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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 21, 2014, 11:04:48 AM
If I am not mistaken, the permits are going to be paid for by the fees charged the illegals.

IMO this self-funding thing (also see Elizabeth Warren's work on self funding the Consumer Agency) is a deeply unC'l evasion of Congress's power of the purse.
2  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: November 21, 2014, 11:02:20 AM
Off to Carbondale IL for Rob & Karen Gallegly!
3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cochrane: What the Inequality Warriors really want on: November 20, 2014, 01:59:55 PM
What the Inequality Warriors Really Want
John H. Cochrane
Updated Nov. 20, 2014 8:42 a.m. ET
Progressives decry inequality as the world’s most pressing economic problem. In its name, they urge much greater income and wealth taxation, especially of the reviled top 1% of earners, along with more government spending and controls—higher minimum wages, “living” wages, comparable worth directives, CEO pay caps, etc.

Inequality may be a symptom of economic problems. But why is inequality itself an economic problem? If some get rich and others get richer, who cares? If we all become poor equally, is that not a problem? Why not fix policies and problems that make it harder to earn more?

Yes, the reported taxable income and wealth earned by the top 1% may have grown faster than for the rest. This could be good inequality—entrepreneurs start companies, develop new products and services, and get rich from a tiny fraction of the social benefit. Or it could be bad inequality—crony capitalists who get rich by exploiting favors from government. Most U.S. billionaires are entrepreneurs from modest backgrounds, operating in competitive new industries, suggesting the former.

But there are many other kinds and sources of inequality. The returns to skill have increased. People who can use or program computers, do math or run organizations have enjoyed relative wage increases. But why don’t others observe these returns, get skills and compete away the skill premium? A big reason: awful public schools dominated by teachers unions, which leave kids unprepared even to enter college. Limits on high-skill immigration also raise the skill premium.

Americans stuck in a cycle of terrible early-child experiences, substance abuse, broken families, unemployment and criminality represent a different source of inequality. Their problems have proven immune to floods of government money. And government programs and drug laws are arguably part of the problem.

These problems, and many like them, have nothing to do with a rise in top 1% incomes and wealth.

Recognizing, I think, this logic, inequality warriors go on to argue that inequality is a problem because it causes other social or economic ills. A recent Standard & Poor’s report sums up some of these assertions: “As income inequality increased before the [2008 financial] crisis, less affluent households took on more and more debt to keep up—or, in this case, catch up—with the Joneses. ” In a 2011 Vanity Fair article, Columbia University economist Joe Stiglitz wrote that inequality causes a “lifestyle effect . . . people outside the top 1 percent increasingly live beyond their means.’’ He called it “trickle-down behaviorism.”

I see. A fry cook in Fresno hears that more hedge-fund managers are flying in private jets. So he buys a pickup he can’t afford. They are saying that we must tax away wealth to encourage thrift in the lower classes.

Here’s another claim: Inequality is a problem because rich people save too much. So, by transferring money from rich to poor, we can increase overall consumption and escape “secular stagnation.”

I see. Now we need to forcibly transfer wealth to solve our deep problem of national thriftiness.

You can see in these examples that the arguments are made up to justify a pre-existing answer. If these were really the problems to be solved, each has much more natural solutions.

Is eliminating the rich, to eliminate envy of their lifestyle, really the best way to stimulate savings? Might not, say, fixing the large taxation of savings in means-tested social programs make some sense? If lifestyle envy really is the mechanism, would it not be more effective to ban “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”?

If we redistribute because lack of Keynesian “spending” causes “secular stagnation”—a big if—then we should transfer money from all the thrifty, even poor, to all the big spenders, especially the McMansion owners with new Teslas and maxed-out credit cards. Is that an offensive policy? Yes. Well, maybe this wasn’t about “spending” after all.
There is a lot of fashionable talk about “redistribution” that’s not really the agenda. Even sky-high income and wealth taxes would not raise much revenue for very long, and any revenue is likely to fund government programs, not checks to the needy. Most inequality warriors, including President Obama, forthrightly advocate taxation to level incomes in the name of “fairness,” even if those taxes raise little or no revenue.

When you get past this kind of balderdash, most inequality warriors get down to the real problem they see: money and politics. They think money is corrupting politics, and they want to take away the money to purify the politics. As Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez wrote for his 2013 Arrow lecture at Stanford University: “top income shares matter” because the “surge in top incomes gives top earners more ability to influence [the] political process.”

A critique of rent-seeking and political cronyism is well taken, and echoes from the left to libertarians. But if abuse of government power is the problem, increasing government power is a most unlikely solution.

If we increase the top federal income-tax rate to 90%, will that not just dramatically increase the demand for lawyers, lobbyists, loopholes, connections, favors and special deals? Inequality warriors think not. Mr. Stiglitz, for example, writes that “wealth is a main determinant of power.” If the state grabs the wealth, even if fairly earned, then the state can benevolently exercise its power on behalf of the common person.

No. Cronyism results when power determines wealth. Government power inevitably invites the trade of regulatory favors for political support. We limit rent-seeking by limiting the government’s ability to hand out goodies.

So when all is said and done, the inequality warriors want the government to confiscate wealth and control incomes so that wealthy individuals cannot influence politics in directions they don’t like. Koch brothers, no. Public-employee unions, yes. This goal, at least, makes perfect logical sense. And it is truly scary.

Prosperity should be our goal. And the secrets of prosperity are simple and old-fashioned: property rights, rule of law, economic and political freedom. A limited government providing competent institutions. Confiscatory taxation and extensive government control of incomes are not on the list.

Mr. Cochrane is a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute.
4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Robert Kaplan: The Realist Creed on: November 20, 2014, 01:51:46 PM

The Realist Creed
By Robert Kaplan

All people in foreign policy circles consider themselves realists, since all people consider themselves realistic about every issue they ever talk about. At the same time, very few consider themselves realists, since realism signifies, in too many minds, cynicism and failure to intervene abroad when human rights are being violated on a mass scale. Though everyone and no one is a realist, it is also true that realism never goes away -- at least not since Thucydides wrote The Peloponnesian War in the fifth century B.C., in which he defined human nature as driven by fear (phobos), self-interest (kerdos) and honor (doxa). And realism, as defined by perhaps the pre-eminent thinker in the field in the last century, the late Hans Morgenthau of the University of Chicago, is about working with the basest forces of human nature, not against them.

Why is realism timeless and yet reviled at the same time? Because realism tells the bitterest truths that not everyone wants to hear. For in foreign policy circles, as in other fields of human endeavor, people often prefer to deceive themselves. Let me define what realism means to me.

First of all, realism is a sensibility, a set of values, not a specific guide as to what to do in each and every crisis. Realism is a way of thinking, not a set of instructions as to what to think. It doesn't prevent you from making mistakes. This makes realism more an art than a science. That's why some of the best practitioners of realism in recent memory -- former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker III -- never distinguished themselves as writers or philosophers. They were just practical men who had a knack for what made sense in foreign policy and what did not. And even they made mistakes. You can be an intellectual who has read all the books on realism and be an utter disaster in government, just as you could be a lawyer who has never read one book on realism and be a good secretary of state. Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was unique because he was both: an intellectual realist and a successful statesman. But successful statesmen, intellectual or not, must inculcate a set of beliefs that can be defined by what may be called the Realist Creed:

Order Comes Before Freedom. That's right. Americans may think freedom is the most important political value, but realists know that without order there can be no freedom for anyone. For if anarchy reigns and no one is in charge, freedom is worthless since life is cheap. Americans sometimes forget this basic rule of nature since they have taken order for granted -- because they always had it, a gift of the English political and philosophical tradition. But many places do not have it. That is why when dictators are overthrown, realists get nervous: They know that because stable democracy is not assured as a replacement, they rightly ask, Who will rule? Even tyranny is better than anarchy. To wit, Iraq under Saddam Hussein was more humane than Iraq under no one -- that is, in a state of sectarian war.

Work With the Material at Hand. In other words, you can't just go around the world toppling regimes you don't like because they do not adhere to the same human rights standards as you do, or because their leaders are corrupt or unenlightened, or because they are not democrats. You must work with what there is in every country. Yes, there might be foreign leaders so averse to your country's interests that it will necessitate war or sanctions on your part; but such instances will be relatively rare. When it comes to foreign rulers, realists revel in bad choices; idealists often mistakenly assume that there should be good ones.

Think Tragically in Order to Avoid Tragedy. Pessimism has more value than misplaced optimism. Because so many regimes around the world are difficult or are in difficult straits, realists know that they must always be thinking about what could go wrong. Foreign policy is like life: The things you worry about happening often turn out all right, precisely because you worried about them and took protective measures accordingly; it is the things you don't worry about and that happen unexpectedly that cause disaster. Realists are good worriers.

Every Problem Does Not Have a Solution. It is a particular conceit that every problem is solvable. It isn't. Mayhem and human rights violations abound, even as the United States cannot intervene everywhere or take foreign policy positions that will necessarily help. That's why realists are comfortable doing little or nothing in certain instances, even as they feel just as bad as idealists about heartrending situations.

Interests Come Before Values. A nation such as the United States has interests in secure sea lines of communication, access to energy, a soft dominance in the Western Hemisphere and a favorable balance of power in the Eastern Hemisphere. These are amoral concerns that, while not necessarily in conflict with liberal values, operate in a different category from them. If Arab dictatorships will better secure safe sea lanes in and out of energy-producing areas than would chaotic democracies, realists will opt for dictatorship, knowing that it is a tragic yet necessary decision.

American Power Is Limited. The United States cannot intervene everywhere or even in most places. Precisely because America is a global power, it must try to avoid getting bogged down in any one particular place. The United States can defend treaty and de facto allies with its naval, air and cyber power. It can infiltrate communications networks the world over. It can, in short, do a lot of things. But it cannot set to rights complex Islamic societies in deep turmoil. So another thing realists are good at -- and comfortable with -- is disappointing people. In fact, one might say that foreign policy at its best is often about disappointing people, not always creating opportunities so much as keeping even worse things from happening.

