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151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lurch to the left on: December 29, 2016, 09:55:21 AM


http://ace.mu.nu/archives/kerry_vietnam1.jpg

152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty/International Law on: December 29, 2016, 09:54:07 AM
Defund it and kick it out of the US. I bet Somalia has lots of room for the new UN complex.
153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / "American food" on: December 28, 2016, 10:30:33 PM
So I was at a Las Vegas area buffet last night. There were various sections of differing cusines. Under the American section, there was brisket, potato latkes, potato and apple kugel and other similar foods. First time I had a latke and kugel. The sign said matzo ball soup, but I didn't find it.

This seems meaningful to me.
154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islamic State arrests reveal jihadi threat near seat of U.S. government on: December 28, 2016, 09:54:32 PM
http://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/dec/26/isis-arrests-in-northern-virginia-reveal-jihadi-th/

Islamic State arrests reveal jihadi threat near seat of U.S. government
By Rowan Scarborough - The Washington Times
Monday, December 26, 2016

Law enforcement agencies have arrested nine Northern Virginia residents on charges of aiding the Islamic State since the terrorist group rose to power in Syria and Iraq in 2014 and launched social media propaganda to attract followers, a government message to police states.

The Northern Virginia Regional Intelligence Center issued profiles of the nine in a Dec. 21 report labeled “law enforcement sensitive.”

Such reports are designed to help state and federal agents recognize trends in the types of individuals who are influenced by the Islamic State’s message and how they communicate across terrorist networks.


A defense attorney in one of the cases accused police of anti-Muslim bias; his client later pleaded guilty.

Somalis living in Minnesota appear to receive the most press attention in the U.S. for wanting to help or join the Islamic State. The FBI arrested six residents of Somali origin in April after they made arrangements to leave Minnesota for Syria. Last December, a 20-year-old man of Somali origin was arrested on accusations of leading a group of ethnic Somalis attempting to fight for the Islamic State.

The Northern Virginia report shows that Muslims seeking to become mass killers live near the seat of American government.


Of the nine Northern Virginians who were arrested, all but one were in their teens and early 20s. They included a police officer, a Starbucks barista, Army soldiers, bankers and a cabdriver. Four of the nine graduated from Northern Virginia high schools, one with honors. Two attended Northern Virginia Community College.

In other words, all of them appeared to have opportunities via public education to become successful Americans but instead were charged with what amounted to a devotion to violent jihad.

They are suspected of conducting terrorism planning through Twitter, Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp and other platforms and apps, as well as on prepaid phones.

“Local police are in a particularly difficult situation,” said Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer and researcher on Islamism who lives in Northern Virginia. “They face a severe challenge by Islamists operating in the shadows of our open society. These mostly young male Muslims become radicalized either by Islamist imams at some of the thousands of mosques across America, at school, or over the ever-present internet sites that spew anti-West, anti-Christian hatred.”

These are the nine profiles, according to the intelligence report obtained by The Washington Times:

• Ali Shukir Amin. He pleaded guilty to providing support to the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh) and was sentenced to 136 months in prison. An honors student at Osbourn Park High School, Amin wrote a pro-Islamic State blog, had a Twitter account with 7,000 tweets and instructed people on how to use bitcoin to hide money transfers and on how to travel to Syria.

• Reza Niknejad. Also an Osbourn Park student who was attending Northern Virginia Community College, Niknejad, aided by Amin, traveled to Syria in 2015. He was charged in absentia.

• Heather Coffman. She pleaded guilty to making a false statement concerning involvement in international terrorism and was sentenced to 54 months in prison. She joined the Army but was discharged after four months, and later worked as a sales clerk. She operated multiple Facebook accounts to promote the Islamic State and shared terrorism contacts with possible recruits.

• Joseph Hassan Farrokh. He pleaded guilty this year to attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State and received 102 months in prison. He provided $600 to a friend to travel to Syria and attempted to be a foreign fighter.

• Mahmound Amin Mohamed Elhassan. He pleaded guilty in October to aiding Farrokh and lying about his involvement in international terrorism. He spoke openly of supporting the Islamic State and its violence. He had attended Northern Virginia Community College and worked for Starbucks.

• Mohamad Jamal Khweis. He was arrested in Turkey on charges of conspiring to help the Islamic State. His trial begins in April. He graduated from Edison High School and worked for two banks and Highgate Hotels. He traveled to Syria in 2015 to become a foreign fighter before having second thoughts and escaping.

• Mohammad Bilor Jalloh. He pleaded guilty in October to trying to help the Islamic State. He had served as a combat engineer in the Virginia National Guard and worked for consulting firms. He met with Islamic State members in Africa and tried to buy firearms to carry out a Fort Hood-style massacre.

• Haris Qatar. He also pleaded guilty to charges of helping the Islamic State. He attended Northern Virginia Community College and worked for Wells Fargo. He created 60 Twitter handles for Islamic State propaganda and stalked residences in Northern Virginia that were on the group’s “kill lists.” He was preparing to make a video encouraging people to carry out “lone wolf” attacks around Washington.

• Nicholas Young. The oldest of the nine at 36, he has been charged with helping the Islamic State but has not faced trial. He graduated from West Potomac High School and worked as a Metro police officer. He is accused of stockpiling weapons at his home. According to authorities, he traveled to Libya and gave advice to Islamic State followers on how to avoid law enforcement monitoring.

Mr. Maginnis, who stays in contact with local police in Virginia, said the wave of social media rhetoric against law enforcement has made their counterterrorism role more difficult.

