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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sweet irony in Fidel's funeral on: Today at 09:29:04 PM
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trump's Pay to Leave policy on: Today at 09:25:14 PM
I'm having some trouble with Trump's concepts here.  Is he saying he will be paying a 35% import tax on the ties he has made for him in China?
3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: Today at 09:22:43 PM
A phenomenal true story!

The TV series on this is actually quite good.
4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ONe year ago we sold nearly $2B in arms to Taiwan on: Today at 09:21:26 PM
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Carson at HUD on: Today at 02:37:16 PM

I love Dr. Ben but this could be a big mistake for all concerned.
6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: Today at 01:47:26 PM
The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index Rose to 57.2 in November from 54.8 in October To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 12/5/2016

The ISM non-manufacturing index rose to 57.2 in November from 54.8 in October, easily beating the consensus expected 55.5.  (Levels above 50 signal expansion; levels below 50 signal contraction.)

The major measures of activity were mostly higher in November, and all stand above 50, signaling expansion.  The employment index surged to 58.2 from 53.1 and the business activity index rose to 61.7 from 57.7 in October. The supplier deliveries index increased to 52.0 from 50.5, while the new orders index moved lower to 57.0 from 57.7.

The prices paid index declined modestly to 56.3 from 56.6 in October. 

Implications:  Sentiment in the service sector hit the highest level in more than a year in November and has signaled growth for 82 consecutive months.  The high level in November was broad-based, with fourteen of eighteen industries reporting expansion.  Meanwhile, all major measures of activity remain above 50, signaling expansion as well. New orders continue to grow, but at a slightly slower pace than in October, while all other major indexes showed a pickup in pace.  Business activity and employment both showed the fastest pace of expansion in more than a year, as companies work to fill the steady flow of new orders arriving.  The healthy readings on new orders and business activity both suggest the service sector should continue to grow in the months ahead.  While employment has been a weak spot in the manufacturing sector, the much larger service sector continues to expand, in-line with the 188,000 monthly nonfarm jobs growth seen over the past year.  And while the pace of job growth may slow modestly as the labor market tightens, employment gains should put continued downward pressure on the unemployment rate while pushing up wage growth.  No matter how you cut it, the labor market looks very close to the Fed's "full employment" target.  On the inflation front, the prices paid index was essentially unchanged at 56.3 in November from 56.6 in October, representing the second highest reading in more than two years (behind only October's).  Rising costs for airfare, copper, and fuels more than offset declining prices for beef and dairy.  With a strong employment reading and inflation showing a pickup in pace over recent months, today's report from the service sector points full steam ahead for a rate hike at next week's Fed meeting.   
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / No lines when shopping at Amazon on: Today at 01:46:25 PM
8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / O'Grady in WSJ: Castro and Human Dignity on: Today at 01:44:06 PM
Castro and Human Dignity
Five or six prisoners would be confined for days in very narrow 6-foot-long cells.
A motorcade carries the ashes of Fidel Castro toward a cemetery in Santiago, Cuba, Dec. 4. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Updated Dec. 4, 2016 9:38 p.m. ET

Notwithstanding the celebrations in the streets of Miami, the most widespread reaction among Cubans—at home and abroad—to the demise of Fidel Castro seems to be relief. One of the great narcissists of all time, father of nearly 60 years of national torment, has returned to dust. That alone is consolation.

Castro left a once-prosperous and promising land in dire poverty. But his legacy is far worse than the material ruin of a nation. His insatiable appetite for absolute power was manifest in an obsession with hunting down every last nonconformist, stripping away the human dignity of the population.

This reality is worth revisiting as the world offers retrospectives on Castro’s life, almost always adding that the tyrant gave Cuba great health care. If it were true it could not justify his brutality. And it is not true, as we learned in 2007 when Cuban doctors botched his treatment for diverticulitis and a Spanish specialist had to be flown in to save him. The truth is that the regime doesn’t give a fig about human life.

Castro thrived on a maniacal ambition to possess and dominate the Cuban soul, and nowhere are the consequences more visible than in the country’s sky-high abortion rates. In a Nov. 22 story for the news website CUBANET, independent journalist Eliseo Matos cited an abortion study by Cuban doctors Luisa Álvarez Vásquez and Nelli Salomón Avich. They found that since 1980, one-third of all Cuban pregnancies have been terminated.
Equally troubling, abortion rates are high among adolescents and often mandated by the state. You don’t have to be religious to see this as a national existential crisis—the reflection of a society struggling against nihilism.

This didn’t happen overnight. It is the output of decades of living under a dictatorship that demands nothing less than total surrender to the will of one person. In a 1986interview with the Los Angeles Times, Armando Valladares, who was a Castro prisoner for 22 years, described the regime’s use of the “drawer cells” in its dungeons. Five or six prisoners would be confined, for days, in these very narrow, 6-foot-long spaces. “They had to sit with their knees against their body. There was no room to move; prisoners had to urinate and defecate right there,” Mr. Valladares explained.

All torture was used “to break the prisoner’s resistance,” Mr. Valladares said. If a prisoner said “he had been wrong, if he denied his religious beliefs, saying they were from the obscure ages, and if he admitted that he now understood that communism was the solution to mankind’s problems and he wanted to have the opportunity to re-enter the new communist society, then he could escape the cell and be put in a re-education farm.”

There could be no higher power, no one revered more than Fidel. God was a problem so priests and nuns were imprisoned and exiled, religion was outlawed and the regime did all it could to destroy the Cuban family.

In 1997 Christmas was legalized and Catholic and Protestant churches have slowly been granted some space. But this is allowed only as long as teachings about the sacredness of human life don’t interfere with regime control. Thus Havana’s Cardinal Ortega distances himself from the dissident group of Catholic women known as the Ladies in White, even when they are regularly beaten on the streets.

In a system where all must bow to the state, it is not surprising abortion rates are especially high among adolescents. Children learn about human sexuality from their communist teachers, in purely mechanical terms of course. Generations of teens have been taken away from their families and sent to work camps in the countryside as part of their indoctrination.

As Mr. Valladares wrote in The Wall Street Journal in May 2000, “Away from all parental supervision for nine months at a time, children there suffer from venereal disease, as well as teenage pregnancy, which inevitably ends in forced abortion.” Another reason for high adolescent abortion rates is that teenage prostitutes now populate the streets of Havana, working for hard currency from tourists.

Abortion is also a key regime tool for “health care.” Any pregnancy considered risky is immediately terminated, a decision made by the state. This drives down infant mortality rates, which Cuba uses to impress the world about its “progress.”

Yet Cuba hasn’t achieved anything special in infant mortality. In a Dec. 1 blog post on the Cato Institute’s HumanProgress website, Marian Tupy pointed out that between 1963 and 2015 infant mortality in Cuba declined by 90% while it declined by 94% in Chile. In Latin America and the Caribbean overall it is down 86%.

