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3951  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: December 05, 2011, 09:49:10 AM

My take....

In the end women will vote their pocketbooks like everyone else.  Older women will vote against Obama to some extent because they will not like how he is destroying America as we know it (and possibly medicare soc sec - if that is how it is projected).   Younger women, particularly the single mothers, will vote Democratic for obvious reasons.

I don't think the sexual thing will be a big factor despite what anyone tells us now. 

Obama and Lincoln?  They may not have been ladies men but there was one difference - a little thing called honesty.

But interestingly enough we know far more about Lincoln who lived 150 yrs ago than we do about Obama's earlier life don't we?
3952  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 05, 2011, 09:41:59 AM
"Chinese Ministry of State Security wants to read up on our cholesterol counts, it's just a few clicks away...."

I read that hardware has components made overseas so we should not kid ourselves into thinking there are things put into these components that can be used in ways not intended.  I don't think for one second US manufactureres of software and hardware do not have ways to get in our electronic devices.

Eventually the Chinese will probably be able to shut our entire country down with a few clicks.

That might very well the start to the next world war.
3953  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The health care chief on MSNBC on: December 04, 2011, 02:59:58 PM
We all agree that the costs of health care going up around 10% is unsustainable.  We will all go bankrupt.  Berwick "sells" (using his own term) his vision for the rest of using catch phrases like "quality", "human right" etc. 

He does admit in a disingenius way that of course we are going to ration but we should do it with our eyes open.  He is covering up the fact that extending care to 40 million people will not lower costs and that the rest of us will in some way pikc up that tab and get less.   My opinion is that he is trying to get us to socialized medicine with arguments that he can improve quality of care, save costs on needless tests, health IT, performance measures, reducing side effects, infection rates.
The most telling part of the interview is an example he uses of a test his own daughter's insurance refused to pay for.  He says he is a pediatrician and he can assure us she "needed" this test.  What he doesn't tell us is that insurers do not refuse tests out of the blue and not without their own data that is EXACTLY the kind of stuff CMS is planning for us.  His excuse is when the private insurers refuses payment they do not say why.  I can tell you they do have appeals processes and the processes do include the option of a review by another doctor.  Additionally everyone knows they go by actuarial data to determine what to pay for or not.  That is exactly what he is planning.    In any case health care in the US is broken.   But I don't want single payer we are all forced to be in Harvard policy makers control health care.
3954  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 04, 2011, 01:06:56 PM
"electronic medical records, something in which he believes."

There are hundreds of EMR vendors.  It is like the tech craze before the tech crash of the late 90's.  It is predicted in a few years that the number will fall to a few dozen through consokidation and bankruptcy.

Realistically they are not ready for prime time yet CMS is pushing and bribing us all to jump on board.

And no doubt there are thousands out there vying to cash in on it all.
3955  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 03, 2011, 11:39:15 AM
Disability rolls are also on the rise.   People are leaving the work force and desparatly getting onto disability and taking the easy way out. 

I cannot seem to find number on this but I am suspect the Feds are allowing this to lower the unemployment numbers.

There is no way people are suddenly getting jobs in droves.

But Brockster takes the phoney numbers to Hawaii for some leisure time.

3956  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: December 02, 2011, 12:55:13 PM
"A Nobel Laureate (aren't they all?)"

Every time I drive through Princeton all I can think of is "stinking liberal university professors".  All the same.  Columbia Hahvood, Yale Princeton.

I cannot think Ivy league without the thought of American hating professors teaching the propaganda.

To think this guy Krugman was given a noble prize is just as big a joke as Brock getting one for peace.

They belong in the same boat as Arafat.
3957  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / juggle/cook the books on: December 02, 2011, 12:05:33 PM

Great news but who in their right mind believes the numbers?  Essentailly embezzling the numbers all it is.

We ain't seen nothing yet.   Wait till election 12 nears.  No one will know who to believe.
3958  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 02, 2011, 10:50:47 AM
MSLSD "hate all republicans" crowd has been bashing Newt for being condescending and conceited.  Bashing him for his "I make 60K a speech" comment and some of his other declarations.  I think they are quite terrified of him. 

I can't think of anyone more arrogant and condescending and self serving patronizing than the one and only Brock-man.  The Clintons are a close second.

So this charge from them is desperation.   They will every night yell and hoot and scream everything they can.

They are wrong in the estimation of Newt's "baggage".  The risk to him is less his baggage but more going forward with his tendency to make errant statements.  I hope he will listen to handlers for once and be careful by staying on a well rehearsed and vested script before he opens his occasionally big mouth.

The country is clearly willing to look away from personal stuff if the right leader comes forward - IMHO.

The left has no one to blame for this.  They lowered the bar themselves with the CLontons and previously with the Kennedys.

3959  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: December 01, 2011, 06:04:52 PM
Hey how come Sharpton Jackson and the rest of the race baiters are no where to be seen or heard when the media is assasinating a conservative Black?

Bottom line - it ain't about race - its about reparations.
3960  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 01, 2011, 01:37:54 PM
I am on the sidelines at this point between Mitt and Newt. 

I think people overestimate Newt's baggage.

The past is the past and much of the American public will not care about the baggage if Newt continues to sould like the best one with the best ideas for the job.

I am not happy with the illegal position but I understand it.  The cat is way out of the box with regards to that.  If we need to be reasonable with the illegals who are here with their clans in order to capture some of the Latino vote in order to stem the "progressive movement cancer from the liberals than so be it.  OTOH at least Newt points out that those who came here illegally must never be given citizenship.   

Let the left overestimate what short memories the public has or the concern they will have for Newt's past "indescretions" if they find his ideas too compelling to resist.

Look at Clinton.   No matter who sleazy no matter how dishonest no matter what lies and disgusting BS he or Hillary would come out with it made no difference.  The economy was good (of course due to the tech bubble) and he is now remembered as a great her.
3961  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama's love life as bad as Lincoln's?? on: November 30, 2011, 04:15:33 PM
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
About Obama's 'missing girlfriends'

Posted: August 18, 2011
9:00 pm Eastern

© 2011 
As WND reported, radio host Rush Limbaugh raised an intriguing question on the air: "Where are all of Obama's former girlfriends?"

In referring to past email inquiries he received on this subject, Limbaugh continued, "They are interesting because those people haven't surfaced. There aren't any ex-girlfriends that have admitted it."

In fact, I wrote about this question in my book, "Deconstructing Obama," and on these pages last year. As the likely source of these rumors, I thought I might clarify them, at least to the degree they can be clarified.

As it happens, Obama inadvertently raised the girlfriend issue himself in his 1995 memoir, "Dreams from My Father." Published when he was 33, "Dreams" documents Obama's all-consuming search for identity.

Whether he dated white women or black women – and what he might have learned from either – matters, but Obama gives the reader very close to nothing.

"Cosby never got the girl on 'I Spy,'" he laments in "Dreams," but in his own retelling, he does not do much better.

Although Obama spent 13 years on the mainland as a single man, on only one occasion in "Dreams" does Obama make any reference to his love life.

In a brief recounting, he tells his half-sister, Auma, that in addition to a white woman he had loved and lost, "There are several black ladies out there who've broken my heart just as good."

The problem is that Obama shares with the reader not a word about any of the black ladies, and not one of them has come forward on her own.

The white woman in question presents a different set of problems. In terms of height, hair color, eye color, parentage and highly specific place of origin – namely a large country estate with a lake in the middle – she is a dead ringer for Bill Ayers' lost love, the late Weatherwoman Diana Oughton.

In his definitive Obama-friendly biography, "The Bridge," David Remnick likewise falls silent on the subject of girlfriends, white or black.

Remnick interviews hundreds of people in Obama's life, but unless I missed something, he offers not a single interview of an Obama girlfriend.

Obama biographer Christopher Andersen made a serious effort to identify the mystery white woman, but he failed.

"No one," he writes, "including [Obama's] roommate and closest friend at the time, Siddiqi, knew of this mysterious lover's existence."

To be sure, Obama did court and marry his wife, Michelle. This tale of courtship, however, is strikingly devoid of any reference to love, sex or romance.

At his most passionate, Obama says of Michelle, "In her eminent practicality and Midwestern attitudes, she reminds me not a little of Toot [his grandmother]." That description must surely have warmed Michelle's heart.

In his second book, "Audacity of Hope," Obama does not even get the date of their first meeting right. "I met Michelle in the summer of 1988," he writes, "while we were both working at Sidley & Austin."