Passion and Good Policy Often Don't Go Together. Foreign policy requires practitioners among whom the blood runs cold. While loud voices abound about doing something, the person in charge must quietly ask himself or herself, If I do this, what will happen two steps down the road, three steps down the road, and so forth? For passion can easily flip: Those screaming the loudest for intervention today can be the same ones calling your intervention flawed or insufficient after you have embarked on the fateful enterprise.
Reading this list, you might think that realism is immoral. That would be wrong. Rather, realism is imbued with a hard morality of best possible outcomes under the circumstances rather than a soft morality of good intentions. For there is a big difference between being moral and moralistic: The former celebrates difficult choices and the consequences that follow, while the latter abjures them. Realism is a hard road. The policymaker who lives by its dictums will often be rebuked while in office and fondly recalled as a statesman in the years and decades following. Look at George H.W. Bush. But foreign policy realists who have served in high office, I suspect, are more comfortable with the kind of loneliness that comes with rebuke than some of their idealist counterparts. Loneliness is normal for the best policymakers; it is the craving for the adoring crowd that is dangerous.

Robert D. Kaplan is Chief Geopolitical Analyst at Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence firm, and author of Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific.
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 20, 2014, 01:39:53 PM
Here's my suggestion for the Reps:

The underlying hold up is that the border is not protected , , , so PROTECT THE BORDER.

Pass a bill that genuinely closes the border.  Make Obama face signing or vetoing it.

This seems to me a good tip of the spear for everything else.
6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We continue to be wrong about inflation on: November 20, 2014, 01:37:10 PM
Data Watch
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) was Unchanged in October To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Bob Stein, CFA - Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 11/20/2014

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) was unchanged in October versus the consensus expected decline of 0.1%. The CPI is up 1.7% versus a year ago.
“Cash” inflation (which excludes the government’s estimate of what homeowners would charge themselves for rent) declined 0.1% in October, but is up 1.3% in the past year.
Energy prices declined 1.9% in October, while food prices increased 0.1%. The “core” CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.2% versus consensus expectations of 0.1%. Core prices are up 1.8% versus a year ago.

Real average hourly earnings – the cash earnings of all workers, adjusted for inflation – rose 0.1% in October, and are up 0.4% in the past year. Real weekly earnings are up 0.9% in the past year.

Implications: Next time you see an energy engineer, remember to give them a hug. They deserve it. Energy prices fell for a fourth straight month in October and continue to mute rising prices elsewhere for consumers. Consumer prices are up a modest 1.7% in the past year and the key reasons is America’s booming energy production and, as a result, lower world oil prices. The gasoline index is down 5% in the past year and now stands at the lowest level since February 2011. Given the continued drop in oil prices in the first half of November, look for another tame reading on overall price gains in next month’s report. However, there are sectors where inflation is moving higher. Food and beverage prices are up at a 3.1% annual rate in the past six months and up 2.9% in the past year. So if you only use the supermarket to gauge inflation, we understand thinking the headline reports are too low and that “true” inflation is higher. In addition, housing costs are going up. Owners’ equivalent rent, which makes up about ¼ of the overall CPI, rose 0.2% in October, is up 2.7% in the past year, and will be a key source of any acceleration in inflation in the year ahead. One of the best pieces of news in today’s report was that “real” (inflation-adjusted) average hourly earnings rose 0.1% in October. These earnings are up 0.4% from a year ago and workers are also adding to their purchasing power because of more jobs and more hours worked. Plugging today’s CPI data into our models suggests the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, the PCE deflator, was probably unchanged in October. If so, it would be up 1.4% from a year ago, still below the Fed’s target of 2%. We expect this measure to eventually hit and cross the 2% target, but given the bonanza from fracking and horizontal drilling, not until next year. In other news this morning, new claims for unemployment insurance declined 2,000 last week to 291,000. Continuing claims fell 73,000 to 2.33 million, a new low for the recovery. Plugging these figures into our employment models suggests nonfarm payrolls are growing 200,000 in November, with private payrolls up 191,000.
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 20, 2014, 01:18:26 AM
second post-- good content here to shoot down the latest bullexcrement progressive meme about Reagan and Bush:

Sorry, liberals: Reagan and Bush 41 did not defy Congress with executive amnesty
Published by: Dan Calabrese
Nice try.

Every time President Obama does something, or is about to do something, that has conservatives up in arms - especially if the protest is based on abuse of his constitutional authority - you can count on the left doing one thing: Finding a supposed example of a past Republican president or presidents doing the exact same thing.

Oh, I guess it was OK when a Republican did it!

They've been all over that argument the last couple of days with Obama's soon-to-be-announced executive order granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, claiming that both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush did the exact same thing. This argument is just clever enough that people who don't really understand the issue or don't really know the history might buy it.

But when you really look into it, as Hans von Spakovsky did today for the Daily Signal, you'll find that the liberals' claim here is a complete load of crap:

In 1986, Congress passed the Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA), which provided a general amnesty to almost three million illegal immigrants.  According to the Associated Press, Reagan acted unilaterally when his Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner “announced that minor children of parents granted amnesty by [IRCA] would get protection from deportation.”  In fact, in 1987 former Attorney General Ed Meese issued a memorandum allowing the INS to defer deportation where “compelling or humanitarian factors existed” for children of illegal immigrants who had been granted amnesty and, in essence, given green cards and put on a path towards being “naturalized” as citizens.  In announcing this policy, Reagan was not defying Congress, but rather carrying out the general intent of Congress which had just passed a blanket amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.

As the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website itself explains, the children of individuals who become citizens through naturalization have a relatively easy process for also becoming naturalized citizens to avoid breaking up families. And as Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies points out, the INS was, as a practical matter, going to “look the other way under certain circumstances with regard to minor children both of whose parents received amnesty.”   This was well within the authority delegated to the executive branch and a “legitimate exercise of prosecutorial discretion.”

The Bush administration relaxed these technical requirements under a “Family Fairness” policy to defer deportation of the spouses and children of illegal immigrants who were allowed to stay in this country and seek naturalization through the IRCA amnesty. Shortly thereafter, Bush worked with Congress to pass the Immigration Act of 1990, which made these protections permanent.  Significantly, the Bush policy and the 1990 Act affected only a small number of immigrants–about 180,000 people –in comparison to Obama’s past (his 2012 implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program) and anticipated unilateral actions that will affect millions of immigrants.

Some supporters of Obama’s unilateral actions on immigration have also pointed to other actions by past presidents that allowed immigrants such as Afghans and Nicaraguans to stay in the U.S. But those limited actions were based on very special circumstances such as the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the Communist-driven civil war in Nicaragua or the Chinese massacre of students in Tiananmen Square that led Bush to granted deferred departure to threatened Chinese nationals.

What Obama is getting ready to do has nothing at all in common with what Reagan or Bush did. Both of these past Republican presidents made fairly run-of-the-mill administrative decisions on the implementation of bills Congress had passed, and that they had signed. That is entirely uncontroversial, and would be so if Obama did it too.
What Obama is proposing to do here is to act action on his own specifically because Congress has not given him authorization to act. That is about as unconstitutional as a thing can be, and it bears no similarity to the examples liberals are trying to put forward as its equivalent.

Nice job on von Spakovsky's part doing the work to expose the fraud that is this argument.

Of course, the most galling thing about all this is that, if Obama really wants immigration reform, he could wait until the new Congress is sworn in and then work with them on it. But he doesn't want that because the new Republican Congress is not going to pass a bill that's designed solely to serve the electoral objectives of Democrats. So suddenly, after getting nothing out of Congress on this score for six years, he suddenly has to act now because it's a huge emergency.

No wonder the left has to go to such ridiculous lengths to construct a rationalization. When you actually take an honest look at what he's about to do, you realize it's completely indefensible.
8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What's wrong with the Senate "bipartisan" bill on: November 20, 2014, 12:40:22 AM
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Some points herein I had not seen before on: November 19, 2014, 02:17:08 PM
Immigration Executive Order -- All Smoke and Mirrors
The Demos' REAL "Immigration Reform" Strategy
By Mark Alexander • November 19, 2014     
"The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment." --George Washington (1783)

So, the Imperial President claims that, because Republicans are not passing the immigration "reform" legislation that best suits the Democratic Party's political agenda, he is going to bypass Congress and issue an executive order (EO).

Don't believe it.

Oh, Barack Obama is going to center stage Thursday night to set up his EO play, and sign that diktat Friday in Las Vegas -- a fitting venue for a gutless gamble by a "big hat, no cattle" dude rancher. But what is the Demos' real strategy?

In leftist parlance, "immigration reform" means providing a jackpot to illegal aliens -- giving them official status so they can work and receive all associated taxpayer-subsidized services like housing, schooling and medical care. Once integrated, the second step is to provide a fast-track to citizenship. In other words, for Democrats, immigration reform means, first and foremost, seeding a large constituency.

But is Obama really attempting to give millions of illegal immigrants worker status?

In 2008, then President-elect Obama declared, "I can guarantee that we will have, in the first year, an immigration bill that I strongly support." In 2009 and 2010, Obama had the benefit of Democrat Party control of both the House and Senate, however, his congressional Demos never passed an amnesty bill and thus he did not sign one.


Because he and his fellow Democrats were just pandering to Latinos; they had no intention of passing legislation to provide worker permits for five to 10 million illegal immigrants.


Because another larger and more critical Democrat voter constituency is composed of low-income Americans, whom the Left baits with class warfare rhetoric centered on issues like "living wages" and increasing the minimum wage.

As my daughter, a university student working toward a business degree, framed this issue, "Labor inflation results in wage deflation." In other words, the Democrats really don't want to dump millions of immigrant laborers, who are willing to take low wages, onto their dependable American low-income constituency, because that will, in effect, drive wages even lower.

This is a fundamental supply-and-demand equation.

