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51  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Oregon shooter's profile on: October 02, 2015, 11:03:27 AM
52  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Russian planes hit ISIS on: October 02, 2015, 11:00:02 AM

By James Marson And
Olga Razumovskaya
Updated Oct. 2, 2015 8:06 a.m. ET

MOSCOW—Russian warplanes made their first incursion into Islamic State’s home base, as Moscow continued a bombardment of Syria that one official said Friday could last for months.

Russian aircraft flew 18 sorties in the last 24 hours, attacking 12 Islamic State positions, Russia’s defense ministry said, and destroying command posts, a communication hub and a weapons store.

Twelve Islamic State fighters, including two commanders, one from Tunisia and the other from Iraq, were killed near the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition-backed monitoring group.

The U.S. has accused Russia of targeting other groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, including some U.S.-backed rebels. Russia says it is targeting Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, as well as other “terrorist groups.”

Russian aircraft destroyed an Islamic State command post and communications hub in Aleppo province—where rebel groups, the Syrian government and Islamic State all have a strong presence—and hit a field camp in Idlib province, a majority of which is rebel-held, according the Defense Ministry.

    Russian Airstrikes Defend Assad Stronghold
    Putin Holds the Cards in Europe’s Crises
    Saudis: Russia’s Move Risks Aiding Militants

Russian strikes also hit and destroyed a concealed command post in a district to the southwest of Raqqa, the ministry said.

The Observatory’s Rami Abdel Rahman, whose organization tracks developments in Syria’s conflict via a network of activists on the ground, said the areas hit by Russian rockets were near the Tabaqa military airport and to the west of the city.

At least nine strikes in total hit Raqqa city and its outskirts on Thursday night, the Observatory said in a report on its website, though it remained unclear how many of the strikes were launched by the Russians and how many by the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition that has been bombing extremists there since last fall.

The province of Raqqa is almost entirely under the group’s control and is the base from which the Sunni Muslim extremist group last summer launched its offensive on bordering Iraq.

The Russian Defense Ministry said its aircraft were using onboard navigation and target-acquisition systems to allow them to carry out strikes “with absolute precision.”

“With the use of such aircraft, strikes can be carried out on terrorist positions on the whole territory of Syria,” the statement said.

Analysts and officials have said Russia’s attacks may be a prelude to sweeping military operations against all of Mr. Assad’s foes. Iran and Shiite militias such as Hezbollah are already supporting Syrian forces and Tehran said Thursday that it backed joint military action in Syria.

An Iranian diplomat told Russia’s Interfax news agency that there was “no need to send military units” to Syria, but that Iranian military advisers were present there. “Iran always supports Hezbollah, and Hezbollah now supports Syria, led by President al-Assad,” the unidentified diplomat was cited as saying.

Russia’s campaign could last three to four months, Alexei Pushkov, the head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament, said.

“There is always a risk of being bogged down, but in Moscow, we are talking about an operation of three to four months,” Mr. Pushkov told French radio Europe 1, adding that the intensity of the strikes was important.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to meet leaders of France, Germany and Ukraine for talks in Paris, where Syria is expected to be a major topic of conversation.

The strikes could further destabilize Syria, driving more people to seek refuge in Europe just as a huge tide of refugees is already sowing political discord on the continent.

They also complicate efforts by the U.S.-led coalition. Two Pentagon officials conducted an hour-long video teleconference with their Russian counterparts on Thursday to discuss how to ensure that aircraft operations didn't conflict with one another.

While the two sides didn't agree to how to do that, Pentagon officials and Russia’s Defense Ministry said the call was productive.

Mr. Pushkov criticized the Western coalition for having bombed the positions of Islamic State for a year with “no results.”

Russia’s airstrike campaign was swiftly approved by parliament Wednesday after the president’s request to permit the country’s military involvement abroad. Initially the Russian president said the airstrikes would be limited, but would last for the duration of the Syrian army’s offensive.

—Karen Leigh in Dubai and Dana Ballout in Beirut contributed to this article.
53  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gun Shot Demographics on: October 02, 2015, 10:56:25 AM
With the bodies still warm and the facts still unknown, yesterday the President called for politicizing the issue. Choose carefully what you ask for , , ,
54  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: October 02, 2015, 09:58:15 AM
Very interesting; so in accord with what I have been saying here for several years now that I wonder if the author is yet another secret lurker here  cheesy

That said on a quick read of this long article I find his references to "supply side" to be utterly incoherent.
55  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Warren forces resignation of scholar on: October 02, 2015, 09:52:29 AM

By James Freeman
Updated Oct. 2, 2015 7:32 a.m. ET

At least some Democrats are resisting Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s purge of the liberal intelligentsia. This week Ms. Warren succeeded in forcing the resignation of respected scholar Robert Litan from the Brookings Institution after he revealed that a new Labor Department regulation could cost investors billions. Now five Democratic economists have authored a letter to protest Warren’s bullying. Robert Lawrence of Harvard’s Kennedy School and Bowman Cutter of the Roosevelt Institute are among those writing “to express our concern over our colleague Bob Litan’s treatment at the hands of the Brookings Institution and Senator Elizabeth Warren.” Also signing the letter are Everett Ehrlich, Joseph Minarik and Hal Singer.
Morning Editorial Report

Click here to receive Opinion headlines and James Freeman’s commentary via email.

Ms. Warren had falsely claimed that Mr. Litan had been “vague” about the funding for research showing the new regulation would limit choices and raise costs for investors. In fact, he had clearly disclosed that it was sponsored by a financial-services company. According to the new letter from Democratic economists, “Businesses sometimes finance policy research much as advocacy groups or other interests do. A reader can question the source of the financing on all sides, but ultimately the quality of the work and the integrity of the author are paramount. In Bob’s Litan’s case, both have been impeccable over a career of four decades. And, in keeping with those standards, he has been completely transparent about the support for, and conduct of, the study in question, as both Brookings and Senator Warren were well aware from the day he first testified before the Congress on the matter.”

The letter adds that “Senator Warren’s approach (and Brookings’ complicity with it) threatens ad hominem attack on any author who may be associated with an industry or interest whose views are contrary to hers. Those who differ with Litan instead should offer a substantive rebuttal to the paper in question, which would do much more to clarify the issue than implicitly depicting him as being inherently corrupted by the sponsorship of his work.”
56  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / From 19 years ago on: October 02, 2015, 09:40:34 AM
From The NYT, January 5th, 1996

After nearly two years of searches and subpoenas, the White House said this evening that it had unexpectedly discovered copies of missing documents from Hillary Rodham Clinton's law firm that describe her work for a failing savings and loan association in the 1980's.

