Obama declaring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — columns of tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery and a thousand troops brazenly crossing the border — to be nothing new, just “a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now.”
And just to reaffirm his indifference and inaction, Obama mindlessly repeated his refrain that the Ukraine problem has no military solution. Yes, but does he not understand that diplomatic solutions are largely dictated by the military balance on the ground?

Vladimir Putin’s invasion may be nothing new to Obama. For Ukraine, it changed everything. Russia was on the verge of defeat. Now Ukraine is. That’s why Ukraine is welcoming a cease-fire that amounts to capitulation.

A month ago, Putin’s separatist proxies were besieged and desperate. His invasion to the southeast saved them. It diverted the Ukrainian military from Luhansk and Donetsk, allowing the rebels to recover, while Russian armor rolled over Ukrainian forces, jeopardizing their control of the entire southeast. Putin even boasted that he could take Kiev in two weeks.

Why bother? He’s already fracturing and subjugating Ukraine, re-creating Novorossiya (“New Russia”), statehood for which is one of the issues that will be up for, yes, diplomacy.

Which makes incomprehensible Obama’s denial to Ukraine of even defensive weapons — small arms, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. Indeed, his stunning passivity in the face of a dictionary-definition invasion has not just confounded the Ukrainians. It has unnerved the East Europeans. Hence Obama’s reassurances on his trip to the NATO summit in Wales.

First up, Estonia. It seems to be Obama’s new red line. I’m sure they sleep well tonight in Tallinn now that Obama has promised to stand with them. (Remember the State Department hashtag #UnitedforUkraine?)

To back up Obama’s words, NATO is touting a promised rapid-reaction force of about 4,000 to be dispatched to pre-provisioned bases in the Baltics and Poland within 48 hours of an emergency. (Read: Russian invasion.)

First, we’ve been hearing about European rapid-reaction forces for decades. They’ve amounted to nothing.

Second, even if this one comes into being, it is a feeble half-measure. Not only will troops have to be assembled, dispatched, transported and armed as the fire bell is ringing. The very sending will require some affirmative and immediate decision by NATO. Try getting that done. The alliance is famous for its reluctant, slow, and fractured decision-making. (See: Ukraine.) By the time the Rapid Reactors arrive, Russia will have long overrun their yet-to-be-manned bases.

The real news from Wales is what NATO did not do. It did not create the only serious deterrent to Russia: permanent bases in the Baltics and eastern Poland that would act as a tripwire. Tripwires produce automaticity. A Russian leader would know that any invading force would immediately encounter NATO troops, guaranteeing war with the West.

Which is how we kept the peace in Europe through a half-century of Cold War. U.S. troops in West Germany could never have stopped a Russian invasion. But a Russian attack would have instantly brought America into a war — a war Russia could not countenance.

It’s what keeps the peace in Korea today. Even the reckless North Korean leadership dares not cross the Demilitarized Zone, because it would encounter U.S. troops and trigger war with America.

That’s what deterrence means. And what any rapid reaction force cannot provide. In Wales, it will nonetheless be proclaimed a triumph. In Estonia, in Poland, as today in Ukraine, it will be seen for what it is — a loud declaration of reluctance by an alliance led by a man who is the very embodiment of ambivalence.
86  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: September 05, 2014, 11:17:18 AM
George Will very persuasively asserts that Putin represents a greater threat than ISIS.  (I would arguess that both represent grave threats.)

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/386990/vladimir-putins-hitlerian-mind-george-will
Vladimir Putin’s Hitlerian Mind
The Russian president’s fascist revival in Eastern Europe poses a unique threat to the West.
By George Will

The Islamic State is a nasty problem that can be remedied if its neighbors, assisted by the United States, decide to do so. Vladimir Putin’s fascist revival is a crisis that tests the West’s capacity to decide.

Putin’s serial amputations of portions of Ukraine, which began with his fait accompli in Crimea, will proceed, and succeed, until his appetite is satiated. Then the real danger will begin.