Just before Democrats were shellacked during the midterm "Republican wave," Obama borrowed a line from The Gipper for a national campaign interview: "Ronald Reagan used to ask the question, 'Are you better off than you were four years ago?' In this case, are you better off than you were in six? And the answer is, the country is definitely better off than we were when I came into office." But according to BO, the problem is the American people "don't feel it," and he insisted, "The reason they don't feel it is because incomes and wages are not going up."

Of course, the reason for wage stagnation is that Obama's economic "recovery" policies have been a colossal failure. On top of that, the influx of cheap illegal immigrant labor effectively caps any increase in wages for unskilled workers.

Democrats argue raising the minimum wage will protect their low-wage constituents, but that is a fabrication. As the Congressional Budget Office made clear, artificially increasing wages will decrease employment.

The issue of immigrant labor undermining the ability of low-income earners to achieve a "living wage" is nothing new. A primary reason Abraham Lincoln did not emancipate slaves at the onset of the War Between the States is that the influx of black labor into northern markets competing for jobs held by white laborers would have undermined Lincoln's political support from the latter.

The great abolitionist Frederick Douglass was so angry with Lincoln for delaying the liberation of some slaves that he scarcely contacted him before 1863, noting that Lincoln was loyal only "to the welfare of the white race." Apparently, more than a few Latino politicos are equally disenchanted with Obama's failure to provide immigrant work permits.

So what of Obama's EO?

The Demo strategy is to craft that EO in such a way that Republicans can successfully chip away at it, primarily by defunding and de-authorizing key components of its implementation, as well as by issuing legal challenges. Thus, Democrats will receive credit from both their legal and illegal Latino constituencies for, ostensibly, attempting to provide them with nine million Permanent Residency or Employment Authorization cards. Then they can blame those "obstructionist" Republicans for blocking them.
This week, Senate Democrats, in a letter to Obama supporting his EO plan, made clear their intent to share in the political fruits of this charade.

Obama, as we've often noted, is a master of the BIG Lie, and, just like the litany of lies that he and his party used to deceive Americans into supporting ObamaCare, they are
also deceiving millions of Americans into believing Democrats support both "living wages" and "immigration reform."

Apparently, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) got it right when he interrupted Obama's 2009 introduction of ObamaCare to a joint session of Congress and the nation. "You lie! You lie!" Wilson memorably yelled.

Indeed, "lack of transparency" and "the stupidity of the American voter," in the words of ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber, are also applicable to Obama's low-wage and Latino constituencies in regard to amnesty by EO. Of course, there is plenty of evidence that Obama constituents are too ignorant to know they're being duped -- after all, they elected him. Twice.


Not only do Democrats assume their constituents are too stupid to understand Obama's amnesty EO subterfuge, but Obama is willing to, once again, turn constitutional Rule of Law on end to accomplish this deceit.

Last week, Obama declared his intent to issue the immigration EO: "I indicated to Speaker Boehner several months ago that if in fact Congress failed to act I would use all the lawful authority that I possess to try to make the system work better."

Of course, "lawful authority" is whatever Obama defines it to be at a given time. He was against unlawful executive orders before he was for them.

On March 31, 2008, candidate Obama said, "I take the Constitution very seriously. The biggest problems that we are facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that's what I intend to reverse when I'm president of the United States of America."

But having failed to pass immigration reform in his first two years in office when he owned the House and Senate, and then having lost control of the House in the 2010 midterm election, Obama repeatedly pleaded in Latino forums that he had no power to implement the changes he'd promised. Rebuffing calls that he legislate by executive order, Obama insisted, "I am not a dictator. I'm the president. ... If in fact I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress then I would do so. ... I'm not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed."

Obama may not have implemented his immigration policies by EO, but he certainly suspended enforcement of immigration laws with an executive order.
But by 2014, with his singular centerpiece legislation -- ObamaCare -- falling apart, and Democrats putting as much distance between him and them as possible, Obama believed the only way his party could stave off a resounding defeat in the midterm election was if he delivered Latino votes.

He began the year promising, "Where Congress isn't acting, I'll act on my own. ... I've got a pen ... and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward." In other words, when Republicans don't give Obama what he wants on immigration, he will pull an executive order end run.

Obama has broadly demonstrated his willingness to end-run our Constitution via EO, most notably his so-called "climate change" policies and his repeated rewrites of ObamaCare.

Asked about his revised position to implement amnesty by executive order, Obama regurgitated this spin: "Well, actually, my position hasn't changed. When I was talking to the advocates, their interest was in me, through executive action, duplicating the legislation that was stalled in Congress. ... There are certain limits to what falls within the realm of prosecutorial discretion in terms of how we apply existing immigration laws."

Of course, that is just more constitutional obfuscation.

Despite his faux devotion to our Constitution, Obama has wantonly violated his oath to "to Support and Defend" it.

Though Obama claims to be a "professor of constitutional law," a genuine constitutional scholar, George Washington University's Jonathan Turley, a self-acknowledged liberal Obama supporter, has issued severe criticism of Obama's "über presidency," his abuse of executive orders and regulations to bypass Congress.

According to Turley, "When the president went to Congress and said he would go it alone, it obviously raises a concern. There's no license for going it alone in our system, and what he's done, is very problematic. He's told agencies not to enforce some laws [and] has effectively rewritten laws through active interpretation that I find very problematic."
He continued: "What's emerging is an imperial presidency, an über presidency. ... When a president can govern alone, he can become a government unto himself, which is precisely the danger that the Framers sought to avoid in the establishment of our tripartite system of government. ... Obama has repeatedly violated this [separation of powers] doctrine in the circumvention of Congress in areas ranging from health care to immigration law to environmental law. ... What we are witnessing today is one of the greatest challenges to our constitutional system in the history of this country. We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis with sweeping implications for our system of government. ... We are now at the constitutional tipping point for our system. ... No one in our system can 'go it alone' -- not Congress, not the courts, and not the president."

When asked by Fox News host Megyn Kelly how he would respond "to those who say many presidents have issued executive orders on immigration," Turley responded, "This would be unprecedented, and I think it would be an unprecedented threat to the balance of powers. ... I hope he does not get away with it."

Over on Obama's MSNBC network, even leftist commentator Lawrence O'Donnell finds the prospect of Obama's executive amnesty diktat daunting. He asked Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) about Obama's authority to issue an EO giving work permits to millions of illegal immigrants: "No one at the White House has been able to give me the legal justification for the following component of the president's plan. ... Has the White House told you -- what is the legal justification for the president to create a new category of beneficiaries for work documents? How can that be done without legislation?"

Of course, Welch could not answer O'Donnell, because there is no such authority.

Before the midterm election, Obama declared, "Make no mistake, [my] policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them." Make no mistake: The American people resoundingly rejected his policies on November 4.

That notwithstanding, Obama has dismissed the election results. Perhaps he believes his immigration EO artifice will deliver enough Latino voters to Democrat candidates in 2016 to hold the presidency and regain the Senate, and somehow that will restore his "Dear Leader" status. After all, more than a million illegal immigrants were unlawfully registered to vote in the midterm election, particularly in states where Democrats have thwarted efforts to require voter IDs.

The bottom line for Republicans is that they need to drive home four points.

First, the "immigration reform" pledges by Obama and his Democrats are disingenuous because they would undermine the Left's entire "living wage" platform. But Democrats believe their low-income and Latino constituencies are too stupid to understand this ruse. Remember: "Labor inflation results in wage deflation."

Second, as Dr. Turley noted, Obama is willing to trash the Constitution in order to advance his ruinous policies. Republicans need to use his abject abuse of power and the threat it poses to Liberty as a constitutional teachable moment.

Third, any debate about immigration is useless unless it begins with a commitment to securing our borders first. As Ronald Reagan declared, "A nation without borders is not a nation." Likewise, it must address the issue of so-called "birthright citizenship," which is a gross misinterpretation of our Constitution's 14th Amendment.

And last, Republicans need to embrace the fact that Liberty is colorblind. It's not a "white thing." Essential Liberty is timeless. And because it transcends all racial, ethnic, gender and class distinctions, it will appeal to all freedom-loving people when properly presented.

Time to see what the incoming House and Senate Republican majorities are made of!

Pro Deo et Constitutione -- Libertas aut Mors
Semper Fortis Vigilate Paratus et Fidelis
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Money, the Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: November 19, 2014, 12:51:30 PM
Do crises drive prices up in the current context?  The middle east is in an accelerating burn, and oil prices are falling , , ,

Off the top of my head this looks more like a play to play for time if/when there is a run on the ruble.

11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / October Housing Starts on: November 19, 2014, 12:49:36 PM

Housing Starts Declined 2.8% in October To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 11/19/2014

Housing starts declined 2.8% in October to a 1.009 million annual rate, coming in below the consensus expected 1.025 million annual rate. Starts are up 7.8% versus a year ago.

The decline in starts in October was all due to a sharp 15.4% drop in multi-family units; single family starts rose 4.2%. In the past year, single-family starts are up 15.4% while multi-family starts are down 6.0%.

Starts in October declined in the Midwest, Northeast and West, but were up in the South.

New building permits rose 4.8% in October to a 1.080 million annual rate, coming in above the consensus expected 1.040 million. Compared to a year ago, permits for single-units are up 2.4% while permits for multi-family homes are down 0.5%.