Obama acknowledges he had just finished his first year at law school, but he did not begin Harvard Law until the fall of 1988.

As has become more and more evident, there are some serious manipulations in the Obama narrative. If the year he first met Michelle is not one of them, the courtship of the mystery white woman is.

Jack Cashill is an Emmy-award winning independent writer and producer with a Ph.D. in American Studies from Purdue. His latest book is the blockbuster "Deconstructing Obama: The Life, Love and Letters of America's First Post-Modern President."

3962  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reset foreign policy has not happened on: November 29, 2011, 10:09:56 AM
Let's see.  Great One was going to improve our relationships abroad.

Have our relations improved with Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, China, N. Korea, Venezuela, Russia, Lybia, Egypt, Israel, PLO, or anyhwere?    I haven't seen the left wing media come out with some obscure foreign polling data claiming some other country, continent or region's people love Obama or the US lately.

Great One's charm was going to get everyone to love us.

All we needed was to get rid of Republicans and the world would be one big happy Pepsi generation.

Humanity will never be a Pepsi generation, the progressive's dream.

Why, even in our country alone no one can agree on anything and we fight and squabble over the money and our personal interests all day long - same as everywhere - same as every time in human history.

3963  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / CO2 emissions less of an issue than thought on: November 28, 2011, 05:39:25 PM
From the Economist:

****Climate change
Good news at last?
The climate may not be as sensitive to carbon dioxide as previously believed
Nov 26th 2011 | from the print edition

..CLIMATE science is famously complicated, but one useful number to keep in mind is “climate sensitivity”. This measures the amount of warming that can eventually be expected to follow a doubling in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its most recent summary of the science behind its predictions, published in 2007, estimated that, in present conditions, a doubling of CO2 would cause warming of about 3°C, with uncertainty of about a degree and a half in either direction. But it also says there is a small probability that the true number is much higher. Some recent studies have suggested that it could be as high as 10°C.

If that were true, disaster beckons. But a paper published in this week’s Science, by Andreas Schmittner of Oregon State University, suggests it is not. In Dr Schmittner’s analysis, the climate is less sensitive to carbon dioxide than was feared.

Existing studies of climate sensitivity mostly rely on data gathered from weather stations, which go back to roughly 1850. Dr Schmittner takes a different approach. His data come from the peak of the most recent ice age, between 19,000 and 23,000 years ago. His group is not the first to use such data (ice cores, fossils, marine sediments and the like) to probe the climate’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide. But their paper is the most thorough. Previous attempts had considered only small regions of the globe. He has compiled enough information to make a credible stab at recreating the climate of the entire planet.

The result offers that rarest of things in climate science—a bit of good news. The group’s most likely figure for climate sensitivity is 2.3°C, which is more than half a degree lower than the consensus figure, with a 66% probability that it lies between 1.7° and 2.6°C. More importantly, these results suggest an upper limit for climate sensitivity of around 3.2°C.

Before you take the SUV out for a celebratory spin, though, it is worth bearing in mind that this is only one study, and, like all such, it has its flaws. The computer model used is of only middling sophistication, Dr Schmittner admits. That may be one reason for the narrow range of his team’s results. And although the study’s geographical coverage is the most comprehensive so far for work of this type, there are still blank areas—notably in Australia, Central Asia, South America and the northern Pacific Ocean. Moreover, some sceptics complain about the way ancient data of this type were used to construct a different but related piece of climate science: the so-called hockey-stick model, which suggests that temperatures have risen suddenly since the beginning of the industrial revolution. It will be interesting to see if such sceptics are willing to be equally sceptical about ancient data when they support their point of view.

from the print edition | Science and technology
3964  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The great uniter, post partisan post racial leader on: November 28, 2011, 01:47:35 PM
President Obama praised Frank's work on the financial reform legislation.

"This country has never had a Congressman like Barney Frank, and the House of Representatives will not be the same without him," Obama said in a statement. "It is only thanks to his leadership that we were able to pass the most sweeping financial reform in history designed to protect consumers and prevent the kind of excessive risk-taking that led to the financial crisis from ever happening again."


3965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 28, 2011, 12:58:37 PM
" I am skeptical anyone will make government much smaller, but perhaps the one who can reform the most is the one people find the least threatening.  One part of smarter is send state governing responsibilities back to the states."

Taking a page from Alinsky - if you want to change "them"  pretend you are one of them.

Mitt can play he is a liberal and establishment guy but he is really behind the scenes  - a great conservative.

Well one can only wish....

3966  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: November 28, 2011, 11:49:54 AM
Barney out - market up big! wink

Wait till O'bamster loses in '12! cool
3967  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 28, 2011, 10:40:45 AM
"Mitt Romney will take a smaller, simpler, and smarter approach to government."

Excellent - a perfect comeback and in your face to the Clinton strategy of "smarter" government (see my post under the Clinton thread).  Yes smarter and more honest governent but smaller not larger like the liberals.

We have got to counter the dem machine idealogy that government is the answer to solving all the ills of mankind and every other ill affecting the Earth.

3968  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 28, 2011, 10:09:05 AM
"said wrt Pak at the last republican debate, that we need mollycoddle them and fund them because of their nukes, and that they can descend into chaos etc. We dont even have the guts to stop funding Pak, there is no question of Obama starting a new war."

With regards to the first part of this post what do the generals think we ought to do?  We can keep doing what we are doing and tread water, we can perhaps get tougher with (what) results, or perhaps we pull out altogether.

What do the military experts think is best?  I would guess they may have divergent opinions and may be unsure as well?

With regards to the latter part of the post are you saying Obama is starting a new war?
3969  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy is failing on: November 27, 2011, 03:36:01 PM
3970  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Here it is. "Smart power" from Time on: November 27, 2011, 03:19:21 PM
No one but no one is smarter than the pair of Clintons - except for the other one on the way - Chelsea.,9171,2097973,00.html
3971  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "Smart" on: November 27, 2011, 03:15:58 PM
a modern economy requires a government that is *smart*  Obviously this is the new push for a return to the Clintons from the liberals.  Government is not the problem - aka the Tea Party's claim - what we need is a "smarter" government.  And who better to see that government is smarter than the beloved Clintons.  Remember the cover of TIME magazine with something about Hillary Clinton and "smart" foreing policy.  There is NO doubt she will run for President again.   When I don't know.  If VP slot with the Brockster?  I don't know.  If not than in 2016.

This is the new con.  "Good and smart" government.  I recall Soros also has spoken about "good" government.   There really is no hope in stopping this relentless push for government to control everything we do.  They use voter bribery (entitlements) to buy people with this ideology.  I really think there is no hope. 

From the Economist:

****Bill Clinton's "Back to Work"
Missing Bill
Sep 29th 2011, 14:09 by A.W. | LONDON

..DURING the 2008 presidential election Bill Clinton’s reputation took a battering. Democrats who had stuck with him through all the bimbo eruptions and political zigzags suddenly started accusing him of racism (in South Carolina) and boorishness (almost everywhere). This owed something to the press which had all but degenerated into an ahmen chorus to the Obama operation. But it owed more to a general sense of exhaustion with the former first family: few people wanted to see Bill become Putin to Hillary’s Medvedev.
How the mood has changed! The comeback kid is back with a vengeance. From September 30th to October 1st he celebrates the 20th anniversary of his announced run for the presidency in Little Rock, Arkansas. In November Knopf is publishing a new book, “Back to Work”, his second literary offering after his sprawling autobiography. And the press is primed for a love-fest. The further Barack Obama’s stock has fallen—and it has fallen a long way—the more Mr Clinton’s has risen. And the worse the global economic crisis becomes—and it is becoming very bad indeed—the more people hanker after the stable growth of the 1990s.
Unlike Mr Obama, who seems most at home with campus liberals and minority activists, Mr Clinton knew how to reach white middle America—those poor boobs who ostensibly cling to guns and God. Mr Obama knows only two registers—grand (and increasingly tedious) rhetoric and cold cerebration. Mr Clinton can feel people’s pain—can drape a hand over people’s shoulders and convince them that they are the centre of his universe. He does Oprah better than Oprah and Dr Phil better than Dr Phil. But "Back to Work" reminds us that there is an even more important reason why we should miss the old rogue: he may have been undisciplined, self-indulgent and sleazy, but he was one of the greatest policy wonks ever to sit in the White House.
One of the most surprising things about Mr Obama’s presidency—even more surprising than his appetite for golf—is his lack of interest in the nitty-gritty of policy. Mr Clinton brought the same appetite to social policy that he did to junk food and cheap women. He loved debating the finer points with the likes of Robert Reich and Lawrence Summers. As a New Democrat, he understood that liberalism needed to reinvent itself if it was to remain relevant in an age of globalisation and information technology (though his interest in IT did not extend to teaching himself how to use a computer). As a former governor, he understood that the devil of policy-making lies in the details.
In his new book “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President”, Ron Suskind quotes Mr Obama claiming that “Carter, Clinton and I all have sort of the disease of being policy wonks”. But in truth Mr Obama is surprisingly free from the disease, given his Ivy League education and cerebral style: he has never wrestled with public policy for any sustained period of time; never once gone to battle with his party’s interest groups in defence of a new liberalism, for example; never descended into the engine room of the policy machine.
Mr Obama’s supporters might retort that he inherited a far more difficult set of problems than Mr Clinton: the biggest economic implosion since the Great Depression, a huge mountain of debt, much of it accumulated by his spendthrift predecessor, and two interminable wars. But he also had huge resources at his disposal in his first two years: a solid electoral majority, Democratic majorities in both houses and a whirlwind of goodwill as the first African-American president. This could have produced health-care legislation that dealt seriously with costs and educational reforms that extended choice and competition. But instead Mr Obama handed over the detail of health-care reform to Congressional Democrats (who gutted any cost-cutting) and retreated before the teachers’ unions. Mr Obama’s supporters might also retort that after those two golden years, he was confronted by a resurgent Republican majority in the House. But divided politics can be a stimulus to creative policy making: Mr Clinton’s battles with Newt Gingrich’s Republicans led to one of his singular pieces of legislation, welfare reform.
“Back to Work” addresses the subject Mr Obama has been weakest with: job creation. Mr Clinton sounds some classic themes from the 1990s with a bit of fashionable greenery flown in. The private and public sector should be partners, not antagonists: anti-government rhetoric may be good for politics (and TV ratings) but it is bad for policy-making. A modern economy requires a government that is active but smart rather than one that is active but driven by vested interests. But the blurb also promises some “specific recommendations” on how to put people back to work and create new businesses—and even double America’s exports. It is impossible to judge whether this is just flannel or serious argument until the book is released next month. It is also far easier to make recommendations from the comfort of retirement than it is to govern. But a president who presided over America’s Indian summer—a period of sustained growth and disciplined government—should at least have something to say to a new generation of politicians who live in a far stormier time.***

3972  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues on: November 25, 2011, 02:36:49 PM
"To allow threats to grow and develop right while we have reason, justification and perhaps opportunity to take action is exactly what has landed us in this triple threat situation, IMHO."

Bolton was on a few days ago and agreed that if Iran gets nucs so will S. Arabia, Turkey, Egypt go after them.
It doesn't seem like anyone knows if Israel can do it or not.   Only Israel knows what it has and only Iran knows what it has.

Didn't the nuclear holocaust in the movie "The Day After" start with nuclear devices going off in the Middle East?

I remember not being able to sleep that night after watching the movie.

The doctrine of mutually assured destruction doesn't fit this situation like it did between USA USSR when we had two superpowers with more rational leaders and more or less equal capability.

Now we have disprotionate foes.
3973  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 25, 2011, 12:38:41 PM
MSM is in full swing doing everything they can to delegitamize the Rep field.

CNN is every day I turn it on spending inordinate amounts of time trying to debunk everything the candidates say.

You know the "keeping em honest" pitch.  As though they are the final arbitars of truth and justice.

If that were the case they would be debunking Brock every single day - but they don't.

We NEVER hear from the MSM any criticism of the Dem party unless they include the Republicans in the criticism.  It is never the party they go after.  When that is the case it becomes all the politicians.

Cain has fallen in the polls more for his poor handling of allegations and indeed more because he is obviously not prepared to be a President - I doubt it is because of the allegations themselves.
3974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 23, 2011, 12:08:28 PM
The debate was good.  The candidates are all better.  The formatt seemed improved with more leeway on allowing candidates to speak longer and answer each other rather than 30 second sound bites.  Less "gotcha" stuff I thought. 

Mitt looked great. Strong on defense.  Newt too. 

MSLSD is in full Democratic machine mode every day and night attacking the Rep candidates.  CNN gloriously points out about Newt and his money endeavors.  Not a peep about GE, MSLSD and the WH.   
3975  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mitt vs Newt? on: November 22, 2011, 02:31:42 PM
I too still like Newt.  "NA" stands for Newt anonymous.  Last night saw Mitt.  While the substance of what he says is correct he just doesn't take it to the opposition like Newt.  Like he still has the need to soften his tone when speaking about Brock, with phrase like "he means well".  Get rid of that.  He doesn't mean well.  He is out to get rid of America as we know it.   And he is not honest about it.  Why keep calling him a nice guy who is just misinformed.  Brock is well aware of what he is doing and he is fully aware he is not telling us the truth.

I agree with Crafty here.  Newt don't back down.  I want to see him and Mitt "duke it out" and lets see who can make the case better for stark choice between Brock's one world government socialism and America as we know it.   

Mitt just doesn't inspire me.  Yet it ain't about me.  It is about the independents.  So who can get their attention better, Mitt or Newt?  As always they decide the election.  So I am a pragmatist in the end.   
3976  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jonathan Steele book review from economist; interesting take on: November 22, 2011, 02:21:19 PM
Afghanistan’s interminable war
Looking for the exit
A bleak but authoritative assessment of foreign intervention
Nov 19th 2011 | from the print edition

Ghosts of Afghanistan: The Haunted Battleground. By Jonathan Steele. Counterpoint; 437 pages; $26. Portobello; £25. Buy from,

ON TAKING office in 2009, President Barack Obama found a longstanding request from the army on his desk, asking for more troops for the war in Afghanistan. He soon acceded, though not in full. According to Bob Woodward’s book, “Obama’s Wars”, which came out in 2010, the late Richard Holbrooke, Mr Obama’s envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, reminded his boss that Lyndon Johnson had faced similar demands during the Vietnam war. “Ghosts”, whispered Mr Obama. They haunt him still, as he seeks to bring most American troops home before 2015, without leaving Afghanistan prey to a new extremist Taliban regime or an intensification of its three-decade-long civil war.

“Ghosts of Afghanistan” is a good title for this fine modern history by Jonathan Steele, a British journalist. This is not just because of the many people who have died in its wars, but because “the spectres of past mistakes” still complicate decision-making by the NATO-led, American-dominated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

These include both the quagmire in Vietnam and the Soviet Union’s disastrous nine-year occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, which was cheered by Western cold warriors as “the Soviet Union’s Vietnam”. An experienced writer and commentator for the Guardian, Mr Steele has visited Afghanistan in every phase of the civil war and is well placed to compare the end of the Soviet era and the present “transition”, the favoured common euphemism for foreign withdrawal.

He demolishes some Western myths about Afghanistan that betray short memories and government spin. The Soviet years, for example, tend to be portrayed as a period of bitter repression under a puppet regime, which was defeated by a popular, Islamist uprising, backed by America and Pakistan, and which crumbled as soon as the Soviet Union withdrew its occupation forces in 1989.

There is another way of looking at the same history. At no stage did the Soviet Union have as many troops in Afghanistan as America and ISAF do now. It was never defeated. It withdrew because Mikhail Gorbachev realised the Soviets could never win. The regime they left behind was quite resilient. Only as the Soviet Union began to unravel in 1991 and withdraw its aid did the regime collapse shortly after. The mujahideen boast of having brought down the Soviet Union. The reverse is just as true: it was the collapse of the Soviet Union that brought the mujahideen to power.

There are some uncanny echoes between the two interventions. The Soviets and the Americans both allocated 15 times as much to military spending in the country as to civilian spending. Soviet resentment at the ingratitude of the client regime is matched in America. This month ISAF had to sack an American general for voicing it. Neither the West nor the Soviet Union is predominantly Muslim, enabling their enemies to decry the “infidel” regimes they back. Both wars became very unpopular at home. ISAF, like the Soviet army, has established solid-looking structures in the north, which is largely inhabited by smaller ethnic groups, such as Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. But it still faces a serious insurgency in the Pushtun-dominated south and east, fuelled from Pakistan.

With the war in stalemate now, as it was 20 years ago, Mr Steele argues for peace talks with the Taliban and the regional powers. That, of course, is how wars end. But it is hard when the enemy, known in convenient shorthand as “the Taliban”, is fragmented and ISAF is trying to kill or co-opt as many of its fighters as possible. Moreover, America has committed itself to a timetable for withdrawal—an invitation to its enemies to play a long game.

