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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Grannis on: Today at 03:35:22 PM
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sheperd Smith sucks up to Hillary on: Today at 03:29:31 PM
Hillary Emails: Fox News Shep Smith Sucks Up To Top Clinton Aide
Published on on February 4, 2016
Lost among all of Hillary's "classified" and "top secret" emails is one interesting one from Fox News Anchor Shepherd Smith. It seems Smith got into an argument with Eric Goosby about which of them liked Cheryl Mills more, (Goosby was U.N. AIDS Coordinator at the time)

Mills, of course, was Hillary's Chief of Staff.

After this third grade incident, Smith decided to suck up to Mills and bring this heavy dispute to her attention.  Smith told her that he wore an "I Love Cheryl Mills" pin!

So cute! (GAG!!!)

Here's the email text:

From: Shepherd Smith [mailto:
Sent: Saturday, January 26, 2013 12:39 PM To: Mills, Cheryl D
Subject: Very short funny story

Dear Cheryl,

After what had to be a pretty trying week I thought you might enjoy this. My two other very favorite people at State are Eric Goosby and Zeenat Rahman. Well, last week I got in kind of an argument with one of them. Eric and I were debating who thought the most of you, he or I. He threw me a curve ball when he brought up how great your husband also is and probably thinks he won the day, but he would be incorrect. In thinking about it I don't believe I've ever heard anyone say anything negative about you (of course, my wearing the "I like Cheryl Mills" pin might inhibit some people from being too negative C). I've asked Shannon Smith to look out for Zeenat when her boss comes over. Have a great weekend and get a little rest.

Best wishes,

***So was it a suck up to the Hillary Clinton team? We report. You decide.***
3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary got lots of advice hostile to Israel on: Today at 03:23:13 PM
4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pravda on the Hudson organizes tours to Iran on: Today at 11:17:45 AM
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Quinnipiac Match Ups on: Today at 10:57:47 AM
Things that make you go hmmmm , , ,

Clinton 44    Sanders 42

Clinton 46    Trump 41
Clinton 45    Cruz 45
Clinton 41    Rubio 48

Sanders 49  Trump 39
Sanders 46  Cruz 42
Sanders 43  Rubio 43

I'd love to see a discussion of the implications of these numbers, especially the Sanders numbers.  Along with this forum, Sanders is a big critic of the corruption between big business and the government.  IMHO this is resonating strongly and our side should be making similar noises.  Cruz shows courage and good instincts with regard to ethanol, but IMHO this is not enough.  Isn't Sanders right when he calls for the reinstatement of Glass Steagal?   

6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Big 4th Circuit opinion on "assault weapons" on: Today at 12:18:05 AM

People Have A 'Fundamental Right' To Own Assault Weapons, Court Rules
Certain semiautomatic firearms deserve the highest level of protection the Constitution allows, says appellate court.
02/04/2016 06:06 pm ET

    Cristian Farias
    Legal Affairs Reporter, The Huffington Post

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
A federal appeals court on Thursday said Maryland's 2013 assault weapon ban, passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, must be held to a stricter constitutional standard.

In a major victory for gun rights advocates, a federal appeals court on Thursday sided with a broad coalition of gun owners, businesses and organizations that challenged the constitutionality of a Maryland ban on assault weapons and other laws aimed at curbing gun violence.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit said the state's prohibition on what the court called "the vast majority of semi-automatic rifles commonly kept by several million American citizens" amounted to a violation of their rights under the Constitution.

"In our view, Maryland law implicates the core protection of the Second Amendment -- the right of law-abiding responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home," Chief Judge William Traxler wrote in the divided ruling.

Provisions that outlaw these firearms, Traxler wrote, "substantially burden this fundamental right."

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who recently suspended his Democratic presidential campaign, signed Maryland's Firearm Safety Act of 2013 in the wake of the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, which spurred similar initiatives in other Democratic-leaning states.

The legislation mostly targets specific kinds of semi-automatic firearms -- such as AR-15s and AK-47s -- and large-capacity magazines, and adds certain registration and licensing requirements.

But gun rights advocates, including the National Rifle Association, quickly moved to challenge these laws in the courts, claiming that the restrictions they imposed on lawful gun ownership were overly broad and weren't proven to save lives.

    "This case was a major victory for the NRA and gun rights advocates." Adam Winkler, UCLA law professor

The legal attacks have largely failed. Last October, a federal appeals court in Manhattan upheld the most iconic of these laws -- those passed in New York and Connecticut in direct response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. And in December, the Supreme Court declined to review a ruling out of Illinois that upheld a similar ban on assault weapons.

The high court's reluctance to intervene in these disputes has left the Second Amendment in a bit of a state of flux. Since the Supreme Court established in 2008 and 2010 that the amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for self-defense within the home, judges have struggled to apply those decisions to the newer spate of gun legislation. And inconsistent rulings and standards across the country have left the scope of the law unclear.

When the Supreme Court refused to take up the Illinois case, Justice Clarence Thomas complained that the Second Amendment was being relegated to "a second-class right."

"If a broad ban on firearms can be upheld based on conjecture that the public might feel safer (while being no safer at all), then the Second Amendment guarantees nothing," he wrote, and added that those earlier decisions enshrining the right to gun ownership shouldn't be expected to "clarify the entire field."

The lack of clarity since then underscores why Thursday's decision may be a boon to those who want to see a broader interpretation of the Second Amendment, setting the stage for the next Supreme Court confrontation.

"This case was a major victory for the NRA and gun rights advocates," said Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA who specializes in Second Amendment law. "This opinion is an important one because it subjects important gun control laws to the most strict form of judicial scrutiny."

Indeed, the biggest surprise in Chief Judge Traxler's 66-page opinion is the words "strict scrutiny," a stringent constitutional test that most government laws and regulations fail. Other courts have applied more forgiving standards to similar gun legislation and upheld it.

The 4th Circuit's decision didn't outright strike down the Maryland legislation. Instead, it instructed a lower court to subject the provision to the higher legal standard, meaning more litigation and the possibility of a future showdown at the Supreme Court -- though maybe not yet, according to Winkler.

As if to illustrate the volatile politics and legalities of gun control, dissenting Circuit Judge Robert King all but declared that the court's ruling would lead to the next mass shooting.

"Let's be real," King wrote. "The assault weapons banned by Maryland's [law] are exceptionally lethal weapons of war."
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Judge demands explanation from State Dept for newly discovered Clinton records on: February 04, 2016, 11:40:47 PM
Third post
8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trump the bully on: February 04, 2016, 11:34:23 PM
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / No jews allowed in the safe spaces on campus on: February 04, 2016, 11:26:35 PM
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Interesting WaPo fact checker article on: February 04, 2016, 11:17:20 PM

Fact Checker
How did ‘top secret’ emails end up on Hillary Clinton’s server?
By Glenn Kessler February 4 at 3:00 AM

Clinton defends telling aide to send 'nonsecure' memo
Play Video1:06

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton maintains she never sent classified information via email as Secretary of State, as questions arise over her instruction to have a talking points memo sent to her in 2011 by a nonsecure system after it could not be sent by secure fax. (Reuters)

George Stephanopoulos: “You know, you’ve said many times that the emails were not marked classified. The non-disclosure agreement you signed as secretary of state says that that’s really not that relevant. It says classified information is marked or unmarked classified and that all of you are trained to treat all of that sensitively and should know the difference.”

Hillary Clinton: “Well of course and that’s exactly what I did. I take classified information very seriously. You know, you can’t get information off the classified system in the State Department to put on an unclassified system, no matter what that system is. We were very specific about that. And when you receive information, of course, there has to be some markings, some indication that someone down the chain thought that this was classified and that was not the case.”