Implications: Home building has been very volatile over the past few months but the underlying trend remains upward and we expect that to continue. The best news from today’s report was that building permits rose 4.8% in October, as single-family and multi-family permits rose 1.4% and 10% respectively. Permits now stand at the highest level since June 2008, signaling future gains in home building in the months to come. October’s drop of 2.8% for home building was all due to multi-family units, which were down 15.4% in October and have caused large swings in overall housing starts over the past few months. Single-family starts have been steadily rising over the past three months. So, the multi-family volatility over the past few months has masked slow underlying improvement in the housing sector. To smooth out the volatility we look at the 12-month moving average. This is now at the highest level since September 2008. The total number of homes under construction, (started, but not yet finished) increased 1.4% in October and are up 20.1% versus a year ago. No wonder residential construction jobs are up 131,000 in the past year. Although multi-family construction has slowed over the past few months, it has still taken the clear lead in the housing recovery. Single-family starts have been in a tight range for the past two years, while the trend in multi-family units has been up steeply. In the past year, 36% of all housing starts have been for multi-unit buildings, the most since the mid-1980s, when the last wave of Baby Boomers was leaving college. From a direct GDP perspective, the construction of multi-family homes adds less, per unit, to the economy than single-family homes. However, home building is still a positive for real GDP growth and we expect that trend to continue. Based on population growth and “scrappage,” housing starts will rise to about 1.5 million units per year over the next couple of years.
12  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: November 19, 2014, 12:36:05 PM
The thought of losing a child sends tremors through the heart of any parent.  I admire VDH's work greatly; may he find God's grace in this hour of tragedy.
13  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions on: November 19, 2014, 12:34:18 PM
God retains his sense of humor it would seem  cheesy cheesy
14  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBs mentioned in article on Afrcian MA on: November 19, 2014, 12:32:58 PM
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Jerusalem's war of neighbors on: November 19, 2014, 12:26:15 PM
It's POTH, so caveat lector.
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: November 19, 2014, 12:24:25 PM
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: November 19, 2014, 11:36:38 AM
Bland, competent, white male with spectacular record will NOT be enough.
18  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Money, the Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: November 19, 2014, 11:35:01 AM
Interesting , , ,
19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: November 19, 2014, 11:30:36 AM
Sen. Joe Mancin of WV may be tempted to flip to the Reps.
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: November 19, 2014, 11:23:28 AM
Whoever it is must have what it takes to beat the Hillary, her machine, the Pravdas, and women voters who will vote for her because she is a woman.

Bland, competent, white male with good record will NOT be enough.
21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama was against illegal immigration before he was for it on: November 19, 2014, 11:20:53 AM!
22  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gruber who? on: November 19, 2014, 11:14:45 AM
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama attacked Hillary Clinton's health care plan because "it forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can't afford it, and you pay a penalty if you don't." Gee, that sounds familiar. Oh, that's right -- it's a critical part of ObamaCare now. What changed Obama's mind? Jonathan "Stupid American Voters" Gruber, of course. After adding Gruber to his transition team and meeting with him about health policy, Obama came out in favor of the mandate in July 2009. And, according to a 2012 New York Times report, "It is [Gruber's] research that convinced the Obama administration that health care reform could not work without requiring everyone to buy insurance." It's no wonder Obama has tried to distance himself from Gruber, saying, "I just heard about this" kerfuffle, and, "The fact that an adviser who was never on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is not a reflection on the actual process that was run." Sure thing.
23  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 19, 2014, 11:06:42 AM
"[T]he people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 25, 1787

An Obama supporter with integrity:

Barack Obama claims to be a "professor of constitutional law," but a genuine constitutional scholar, George Washington University's Jonathan Turley, a self-acknowledged liberal Obama supporter, has offered severe criticism of Obama's "über presidency," his abuse of executive orders and regulations to bypass Congress.

When asked by Fox News host Megyn Kelly how he would respond "to those who say many presidents have issued executive orders on immigration," Turley responded, "This would be unprecedented, and I think it would be an unprecedented threat to the balance of powers."

In July, Turley gave congressional testimony concerning Obama's abuse of executive orders: "When the president went to Congress and said he would go it alone, it obviously raises a concern. There's no license for going it alone in our system, and what he's done is very problematic. He's told agencies not to enforce some laws [and] has effectively rewritten laws through active interpretation that I find very problematic."

He continued: "Our system is changing in a dangerous and destabilizing way. What's emerging is an imperial presidency, an über presidency. ... The president's pledge to effectively govern alone is alarming but what is most alarming is his ability to fulfill that pledge. When a president can govern alone, he can become a government unto himself, which is precisely the danger that the Framers sought to avoid in the establishment of our tripartite system of government. ... Obama has repeatedly violated this [separation of powers] doctrine in the circumvention of Congress in areas ranging from health care to immigration law to environmental law. ... What we are witnessing today is one of the greatest challenges to our constitutional system in the history of this country. We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis with sweeping implications for our system of government. There could be no greater danger for individual liberty. I think the framers would be horrified. ... We are now at the constitutional tipping point for our system. ... No one in our system can 'go it alone' -- not Congress, not the courts, and not the president."

Turley reiterated this week: "[Obama has] become a government of one. ... It's becoming a particularly dangerous moment if the president is going to go forward, particularly after this election, to defy the will of Congress yet again. ... What the president is suggesting is tearing at the very fabric of the Constitution. We have a separation of powers ... to protect Liberty, to keep any branch from assuming so much authority that they become a threat to Liberty. ... The Democrats are creating something very, very dangerous. They're creating a president who can go it alone -- the very danger that are framers sought to avoid in our Constitution. ... I hope he does not get away with it."
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Professor Turley on: November 19, 2014, 11:06:12 AM
"[T]he people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 25, 1787

An Obama supporter with integrity:

Barack Obama claims to be a "professor of constitutional law," but a genuine constitutional scholar, George Washington University's Jonathan Turley, a self-acknowledged liberal Obama supporter, has offered severe criticism of Obama's "über presidency," his abuse of executive orders and regulations to bypass Congress.

When asked by Fox News host Megyn Kelly how he would respond "to those who say many presidents have issued executive orders on immigration," Turley responded, "This would be unprecedented, and I think it would be an unprecedented threat to the balance of powers."

In July, Turley gave congressional testimony concerning Obama's abuse of executive orders: "When the president went to Congress and said he would go it alone, it obviously raises a concern. There's no license for going it alone in our system, and what he's done is very problematic. He's told agencies not to enforce some laws [and] has effectively rewritten laws through active interpretation that I find very problematic."

He continued: "Our system is changing in a dangerous and destabilizing way. What's emerging is an imperial presidency, an über presidency. ... The president's pledge to effectively govern alone is alarming but what is most alarming is his ability to fulfill that pledge. When a president can govern alone, he can become a government unto himself, which is precisely the danger that the Framers sought to avoid in the establishment of our tripartite system of government. ... Obama has repeatedly violated this [separation of powers] doctrine in the circumvention of Congress in areas ranging from health care to immigration law to environmental law. ... What we are witnessing today is one of the greatest challenges to our constitutional system in the history of this country. We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis with sweeping implications for our system of government. There could be no greater danger for individual liberty. I think the framers would be horrified. ... We are now at the constitutional tipping point for our system. ... No one in our system can 'go it alone' -- not Congress, not the courts, and not the president."

Turley reiterated this week: "[Obama has] become a government of one. ... It's becoming a particularly dangerous moment if the president is going to go forward, particularly after this election, to defy the will of Congress yet again. ... What the president is suggesting is tearing at the very fabric of the Constitution. We have a separation of powers ... to protect Liberty, to keep any branch from assuming so much authority that they become a threat to Liberty. ... The Democrats are creating something very, very dangerous. They're creating a president who can go it alone -- the very danger that are framers sought to avoid in our Constitution. ... I hope he does not get away with it."
25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 19, 2014, 10:55:14 AM
No doubt the Pravdas are going to give full-throated coverage to the fact that Gruber has made something like $5 MILLION from various govt. contracts, including $400,000 from HHS and that Team Obama trumpeted him as a disinterested expert who confirmed its numbers and that they, the Pravdas, spread it forward , , ,

26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Amending the 14th's definition of "Citizen"? on: November 19, 2014, 10:52:10 AM

I forget on which thread, but we discussed this matter a few years ago: 
27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 17, 2014, 04:53:38 PM
second post

Why Dems Lack Working Class Appeal: It's Immigration, Stupid
Published on on November 17, 2014
After their massive defeats in the midterm elections, many Democrats are calling for the party to move away from its emphasis on social issues and embrace a call for higher wages and an end to stagnant working class incomes.  But they miss the point.  Both in fact and in perception, their pro-immigration stance puts them on the wrong side of the issue.

AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka called on Hillary to "run on a raising-wages agenda and not cater to Wall Street but to everyday people."

The New York Times notes that as Democrats sift through the returns, they see that "lower-income voters either supported Republicans or did not vote." The paper said that "liberals argue that without a more robust message about economic fairness, the party will continue to suffer among working-class voters, particularly in the South and Midwest."

But both Trumka and the Times miss the key point: You can't be for raising downscale wages and opening the doors of our nation to millions of low income immigrants at the same time.  They are mutually contradictory both economically and politically.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, an ultra-leftist, came closer to the mark when he said that "Too many Democrats are too close to Wall Street" and that "too many Democrats support trade agreements that outsource jobs, and too many Democrats are too willing to cut Social Security -- and that's why we lose elections."

But Brown's argument collapses when he leaves immigration off his list. 

Under Obama, three out of every four newly created jobs went to people not born in the United States according to the Census Bureau.  The resultant downward pressure on wages makes income inequality worse.  Proposals to raise the minimum wage are largely beside the point -- only ten percent of those at this wage level are in poverty, the rest are second and third incomes in their families.

To raise the wages of the heads of households, the left cannot continue to force them to compete with newly arrived immigrants who are willing to work for next to nothing.

The liberal agenda of tougher regulation of banks, student loan forgiveness, and even revisions in trade policy simply won't address the problem sufficiently. 

In one stroke of the pen, President Obama will justify working class angst about the Administration's economic policy when he ends deportations of illegal immigrants.

Message to Obama and the left: Immigration is the economic issue of our time.
28  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / WSJ: Mexico's Rule of Law Crisis on: November 17, 2014, 03:36:59 PM
Mary Anastasia O’Grady
Nov. 16, 2014 6:18 p.m. ET

What do the September disappearance of 43 university students from the custody of local police in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, and new allegations of federal corruption in the awarding of public infrastructure contracts have in common? Answer: They both show that Mexico still has a huge problem enforcing the rule of law.

The two developments have sparked a political crisis that could sink Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) President Enrique Peña Nieto ’s ambitious reform agenda if he doesn’t take quick and decisive action to restore confidence.