Fidel Castro’s only unique accomplishment was 57 years of repression that sought to exterminate any meaning to life for those who lived under his boot.
Write to O’
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH makes the Coffee Party argument on: December 04, 2016, 08:19:25 PM
hmmm , , ,
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Al Fuqra arming up for Jihad against Trump? on: December 04, 2016, 07:55:48 PM  (The judge seems more than a little too jovial given the subject matter )  several entries of interest e.g.

 shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked
11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: South China Sea-- China plays nice, for now on: December 04, 2016, 07:28:47 PM
Third post


The contested waters of the South China Sea are a geopolitical flashpoint, but for now they exist in a period of comparative calm. Following a July ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, countries with territorial claims in the waters struck a conciliatory tone, most prominently over the Scarborough Shoal — a barely submerged coral atoll that has become a touchstone for affairs between China and the Philippines, traditional adversaries in the South China Sea. A normally recalcitrant Beijing, forced to accept a more delicate and complex maritime arrangement in the region, is making placating gestures at last.

The shoal is emblematic of deeper issues at stake, namely the nature of maritime boundaries and bilateral concerns over fishing rights and exploitation of strategic territory. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made a high-profile visit to China in October and, following a strategic recalibration on both sides, Beijing and Manila appeared to be moving toward a joint mechanism of control over the shoal. The aspiration is that the countries will eventually be able to achieve some form of coexistence. That said, such a delicate arrangement is susceptible to domestic pressure, especially from nationalist movements, and to additional sovereignty disputes that may develop.
Since early November, China has quietly eased its naval blockade around Scarborough Shoal, which it seized in 2012 after a hostile standoff. As part of the ongoing appeasement process, Beijing not only allowed access to Filipino fishermen and vessels but also offered fishing assistance. Although Philippine coast guard vessels have also been permitted to return to the locale, many points of contention are unresolved. Beijing still exercises some degree of control over the shoal, including conducting routine patrols, and Manila will not ease its attempts to push maritime boundaries. China has blocked access to the shoal's central lagoon. In return, Duterte has called for a fishing ban in the lagoon itself. And there is the matter of the underlying claim of sovereignty, which remains unresolved. Even with this diplomatic chafing, however, Beijing and Manila appear to have enough strategic reasons to sustain the current arrangement, at least for now.
An Evolving Strategy


The 1994 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea grants nations an exclusive economic zone of up to 200 nautical miles from the coast and around some islands, carrying rights to marine resources. This makes the official status of tiny rocks, reefs and islands essential.

Located 120 nautical miles from the Philippine mainland — well within Manila's internationally recognized exclusive economic zone — Scarborough Shoal also rests within the eastern edge of China's maritime claim, known as the nine-dash line. The shoal is crucial to Manila's territorial integrity and is a buttress when it comes to external security. Yet, it is also key terrain in Beijing's plan to become a maritime power. The net result of these incompatible positions is that neither side will back off its claim. For Manila, Beijing's seizure of the shoal — and subsequent expansionism — not only dealt a serious blow to Philippine maritime defense but also represents a diminishing opportunity to counter Beijing's broader maritime aggressiveness in a practical manner.
In achieving international legal intervention, Manila won a diplomatic upper hand, but despite the July arbitration ruling, effectively resisting Beijing physically proved impossible. Furthermore, the Philippines' vocal opposition to China and its orientation toward Washington (and, to a lesser extent, Tokyo) put Manila at risk of Chinese maritime aggression as well as economic and diplomatic alienation. In context, Duterte's diplomatic reorientation allows Manila to amend its volatile relationship with Beijing while attaining desirable economic concessions. At the same time, Duterte hopes to restore a Philippine presence along the maritime boundary. This, in turn, could help alleviate domestic resistance toward the regional rebalancing act.
Similarly, Beijing perceives eased relations with Manila over the South China Sea as an opportunity to expand its own strategic space. China's immediate concessions are a luxury afforded by its significant tactical advantage in the shoal: Its strong military presence and its naval and maritime enforcement advantage over the Philippines would allow Beijing to achieve full control if it so desires. Indeed, the chances of China reasserting itself there are high, despite Washington's warnings against such an action.
By offering some concessions on Scarborough Shoal, however, Beijing shows its far-reaching aspirations. An effective arrangement to manage the dispute demonstrates Beijing's willingness to negotiate, encouraging other South China Sea claimants to rethink their approach. Beijing hopes the diplomatic track will help reduce external involvement, leading to international acknowledgement of its maritime interests. Shortly after the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling, Beijing refashioned its joint energy exploration proposals — which had been stalled for years — and reached out to a number of claimant countries through significant economic concessions. Meanwhile, China also enticed Malaysia and Vietnam back toward bilateral negotiations, but with mixed results.
Beijing Tries Diplomacy
China's charm offensive is in part driven by an evolving strategic recalibration at home. Despite its ambition for maritime domination, Beijing's policy of expansionism over the past six years led to contradictory outcomes for its foreign policy agenda. South China Sea claimant states — most notably the Philippines and Vietnam, and to a lesser extent Indonesia and Malaysia — have responded to Beijing's activities by expanding their military capabilities while seeking cooperation from external powers, such as the United States, Japan and India. The result has been increasingly internationalized waters that, from China's perspective, equate to hostile competitors stalking its periphery. At the same time, Beijing understands that the strategic ambiguity over its maritime claims — its ungrounded nine-dash line, lack of clearly defined sovereignty and defiance of international law — has reached a limit.
It is unlikely that Beijing will ever ease its assertive behavior in the South China Sea. Rather, the new maritime status quo, aided by the court ruling, could lead China to reconsider which strategies best suit the country's immediate interests. New courses of action might take years to develop, but for now, Beijing's current imperatives — to avoid outright military confrontations, circumvent further interference from the international community and not provoke all of its Association of Southeast Asian Nations neighbors at once — make further antagonistic behavior counterproductive.
A High-Stakes Game
The fate of Scarborough Shoal speaks to the new maritime reality for most South China Sea claimants: China's dominant military and technological advantages. Lacking options to effectively counter Beijing's practical control, either by force or international intervention, claimant countries are rendered powerless. This also feeds the prevailing regional perception of Washington's reduced sway in the Asia-Pacific and explains the generally conciliatory gestures made by Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Beneath the status quo, however, one thing is assured: Every stakeholder in the South China Sea is working behind the scenes to strengthen its footing. Claimant countries continue to search for external supporters to bolster their defense and negotiation positions; China plots to take control of what it considers to be its rightful territory; and the United States, working within its regional alliance, must somehow continue to assert itself, even though the future presidential administration's intentions remain unknown for now.
Whether Beijing's conciliatory stance over Scarborough Shoal marks a genuine strategy shift or is simply a facade, the underlying fervor surrounding territorial rights will not dim anytime soon. China is a past master at manipulating sovereignty for its own ends and is more than content to provoke through words, if not actions. Beijing's talk of "allowing access" to the shoal rather than conceding a claim fuels nationalist sentiments in Manila. In many respects, Scarborough Shoal is a testing ground for China, and any future territorial challenges will depend on the political climate in claimant countries as well as abroad. There is also the question of Beijing's maritime ambitions, which might render the need for diplomacy obsolete.
As peaceful as things may appear on the surface, when it comes to Scarborough Shoal, the stakes are as high as they ever were. And when China no longer feels inhibited by the desire to play nice, there will be no dispute as to who physically owns the shoal. The question then switches to what, if anything, the region or the international community is prepared to do about it.
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Exxon for Sec State?!? on: December 04, 2016, 07:20:26 PM