— exchange on ABC’s “This Week,” Jan. 31, 2016

Many readers continue to ask questions about Hillary Clinton’s private email setup and whether she mishandled classified information. We have looked at this issue in the past, but the reader interest spiked again after the revelation that seven email chains contained “top secret” information and would not be released.

As the saga has dragged on, Clinton’s terminology has become ever more nuanced. When she first discussed her private-email arrangement in detail last March, her staff distributed a Q&A that flatly stated that no classified material was sent or received by Clinton at her private email address. Now she says the emails were not marked classified: “When you receive information, of course, there has to be some markings, some indication that someone down the chain thought that this was classified and that was not the case.”
Takeaways from Hillary Clinton’s e-mails
View Photos
Clinton has come under fire for using a private email address during her time as secretary of state. The emails are being screened and released in batches. Here are some things we’ve learned from them.

In the ABC News interview, she cited the opinion of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee: “There is no classified marked information on those emails, sent or received by me. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the intelligence committee, who’s had a chance to review them, has said that this email chain did not originate with me and that there were no classification markings.” (Feinstein did release such a statement.)

So what’s going on here?
The Facts

The nondisclosure agreement

Clinton did sign a Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement, in which she pledged to safeguard classified information whether “marked or unmarked classified information, including oral communications,” as defined by Executive Order 12958. (That was later superseded by Executive Order 13526.)

Interestingly, in that executive order, the secretary of state is given the authority to classify and declassify information at the “top secret” level. In other words, Clinton had presidential authority to decide what State Department information was classified or not.

“It is not simply that she would ‘know the difference’ between classified and unclassified information — it was up to her to make the original determination,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the project on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. “This authority, however, did not extend to information generated by other agencies, such as CIA.”

(Note: A number of readers have asked about an email in which Clinton asked to have classified markings removed regarding some talking points, and have it emailed unsecured. In theory, under the executive order, she had the authority to declassify the material, since it originated in the State Department. However, a congressional official said the indications are the material ultimately was transmitted appropriately.)

Classified and unclassified systems

The State Department has both classified and unclassified systems — known informally as the “high side” and the “low side.” The classified system has tight controls, often housed in what is known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF); it is not possible to “cut and paste” from the classified system into the unclassified system. Instead, one would have to extract the information from the classified system and then reenter it manually into the unclassified system. Thus far, no one has alleged that happened.

Instead, congressional aides say, the concern centers on the fact that secret information was revealed as part of an email exchange. In at least one case, the discussion started with an aide forwarding a newspaper article; then in subsequent exchanges, aides revealed sensitive details as they discussed (for instance) the shortcomings of that public report. Ultimately the email chain ended up in Clinton’s email box. If the email chain was released, some intelligence officials believe, it would confirm aspects of a secret program.

Clinton’s private email system was designed to deal with the unclassified communications, similar to the unclassified email account. Clinton claims it was for convenience; others suspect it was to prevent reporters or political opponents from easily obtaining her emails through the Freedom of Information Act.

“The use of a home server was the original problem that spawned all of these continuing concerns,” Aftergood said. “Everything that the secretary of state does or says is potentially sensitive, even if it is unclassified, and so it ought to have been protected accordingly. The home server also complicates or undermines records management and document preservation. It was a mistake.”

Clinton’s private email system was discovered when the House Select Committee on Benghazi sought her emails at the time of the 2012 attacks and initially was told none could be found. Ironically, if Clinton had operated from a account, the inquiry would have ended once the Benghazi emails were turned over. Instead, Clinton has been forced to turn over all of her work-related emails for public release — precisely the situation she presumably had hoped to avoid.

The ‘top secret’ communications

So how could information sent on an unclassified system turn out to be “top secret”? The answer is easy — when State Department officials review it in response to a request for public release.

“State’s upgrading process is retroactive,” said one congressional aide. “It’s not a sign of wrongdoing but rather the normal process used by State under all administrations before unclassified documents are made public (usually via FOIA). Often an unclassified email will be retroactively classified to protect foreign and diplomatic communications, for example.”

Yet for intelligence officials, the Clinton controversy has exposed serious shortcomings in how the State Department handles sensitive communications, another congressional aide said. In the view of intelligence officials, State Department officials have been sending highly sensitive information on the unclassified system — with the expectation that if a FOIA request is made, department officials could then redact the emails and prevent any classified information from becoming public.

In other words, at State, the basis for classification appeared to rest more with FOIA than the president’s executive order — which some intelligence officials believe is backward.

Indeed, when State released the first batch of Clinton emails, some in the intelligence community were upset at what had not been redacted in a pair of released emails. As a result, other members of the intelligence community demanded a seat at the table as future redaction determinations were made.

The various intelligence agencies since have been arguing about what should be disclosed, with at least seven email chains (22 separate emails) — and possibly more — labeled as unfit for any public disclosure. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), a member of the House Intelligence Committee who says he has reviewed the emails, told Fox News on Feb. 3 that the emails “do reveal classified methods, they do reveal classified sources, and they do reveal human assets.” Other sources who have viewed the emails do not describe the emails as strongly, though one official said Clinton’s aides might have put their security clearances at risk.

Different government agencies often may disagree about the level of classification. One good example are the memoirs of former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and former vice president Richard B. Cheney. Both discussed a policy debate over North Korea. Cheney mentioned traces of enriched uranium on materials obtained from North Korea — which had been reported years earlier in The Washington Post — after receiving clearance to do so from the CIA. But to her frustration, Rice was not able to mention the uranium, though she wanted to, because the State Department refused to give her clearance — even though the information was already in the public domain.

In one famous case, journalist James Bamford in 1978 received 250 pages of previously classified documents regarding a Justice Department probe of illegal wiretapping performed by the National Security Agency. Two years later, the NSA convinced a new attorney general that the information should be reclassified. The government then demanded that Bamford return the documents or face prosecution. (He published the information anyway and no charges were brought.)

Update: NBC News reported that the State Department Inspector General concluded that classified information also had been transmitted over the personal email accounts of Clinton’s predecessors, Condoleezza Rice and Colin L. Powell.


Finally, we come to Clinton’s excuse — that none of the emails were marked classified. This is a bit of a red herring. Anything marked classified could not be sent through an unclassified system — and officials are supposed to know enough about the sensitivity of communications to recognize material that could be considered classified under the executive order.

The executive order, for instance, says all foreign government information should be presumed to cause damage if disclosed without authorization. In reviewing Clinton’s emails, for instance, the State Department redacted every page of a private communication to Clinton from then-British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

“It is entirely possible for previously unclassified information to be redesignated as classified, as long as it has not already been officially released to the public,” Aftergood noted. “It is also true that the question of public disclosure can drive a decision to classify information that had not been classified up to that point.”

The Pinocchio Test

Clinton is in a pickle here, largely of her own making.

The emails in question were sent on an unclassified system — as they would have been if she had followed standard protocol and used a account. Under State Department practice, a request for public release of her emails would have been subject to the same classification discussion currently underway. Any “top secret” communications would have been withheld.

However, if she did not have a private server, intelligence officials now would not be scrutinizing every single Clinton email for possible public release. That has heightened the scrutiny of what should not be disclosed — and what was discussed in the unclassified system in the first place.

The State Department’s unclassified system is not perfect — the Russians have hacked it — but Clinton’s home server was outside official control or supervision. Moreover, unlike, it did not have dedicated government security personnel responsible for it.

Clinton said, “When you receive information, of course, there has to be some markings, some indication that someone down the chain thought that this was classified and that was not the case.” But that’s only half of the story. Even without markings, officials are supposed to recognize that information passed through an unclassified system might be deemed as classified and should take steps to protect it.