The newly discovered documents are copies of billing records from the Rose firm, where Mrs. Clinton helped represent Madison Guaranty, a savings and loan run by James B. McDougal, the Clintons' business partner in the Whitewater land venture. The originals are still missing. Investigators have been seeking the documents to determine the role Mrs. Clinton played in the firm's representation of the savings and loan.
57  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: October 01, 2015, 08:08:55 PM
Most of the time the polls covered are of Rep primary voters or some sub-category like that.  I would like to see more polls of ALL voters, especially of one-on-one match ups.
58  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama stabs Bibi in back on: October 01, 2015, 08:07:18 PM
59  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Strassel: Hillary email lies checklist on: October 01, 2015, 07:41:48 PM
By Kimberley A. Strassel
Oct. 1, 2015 6:46 p.m. ET

Hillary Clinton hopes you are busy. Hillary Clinton hopes you are confused. Hillary Clinton hopes the endless stories about her private email server—and her endless, fabulist explanations—will make your head hurt, make your eyes cross, make you give up trying to figure it out.

All you really need to know at this point is this: Pretty much every claim Mrs. Clinton made at her initial March news conference, and since then, is false. In the spirit of keeping it simple, here’s the Complete Busy Person’s Guide to the Clinton Email Scandal. Stick it on the fridge.

Why she kept a private server.

Clinton: It was for “convenience.” “I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.”

Truth: Mrs. Clinton’s team acknowledged in July that she traveled with both a BlackBerry and an iPad while secretary of state, and that she had her private email set up on both.

Why she finally gave her emails to the State Department.

Clinton: “What happened . . . is that the State Department sent a letter to former secretaries of state, not just to me, asking for some assistance in providing any work-related emails that might be on the personal email.” In other words, this was a routine records request.

Truth: In late September, State Department spokesman John Kirby said that “in the process of responding to [Congress’s Benghazi investigation], State Department officials recognized that it had access to relatively few email records from former Secretary Clinton.” So they contacted her “during the summer of 2014 to learn more about her email use and the status of emails in that account.” Only then did the department realize that it was also missing emails from other secretaries. It didn’t contact them until October 2014.

What she turned over.

Clinton: “I . . . provided all my emails that could possibly be work-related.”

Truth: In June Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal turned over to Congress his own store of Clinton correspondence, which included emails she hadn’t provided to the State Department. Last week the government found by its own means emails she had sent to Gen. David Petraeus, which Mrs. Clinton also hadn’t surrendered. Her campaign now admits that there is a two-month gap from the beginning of her tenure as secretary of state, when she was using her private email address but not her personal server. All the emails from that time period are missing, and the Clinton team says it has no idea where they are.

What is in State Department records.

Clinton: “It was my practice to communicate with State Department and other government officials on their .gov accounts so those emails would be automatically saved in the State Department system to meet record-keeping requirements.”

Truth: Mrs. Clinton’s top aides, including her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and Huma Abedin, had private email addresses, which she used to correspond with them. Ms. Abedin’s email was also housed on the Clinton server. The State Department release on Wednesday of 6,300 pages of Clinton correspondence features one email in which she specifically asks an aide, not Ms. Abedin, for her Gmail address. In another 2011 email, an aide wrote to Mrs. Clinton expressing concern about the State Department’s outdated technology and just how many employees use private email: “NO ONE uses a State-issued laptop and even high officials routinely end up using their home email accounts to be able to get their work done quickly.” Mrs. Clinton—from her private email—agrees that it is a problem.

Classified information.

Clinton: “There is no classified material” on the private server.

Truth: The latest State Department document dump now brings to more than 400 the number of Clinton emails that contain classified information. They touch on everything from spy satellites, to drone strikes to Iranian nuclear discussions. The Clinton team contends that these emails were not stamped classified until after the fact. But intelligence experts note many were “born” classified—that is, the nature of the information required that they be handled as classified from the start.


Clinton: The server “had numerous safeguards. It was on property guarded by the Secret Service. And there were no security breaches.”

Truth: The Clinton emails released this week show that her server was attacked at least five times by hackers linked to Russia. It is unclear whether she clicked on any email attachments and put her account at risk. Mrs. Clinton’s server meanwhile sat for many months in a private data center in New Jersey, accessible to people who lacked security clearances. Thumb-drive copies of her email were also unsecured for months, while in the possession of her lawyer, David Kendall. And classified email she sent to aides on their private accounts is now sitting on Google and AOL servers.


Clinton (on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sept. 27): “I think I have done all that I can . . . to be as transparent as possible.”

Truth: Give her marks for this one. Mrs. Clinton is undoubtedly being as transparent as Mrs. Clinton can possibly be.

Write to
60  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: How Baraq could salvage his hapless ISIS strategy on: October 01, 2015, 07:37:56 PM
How Obama Could Salvage His Hapless ISIS Strategy
Sunni Arabs, trained by the U.S. in the Kurdish region of Iraq, could form an effective fighting force.
A mosque destroyed by Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq. ENLARGE
A mosque destroyed by Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq. Photo: Uncredited/Associated Press
By Max Boot And
Michael Pregent
Sept. 30, 2015 7:07 p.m. ET

Even as Russia launched airstrikes Wednesday against rebel forces in Syria, Obama administration officials and U.S. military leaders claim that the campaign against Islamic State is working. The facts suggest otherwise.

Commanders can point to more than 22,000 sorties flown by U.S. aircraft over Iraq and Syria since the campaign began in August 2014. But fewer than one-third of those flights have dropped bombs. That’s because no U.S. air controllers are allowed on the ground to call in targets. In Afghanistan in 2001, where such controllers were present, the U.S. averaged 86 strike sorties a day; in Iraq in 2003, 596; in Libya in 2011, 46. In Iraq and Syria today, there are on average 11 strike sorties a day.

U.S. Central Command, which is accused by its own intelligence analysts of skewing intelligence, claims that between August 2014 and April 2015, Islamic State, also known as ISIS, “can no longer operate freely in roughly 25 to 30 percent of populated areas of Iraqi territory where it once could.” Note the timing of that assessment: It was delivered before Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, and Palmyra, an ancient city in central Syria, fell to ISIS in May.

It’s true that in the past year ISIS lost control of the Iraqi town of Tikrit and of some territory in northern Syria, notably the border town of Kobani. But Iraqi forces have made no progress in taking back the far more important cities of Fallujah, Ramadi or Mosul. Much of eastern Syria remains securely in the hands of ISIS. And now ISIS is claiming “provinces” as far away as Libya and Afghanistan.

Central Command says its military operations have killed more than 12,000 ISIS fighters. Yet assessments of ISIS’s overall strength, at 20,000 to 30,000 fighters, remain unchanged, because more than 1,000 foreign fighters a month are joining ISIS, more than making up for its losses.

