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5001  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China Daily: China must be prepared for capital exit on: May 27, 2013, 10:26:58 AM
China facing a bubble?  Who knew?

China must be prepared for capital exit
By Hong Liang  China Daily

At the G20 meeting in Washington last month, the International Monetary Fund sounded a warning about the problems that could be caused by a sudden massive outflow of capital from emerging markets when the major developed economies, notably the United States, terminate their quantitative easing programs.

Since the US Federal Reserve started its quantitative easing program some two years ago, there has been a large flow of capital into emerging markets in search of higher returns. This flood of money has, in turn, inflated asset prices in these markets and pushed up the value of their respective currencies.

These aggressive monetary policies adopted by some developed economies to stimulate their economic growth cannot be sustained for too long as they can create their own problems with too much cheap money floating around. It's widely expected that governments will stop printing money as soon as their economies show definite signs of a sustainable recovery.

That may come sooner than expected, and a more optimistic economic outlook in developed countries could trigger a reversal in capital flows out of emerging markets. A sudden capital outflow could burst the asset bubbles in some emerging markets, sparking a financial crisis as many enterprises have greatly increased their foreign currency borrowings at low interest rates to fund their domestic investments.

Acknowledging the "crucial" role of "accommodative monetary policy" in stimulating economic growth, the IMF cautioned in a statement issued at the conference that there is a need to monitor the potential impacts of monetary easing on capital flows and exchange rates. "Eventual exit from monetary expansion will need to be carefully managed and clearly communicated," the statement said.

At the conference, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde warned that "unconventional" monetary policy has raised international concern about currency valuations and competitive depreciation. She added that the IMF will probe further into the consequences of unconventional monetary policy and "what will be the consequences of the variety of exit and what will be good exits as opposed to the more unpleasant exits" for all IMF member countries.

At that time, the US economy was still mired in a sputtering recovery hamstrung by persistently high unemployment and tepid consumer demand. In Japan, the monetary easing program, though large in scale, was too new to have produced any results, although some neighboring economies were already seeing a marked increase in the influx of capital. Under these circumstances, the IMF warnings about exit policy seemed premature and economic planners in most countries didn't take them seriously.

Not anymore. The marked improvement in the US' employment figures has raised expectations that the Fed will consider moderating the pace of its monthly bond purchases. The Fed is schedule to debate policy on June 18 and 19.

With a balance sheet swollen to some $3.3 trillion, the Fed must weigh the risks of igniting future inflation or blowing up asset bubbles against printing more money to pump up the economy. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and other Fed officials have said that any reduction in bond purchases would not indicate a withdrawal of monetary stimulus. But to many emerging market observers, preparation by the Fed for an exit is on the way.

In a recent speech, the text of which was published last week, Liu Yuhui, a financial researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the normalization of US monetary policy is expected to rapidly gather pace, causing a severe contraction in the international flow of the US dollar, which would, in turn, exert tremendous pressure on asset markets across the Asia-Pacific region.

Liu said that Chinese banks need to strengthen their financial structures to face the threats coming from abroad, warning that assets, mainly properties, were already valued at levels considered too high.
5002  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: May 27, 2013, 10:23:15 AM
English version of Korean economic reporting

Why Korea's Middle Class Is Collapsing

Global consulting firm McKinsey said in a report on Sunday that half of all middle-class Korean households risk falling into poverty as they are trapped by slow income growth and increased expenditures.

The proportion of middle-class households shrank from 75.4 percent in 1990 to 67.5 percent in 2010, and 55 percent of middle-class families are having a tough time making ends meet as they are burdened by debt, according to McKinsey.

The biggest reason for the decline of the middle class is a drop in the number of high-paying jobs with major business conglomerates, which led to a standstill in income growth. Productivity of major manufacturers increased 9.3 percent on average annually from 1995 to 2010, but their overseas production also rose from 6.7 percent in 2005 to 16.7 percent in 2010, resulting in an average 2 percent fall a year in domestic hiring.

Small- and mid-sized businesses, which account for 88 percent of domestic jobs, and the service sector, which accounts for 70 percent, are suffering from low productivity.

Productivity in SMEs plummeted from 49 percent of the level of major conglomerates in 1990 to 27 percent in 2010, while pay stands at half the amount of the conglomerates. In Germany, SMEs’ productivity stands at 62 percent of the level of big businesses, and salaries at 90 percent. In the service sector, productivity reaches 40 percent of the level of big companies.

But while incomes stagnate, the mortgage repayment burden is mounting, as is education spending for children. As a result, the household savings rate fell from 20 percent in 1994 to just 3 percent in 2012, the lowest in the OECD, while household debt surged.

The consulting firm pointed out that Korea has the world’s highest suicide rate and is seeing a surge in divorces and a low birthrate, all of which also contribute to the decline of the middle class. At this rate, the Korean economy would be "unable to continue growth," it added.

If the Korea is to obtain a new growth engines, it must boost the competitiveness and efficiency of small businesses and the service sector. This solution is nothing new, but no concrete measures have been put into practice so far.

In order for the economy to gain momentum again and to create high-quality jobs, businesses wallowing in low productivity must be left to fail according to the principles of the free market and their workers must shift to new and efficient industries. That is the only way to improve productivity across the board, restore the middle class and enhance the quality of life.
5003  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India; Indian growth model unsustainable at best (?) on: May 27, 2013, 10:19:18 AM
An opinion from a New Delhi economist published in the Asia Times FWIW...
Indian growth model unsustainable at best
By Kunal Kumar Kundu

NEW DELHI- The Indian economy is likely to have grown at a mere 5% in the financial year that ended in March, the lowest growth rate in a decade; investments are falling and the fault lines of Indian politics lie fully exposed.

With the government embroiled in a numerous corruption cases, leading to a sense of policy paralysis gripping the economy, business confidence has been on the wane.

India's shinning story of a decade back has lost plenty of sheen of late due to growing frustration at a rising governance deficit. The

very fact that the Indian economy is expected to grow at close to 6% during the current financial year and close to 7% in the next (a far cry from 8% to 9% growth predicted a few years back) indicates how short-term expectations have been whittled down.

However, like China, India is still considered to be one of the world's rising economic powers. But, while the Chinese growth story has the authoritarian state to thank for it, the forward march of the Indian economy has been impeded by the ineptitude of the state.

After growing at over a double-digit rate for decades, China is now on the throes of a slowdown caused by over investment and under consumption, though its state-of-the-art infrastructure can be cause for envy. India, on the other hand, suffers from woefully inadequate infrastructure as the financially challenged government cannot invest while the morally and politically challenged government fails to clear away hurdles against private investment.

Even so, there's a generally held view that by 2030, India (a supposed growth engine for the global economy) will be the world's third-largest economy while it could overtake China as the world's fastest growing major economy much sooner.

The question, therefore, is how can one of the most populous countries like India grow at a pace it has grown despite widespread corruption, inefficiency and a government that can barely be called functional?

A peek into India's growth history can, to a large extent, explain this dichotomy. Essentially, it boils down to the extent of control that the government has on the various sectors of the economy.

India leapfrogged from being an agrarian economy to a service sector led economy as entrepreneurs had to find a way to grow despite the heavy hand of government. The agriculture sector, which is under maximum government control, now accounts for a mere 14% of gross domestic product (GDP). Industry, where the government still has major control on the factors of production such as land, labor and natural resources, accounts for roughly 26% of GDP. On the other hand, the service sector, about which the government has limited knowledge and over which it has the least control, now accounts for roughly 60% of GDP.

To understand how India's entrepreneurial spirit thrives and grows despite clear governance failure, one need look no further than the cities of Gurgaon, in northwestern Haryana state, and Bangalore, to the south in Karnataka.

Gurgaon, as we know it, is barely two decades old yet houses practically every big name in the corporate world. Its buildings are designed by the world's best architects, and it has about 24 shopping malls that stock practically every international brand, eight golf courses and more than 20 outlets for luxury cars such as BMW, Audi and Volkswagen.

However, while it's a private sector success story, it is a public sector failure. The city does not have a functioning drainage system; reliable electricity or water; or any citywide system of public transportation.

The inadequacies of the government did not act as a deterrent for the private sector. To compensate for several hours of electricity blackouts, companies and real estate developers operate massive diesel generators that have the capacity to provide electricity to small towns. Private water supply flourishes as do privately dug bore wells to take care of shortages. Large number of companies employs hundreds of private buses and taxis to bridge the transportation gap.

The experience of India's IT capital Bangalore is not dissimilar. Companies such as Infosys and Wipro maintain their own fleet of vehicles to transport their employees and have huge captive power generation capacity to ensure uninterrupted service.

Gurgaon and Bangalore are good examples of how the private sector strives to keep the economy functional despite the huge governance deficit, raising the question of whether this should be the template for future economic growth?

Ideally not, since the existing growth template is not efficient enough. It can provide temporary succor but not a permanent solution. The animal spirit that was unleashed following the ushering in of economic reforms in 1991 has, by now, taken advantage of all the low hanging fruits that could be plucked.

A functional private sector and a dysfunctional public sector is the least desired recipe for sustainable growth. Fact is, only a small portion of the blame for recently plummeting growth can be directed toward external factors. The debilitating impact of the governance deficit has manifested itself in a far bigger way than anticipated.

Rising inequality, continued health and education challenges, and a tussle for ownership of factors of production are challenges that need to be addressed by well-intentioned government and the private sector.

The Indian economy cannot be service-sector driven for an indefinite period. Manufacturing has to play an equally important role to ensure a more equitable growth. For that to happen India desperately needs a government that can function and be effective. Only a concerted effort to follow this strategy can help the economy get back to the growth path that logically should be India's.

Kunal Kumar Kundu is a New Delhi-based economist.
5004  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs on: May 27, 2013, 09:33:53 AM
Happy Memorial Day everyone.

Now back to coverage of our bloated and badly run government.  How is it that in $7 trillion in new debt and going on $30 trillion in Obama spending none of it found its way into repairing or rebuilding the third(?)(4th?)(5th?) federal interstate bridge to fall?  We were just too focused on the important stuff, like paying people not to work.
5005  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The First Amendment: Taranto v. Rawitch, 'offensive' cartoon censorship on: May 26, 2013, 11:46:27 AM
One of my favorite opinion journalists, James Taranto, editor of the WSJ online editorial page, published his own college story about his not-politically-correct decision to re-publish a UCLA cartoon mocking affirmative action in his own college newspaper.  The issue, as I read it, was whether students writing a college newspaper have first amendment rights.  At the end he won his $93 back in settlement and declined to take a degree from his anti-mentors.

