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 21 
 on: Today at 09:29:20 AM 
Started by ccp - Last post by Crafty_Dog
from another forum:

"I'm all-in for Rand Paul and think he's got what it takes to win the general vs. Hillary in a LANDSLIDE. He actually is better than Hillary on a lot of issues that matter to people on the left and independents with issues like war policy, drug policy, privacy, etc... but yet he's still awesomely pro-gun, pro-life, small government. But most importantly we're headed into major financial trouble with our debt/deficits and I think he's the best person to correctly articulate how out of control our spending is across the board and how corrupt our government is, and apply the correct remedies. Who is talking about the Federal Reserve bank and monetary policy right now? Only him. Rand is like the best parts of his dad, minus the crazy parts. I'm going to support Rand 100% during Primary season and encourage you all to take a hard look at him."

 22 
 on: Today at 09:21:09 AM 
Started by lonelydog - Last post by lonelydog
voilà, the latest lonely workout...

Lonely Dog's Workout 25 - Tire Burpee


 23 
 on: Today at 09:17:45 AM 
Started by buzwardo - Last post by Crafty_Dog


Most Americans Support Government Action on Climate Change, Poll Finds
An overwhelming majority of the American public, including nearly half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future.
In a finding that could have implications for the 2016 presidential campaign, the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say they are more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change. They are less likely to vote for candidates who question or deny the science of human-caused global warming.
Although the poll found that climate change was not a top issue in determining a person’s vote, a candidate’s position on climate change influences how a person will vote. For example, 67 percent of respondents, including 48 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of independents, said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who said that human-caused climate change is a hoax.
READ MORE »
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/us/politics/most-americans-support-government-action-on-climate-change-poll-finds.html?emc=edit_na_20150130


 24 
 on: Today at 08:13:23 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M

Morgan isn't a complete idiot.

 25 
 on: Today at 12:07:20 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...-hero-not-coward-did-job-job-kill-people.html

 26 
 on: Today at 12:02:23 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/01/28/gun-range-ban-on-muslims-draws-fire/

 27 
 on: January 29, 2015, 11:45:31 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
 By
Peggy Noonan
Jan. 29, 2015 6:24 p.m. ET
171 COMMENTS

Something is going on here.

On Tuesday retired Gen. James Mattis, former head of U.S. Central Command (2010-13) told the Senate Armed Services Committee of his unhappiness at the current conduct of U.S. foreign policy. He said the U.S. is not “adapting to changed circumstances” in the Mideast and must “come out now from our reactive crouch.” Washington needs a “refreshed national strategy”; the White House needs to stop being consumed by specific, daily occurrences that leave it “reacting” to events as if they were isolated and unconnected. He suggested deep bumbling: “Notifying the enemy in advance of our withdrawal dates” and declaring “certain capabilities” off the table is no way to operate.

Sitting beside him was Gen. Jack Keane, also a respected retired four-star, and a former Army vice chief of staff, who said al Qaeda has “grown fourfold in the last five years” and is “beginning to dominate multiple countries.” He called radical Islam “the major security challenge of our generation” and said we are failing to meet it.

The same day the generals testified, Kimberly Dozier of the Daily Beast reported that Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a retired director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, had told a Washington conference: “You cannot defeat an enemy you do not admit exists.” The audience of military and intelligence professionals applauded. Officials, he continued, are “paralyzed” by the complexity of the problems connected to militant Islam, and so do little, reasoning that “passivity is less likely to provoke our enemies.”

These statements come on the heels of the criticisms from President Obama’s own former secretaries of defense. Robert Gates, in “Duty,” published in January 2014, wrote of a White House-centric foreign policy developed by aides and staffers who are too green or too merely political. One day in a meeting the thought occurred that Mr. Obama “doesn’t trust” the military, “doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his.” That’s pretty damning. Leon Panetta , in his 2014 memoir, “Worthy Fights,” said Mr. Obama ”avoids the battle, complains, and misses opportunities.”

No one thinks this administration is the A Team when it comes to foreign affairs, but this is unprecedented push-back from top military and intelligence players. They are fed up, they’re less afraid, they’re retired, and they’re speaking out. We are going to be seeing more of this kind of criticism, not less.

On Thursday came the testimony of three former secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger (1973-77), George Shultz (1982-89) and Madeleine Albright (1997-2001). Senators asked them to think aloud about what America’s national-security strategy should be, what approaches are appropriate to the moment. It was good to hear serious, not-green, not-merely-political people give a sense of the big picture. Their comments formed a kind of bookend to the generals’ criticisms.