“Given our open society, detached parents and politically correct schools, local police in Northern Virginia understandably hesitate to rigorously pursue young Islamist wannabes,” Mr. Maginnis said.
155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / First the Stab In the Back, Now the Twist of the Knife: Obama, Kerry Set to Dec on: December 28, 2016, 09:09:45 PM
http://ace.mu.nu/archives/367600.php

December 28, 2016
First the Stab In the Back, Now the Twist of the Knife: Obama, Kerry Set to Declare Palestinian Statehood

If the despicable action of not vetoing the blatantly anti-Israeli UN resolution was supposed to be a parting kick in the groin to the Jewish state - and it's pretty clear that the US actually crafted Resolution 2334 - Obama would have done it on January 20th, 2017 some time before noon. But there are still 23 days left for this momzer to inflict an incredible amount of damage. And it seems as if he's about to commit one of the worst acts imaginable, after eight years of heretofore unimaginable destruction and strife.

    Multiple media outlets are reporting that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is finalizing a document that the Obama administration hopes will form the basis for a UN Security Council resolution that officially recognizes a Palestinian state before the end of Barack Obama's term on January 20th. This comes on the heels of the UN Security Council's adoption of resolution 2334 on December 23rd. That resolution declared that all Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal, it stated that the Security Council recognizes the 1967 ceasefire lines as the border between Israel and "Palestine", and it officially gave East Jerusalem to the Palestinians. But it stopped short of formally recognizing a Palestinian state. Resolution 2334 speaks of a Palestinian state in the future tense, but this new resolution that John Kerry is reportedly working on would give immediate and permanent UN Security Council recognition to a Palestinian state.

For those who have not looked at a map, the distance from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea is roughly 35-40 miles, give or take. Not exactly vast open country, but it's defensible. Barely. If Israel were to go back to its pre-1967 borders, as per Obama's and Kerry's plan, that distance would be cut to about 10 miles at its widest point. The Israelis refer to that as the Auschwitz borders for good reason.

But Obama doesn't just seek to destroy Israel because he's an anti-Semite (and he is). This is indicative of his hatred for the country that twice elected him president.

    When Obama chose to lead the anti-Israel lynch mob at the Security Council last week, he did more than deliver the PLO terrorist organization its greatest victory to date against Israel. He delivered a strategic victory to the anti-American forces that seek to destroy the coherence of American superpower status. That is, he carried out a strategic strike on American power.

    By leading the gang rape of Israel on Friday, Obama undermined the rationale for American power. Why should the US assert a sovereign right to stand against the radical forces that control the UN? If US agrees that Israel is committing a crime by respecting the civil and human rights of its citizens to live in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, then how can America claim that it has the right to defend its own rights and interests, when those clash with the views of the vast majority of state members of the UN?

Since its founding in 1948, the modern State of Israel has been the lone beacon of freedom and enlightenment surrounded by a vast wasteland of medieval tyranny, pig-ignorance, squalor, barbarity and a blind, centuries-old unreconstructed hatred. In spite of this, it has year after year made concession after concession in a desperate attempt to stop generational bloodshed and save the lives of not only its own children but of children whose parents use them as suicide bombers. It has only earned them enmity. And the twin ideologies of Islam and Marxism are converging with the aim of wiping Israel off the map and annihilating every Jew that Hitler couldn't gas now in sight; all thanks to Barack Hussein Obama, 44th President of the United States.

Having backed Israel into a corner by all but giving Iran nukes, and now opening a second front at the UN to annihilate the Jewish state politically, I suppose Bibi's only response must be as unthinkable as Obama's incitement: Annex the West Bank and to hell with the consequences.
156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: December 28, 2016, 10:58:32 AM
Pre-answering John Kerry's speech today, an old proverb describes the Kerry dilemma perfectly and I want to be first to put this out there.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.

We will help Israel attain peace by taking away the only thing they have to offer in exchange for peace.  Makes sense if you have absolutely no awareness of history, reality or strategy.

But, community organizer!
157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Baraq says he will bark on his way out the door on: December 27, 2016, 11:28:47 PM

Better get ready for a possible grid down scenario.
158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Thomas Sowell retiring on: December 27, 2016, 11:58:45 AM

I am saddened to see this. Brilliant man.
159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Pravda on the Beach (LA Times) on OTMs on: December 27, 2016, 11:55:23 AM

Not our job to take in global poverty. Fix your own damn countries.
160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israelis say Obama-Kerry drafted it on: December 26, 2016, 08:59:00 PM

Who could have possibly guessed that Rev. Wright's most well known follower would have done this?

Rachel unavailable for comment.
161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trump’s Jewish grandkids light Hanukkah candles on: December 26, 2016, 09:36:02 AM
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4898781,00.html

Trump’s Jewish grandkids light Hanukkah candles
US president-elect’s daughter Ivanka shares a photo of her family celebrating the Jewish holiday in Hawaii. ‘As we light the candles, sending love from our family to yours this holiday season! Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah!’ she writes.
162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Far from over on: December 26, 2016, 09:30:56 AM
http://townhall.com/columnists/kurtschlichter/2016/12/26/sorry-but-our-fight-against-liberal-fascism-has-only-just-begun-n2263156

Fight!
163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Obama's Tantrum on: December 24, 2016, 01:09:48 PM
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/226104/la-times-suppresses-obamas-khalidi-bash-tape-andrew-c-mccarthy

Rachel unavailable for comment.



https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/252744/



The most instructive thing about Obama’s Security Council abstention is he didn’t have the guts to do it earlier, when he stood to lose something by doing it. Only after he calculated there was nothing more to squeeze from that particular quarter did he run up the Jolly Roger. Had it cost him it would have meant something, even as a gesture.

