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3151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: January 12, 2014, 11:26:56 AM
Maureen Dowd - a lib - who I usually do not agree with. On this I mostly agree.
You can fool some of the people all of the time.  Legal diatribe arguments that split hairs help.  And of course the political consequences play a huge role in who is protected.  The left with Clinton for example and now the establishment DC right with Christie all coming to his defense.

****JAN. 11, 2014

 Maureen Dowd   

WASHINGTON — I HAVE learned two things covering politics.

One, first impressions are often right. John Edwards is slick. Hillary Clinton is expedient. W. was in over his head. Barack Obama is too much in his head. Chris Christie can be a bully.

Politicians are surrounded by spinners who work tirelessly to shape our perceptions of the characters of their bosses. Pols know how to polish scratches in their image with sin-and-redemption news conferences, TV confessionals and self-deprecating turns at hoary Washington press banquets. As Carter spokesman Jody Powell joked, if Hitler and Eva Braun came on stage at the Gridiron Dinner and mocked themselves in a song-and-dance routine, Washington chatterers would say, “Oh, they’re not so bad.”

After being showered with spin, you say to yourself, maybe that first impression was wrong. But often it isn’t.

Christie’s two-hour “I am not a bully” news conference was operatic about an act of malice so petty it did not merit being called “authentic Jersey corruption,” as New Jersey native Jon Stewart said, adding that it was unworthy of a state with a severed horse head on its flag.

If you’re going to wage a vendetta, at least make it a well-thought-out one. How can Christie & Co. run a national campaign when they can’t even aim straight? How moronic to think the mayor of Fort Lee would get blamed for problems on a bridge that everyone knows is controlled by the Port Authority. If you want to be malicious, it would be so easy to put a project close to the mayor’s heart on hold for a few months or redirect 60 state snowplows the night before a storm.

The governor groveled to New Jersey residents after his aides so gleefully burned them (even joking about children being late for the first day of school because of the orchestrated gridlock on the George Washington Bridge).

After zapping Obama for being so clueless that he couldn’t find “the light switch of leadership” in a dark room, Christie is trying to salvage his once blazing career by claiming he was in a dark room, clueless to the bogus traffic study masking a revenge plan that top aides were executing in plain sight.

The epic news conference felt like a scene out of the governor’s favorite movie, “The Godfather”: Christie offering his tremulous, grandiose, self-pitying public apologia while in cross-cut scenes, his henchmen were getting rid of those who threatened his operation.

Calling his deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly “stupid” and “deceitful,” he threw her off the bridge, without talking to her himself or, as Niall O’Dowd slyly wrote in IrishCentral.com, even extending the courtesy of the old Irish wedding night admonition: “Brace yourself, Bridget.”

He also disappeared his two-time campaign manager, Bill Stepien. His cronies at the Port Authority, Bill Baroni and David Wildstein, fell on their swords last month.

Christie took a line straight out of the Robert DeNiro handbook, lamenting: “I am heartbroken that someone who I permitted to be in that circle of trust for the last five years betrayed my trust.”

Yet we know workplaces are chameleon-like. I once had a publisher who loved the Audubon Society, so we ran a lot of bird stories. I had another boss who wore suspenders, so guys in the office started wearing suspenders.
 
Shades of Watergate: Since they were headed toward a landslide, you’d think the Christie crew would have been in a more benevolent mood. But given the governor’s past flashes of vindictive behavior, this was probably a wink-wink, nod-nod deal. Question: Who will rid me of this meddlesome mayor? Answer: The “little Serbian” has been dealt with.

The second thing I’ve learned from covering politics is that we can debate ad nauseam whether Christie was telling the truth, shading it or bluffing. But we can’t gauge that from his impressive, marathon Trenton performance art.

No matter how jaded we feel in the news business, we are still suckers for the big lie. It’s tough to wrap your head around a stunning level of duplicity.

I learned this lesson the hard way covering Paul Tsongas’s presidential surge in 1992. When The Times’s Dr. Larry Altman came on the campaign trail to interview Tsongas, he was skeptical about the candidate’s claim that his lymphoma had not recurred. I told Altman it was impossible for me to believe that Tsongas, who prided himself on his honesty and who was so straightforward he was mocked as “Saint Paul” by Clinton aides, could lie about that — especially given the profound political consequences.
Dr. Altman was right, as Tsongas later admitted. The candidate and his doctors at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston repeatedly said he was cancer-free when he was not.

A cascade of subsequent outraged denials about transgressive behavior delivered with bravado and finger wagging, from Gary Hart to Bill Clinton to John Edwards to Anthony Weiner, has persuaded me that politicians — who are narcissists and, in essence, actors stuck in the same role — can persuasively tell the big lie if they believe their futures are on the line.

The Christie saga is still unraveling. Maybe he was a dupe in the dark. Maybe the man in the fleece jacket is fleecing us. Let’s just say, I’m not yet permitting him in my circle of trust.
 
A version of this op-ed appears in print on January 12, 2014, on page SR11 of the New York edition with the headline: Thunder Road. Order Reprints|Today's Paper|Subscribe**** 
 

3152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: January 11, 2014, 09:57:31 PM
I saw this some months ago.  There is no infrastructure there.  It will take years to develop from what I read.

3153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: January 10, 2014, 08:36:01 AM
Bigdog,

Just one question.  Why is your response to any criticism of a left politician that the Republicans do it too?

As for Christie I admit if he is thrown out (he won't resign) I know my taxes will go even higher.   And half of NJ will be cheering for that.

Yet I won't accept a liar.  I won't accept anyone who abuses his/her power.   He is full of crap.  He knew.  Just like Obama knew.  Just like the Clintons knew.

This kind of behavior from right OR left has got to stop.

We need people who are honest.  First and formost.   For God's sake is this too much to ask?

Unfortunately McCain was partly right about campaign finance reform.  It just takes so much money to run a national campaign there seems no way to keep corruption out.

I am not sure his fix was the best answer but he is right in theory.  
3154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: January 10, 2014, 08:30:52 AM
In my experience it is obvious the big IT companies were very willing partners in rigging IT systems to be hacked, tracked, and without any chance of privacy.

For years my experience has been it is totally impossible to keep a determined hacker out of one's system.  One can turn off the internet networking connections or take out the cards etc.  Still this will not totally work.  I remember speaking to someone 10 yrs ago from the David Gordon board that I suspected the private companies are using government sponsored terrorism strategies as an excuse to claim they HAD to be able to have ways to get into everyone's electronic devices.  I was right.  (I wish I could pick stocks as well  cry)

The IT companies all know what they were doing.  The are totally complicit. 

I am not sure that they were not already doing this before 911.   Some people still don't get it. 

I had one young man yesterday who is in IT say he doesn't see the big deal if anyone reads his emails.  "1981 so what"?

People don't get the freedom they are losing till it is gone.  Younger people will never even know what hit them. 
3155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Epidemics: Bird Flu, TB, AIDs, Superbugs etc on: January 09, 2014, 09:21:45 AM
Bigdog,

I haven't seen the CDC reports on this.  I am sure my ID colleagues have.  In NJ we are seeing ESBL infections.  These are the enterobacterioraceae that respond to "penem" and sometimes other antibiotics.   This one would be tough.
3156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: January 09, 2014, 09:17:56 AM
Has anyone read anything as nuts as this?  Christie should save his career by coming clean and being transparent and, get this emulate a Clinton! angry

He should change the subject, after coming clean, with a *sister soldier* moment.   No peep from this lib that both Clintons are the ROLE MODELS for how to cover up and get your corruption swept under the rug. 

No Fournier,  Christie should do the opposite of Clinton.  He should resign.  Instead he will follow the role model Clintons with clever lies, cover-ups and the rest.

Amazing how a few emails give the left credibility on this.  Yet when Obama, Rice, Clinton where all over the place lying about an event before the election which is even worse they just sweep it under the rug.  Simply not one email turned up.


*****Politics

How Chris Christie Can Save His Career

Transparency and accountability would transcend politics of today.
 Ron Fournier

January 9, 2014

Since 1992, when Bill Clinton moderated the Democratic Party's image by criticizing a hip-hop artist for her racially incendiary comments, politicians have searched for their "Sister Souljah moment" – when a candidate takes what appears to be a brave stand against extremes in their party.

Related Stories
Republican Leaders Assess Scandal Damage to Christie
Christie Says He Was 'Misled' on GW Bridge Closings
Christie Administration Implicated in a Very 'New Jersey' Scandal

In 2000, George W. Bush caricaturized conservative jurist Robert Bork in an attempt to appear more compassionate than the GOP brand.  That same year, Republican presidential candidate John McCain demonized the far right's "agents of intolerance." Eight years later, Sen. Barack Obama distanced himself from his own pastor, calling Jeremiah Wright's racially charged comments "a bunch of rants that aren't grounded in the truth."

The sordid George Washington Bridge scandal offers Chris Christie two choices: Continue to deny, deflect and dissemble in a manner that is so common in the politics of today, and most recently exhibited by President Obama during a spate of controversies in 2013; or … pull a Super Sister Souljah.

A Super Sister Souljah goes beyond distancing one's self from extremes within your party. It is when a candidate to take what appears to be a brave stand against politics as practiced by both parties. It is what I had in mind Wednesday with this tweet:

Christie needs to come clean about his involvement in the bridge-lane closures, if any, and provide a more believable explanation of when he learned about the activity. Instead of hiding behind spokesmen, lawyers, press releases and smug assertions, the New Jersey governor needs to apologize, accept responsibility, and release every document and electronic communication about the closures. He should call for an independent investigation and order his advisers to comply.

