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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: Today at 05:09:18 PM
They want to forestall him from complaining about dirty tricks, rigging the vote, stuffing the ballot box, etc. 

This question may well prove to be a big warning flag of serious cheating to come.
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: Today at 09:29:11 AM
3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: Today at 08:22:25 AM
Though the chattering class is scoring is for Hillary, and certainly Trump missed many opportunities (and got dinged a few times e.g. birther) I think Trump did fine on the meta issues.  I suspect when the first post debate polls come out (Saturday) once again will be confounded that his polls went up , , , I hope and pray.
4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The SCOTUS issue on: September 26, 2016, 05:24:35 PM
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: September 26, 2016, 03:21:03 PM
The way I look at it is that for year or two he was deep in the zone, operating at a level way beyond his inherent natural ability.  Now he flounders, rather badly.
6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Social Media equivalent of the stockade heh heh on: September 26, 2016, 02:53:14 PM
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / That's the spirit! on: September 26, 2016, 02:33:16 PM
8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glen Beck unhappy with Cruz on: September 26, 2016, 02:23:06 PM
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Left critiques of Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism" on: September 26, 2016, 01:53:24 PM

10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Millions climb out of poverty on: September 26, 2016, 01:30:11 PM
No doubt Obama-Hillary will claim credit, and one suspects that this underpins Obama's perplexing high approval ratings , , ,
11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trey Gowdy in outstanding form (James Comey) on: September 25, 2016, 11:33:17 PM
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Is Elysium fountain of youth? on: September 25, 2016, 10:59:24 PM
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A liberal reviews Jonah Goldberg's book on: September 25, 2016, 10:50:44 PM
14  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions on: September 25, 2016, 11:33:00 AM
 shocked shocked shocked
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ratzinger and Our Crisis of Reason on: September 25, 2016, 01:09:43 AM
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / LA beach town debates drone policy on: September 25, 2016, 01:01:38 AM
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: social justice wars , SJ warriors, gender warriors , victimhood on: September 24, 2016, 08:51:50 PM
Jonah Goldberg has a GREAT clip defining SJ on the Prager University FB page.
18  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: September 24, 2016, 08:51:07 PM
19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Grannis gives his Sit Rep: on: September 24, 2016, 08:49:05 PM
I've been following the markets throughout the past week, but can't come up with any new or informed observations about what's happening. However, there's nothing wrong with a recap of how I see the economy and the markets, so here goes:

The economy is likely continuing to grow at a disappointingly slow pace, but we might see some modestly stronger GDP numbers in the second half as compared to the first half of the year. There are several reasons for sluggish growth, but monetary policy is not one of them. Tax and regulatory burdens are excessively high; confidence is still lacking; and business investment is weak despite strong corporate profits. Risk aversion, a lack of confidence, and weak investment have sapped the economy's productivity. More recently, the tremendous uncertainty surrounding the November elections—which could give us even higher tax and regulatory burdens and four more years of sluggish growth under a Clinton presidency, or reduced tax and regulatory burdens and four years of stronger growth under a Trump presidency—is most likely convincing risk-takers that it is better to wait until next year before deciding to undertake new investments, and that in turn is contributing to keep growth weak, especially this year.

The Fed has not been "stimulative;" rather, the Fed has been accommodating the world's almost insatiable desire for money and safe assets with its Quantitative Easing program. Short-term interest rates are not artificially low, and thus they are not artificially inflating the prices of risk assets and/or bonds. Interest rates are low because the economy is sluggish, inflation is low, and the market holds out very little hope for improvement in the years ahead. Rates are low because the world's demand for safe assets is very strong. In particular, the very low level of real yields on TIPS, combined with relatively low implied inflation, strongly suggests that the market is very pessimistic about the long-run outlook for economic growth. The Fed is not too tight, because real yields are very low and the yield curve is positively sloped. Deflation exists primarily in the durable goods sector, and China has been one of the driving factors behind ever-cheaper prices for the electronics that have boosted our standard of living—there is nothing wrong with that.