In one respect the Soviet precedent is not encouraging. That withdrawal was preceded by years of ultimately fruitless diplomacy. But the foreign presence is not the only reason Afghans fight. So the lesson some ISAF strategists draw from the Soviet experience is less to do with the necessity for peace talks than about the durability of the post-occupation Afghan government until its plug was pulled from a socket in Moscow. If the West can commit enough in military and civilian assistance, the present government should muddle through, at least in the cities.

That is not a very encouraging outcome, measured against the high hopes after the swift toppling of the Taliban in 2001. But Mr Steele gives almost the last word in his book to an even gloomier scenario, spelled out by Francesc Vendrell, a wise diplomat formerly with the UN and the EU: “Having failed dismally to make the Afghan people our allies, we will inevitably abandon them to a combination of Taliban in the south and the warlords in the north, and (having somehow redefined success) we will go home convinced that it is the Afghan people who have failed us.” Mr Steele and Mr Vendrell are not the only ones to be haunted by the ghosts of Afghanistan’s future.

from the print edition | Books and arts
3977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: November 22, 2011, 12:35:25 PM
* I'm just tied up for the
rest of the day*

I cannot resist this one:

You mean you are on Wall Street with fellow "revolutionaries" elbow to elbow in front of Rupert Murdoch's NY office avoiding a bath?

Sound like a lot of fun.  Oh its so great to be part of history and of 'something'.  And the chicks are freebirds too  grin
3978  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: November 22, 2011, 11:44:14 AM
***Imagine if your receptionist asked a patient and his family to leave your lobby, but the patient refused, however the patient was non violent. non threatening, just annoying and uncooperative.  He and his family just sat there.  What would you say if your receptionist, without being threatened in any way, then pulled out her Pepper Spray and attacked the entire family just to clear your lobby?  Causing damage to the individuals.  Wouldn't you feel a little guilty given the circumstances?  Was Pepper Spray appropriate?  As Management, wouldn't you like to have know before your receptionist Pepper Spayed Patients without justifiable cause and if appropriate, require your approval in advance excluding the employee being physically threatened?****

Your analogy is a bit ridiculous but OK.  I'll give a go.  Suppose a group of students walk in my office and sit with arms locked accross the floor and refuse to vacate the premises.  I would then call the police and hope they would have these people removed.  Suppose they refuse to leave based on verbal commands.  Then what?  Since they are not violent I should just throw up my arms and agree it is their right to freedom of speech and let it go?

A receptionist is not the same as a police officer and might be subject to arrest in NJ for using pepper spray. 

3979  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: November 22, 2011, 09:56:46 AM
Whatever some lawyer says about this *must be done* etc doesn't mean much.  Of course this guy will say this.

But what is the law/consitution and the entire legal analysis.  Try getting an objective opinion without everyone's agenda right of left involved.
3980  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: November 22, 2011, 09:54:20 AM
JDN I hear you.

But I disagree with everything you say.

This is a set up.

"Being told to leave, and not leaving is not necessarily grounds for pepper spraying students on campus.  It was a huge mistake. Obviously."

They were warned.  I am not sympathetic.  But the University is going to be passive and not back the campus police.  So we will not likely get the whole story.  Just the liberal side of it.

3981  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "This is why I am done with working patrol. Perhaps with law enforcement altoget on: November 21, 2011, 05:50:58 PM
Police officers are damned either way.  They enforce the law with people who are not cooperating then they are accused of "brutality".  They don't do anything then they are blamed for not doing anything.

CNN was all over that picture with the Democrat anchors asking the parade of guests "isn't that police brutality?'

The MSM is out of control.  THEY are trying to set the agenda and make news of non news.   I hope most people who see this see it for what it is - a Democrat party ploy.
3982  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: November 21, 2011, 01:29:19 PM
What is the other side of the story?  Were these people blocking something?  Were they asked to not block the sidewalk?

"their right to peaceful protest".   MSM is flaming this.

police chief on leave after pepper spraying
By JASON DEAREN, Associated Press – 1 hour ago 
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The president of the University of California system said he was "appalled" at images of protesters being doused with pepper spray and plans an assessment of law enforcement procedures on all 10 campuses, as the police chief and two officers were placed on administrative leave.

"Free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and non-violent protest has long been central to our history," UC President Mark G. Yudof said in a statement Sunday in response to the spraying of students sitting passively at UC Davis. "It is a value we must protect with vigilance."

Yudof said it was not his intention to "micromanage our campus police forces," but he said all 10 chancellors would convene soon for a discussion "about how to ensure proportional law enforcement response to non-violent protest."

Protesters from Occupy Sacramento planned to travel to nearby Davis on Monday for a noon rally in solidarity with the students, the group said in a statement.

UC Davis said early Monday in a news release that it was necessary to place police Chief Annette Spicuzza on administrative leave to restore trust and calm tensions. The school refused to identify the two officers who were place on administrative leave but one was a veteran of many years on the force and the other "fairly new" to the department, Spicuzza earlier told The Associated Press. She would not elaborate further because of the pending
3983  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Late but not too late. on: November 21, 2011, 11:31:18 AM
I watched part of the interview.  Zakaria asked Barak if he thought Obama has demonstrated a strong undeniable commitment to Israel's security and has proven he is doing EVERYTHING he can.  Barak  hesitated, but then diplomatically said yes.  Zakaria could not control his obvious relief and glee that Ehud made the statement about the guy HE, Zakaria supports and advises.  His Harvard minority buddy.  For anyone to argue that Brock has demonstrated total commitment to Israel's security is ridiculous.
That said Ehud was surely trying not to offend the President by saying anything otherwise.  And Zakaria's immediate smirk at the answer surely gave it away.  There are many liberal Jews who will never stop suopporting their beloved Demcorat party.

In my opinion the time for action has already come AND GONE.

****The "time has come" to deal with Iran, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday, refusing to rule out military action to curb the Islamic republic's nuclear ambitions.

Barak, speaking on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS program, indicated that Israel's patience was wearing thin -- and provided an ominous response when asked about the growing speculation of an Israeli military strike.

"I don't think that that is a subject for public discussion," he said. "But I can tell you that the IAEA report has a sobering impact on many in the world, leaders as well as the publics, and people understand that the time has come."

The International Atomic Energy Agency published a report on November 8 saying there was "credible" information that Iran was carrying out "activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device."

On Friday the IAEA's board passed a resolution condemning Iran's nuclear activities, but stopped short of reporting Tehran to the United Nations and issuing no deadline for compliance.

"People understand now that Iran is determined to reach nuclear weapons," said Barak. There is "no other possible or conceivable explanation for what they have been actually doing. And that should be stopped."

The IAEA report -- based on "broadly, credible" intelligence, its own information and some input from Iran itself -- said that Iran had examined how to fit out a Shahab 3 missile, with a range capable of reaching Israel, with a nuclear warhead.

Tehran rejected the report "baseless," denies it is seeking nuclear weapons and maintains its nuclear activities are for civilian energy purposes.

Washington, Paris and London however jumped on the report as justification to increase pressure on Iran, already under four rounds of Security Council sanctions and additional US and European Union restrictions.****

3984  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Will doesn't like Mitt either on: November 21, 2011, 10:48:05 AM
Mitt Romney, the pretzel candidate
George F. Will, Published: October 28
The Republican presidential dynamic — various candidates rise and recede; Mitt Romney remains at about 25 percent support — is peculiar because conservatives correctly believe that it is important to defeat Barack Obama but unimportant that Romney be president. This is not cognitive dissonance.

Obama, a floundering naif who thinks ATMs aggravate unemployment, is bewildered by a national tragedy of shattered dreams, decaying workforce skills and forgone wealth creation. Romney cannot enunciate a defensible, or even decipherable, ethanol policy.
.Life poses difficult choices, but not about ethanol. Government subsidizes ethanol production, imposes tariffs to protect manufacturers of it and mandates the use of it — and it injures the nation’s and the world’s economic, environmental, and social (it raises food prices) well-being.

In May, in corn-growing Iowa, Romney said, “I support” — present tense — “the subsidy of ethanol.” And: “I believe ethanol is an important part of our energy solution for this country.” But in October he told Iowans he is “a business guy,” so as president he would review this bipartisan — the last Republican president was an ethanol enthusiast — folly. Romney said that he once favored (past tense) subsidies to get the ethanol industry “on its feet.” (In the 19th century, Republican “business guys” justified high tariffs for protecting “infant industries”). But Romney added, “I’ve indicated I didn’t think the subsidy had to go on forever.” Ethanol subsidies expire in December, but “I might have looked at more of a decline over time” because of “the importance of ethanol as a domestic fuel.” Besides, “ethanol is part of national security.” However, “I don’t want to say” I will propose new subsidies. Still, ethanol has “become an important source of amplifying our energy capacity.” Anyway, ethanol should “continue to have prospects of growing its share of” transportation fuels. Got it?

