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 81 
 on: November 20, 2014, 04:49:08 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by ccp
I saw Geraldo's rant on how Republicans "deserve" this.  This guy can sit there all he wants and call himself a Republican (which I saw him do twice) to impress Fox News viewers and probably management.  He ain't no Republican.

 82 
 on: November 20, 2014, 01:59:55 PM 
Started by Mad Scientist - Last post by Crafty_Dog

http://online.wsj.com/articles/john-h-cochrane-what-the-inequality-warriors-really-want-1416442460
What the Inequality Warriors Really Want
By
John H. Cochrane
Updated Nov. 20, 2014 8:42 a.m. ET
 
 
Progressives decry inequality as the world’s most pressing economic problem. In its name, they urge much greater income and wealth taxation, especially of the reviled top 1% of earners, along with more government spending and controls—higher minimum wages, “living” wages, comparable worth directives, CEO pay caps, etc.

Inequality may be a symptom of economic problems. But why is inequality itself an economic problem? If some get rich and others get richer, who cares? If we all become poor equally, is that not a problem? Why not fix policies and problems that make it harder to earn more?

Yes, the reported taxable income and wealth earned by the top 1% may have grown faster than for the rest. This could be good inequality—entrepreneurs start companies, develop new products and services, and get rich from a tiny fraction of the social benefit. Or it could be bad inequality—crony capitalists who get rich by exploiting favors from government. Most U.S. billionaires are entrepreneurs from modest backgrounds, operating in competitive new industries, suggesting the former.

But there are many other kinds and sources of inequality. The returns to skill have increased. People who can use or program computers, do math or run organizations have enjoyed relative wage increases. But why don’t others observe these returns, get skills and compete away the skill premium? A big reason: awful public schools dominated by teachers unions, which leave kids unprepared even to enter college. Limits on high-skill immigration also raise the skill premium.

Americans stuck in a cycle of terrible early-child experiences, substance abuse, broken families, unemployment and criminality represent a different source of inequality. Their problems have proven immune to floods of government money. And government programs and drug laws are arguably part of the problem.

These problems, and many like them, have nothing to do with a rise in top 1% incomes and wealth.

Recognizing, I think, this logic, inequality warriors go on to argue that inequality is a problem because it causes other social or economic ills. A recent Standard & Poor’s report sums up some of these assertions: “As income inequality increased before the [2008 financial] crisis, less affluent households took on more and more debt to keep up—or, in this case, catch up—with the Joneses. ” In a 2011 Vanity Fair article, Columbia University economist Joe Stiglitz wrote that inequality causes a “lifestyle effect . . . people outside the top 1 percent increasingly live beyond their means.’’ He called it “trickle-down behaviorism.”

I see. A fry cook in Fresno hears that more hedge-fund managers are flying in private jets. So he buys a pickup he can’t afford. They are saying that we must tax away wealth to encourage thrift in the lower classes.

Here’s another claim: Inequality is a problem because rich people save too much. So, by transferring money from rich to poor, we can increase overall consumption and escape “secular stagnation.”

I see. Now we need to forcibly transfer wealth to solve our deep problem of national thriftiness.

You can see in these examples that the arguments are made up to justify a pre-existing answer. If these were really the problems to be solved, each has much more natural solutions.

Is eliminating the rich, to eliminate envy of their lifestyle, really the best way to stimulate savings? Might not, say, fixing the large taxation of savings in means-tested social programs make some sense? If lifestyle envy really is the mechanism, would it not be more effective to ban “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”?

If we redistribute because lack of Keynesian “spending” causes “secular stagnation”—a big if—then we should transfer money from all the thrifty, even poor, to all the big spenders, especially the McMansion owners with new Teslas and maxed-out credit cards. Is that an offensive policy? Yes. Well, maybe this wasn’t about “spending” after all.
There is a lot of fashionable talk about “redistribution” that’s not really the agenda. Even sky-high income and wealth taxes would not raise much revenue for very long, and any revenue is likely to fund government programs, not checks to the needy. Most inequality warriors, including President Obama, forthrightly advocate taxation to level incomes in the name of “fairness,” even if those taxes raise little or no revenue.

When you get past this kind of balderdash, most inequality warriors get down to the real problem they see: money and politics. They think money is corrupting politics, and they want to take away the money to purify the politics. As Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez wrote for his 2013 Arrow lecture at Stanford University: “top income shares matter” because the “surge in top incomes gives top earners more ability to influence [the] political process.”