Until now the president has been able to ignore Mexico’s legendary lawlessness. He has been riding an international wave of excitement around the opening of the energy sector, with few questions asked. But unless he wants to make common cause with the hard left—which thinks it has him on the ropes because of the missing students—he needs to admit his mistakes, purge his cabinet and make the rule of law job No. 1.

According to a 17-page report issued Wednesday by the Mexican Embassy in Washington, the missing students were political activists. They had entered the town of Iguala in Guerrero to “forcefully borrow two private buses” for a journey to Mexico City for demonstrations.

The embassy says police opened fire on the students and that in the melee that ensued six civilians died. The students arrested were handed to a local crime cartel. Gang members allegedly confessed to killing the young men and burning their bodies. The governor of Guerrero has resigned. The mayor of Iguala, his wife, 36 municipal police officers and more than 35 other individuals are under arrest.

The governor and the mayor are both from the left-wing Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD). But teachers unions and the hard-left former mayor of Mexico City, Andrés Manuel López Obrador are now trying to destabilize the Peña Nieto government by linking it to the disappearance of the students. Last week the militants seized town halls, attacked government buildings, blocked roads and burned cars in at least three states.

The good news is that few issues have united Mexican civil society like the disappearance of the students and the violent response of the extreme left. There is little sympathy for Mr. López Obrador. The public’s top priority is the rule of law.

To re-establish the rule of law at a time when criminals have so much power is a tall order. U.S. drug policy and the American appetite for narcotics have conspired to overwhelm law enforcement in many places in Mexico. Mr. Peña Nieto can make a start if he demonstrates that the state can handle this investigation with transparency. But he will have to go much further.

To show that Mexico is committed to ending impunity and to improving public security, the president should use his influence to push for the full implementation of the new criminal code mandating that all federal and state judicial systems move, by 2016, to the oral accusatorial system, away from Mexico’s traditional written, inquisitional system.

Monterrey lawyer Ernesto Canales founded the civic group Renace (Spanish for “rebirth”) in 1994 to work for this reform in his home state of Nuevo León. In an interview in New York in the spring he told me that the change will “mean an increase in substance over formality in public trials and an increase in transparency. It will also raise the odds that judges actually know what’s going on in their courtrooms.”

Sounds important. Yet congressional approval of the federal regulations necessary to complete the reform is moving at a glacial pace, and the judiciary is in no hurry to comply. Many of the 32 states have yet to make the transition.

Everyone knows why: The oral system will challenge the traditional use of the criminal-justice system as a profit center for the state. In that tradition the accused can either pay or do time. Culpability is beside the point, and there is no need for competitive police salaries, forensics or transparent protocols to ensure accountability and communication among municipal, state and federal authorities.

This works well for the establishment, and Mr. Peña Nieto has not wanted to spend the political capital to change things. Becoming the champion of a reform that originated with civil society is now his best option to restore his credibility.

The president also has to deal with the drip, drip of allegations that his government is in the habit of trading contracts for kickbacks. Investors might forgive real or perceived transgressions if he fires his discredited ministers and agrees to a new bidding process for infrastructure contracts that puts his team at arm’s length. The center-right National Action Party (PAN), which wants to see the successful opening of the energy market, may be willing to help if it can be assured that the PRI will keep its hand out of the cookie jar.

That’s a lot to ask of the PRI, but Mr. Peña Nieto’s promise to transform Mexico depends on it.

Write to O’
29  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Missing Immigration Memo on: November 17, 2014, 03:25:55 PM
But, unless I am mistaken, that is not what he is doing here , , ,


The Missing Immigration Memo
Has Obama asked the Office of Legal Counsel for its legal opinion?
Attorney General Eric Holder European Pressphoto Agency
Nov. 16, 2014 6:31 p.m. ET

If the White House press corps wants to keep government honest, here’s a question to ask as President Obama prepares to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants by executive order: Has he sought, and does he have, any written legal justification from the Attorney General and the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) for his actions?

This would be standard operating procedure in any normal Presidency. Attorney General Eric Holder is the executive branch’s chief legal officer, and Administrations of both parties typically ask OLC for advice on the parameters of presidential legal authority.

The Obama Administration has asked OLC for its legal opinions on such controversial national security questions as drone strikes and targeting U.S. citizens abroad. It was right do so even though the Constitution gives Presidents enormous authority on war powers and foreign policy.

But a Justice-OLC opinion is all the more necessary on domestic issues because the President’s authority is far more limited. He is obliged to execute the laws that Congress writes. A President should always seek legal justification for controversial actions to ensure that he is on solid constitutional ground as well as to inspire public confidence in government.

Yet as far as we have seen, Mr. Obama sought no such legal justification in 2012 when he legalized hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The only document we’ve found in justification is a letter from the Secretary of Homeland Security at the time, Janet Napolitano, to law enforcement agencies citing “the exercise of our prosecutorial discretion.” Judging by recent White House leaks, that same flimsy argument will be the basis for legalizing millions more adults.

It’s possible Messrs. Obama and Holder haven’t sought an immigration opinion because they suspect there’s little chance that even a pliant Office of Legal Counsel could find a legal justification. Prosecutorial discretion is a vital legal concept, but it is supposed to be exercised in individual cases, not to justify a refusal to follow the law against entire classes of people.

White House leakers are also whispering as a legal excuse that Congress has provided money to deport only 400,000 illegal migrants a year. But a President cannot use lack of funds to justify a wholesale refusal to enforce a statute. There is never enough money to enforce every federal law at any given time, and lack of funds could by used in the future by any President to refuse to enforce any statute. Imagine a Republican President who decided not to enforce the Clean Air Act.

We support more liberal immigration but not Mr. Obama’s means of doing it on his own whim because he’s tired of working with Congress. His first obligation is to follow the law, which begins by asking the opinion of the government’s own lawyers.
30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Apps vs. the Web on: November 17, 2014, 03:13:09 PM
The Web Is Dying; Apps Are Killing It
Tech’s Open Range Is Losing Out to Walled Gardens
By Christopher Mims
Updated Nov. 17, 2014 2:53 p.m. ET

The Web—that thin veneer of human-readable design on top of the machine babble that constitutes the Internet—is dying. And the way it’s dying has farther-reaching implications than almost anything else in technology today.

Think about your mobile phone. All those little chiclets on your screen are apps, not websites, and they work in ways that are fundamentally different from the way the Web does.

Mountains of data tell us that, in aggregate, we are spending time in apps that we once spent surfing the Web. We’re in love with apps, and they’ve taken over. On phones, 86% of our time is spent in apps, and just 14% is spent on the Web, according to mobile-analytics company Flurry.

This might seem like a trivial change. In the old days, we printed out directions from the website MapQuest that were often wrong or confusing. Today we call up Waze on our phones and are routed around traffic in real time. For those who remember the old way, this is a miracle.

Everything about apps feels like a win for users—they are faster and easier to use than what came before. But underneath all that convenience is something sinister: the end of the very openness that allowed Internet companies to grow into some of the most powerful or important companies of the 21st century.

Take that most essential of activities for e-commerce: accepting credit cards. When made its debut on the Web, it had to pay a few percentage points in transaction fees. But Apple takes 30% of every transaction conducted within an app sold through its app store, and “very few businesses in the world can withstand that haircut,” says Chris Dixon, a venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz.

App stores, which are shackled to particular operating systems and devices, are walled gardens where Apple, Google , Microsoft and Amazon get to set the rules. For a while, that meant Apple banned Bitcoin, an alternative currency that many technologists believe is the most revolutionary development on the Internet since the hyperlink. Apple regularly bans apps that offend its politics, taste, or compete with its own software and services.

But the problem with apps runs much deeper than the ways they can be controlled by centralized gatekeepers. The Web was invented by academics whose goal was sharing information. Tim Berners-Lee was just trying to make it easy for scientists to publish data they were putting together during construction of CERN, the world’s biggest particle accelerator.

No one involved knew they were giving birth to the biggest creator and destroyer of wealth anyone had ever seen. So, unlike with app stores, there was no drive to control the early Web. Standards bodies arose—like the United Nations, but for programming languages. Companies that would have liked to wipe each other off the map were forced, by the very nature of the Web, to come together and agree on revisions to the common language for Web pages.

The result: Anyone could put up a Web page or launch a new service, and anyone could access it. Google was born in a garage. Facebook was born in Mark Zuckerberg ’s dorm room.

But app stores don’t work like that. The lists of most-downloaded apps now drive consumer adoption of those apps. Search on app stores is broken.
On phones, 86% of our time is spent in apps, and just 14% is spent on the Web, according to mobile-analytics company Flurry. ENLARGE
On phones, 86% of our time is spent in apps, and just 14% is spent on the Web, according to mobile-analytics company Flurry. Bloomberg News

The Web is built of links, but apps don’t have a functional equivalent. Facebook and Google are trying to fix this by creating a standard called “deep linking,” but there are fundamental technical barriers to making apps behave like websites.

The Web was intended to expose information. It was so devoted to sharing above all else that it didn’t include any way to pay for things—something some of its early architects regret to this day, since it forced the Web to survive on advertising.

The Web wasn’t perfect, but it created a commons where people could exchange information and goods. It forced companies to build technology that was explicitly designed to be compatible with competitors’ technology. Microsoft’s Web browser had to faithfully render Apple’s website. If it didn’t, consumers would use another one, such as Firefox or Google’s Chrome, which has since taken over.

Today, as apps take over, the Web’s architects are abandoning it. Google’s newest experiment in email nirvana, called Inbox, is available for both Android and Apple’s iOS, but on the Web it doesn’t work in any browser except Chrome. The process of creating new Web standards has slowed to a crawl. Meanwhile, companies with app stores are devoted to making those stores better than—and entirely incompatible with—app stores built by competitors.

“In a lot of tech processes, as things decline a little bit, the way the world reacts is that it tends to accelerate that decline,” says Mr. Dixon. “If you go to any Internet startup or large company, they have large teams focused on creating very high quality native apps, and they tend to de-prioritize the mobile Web by comparison.”

Many industry watchers think this is just fine. Ben Thompson, an independent tech and mobile analyst, told me he sees the dominance of apps as the “natural state” for software.

