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151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / truth, from a surprising source on: January 02, 2014, 10:18:54 PM
152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: January 02, 2014, 05:06:43 PM
"I see that law enforcement is covered in chapter 4. I don't see government healthcare-generational theft schemes listed. And, no public health isn't included in that. Stopping pandemics/bioweapons is different than mandating the public buy insurance that covers gender reassignment surgery."

You are quite right: law enforcement is covered. But there is, in fact, so much more that law enforcement covered in the book. Israel includes public health in its responses to homeland security threats.

"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.
153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: January 02, 2014, 04:13:41 PM
If there is something that I've learned over the years it's that you (think you) know more than experts.

I'll trust this guy:

NADAV MORAG is a faculty member at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS), US Naval Postgraduate School. At CHDS he teaches courses on policy analysis and research methodology as well as a course entitled "Comparative Government for Homeland Security." He has authored articles on terrorism, strategy, and the Middle East, including "The Economic and Social Effects of Intensive Terrorism: Israel 2000-2004" (Middle East Review of International Affairs) and "Measuring Success in Coping with Terrorism: The Israeli Case" (Studies in Conflict and Terrorism). He 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.

Who wrote this:

Failed how? It appears that the services provided are excellent. It is also a large portion of the country's homeland security, even without being law enforcement.

So your definition of homeland security is unsustainable government spending?
154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: January 02, 2014, 10:06:47 AM
Failed how? It appears that the services provided are excellent. It is also a large portion of the country's homeland security, even without being law enforcement.
155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / damn hippies on: January 02, 2014, 06:30:10 AM

From the entry:

Israel has maintained a system of socialized health care since its establishment in 1948, although the National Health Insurance law was passed only on January 1, 1995. The state is responsible for providing health services to all residents of the country, who can register with one of the four health service funds.


Participation in a medical insurance plan with one of the four national HMOs is compulsory for all citizens, who can select and participate in any one of them regardless of factors such as age, gender, or pre-existing conditions.
156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Books on: January 01, 2014, 10:51:10 AM
With 2013 fast receding into the rearview mirror, Foreign Policy looks back at the best books that crossed the desks of our staff and contributors this year. It is an eclectic reading list, one that spans foreign policy, intelligence, and military history. As we turn the leaf on a new year, put these on your shopping list and give yourself something to chew on for 2014. -

See more at:
157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Drones/UAV/UAS on: December 30, 2013, 12:51:23 PM

From the article:

One example comes to mind: "The feed is so pixelated, what if it's a shovel, and not a weapon?" I felt this confusion constantly, as did my fellow UAV analysts. We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian's life all because of a bad image or angle.


And when you are exposed to it over and over again it becomes like a small video, embedded in your head, forever on repeat, causing psychological pain and suffering that many people will hopefully never experience. UAV troops are victim to not only the haunting memories of this work that they carry with them, but also the guilt of always being a little unsure of how accurate their confirmations of weapons or identification of hostile individuals were.
158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / long arm of *$ on: December 30, 2013, 07:41:37 AM

From the article:

When one of the largest companies in the United States serves you a “cease and desist” letter, there are various ways to approach it.

One way is to give in to any demands in fear of powerful lawyers and millions or billions of dollars, forgetting whatever you were doing that got you in that predicament in the first place.

The other option is to write a mocking apology letter and send a check for an extremely small amount of cash to prove a point.

159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / more on NSA: the case for Snowden as a traitor on: December 30, 2013, 07:22:30 AM
160  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: seminar with Guro Terry Crutcher in Carbondale IL on: December 28, 2013, 02:15:07 PM
SUPER cool. Woof, C-SD!!!!
161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Merry Christmas! on: December 24, 2013, 02:56:19 PM
Merry Christmas to all.

162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Easterbrook on: December 21, 2013, 11:47:29 AM
Quick aside: Easterbrook is hands down my favorite football commentator. I've posted several of his columns on the football thread as well. He can be pretentious, but he is the smartest football commentator around, and willingly adds politics and other topics in his ESPN pieces.