But even more interesting was his willingness to damage the Democratic party who he’s leaving with political bill, not to mention the fact that the policy his abstention represents makes little sense.

Israel is likely to emerge as a linchpin in the region, after Obama’s power vacuum bomb reduces the nearby countries to waste. If Turkey and Iran fall apart, which is not inconceivable, then Obama will have antagonized the last man standing.

It was bad timing and pointless, like a punch thrown by a fighter lying on the canvas — at the referee. That would leave his legacy a consistently dysfunctional whole: conceived in delusion, executed in incompetence and spite.
164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Snopes does porn on: December 22, 2016, 10:59:31 PM

Professional journalists, you haters!! Right Bigdog?
165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Baraq scraps entry-exit system for migrants from Muslim countries. on: December 22, 2016, 10:54:49 PM

Pretty clear who's side he is on, isn't it?
166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way forward for Republican party on: December 22, 2016, 09:10:52 PM
Agreed and agreed.  At the same time, I do like the way he paints Latinos:

"documents a growing segment of the U.S. population that is better educated, more employed, more entrepreneurial and more engaged than many understand"



Where I grew up, there were lots of people of hispanic ancestry. It wasn't an issue one way or the other. My town's mayor was named Silva before this was some kind of issue. The cops I knew growing up had names like Archuleta and Gallegos. I knew wanted to be like Sgt. Archuleta, and I never gave the origin of his last name a thought. It wasn't a concern I was aware of. Maybe that's something we should strive for as a nation.
167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cheney helping Tillerson on: December 22, 2016, 08:42:26 PM

I can't wait for all the leftists' heads to start exploding over this!!   grin
168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sooner or later on: December 22, 2016, 08:25:53 PM
Ukraine power grids a sign of things to come for U.S.?

    Comment Share Tweet Stumble Email

Russian hacking to influence the election has dominated the news. But CBS News has also noticed a hacking attack that could be a future means to the U.S. Last weekend, parts of the Ukrainian capitol Kiev went dark. It appears Russia has figured out how to crash a power grid with a click.

Last December, a similar attack occurred when nearly a quarter of a million people lost power in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine when it was targeted by a suspected Russian attack. 

Vasyl Pemchuk is the electric control center manager, and said that when hackers took over their computers, all his workers could do was film it with their cell phones.

“It was illogical and chaotic,” he said. “It seemed like something in a Hollywood movie.”
williams-ukraine-grid-pkg-new-013.jpg

Vasyl Pemchuk in the control center that was hacked
CBS News

The hackers sent emails with infected attachments to power company employees, stealing their login credentials and then taking control of the grid’s systems to cut the circuit breakers at nearly 60 substations.

The suspected motive for the attack is the war in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists are fighting against Ukrainian government forces.

But hackers could launch a similar attack in the U.S.

“We can’t just look at the Ukraine attack and go ‘oh we’re safe against that attack,’” said Rob Lee, a former cyberwarfare operations officer in the U.S. military, investigated the Ukraine attack.
williams-ukraine-grid-pkg-new-01.jpg

Rob Lee
CBS News

“Even if we just lose a portion, right? If we have New York City or Washington D.C. go down for a day, two days, a week, what does life look like at that point?” he said.

He said that some U.S. electric utilities have weaker security than Ukraine, and the malicious software the hackers used has already been detected in the U.S.

“It’s very concerning that these same actors using similar capabilities and tradecraft are preparing and are getting access to these business networks, getting access to portions of the power grid,” he said.

In Ukraine, they restarted the power in just hours. But an attack in the U.S. could leave people without electricity for days, or even weeks, according to experts. Because, ironically, America’s advanced, automated grid would be much harder to fix.
169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Bet on it, sooner or later on: December 22, 2016, 08:24:13 PM
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/russian-hacks-into-ukraine-power-grids-may-be-a-sign-of-things-to-come/

Ukraine power grids a sign of things to come for U.S.?


Russian hacking to influence the election has dominated the news. But CBS News has also noticed a hacking attack that could be a future means to the U.S. Last weekend, parts of the Ukrainian capitol Kiev went dark. It appears Russia has figured out how to crash a power grid with a click.

Last December, a similar attack occurred when nearly a quarter of a million people lost power in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine when it was targeted by a suspected Russian attack. 

Vasyl Pemchuk is the electric control center manager, and said that when hackers took over their computers, all his workers could do was film it with their cell phones.

“It was illogical and chaotic,” he said. “It seemed like something in a Hollywood movie.”
williams-ukraine-grid-pkg-new-013.jpg

Vasyl Pemchuk in the control center that was hacked
CBS News

The hackers sent emails with infected attachments to power company employees, stealing their login credentials and then taking control of the grid’s systems to cut the circuit breakers at nearly 60 substations.

The suspected motive for the attack is the war in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists are fighting against Ukrainian government forces.

But hackers could launch a similar attack in the U.S.

“We can’t just look at the Ukraine attack and go ‘oh we’re safe against that attack,’” said Rob Lee, a former cyberwarfare operations officer in the U.S. military, investigated the Ukraine attack.
williams-ukraine-grid-pkg-new-01.jpg

Rob Lee
CBS News

“Even if we just lose a portion, right? If we have New York City or Washington D.C. go down for a day, two days, a week, what does life look like at that point?” he said.

He said that some U.S. electric utilities have weaker security than Ukraine, and the malicious software the hackers used has already been detected in the U.S.

“It’s very concerning that these same actors using similar capabilities and tradecraft are preparing and are getting access to these business networks, getting access to portions of the power grid,” he said.

