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Total number of comments: 116 (since 2013-11-28 16:37:44)


Showing comments 116 - 101

  • Iran: Rise In Youth just living together -- Gov't rails Against 'White Marriage'
  • Solar Power in US doubles in 2014, Wind now 4% of Energy Mix
    • Major wind power project in Maryland (to be situated in Ches. Bay) was scuttled after US Navy complained the turbines would interfere with radar on planes flying out of Patuxent Naval Air Test Station. While you have to wonder about why the Navy has radar that are so easily interfered with, there are limited inland sites. Off-shore installations have the benefit of the more reliable sea breeze but as this example shows--there is competiton over usage..

  • Watchdog Says World Internet Freedom In Decline
    • U>S>A should top the list. This list is too propaganda-oriented. No one but Americans are faced with such usurious fees to "be" on-line. If marginalized people can't afford it, the government need not bother itself to deny them internet access. That is, another ranking factor should be "pricing out."

  • Why it makes Economic Sense for Universities to Divest from Fossil Fuels
    • Portfolio theory v. Speculation
      John needs to rewrite his financial analysis. He has made a couple of flat-out boners here and presents a losing argument.
      1) "Betting" on individual securities is the incorrect analogy for portfolio-ed investments. What he characterizes by the "bet" analogy is considered speculation and is considered irresponsible strategy (for any academic institution). It would be something appropriate only to arbitrage, option traders, and other speculative sorts of investors, presumably persons being more knowledgeable (professionals, this is not a comparison with the author, but with all us common folk). That is not to say non-sophisticated Day Traders don’t speculate on individual securities. Brokers huff and puff although Finance 101 is that no one can predict what is a good deal better than the market (the current price). This sort of gibberish is the common sort of make money article published for that target market and seems to be misinforming the authors financial sensibility.
      2) His summary Present Value analysis is entirely wrong. He says: "At a discount rate of 6%, it’s not deemed to be worth spending a dollar now to avoid the loss of $15 in 50 years’ time." For what he said, a loss of $15 in 50 years at a discount rate of 6% is a loss of only 81 cent loss today. This means Mitt Romney would give you millions, as many dollars as possible understanding he would lose 81 cents in today's value and that only 50 years from now. The guy is rumored to drink formaldehyde, but this means he would earn 19 cents on the dollar the moment he made the deal (trade)—an instant return. If this was an example of the real situation in Austrailia, somebody like Mitt Romney would be laughing all the way to the bank and heads would roll at the university. This present value analysis further flawed in that the author’s statement ignores all the cash flows (returns and losses) that would happen over the 50-year term. (I should also mention that no investor would value this loss at 6 percent as equities are discounted typically at a much higher rate. This means the $15 loss would be worth less than a 81 cent loss today).
      The discount rate is a measure of the minimum return required to lure the investment from out from under the mattress (typically 3.5% or so) plus expected inflation, plus a return for the portfolio-ed risk of the particular security—really its industry. From the financial investment standpoint of portfolio theory, it makes no difference really which companies are invested in. The object is to diversify the investment as a sample of the market place-proportionately representing the various market sectors to mimic the market. The caveat is that the investment is made in securities that are typical of their industry—being heavily-traded Blue Chips might be a criterion an investment manager or trust fund manager might have to meet. Again, since you are sampling the market, the object is to invest proportionally in the various market sectors and avoid particular risks (idiosyncratic risks) that belong to individual companies—you specifically are not betting on particular companies. In that way, you expect a return equivalent to the market return for equity and debt (most portfolios would also balance equity and debt investments which means a return is targeted somewhere between the returns expected for each—and so on.
      Thus, the analogy of the bet is not a good assessment. A portfolio is not a set of bets on companies. It is a risk-adverse statistical diversified strategy. It means to earn the rate of return of the "market" by only taking on market risk. In the lingo--you portfolio away all the idiosyncratic risks presented by individual securities and industry groups. It is generally accepted that the naïve approach of portfolio investment strategies will earn a superior return in the long-run compared to speculative investment (betting on companies). The old oft repeated experiment is pitting speculative investors against dart boards or monkeys who tend to do as well and better.
      Therefore, the argument stating that the divestment makes economic sense is false. It may make political sense and be a political move or it may be the failure of the Board of Trustees and Funds Managers to carry out their fiduciary responsibilities (that would be the argument made in the court room).

  • Cairo Erupts as Mubarak, Adly Declared Innocent in Deaths of Protesters
    • That protestors were killed in Egypt is unfortunate. But, Mubarak has not been in power for some time. The present protests are more on the road to the Great Terror than some notion of democracy. The protestors want revenge. It is hard to envision democracy emerging from such. As for wanting to prosecute heads of state, there is actually legal basis for the Egyptian judges announcement. The value judgments of this article go a bit far (on this basis) and seem more like propaganda than critical commentary.

      Persons acting as Heads of State are generally individually exempted from personal prosecution for actions such as this.
      The Nuremberg trials mentioned by another commenter have nothing to do with the American Justice System. That was a military tribunal of the Allied Forces--military justice--its a different apple. Military law has been the general case when former leaders have been tried for war crimes (usually). Nixon was impeached. He did not escape justice. He resigned when the outcome became inevitable He was only pardoned from personal prosecution by Ford which would not have happened or, if charges had been filed, it would not have gone any further than what just happened in Egypt. Saddam Hussein made the same arguments--that he acted as Head of State in defense of country and people, but lost. However, while this was technically an Iraqi court, the Iraqi Court was at the graces of the military or occupation forces--indeed another military tribunal.

      There is hardly any precedent for trying a former Head of State in a civilian court for actions carried out or contemplated as Head of State. The exceptions are the "regicide" of Charles I of England and the Great Terror of the Guillotine in France.

      The other comparison made in the article --raiding Sarkozy's home for evidence of illegal campaign funds raising is also a poor comparison. Many politicians have been charged and fined by the FEC who has seized records as part of their prosecution.

  • Far-Right Israeli FM Lieberman: Offer Israeli Arabs Money to Move to [Non-Existent] Palestinian State
    • Now there you go again, talking reality. You know that these particular fanatics think they came from ...?

  • What is Climate Change? World Bank Cartoon on E. Europe impact for your GOP Friends
  • Oil Price Fall: Saudi Arabia targets US Shale Oil, Iran, Iraq, Russia
    • You are right about the quantity of plant matter required but wrong about "it doesn't really matter what we burn." It matters because of the carbon cycle. Burning fuels made from crude or coal increase equilibrium carbon levels because the source was buried outside of the carbon cycle for tens of millions of years. Burning biofuels is within the carbon cycle--the plants absorb their carbon content from the carbon cycle (tilled soil and mostly from photosynthesis) and it is returned to the carbon cycle (assuming no emission controls) when burned. It is also true that biofuels are near pure whereas crude is a mixture of all sorts of compounds, some volatile. That's what makes filtering and other controls of petrol near impossible to do well.
      When I worked with technologies to make ethanol from lignocellulose (plant woody matter but not starchy grains), the amount of plant mass required to replace the demand for auto fuels with ethanol was ridiculous. The only area where it made sense was to ferment the 40 percent of the garbage stream that is lignocellulose and allow the still its share of the tip fees. If you did that with the entire waste stream, it wouldn't account for 1 percent of demand.
      The biggest problem for all biofuel is all the wheres required to meet an inkling of demand and the salt buildup in soils and water tables. One irony is the amount of fuel required to grow, harvest, and transport raw materials and then there is necessary fertilization--the land goes sterile rather quickly when you take away the biomass. Economical fertilizers are .petroleum byproducts.
      They make great promises for algae in the attempt to skirt some of these problems but equivalent problems happen with growing biomass in water.
      The net irony of the utopian vision of a world running on biofuels is that it takes about 80 percent of the energy produced by biofuel to produce the biofuel in the first place. So these analyses are myopic. They work in science where all other (practical) things are ignored while a narrowly defined problem is researched. The narrow method of science ignores the wide context of feasibility from a policy perspective.

      Note: I became interested in ethanol from biomass after MIT and some other universities promised great potential for new distillation technologies using new membrane technology. The first thing my research uncovered is the claims they made exceeded the 100 percent theoretical yield of ethanol from corn or any other biomass. Exaggeration is a common human trait.

  • Rudy Giuliani Wants To Prosecute Ferguson Witnesses
    • Guliani at one time seemed a rather reasonable and normal person. Later in his career he went rather bananas over art exhibits and fighting crime. I would guess Alzheimers or other mental infirmaries of old age. At any rate, he is a rather pathetic individual these days and the only way he can get on the air is to say ridiculous things--because he has no credible political valence anymore. Way past his prime.

      He does know it is impossible legally to do this.

  • Iran: US War Hawks go on Offensive after Nuclear Energy Talk Deadlines are Postponed
    • "a Presidency drifting towards the monarchical". Your commentary tends to free associates a long string of cliches that are hard to respond to. What on earth, other than reading too much paranoid nonsense cloaking racist attitudes makes you think the President is attempting to set himself up as King. Exactly how would this happen? Taking a stretch, if you are overly concerned about executive orders, Ronald Reagan paved that street. Cost-benefit analysis and other studies that are a regular facet of the regulatory environment are still conducted to comply with Ronald Reagan's several executive orders--ordering this. He did it that way because he had no chance of getting legislation doing the same through Congress.

      And as for unemployment--well its a big world out there and it is always up somewhere. In the USA, it is now at its lowest in many years and below its average (5.83%) from the cessation of WWII to the present day (US is at 5.8% now).

      What any of this has to do with Iran is a bit difficult for me to entertain.

    • There isn't any failure here in postponing an agreement that would prove rather meaningless as "war hawks" would simply ignore it to their advantage and otherwise employ it as a rhetorical device The war hawks have nothing new to sing about. either way. That is, just as the speech behind them, sanctions are merely a form of rhetorical device. They are never meant to be effective in the sense portrayed. Instead, they are effective in drumming up the home crowd, reinforcing the status quo in the interim, and affording cause for provocations toward increased hostilities..

      The sanctions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles were either the greatest failure or greatest success. Since then, there has not been a time when some Other (nation) has not been threatened with and subjected to sanctions.