Stocks are no longer cheap, but neither are they obviously expensive. The current PE ratio of the S&P 500 (~20) is above its long-term average, but not excessively high considering how low interest rates are on notes and bonds. Key indicators of systemic risk (particularly swap spreads) are relatively low and stable, and this—combined with the absence of tight money—suggests that the risk of recession is low for the foreseeable future. The unusually wide spread between the yield on cash and the yield on risk assets is a compelling reason to stay invested.

The dollar is reasonably valued against most other currencies, according to the Fed's Real Broad Dollar Index, and my analysis of the dollar's PPP value against other major currencies is largely in agreement with this. Raw industrial commodity prices are neither very high nor very low, but they have been trending higher this year and this suggests some firming in the global economic outlook—which, like that of the U.S., has been unimpressive of late, if not a bit troubling.
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: September 24, 2016, 03:21:40 PM
second post
21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Free to flee on: September 24, 2016, 12:04:48 PM
22  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Eric Hoffer on: September 24, 2016, 09:52:33 AM

There is a fact that stares us in the face but which we refuse to see; the inverse relation between grievance and protest. The less justified the grievance the more violent the protest. When the wrong is tangible and obvious the protest will be limited and specific. It is when the wrong is vague or even fictitious that the protest is likely to become revolutionary, to be directed against the Establishment, the power structure, and the whole way of life of a society.

- Eric Hoffer, The Destructive Rush for Happiness, column, 1968
23  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Helprin: The Gathering Nuclear Storm on: September 24, 2016, 09:47:37 AM
I have repeatedly banged the table around here that one of the worst things that Obama has done is to bring an end to the era of nuclear non-proliferation.

Though I find the following unfair in some respects to Trump, on the whole it is an intelligent discussion of a matter of profound importance to our national security.  I was unaware of just how bad our trajectory is viz the Chinese and Russians is.

Also, I would note that there is no discussion of the Iran and North Korea.  I would note that as Iran develops its' ICBMs, it continues to move forward with its nuke program.  Even if it should turn out it is sort of respecting the Obama-Kerry deal (which expires in what, 12 years?) it seems logical to me to assume they are off-shoring their efforts to a joint venture with North Korea.


by Mark Helprin
Sept. 23, 2016 6:11 p.m. ET

Even should nuclear brinkmanship not result in Armageddon, it can lead to abject defeat and a complete reordering of the international system. The extraordinarily complicated and consequential management of American nuclear policy rests upon the shoulders of those we elevate to the highest offices. Unfortunately, President Obama’s transparent hostility to America’s foundational principles and defensive powers is coupled with a dim and faddish understanding of nuclear realities. His successor will be no less ill-equipped.

Hillary Clinton’s robotic compulsion to power renders her immune to either respect for truth or clearheaded consideration of urgent problems. Theodore Roosevelt’s secretary of state once said that he was “pure act” (meaning action). Hillary Clinton is “pure lie” (meaning lie), with whatever intellectual power she possesses hopelessly enslaved to reflexive deviousness.

Donald Trump, surprised that nuclear weapons are inappropriate to counterinsurgency, has a long history of irrepressible urges and tropisms. Rather like the crazy boy-emperors after the fall of the Roman Republic, he may have problems with impulse control—and an uncontrolled, ill-formed, perpetually fragmented mind.

None of these perhaps three worst people in the Western Hemisphere, and few of their deplorable underlings, are alive to the gravest danger. Which is neither Islamic State, terrorism, the imprisoned economy, nor even the erosion of our national character, though all are of crucial importance.

The gravest danger we face is fast-approaching nuclear instability. Many believe it is possible safely to arrive at nuclear zero. It is not. Enough warheads to bring any country to its knees can fit in a space volumetrically equivalent to a Manhattan studio apartment. Try to find that in the vastness of Russia, China, or Iran. Even ICBMs and their transporter-erector-launchers can easily be concealed in warehouses, tunnels and caves. Nuclear weapons age out, but, thanks to supercomputing, reliable replacements can be manufactured with only minor physical testing. Unaccounted fissile material sloshing around the world can, with admitted difficulty, be fashioned into weapons. And when rogue states such as North Korea and Iran build their bombs, our response has been either impotence or a ticket to ride.