In Ukraine, they restarted the power in just hours. But an attack in the U.S. could leave people without electricity for days, or even weeks, according to experts. Because, ironically, America’s advanced, automated grid would be much harder to fix.
170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: December 22, 2016, 08:12:04 PM
If you deal with rich people from outside the western world, it's pretty much a given they are "shady" in some way. Sometimes slight, sometimes neck deep in bad things.
171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way forward for Republican party on: December 22, 2016, 08:08:34 PM
Enough with the tokenism. Pick the best person for the job. Just as you shouldn't discriminate against someone because of race, ethnicity, gender, you shouldn't discriminate for someone's...
172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: December 22, 2016, 08:04:10 PM
We are hardly out of the woods yet. I am hoping the boom will be soon enough and big enough to start to mitigate the looming collapse.

http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/54412.html

Can Donald Trump Prevent the Economy from Falling Into a Black Hole?

Posted by Kevin Villani on December 13th, 2016 (All posts by Kevin Villani)

Interest rates will eventually rise without an even more devastating policy of financial repression. When they do, rising interest costs will produce a vicious cycle of ever more borrowing. We are already approaching the “event horizon” of spinning into this black hole of an inflationary spiral and economic collapse from which few countries historically have escaped. A substantially higher rate of growth is the only way to break free.

National economic growth is typically measured by the growth of GDP, and citizen well being by the growth of per-capita GDP. The long run trend of GDP growth reflects labor force participation, hours worked and productivity as well as the rate of national saving and the productivity of investments, all of which have been trending down.

The population grows at about 1% annually and actual GDP growth averaged 2% overall for 2010-2016 (using the new World Bank and IMF forecast of US GDP at 1.6% for 2016), hence per capita GDP grew at only 1%. Moreover the income from that 1% growth went primarily to the top one percent while 99% stagnated and minorities fell backwards.

Why we are approaching the Event Horizon
The Obama Administration annually predicted a more historically typical 2.6% per capita growth rate, consistent with the historical growth in non-farm labor productivity. How could their forecasts be so far off?

The Obama Administration pursued the most massive Keynesian fiscal and monetary stimulus ever undertaken. Such a policy generally at least gives the appearance of a rise in well being in the near term, as the government GDP statistic (repetitive, as the word “statistic derives from the Greek word for “state” ) reflects final expenditures, thereby imputing equal value to what governments “spend” as to the discretionary spending of private households and businesses in competitive markets. But labor productivity gains stagnated at only about 1%, most likely reflecting the cost and uncertainty of anti-business regulatory and legislative policies that dampened investment, something the Administration denied, trumping even a short term boost to GDP.

As a result the national debt approximately doubled from $10 trillion to $20 trillion, with contingent liabilities variously estimated from $100 to $200 trillion, putting the economy ever closer to the event horizon. Breaking free will require reversing the highly negative trends by reversing the policies that caused them.

Technology alone isn’t sufficient
Obama Administration apologists argued that stagnation is “the new normal” citing leading productivity experts such as Robert Gordon who dismissed the potential of new technologies. Many disagree, but Gordon’s findings imply even greater reliance on conventional reform.

Fiscal policy won’t be sufficient
Raising taxes may reduce short term deficits but slows growth. Cutting wasteful spending works better but is more difficult.

The list of needed public infrastructure investments has grown since the last one trillion dollar “stimulus” of politically allocated and mostly wasteful pork that contributed to the stagnation of the last eight years. Debt financed public infrastructure investment contributes to growth only if highly productive investments are chosen over political white elephants like California’s bullet train, always problematic.

Major cuts in defense spending are wishful thinking as most geopolitical experts view the world today as a riskier place than at any prior time of the past century, with many parallels to the inter-war period 1919-1939.

The major entitlement programs Social Security and Medicare for the elderly need reform. But for those in or near retirement the potential for savings is slight. Is Medicare really going to be withheld by death squads? Are benefits for those dependent on social security going to be cut significantly, forcing the elderly back into the labor force? Cutting Medicare or SS benefits for those with significant wealth – the equivalent of a wealth tax – won’t affect their consumption, hence offsetting the fall in government deficits with an equal and offsetting liquidation of private wealth. Prospective changes for those 55 years of age or younger should stimulate savings and defer retirement, improving finances only in the long run.

The remaining bureaucracies are in need of major pruning and in numerous cases elimination but they evaded even budget scold David Stockman’s ax during the Reagan Administration.

Americans will have to work more and consume less
That is the typical progressive economic legacy of excessive borrowing from the future.

The first Clinton Administration created the crony capitalist coalition of the political elite and the politically favored, e.g., public sector employees and retirees, subsidy recipients and low income home loan borrowers. The recent Clinton campaign promised to broaden this coalition, which would have accelerated the trip over the event horizon.

Reform that taxes consumption in favor of savings and a return to historical real interest rates could reverse the dramatic decline of the savings rate. Regulations redirecting savings to politically popular housing or environmental causes need to be curtailed in favor of market allocation to productive business investment.

Repeal and replace of Obama Care could reverse the trend to part time employment. Unwinding the approximate doubling of SS Disability payments and temporary unemployment benefits could reverse the decline in labor force participation.

Service sector labor productivity has been falling since 1987, the more politically favored the faster the decline. Legal services are at the bottom, partly reflecting political power of rent-seeking trial lawyers, followed by unionized health and then educational services. Union favoritism through, e.g., Davis Bacon wage requirements and “card check” increases rent seeking, particularly rampant in the unionized public sector.

Competition, of which free but reciprocal trade has historically been a major component, has traditionally provided the largest boost to well being by realizing the benefits of foreign productivity in a lower cost of goods while channeling American labor into employment where their relative productivity is highest. The transition is often painful, but paying people not to work long term is counterproductive. Immigration of both highly skilled and low cost labor (but not dependent family) generally contributes to per capita labor productivity in the same way as free trade.