The seemed to be in agreement on these points:

We are living through a moment of monumental world change.

Old orders are collapsing while any new stability has yet to emerge.

When you’re in uncharted waters your boat must be strong.

If America attempts to disengage from this dangerous world it will only make all the turmoil worse.

Mr. Kissinger observed that in the Mideast, multiple upheavals are unfolding simultaneously—within states, between states, between ethnic and religious groups. Conflicts often merge and produce such a phenomenon as the Islamic State, which in the name of the caliphate is creating a power base to undo all existing patterns.

Mr. Shultz said we are seeing an attack on the state system and the rise of a “different view of how the world should work.” What’s concerning is “the scope of it.”

Mr. Kissinger: “We haven’t faced such diverse crises since the end of the Second World War.” The U.S. is in “a paradoxical situation” in that “by any standard of national capacity . . . we can shape international relations,” but the complexity of the present moment is daunting. The Cold War was more dangerous, but the world we face now is more complicated.

How to proceed in creating a helpful and constructive U.S. posture?

Mr. Shultz said his attitude when secretary of state was, “If you want me in on the landing, include me in the takeoff.” Communication and consensus building between the administration and Congress is key. He added: “The government seems to have forgotten about the idea of ‘execution.’ ” It’s not enough that you say something, you have to do it, make all the pieces work.

When you make a decision, he went on, “stick with it.” Be careful with words. Never make a threat or draw a line you can’t or won’t make good on.

In negotiations, don’t waste time wondering what the other side will accept, keep your eye on what you can and work from there.

Keep the U.S. military strong, peerless, pertinent to current challenges.

Proceed to negotiations with your agenda clear and your strength unquestionable.

Mr. Kissinger: “In our national experience . . . we have trouble doing a national strategy” because we have been secure behind two big oceans. We see ourselves as a people who respond to immediate, specific challenges and then go home. But foreign policy today is not a series of discrete events, it is a question of continuous strategy in the world.

America plays the role of “stabilizer.” But it must agree on its vision before it can move forward on making it reality. There are questions that we must as a nation answer:

As we look at the world, what is it we seek to prevent? What do we seek to achieve? What can we prevent or achieve only if supported by an alliance? What values do we seek to advance? “This will require public debate.”

All agreed the cost-cutting burdens and demands on defense spending forced by the sequester must be stopped. National defense “should have a strategy-driven budget, not a budget-driven strategy,” said Mr. Kissinger.

He added that in the five wars since World War II, the U.S. began with “great enthusiasm” and had “great national difficulty” in ending them. In the last two, “withdrawal became the principal definition of strategy.” We must avoid that in the future. “We have to know the objective at the start and develop a strategy to achieve it.”

Does the U.S. military have enough to do what we must do?

“It’s not adequate to deal with all the challenges I see,” said Mr. Kissinger, “or the commitments into which we may be moving.”

Sequestration is “legislative insanity” said Mr. Shultz. “You have to get rid of it.”

Both made a point of warning against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, which Mr. Shultz called “those awful things.” The Hiroshima bomb, he said, was a plaything compared with the killing power of modern nuclear weapons. A nuclear device detonated in Washington would “wipe out” the area. Previous progress on and attention to nuclear proliferation has, he said, been “derailed.”

So we need a strategy, and maybe more than one. We need to know what we’re doing and why. After this week with the retired generals and the former secretaries, the message is: Awake. See the world’s facts as they are. Make a plan.

 28 
 on: January 29, 2015, 08:14:51 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Building Toward Another Mortgage Meltdown
In the name of ‘affordable’ loans, the White House is creating the conditions for a replay of the housing disaster
By Edward Pinto
WSJ

The Obama administration’s troubling flirtation with another mortgage meltdown took an unsettling turn on Tuesday with Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt ’s testimony before the House Financial Services Committee.

Mr. Watt told the committee that, having received “feedback from stakeholders,” he expects to release by the end of March new guidance on the “guarantee fee” charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to cover the credit risk on loans the federal mortgage agencies guarantee.

Here we go again. In the Obama administration, new guidance on housing policy invariably means lowering standards to get mortgages into the hands of people who may not be able to afford them.

Earlier this month, President Obama announced that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will begin lowering annual mortgage-insurance premiums “to make mortgages more affordable and accessible.” While that sounds good in the abstract, the decision is a bad one with serious consequences for the housing market.

Government programs to make mortgages more widely available to low- and moderate-income families have consistently offered overleveraged, high-risk loans that set up too many homeowners to fail. In the long run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, for example, federal mortgage agencies and their regulators cajoled and wheedled private lenders to loosen credit standards. They have been doing so again. When the next housing crash arrives, private lenders will be blamed—and homeowners and taxpayers will once again pay dearly.