Nor do nuclear reductions lead to increased safety. Quite apart from encouraging proliferation by enabling every medium power in the world to aim for nuclear parity with the critically reduced U.S. arsenal, reductions create instability. The fewer targets, the more possible a (counter-force) first strike to eliminate an enemy’s retaliatory capacity. Nuclear stability depends, inter alia, upon deep reserves that make a successful first strike impossible to assure. The fewer warheads and the higher the ratio of warheads to delivery vehicles, the more dangerous and unstable.

Consider two nations, each with 10 warheads on each of 10 missiles. One’s first strike with five warheads tasked per the other’s missiles would leave the aggressor with an arsenal sufficient for a (counter-value) strike against the now disarmed opponent’s cities. Our deterrent is not now as concentrated as in the illustration, but by placing up to two-thirds of our strategic warheads in just 14 submarines; consolidating bomber bases; and entertaining former Defense Secretary William Perry’s recommendation to do away with the 450 missiles in the land-based leg of the Nuclear Triad, we are moving that way.

Supposedly salutary reductions are based upon an incorrect understanding of nuclear sufficiency: i.e., if X number of weapons is sufficient to inflict unacceptable costs upon an enemy, no more than X are needed. But we don’t define sufficiency, the adversary does, and the definition varies according to culture; history; the temperament, sanity, or miscalculation of leadership; domestic politics; forms of government, and other factors, some unknown. For this reason, the much maligned concept of overkill is a major contributor to stability, in that, if we have it, an enemy is less likely to calculate that we lack sufficiency. Further, if our forces are calibrated to sufficiency, then presumably the most minor degradation will render them insufficient.

Nor is it safe to mirror-image willingness to go nuclear. Every nuclear state has its own threshold, and one cannot assume that concessions in strategic forces will obviate nuclear use in response to conventional warfare, which was Soviet doctrine for decades and is a Russian predilection now.

Ballistic missile defense is opposed and starved on the assumption that it would shield one’s territory after striking first, and would therefore tempt an enemy to strike before the shield was deployed. As its opponents assert, hermetic shielding is impossible, and if only 10 of 1,500 warheads were to hit American cities, the cost would be unacceptable. But no competent nuclear strategist ever believed that, other than protecting cities from accidental launch or rogue states, ballistic missile defense is anything but a means of protecting our retaliatory capacity, making a counter-force first strike of no use, and thus increasing stability.

In a nuclear world, unsentimental and often counterintuitive analysis is necessary. As the genie will not be forced back into the lamp, the heart of the matter is balance and deterrence. But this successful dynamic of 70 years is about to be destroyed. Those whom the French call our “responsibles” have addressed the nuclear calculus—in terms of sufficiency, control regimes, and foreign policy—only toward Russia, as if China, a nuclear power for decades, did not exist. While it is true that to begin with its nuclear arsenal was de minimis, in the past 15 years China has increased its land-based ICBMs by more than 300%, its sea-based by more than 400%. Depending upon the configuration of its missiles, China can rain up to several hundred warheads upon the U.S.

As we shrink our nuclear forces and fail to introduce new types, China is doing the opposite, increasing them numerically and forging ahead of us in various technologies (quantum communications, super computers, maneuverable hypersonic re-entry vehicles), some of which we have forsworn, such as road-mobile missiles, which in survivability and range put to shame our Minuteman IIIs.

Because China’s nuclear weapons infrastructure is in part housed in 3,000 miles of tunnels opaque to American intelligence, we cannot know the exact velocity and extent of its buildup. Why does the Obama administration, worshipful of nuclear agreements, completely ignore the nuclear dimension of the world’s fastest rising major power, with which the United States and allies engage in military jockeying almost every day on multiple fronts? Lulled to believe that nuclear catastrophe died with the Cold War, America is blind to rising dragons.