ISIS is not invincible. Whenever it has run into a disciplined military force supported by U.S. air power, as in Kobani or Tikrit, it has been defeated. The problem is that the U.S. has neither put enough of its own forces on the ground (only 3,000 in noncombat roles in Iraq) nor succeeded in training enough indigenous personnel. On Sept. 16, Gen. Lloyd Austin, head of Central Command, told Congress that, incredibly, there are only “four or five” American-trained rebel fighters currently fighting in Syria.

The training program is falling short of expectations because the U.S. has done a poor job of providing incentives for Sunnis to fight ISIS. Both Baghdad and Damascus are dominated by Iran and its murderous proxies such as Hezbollah and the Badr Corps—groups that make many Sunnis see ISIS as the lesser evil.

Yet the U.S. insists that Syrian fighters battle only ISIS, not dictator Bashar Assad’s forces or Iran’s proxies, and that Iraqi fighters subordinate themselves to an Iranian-dominated chain of command. At the same time, by providing money and arms to the Baghdad government, the U.S. is subsidizing the Iranian takeover of substantial portions of Iraq. Iraq has even joined a new pact with Russia, Syria and Iran intended to keep Mr. Assad in power under the guise of fighting ISIS. Russia’s role—and its warplanes above Syrian territory—further marginalizes U.S. influence.

Maybe it’s time for a different approach.

Washington could announce that as long as the government in Baghdad continues to pursue a sectarian strategy in cooperation with Iranian-backed terrorist groups such as Kataib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq it will no longer receive U.S. support.

Central Command could then relocate U.S. personnel to the Kurdish north, a relatively safe area where they can train a nonsectarian force to take back Mosul. This force would be composed primarily of Sunni Arabs, many of whom are already refugees in the Kurdish region, because only Arabs can take and hold Arab areas.

Considering how few ISIS fighters are holding Mosul (we estimate 3,000 to 6,000 men), a force of 30,000 Sunni soldiers assisted by U.S. air power and embedded American advisers should be enough for “clear and hold” operations.

Once Mosul is taken, a new Sunni force could be trained to take back Anbar province. If a Sunni revolt against ISIS has success in Iraq, it will shatter that organization’s aura of invincibility and likely spread across the border. And if the U.S. is willing to fight against the Assad regime as well as ISIS, Syrian rebels will be more likely to sign up for training in newly liberated parts of Iraq.

This is admittedly a risky strategy that runs the danger of strengthening Iran’s hold over Baghdad in the short run. But Iran is already the dominant player in Baghdad. It is just possible that if the U.S. were to show that it’s not wedded to supporting the existing power brokers in Baghdad, they may take the hard steps necessary to accommodate Sunnis.

The anti-ISIS campaign has no hope of success as long as Sunnis refuse to mobilize en masse. The strategy we propose offers a way to achieve that goal. The current approach doesn’t.

Mr. Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, is the author of “Invisible Armies” (Liveright, 2013). Mr. Pregent, a retired U.S. Army intelligence officer, is a visiting fellow at National Defense University.
61  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Henninger: Trump-- odd man out. on: October 01, 2015, 07:35:29 PM
 By Daniel Henninger
Sept. 30, 2015 7:44 p.m. ET

The oddest moment in the second GOP debate was when the first thing Donald Trump did was to launch an assault on Sen. Rand Paul, who was standing about three miles away at the end of the podiums: “Well, first of all, Rand Paul shouldn’t even be on this stage. He’s number 11, he’s got 1% in the polls, and how he got up here, there’s far too many people anyway.” Ummm, what was that all about?

Since that Sept. 16 debate, as measured by the RealClearPolitics polling average, Mr. Trump has lost about a quarter of his support, down to 23% from 30% on the eve of the debate. In this week’s Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, he is at 21%.

It’s not going to get better. The Trump numbers are going to drift sideways, or fall.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Trump tweeted that getting his business out of Atlantic City before the casinos collapsed was “great timing.” The moment has come for the timing master to recognize it’s Atlantic City all over again. For his phenomenal presidential campaign, it’s time to go.

In politics, there’s that famous thing known as Big Mo—momentum. Donald Trump had Big Mo like no one’s ever seen. It’s gone. The odds are he’ll soon be in second or third place, behind someone he insulted as a loser, as the heartless, mocking media will note. He’s not going to enjoy not being on top.

Politics is about winning at the margin. It is about securing a base of voter support and then finding ways to attract additional voters at the margin. In the highly partisan presidential elections since 2000, the Republican and Democratic nominees both have had a base vote rotating in the mid-40s. Then the candidates have to add marginal votes toward the 50% threshold. (In 2000, with third-party candidate Ralph Nader getting 3%, George W. Bush and Al Gore both finished with about 48%, hanging chads and a generation of political bitterness.)

The Trump candidacy is pure base, and Mr. Trump has not built out from that base, which topped out at about 30%. It’s become obvious that this third of angry conservative voters is volatile. Mr. Trump’s famous support base has eroded, dispersing to the other outsider candidates, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina.

More important, it is now clear that Mr. Trump is personally incapable of doing what is necessary to expand beyond his early burst of support. The tax plan he released this week, admirable as a broad outline, is supposed to show he’s getting serious. That’s the problem. His core base didn’t want that kind of serious.

Even at the level of performance art, what’s happening now is the slow-motion disintegration of “Trump.” His candidacy is detouring into weird and confusing fights, such as the “boycott” of Fox News. News reports on the Trump candidacy increasingly note remarks from admirers who essentially say: I really like that he tells it like it is, but I’m not sure he’s a good fit for the presidency.

The pace of volatility in contemporary politics is unprecedented, as a 74-year-old Vermont socialist is revealing to the preordained candidacy of Hillary Clinton. That the improbable Mr. Trump could rise and then flatline in so little time is startling but not surprising. What Mr. Trump ought to recognize is that his place in the 2015 moment—his political legacy—is secure, unless he lets it evaporate.

Donald Trump was the first person to tap into the zeitgeist of disgust coursing through politics everywhere. The fed-up voters of Guatemala have just made a TV comedian with no political experience the top finisher in their first-round presidential vote. In Spain, a referendum last Sunday revealed many in Catalonia would jump off the political cliff to separate from Madrid, their version of despised Washington.

In the 1996 presidential campaign, the Republican nominee, Sen. Bob Dole, coined a political phrase for the ages: “Where’s the outrage?” That’s the question a lot of Republican voters were asking themselves about their declared presidential candidates earlier this year: Where’s the outrage? With Donald Trump’s June 16 presidential announcement, they finally got it.