      Sanctions are meant to maintain hostilities, not reduce the supposed enemy. The autistic left generally cooperates as sanctions seem a better alternative to war that war hawks demand at the same time, anticipating (subverting) compromise. Regardless of sanctions,. the war hawks press their issues in between breathes for war, or gripe about the failure of sanctions never designed for success.

      Sanctions are part of the package of the provocateur. The provocateur creates a situation of stress that eventually yield to some sort of ridiculous reaction, usually very meager. The response will always cite principle and first causes as it overreacts--driving through to all out war or genocide in the abstract cause of Justice. The recent reaction in Gaza is not a departure from Custer's intrusion into the Black Hills in violation of treaty rights again. With no further room to move further west, The Battle of Little Bighorn was the native victory that insisted on the end of their culture (full imposition of the reservation system of assimilation)..

      I don't know what comic books some of these other commenters have been reading. Iran is no military match for the USA. The only impediment is political resistance at home. Thus the need for the incident that becomes the cause (usually the other side eventually complies, else it will be another Gulf of Tonkin or more yellow cake uranium.

      The reason that we don't win wars anymore has nothing to do with military might and capability. It simply is no longer profitable to win wars. We don't believe in Zero-Sum games anymore. What is profitable is the process...war itself.

      The war hawks are not going to change their overall scheme if an agreement is reached. Immediately, Iran will be said to be disingenuous and in violation of terms (that are bound to be conveniently ambiguous).

      Funny thing is the cries for war in the USA generally come, these days, from the Christian Right who long ago overcame their cheekiness.

  • The Ferguson, Mo. Shooting in American History: What to Tell the Children
    • However. I would not say that police are racially discriminatory about to whom they dish it out. Blacks are just the more numerous of all of us beautiful other kinds of people. Police brutality is also more newsworthy when the victim is a member of a larger minority group. For example, police beating up on transies is common but seldom reported--even if they are African-American transies. No one comes to their aid generally and most often, if they survive, they don't dare report the incident. (Transies transcend racism as they are only seen color-blind--not that such transcendentalism pays for unaffordable surgery or anything else.)

  • Will GOP Congress block an Obama Iran Nuclear Deal?
    • China ranting about shifting from the dollar is vacuous noise. They say this periodically because they are highly invested in US government securities and the US Dollar--they can't avoid it as a matter of trade imbalances. Thus, their wealth is highly subject to US monetary policy. We could simply inflate away all our debts to China. It isn't a likely scenario simply because it would be bad for those few Americans and related Europeans who presently hold the majority of wealth at this point. So, occasionally China makes empty threats but you do have a way with stringing along the metaphors. Not sure I get the Congress critters with one gun out of bullets though. The "shot wad" theory I do believe was disproven by Pascal some time ago.

      Money laundering might be a police problem but your paranoia is way out of balance if you think it is even noticeable in the currency markets or can impact foreign policy.

    • The GOP will introduce as many inane bills to force the President to repeatedly exercise his veto. They will then spin this to do a few things: To pigeon hole the Democrats, to push the image of the Democrats (President) toward tyranny, and to siderail the real Democratic agenda by causing them to defend the long-line of vetoes. It won't seem to matter that most of the Bills will be noise and nonsense. So, of course they will pass bills to block a settlement of the Iran issue. They'll pass bills to prevent State Department dinners on Friday nights if it suits them.

  • In Iran, US Choice is a Negotiated Peace Now or the Risk of War
    • The right-wing in Iran does not believe their country should even be talking to the West and the right-wing in the West does not believe there is any point in negotiating with Iran or any other target. The left wants to broker the deal which is to assume the role of mediator at an empty table.

  • 'Thanks for your Service' = Silencing the Vets
  • Top 5 Things More Americans will die of than Ebola this Year, including Guns
  • Are US Drone Strikes in Pakistan War Crimes? Only 12% of those Killed are Known Militants
    • Crime belongs to the poor. Just as vulture capitalists can steal a balance sheet such that workers are left destitute when their plant closes, I would say technically drone attacks are not a crime if committed by the powerful, else power would be meaningless. Power has no other reason to exist or way to know itself. Thus, while the technology may be newish, the behavior driving the technology to its target is old hat.

  • Top 1% 'own half global wealth'
    • What is amazing is that the concentration of wealth has been close to these figures for a very long time. When I was studying economics here and there many decades ago, the proverbial econ 101 adage was the top 3% own 95% of the kitty.

      The lesson plan then advances to explain the rationale for capitalism--its really a story older than capitalism. The concentration of wealth is supposed to be good for us all. Feudal loafs, err I mean loads., excuse me...:Lords said the same thing to their vassals. So Reagan's trickle-down economics was only a rephrasing of conventional assumptions of capitalist economics that have persisted for a very long time.

      What is different is not so much the concentration but that. while the wealthy have been having their best days for decades., nothing trickles down any more. The poor and middle classes' wealth has spiraled downwards as the poor and middling bleed up. The era of the nation is over. The rich are internationally portfolio-ed, not interested in any sort of national well-being. War is just a business plan. And the social good they say--"what the hell is that?"

      Its not capitalism anymore but "Vulture Economics"

  • Top 7 Ways US Intervention in Iraq/Syria could turn Catastrophic
    • US airstrikes seem far more effective than you say overall. It appears that heavy arms near Kobani have been taking regular hits in the last couple of days as US planes hit targets there rather than coalition pilots--most of whom have little experience--who made the earlier strikes.

      IS has been losing its hold on the town faster than you wrote your article. BBC is reporting, that largely as a consequence of airstrikes, the Kurds have taken back 90 percent of Kobani and that they are engaging two small pockets of IS resistance that remain.

      There is a world of difference between the Kurds and IS* in regards to "who is a terrorist." The Kurds are not going to take back part of Turkey or Iran. As you said, we already helped them set up shop in parts of Iraq and who really has any reason to be bothered over the Kurdish areas of what used to be Syria?

      I fairly agree with uni that your arm-chair analysis is not all that practical. A lot of meaningless what-if scenarios and hindsight--not all correct.

      I would rather we intercede and bomb heavy weapons as they are brought into the field and I think the utilization of air power has been pragmatic and, sure,, in a bad situation--we al know that..

  • Turkey bargaining with base for US, wants no-fly zone in Syria
    • How else: The Iraqi Army has little will to fight. I don't consider the tactics of IS advanced or sophisticated. They have enjoyed little real opposition. In fact, they have been dismal failures at Kobani really, even if they take the town for good. Kobani is defended by a small rag-tag unorganized and poorly equipped impromptu militia.

      Are there Iraqis amongst IS -- I would imagine so --they are pretty much from everywhere.

      But I don't get the point of worrying about Saddam's old army.. I don't see IS as the resurrection of Saddam.

      The Al Capone and Chicago analogy is hilarious but pointless.

      If I had to say, it has a lot to do with power vacuums and poverty, the latter tends to render all kinds of people susceptible to radicalism and violence.

      IS gained some battle experience over the past years in Syria, not much else. Right now, except for Kobani and some other Kurdish paramilitary, IS has more will and has lately acquired all the heavy guns abandoned by the so-called Iraqi Army at the first sign of an attack.

      I think you are over-interpreting and free-associating too much.

  • America's Colonial Armies: Absentee Soldiers, Corrupt Officers and Collapse
  • Is Baghdad next? ISIL takes Hit Base in Iraq, loots it for Weapons
    • I don't see this as having anything to do with Obama's credibility. He stayed in Iraq and Afghanistan longer than people thought he had promised. Now, he's out and there wasn't any substance to what was left. The political infrastructure of Iraq was destroyed within the first months after GW, Rumsfeld, Blair, etc... declared war. With that collapse, there really is no such thing as Iraq in the heart and minds of the people who live there. In other words, this goes way beyond Obama and he is highly constrained in his options by Congress (the House).

      Who every heard of the guys with the tanks at a major arms depot deserting a base over a couple of car bombs out on the outskirts of a base?

      I don't think they are cooperating with IS,,, I just don't think they have any sense of national identity or other collective cause worth fighting for.

      It seems to me that right-wing war hawks won by creating the conditions that inevitably led us to perpetual war. The problem is that the Iraqi army is a sham--people join for a job and flee the risk as it appears. No one identifies with "Iraq" anymore. Like what was done to Native American tribes, they have been reduced to dependency, including national security.

      IS-whatever cannot be ignored--it will only get worse as time goes on and they consolidate.

      You can say we should not have done this or that weaponized the region, declared war on Saddam, and so on--but these are moot points no longer of consequence (not that some of the same people didn't say something about this years ago). We now, like it or not, are faced with little choice but more war. It seems to me, we are getting close to another 30 years of all out war and more outbreaks of serious disease. Those that profit from it will gain while the world's markets and most of us will pay the price.

  • Cold as Hell: North Dakota Burns up the World with Fracked Oil
    • Coming soon to the East Coast near many of you.
      The feds approved Dominion Resources plans to construct a huge LNG export facility on the Chesapeake Bay. This will partly use existing NG pipelines--they have a much smaller import facility at the same location. Much of the construction will be the liquification plant. Already articles are mentioning all the shale beds on the east coast that suddenly would be economically feasible to frack--along with the usual claims of benefits in jobs and so on. They even claim it will increase real estate prices which is not likely true but effective when people are trapped in homes they owe more on than they were worth 7 years ago.
      Local environmentalists put up a fight but were unable to effectively combat lies and the API.

  • Top 5 Ways Lower oil Prices Could Change the World
    • You will of course find all kinds of hoopla about price movements in the media. This is because Wall Street makes more money off of volume than they do prices. They are what is called "skimmers'. They earn a small slice from everyone's trades by serving as market makers--taking no net position. The more stuff trades--the higher the volume--the more they make. So the literature is full of spin (political science) and puffing (marketing), encouraging trading (when finance 101 is that no one can ever have knowledge of what a good or bad trade is in a free market)

      So any movement is prices is going to attract a lot of media attention. Don't take what you read in the news relative to investments all that seriously.