And then we have Russia, which ignores limitations the Obama administration strives to exceed. According to its own careless or defiant admissions, Russia cheats in virtually every area of nuclear weapons: deploying missiles that by treaty supposedly no longer exist; illegally converting anti-aircraft and ballistic missile defense systems to dual-capable nuclear strike; developing new types of nuclear cruise missiles for ships and aircraft; keeping more missiles on alert than allowed; and retaining battlefield tactical nukes.

Further, in the almost complete absence of its own “soft power,” Russia frequently hints at nuclear first use. All this comports with historical Soviet/Russian doctrine and conduct; is an important element of Putinesque tactics for reclaiming the Near Abroad; and dovetails perfectly with Mr. Obama’s advocacy of no first use, unreciprocated U.S. reductions and abandonment of nuclear modernization. Which in turn pair nicely with Donald Trump’s declaration that he would defend NATO countries only if they made good on decades of burden-sharing delinquency.

Russia deploys about 150 more nuclear warheads than the U.S. Intensively modernizing, it finds ways to augment its totals via undisguised cheating. Bound by no numerical or qualitative limits, China speeds its strategic development. To cripple U.S. retaliatory capability, an enemy would have to destroy only four or five submarines at sea, two sub bases, half a dozen bomber bases, and 450 missile silos.

Russia has 49 attack submarines, China 65, with which to track and kill American nuclear missile subs under way. Were either to build or cheat to 5,000 warheads (the U.S. once had more than 30,000) and two-thirds reached their targets, four warheads could strike each aim point, with 2,000 left to hold hostage American cities and industry. China and Russia are far less dense and developed than the U.S., and it would take more strikes for us to hold them at risk than vice versa, a further indictment of reliance upon sufficiency calculations and symmetrical reductions.

Russia dreams publicly of its former hold on Eastern Europe and cannot but see opportunity in a disintegrating European Union and faltering NATO. China annexes the South China Sea and looks to South Korea, Japan and Australasia as future subordinates. Given the degradation of U.S. and allied conventional forces previously able to hold such ambitions in check, critical confrontations are bound to occur. When they do occur, and if without American reaction, China or Russia have continued to augment their strategic forces to the point of vast superiority where one or both consider a first strike feasible, we may see nuclear brinkmanship (or worse) in which the United States—startled from sleep and suddenly disabused of the myth of sufficiency—might have to capitulate, allowing totalitarian dictatorships to dominate the world.

Current trajectories point in exactly this direction, but in regard to such things Donald Trump hasn’t the foggiest, and, frankly, Hillary Clinton, like the president, doesn’t give a damn.

The way to avoid such a tragedy is to bring China into a nuclear control regime or answer its refusal with our own proportional increases and modernization. And to make sure that both our nuclear and conventional forces are strong, up-to-date, and survivable enough to deter the militant ambitions of the two great powers rising with daring vengeance from what they regard as the shame of their oppression.

Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, is the author of “Winter’s Tale,” “A Soldier of the Great War” and the forthcoming novel “Paris in the Present Tense.”
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Arming the Kurds on: September 24, 2016, 09:36:34 AM
Russian and Syrian regime forces renewed their offensive against the besieged city of Aleppo on Friday, killing 27 civilians in air and ground bombardments. But this time the Obama Administration isn’t taking the outrage lying down. Behold Ben Rhodes, warning the Kremlin that there are limits to the White House’s diplomatic patience after Russia flouted another cease-fire by bombing a humanitarian aid convoy.

“The question is whether or not we just walk away from the table completely at this point,” the deputy national security adviser said this week, “or whether or not we do some more diplomacy and consultation to determine whether or not there is some path forward.”

To whether or not—when it comes to the Administration’s Syria policy, that’s always been the question. President Obama dithered for months over whether to call on Bashar Assad to step aside, first deciding in favor of it only effectively to reverse himself last year. He struggled with the question of whether and to what extent to arm a credible opposition force, only to spend a half-billion dollars training a handful of fighters. He drew a red line against the use of chemical weapons, but whether to enforce it was another matter.