Long piece, a very readable story, except that Taranto has a goofy trademark of writing about himself in first person plural.
This was the 1987 cartoon that set off huge controversies:
5006  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Who Are the Real Climate Deniers? on: May 26, 2013, 10:22:06 AM
David Solway writing at PJ Media about a talk in Ottawa by Tom Harris, director of the International Climate Science Coalition

...the science is far from settled and that if we were honest with ourselves and wished to approach the subject with scientific rigor and impartiality, we would have to modestly agree, in his own words, that “the more we learn, the more we realize that we just do not know.

Uncertainty, however, is not synonymous with confusion or ignorance. We do not know everything or even enough, but we still know a fair amount about climate realities, as Harris’s discourse made clear.  We know the long history of climatological variations, the many different factors that impinge upon and largely account for vast fluctuations in weather over the centuries and millennia, and the response of the scientific community, often, it must be said, disingenuous and repressive, to the data at its disposal.

We know, via proxies like ice core samples, fossil remains, marine specimens, temperature-dependent remanence measurements, as well as historical documents, etc., that there were periods in history when the earth was significantly warmer than it is today, though human beings were not pumping CO2 into the atmosphere — CO2 levels during the Ordovician Age 440 million years ago were ten times higher than they are at present and happened to coincide with an ice age; closer to home, during the Medieval Warm Period the Scandinavians farmed Greenland and in the Roman Warm Period olive groves flourished in Germany. We know that the Northwest Passage was open during the early part of the 20th century and that the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, as recounted in his The North West Passage, navigated the strait between 1903 and 1906. (Its “gates” have been “forced…ajar,” he writes, and “traced from end to end by one ship’s keel” — his own.)

We know that solar activity is a primary driver of climate change. We know that temperatures have stabilized since 1998 and may possibly have declined by a fraction of a degree, and that we are currently in what is defined as an “interglacial” — and in fact, temperatures recorded at the American base at the south pole show it to be colder today than when the base was established over 50 years ago.
We know, too, that Michael Mann’s celebrated “hockey stick” graphs depicting an abrupt spike in temperatures in the recent era are fraudulent and are in process of being retired; that computer models are notoriously unreliable and are unable even to retrodict the past; that temperature reading stations are both too few and egregiously misplaced, often in urban areas and near man-made structures that capture or produce heat, thus recording misleading data; and that the media contention that the majority of the world’s scientists are firm adherents of the AGW (anthropogenic global warming) thesis is simply false.

... more than 31,000 scientists who added their signatures to the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine “petition project” in 2008, repudiating the 600 or so scientists who have signed on to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warming consensus. Further, it seems, as the petition states, “that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth,” a subject Harris also touched on but one studiously avoided by the warmists.   
We know that assessments counter to the prevailing orthodoxy have been deliberately suppressed and that the evidence for AGW was often just made up — witness the infamous “hide the decline” email dumps emanating from the mysteriously hacked Hadley Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, which have disclosed the duplicitous and counterfeit nature of its methods and procedures. The lead researcher at the East Anglia CRU, Phil Jones, has gone so far as to recommend deleting all incriminating emails and/or changing the wording of others. As I wrote in Global Warning: The Trials of an Unsettled Science, “What we are seeing is the unfolding of a Climategate scandal that, one hopes, will put paid to a vast and tenacious hoax.” The climate mavens will stoop to practically anything to defend their ideological patrimony.
(more at link)
5007  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Articulating our cause/strategy against Islamic Fascism on: May 26, 2013, 09:23:04 AM
Six of the ten current headlines (Huffington Post May 25 2013) relate one way or another to terrorism or the problem of Islamic jihad.  One of them sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb.  - Steven Hayward, Powerline

Soldier stabbed
London attack
Suicide bomber
Sectarian violence
Beheaded soldier
Obama sees terror threat reduced
5008  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: May 25, 2013, 07:00:15 PM
We lost 12% of our economy per year to the failure of the policies still in place.  Instead of making up for lost ground we have been growing at half the rate that we should have been for 4 years, digging that hole deeper.  In 6 years since Pelosi-Reid-Obama policies became the direction of the country and the law of the land that makes a total loss of economic activity of approximately 50 trillion dollars over 6 years.  Real unemployment, black unemployment, number of people in need of food assistance, etc., all doubled.  We can spin that failure any way we want.

Washington (CNN) - Two-thirds of Americans say that the nation's economy is in poor shape

The market for crony companies operating globally in a Fed tampered environment went up enormously and we missed it.  Like the lottery and a Kentucky Derby longshot, I could not place that bet. The losers were the small operators, startups that never started, a generation of new grads, and the millions who left the workforce unwillingly.  

The other negative is that of the 50% who will pay in, every family of four just added the debt of a median house without getting the house.
5009  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China: Bret Stephens, WSJ, Yang Jisheng - Reading Hayek in Beijing on: May 25, 2013, 04:49:01 PM
Current Pulitzer Prize winner WSJ/Brret Stephens:
Reading Hayek in Beijing       May 24, 2013
A chronicler of Mao's depredations finds much to worry about in modern China.


In the spring of 1959, Yang Jisheng, then an 18-year-old scholarship student at a boarding school in China's Hubei Province, got an unexpected visit from a childhood friend. "Your father is starving to death!" the friend told him. "Hurry back, and take some rice if you can."

Granted leave from his school, Mr. Yang rushed to his family farm. "The elm tree in front of our house had been reduced to a barkless trunk," he recalled, "and even its roots had been dug up." Entering his home, he found his father "half-reclined on his bed, his eyes sunken and lifeless, his face gaunt, the skin creased and flaccid . . . I was shocked with the realization that the term skin and bones referred to something so horrible and cruel."

Mr. Yang's father would die within three days. Yet it would take years before Mr. Yang learned that what happened to his father was not an isolated incident. He was one of the 36 million Chinese who succumbed to famine between 1958 and 1962.

It would take years more for him to realize that the source of all the suffering was not nature: There were no major droughts or floods in China in the famine years. Rather, the cause was man, and one man in particular: Mao Zedong, the Great Helmsman, whose visage still stares down on Beijing's Tiananmen Square from atop the gates of the Forbidden City.

Enlarge Image
Zina Saunders

Yang Jisheng

Mr. Yang went on to make his career, first as a journalist and senior editor with the Xinhua News Agency, then as a historian whose unflinching scholarship has brought him into increasing conflict with the Communist Party—of which he nonetheless remains a member. Now 72 and a resident of Beijing, he's in New York this month to receive the Manhattan Institute's Hayek Prize for "Tombstone," his painstakingly researched, definitive history of the famine. On a visit to the Journal's headquarters, his affinity for the prize's namesake becomes clear.

"This book had a huge impact on me," he says, holding up his dog-eared Chinese translation of Friedrich Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom." Hayek's book, he explains, was originally translated into Chinese in 1962 as "an 'internal reference' for top leaders," meaning it was forbidden fruit to everyone else. Only in 1997 was a redacted translation made publicly available, complete with an editor's preface denouncing Hayek as "not in line with the facts," and "conceptually mixed up."

Mr. Yang quickly saw that in Hayek's warnings about the dangers of economic centralization lay both the ultimate explanation for the tragedies of his youth—and the predicaments of China's present. "In a country where the sole employer is the state," Hayek had observed, "opposition means death by slow starvation."

So it was in 1958 as Mao initiated his Great Leap Forward, demanding huge increases in grain and steel production. Peasants were forced to work intolerable hours to meet impossible grain quotas, often employing disastrous agricultural methods inspired by the quack Soviet agronomist Trofim Lysenko. The grain that was produced was shipped to the cities, and even exported abroad, with no allowances made to feed the peasants adequately. Starving peasants were prevented from fleeing their districts to find food. Cannibalism, including parents eating their own children, became commonplace.

"Mao's powers expanded from the people's minds to their stomachs," Mr. Yang says. "Whatever the Chinese people's brains were thinking and what their stomachs were receiving were all under the control of Mao. . . . His powers extended to every inch of the field, and every factory, every workroom of a factory, every family in China."

All the while, sympathetic Western journalists—America's Edgar Snow and Britain's Felix Greene in particular—were invited on carefully orchestrated tours so they could "refute" rumors of mass starvation. To this day, few people realize that Mao's forced famine was the single greatest atrocity of the 20th century, exceeding by orders of magnitude the Rwandan genocide, the Cambodian Killing Fields and the Holocaust.

The power of Mr. Yang's book lies in its hauntingly precise descriptions of the cruelty of party officials, the suffering of the peasants, the pervasive dread of being called "a right deviationist" for telling the truth that quotas weren't being met and that millions were being starved to death, and the toadyism of Mao lieutenants.

Yet the book is more than a history of a uniquely cruel regime at a receding moment in time. It is also a warning of what lies at the end of the road for nations that substitute individualism with any form of collectivism, no matter what the motives. Which brings Mr. Yang to the present day.

"China's economy is not what [Party leaders] claim as the 'socialist-market economy,' " he says. "It's a 'power-market' economy."

What does that mean?

"It means the market is controlled by the power. . . . For example, the land: Any permit to enter any sector, to do any business has to be approved by the government. Even local government, down to the county level. So every county operates like an enterprise, a company. The party secretary of the county is the CEO, the president."

Put another way, the conventional notion that the modern Chinese system combines political authoritarianism with economic liberalism is mistaken: A more accurate description of the recipe is dictatorship and cronyism, with the results showing up in rampant corruption, environmental degradation and wide inequalities between the politically well-connected and everyone else. "There are two major forms of hatred" in China today, Mr. Yang explains. "Hatred toward the rich; hatred toward the powerful, the officials." As often as not they are one and the same.

Yet isn't China a vastly freer place than it was in the days of Mr. Yang's youth? He allows that the party's top priority in the post-Mao era has been to improve the lot of the peasantry, "to deal with how to fill the stomach."

He also acknowledges that there's more intellectual freedom. "I would have been executed if I had this book published 40 years ago," he notes. "I would have been imprisoned if this book was out 30 years ago. Now the result is that I'm not allowed to get any articles published in the mainstream media." The Chinese-language version of "Tombstone" was published in Hong Kong but is banned on the mainland.

There is, of course, a rational reason why the regime tolerates Mr. Yang. To survive, the regime needs to censor vast amounts of information—what Mr. Yang calls "the ruling technique" of Chinese leaders across the centuries. Yet censorship isn't enough: It also needs a certain number of people who understand the full truth about the Maoist system so that the party will never repeat its mistakes, even as it keeps the cult of Mao alive in order to preserve its political legitimacy. That's especially true today as China is being swept by a wave of Maoist nostalgia among people who, Mr. Yang says, "abstract Mao as this symbol of social justice," and then use that abstraction to criticize the current regime.