None of this will be easy. The alternative is Greece without the Mediterranean climate or a sufficiently rich benefactor.

—-

Kevin Villani, chief economist at Freddie Mac from 1982 to 1985, is a principal of University Financial Associates. He has held senior government positions, been affiliated with nine universities, and served as CFO and director of several companies. He recently published Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue on the political origins of the sub-prime lending bubble and aftermath.



"Real GDP growth in Q3 was revised to a 3.5% annual rate from a prior estimate of 3.2%, beating the consensus expected 3.3%."

I must admit I was wrong when I predicted the growth estimate would be revised downward after the election.  Still, this and the current quarter will conclude 8 years of lethargic, pathetic and ARTIFICIAL growth.

Nominal growth is 3% and our inflation target is 2%.  The difference is a rounding error; we aren't better off.

What would the real growth rate be without 10 trillion in new fiscal deficit stimulative spending?  What would it be without quantitative easing, asset re-purchases and 8 years of near zero interest rate policy?  Zero growth or worse, I suspect.

Easy money when it shouldn't be was a major cause of the last financial meltdown:  https://economicsone.com/2016/12/09/unconventional-monetary-policy-normalization-and-reform/
Have we learned anything?

What would the growth rate be if we didn't tax corporations at the highest rate in the world?  If we didn't pour two dozen new tax increases on the economy with Obamacare, or if we didn't add tens of thousands of new pages of regulations onto what used to be a relatively free economy?  If we hadn't dropped out of the top ten freest countries in the world in the Heritage Freedom Index?

Stay tuned.  Maybe we will find out.
173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pension Collapse in Big D on: December 22, 2016, 09:55:35 AM
http://www.city-journal.org/html/pension-collapse-big-d-14894.html

Pension Collapse in Big D
The retirement fund for Dallas’s public-safety workers is nearly ruined.
Steven Malanga
December 13, 2016 Texas
Economy, finance, and budgets

When Detroit filed for bankruptcy in 2013, the city’s emergency-financial team said that high levels of retirement debt could prevent them from rescuing the Motor City’s finances. Detroit had been in economic decline for decades, and the pension problem—including billions of dollars in bonuses handed out while the city was hurtling toward insolvency—was just one part of the depressing financial picture. Dallas, by contrast, has been one of the fastest-growing American cities in recent years. Becoming a magnet for investment and opportunity, however, hasn’t protected the Texas city from experiencing its own Detroit-style financial crisis. Dallas’s retirement system for cops and firefighters combines many of the features that have nearly sunk state and local pension plans around the country. Things got so dire over the summer that retirees began pulling their money out of the system. It’s the first run on a government pension plan in recent memory.

Dallas created the police and fire plan in 1916. The system’s trustees eventually persuaded the state legislature to allow employees and pensioners to run the plan. Not surprisingly, the members have done so for their own benefit and sent the tab for unfunded promises—now estimated at perhaps $5 billion—to taxpayers. Among the features of the system is an annual, 4 percent cost-of-living adjustment that far exceeds the actual increase in inflation since 1989, when it was instituted. A Dallas employee with a $2,000 monthly pension in 1989 would receive $3,900 today if the system’s annual increases were pegged to the consumer price index. Under the generous Dallas formula, however, that same monthly pension could be worth more than $5,000. No wonder the ship is sinking.

The system also features a lavish deferment option that lets employees collect pensions even as they continue to work and earn a salary. Moreover, the retirement money gets deposited into an account that earns guaranteed interest. Governments originally began creating these so-called DROP plans as an incentive to encourage experienced employees to keep working past retirement age, which in job categories like public safety can be as young as 50. In Dallas, the pension system gives workers in the DROP plan an 8 percent interest rate on their cash, at a time when yields on ten-year U.S. Treasury notes, a standard for guaranteed returns, are stuck at less than 2 percent. According to the city, some 500 employees working past retirement age have accumulated more than $1 million in these accounts—on top of the pensions that they will receive once they officially stop working.

To make all of this seem reasonable, the state legislature placed a cap on contributions. Under the cap, cities can budget up to 28 percent of payroll to funding pensions every year. It’s a high price, but not nearly high enough to fund Dallas’s generous plan, whose officials lately predicted that investment returns would stay above 8 percent forever. Trying to hit that crazy target, the system’s trustees began investing in increasingly risky assets. At one point, a startling 50 percent of the fund’s money was invested in private equity, real estate, and other volatile assets. Since 2010 alone, the pension system has had to write off nearly $200 million in bad bets, and the system’s funding level has slipped below the mark that experts say dooms a pension plan.

Recently, fiscal experts and city officials began mentioning the possibility of bankruptcy. What officials didn’t count on, apparently, is that participants in the system, who have the right to withdraw their savings, would actually start doing so once they heard such dire warnings. Retirees have withdrawn nearly half a billion dollars since late summer, sending the system’s funding levels plummeting to a dangerous 36 percent. The system’s liquid assets—that is, money it can draw on to pay benefits—is down to just $729 million, not much more than the $600 million it needs to keep on hand to assure that it can meet its obligations. That’s forced the system to halt withdrawals. It’s officially a run.

Fixing this mess without serious reform is almost unimaginable. Even a 40-year plan to pay off the pension debt (twice as long as the Society of Actuaries recommends) would require the city to spend the equivalent of 75 percent of its payroll on pensions alone. Finding the money to do that would require Dallas to more than double property taxes. Even so, a four-decade plan would expose the city to future market crashes that could undermine any recovery. Instead, the city is looking at a host of unpopular changes to the current pension plan, including cutting back cost-of-living adjustments and asking employees to forgo some of the interest they’ve earned on their DROP accounts. State legislators, who crafted a system they didn’t have to fund, would need to approve any changes. Things could get complicated: Republicans dominate the legislature, while Democrats control the city. Still, the prospect of an insolvent Dallas should focus some minds.