More recently, Mr. Obama has been of two minds over whether to oppose Moscow’s intervention in Syria, or join it in a mutual effort against Islamic State. He’s also unsure of whether to provide Syria’s Kurds—by far the most effective U.S. ally in the war—with the weapons they would need to evict ISIS from its Syrian capital in Raqqa. Whether it’s worth alienating Turkey by doing so is another White House puzzle.

All this is causing some presidential misgivings, not least because Mr. Obama knows he’ll be judged harshly for his Syrian abdication. In an interview for Vanity Fair, Mr. Obama told historian Doris Kearns Goodwin that Syria “haunts me constantly,” and that he asks himself what a Winston Churchill or Dwight Eisenhower might have done in his place. Yet he continues to insist that he got all the big calls right. Regrets, he’d have a few—if only he could think of what they might be.

If Mr. Obama is really looking for a Churchillian answer to Syria’s dilemmas, he could arm our Kurdish friends, destroy the Assad regime’s air force and its armor reserves, and redraw the map of Syria to take account of the new dividing lines of a broken country. Instead of dispatching John Kerry on more negotiating dead ends with Russia, he could also impose further economic costs on Moscow for its Mideast adventurism.

None of this would require deploying U.S. ground troops in large numbers to Syria. But it might warrant restoring Winston’s bust to the Oval Office where it belongs.
25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: September 23, 2016, 10:11:44 PM
Those six reasons could make a good list of talking points for Trump in the debate.
26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PP: Fast tracking immigrants for votes; Texas drops from refugee program on: September 23, 2016, 10:07:45 PM
Fast-Tracking Immigrants for Votes

In light of the recent revelation that at least 858 individuals and maybe twice that many who had been slated for deportation were accidentally granted citizenship, one would expect that the Department of Homeland Security would be working overtime to shore up its vetting process and do its due diligence to reassure Americans that it will work carefully to prevent such a blunder from happening again. The DHS is indeed working overtime — not to get all its paper finger print records digitalized, but to processes as many immigrant citizenship applications as possible before the election.
An email from a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office chief stated, "The Field Office due to the election year needs to process as many of the N-400 cases as possible between now and FY 2016." The email continued by "encouraging" employees to take advantage of overtime opportunities in order to meet the processing goal. The level of disconnect is simply stunning. In a letter sent to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) stated, "Your department seems intent on approving as many naturalization cases as quickly as possible at a time when it should instead be putting on the brakes and reviewing past adjudications."
The real problem is a mindset. Last week, one of Hillary Clinton's campaign staffers sent around a tweet quoting Donald Trump: "No one has the right to immigrate to this country." The staffer responded by writing, "We disagree," and said that Trump would have kicked his family out for immigrating from Libya. Whether this ends up being Clinton's official policy is almost irrelevant. This staffer revealed an attitude espoused by many on the Left: The U.S. has no right to reject or limit people from immigrating to America, whereas immigrants have an unfettered right to come here. This globalist, open-borders mindset is the main reason it has been so difficult to get Democrats on board with stopping illegal immigration. This fact is made even more obvious by their refusal to refer to illegal immigrants as "illegal," preferring the moniker "undocumented" immigrant. The truth is, Trump is exactly right that any sovereign nation is obligated to its citizens to regulate immigration, whether this be through limits or prevention. No non-citizen has the right to demand the privilege of citizenship, and to claim that such rights exist is to do violence to the rights of actual citizens.
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Texas Puts Refugee Program on Notice