The Clinton campaign has argued that some intelligence officials are now engaged in a game of overclassification. That could well be the case; it’s impossible to know without access to emails that may not be released for years. But this debate would not even be taking place without the decision to set up the private server in the first place.
11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Morris: Hillary and Wall Street (Glass Steagall) on: February 04, 2016, 11:10:27 PM
I must say I am open to the idea of reimposing Glass Steagall.


Hillary's Latest Arrogant Wall Street Lies
Published on on February 4, 2016
At a New Hampshire Town Hall on Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton claimed that Goldman Sachs/Wall Street is not donating to her campaign anymore, implying that they know just how tough she will be on them and won't support her anymore.

That's a big lie.

That huge bonanza is still pouring in. Big time. According to FEC reports, Hillary has received $21.4 million from the financial and insurance industry -- almost 15% of the total $157.8 million she raised. And she's still trolling them for big money. Last week, she left Iowa to attend a hedge fund money raiser in Philadelphia. She has several other Wall Street fundraisers scheduled, but postponed them until after the New Hampshire primary. The optics wouldn't be too good while Bernie is raising the issue.
But she'll be back when she thinks no one is looking.

It's worth noting that Hillary has received a total of $41 million in campaign money from those same folks since she first ran for the Senate in 2000. And the money keeps pouring in.

But it is not just campaign money that Wall Street send her way. They take care of the Clintons personally, too. Since 2013, Hillary has raked in about $3 million in Wall Street speeches.

The $625,000 Goldman Sachs Speeches

Hillary claimed that she took $625,000 in fees from Goldman for 3 speeches since she left the Secretary of State's office in 2013 because "that's what they offered."

That's what they offered?

No, that's what she demanded. That's the regular -- and outrageous -- speaking fee her agent listed. Ten other big banks handed over the same fee. Are we supposed to believe that they each came up with the same outrageous amount on their own? No, that was the price of admission.

And it was a good investment for Goldman Sachs. They know they'll get a good return on it. In one of her pricey speeches to the Wall Street powerhouse, Hillary soothed the friendly bankers, saying "we're all in this together." For Hillary, it's all in the family. Goldman Sachs Chairman Lloyd Blankfein is an investor in Chelsea's husband's hedge fund. Marc Mezvinsky used to work for Goldman.

And Bill cleaned up, too. According to the Associated Press, "during Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state, Bill Clinton earned $17 million in talks to banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, real estate businesses, and other financial firms. Altogether, the couple are estimated to have made over $139 million from paid speeches."

So the Clintons are no stranger to Goldman and Wall Street. In fact, the Clinton Foundation even rented office space from them at one point. That's what friends are for.

Just to help out, though, Goldman's Blankfein called Bernie Sanders "dangerous" on CNBC last week. He knows who he can count on.

What Will Wall Street Get in Return?

The central reform that populists want to impose to stop the big bank gravy train is the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act prohibiting banks from using federally insured deposits to make risky investments.  Hillary opposes reinstatement of the prohibition, which was repealed in 1999 when her husband signed the necessary legislation.  That repeal opened the floodgates for the bank speculation and enabled Goldman to have a very profitable IPO at the same time as the repeal was passing. It's also blamed for the 2008 crash. And, as Elizabeth Warren has pointed out, Hillary sided with the big banks on bankruptcy reform, she'll be there for them again.

Hillary: Every Secretary of State And President Does It

Hillary's campaign has come up with a new, but highly unconvincing, talking point on her speaking fees. Barbara Boxer floated it a few days ago and Hillary repeated it at the Town Hall. Time to try another one. That one won't fly. She told Anderson Cooper that every President and Secretary of State makes large speaking fees. But as Cooper retorted, those people were not running for President.

But she was.
Then came her next big lie: she wasn't sure that she would run for President.

Does anyone on earth really believe that she wasn't running for President? The only reason she didn't announce her candidacy was so she could grab those big fees. And the only reason for the big fees is that she might be President. That's what all the coyness was about.

Hillary lied again and again at the Town Hall and she did it will great arrogance.  She seemed extremely irritated that anyone would dare to challenge her. How dare anyone question her motives!

The late New York Times writer William Safire got it right twenty years ago -- Hillary Clinton is, as he said, a "congenital liar." She hasn't changed.
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Icleand forgives all mortgage debt? on: February 04, 2016, 10:17:46 AM
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: February 04, 2016, 10:12:13 AM
14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen.Ted Cruz on: February 04, 2016, 09:47:18 AM
Well, I'm off shortly for six hours of working with one of America's heroes so not much time, but basically any tax can be changed or increased.  Cruz's proposal was designed by Art Laffer, someone whom I respect, particularly when it comes to tax issues!  I have heard/read Art explain it, and Ted explain it and what I heard made good sense to me.
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary's emails included names of deep undercover CIA agents!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! on: February 04, 2016, 09:43:16 AM
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: February 03, 2016, 10:39:39 PM
That is very funny!

BTW WTF with the Donald asking for a do-over on Iowa because "Cruz cheated"?!?
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 03, 2016, 10:36:34 PM
I confess to being incoherent in the face of all this.
18  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We shouldn't be surprised, but Baraq guilty too! on: February 03, 2016, 10:31:24 PM
19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NRO: Intel folks on the SAPs on Hillary's server on: February 02, 2016, 11:45:45 PM

 shocked shocked shocked  cry cry cry angry angry angry
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Push back on one of the accusations on: February 02, 2016, 11:16:11 PM
21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sandernistas define socialism on: February 02, 2016, 07:59:26 PM
22  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Trump supporter counters on: February 02, 2016, 10:05:13 AM
Ted Cruz wins Iowa, but he won’t be the GOP nominee for president
By Charles Hurt - - Tuesday, February 2, 2016 - The Washington Times.


DES MOINES — Well, that's settled. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will not be the 2016 Republican nominee for president.  At least not if recent history is any guide. It has been 16 years since Republican caucus-goers here have accurately picked the eventual GOP nominee for president. In other words, not once in this entire century has Iowa picked the winner for Republicans.

Ted Cruz joins former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum, who won the caucuses in 2008 and 2012, respectively.
Neither Mr. Huckabee nor Mr. Santorum were able to convert those Iowa victories into any kind of groundswell of support outside the frozen cornfields of Iowa.

Mr. Cruz carefully followed the same playbook deployed in the caucuses won by his predecessors.

First, he built a massive and highly organized grassroots ground game. It was impressive. Also, Mr. Cruz spend significant money and a huge amount of time and energy courting Iowa voters.

Mr. Cruz was handsomely rewarded with the highest number of caucus votes of any Republican in history. Which means he is really popular — in Iowa.
Similarly, Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Santorum bet their entire presidential campaigns on Iowa, and it paid off for them as well. At least, in terms of winning Iowa. In the end, of course, those victories turned out to be meaningless.

Mr. Cruz also followed in the footsteps of previous Iowa winners in that he shamelessly and overtly deployed his religious faith as a guiding — perhaps overriding — reason for electing him. The man was literally quoting scripture during his campaign events. This preaching culminated in the creepy footage of Mr. Cruz directing his supporters to "awaken the body of Christ." Ick.

Obviously, it is a strategy that works in Iowa. But I am also pretty sure that God is not so hot about somebody awakening the body of Christ for personal political purposes. Sounds, well, a little self-centered and diabolical.  And, unfortunately for Mr. Cruz, it doesn't usually work so well going forward. Even in a place like South Carolina where they love their Christian politicians, Mr. Trump is beating Mr. Cruz by 15 points, according to the polls.