Plenty of state and municipal pension systems around the country are in the same situation, but Dallas is the only one facing an immediate drain on its funds. Plans in Chicago, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Kentucky, Illinois, and Connecticut are all less than 50 percent funded. Many have features similar to the Dallas police and fire plan. More than half of large state and local pension boards, for instance, are dominated by employees and retirees, who get to make crucial decisions that taxpayers must fund. Like Dallas’s plan, many funds are veering into risky investments in a desperate attempt to improve their finances. Also like Dallas, many of these funds saw such steep declines in their assets after the 2008 financial meltdown that even the second-longest bull-market in American history hasn’t dramatically improved their prospects.

During the last year, as the nation has been consumed by a presidential election focused on issues like immigration and trade, our government-employee pension woes have continued to fester. Though it’s developed largely out of view, this crisis threatens to undermine our fiscal future. Dallas is a reminder that no magical incantations exist that can make insane pension math suddenly rational.
174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Clinton won the Presidency of California on: December 22, 2016, 09:23:34 AM

It's like a whole other country. We should make that official.
175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Hate crime hoaxes on: December 22, 2016, 09:22:49 AM

Strange that as horribly racist as America is, the left is forced to fake hate crimes to prove it.
176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Immigration on: December 21, 2016, 11:01:14 PM
http://thezman.com/wordpress/?p=9215

Immigration
Posted on December 21, 2016

If you had asked me about immigration 30 years ago, I would have shrugged and said it was a good thing for the country. My family, like most everyone I knew, came over from the old country. It was not until I reached adulthood, living in New England, that I became aware of people who traced their roots to the colonial times. Even so, I was trained in the American mythology about a nation of immigrants, so I just assumed immigration was mostly a good thing, when I bothered to think about it, which was not often.

It was only after I came to know recent migrants that I started changing my mind about the topic. The people, who had recently gone through the system, had very different ideas about it than Americans born here. More important, they had no illusions about the state of the population in the old country. Talk to recent migrants and they will be happy to tell you that most of the people they left behind should stay over there. The recent migrants left the old country for a reason.

This came to mind the other day when I sat listening to a Turk and an Indian discuss immigration. Both were Trump people exclusively on the immigration issue. Both had come to America the old fashioned way – legally. The Turk was a Coptic Christian. He left for America thirty years ago as a young man, figuring there was no future for Christians in Turkey. The Indian had come here on a student visa, got a job, fell in love with America and decided to stay. In both cases, it took ten years to gain citizenship.

One of the things you learn from immigrants, when it comes to the immigration issue, is they place a high value on citizenship. That’s because they spent a lot to get it. Acquiring citizenship was a transaction for them, not an accident of birth. The Turk in this story left his home, and all that he knew, because he correctly saw where things were heading in Turkey. He was a guy that sold all his stuff, bought as many black chips as he could afford, and pushed them into the middle of the table.

The other thing immigrants know is that America is a lonely place. Europe, for example, is full of old cities and villages where people grow up in the shadow of ancestors. There’s no fresh start in a place like that. Every man is just a dot on the timeline started by people long ago. In other parts of the world, there’s the shadow of history and the entanglements of tribe and clan. In a place like India, the obligations to family and custom are more limiting than anything government can conjure.

In America, immigrants are free to start their own timeline. The past is no longer a set of boundaries on them. Just as important, they are free of the family and tribal restrictions. The Turk in this story married a Greek woman, who was also an immigrant. The Indian went into a career that does not exist in India and even if it did, his family would not have approved. You can do those things where it is just you, striking out on your own. That’s the attraction of America. It’s a blank canvass for immigrants.

None of this means we should fling open our borders and let the world move to America. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Borders and barriers are a filtering mechanism that helps tamp down the number of bad migrants a country gets. If the Germans had been more scrupulous, for example, they would not have murderous Muslims rampaging through their streets right now. Europe is headed for a very dark time solely due to their rulers forgot that good borders make for good citizens.

America should be learning from this. We have no shortage of workers and we no longer have vast tracks of unexploited land. We could have zero immigration and no jobs would go unfilled. There’s also the cultural aspect. We have had high levels of immigration for half a century, but low levels of assimilation. Even if there is an economic argument for more migrants, and there isn’t, it is far outweighed by the cultural arguments. It will take many generations to absorb the current migrants.

Even so, low levels of legal immigration are probably a good thing. The people willing to go through all the steps it takes to migrate legally are going to be people who scrupulously observe the law. They are not coming here just to screw it all up for everyone including themselves. Recent legal immigrants tend to be hyper-patriotic for that reason. They take nothing for granted because they had to earn their citizenship. Their presence is a healthy reminder that citizenship has value.

That’s ultimately the truth about the open borders crowd. They place no value on citizenship. That’s because they put no value on people. To the open borders enthusiasts, humans are just undifferentiated raw material, inputs they can manipulate. Whether the material comes from home or abroad is irrelevant because everything normal people associate with being human is of no concern to the managerial types. They see people the way normal people look at furniture.
177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: NY Times argues for abolishing Electoral College on: December 21, 2016, 09:52:10 AM
We need to know the arguments-- e.g. the slave holder argument and how to counter it.
===========================

By overwhelming majorities, Americans would prefer to elect the president by direct popular vote, not filtered through the antiquated mechanism of the Electoral College. They understand, on a gut level, the basic fairness of awarding the nation’s highest office on the same basis as every other elected office — to the person who gets the most votes.