Lowering annual mortgage-insurance premiums is part of a new affordable-lending effort by the Obama administration. More specifically, it is the latest salvo in a price war between two government mortgage giants to meet government mandates.

Fannie Mae fired the first shot in December when it relaunched the 30-year, 97% loan-to-value, or LTV, mortgage (a type of loan that was suspended in 2013). Fannie revived these 3% down-payment mortgages at the behest of its federal regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)—which has run Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac since 2008, when both government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) went belly up and were put into conservatorship. The FHA’s mortgage-premium price rollback was a counteroffensive.

Déjà vu: Fannie launched its first price war against the FHA in 1994 by introducing the 30-year, 3% down-payment mortgage. It did so at the behest of its then-regulator, the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This and other actions led HUD in 2004 to credit Fannie Mae’s “substantial part in the ‘revolution’ ” in “affordable lending” to “historically underserved households.”

Fannie’s goal in 1994 and today is to take market share from the FHA, the main competitor for loans it and Freddie Mac need to meet mandates set by Congress since 1992 to increase loans to low- and moderate-income homeowners. The weapons in this war are familiar—lower pricing and progressively looser credit as competing federal agencies fight over existing high-risk lending and seek to expand such lending.

Mortgage price wars between government agencies are particularly dangerous, since access to low-cost capital and minimal capital requirements gives them the ability to continue for many years—all at great risk to the taxpayers. Government agencies also charge low-risk consumers more than necessary to cover the risk of default, using the overage to lower fees on loans to high-risk consumers.

Starting in 2009 the FHFA released annual studies documenting the widespread nature of these cross-subsidies. The reports showed that low down payment, 30-year loans to individuals with low FICO scores were consistently subsidized by less-risky loans.

Unfortunately, special interests such as the National Association of Realtors—always eager to sell more houses and reap the commissions—and the left-leaning Urban Institute were cheerleaders for loose credit. In 1997, for example, HUD commissioned the Urban Institute to study Fannie and Freddie’s single-family underwriting standards. The Urban Institute’s 1999 report found that “the GSEs’ guidelines, designed to identify creditworthy applicants, are more likely to disqualify borrowers with low incomes, limited wealth, and poor credit histories; applicants with these characteristics are disproportionately minorities.” By 2000 Fannie and Freddie did away with down payments and raised debt-to-income ratios. HUD encouraged them to more aggressively enter the subprime market, and the GSEs decided to re-enter the “liar loan” (low doc or no doc) market, partly in a desire to meet higher HUD low- and moderate-income lending mandates.

On Jan. 6, the Urban Institute announced in a blog post: “FHA: Time to stop overcharging today’s borrowers for yesterday’s mistakes.” The institute endorsed an immediate cut of 0.40% in mortgage-insurance premiums charged by the FHA. But once the agency cuts premiums, Fannie and Freddie will inevitably reduce the guarantee fees charged to cover the credit risk on the loans they guarantee.

Now the other shoe appears poised to drop, given Mr. Watt’s promise on Tuesday to issue new guidance on guarantee fees.

This is happening despite Congress’s 2011 mandate that Fannie’s regulator adjust the prices of mortgages and guarantee fees to make sure they reflect the actual risk of loss—that is, to eliminate dangerous and distortive pricing by the two GSEs. Ed DeMarco, acting director of the FHFA since March 2009, worked hard to do so but left office in January 2014. Mr. Watt, his successor, suspended Mr. DeMarc o’s efforts to comply with Congress’s mandate. Now that Fannie will once again offer heavily subsidized 3%-down mortgages, massive new cross-subsidies will return, and the congressional mandate will be ignored.

The law stipulates that the FHA maintain a loss-absorbing capital buffer equal to 2% of the value of its outstanding mortgages. The agency obtains this capital from profits earned on mortgages and future premiums. It hasn’t met its capital obligation since 2009 and will not reach compliance until the fall of 2016, according to the FHA’s latest actuarial report. But if the economy runs into another rough patch, this projection will go out the window.

Congress should put an end to this price war before it does real damage to the economy. It should terminate the ill-conceived GSE affordable-housing mandates and impose strong capital standards on the FHA that can’t be ignored as they have been for five years and counting.

Mr. Pinto, former chief credit officer of Fannie Mae, is co-director and chief risk officer of the International Center on Housing Risk at the American Enterprise Institute.