A critique of rent-seeking and political cronyism is well taken, and echoes from the left to libertarians. But if abuse of government power is the problem, increasing government power is a most unlikely solution.

If we increase the top federal income-tax rate to 90%, will that not just dramatically increase the demand for lawyers, lobbyists, loopholes, connections, favors and special deals? Inequality warriors think not. Mr. Stiglitz, for example, writes that “wealth is a main determinant of power.” If the state grabs the wealth, even if fairly earned, then the state can benevolently exercise its power on behalf of the common person.

No. Cronyism results when power determines wealth. Government power inevitably invites the trade of regulatory favors for political support. We limit rent-seeking by limiting the government’s ability to hand out goodies.

So when all is said and done, the inequality warriors want the government to confiscate wealth and control incomes so that wealthy individuals cannot influence politics in directions they don’t like. Koch brothers, no. Public-employee unions, yes. This goal, at least, makes perfect logical sense. And it is truly scary.

Prosperity should be our goal. And the secrets of prosperity are simple and old-fashioned: property rights, rule of law, economic and political freedom. A limited government providing competent institutions. Confiscatory taxation and extensive government control of incomes are not on the list.

Mr. Cochrane is a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute.

 83 
 on: November 20, 2014, 01:51:46 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

The Realist Creed
By Robert Kaplan

All people in foreign policy circles consider themselves realists, since all people consider themselves realistic about every issue they ever talk about. At the same time, very few consider themselves realists, since realism signifies, in too many minds, cynicism and failure to intervene abroad when human rights are being violated on a mass scale. Though everyone and no one is a realist, it is also true that realism never goes away -- at least not since Thucydides wrote The Peloponnesian War in the fifth century B.C., in which he defined human nature as driven by fear (phobos), self-interest (kerdos) and honor (doxa). And realism, as defined by perhaps the pre-eminent thinker in the field in the last century, the late Hans Morgenthau of the University of Chicago, is about working with the basest forces of human nature, not against them.

Why is realism timeless and yet reviled at the same time? Because realism tells the bitterest truths that not everyone wants to hear. For in foreign policy circles, as in other fields of human endeavor, people often prefer to deceive themselves. Let me define what realism means to me.

First of all, realism is a sensibility, a set of values, not a specific guide as to what to do in each and every crisis. Realism is a way of thinking, not a set of instructions as to what to think. It doesn't prevent you from making mistakes. This makes realism more an art than a science. That's why some of the best practitioners of realism in recent memory -- former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker III -- never distinguished themselves as writers or philosophers. They were just practical men who had a knack for what made sense in foreign policy and what did not. And even they made mistakes. You can be an intellectual who has read all the books on realism and be an utter disaster in government, just as you could be a lawyer who has never read one book on realism and be a good secretary of state. Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was unique because he was both: an intellectual realist and a successful statesman. But successful statesmen, intellectual or not, must inculcate a set of beliefs that can be defined by what may be called the Realist Creed:

Order Comes Before Freedom. That's right. Americans may think freedom is the most important political value, but realists know that without order there can be no freedom for anyone. For if anarchy reigns and no one is in charge, freedom is worthless since life is cheap. Americans sometimes forget this basic rule of nature since they have taken order for granted -- because they always had it, a gift of the English political and philosophical tradition. But many places do not have it. That is why when dictators are overthrown, realists get nervous: They know that because stable democracy is not assured as a replacement, they rightly ask, Who will rule? Even tyranny is better than anarchy. To wit, Iraq under Saddam Hussein was more humane than Iraq under no one -- that is, in a state of sectarian war.

Work With the Material at Hand. In other words, you can't just go around the world toppling regimes you don't like because they do not adhere to the same human rights standards as you do, or because their leaders are corrupt or unenlightened, or because they are not democrats. You must work with what there is in every country. Yes, there might be foreign leaders so averse to your country's interests that it will necessitate war or sanctions on your part; but such instances will be relatively rare. When it comes to foreign rulers, realists revel in bad choices; idealists often mistakenly assume that there should be good ones.

Think Tragically in Order to Avoid Tragedy. Pessimism has more value than misplaced optimism. Because so many regimes around the world are difficult or are in difficult straits, realists know that they must always be thinking about what could go wrong. Foreign policy is like life: The things you worry about happening often turn out all right, precisely because you worried about them and took protective measures accordingly; it is the things you don't worry about and that happen unexpectedly that cause disaster. Realists are good worriers.