The problem for Mr. Cruz is that it is undeniable that Mr. Trump has at least broken through to Christian voters. Many of them trust him and believe that he is serious about fighting for them and protecting religious liberty.

Mr. Cruz's impressive win Monday night, of course, sparked a wildfire of giddy gloating among the Great Punditocracy who find Donald Trump so vulgar and repellent. It is like the only thing that matters to them is winning.

But Donald Trump had the last laugh when he walked out on the stage to deliver his concession speech.

For weeks and months we have been told that Mr. Trump cannot handle losing. His entire campaign is built around winning every time. And if he loses Iowa, we were told again and again and again, Mr. Trump would fall apart. The first chink in his armor would utterly crumple him to the ground.  Only, instead, Mr. Trump came out with his family and delivered a wonderfully gracious and funny and hopeful concession speech and told his supporters how honored he was to come in second place in Iowa.

Alas, the Great Punditocracy keeps alive their perfect streak of being wrong about everything when it comes to Donald J. Trump.

• Charles Hurt can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @charleshurt.
23  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Using birds of prey to take down drones on: February 02, 2016, 09:50:01 AM
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: February 02, 2016, 09:45:25 AM
25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Clintonistas caught cheating at Iowa caucus?; lucky coin flips too on: February 02, 2016, 09:36:32 AM


26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / DHS cuts border surveillance on: February 02, 2016, 09:31:55 AM
27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rupert Murdoch, Huma Abedin, and Saudi prince, sitting in a tree , , , on: February 01, 2016, 07:05:26 PM
Anti-Trump Saudi Prince Tied to Both Rupert Murdoch And Hillary Aide

Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images/AFP
by Lee Stranahan - Breitbart News - 1 Feb 2016
Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch is partnered in multiple media ventures with Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaweed Bin Talal, including an Arabic religious TV network with a direct tie to Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin.
Both Prince Alwaweed Bin Talal and Murdoch’s Fox News network have become vocal critics of GOP Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. On December 11, 2015 Bin Tala took to Twitter to savage Trump:

The Al-Resalah TV network is a venture created by Alwaleed in association with Rupert Murdoch. As The Guardian reported in 2010:

A company headed by the Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal says it plans to launch a new Arabic television news channel in partnership with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox network. The prince said the Kingdom Holding company’s 24-hour channel “will be an addition and alternative” for Arab viewers. It will compete with al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera.

Al-Resalah TV’s stated goal is to “present true Islam” but the network’s programming has been often been radical. As The Sun reported in 2006:

[M]uch of the content on his TV channel is overtly anti-Western. On March 31, the secretary-general of Al-Resalah, Sheik Tareq Al-Suweidan, gave a speech at Dialogue between Europe and Muslims, a convention in Copenhagen that the channel was covering. “The West have done strategic mistakes … they underestimate the power of Islam,” he said. Sheik Suweidan praised the election of Hamas and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, warning: “The West have no chance but to deal with Islam, and we are extending our hands in peace and dialogue – you have slapped it. We do not accept insults.”

According to the official website of Prince Alaweed, one of the members of the Supreme Advisory board for his Al-Resalah TV network is “Dr. Abdullah Naseef, President of World Muslim Congress and President of Forum For Social Studies (FFSS).”

As Breitbart News has extensively documented, Al-Resalah TV  board member Dr. Naseef is the longtime benefactor of top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s family business, the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs.

As Vanity Fair reported:

When (Huma) Abedin was two years old, the family moved to Jidda, Saudi Arabia, where, with the backing of Abdullah Omar Nasseef, then the president of King Abdulaziz University, her father founded the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, a think tank, and became the first editor of its Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, which stated its mission as “shedding light” on minority Muslim communities around the world in the hope of “securing the legitimate rights of these communities.”

It turns out the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs is an Abedin family business. Huma was an assistant editor there between 1996 and 2008. Her brother, Hassan, 45, is a book-review editor at the Journal and was a fellow at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, where Nasseef is chairman of the board of trustees. Huma’s sister, Heba, 26, is an assistant editor at the Journal.

In his early years as the patron of the Abedins’ journal, Nasseef was the secretary-general of the Muslim World League, which Andrew McCarthy () claims “has long been the Muslim Brotherhood’s principal vehicle for the international propagation of Islamic supremacist ideology.”

The Muslim World League was the mother organization of two groups the U.S. government thinks was involved in funneling money to terrorists–the Rabita Trust and the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO). Both groups are listed on the Treasury department’s website of terrorist organizations. Naseef’s Rabita Trust co-founder Wa’el Hamza Julaidan was one of the founders of Al Qaeda.

These connections have been hidden by the mainstream media. Breitbart News demonstrated attempted to muddy the connection between Saudi Arabian raised Huma Abedin and Nassef when questions about Abedin were raised by a group of Congress members in 2012.

It’s been widely reported that Bin Talal is a large investor in Murdoch’s Fox News, but much less attention has been paid to Al-Resalah.

In early 2015, Bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Company reduced his stake in Murdoch’s News Corp to 1 percent but maintains a 6.6 percent interest in 21st Century Fox, which controls Fox News. As CNN Money reported:

News Corp. is Murdoch’s publishing operation, made up of the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal as well as the book publisher HarperCollins. The more valuable 21st Century Fox is home to a host of television and film properties such as Fox Searchlight, the Fox broadcasting network and Fox News.

“We have a strategic alliance with Rupert Murdoch for sure and I have been with him for the last 15 or 20 years,” Alwaleed said. “My backing of Rupert Murdoch is definitely unwavering.”

The connection between Alwaleed, Murdoch, Abedin, Hillary Clinton and Saudi Arabia are troubling given a number of recent events.

Prince Alwaleed is boasting about his role in impacting U.S. elections. As Breitbart News Network’s Aaron Klein reported, the Saudi Arabian news site Sabq claims that “Alwaweed Bin Talal caused a decline in Trump’s popularity.”

 CNN reported in 2008 that “donations to the William J. Clinton Foundation include amounts of $10 million to $25 million from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” Huma Abedin was hired as a consultant to the William J. Clinton Foundation after Clinton left her role as Secretary of State.

Abedin is also at the center of Hillary Clinton’s private email server scandal.

Huma Abedin’s mother currently lives in Saudi Arabia and runs the Journal for Muslim Minority Affairs and is also a dean at a woman’s college there.
28  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife Law on: February 01, 2016, 06:54:04 PM
29  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Mfrg in contraction again on: February 01, 2016, 06:33:07 PM
The ISM Manufacturing Index Rose to 48.2 in January To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 2/1/2016

The ISM manufacturing index rose to 48.2 in January, coming in below the consensus expected level of 48.4. (Levels higher than 50 signal expansion; levels below 50 signal contraction.)

The major measures of activity were mostly higher in January. The new orders index rose to 51.5 from 48.8 while the production index moved higher to 50.2 from 49.9 in December. The supplier deliveries index increased to 50.0 from 49.8. The employment index fell to 45.9 from 48.0 in December.
The prices paid index was unchanged at 33.5 in January.