"Ten million workers get laid off in the state-owned enterprise reforms," he explains. "So many people are dissatisfied with the reforms. Then they become nostalgic and think the Mao era was much better. Because they never experienced the Mao era!" One of the leaders of that revival, incidentally, was Bo Xilai, the powerful former Chongqing party chief, brought down in a murder scandal last year.

But there's a more sinister reason why Mr. Yang is tolerated. Put simply, the regime needs some people to have a degree of intellectual freedom, in order to more perfectly maintain its dictatorship over everyone else.

"Once I gave a lecture to leaders at a government bureau," Mr. Yang recalls. "I told them it's a dangerous job, you guys, being officials, because you have too much power. I said you guys have to be careful because those who want approval from you to get certain land and projects, who bribe you, these are like bullets, ammunition, coated in sugar, to fire at you. So today you may be a top official, tomorrow you may be a prisoner."

How did the officials react to that one?

"They said, 'Professor Yang, what you said, we should pay attention.' "

So they should. As Hayek wrote in his famous essay on "The Use of Knowledge in a Society," the fundamental problem of any planned system is that "knowledge of circumstances of which we must make use never exists in concentrated or integrated form but solely as the dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess."

The Great Leap Forward was an extreme example of what happens when a coercive state, operating on the conceit of perfect knowledge, attempts to achieve some end. Even today the regime seems to think it's possible to know everything—one reason they devote so many resources to monitoring domestic websites and hacking into the servers of Western companies. But the problem of incomplete knowledge can't be solved in an authoritarian system that refuses to cede power to the separate people who possess that knowledge.

"For the last 20 years, the Chinese government has been saying they have to change the growth mode of the economy," Mr. Yang notes. "So they've been saying, rather than just merely expanding the economy they should do internal changes, meaning more value-added services and high tech. They've been shouting such slogans for 20 years, and not many results. Why haven't we seen many changes? Because it's the problem that lies in the very system, because it's a power-market economy. . . . If the politics isn't changed, the growth mode cannot be changed."

That suggests China will never become a mature power until it becomes a democratic one. As to whether that will happen anytime soon, Mr. Yang seems doubtful: The one opinion widely shared by rulers and ruled alike in China is that without the Communist Party's leadership, "China will be thrown into chaos."

Still, Mr. Yang hardly seems to have given up hope that he can play a role in raising his country's prospects. In particular, he's keen to reclaim two ideas at risk of being lost in today's China.

The first is the meaning of rights. A saying attributed to the philosopher Lao Tzu, he says, has it that a ruler should fill the people's stomachs and empty their heads. The gambit of China's current rulers is that they can stay in power forever by applying that maxim. Mr. Yang hopes they're wrong.

"People have more needs than just eating!" he insists. "In China, human rights means the right to survive, and I argue with these people. This is not human rights, it's animal rights. People have all sorts of needs. Spiritual needs, the need to be free, the freedoms."

The second is the obligation of memory. China today is a country galloping into a century many people believe it will define, one way or the other. Yet the past, Mr. Yang insists, also has its claims.

"If a people cannot face their history, these people won't have a future. That was one of the purposes for me to write this book. I wrote a lot of hard facts, tragedies. I wanted people to learn a lesson, so we can be far away from the darkness, far away from tragedies, and won't repeat them."

Hayek would have understood both points well.

5010  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Congressional races, 17 months to go, the ads are up on: May 24, 2013, 01:13:13 AM
First ad of the cycle is Michelle Bachmann touting that the House passed her bill, repealing Obamacare for the 37th time.

My first reaction is Oh no!  But on second thought at least it is an issue ad.  It doesn't really try to persuade but it makes clear her opposition as well as the importance and urgency of the issue. The ad should lead viewers to ask themselves, are we really going to change over our health care system to one that people don't want that is loaded with problems?
5011  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Case for Drones on: May 23, 2013, 03:05:01 PM

Excellent post BD, a very well reasoned article!  The unmanned aircraft used prudently can be an equalizer when fighting the martyr enemy who is not afraid of losing his own life.  Drone use against terror targets without a liberal uproar has been one of the few benefits we received by having Barack Obama as our President.  The movement to ban them will start as soon as a Republican again becomes Commander in Chief.  Understanding and assessing their value now is quite timely IMO.

The potential for mis-use is huge, and the blowback point is well covered.  Enemies and rivals will someday have these same capabilities that we will have to deal with.  The negatives do not change the positive case for having them and using them when needed for our own national security.
5012  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi and related matters on: May 23, 2013, 02:39:43 PM
"Administration officials agreed to remove all reference to Ansar Al Sharia , , ,"
What Orwellian clap trap!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The purpose of the talking points was to have a statement of what officials could say publicly.  There is NO reason that I understand for them to have been modified at all.  The fact of the interagency-State-WH? discussions shows that the WH and State were seeking to manipulate what the CIA had already said could be said.  Do I have this right? 
Therefore to say the "WH agreed to remove" reads to me as an out and out Orwellian deception.

Do I have this right?

Yes, you have it exactly right.  The purpose of sending the representative of the administration to all major outlets to obscure the truth rather than reveal it, and they chose someone out of the loop that with no knowledge could not trip up on the follow up.  Obscure truth or tell the opposite of truth is what they almost always do on almost every issue, Bush tax cuts caused the housing collapse, a budget that never balances will not add a dime to the debt, and taxing only the richest among us will benefit the middle class.

Honest people can disagree about what to remove from a report for national security reasons, but honest people don't make up a false story for political cover to get through an election.

I can understand playing down the secret CIA presence.  I understand the human error or bad luck of underestimating the security risk.  I understand there might be good reasons why no terrorists have yet been brought to justice.  But there is no excuse imaginable for the stand down order leaving the rest left behind to die, and it is Orwellian for sure to send someone out to tell us the opposite of what really happened.

We endured the drama and photography from inside the situation room during the successful raid of the bin Laden compound.  The release of the details of that operation posed security risks as well, but it was worth it to the President for the political approval he gained.  We would also like to know during failure who was in the room and what decisions were made by whom and when.

Michael Moore spent 6 minutes of a movie showing that when George Bush was notified of 911 he kept reading to school children.  George Bush survived that and the country pulled together.  We have yet to learn anything about what this Commander in Chief was doing when his focus should have been on this crisis.  Our military would never order a stand down.  Only a civilian at a higher power than the highest General would or could do that.  David Axelrod from the Ministry of Disinformation owes the American people an explanation.
5013  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cog. Diss. of Glibness: Building Distrust in Government One Scandal at a Time on: May 23, 2013, 12:32:16 PM
This President, oblivious to unintended consequences, is the master of them.  Who knew that withdrawing from war would spark new violence there, that abandoning support for an ally in Egypt would empower anti-Americans there, that launching a war on gun and ammunition sales would boost sales in that industry to record levels, or that launching a war against employers would come back to bite employees?  Who knew?

Now President Obama has achieved what President Reagan could only dream of:  Putting distrust of government on the front page of every newspaper, even the liberal ones, day after day after day.

President Obama's answer to every scandal is that this government is so large I have no idea what is going on in any part of it, please hand me a 5-iron.
5014  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fact: Abortion hits black unborns at 3 times the rate of white. So what? on: May 23, 2013, 12:10:36 PM
Mentioned in CCP's post today and in Sean Trende's RCP Virginia Governor's race column, the (African American) new Republican nominee for Lt. Gov. in Virginia has made some politically controversial statements in his past.  One example from both sources was Jackson declaring that Planned Parenthood had killed more African-Americans than the KKK.  (

But is it true or is it false?  If it is true and if there is nothing wrong with it, what is wrong with pointing it out?
5015  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Growth Economics on: May 23, 2013, 11:57:01 AM
As tempting as the scandals may be to dwell on, if we do not spend 51+% of our time focused on solutions, our problems associated with history's worst recovery will never get solved.  Here is Rich Karlgaard at Forbes with a dose of economic common sense.  I don't think economist Brian Wesbury would disagree with a word of this; he just currently makes a living helping people make money in a low growth / no growth economy.

Forbes  (Excerpt)
5/22/2013 @ 11:50AM |3,325 views
Sure Thing: Growth Is Not An Option

...growth is a moral requirement, for no other reason than that the opposite of growth is stagnation–a death of sorts.

Now to the economy: In round numbers the U.S. is a $16 trillion economy, which has been expanding at an annual 2% real (i.e., noninflationary) rate since June 2009. Each year we add $320 billion in real economic activity, which translates into 2 million to 3 million jobs and about $60 billion in federal tax receipts. We could use more jobs, and most of us want to cut the federal deficit and debt; therefore, growth is a good thing.

But the U.S. should be growing at 4% right now. Each year we should be adding $640 billion in new activity, creating 4 million to 6 million new jobs and adding $120 billion in federal tax receipts. Why 4% growth? America has averaged 3% growth since World War II, but during those 68 years we have suffered 11 recessions, including the 2007-09 whopper. When the country isn’t in recession, 4% annual growth is quite normal.

Too many economists and pundits have thrown in the towel, saying that 4% growth is no longer possible. This argument is based on two factors: the law of large numbers (i.e., 4% growth off of a $16 trillion base is much harder to reach than 4% growth off of a $5 trillion base) and the generational problems we face (a growing part of the U.S. population is either too young or too old to work to add to our statistical productivity).

We face challenges, of course, but getting back to 4% nonrecessionary growth is a moral requirement, and we must find ways to do this. If we care at all about jobs and deficits, choosing the right policy levers to lift economic growth should be the country’s highest priority.

So what kind of policy would get us from 2% growth to 4% (aiming for a long-term 3% to cover the inevitable downturns)? Lower, flatter and simpler taxes. Sensible regulation. Stable currency. Entitlement reform. A true health care revolution hitched to technological progress, entrepreneurial energy and market pricing. That should do it.  (more at the link above)
5016  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The IRS political targeting scandal: Sorry about that little IRS error on: May 23, 2013, 10:42:17 AM
I think it was a House member who said when they break into the bank, we assume it is for the money, and when they step on the free speech and political association rights of tea party groups we assume it is for partisan political reasons.

But imagine you made the mistake to the IRS and make your apology back to them.  This letter was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday:

Sorry about that little IRS error
May 22, 2013  Philadelphia Inquirer

By George Parry

Dear Internal Revenue Service:

Regarding your targeting of conservatives before the presidential election, I found last week's testimony by your former commissioner to be very reassuring. As he explained it, what appeared to be your intentional and politically motivated punitive, totalitarian, and chilling measures against conservative groups and individuals in a clandestine effort to affect the outcome of the election were, in fact, simply the inadvertent consequences of "horrible customer service" provided by a bunch of flunkies in Cincinnati. What a relief!