 29 
 on: January 29, 2015, 07:59:02 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
A friend in the DEA sent me this:

======================================

Despite push to legalize pot, the war on drugs still matters
Denver Post
By Jason Tama

With multiple state marijuana initiatives winning voter approval in the 2014 midterm elections, legalization proponents are already hard at work in states like California, where passage of a comprehensive initiative in 2016 could provide the policy "legitimacy" reformers are seeking. However, states should proceed cautiously as it is too soon to fully assess the complex economic and public health and safety implications of state-by-state legalization. More broadly for the nation, it is also important to address what the legalization debate has thus far either ignored or oversimplified: the effects on international illicit drug markets, transnational organized crime and American foreign policy.
 
The illicit drug economy is a complex system run by resilient criminal networks. Despite the move toward legalization, the destabilizing influence of illicit economies and transnational crime will endure, and a sustained national effort will still be needed to address this evolving threat.
 
Assuming state-by-state commercial legalization continues, illicit marijuana markets will persist until legal and black market prices converge and interstate arbitrage opportunities disappear. Neither of these outcomes is likely in the near-term. States face the very difficult task of managing consumption levels via unique regulatory regimes that promote scarcity, while simultaneously trying to price out illicit suppliers. Further, with no regulatory harmonization among states - and no credible movement to legalize federally - interstate arbitrage opportunities persist and are ripe for exploitation by illicit traffickers. This is not necessarily an argument against experimenting with legalization, but rather an acknowledgement of market dynamics and the agility of modern criminal networks. The good news is marijuana traffickers should face shrinking profit margins in commercially regulated states that progress toward competitive pricing.
 
Let's also acknowledge that well-established illicit economies have staying power. If marijuana legalization sufficiently erodes market share for transnational criminal networks, they will migrate toward more profitable segments of the illicit market, not just drop out, and will continue to threaten stability in the Western Hemisphere. For example, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines continue to cross our borders via robust networks, and in most cases, cocaine being the exception, consumption in the United States is on the rise.
 
Transnational crime is an evolving national security threat, as well. The boundaries between drug, human, and weapons trafficking, as well as cyber-crime and terrorism continue to blur. This problem is not unique to the United States, as criminal networks supply globalized illicit markets and pose destabilizing and perhaps existential threats to several nations where the United States has important interests. Acknowledging this reality, the Obama administration distanced itself from the much maligned war on drugs, and instead reframed the problem as a persistent public health issue, with international focus shifting to the broader goal of combatting transnational criminal networks. On balance, this approach better recognizes the enduring nature of the challenges.
 
While marijuana legalization is no panacea for the illicit drug problem, history suggests new ideas are desperately needed. Deliberate and limited regulatory experimentation makes sense in this context. However, illicit economies and criminal networks will persist, and so must the international effort to combat them. This includes sustaining some important elements of the "War on Drugs," a historic misnomer - such a war can never be "won" - that persists in popular culture and is sadly now used to marginalize efforts to address the broader transnational criminal threat.
 
Some of the criticisms levied against the "War on Drugs" are well justified. However, its shortcomings should not be misinterpreted as reason to abandon the fight against illicit drugs and transnational crime; indeed public health, regional stability, and national security are all at stake. Instead, illicit economies continue to adapt, and so must our strategies to address them. Specifically we must adjust our strategies to better address the resilient nature of illicit economies and their ability to respond to an evolving domestic drug policy landscape. This will require a coordinated, flexible, systems approach, with the following critical elements for the United States:
 
• Reducing U. S. demand for illicit drugs. The impacts of state-by-state marijuana legalization on numbers of users, incidence of addiction, and consumption of stronger illicit drugs remain an open question. This is a critical area to monitor as legal markets evolve and data becomes available from new prevention and treatment programs funded by marijuana tax revenue in states like Colorado.
 
• Continuously improving supply-side strategies. Interdicting threats beyond our borders remains a vital capability regardless of the illicit commodity. This includes advancing national capabilities, reducing barriers to interagency collaboration, and increasing partner nation capacity building and information sharing, particularly regarding the effects of changing domestic policy.
 
• Improving governance and economic growth. Redoubling and sustaining the difficult work of improving governance and opportunities for licit economic growth in nations with deeply embedded illicit economies such as Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
 
The strategic goals of this macro-effort should be to improve governance, prosperity, and regional stability by reducing the size and extent of illicit markets and their associated criminal networks. In addition to the obvious considerations inside our borders, the evolving experiment in marijuana legalization must also be debated within this broader, more complex international context.


 30 
 on: January 29, 2015, 07:53:07 PM 
Started by G M - Last post by Crafty_Dog
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/29/senate-gop-to-obama-turn-over-communications-irs/

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