third post
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Trump Rally vs. Bannonomics on: December 04, 2016, 07:15:21 PM
Trump Rally vs. Bannonomics
President Trump won’t get the mileage out of protectionism that Reagan did.
The presidential adviser at Trump Tower in New York, Oct. 7. ENLARGE
The presidential adviser at Trump Tower in New York, Oct. 7. Photo: Associated Press
By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.
Updated Dec. 2, 2016 2:32 p.m. ET

A surprise win, with House and Senate in tow, by any Republican presidential candidate would probably have been greeted with the upward repricing of stocks we’ve seen since Donald Trump’s election.

A Republican named Donald Duck, under the circumstances, would have heralded a pleasantly unexpected end to the Obama regulatory war on business, a fresh start on tax reform, a chance for a rational overhaul of ObamaCare.

Recall, the big questions had been how much would Hillary Clinton win by, and would Republicans lose the Senate. These expectations had to be quickly revised.

Then again, any other Republican might have been seen as a shoo-in, so the good news on taxes and regulation would already have been priced in.

Even more bracing to consider, any other Republican besides Mr. Trump (truly a Republican in name only) would have arrived without the uncertainties, unpredictability and baggages of Mr. Trump: His business conflicts. His trade-war threats.

Bob Doll, the equity strategist for Nuveen, says the market will be up only as long as “growth Donald Trump” is seen triumphing over “protectionist Donald Trump.”

Which brings us to Steve Bannon.

In my one encounter with the then-Breitbart propaganda chief, he informed me that I was a global elitist so-and-so. The occasion was a private dinner. I had suggested that tax and regulatory reform would be a better way to re-energize the U.S. economy rather than engaging in Trumpian trade fights. (Admittedly, I may also have mentioned that blaming foreigners has been a favorite tactic of demagogues from time immemorial.)

Now Mr. Bannon is a senior adviser to the Trump administration, and the markets are hoping my advice will prevail.

In lore, Ronald Reagan was anti-union. In fact, he was the best friend auto and steelworkers ever had, imposing “voluntary” import restraints that delayed a brutal industrial downsizing.

Some jobs were preserved for a while. What was mostly preserved was an opportunity for shareholders to extract profits under government protection. And this is the best you can expect from trade policy. It won’t restore small-town America to a landscape of thriving factories and mines. It won’t provide high-paying, reliable employment to high-school graduates.

Mr. Trump may succeed in jawboning Carrier Corp. not to move several hundred jobs to Mexico, but he lacks the opportunity that even Reagan had, with the connivance of a couple of major allies, to put a safety net under two giant, centralized, union-dominated industries and keep a million jobs going awhile longer.

Expansionist autarky, the Bannon world view, is even less plausible now than it was in the 1930s. The U.S. can cut Apple off from its million-man army in China. Those jobs won’t be coming here because nobody would do them at a price Apple would be willing to pay.

Or take health care: We’d have to cut back our prodigal consumption —$3 trillion worth last year, virtually all of it domestically produced—if we also had to produce the $500 billion in net imports we consume each year.

Trade by now is crucial even to sustaining our precious follies. Why does Ford build small cars in Mexico? Partly to offset the cost of Congress’s belovedly zany fuel-mileage rules, partly to offset the oddest dispensation in Christendom: the fact that foreign auto makers in the U.S. enjoy a free labor market while the Big Three are politically obliged to patronize a UAW labor monopoly left over from the Roosevelt era.

Mr. Bannon is right about one thing, though: A country is more than just an economy.

New railroad hires, after two years on the job, are entitled to job security, plus a six-figure salary, plus attractive benefits. And yet half the room empties out, a top executive tells me, when potential recruits hear they would have to submit to regular drug tests and might have to relocate to Bismarck, N.D. Rail companies have been reduced to trying to hire military vets off the plane before they can return to their hometowns and bad habits.

Nearly one-fifth of males between the ages of 21 and 30 who haven’t completed college aren’t working today and aren’t in school—an increase of 125% since 2000. Yet many of these young men are satisfied with their situation because it frees up time to play videogames, according to research by the University of Chicago’s Erik Hurst and colleagues.

There is a problem in post-manufacturing, small-town America, all right, but winding back the clock is not an option. We need other options.

An outbreak of Trumpian optimism might at least boost the morale of this struggling America. Tax and regulatory reform might at least get businesses investing again, giving these workers the tools to raise their productivity and potential wages.

Let’s hope so, because this is the best and only help these Americans are likely to get from their government. And some who are whispering in Mr. Trump’s ear would screw even this up.
14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Good call Donald! on: December 04, 2016, 07:10:49 PM
second post: 

By Rupert Hammond-Chambers
Dec. 4, 2016 4:24 p.m. ET

President-elect Trump’s phone conversation Friday with Taiwan’s democratically elected leader is the kind of engagement that any new U.S. president should undertake as he prepares to take office. In talking with President Tsai Ing-wen, Mr. Trump demonstrated why his presidency has the potential to return badly needed credibility to a host of global challenges where the Obama Doctrine has left vacuums, rising tensions and conflict.

America’s relationship with Taiwan is a good example of the drift in U.S. interests. The Obama administration likes to declare that we are experiencing the “best relationship ever.” But this assessment is predicated on an expectation that neither the U.S. nor Taiwan has ambitions for their relationship. Both have been far too preoccupied with their ties with China—a focus that has emboldened Beijing and fostered instability in the Taiwan Strait.

As a result, a dangerous vacuum has opened up in the U.S. relationship with Taiwan. The administration has all but halted arms sales to Taiwan even though such sales are guaranteed under U.S. law and have long been a mainstay of U.S. security relations with the island. So, too, the trade relationship has faltered. Our trade ties are better suited to those between the U.S. and Malta than with our ninth-largest trading partner. Trade ties drift aimlessly in the absence of broader goals such as investment and tax agreements or a bilateral free-trade accord.

Meanwhile, the Chinese have been pressing their objective: the unification and occupation of Taiwan through peaceful or military means. Beijing pursues economic integration and its smothering embrace, while its military modernization focuses on invading and occupying Taiwan. It points nearly 2,000 cruise and ballistic missiles at Taiwan’s people.