But for now, the presidency is still decided by 538 electors. And on Monday, despite much talk in recent weeks about urging those electors to block Donald Trump from the White House, a majority did as expected and cast their ballots for him — a result Congress will ratify next month.

And so for the second time in 16 years, the candidate who lost the popular vote has won the presidency. Unlike 2000, it wasn’t even close. Hillary Clinton beat Mr. Trump by more than 2.8 million votes, or 2.1 percent of the electorate. That’s a wider margin than 10 winning candidates enjoyed and the biggest deficit for an incoming president since the 19th century.

Yes, Mr. Trump won under the rules, but the rules should change so that a presidential election reflects the will of Americans and promotes a more participatory democracy.
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The Electoral College, which is written into the Constitution, is more than just a vestige of the founding era; it is a living symbol of America’s original sin. When slavery was the law of the land, a direct popular vote would have disadvantaged the Southern states, with their large disenfranchised populations. Counting those men and women as three-fifths of a white person, as the Constitution originally did, gave the slave states more electoral votes.

Today the college, which allocates electors based on each state’s representation in Congress, tips the scales in favor of smaller states; a Wyoming resident’s vote counts 3.6 times as much as a Californian’s. And because almost all states use a winner-take-all system, the election ends up being fought in just a dozen or so “battleground” states, leaving tens of millions of Americans on the sidelines.

There is an elegant solution: The Constitution establishes the existence of electors, but leaves it up to states to tell them how to vote. Eleven states and the District of Columbia, representing 165 electoral votes, have already passed legislation to have their electors vote for the winner of the national popular vote. The agreement, known as the National Popular Vote interstate compact, would take effect once states representing a majority of electoral votes, currently 270, signed on. This would ensure that the national popular-vote winner would become president.

Conservative opponents of a direct vote say it would give an unfair edge to large, heavily Democratic cities and states. But why should the votes of Americans in California or New York count for less than those in Idaho or Texas? A direct popular vote would treat all Americans equally, no matter where they live — including, by the way, Republicans in San Francisco and Democrats in Corpus Christi, whose votes are currently worthless. The system as it now operates does a terrible job of representing the nation’s demographic and geographic diversity. Almost 138 million Americans went to the polls this year, but Mr. Trump secured his Electoral College victory thanks to fewer than 80,000 votes across three states: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

This page opposed the Electoral College in 1936, and in more recent years as well. In 2004, President George W. Bush won the popular vote by more than three million, but he could have lost the Electoral College with a switch of fewer than 60,000 votes in Ohio.

Many Republicans have endorsed doing away with the Electoral College, including Mr. Trump himself, in 2012. Maybe that’s why he keeps claiming falsely that he won the popular vote, or why more than half of Republicans now seem to believe he did. For most reasonable people, it’s hard to understand why the loser of the popular vote should wind up running the country.



http://www.michaelpramirez.com/uploads/3/4/9/8/34985326/mrz111916-color_orig.jpg
178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: DOJ not investigating threats to Trump electors on: December 21, 2016, 09:41:42 AM

I think that will change in about a month.
179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: DOJ not investigating threats to Trump electors on: December 21, 2016, 09:40:46 AM

Because the MSM's job is to hide anything that might hurt dems.
180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: German Police seek Tunisian who was ordered deported months ago on: December 21, 2016, 09:24:37 AM

Luckily, the muslims Obama is bringing here would never do this!
181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Dad sends children off to martyr on: December 21, 2016, 09:22:07 AM

The vast majority of peaceful muslims are going to be upset when they find out about this. Still waiting for word of 9/11 to reach them...
182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Trump Transition/Administration on: December 20, 2016, 08:06:32 PM

183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: California on: December 20, 2016, 07:56:25 PM
I'm a Glock 19 and Remington 870 man myself.



I have an AR that self-identifies as a single shot rifle.
184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Priebus flexes muscle in Trump Tower on: December 20, 2016, 07:32:16 PM
"... Priebus’s proximity to Trump has given many Republicans on Capitol Hill and around Washington reassurances as an unpredictable political newcomer prepares to be sworn in as commander in chief."

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/310827-priebus-flexes-muscle-in-trump-tower

 "unpredictable political newcomer prepares to be sworn in as commander in chief" **How was Obama described in 2008?


I believe as "Senator."

 rolleyes
185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: California bans large capacity mags on: December 20, 2016, 07:27:58 PM

Ready to move yet?
186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Surprise! Detroit numbers not adding up. on: December 20, 2016, 07:26:29 PM

Strange. I'm sure an investigation of other democrat dominated cities would show that this is just an isolated incident, and not indicative of a larger trend.

We'd better check, just to be sure.
187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt's really bad idea on: December 20, 2016, 07:22:16 PM

188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fake news! on: December 20, 2016, 09:38:07 AM


Was the truck radicalized?

Glad to see the MSM is working hard to rebuild it's credibility!
189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: December 20, 2016, 09:00:49 AM
 the racists, the truthers and other conspiracy theorists...

190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: December 20, 2016, 08:47:29 AM
I'm glad the left is more principled and decent and punishes anti-semetic racebaiters like Al Shapton by giving him a tv show on MSNBC, having him speak at DNC conventions and only allowed to visit the white house less than one hundred times in the last eight years. Haters!



191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-Turkey, Georgia, Caucasus, Central Asia on: December 20, 2016, 08:32:25 AM

Russia should be more welcoming to muslims, like we for the Tsarnaev family.