Every day, 10,000 baby boomers become eligible for Social Security and Medicare, from which they will receive, on average, $1 million of benefits ($550,000 from the former, $450,000 from the latter). Who expects difficult reforms from Romney, whose twists on ethanol make a policy pretzel?

A straddle is not a political philosophy; it is what you do when you do not have one. It is what Romney did when he said that using Troubled Assets Relief Program funds for the General Motors and Chrysler bailouts “was the wrong source for that funding.” Oh, so the source was the bailouts’ defect.

Last week in Ohio, Romney straddled the issue of the ballot initiative by which liberals and unions hope to repeal the law that Republican Gov. John Kasich got enacted to limit public employees’ collective bargaining rights. Kasich, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, is under siege. Romney was asked, at a Republican phone bank rallying support for Kasich’s measure, to oppose repeal of it and to endorse another measure exempting Ohioans from Obamacare’s insurance mandate (a cousin of Romneycare’s Massachusetts mandate). He refused.

His campaign called his refusal principled: “Citizens of states should be able to make decisions . . . on their own.” Got it? People cannot make “their own” decisions if Romney expresses an opinion. His flinch from leadership looks ludicrous after his endorsement three months ago of a right-to-work bill that the New Hampshire legislature was considering. So, the rule in New England expires across the Appalachian Mountains?

A day after refusing to oppose repeal of Kasich’s measure, Romney waffled about his straddle, saying he opposed repeal “110 percent.” He did not, however, endorse the anti-mandate measure, remaining semi-faithful to the trans-Appalachian codicil pertaining to principles, thereby seeming to lack the courage of his absence of convictions.

Romney, supposedly the Republican most electable next November, is a recidivist reviser of his principles who is not only becoming less electable; he might damage GOP chances of capturing the Senate. Republican successes down the ticket will depend on the energies of the Tea Party and other conservatives, who will be deflated by a nominee whose blurry profile in caution communicates only calculated trimming.

Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Massachusetts governor who takes his bearings from “data” (although there is precious little to support Romney’s idea that in-state college tuition for children of illegal immigrants is a powerful magnet for such immigrants) and who believes elections should be about (in Dukakis’s words) “competence,” not “ideology.” But what would President Romney competently do when not pondering ethanol subsidies that he forthrightly says should stop sometime before “forever”? Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for this?

3985  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: November 21, 2011, 10:02:39 AM
The passive aggressive I am going to get in your face nature of OWS is typical of the types of people who crowd it.

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to take control over public or private areas and stop usual course of freedom for everyone else.

Does freedom of speech mean not just opening one's big mouth and saying wahtever one wants is okay if you sit in the middle of the road and block everyone else and then when the police come, just dare them to do anything which when they do use any physical means than turn around and call it police burtality, ham it up for MSNBC cameras.

Did any one see CNN calling it police brutality when an officer maced such a group of passive aggressive personality disordered types sitting in a row doing exactly this?

3986  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / In middle ease it must all turn towards Iran. on: November 21, 2011, 09:56:40 AM
Our middel east policy perhaps should focus mostly on Iran.  Perhaps we should withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan and concentrate all our efforts on Iran.  Unless by staying in Afghan we are better positioned to deal with Iran.

Iran is leading the middle east towards nuclear war.   

GM posts imagine what an attack on Iran would do to the oil chain of supply to the world.

I say imagine what Iran with nucs can do to that chain anytime it will want.

We are weak against Pakistan because THEY have nucs.  Once Iran starts to get several nuclear devices even without missle delivery capability forget it.  Game over. 

Al Qaeda is a joke.  The threat certainly needs to be taken seriously but we need to change focus away from this to Iran - just my take.

3987  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: November 19, 2011, 01:59:48 PM
NJ appears to be at the top.  If it has 8 million people and Kali-FORNA 35 million than jersey's 186 nillion is per capita more than the left coast state.

Doesn't totally surprise me.

NJ is the epitome of the OWS types.  Demand free checks, soak and abuse the system, nepotism, cronism, organized crime, regulation, big government, politicians mostly all getting fabulously rich with side deals, payoffs etc.

And of course their answer is always let the rich pay their fair share!  Now there certainly are many rich who are crooks but lets go after them for being crooks and not for being rich per se.

We sure do live in a strange new world.  How could there not be a big crash coming?

Didn't one Dem recently get quoted as saying debt got us into this mess, debt will have to get us out of it.

I agree with Doug.  Only bankruptcy can get us out of this.  Yet as the articles posted and JDN points out that may not even be an option.

3988  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 18, 2011, 12:30:30 PM
Why oh why cannot we not have more like VDH, Rush, Levin, Klein, Grant,  who can articulate running for office.  Yes the names I mention may not be politically savvy but at least they can speak in complete sentences, string sentences together to bespeak a coherent logical thought, idea, or ideology.

We do have some coming up in the ranks who are learning but just aren't world class yet. 

Such as Rubio, hopefully Bachman, and a few others.

WE may have to stop worrying about the candidates personal baggage as well.  It is rare enough finding someone with the political skills needed to run a country.  It is quite a bit rarer to find one with those skills and who has lived their life like a saint.

There is truly only one Abe Lincoln.

The Dems have already demonstrated they made that deal with the devil a long time ago. 
3989  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FWIW Kaliflower and bankruptcy on: November 18, 2011, 12:20:10 PM
This doesn't really answer the question to my total satisfaction.  Suppose the Kaliflower legislatures simply stop paying the pensioners.  The pensioners will sue but so what.  If the money ain't there it ain't there.  Except for the endless chirade of "borrowing Paul to pay Peter" game of bonds and more debt.  They have at this time decided to simply keep doing this forever and look the other way.  Is borrowing forever in the Kaliflower child's constitution?  Because this IS what they are doing without end.  Otherwise, they are de facto bankrupt already, no?:

****Answers to your questions about the news. Can California Declare Bankruptcy?
What about Greece?
By Christopher Beam|Posted Monday, March 8, 2010, at 5:01 PM ET

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger California passed a gas tax last week to help make up for its nearly $20 billion budget gap, the latest in a series of measures to right the state's teetering economy. The country of Greece is in even worse shape, with accumulated debt higher than 110 percent of GDP, set to reach 125 percent this year. Can a state declare bankruptcy? Can a country?

No and no. Chapter 9 of the U.S. bankruptcy code allows individuals and municipalities (cities, towns, villages, etc.) to declare bankruptcy. But that doesn't include states. (The statute defines "municipality" as a "political subdivision or public agency or instrumentality of a State"—that is, not a state itself.) For one thing, states are said to have sovereign immunity, as protected by the 11th Amendment, which means they can't be sued. In other words, they don't need any protection from angry creditors who would take them to court for failing to pay their debts. As a result, states can simply borrow money ad infinitum.

Say the state can't make its debt payments, and no one will lend it any more money. In that case, the federal government can step in and put the state into receivership. This would involve the assignment of an accountant to manage the state's debt, overseen by a judge. It would be a lot like bankruptcy, except instead of following a structured set of steps—informing creditors, appointing creditors' committees, a 120-day window to file a plan, etc.—a receiver has the authority to force creditors to renegotiate loans in a speedy fashion. However, the accountant in charge would not have the power to make decisions about the state's budget, such as which programs needed to be cut and which taxes had to be raised. (No state has ever gone into receivership.)

Greece is in a slightly different situation. There's no international bankruptcy court for countries that can't pay their debts. Instead, other EU countries that depend on Greece's solvency, such as Germany or France, would have to agree to bail it out. (When the economy of one member of the Eurozone sinks, it drags the euro down across the continent.) In return for loans, Greece would agree to implement austerity measures, such as hiking the price of gas, freezing government salaries, and raising the retirement age, to steer the country toward solvency. Whichever countries bail out Greece may not get their money back. But at the very least, Greece wouldn't pull the European economy down with it. Another option would be a bailout funded by the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank, which have stepped in when the economies of Ecuador, Russia, and numerous African countries have tanked. But their leaders seem reluctant. Worst-case scenario, the EU could expel Greece—Greece's deficit is already four times higher than what the EU allows. But that could hurt the euro as well by signaling to investors that the EU is unstable and thus a risky bet.****

3990  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: November 18, 2011, 12:12:47 PM
"On the flip side, reforms like a massive change of retirement age would be barbaric if proposed by a conservative, are now courageous."