    • If I could, I would post an image with this. As it is, if you go to link to
      and select 10 years for the graphic of Brent Crude prices you will see that the decline is only a short term decline and more of a correction. What is apparent is that Brent Crude prices are highly volatile. This means it is a risky commodity and future cash flows an investment would earn would be discounted highly--all the time. In terms of pricing analysis, what I would suggest is to fit (regress) a line to the data. In that case, I would say current prices are very near long-term projected prices. The latter prices are those that policy makers and those in the business for the long-run will base long-term decisions upon. Note that your implications are long-terms. True, you qualify your judgments by assuming it "stays there for a while" but anyone could say anything they want about the future. So that assumption is not something we--the rest of us--reasonably should consider.
      If I was day-trading Brent-Crude on Wall Street, as that last peak was forming, based on my long-term regression of prices, I would have been looking to sell short at a certain price point anticipating the next drop--I would be looking for enough of a bump to profit from a much smaller drop. At any rate, part of the precipitous decline is likely due to program trading putting in lots of sell orders for this reason driving prices down "precipitously."
      At any rate, will its nice to talk about "what-if" scenarios, there is nothing to support what you believe is implied in the numbers at this point.
      I also do not believe that policy makers over the Ukraine are driven all that much by short-term projections. The name of the game is to acquire reserves as a long-term investment, recouping profits over many decades. Your "for awhile" would have to be more like "permanently" -- and no one is going to be convinced by that in the market given pricing history.

      In other words, I doubt present Brent Crude trading prices are causing anyone to flinch other than speculative day traders. Anyone else was expecting this in advance--it requires only the most basic knowledge to glean this from the data. Wall Street investors and policy planners have more sophisticated models of course but this so-called naive time series analysis will be a major component of them all.

  • Why do Politicians spend $9 billion a year to Jail the Mentally Ill?
    • Why do Politicians spend $9 billion a year to Jail the Mentally Ill?
      Because they first privatized the Penal System. The mentally ill are worth more to their first cousins and financial sources of support in jail than out.

      It also seems worse to me: My impression is that they do what they can to provoke any kind of outburst that can be used as an excuse for an arrest.

  • Walmart Plots to derail Rooftop Solar Energy Revolution
    • Walmart is all pro-solar when they receive grants and subsidies to put solar panels on top of buildings that reduce their operating costs. In principal--No. It's just like everything else Walmart--it's just about the money.

  • Israel Squatters Chop Down Dozens of Palestinian Olive Trees Near Nablus (800,000 since 1967)
    • Since an orchard is so long-lived --up to 1,000 years they pass down through the family--so its like losing your ancestors. Takes about 30 years before new trees will fruit--so you are destitute. Thus the tears.

  • Ben Affleck on Bill Maher's Muslim Problem
    • Hey its today's TV: "Comedian Bill Maher puts himself in the company of 9/11 liberals" but finds himself a patriarch sans beard of Duck Dynasty.

  • Rep. Louie Gohmert’s Ebola Theory Is Dumber Than He Is
    • Doctors and nurses have never been geniuses as the trend line of malpractice premiums would indicate. A mistake was made because medicine is bureaucratic these days--especially if the guy had no insurance coverage or money (I don't know but my guess is....) such that people in emergency rooms can't find the time to put 2 and 2 together on their own--typically. But your paranoia in regards to the repercussions is unnecessary--exposed people are not contagious people and people are doing their job finding them before they get sick.

      As for Rick Perry--being under indictment does not mean anything. Anyone can be put under indictment for anything--it has nothing to do with guilt and to be more credible in your claims it would be better not to imply such by pointing it out. As to the specific allegations of the indictment, they are embarrassingly dumb and unfounded in my opinion. As far as Perry going after Obama--well he's a Republican considering running for office. I wouldn't confuse politics so easily with facts--must of us don't pay any attention to what Rick Perry says.

  • Pan-Mideast War: ISIL and al-Qaeda attack Hizbullah outposts Near Lebanese Border
    • Maybe Hizbullah is exaggerating as Juan Cole wonders about but on the other hand, there is a lot of movement due to the existential Western threat of outside forces engaging ISIS/ISIL. But, given the obvious political reluctance of the US and Europe populations to engage, it is in IS*'s interest to expand at least the appearance of the scope of the war--making it more costly for others to engage such that it is politically less feasible for those threatening to do so. So I would not be surprised if IS* has a few folks waving black flags around here and there trying to change the dynamics and earn reciprocal debts.

      Or maybe it is not as complicated as that or as Dr. Cole suggests....maybe its source is just a Hizbullah commander who was about to get his ---handed to him hoping for a little help as in an air strike?

  • ISIL Still Taking Towns in Iraq's Al-Anbar as Coalition Airstrikes are Delayed
    • Captured from Syrian and more so the Iraqi Army which fled leaving their weapons behind. They also have purchased a lot of weaponry--partly by taking hostages for ransom. The recent beheadings have been of hostages whose ransoms were not paid --most after several years. Ransoms for other hostages have been paid--similar to the Somalia piracy where the technique was proven. They likely get some donations. People joining might arm themselves in regards to small arms. .

  • How Stupid Can CNN Hosts Get about Muslims with Reza Aslan? THIS STUPID.
  • The Alamo of the Kurds: Kobane Near Falling to ISIL
    • Well, if it that easy--if they are that indifferent--to defect to IS" or the Islamic Front, then it was right not to arm them.

  • Denying ISIL Legitimacy and the problem of Radical Returnees
    • "an international legal framework to help prevent the recruitment and transport of would-be foreign fighters from joining terrorist groups" makes me feel queasy like I just dined at an expensive restaurant that served me salmonella.

      Does this mean we have to let them stay here?

      (Since I'm already feeling ill, I might as well pretend to speak for most of the world)

  • Tony Blair obsessed with Religious "Crusade" against Iraq, like Bush: Former British Dep'ty PM
    • When has Tiny Blair not been obsessed? and over Iraq?
      Interesting but a little late and then Crusading to Bagdad? Bagdad the Holy Land? What happened to Jerusalem? ...


      "thanks very much" ends the reporter.

  • Top 5 Differences between Hamas and ISIL (Pace Netanyahu)
    • One fundamentalist slighting two other fundamentalists. They're both other to Netanyahu, so it is logical he nets hem together as one -- psychologically its true for him though by definition he is unaware of his own contribution.

      He is thus assaulting Jews as much as Muslims. For people who think this way and employ such strategies also mean to terrorize their own people such that the herd tightens to defend itself from the other and the more this happens the more the inner violence made manifest in the overcrowding of the herd (terror) is projected outwards onto the scapegoat.

      And, I believe, he is also attempting to create negotiating space so, to put it simply to be succinct, he has something to give up without giving up Gaza.

  • Why Obama underestimated ISIL in Syria and Iraq
    • Well, the theorizing is fine--unobjectionable--but the question today is what do we do now? I cannot imagine, whatever the case argued above, allowing a radical caliphate to emerge from the detritus of whose ever mistake Iraq and Syria have been.

      Then, he loathes going back into Iraq full force--:boots on the ground per se. I not only understand that given his Presidency, but I think it is a good idea to not do so. Other than the usual reasons, i think if we go in there again like before, we will make all Iraqis eternal dependents.

      Finally, what he says has to be "political" which by definition has nothing to do with truth. It is a matter of balancing between competing truths and interests which means no one gets what they want--not all. And on that basis, it is a cinch to be theoretically critical of him on some basis of truth.

      He is after all a President who has been stonewalled by an anti-Obama (largely racist) ideology no less who needs GOP support to at least attempt to contain the problem at the moment. Of course for the GOP he's not doing enough--they're all buying more shares of Halliburton hoping for better days of all out war in the Middle East.

      This being the case, you really don't expect the President of the United States to recite Naomi Klein and Juan Cole as he stands on the stump to go to limited war and say it will be alright --which is what Presidents all tend to do? So, he relies on cliches that by definition are easily understood because it would be ridiculous of him to get up there and accuse capitalism and recite all these other left-wing ideologies in order to garner support to contain ISIL as he says.

      In other words, what you say is fine for academic sport but politically neither the tyranny of the left or right will do.

  • Michele Bachmann (R-MN) declares Christian Jihad on all Muslims
    • She was smacked around pretty well by Fact Check and like last Presidentlal election while running in 2012--HPV for example, . She dodged the press over her earlier anti-Muslim rant. She is free to spread rubbish and propaganda--freedom of speech ya know--it has its drawbacks. When they do, she makes a big show of media bias in front of the same people. Most of the media don't take her comments serious enough anymore to critique her latest rant in depth.

      Her audience in this case are already extreme right wingers so she is feeding them what they want to hear. (The 2 GOP leading candidates in the polls explicitly were not invited for being too mainstream.)

      Some don't mind so much because the more she does this worse it gets for her own party.

      The noise ultimately is all about the money it can draw.

    • Unfortunately, due to the not-so-often discussed (since Plato) imperfections of democracy, she is a member of the US Congress, which by definition means that her evidencing that she doesn't have a brain is newsworthy. Thus, she appeals to her evangelical chosen people base and proves that Americans can be no better than the common religious fanatics, ISIL terrorists in this case, they despise--alas human nature. Wheretofore and a furlong...are we compelled to be annoyed as the follies go on?

  • 'You killed a million people in Iraq' George Galloway tells Blair Cabinet Member
    • It is good you said something about how you don't vote; otherwise, I would presume you meant the Green Party of England and Wales given the context of the article.

      That said,Green Parties have always failed to compromise on their principles enough to gather any mass--in other words they are not all that good at politics being authoritarian in themselves in nature and by that they do more harm than good in regards to environmental issues by causing division on the left, unbalancing the political equation..

  • Climate Change is Costing Lives: Coal Plants Killed 1.2 mn. in China: World Bank's Jim Yong Kim
    • China leds the world in renewable investments. Forbes states China accounts for 61% of total investments in renewable energy by the developed countries--some 56.3 billion in 2013. They have led and will lead. So they are interested and working on alternatives to coal.
      link to

  • Can Iraq Convince its Sunnis to Fight Extremists?
    • I think JTMcPhee that the issue is not about what they will gain as individuals but what they have to lose under IS. Just when no one thought IRAQ could get worse, along came ISIL.