See below for examples of his writing on NASA and meteors, and etc.:

From that article:
News from Nearby Space: Meanwhile the more researchers learn about asteroid and comet strikes on Earth, these events seem much more common than previously assumed -- which is definitely not good news. Last summer, TMQ laid out the disturbing evidence that space-rock strikes powerful enough to cause mass extinctions were not confined to the primordial mists: Something gigantic smashed into the Earth about 10,000 years ago, and there might have been a severe comet or meteorite strike as recently as the year 535. Recently researcher Dallas Abbott of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University has found indications that a huge comet or asteroid fell into the Indian Ocean about 4,800 years ago, causing global tsunamis

Abbott's work is especially important because she is studying the oceans, not land. Most of what's known about past space-object strikes comes from the study of land craters. But three-quarters of Earth's surface is water; Abbott reasoned that three-quarters of space objects must crash into the seas. Her work suggests a lot of comets and large rocks have hit the seas, many recently in geologic terms. As recently as a decade ago, most scientists assumed that space-rock strikes powerful enough to cause general devastation happen only every million years or so. Now it looks like they are far more frequent. If a rock comparable to the one that struck the Indian Ocean 4,800 years ago struck today in Kansas, half the population of the United States might die. And as TMQ endlessly points out, what is NASA doing about this? Absolutely nothing.

NASA continues to waste about 10 billion of your tax dollars annually on a space station project that had no scientific value, existing solely to justify money for aerospace contractors and staff budgets at NASA manned-flight centers. NASA plans to waste 200-500 billion of your tax dollars on return-to-the-Moon missions that don't even have a theoretical justification -- the sole purpose of return-to-the-Moon is money for NASA insiders. Yet if a comet or large meteor was spotted heading toward our world, NASA could do nothing. And NASA isn't even researching possible anti-space-rock technology. No agency of your government wastes taxpayers' money more cynically or systematically than the National Aeronautics and Space Agency. If a big space object strikes the Earth, sending humanity's survivors back into the Dark Ages, our descendents will consider the present Washington government history's worst collections of fools for doing nothing while there was time.
163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom on: December 20, 2013, 09:48:48 PM
Do you ever read Gregg Easterbrook? He has recurring theme that boils down to this: why has NASA funding been cut? There are enough meteors that come close to Earth, including some that serve to be wicked surprises that diminishing space travel and related themes could spell the demise of mankind. I'll look at some point soon to try to find an example.
164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) and the 4th & 9th Amendments on: December 20, 2013, 09:45:12 PM
I know that it is a mistake to link to the HuffPo, but I think might interest some of you. It is a talk given in March:
165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yellowstone volcano on: December 20, 2013, 10:33:17 AM
166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin, LGBT, "discrimination", & discrimination. on: December 17, 2013, 08:45:37 AM
North Dakota is known for being pretty far left. The state AG who allowed this is a Republican:

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

"North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem filed a legal opinion last week confirming that the state does not recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages, allowing a man married to another man to come to North Dakota and marry a woman without divorcing his husband."

167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Boehner lashes at conservative groups on: December 12, 2013, 01:12:19 PM

From the article:

The Speaker didn’t cite any organizations by name, but he was clearly referring to a collection of Tea Party and conservative groups that have opposed nearly every significant piece of fiscal legislation he has presented to his members. They include Heritage Action, the political arm of the influential think tank, as well as the Tea Party-aligned FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity.
168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / New York state of mind for some Supreme Court justices on: December 12, 2013, 09:47:34 AM
How would the Supreme Court play in Peoria? And would some of the justices need a map to find it?

The good people of the city of 115,000 in central Illinois — remember that, for later — might be a bit puzzled as to how they ended up in the middle of the court’s consideration Wednesday of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor started it all, and those who criticize the justices as too similar in geographic background and too East Coast-centric might find fodder in the oral arguments in Lozano v. Alvarez. It concerned the treaty’s mandates about a parent who abducts a child and conceals the whereabouts from the other parent.

“My gosh, all it takes is moving to Peoria?” Sotomayor said, seeming to pluck the city out of the air. She paused as she considered whether that came out wrong.