Which brings me to the purpose of this letter. As you may recall, my business is being audited for reporting gross annual income of $12,125 when, as your revenue agents have so snarkily noted, the actual figure is closer to $9.75 million. As I have repeatedly explained, though I signed the tax return as CEO, this regrettable mistake is attributable to Trixie, our bookkeeper who forgot to disclose in her job interview that she had failed arithmetic for seven straight years before dropping out of grade school and joining an outlaw biker gang.

To further explain, when I first met Trixie in a Las Vegas hot tub, she was employed in the escort hospitality industry. Though I found her to be amply well-qualified for a position under me, I must admit that the subject of her math skills may not have been sufficiently discussed under the distracting circumstances. Boy, have I learned my lesson! No more job interviews of bikini-clad women in hot tubs!

In any event, I wish to apologize to you for the somewhat inaccurate tax return and the horrible customer service that produced it. Once I learned how the error had occurred, I immediately removed Trixie as bookkeeper and put her in charge of our Obamacare Compliance Unit. So, as you can see, we took the problem seriously, and it has been solved.

In light of my sincere apology and prompt corrective measures, I ask that you cease your efforts to collect all back taxes, penalties, and interest. Hopefully this apology will mark a new beginning to our relationship, one based on mutual trust and belief in each other's integrity.


L. George Parry

P.S. And could you also ask the Justice Department to withdraw Trixie's grand jury subpoena?

George Parry is a former state and federal prosecutor practicing law in Philadelphia.
5017  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race and shallow, deceitful NYT columnists on: May 23, 2013, 09:57:18 AM
Thanks CCP for posting.  The people Blow attempts to rip make more sense than the columnist.

"The Democrat Plantation theology goes something like this: Democrats use the government to addict and incapacitate blacks by giving them free things — welfare, food stamps and the like. This renders blacks dependent on and beholden to that government and the Democratic Party."

The data mining people on the campaign know that in large numbers, not for all, this is true.  Did Blow or his newspaper ever investigate the campaign for exploiting that?  ACORN and community organizing in the day of Barack Obama's involvement in it was EXPLICIT in their support for "welfare rights", never supporting economic liberty or prosperity through free enterprise.

"Herman Cain, for example, built an entire presidential campaign on slave imagery."

Herman Cain had a Master's degree in Computer Science, rose to the highest levels in business based on performance, not tokenism, served as Director of the Kansas City Fed and built his campaign on a tax reform plan that, if implemented, would have cut the black unemployment rate in half and same for every other demographic, without spending an additional dime on plantation welfare programs.

Why do these vacuous, liberal, NY Times opinion writers need to rely on lies and false premises to make their point?  If you must mislead to make a point, maybe your point is wrong.

I would note however that if 98% of blacks are voting Dem, the other 2%, including some mentioned by Blow, have turned out to be some of the smartest and most courageous people in our country.  I notice he didn't take on Thomas Sowell, or try try to debate Walter Williams on welfare economics, and had to twist Carson's views in order to slam him.

With Romney, it wasn't based on race Romney himself has said that statement was COMPLETELY wrong.  

Blow's real point is that liberals feel quite threatened by the rise of a small number of black conservatives and take every occasion they can to put them down.
5018  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Washington Post: The Most Curious Whopper in the IRS Story on: May 22, 2013, 11:04:09 PM
The IRS targeting scandal is a blockbuster that is sweeping the nation.  Imagine if the reaction to it now was the reaction to it then, if made public heading into the summer before the election, when Obama was ripping Romney's business background and Sandra Fluke was making her plea for free birth control - at a Catholic College.

The President's Chief of Staff knew and the President didn't.  

A special prosecutor in the IRS matter is inevitable

By Ed Rogers, Published: May 22, 2013 at 10:56 amE-mail the writer

This administration’s management of the Obama Internal Revenue Service scandal so far consists of a slow-walking, rolling disclosure of facts; equal parts equivocation, amnesia and indignation from IRS witnesses; deer-in-the-headlights non-responses by the White House press secretary; parsed, lawyerly statements from the president himself; and now one of the central key players is taking the Fifth. And all this comes from what the president claimed would be the “most transparent administration ever…”

If we give the president the benefit of the doubt and assume he knows the truth is going to come out, the question remains: Does the administration appoint the special prosecutor sooner or later? The calculus inside the White House is how to best protect the president’s political interests. They have two options. They could delay the appointment and let more of the story develop, weather the ugly piecemeal disclosures, give the players time to get their stories straight and lawyer-up and hope Republicans continue their overreach, giving the whole affair a nutty partisan patina. Or, they could accelerate the appointment of a special prosecutor, thereby slowing the congressional inquiries and giving Jay Carney some relief from his daily embarrassing routine by supplying him with the escape hatch of not being allowed to comment on matters associated with the special prosecutor’s ongoing investigation. Not to mention, the White House all the while could blast the appointed counsel as a partisan ideologue à la the hatchet job that was done on Ken Starr.

Anyway, if the president is innocent, he will end up needing and wanting a special prosecutor sooner rather than later. If he and his White House already have too much to hide, then they must clam up, cry partisanship and hope their allies on the Hill and in the media have the stamina for the long, hard slog ahead.

- – - – -

My personal favorite of all the new revelations from the Obama IRS scandal is that White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler told White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough about the impending IRS inspector general report, but of course the White House chief of staff did not tell the president.

I sat in a White House chief of staff’s office every day for more than two years. The only reason the legal counsel would tell the chief of staff about an impending report or disclosure would be so the chief of staff could tell the president. The legal counsel would assume the chief of staff would know how and when to bring up the matter. The chief of staff would be expected to know if there were additional factors surrounding the issue that needed to be considered before the president was told, or whether or not others needed to be included in the conversation when the information was shared with the president. There are many valid reasons why the chief of staff would tell the president, but I can’t think of a reason why he and the legal counsel would both agree that this news nugget would go no further. It’s very odd.

The legal counsel would never assume that information shared with the chief of staff would not go to the president. In my experience, a legal counsel never would believe that there was information that was appropriate for the chief of staff to know but that was inappropriate for the president to know. Out of all the news that has emerged regarding the Obama IRS scandal, this is the most curious whopper I’ve heard so far. I can’t wait to hear the real story.
5019  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Eli Lake: Most U.S. officials in Benghazi were CIA using State Dept cover on: May 22, 2013, 10:48:02 PM
Eli Lake:    "While the State Department was responsible for elements of the security for the diplomatic mission at Benghazi, the mission itself was used primarily for intelligence activities and most the U.S. officials there and at the nearby annex were CIA officers who used State Department cover.  That purposeful ambiguity between diplomatic and intelligence efforts abroad has meant that at home, the State Department has taken almost all of the public blame for an error that was in part the fault of the CIA."

Democrat Walter Russell Mead:  "[Benghazi] scandal still has legs."

"This is a combustible situation. In the struggle to defend themselves, each of these dueling bureaucracies is likely to leak information that casts its rival in a poor light—and there are some signs that there may indeed be more shadows in need of illumination. More headlines about Benghazi are the last thing that Team Obama, as well as Team Hillary, want to see right now. But if Benghazi can’t be buried, these teams, too, will get in on the Blame Game.

And finally, as the top brass at State, CIA, Camp Clinton and the White House all try to wash their hands of the scandal, they will deal with the problem of underlings who refuse to be scapegoated. Furious at taking the fall for decisions made far above their pay grade, lower level officials will reach out to the press. Stories like this are like a fire in an ash tray; its flames may not reach all that high, but it can smolder for a long time and really stink up the room.

Don’t count Benghazi out of Scandal Season yet. So much went so wrong in so many ways, and the administration has tried so hard to keep a lid on the whole smoldering mess, that we suspect there are plenty more details waiting to emerge."
5020  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rep. Raul Labrador: Obamacare could stop Immigration Reform on: May 22, 2013, 10:40:53 PM
Raul Labrador warns that Obamacare could kill immigration bill

(Doug: Let's do it the other way around, let immigration reform kill Obamacare.)

Also Labrador pledged that he would not support a bill that breaks the so-called Hastert Rule – meaning that for him, immigration reform legislation must have the backing of at least half of House Republicans.

By SEUNG MIN KIM | 5/22/13 2:13 PM EDT

A key House Republican negotiator on immigration is warning Democrats that the health care law – a favorite boogeyman of the GOP – could be the downfall of comprehensive immigration reform.

“What might be the story at the end of this year, at the end of this session, is that Obamacare killed immigration reform,” Rep. Raul Labrador said Wednesday. The Idaho Republican is one of eight House lawmakers who have engaged in private talks on immigration reform.

The health care law has flared up as a major problem in those talks; group members declared last week that they had struck a deal “in principle” but have yet to work out the fine print.

House Democratic leaders are uneasy with the idea of blocking undocumented immigrants from accessing publicly-subsidized care – such as health coverage if they have to be treated in an emergency room. That could have the effect of deporting the immigrants if they can’t afford those expenses, Democrats worry.

Republicans, however, are insisting that no public dollars – from federal to the local level – will fund the tab for health coverage for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. Negotiators are looking at an end-of-the-week deadline to smooth out the differences on health care between the two sides.

While the Senate Judiciary Committee cleared a major hurdle Tuesday by passing the Gang of Eight legislation and sending it to the Senate floor, the House group is struggling to finalize its tentative agreement.

One of its members, Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), floated the idea of releasing a plan in the first week of June, but this latest dispute over health care throws that timeline into doubt.

“I think [Democrats] just need to accept that the American people are not going to be responsible for the health care costs of the people that are here illegally,” Labrador said Wednesday. “That’s been a fundamental issue for me from day one, that it’s not going to come out of the pockets of the American people.”

Labrador also pledged that he would not support a bill that breaks the so-called Hastert Rule – meaning that for him, immigration reform legislation must have the backing of at least half of House Republicans.

On one issue – a new guest-worker program for lower-skilled immigrants – the two parties have already decided to go separate paths. The Democrats will present the plan in the Senate bill that was negotiated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and major labor unions.
5021  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 'Hope and Change' is now 'Comfortably Numb': "Is there anyone home?" on: May 22, 2013, 10:34:11 AM
Bob Schieffer, of all people, on Charlie Rose, CBS News, of all places, inadvertently draws the parallel between this administration's handling of it's affairs and the struggle of a young, medicated rock star dealing with illness, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd in Comfortably Numb.  "Is there anyone home?"