Finally, he should do as I urged Obama to do last year: Clean house. Fire anybody who knew or should have known about the closures and replace them with people who will change the culture of his office. These charges are sticking to Christie because they fit so neatly into his office's reputation for bullying and arrogance. "He and his staff operate as divas," conservative blogger Erick Erickson wrote in a post titled, "The Politics of A-Holes."

The challenge for Christie is overcoming the damage to his reputation caused by his office's role in shutting down some access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, an act of political retribution that endangered lives. The scandal is an easy-to-understand antithesis to Christie's carefully cultivated image of a leader capable of transcending petty politics to serve the public good. Here's how New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial team assessed the situation:

Until yesterday, the official line from Christie's lieutenants at the Port Authority has been that this was all part of some secret "traffic study"; that they were simply curious to see what sort of mayhem would ensue if two of Fort Lee's three access lanes to the George Washington Bridge were cut off, suddenly and unannounced.

That's clearly a bogus story. But was the governor lying, too?

Christie originally said that after checking with his staff, he determined that no one from his office was involved in these lane closings. He scoffed at the very idea that it was political retribution against the Fort Lee mayor for refusing to endorse Christie's re-election, and joked that he had moved the traffic cones himself.

His attempts to laugh this off now appear to be dishonest, though we can't yet be sure that he personally knew about the doings of one of his top aides. Either way, though, Christie bears responsibility. If it turns out he did know, he is obviously lying and unfit for office — let alone a 2016 presidential run.

And even if he did not, his officials are liars. If Christie can't control them, how can we trust him as a potential future leader of our country?

Those are fair questions that go right to the issue of leadership, which John Dickerson of CBS News and Slate covers religiously. He wrote of Christie:

This is a political problem for Christie, but more importantly, it's a leadership test. Since the governor arrived on the national stage, he has given various ad hoc seminars on leadership and the qualities required for greatness. He talks a great deal about the topic and offers himself as an expert. Before he became partners with Barack Obama in responding to Hurricane Sandy, he gave a very astringent critique of the president's shortcoming. Recently Christie advised the president to apologize for his promise that if people wanted to keep their insurance they would be allowed to. "When you make a mistake, you should own up to it and apologize for it," he said.

Will Christie do that here? Christie now faces problems that echo ones this president has faced, most recently in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act: Does he apologize, and how fully? Does he take responsibility for the actions of his aides? Does he admit mistakes? Does he fire someone? Does he increase his famous bluster or does he step back from it? Christie is very good at giving advice on these matters. Now he can show rather than tell.

If he's lying, his career is over. But if Christie truly was not involved, he can show some accountability and transparency, which in this era of no-responsibility politics, would be a Super Sister Souljah moment.
3157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: January 07, 2014, 09:36:08 PM
excellent and refreshing take on digital networks.

3158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: January 05, 2014, 04:41:26 PM
"“The Government is irresponsible to jump on a bandwagon that has no base in scientific evidence. This is one of many examples where you get bad science leading to bad decisions which are counter-productive. Attacking plastic bags makes people feel good but it doesn’t achieve anything.”

Yup.  Beware the academic industrial government complex.

Most studies in health care are of little value.  Even ones we think are helpful often later are found to be mistaken.

I don't see why it would be any different in other fields.

3159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 05, 2014, 01:41:15 PM
Good point.   I don't hear many making the point we should use military force to prevent proliferation of nucs.

Has any country other than Israel actually done so?
3160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 05, 2014, 12:58:10 PM
"OTOH if we abandon Israel, do you think the fascist fundamentalists will stop there, or will they be emboldened?"

Unfortunately this question is already answered.   Hopefully the next Presidential candidate will make a your case if not too late at that point.  Then again it probably already is too late unless massive military or even nucs are used from my armchair public online intelligence gathering seems to indicate.

With regards to "our" interests;  as we keep attaining near energy independence what exactly are our interests in the Middle East.

Hasn't it always been about oil?
3161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 05, 2014, 11:51:22 AM
"Unfortunately, and perhaps soon to be tragically, it looks like I was quite prescient when I commented here that it would prove to be a historical error when Israel pulled back before the job was done the last time it went into Lebanon."

I think you were right too. 
I feel the same way about Iran going after nucs as I think you agree with that too.

The problem is nearly the whole world is against Israel from a PR point of view.

And with Brock and the military planners who have already made it quite clear from their actions (not their public comments) that they have no intention of using military force and Cold war style containment or assured destruction.

Brock has risked the safety and security of Israel.

As a Jew it is very emotionally hard for me to wonder if it is not in the better interests of the US not to get dragged into a major Mid East war for a tiny country.

OTOH if we don't stick with our friends in need than we have no friends. 

3162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: January 03, 2014, 11:00:09 AM
****"One thing I've noticed about you is that you are all too willing to grovel before anyone you think has the proper credentials. It's what academia does, I know. Unfortunately all that time in the ivory tower prevents one from tangible real world experience, which might allow one to discern bullshit, even when it's wrapped in an academically compliant or MSM shiny package."

I actually came back to edit the beginning of my previous post. I was frustrated about something else. Too late for that, but thanks for making my point for me. You are probably right. I can't imagine how some who "previously served as a senior director at Israel's National Security Council where he was responsible for developing policy recommendations in areas of national security for the prime minister and the cabinet" might have proper credentials to know a damn thing about Israeli homeland security.****

From the education thread is my proposal to beware the academic industrial government complex.

OF course there is much to learn from our scientific community.  But much harm can come from it too.

We are seeing an infinite exponential rise in "studies" and experiments the vast majority of which are total BS.  We see it in the health field ALL the time.  If one or two percent of all the research done actually gives us new meaningful information that changes the way we practice medicine that is a lot.

Indeed look at how many times over the last decade we in the medical community have kept changing our recommendations.

For example I just read online that Vit E supposedly helps delay Alzheimer's ( a tad by maybe six months - at best).  In the nineties this was claimed too until additional tests suggested it might worsen or not help.  So which the "f" is it?   I would not recommend anyone waste their money on high doses of Vit E (2,000 IU per day).

I guarantee one thing.  We will hear over the radio, the cable, the online airwaves many shysters selling us their Vit E promoting with this study as the evidence that it is real.

I do question whether these professors have already cut deals with the promoters of these products to cash in.   They are supposed to report "conflict of interests".  Don't count on it.  And don't think for one second this doesn't happen either.   

There are many great men and women in academia.  But there are just as many scum bags as every other sector of society.  So GM is absolutely correct in taking academic's claims with some skepticism.   

The spread of controlled trials into economics is just another example of the tumbleweed spreading of "science".  Also I have shown in posts years past how anyone can often juggle the data to suggest any outcome best for their cause. 

The academic industrial government complex.  To all of us - BEWARE.


 
3163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Beware the ***academic industrial government complex*** on: January 03, 2014, 10:43:16 AM
Recalling Eisenhower's warning "beware the industrial military complex" I know propose this warning:

"Beware the academic industrial government complex"

It is very self serving and just as much greed error and hubris as every other sector of humanity. 

Here is one example:

****Impervious to Evidence, Liberals Ride Again

Mona Charen
By Mona Charen 8 hours ago
     
"We will restore science to its rightful place ... " So intoned a "dismissive and derisive" President Barack Obama in his first inaugural. It's been oft quoted in the five years since (frequently by me, I'll confess) for its arrogance and condescension, which has continuing relevance, but before turning to the left's latest departure from scientific rigor, I cannot resist a fuller quotation. The second part of this sentence from Obama's first inaugural reads " ... and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost." Hmm.
In his second inaugural (compared to Abraham Lincoln's second by Chris Matthews), Obama proposed a vast new program ($150 billion in combined federal and state funds) for universal preschool serving 4-year-olds. "Every dollar we invest in high-quality early childhood education can save more than $7 later on — by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime ... We know this works."

Universal preschool is universally popular with Democrats. Nancy Pelosi has hailed Head Start as "one of our most effective investments," while the newly minted progressive heartthrob New York mayor, Bill de Blasio, proclaims, "We will ask the very wealthy to pay a little more in taxes so that we can offer full-day universal pre-K and after-school programs for every middle school student."

Before getting to science, let's talk politics. The federal government already runs a preschool program called Head Start. Democrats love it because they can claim to be doing something beneficial for poor children. Republicans decline to oppose it because they fear ads saying "Rep. X wants to deny education to poor children ... "

Now, let's talk science. Head Start, a product of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, has been carefully evaluated by the Administration for Children and Families within the Department of Health and Human Services. The study examined 4,667 3- and 4-year-olds across 23 states. It compared children who had applied for but not been accepted into Head Start to those who had participated in it. The children were evaluated by their teachers, parents and outside examiners both before and after. As David Armor and Sonia Sousa relate in the winter issue of National Affairs, the Head Start Impact Study found almost no positive effects of the program.

While children in the program showed some positive results on measures of cognitive skills and social/behavioral ratings while in the program, those results lasted only so long as the children were enrolled and did not carry through to kindergarten or early elementary school. The principle positive effect noted in the HSIS was in social skills for 3-year-olds, but these results were reported only by parents and not replicated by outside examiners. Teachers, by contrast, noted a negative effect on social/emotional skills for the 4-year-old cohort.

The point of Head Start is the promise that it offers poor children a leg up and prepares them for school. It would be nice if it worked, but it doesn't. It does provide jobs for teachers and federally subsidized day care. But taxpayers have spent $180 billion since 1965 for a program that fails to achieve its objectives.

Other studies have examined the effect of preschool more generally on school performance and have found effects ranging from very small to none.