Every Problem Does Not Have a Solution. It is a particular conceit that every problem is solvable. It isn't. Mayhem and human rights violations abound, even as the United States cannot intervene everywhere or take foreign policy positions that will necessarily help. That's why realists are comfortable doing little or nothing in certain instances, even as they feel just as bad as idealists about heartrending situations.

Interests Come Before Values. A nation such as the United States has interests in secure sea lines of communication, access to energy, a soft dominance in the Western Hemisphere and a favorable balance of power in the Eastern Hemisphere. These are amoral concerns that, while not necessarily in conflict with liberal values, operate in a different category from them. If Arab dictatorships will better secure safe sea lanes in and out of energy-producing areas than would chaotic democracies, realists will opt for dictatorship, knowing that it is a tragic yet necessary decision.

American Power Is Limited. The United States cannot intervene everywhere or even in most places. Precisely because America is a global power, it must try to avoid getting bogged down in any one particular place. The United States can defend treaty and de facto allies with its naval, air and cyber power. It can infiltrate communications networks the world over. It can, in short, do a lot of things. But it cannot set to rights complex Islamic societies in deep turmoil. So another thing realists are good at -- and comfortable with -- is disappointing people. In fact, one might say that foreign policy at its best is often about disappointing people, not always creating opportunities so much as keeping even worse things from happening.

Passion and Good Policy Often Don't Go Together. Foreign policy requires practitioners among whom the blood runs cold. While loud voices abound about doing something, the person in charge must quietly ask himself or herself, If I do this, what will happen two steps down the road, three steps down the road, and so forth? For passion can easily flip: Those screaming the loudest for intervention today can be the same ones calling your intervention flawed or insufficient after you have embarked on the fateful enterprise.
Reading this list, you might think that realism is immoral. That would be wrong. Rather, realism is imbued with a hard morality of best possible outcomes under the circumstances rather than a soft morality of good intentions. For there is a big difference between being moral and moralistic: The former celebrates difficult choices and the consequences that follow, while the latter abjures them. Realism is a hard road. The policymaker who lives by its dictums will often be rebuked while in office and fondly recalled as a statesman in the years and decades following. Look at George H.W. Bush. But foreign policy realists who have served in high office, I suspect, are more comfortable with the kind of loneliness that comes with rebuke than some of their idealist counterparts. Loneliness is normal for the best policymakers; it is the craving for the adoring crowd that is dangerous.

Robert D. Kaplan is Chief Geopolitical Analyst at Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence firm, and author of Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific.

 84 
 on: November 20, 2014, 01:47:04 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by objectivist1
Crafty,

Such legislation has been signed multiple times and has been consistently ignored - first by the Bush administration, then by this one.  Obama will NEVER enforce a sealing of the border or completion of the fence.  He's ignored it for these first 6 years.

 85 
 on: November 20, 2014, 01:39:53 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Here's my suggestion for the Reps:

The underlying hold up is that the border is not protected , , , so PROTECT THE BORDER.

Pass a bill that genuinely closes the border.  Make Obama face signing or vetoing it.

This seems to me a good tip of the spear for everything else.

 86 
 on: November 20, 2014, 01:37:10 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Data Watch
________________________________________
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) was Unchanged in October To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Bob Stein, CFA - Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 11/20/2014

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) was unchanged in October versus the consensus expected decline of 0.1%. The CPI is up 1.7% versus a year ago.
“Cash” inflation (which excludes the government’s estimate of what homeowners would charge themselves for rent) declined 0.1% in October, but is up 1.3% in the past year.
Energy prices declined 1.9% in October, while food prices increased 0.1%. The “core” CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.2% versus consensus expectations of 0.1%. Core prices are up 1.8% versus a year ago.

Real average hourly earnings – the cash earnings of all workers, adjusted for inflation – rose 0.1% in October, and are up 0.4% in the past year. Real weekly earnings are up 0.9% in the past year.