Bob Schieffer with Charlie Rose, 5/16/2013:

"This is more of a case, is anybody home? All of a sudden you have this thing with the Justice Department where they’re getting all these phone records of all the reporters. The Attorney General, well he didn’t know anything about it. You get to the IRS, they don’t seem to know anything about the Tea Party thing. You come to White House, they don’t know anything about Benghazi. Somebody’s got to grab hold of this thing. It’s very, very disturbing what we’re seeing here."

Roger Waters saw it decades ago and called it "Comfortably Numb" (Pink Floyd, The Wall, 1979), brought to life with music and guitar solo by David Gilmour:

Hello, Hello, Hello,
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone home?
I'll need some information first
Just the basic facts
Can you show me where it hurts?
I can't explain
You would not understand
This is not how I am
I have become Comfortably Numb
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move
But I can't hear what you're saying
The child is grown
The dream is gone
I have become Comfortably Numb
5022  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar and American Freedom on: May 21, 2013, 06:06:42 PM
It amazes me that the world's largest economy doesn't have leverage to influence hardly anyone on anything.  Assuming the European Union has the same interest in this that we do, one might think that the EU and US combined would have economic leverage with China. 

So we shame them.  Scary!

Since we are talking about warfare, blowing up the building might make an impact - just thinking aloud - or more realistically, shut down their internet until they understand our concern.  We avoid bad choices by making the good ones work.  Unless there is something effective happening behind the scenes, this is another case of our Commander in Chief not even voting present in his responsibilities.

If he went after enemies, terrorists and geopolitical rivals with the zest that the uses to attack the tea party, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, they might think twice before messing with us.
5023  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Breitbart on: May 21, 2013, 05:35:22 PM
I met Andrew and hung out briefly with him at CPAC a couple of years ago, and he was a very friendly, extremely smart and generous individual with his time. He is sorely missed.
The way he was treated by the liberal press both during his life, but even worse - after he died unexpectedly of a heart attack - was ABOMINABLE.
He was a true pioneer and fearless bulldog with citizen reporting and exposing lies the mainstream media would routinely ignore or try to cover-up. Those who hated him, hated him precisely because he told the truth about their nefarious activities. Please see this film - and take 5 seconds to request the movie by shown in your area by clicking on the link below:

Yes.  He is a legend in new media.  Rising from pizza delivery boy to editor of Drudge, launching the Huffington Post and on his own web site, he personified the first amendment.  He died at least a half century too soon.  You are fortunate to have met him.  Like Drudge, he was out front getting stories out that otherwise would get buried.  He was committed to making a difference in the 2012 campaign when he died.  Nothing short of untimely death could ever have stopped him. 
5024  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: May 21, 2013, 12:43:00 PM
Oops, this elected leftist wasn't joking:

"When cyclones tear up Oklahoma and hurricanes swamp Alabama and wildfires scorch Texas, you come to us, the rest of the country, for billions of dollars to recover," he said. "And the damage that your polluters and deniers are doing doesn’t just hit Oklahoma and Alabama and Texas. It hits Rhode Island with floods and storms. It hits Oregon with acidified seas, it hits Montana with dying forests. So, like it or not, we’re in this together.”

He continued, "You drag America with you to your fate."

  - Sheldon Whitehouse, United States Senator, not the Daily Show, Democrat of Rhode Island

I wonder what the uproar would be if a Republican Senate candidate said something similar.  They wouldn't become a U.S. Senator.
5025  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: May 21, 2013, 12:37:07 PM
Will the Daily Show go after this:

Winstead, who created The Daily Show and uses social media to promote her far-left views, sent out this Twitter joke earlier today:

"This tornado is in Oklahoma so clearly it has been ordered to only target conservatives."

Ha, ha, ha.  Is the fact that the IRS targeted conservatives groups funny too?
5026  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, IRS targeted conservative college interns on: May 21, 2013, 12:33:05 PM
Talk about a drip, drip, drip, the story of IRS political badgering is not going to go away anytime soon.  And it wasn't an isolated case of a low level employee in a faraway outpost affecting just a few groups.  It was something far larger, intended to intimidate and affect elections.  Conservative college interns pose a threat to revenue collections?!?!

We should cut a hundred IRS agent jobs for every infraction discovered until the bias inside the agency changes to even-handedness.

IRS targeted conservative college interns

Daily Caller 05/20/2013

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) demanded information about conservative groups’ college-aged interns, prompting outrage from one of the country’s top conservative activist organizations and leading one former intern to wonder whether his family’s pizza parlor would be endangered.

The IRS requested, in an audit, the names of the conservative Leadership Institute’s 2008 interns, as well as specific information about their internship work and where the interns were employed in 2012, according to a document request the IRS sent to the Leadership Institute, dated February 14, 2012.

The IRS requested:

“Copies of applications for internships and summer programs; to include: lists of those selected for internships and students in 2008.
– In regards to such internships, please provide information regarding where the interns physically worked and how the placement was arranged.
– After completing internships and courses, where were the students and interns employed?”

The Arlington, Virginia-based Leadership Institute is a conservative activist training organization founded in 1979 by Virginia Republican National Committeeman Morton C. Blackwell, the youngest elected delegate to the 1964 Republican convention that nominated Barry Goldwater. The institute was audited in 2011. As The Daily Caller has reported, at least two different IRS offices made a concerted effort to obtain the group’s training materials.

The Leadership Institute’s audit, which was conducted by the IRS’ Baltimore office and which ended with no determination of wrongdoing but cost the conservative group $50,000 in legal fees, only covered the year 2008, leading employees to speculate that the IRS’ primary interest was figuring out how the group operates during a presidential election year.

“They were very interested in seeing what conservative organizations were doing in 2008, and where the interns from 2008 were now employed,” Leadership Institute vice president of programs David Fenner told the Daily Caller, adding that he “absolutely” believed the IRS audited information from 2008 because it was an election year.

“We declined to give them the names” of former interns, Fenner said.
5027  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Green Free Market solutions - LNG Exports on: May 21, 2013, 12:19:48 PM
"Under a vestigial 1938 law, the feds must approve natural gas exports for countries with which the U.S. lacks free-trade agreements, including such trading partners as Japan. Freeport is only the second terminal to win this license, with 19 other applications outstanding, the longest of which has been waiting for 28 months."

I'm not much of an expert on fascism, but why would it take more than 24 hours for a reputable, private company to obtain government approval to ship safe, clean energy to an ally of the United States at fair market value.  We don't want their money?  We don't want them to use clean energy?  We would rather have them pay OPEC and the Caliphate?  We don't want to encourage economic growth if it goes to places like North Dakota, while the state of NY bans the same production?  Is there nothing left of an assumption of economic liberty?  Are ships carrying energy away from the U.S. a greater environmental risk than ships bringing energy to the U.S.?  We know that our fascist central planners want more of the latter by their prohibitions of energy production and pipelines at home.
5028  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: OK gents, place your bets! on: May 21, 2013, 12:03:38 PM
Wesbury makes his prediction.  I'd like to invite each of us to make his own  evil

A fair challenge.  Crafty, what say you? 

Personally, I will decline to predict the market.  We know that the indices of big, cronied-up companies can prosper while America fails.

On the larger question (not asked), the movement of the economy, I will say that if the economic policies will be more of the same, the results will be more of the same - best case.

Quantifying:  My understanding is that benchmark for breakeven growth for the U.S. economy is normally around 3.1%.  Rapid growth coming out of a severe downturn with pro-growth policies should be more like 7.75%, see the Reagan recovery.  My prediction is that nationwide economic growth will be no more than 3.1%, snail's pace growth, until policies change.  I predict that general economic conditions will not return to the levels before Pelosi-Reid-Obama took majorities in congress, of real unemployment 4.6% nationally and 3% in our metro for example, EVER, until policies change.

Can a shrewd investor make money anyway?  Yes.  Can a generation of new grads with closed off opportunities, told by their President to lower their ambitions, ever get back what they lost with the current focus on destructive economic policies?  I don't see how.
5029  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Global cooling and tornado activity on: May 21, 2013, 11:10:41 AM
In the first place, I think tornado activity is actually down.  That news is no help to today's victims.

Hearts and prayers go out to the Oklahoma tornado victims.  This is a HORRIBLE tragedy.  Where I live people can't imagine homes without basements, that may have saved hundreds or thousands of lives in Mpls 2 years ago.  Besides that people who could not get below ground for cover, another part of the story is saying that a number of children got to the school basement for safety and drowned there!  This is Sandy Hook and far worse I think.  Ughhh!  Glenn Beck was broadcasting live from Moore, OK this morning and has a relief fund setup on his site to donate directly to help victims:

All that said, on a lighter note, Newsweek predicted global cooling could cause this kind of carnage:

5030  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Unknown Mathematician Proves Elusive Property of Prime Numbers on: May 21, 2013, 10:36:52 AM

Thanks for posting this!  I found the first part quite humorous.  No one outside of a known, circle of elites was expected to solve any of the great, unsolved, math problems. 

5031  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: May 20, 2013, 02:13:59 PM
Getting rid of the IRS via a national sales tax could have considerable appeal , , ,

You get rid of the IRS as we know it by repealing the 16th amendment.  Adding a national sales tax would be a way to make up some of the difference.

The likelihood that super majorities will support a zero tax rate on the income of the wealthy at this time being zero, the IRS
is not going away.  You bring down their excesses by simplifying the laws and having them apply evenly.  In this case, a simple reform for 501c3's and c4's might be that income can only be taxed once and to clarify that the first amendment is still valid.  In other words, let people spend after-tax income on political speech anytime, any place, in any amount they want in this country. 
5032  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: May 19, 2013, 02:38:23 PM
In our world of perpetual campaign, while the co-defendants and co-dependents are squirming to shake off the scandal hook, conservatives and Republicans should launch a pro-jobs, nationwide campaign to roll out comprehensive tax reform, regulatory reform and a national free market energy plan, not just be the prosecutors of the corrupt administration.
5033  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama's scandal bracket sheets are now posted on: May 19, 2013, 02:31:03 PM
Put my data mining allegation under wildcard, here are the brackets:

Click here for full size view:

Who will be the Champion of Obama scandals?  I say a wildcard pick will win it.  We know about the arrogance of power; we just don't yet know all the details.
5034  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: May 19, 2013, 02:09:35 PM
The IRS 'heightened scrutiny' targeting of conservative groups in an election year, the Benghazi coverup, the Sebelius story of cronying up with big health care etc., all these known scandals together are but the tip of the iceberg of the misconduct that occurred between the administration and the campaign in the 2012 election.