    • I think JTMcPhee that the issue is not about what they will gain as individuals but what they have to lose under IS. Just when no one thought IRAQ could get worse, along came ISIL.

  • US strikes ISIL oil fields in Quest to Defund it: But will it Replace oil with Fracking?
    • Your mixing apples and oranges this time. US production increase is proposed as a short-term offset. Your alternatives are long-term solutions that address a different question than immediate consequences of bombing raids.

  • What Arab partners will get in return for strikes on Syria
    • As for authoritarian rule--its exists somewhere in all forms of government. A sort of shell game as to where you hide the ultimate say. Hobbes was indifferent about which form but ultimately preferred monarchy because it was so much more efficient.

      What country including the USA is free of corruption, excessive deployment of police power, and cronyism?

      Who is not ruled by their very own tyrant within?

      So I can agree with some details but the spin on princes and monarchs is petty.

  • Syrian regime Propaganda coup as Israel Downs Syrian Plane over Golan
    • Said to be Assad's most formidable attack aircraft--I doubt the plane was flying a surveillance mission . YouTube video of one attacking rebel positions in Syria one year ago is here: link to
      I have no idea of the context of this video as I do not read Arabic but it seemed genuinely distressing to the person filming this as the plane dropped ordinance that landed close enough.

  • Student Debt Factories: The Scandal of For-Profit Colleges
    • Actually you are quire wrong about higher education having been associated with upward mobility in the individual sense you indicate. Education initially was viewed as good for society and democracy, thus the subjects of higher education were at one time unanimously, or nearly so, excepting a few advanced professional degrees such as medicine, the liberal arts as listed by the classical Greeks. Thus, colleges were built in the colonies with Silence (Franklin) being so good as to explain the difference between grads of Harvard and Penn. And the new country developed an incomparable system of public education along the lines of Jefferson's advocacy of his Yeomen farmers (public education in general had a higher calling too at first.) And, this notion of public education was somewhat inherited by the earlier Reformation demand that people be able to read their own Bibles and thus make up their own minds. Scottish Presbyters and Calvinists were not the only ones insisting on the liberal arts but made up a rather loud voice in America. Upward mobility then was considered the product of cultural progress such that the governance of the culture would progress with improved minds at all levels.

      Also different than your own view, everyone having a degree would not be meaningless. You are confusing higher education with professional degree programs.

      I am not in favor of vocational training in high schools: 1) it has always been a defeatist ploy where some students are shuffled over to vo-ed and 2) even if the budget problem was not anywhere near as severe as it is today, it is impossible. for high schools and teachers to keep up with the technology and community needs. The cost to acquire and maintain the technology for every little vocational field covered today would be unreachable and the marginal returns would further suffer because technology today is essentially replacing capital for labor anyway..

      Thinking of schooling in terms of teaching animate objects job skills is flat out the wrong vision.

  • Shock & Awe In Syria: It never Works
    • Small potatoes only at this very point so far--meaning the impact on stock prices you suggest as a test is not realistic. Stocks are valued at the present value of all expected earnings discounted by perceived risk. It is more complicated as 1) rick factors can also change due to instability and 2} These strikes are not enough to change expected demand.

  • NYC Climate Demo: Top 5 Massive Rallies that had no Effect
    • People advocating disinvestment strategies generally fail to realize how the stock markets and equities work which is why they fail to realize divestment is not likely to have a direct financial impact on a corporation. The stock markets are secondary markets--where owners of securities corporations have already sold sell to other owners of securities. Corporations don't sell stock every day and when they do, it is generally through an underwriter (investment banker) who guarantees a minimum price and volume. A few companies with too much cash on the books self-underwrite.

      Trying to impact a company by driving down their stock price fails to understand how stocks are valued--they tend to think in terms of supply and demand--partly because of bs stock advice published every day (no one can say what a good or bad purchase is other than the market--all prices of actively traded stocks are considered fair prices--there are no good or bad buys and to think in these terms is to speculate rather than to invest).

      Since few corporations have to sell more stock, the only impact that stocks may have on a corporation are on its balance sheets--debt/equity ratios in particular and its shareholders.

      Driving down prices is difficult because the stock market, despite all kinds of baloney to the contrary out there, is not a supply and demand market -- this is the principle divide between economics and finance. No where in finance's stock valuation formulas is there any term related to demand or supply. It is simply a matter of the cash flows a particular security is entitled to receive in the future (infinite or in perpetuity in finance although discounting effectively cuts that down to a horizon of about 40 years.)

      The market is intentionally designed to prevent companies from influencing stock prices by manipulating supply and demand for shares of their stocks. This occurs through arbitrage and derivative securities--without these the markets would not be free (in theory at least and this matters to investors who like to know what investments are really worth). Derivative securities are securities issued on a company but not by the company. Tell me which company you'd like to invest in, and I could sell you my own securities based on that companies securities --these include options and futures.

      Finance deals in long-term prices. It might be possible to drive prices down short-term by dumping shares on the market (divestment--if you can persuade a lot of people to engage in irrational behavior defined as intentionally causing themselves to lose money). This creates an arbitrage opportunity because models based on future profits, not supply and demand for the security, will unanimously agree the price is artificially low. Arbitragers compete to get there first placing very large buy orders (they are skimmers who make lots of money by skimming small profits on large volume). Price will be restored to where it should be--they can do this purchasing actual shares on the market or derivative shares. They only purchase rights to purchase with derivatives--delivery hardly ever happens so they can purchase a larger volume with derivatives and that is what they generally will do and it still impacts the base security value because a derivative agrees to purchase the security in a couple of months. Due to competition, the time window this can occur in is very short. So short that arbitrage people write programs for securities they specialize in that will automatically place orders under certain conditions to either make money or prevent losses on existing portfolios. In a panic, the market will flood with these automated orders and for that reason may suspend trading--this is not new since computer trading--it is an older problem that occurs in nanoseconds rather than minutes or hours as in the Great Depression panic. When panics occur, derivative securities most often get the blame --the real concern is poor management--public policy and management, whatever caused the drop in prices.

      Most public companies have a lot of shares worth uninmaginable sums, asking investors to dump their securities to lose their own money for your cause is not really effective.

      What is more effective is to attack the future income of a company by regulation or consumer activism--takes a lot of consumers who actually consumed and agree to stop but there is no mercy for plummeting sales and prices for a companies goods and services. Any credible threat will catch the attention of Wall Street and they will adjust their models accordingly.

  • The Israeli version of Steven Salaita: Occupation University fires Professor for Insufficient Zionism
    • I would suppose comments should address the question posed: ..."how the academic community and the public at large should deal with Ariel given polices that violate the essence of academia?"

      no deal--treat it as if non-accredited? Not sure that or anything outsiders do or say will matter to zealots.

  • Obama & Cameron find little Enthusiasm at NATO for new Iraq War
    • People learned not to stand in ranks in the open desert with enemy planes overhead. Not much else to say.

  • Can Iraqi forces take back Saddam's Birthplace from ISIL?
  • 5 Ironies of US Reaction to Egypt/UAE Bombing of Libya
    • ..."the UAE used US military equipment in ways not authorized by Congress." We expect the UAE to buy warplanes and never use them?

  • Victim of McCarthy-Era Witch Hunt calls on U-Illinois not to Fire Critic of Israeli Policies
    • Maybe but the implication, one often asserted, that Canada is morally superior is a tough chew. I was fired by a Canadian university over gender issues. And Aboriginal Peoples living on Canadian Reserves are given feel-good awards but are compelled to live in squalor.

  • Can the Kabbalah teach us to Repair Climate Change?
    • If I answer your question truthfully, then I would have no hope. So I retain my delusion and say "sure" but then I am Nobody.
      Good luck teaching the captains of capitalism anything about the Tree of Life. They'll just want to know how many board feet, the Octane rating of the divine sparks, and has anyone ever fracked a sephiroth--how many BTU can you squeeze out of that?

  • Democracy, in India as elsewhere, is not a tyranny of the Majority
    • Most of the points the author attempts are why the US Founders created a Republic, not a democracy per se.

  • The New Jim Crow: Has the Right finally Repealed the Civil Rights Act?
    • Augghhh Juan! You hardly do the right wing justice!

      You only give them credit for their legal and above board tactics. You neglected to mention that they gather volunteers (True the Vote and its Election Integrity subgroups do this) to "research" and compile purge lists that they submit to State Election Officials and otherwise train and recruit Poll Challengers to challenge whether a person is eligible to vote very often preventing them from casting a normal ballot. They have the right to cast a provisional vote by Title III of the Help America Vote Act. However, in order to be sure their vote is counted, they would have to present documentation at the election office which is difficult, time consuming, and possibly humiliating. There is no way to offset this at the polls by, for instance, having your own group to challenge the True the Vote Challengers, help people who are denied their vote, and so on--at least in my State of Maryland, it is illegal for Poll Watchers and Challengers (how you can be present in the voting area for reasons other than casting your own ballot) to assist voters.

      Ever election, millions of voters who believe they are registered find out at the polls that their name was purged from the list (and they were not notified often because the purge lists cites that they are deceased as justification. These groups focus their research and "efforts" in the polls on low-income areas where the population is largely made up of non-white minorities.

  • Is Zionism/ Jewish Nationalism a Political Cult? The Salaita Firing
    • You are deploying a very broad and convenient notion of nationalism that assumes away the questions Cole and others have raised. "...peoples awareness of their national identity ...(forcing monarchs)... to recognize the consent of the governed or be overthrown" is a case in point.. I know of no such nationalist sentiment driving the disputes between monarchs and parliaments and motivating the wars you cited. Even the American Revolution was not motivated by a rising sense of nationalism but out of dissatisfaction of unfair taxation and the authority of the monarch to impose such. This itself was first but an extension of the same conflict between the Stuarts and their Parliaments. The argument was a legal one of the basis of authority and law. In England, this was notoriously played out in the legal disputes between Bacon and Cooke, Bacon defending James I and Cooke essentially inventing common law to which the Monarch was (to be) also subject. The monarchs, since the Tudor rejection of the Pope's authority over them, themselves were responsible for their own demise as their absolute authority as monarchs had come through divine right via the Church. These historic arguments arose not out of an emerging nationalism but out of an emerging identity of a middle class, merchant class at the time, that arose as the feudal systems that defined the nations collapsed simply because said system was untenable in the long run. New nations and national identities emerged out of some of these conflicts whether monarchies or democracies but not nationalism as a new concept of identity. Also emerging out of the religious side of the dispute was England posed first as the New Jerusalem and the American colonies secondly as such with all the same consequent problems illustrated today by the Old.