Mr. Trump’s singular personality is simply at odds with the political skills necessary to carry that mood any further than his mere arrival accomplished. His support is moving to candidates who are variations on the Trump theme. What people saw and heard in Carly Fiorina was your basic straight-razor woman. Her rage looks to be about one degree below boiling. Ben Carson radiates an intelligent everyman’s bemusement at a gridlocked system.

When the primaries arrive early next year, the Trump vote will subdivide further among the other Republican tortoises. If he stays in, Donald Trump becomes another presidential also-ran. With ostentation suitable to his stature, Mr. Trump should retire to a skybox, and enjoy what he has wrought.

Write to
62  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Secret Service not a fan on: October 01, 2015, 07:33:16 PM
63  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: October 01, 2015, 07:08:23 PM
64  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Wage Gap Myth that won't die on: October 01, 2015, 02:12:33 PM
The ‘Wage Gap’ Myth That Won’t Die
You have to ignore many variables to think women are paid less than men. California is happy to try.
Photo: Getty Images
By Sarah Ketterer
Sept. 30, 2015 7:06 p.m. ET

When it comes to economically foolish laws, California is second to none. A good example is the California Fair Pay Act, which Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign in coming days.

This bill, which the California senate unanimously passed in August, is a state version of the Paycheck Fairness Act that the U.S. Congress rejected in 2014. Like its national counterpart, it is an aggressive attempt to eradicate a wage gap between men and women that is allegedly due to discrimination in the workplace. But this wage gap is illusory, and the legislation will have unintended consequences, including for women.

The Fair Pay Act will prohibit employers from paying men and women different wages for “substantially similar work.” At first glance, this prohibition might appear reasonable: Government data for 2014 show that women in California earn, on average, 84 cents for every dollar earned by men. (Nationally, women earn about 79 cents for every dollar earned by men.)

But a closer look reveals a different picture. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that its analysis of wages by gender does “not control for many factors that can be significant in explaining earnings differences.”

What factors? Start with hours worked. Full-time employment is technically defined as more than 35 hours. This raises an obvious problem: A simple side-by-side comparison of all men and all women includes people who work 35 hours a week, and others who work 45. Men are significantly more likely than women to work longer hours, according to the BLS. And if we compare only people who work 40 hours a week, BLS data show that women then earn on average 90 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Career choice is another factor. Research in 2013 by Anthony Carnevale, a Georgetown University economist, shows that women flock to college majors that lead to lower-paying careers. Of the 10 lowest-paying majors—such as “drama and theater arts” and “counseling psychology”—only one, “theology and religious vocations,” is majority male.

Conversely, of the 10 highest-paying majors—including “mathematics and computer science” and “petroleum engineering”—only one, “pharmacy sciences and administration,” is majority female. Eight of the remaining nine are more than 70% male.

Other factors that account for earnings differences include marriage and children, both of which cause many women to leave the workforce for years. June O’Neill, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, concluded in a 2005 study that “there is no gender gap in wages among men and women with similar family roles.” Time magazine reported in 2010 that in 98% of America’s largest 150 cities, including my hometown of Los Angeles, single women under 30 actually earned, on average, 8% more than their male counterparts.

Ms. O’Neill and her husband concluded in their 2012 book, “The Declining Importance of Race and Gender in the Labor Market,” that once all these factors are taken into account, very little of the pay differential between men and women is due to actual discrimination, which is “unlikely to account for a differential of more than 5 percent but may not be present at all.”

What California’s Fair Pay Act will do, however, is make the state, already notorious for regulation and red tape, a more difficult place to do business. Companies must now ensure that every penny of wage differential between the men and women they employ is attributable to bona-fide differences in education, training, experience, quantity or quality of work, and so on. Referring to the countless factors at play, Harvard economist Claudia Goldin has said “it’s not checkable.” Yet even attempting to do so will only add to companies’ already substantial regulatory-compliance budgets.

Some of these factors—quality of work, for instance—are inevitably subjective, yet trial lawyers will swoop in to turn every conceivable pay difference into a lawsuit. Employers who cannot “prove” objectively that one employee’s work was better than another’s may face costly penalties. Many will surely pay to settle these lawsuits instead of taking them to court.

All of this money would be better spent by businesses to hire more workers or raise wages, including for countless women. Ms. Goldin has even suggested that women’s employment could decline.

Such are the unintended consequences that may accompany this feel-good but ultimately foolish law. As Gov. Brown prepares to sign the California Fair Pay Act, he should ask himself a simple question: Does he really want to put women at an actual disadvantage while attempting to eliminate an imagined one?

Ms. Ketterer is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Causeway Capital Management.
65  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: October 01, 2015, 11:58:01 AM
PP:  I agree-- details to be hammered out  AFTER we regain control of who gets in.

GM:  My question and implied point is a political one for those who assert, as Trump does, that ALL illegals are to get shipped out.
66  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Where's Hillary and Bill's missing $50M? on: October 01, 2015, 11:46:43 AM
67  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen.Ted Cruz POs Sen. McCain's former chief of staff on: October 01, 2015, 11:45:05 AM
68  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: September 30, 2015, 09:35:08 PM
 cheesy cheesy
69  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Victim Culture Kills American Manhood on: September 30, 2015, 09:19:37 PM
70  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion on: September 30, 2015, 09:10:55 PM
I can see ever tighter outer limits on birth control (20 weeks, to 16 weeks, etc) and if we win the White House getting to a 5 or 6 man majority in the SCOTUS.
71  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Regarding "amnesty" on: September 30, 2015, 09:08:34 PM
Putting aside the merits of the issue, it seems to me that we here need to recognize that if someone was brought here illegally as a baby or young child and has grown up here and feels and thinks he is an American, speaks English only, etc it is going to be seriously bad politics to say he should be shipped to a "home" he does not remember where the language is one he does not.

72  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Carly and the abortion footage on: September 30, 2015, 04:05:34 PM
73  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Carly and the abortion footage on: September 30, 2015, 04:04:51 PM
74  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: September 30, 2015, 03:33:19 PM
That is what I needed, thank you!
75  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / In God we trust on: September 30, 2015, 02:32:52 PM
When did motto "In God we trust" originate?
76  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Problems with Senator Marco Rubio on: September 30, 2015, 02:20:55 PM
Bringing PP's list over to this thread:

For Rubio, there is this.

1. He is for Amnesty, a problem with 62% of the population.

2. Voted against the Mike Lee amendment for balancing the budget by 2017 and reducing government size by half by 2025. Voted in 2013 against balancing budget in 5 years without tax increases.