“I mean, I don’t mean to denigrate Peoria, but all it takes is moving to a place that has no connection to . . .”

Justice Antonin Scalia cut in before she could finish to enlighten the lawyer at the podium.

“Justice Sotomayor is from New York,” said Scalia, who was raised in Queens.

“Yes, obviously,” said Sotomayor, who grew up in the Bronx. “Obviously.”

There was laughter in the courtroom, and then Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. broke in.

“Those of us from the Midwest think it’s actually easier to hide a child in New York,” said Roberts, who spent most of his childhood in Indiana.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Brooklyn) and Elena Kagan (Upper West Side of Manhattan) held their peace.

That might have been the end of it, except for Justice Stephen G. Breyer.

Breyer grew up in San Francisco and came to the Supreme Court via the appeals court in Boston. In fact, all but one of the former judges now on the court served on one of the “Acela circuits”: Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington.

Breyer picked up Sotomayor’s hypothetical — and perhaps made matters worse.

In his embellished version, the mother and child “live in a grain elevator, a nicely refurbished grain elevator, in Peoria for a year.”

After that time, he speculated, a family judge might find that “the child is settled here now in Iowa.”

Members of the courtroom audience looked at one another, and Roberts seemed to shoot Breyer a warning glance. It was not received.

Later, Breyer hypothesized about the father finding the child “in Iowa” and a judge making a custody decision “under Iowa law.”

The actual case before the court involves a Colombian couple who met in London. The mother took her child from the United Kingdom and settled in the United States.

In New York.
169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Oklahoma’s 10 Commandments To Get A Sister Memorial … From The Satanic Temple on: December 08, 2013, 01:43:35 PM

From the article:

Okla., thanks to its argument for religious monuments on public display, now must accept the Satanic Temple and their memorial. The law allows them to put it right next to the 10 Commandments, if they so desire. Next week, who knows, perhaps the Satanic Temple will get the opportunity to name a new public school.
170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mandela was a fine man on: December 07, 2013, 05:23:55 PM

From the article:

 It’s tough to deny the man was a communist when he was considerate enough to write us a how-to manual on being one.

Then again, context here is king. Who else was fighting to help Black South Africans get out of their ghettos? Mandela had to choose between two evils. He picked what he sincerely believed to be the lesser of two evils.

From the article:

Mandela was faced with a vicious apartheid regime that eliminated all rights for blacks and gave them no hope for the future. This was a regime which used secret police, prisons and military force to crush all efforts at seeking freedom by blacks.

What would you have done faced with that crushing government?

What would you do here in America if you had that kind of oppression?

I agree we need to look at the whole picture and that the whole picture includes some rather unsavory parts.  That said:

a) The system he fought as a terrorist was nasty and brutal-- I've read that parts of the American Revolution were as well;
b) He was in solitary confinement for 18 years (one visitor a year for 30 minutes, one letter every six months IIRC) and in prison for 27 years;
c) He not only came out of this a sane man, but a better man-- and as that better man, unaided by a the American Creed as MLKing  was, articulated a better path, a forgiving path where a vengeful path would have been so much easier-- and divorced his nasty wife Minnie
d) elected democratically, he stepped down after 5 years, apparently not noticeably richer than when he came into office.
171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia’s New Dogfighting Missile Can’t Miss on: December 06, 2013, 01:25:17 PM

From the article:

Russian engineers have devised what could be the world’s deadliest air-to-air missile. And the U.S. military doesn’t have anything like it … or adequate defenses.
172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Is Tom Cotton the Future of the GOP? on: December 06, 2013, 11:37:48 AM

From the article:

Deuschle never found anything to justify her suspicion, but she did touch on what's thrilled Republicans and captivated Washingtonians since Cotton arrived just 11 months ago as the newest representative of Arkansas's 4th District: He seems too good to be true. With his sterling résumé—he has undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard and served in both of America's post-9/11 wars—Cotton seems like a throwback to another era, when military service and an Ivy League pedigree were common plot points on the road to elected office
173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Three Most Important Ongoing Second Amendment Cases on: December 05, 2013, 10:50:36 AM