What then was Obama referring to when he insisted that "high-quality" preschool "boosts graduation rates," "reduces teen pregnancy" and so forth? In a post titled "Obama's Preschool Proposal Is Not Based on Sound Research" on the center/left Brookings Institution website, Russ Whitehurst explains that the studies the president and other advocates of universal pre-K rely on are flawed. They do not involve randomized controls (as the HSIS did) but instead employ something called "age-cutoff regression discontinuity."

Due to state-mandated birthdates for enrollment in preschool, the studies wind up comparing kids who are actually enrolled in play-based programs for 3-year-olds with those enrolled in academically oriented preschool for 4-year-olds. These regression discontinuity studies also fail to account for dropouts from the program. The Brookings post, to which Armor also contributed, concludes: "Because 'gold standard' randomized studies fail to show major impacts of present day pre-K programs, there are reasons to doubt that we yet know how to design ... a government funded pre-K program that produces sufficiently large benefits ... "

Armor and Souza suggest in National Affairs that those truly respectful of science would propose: "A national demonstration project for pre-K in a selected number of cities and states, accompanied by a rigorous randomized evaluation that would follow participants at least into the third grade. This demonstration project should also examine whether 'preschool for all' closes achievement gaps between rich and poor, since it is possible that middle-class children will benefit more than disadvantaged children."

This would put science in its "rightful place," but don't hold your breath. Many liberal nostrums are impervious to evidence.

To find out more about Mona Charen and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM****
3164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / along with 300 senior officials on: January 03, 2014, 09:54:01 AM
Let this be a lesson to the rest of you:

(the inhumanity of man to man just never ceases does it?  I wonder what Dennis Rodman will say. 

PS My Rodman story:
Katherine and I driving in a rental in our short stay in Los Angeles back around 1998 on hiatus to Hawaii.  I noticed a Rolls Royce.  Pulled up along side it and looked over.  The driver then looked back at me - it was Dennis.  In the passenger side was a comedian whose name I forever forget.  The comedian saw Katherine and jested that I roll down our window as he tapped Rodman on the shoulder.  I do not want to imagine what he was thinking.  Needless to say I didn't.   We pulled into the hotel and Rodman behind us.  I just remember thinking that he didn't look as wide as on TV.  Same impression I had when I saw Shaquille in Orlando airport in 1996.  They are huge of course and large shouldered.  But when they are that tall proportionately one just seems to notice the height.  I recall seeing Shaq get on an elevator suddenly and the shock on the faces of the people already standing in the elevator as he ducks to get inside.)

Back to a quick respite from evil:

Kim Jong Un fed his uncle to 120 starving dogs: report

Olivier Knox, Yahoo News
By Olivier Knox, Yahoo News 46 minutes ago
 
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R), accompanied by his uncle Jang Song Thaek (L), waves as he inspects a parade of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards at Kim Il-Sung Square in Pyongyang, on September 9, 2013

Forget the hangman’s noose, the firing squad or lethal injection: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un executed his uncle and a handful of the man’s aides by feeding them to a horde of 120 starving dogs, according to a shocking account.

Jang Song Thaek, the former No. 2 official in the secretive regime, was stripped naked and tossed into a cage along with his five closest aides.

“Then 120 hounds, starved for three days, were allowed to prey on them until they were completely eaten up. This is called ‘quan jue’, or execution by dogs,” according to the Straits Times of Singapore. The daily relied on a description of the execution in a Hong Kong newspaper that serves as the official mouthpiece of China’s government.

“The entire process lasted for an hour, with Mr. Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader in North Korea, supervising it along with 300 senior officials,” the Straits Times said in a piece published Dec. 24, 2013, but only now getting traction in the United States. Two American national security officials contacted for comment said they had not heard that account, which first appeared in the Wen Wei Po newspaper on Dec. 12, 2013.

While China acts as North Korea’s patron, relations between the two have been strained. The United States wants Beijing to take a more active role in pressuring Kim’s Stalinist regime in Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons. The Straits Times suggested that China’s government leaked the account of the December execution to signal its anger at Kim’s government.

The United States has labored to get a grip on what kind of leader Kim Jong Un will be, amid worries in Washington that he is more reckless than his father, Kim Jong Il, whom he succeeded as supreme leader in December 2011.
3165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Radio "jock" Bob Grant on: January 03, 2014, 09:39:18 AM
Occasionally some of his remarks were over the top but 95% of the time he got it right from my point of view.  He loved America.  I saw him give a talk once.  Must have been around 1989 at some synagogue in North Jersey somewhere. 

He was Italian.  He was always a friend of Israel.

OF course his controversial remarks will be the headlines and anything rational logical and pro American will be ignored by the MSM.   He was far more objective than any of those on the far left.  For example he recently (about a year ago) praised Cuomo for doing a good job in NY.   How is that for crossing party lines?   Has anyone from the NYT or MSNBC EVER given a good word for a Republican?

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/01/03/conservative-radio-host-bob-grant-dies-at-84/
3166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / No cash for public defenders on: January 03, 2014, 09:13:16 AM
The answer to the cash squeeze is simple.  Single payer government controlled legal system.  That is the best and only real answer.  That way people who cannot afford attorneys can have access to legal rights including adequate competent representation not only if they are arrested but for preventative legal care.   Chuck Schumer stated no doctor should make more than $80K a year.  I propose that no lawyer should make more than 40K per year.  They have three years training beyond college.  Physicians go on to have 7 to 11 years training after college.  That is fair.   Why no out cry for this?  Everyone knows legal representation in the US is unfair.

***Federal courts continue warnings about budget and the Sixth Amendment

National Constitution Center
By Scott Bomboy 3 hours ago
 
As a new year starts, the Chief Justice of the United States and top officials in the federal court system continue to warn about budget cuts that will make it harder for people to have access to public defenders.

.roberts640Chief Justice John Roberts has repeated warnings he issued in 2012 about the lack of funding for the federal court system, which he helps to oversee. Those warnings came about three weeks after similar requests from two top officials at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

On December 5, 2013, Judges John D. Bates and Julia S. Gibbons wrote Congress about the dire need for more funds for a federal court system that was strained before mandated sequester cuts took effect after the 2013 budget battle in Congress.

“Sequestration cuts to the Defender Systems program threaten the ability of the Judiciary to provide court-appointed for persons accused of a federal crime,” said Gibbons and Bates, who said that federal defender programs were cut by 11 percent during the sequester period last year.

About 90 percent of people in federal criminal cases use court-appointed counsel.

The letter was issued just before a budget deal was reached in Congress to restore some funding to government agencies.

In the budget deal cut by Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray, some money for the next two years will be coming back to discretionary programs run by federal agencies. But the amount of funds restored will be decided by appropriations committees in Congress in mid-January.

And that isn’t enough to satisfy Chief Justice Roberts, who spelled out his concerns in a 15-page report issued on New Year’s Eve.

Among the arguments made by the Chief Justice to Congress is the fact that most federal court spending is on programs mandated by law, and the federal justice system just doesn’t have many discretionary programs to cut. In fact, it will need to cut its budget by 3 percent to accommodate “must pay” programs- before funds are restored from the sequester.

“Those cuts would lead to the loss of an estimated additional 1,000 court staff. The first consequence would be greater delays in resolving civil and criminal cases,” Roberts said. “In the civil and bankruptcy venues, further consequences would include commercial uncertainty, lost opportunities, and unvindicated rights. In the criminal venues, those consequences pose a genuine threat to public safety.”

And the more basic threat is to the sanctity of the Sixth Amendment, Roberts said, if sequester cuts are restored.

“There are fewer public defenders available to vindicate the Constitution’s guarantee of counsel to indigent criminal defendants, which leads to postponed trials and delayed justice for the innocent and guilty alike,” he said.

The public defender system has greatly expanded in the past 50 years after the 1963 decision in Gideon v. Wainwright. The highly publicized case led the Supreme Court to conclude that the Constitution required state-provided legal counsel in criminal cases for defendants who are unable to afford to pay their own attorneys.

The Gideon decision touched on three amendments—the Sixth amendment, the 14th Amendment and the Fifth Amendment. But the Sixth Amendment was at the decision’s core.

The Court ruled that the Constitution’s Sixth Amendment gives defendants the right to counsel in criminal trials where the defendant is charged with a serious offense even if they cannot afford one themselves; it states that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to … have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”

Last fall, when the sequester cuts went into place, there was heavy criticism from legal circles of its effects on the federal public defender system.

In an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal, jointly signed by conservative Paul Cassell and liberal Nancy Gernter, the former federal trial judges lamented the drastic impact of sequestration on budgets for public defender offices.

“[D]ue to the combination of general budget austerity and sequestration, the federal public defender system — a model of effective indigent defense for the past 40 years — is being decimated. As former federal judges from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, we both understand that these shortsighted cuts threaten not only to cripple the federal defender system, but to disrupt the entire federal judiciary—without producing the promised cost savings,” they said.

U.S. attorney general Eric Holder also submitted his own op-ed piece to the Washington Post on the same topic.

“Despite the promise of the court’s ruling in Gideon, however, the U.S. indigent defense systems — which provide representation to those who cannot afford it — are in financial crisis, plagued by crushing caseloads and insufficient resources,” said Holder.

“Five decades after the Supreme Court affirmed that adequate legal representation is a basic right, sequestration is undermining our ability to realize this fundamental promise. The moral and societal costs of inadequate representation are too great to measure,” he added.

What happens next in the budget process is uncertain, but in an appendix to his annual report, Chief Justice Roberts said that while civil case filings at U.S. district courts were up 2 percent in 2013, there were declines in case loads in other courts.