Suppose Ukraine is merely his overture for the destruction of NATO, the nemesis of his Soviet memory. Then what might be his version of the Gleiwitz radio-station episode 75 years ago?

On the evening of August 31, 1939, Nazi SS personnel pretending to be Polish partisans seized the station, which was about four miles inside Germany (Gliwice is now in Poland), proclaiming that Poland was invading Germany to achieve “our just [territorial] claims,” and shot a German prisoner dressed in a stolen Polish uniform, giving Hitler his pretext for declaring war the next day.

Putin has discarded the minor inhibitions of what NATO calls his “hybrid war” — giving slightly surreptitious aid to Russian separatists; brazenly infiltrating Russian soldiers in unmarked uniforms. Russia has invaded Ukraine, although the Obama administration likes the semantic anesthesia of calling it an “incursion.” Putin does not pretend that it will be, like President Nixon’s 1970 “incursion” into Cambodia, temporary.

So, suppose Putin, reprising his Ukrainian success, orchestrates unrest among the Russian-speaking minorities in Latvia, Lithuania, or Estonia. Then, recycling Hitler’s words that his country “could not remain inactive,” Putin invades one of these NATO members. Either NATO invokes Article 5 — an attack on any member is an attack on all — or NATO disappears and the Soviet Union, NATO’s original raison d’être, is avenged.

Although no one more thoroughly detested Hitler’s regime that General Erwin Rommel served, Winston Churchill acknowledged in January 1942 in the House of Commons the talent of Britain’s enemy: “We have a very daring and skillful opponent against us, and, may I say across the havoc of war, a great general.” Putin is, the West should similarly acknowledge, more talented and dangerous than either Nikita Khrushchev or Leonid Brezhnev. Their truculence was not fueled by fury. Putin’s essence is anger. It is a smoldering amalgam of resentment (of Russia’s diminishment because of the Soviet Union’s collapse), revanchist ambitions (regarding formerly Soviet territories and spheres of influence), cultural loathing (for the pluralism of open societies), and ethnic chauvinism that presages “ethnic cleansing” of non-Russians from portions of Putin’s expanding Russia.

This is more than merely the fascist mind; its ethnic-cum-racial component makes it Hitlerian. Hence Putin is “unpredictable” only to those unfamiliar with the 1930s. Regarding the roles of resentment and vengeance, remember where Hitler insisted that France formally capitulate in 1940 — in the railroad carriage near the town of Compiègne, where Germany signed the 1918 armistice.

Since its emancipation by the Soviet Union’s demise, Ukraine has been ravaged by corruption that frays national sentiment, which even before this was a tenuous phenomenon. In The Long Shadow: The Legacies of the Great War in the Twentieth Century, David Reynolds of Cambridge University cites a British diplomat’s 1918 analysis:

Were one to ask the average peasant in the Ukraine his nationality, he would answer that he is Greek Orthodox; if pressed to say whether he is a Great Russian, a Pole, or an Ukrainian he would probably reply that he is a peasant; and if one insisted on knowing what language he spoke, he would say that he talked “the local tongue.”

Ukraine may be an ethnic casserole susceptible to diminishment by Putin’s ladle. But the Baltic States, by virtue of their NATO membership, are, regardless of their histories or sociologies, decisively different. And given Putin’s animus, nourished by his negligibly resisted success in Ukraine, he is more dangerous than the Islamic State.

This group is perhaps 20,000 fighters possessing some artillery and armor but no air force. It is an island of tenuously occupied territory in a sea of hostile regimes — those of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Iraq’s Kurdish region, which has its own regime. These command approximately 2 million troops who, with ample air power, can pulverize the Islamic State whenever the regimes summon the will to do so.

U.S. participation in this should be conditional on the regional powers’ putting their militaries where their mouths (sometimes) are in the fight against radical Islamists. U.S. participation in defense of the Baltic States is unconditional.