From the article:

Here are three of the most relevant active cases involving the Second Amendment, ones that promise to expand Second Amendment liberty, and resolve some of the core issues left unresolved by Heller and McDonald. Two of them will likely be considered for certiorari by the Supreme Court (though whether they will take them up is always hard to predict).
174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Drones/UAV/UAS on: December 05, 2013, 07:32:01 AM
Very thrilling:

175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Survivalist, Prepper/prepping issues on: December 05, 2013, 05:40:17 AM
I first saw this on the Huffington Post, so I apologize for once again for making a mistake, but this may interest you:

176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Amazon’s Delivery Drones Are Still Nonsense on: December 02, 2013, 07:36:08 PM

From the article:

The truth is that no one who buys discounted merchandise on Amazon today will have it delivered by drone, and such deliveries won’t happen for years — if they happen at all. It’s not just that the technology isn’t up to the task yet. It’s not just that federal regulations prohibit such flights over populated areas. It’s that drone delivery doesn’t make economic sense for Amazon, and it will never make sense unless the company completely overhauls its operation.
177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Here's How the Dogfight Could Go Down on: December 02, 2013, 07:34:35 PM

From the article:

With tensions mounting, I decided to see what might happen if the maneuvers escalated into actual combat. In my scenario, played out in the ultra-realistic computer game Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations (C:MANO), Beijing decides to teach Tokyo a lesson -- and opens fire on the Japanese planes. When three of the world's most high-tech air arms meet in simulated battle, the results might surprise you.
178  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / biker gang protection, seriously on: December 02, 2013, 04:22:53 PM

I love this. Verily.
179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia and Japan Make a Play for the Pacific on: December 02, 2013, 12:28:04 PM

From the article:

New ties between Russia and Japan would mark not only a breakthrough in their relations but also a significant shift in Northeast Asia’s political dynamic. Since the 1950s, U.S. alliances with Japan and South Korea have dominated regional security. Russia and China thawed their frosty relationship in the 1990s and signed a friendship treaty in 2001, but China’s rise has increased tensions in every regional relationship.
180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ‘Bizarre behavior’ could be risk to Christie White House run on: December 02, 2013, 12:21:50 PM

From the article:

Gov. Chris Christie’s “bizarre behavior’’ in refusing to say he’ll support a possible GOP challenger to Gov. Cuomo next year could derail his chances to become president, state and national GOP insiders have told The Post.
181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / “Fear and War in Cyberspace” on: December 02, 2013, 06:43:37 AM

From the article:

Should we fear cyberspace?  The internet is said to be a revolutionary leveler, reducing the hard won military advantages of western powers, even as the dependence of developed nations on computer networks leaves them vulnerable to attack.  Incidents like the Stuxnet worm and cyber attacks against U.S. government computers, apparently launched from servers in China, seem to testify to the need for concern.  Yet, even if these details are correct—and some are not—there is no reason to believe that the internet constitutes an Achilles heel for the existing world order.  To the contrary, cyberwar promises major advantages for status quo powers like the United States.
182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What’s Happening in the East China Sea? on: November 30, 2013, 04:34:36 PM

From the article:

Last weekend, the Chinese astonished the U.S. and Japan, very close allies with similar views about Senkaku sovereignty, by declaring that all planes flying in this zone must get China’s permission. They must submit flight plans to Beijing. “If an aircraft doesn’t supply its flight plans,” the Chinese Ministry of National Defense announced, “China’s armed forces will adopt emergency defensive measures in response.”

Wait a minute!, was the immediate reaction in Tokyo and Washington. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel denounced the Chinese announcement as a “destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region,”…increasing “the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations.” Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida echoed Hagel’s statement, describing the Chinese action as “one-sided” with the potential to “trigger unpredictable events” and “cannot be allowed.”
183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Is This Where We Part Company? on: November 30, 2013, 03:51:01 PM

From the article:

...since the U.S. invasion of 2003, Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region of Iraq, has become an oasis in an otherwise anarchic and dangerous country. The veteran journalist describes celebrations marking the Kurdish New Year in Sulaimaniya: “Never before had I, a Westerner, been able to walk safely through a vast throng of Iraqis, or experienced such tolerance, friendliness, and absence of fear or religious stricture. Women with uncovered heads wore makeup and golden jewelry. Teenagers discreetly flirted. A few obviously gay men, and the odd drunk, wandered uncensored through the crowds.”