I am calling for 'heightened scrutiny' of the campaign's "data mining" operation for its collusion with government regarding the supposedly private information owned by the various departments of the governments.  They knew who was African American, they knew who was Hispanic and they knew who all the program recipients were in all the key states.  Is there not one 'low level' Cincinnati Census or food stamp official ready to come forward and tell us how it really worked?!
5035  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: May 19, 2013, 01:51:13 PM
"Obama must work to salvage what’s left before Republicans likely win big in 2014, and he goes from being a lame duck to a soiled, sitting duck amid investigation after investigation."

A.B. Stoddard writing at The Hill, 5/15/13.
5036  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi and related matters on: May 19, 2013, 01:45:26 PM
"Didn't the Supremes weigh in on the Nixon tapes?"   - Yes
"The only other thought is public opinion turns and the media do their job."

 - That's right.  The media got dragged in with the AP scandal and the combination of the scandals begins to expose the emperor.  Ask his predecessor, you cannot enact a domestic agenda while approval ratings are approaching the 30s.  Same goes for helping with congressional campaigns in swing districts, no one wants a soiled-duck to come out on his or her behalf.

What really happened in the White House during the Benghazi attacks gets known by what they call in math, calculating the negative space.  We know what didn't happen and fill in the rest accordingly.  We know they knew our people were facing an organized terrorist attack from the beginning.  We know that they knew they had screwed up on providing prior security.  We know their answer right from the beginning was to wave the white flag.  We know they violated all rules of military decency by abandoning our people.  We know three of the dead violated direct orders by going there to help.  We know they were wrong to decide help couldn't get ther in time to do any good.  The stand down order was a BIG BIG BIG blunder and we know responsibility for that goes to the top, whether he was sitting there, turned it over to a top general or relied on the advice of a campaign adviser. 

We know they were wrong to house operations there at all.  We don't know what the operations were.  We know they were wrong and stupid to not beef up security for the anniversary of 9/11.  We know they didn't respond to prior requests from Benghazi and Libya for greater security.  We know they handled it wrong and knowingly lied to our faces after the fact.  What more do we need to know?  The rest of it, arms sales to Syria or whatever, is the drip, drip, drip, as Krauthammer put it, that keeps it in the news.

All we don't know is whether or not people care. 

The Pres. cannot blame decisions he made or should have made on a Secretary or anyone else and she can't blame much on him either; she is culpable too.  That joint appearance on 60 Minutes now looks like guilty co-defendants swearing to stand by each other until the bitter end.   We can hope that someone in the loop turns on them soon and spills out the real behind the scenes story.  What we really hope is that these same people are never trusted again.
5037  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The death of the rule of law on: May 16, 2013, 11:42:51 AM
At present, Baraq is have Sec Treasury Lieu (sp?) handle the investigation.  In that IRS is part of Treasury, this bodes poorly for sincerity in the investigation.  A special prosecutor is called for here.

Exactly.  Sec. Lew should be facing his own perjury and contempt of congress charges for the last time he lied to congress under oath, instead receiving appointment to higher office.

I realize he is new to Treasury, but he is not new to serving at the highest levels of the administration.  This happened under his watch and we just saw how they change facts at the highest levels to avoid criticism.  Wasn't Lew the Chief of Staff when Susan Rice was looking for direction?  Neither Lew nor Eric Holder, nor any other administration political appointee is removed or impartial enough to investigate or prosecute this.  

"A special prosecutor is called for here." !!

Also needed is reform and re-write of the 501c3/c4 laws they purport to be enforcing.  
5038  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Boener is the problem on: May 16, 2013, 11:26:37 AM
No.  The Obama administration is the problem.  Parts of this are valid, but the shift of blame isn't helpful.  The drip, drip, drip of the scandal, as Krauthammer put it, is not all bad for Republicans politically.  The speaker has to deal with the perception of half the country that these inquiries are just opportunistic Republicans running wild.

Boehner should be pressing for oversight for sure, but his main public focus should be focussed on policy answers to policy problems.  He should calling out regulatory excesses, pushing for comprehensive tax reform, etc. and making it clear that it is the other side that is bogging the country down with their arrogance and abuses of their power, and not addressing the nation's problems.  MHO )
5039  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: IBD: Did IRS try to swing the election to BO? on: May 16, 2013, 11:13:35 AM
Obama is stuck on saying how awful this IRS thing is - IF it happened.  It happened.  And it IS awful.  What have they ever gotten to the bottom of, fast and furious, job losses, crony green energy abuse, Benghazi, AP, IRS?  How hard can it be to get to the bottom of something when you have the largest intelligence operation in the world (for Benghazi, Mexican arms running, Secret Service scandal, etc.), the largest, most intrusive computer system in the world (IRS scandal), and nearly complete control over everything including their phone records, emails and texts needed to get to the bottom of this.

In the case of IRS abuse, the federal government is the prosecutor (as well as the accused).  The prosecutor doesn't need to get stuck on innocent until proven guilty; they need to put the charges in the form of a criminal complaint, make arrests and prosecute crimes.  Generally that leads to plea bargains on the way up to the top. 

How about appointing an Independent Counsel to investigate and prosecute if he is serious?

When did the administration know that the victims were being victimized?  They monitor the right wing sites, they should have known all of this AS IT WAS HAPPENING!  The claim by the head of the executive branch that everyone near him is deaf, dumb, blind and stupid, is tempting to believe - but I don't buy it.  If these were left wing women were being harassed by powerful, white, right wing men, would this have been ignored for this long?  I don't think so.

Whoever called these people, who are professionals of the federal government entrusted with the power to investigate and destroy America, LOW LEVEL EMPLOYEES should be fired too!  MHO
5040  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness' Scandals on: May 15, 2013, 10:44:08 AM
I hope all the uproar over the Benghazi attack lying, IRS shutting down political dissent, White House tracking reporters' phone records, and Secretary Sebelius overtly fundraising from those she wishes to regulate will not draw time and resources away from the administration's commitment to get to the bottom of the FAST AND FURIOUS, dead Mexicans and border guard scandal.

I don't know why I haven't heard an update on that.  Does anyone know when Attorney General gets out of jail for his CONTEMPT OF CONGRESS citation?  Who prosecuted that anyway?
5041  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IRS Scandal Rocks Obamacare on: May 15, 2013, 10:35:59 AM
Some are starting to figure out the connection between our failed trust in the IRS and the trainwreck known as Obamacare.  The first big investment the federal government made in heathcare reform was for the IRS to spend (invest?) nearly a billion and hire thousands of new IRS agents to scrutinize further those of us that they believe need more scrutinizing.

Byron York today:

What's happened heightens fears about how the IRS will handle taxpayer information and wield its power when it enforces Obamacare starting next year."

The IRS is critical to Obamacare. The structure created by the Affordable Care Act requires the government to know about both the health care coverage (or lack of it) and the financial resources of every American. The IRS, which already knows the latter, was the only agency with the reach to do the job.
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A look at the text of the health care law reveals that much of it consists of amending the Internal Revenue Code to give the IRS more power. When Obamacare goes fully into effect in January, every American will have to prove to the IRS that he or she has "qualifying" health coverage, meaning coverage with a list of features approved by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. That will be done by submitting a document to the IRS, something like a W-2, to confirm coverage.

The IRS will also decide who is, and who is not, eligible for Obamacare's subsidies. The law authorizes the IRS to share confidential taxpayer information with the Department of Health and Human Services for the purpose of determining those subsidies. And since subsidies don't just apply to a relatively small number of the nation's poorest citizens -- under the law, they can go to a family of four with a household income of nearly $90,000 -- they will affect a huge segment of the population.

In addition, the IRS will keep track of even the smallest changes in Americans' financial condition. Did you get a raise recently? You'll need to notify the IRS; it might affect your subsidy status. Have your hours been reduced at work? Notify the IRS. Change jobs? Same.

Last August, IRS official Nina Olson testified before Congress on the changes Obamacare will bring to Americans' dealings with the nation's tax collector. "Do you believe that most Americans are going to update the IRS or state exchanges when they change jobs, get married, move states, whatever?" Michigan Republican Rep. Tim Walberg asked Olson.

"I think it's going to be a very great learning curve," Olson answered. If Americans don't keep the IRS up to date on their financial status, they might incur penalties, which the IRS will collect by withholding income tax refunds. "I think it will be a surprise to taxpayers if they don't update their information,"
WSJ today:

A larger government always creates more openings for abuse, as Americans will learn when the IRS starts auditing their health care in addition to their 1040 next year.

"ObamaCare is "the most extensive social benefit program the IRS has been asked to implement in recent history."  This March the IRS Inspector General reiterated that ObamaCare's 47 major changes to the revenue code "represent the largest set of tax law changes the IRS has had to implement in more than 20 years." Thus the IRS is playing Thelma to the Health and Human Service Department's Louise. The tax agency has requested funding for 1,954 full-time equivalent employees for its Affordable Care Act office in 2014."

"Instead of going after tax cheats, these bureaucrats will write and enforce tax regulations for parts of the economy in which they have no core competence. For example, do ski instructors or public school teachers count as seasonal workers? How long is a "full time" work week? Is it 40 hours, or 30?"

"...the IRS and HHS are now building the largest personal information database the government has ever attempted. Known as the Federal Data Services Hub, the project is taking the IRS's own records (for income and employment status) and centralizing them with information from Social Security (identity), Homeland Security (citizenship), Justice (criminal history), HHS (enrollment in entitlement programs and certain medical claims data) and state governments (residency)."

What could possibly go wrong?

Newt Gingrich:  "Why would you trust the bureaucracy with your health if you can't trust the bureaucracy with your politics?"

5042  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jimmy Connors should not have told. Why not? on: May 15, 2013, 09:56:52 AM
The Atlantic, and everyone else in media it seems, is aghast that Jimmy Connors hinted that Chris Evert had an abortion during their engagement, in a year that both of them won Wimbledon.  The outrage seems to hint that people might think she did something wrong.  It is a book about his life, public and private.  It's not like she killed his first kid - without even discussing it with him.  Or is it.
5043  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother, IRS Scandal is going to need its own topic on: May 14, 2013, 08:52:42 AM
The Obama administration has been lying about the scope of the IRS’s harassment of conservative-leaning non-profits. The Washington Post has obtained documents that show the anti-conservative effort was directed from Washington, D.C., and was not a rogue operation out of the agency’s Cincinnati office, as the administration has claimed.

Does anyone know when Eric Holder gets out of jail from his Contempt of Congress citation?  Maybe he can get to the bottom of this - like he did with Fast and Furious.

I wanted this administration to fall based on failed economic policies, but their arrogance and duplicity was bound to catch up with them too.
5044  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Victor Davis Hanson: Count me out on Syria on: May 14, 2013, 08:33:55 AM
I can't remember disagreeing with VDH.