The U.S. has failed to meet this challenge, and it is into this vacuum that Ms. Tsai was elected in January. China’s response to her election has been to pressure Taiwan’s remaining allies, cut off direct communications with Taipei, and damage commerce by restricting mainland Chinese tourism to the island. It has also undermined Taiwan’s efforts to broaden its engagement with the global health community and to integrate better into the world’s global aerospace and transportation organizations.

Tensions have risen between Taiwan and China as a function of Beijing’s belligerence, and the Obama administration has done next to nothing in response.

It is a point of deep frustration in both Taiwan and the U.S. that China can pursue hostile activity in the South China Sea, regularly violate the sovereign airspace of Japan and Taiwan, and steal American commercial and military technology, putting companies out of business and threatening American forces with new Chinese capabilities created out of U.S. technology. It is China’s actions that destabilize Asia—and Mr. Trump appears to understand that.

Many in the U.S. presume that China would willingly hurt its own interests in a range of areas in pursuit of gains on Taiwan. This is a deeply flawed argument. Beijing will continue to act in its own core interests as they relate to North Korea, Iran, climate change and many other issues. On Taiwan matters, the U.S. likes to negotiate with itself in a vain attempt to ward off “China’s anger.” Unilaterally curbing military support to Taiwan and turning a blind eye to Chinese provocations after democratic elections in Taiwan are but two examples.

Mr. Trump made a bold statement of support by talking with Ms. Tsai. Instead of throwing another Trump tantrum, America’s media might consider encouraging Chinese President Xi Jinping to follow Mr. Trump’s example and have his own phone conversation with her. Who knows? It might actually reduce tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

Mr. Hammond-Chambers is president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council and a managing director at Bower Group Asia.
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SEN. Sullivan of Alaska: Fast tracking building permits on: December 04, 2016, 07:09:12 PM
second post

By Dan Sullivan
Dec. 4, 2016 4:17 p.m. ET

President-elect Donald Trump has made investing in U.S. infrastructure a priority. This country urgently needs to build and repair roads, bridges, airports, pipelines and rail lines. But a huge roadblock is the federal permitting system. Even with a more business-friendly administration, a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan won’t accomplish much unless Congress reforms the way public-works projects are approved.

America used to be the envy of the world in building great projects responsibly, efficiently and on time. The Pentagon was built in 16 months. The 1,500-mile Alaska-Canadian Highway, which passes through some of the world’s most rugged terrain, took about eight months. Today, infrastructure projects across America often require several years simply to get through the federal government’s pre-build permitting process. Consider a few examples.

New U.S. highway construction projects usually take between nine and 19 years from initial planning and permitting to completion of construction, according to a 2002 Government Accountability Office study. It will have taken 14 years to permit an expansion of Gross Reservoir in Colorado, and it took almost 20 years to permit the Kensington gold mine in Alaska.

It took four years to construct a new runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, but it took 15 years to get the permits. Todd Hauptli of the American Association of Airport Executives bitterly joked to the Senate Commerce Committee last year, “It took longer to build that runway than the Great Pyramids of Egypt.”

These problems have been building for decades as the U.S. regulatory state has grown. But the Obama administration has made the situation much worse by politicizing the construction of America’s critical energy infrastructure.

It took Shell seven years and $7 billion to get White House permission to drill a single oil-exploration well off the coast of Alaska. Never mind that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act requires that resources in those waters “be made available for expeditious and orderly development.” This capricious permitting was part of why Shell halted its operations in Alaska, stranding enormous oil and gas resources and killing thousands of potential jobs.

The Keystone XL pipeline languished in permitting purgatory for almost the entire two terms of the Obama administration before the president finally killed it in 2015. Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, called the president’s actions a “cynical manipulation of the approval process.” President Obama also recently halted the Dakota Access pipeline, though in September a federal court determined that the project complied with arduous permitting, legal and consultation requirements.

Mr. Trump is set to reverse the Obama administration’s abysmal permitting record, but Congress also has a responsibility. Last year I introduced the Regulations Endanger Democracy Act, or RED Tape Act, which would cap federal regulations with a simple one-in-one-out rule. When an agency issues a new regulation, it must repeal an old one. (Mr. Trump has suggested removing two for every one that is added.) Even though the idea has been successfully implemented in Canada and the United Kingdom, not a single Senate Democrat voted for it, and the legislation died.

Another bill I wrote would expedite federal permitting to repair or rebuild thousands of crumbling bridges across our country, but it received only three Democratic votes on the Senate floor. Once again my colleagues across the aisle prevented this reform from being implemented.

After Congress convenes in January, I will introduce the Rebuild America Now Act. It would establish strict time limits so that if permits aren’t approved or denied for good cause within a specified time, then the project is deemed approved. The law also creates a one-stop shop for environmental reviews and permitting to ensure that projects don’t get bogged down by agencies pursuing different agendas. Agencies would be required to abide by the RED Tape Act, a version of which would be part of the new law.

Having lost the election, progressives are already preparing litigation and protests to stop American infrastructure and energy projects. My bill would limit sue-and-settle practices that abuse the judicial system, as well as stopping groups that oppose economic development from needlessly delaying or killing much-needed projects. It would also have a builder’s and worker’s bill of rights, which would include timely permitting decisions and transparency in agency decision-making to spell out exactly why a permit is denied.

President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus in 2009 wrecked the country’s balance sheet while doing little to spur economic growth. An infrastructure bill that fails to reform dysfunctional permitting runs a similar risk. These reforms will prevent billions of dollars from getting wasted in red tape and litigation, making it easier to overhaul the nation’s infrastructure.

Mr. Sullivan, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Alaska.
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Send in a SWAT team against regulations on: December 04, 2016, 07:07:02 PM
You can tell the regulation beat has reached critical political mass when even the folks at Politico are pushing it on the home page. “Obama’s agencies push flurry of ‘midnight’ actions,” the political website reported recently, adding that Republicans are preparing to block or repeal as many as of these and previous rules as possible.

This effort is going to be a political brawl—not least due to resistance from the bureaucracies in the executive branch and perhaps even some political appointees who go native quickly. If Donald Trump wants the deregulation effort to succeed—and it’s essential to promoting faster growth—he and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus could take a lesson from the Reagan era and appoint a political SWAT team to direct it from the White House.

The temptation will be to leave it to Congress or the office of regulatory affairs at the White House budget office. But the director of that office might not be confirmed for months, even as appointees in the departments find excuses not to move against Obama rules. Those appointees may want to keep their new political power or they might fear the media backlash, which will often be fierce.

The Reagan White House met this challenge by setting up a special task force to run regulatory policy for the first months of 1981. It was led by then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, with a big assist from his general counsel Boyden Gray. Key staff included such policy legends as Jim Miller, who later ran the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and White House budget office; Frank Blake, who would go on to run Home Depot; Jim Tozzi, who would become the ranking career official in the White House regulatory shop; Tim Muris, who ran the FTC under George W. Bush; and Jeffrey Eisenach, now with the American Enterprise Institute.