Yes. cry

3991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / It is the numbers on: November 18, 2011, 10:34:26 AM
JDN agreed.  This is already more than the exterminated cartoon Governor you had.  But just look at those numbers.

Isn't it over for California?

The numbers are STAGGERING!"
3992  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 18, 2011, 10:30:16 AM
Everyone has been great at pointing out "no good options" for two decades.  We all know this.

Of course there are no "good" options.

We are talking Jews in Israel need to go to war for their survival OR simply be forced into exile.

That IS the choice they will soon have to face.

The strategy of waiting and hoping for some unforseen event that was going to change the dynamic in some unexpected happy way has NOT occured.  Time has run out.  Waiting has allowed Iran to dig in and build a major conglomerate in the region.

Indeed time has simply worked against the Israel's interest - not for it as hoped.

Again as Bolton has said if we think Iran is a problem now just wait till they get the nukes.

Iran will not neccessarily kill all the Jews (though probably desired).  They will give them an ultimatum.  Go back to Europe, America, and whereever else you came from, or can escape to, or, we will drive you all to the same place the Minoan empire went.

We should have become energy independent by now.  We could have been safe from the stranglehold Arab oil.

America has shown and lived weakness. Iran the whole time waited this out and stayed their course.

Instead we are a lousy country fighting over how early we can all retire, go on vacations earlier, see the sights, get onto diability, have the workers pay for all those who cannot work, choose not to work, etc.  The greatest generation is now a bunch of old hags crying about their medicare and ss payments.  The baby boomers are a bunch of 60s idiots talking peace and not war and giving this country away for ideals as one world government, cooperation and we are all part of the same family on one little tiny home called Earth.   The millineums are too stupid - look they voted for Brock - do I need say more about them. 

Israel has to decide to prepare for the very worst or essentially give up their country to avoid war.

Folks there is no other choice.  It is here and now.

I will vote for Romney.  His comments on this are the decisive factor for me.  I don't want to see Israel wiped out.

(Unless Newt can come up with something better)

3993  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "240 to 500" billion unfunded pensions on: November 18, 2011, 09:40:51 AM
The first unbelievable thing is no one apparantly evens knows the number.  Well lets say it is somewhere between 240 and 500 billion dollars.  The next unbelievable thing is what I read below.  Now correct me if I read this wrong.  But Jerry Brown wants to raise the retirement age from 55 to 67.  He wants to have the empolyees contribute to their plans (like the private sector).  He wants to end abuses like pretending one is disabled to squeeze/con more money out of the "system" (or from the taxpayer).

Yet even these changes will only save *11 billion* over thirty years!  Do I read this right.  A measly 11 billion saving on unfunded 240 to 500 billion?   Folks if these numbers are true the debt is so staggering I don't understand how there can possibly be any hope of preventing a crash.  What with the population getting older and living longer and soaking out more from system.  I know from what I see in my job that many of these people still go and get under the table cash paying jobs.  So they continue to get from the system and pay nothing into it.  Some for many decades.  All I can say is "Greece we are right behind you!":

*****California’s public pensions
Not so retiring
The state with the biggest pension problem is stumbling toward a solution
Nov 12th 2011 | LOS ANGELES | from the print edition

JERRY BROWN, aged 73, likes to joke that he is not only California’s governor but also its “best pension buy”. After all, he has spent much of his life in public service (including a first stint as governor from 1975 to 1983), but neither draws a public pension nor plans to, if he can get himself re-elected. Nonetheless, his commitment to fixing California’s daunting public-pension problem has been in doubt. A Democrat, he was elected one year ago in a race against a self-financed Silicon Valley billionaire, largely with the help of independent spending by public-sector unions. The question has been whether he can stare down his own allies, those unions, and pass the necessary reform.

Mr Brown has now released a plan. Initial reactions suggest that he may pass his test: the unions were outraged, many Democratic legislators (often beholden to the unions) felt awkward, and several Republican legislators were supportive. But now everything is in flux, as all parties choose their tactics for the fight.

The main changes Mr Brown proposes concern new employees of state or local governments. They would have to wait till 67 to retire, whereas many current government workers can retire at 55 or even earlier. They would also have hybrid plans, with part of the traditional defined-benefit pension replaced by a defined-contribution plan of the sort common in the private sector. Mr Brown also wants to make current as well as new employees contribute half of the cost of funding their pension (today, many pay nothing). And he wants to end sneaky ways of upping benefits (called “spiking”) and other abuses.

This is all eminently sensible. Indeed, it is remarkably similar to the demands a handful of Republican legislators were making in June, when Mr Brown was begging for their votes to reach the necessary two-thirds majority to let Californians vote in a ballot measure to extend some tax increases. (He did not get those votes, and ended up with an all-cuts budget he doesn’t like.)

Even so the proposal still falls short, says David Crane. He is a Democrat who advised Mr Brown’s Republican predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and who was a gadfly on one of the large pension-plan boards for 11 months. California’s unfunded pension liabilities are staggering, he points out; they have been estimated at between $240 billion and $500 billion. Plugging that hole will increasingly crowd out other things that Democrats care about, such as schools, parks and courts. But Mr Brown’s plan might save at best $11 billion over 30 years.

Which is why Mr Brown’s plan may not be the final one. This month, a group led by several eminent Republicans filed two versions of what may become a ballot measure in next year’s general election. With a nod to Mr Brown’s effort, one alternative is somewhat more aggressive, the other a lot more. The main difference is that current workers would start paying much more of the cost of their pensions.

This Republican plan, in whichever form, might end up helping Mr Brown: either by showing the unions how bad the alternative is, so that they support him after all; or by allowing him to tell them that he tried to be considerate, but now has to endorse the tougher Republican plan as part of a package of other ballot initiatives. In that scenario, the state just might achieve the grand bargain that seems to be eluding the rest of the country.******
3994  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More silliness from the Economist on: November 17, 2011, 03:05:19 PM
Although nearly all public figures have been the same stupid fools.  More equivicating, denials, and delays, excuses, grandstanding, senseless boring repetitive and laughable talk of we must make sanctions stronger, get China and Russia on board, make Iran into a pariah....  Did I hear Romney is the first national level politician to come out and make it clear military action IS on the table?   Apparantly Iran has a system within a moutain (where was NORAD in Colorado?) that is beyond the reach conventional military means.  Folks Iranian leaders cannot make their intentions any clearer.  All I can say is Thank God Israel has leaders with real guts.  Far more than any American politician all of whom have been denying, ignoring, and putting off any honest assesment of what is going on.  That includes that charade of "smart power" Hillary Clinton.  BTW, one cannot help notice the greater public visibility of Chelsea.  Obvioulsy, this is for her eventual run for office.   I don't know though, she couldn't possibly be as obnoxious as her parents, or could she?

****Nuclear Iran, anxious Israel
The world needs to be much tougher on Iran, but an Israeli attack would still be a disaster
Nov 12th 2011 | from the print edition

THE debate about timelines is almost over. This week’s report on Iran’s nuclear programme by the UN’s watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is its most alarming yet. Although no “smoking gun” proves beyond doubt that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, the evidence gathered in a 12-page annex is hard to interpret in any other way.

Concerted efforts by Western intelligence agencies and the Israelis to sabotage the Iranian programme have been less effective than was previously believed. Iran has already begun moving part of its uranium-enrichment capacity to Fordow, a facility buried deep within a mountain near Qom. Intelligence sources estimate that if Iran opted to “break out” from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it could have at least one workable weapon within a year and a few more about six months after that. Iran’s leaders may not choose that path. But what happens next depends less on Iran’s technical or industrial capabilities than on politics. For the time being at least, ambiguity almost certainly serves Iran’s purposes better than a confrontation. But in Israel, talk of a pre-emptive attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities is increasing.

Publicly, Israel has stuck to its well-worn line that no option should be ruled out. But well-placed leaks suggest that the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and his defence minister, Ehud Barak, are exploring the possibility of a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Their cabinet colleagues seem less persuaded and Israel’s powerful military and intelligence establishment is against a strike. Polls show that Israelis are split on the issue. But Mr Netanyahu is determined not to go down in history as the prime minister who allowed Israel to become threatened by a hostile, regional nuclear power.