Implications: It was a real mixed bag report today from the ISM, with the headline index remaining in contraction territory (remember, levels above 50 signal expansion while levels below 50 signal contraction, so a move higher to 48.2 means continued contraction, but at a slower pace than last month), while the major sub-indexes were mostly positive. However, the two most forward looking measures, new orders and production, both returned to levels above 50, signaling growth. Employment was the major drag in January, as the petroleum and coal industry led ten of eighteen manufacturing industries to report declining employment. This comes in contrast to the continued strength in other employment indicators (such as initial claims, which have remained below 300K since February of last year). It’s also important to remember that manufacturing represents a relatively small piece of overall employment. In 2015, manufacturing added an average of 2,500 jobs a month, while the private sector as a whole grew by more than 210,000 jobs monthly. In other words, today’s report does little to change our outlook on Friday’s employment report, where we expect to see significant gains. The modest readings from the ISM manufacturing report since peaking at 58.1 in August 2014, have given some pessimists reason to cheer, but we see no broad-based evidence of a significant slowdown. And remember, the ISM is a survey which can reflect sentiment as much as actual economic activity. As a whole, today’s data continues to highlight a stark contrast in two broad sectors of the economy: services, where the economy is expanding briskly and prices are rising, versus goods, where both growth and inflation are soft to non-existent. Overall activity isn’t booming, but it does continue to plow forward at a modest pace. In other news this morning, construction increased 0.1% in December (-0.5% including downward revisions for October/November). The slight gain in December itself was the by-product of a surge in government projects (paving roads and building bridges) and new home construction, and a large drop in commercial construction, particularly chemical manufacturing facilities, probably related to a drop in oil output.
30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Napolitano sums up the crimes revealed on: February 01, 2016, 06:16:25 PM
31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Rubio Gamble on: February 01, 2016, 11:15:37 AM
The Rubio Gamble
There’s a method to his unusual strategy. It all depends on a strong showing in Iowa.
Sen. Marco Rubio in West Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 27. ENLARGE
Sen. Marco Rubio in West Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 27. Photo: Reuters
By Kimberley A. Strassel
Jan. 28, 2016 6:12 p.m. ET

Marco Rubio is suddenly everywhere in Iowa. He’s campaigning alongside Joni Ernst, the state’s popular senator. He’s in the headlines of the Des Moines Register and Sioux City Journal, both of which endorsed him. He’s playing to standing-room-only crowds, jamming in three or four events a day.

That is a change for the Florida senator—and a carefully planned one. Of all the Republican candidates, none is playing a more complex (or longer) game than Mr. Rubio. Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz are following the conventional route of betting that big early victories will lock in the nomination. Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich are using another classic approach—putting all their chips on one state, hoping to jump-start a move.

Mr. Rubio by contrast is flouting the usual rules, playing everywhere at once and nowhere on top. It’s the Wait Them Out strategy. The plan hinges on edgy calculations and big risks. Yet given the unusual nature of this primary cycle, the approach may prove as plausible as any other.

The first of those Rubio calculations is that he has the ability to finish strong in Iowa. The Rubio team has bided its time in the state, convinced that it is possible to peak too soon. And Iowa voters do tend to be last-minute deciders. Rick Santorum, a few weeks from the 2012 Iowa caucuses, was averaging about 7%; he finished with nearly 25% of the vote. Newt Gingrich, by contrast, saw his numbers tank in the homestretch.

Mr. Rubio’s relatively low-key approach to early campaigning in Iowa all but guaranteed he would never match Trump-Cruz heights. His final, feisty Iowa push is instead designed to produce a surprisingly strong finish that gives him momentum out of the state.

The follow-on Rubio calculation is that the loser of Monday’s Trump-Cruz death match goes into New Hampshire wounded. A Trump loss would certainly inspire a rethink of the real-estate mogul. Mr. Cruz, meanwhile, has based his candidacy on a strong pitch to Iowa’s evangelicals and activists that he is the only true conservative in the race. Yet if Mr. Cruz can’t win in Iowa, of all places, where does he win? He would limp into New Hampshire, where even now he is only polling in the middle of the pack.

Cue the next Rubio calculation—that after Iowa, a lot more votes will be up for grabs. Surveys show that both Mr. Rubio and Mr. Cruz are vying for the same voters. Any Cruz pain is potentially Rubio gain. Meanwhile, a poor showing by Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee will likely knock them out of the race. Iowa also might spell the end for Ben Carson or Rand Paul or Carly Fiorina. Collectively, this latter group commands about 12% of New Hampshire voters—who would be looking for a new candidate.

An Iowa boost for Mr. Rubio would separate him from the Bush/Christie/Kasich scrum, allowing him to present himself as the viable alternative to Mr. Trump or Mr. Cruz, assuming one of them is the front-runner. And the calculation would hold from there on out. Mr. Rubio has been building his presence in all the states that follow Iowa, ready to scoop up voters as other candidates drop out, until it’s a two-man race between him and either Mr. Trump or Mr. Cruz.

If all this sounds tenuous, it is. And plenty can go wrong. Mr. Cruz and Mr. Trump could both finish strong in Iowa, leaving Mr. Rubio an afterthought. The Florida senator is facing an onslaught of negative advertising from his rivals in New Hampshire (Jeb Bush’s super PAC has spent about $20 million attacking him). The barrage will only increase, and weathering it may prove impossible.

Some of Mr. Rubio’s mainstream competitors might stay in the race longer than expected, muddying his two-man hopes. The longer the field stays crowded, the harder it will be for Mr. Rubio to raise the money needed to keep fighting. Even if he gets the two-man race he wants, the specifics matter. Many Republicans think Mr. Trump—given his high negatives—is beatable in a one-on-one match. A Rubio-Cruz face-off, however, could prove a longer, harder battle over who has the better conservative credentials.

What Mr. Rubio may have going for him is time, and timing. This primary cycle is truncated—starting late, moving briskly, ending early. Yet the early section, including the March 1 Super Tuesday voting in more than a dozen states, is stacked with contests that award only “proportional” delegates—the states aren’t winner-take-all. That makes it harder for any one candidate to stand out quickly in the delegate count. The real crunch comes on March 15, when the first winner-take-all states kick in.

And so back to Iowa, where the latest polls show Mr. Rubio inching up, and where his team is fervently hoping that anything in this race is still possible.
32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / State Dept planned to set up separate system for HRC on: February 01, 2016, 11:07:04 AM
33  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russian site claims Russia has Hillary's emails on: February 01, 2016, 10:51:10 AM

The following might be Russian dis-intel, but in light of the preceding, it might not be:
34  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Trump and the Obama Power Temptation on: January 31, 2016, 10:10:38 PM
second post

y Kimberley A. Strassel
Jan. 31, 2016 6:27 p.m. ET

Of all the Republicans campaigning in Iowa, perhaps none is campaigning harder than Ben Sasse, a Republican senator from Nebraska. Mr. Sasse isn’t running for president. He’s running against Donald Trump. The particular focus of his opposition deserves a lot more attention.

Mr. Sasse is a notable voice in this debate. He’s a heavyweight conservative—a grass-roots favorite, the furthest thing from the “establishment.” Before winning his Senate seat in 2014, he had never held elected office. He was the president of Midland University in Fremont, Neb., when he decided that he had to try to get to Washington and help restore the constitutional vision of the Founders.

Which is his point in Iowa: “We have a President who does not believe in executive restraint; we do not need another,” said Mr. Sasse in a statement announcing that he would campaign with Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and other “constitutional candidates.” On Twitter, Mr. Sasse issued a string of serious questions for Mr. Trump, including: “Will you commit to rolling back Exec power & undoing Obama unilateral habit”?

That’s a good question for every Republican candidate. President Obama has set a new lawless standard for Washington that might prove tempting for his successor from another party. Why suffer Democratic filibusters when you can sign an executive order? Why wait two years for legislation when you can make it happen overnight? The temptation to cut constitutional corners would be powerful given the pent-up conservative desire for a Washington overhaul.

Here’s another question for the Republican contenders, a corollary to the Sasse challenge: Do you promise to reject dark power?

How the candidates answer ought to matter to every conservative voter. For almost a decade conservatives have suffered under a liberal movement that has honed the tactic of deploying government against its political opponents.

The Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative nonprofits—after Mr. Obama and Democrats encouraged the tax agency to act. Prosecutors hostile to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker staged predawn raids on conservative activists, part of a secret John Doe probe into bogus campaign-finance violations. Powerful Democratic senators harassed and intimidated conservatives for giving money to free-market groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council. Democrats singled out conservative donors, who found themselves subject to government audits.

The Republican presidential contenders would undoubtedly decry those nefarious acts—and be offended if asked whether they would do the same. Yet power is seductive, and plenty of voters are angry enough to embrace a “Republican Obama”—that is, someone who would go after their perceived political enemies. Witness the Washington Republicans who last year called on the IRS to hound the Clinton Foundation. Somewhere, Lois Lerner was smiling.

Mr. Trump’s broadsides are no doubt part of his allure. But how would he conduct himself in a post-Obama White House? Mr. Trump, after all, doesn’t merely call out opponents; in this campaign he has threatened individuals and organizations for daring to criticize him. In September he sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Club for Growth, promising a “multi-million-dollar” lawsuit if the group didn’t stop running ads in Iowa highlighting his tax ideas.

In December Mr. Trump’s representatives sent a letter threatening litigation to a wealthy Florida businessman, Mike Fernandez, who ran an ad against the candidate in a local newspaper. Another Trump letter threatened to sue a political-action committee backing presidential rival John Kasich. The company, which was selling anti-Trump merchandise, was another object of Mr. Trump’s litigious saber-rattling. He has also threatened lawsuits against newspapers, including this one. Mr. Trump in November threatened to sue The Wall Street Journal if it didn’t retract and apologize for an editorial that criticized him for not understanding the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. The Journal refused, and his lawyer withdrew the threat.

This follows a lifetime of Mr. Trump’s using the judicial branch, or simply the threat of legal action, to try to silence his critics. He (unsuccessfully) sued the author of a book that claimed he wasn’t really a billionaire. He (successfully) sued a Miss USA contestant for claiming the pageant process was “rigged.” He threatened legal action against an activist who had ginned up a campaign to get Macy’s to stop selling Trump-branded products (he didn’t sue in the end).

Sometimes Mr. Trump’s legal actions are less about hushing critics than blocking business competition. He sued New York state for letting bars offer a lottery game that might have cut into his casino revenue. He sued New Jersey for funding a tunnel project that would have funneled more people to a rival casino owner’s resort.

More worrisome is Mr. Trump’s willingness to use government to punish a critic. In September on Fox News, National Review’s Rich Lowry praised GOP candidate Carly Fiorina by saying that in a debate exchange with Mr. Trump, she had “cut his balls off with the precision of a surgeon.” Mr. Trump—who often derides political correctness—called on the Federal Communications Commission to fine Mr. Lowry.

Mr. Trump is a fan of government power generally, as alarmed constitutional conservatives will tell anyone willing to listen. He has never offered deeply considered views about the office of the presidency—on its obligations, the limits of its power, the need to exercise restraint.

“The current administration has resurrected Nixon’s weaponization of the bureaucracies against its opponents,” says Mr. Sasse. “And I don’t have great hope that a guy who brags, ‘If someone screws you, screw them back,’ is going to return to the rule of law.”

Mr. Trump on Friday night last week finally responded, sort of, to Mr. Sasse’s tweeted queries. “@BenSasse looks more like a gym rat than a U.S. Senator. How the hell did he ever get elected?” Mr. Trump tweeted. Mr. Sasse responded: “Thanks. As the sonuva football &wrestling coach, this is high praise.” Then he went back to prodding Mr. Trump about how he would wield power if elected president.

A few of Mr. Trump’s GOP rivals, perhaps caught up in the public anger or desperate to catch him in the polls, have also flirted with suggesting that they would govern beyond the law. Maybe that’s what some voters want. But as those voters weigh their choices, they might spare five minutes to remember the years-long IRS nightmare suffered by dozens of tea party groups, or the fear that grass-roots conservatives felt as Wisconsin police swept into their homes.

Government possesses a terrible power that must be used sparingly. Conservatives should prefer a president who agrees.

Ms. Strassel writes the Journal’s Potomac Watch column.
35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Swedish General: WW3 coming on: January 31, 2016, 09:43:24 PM
36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WaPo: Venezuela on brink of collapse on: January 31, 2016, 09:30:57 PM
37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam in Switzerland on: January 31, 2016, 09:26:05 PM
38  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Not a Trump fan , , , 2.0 on: January 31, 2016, 09:05:17 PM
39  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! on: January 31, 2016, 03:42:53 PM

40  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: 40 years of Buckley v. Valeo on: January 31, 2016, 03:27:18 PM

By Bradley Smith
Jan. 29, 2016 5:58 p.m. ET

Hillary Clinton has tons of cash, but she can’t shake off Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump keeps threatening to spend his own money, but he hasn’t had to use much of it. He’s leading the Republican field, feasting on free media coverage, while spending a fraction of what his rivals, and super PACs promoting them, have spent. If his rivals hadn’t been able raise large sums the GOP race would probably be over—Mr. Trump’s celebrity, name recognition and charisma would already have carried the day.

Apparently oblivious to the failure of “big money” to dictate the race, the goo-goos—the good-government crowd—have cranked up the same theme they use every election year. “We must,” they say, “have campaign finance reform.” We must “get money out of politics.” The Supreme Court must reverse its 2010 decision in Citizens United and allow “reasonable” regulation of campaign finance.

But what would “reasonable” regulation actually look like? Well, we have an idea, because once, not that long ago, Congress passed “reasonable” regulation.

Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most momentous Supreme Court decisions: Buckley v. Valeo. In Buckley, the Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act that threatened core First Amendment freedoms. The 1976 decision is as important to democracy as 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education is to education and civil rights. Its anniversary is a time for reflection on what might lie ahead if “reformers” get their way.

Many Americans vaguely favor “campaign finance reform.” It is only when such reform gets specific that people realize—often too late—that they themselves are the targets of that reform.

Consider the law that Buckley struck down. The Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974 limited spending by candidates, even though there is substantial evidence—including a 2011 study in the Journal of Politics by Chris W. Bonneau and Damon M. Cann—that limits on campaign spending benefit incumbents. Buckley struck down those limits.

The 1974 FECA Amendments also capped citizens’ election spending—just $1,000 on communications (about $4,800 adjusted for inflation) “relative to” a candidate was allowed. This limit applied to political-action committees, to individuals and to groups like the Humane Society and National Rifle Association. Unions and businesses were prohibited from spending money to voice opinions “in connection with” an election.

Another provision limited how much groups could spend or contribute “for the purpose of influencing” elections without first registering with, and reporting the names of their members to, the government.

By the time Buckley was filed in 1975, the Nixon administration had already used the law’s vague language to prosecute a group of citizens who bought an ad in the New York Times calling for Nixon’s impeachment.

Buckley struck down these provisions of the law.

Imagine a world in which citizens are prohibited from spending their own money to voice and distribute their political opinions on issues and candidates separately from those candidates’ own campaigns. A world in which challengers are prohibited from spending enough to inform voters about why incumbents should be voted out of office; and where unions and trade groups are prohibited from spending money to explain how election results might affect members, employees or the economy.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1975 upheld these provisions of the law. In a remarkable opinion, it said that “reforms” should not be rejected merely “because they might have some incidental, not yet defined effect on First Amendment freedoms.” Protecting free speech, the court said, was like Aesop’s famous dog “losing his bone going after its deceptively larger reflection in the water.”

Buckley brought the worst of this madness to a halt. The Supreme Court noted that “the concept that government may restrict the speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others is wholly foreign to the First Amendment, which was designed to . . . assure unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people.”