— George Will is a Pulitzer Prize–winning syndicated columnist.
87  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: Only Deterrence Can Prevent War on: September 05, 2014, 11:12:00 AM
Hanson follows up on my "disproportionate response" post with an excellent "peace through deterrence" article.  Never more timely than now.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/387006/only-deterrence-can-prevent-war-victor-davis-hanson

Only Deterrence Can Prevent War
Most aggressors take stupid risks only when they feel they won't be stopped.
By Victor Davis Hanson

Only lunatics from North Korea or Iran once mumbled about using nuclear weapons against their supposed enemies. Now Vladimir Putin, after gobbling up the Crimea, points to his nuclear arsenal and warns the West not to “mess” with Russia.

The Middle East terrorist group the Islamic State keeps beheading its captives and threatening the West. Meanwhile Obama admits to the world that we “don’t have a strategy yet” for dealing with such barbaric terrorists. Not long ago he compared them to “jayvees.”

Egypt is bombing Libya, which America once bombed and then left. Vice President Joe Biden once boasted that a quiet Iraq without U.S. troops could be “one of the great achievements” of the administration. Not now.
China and Japan seem stuck in a 1930s time warp as they once again squabble over disputed territory. Why all the sudden wars?

Conflicts rarely break out over needed scarce land — what Adolf Hitler once called “living space” — or even over natural resources. A vast, naturally rich Russia is under-populated and poorly run. It hardly needs more of the Crimea and Ukraine to screw up. The islands that Japan and China haggle over are mostly worthless real estate. Iran has enough oil and natural gas to meet its domestic and export needs without going to war over building a nuclear bomb.

Often states fight about prestigious symbols that their own fears and sense of honor have inflated into existential issues. Hamas could turn its back on Israel and turn Gaza into Singapore — but not without feeling that it had backed down.

Putin thinks that grabbing more of the old Soviet Republics will bring him the sort of prestige that his hero Stalin once enjoyed. The Islamic State wants to return to 7th-century Islam, when the Muslim world had more power and honor.

The great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges once summed up the Falklands War between his country and Britain as a fight “between two bald men over a comb.” In fact, Britain went to war over distant windswept rocks to uphold the hallowed tradition of the British Navy and the idea that British subjects everywhere were sacrosanct. The unpopular Argentine junta started a war to take Britain down a notch.

But disputes over honor or from fear do not always lead to war. Something else is needed — an absence of deterrence. Most aggressors take stupid risks in starting wars only when they feel there is little likelihood they will be stopped. Hitler thought no one would care whether he gobbled up Poland, after he easily ingested Czechoslovakia and Austria.

Saddam Hussein went into Kuwait believing the U.S. did not intervene in border disputes among Arab countries. Deterrence, alliances, and balances of power are not archaic concepts that “accidentally” triggered World War I, as we are sometimes told. They are the age-old tools of advising the more bellicose parties to calm down and get a grip.

What ends wars?

Not the League of Nations or the United Nations. Unfortunately, war is a sort of cruel laboratory experiment whose bloodletting determines which party, in fact, was the stronger all along. Once that fact is again recognized, peace usually follows.

It took 50 million deaths to remind the appeased Axis that Germany, Italy, and Japan in 1941 were all along far weaker than the Allies of Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States. The Falklands War ended when Argentines recognized that boasting about beating the British was not the same as beating the British.

Each time Hamas builds more tunnels and gets more rockets, it believes this time around it can beat Israel. Its wars end only when Hamas recognizes it can’t.

War as a reminder of who is really strong and who weak is a savage way to run the world. Far better would be for peace-loving constitutional governments to remain strong. They should keep their defenses up, and warn Putin, the Islamic State, Iran, North Korea, and others like them that all a stupid war would accomplish would be to remind such aggressors that they would lose so much for nothing.

Even nuclear powers need conventional deterrence. They or their interests are often attacked — as in the case of Britain by Argentina, the U.S. by al-Qaeda, or Israel by Hamas — by non-nuclear states on the likely assumption that nuclear weapons will not be used, and on the often erroneous assumption that the stronger power may not wish the trouble or have the ability to reply to the weaker.

If deterrence and military readiness seem such a wise investment, why do democracies so often find themselves ill-prepared and bullied by aggressors who then are emboldened to start wars?