It’s not too much to say this task force ran much of the government for six months as the new appointees found their sea legs. In one famous February 1981 incident, the general counsels of agencies were called to the White House to review executive order 12291 on regulation. The counsels began to cross out huge chunks until they got to the end and discovered that Ronald Reagan had already signed it. The task force was so successful that Democrats John Dingell and Al Gore hauled some of them up to Capitol Hill for a public scolding.

Democrats also made the director of regulatory affairs subject to Senate confirmation for the first time, so they could haze nominees about opposing new rules. It’s no accident that Reagan was the only recent President to restrain the regulatory state. Neither Bush Administration had any comparable success, and George W. Bush set new records for pages in the Federal Register until President Obama took the crown.

Mr. Trump might consider putting Mike Pence in charge of a regulatory task force with a few key White House aides dedicated to the task. The team needs someone like the Vice President-elect with enough internal clout to keep the agencies in line and back up more junior aides until the regulatory-affairs director is confirmed and on the job.

Deregulation is one of those subjects that makes eyes glaze over, but if the job is done right it can give the economy a crucial boost.
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Trump's Taiwan Call on: December 04, 2016, 07:04:37 PM
Americans had to get used to Donald Trump breaking all the rules of presidential campaigning, and it looks like the world will have to adjust to a President Trump who will also violate diplomatic convention. One early lesson is not to overreact to every break with State Department protocol as if it’s the start of World War III.

The U.S. media had their 19th nervous breakdown Friday after the Trump transition said the President-elect had taken a congratulatory call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. Mr. Trump also later tweeted that he had spoken to “the President of Taiwan.” Doesn’t he understand this simply isn’t done? No American President or President-elect has talked to a Taiwanese President since 1979, and this violation of tradition is being portrayed as a careless, bone-headed provocation to Beijing.

Well, maybe it was calculated—and perhaps even useful. Trump Asia adviser Peter Navarro has advocated cabinet-level visits to Taiwan and an end to the U.S. bow to Beijing’s “one China” policy, which insists that Taiwan is part of China and shouldn’t be treated as an independent state. Perhaps that goes too far, but it is past time for the U.S. to recalibrate its Taiwan policy.
inRead invented by Teads

Ned Price, spokesman at the Obama National Security Council, suggested that Mr. Trump made a mistake, saying the U.S. remains “firmly committed to our ‘one China’ policy based on the three Joint Communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act.” But the communiqués from the 1970s and ’80s do not say that the U.S. supports Beijing’s view of “one China,” only that the U.S. acknowledges that both China and Taiwan agree on that principle. That is a crucial distinction.

Taiwan and the world have also changed since those communiqués. Taiwan has become a prosperous and democratic polity integrated into the world economy. Most Taiwanese now want to maintain their de facto independence. They resent Beijing’s bullying to force their leaders to move toward reunification.

Previous U.S. Presidents have eased restrictions on contact with Taiwanese officials to reflect this reality. Bill Clinton let President Lee Teng-hui give a speech at Cornell University in 1995. George W. Bush allowed President Chen Shui-bian to visit the U.S. in transit to countries in Latin America that maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

The U.S. is obligated to assist the self-governing territory in defending itself under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, and every Administration since has sold weapons to Taiwan. Mr. Clinton sent a U.S. carrier through the Taiwan Strait in 1996 when China was especially threatening.

Previous Taiwanese leaders tried to exploit U.S. support to push for a formal declaration of independence, which Beijing warns would be cause for war. Mr. Trump has to be careful not to encourage Ms. Tsai, who has advocated for independence in the past, to make the same mistake. But Ms. Tsai has studiously avoided such declarations since her election earlier this year, and she has been careful to say she wants good relations with Beijing despite China’s attempt to isolate her.

Mr. Trump shouldn’t concede Beijing’s power to intimidate the world’s democracies into isolating Taiwan. The U.S. has an interest in supporting Taiwan as a model for China’s future development. And adapting Taiwan policy could benefit the wider U.S.-China relationship.

Beijing says denying sovereignty for Taiwan is a core interest. But the U.S. has a core interest in preventing North Korea from threatening the world with nuclear-armed missiles. The rest of Asia has a core interest in preventing China from unilaterally asserting its dominance over the East and South China Seas. Respect for core interests goes both ways.

It’s notable that China has reacted better than the U.S. media to Mr. Trump’s phone conversation. Beijing protested but its Foreign Minister dismissed it as a “petty trick” by Ms. Tsai. Beijing censored the news inside China, while the English-language China Daily suggested Mr. Trump simply made a mistake.

President Obama had no success convincing China to rein in Pyongyang, and Chinese officials walked all over him on his first visit in 2009. Mr. Trump’s tougher stance may prove to be a better opening move in the deal-making to come.
18  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ambassador Bolton one year ago on the Taiwan Card on: December 04, 2016, 07:02:36 PM
What a curious coincidence  wink

The U.S. Can Play a ‘Taiwan Card’
If China won’t back down in East Asia, Washington has options that would compel Beijing’s attention.
Tsai Ing-wen celebrates her election victory in Taipei Saturday. ENLARGE
Tsai Ing-wen celebrates her election victory in Taipei Saturday. Illustration: © Chris Stowers/Zuma Press
By John Bolton
Jan. 17, 2016 1:04 p.m. ET

Taiwan’s elections have returned the Democratic Progressive Party to power. Rolling over the incumbent Kuomintang (KMT) nationalists, the DPP won both the presidency and a legislative majority, giving it controls of both elective branches for the first time.

President-elect Tsai Ing-wen didn’t center her campaign on attacking the KMT policy of closer relations with China, focusing instead on Taiwan’s lagging economy, but neither did she reject the bedrock DPP platform of independence from China. Her rhetoric, including her victory statement on Saturday, has been cautious. But her party’s base knows what it wants. Inevitably, therefore, East Asia warning flags are up.

Of course, the U.S. will also have presidential elections in 2016, and most of the Republican candidates are determined to replace the vacuum that exists where America’s China policy should be. This may involve modifying or even jettisoning the ambiguous “one China” mantra, along with even more far-reaching initiatives to counter Beijing’s rapidly accelerating political and military aggressiveness in the South and East China seas.

Repeatedly met with passivity from Washington and impotence from the region, Beijing has declared much of the South China Sea a Chinese province, designated a provincial capital, and is creating not merely “facts on the ground” but the ground itself, in the form of artificial islands on which it is constructing air and naval bases.

Predictably, China’s partisans in the West contend that Beijing’s current economic troubles mean Xi Jinping won’t move first to provoke trouble with Ms. Tsai’s administration in Taipei. But Beijing’s ongoing reckoning with economic reality doesn’t necessarily mean it will be less assertive internationally. Authoritarian governments confronted with domestic problems have historically sought to distract their citizens by rallying nationalistic support against foreign adversaries. Who better to blame for China’s economic crash than the U.S. and pesky Taiwan?