For example, filings for criminal cases fell by three percent to 91,266. But that doesn’t necessarily represent the case load for people seeking defense help in federal cases.

Chief Justice Roberts is hoping for $1.04 billion in funding for 210,000 defense representations next year, with part of that money going to pay bills that were delayed in last year’s sequester.

In the current continuing resolution (CR) that is funding the federal government, about $26 million was restored from the sequester to pay for some vouchers related to the public defender program.

The Defender Services Office, which trains attorneys who work as public defenders in federal cases, has been blunt in its opinion about the budget cuts.

“There is no indication of what the funding situation will be beyond the expiration of the CR in January. Without a full-year appropriation that is greater than the CR level, [federal defender offices] will continue to see a budget shortfall,” the division said on its website.

In July 2013, Judges Bates and Gibbons told the Senate that reduced funding for public defenders represented a broader problem.

“Our nation recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1963 landmark Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, which guaranteed an individual the right to court-appointed counsel,” they said.  “Funding cuts are threatening that very right, a right that has been a bedrock principle of our criminal justice system for half a century.”***

3167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Democrat Doctor calling us to fall into the "Party" creed on: January 01, 2014, 08:09:02 AM
I've already posted how some doctors have already made their personal mea culpa and come to the conclusion that for them they think single payer is better.  Which is worse for doctors one gigantic government run system or myriads of private greedy business men controlling them? 

I have made clear I don't want government controlling my life.   But others in my profession have concluded otherwise.  Many are my fellow Jewish doctors as this one here.  They are all die hard Democrats.  I must ask if they would feel so strongly about this if a Republican was promoting AHA.  I doubt it.  Some of my fellow Indian and Muslim and African colleagues also have expressed a desire for single payer.   Doctors from the Eastern Europe theater tend to be disgusted with the shift to totalarism (sp?) exactly what they fled.

One must also keep in mind "correspondents" or whatever she is called like Snyderman make at least hundreds of thousands a year for the networks in these mouthpiece positions.  Either way she is doing great.  I wish I could get paid handsomely telling others to get in line with the State.

I can tell you this line is complete nonsense:

"Increase the bottom line for doctors so they don’t feel like they’re being nickeled and dimed with 10% less than Medicare, 5%... Docs just want to be reimbursed a fair amount for hard work."

I have never heard a doctor accuse Medicare of paying them a fair wage.  In fact it is just the opposite.  Insurers often follow Medicare reimbursement cuts.   So this claim is  ridiculous.  Nonetheless some doctors have concluded that for their pocketbooks Medicare is the less of two evils.   Personally I look at the broader picture beyond my pocketbook.  I see the Government taking over our lives.  Doctors, patients, all of us.  To call signing up to Obamacare our patriotic duty is right out of the Communist Party playbook.

*****NBC’s Chief Medical Editor Forced Her Kids to Sign Up for Obamacare as Their ‘Patriotic Duty’

"So I made my kids sign up, because I just said this is your patriotic duty."

On Morning Joe Monday, NBC’s chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman, after arguing that the “biggest fix” for the American healthcare system would be single-payer, proudly declared that she had forced her own kids to sign up for Obamacare as their “patriotic duty.”

Snyderman was brought on to discuss a number of issues, but when hosts Harold Ford, Jr. and Wes Moore turned the discussion to Obamacare, Snyderman revealed just how far left her expert opinion leans, using the failures of the ACA as a means to push for a single-payer system.

Ford: As a physician, what’s the biggest fix that can be done to ensure that better care, affordable care gets to people that don't have it?

Snyderman: I think there should be a single-payer system. And, increasingly, you're seeing physicians in their late 50s, 60s, and 70s, who are saying, “You know what, we got it wrong. We should have taken Medicare, expanded it, and done it smarter. Increase the bottom line for doctors so they don’t feel like they’re being nickeled and dimed with 10% less than Medicare, 5%... Docs just want to be reimbursed a fair amount for hard work. This is making the terrain much, much, much, more difficult.

With Snyderman’s comments about Obamacare turning increasingly critical, Moore stepped in and tweaked the direction of the conversation to a more solution-based talking point:

Moore: You know what's interesting? So you talk about your kids and you talk about... one of the big challenges for Obamacare and the rollout so far has been how do we get the young and how do we get the healthy to sign up for healthcare? Which was a dynamic prior to Obamacare. How do we get the young and how do we get the healthy... That's the reason they came up with the plan.

Snyderman: So I made my kids sign up, because I just said this is your patriotic duty.

The expert opinion of NBC’s chief medical editor.*****
3168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We should only be so lucky on: December 29, 2013, 12:32:10 PM
Yet as Levin aptly points out.  He was only the chosen front man of a huge political/business/criminal enterprise called the progressive movement.  There are many more where he comes from.   I think the only way to temporarily sweep their propaganda/philosophy under the rug for a generation is to hope that it will fail while offering the superior alternative.   

http://dailycaller.com/2013/12/28/dnc-sends-email-defending-obama-from-impeachment-possibility/
3169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 29, 2013, 12:22:00 PM
***If you can see a way the dems can fix obamadoesntcare, you are way ahead of the dems.***

GM.  The truth doesn't matter.  You can fool some of the people all of the time.  The rest one party needs to gain a 51% majority can easily be bribed:

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/obamacare-launch-white-house-101583.html
3170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Recommend to you children on: December 29, 2013, 10:27:22 AM
To become administrators of liberal causes.   Seems like a good profession to be in:

Just the other day I was reading the Greens fighting oil, gas, and coal companies with huge complicated legal challenges all over the place.  I was thinking where do they get the money for this?  Must be Soros and others like him.

Answer, it is:

*****Indiatimes|The Times of India|The Economic Times|

Wall Street tycoon donates fortune, kills self
Jenn Selby,The Independent | Dec 29, 2013, 04.57 AM IST
A renowned Wall Street tycoon gave away his $800 million fortune before falling to his death in a suicide jump this week.

 Hedge fund multi-millionaire Robert W Wilson, who was 87-year-old, leapt from the 16th floor of his San Remo apartment building in New York's Upper East Side.

 According to the New York Police Department, he left a note at the scene. He had suffered from a stroke just a few months before.

 "He always said he didn't want to suffer," close friend Stephen Viscusi said. "His plan was to give all his money away. He told me recently, 'I only have about $100 million to go,'" he said.

 He has since been praised as a "legend" by his peers, after pledging his entire worth to charity some years before he ended his life. He gave the last $100 million of his money to not-for-profit environmental advocacy group the Environmental Defence Fund(EDF).

 Fred Krupp, the president of the EDF, said of the group's biggest benefactor: "Robert was a Wall Street legend who became a prominent philanthropist," he said. Other beneficiaries of his money include the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, the World Monuments Fund, the Nature Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Society, each of which received $100 million before Wilson passed away.

 "I realized that Catholic schools were closing all over the country, and Bill Gates probably didn't have enough money to save them," Wilson said in 2010 when asked about his decision to donate such a large sum to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.

 Wilson is survived by his brother William, 88. He had no children.


3171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: December 29, 2013, 10:17:41 AM
I don't agree with all of this but she makes some good points.   Since no political party adequately addresses this (or in the case of Republicans even admit to the existence of thi) I personally feel that NO party in this country represents me. 

****INCOME INEQUALITY CREATES HUGE GAPS IN OPPORTUNITY

Cynthia Tucker
By Cynthia Tucker December 28, 2013 12:00 AM
     
By now, you've surely heard of the Texas drunken driving case that has sparked national outrage -- angering victims, upsetting psychologists and sending Twitter into overdrive. A 16-year-old who killed four people while legally intoxicated was sentenced to 10 years' probation and treatment in a tony rehab facility.

As unusual as that example of mercy may be, it was the rationale offered by a defense expert that drove observers into a frenzy. A psychologist hired by defense attorneys told the court that the young man's tragically irresponsible actions were the fault of his rich parents, who didn't rear him with sufficient discipline. As a consequence, G. Dick Miller said, the teenager suffered from "affluenza" and didn't know right from wrong. (Many other psychologists have disagreed vociferously, saying there is no such diagnosis.)

It's hard to stomach that notion, especially since Judge Jean Boyd of the Fort Worth Juvenile Court seems to have swallowed it whole. I can't imagine how bitter and resentful -- not to mention mystified -- the victims' families must be.

But Boyd might have unintentionally done us a favor by opening the door to a dank, dark room that we have worked too hard to keep closed. She has let out the putrid aromas of economic inequality, which we have long ignored. Wealthy people, the judge's sentence reminds us, have huge advantages over ordinary folk, despite an American mythology about equal opportunity. And the opportunity gap is growing as inequality cleaves the country into haves and have-nots.

The very terms "wage gap" and "disappearing middle class" have become cliches in Washington, often muttered by pandering politicians and comfortable journalists who have little real understanding of the effect that income inequality has had on the lives of ordinary Americans. But the fallout is real enough.

Since the 1970s, the wages of working-class Americans -- those without college degrees -- have stagnated and fallen further and further behind. Meanwhile, the wealthy have only become more prosperous.

Despite what you may believe to be true, the individual's work ethic has little to do with those results. No matter how hardworking you are, a job at Wal-Mart won't give you much in the way of financial security. And if you are born to parents who can give you a trust fund, it doesn't matter how little you work; you'll still have plenty of security.

The trends that have eaten away at the great American middle -- including globalization and technological gains -- have been evident for decades, but the Great Recession accelerated the consequences. Even as economic data show huge gains in productivity, the jobless rate remains high, stuck at around 7 percent. (Translation: Companies have found ways to get more and more work done with technology, whether it's through eliminating bank tellers and installing more ATMs, or using more robots in factories.)