The court struck down the limitations on what citizens and the organizations they belong to could spend to voice political views “relative to” candidates. Had Buckley not been decided as it was, virtually all political information today would have to be filtered through officeholders, politicians and the institutional press, with ordinary citizens as mere bystanders.

Some claim that Buckley held that money is speech—but that’s not quite right. What the court recognized is that by limiting money you can limit an activity. Limit what you may spend on fuel, and your right to travel freely is restricted. Limit what can be spent to express political views, and you limit the reach of those views and the number of people who will hear them.

Unfortunately, the court in Buckley upheld some provisions of the law. Thus the government still demands information on Americans’ political associations when they open their wallets. Contributions to candidates and parties remain subject to low limits that reduce the number of viable challengers, force officeholders to spend more time raising funds, and restrict the ability of citizens to directly support a candidate’s campaign. But absent Buckley’s core holding—that Americans have a right to spend their own money to voice their own opinions—true democracy would be pretty much unimaginable.

Mr. Smith is the chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics. He previously was chairman of the Federal Election Commission.
41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trump on Smaug on: January 31, 2016, 03:13:38 PM
42  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / About fg time! Passage rights asserted again on: January 31, 2016, 03:02:55 PM
43  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: January 30, 2016, 11:45:12 PM
Looking for the post of an article on why technically speaking Hillary is not "being investigated"  (roughly FBI needs DOJ on board for it to be called such)
44  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Good shot on: January 30, 2016, 11:44:21 PM
45  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Maybe they can bunk together? on: January 30, 2016, 11:37:33 PM
46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FOX is big Hillary donor?!? on: January 30, 2016, 11:34:19 PM
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / MEF: Iran still fuct on: January 30, 2016, 11:17:08 PM
No Prosperity for Iran after Nuclear Deal
by David P. Goldman
Asia Times
January 27, 2016
As a matter of arithmetic, Iran is flat broke at the prevailing price of hydrocarbons. Under the P5+1 nuclear deal, Iran will recoup somewhere between $55 and $150 billion of frozen assets, depending on whether one believes the Secretary of the US Treasury or one's own eyes. The windfall is barely enough to tide Iran over for the next two years.

P5+1 nuclear diplomacy with Iran went forward on the premise that Iran would trade its strategic ambitions in the region for economic prosperity. The trouble is that prosperity is not a realistic outcome for Iran, which has nothing to gain by abandoning its strategic adventures.

Iran now exports 1.2 million barrels a day of oil. At $30 a barrel, that's $14 billion year (and perhaps a bit more, given that some Iranian light crude goes at a higher price). Iran also sold (as of 2014) about 9.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas, which might bring in another $4 billion at today's market prices.
As of 2014, the Iranian government spent $63 billion a year, according to western estimates. No data is available for 2015, and the Iran Central Bank doesn't publish data past mid-2013. That brought in a bit over $40 billion a year (not counting gas exports). Iran has a $40 billion hole to fill. Unfrozen assets will tide the country over for a couple of years, but won't solve its problems. This year Iran plans to spend $89 billion, the government announced Dec. 22.

Iran's windfall from the nuclear agreement will barely tide it over for the next two years.

Iran's government plans to raise taxes across the board, supposedly to decrease dependency on oil in the government budget. But tax revenues for the fiscal year starting March 2016 are estimated at only $28 billion. Even under the assumption that Iran can sell $22 billion worth of oil, the budget gap will rise to about $40 billion, or about 10% of GDP. In nominal dollar terms, Iran's GDP shrank from $577 billion to $415 billion in 2014, and almost certainly shrank further in 2015.

None of the big projects now under discussion will move the needle far from the empty mark. The long-discussed Iran-Pakistan pipeline might produce revenues of about $3.5 billion a year under ideal conditions, and Iran would pocket a fraction of that.

In December, Iran said that it hoped to increase oil production by 500,000 barrels, earning $22 billion a year, a 50% increase from its present rate. But on Jan. 16, Iran's oil minister Bijan Zaganeh told an incredulous CNN interviewer that it would boost oil output by 1.6 million barrels a day by the end of 2016. Most experts believe that Iran can't pump that much oil if it wanted to, and if it did, it couldn't sell it if it tried.

There are a lot of countries that need to sell more oil, notably Russia. Russia's oil exports to China now exceed Saudi Arabia's. China has good reasons to buy more from Russia, given the convergence of Russian and Chinese strategic objectives in Syria and elsewhere. China clearly wants to improve relations with Iran. President Xi Jinping's Jan. 23 visit to Tehran featured an agreement to increase trade by $600 billion over the next ten years. The question is not whether China wants to trade with Iran, but whether Iran can pay for it. Like Russia, China fears the expansion of radical Sunni Islam in the region, with the potential to spill over into China's Western province of Xinjiang. There are no Shia Muslims in Russia or China, and Iran's sponsorship of Shia jihadists is of little concern to the two Asian powers.

It seems unlikely that China would shift oil purchases away from Russia to Iran in order to help the Tehran regime. China will invest in Iranian extraction, petrochemicals, and infrastructure, but even the most optimistic projections won't do much for Iran's finances.

Unless oil prices rise sharply, Iran's windfall from the P5+1 deal will cover two years' worth of deficits, with little left over for urgently-needed maintenance of existing oil and gas capacity. That may explain why the Tehran regime has played down the importance of the nuclear agreement with the West. The end of sanctions is unlikely to yield much improvement in ordinary Iranians' conditions of live, and the government did not want to raise expectations.

Iran's economy is bad stressed. The official unemployment rate is 11%, but only 37% of the population is considered economically active, an extremely low ratio given the concentration of Iran's population in working-age brackets. Some social indicators are alarming. The number of marriages has fallen by 20% since 2012. "In Iran, the customary marriage age range is 20-34 for men and 15-29 for women...46% of men and 48% of women in those age ranges remain unmarried," according to the national statistics agency. So-called "white marriage," or cohabitation out of wedlock, is so common and controversial that the regime banned a women's magazine last year for reporting on it.

The end-of-sanctions bonanza won't lift Iran out of the economic doldrums.

Economic problems explain part of the falling marriage rate, but the corrosion of traditional values also is a factor. Iranian researchers estimated late in 2015 that one out of eight Iranian women was infected by chlamydia, a common venereal disease that frequently causes infertility. According to the Center for Disease Control, one out of 170 American women carry the infection. The combination of falling marriage rates and epidemic rates of venereal infection point to a society that is losing cohesion. Iran's theocratic leaders are too prissy to gaze at statues of nudes in Italy, but they are presiding over a disintegration of family values unlike anything in the world.

That is especially disappointing to the regime, which has tried to raise Iran's fertility rate from just 1.6 children per female by offering incentives to prospective parents and by reducing availability of contraceptives. If anything, Iran's demographic spiral seems likely to worsen. Iran's population is already aging faster than any in the world, and the young generation's rejection of family life points to catastrophic economic problems twenty years from now.
From a financial vantage point, Iran faces something of a Red Queen effect: it needs more money from abroad merely in order to stay in place, that is, to maintain its existing energy infrastructure. The end-of-sanctions bonanza saves Iran from an economic crash after the oil price collapse, but it doesn't lift the country out of the doldrums.