With life so good for so many Kurds today, and so bad in the rest of Iraq, might Kurdistan secede?
184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Drones, warfare, science fiction and cybercrime on: November 30, 2013, 04:25:36 AM

From the interview:

The interplay between science fiction and the real world is a force that has been there for centuries. At one point, it was through writers like H.G. Wells, because the novel was the main vector for entertainment. Then we moved on to movies and TV shows — think of how powerful Star Trek was in influencing where technology would head next. Now it’s gaming. It’s like what happened in those great old episodes of Star Trek, where they envisioned something futuristic like a handheld communicator and then someone watching in a lab would see it and said, “I’ll make that real.” And now that’s the same for gaming. I was a consultant for the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and I worked on a drone concept for the game, a quadcopter called Charlene. Now defense contractors are trying to make Charlene real. So it flips the relationship. Previously, the military would research and develop something and then spin it out to the civilian sector. Now the military is faced with a challenge of how to spin in technology.
185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hypotheses on Why China Declared Air Defense Zone on: November 29, 2013, 06:01:09 AM
GM: This is China/Japan/US issues, but this is the type of thing I mention in the Iran thread. Numbers 2 and 4, at least, have a rational choice element that could be researched more.
186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 28, 2013, 05:26:59 AM
I am not aware of an in depth, academic work using rational choice about the negotiations that ended a few days ago. There are, however, several rational choice models about Iranian (foreign) policy more generally.

Here are some examples:

If you want more current thought, I suggest academic blog sites like the Duck of Minerva or The Monkey Cage. Foreign Policy's online resources might something too.
187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Big History on: November 27, 2013, 07:37:47 PM
This looks like a pretty cool show:
188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 27, 2013, 07:31:57 PM
Is this a real question, or a continued snide line of "discussion"?
189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 27, 2013, 05:28:02 PM
While this is a criticism, IMO the better rational choice theorists are able to account for history and culture. I have found that those who criticize in this way fail to understand it.

This is explained in both articles I posted.

a) FWIW I think BD is using "rational" is a specific "term of art" academic sense and GM is using it as it is used in everyday conversation.

"Because rational choice theory lacks understanding of consumer motivation, some economists restrict its use to understanding business behavior where goals are usually very clear. As Armen Alchian points out, competition in the market encourages businesses to maximize profits (in order to survive). Because that goal is significantly less vacuous than "maximizing utility" and the like, rational choice theory is apt."

Trying to analyze geopolitics without factoring in culture, history, belief systems seems pretty useless.
190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 27, 2013, 05:03:25 AM
This is explained in both articles I posted.

a) FWIW I think BD is using "rational" is a specific "term of art" academic sense and GM is using it as it is used in everyday conversation.

191  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Next time you think, ‘I don’t like cops’ on: November 27, 2013, 05:01:47 AM

From the article:

You know, I think I have said the same thing only because one or two cops, in my entire life, have caused me grief whether it was a ticket, ( I obviously did not deserve ), or some smart ass reply directed my way when I interfered with their presumably mundane day.  Shame on me for being so presumptuous.

Pretty petty now as I see it.  Pretty petty of me.

192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 25, 2013, 09:27:24 PM
So you don't like the definition??? All your posts don't change the definition.

The "rationality" described by rational choice theory is different from the colloquial and most philosophical use of the word. Typically, "rationality" means "sane" or "in a thoughtful clear-headed manner,." Rational choice theory uses a specific and narrower definition of "rationality" simply to mean that an individual acts as if balancing costs against benefits to arrive at action that maximizes personal advantage.[5] In rational choice theory, all decisions, crazy or sane, are postulated as mimicking such a "rational" process.
193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 25, 2013, 05:19:51 PM
That is a matter of definition. In the case of the article, "rational" means "preference maximizing."