This is a complex problem with no easy answers, but we could make a start toward solutions by looking squarely at the issue and refusing to call it by other names. Here are a few things it's not: indolence, racism, the failure of the welfare state.

Mitt Romney became appropriately infamous for his condescending dismissal of the "47 percent" who he claimed doesn't want to work, but that wrong-headed idea doesn't stop with Romney. U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., running for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate, has proposed that poor children sweep school cafeteria floors in exchange for free or reduced lunches, a deal that would get the "myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch," he said.

But liberals often get it wrong, too -- confusing rampant income inequality with racism. The legacy of racism has certainly contributed to the wealth gap between black and white Americans, but class is now a bigger factor in a child's future than race. President Obama's children are virtually assured a bright future, while millions of their cohort among the working classes are not.

The class divide is one of the biggest problems now facing the country, and it's time we started to confront it. Judge Boyd's unjust sentence is just the provocation to force us to take it on.

(Cynthia Tucker, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a visiting professor at the University of Georgia. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.)****
3172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: December 26, 2013, 11:45:12 AM
Terrific post Crafty.  Where did you get this from?  Can I email this to others?
3173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 26, 2013, 11:43:05 AM
"""One school of thought says, do not interrupt when opponents are making fools of themselves.  But silence on a real solution to the current healthcare trainwreck will most certainly leave us with a worse sequel."""

No doubt about it.  Republicans can't just sit around complaining about AHA.  Eventually the Democrats will fix it enough to get as many people hooked on it as possible.  It will not crash onto itself.

Talk about leading from behind. 
3174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: December 26, 2013, 10:50:49 AM
Of course Sam who I assume is a die hard Jewish Democrat was posting his disgust of the bashing of Sarah Palin by the Democrat machine. (as a Jew I am more revolted that non Jews who my fellow people who have been so successful in this country still as Savage points out wrap themselves in the flag of discrimination)

 This is what '16 is going to be all about:  women vs. men.   And of course the single women vote is going to be their new core base.  In the health field there are many young single mothers.  And most are getting some assistance in some way.  Indeed some choose not to marry because they have realized they can more from the taxpayer that way.
 
I don't know how the Republicans can compete.  It is interesting that recent polls show even men who voted for Obama are beginning to realize the errors of Obama and his progressivism.  Not true of women.  Particularly the young single mother kind.

And this fact will drive the Crats to even more push the gender divide!  The gender divisiveness will make racial divisiveness seem like small potatoes I have a feeling:

The History of Hillary-Bashing

By Sam Kleiner 5 hours ago The Daily Beast

The History of Hillary-Bashing
     
While Hillary Clinton has made clear that she won’t decide whether she wants to pursue the presidency in 2016 until next year, Republicans have decided they already are going to make her a top target. Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee Chairman, has promised this month to go after the “rough stuff” about Clinton in an ad campaign that will be “very aggressive.” The Republicans are promising a shotgun approach; just shoot out things like the “a botched health care roll out in the '90s and Benghazi,” and hope something hits.

This isn’t the first time that Republicans have tried to nasty attacks against Hillary. That tradition stretches back to 1992, when Republicans decided to go after her with a series of sexist attacks that continued into her husband’s administration. As Republicans start to open up attacks against Hillary once again, it’s worth remembering the sexist overtones in the earliest Republican attacks on Hillary, and how these attacks can backfire on Republicans.

“Hillary-bashing” became a central theme in the Republican campaign in 1992. “No one can convince me that the American people are so blind that they would replace Barbara Bush with Hillary Clinton," Pat Roberston told the Republican convention. This was no ordinary First Lady, she was, as Patrick Buchanan said, a “lawyer-spouse” who “has compared marriage as an institution to slavery.” While Hillary had been the stable breadwinner in years when Bill tried to get his political career to take off, Republicans were deeply uncomfortable with the idea of a marriage in which a woman could hold a successful career, especially one that may be on par with that of her husband. Even Barbara Bush, who first resisted the idea of going after Hillary, eventually came around to seeing her as “quite different” and a fair target. 

In that election cycle, Republicans were attracted to portraying Hillary’s career as the manifestation of something maniacal about her intentions. In 1992, the right-wing American Spectator characterized Hillary as the “Lady MacBeth of Arkansas.”

The deep-seated antipathy to Hillary in that campaign was part of the right’s inability to accept women in the workplace. The idea of a professional woman disturbed Republicans. The year before, the party had gone after Anita Hill for speaking out about workplace sexual harassment from her boss, Clarence Thomas. “Are you a scorned woman?" asked Republican Senator Howell Heflin, in a line that became synonymous with apparent Republican discomfort with the role of women in the workplace. Watching the all-male Senate panel grill Anita Hill encouraged women across the country to run for political office. Amongst them was a state legislator, Patty Murray of Washington, who was told that she couldn’t succeed in politics as a “mom in tennis shoes,” but she used that as her campaign slogan.

Despite Republican opposition, women gained made huge strides in politics that year. President Bush said, “This is supposed to be the year of the women in the Senate. Let's see how they do. I hope a lot of them lose." His wish was unfulfilled. The vicious Republican attacks on Hillary, and the impression that the Republican Party was opposed to women’s rights, alienated women voters and helped to motivate women to turn out to the polls for Democrats. The record level of women who came out to vote in 1992 not only elected Bill Clinton but turned out in record numbers “helping to elect 24 new women to the House and five to the Senate, the largest increase in history.” That election went down in history as “the year of the woman.” Twenty years later, that “mom in tennis shoes,” Senator Patty Murray, helped to usher in another “year of the woman” when she helped to elect five new Democratic women in the Senate.

3175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nice heartwarming Holiday-dog-family story and memory. on: December 26, 2013, 10:10:51 AM
Joe Namath's daughter dog found years later now is his grand daughter's pet.

http://gma.yahoo.com/video/miracle-mutt-namath-family-dog-120439800.html

Another free associative thought:

It is interesting she met with the dog's finder at Yeehaw Junction.  The only thing there is basically a bar/tavern at I believe the junction of three crossroads in Central Florida.

Jupiter would I think be Southeast.

I used to pass through there when I travelled in the mid to late 90's doing hospital consulting.  One time I finally thought I would just this once stop at the bar and go in and have a beer.  So I did.  I am sitting in this dingy bar and the only two other people if I recall correctly were the bartender and an older lady who was standing by the restrooms.

As I sipped my beer ( a light weight - I guess - real beer drinkers guzzle) I looked around and all of a sudden out of the restroom walks out possibly the most beautiful 20 something year lady I have ever seen.  She walked right past me and the lady who I would hazard a guess was her mother walked behind her and they both left.  Perhaps they stopped at the junction to use the restroom. 

Dare I say the bartender and I challenged the range of motion of our necks as our fixated eyes turned our heads nearly clear off our shoulders.

I actually wrote a song about it on the way home.  I don't know if Katherine still has it.

It also reminds me of the scene in the movie Citizen Kane where the older gentlemen recalls seeing a woman in a white dress for only a few seconds. Yet for the rest of his life he remembers it like it was five minutes ago.

Anyway when I hear Yeehaw Junction that it was I think of.
3176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Merry Christmas! on: December 26, 2013, 10:00:10 AM
http://gma.yahoo.com/video/miracle-mutt-namath-family-dog-120439800.html

3177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Randomized clinical trials in Economics on: December 25, 2013, 08:23:44 PM


« Reply #1459 on: Today at 08:12:13 AM »
 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Prospective trials of and not only retrospective collection of after the fact "big Data" will prove the Columbia "know-it-all's" are wrong. 

**** The common conclusion from such trials is that the poor’s own decisions matter much more than was once thought. Even the poorest of the poor have tiny amounts of discretionary cash and their decisions about what to spend it on (bednets, for example) make a huge difference to development. This view of the poor is at odds with the one espoused by “Big Push” economists, such as Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, who argue that people are stuck in poverty, can do little for themselves and that development should therefore consist of providing the poor with benefits—like irrigation, roads and hospitals—that spring the poverty trap. But it is also at odds with critics of Big Push thinking. J-PAL’s trials show not only that the poor’s decisions are important but that they are sometimes bad****

Another article from the Economist: 

Random harvest

Once treated with scorn, randomised control trials are coming of age
 Dec 14th 2013  | From the print edition

IT ALL began with a white envelope. Inside, a letter from the provost of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offered three young economists at MIT $100,000 to spend as they wanted (those were the days). Two of them, Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, used the money to set up an organisation to run “randomised control trials” (RCTs), an experimental technique a bit like drugs trials, but for economics. To test if, say, boosting teachers’ pay improved educational outcomes, an RCT would take a collection of comparable schools, randomly assign higher wages to some teachers but not others, and see what happens. The organisation, called J-PAL (to give it its full title, the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab), has just celebrated its tenth anniversary. Its methods have transformed development economics.