It is hard for democratic voters to give up a bit of affluence in peace to ensure that they do not lose it all in war. It is even harder for sophisticated liberal thinkers to admit that after centuries of civilized life, we still have no better way of preventing Neanderthal wars than by reminding Neanderthals that we have the far bigger club — and will use it if provoked.

88  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness: Obama absent for start of NATO meeting on: September 05, 2014, 11:04:57 AM
Imagine NATO without the US...

http://thehill.com/policy/international/216656-obama-absent-for-start-of-nato-meeting
“We call on Russia to end its illegal and self-declared annexation of Crimea,” Rasmussen said.  [NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen] “We call on Russia to pull back its troops from Ukraine” and stop the flow of arms to separatists.  Rasmussen said the gathering of the leaders should telegraph a "clear message" to Ukraine that NATO stands with the nation and supports its reforms.

President Obama was nowhere to be found during the beginning of a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine commission in Wales on Thursday.
Obama was "noticeably absent" from the start of the meeting, according to a White House pool report


He had more pressing matters.
89  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: September 04, 2014, 10:33:50 PM
Sean Trende at RCP knows his stuff, but doesn't know yet what will happen this year with maybe 10 tossup Senate seats.
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/09/04/what_the_generic_ballot_tells_us_about_a_gop_wave.html

Democrats lead Republicans [currently] in the generic ballot, 42.5 percent to 42 percent.  Republicans had a healthy lead at this point in 2010: 47 percent to 41.7 percent.

But look closely. The difference is not found in a stronger Democratic vote at the expense of Republican votes.  It is found in a greater pool of undecided at the expense of Republicans. Democrats aren’t doing better.  Republicans are doing worse.
...
It’s ...consistent with a story that this election is not as high-interest as 2010, and that undecided voters have not yet engaged fully with the process.  When they do engage, Obama’s unpopularity will make it unlikely that they will vote Democratic.

In fact, this is roughly what we saw in 2010 [just a little earlier in the process].

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/09/04/what_the_generic_ballot_tells_us_about_a_gop_wave.html#ixzz3CPNQu2YG
90  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Corruption on: September 04, 2014, 06:01:27 PM
Kind of sad.  He seemed like a good guy.  The state Virginia really cleaned up.  His successor is Clinton crony, Terry McAulliffe.  It's funny what is legal and what is not, and who gets off scot-free and who gets convicted of multiple felonies.  Hillary was certainly worse, between cattle futures and Whitewater.  She is the current frontrunner for President and McDonnell is headed to prison.

There shouldn't be any tolerance for even the appearance of helping one company or industry over another and yet they do it all the time.
91  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Aug. ISM non-mftg index beats consensus on: September 04, 2014, 05:47:16 PM
" ISM Non-Manufacturing Index Increased to 59.6"

The economy seems to do best in the contrived measurements.  How many people don't work in America, how many people don't work full time (hundreds of millions), how many even know or remember what full time, private sector employment is anymore?

 0.0: That is the manufacturing and non-manufacturing index level today combined for all the companies that never started over the last 8 years since Pelosi-Obama-Reid took power.

" the Plow Horse economy may be starting to trot"

Last time Wesbury said that, we were headed into negative growth territory with an economy too weak to withstand winter.  No mention that it is still the worst economic recovery in 80 years, perhaps more.  I think Wesbury is conflating market success with overall economic performance, which is stuck in an intentional, no-growth pattern of stagnation. Plow horses don't trot, especially when pulling a heavy load.
92  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq - ISIS #2 'awwwwwwwwseeeeeeeeeya!' on: September 04, 2014, 01:12:14 PM

This seems like great news, a hit in the inner circle.   Also good to learn about rival hockey.  )
93  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party Reagan: A Time for Choosing on: September 03, 2014, 02:02:06 PM
Do we have a Reagan thread?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXBswFfh6AY

Government was smaller then and the private economy was stronger then than now.  Right?  Is this any less relevant today?
--------------------------------------------------------

More on same topic:

Reagan Biographer Stephen Hayward, Extremism and Moderation

http://www.claremontinstitute.org/article/extremism-and-moderation/#.VAdfqVOJW-J
94  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Recreational Pot Not Bringing In Tax Money That Was Expected on: September 03, 2014, 01:28:29 PM
Taxing something to death is not legalization as required by the referendum IMO.  What a joke.  They way it is bought, around the tax, is still illegal.  People would rather buy illegally than pay a 30% tax.  (http://taxfoundation.org/blog/colorado-begins-legal-marijuana-sales-collecting-marijuana-tax)  Maybe there is some lesson there for tax policy if not for drug policy. 

Who could have seen this coming?
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1565.msg68689#msg68689
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1565.msg76920#msg76920

Those who buy it once as a novelty pay a little extra and pay a small tax  - once.  Those who are heavy users ALL have medical license, and avoid the tax.  (Can you say "chronic pain"?)  The occasional users in between all know someone and buy it the same way they used to, off the 'street', from unknown origins, untaxed and unregulated.

http://denver.cbslocal.com/2014/09/02/recreational-pot-not-bringing-in-tax-money-that-was-expected/

DENVER (CBS4) – High hopes for tax money isn’t as expected as the state’s legal marijuana industry isn’t bringing in as much money as anticipated. In fact, tax revenue is way below expectations.  When voters approved recreational marijuana salesthe state predicted it would pull in more than $33 million in new taxes in the first six months. The actual revenue came up more than $21 million short.  The problem is that buying pot is less expensive on the streets where people don’t have to pay taxes or fees.  Medical marijuana is also less expensive than recreational pot, so those with medical cards are sticking to buying that way.
95  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Worse than Glib, Obama's reaction to 911 was empathy for the hijackers on: September 03, 2014, 12:57:36 PM
"The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers..."

   - Barack Obama, September 19th, 2001, in the Hyde Park Herald

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/07/21/making-it?currentPage=all
"We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair."

http://hpherald.com  (Archives)
96  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Winning the Latino Vote on: September 03, 2014, 12:49:51 PM
The piece is right.  The liberal hold on these groups is based on a combination of lies, deception and fallacious thinking on the liberal side.  Also peer-group following and momentum.  You just are a Dem and hate or distrust Republicans and never gave it any critical thought.  Combine that with sloppy thinking and poor messaging on the conservative side and you have electoral victory without producing any positive results.  Witness Obama v. Romney, 2012. 

Most conservative messaging is aimed at firing up the base while alienating all others.  It should be aimed at conservatives clarifying what they believe, which is not putting the needy out to pasture, and putting a positive face on it all to those who should be open to a conservative message or philosophy.

Example:  Paul Ryan said he was wrong to say "we are a nation of makers and takers".  That is badly over-simplified.  His mother with social security survivor benefits was a taker, at least in any way that is helpful to say politically.  Nor are relatives of mine who take a retirement benefit from the government that they earned working.  Some of those comp plans were poorly negotiated and retired people way too early costing the people way more than they should but are not either the fault of the recipient not the best place to focus going forward.

Liberal policies harm liberal constituent groups.  If we can't make that case today and offer persuasively a better alternative, when will it ever be easier?
97  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues, Cool summer follows cold winter on: September 02, 2014, 09:31:07 AM
After a cold winter, [Boston Globe] "Cool summer doesn’t invalidate climate change"
http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/09/01/cool-summer-doesn-invalidate-climate-change/bYAbtgEI4rq4yFQuuUtl5O/story.html

Really, nothing does, if you truly believe!

Climate change is a fact; it has been going on since the beginning of the earth.  The validity of a direct link, however, between higher CO2 levels, man-made CO2 levels alone causing higher temperatures has been broken.

While the alarmists question the credentials of a Harvard educated, MIT atmospheric physicist, this Boston Globe columnist served on the Boston city council for 5 years in the 1990s.  If you don't believe him, he says re-read the same, discredited UN IPCC bunk, as if that is a second source. 

Anyone want to bet whether he has read past the sensational headlines?