3. He misses votes more than any other candidate. He missed votes for both the Planned Parenthood funding and also TPP.

4. He supports TPP.

5. He wants Permanent Extension of FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Survelliance Act.

6. He voted for the NSA and against the requirement of needing warrants for wiretapping of US citizens.

7. He votes against reforms to the NSA Mass Survelliance and the privacy issues.

8. Supports Medicare Part D

9. Against privatizing Social Security

10. Cosponsored legislation calling for private business to consider race in interviewing

11. Supports sugar subsidies and Import Export bank

12. Supported federal subsidies in student loans

13. Supported arming Syrian rebels and getting rid of Assad. Also supported US intervention.

14. Was in favor of US intervention in Libya.

15. Voted to block conservative amendments to the Iran Nuclear Agreement

16. Voted for Florida's Cap and Trade.

Rubio concerns me because though he appears to be a conservative, his positions like Cap and Trade and NSA/FISA suggests that he is for government expansion.
77  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PP: The Iraq model for Afpakia on: September 30, 2015, 02:18:42 PM
The Iraq Model for Afghanistan?
By Paul Albaugh

U.S. forces should be allowed to stay and do good

Recent events in Afghanistan indicate that Barack Obama seriously needs to reconsider his plans to withdraw all U.S. forces from the country over the next 16 months. (Not that he will reconsider...) Several major cities that were once held and governed by Afghan forces have been captured by the Taliban. All is not well and it would be foolish and irresponsible for the United States to withdraw too soon. Need evidence? Just look at Iraq.

On Monday, the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan’s sixth largest city, was overrun by the Taliban — the first city taken by the Taliban since it was ousted from Kabul in 2001. Afghan forces mounted a counteroffensive with the aid of U.S. airstrikes and special forces. Afghan forces have retaken the police station, but are still facing fierce resistance from approximately 500 Taliban fighters.

“Obviously, this is a setback for the Afghan security forces," said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook. "But we've seen them respond in recent weeks and months to the challenges they face, and they're doing the same thing in Kunduz right now.” The fact that Afghan forces are fighting to take back Kunduz is a good thing — they are doing what the U.S. military trained them to do. But that's all the more reason why pushing to draw down forces too soon would be catastrophic. Afghan forces still need U.S. backing if they are to be successful.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), chairman of the House Armed Services committee, noted, “The fall of Kunduz to the Taliban is not unlike the fall of the Iraqi provinces to ISIL. It is a reaffirmation that precipitous withdrawal leaves key allies and territory vulnerable to the very terrorists we’ve fought so long to defeat.”

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is optimistic about the Afghan forces' success, but noted a particular problem that has plagued operations for the last 14 years. During a recent news conference Ghani said, “The treacherous enemy is using civilians as a human shield.” That's why the government of Afghanistan cannot and will not simply bombard the cities.

Indeed, no responsible government would want to harm its own citizens in the quest for destroying the enemy, which is precisely why the U.S. military has been limited to targeted airstrikes and ground forces have been operating in a training and advisory role. To make matters even more difficult, the Taliban has taken to the streets and the mosques and told residents of Kunduz that they are safe. The residents are of course terrified — and torn between whether to trust the Taliban or risk being caught in the urban gun fire that will be coming soon.

The situation is more complex though. On the one hand we have the Taliban, which is notorious for looting, killing, enslaving and terrorizing the Afghan people. On the other hand, we have a morally bankrupt culture that is causing significant problems for our troops. One recent example is the revelation that there have been instances of “Bacha Bazi” — translated as “boy play” — being perpetrated by members of the Afghan armed forces.

Yes, sadly, the same Afghan forces that Americans have trained.

So what exactly is to be expected of U.S. military personnel who witness or discover the heinous act of a man raping a boy? Is the service member to do nothing, or is he to intervene?

One particular Green Beret, Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland, chose to intervene — and was discharged from the Army for body slamming and beating an alleged child rapist. Martland’s team leader, Capt. Daniel Quinn, was also stripped of his command for being involved in the same incident.

We don't know all of the facts about this incident — whether direct orders were disobeyed or whether these soldiers went too far (if there is such a thing when dealing with a child rapist). So what is U.S. policy for its service members to respond to such egregious acts?

One recent report reveals that U.S. Marines and Soldiers have been instructed not to intervene in cases of sexual abuse. Yes, you read that right.

Which brings up another point. Sharia law, which is practiced in Afghanistan, forbids sodomy and sex before marriage. Yet it's happening and even being tolerated by the very people we have helped to put in positions of power. Is it any wonder the Afghan people can’t quite decide who to trust? The Taliban has cracked down on anyone engaging in “Bacha Bazi," but the Taliban cracks down on everything to the point of severe oppression.

So our troops are put in harm’s way to fight the Taliban while simultaneously being asked to ignore child rape coming from those we are supposed to be fighting alongside. Quite the dilemma.

Where are Obama and the top brass in the military on this? Why are they turning a blind eye to those who have been punished for intervening on behalf of young boys? For a sitting commander in chief who frequently speaks out against human rights violations, he certainly has not backed up his words with decisive action. Nope, he is still more concerned about fighting climate change and making sure homosexuals can serve openly.

Perhaps the main question should be this: Where do we go from here? Do we continue to fight the Taliban while simultaneously propping up morally bankrupt officials? This president certainly hasn’t shown any indication that he is willing to intervene, which is why he wants to withdraw all troops before he leaves office. It’s better for him to leave it to the next guy. Thanks, Obama — said no Afghan citizen ever.
78  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Dr. Ben Carson on: September 30, 2015, 02:12:43 PM
IMHO most certainly in the "Top Three"-- worth noting it is something that we here have discussed here many times in depth.  I would note that Dr. Ben's formulation is quite similar to what I have advocated here over the years.  Maybe he is another secret lurker on this forum? cheesy
79  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary voters support Trump's tax plan on: September 30, 2015, 12:19:01 PM
80  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Accelerating naturalization on: September 30, 2015, 11:35:32 AM
I don't care for the way that this piece conflates illegals and speeding up the naturalization of legals, but the latter does seem worth noting.
81  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Dr. Ben Carson on: September 30, 2015, 11:17:57 AM
The more important point IMHO is that Dr. Ben is MAKING this point and defending it without flinching , thus making it more socially/politically acceptable to say it-- especially as he continues to rise in the polls.