People who have sent their children marching into minefields en mass aren't rational actors.
194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / History of the Russian Nuclear Weapons Program on: November 25, 2013, 11:51:40 AM

195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: November 25, 2013, 07:53:03 AM
I understood where you are coming from. I am surprised sometimes when we agree on an issue or point.
196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: November 25, 2013, 05:22:08 AM
How would you assess this case BD?

Had the talk with the lawyer friend. His assessment is that because the GA officer was personally named the case is "crap." Had the two kept to named the DEA, for example, then the case has merit. He also noted his great interest in the amici filed (seen here:, in particular the one offered by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bargaining theory and the Iran deal on: November 25, 2013, 05:14:53 AM

From the article:

War is costly to all sides in a conflict. If states knew the outcome of a war, they would prefer to agree to that outcome via a bargain without ever fighting. As the Monkey Cage’s (and Stanford’s)  James Fearon has pointed out in a famous article, we must thus ask why states sometimes fail to reach such a bargain?

One answer is that leaders act irrationally or that the leaders of states are able to deflect the cost of wars on others while reaping the benefits for themselves. These are plausible answers. Yet, it may also be that all sides act rationally and yet fail to strike a bargain that all would prefer to going to war.  Below are some basic insights from theories about such bargaining failures as they apply to Iran.
198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: November 25, 2013, 05:12:58 AM

I think I just saw flying pigs!  cheesy
199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / first term on: November 25, 2013, 05:09:38 AM

Despite all the lamentations about Barack Obama having second-term blues and bad luck, and the talk about how a painful second term is not atypical, it’s what happened during the first term that matters most. With the exception of possible exogenous events, a president’s first term defines his second one. The enormous difficulties that Obama is having with his signature issue, the health care law, are the shining example of how that can work. Almost everything that has gone wrong with the program was set in motion in the early years of his presidency.

The first term is when the president makes fateful decisions about what kind of people he wants in his White House, how he wants them organized, the nature and role of his cabinet members (are they essentially staff, as most tend to be in the Obama administration?), which initiatives he selects as his most important, whether he builds a strong cadre of outside allies, how he deals with the Congress and how hard he is willing to fight for what he wants.

Not unlike some other presidents, Obama essentially surrounded himself in the White House with his campaign staff, or others he knew well, rather than finding people experienced in governing. Newly elected presidents pay a heavy price if they are themselves inexperienced in governing and select top staff who lack a broad sense of what it means to run a federal government.

The shock of adjusting to the presidency—the myriad amounts of information and decisions to be made thrown at them—hits most newcomers. Where to begin? Which decisions to tell your staff are presidential-level ones and which ones are they to work out on their own? How much authority to give to the cabinet—a set of relationships that is almost always fraught. Only if a newly elected president has served as vice president or in a tiny number of other high offices can he have been given a prior sense of the vast chasm between running for president and being president. There is a lot of talk these days that former governors are the only ones who are truly prepared to occupy the oval office. But that’s hogwash. To my knowledge none have a Pentagon to run, or a raft of foreign policy decisions coming at them every day, or fifty sub-states and a potentially obdurate Congress to deal with. There is no training for the presidency.

Barack Obama had an unfathomable inability, beginning in his early years in office, to grasp the difference between campaigning and governing—and for that he’s been paying a fearful price in his second term. Campaigning and governing call for different kinds of rhetoric. For some reason, Obama never got control of the health care argument. He cited its attractive provisions many times, but he just didn’t get through.

As for his promise that if people liked their health insurance policy they could keep it, former aides say that they were uneasily aware that it was misleading, or oversimplified. But they figured that it represented a small slice of the probably large group who would eagerly sign up for the new plan. They also figured that if the federal website was working the way it should, most people would be aware they had access to better options. They didn’t come clean that some people were going to lose out under the new plan. The president, now on the defensive, and almost groveling, remained unable to get across the enormous benefits of providing some 30 million uninsured people with coverage.