  • The Map: A Palestinian Nation Thwarted & Speaking Truth to Power
    • Vice News just put up video of Gaza attacks
      link to

    • Israel military has dropped leaflets into North Gaza demanding that residents evacuate their homes prior to commencing military operations 0900GNT today.
      link to

      About 100,000 live in the area and are terrified. Hundreds have fled.

      Is this an excuse to depopulate an area for settlement? If they evacuate as directed, will they ever get their homes back or be compensated in any way for whatever damage and theft of their property?

  • Kentucky Fried Brain Senator: No Global Warming b/c Mars' temp. like Earth's
    • This happened during a hearing of Kentucky’s Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Environment . This particular committee is chaired by Rep. Jim Gooch-D, another proud climate change denier who thinks Kentucky should secede from the union to avoid EPA regulations.
      What'dy'all expect? Sanity in KY?

  • ABC News' Diane Sawyer Mistakes Stricken Palestinians for Israelis
    • Diane started as a goofy weather reporter and when that didn't last she found her way to prosperity by writing speeches for Nixon.... Who would ever think she was or was ever hired to be a neutral and factual reporter?

  • Can Palestinians ever Get a Break in the American Press?
    • The free press these days comes down to the voices of about three people who own it all.

  • Student Debt: Blame Law-Makers, Tax-Shirking Rich, War on Drugs, not Universities
    • In the flavor of earlier comments: "(when you lower taxes on a particular segment of the public, that is wealth distribution in their favor)" is hardly a fair assessment.

      The wealthy make most of their money from investments of capital (their wealth). Securities are valued according to the Net Present Value of their future expected earnings. Income tax reduction is only part of the picture. Capital gains taxes have been severely cut. Such Bushy tax cuts are likely to be viewed as an immediate increase in regards to equity's net earnings in perpetuity. Thus, valuations models show an immediate increase (substantial given it takes into account all future years--40 is about the extent of it) in wealth. Stock market was in the toilet for Bush and might have made the Great Depression look like the good old days if not for tax cuts. Only there is no growth involved and the future prospects for growth may not be that rosy with tax cuts given the infrastructure tends to collapse including students graduating in debt over their heads are not going to be demanding consumers by definition.

      Problem is if you now raise those taxes to what used to be considered fair, then the economy would take a severe hit now for the same reasons--so you can imagine the arguments and scenarios Obama's Wall St. advisers beseech him with..

      Inflation would be good for the little people who already are in debt--particularly caught naively in the real esate bubble/mortgage fiasco. Inflation is bad for the wealthy who lend as they get paid back in cheaper dollars. What was that federal reserve rate Jeffrey?

      It's more than taxes and tax cuts are also likely to create overnight wealth of substance for only wealthy individuals.

      This is also an example as to why they probably don't let me teach finance anymore.

  • On D-Day: Remembering the Muslim Troops who Fought the Axis
    • I would have to question whether Nazi's were of European Christian Heritage. I always understood Nazis had no heritage and were overcompensating...but i get your drift.

  • Dear GOP: The US has negotiated with Terrorists and Amnestied Them all through History
    • No. does not meet the definition of treason in any way shape or form. The definition of treason was a key concern of the framers as "treason against the king" was a a common way, in their day, to dispense with anyone for most any reason. (And if charged with treason then you had to defend yourself because a lawyer would also be found guilty of treason if that lawyer represented you and lost the case.) So treason is specifically set out in the US Constitution -- that means the US is highly limited in its ability to try for treason.

      Section Three Article 3: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

      Less than 20 convictions most having to do with the CIvil War. Also Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose (pardoned by Gerald Ford.)

  • Sarah Palin: Veterans died waiting for VA care because ‘Barack Obama is lazy’
    • Sarah Palin is a nobody who profits by producing spin that appeals to a marginal audience. Outrageous claims are more likely to be picked up by the media. Problem is, like any other drug, over time, they need to become ever more audacious to spike enough above the mumbling on to gain the attention of the press. Eventually, the speaker always proves to be the fool and Palin's last employment by Fox will be as a foil for their regular news jockeys who will appear more disinterested next to her--but allowing them a puppet and some wiggle room at the sane time to incite the news rather than be insightful..

  • House Passes Fake USA Freedom Act; Only hope is Senate
    • " It seems notable that many of the no votes were from people who felt the bill didn't do enough to protect the public from the surveillance state" sounds either like spin by authors who favor the bill and want to pad the issue or else double-speak by politicians who voted against it but are trying to evade accountability for their vote given our political process is incremental and the process of putting forth, revising, and voting on bills is a complicated process. Few bills are approved as they came out of committee. Informal vote counting and compromise occurs in the hallways and authors of bills make changes to improve chances of passing the bills--this is just everyday practical politics and the way it has been since day one!

      It's stupid, given the system, to vote against a bill because it doesn't go far enough. You pass it, claim it as a victory, and work on the rest as the next step--new bill. Articles like this seem to me to project the attitudes and behaviors of the authors rather than the situation. There also is a decided lack of specificity regarding the allegations.

      I don't care for the NSA's behavior but I also don't care for fake news.

  • Anti-Muslim Gadfly to run DC Bus ads linking Hitler to Islam (+Russell Brand video against Islam Hatred)
    • It is covered because for many it is unavoidable. People have to ride these buses and endure them as they drive by..

    • I just have to disagree with the idea that this is protected free speech. Denying this on the side of a bus does not prohibit their speech. Second, it impinges on the free speech of others--particularly passengers. who have little choice but to ride these buses to get to work. What is it to ride on a bus displaying such a message. It is particularly ludicrous that a public transportation company has no rights to speech of its own given recent opinions allowing corporations to spend away based on "money is speech."

      It has never been the case that all speech is protected speech. You cannot protest on the steps of the Supreme Court for example and part of the argument is that this does not prevent your speech--you just have to do it from behind the barricade at a certain distance. Classic example is that it is not ruled free speech to yell "fire" in a theater.

      This placement on public transportation buses that is a so called form of free speech impinges upon the free speech of others.

  • FCC Votes To "Fast Track" Death Of Net Neutrality
    • From several years experience at OSHA, A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is not a done deal and opens the docket to opponents--a good thing. Many such proposals have ultimately failed to materialize due to opposition. But, it takes a lot of work and tenacity to successfully oppose a rule. The usual opponents are trade associations and proponents trade unions. You have to wonder who is supposed to play the game on behalf of consumers given how the FCC has become corrupted--steered away from its older mission of protecting public resources from monopolization..

      The most effective opposition actually is the threat of lawsuits after a rule has passed--to be a viable threat requires powerful entities indicating they will sue and having the means to sue.--which would be a protracted legal case for sure. Lawyers working for these agencies who have to sign off on proposed rules tend to back down if the opposition can credibly carry through the threat. In the past, government lawyers have lost a lot of cases where courts have overturned new rules--especially however EPA and OSHA rules...hmm.

      Most of what is said in public hearings can be ignored by agencies putting forth rules because people come in to describe the way they think the world should be -- they like to tell regulators what books they should read for instance. Nothing needs to be considered that does not challenge and compromise the specific rationale of the analysis put forth in the notice. You need to argue the numbers and other issues made in the proposed rule in which case agencies are compelled to reconsider. All the oughts and shoulds about the world that do not directly address the usual cost-benefit analysis (the rule is technically and economically feasible is the usual criteria but this is sort of an inverted case.) the rule is based on can be ignored --they will only vaguely say they reviewed the docket and have reconsidered all the issues raised and find no reason to not pass the rule--is the idea.

      In today's world then, it is difficult for us commoners to challenge a rule because there are general many specialized fields involved as well as results of experiments the layperson does not have the ability to reproduce or challenge and the manipulation of stats. The rule is put forward by numerous bodies of experts and they will indeed use jargon and make declarative statements that are difficult for the layperson to challenge.

      The process thus has always favored money.

  • Donald Sterling's Illiberal Zionism Part of Racism Controversy with Magic Johnson
    • As a way to test most everyone's limits to free speech and to keep their food down: "More anti-Islamic Metro bus ads on the way in D.C." Advertisements to go on the side of buses in Washington DC to charge Islam with Jew-Hatred and of course they just have to bring Hitler into this.
      See link to
      I believe this is related to Professor Cole's points.

    • ---Do they not go along because it is set up to be in their interest to do so--the elites ensure that is the case in other words?

      ...Along the lines of: George Bush gave them a nickel for granting huge tax cuts giving millions to the wealthy. Do they not go along rationally even if they also know better otherwise because ....overall they are not that well off and secure to not take their crumbs to their corner and cry out instead?

      It certainly is part of Freudian psychology to accept the Reality and go along--so it is part of secular religion of Judeo-Christian culture to go along. To not go along is hubris, anti-authoritarian narcissism. Sterling seems to enjoy this.

      So, I am just taking issue with your first word "Unfortunately" although I am not sure what we should put in its place.

  • Washington Militarizes Foreign Policy, but cuts Fulbright Cultural Exchange
  • Is Obama right that America's Future is in Asia, not the Middle East?
    • It's a little too late in the Presidency to be taken as serious policy I would say. But then, given the aggression and fatalism of the Middle East ....

  • Fox News asks Rand Paul if Reid is right to "call Americans" "Domestic Terrorists"
    • Nobody, my friend, you are too cheap a cynic!

      While it was quite a stack of coin back in the day, being a millionaire is hardly a big deal these days. Further, it is not necessarily a bad thing if most Congressional representatives are reasonably well off, millionaires. They would at least have the capacity to be personally independent from moneyed interests of scale.