How Ms. Tsai would react to Mr. Xi’s provocations remains unknown. Of course China would prefer for Taiwan to fall into its lap like a ripe fruit, with its economic infrastructure and productivity intact, rather than to risk hostilities over the island. But in the period to come Beijing must consider not merely a less pliant Taiwanese government, but also America’s next president.

Beijing knows that the weak, inattentive President Barack Obama will be in office for only one more year. Whereas even Bill Clinton ordered U.S. carrier battle groups to Taiwan’s aid in the 1996 cross-Strait crisis, few Americans today believe that Mr. Obama would do the same.

How could Beijing’s leadership not draw the same conclusion? Washington’s current unwillingness to stand firm against Chinese belligerence in Asian waters only encourages Beijing to act before Jan. 20, 2017, perhaps especially before Ms. Tsai is inaugurated in four months. For now observers can only monitor East Asia’s geopolitical space, involving not just Taiwan but also the South and East China seas, until America’s inauguration day, praying that the Asian situation is not hopeless by then.

For a new U.S. president willing to act boldly, there are opportunities to halt and then reverse China’s seemingly inexorable march toward hegemony in East Asia. Playing the “China card” in the Nixon Administration made sense at the time, but the reflexive, near-addictive adherence to pro-China policies since has become unwise and increasingly risky as Beijing’s isolation and backwardness have diminished.

An alternative now would be to play the “Taiwan card” against China. America should insist that China reverse its territorial acquisitiveness, including abandoning its South China Sea bases and undoing the ecological damage its construction has caused. China is free to continue asserting its territorial claims diplomatically, but until they are peacefully resolved with its near neighbors, they and the U.S. are likewise free to ignore such claims in their entirety.

If Beijing isn’t willing to back down, America has a diplomatic ladder of escalation that would compel Beijing’s attention. The new U.S. administration could start with receiving Taiwanese diplomats officially at the State Department; upgrading the status of U.S. representation in Taipei from a private “institute” to an official diplomatic mission; inviting Taiwan’s president to travel officially to America; allowing the most senior U.S. officials to visit Taiwan to transact government business; and ultimately restoring full diplomatic recognition.

Beijing’s leaders would be appalled by this approach, as the U.S. is appalled by their maritime territorial aggression. China must understand that creating so-called provinces risks causing itself to lose control, perhaps forever, of another so-called province. Even were China to act more responsibly in nearby waters, of course, Taiwan’s fate would still be for its people to decide.

Too many foreigners continue echoing Beijing’s view that Taiwan is a problem only resolvable by uniting the island and the mainland as “one China.” But Taiwan’s freedom isn’t a problem. It is an inspiration. Let Beijing contemplate that fact on the ground.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad” (Simon & Schuster, 2007).
19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Trump Transition/Administration on: December 04, 2016, 06:36:43 PM
As we both know, pretty fg minimalist.

OTOH we do not need to imitate their hypocrisy.   Correctly we made a big point about "pay to play" and should do so if it appears here.
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: The Trump family: Business since Birth on: December 04, 2016, 04:32:59 PM
Yes, this is the NY Times and as such is likely to include snarky misdirects, but there is a real issue here and if we are not to fall to prey to situational ethics we need to acknowledge this IMHO.
21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NRO: Dangers of Muslim Immigration on: December 04, 2016, 04:05:07 PM
Addressing the elephant in the room:

A historical point which I have referenced more than once around here:

". . .During the Cold War, American law denied entry to the United States to any alien who wrote, published, or advocated “the economic, international, and governmental doctrines of world communism or the establishment in the United States of a totalitarian dictatorship.” We continue to maintain an escalating series of ideological litmus tests for visa recipients and green-card holders. We can and should expand those tests to deny entry to any visitor or immigrant who advocates the doctrines or ideas of ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban, and any other recognized terrorist organization — including by expressing support on social media for the goals, theology, politics, or leadership of those organizations. Indeed, the list should expand beyond known terrorists so that we’d exclude those who support the doctrines or ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood or the Iranian Revolution. Beyond this basic test, it is simply not in America’s national interest to admit refugees, visitors, or other immigrants from zones of jihadist activity unless they have a demonstrable record of loyalty to or cooperation with the United States or its allies. When we know that our enemy is seeking to infiltrate and indoctrinate these specific populations (and has greatest access to these populations), the burden of proof for immigration or entry should be squarely placed on the immigrant. If refugees need our aid, we should aid them in the Middle East. , , ,"

Read more at:

22  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Steve Bannon speaks on: December 04, 2016, 11:38:46 AM

and this:
23  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: Unexpected Consequences on: December 04, 2016, 12:08:40 AM
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NRO on the Carrier deal on: December 03, 2016, 11:52:25 PM

Quite a bit off with regard to the Laffer Curve but some interesting points in it as well.
25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTh and the Diplomats freak out on: December 03, 2016, 05:58:34 PM
WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump inherited a complicated world when he won the election last month. And that was before a series of freewheeling phone calls with foreign leaders that has unnerved diplomats at home and abroad.

In the calls, he voiced admiration for one of the world’s most durable despots, the president of Kazakhstan, and said he hoped to visit a country, Pakistan, that President Obama has steered clear of during nearly eight years in office.

Mr. Trump told the British prime minister, Theresa May, “If you travel to the U.S., you should let me know,” an offhand invitation that came only after he spoke to nine other leaders. He later compounded it by saying on Twitter that Britain should name the anti-immigrant leader Nigel Farage its ambassador to Washington, a startling break with diplomatic protocol.

Mr. Trump’s unfiltered exchanges have drawn international attention since the election, most notably when he met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan with only one other American in the room, his daughter Ivanka Trump — dispensing with the usual practice of using State Department-approved talking points.
Continue reading the main story
The Trump White House
Stories on the presidential transition and the forthcoming Trump administration.
On Thursday, the White House weighed in with an offer of professional help. The press secretary, Josh Earnest, urged the president-elect to make use of the State Department’s policy makers and diplomats in planning and conducting his encounters with foreign leaders.

“President Obama benefited enormously from the advice and expertise that’s been shared by those who serve at the State Department,” Mr. Earnest said. “I’m confident that as President-elect Trump takes office, those same State Department employees will stand ready to offer him advice as he conducts the business of the United States overseas.”

“Hopefully he’ll take it,” he added.

A spokesman for the State Department, John Kirby, said the department was “helping facilitate and support calls as requested.” But he declined to give details, and it was not clear to what extent Mr. Trump was availing himself of the nation’s diplomats.

Mr. Trump’s conversation with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan has generated the most angst, because, as Mr. Earnest put it, the relationship between Mr. Sharif’s country and the United States is “quite complicated,” with disputes over issues ranging from counterterrorism to nuclear proliferation.

In a remarkably candid readout of the phone call, the Pakistani government said Mr. Trump had told Mr. Sharif that he was “a terrific guy” who made him feel as though “I’m talking to a person I have known for long.” He described Pakistanis as “one of the most intelligent people.” When Mr. Sharif invited him to visit Pakistan, the president-elect replied that he would “love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people.”