Much more on this topic on the Pathological Science thread.
98  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Daily Mail piece debunked? on: September 01, 2014, 11:21:21 PM



Both of these sites (2 posts) have bunk and de-bunk backwards, and both de-bunk themselves quite nicely.  The attacks center around the smearing of critics and non-denial denials of what the critics are saying.  They "debunk" by calling Richard Lindzen, Atmospheric Physicist at MIT, and Roy Spencer, climatologist and Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a former NASA scientist, and others "psuedo" scientists, while calling their own discredited people "peer reviewed". 

It is the alarmists who manipulated the data and processes and published bunk.  Yes, there is CO2 gain and yes, there has been warming over the last 500 years and many others times before that, but no, none of the alarmists claims has come true or is about to.

Nobel prize winner Al Gore said 7 years ago that the Arctic would be free of ice in 7 years.  Corrupted IPCC scientists stood by while Gore made all kinds of claims based on tampered and cherry picked data.  " An Inconvenient Truth".  The claims are being proven false.  Instead of warming accelerating, warming stopped ("paused") according to all of them.  Instead of becoming ice-free in 7 years, the Arctic has added ice area twice the size of Alaska over the last 2 years and increased the mass, thickness and density in the rest of it.  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2738653/Stunning-satellite-images-summer-ice-cap-thicker-covers-1-7million-square-kilometres-MORE-2-years-ago-despite-Al-Gore-s-prediction-ICE-FREE-now.html
http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/

The Arctic has "added ice area twice the size of Alaska" over the 2 years since I watched the liberal drivel IMAX documnentary, "To the Arctic", with alarmist scare narration delivered by Meryl Streep:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/20/movies/to-the-arctic-an-imax-polar-bear-documentary.html?_r=0  But now the bears are again prospering.  Mother Nature still has cycles.  Who knew?

This year featured ships stuck in Antarctic ice as well: 
http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/01/08/22222323-trapped-research-ship-rescue-vessel-break-free-of-antarctic-ice


Don't beliieve your own lying temperature sensors, but it was the coldest winter where I live in more than 30 years:  http://www.startribune.com/blogs/246923781.html  Not exactly spiraling heat, nor is there proof that atmospheric trace component CO2 is the lead component of global temperature change.  It is a weak correlation, if any.

Is the record cold just here?  No.  Brisbane (Australia) hit a 103 year record low, and Nashville hit its coldest temp on record.  http://coachsemanko.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/al-gore-is-having-a-stroke/  http://iceagenow.info/2014/06/gore-effect-full-swing/  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/5907383/Global-cooling-hits-Al-Gores-home.html

Yes, the warming stopped 16-17 years ago.  If the data manipulators allege .001 degree warming since then, ask them for the mathematical margin of error of the sampled data, not counting their well documented, measurement and manipulation errors.

The warming period preceded the industrial age by hundreds of years.  But the allegation, debunked, is that the warming is spiraling out of control.  Really?  The data says no and the models are false.  The "hockey stick" is a well-discredited lie.  We knew that before the last 17 years proved it.

The IPCC folks stood behind Al Gore, like James Hansen with his secret algorithms for altering raw data, and Michael Mann of Hide-the-Decline and stack-the-peer review fame, published their bunk.  Then others like Lindzen and Spencer de-bunked it.  And now the alarmists respond by re-stating the original bunk, while smearing their critics, financed by Koch, etc. as if that sets it all straight.  It doesn't.

Where did their models predict that warming would or could pause?  They didn't. 
99  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trust Iran? on: September 01, 2014, 08:17:42 AM
http://www.the-american-interest.com/blog/2014/08/29/is-obama-rethinking-his-trust-the-mullahs-strategy/
100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: September 01, 2014, 07:41:26 AM
You don't insert external costs into a transaction by passing a ban.

We don't advance equal protection by applying laws to different products and industries differently.

Martial arts in a public healthcare state arguably has an external cost.  The answer is to pass a ban?
.
Good luck with majority-decides-your-choices thinking.
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