      The De-glittering generality that "Congress is corrupt" is but a natural law. Power is nothing, if not corrupt by definition. The Constitution and three branches of government never attempted the illogic of eliminating corruption but to contain it within bounds.

      What you wish for is that legislators would be more responsive to voters rather than their financial supporters?

      The superficial problem is one of imbalance (money v. votes or democratic masses v aristocratic elites) heightened by recent Supreme Court decisions. To address that is ironic because moneyed interests now have excessive influence in elections. Thus, it would be ironic to suggest we can elect other people (the Tea Party argument)--whether poor or rich -- who would be more responsive to voters. Rather, people would have to take to the streets in more serious ways than the one-day protest with a parade permit. That's not likely because the stakeholders are too impoverished and would lose too much more, if that seems possible, in the process—ignoring for the moment the new police state that has largely come about out of the fear elites have of the new starving masses.

      Now it used to be, and there are still wealthy aristocrats who believe this besides Warren Buffet--but the nation is better off and more apt to grow economically with a strong middle class--a business needs customers. The problem is that individual investors profit in a nationless market not concerned with local manufacturing and other business concerns.

      The wealthy no longer are willing to support the greater cause (pay taxes). Why--They no longer are invested and dependent nationally but are portfolio-ed internationally. These new age cowboys are able to hold all governments hostage profitably. America’s problems in Congress and governance are common. Governments are compelled to compete for the self-interests of elites just as are politicians. “Money get back I'm all right Jack keep your hands off my stack.” (old quote of not a new problem). Elites no longer depend on the profits of a factory or a portfolio of, say for example, American businesses but profit from exchange rate fluctuations, arbitrage, take-overs (like Romney's Bain equity capital firm) which place short-term profits—generally involving liquidation of pension funds and capital assets—in front of long-term security) and other financial deals because it is legal and nothing else matters. The equity capitalist is now a MBA/JD—making money is now a legal game where the target is disadvantaged in the court room besides whatever economic inequities matter.

      The City-State failed because it was reliant on local elites contributing to the temples of the local gods. When they refused to do so, the foundation of Greece was broken as the City States were no longer able to uphold the central government as before. Rome had a new system but also failed when elites refused to play their part well.
      In today’s global economy, the millionaire and the Nation-State are anachronisms.
      I understand your exasperation. Scapegoating Congress persons in general is however unproductive. If there was an answer to your question, we would be well past the problem. Things will have to get much worse before a new system emerges from the ashes as the adage goes. If nothing else, we all still have hope.

  • 9 Maps that Show How The GOP is Destroying Southern States
    • Need to include better detail (units at least) in map legends. For example, what does the number for teen birthrates mean?

  • Pictures Don't Lie: Refuting #there_was _ no _ Palestine
    • Some photographers may lie at times. Since you are being technical, I must point out that photographs are inanimate objects incapable of speech themselves of any sort. But the main, is that you are missing the point. It's called a straw man argument.

  • Dropbox putting NSA Spying advocate Condi Rice on its board Shocks Privacy Advocates
  • If Jesus had a wife, would it change the GOP War on Women?
  • CBS Taps Colbert To Replace Letterman, Limbaugh Bursts Into Flames
  • George W. Bush Used Top Google Results For All His Paintings; Is he in Legal Trouble?
    • No. Lots of artists do this. Whether it infringes depends on whether or not the artist intended to "copy" or paint from.
      a picture. They are clearly not copies.

      The real problem is that courts let AP get away with copyrighting copies of someone's face.

      This is just BS media self-interest.

  • Colbert's Send-up of O'Reilly on "Inequality" makes Bill Squawk
  • Can We Safeguard Our Democracy After Supreme Court Decision?
    • Hey Juan!
      Roberts evidently with his hands over his eyes does not see any evidence that money corrupts. You point out that the Disclose Act failed to pass in 2012 because of GOP opposition although they had favored it before. Do you think the earlier favoritism was genuine or was it always just an interim argument advanced for the purpose of removing spending limits? If that is the case, then the current opposition would be expected once spending limits are removed. The GOP whittled another duck.

      Now, lets say we are right and people are concerned about money corrupting politics despite Roberts myopia and are suggesting another try at a disclosure law. Just how is it possible to pass a disclosure law if money corrupts?

      Isn't that the real irony?

      Given that, how is it that democratic values should be protected? If money gets you elected for good or bad, then how do you make the legislators responsive to any demands that are not in the interest of money? It used to be that under the premise of a balance of power, the one or individual sought protection from the powerful in the courts rather than from the legislature which was presumably meant to be responsive to the mob in the House--majority rule--because they were always up for election.

      No wonder we have a persistent budgetary crisis. The rich no longer truly believe in the nation--they no longer wish to support it. The wealthy refusing to play their previous part in financing cultural mores has always been the end of a culture.

      We can argue and demand all we want, but the point is we are left out in the woods and there is nobody there to listen.

  • In Iraq Elections, Rich Parties get Richer on State Funds
  • Jon Stewart/ Daily Show: Adelson will accept "Outer Israel" as term for Occupied West Bank
    • What else would you expect from a casino owner. What kind of person would be in a business that is based on a cynical view of their customers--they are all losers given the games are rigged so that the house always wins in the long-run.

      A standard example problem of Econ 101 is to demonstrate the irrational behavior of state-approved gambling of this sort where the odds of the game design always favor the house. You statistically show that it is impossible for gamblers to win in the long run and the gamblers are then said to be acting foolish. The question was on my Econ 101 exam and I begged to differ. I was bright enough to include the prof's desired response in my inverted critical style. What I said is that it is logical for people to gamble at the casino if they can see no other opportunity to change their lives for the better. It is entirely rational for the desperate to bet it all when the odds are against them. The more impossible it is for them to live in their current condition--say they are facing bankruptcy--the more rational it is for them to effectively hand what they have over to Adelson or the mob.

      It is a asymptotic problem and such geometries are also that of passions such as hate.

      Roberts says he sees no evidence that money is corrupt--while the GOP sucks up to a casino owner? doesn't seem Roberts really cares to look?

  • High as a Kite on Carbon Dioxide: Fracking Delirium in the American 1%
    • "Forget that the United States currently lacks a capacity to export LNG to Europe, and will not be able to do so on a significant scale until the 2020s." is hard to do down here in Southern Maryland.

      Dominion Resources is planning to have a natural gas export facility on line by 2017. They plan to revamp an import facility on the Chesapeake Bay at Cove Point in Calvert County Maryland at a projected cost of nearly 4 BILLION DOLLARS! It will require the construction of a large power plant that will burn natural gas to generate the enormous amounts of power required to liquify the gas to reduce our greenhouse gas footprint? It is also claimed that it will increase ship traffic on the Bay over 500%.

      That's only 3 years from now and from the scale of things, I would suggest revising your suggestion that it is not a feasible alternative to export liquified natural gas for the lack of export capacity well into the future.

      There is opposition to the proposal but in the shadows of Keystone, I would not say it is well-organized, funded, or effective--so far. There have been a few easily-ignored protests here and there. On the other hand, given Dominion wants to spend $4 billion to build this and stands to reap from additional investments in fracking, which they are into big time, that will obviously open up up across a wide region served by this plant; the proponents have an unlimited budget and have been blanketing the region with their stories of all the goodies that are to come and I would suspect the NYT article may be a part of a propaganda barrage meant to benefit Dominion as well as other fracking projects.. .

      The local area is fairly conservative as most are employed in the defense sector--i suspect that has a lot to do with the selection of Cove Point.

      Has fracking has become a pandemic disease? Maybe it is only an addiction--the horse of the new millenium?

      Currently, Maryland has a moratorium on fracking--but I have no confidence in its permanence given Maryland has resources. Of course, the plant will be serving a much wider region of increased fracking activity than in Maryland.

      The Maryland Senate can't even stand up to Netflix's demands for ~$20 million in tax incentives for Season 3 of House of Cards (so far filmed in Baltimore). The MD legislature on the other hand is threatening seizing the production crews assets by eminent domain--they passed a bill allowing themselves to do so for any production company that had received 10 million in incentives and ceases production. House of Cards seems to be the present most serious concern in MD and the hot agenda item in Maryland-related media. I only bring this up to suggest that we obviously have more serious concerns in America than to debate fracking and now natural gas exports.

      Whatever happened to the idea that the preservation of our natural resources was a matter of national security? I'm not arguing against the main theme of the article. The idea that imports of Natural Gas to the Ukraine will increase resistance to Putin is a bit too Bugs Bunny for me. Its like saying giving every member of the Tea Party a gift bag with a free box of bullets and herbal tea will curb their aggressiveness.

      When it seems there may be nothing left in the box but hope, one has a tendency to turn to satire...I beg your forgiveness.

  • Why Romney is Wrong that Obama's Syria Policy Emboldened Putin
    • We all know that Romney is a war-hawk--its just business--sort. Am I the only one who has noted that he is doing a lot of public speaking critical of others -- particularly the old cold-war enemy. He also spoke out against Sochi Olympcis.

      I can see it now--Romney claiming the count is full and he has not struck out --the guy is trying to position himself to run again in 2016? Please, tell me it isn't so. Enough is enough!

  • Has Consumerism forever Killed the American Revolutionary Spirit?
  • Israelis slam Kerry over "Jewish State" Remarks as Abbas Rejects Demand
    • Lack of trust is not a valid excuse for lack of peace. It is not wise to trust in anyone--other than God for some. Trust is not the day-to-day reality. If we had trust, we would not need written contracts and law, courts, and judges to adjudicate differences of opinion over the terms or failures to abide.

  • The US isn't a Police State, but it is a Managed Democracy
    • Your opinion is utopian. Not possible on this planet.

      You are confusing indifference with apathy. Not the same thing. You describe a state where people are getting the most possible out of government and the political-economic situation which would be any situation on the frontier of available choices (they are getting the most possible out of government in various individually selective ways).