Implications: Next time you see an energy engineer, remember to give them a hug. They deserve it. Energy prices fell for a fourth straight month in October and continue to mute rising prices elsewhere for consumers. Consumer prices are up a modest 1.7% in the past year and the key reasons is America’s booming energy production and, as a result, lower world oil prices. The gasoline index is down 5% in the past year and now stands at the lowest level since February 2011. Given the continued drop in oil prices in the first half of November, look for another tame reading on overall price gains in next month’s report. However, there are sectors where inflation is moving higher. Food and beverage prices are up at a 3.1% annual rate in the past six months and up 2.9% in the past year. So if you only use the supermarket to gauge inflation, we understand thinking the headline reports are too low and that “true” inflation is higher. In addition, housing costs are going up. Owners’ equivalent rent, which makes up about ¼ of the overall CPI, rose 0.2% in October, is up 2.7% in the past year, and will be a key source of any acceleration in inflation in the year ahead. One of the best pieces of news in today’s report was that “real” (inflation-adjusted) average hourly earnings rose 0.1% in October. These earnings are up 0.4% from a year ago and workers are also adding to their purchasing power because of more jobs and more hours worked. Plugging today’s CPI data into our models suggests the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, the PCE deflator, was probably unchanged in October. If so, it would be up 1.4% from a year ago, still below the Fed’s target of 2%. We expect this measure to eventually hit and cross the 2% target, but given the bonanza from fracking and horizontal drilling, not until next year. In other news this morning, new claims for unemployment insurance declined 2,000 last week to 291,000. Continuing claims fell 73,000 to 2.33 million, a new low for the recovery. Plugging these figures into our employment models suggests nonfarm payrolls are growing 200,000 in November, with private payrolls up 191,000.

 87 
 on: November 20, 2014, 12:48:00 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by ccp
And I would add figure a way to stop Obama from finishing his goal of legalizing millions more:

immiigration
Republicans Can Trump Obama on Immigration

Lanhee Chen
comments icon61 time iconNov 20, 2014 12:36 PM EST
By  Lanhee Chen   

Let's be clear: The executive action President Barack Obama is scheduled to announce tonight isn’t a real fix for the broken U.S. immigration system.

It is a naked political maneuver that he hopes will shore up support for Democrats among Latino voters and re-energize the party's base after its beating in the elections this month.

Obama might not be wrong to think that this is good politics. Whether he’s right depends on how Republicans respond to his announcement. So, they should tread carefully.

First, Republicans should remind Americans that the president's executive action is nothing more than another short-term patch that arguably makes it less, not more, likely that Congress will ever pass permanent reforms. 

In accounts of Obama’s proposed executive action, there has been no clear plan for truly boosting border security; no effort to hold employers who hire illegal immigrants accountable; no repair of our broken visa system for these seeking to come here legally; and, perhaps most significant, no permanent resolution of the legal status of the 11 million people who came to the U.S. unlawfully. In fact, the next president could easily wipe away whatever relief illegal immigrants may receive through any Obama executive action.

Second, Republicans should do everything they can to avoid a government shutdown in response to the president’s announcement. They are right to express, through the legislative process, their concerns over the legal issues and policies in the president’s action. But they shouldn’t hand him a political victory by failing to finance the government.

A more targeted effort -- such as the alternative floated this week by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky -- would be the better approach. Rogers suggested that Congress could first pass an omnibus funding bill that would ensure the government remains open, and then pass “rescissions” bills in the next Congress that would defund specific agencies or government operations directly related to carrying out the president’s plan.

Another option, which my Bloomberg View colleague Ramesh Ponnuru discussed in a recent column, would be to pass two separate funding bills -- omnibus legislation to finance the vast majority of the federal government's operations and a measure focused only on the few offices responsible for carrying out the president's order. The narrower bill would include an explicit prohibition on implementing Obama’s executive action. This division would force Democrats into a corner: either accept the prohibitions on carrying out the president’s executive order, or get blamed for a government shutdown.

Regardless of the approach, Republicans should see to it that spending levels specified in any omnibus legislation are responsible ones. But either of these options enables Republicans to avoid a shutdown while also undercutting Obama's efforts.

Finally, Republicans shouldn't abandon the idea of passing some immigration legislation early in the 114th Congress next year. There is disagreement within their ranks on how to handle the immigrants who are here illegally. But on policies where agreement exists, Republicans should act. By putting permanent changes in place, they would be offering a welcome contrast to the president’s temporary action.

If border security is a prerequisite, Republicans can start there, putting stricter measures in place. They can then move to further increase the number of visas for high-skilled workers and improve the current guest-worker laws. There is also likely agreement on granting legal status to some of the “Dreamers” who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

 While I continue to believe it is in Republicans’ best long-term interest to reach consensus on the status of illegal immigrants currently in the U.S., the party's leaders shouldn't allow disagreement on this issue to derail legislation on other important policies. Obama has made his move, and Republicans should respond by enacting reforms. By doing this, they place the onus on Obama, daring him to use his veto power to reject sensible measures that rationalize the process of coming here legally, protect the U.S. economy and preserve the rule of law.