Rising fear, rising danger

The Israelis’ anxiety is understandable. They fear a theocratic regime that embraces the Shia tradition of martyrdom may not be deterred by a nuclear balance of terror. For a country as small as Israel, even a small-scale nuclear attack could be an existential threat. Two of Mr Netanyahu’s predecessors took action, against Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007, to prevent just such a threat; and it worked. The opportunity to attack Iran is now, before it is too late—or so the argument goes in many Israeli households.

Yet the arguments against an attack are still overwhelming, even for Israel. A sustained bombing campaign would take weeks and set off a firestorm in the Middle East, with Iran counter-attacking Israel through its proxies. It would do nothing to help regime change in Tehran. The economic consequences could be catastrophic. And to what end? A successful campaign would still only delay Iran, not stop it. The technical difficulties for Israel’s armed forces of carrying out such a broad mission over such a long time are immense. Indeed, the suspicion is that Mr Netanyahu would be betting that what Israel started, America would feel forced to finish.

Barack Obama should make it very clear to Mr Netanyahu that he would not do that. At the same time, he should pursue two courses: pushing sanctions, on the one hand, and preparing for a nuclear-armed Iran on the other.

So far, attempts to impose punitive sanctions have fallen short. Russia and China (Iran’s biggest trading partner) have refused to support efforts at the UN Security Council to beef up the sanctions regime, for instance by limiting Iran’s imports of refined petroleum or targeting the activities of its central bank. Yet the West should not give up the effort: there is a (slim) possibility that, as the prospect of an Iranian bomb and an Israeli strike draw near, Russia and China might shift their positions.

If Iran does not halt its nuclear programme, its rulers should expect their country to be treated as an international pariah. That means not just pushing for more serious sanctions, but also stepping up the covert campaign to disrupt Iran’s nuclear facilities. It also means preparing for the day when Iran deploys nuclear weapons. To that end, America must demonstrate to its allies who feel threatened by Iran—not just Israel, but Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states too—that its commitment to extending nuclear deterrence to them is as firm as it was to Europe at the height of the cold war. America must also be willing to make available to its allies advanced ballistic missile defences.

Iran must be made to understand that owning nuclear weapons is a curse for it rather than a blessing. And Israel must be persuaded that striking Iran would be far more dangerous than living with its nuclear ambitions.****
3995  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Estimate 1 to 1.5 years on: November 17, 2011, 02:53:04 PM
till Iran has enough material for a nuclear "device".  1.5 years till it has several.  As John Bolton said, if anyone wonders how dangerous Iran is now only wonder how dangerous they will be with nuclear weapons.   I take this comment further to mock Erin Burnett's analysis the other night on the cable nanny network (CNN) about how much a war with Iran will cost per ground troop, bombs, etc. 

(With of course her conclusion that any war with Iran vis a vis Israel is nuts because the costs would be too great.)

One must ask, "how much will it cost the US after nuclear war between Israel and Iran and the total closing of the oil rich gulf becomes a distinct reality and not some cynic's fanciful nightmare?"

For Israel there is only one answer - military action.  The big and only question is will they need do it alone.  I can only pray Nato will help.  I refuse to hold my breath while doing so lest I lose it all.

****Israel squares up to Iran
That’s right, Iceman. I am dangerous
A game-changing report by the UN’s nuclear watchdog could be the prelude to a strike on Iran. Or maybe not.
Nov 12th 2011 | from the print edition
WESTERN governments have long been convinced that Iran is pursuing military objectives with its secretive nuclear programme. But until this week the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), jealous of its credibility as a non-political, science-led body, said it had no unambiguous proof of Iran’s intention to build a bomb. A report it published on November 8th still falls just short of that proof, but nonetheless marks a watershed.

The IAEA’s report says that it “has serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme. After assessing carefully and critically the extensive information available to it, the agency finds the information to be, overall, credible… that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”

A 12-page annexe offers a convincing narrative of Iran’s progress towards becoming a nuclear-weapons power. It says that Iran created computer models of nuclear explosions in 2008 and 2009 and conducted experiments on nuclear triggers. It says that the simulations focused on how shock waves from conventional explosives could compress the spherical fuel at the core of a nuclear device, which starts the chain reaction that ends in an explosion. The report goes on to state that Iran went beyond such theoretical studies and built a large containment vessel at its Parchin military base, starting in 2000, to test the feasibility of such explosive compression. It calls such tests “strong indicators of possible weapon development.”

Western intelligence sources believe that Iran now has enough highly enriched uranium to build, should it choose to do so, at least one nuclear weapon within a year and that this could be rapidly followed by several more. It is less clear whether Iran is capable of putting a miniaturised warhead on one of its Shahab 3 ballistic missiles, which have a range of 1,200 miles (1,900 km), but the IAEA suggests it has conducted experiments to that end.

The report, predictably rejected by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, will give new impetus to Western diplomatic efforts to tighten the UN Security Council’s sanctions regime. However, with China and Russia already saying that they will oppose any attempt to impose more punitive sanctions on Iran, there has also been fresh talk of resorting to military action, particularly from Israel.

Over the past fortnight, a number of articles have appeared in Israeli newspapers claiming that the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and the defence minister, Ehud Barak, have dusted off long-standing plans for a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Many Israeli analysts believe that the two men are capable of winning round more sceptical cabinet colleagues, and that once they have done so the leadership of the Israeli Defence Force will swallow its doubts, salute smartly and get on with an attack.

Those doubts are, however, well-grounded. Iran’s nuclear facilities are numerous and dispersed; several of them are sheltered underground and defended by modern short-range Russian missiles; there may even be some that the Israelis know nothing about. It is likely that an Israeli attack would concentrate on three fairly visible sites: the uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz (a hardened underground facility that would need to be hit several times); the heavy-water reactor at Arak; and the Russian-built light-water reactor at Bushehr.

By throwing in every military thing at its disposal, Israel might slow by a few years Iran’s progress towards acquiring the bomb. But there would be no guarantee of that, and it would be a near-certainty that Iran would react with missile attacks of its own, and by its well armed proxy forces: Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Why would Israel attack now when, for some of the reasons above, it has previously stayed its hand? There are several possible answers. The first is that Iran is rapidly moving centrifuges to its once-secret site at Fordow, buried deep inside a mountain and possibly invulnerable to attack by conventional weapons. Second, Syria’s internal chaos may take Iran’s most important regional ally out of the game. Third, the departure of American forces from Iraq removes both a focus for Iranian retaliation and a constraint on America. Fourth, if Messrs Netanyahu and Barak reckon that they need America’s military might to complete what they start, there may be no better combination to ensure that than a politically weak president whose Republican opponents have made unquestioning support for Israel a wedge issue a year before a presidential election.****
3996  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Economist hit job on Newt (after Cain Perry etc) on: November 17, 2011, 01:02:34 PM
"The trouble with Newt"   [he is a Republican wink]
After Mr Dopey and Mr (too) Friendly, Mr Grumpy gets his turn
Nov 19th 2011 | from the print edition

CAN something inevitable also be highly improbable? That is the question raised by the arrival this week of Newt Gingrich at the front of the pack in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. It was inevitable, after the successive implosions of Rick Perry and Herman Cain, that Republican voters desperate to nominate anyone but Mitt Romney would cast their eyes down the list and alight on one of the last remaining contenders.

And what, after all, is so very wrong with Mr Gingrich? Unlike Mr Cain, the man has been a serious politician—Speaker of the House, no less, and architect of the Republican resurgence of the mid-1990s. Unlike Mr Perry, Mr Gingrich does not go blank in the middle of television debates. If anything he has during the recent debates been a bit of a star, albeit a dark one, sneering contemptuously at the “absurd” gotcha questions posed by the journalists. And although nobody can accuse him of wearing his learning lightly, he does at least have a goodly amount of it, darting apparently effortlessly in discussion from the minutiae of federal social policy to the grand sweep of world history.

In this section
Crying wolf
Keystone cop-out
We will frack you
The efficiency conundrum
Sunshine or colonoscopy?
Many scrappy returns
The Becks effect
What goes around
»The trouble with Newt
ReprintsAnd yet the rise of Mr Gingrich is also improbable. It is improbable, first, in that his campaign got off to such a terrible start that his resurrection at this late stage, just in time for the Iowa caucuses in January, is a minor psephological miracle. In June he suffered what should have been a devastating blow when much of his campaign staff resigned en masse, allegedly in protest at his decision to cruise the Greek islands with his third wife, Callista, instead of raising money and pressing the flesh in Iowa and New Hampshire. He put a brave face on this setback, claiming that he knew how to campaign in a new way, by generating ideas and raising big issues in the televised debates. Unlikely as it seemed at the time, this strategy has now been vindicated: chapeau!