The Trump transition office, in its more circumspect readout, said only that Mr. Trump and Mr. Sharif “had a productive conversation about how the United States and Pakistan will have a strong working relationship in the future.” It did not confirm or deny the Pakistani account of Mr. Trump’s remarks.

The breezy tone of the readout left diplomats in Washington slack-jawed, with some initially assuming it was a parody. In particular, they zeroed in on Mr. Trump’s offer to Mr. Sharif “to play any role you want me to play to address and find solutions to the country’s problems.”

That was interpreted by some in India as an offer by the United States to mediate Pakistan’s border dispute with India in Kashmir, something that the Pakistanis have long sought and that India has long resisted.

“By taking such a cavalier attitude to these calls, he’s encouraging people not to take him seriously,” said Daniel F. Feldman, a former special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. “He’s made himself not only a bull in a china shop, but a bull in a nuclear china shop.”

Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani ambassador to Washington, said his government’s decision to release a rough transcript of Mr. Trump’s remarks was a breach of protocol that demonstrated how easily Pakistani leaders misread signals from their American counterparts.

“Pakistan is one country where knowing history and details matters most,” Mr. Haqqani said, “and where the U.S. cannot afford to give wrong signals, given the history of misunderstandings.”
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At one level, Mr. Trump’s warm sentiments were surprising, given that during the campaign, he called for temporarily barring Muslims from entering the United States to avoid importing would-be terrorists.

His conversation with Mr. Sharif also came a day after an attack at Ohio State University in which a Somali-born student, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, rammed a car into a group of pedestrians and slashed several people with a knife before being shot and killed by the police. Law enforcement officials said Mr. Artan, whom the Islamic State has claimed as a “soldier,” had lived in Pakistan for seven years before coming to the United States in 2014.

Mr. Obama never visited Pakistan as president, even though he had a circle of Pakistani friends in college and spoke fondly of the country. The White House weighed a visit at various times but always decided against it, according to officials, because of security concerns or because it would be perceived as rewarding Pakistani leaders for what many American officials said was their lack of help in fighting terrorism.

“It sends a powerful message to the people of a country when the president of the United States goes to visit,” Mr. Earnest said. “That’s true whether it’s some of our closest allies, or that’s also true if it’s a country like Pakistan, with whom our relationship is somewhat more complicated.”

Mr. Trump’s call with President Nursultan A. Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan raised similar questions.

Mr. Nazarbayev has ruled his country with an iron hand since 1989, first as head of the Communist Party and later as president after Kazakhstan won its independence from the Soviet Union. In April 2015, he won a fifth term, winning 97.7 percent of the vote and raising suspicions of fraud.

The Kazakh government, in its account of Mr. Trump’s conversation, said he had lavished praise on the president for his leadership of the country over the last 25 years. “D. Trump stressed that under the leadership of Nursultan Nazarbayev, our country over the years of independence had achieved fantastic success that can be called a ‘miracle,’” it said.

The statement went on to say that Mr. Trump had shown solidarity with the Kazakh government over its decision to voluntarily surrender the nuclear arsenal it inherited from the Soviets. “There is no more important issue than the nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, which must be addressed in a global context,” it quoted Mr. Trump as saying.

Mr. Trump’s statement said that Mr. Nazarbayev had congratulated him on his victory, and that Mr. Trump had reciprocated by congratulating him on the 25th anniversary of his country. Beyond that, it said only that the two leaders had “addressed the importance of strengthening regional partnerships.”
26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WI: 5 machines with broken seals? on: December 03, 2016, 04:25:05 PM
Highly unreliable site, but worth keeping an eye out for this.
27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mad Dog Matthis interview on: December 03, 2016, 04:01:03 PM
Forty minutes:
28  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / An attack on Mnuchin on: December 03, 2016, 03:29:34 PM
second post

Nice touch:
29  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trump-Duterte on: December 03, 2016, 03:21:48 PM

Duterte can be something of a post-factual fellow himself , , ,
30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / California ACTION item on: December 03, 2016, 03:05:50 PM
31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cong. Xavier Becerra tapped to replace AG Kamala Harris on: December 03, 2016, 03:05:13 PM

32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Post election campaign now we get to the complexities of trade on: December 03, 2016, 11:33:09 AM
33  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: December 03, 2016, 11:26:08 AM
second post

The Worden Report (Thursday, December 01, 2016)
Technology Stocks Fall Sharply on Heavy Selling

Strength in financials helped lift the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a 68-point gain, bucking the trend of the overall market. Leading the blue-chip average higher were Goldman Sachs Group (GS), up 3.32%, JPMorgan Chase (JPM), up 2.06%, General Electric (GE), up 2.05% and Travelers Cos. (TRV), up 1.83. The other major stock indexes all closed lower. Especially the technology-laden NASDAQ Composite Index, which closed below its 50-day price moving average after falling 1.36%. This market action, as one analyst calls it, is a "vicious rotation" out of the sectors which performed well prior to the election, i.e. technology. While we are seeing a significant rotation into important sectors such as energy and financials, the technology sector has suffered clear technical damage as a result of this rotation of funds. The interest-rate sensitive financial stocks have been moving higher in direct correlation with the climb in 10-year bond yields, but this is fast becoming a crowded trade.
As I pointed out, technology (SX110) was our weakest Sector Index today by a significant margin, losing 2.44%. The biggest individual decliners in the sector (minimum market-cap of $10B) were Weibo Corp. (WB), down 10.15%, Microchip Technology (MCHP), down 7.48%, ServiceNow Inc. (NOW), down 7.29%, Analog Devices (ADI), down 7.04%, Lam Research Corp. (LRCX), down 7%, Skyworks Solutions (SWKS), down 6.60%, Applied Materials (AMAT), down 6.52%, Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM), down 5.83%, Micron Technology (MU), down 5.38% and Seagate Technology PLC (STX), down 4.96%.
In last night's report, I wrote, "The Standard & Poor's 500 Index tried to hold at the 2,200 level when tested this afternoon, but closed on its session low of 2,198.81, down 0.27%. I'm watching the 2,193 level, which I believe is an important test for the S&P 500." The stock market came off its worst levels of the day in the final 10 minutes of trading, but the Standard & Poor's 500 Index still lost 0.35% to close at 2,191.08. I believe we are likely to see more corrective action in the market with the S&P 500 gradually working its way down to the 50-day price moving average, currently at 2,156.
-Peter Worden
34  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: December 03, 2016, 11:10:23 AM
Thou100% agreed that spending and deficit/debt remain huge and growing, but it does look like the tax code and Obamacare may well be about to be fixed and the zero interest rate policies too.  These are all BFDs and IMHO the potential for a  real take off in economic growth is very real. 