When J-PAL started in 2003, RCTs were regarded as wacky. Critics said that doing a trial was like putting people in a cage and experimenting on them. They pointed out that you cannot conduct randomised trials for big macroeconomic questions (“What happens if we devalue the currency by 50%?”) because there can be no control group. They conceded RCTs might generate useful nuggets of evidence (raising teachers’ wages in India, for example, did surprisingly little to improve learning). But they argued that evidence from such trials would always remain small-scale, tied to a specific context and not be useful beyond it.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

Ten years on, few of those criticisms have stood up to scrutiny. RCTs have entered the mainstream. J-PAL has conducted 440 of them (it started with five). The World Bank runs RCTs. So do regional bodies like the Inter-American Development Bank. Even governments deploy them: Indonesia used one to test whether identity cards would improve the delivery of subsidised rice to the poor, the largest anti-poverty programme in the country (they did). Techniques for designing and doing trials have improved, with more accurate measurements and more reliable ways of ensuring that samples are random and not merely arbitrary. Trials are bigger. A recent one took place throughout the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, which has a larger population than Germany. Trials are now investigating questions previously thought off-limits to RCTs, such as labour-market policies or policing. J-PAL did a trial in half the cities in France to determine whether job-training encouraged employment growth overall or just boosted the prospects of trainees at the expense of the untrained. (Answer: before 2007, it helped everyone; afterwards, it redistributed jobs rather than creating them.)

As the number and scope of trials have grown, the accumulation of detail has started to generate broader insights. Take education. J-PAL ran trials on many questions, from the effect of remedial classes in India and Ghana (enormous) to what happens if you double the number of teachers in Kenya (not much). One conclusion kept cropping up: the biggest improvements to educational outcomes occur when you teach children things they are capable of learning. That sounds like a statement of the obvious. But it is quite different from the view of (say) the OECD, a club mainly of rich countries, which runs influential studies on mathematics and literacy among its members. The OECD thinks the quality of teachers matters most. J-PAL’s finding also goes against the grain of what many parents believe: that the focus should be on the quality of the curriculum.

In other areas, RCTs have revealed as much about what is not known as what is known. Microfinance, for example, does not turn the poor into entrepreneurs, as was hoped, but does make them better off: many use the tiny loans to buy television sets. It is not clear why. Poor people also buy too little preventive health care for themselves, even though the benefits are huge. RCTs show that if you charge a pittance for simple products such as bednets treated to combat malaria or water purification tablets, people do not buy them; the products have to be free.

Development economics on trial

The common conclusion from such trials is that the poor’s own decisions matter much more than was once thought. Even the poorest of the poor have tiny amounts of discretionary cash and their decisions about what to spend it on (bednets, for example) make a huge difference to development. This view of the poor is at odds with the one espoused by “Big Push” economists, such as Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, who argue that people are stuck in poverty, can do little for themselves and that development should therefore consist of providing the poor with benefits—like irrigation, roads and hospitals—that spring the poverty trap. But it is also at odds with critics of Big Push thinking. J-PAL’s trials show not only that the poor’s decisions are important but that they are sometimes bad (for example, their underinvestment in health). Critics of the Big Push, such as William Easterly of New York University, say the best way to help the poor is to stand back and stop messing up their lives. In contrast, J-PAL’s trials imply that there is a role for outsiders to improve the decision-making of the poor by, say, improving information or incentives.

Over the past ten years, randomised trials have changed hugely. They began as ways to provide hard evidence about what was actually happening. Now they have become techniques for testing ideas that cannot be investigated in any other way. (Are teachers or trained volunteers better at providing simple remedial lessons? Do a trial.) Over the next ten years they will change again. They are likely to get more ambitious still, use “big data”, engage even more with governments and probably measure things that cannot now be tested (RCTs are already measuring cortisol levels as a way of judging how policies affect people’s happiness). Who knows, their proponents might even find a way to apply them to the sweeping assertions of macroeconomists.

 

 
 
 
3178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Randomized Clinical Trials in Economics on: December 25, 2013, 08:12:13 AM
Prospective trials of and not only retrospective collection of after the fact "big Data" will prove the Columbia know it all's wrong. 

**** The common conclusion from such trials is that the poor’s own decisions matter much more than was once thought. Even the poorest of the poor have tiny amounts of discretionary cash and their decisions about what to spend it on (bednets, for example) make a huge difference to development. This view of the poor is at odds with the one espoused by “Big Push” economists, such as Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, who argue that people are stuck in poverty, can do little for themselves and that development should therefore consist of providing the poor with benefits—like irrigation, roads and hospitals—that spring the poverty trap. But it is also at odds with critics of Big Push thinking. J-PAL’s trials show not only that the poor’s decisions are important but that they are sometimes bad****

Another article from the Economist: 

Random harvest

Once treated with scorn, randomised control trials are coming of age
 Dec 14th 2013  | From the print edition

IT ALL began with a white envelope. Inside, a letter from the provost of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offered three young economists at MIT $100,000 to spend as they wanted (those were the days). Two of them, Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, used the money to set up an organisation to run “randomised control trials” (RCTs), an experimental technique a bit like drugs trials, but for economics. To test if, say, boosting teachers’ pay improved educational outcomes, an RCT would take a collection of comparable schools, randomly assign higher wages to some teachers but not others, and see what happens. The organisation, called J-PAL (to give it its full title, the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab), has just celebrated its tenth anniversary. Its methods have transformed development economics.

When J-PAL started in 2003, RCTs were regarded as wacky. Critics said that doing a trial was like putting people in a cage and experimenting on them. They pointed out that you cannot conduct randomised trials for big macroeconomic questions (“What happens if we devalue the currency by 50%?”) because there can be no control group. They conceded RCTs might generate useful nuggets of evidence (raising teachers’ wages in India, for example, did surprisingly little to improve learning). But they argued that evidence from such trials would always remain small-scale, tied to a specific context and not be useful beyond it.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

Ten years on, few of those criticisms have stood up to scrutiny. RCTs have entered the mainstream. J-PAL has conducted 440 of them (it started with five). The World Bank runs RCTs. So do regional bodies like the Inter-American Development Bank. Even governments deploy them: Indonesia used one to test whether identity cards would improve the delivery of subsidised rice to the poor, the largest anti-poverty programme in the country (they did). Techniques for designing and doing trials have improved, with more accurate measurements and more reliable ways of ensuring that samples are random and not merely arbitrary. Trials are bigger. A recent one took place throughout the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, which has a larger population than Germany. Trials are now investigating questions previously thought off-limits to RCTs, such as labour-market policies or policing. J-PAL did a trial in half the cities in France to determine whether job-training encouraged employment growth overall or just boosted the prospects of trainees at the expense of the untrained. (Answer: before 2007, it helped everyone; afterwards, it redistributed jobs rather than creating them.)

As the number and scope of trials have grown, the accumulation of detail has started to generate broader insights. Take education. J-PAL ran trials on many questions, from the effect of remedial classes in India and Ghana (enormous) to what happens if you double the number of teachers in Kenya (not much). One conclusion kept cropping up: the biggest improvements to educational outcomes occur when you teach children things they are capable of learning. That sounds like a statement of the obvious. But it is quite different from the view of (say) the OECD, a club mainly of rich countries, which runs influential studies on mathematics and literacy among its members. The OECD thinks the quality of teachers matters most. J-PAL’s finding also goes against the grain of what many parents believe: that the focus should be on the quality of the curriculum.

In other areas, RCTs have revealed as much about what is not known as what is known. Microfinance, for example, does not turn the poor into entrepreneurs, as was hoped, but does make them better off: many use the tiny loans to buy television sets. It is not clear why. Poor people also buy too little preventive health care for themselves, even though the benefits are huge. RCTs show that if you charge a pittance for simple products such as bednets treated to combat malaria or water purification tablets, people do not buy them; the products have to be free.

Development economics on trial

The common conclusion from such trials is that the poor’s own decisions matter much more than was once thought. Even the poorest of the poor have tiny amounts of discretionary cash and their decisions about what to spend it on (bednets, for example) make a huge difference to development. This view of the poor is at odds with the one espoused by “Big Push” economists, such as Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, who argue that people are stuck in poverty, can do little for themselves and that development should therefore consist of providing the poor with benefits—like irrigation, roads and hospitals—that spring the poverty trap. But it is also at odds with critics of Big Push thinking. J-PAL’s trials show not only that the poor’s decisions are important but that they are sometimes bad (for example, their underinvestment in health). Critics of the Big Push, such as William Easterly of New York University, say the best way to help the poor is to stand back and stop messing up their lives. In contrast, J-PAL’s trials imply that there is a role for outsiders to improve the decision-making of the poor by, say, improving information or incentives.

Over the past ten years, randomised trials have changed hugely. They began as ways to provide hard evidence about what was actually happening. Now they have become techniques for testing ideas that cannot be investigated in any other way. (Are teachers or trained volunteers better at providing simple remedial lessons? Do a trial.) Over the next ten years they will change again. They are likely to get more ambitious still, use “big data”, engage even more with governments and probably measure things that cannot now be tested (RCTs are already measuring cortisol levels as a way of judging how policies affect people’s happiness). Who knows, their proponents might even find a way to apply them to the sweeping assertions of macroeconomists.
3179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Michelangelo; from the Economist on: December 24, 2013, 07:39:26 AM
http://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21591542-michelangelo-was-class-his-own-greatest
3180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the Republicans on: December 23, 2013, 06:51:25 PM
***Yet as an unregenerate upholder of the old consensus, I remain convinced that containment is impossible, from which it follows that the two choices before us are not war vs. containment but a conventional war now or a nuclear war later."****

I agree with this.  As John Bolton said, "if you think Iran is a problem now imagine what it will be like with nuclear weapons."

Just seems to me as more countries achieve nuclear weapons capabilities the more likely they will be used.

Iran like those of us on this board have long ago realized the US had no intention of using military means to stop them.

US leaders look ridiculous stating "the military option is on the table".

I wonder if Will would have come to the same forgone conclusions if he lived in Tel Aviv?