Count Me Out on Syria    by Victor Davis Hanson    May 13th, 2013

There are good reasons to go into Syria, but far better ones to stay out.

Let us review a few of them. Syria is a humanitarian crisis with over one million refugees and 70,000 dead. But there are similar outrages in Mali, Somalia, and the Sudan. Why no calls to go there as well? Would U.S. troops, planes, or massive shipments of weapons stop the killing, or simply ensure endless cycles of death following the Assad departure? Will Syria’s Christians and other minorities become worse off with or without Assad?

More importantly, we do not at this late stage know which terrorist is a pro-Western Google-type, and which is a hard-core jihadist. The history of the Middle East in particular (see Iran in 1980) and world history in general (cf. France, 1794 or Russia, 1917) suggests that the more extreme, better organized revolutionary zealots, even when in the minority, usually win out over the moderate and sensible reformers in the post-war sorting out and sizing up. There are not many Washingtons, Jeffersons, or Madisons in the annals of revolutionary history.

When Assad goes, the postbellum mess will either go straight to the sham election of a Mohammed Morsi type, who will try to suspend the very constitution that brought him to power, or we will witness round two of Libyan-type violence. The bitter remedy for either, of course, is an Afghanistan or Iraq occupation, in which Americans spend blood and treasure to teach locals not to be their tribal selves. But that third alternative is absolutely politically unsustainable.

Of course, there are also strategic reasons for toppling Assad. How wonderful to see Hezbollah lose their Iranian-arms conduit, or to remove Syria from the Iran-Hezbollah axis. But is that not happening now anyway?

Apparently Israel thinks so. As I understand, their new cynical but strategically adept policy runs something like the following: now and then when Assad shows signs of recovery, or more bloodlust, or renewed interest in bringing down the region with him, bomb his assets just a little bit to refigure the score. That confuses everyone in Syria: do rebels damn or thank Israel, or both? Do Sunni nations smile or scowl? Does Assad retaliate and deplete his arsenal that is so critical to killing his fellow Arabs? Will rebels join with Assad against Israel, or remember that it helped them a bit when on the downside? In short, so far America has not intervened, and Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah are all three worse off for it.

Well apart from Benghazi, Susan Rice and Samantha Power’s Libya is a blueprint for nothing. This time around we will not get UN approval after assuring Russia and China last time that our “humanitarian aid” and “no-fly zones” did not entail ground support, which of course it immediately did. Do we want again to ignore the U.S. Congress and seek permission instead from the UN and Arab League?  Was the murder of Americans in Benghazi preferable to the so-called “new Gaddafi,” whom everyone from John McCain to the Europeans were suddenly fond of as a “reformer” intent on handing power over to his Westernized progeny?

And who not long ago said Bashar al-Assad was a “reformer”?

And who visited Syria in 2007 while Americans were dying in Iraq from jihadists harbored in Syria? And who blasted Bush for alienating Syria by ostracizing such an otherwise eager interlocutor (“The road to Damascus is the road to peace”)?

Consistency Should Matter

I have another confession about why, as a supporter of removing Saddam Hussein, I did not favor either the Libyan bombing or the proposed Syria intervention. In short, I have no confidence in those now calling for intervention to be there should things not go as planned. More have been killed in Afghanistan during Obama’s 52 months than during Bush’s nearly seven years. Announcing simultaneous surges and withdrawal dates is not wise. After all the blood and treasure spent in Iraq, not leaving a tiny monitoring force was shortsighted. An administration that not only lied about Benghazi but knew it was lying does not inspire confidence, especially in its amoral calculus in promoting a pre-election narrative of a weakened al-Qaeda after the killing of bin Laden and a reforming Libya after the removal of Gaddafi over the interest of truth and the safety of our own in Benghazi.

Consistency of any sort should matter also. I admire those like a Max Boot who wanted to go into Iraq and supported the cause to the bitter end. I even sort of admire a Pat Buchanan who thought Iraq a folly, and as a useful idiot on MSNBC damned those like me who supported the occupation. And I even admire Dennis Kucinich-types who thought intervention was wrong and staying on worse, and were ridiculed when the statue fell and the “Mission Accomplished” euphoria persisted. But I have no admiration for the zealots who called for the attack, basked in the spectacular removal of the Hussein regime, and then peeled off as the violence spiked and the soldiers were more or less on their own.

Like most of you, I did not write a letter in 1998 calling for the preemptive removal of Saddam Hussein. Most of us were indifferent to Bill Clinton’s regime change act. And I think most of us did not even know about those who wrote another letter to George W. Bush after 9/11 calling for preemption in Iraq again. But most of us agreed with 70% of the people that the Congress had logic and morality in their 2002 23-writ resolution calling to oust Hussein. Colin Powell made a sincere, but flawed, presentation. (It was not just the faulty intelligence, but the failure to mention all of the congressional resolutions for war.)

Once we did go in — along with the widespread support of the American people — I vowed to support the American effort to rebuild the country to the bitter end. And the end was certainly bitter. But by 2009 the American role in the war was all but over, a plan for a residual force to ensure the peace was in place, and what happened after that was now up to a new administration. I think leaving in toto was a bitter mistake, but leave we did and as a nation we live with the consequences.

Most Who Called for Removal of Saddam Eventually Turned on Bush

Here is my point. Most of those who called for preemption between 1998 and 2001 eventually turned on Mr. Bush, who had listened to them. Almost all the liberal and conservative pundits of the New York Times and Washington Post who wanted intervention eventually bailed with the suspect excuse of something like “my three-week brilliant take-down, your stupid five-year occupation.” Some claimed missing WMD gave them an out (as if we suddenly also learned that Saddam had not posted rewards for suicide bombers, murdered thousands, tried to kill a U.S. president, harbored terrorists, broke UN resolutions, gassed his own people, etc.).

Those who once sung Bush’s praises the loudest and urged him onward (give him the Nobel Prize, nuke Saddam, “I wrote the Axis of Evil line,” sweep the Middle East) were always the most clever of critics, as if the more Hillary screamed or Harry Reid declared the surge lost, the more we would forget their October 2002 calls to arms.

If in 2002 Iraq was to be a “cakewalk,” by 2004 it was “Bush’s war.” To name just a few across the political spectrum in random order, I’m sure that a Francis Fukuyama, Fareed Zakaria, Andrew Sullivan, George Will, the late William F. Buckley, Jr., Thomas Friedman, John Kerry, and thousands of others all had legitimate reasons in abandoning the cause of Iraq. Lord knows it was unwise to let thousands of scattered Ba’athist soldiers roam the streets of Iraq unemployed. How stupid was it to focus only on WMD when the Congress gave lots of reasons to remove Saddam? More tragic still was pulling out of Fallujah in April 2004 only to have to retake it in November. Why was a junior three-star mediocrity like Ricardo Sanchez put in charge of ground troops in Iraq? Why did Tommy Franks just quit almost at the moment the three-week war stopped and the reckoning started? “Bring ‘em on” and “Mission Accomplished” are speaking loudly while carrying small sticks. The list of screw-ups goes on and on. But the fact remains that victory in war goes not to those who make no mistakes, but to those who learn the most quickly from them in order to ensure the fewest in the future.

I also grant that one can change one’s mind. But here is the point, to paraphrase Matthew Ridgway of the mess he inherited in Korea: the only worse thing for a great power with global responsibilities than fighting a poorly conducted war is losing one.  I know too the age-old nostrums — that was then, this is now, things change, only with self-reflection comes wisdom, change is sometimes necessary, etc., etc.

But I have also lost all trust in the Democratic Senate, the commentariat, and the media to call for any U.S. intervention in the Middle East, given that there is a chance that it will go badly, the zealots will bail, and the soldiers alone will be stuck on the battlefield in a Middle East miasma, with little support at home — a Michael Moore lauding the enemy as “Minutemen,” a MoveOn.Org labeling Petraeus “General Betray Us,” an Alfred Knopf published novel imagining the assassination of a U.S. president, a prominent conservative confessing how he was “duped” by the “neo-cons,” and on and on. Again, been there, done that, sick of it.

One day drones and Guantanamo are war crimes originating from Afghanistan and Iraq, the next day they are … what, exactly? One day in 2004 Barack Obama has no problem with current U.S. policy in Iraq (“There’s not that much difference between my position and George Bush’s position at this stage”); one day in 2007 he wants all U.S. combat troops out by March 2008? In short, there is no evidence that either those in this administration or our elites in general are up for another bloody slog in the Middle East.

I also have only little sympathy now for “Arab reformers,” especially those ensconced at U.S. and European universities. Yes, Iraq was a mess. Bush was a twangy Texan, we know. I am sorry that we do not have mellifluous Martin Luther Kings or Abraham Lincolns around to send in F-16s. The fact remains that Bush was also an idealist, naïve maybe, but not an imperialist or colonialist. He was someone who really believed in establishing the chance of freedom in the Middle East, in the manner that he sought to provide cheap AIDS medication for Africa or expand Medicare prescription drugs, whether all on borrowed money or not. Hate him if you must for being a naïf, but not a British imperialist or Nixonian strategist.

Yes, call him dumb, naïve, amateurish, but not conniving or Kissengerian — as his realist critics, in fact, lamented. So the U.S. removed a monster who had killed a million. It stayed on at great cost. It took no oil. It took no territory. It ended up without even a base. After 9/11 it sought to remove a terrorist-subsidizing tyrant, end the no-fly zones, create something better, and spread constitutional governments in the wake. The Chinese, French, and Russians ended up profiting from U.S. blood and treasure.

Please, Spare Us Now “You Owe Us Help”

If Arab reformers ever wanted a shot at democracy, Iraq was still their golden opportunity. Instead, almost all damned the effort and caricatured Americans. I once in 2006 sat in a clinic in Tripoli listening to Arab intellectuals (or rather Gaddafi minders) explain to me the Jewish roots of the Iraqi war, and how Americans were siphoning oil off in the desert and flying it in tankers home. Finally, I could not even follow all the conspiracy theories concocted to explain how wicked the Maliki government was.

Please, spare us now “you owe us your help.” Al Jazeera one day magically can show videos of an IED tearing apart American soldiers, and the next day it is just a “media outlet” that gives Al Gore millions of its petrodollars for his access to cable TV. I’m sure it will advocate for Assad to go, for reformers to take his replace, and demonize the U.S. and “the Jews” all through the process.

We have been there, done that, and we have learned some great lessons about the 21st century, pre-modern Middle East, and any interventions into it: a) Arab reformers damn the U.S. for doing nothing, but they will damn it far more for doing something; b) interventionists believe that all success is their offspring, and failure is outsourced to someone else, usually the military or those who sent the military in; c) the Middle East lesson of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya is that only a huge U.S. ground presence, in the fashion of postwar Italy, Germany, or Japan, coupled with abject defeat of the enemy, can lead to any chance of consensual government.