Is not what he has done here real leadership?
82  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PP: NY Obamacare goes under on: September 30, 2015, 11:14:57 AM
Largest ObamaCare Co-Op Admits Failure, Starts Closing Shop

Joining three other ObamaCare health care co-ops that already found themselves unable to operate in the current health care landscape, Health Republic, the co-op servicing the State of New York, started closing down its operation Friday, Sept. 25. "[A]fter coordinating with state and federal regulators, Health Republic will begin winding down operations in an orderly manner starting today," CEO of Health Republic Debra Friedman wrote to the co-op's members. "While we are deeply disappointed with this outcome, we believe it is in the best interests of our members. Starting a new insurance company is a daunting task in any environment, but the systemic challenges placed on us by the structure of the CO-OP program were simply too difficult to overcome." In other words, ObamaCare's worst enemy in this case was its own regulations. As The Daily Signal reported, the government loaned out $265 million to get the co-op off the ground. You shall know the program by its fruits: In this case, an effort by ObamaCare to provide more solutions and health care "competition" yielded government waste and failure.

83  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Dr. Ben Carson on: September 30, 2015, 11:01:55 AM
Looking forward to see how Dr. Ben responds to the meeting between Baraq and Putin, the Russian-Iranian-Iraqi Axis that is forming, Trump's comments, and the Russian "request" for us to stay out of their way.

84  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: September 29, 2015, 07:57:58 PM
How so?

Anyway, please figure out a more relevant thread for this interesting conversation.
85  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Putin sodomizes Obama (and by inference, Hillary) on: September 29, 2015, 07:56:55 PM
For the record he leaves out quite a few inconvenient truths, but a fascinating discourse nonetheless
86  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen.Ted Cruz on why Boener resigned on: September 29, 2015, 06:50:46 PM
87  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: September 29, 2015, 06:35:22 PM
Thanks for the comparative breakdown Doug.
88  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: September 29, 2015, 04:40:28 PM
Sure it matters; if Trump can be painted as increasing the deficit, then that is no good.
89  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: September 29, 2015, 11:57:14 AM
You may be right, but first let's see what comes out with regard to whether Trump's plan can be sold as deficit neutral or positive.
90  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PP: The noose tightens some more on: September 29, 2015, 11:52:56 AM
Clinton Indicates Indictment Might Be Imminent

After learning that the FBI was able to recover some of the emails that she deleted, Hillary Clinton launched into damage control, explaining that she didn't determine which emails were public and which were private. Instead, she claims, she let her lawyers sift through the tens of thousands of emails to weed out any reference to yoga class. "I didn't look at them," Clinton now says. "I wanted them to be as clear in their process as possible. I didn't want to be looking over their shoulder. If they thought it was work-related, it would go to the State Department. If not, then it would not." But knowing Clinton's track record in telling the truth regarding this scandal, this statement could be disproven before long. After all, what reason do we have to trust her ever-changing story? Self-preservation is on her brain. As Judge Andrew Napolitano said Monday, "Her most recent troubles show that when she certified under oath, 'under penalty of perjury,' to a federal judge that she had surrendered all her emails to the State Department, in fact she had not." As a result, Napolitano believes the FBI will recommend indicting Clinton over her email use to the State Department. For the first time, Clinton is very clearly saying, "Hey, I was just a bystander here and my lawyers did all of it." This is a huge shift, the kind of shift you see when she's really concerned about a felony indictment — and not just for perjury. We can't see how she avoids an indictment at this point, other than to lay it all on her attorneys. How willing are the Clinton lackeys to fall on a sword for their crumbling political machine?
91  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: September 29, 2015, 11:01:40 AM
I think Trump did himself a lot of good with his tax proposal.  On first look, it is quite appealing and appears to be a serious piece of work.

No doubt there will be accusations it increases the deficit.  The Donald will need to be able to defend it effectively.

BTW, I like Rubio, but must say he himself has allowed his tax plan to sink without a trace.  If Trump can defend his proposal, will Rubio be able to defend his when Trump attacks?
92  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geraghty on: September 29, 2015, 10:57:05 AM
The State of the Race as September Comes to an End

Donald Trump: A lot of Trump critics are confident he will burn out. I’m not so sure. Sure, it’s not that hard to picture scenarios where Trump trips up and can’t recover: a series of statements akin to “Look at that face!” makes him unacceptable even to Republicans who agree with him on the issues, or running for office stops being fun for him and his interest wanes, or he finally goes to events like the one by Heritage Action in South Carolina and withers when he’s in a format that requires policy details instead of applause lines. But Trump foes would be fools to count on this. Trump may have stopped gaining momentum inthe polls, but he’s still the front-runner.
Yes, there’s some polling evidence that Trump supporters aren’t the voters most likely to vote in a GOP caucus or primary . . .

Trump supporters lag behind Republican primary voters in general in high-engagement voter categories. Trump also lags significantly in penetration of issue-driven voters. Conversely, he enjoys a significant concentration of support among unengaged voters. One might assume that these unengaged voters are attracted to Trump's brash style and talent for creating sound bites.

. . . but some of those folks taking a newfound interest in politics because of Trump will get up off the couch, register as Republicans, and vote for him. (Speaking as a rabid Trump critic, this is an accomplishment.)

Recall Fred Barnes’s observation of the focus group of Trump supporters: “Their tie to him is almost mystical. He’s a kind of political savior, someone who says what they think.” Even if Trump never builds upon the 20-some percent he’s getting in most polls right now, just holding that level of support would leave him with a big pile of delegates and maybe the ability to play kingmaker.

Throw in the front-loading of primaries next year, and whoever is hot in February and March is probably going to be the nominee. We know Trump will have the money to run whatever positive messages he needs and to go negative on anyone he wishes. He’s pretty much dominated the political discussion almost every week since mid-June.
Even if Trump departs the race, Trump-ism will live on well past 2015. The modern conservative movement/Republican party is going to have a significant minority, if not a plurality, yearning for vehement opposition to illegal immigration, wariness of trade deals, the intermittent rhetorical denunciation of hedge-fund managers, and the insistence that most foreign-policy problems can be resolved by simply meeting with foreign leaders to “look ’em in the eye and say, ‘Fellas, you’ve had your fun. Your fun is over.’”

There will always be an appetite for someone who comes along and insists the solutions are easy.

Ben Carson: The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza ranks Carson the sixth-most-likely person to win the GOP nomination, which seems really low. He observes, “Carson’s recent comments about his wariness about electing a Muslim president further stoked concerns from establishment Republicans that he is simply not ready for prime time.” Forget making and breaking candidates; so far this cycle, have we seen any indication that “establishment Republicans” can influence the rise or fall of candidates?