Instead he lives in the modern version of Rome -> DC.
3181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Dr. Ben Carson on: December 22, 2013, 10:38:01 AM
"We must reject the notion that slick political maneuvering and dishonesty are inevitable in government and must be tolerated"

Thank God there ARE leaders who still believe this.   I don't know why though they all seem to be religious Christians. 
Why is not lying a serious offence to others?

I have said before and will repeat:

Bill Clinton was the worst President in my lifetime because he and his wife made lying into an acceptable art form.  He and his wife used legal style arguments as cover for outright lies.   Just because your a lawyer doesn't make it ok.

I don't know how we can live in a civilized society with lying being acceptable.

Unfortunately most of us vote our pocket books and look the other way in the face of corruption, lies, and deception in some cash goes into our accounts.

One of the Commandments is thou shault not lie.   

(I think this Commandment comes right after the one that states,  Thou shault not offend a gay.)
3182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / No mas! on: December 18, 2013, 11:20:45 PM
"in practice, the Charles Blow view loses"

Remember the movie "Do the right thing" where three black guys are sitting playing cards watching the Korean across the street wondering why they don't have a business like him. 

My Indian colleague who came to the US with nothing pointing out how Indians have achieved in a single generation what Blacks have not been able to do.

My Filipino colleague who arrived to the US with exactly 50 cents in his pocket which was just enough to call for a ride to the army office to volunteer to serve.  He is now a successful specialist in medicine.

And don't waste my time getting us white people keeping everyone else down schpiel (sp?).  The Indians were not loved.  I have heard many stories of discrimination from them.

Yet they persevered.  Kept their heads down and their focus on their dreams.

Ever see the movie "slum dog millionaire".   NOW THOSE people are disadvantaged.   They don't live in the United States.

I am tired of Blow and those like him who think they think.

As far as I am concerned he is callous and disrespectful of those in this country who are carrying the weight for the rest.

So he can just shut up and leave the rest of us alone.
3183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) and the 4th & 9th Amendments on: December 17, 2013, 07:08:26 PM
That is why today's meeting of the tech CEOs and Obama strikes me as a joke.

It is like the one of the most corrupt politicians in American history meeting with organized crime figures.

Both guilty of the same think yet pretending they are not linked or two peas of the same pod.

Who is going to protect us from this stuff.   BD says not to worry we have regulations.

Are you kidding.  No one even enforces the ones we have.
3184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin, LGBT, "discrimination", & discrimination. on: December 17, 2013, 06:56:10 PM
"North Dakota is known for being pretty far left. The state AG who allowed this is a Republican:
http://www.ndgop.org/view/elected-officials/statewide-officials/attorney-general-wayne-stenehjem/

The irony here is that if same sex marriages were allowed in ND, the polygamist action wouldn't be"

BD, once again in your legal ability to take an argument into any direction I concede to you:  It is the *right* that has made a mockery out of marriage.  tongue
3185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Dogs were the pets of hunters and cats were the pets of farmers on: December 17, 2013, 07:23:15 AM
Dogs were the pets of hunters and cats were the pets of farmers:

http://news.yahoo.com/ancient-bones-offer-peek-history-cats-china-101105721.html
3186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: December 17, 2013, 07:16:09 AM
Good post.  It goes to show us how very difficult it is to know what is true and what is not true.  OTOH I don't even know if the conclusions in this fact checker are true.
3187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin, LGBT, "discrimination", & discrimination. on: December 17, 2013, 07:11:25 AM
To me the left has simply made a mockery out of marriage.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/12/16/North-Dakota-Allows-Man-In-Same-Sex-Marriage-To-Also-Marry-Woman
3188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 14, 2013, 08:33:22 PM
Agreed ditto
I suppose we will win by default.

The only reason not to come out with a plan sooner is the Clintons will coop and act as though it was their idea all along.

Classic Clinton.
3189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / football on: December 14, 2013, 08:29:36 PM
*Freshman* wins the Heisman!  After perfect season:

http://video.search.yahoo.com/play;_ylt=A2KLqIBOEq1SUzwANZT7w8QF;_ylu=X3oDMTByNDV2czA1BHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDdmlkBHZ0aWQDBGdwb3MDOQ--?p=james+winston&vid=168f70ecbb560d15e7402afa4a9d818f&l=00%3A13&turl=http%3A%2F%2Fts3.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DV.4755582274830826%26pid%3D15.1&rurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D-mBcnmNur8o&tit=Jameis+Winston+Throws+Football+Over+FSU+Pike+House+%28%40BritBrock%29&c=8&sigr=11abp5s11&sigt=11vjbbb54&pstcat=arts+culture+and+entertainment&age=0&&tt=b
3190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2nd post on: December 14, 2013, 01:25:23 PM
I recall Donald Berwick bitching how an insurance company would not let his daughter have a test he said she needed.  Well apparently the insurance company thought she did not.  He was saying he did not know the criteria they used to deny the test.  We need to go in with our eyes open not closed.  As if to say when his beaucracy denies care at least there will be some sort of study to back it up. 

Well I can tell you the insurance companies also have studies to back up their denials.  They don't just deny care totally out of thin air.

So Berwick didn't like being denied but he has no problem being one who denies others when HE decides it ok.

I didn't learn if his daughter who ultimately got the test actually benefitted from it.  I can almost guarantee she didn't.  But he didn't mind.  He didn't pay for it.

Hypocrite.  Like most libs.
3191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 14, 2013, 01:15:59 PM
Doug,

The plan is to get to single payer and then control our health care through a gigantic managed care program.  Rationing through restricting resources, use the cheapest drugs possible and a gigantic academic research complex employed to do studies that will support the restrictions.

The 80s show that managed care will control costs for a while till they start to go up again.  But it will not be fun or pleasant except for the stakeholders.  The providers and patients will be inconvenienced and hassled up the arse.  The way care is measured will show that there is not a huge difference in negative "outcomes" so the politburo will claim victory.  The truth is that it all depends on the outcomes being measured.  Don't think for a second this will be not be manipulated.

Individuals are no longer important - it is all population based measurements.  I did see one article questioning the validity of such measurements.

Like I have posted before results of studies can be statistically manipulated in various ways to make them sound like more important than they are.

The pharmaceutical companies do do the same thing.  Everyone plays the numbers games to their advantage.  The truth is much harder to discern.
3192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 14, 2013, 01:00:23 PM
"BREAKINGTHE WAR MENTALITY"

It is really incredible how these geniuses @ Columbia discovered and understood that war is bad.  They like the Brockster are just too infatuated with themselves.  The "I am better than you" theme just drips from this incredibly boring drivel.

So this guy wrote this worthless piece.  Yet no one ever remembers him?  It sounds like to me he was not simply lurking introvertedly in the shadows.

And this was 1983.  What does this clown think the anti-war protesters kids of the 60's were all about.  Each generation of academic know it all's it seems is so freakin' narcisstic that they think they are wiser than anyone before.

Like the ancient Greek saying that wisdom is wasted on youth.

Like I said "young and dumb".    
3193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: December 12, 2013, 12:08:17 PM
The Republicans are on target to win by default.  Not win with an agenda as far as I can see.
3194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 12, 2013, 12:06:14 PM
Crafty,

Very interesting post on the "pharmacists".  However today most pharmacists are not in their own business like days past when they were their own professionals in their own practices.   They are part of huge chains.   Hospitals, physicians and nursing homes and others are all becoming corporatized and bigger and bigger corporate chains.

The bigger the better able to cope with all the red tape.

So what do these cuts mean to Walgreens CVS etc.?

I guess the Obama shots response would be they can make it up on volume.  Sure, I am happy to make 50% less because I know I can simply make it up by working 50% harder to see 50% more people per day.  I get paid less, work harder, patients get less time with me and we are all one happy bunch.

Those who did not have insurance make out like bandits now.  

No problem right Gen. Colin Powell - you fool.

3195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This is a wake up call on: December 12, 2013, 11:55:40 AM
I never heard this before.  How many other "journalists" are bribed to be spokespeople for interest groups?   I guess others are too with their ghost written books, speaking engagements etc. 

http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/unions-paid-msnbcs-schultz-177000-2012-75000-2013
3196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / second post on: December 10, 2013, 06:54:44 PM


Two 2013 Nobel Winners Sound Alarm

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 5:05 PM
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From: "Outsider Club" <ww-eletter@angelnexus.com>To: "craig price" <super65.intell@yahoo.com>
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Two 2013 Nobel Winners Sound Alarm

By Adam English | Tuesday, December 10th, 2013


As you're reading this, some of the world's best and brightest are in Stockholm, Sweden to accept their Nobel prizes in recognition of their brilliance and ground-breaking work.

Two of them are bringing very deep concerns about a coming crash with them.

Robert J. Shiller, Eugene F. Fama, and Lars Peter Hansen will take the stage to receive their awards for analyzing asset prices in finance and the markets.

Both Shiller and Fama — two men with profoundly different views — have recently been peppered with questions about the economy and markets.

Neither like what they see, and what they discussed touches on the short-sighted manipulation of assets from real estate to stocks and bonds.

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 Speculative Bubble
Robert Shiller won his prize by compiling and analyzing long-term housing sale information in the U.S., probably for the first time ever. From the data, he drew some strong conclusions. Here is a short list:
•There is no continuous uptrend in home prices in the U.S.
•Home prices show a strong tendency to return to their 1890 level in real terms
•Changes in home prices bear no relation to changes in construction costs, interest rates, or population

Yet people consistently make the error of getting into real estate because prices rise in nominal figures that are not adjusted for inflation or other factors.

The U.S. Census has proof of this going back for over fifty years. Since 1940, it has asked homeowners to estimate the value of their homes. The estimates average out to a 2% appreciation per year in real terms. The actual increase is 0.7%.