Without bloody fighting and without massive U.S. aid either the enemy wins and takes over, or what replaces the enemy reverts to the mindset of the enemy. We can stand-off bomb as we did in the Balkans to bring something better, but the Balkans are in Europe, and we still have troops in the Balkans, and lots of those who pushed Clinton into bombing later wanted him to stop when it seemed all we could do was hit embassies and rest homes rather than missile sites.

Does this mean that under no circumstances should we ever bomb Iran, or take out a mass murderer with WMD? Perhaps not. But it does suggest that after Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, neither is the Middle East ready for U.S. invention nor is this generation of American elite leadership up for the task.

There is irony in seeing the opportunistic war critic Barack Obama out-drone Bush or be attacked on his Left by liberals, who rail at his callousness in not intervening in Syria. But there is not enough irony for schadenfreude — given that American soldiers might be sent into a theater by those who would support them only to the degree that they were deemed successful and blame their setbacks on everyone but themselves.

A nearly bankrupt and divided America after Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya is not up for Syria — and an Arab Spring that on its own chose Winter does not deserve any more American blood.

Sorry, that’s just the way it is.
5045  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) and the 4th & 9th Amendments on: May 13, 2013, 05:26:59 PM
Thanks for the replies.  Crafty, yours might have just been for all the extra questions on the regular Census?  On that, they do have the constitutional authority to know just the basics (that you answered), which would be how many people live there and I suppose enough extra information to verify accuracy and know they aren't double counting from you somewhere else.  This survey is 28 pages.  

What I think I have learned is that the penalty is 'up to $5000' (confirmed in GM post) and no one has ever been fined or jailed for not answering the American Community Survey because they don't want it tested in Court.  They will however keep coming back to harass, not take no for an answer for up to about 7 attempts.

I answered my 10 year Census the way Crafty suggested, race=other, etc.  My plan for this is to tell them I'll take the fine and the jail time, be the test case, and try to make it all back by writing a book.  

I also read that the House has voted to end this, and Rand Paul has introduced a measure in the Senate.

Repeal would be great, arguing, refusing, closing the door is okay, but I still would like to know what happened to my right of privacy.

From the website on Bigdog's post:

"To protect your privacy, the American Community Survey NEVER asks for:  your Social Security number, your personal information via email, money or donations, credit card information"

But that doesn't answer my concern.  Even without my name, and they already have that, my address ties this all to me and it sits in their database.  Similar databases of banks, credit card companies, Stratfor, the State Dept cables, etc are cracked every day.  Has anyone at Census ever heard of Wiki-leaks?  Even if there is zero risk of data lost or zero impact on me if there was a breach, aren't I entitled to as much privacy as a woman killing her fetus:  'No Ma'am, you can't have the procedure unless you tell us your ancestry, what time you leave your house, how many travel in your car, how many times you've been married, first mortgage, second mortgage, value of your house. property insurance, health insurance.'  For how long would the big government types put up with that?

I've lived here 27 years and what I paid is already a public record on the internet for all to see.  I haven't had it appraised and have never tried to sell it.  The house didn't change.  Why don't they tell me what the value of the dollar I bought it with is?

The ACS started in 2005 under a Republican President, House and Senate.   It may not be a Supreme Court case, but we aren't living in a country that is headed back toward original intent.

Next time they ask for my health insurance info, there will be a real fine for not answering!

My brother has a concealed carry permit, and not necessarily a gun.  He called 911 during a neighborhood disturbance.  They needed to know where HE kept his gun before they came out to help.  How did they know that?  They marked his information from one agency onto other records.  I'm not much of a conspiracy nut, but this is information we give them just by complying with all these laws.
5046  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Census Bureau "American Community Survey" on: May 13, 2013, 01:20:15 PM
My address has been randomly selected to receive the 28 page "American Community Survey", all of it a violation of my privacy and offensive to me.  I have just received their third communication, including the following:

"You are required by law to respond to this survey."

We can discuss this in detail.  What I need right now is legal advice!  I can't imagine answering this.  

What article of the constitution authorized this?  The value of my house?  Property insurance?  How many times has this person been married?  College degrees?  Ancestry?!  The federal government needs to know that to determine whether to build a road or hospital?  The federal government builds roads and hospitals near me??  Absences from work, how many minutes it takes to get to work?  Do I have to disclose any stops I make?  How many ride in my car?  Income - Don't you already have that?  Health insurance with choices a-h!  Who saw THAT coming?


My name, address, phone number, birth date?

When was the last time you guys had a breach of private information, campaign 2012?? ??
5047  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: May 13, 2013, 12:37:20 PM
The IRS targeting scandal is about cheating in elections, preventing opponents from organizing and acting in the same ways that your own campaign and supporters are organizing and acting.

GM: "There should be criminal investigations regarding this conduct."

Undermining our elections, to me, is treason, extreme acts against one's nation.  Beheading, after a fair trial, comes to mind as a remedy that might discourage similar acts in the future.

If these were "low-level" employees, how much do we pay people who decide how to allocate resources in the IRS?  Minimum wage?  Were they laid off, considered no more essential than air traffic controllers, during the sequester?  I don't think so.

This one tip of a big iceberg, with no one looking under it.  There is no way this was the only cooperation between the Obama Executive Branch of our government and the Obama campaign.  There is no question in my mind that the "data mining" and turnout operations of the campaign were getting welfare and program recipients lists from inside the federal government.

5048  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi Deception on: May 13, 2013, 11:49:42 AM
I just heard a rumor that Petraeus no longer feels the loyalty to Team Obama (can't blame him either!) and will be saying and doing things this week , , ,

Makes sense.  As CIA Director, his product was the first version (true version) of what happened in Benghazi, before the 12 revisions.  He has already faced the humiliation of his infidelity.  He may still face legal or military culpability for details within that.  Either way, he has very little choice but to step forward when called to testify, and tell the truth.

Jonah Goldberg made a very significant point in Crafty's post here May 10: 

'Help [that was ordered to stand down] just couldn’t get there in time.'

True or false in hindsight, that excuse HAD to be written after the fact.  It could not have been known at the start of an 8 hour attack.

Goldberg: "If you see a child struggling in the ocean, you have no idea how long she will flail and paddle before she goes under for the last time. The moral response is to swim for her in the hope that you get there in time. If you fail and she dies, you can console yourself that you did your best to rescue her."
Mark Steyn:
A terrorist attack isn’t like a soccer game, over in 90 minutes. If it is a sport, it’s more like a tennis match: Whether it’s all over in three sets or goes to five depends on how hard the other guy pushes back. The government of the United States took the extremely strange decision to lose in straight sets. Not only did they not deploy out-of-area assets, they ordered even those in Libya to stand down."
Peggy Noonan explained the non-response ordered by the non-meeting in the situation room, where the President and Secretary of State were not following the events as they transpired (also posted May 10): 

"If you want something to be a nonstory you have to have a nonresponse".

Michael Barone wrote today:  (excerpts)

We know that [Sec. Clinton] assured one victim’s father, Charles Woods, that “we’re going to prosecute that person that made the video.”

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Clinton was knowingly attempting to mislead. She certainly knows the difference between Cairo and Benghazi.

And it’s undisputed that Gregory Hicks, the No. 2 man in our Libya embassy, reported that it was an “attack” on September 11. That was the word he heard in his last conversation with Christopher Stevens.

It’s undisputed as well, after testimony at the House committee hearing last week, that Beth Jones, acting assistant secretary of State’s Near Eastern division, e-mailed on September 12 that “the group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists.”

That e-mail went to Clinton counselor Cheryl Mills and State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, among others. You may remember Mills as one of the lawyers defending Bill Clinton in his impeachment trial.

On September 15, the day after Clinton’s assurances to Woods, State Department and White House officials prepared talking points for members of Congress and for ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, who was scheduled to go on five Sunday talk shows the next day.

Who chose Rice as the administration’s spokesman? As Barack Obama said after the election, when she was reportedly under consideration to be the next secretary of state, Rice had “nothing to do” with Benghazi.

Selecting which officials go on the Sunday talk shows is a White House function. Either the president or someone who had good reason to believe he was reflecting Obama’s wishes selected Rice, who was out of the loop on the issue.

The expectation must have been that she would say exactly what she was told — and would not betray any inconvenient facts known to those in the loop like Clinton.

The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes got hold of the series of September 15 e-mails in which White House and State Department officials prepared the talking points.

References to warnings State received before September 11 of Ansar al-Sharia–and al-Qaeda-linked attacks in Benghazi were deleted. Nuland describes these as “issues . . . of my building’s leadership.”

The final talking points said, “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post and subsequently its annex.” Rice went on TV and parroted the line.

That was refuted by Hicks. The video was a “non-event” in Libya, he told the House committee. And he testified that he was chastised by none other than Mills for briefing Republican representative Jason Chaffetz without a lawyer present.

The FBI did not find time to interview Hicks. But State found time to yank him out of his job and give him a desk job he regards as a demotion.

Obama continued to attribute the Benghazi attack to a protest against a video on September 18 (Letterman), September 20 (Univision), and September 25 (The View and the United Nations).

There were obvious cynical political motives for attempting to mislead voters during a closely contested presidential campaign.

Obama did not want his theme of “Osama is dead, al-Qaeda is on the run” to be undercut by an Islamist terrorist attack on our ambassador.

Clinton did not want her department’s denial of pleas for additional security in Libya to become known.

5049  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: May 12, 2013, 11:38:13 PM
I thought the sole opinion of Thomas on Obamacare was strategic, in a long term sense.  Putting that view in a clear and concise way into the record is better than having no one express it.  The persuasion might take a hundred years.

"And, its pretty hard to live up to strict construction."

I agree with this.  These difficult cases don't lend themselves well to purity.  So you at least look for the  opportunities to take small steps in the direction of constitutional intent.  Instead, with Obamacare, we took another giant leap away from constitutionally limited government. 
5050  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: May 11, 2013, 08:35:49 PM
400 PPM and also a BBG sighting.  Very funny!

Maybe writing it as fraction would help:


They always seem to show the graph like 400 or 500 PPM is 100% saturation.  The atmosphere is 99.96% NOT CO2.  Aren't we dangerously close to zero at any of these levels?

All hydroponic enthusiasts know enhanced CO2 helps plants grow better, which in turn give off oxygen, which is useful for me and for all animal life.

Oxygen depletion to these levels and headed downward or CO2 disappearing would scare me much more!
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