Fateful decisions made in the first term reflected Obama’s lack of understanding of what it meant to govern. Early on, I received a startling insight into how the Obama White House approached working with Congress. I asked a senior presidential aide why the White House hadn’t sent up its own health care legislation, so that there would be something coherent to start with and more leverage. His reply: “Because any time we lost a provision that would be seen as a loss.” This was a most unusual way to deal with Congress—tying one’s own hands at the outset.

As the health care legislation moved through Congress, Obama and his top aides became swallowed up in the details. Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s first chief of staff, had much to recommend him: he’d served in the Clinton White House and been a member of Congress. But he was an inside man, buried in the maw of the legislation—and apparently unable to see the big picture. Moreover, it’s virtually impossible for Congress to write a coherent complex piece of legislation. In this case, particularly large interests are at play: the insurance companies (who would still play the major role as insurers), manufacturers of medical equipment, hospitals, drug companies, religious organizations—and without its own bill the administration had limited leverage over numerous strong-minded legislators. Five hundred and thirty five people are unlikely to produce a fine Swiss watch.

But Obama and his staff’s failures at governing led to the disastrous roll-out of the exchanges. Simply put: they went about it all wrong. Such a major part of the president’s signature initiative should never have been assigned to the multilayered bureaucracy, however honorable and well-intended its people are. Obama needed to put in charge a single strong figure who could go straight to him and was known to have his backing—and, obviously, knew enough about the complexities of such a large high tech program. The president needed to be kept very informed as to where matters stood. (The White House put about after the calamity became clear to the public that the president had occasionally asked how things were going; this wasn’t reassuring.) Short of appointing a strong outside person, the president could have relied on a figure such as Joe Califano, Lyndon Johnson’s chief domestic policy adviser, to be on top of the implementation and raise hell if the people charged with building the exchanges weren’t doing the job.

It remains unclear to this day who in the Obama White House was responsible for seeing to it that the program was on schedule and working as it should—or if anyone was. There’s no sign that the president’s serial chiefs of staff—after Emanuel, who left in October, 2010, and then Bill Daley, Jack Lew, and now Dennis McDonough—were engaged in any meaningful way.

Another misfire was the brobdingnagian nature of the Obama plan, like that of the Clintons’ plan before it: wonks were in charge and there seems to have been little checking to see if real people could handle it. While the Affordable Care Act was moving through Congress, White House aides explained that it would all be very simple: the consumer would go online and pick out a health plan from among choices—just as, they said, people do with Expedia. Quite apart from the federal web site’s own flaws, the Obama plan suffered from an overestimation of computer literacy among the public at large.

Finally, the president’s offhanded way of dealing with Congress in the first term has weakened his hand with members of his own party in the second term, at precisely the point when he needs them most. The very self-contained Obama, less needy than many of his predecessors, and his impatience with some of the folderol of politics—albeit it’s his chosen line of work—left him with few senators or House members, or even outside groups, who would go to the barricades for him when he needed them in the second term. One can understand and even sympathize with Obama’s view of listening to tedious people who lecture him on how things should be done (they might actually know more than he, but he doesn’t care to be told), but it’s been very costly for him.

The health care law is a delicate instrument, built on sets of assumptions which may not pan out, or which could be undermined if out of panic the president or Congress fiddles with the law. The anecdotes about people losing their policies have frequently been over-simplified, but make for more dramatic news stories than the advances already achieved under the law; there’s been little attention to the already slowing rate of growth in the cost of health care—one of the law’s major goals.

Obama’s governing style in his first term lit the fuse for his second term. Politically-driven decisions on the health care law along with a failure to understand some of the rudiments of governing have resulted in his current difficulties. It’s far from over of course, but should his proudest achievement fail to work—its outcome not at all certain at this point—the rest of what he does in his second term may not matter much.
200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: November 23, 2013, 04:04:34 PM
A) You are quite welcome. You made a good point, and I saw an article that supported it.

B) Yep. 2 things: 1, I've been arguing for a while here and elsewhere that if/when the Dems used the Nuke option they would eventually rue the day. I still feel this way. We'll see in a year or so if the GOP reverts to the old filibuster rule. It will be their option, I think... and I doubt they do.
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