Ruefully, I have to agree. The history of computing is companies trying to use their market power to shut out rivals, even when it’s bad for innovation and the consumer.

That doesn’t mean the Web will disappear. Facebook and Google still rely on it to furnish a stream of content that can be accessed from within their apps. But even the Web of documents and news items could go away. Facebook has announced plans to host publishers’ work within Facebook itself, leaving the Web nothing but a curiosity, a relic haunted by hobbyists.

I think the Web was a historical accident, an anomalous instance of a powerful new technology going almost directly from a publicly funded research lab to the public. It caught existing juggernauts like Microsoft flat-footed, and it led to the kind of disruption today’s most powerful tech companies would prefer to avoid.

It isn’t that today’s kings of the app world want to quash innovation, per se. It is that in the transition to a world in which services are delivered through apps, rather than the Web, we are graduating to a system that makes innovation, serendipity and experimentation that much harder for those who build things that rely on the Internet. And today, that is pretty much everyone.

—Follow Christopher Mims on Twitter @Mims; write to him at
31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 17, 2014, 02:31:31 PM
Thank you GM.

So, this is what I have mentally so far:

"DACA was designed to exercise prosecutorial discretion for law-abiding immigrants who came to this country as children, and it "did not provide an across-the-board change in legal status. , , , You may request DACA if you:   

"1.Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
"2.Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday , , ,"

"UCLA Law Professor Motomura: DACA Was "Clearly Within [The President's] Discretionary Power." As The Washington Post's Wonkblog reported, professor Hiroshi Motomura was the principal author of the 2012 memo that outlined the legal rationale for temporary administrative relief like DACA. According to Wonkblog, Motomura explained that the president could build upon the program as is being reported, which is essentially "a list to prioritize who should be deported first.  Nevertheless, conservatives have falsely characterized as "amnesty" this deferred action and similar relief, which seeks to continue to prioritize the deportation of those "who had committed felonies or were seen as safety or security risks":"

Question that occurs to me:

Is Team Obama arguing the the 4.5 million in question meet the criteria of DACA? and thus get work papers while their status is pending?

Please help me read this closely.

32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Then Sen. Kerry said Gruber was Obamacare guide and source of numbers on: November 17, 2014, 02:21:09 PM

Even has him saying that Gruber did the numbers when the CBO would not!

33  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Interesting essay on German anti-semitism on: November 17, 2014, 11:21:01 AM
34  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen. Rand Paul on: November 17, 2014, 11:08:15 AM
Intelligent, thoughtful comments Doug.

35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 17, 2014, 11:06:35 AM
Here is my understanding:

58% of Americans oppose how Obama apparently is going to go about this.  58% of the American people are sympathetic to something like he is proposing getting done.

The class in question (illegals with American children) is chosen with politics in mind.  The question I anticipate being presented to Republicans is this:  When you deport these illegals, what happens to the children?  Do you tear families apart?  Do you deport these American citizens?

Again I ask for help on the legal/Constitutional aspect of Obama's threatened course of action.  Apparently there is a more plausible case for it being legal than I had realized.  

In addition to the general argument it makes about prosecutorial discretion (please address) to not pursue deportation, as best as I can tell there is the additional matter of the DACA "Program" giving work papers?  Where the hell did/does DACA come from.  Does "Program" mean it is of bureaucratic origin, or is it of statutory origin?  Perhaps our GM can help us out here with his wondrous google fu skills?

PS:  IMHO the Reps got their collective ass kicked on the last shut down.  That this was due to dishonest reporting from the Pravdas I don't dispute, but let us not kid ourselves on the political consequence.  If the same dynamics were to occur again (Reps fund everything except the matter in question and Obama chooses to let govt shut down occur instead and Pravdas blame Reps) what do you think will happen politically when Obama says

"When you deport these illegals, what happens to the children?  Do you tear families apart?  Do you deport these American citizens?"
36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How do we explain this? on: November 15, 2014, 09:56:29 PM
37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson, Taking up Arms 1775 on: November 15, 2014, 06:09:42 PM
"Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them." --Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking up Arms, 1775
38  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Rand Paul on Bill Maher on: November 15, 2014, 11:22:10 AM
I'm intrigued , , ,
39  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science and Military Issues on: November 15, 2014, 11:04:29 AM
Not familiar with this website and thus I have no idea as to its reliability;

but with Russia's world-wide cockiness (Ukraine, deals with Iran, bombers in the Carribean and much more) and the rapidity with which we are losing our lead (Chinese now have stealth fighters with tech stolen from us, Iranians now have advanced drone tech reversed engineered from drone they hacked/captured from us and Obama failed to seize back or destroy) I can't say that this strikes me as implausible , , ,

40  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia still fg w Ukraine, US still not doing diddly on: November 15, 2014, 09:19:17 AM

Following the separatist elections in Donetsk and Luhansk on Nov. 2, the political entities representing both regions -- the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic, respectively -- have established what is likely to be yet another long-term frozen conflict in the former Soviet periphery. Ukraine's inability to retake these regions by force, combined with continued weapons and personnel support from Russia, mean they are here to stay.

Russia will have difficulty propping up these new breakaway territories at a time when Moscow is under growing economic and political strain. Still, Russia has strategic interests in supporting these territories as a check against Ukraine's Western integration efforts. Along with its history of subsidizing other breakaway territories in the region, Moscow has shown with its efforts in Ukraine that it will be willing to incur the financial and political costs of backing the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics.

The breakaway territories in eastern Ukraine trace their origins to the Western-backed uprising in Kiev and the subsequent Russian response to this uprising. From pro-Russian demonstrations in Donetsk and Luhansk, Moscow-backed rebel militias and the political entities representing them simultaneously emerged. In Donetsk, activists who occupied administration buildings declared the establishment of the Donetsk People's Republic on April 7, while in Luhansk a similar declaration was made for the establishment of the Luhansk People's Republic on April 27. Both groups subsequently held referendums on May 12 on the issue of declaring independence from Ukraine, and according to the local referendum organizers (international observers were not allowed), both received over 95 percent of votes in favor of secession.

Russia Maintains Supply Flow to Ukrainian Separatists
Click to Enlarge

Following the military gains made by the rebels at the expense of Ukrainian security forces in the ensuing months, the territories controlled by the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics did not take part in Ukraine's political process, including the presidential election in May and parliamentary elections in October. Instead, the separatists held their own parliamentary elections Nov. 2, which essentially solidified the existing leadership of Alexander Zakharchenko in the Donetsk People's Republic and Igor Plotnitsky in the Luhansk People's Republic. While most of the international community did not recognize the elections, the polls further cemented the reality that Ukraine was no longer in control of these territories.
From Rebellion to Administration

With the separatists having achieved territorial control, the question now is how the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics will manage the administration of their territories. Together, the people's republics control nearly 16,000 square kilometers (a little less than 6,200 square miles) of territory -- roughly 30 percent of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts combined. Donetsk and Luhansk are two of the most densely populated regions of Ukraine, and Kiev estimates that nearly 65 percent of the Donetsk oblast's population and 50 percent of the Luhansk oblast's population (or around 1.5 million and 2 million people respectively) are under separatist rule. The separatists also control both regional centers, the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Administering these territories therefore represents quite the undertaking for the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics. This is especially the case since both regions have experienced significant dislocations from the conflict, both in terms of outflows of population and economic disruption. An estimated 800,000 people have been displaced as a result of the conflict, with nearly 400,000 seeking refuge across the border in Russia. While some of the population has started returning to the area, anecdotal evidence suggests that many of those returning are middle-aged or elderly, while the younger and more productive members of the population have so far chosen to stay away. Adding to these problems, the Ukrainian government recently decided to stop paying social benefits -- including pensions in certain cases -- to residents in these areas.

Donetsk and Luhansk historically have been two of the most economically productive regions of Ukraine, jointly making up the Donbas industrial belt, but much of their industrial production has been hurt by the military conflict. Coal mining is a major part of the economy in the rebel-controlled territories, and over 50 percent of the coal plants and steel mills there have halted production or are producing under capacity. Those that are still producing, such as the coal mines controlled by oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, have refused to pay taxes to the separatist governments (though according to sources, there may be kickbacks being paid to the rebels under the table). Without an effective mechanism for tax collection, much of the local revenue the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics have collected has come from soliciting local businesses.

Furthermore, if and when industrial production in these regions does pick back up, the separatist governments will find it difficult to legally export products abroad -- or at least to Europe, which has placed sanctions on the breakaway territories. Additionally, the banking systems in these territories have been frozen, and most workers reportedly have been receiving their salaries in cash.
Russia Continues Its Support

The economic prospects for these breakaway regions -- at least for the short to medium term -- are not particularly bright. The territories have only one viable option for sustaining themselves -- Russia. Indeed, Moscow is already playing a significant role in propping up the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics. First and foremost, Russian aid has come in the form of military supplies -- including tanks and heavy weaponry -- and flows of personnel to assist in the battle against Ukrainian security forces. Russia has also sent humanitarian convoys with food and other supplies to the parts of the rebel territories that have been most damaged in the conflict zone, such as areas around the city of Luhansk.

Moscow's direct financial and economic assistance to these territories, however, is more opaque. Though the rebels have admitted that they have not yet been able to set up a reliable tax collection system, sources have said they are still getting paid, which reportedly comes in part from cash transfers from Russia. The self-declared republics also reportedly receive aid from businessmen close to the Kremlin, such as Konstantin Malofeev.

Additionally, there are other important economic activities in the separatist-controlled territories. There have been reports of coal supplies from the breakaway regions being smuggled into Russia, with Moscow then selling these supplies back to Ukraine and channeling revenues to the rebels. There also have been reports of the continuing production of machines that service the coal and steel sector as well as the agricultural production of wheat, corn and sunflower seeds, which could allow Russia to increase its imports of these goods from the rebel territories. Finally, Moscow could choose to subsidize energy exports, given that pipeline infrastructure is directly integrated across the border.
Costs and Benefits to Russia

Still, Russia's ability to directly finance the breakaway territories or absorb their products is not infinite. Moscow is already experiencing significant economic problems as a result of the Ukraine crisis, including capital flight, a depreciating ruble and financial restrictions caused by Western sanctions. Russia has had its own internal debate over budgetary expenditures for social and defense spending, which declining oil prices have only exacerbated. Projections of stagnant growth or even mild recession for 2015 do not suggest a dramatic improvement in Russia's economic position.