By deciding to move ahead with executive action on immigration, the president is jeopardizing the possibility of bipartisan cooperation in the next Congress. But Republicans have the opportunity to demonstrate that they can and will govern, regardless of what Obama does.

The accomplishments that result from their efforts could cause the president’s cynical, go-it-alone maneuver to backfire -- and help Republicans win back the White House in 2016.

 

 88 
 on: November 20, 2014, 10:36:22 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by DougMacG
Do crises drive prices up in the current context?  The middle east is in an accelerating burn, and oil prices are falling , , ,

Off the top of my head this looks more like a play to play for time if/when there is a run on the ruble.

Great points.  In other crisis, in Iraq, Iran, the Gulf, Libya, threat of war anywhere, it seems that all crisis drive up the price of oil.  Why not now?

In Iraq, ISIS the aggressor wants control of the oil production and revenue, not disruption.  It's quiet in Iran while they build their nuclear arsenal without objection.  America is gushing with oil from fracking and Saudi is boosting supply while global demand is likely flattening.

For Russia, their crisis is the falling price of oil.  Their current conflict is Ukraine today and maybe the Baltic States tomorrow.  Since the Russian side is both the energy producer and the attacker, I guess there is no current threat of disruption to make the oil futures market nervous.  Ukraine relies on Russian gas and oil, so they would not attack those supply lines even if they could.

Agree, he is setting aside reserves as safely as possible to protect the Ruble, or for himself somehow.   What we never know is what global trouble Putin has in mind next. 

 89 
 on: November 20, 2014, 10:23:25 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by bigdog
http://blogs.cfr.org/davidson/2014/11/18/the-warrior-ethos-at-risk-h-r-mcmasters-remarkable-veterans-day-speech/

From the article:

There is a tendency in the United States to confuse the study of war and warfare with militarism. Thinking clearly about the problem of war and warfare, however, is both an unfortunate necessity and the best way to prevent it. As the English theologian, writer, and philosopher G.K. Chesterton observed, “War is not the best way of settling differences, but it is the only way of preventing them being settled for you.”

 90 
 on: November 20, 2014, 10:12:42 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by objectivist1
SCHLAFLY: OBAMA COULD LAUNCH ANOTHER CIVIL WAR

Describes president's amnesty plan as modern-day 'Fort Sumter'


By Paul Bremmer

President Obama’s looming executive action on immigration reform represents a Fort Sumter-type moment, according to conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly.

Schlafly at first considered comparing the Obama amnesty to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor but decided that Obama’s plan is much more subtle.

“With Pearl Harbor, the American people knew what was happening,” she said.

But Fort Sumter, where the opening shots of the Civil War were fired, represented the beginning of a ruinous conflict, and Schlafly, like fellow conservative luminary Richard Viguerie, speculates that an executive amnesty might touch off a sort of modern-day conflagration.

Obama plans to announce his unilateral immigration reform proposal in a televised address Thursday night. While no details are being released by the White House until then, analysts widely expect it to include delaying deportation and issuing work permits to up to 5 million people currently in the U.S. illegally.

However, it could be just the beginning. Last month, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began searching for a contractor capable of producing up to 34 million blank green cards over the next five years.

Obama’s executive order is expected to include some parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. The Washington Post reported the plan will broaden visa programs for highly skilled technology workers.

Two components of the plan would seem to appease immigration-control advocates. At the National Press Club Wednesday, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson claimed the president’s order would include steps to secure the southern border of the United States. And “an official familiar with the administration’s deliberations” told the New York Times the newly authorized illegal aliens would not be eligible for subsidized health insurance plans under Obamacare.

Schlafly, whose recently published book “Who Killed the American Family?” came out just days before she turned 90, is not at all reassured by the latter two parts of the plan.

Asked whether she trusts Obama to secure the nation’s southern border, she replied: “No. I don’t trust him.”

She pointed out that politicians have been promising to secure the border for years, but it remains wide open. She remembers when Obama’s predecessor failed to deliver on a promised border fence.

“I remember seeing George W. Bush’s photo-op,” Schlafly said. “He was signing the law to build the fence. And they never built it.”

She is also skeptical of the idea that beneficiaries of Obama’s amnesty will be barred from receiving health-care subsidies.

“No, I don’t think he will deny them Obamacare,” she said.

So is the president lying?

“I think he lies about everything,” Schlafly said.


Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/11/schlafly-obama-could-launch-another-civil-war/#VhPrOIz5dfULc291.99

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