192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, etc. on: December 19, 2016, 11:39:20 PM
Sorry, but as true as that rejoinder is, it still misses the bigger point.  We are being penetrated. In a new and fundamental way.  What are we going to do about it?


What will we do and what should we do are two separate questions. We should take cyberwar very seriously. But, we won't. Then, when a state or non-state actor toasts the grid, then sh@t will get real.
193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, etc. on: December 19, 2016, 11:04:46 PM
If you are worried about enemies of the US gaining access to political power in the US, I would refer you to the last 8 years.



All true, but I'd like to suggest that we here need to keep our eye on the elephant in the room. 

It seems likely the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, and maybe the Norks have penetrated our water, electric, transport grids to greater or lesser extents, and to extents unknown have penetrated our government. 

Now the Russkis, using techniques they (including the KGB) have honed for decades, are now cyber-penetrating our domestic conversation and are spreading plausible sounding lies to their purpose.  They are now confident enough to have brought this to bear on our electoral process itself. 

No, it did not change the results THIS time, but it certainly plants the seeds for doubt NEXT time which will be turbocharged by the fact many Americans wonder about how close our new president envisions us working in alliance with them.

This is serious excrement.


194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China (& Japan, South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc) on: December 19, 2016, 10:45:39 PM
That is very witty, and if I may, a touch wide of the mark IMHO. 

When China blows off Int'l Law its blandishments with the other countries on the SCS become much less effective and it runs the risk of motivating others to spend more on military and form alliances. 


Like the Philippines? Anyone seen Australia's Navy lately?
195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-Turkey, Georgia, Caucasus, Central Asia on: December 19, 2016, 10:40:07 PM
It is tragic that Russia doesn't hold it's self to the high standard of conduct displayed by the Islamic culture of the Middle East.
196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama springs into action! on: December 19, 2016, 08:55:47 PM
http://www.mediaite.com/online/obama-heads-to-golf-course-after-receiving-reports-on-berlin-attack-and-russian-ambassador-death/




Obama Heads to Golf Course After Receiving Reports on Berlin Attack and Russian Ambassador Death
by Justin Baragona | 4:05 pm, December 19th, 2016
2863

Well, this is what one would call bad political optics.

With the dual breaking news events surrounding potential terrorism and a foreign diplomat being shot to death, White House pool reports showed that President Barack Obama headed to a country club in Hawaii near his rental house, where he is vacationing.

The first email shows that Obama has directed his staff to keep him updated on the situation in Turkey regarding the assassination of the Russian Ambassador.

    From the White House, per Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz:

    “This morning the President was briefed by his National Security Team on the assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey in Ankara today. The President directed his team to provide updates as warranted.”

    Meanwhile, at 10:10 a.m. in Kailua, the press van prepares to depart the rental house where we’ve been holding.

In a following email, we are informed that Obama is leaving the rental home to go play golf.

    The President and his motorcade departed the Kailua neighborhood where the First Family rents a vacation home at 10:21 a.m. Spectators on the street threw shakas and recorded photos or video on cell phones as the motorcade made the 10-minute drive to Mid-Pacific Country Club, where the President will be golfing under cloudy skies.

The times listed are local Hawaii time. Obama’s motorcade left his vacation home at 3:21 PM ET.

Currently, the news is dominated by both the assassination in Turkey, which could have large-scale implications on foreign policy and relations, and multiple deaths in Berlin via a truck driving through a market in an incident reminiscent of the Nice terror attack.

Needless to say, there will be a lot of negative attention given to Obama playing golf in the immediate aftermath of these horrific, and potentially history-altering, events.
197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islamaphobia blamed for traffic mishap on: December 19, 2016, 08:41:48 PM
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4049442/Terror-attack-fears-lorry-ploughs-Christmas-market-Berlin-leaving-two-people-dead.html


Christmas market carnage: 'Afghan refugee' drove stolen lorry that ploughed into Berlin shoppers at 40mph killing 12 and injuring 48



http://www.barenakedislam.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/refugees-welcome.jpg

198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: December 19, 2016, 08:37:21 PM
they will not go away till they are dead which will not be soon enough.
So Clinton's groups of angry feminist, minority, illegal, homosexual ,  union people were all beaten by the deplorables - angry white guys. 
Her 70 negatives and lying conniving crooked self had nothing to do with it:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/bill-clinton-talks-emails-trump-202652923.html

She will be looking to run in 2020.  Doesn't mean she will get off the diving board but these two will not go away.

I hope she does but I doubt she will be in any condition to run by then.
199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Priebus flexes muscle in Trump Tower on: December 19, 2016, 08:26:00 PM
"... Priebus’s proximity to Trump has given many Republicans on Capitol Hill and around Washington reassurances as an unpredictable political newcomer prepares to be sworn in as commander in chief."

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/310827-priebus-flexes-muscle-in-trump-tower

 "unpredictable political newcomer prepares to be sworn in as commander in chief" **How was Obama described in 2008?
200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: POTH: Our Cyber Options with Russia on: December 19, 2016, 08:15:20 PM

“Is there something we can do to them, that they would see, they would realize 98 percent that we did it, but that wouldn’t be so obvious that they would then have to respond for their own honor?” David H. Petraeus, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency under Mr. Obama, asked on Friday, at a conference here sponsored by Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

**Perhaps we can wait for Putin to get snared by an extramarital relationship that results in the mishandling of classified materials? If only the Belfer Center invited a subject matter expert on that to this conference...


“Our goal continues to be to send a clear message to Russia or others not to do this to us because we can do stuff to you,” he said. “But it is also important to us to do that in a thoughtful, methodical way. Some of it, we will do publicly. Some of it we will do in a way that they know, but not everybody will.”

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