Nevertheless, the total amount of financing needed to sustain these regions is unlikely to cost Russia more than a few billion dollars per year, especially since much of the economy will be operating in the grey zone. Furthermore, Russia's ability to project power into its periphery has traditionally outstripped the country's economic weaknesses. Indeed, even in the chaos of the 1990s, Russia militarily and financially supported a number of breakaway territories throughout the former Soviet space, including Transdniestria in Moldova and Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia. Moscow continues to support these territories to this day, both in terms of subsidizing local economic production and providing direct budgetary assistance to the breakaway governments. Russia has only increased such support, given that Moldova and Georgia have attempted to get closer to the West as a result of the crisis in Ukraine.

Ultimately, the benefits of backing the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics will outweigh the financial and political costs for Moscow. The uprising in Ukraine and the subsequent pro-Western government it has produced in Kiev is a fundamental threat to Russia's national security interests. Supporting the breakaway territories in Donetsk and Luhansk not only gives Russia direct military and political influence in these regions but also serves as a check against Ukraine's Western integration efforts. This explains why, despite sanctions from the West and its own economic difficulties, Moscow has not stopped supporting the breakaway territories and continues to be the main power player in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Russia has redrawn the borders, and the new breakaway territories are here to stay.

Read more: Russian Interests Reshape Ukraine's Borders | Stratfor
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41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kurds and Baghdad take a shaky step toward compromise on: November 15, 2014, 08:58:41 AM

Iraq's Kurds, Baghdad Take a Shaky Step Toward Compromise
November 14, 2014 | 1536 Print Text Size
Iraq's Kurds and Baghdad Take a Step Toward Compromise
Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani speaks during a press conference in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil on Sept. 18, 2013. (SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leadership and Iraqi Oil Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi announced Nov. 13 that they have reached an agreement for the KRG to send 150,000 barrels per day of oil to the central government and for the central government to send $500 million to the KRG to pay salaries for civil servants for the month of October. Financial stress has pushed the Kurds to negotiate with Baghdad, but the core points of contention between Baghdad and Arbil that hamper a more comprehensive and enduring compromise remain.

Despite the KRG's repeated claims that it can develop enough energy revenue to exist independently of Baghdad, financial and political factors keep Arbil from having that option. Without a deal with Baghdad, the KRG is losing out on roughly $1.2 billion per month, the bulk of which goes toward paying the salaries of civil servants -- a critical component of the patronage networks underpinning the KRG's two main parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. The lack of budget allocations has put the KRG in more than $9 billion of debt. The KRG claimed in September that it has made only $1.3 billion from the legally questionable export of 14 million barrels of oil over the course of eight months. As of October, the KRG has shipped a total of 17 million barrels of crude from Ceyhan, in Turkey, and is pumping about 300,000 barrels per day through the KRG-Turkey pipeline.

The KRG had to sell its oil at a sizable discount -- at least 15 percent below market value, on average -- due to the legal risk of defying Baghdad's authority and the insurance premium on crude cargoes sitting for months in tankers in search of willing buyers. With the price of Brent crude now below $80, the profits are becoming even slimmer. This financial strain is intolerable for the KRG: It has to pay the monthly salaries of peshmerga fighters on the front line with the Islamic State, pay off debt to international oil companies and contractors operating in the region and manage the growing financial burden of a large influx of refugees.

Baghdad has also lost out on revenue from Kirkuk crude sales while its conflict with the KRG has persisted, but southern Iraqi oil production continues to grow at a steady pace, with southern terminals averaging 2.55 million barrels per day for October. Baghdad could certainly use extra revenue from northern oil exports to help manage growing costs from the war against the Islamic State, but the central government is under far less financial stress than the KRG. Thus, the burden of the compromise lies on Arbil.
The New Agreement's Limitations

The central government and the KRG have kept the details of the preliminary agreement vague, but it is unlikely that Baghdad would agree to release funds without the KRG conceding that at least a portion of the oil exported from the KRG be marketed through the Baghdad-controlled State Oil Marketing Organization and that Baghdad distribute the revenue from those exports. Knowing that the KRG will be loathe to give up physical control of the export and marketing of this oil, Baghdad will have the right to restrict budget allocations at any time. And knowing that Baghdad will be able to withhold payments at any time, the KRG will resist sacrificing full authority to the State Oil Marketing Organization and will seek additional funding sources to scrape by and maintain some leverage in its ongoing negotiations with Baghdad. (The KRG has been rumored to have negotiated a $5 billion loan with Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank to help create a financial buffer.) This is the state of limbo in which the preliminary deal has been set.

But the complications do not end there. The status of Kirkuk will continue to be a major impediment to a lasting deal. During the Islamic State siege, Kurdish peshmerga occupied the Baba and Avana domes of the Kirkuk field and the nearby Bai Hassan field. These fields are still legally under Baghdad's control through the North Oil Company but are now under the Kurds' physical control. Without Baghdad's permission, the KRG reportedly has been producing roughly 120,000 barrels per day from the Avana dome and Bai Hassan field collectively and has been blending that crude for both domestic use and export. The KRG was already facing legal challenges in exporting crude from the Tawke, Taq Taq and Shaikan fields that lie indisputably in KRG territory, but exporting crude from clearly disputed fields will only add to the legal ambiguity surrounding KRG exports, even as the KRG will try to use the preliminary deal with Baghdad to convince investors of a new level of Kurdish energy autonomy.
The Outside Players

Turkey will also be a key factor in determining just how far KRG energy autonomy will expand. Ankara sees the need to keep the KRG dependent on Turkey for export routes and ultimately its economic survival. Though Turkey is eager to exploit Kurdish energy and is building out infrastructure to this end, its strategy toward the KRG is still driven by containment as Ankara struggles to limit a kaleidoscope of Kurdish factions seeking autonomy through political, financial and militant means within and beyond Turkish borders. It is no coincidence that the KRG-Baghdad preliminary agreement came after Turkey hosted Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Jaafari on Nov. 7 in Ankara, where Turkey made a point to reiterate its respect for Iraq's territorial integrity.

What remains to be seen is whether Baghdad and Ankara come to an agreement on how revenue from KRG oil export sales will be handled. To date, Turkey has deposited revenue in a Halkbank account, parsing it out in small amounts to the KRG but keeping the Kurdish region financially strapped. Ankara and Baghdad will want to maintain that financial leverage over the KRG, but Baghdad will not allow Arbil to export its own oil while Turkey determines revenue distribution. The KRG naturally would prefer to control its own revenue, but deprived of that option, it will demand that Turkey or another outside arbiter manage the account to avoid being held hostage to Baghdad.

Meanwhile, the evolution of the battle against the Islamic State will have a degree of influence over the level of cooperation between Baghdad and Arbil. The Islamic State threat has placed the United States at the center of Iraq once again, and Washington's interest is to maintain Iraq's cohesion and instill enough cooperation among factions to develop a ground fighting force capable of containing jihadist forces. Indeed, the KRG has tried to leverage any peshmerga support it would offer in an offensive to retake Mosul in its energy negotiations with Baghdad. The Islamic State threatens both the KRG and Baghdad sufficiently to compel the two sides to cooperate for now. But as the jihadist movement weakens over time, so will this aspect of their cooperation.

The thorniest details have yet to be sorted out, and those details strike at the fundamental issue of sovereignty and territorial integrity for Arbil, Baghdad and Ankara alike. Though constraints have pushed the KRG to the negotiating table with Baghdad, this highly tenuous agreement still faces many hurdles.

Read more: Iraq's Kurds, Baghdad Take a Shaky Step Toward Compromise | Stratfor
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42  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Immigration issues" Obama vs. Congress on: November 14, 2014, 10:48:19 PM
A Dictatorial President Obama versus the American People's Congress

One of the great ironies of this administration is that President Obama, who ran promising to end wars in the Middle East and to usher in unity domestically, is now preparing to start a political war in America.

In this month’s elections, Republicans, independents and a few Democrats united to defeat Democrats at every level from state legislatures to the U.S. Senate. Many Democrats indicated their disappointment with the Obama Administration by staying home and refusing to vote.

As I wrote earlier this week, however, President Obama is behaving as if his side won the elections and he has a resounding mandate to impose his policies on the country by presidential fiat.

It is important to understand that President Obama is not taking on "the Republicans" as he and his allies want to describe it. He is declaring war on the Congress, the elected representatives of the American people, as an institution.
Both the language of the Constitution and the explanations in the Federalist Papers make clear the Founding Fathers intended Congress, not the President, to have the primary role in making laws and setting public policy. The president is supposed to execute laws rather than make them.

Article I, Section I of the Constitution begins: "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress". The term "all legislative powers" is pretty definitive. Federalist 51 asserts that "legislative authority necessarily predominates." In Federalist 69, a series of distinctions are made between the absolute powers of the British King and the limited powers of the American president.

The Constitution gives the Congress a surprising range of tools to defend itself and to challenge a president who seeks to impose his will upon the country.

The ultimate power is impeachment, but as a political matter impeachment requires the American people to render absolute judgment against the president. It has been tried twice unsuccessfully (against Presidents Johnson and Clinton), although the threat of it drove President Nixon to resign. In this case it’s very clear that the country does not want an impeachment process against President Obama.

The second greatest power of Congress is the spending power, the power of the purse. Money can only be spent if the Congress permits it and either directly or indirectly appropriates it. Taxes, fees, etc. exist only at the sufferance of Congress and can be repealed or limited.

Some people are so furious at President Obama's various threats that they would like to attach a spending limitation provision to the continuing resolution necessary to keep the government open, thus forcing the President to shut the entire government to defend his right to take unilateral action.