      In economics we say that we maximize our benefit when we indifferent between choices on the frontier. This is the situation you describe rather than apathy. In this case, in order to benefit, people still realize that they need to make choices to maximize their benefit--keep things as they would be your situation and thus are involved in exoressing their choice, although they may appear passive to you but are only being economically efficient with their energy.allocation.

      When people realize that they are being denied all opportunities on the political frontier they may get loud and involved--this is the active politics that some wrongly think is the only involved state of engagement.

      People may also arrive at a state where they just don't care anymore. This happens once they realize that no matter what they do, nothing will change or benefit them. Since they have no impact, they no longer bother to express any concern. This is actually what the wealthy argue for themselves--if they don't make enough money or pay too much in taxes, they insist they will refuse to invest--this is the foundation of capitalist economic theory. The youth of today are usually disengaged because they do not feel the system will honestly address their needs or that fighting the system in any way is effective, They see the frontier choices for them solely in isolated individual terms, not in socio-political terms, which is interesting given their adoption of so-called social media. In other words, the wealthy make the capatalist argument that what is good for them is good for everyone but the masses no longer believe but also believe that their own situation will worsen if they chose to try to affect the status quo. Ensuring this is one important role of the police state.

  • Bill O'Reilly says Muslims will Diss Hillary; but 8 Muslim Countries Chose Female Leaders
    • Bill O'Reilly = Opportunist

    • Against my better judgment, excuse the poor cliche', I'll say this George: I have never made a point by beginning that "I am a Vietnam-era veteran" - I generally see no reason to do so but I am. 12+ years. Almost a whole generation of us are. We are of all types, sizes, and political temperaments. We have two things in common--we were in the service at that time and are getting old now. The Gulf of Tonkin is different because it was not on US soil and of a different time and age. What you do not recall is how the image of the planes crashing into the Trade Center, the firefighters and others who lost their lives, galvanized a nation who cried an "eye for an eye" (and generally at that stage, few are concerned about whether they are after the right eye or not). Condemning them now for then is not a logical matter of right or wrong-- it is the tragedy of the human condition-particularly of the West (that would be us). From the Greeks to Shakespeare to world events all around us the inevitable unfolds and the same old stories more or less repeat themselves. If, as I would guess from your posting, I'll shift to we, if we were to assume that the Gulf of Tonkin was a conspiracy, we are judging with today's hindsight that the persons you condemn did not have available to them at the time Iraq started.

      You do seem angry. You claim to be a veteran, which generally would be taken as a demand for respect but then you call the Commander-In-Chief "Boy Emperor." and "Junior". I am writing this because I feel you don't realize all that you are saying. You do understand calling Obama "Boy" is a racial slur that you've likely picked up reading the wrong blog somewhere else? Beyond that, the Office of the President itself deserves a degree of respect if you deserve any as a veteran. You can state your objections, disagree, and so on but you might consider what it is that makes you lose your head (that by the way is how Oedipus commits his prototypical tragic crime and kills his father too? So, you might reconsider your criteria and from that gain some understanding as to how people midjudged their times) So, what I am suggesting is that you too have been sucked into the tragic void of Leviathan (Hobbes summation of the fateful beast).
      Whatever it is, let me assure you that few have suffered near as much as I. When the Iraq War started at midnight, the Navy flew two stealth bombers over my house--right at midnight they swooped down and hit their afterburners about 100 feet over my roof--and they meant it.

      Too long a story. But I will tell you that few have suffered because of the Clintons than I but I still think Hillary should be the next President and I would hope that she has learned from her mistakes. Mistakes are all that you can learn from in fact. We are all learners here ....

  • US Hypocrisy on Crimean secession move: Washington Supported Break-up of Sudan, Yugoslavia, Iraq
    • Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Examiner, December 9, 1854.

      It began with around 600 dead including the horses and has continued ever since.`

    • The subject of scale is akin to "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder." You do understand that when Pandora opened the jar, that, in reality, there was nothing in it. That is not contrary to finding Hope in an empty box (jar really back then).

    • Deeper is a vague word but we did have a competing claim recognized by international law of the time for Texas: "Possession" The English and French argued over US territories on that basis. Each drew different maps--these would include expanded (competing) territories for ones subject natives. The whole west coast was once part of Virginia on King James parchment but no one took that seriously because all of whatever was out there was not possessed. Israel's Occupation anticipates making the same sort of competing claim.

  • Kerry on Invading other Countries on a Trumped Up Pretext (Editorial Cartoon)
    • Not precisely a fair comment. While the cartoon is poignant, the situation was far different than the Gulf of Tonkin. When Kerry voted, his constituency and the nation was loudly anxious for war and they were responding to evidence that Iraq was a threat. Colin Powell tried to sell the same story to the UN where things began to fall apart because the world spirit was not at the same level as US paranoia--so people asked questions. We all know now that the evidence was a fraud. I'm not defending Kerry per se and the cartoon, again, is a good one--but to read it as entirely a criticism of Kerry's person is wrong-headed swift-boating--your "fellow veteran" is otherwise meaningless.

      Kerry may have said the words and is in a convenient position but the critique should be leveled at the macro level. Most importantly, outside your own personal preferences, what would you expect any SOS to say given circumstances?

  • 4 Darknesses: Internet being Manipulated, Deceived by Western Intel Trolls
    • Unfortunately, this behavior seems to have a long tradition. It just has adopted the same technology that was said to bring freedom of discourse-internet. What is unfortunate, is that most of the people who really do this sort of thing (on behalf of those few who direct the production) believe that they are doing it to defend democracy or to serve God. They seem to have an easy time getting rather indifferent people to go along with scapegoating their targets. I would add that you don't necessarily have to do anything to earn their ire. When in the last 2500 years has not tragedy been intimately attached to conservative ideals of democracy or Freud's reality principal.

      Does not Juan see the their reality? The difference is that they, the conservatives by definition, believe they are the mature ones who "preserve" whatever tradition they have been fed for the (bs) cause. The rest of us just need to accept reality--to be bridled. The real cause is money and power of course rather than the moral Idealism they dish out. It was said long ago that "they don't know what they are doing.". .Now, I just have to figure out if that should be taken literally or is it merely a private joke..

    • Yeah, right, try treating the NSA with indifference and humor while they go about destroying your life. I seem to have read a different message here than you. The point is not about powerless juveniles who do this but the like behavior of very powerful people and organizations that cause this to be done to others they wish to break to their will..

  • The Dark State: Snowden's Revelations on Secret Gov't Surveillance are the Tip of the Iceberg
    • Thanks for the depression Tom.
      Where do they find so many people so willing to do this sort of illegal work, idealism aside?

  • Dear GOP: Top 5 Biblical Marriage Moments far worse than Gay Marriage
    • The revelation is not removed and it was only "denounced" during this life. Technically, they still believe in polygamy and it is to be practiced in the next life. How it works. has to do with the various levels of heaven they believe in.

  • The Cheapening of American Politics: Why did Obama reward O'Reilly with an Interview?
    • Juan makes some good points. On the other hand, there is some wisdom in not engaging in the same sort of heavy-handed politics by refusing to talk to some nitwit reporter....
      sounds like censorship....
      The bigger point is, if Juan is correct about Fox's habits--I would say they have resorted to most of these tactics in the past, why not let them do their balanced-buggery. Fox's manipulations don't convince anyone other than their target market of the already-convinced far right. Ho-hum.

      Most people already understand the tilt of Fox News and the more Fox keeps the passions of the right stirred up, the better because, in that state, the middle will never be able to identify with the Rupert Murdoch cause.

      Nobody I know really cares what O'Reilly has to say and most people, I figure likewise, do not respond favorably to his mannerisms when he goes into his classic rants.

      I don't think we need to pull the clouds down around our ears and worry about Armageddon just because the President granted Fox News.and O'Reilly a little of his time.
      Not even O'Reilly takes himself that seriously: he appears on the Colbert Report, which is am overt mockery of O'Reilly. He has appeared in sold-out concert style debates with Jon Stewart.. O'Reilly too is more an entertainer than a credible witness. All in all, O'Reilly is just another media clown who pulls off some stunts to impress his small audience--a small cohort of America ... who then buy his pulp-politics books.

      Ranting about the President talking to O'Reilly on the surface sounds as bad as any of O'Reilly's rants. Who cares?

      The battle is over the largely apathetic political middle. They are not going to respond favorably to O'Reilly and they are not going to respond favorably to democrats trying to censor the news by refusing to speak to the right--for the same reasons. .

  • Kerry may Nix Keystone XL for Global Climate Agreement
    • My concern is with the next 3 or 4 election cycles. This issue of Keystone and coal is going to be front and center (still) in those elections. The GOP calls the route of Keystone the Obama Energy Gap, spinning Keystone into a litmus test of energy policy.which they spin into a litmus test of economic policy.

      There is more riding on these elections than Keystone and coal. If the GOP keeps the House and wins the Senate or if the White House goes to the GOP any time in the foreseeable future and seeing how close we have been to this...; green energy, the so-called 99%, public education, the Palestinians, and so on are all likely doomed.

      Besides all the GOP noise that will sound off in the campaigns over killing jobs and fuel prices they will blame (wrongly) on Keystone, the Green and some other far-left parties also will use this as a political foil against the Democrats (running for high offices that 3rd parties cannot possibly win rather than focusing on local offices that can be won as a socialist candidate has demonstrated in Seattle--where you might be able to achieve something.)

      I don't see the Dems as problem-free or some sort of saviors of the world, but I worry about balance. Money doesn't talk, people do. But money as a proxy for speech has unbalanced politics and this is the fulcrum that the Dem party teeters on. And, it never matters what the truth is if your opponent can manufacture the truth as if it was a petroleum derivative. As far as truth goes, truth has always been a tragic figure -- ripped to pieces by justice so the story goes. (I am saying that the facts of the Keystone case being debated here are not as important as the politics revolving around Keystone, etc...)

      The left has not been all that happy with the achievements of the White House. My conjecture is that the White House often has been in the unhappy place of having to defer what it would like to do due to the critical political situation.

      The bottom line is whatever Kerry decides could be easily undone along with a mad "repeal" of health-care. So I would hope, that what Kerry does will depend on its expected outcome re: 2014 elections. So they are studying the polls and such trying to figure this out but that necessitates words and plans to test in the polls (my guess at the current situation).