There is, however, another way in which Mr Gingrich’s high standing in the polls is improbable. A whole regiment of skeletons has taken up residence in his closet. Once these rattle back into view, as they surely will, many of the Newtly enamoured Republican primary voters will surely drop their search for an alternative and reconcile themselves to the inevitable nomination of the less exciting but more electable Mr Romney.

A good place to start, since it is what did for Mr Cain, is character. The likeable former pizza mogul faded in the polls when it emerged that a succession of women had accused him of sexual harassment. No charge that grave is laid against the far less likeable Mr Gingrich. The former speaker is, however, a serial adulterer, who divorced his first wife when she was recovering from cancer, when he was already bedding Marianne, the mistress who became his second wife but was ditched in her turn for Callista, his present one. At the same time as he was conducting a secret affair of his own he was pressing for the impeachment of Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Should marital cheating be a disqualification? Not in the eyes of this column. But voters in socially conservative and early-voting Iowa and South Carolina may think so. It is bad luck for Mr Gingrich that one of his former wives has been so willing to disparage his fitness for the presidency. In an Esquire profile last year, Marianne said her former husband “was impressed easily by position, status, money” and believed “that what he says in public and how he lives don’t have to be connected”.

Even after allowing for the bitterness of a woman scorned, and for the forgiving propensity of conservative Christians, this is not a testimonial that will help at the polls. He will also have to explain again the $300,000 penalty the House of Representatives made him pay in 1997 for violating tax rules, the first time it had ever disciplined a Speaker for ethical wrongdoing. A new controversy has now flared over $1.6m or so he has earned in fees from Freddie Mac, the government-supported mortgage giant which has since been blamed for pumping up the housing market and helping to cause the financial collapse of 2008. Mr Gingrich claimed in a recent debate that he had been taken on as an “historian” and had warned the organisation that the housing market was a bubble and that its business model was “insane”. But a Bloomberg story this week avers that officials who worked at Freddie Mac at the time deny having received any such advice.

Isaiah versus the management consultant

Few people question Mr Gingrich’s energy or originality. He was the dynamo behind the Republicans’ Contract with America in 1994 and remains a pyrotechnician of ideas: a “21st-century” sequel to the Contract is under construction. The worry is that he lacks the wisdom to distinguish between his occasional good idea and the dozens of duff and sometimes dangerous ones. He offers an odd mixture of pragmatism (he once favoured compulsory health insurance) and demagoguery. It is as if he cannot decide whether he is Isaiah or a management consultant.

Over the past year the demagoguery has got the upper hand. Mr Gingrich prophesies the end of “America as we know it” under a president running a “corrupt, Chicago-style political machine” from the White House. In the summer of 2010 he reacted to plans to build a mosque in lower Manhattan by saying that American Muslims should not be allowed to do so until Saudi Arabia permitted the building of churches and synagogues. He claims that Islamic sharia law is taking over the American legal system by stealth and he wants to abolish the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit because its judges are too liberal. That such a flawed and divisive politician has come to be seen as the shrewd elder statesman of the Republican presidential field is testimony only to the paucity of the alternatives. Unless they are feeling particularly suicidal, the Republicans will reject him, just as they have rejected Mr Perry and Mr Cain.

3997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "Supercommittee" result and stocks on: November 17, 2011, 12:17:47 PM
Debt committee: Market reaction a big unknown
By Jeanne Sahadi @CNNMoney November 17, 2011: 5:24 AM ET
Tax revenue continues to make a deal difficult for the congressional debt committee, co-chaired by Republican Jeb Hensarling and Democrat Patty Murray.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Given how volatile markets have become, predicting how traders will react to the congressional debt committee next week is a dicey undertaking.

Two themes emerged in conversations with stock and bond strategists. First, Wall Street never expected much from the committee, thanks to the disastrous debt ceiling debate. Second, markets don't expect lawmakers to make meaningful decisions on fiscal reform until after the 2012 election.

The committee, by law, is supposed to vote on a plan by next Wednesday.

If the panel simply approves $1.2 trillion in debt reduction -- its minimum target to stave off automatic cuts in 2013 -- the market reaction will be "a great big yawn," said Adrian Conje, chief investment officer of Balentine, an investment advisory firm.

That deal, in other words, has been factored into stock traders' considerations.

A $1.2 trillion plan is considered small relative to what's needed but it could give markets a lift if it seems to demonstrate the start of real compromise between Democrats and Republicans on revenue increases and entitlement cuts, said John Toohey, vice president of equity investments at USAA.

Debt committee: Deal or no deal, then what?
Conversely, Toohey noted, a failure by the committee to agree on a deal at all could hurt stocks.

Another potential negative for stocks: A deal that would reduce debt by $1.2 trillion but take no short-term measures to boost the economy, such as extending temporary payroll tax relief or providing another temporary extension of federal emergency jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Of course, Congress can still decide to extend those measures separately before the end of the year, but a super committee proposal had been considered a possible vehicle.

"If that all goes away, that could mean a 1.5% to 2% drag on GDP growth next year," Toohey said.

It's even less clear how bonds might respond.

Traders may be disappointed if the super committee can't come to a deal or can only come to a deal worth less than $1.2 trillion. But their disappointment is likely to be offset by concerns elsewhere in the world. The same holds should a super committee failure trigger another downgrade or negative ratings action.

0:00 / 1:35 Europe's issues make U.S. look pretty good
"Global and U.S. investors will continue to be disappointed in U.S. fiscal policy but will look at Europe and Japan and not see governments with unassailable credit ratings in the future," said Steve Van Order, fixed income strategist at Calvert Investments

There is, of course, one super committee action that would make both stock and bond markets cheer: Agreement on a true "grand bargain" -- the kind of proposal that reduces debt by at least $3 trillion to $4 trillion over the next decade but is mindful of not undermining the economic recovery in the short-term.

The Holy Grail for traders? More certainty about long-term fiscal policies and the balance lawmakers will strike between spending and revenue in the future.

"Markets want less ideology and more problem-solving," Conje said. "They want clarity. They want to know the rules of the road."

Given that the two sides have yet to produce a single plan that they can at least agree to vote on, markets may have to wait a little longer.
3998  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / OWS: demogagocrats on: November 14, 2011, 07:18:22 PM
This corruption is just so incredible.  This is only one more reason OWS should be in Washington not Wall St.
Yet because the are ALL selfish what can America do for me crats they avoid anything that would harm the Brockster.  They are demogagocrats.

In any case the corruption of both crats and cans in the Houses is just so blantant.  And anyone wonders why people are fed up with both?  I don't see how the "mature" or "grown up" Cans as Scarborough and like Cans calls themselves are not simply protecting their turf.

The real Conservatives are correct in wanting to clean house.  Unfortunately that will never happen.  I have actually gotten to like Bachmann more and more each debate since the vaccine fiasco.  Her appeal is not broad among the populace but hopefully with more experience and fine tuning she will one day catch on.  Her political future looks bright.   Just not this time around.

3999  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 09, 2011, 08:57:12 PM
What is the case for the unethical nature of the lawyers who are going after Cain using the sex harrasment angle.

Alred and Bennett don't give attorneys a  good name with political assasination on evidence that is so shoddy it would clearly go no where in a court of law. 

When does this become defamation of character?  I think it already is though for Cain to pursue this avenue probably would just prolong the political damage.   If he loses can he not sue these attorneys?   The clients have no money it sounds.
4000  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 08, 2011, 09:27:01 AM
Yes the double standard about Clinton vs Cain is obvious with regards to the MSM.

Someone points out that Jones didn't come out with her allegations for two years.  However, this lady didn't come out with it for 14.

In any case for her to pretend she is so innocent and was cruely injured for life over this is a stretch.  As Savage points out it was by her own statement a weird response on her part to state she told him she wouldn't do anything with him because she "has a boyfriend".

For her to say she is coming forward to give other women the strength to come forward is totally non believable.  Of course she wants money out of this.

Allred has been making big bucks off these cases and of course is a liberal crat who relishes in taking down Republicans as she did the same to Arni and Meg.

Neither one in my book has much credibility.

OTOH Cain has proven he is in way over his head.  I hoped he would handle this in a way he would've come out stronger but he obivously has no clue and his handlers are obviously not wrold class.

For me it is down to Mit or Newt.  Just my armchair take.

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