35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Waiters, bartenders, and manufacturing workers on: December 02, 2016, 08:24:18 PM
36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kissinger explaining Trump to the Chinese on: December 02, 2016, 08:20:01 PM

BTW, I tangentially note that many years ago that the Investors Business Daily went after Dr. Kissinger REALLY hard for all the consulting money the Chinese were paying him.  I also note that under Trump's lobbying rules, Kissinger could not have done this.
37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Questions about Mad Dog and Israel on: December 02, 2016, 08:14:13 PM
38  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / James Webb on US foreign policy on: December 02, 2016, 05:33:01 PM
Interesting, thoughtful piece:

39  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ellison's disintel campaign on: December 02, 2016, 05:19:35 PM
Keith Ellison's Disinformation Campaign
by Steven Emerson
IPT News
December 2, 2016

Confronted by his own words and facing a direct threat to his bid to become the next Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison flagrantly lied Thursday. We are releasing the full audio and transcript to prove this.

Two days earlier, the Investigative Project on Terrorism released audio of Ellison during a 2010 political fundraiser, criticizing what he saw as the inappropriate and disproportionate influence Israel carries over American foreign policy.
"The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people. A region of 350 million all turns on a country of 7 million," said Ellison, D-Minn. "Does that make sense? Is that logic? Right? When the Americans who trace their roots back to those 350 million get involved, everything changes. Can I say that again?"

In a statement Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said it found Ellison's comments "deeply disturbing and disqualifying." That's because, "whether intentional or not, his words raise the specter of age-old stereotypes about Jewish control of our government, a poisonous myth that may persist in parts of the world where intolerance thrives."

In an open letter to the ADL, Ellison falsely claimed that "the audio released was selectively edited and taken out of context." He also claimed that he was merely "responding to a question about how Americans with roots in the Middle East could engage in the political process in a more effective way." And then he chose to attack the messenger.

None of Ellison's comments are true.

We have released the full audio of his remarks (click here to hear them and to read a complete transcript) to show no edits were made and to show the full context. Let him also explain this other clearly anti-Semitic comment he made: "But it makes all the sense in the world when you see that that country has mobilized its diaspora in America to do its bidding in America."

Ellison and Context

As we reported, Ellison's 2010 comments came during a fundraiser for Esam Omeish's state assembly campaign. Omeish is a former president of the Muslim American Society (MAS), a group created by Muslim Brotherhood members in the United States. In 2007, Omeish was forced to resign from a Virginia immigration panel after the IPT produced video of him praising Palestinians in 2000 for learning that "the jihad way is the way to liberate your land." A second video, shot two months earlier, shows Omeish congratulating "our brothers and sisters in [Palestine] for their bravery, for their giving up their lives for the sake of Allah."

Just this week, Omeish posted a paean to the Muslim Brotherhood on Facebook.

Nihad Awad, the only executive director the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has ever had, also attended the Omeish fundraiser. Court records show Awad was a member of a Muslim Brotherhood created Hamas support network in the United States called the Palestine Committee. So was CAIR, the organization he leads.

Awad attended a pivotal 1993 gathering of committee members in Philadelphia, convened to discuss ways to "derail" the U.S. brokered Oslo Accords.
Palestine Committee members opposed it because it included recognition of Israel's right to exist and because it empowered the secular Fatah movement over the Islamists in Hamas. We know this because the FBI secretly recorded the meeting.
excerpt from an FBI translation

He has never explained why he joined the others present in referring to Hamas in the agreed-upon, yet crude code of reversing the spelling and speaking about "Samah."  Six months later, Awad appeared in Miami, where he publicly stated that, after some research, "I am in support of the Hamas movement more than the PLO."
When Keith Ellison stands before Omeish and Awad and asks whether it makes sense that America's Middle East policy "is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people," or when he says "that country [Israel] has mobilized its diaspora in America to do its bidding in America," the context seems pretty clear.

Democrats should choose the candidate they think can best lead their party to success in the future. They might decide Ellison fits that description.
They do so armed with greater understanding of Ellison's true feelings toward an issue pivotal for a lot of voters of all political persuasions
40  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dar al-Hijrah Board Member pens MB tribute on: December 02, 2016, 05:17:25 PM
Dar al-Hijrah Board Member Pens Muslim Brotherhood Tribute
by John Rossomando  •  Dec 2, 2016 at 11:08 am

A politically connected, longtime board member at the Falls Church, Va., based Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center effusively praised the Muslim Brotherhood in a Facebook posting Wednesday.

Esam Omeish was forced to step down from a state immigration commission by then Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine in 2006 after video of him praising Palestinians for fighting the "jihad way" became public.  He also served as president of the Muslim American Society (MAS), a group founded by the Muslim Brotherhood in America.

While MAS officials denied that connection, Omeish praised the Egyptian-based organization with ultimate designs on a global Islamic state.

"We have not known of the people of Islam ... those more just in understanding, wider in approach and closer in application than the Muslim Brotherhood," Omeish wrote. "We have not known of humane brotherliness and its people, (and we are affiliated with all men whom Allah has created a propensity for love, mercy, an upright disposition, good morals and honorable character) better in ethics, of gentler parts, deeper in adherence to duty, nobler in morals among all their sons, and everyone of their actions than the Muslim Brotherhood."

Omeish was responding to a posting by Hani Elkadi, co-founder of Egyptian Americans for Freedom and Justice and Egyptian Americans for Democracy and Human Rights. Elkadi seemed to admit his own Brotherhood affiliation on Facebook in a March 9, 2015 Facebook post showing an cartoon of a man holding a sign with the Brotherhood logo and the words which translate to, "I am [Muslim] Brotherhood and I'm not threatened."

 Omeish visited the White House and State Department numerous times and posted pictures of himself with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry on his Facebook page. State Department officials featured Omeish in a 2008 video about American Muslims.

In February, Omeish sent an open letter to President Obama asking him to support the al-Qaida linked Revolutionary Council of Derna.

He endorsed the Muslim Brotherhood branch in his native Libya in a 2012 IRIN News article, saying that although it came in a distant second in Libya's 2012 elections, it "may be able to provide a better platform and a more coherent agenda of national action."
41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Interesting thought pieces: Ambitious millenials leaving America? on: December 02, 2016, 05:13:43 PM
42  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dems headed down the wrong track on: December 02, 2016, 05:09:59 PM
43  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt ups speaking fees on: December 02, 2016, 03:20:26 PM
44  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam in Saudi Arabia: Woman goes out without hijab on: December 02, 2016, 03:05:28 PM
45  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Feds halt naturalization approvals on: December 02, 2016, 01:47:24 PM
46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rather odd from a man who said the system was rigged on: December 02, 2016, 01:36:42 PM
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / University of Toronto on: December 02, 2016, 01:34:19 PM
48  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GOP dead in California on: December 02, 2016, 10:58:18 AM
49  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glick: Israel's consitutional idenity crisis on: December 02, 2016, 10:44:00 AM
50  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism, crony capitalism, SJW: on: December 02, 2016, 10:43:10 AM
Very helpful, I used it in a FB conversation-- thank you.
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