Ben Carson raises money in bunches. He’s got the indisputably impressive life accomplishments. He’s got . . . Kanye West. You could see him cleaning up in Iowa or South Carolina. And you can’t help but wonder that as race relations get worse, a broad swath of the public might yearn for a message like Carson’s final statement in the first debate:

CARSON: Well, I think the bully pulpit is a wonderful place to start healing that divide. You know, we have the purveyors of hatred who take every single incident between people of two races and try to make a race war out of it, and drive wedges into people. And this does not need to be done. What we need to think about instead -- you know, I was asked by an NPR reporter once, why don’t I talk about race that often. I said it’s because I’m a neurosurgeon. And she thought that was a strange response. And you say -- I said, you see, when I take someone to the operating room, I’m actually operating on the thing that makes them who they are. The skin doesn’t make them who they are. The hair doesn’t make them who they are. And it’s time for us to move beyond that. (APPLAUSE) Because our strength as a nation comes in our unity. We are the United States of America, not the divided states. And those who want to divide us are trying to divide us, and we shouldn’t let them do it.

Carly Fiorina: She’s undoubtedly rising; she was at 3.3. percent in the RealClearPolitics average on September 19. Now she’s at 11.6 percent. If the race comes down to who the best communicator is, she may have the best shot. But I wonder how many Republicans have this nagging doubt that the Democrats would “Romney-ize” her over the layoffs . . .

Marco Rubio: To hear Terry Sullivan, Marco Rubio’s campaign manager tell it, they’re perfectly comfortable where they are right now -- in the middle of the pack, not high enough to attract flak from the other candidates, not low enough to stir talk of a lost cause. “People don’t stop running for president because they run out of ideas, or they run out of a desire to give speeches; they stop because they run out of money,” Sullivan told Rich Lowry at our event last week. “When you’re paying people for three months, it’s not too bad; when you’re paying them for twelve months, it’s different . . . Everybody on our campaign has taken a pay cut from whatever job they had, myself included.” Every expense over $500 has to be approved by Sullivan. With budgeting like that, Rubio won’t be leaving the race anytime soon, and it’s easy to imagine Republicans who aren’t comfortable with the first-time candidates unifying behind Rubio.

Jeb Bush: Hey, remember how Bush’s super PAC started running $24 million in ads in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina back in mid-September? There have only been two polls conducted in those states since then, so it’s too early to see if they’ve had an effect. But if there isn’t some pop in those numbers for Bush, it might be time to hit the panic button. It’s near-impossible to imagine Jeb Bush dropping out before votes start getting cast, but if he’s stumbling along in single digits in January . . . how long will he stay in the race?

Everybody at this level and down is husbanding resources and hoping to get a boost out of either Iowa or New Hampshire. The buzz is that Rand Paul is being pressured to drop out and focus on running for reelection to the Senate.

Ted Cruz: Is the Cruz strategy really to be warm and fuzzy to Trump, positioning himself if Trump stumbles or withdraws? If you were on Team Cruz, wouldn’t you want to start formulating a plan just in case Trump doesn’t withdraw? Cruz has the money to stick around a long time; it’s just not clear that he’s got a plan to transfer Trump’s supporters to himself without Trump’s approval.

John Kasich: Obviously getting some traction in New Hampshire, but he seems like the antithesis of what a lot of conservatives want to see in their nominee this year.
Chris Christie: Most people thought he had a good debate, but we haven’t seen much pop in his poll numbers. It appears that in to move the numbers in the current media environment, you need more than just a “good debate,” you need “a moment” -- either a speech or exchange that people gush about the next day. Lindsey Graham is in a similar situation.

Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum: Both of these guys keep hanging around, obviously operating on a shoestring, hoping that Iowa will fall in love with them again and catapult them to the first tier. The only Republican who won a contested Iowa caucus twice was Bob Dole (1988, 1996).

Bobby Jindal: Yes, yes, he’s lower than pi in just about every poll. He’s pretty clearly focusing on Iowa and hoping for the best. Still, he’s the candidate who simultaneously can’t stand GOP leadership in Washington (“It appears that even though voters gave Republicans control of the Senate in 2014, Harry Reid is still running the Senate.”); the current front-runner (“Donald Trump is a madman who must be stopped.”); and President Obama (“The president told the pope that, in America, people must be free to live out their faith without fear of intimidation. That’s the opposite of reality in America today.”) Maybe there’s a sweet spot in between there.

NBC News: Hey, It’s Time to Trim the GOP Field


Though the debate will be on NBC partner CNBC, Chuck Todd, NBC’s political director and the moderator of Meet the Press, is taking part in establishing the debate set up and criteria. And Todd has publicly expressed skepticism about the need to include 10 or 11 candidates, the numbers featured in the first two debates.

“Let’s just say the goal is to create a threshold that candidates have to meet to qualify for the stage rather than committing to putting 10 candidates on the stage. And I don’t think we should commit to more than 10-candidate debates. You have to be viable. So now we’re in debate three it’s time to show viability and only the viable ones survive,” Todd said during an interview on ESPN radio last week.

First, why are we learning, or at least getting hints, about the debate criteria from ESPN radio?

Second, can you think of a better rallying cry for the guys left off stage -- presumably Jindal, Santorum, Pataki, Graham, and maybe Rand Paul or Mike Huckabee -- than for them to be left out by NBC News? “The liberal media, the parent company of MSNBC, has decided my voice shouldn’t be heard . . .”

Third, in an era where campaigns are fueled by the fundraising surges that come from televised “moments” -- and in a cycle where the RNC set strict rules on how many debates could occur, thus limiting the opportunity for these “moments” -- why would the RNC accept NBC News’ effectively knocking four or five guys off the stage?

Fourth, Fox News and CNN enjoyed monster ratings for having both debates. Why would CNBC want to limit what’s likely to be the most-watched program in their history?
93  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / She came, she saw, he died on: September 28, 2015, 11:39:55 PM
94  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: September 28, 2015, 11:05:38 PM
A perfect piece of ammo for me in a conversation in which I am engaged!
95  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen.Ted Cruz on: September 28, 2015, 10:55:37 PM
96  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: September 28, 2015, 10:50:20 PM
I await further details, but I heard something that sure sounded like Trump backing single payer-- maybe I got tricked by some older footage?

Anyway, I like what I have heard so far from Dr. Ben in this regard.
97  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Dr. Ben Carson on: September 28, 2015, 10:47:23 PM
98  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / INF Treaty weakening on: September 28, 2015, 10:27:36 PM
 A U.S.-Russian Arms Treaty Could Be in Trouble
September 28, 2015 | 09:15 GMT Print
Text Size
U.S. President Ronald Reagan (R) and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (L) signing a treaty eliminating U.S. and Soviet intermediate- and short-range nuclear missiles in Washington, D.C. in December 1987. (-/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia is feeling increasingly limited by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty as the United States continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal and develop its ballistic missile defenses. The United States also finds the treaty constraining, but neither Moscow nor Washington wants to be the first to withdraw from the pact.