The Obama administration plans to resettle 110,000 refugees into the U.S. over the coming year, but Texas is having none of it. The Lone Star State, which saw an influx of some 7,000 refugees over the last 12 months, has announced plans to sever its participation in the Obama administration's refugee program.
The Washington Free Beacon explains that the reason has to do with a lack of safeguards: "Texas officials drafted a plan that would require federal national security officials to provide assurances that none of the individuals being resettled pose a terror threat. The administration has declined to approve this plan."
Gov. Greg Abbott says, "Despite multiple requests by the state of Texas, the federal government lacks the capability or the will to distinguish the dangerous from the harmless, and Texas will not be an accomplice to such dereliction of duty to the American people. Therefore, Texas will withdraw from the refugee resettlement program. I strongly urge the federal government to completely overhaul a broken and flawed refugee program that increasingly risks American lives."
Abbott is right to be concerned. Around 30,000 migrants from terror hot spots managed to infiltrate the southern border last year. Barack Obama can insist, as he did this week, that "refugees are subject to more vigorous screening than the average tourist." But why should we believe anything he says? Earlier this year, Hillary Clinton asserted, "I think we've done a really good job securing the border."
How good? Well, a newly uncovered DHS memo says, "Refugee fraud is easy to commit, yet not easy to investigate." In fact, "bad actors ... have exploited this program." You don't say. Remember that next time Democrats say we have nothing to worry about.
27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama's fustercluck in Afpakia on: September 23, 2016, 10:01:14 PM
Foreign Policy is definitely a Democrat sympathizer, so , , ,
28  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary's strategy on: September 23, 2016, 09:53:08 PM
Interesting implications here on many levels:

I suspect she will be making a play on Monday night along this line-- to show Trump's ignorance, to continue to add to her "bromance" line of attack (with mention of his not meeting with President of Ukraine) to ask if he bombs the hell out of ISIS as promised, won't that help the Russian-Iranian axis, etc etc

29  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary's strategy on: September 23, 2016, 09:47:45 PM
30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: September 23, 2016, 11:33:57 AM
 shocked shocked shocked

Please post here as well.

This forum's interest in this issue is longstanding.
31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: September 23, 2016, 11:27:26 AM
A thoughtful analysis DDF.
32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: social justice wars , SJ warriors, gender warriors , victimhood on: September 23, 2016, 11:25:53 AM
I had "Inside NFL Football this Week" (something like that) as a weekly recorded program, but have deleted it.  I'm bummed but there it is.
33  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: September 23, 2016, 11:22:04 AM
"Almost. They don't believe in having people meddle in their affairs."

34  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam - Education, Rebuttals and Counter-Terror on: September 23, 2016, 11:20:55 AM
Of the Ten Commandments, only one is against a thought-- "Thou shall not covet , , , "

Maybe God was trying to tell us something.
35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Senate passes unwritten bill?!? on: September 23, 2016, 11:18:18 AM
Washington at Its Worst: Senate Passes Non-Existent Bill
Commentary By Rachel Bovard, Daily Signal,  9/21/16

A 10-year veteran of congressional policy battles, Rachel Bovard is The Heritage Foundation’s director of policy services.

On Tuesday night the Senate voted to proceed to the Continuing Resolution (CR), a bill that will allegedly fund the government until Dec. 9.

The only problem is that there isn’t actually a bill yet.

There is no text. There is no agreement between Democrats and Republicans on what the bill will fund — Planned Parenthood, the Export-Import Bank, control of the Internet — all of it remains a mystery.

Yet the Senate voted 89 – 7 to proceed to this non-existent bill..

The Senate operates under complex parliamentary rules that require a series of votes in order to “proceed to” or “get onto” a bill. The vote Tuesday night was the first in what will be a series of votes on the continuing resolution or spending bill.

Despite Senate leadership’s protests to the contrary, a vote to proceed to a bill that’s not yet written is, in fact, a substantive act — particularly when there is so much at stake.

And Senate leadership tried to pitch this as simply a process vote. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s, R-Ky., communications director tweeted that this vote was “just procedural” and “not a vote on the CR” or on Zika funding. Various reporters tweeted that this was just a vote on a “shell bill,” and that the text of the continuing resolution would be crafted at a later date.

But the fact still remains: on Tuesday, the Senate voted to proceed to a bill that does not yet exist.

Forget not being able to read it, or not having time to digest the policy at hand. The bill does not exist.