Housing sales have been strong. Existing homes are scarce, houses stay on the market for less time and prices are way up in the hardest-hit markets. It looks healthy on the surface, but it is a mirage.

Cash-only transactions have dominated the market, peaking at 60% back in May of this year and drifting down to 30% in recent months. 15-20% is average and reasonable.

Families do not pay cash. Wealthy private and large institutional investors use cash to speculate on rising values while pocketing rental income.

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 On CNBC two weeks ago, in response to hedge funds and institutional investors claiming they are long-term investors, Shiller had this to say:

...[Housing investors] are not. I think what they've learned... there is short-run momentum in the housing market, and so they know how to play momentum, but as soon as it looks like it's weakening, they'll exit.... we can't trust momentum...

How can these guys not notice how fast home prices have been going up and the fact that historically momentum is a much better play in housing than it has been in the stock market? So I'm pretty sure this is on their minds. They are not going to say this, I guess. They're not going to say they're going to dump them.

I wholeheartedly agree. Wealthy private and institutional investors are funneling unprecedented asset price gains and unfettered access to easy credit with bargain bin interest rates into home purchases.

They'll keep hyping the market until a bitter end is in sight, capture short-term gains, and leave a new batch of families indebted for life.

"Bubbles Look Like This"

Shiller was back in the press earlier this month talking about stocks as well. Talking with German news service Der Spiegel, he stated that he believes sharp rises in equity and property prices could lead to a dangerous financial bubble and may end badly.

As he told the magazine, "...in many countries stock exchanges are at a high level and prices have risen sharply in some property markets."

"I am most worried about the boom in the U.S. stock market. Also because our economy is still weak and vulnerable," he said. "Bubbles look like this. And the world is still very vulnerable to a bubble."

Of course, the Fed doesn't see a bubble forming and is not weighing the concerns of Shiller and many other prestigious economists in their deliberations over quantitative easing.

If you're like the Fed and just look at price to earnings multiples, everything looks just fine.

However, earnings are looking good on the surface because profit margins are roughly 70% above their historic norms. If you take a look at the stock market over the past century, you'll see that profit margins inevitably return to the norm and negatively impact future earnings growth for years afterwards.

The median price to revenue ratio in the S&P 500 is now higher than it was in 2000. When profits return to normal, an abnormally large proportion of revenue will disappear and expose extremely high valuations.

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Robbing Peter to Pay Paul
In real estate and the stock market, we can trace this growing asset bubble back to the Fed, along with government debt and policies.

It even applies to the bond market. Government debt is ballooning due to unfunded spending and entitlement programs. Manipulation of interest rates and a steady flow of easy money is driving massive inflows into risky corporate and junk bonds.

Some of the worst — payment in kind bonds that allow borrowers to repay interest with more debt — have jumped from $6.5 billion in 2012 to $16.5 billion this year.

This has Eugene Fama, who normally voices skepticism about the existence of asset bubbles at all, concerned about a debt-fueled crash.

Saturday he told Reuters: "There may come a point where the financial markets say none of their debt is credible anymore and they can't finance themselves. If there is another recession, it is going to be worldwide."

As for the exuberance over the last job report he said, "I am not reassured at all. The jobs recovery has been awful. The only reason the unemployment rate is 7%, which is high by historical standards in the U.S., is that people gave up looking for jobs. I just don't think we have come out of [recession] very well."

The simple fact of the matter is you can't rob Peter to pay Paul. Adding easy credit and cash into bloated asset markets, along with corporate and government debt, is not worth creating confidence in the market and out-sized gains for a select few.

The only silver lining is that so much value was stripped from real estate and the stock market five years ago — mostly from the lower and middle classes — that we won't see the same 60% losses. However, the longer the situation persists, the worse it becomes.

Of course, many won't see a loss at all. They aren't working. The number of employable Americans rose 2.4 million over the last year while the official labor force shows a 25,000-person drop.

Yet the Fed, other central banks and governments continue to manipulate the free market and strip future growth and earnings. Entrenched financial institutions and politicians continue to enrich themselves to maintain their wealth and power at our expense.

Hopefully, the research Nick Hodge has been doing is true and a Fourth Turning is right around the corner.


Take Care,

Adam English

Adam English
 
3197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: December 10, 2013, 06:44:01 PM
The cognitive dissonance of Wesbury:

Consumer spending grew over 3% the highest in some time.  What about consumer debt being the highest in some time?  Any connection:

http://www.money-zine.com/financial-planning/debt-consolidation/consumer-debt-statistics/

"We really do tip our hats to those who dive deeply into the details of job reports – even though they don’t really understand the data – to find that one nugget of negative information that will boost hits on their webpages and get them retweeted"

My hat tip to an economist who has been a ceaseless bull for 15 straight years.
3198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Powell is for single payer on: December 10, 2013, 07:43:25 AM
Colin Powell Pitches Single-Payer Health Care in US

ABC News
By

Colin Powell Pitches Single Payer Health Care in US
General Colin Powell attends the

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has waded into the health care debate with a broad endorsement of the kind of universal health plan found in Europe, Canada and South Korea.

"I am not an expert in health care, or Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, or however you choose to describe it, but I do know this: I have benefited from that kind of universal health care in my 55 years of public life," Powell said, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal, last week at an annual "survivors celebration breakfast" in Seattle for those who, like Powell, have battled prostate cancer. "And I don't see why we can't do what Europe is doing, what Canada is doing, what Korea is doing, what all these other places are doing."

Europe, Canada and Korea all have a "single-payer" system, in which the government pays for the costs of health care.

Some Democrats who strongly advocated for, and failed to get, a single-payer system in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, still believe the current law doesn't go far enough to reform the US health system.

A retired four-star general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell told the audience about a woman named Anne, who as his firewood supplier, faced a healthcare scare of her own. Anne asked Powell to help pay for her healthcare bills, as her insurance didn't cover an MRI she needed as a prerequisite to being treated for a growth in her brain. In addition, Powell's wife Alma recently suffered from three aneurysms and an artery blockage. "After these two events, of Alma and Anne, I've been thinking, why is it like this?" said Powell.

"We are a wealthy enough country with the capacity to make sure that every one of our fellow citizens has access to quality health care," Powell. "(Let's show) the rest of the world what our democratic system is all about and how we take care of all of our citizens."

Powell, who has taken heat from Republicans for twice endorsing President Obama's election and reelection bids, said he hopes universal healthcare can one day become a reality in the U.S. "I think universal health care is one of the things we should really be focused on, and I hope that will happen," said Powell. "Whether it's Obamacare, or son of Obamacare, I don't care. As long as we get it done."
3199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: December 08, 2013, 08:46:58 PM
I am posting this not because of Netanyahu but this that Mandela wrote in an autobiography:

"In my experience I have found Jews to be more broadminded than most whites on issues of race and politics, perhaps because they themselves have historically been victims of prejudice," Mandela wrote in his 1994 autobiography.

He is thus the first and only prominent Black to acknowledge any appreciation for Jewish support of Black civil rights.


*****Netanyahu missing Mandela memorial for cost reasons
     
Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided not to attend a memorial service for Nelson Mandela this week because it is too expensive to travel to South Africa, Israeli media reported Sunday.

Netanyahu had notified the South African authorities that he would fly in but cancelled his plans at the last minute due to the costs involved -- around 7.0 million shekels ($2 million) for his transport and security alone, pubic radio and the Haaretz daily reported.

"The decision was made in light of the high transportation costs resulting from the short notice of the trip and the security required for the prime minister in Johannesburg," Haaretz reported.

The Israeli leader has been in the spotlight recently with revelations that taxpayers dished out almost $1 million last year to maintain his three residences.

The media highlighted a bill of 17,000 euros ($23,000) for water to fill a swimming pool at his villa in Caesarea in the country's north.

More than 50 heads of state and government have confirmed their intentions to travel to South Africa to pay their respects to the anti-apartheid hero who died last Thursday, South Africa's foreign ministry has said.

US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle will be among 80,000 people attending a vast memorial service Tuesday in the Soweto sports stadium that hosted the 2010 World Cup final.

The commemorations will culminate with Mandela's burial on December 15 in Qunu -- the rural village where he spent his early childhood.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has announced that he will attend Tuesday's memorial service.

Israeli leaders have paid warm homage to the former South African president who died after a long illness at the aged of 95.

Netanyahu paid tribute to Mandela as "a man of vision and a freedom fighter who disavowed violence".

But some commentators have noted that Israel maintained close relations with the apartheid-era regime until the United States said the ties could threaten Washington's generous annual military aid to the Jewish state.

After his release from 27 years incarceration in 1990, Mandela, who first visited Israel and the Palestinian territories in 1999, was an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause but also a firm believer that Israelis would ultimately take the path of peace.

"In my experience I have found Jews to be more broadminded than most whites on issues of race and politics, perhaps because they themselves have historically been victims of prejudice," Mandela wrote in his 1994 autobiography.

South African Jews played a prominent role in the struggle against apartheid, among them late communist leader Joe Slovo, who headed the ANC's military wing.*****
3200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 08, 2013, 08:13:26 PM
“I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s life," Obama said. "Like so many around the globe, I cannot imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set."  He added: "So long as I live, I will do whatever I can to learn from him."

Obama really has no class whatsoever.

Clinton is the same way with something like "Obama got the big things right.  He gets the easy things wrong".  or something like that.

I don't know who is more narcissistic or self serving.  It really is a tie.

One difference is Clinton just wants to be loved.  Obama (already loves himself) is an angry man on a vengeance vendetta.
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