Russia on Sept. 23 criticized the United States' planned deployment of upgraded B61-12 guided nuclear bombs to Germany, once again raising the threat of withdrawing from the 1987 INF treaty as a response to U.S. moves. The INF bans ground-based nuclear or conventional intermediate-range missiles (500 to 5,500 kilometers, or 300 to 3,400 miles). Though the U.S. deployment of B61-12 nuclear weapons to Germany does not violate the INF treaty, Moscow is increasingly viewing the pact as a limitation.

The INF pact is a cornerstone arms control treaty between the United States and Russia that halted a destabilizing buildup of intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe during the 1980s. However, the treaty also constrained both U.S. and Russian options. Even as influential camps in the United States and Russia fear the treaty's dissolution and a return to a dangerous arms race in Europe, other voices in both countries desiring to abandon or revise it are growing louder.

The INF treaty has especially restricted U.S. policy in East Asia, forcing the United States to rely on air- and sea-launched missiles to counter China's vast and growing land-based missile arsenal. The Russians are even more concerned with the INF, because the treaty places them at a disadvantage relative to the United States in missile defense and modernized scalable nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, the INF, as a bilateral treaty between the United States and Russia, does not stop countries around Russia such as China, India and North Korea from developing intermediate-range nuclear weapons. Unlike the continental United States, which is beyond the range of these missiles, Russia has to factor in these potential threats even as the New START Treaty limits its strategic nuclear arsenal (in any case largely aimed at the United States).

Frustrated by the INF treaty but fearing its dissolution, the United States and Russia have sought to find ways around it. Russia may have already breached the INF pact with the development of the R-500 ground-based cruise missile, as well as the testing of the SS-27 Mod 2 intercontinental ballistic missile at ranges prohibited by the INF treaty. The United States has also pursued other avenues to overcome the treaty's limitations, expanding its sea-launched missile arsenal, building up missile defenses and pursuing Prompt Global Strike technology that makes up for a longer-ranged strike envelope with high speed and accuracy.

Russia and the United States are each hesitant to be the first to withdraw from the INF pact, but it is clear that the treaty as a whole is weakening as time passes. Threats of withdrawal from the treaty, especially from Moscow, are becoming more common, and it may be just a matter of time until the treaty is effectively terminated or heavily revised. The demise of the foundational arms control treaty may give both sides more military options, but it will undoubtedly exacerbate an already tense relationship between Moscow and Washington.
99  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: September 28, 2015, 08:06:47 PM
A fair point, reasonably argued.

Also a fair point are the risks of increasing the moral hazard of voters to a full 50% of the voting population.

Separately, is it true the Trump has come out for single payer?!?!?
100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Baraq's Dangerous Currents on: September 28, 2015, 07:56:31 PM
One sotto voce argument the Obama Administration made for its nuclear deal with Iran is that Russia and Iran would return the favor by cooperating to settle the Syrian civil war. As so often in this Presidency, the opposite is turning out to be true.

Mr. Obama said the U.S. departure from Iraq in 2011 would reduce “the tide of war,” but war has returned with a vengeance. He said a “reset” would improve relations with Russia, but tensions are far worse than when he took office. He said the U.S. could safely wind down its military operations in Afghanistan, but on Monday the Taliban took control of the city of Kunduz from the Afghan government.

Even Mr. Obama, addressing the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, had little choice but to acknowledge the rising tide of disorder. “We come together today knowing that the march of human progress never travels in a straight line,” he said. “Dangerous currents risk pulling us back into a darker, more disordered world.” In particular, he added, “we see some major powers assert themselves in ways that contravene international law.”

Nowhere is that clearer now than in Syria, the catastrophe that has killed more than 220,000, nurtured the Islamic State caliphate, and is now flooding Turkey, Jordan, Europe and the U.S. with millions of refugees. Far from cooperating with the U.S.-led Syria strategy, Mr. Putin and Iran are moving to replace the U.S. coalition and strategy with their own.

Mr. Putin said Monday that he will soon introduce a resolution at the U.N. Security Council calling for a coalition against Islamic State in Syria on Russian and Iranian terms. This means supporting Bashar Assad’s regime in Damascus against all opponents, including those few trained and armed by the U.S.

This follows the weekend news that Iraq’s government, supposedly allied with the U.S. coalition, will share intelligence with Russia, Syria and Iran. It’s hard to fault Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for the decision. He’s watched for a year while the U.S. coalition has made little progress against Islamic State. His decision risks putting Baghdad further under Tehran’s sway, and pushing more Iraqi Sunnis into Islamic State’s arms. But desperate leaders will act in desperate ways.

The Putin-Tehran goal in Syria is part of a strategy to build an arc of influence that extends from Western Afghanistan through the Eastern Mediterranean. It seeks to diminish U.S. influence in the region, pushing on the open door of Mr. Obama’s desire to leave. The goal is to isolate U.S. allies in Kurdish Iraq and Israel, while forcing the Sunni Arabs to accommodate the Shiite-Russian alliance or face internal agitation and perhaps external conflict.

The White House knows all this but so far is doing little more than protest. Mr. Obama told the U.N. Monday that “there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the prewar status quo” in Syria. He added that “realism also requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader.”

But how is Mr. Obama going to achieve that result? Mr. Putin is establishing facts on the ground each day as he builds up Russian air and tank deployments in Syria. While claiming to target Islamic State, Russian planes can target anyone Assad deems an enemy, creating tens of thousands more refugees. And Mr. Putin publicly laughs at the feeble U.S. efforts to build a pro-Western anti-Islamic State coalition.

Secretary of State John Kerry hopes to convene a new Geneva dialogue on Syria, but Mr. Assad has less reason than ever to compromise. He knows Russia and Iran, aided by Hezbollah’s footsoldiers, will at a minimum establish an Alawite protectorate in western and southern Syria. And even if Mr. Assad were to step into some other role in a diplomatic gesture, what prominent Sunni Syrian is going to serve in an Alawite successor government knowing it will effectively be run out of Tehran?

While Mr. Obama may keep harrumphing, Mr. Putin no doubt believes the U.S. President lacks the will to challenge Russia and Tehran. Even if the U.S. vetoes Mr. Putin’s U.N. resolution, Mr. Obama is likely to accept Russia’s presence in Syria and thus eventually the survival of Mr. Assad or some other Tehran-Moscow factotum in Damascus. By the time he leaves office Mr. Obama may claim it was all his idea.

Even as he concedes the growing world disorder, Mr. Obama still won’t admit that his policy of American retreat has created a vacuum for rogues to fill. He exhorted the U.N. on Monday that “I stand before you today believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion. We cannot look backwards.”

Oh, yes we can, as the once promising world order deteriorates on Mr. Obama’s watch.
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