David P. Goldman is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the Wax Family Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
48  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Grannis: Yield curve says no recession on: January 30, 2016, 11:02:50 PM
49  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Welcome to the age of the Commando on: January 30, 2016, 10:57:14 PM
Welcome to the Age of the Commando

A FEW months ago, my wife and I had dinner with a couple we didn’t know very well. It was awkward at first, but there was wine, and conversation soon followed. At one point, the wife asked about my tour in Iraq, where I served four years as a cavalry officer. I began talking about the desert, the tribal politics and the day-to-day travails of counterinsurgency. “That’s all fine,” the husband interrupted. “But tell us about the super-soldiers. The Special-Ops guys. That’s what people care about.”

He had no time for “G.I. Joe.” He wanted “American Sniper.”

He is not alone. The mythos of Special Operations has seized our nation’s popular imagination, and has proved to be the one prism through which the public will engage with America’s wars. From the box office to bookstores, the Special Ops commando — quiet and professional, stoic and square-jawed — thrives. That he works in the shadows, where missions are classified and enemy combatants come in silhouettes of night-vision green, is all for the better — details only complicate. We like our heroes sanitized, perhaps especially in murky times like these.

The age of the commando, though, is more than pop cultural fantasy emanating from Hollywood. It’s now a significant part of our military strategy.

Last month the White House announced the nomination of Gen. Joseph L. Votel to lead United States Central Command, which is responsible for military operations in 20 countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Syria and Saudi Arabia — in other words, the hotbed of our geopolitical conflicts. General Votel has been the head of the military’s Special Operations Command since 2014. His Central Command nomination represents a break in tradition; it has almost always gone to generals of more conventional backgrounds. Military analysts hailed it as a sign of the Obama administration’s trust in, and reliance on, Special Operations.

Special Operations Command, or Socom, oversees all Special Operations Forces — our Delta Force operators, Navy SEALs, Green Berets, Army Rangers, among others. Special Operations personnel deployed to approximately 139 nations in 2015 — about 70 percent of the countries on the planet. While a vast majority of those missions involve training the defense forces of partner countries, a few involve direct combat.

In December, Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter announced at a House hearing that an “expeditionary targeting force” will be sent to Iraq to conduct raids on top Islamic State targets. They’ll be joining the roughly 3,500 troops already there working as advisers and trainers. President Obama seems desperate to strike a balance between doing nothing in the region and not reneging on his “no boots on the ground” promises.

Clearly, commandos have boots, and those boots touch the ground. But White House officials have taken to what a report in this newspaper recently called “linguistic contortions” to obscure the forces’ combat roles.

As the military as a whole downsizes, Special Ops recruitment continues to rise. There are approximately 70,000 Special Ops personnel today, a number that includes soldiers, civilians, National Guard and Reservists, as well. This number is up from 45,600 in 2001 and 61,400 in 2011. Still, Adm. William H. McRaven — then the head of Socom — told Congress in 2014 that “the force has continued to fray” from the endless deployment cycles. In response, the Army alone last year put out a call for 5,000 new Special Ops candidates.

In the political sense, the policy works. The secrecy surrounding Special Ops keeps the heavy human costs of war off the front pages. But in doing so, it also keeps the nonmilitary public wholly disconnected from the armed violence carried out in our name. It enables our state of perpetual warfare, and ensures that as little as we care and understand today, we’ll care and understand even less tomorrow.

Special Operations are not a panacea. Just as SWAT teams can’t fulfill their purpose without everyday beat cops on corners, operators can’t and don’t function in a vacuum. Many a military analyst has compared our current “counterterror” approach to a Band-Aid; while effective, that effectiveness has no clear end state. And recent history suggests an overreliance on our commandos can lead to tragedy. In 1993, in Somalia, Special Operations seemed a cure-all, too. Then came the battle of Mogadishu. Same with 1980 and Operation Eagle Claw, as we desperately tried to end the Iran hostage crisis. The former led to a short-lived retreat from international intervention, the latter to the very creation of Socom.

Further, like a postmodern Praetorian Guard, our operators don’t serve at the will of the American people. Though Congress holds the purse strings for Special Operations, decisions about individual missions are not generally put before them for approval. Individual force commanders overwhelmingly make those calls. While Mr. Obama has proved cautious in authorizing their use, the next commander in chief might not be so prudent.

Clear away the smoke and romance, and Special Ops often function as highly trained kill squads sent out into the beyond in the name of country. They are the best there is at that. But this strategy ensures a recurring cycle of armed conflict, a decision of such significance that all citizens need to be weighing it and considering it, not just a select few.

My own experience with Special Ops is mixed. I didn’t have many positive encounters with them overseas. As part of the fabled surge in Iraq, my scout platoon and I patrolled a rural town north of Baghdad for 15 months on a counterinsurgency mission that often seemed to conflict with that of the operators.

IN early 2008 we were called to a farm to help pick up the pieces after a commando raid. A tribal leader claimed that two of his lieutenants had been taken by mistake by “the other Americans, the ones with helicopters.” Those other Americans, the tribal leader told me, said that the two Iraqis were brothers, and members of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Now we were left to explain to the men’s family why they were gone, why their house had been cycloned, and why a placard of Mecca had been torn from a wall, and receive the hard stares from those men’s children as we stood over a dead pet dog that had been shot during the raid.

I didn’t tell that story to our dinner companions, though. Instead I talked about a visit I made to Tacoma, Wash., in 2011, when I got to know the other side of these other Americans. I’d left the military and was now a writer, or trying to be one. A college friend and his Ranger unit were returning from Afghanistan, and I had visions of writing a tale of young men constantly at war but in between battles.

The Rangers, the Special Ops unit that Pat Tillman left his N.F.L. career in 2002 to join, is a proving ground of sorts, and attracts many younger soldiers. Though designed in part as an elite light infantry for airfield seizures, the Rangers have seen their purpose morph: More than ever, kill-or-capture raids are their raison d’être. They’re the fullbacks of the Special Ops world, all brute force and power, as memorialized in the film “Black Hawk Down”: “We get on the five-yard line,” a Ranger officer tells a dismissive Delta soldier, “you’re going to need my Rangers.”

The days in Tacoma were spent trying (and failing) to get the Rangers’ public affairs office to approve on-post access. The nights in Tacoma were mostly spent in bars with young Rangers looking to unwind from their last tour while also prepping for the next one. They described the routine: three to six months deployed, three to six months stateside, rinse and repeat. Elizabeth Samet, who teaches English at West Point, calls these service members “war commuters.” More than one observer in Tacoma, including some partners and spouses, termed it an addiction.

If that was true — and it didn’t apply to many, in my estimation — they’d have their reasons.

A number of Rangers I met joked that vampires saw more light than they did during their deployments. I came to see these young men in a way I hadn’t when I’d worn the uniform myself, because of the way they embraced the endlessness of it all. They weren’t fighting for resolution, as we’d been in Iraq, or how we thought we’d been. Peace over there wasn’t their goal. Calm back here was.

I didn’t agree with that worldview, not at all. But I still appreciated it.

On Super Bowl Sunday, my friend and I were invited to watch the game with a group of older sergeants. It seemed that most had already settled into their stateside lives, sharing diaper responsibilities with their wives, swapping war stories with one another in between.

While the adults watched the game, kids ran around with Nerf guns as big as they were. This was no Cowboys and Indians. They were playing “Rangers and Rangers.” They all wanted to be like Daddy, and none were willing to play the role of an Al Qaeda jihadist, even in pretend.

The baby-faced Ranger privates I helped sneak into bars in 2011 are hardened sergeants by now. The sergeants I met are either in charge of entire Ranger companies or have moved into the so-called black units of Socom, like Delta Force. They remain anonymous silhouettes to the country they serve, not just because their bosses at the Pentagon want it that way, but because we do, too.

The other Americans, indeed.
50  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New Yor Magazine on Donald over the decades on: January 30, 2016, 10:45:44 PM
Remarkable article   shocked
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