There is no question that a spending limitation amendment is legitimate, Constitutional, and effective. It is the tool Speaker Tip O’Neill used to limit President Reagan on Nicaragua with the Boland Amendment in 1982.

The question is whether the first step in the effort to reassert Congress’s authority should provoke a full-on crisis.

I think it would be better to set up a series of limitations which cripple the President but don't hurt the American people.

The current “lame-duck” session should pass a relatively short-term Continuing Resolution which will preserve the new Congress’s ability to use spending provisions as a negotiating tool if the President does not change his behavior.
Then, Senator McConnell could announce that no presidential appointment will be considered by the new Senate until the President agrees to behave within the bounds of his Constitutional authority. Since this would include the new Attorney General and other important presidential appointments, the threat would be real and immediate.

Second, the Appropriations Committee should announce that it will block virtually all executive branch requests for reprogramming (the term for routine reshuffling and rejiggering of budget appropriations) except for on national security issues. The executive branch is constantly having to ask Congress for small adjustments to keep the bureaucracy functioning. Holding up these requests would rapidly increase the pain level to the executive branch.

Third, a spending limitation could be attached to every bill (with rare exceptions) that Congress sends the President. How many bills can he veto to defend his right to run over the vast majority of Americans and the Congress?

Fourth, once the Republicans are in control of the Senate, they can divide the next continuing resolution in two, fund everything the American people care about for the rest of the year in one resolution, and seperate the activities the President values most, attaching them to a spending limitation rider in a second, smaller resolution.

Let the President veto spending for his pet programs over an argument he can’t win. Such a selective spending limitation would be very difficult to arouse the American people against but would strike at the heart of the President's ability to achieve his goals.

Finally, the Appropriations Committee should start targeting individual presidential perks and limit his ability to function by methodically cutting out staff, travel funding, etc.

The Founding Fathers were vividly aware of the dangers of tyranny. They had rebelled against a British King who they felt was tyrannical. They fought a desperate war for eight years against almost hopeless odds to win their independence. They thought freedom was worth the cost.

They designed the Constitution to enable the American people to maintain their freedom. They sought a balance of power between the legislative, executive and judicial branches (defined in that order with the legislature first). They would be appalled at the arrogance and hubris of a president who thought he could impose his will against the Congress.

They would also stand up to the presidential power-grab at all costs, considering it a profound threat to our system of government. The precedent of such unrestrained executive cannot be allowed to stand.

If President Obama wants to declare war on the American people's Congress, he will presently find himself as isolated and defeated as King George III. This is the dangerous path he is on.

Your Friend,
43  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton: The nature of sovereign power on: November 14, 2014, 11:27:03 AM
"There is in the nature of sovereign power an impatience of control, that disposes those who are invested with the exercise of it, to look with an evil eye upon all external attempts to restrain or direct its operations." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 15, 1787
44  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Would that be a bad thing? on: November 14, 2014, 10:20:56 AM

Daniel Serwer, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and author of Righting the Balance, who blogs at and tweets at @DanielSerwer:

"Conceding on this point would be a major concession to the Islamic State that would be unwise and completely counterproductive if we want to defeat it. If eastern Syria and western Iraq break off from their respective states, there will be precious little to prevent IS from dominating the resulting "caliphate," which would have few resources but big ambitions. Most of Iraq's oil is in its southern "Shiastan." The Kurds would control most of the remainder. Syria's eastern oil fields are declining rapidly. The caliphate would be a mostly desolate, non-viable rump Sunnistan with ambitions to capture Baghdad and Damascus, which are the historical capitals of past caliphates. It would also be a haven for international terrorists.

The result would be a war of all against all to determine the borders of the caliphate and other states emerging from Syria and Iraq. The Kurds would likely want part of northern Syria and possibly part of Turkey as well. Kurds in Iran would want to join any sovereign Kurdistan. Turkey would oppose such a "greater Kurdistan," as would Iran. Saudi Arabia would be unhappy to see the formal emergence of Shiastan on its border (it already regards the Iraqi government as such). The Alawites in western Syria would seek to collapse the Lebanese state and incorporate much of its Shia-controlled territory. The Alawite state would be a firm ally of Iran and Russia.

The notion that this process can be managed to American advantage is nonsense. We saw what a comparable effort to redraw boundaries to accommodate ethnic differences did in the Balkans in the 1990s. The chaos emerging in the Levant would be many times worse, and far worse than anything we have seen happen so far."
45  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 4 Turks captured at Mex border on: November 13, 2014, 02:56:09 PM
46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton: Why government? 1787 on: November 13, 2014, 02:38:53 PM
"Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 15, 1787
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington Redskins strike back on: November 13, 2014, 01:36:12 PM
48  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Charles Blow: Race, to the Finish on: November 13, 2014, 11:40:49 AM
Charles Blow is a black columnist for the NY Times

Race, to the Finish
NOV. 12, 2014

Last week, the economist and former Richard Nixon speechwriter Ben Stein went on Fox News and delivered a racial tirade completely detached from the the anchor’s line of questioning.

When asked by the anchor about a Fox News poll showing the economy was the No.1 issue for voters, and how that poll result might work for or against Democrats in the midterms, Stein skirted the question altogether and instead spewed an extraordinary string of psychobabble about how “what the White House is trying to do is racialize all politics” by telling lies to African-Americans about how Republican policies would hurt them. He continued: “This president is the most racist president there has ever been in America. He is purposely trying to use race to divide Americans.”

Pat Buchanan, the two-time Republican presidential candidate, assistant to Richard Nixon and White House director of communications for Ronald Reagan, wrote a column this week accusing Democratic strategists of “pushing us to an America where the G.O.P. is predominantly white and the Democratic Party, especially in Dixie, is dominated by persons of color” in their last-minute get-out-the-vote appeals to African-Americans, by invoking Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Jim Crow.

This glosses over a hundred years of history that will be tucked quietly away into some attic of amnesia.

Let’s review how we got to this point where African-Americans vote so overwhelmingly Democratic and are suspicious of Republican motives.

As NPR reported in July, “If you’d walked into a gathering of older black folks 100 years ago, you’d have found that most of them would have been Republican” because it was the “party of Lincoln. Party of the Emancipation. Party that pushed not only black votes but black politicians during that post-bellum period known as Reconstruction.”

As Buchanan, writing in American Conservative, pointed out, “The Democratic Party was the party of slavery, secession and segregation, of ‘Pitchfork Ben’ Tillman and the K.K.K. ‘Bull’ Connor, who turned the dogs loose on black demonstrators in Birmingham, was the Democratic National Committeeman from Alabama.”

But allegiances flipped.

The first wave of defections by African-Americans from Republican to Democrat came with Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal in the 1930s. According to the Roosevelt Institute: “As Mary McLeod Bethune once noted, the Roosevelt era represented ‘the first time in their history’ that African-Americans felt that they could communicate their grievances to their government with the ‘expectancy of sympathetic understanding and interpretation.'”

By the mid 1930s, most blacks were voting Democratic, although a sizable percentage remained Republican. Then came the signing of the Civil Rights Act by the Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson — although he wasn’t perfect on the issue of race, and the bill passed partly because of Republican support.

In response to the bill, Barry Goldwater waged a disastrous campaign built in part on his opposition. As NPR put it: “Goldwater can be seen as the godfather (or maybe the midwife) of the current Tea Party. He wanted the federal government out of the states’ business. He believed the Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional — although he said that once it had been enacted into law, it would be obeyed. But states, he said, should implement the law in their own time.” Whites were reassured by the message, but blacks were shaken by it.

Richard Nixon, for whom both Stein and Buchanan would work, helped to seal the deal. Nixon had got nearly a third of the African-American vote in his unsuccessful 1960 bid for the White House, but when he ran and won in 1968 he received only 15 percent. In 1972, he was re-elected with just 13 percent of the black vote. That was in part because the Republican brand was already tarnished among blacks and in part because the Nixon campaign used the “Southern strategy” to try to capitalize on racist white flight from the Democratic Party as more blacks moved into it.

As Nixon’s political strategist Kevin Phillips told The New York Times Magazine in 1970: “The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans.”

That’s right: Republicans wanted the Democrats’ “Negrophobes.”

The history of party affiliations is obviously littered with racial issues. But now, there is considerable quarreling and consternation about the degree to which racial bias is still a party trait or motivating political factor for support of or opposition to particular politicians or policies.

It is clear that our politics were “racialized” long before this president came along — and that structure persists — but that’s not the same as saying the voters are racist.

To get more directly at the issue of racism in political parties, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight Politics looked at “a variety of questions on racial attitudes in the General Social Survey” and specifically at “the numbers for white Democrats and white Republicans.”

This wasn’t a perfect or complete measure of racial bias, but more a measure of flagrant bias — the opinions of people aware of their biases and willing to confess them on a survey.

That said, they found that:

“So there’s a partisan gap, although not as large of one as some political commentators might assert. There are white racists in both parties. By most questions, they represent a minority of white voters in both parties. They probably represent a slightly larger minority of white Republicans than white Democrats.”

Still, the question is how much of this muck at the bottom of both barrels sullies what’s on top? The best measure many find for this is in the rhetoric and policies of party leaders.

The growing share of the Democratic Party composed of historically marginalized populations — minorities, women, Jews, L.G.B.T.-identified persons — pushes the party toward more inclusive language and stances. The Republican Party, on the other hand, doesn’t have that benefit. They can’t seem to stop the slow drip of offensive remarks, like those of the Republican governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, who referred to the president’s policies last week as “tar babies” or the obsessive-compulsive need to culturally diagnose and condemn black people, like Stein’s saying this week that “the real problem with race in America is a very, very beaten-down, pathetic, self-defeating black underclass.”

At that rate, Republicans will never attract more minorities, try as they may to skip over portions of the racial past or deny the fullness of the racial present.
49  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH Editorial vs. Chinese on: November 13, 2014, 11:35:36 AM
50  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Kalis Ilustrisimo on: November 13, 2014, 11:03:52 AM
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