Despite Senate leadership’s protests to the contrary, a vote to proceed to a bill that’s not yet written is, in fact, a substantive act — particularly when there is so much at stake. The continuing resolution will be the battleground for major policies, like whether or not Planned Parenthood will receive Zika funding, if the Export-Import Bank can send taxpayer dollars to fund Boeing deals with Iran, or if the U.S. will lose control of the Internet.

All of these deals have yet to be struck (although press reports suggest that Republicans have already caved to Democrats on Planned Parenthood funding). What the Senate did Tuesday was to give the go-ahead to Senate leadership to strike those deals on their behalf. Each of the 89 senators who voted to proceed to text that they’ve never seen yielded their authority to have input on the deal, to influence the outcome of a major funding bill.

This is not just a procedural vote, and it is wrong to describe it as such. Voting to proceed to a bill is as much a substantive act as voting on the bill — different, but still substantive. In this case, the Senate voted to proceed to whatever backroom deal their leadership happens to strike.

As Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., explained his “no” vote to Congressional Quarterly, “We don’t have that text yet. It’s important that we do have that and we do know the direction that it’s going when we get to that spot.”

Lankford is right about why senators must have text before beginning any vote series, procedural or otherwise — you can’t approve the start of a process without knowing first where it’s going to end.

The McConnell-Reid era has witnessed a Senate that is less transparent, where individual members are less aware of their rights, and where there is a growing centralization of power in the Leader’s office. Tuesday’s vote was another step in that direction.

Individual senators are all equal in authority — with the same rights and the same access to the Senate rules. Senators would do well to keep that in mind next time their leadership says, “Trust us,” and tells them to approve moving forward on a bill they have yet to see.
36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Soros: Why I am investing $500M in migrants on: September 23, 2016, 03:34:29 AM
37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: September 22, 2016, 09:09:47 PM
 cheesy cheesy cheesy
38  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Saudi Arabia & the Arabian Peninsula on: September 22, 2016, 09:01:27 PM
Please post in the Legal Issues in the War on Islamic Fascism thread as well.

FWIW, at present, I lean towards opposing this bill.
39  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Rap sheet on: September 22, 2016, 08:31:52 PM

40  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trey Gowdy at the tip of the spear defending the rule of law on: September 22, 2016, 04:35:57 PM
41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / DHS says refugee fraud is easy on: September 22, 2016, 12:58:22 PM
42  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam - Education, Rebuttals and Counter-Terror on: September 22, 2016, 11:00:31 AM
Something that has influenced my thinking greatly is "evolutionary psychology" in general and the writings of Konrad Lorenz in particular (after whom my son Conrad is named btw).

One of his most important books is "On Aggression".  Speaking quite simplistically about a subtle book, Lorenz says aggression (defined as intra and not inter species) has three purposes:  Territory; Hierarchy; and Reproduction.

In my own thinking in the case of humans I have added Predation.  Normally predatory behavior is inter species and thus outside the definition of aggression, but in the case of humans, much criminal behavior is predatory in nature (e.g. the money stolen is a form of food)

But I digress , , , 

In one of his final books, "The Waning of Humanness" Lorenz spoke of particular dynamic that he called "collective militant enthusiasm" in which a group whips itself into a frenzy for collective action against "the other".

Lenin-Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Islamic Fascism can all be seen as manifestations of this dynamic.
43  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: September 22, 2016, 10:49:47 AM
I thought Mexico/Mexicans didn't believe in meddling in other people's internal affairs , , ,  tongue

44  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: September 21, 2016, 11:30:00 PM
Trump passed on the invitation of the president of the Ukraine to meet today.

If I have it right, Hillary accepted?

45  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Epidemics of Insanity on: September 21, 2016, 09:10:54 PM
46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America (and pre-emptive dhimmitude) on: September 21, 2016, 08:58:42 PM
Works for me!
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen.Ted Cruz on refugees on: September 21, 2016, 08:56:36 PM
48  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Why cops don't let suspects return to vehicles on: September 21, 2016, 08:46:46 PM
49  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strong clip on electoral fraud on: September 21, 2016, 01:26:54 PM
50  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Life of a Liberal Muslim on: September 21, 2016, 01:22:03 PM
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