      Juan wrote the other day about the noise Netanyahu is making for recognition of a Jewish State. I doubt he really cares about that. It more likely is part of derailing the peace process in general upon which foundation the right in both countries will manufacture yet more straw men to justify more phony wars -- its all about concentrated money spent on money at the expense of ....

      Sorry, I did mention 2014? I should have claimed that the 2016 campaigns are in full swing.

  • John McCain and Lindsey Graham Want to invade Falluja Yet Again
    • War is the problem. Nazism was and is war. It would be better to say that sometimes you have no choice because others insist on war. Which is back to the point of your article>

  • EPA finally catches a Fracking polluter in the Act, levies Largest ever Civil Penalties
    • In addition: If a 3.2 million dollar civil penalty is "one of the largest ever...," then that just goes to show you how ineffective civil penalties are at deterring pollution. Considering the size of the businesses involved, that's pretty much petty cash. In a lot of cases, the penalties, if you do get caught, are far less severe than the cost of doing things right. It just becomes an actuarial problem of the cost of doing business.

  • Top Five Differences between Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson and Miley Cyrus
    • Ducks are an old euphemism for sexuality.and are Interchangeable with deer in that sense. The analogy is a consequence of their behavior in nature. It goes a little further in that both drakes and bucks are more or less dominated by females. Drakes typically will follow the hens around during the season and the hens will make it as difficult as possible for them to stay in their place. Female deer are under the auspices of a matriarch who controls breeding. The bucks are mindless about it during the rut. You can probably find videos on You Tube where some fool spreads scent on himself and thereby attracts a buck--who will try to mount the person or even pickup truck. that smells right

      When I was very young, I was given three male ducklings. Grown up, with no females around they made use of each other, my sisters little french poodle at least once, and the chickens (it could be fatal to the chicken if they managed to catch one). At any rate, at least since the middle ages people have made the supposed ambiguous analogy of "duck" for primitive, sexually so, people.
      I believe the idea of Duck Dynasty is that these folks have or had a small business selling duck calls--but I have never watched the show either. But the analogy would mean that A&E is floating an analogy meant to be taken publicly by the lower echelon as positive and, at the same time, is a private joke amongst the elite in the know. This is why I suggested that this is likely a produced controversy meant to take advantage of certain folk likely as an attempt to revitalize sagging ratings amongst their target market.

    • We should keep in mind that Duck Dynasty is a PRODUCED "reality tv" program. It has been noted that firing Robertson at this time could have no consequences as they are finished taping all the upcoming shows for the near future and will not resume until this happening may very well have timed itself out.

  • Dear Press: Stop Enthusing About Habitable Planets until People like Va.'s Cuccinelli Stop Destroying this One
    • Now, now, NASA would say it cares about our future, Just think what are the chances of an extinction event or large enough asteroid hitting. Okay, not so great. I'm not sure if its possible to do this either, but NASA just recently issued an Ed Wood RFP (it recently closed out) for ideas as to how to calf rope and divert a flying megalith on a crash course with earth.

      If Newt Gingrich had won the Presidency, NASA would not have to be so inventive about finding ways to justify its continued funding at space race levels. And Newt could take soon-to-be-unemployed, i hope, Cuccinelli with him to found his colony of lunatics.

      I hope Juan doesn't lose any hair over this...i think he's kinda cute the way he is.

  • America's Secret 4th Branch of Government: The NSA kept even Obama in the Dark
    • Just some things to think about. Not to justify any of this but we should not be surprised. It is inherent to the very nature of bureaucracy to exist on its own behalf. Most have ideologies that persist despite who is in office at the moment. I think of Kafka.

      The people at NSA did it just because they can--and thought they could get away with it and pretty much have and will despite the inconveniences of the revelations.

      People easily fall into the trap that their cause places them above the law. It is also typical of bureaucracies to foot-drag or even sabotage programs when its administration differs from Ihe administration. There is a good chance this behavior is behind the health care website fiasco and a better chance such allegation is impossible to prove acc. to technicalities of the law.

      Other than having their own agendas, it is also typical bureaucratic practice to protect the ability of superiors to deny what you are doing covertly for the patriotic cause. One's duty can become to quietly subvert the ideal, say democracy, for the sake of the ideal, say democracy. The contradiction does not go unnoticed but in all cases the individuals believe that they are the good folk, god's chosen, etc....

      Agencies like the CIA, NSA and so on are all about covert ops. In principle everyone knows, including the President, that they engage in operations that are not strictly legal as a matter of routine. That is why they are all subject to special oversight which of course is never effective--it relies on the testimony of the same dutiful liar under the influence of the same ideology who at the least will suffer from memory lapses.

      The sad thing is that New Deal style stimulus now brings us the construction of huge NSA spy complexes in Utah instead of schools and parks. It's economic development!

      Its old behavior. It is only the technology involved that is new. We wrongly tend to ascribe the good and bad to the technology rather than to how it is used by who.

      As for democracy--the USA was never and was never meant to be a democracy--it was designed as a republic to balance the various forms of government. Democracy would look like a Tea Party in Machiavelli's Italy.

      Last, never has an American President been do ignored and subverted by the executive branch.

  • Top 10 Ways Ted Cruz & the Tea Party Weakened America with Shutdown
    • It ended before that with their war on education. Home schooling by two parents who cannot help but be very limited in breadth so that their children are not exposed to the common sense. Charter schools so the well off do not have to sit next to the riff-faff who might actually prove themselves just as often smarter if allowed to take the same test under the same conditions, and so on.....

    • Whatever agreements happen with Iran will not mean much because Israel will not be content to trust in such. So the outcome of the agreement is that there will be an agreement but all the parties will behave the same as before nonetheless. Just like all these interim budget fixes--all we do is defer and fester.

  • Obama should Resist the Clintons & Europe on Syria
    • Just something to think about:

      The historical perspective on past interventions is thorough and very interesting but to be fair I would say that Hillary Clinton along with her husband, Bill, are far more likely interested in positioning Hillary as more hawkish relative to potential repulblican competitors -- not anyone from the Obama camp. The early polls are extremely favorable to Hillary Clinton. No one in the Obama Camp comes closer than Joe Biden who essentially gets trounced by Hillary. She wins overall as it stands but it is a much narrower margin with the leading Republican contenders than in the primary against Joe Biden or any other potential Democratic contender.

      If you look at it this way it may be more of a sad reflection on how Americans tend to vote, what they respond to, and the excessive influence of money on elections; then former President Bill Clinton's statement being precidely "unfair".

      It strikes me as a reasonable strategic move given what the Clinton's objectives are and pressures that obviously are being applied to both President Obama and Hillary Clinton. At most, a "nonfatal error" I would grant you--but we are in the field of politics, not Actaeon's valley of insight.

      There is a scenario where President Obama may actually have encouraged Bill Clinton to make the statement. I call this quantum politics. In this case, Bill Clinton serves as a sort of strange attractor--he attracts unto himself those dissenting forces within by first voicing their demands (in a case where the President definitely cannot and/or Hillary Clinton at this point might rather not. He then assumes leadership as the spokesperson of this subgroup to whom this clanging of the bell appeals. He does his best but ultimately expresses his regret that it just isn't possible or whatever. The whole point is to hold the party together and keep its larger share of independent voters happy enough given the chaos of the world.

      Most of all, I think it is important to keep in mind what it must mean for Bill rather than Hillary Clinton to have had said this. Hillary would have said it herself now if it was all that serious. The last thing she needs, if she is going to run, is Bill Clinton speaking on her behalf--she'll have enough trouble convincing some of who is running the White House. Thus, I am saying that the meaning is found between the words and lines and that we should not take all pronouncements, especially noncommittal ones by a former President, literally.

      I'm glad you reviewed the history. This blog is the only one I bother to read. I very seldom have any comments--but thought maybe you might want to reconsider the motives--if anything--its not clear why Bill Clinton said this....

      If politics were about truth, then we would have no need to name it "poltics".

  • Alex Jones, Gun control, and White Terrorism
    • It seems like a performance to me. Alex Jones made a calculated gesture that will appeal to his audience (who buy his paranoid conspiracy tapes) partly because of the reactions he expects to garner from the left. His shtick is "outrage" and partly because of being watched and hounded by big brother. Alex Jones needs the FBI. Why does Piers Morgan want to talk with this guy anyway? Maybe it's An America's Got Rhetoric Special Edition -- you need a few nuts to keep the show interesting, eh?

      Performance Art.

      Boring too.

  • The Real War on Christmas: GOP Rejection of Tax Rise on Rich could End Tax-Break for Charitable Giving
    • The question: "Isn’t the end of the tax break for charitable donations the real war on Christmas?" is not a particularly effective way to end the article.

      First, a donation that depends on tax breaks for its existence is not completely charitable.

      Second, such breaks--while perhaps giving others some choice in where they imagine their dollars are spent--also transfer the tax burden of necessity to others, many of whom have less of a choice (choices require capabilities and the investment of time. We all do not enjoy the same luxury of leisure).

      Rather than allowing the claim for deciding how their money is spent by making tax deductible contributions, we can dispute that such a claim is positive in that said claim gives our money to their favored charities as some portion of every donation is a tax deduction actually paid involuntarily by the collective, reimbursement of taxes that have to be made up in some way--more taxes.

      Synthesizing these two points: It does not speak well of us as caring individuals or a society if we have to be compensated in part in order to "give".

      Any of us could chose to say that we don't care to support the religion of others where some of our tax dollars are used to compensate the choices of individual others outside of the realm of our representatives' choices. That is, others can, by the same logic, claim to pay more taxes than they should have to simply because some others are reimbursed with tax dollars to support their religion and other IRS qualified "charities".

      We would all prefer not to pay taxes. We would all prefer to target our tax dollars. Most of us would prefer immortality. Reality. Sorry.

      The reality of course is that donations will diminish if the tax deductions go away. Thus, there are some arguments that can reasonably be made against doing away with said tax deductions--such as the possible impact on employment and, in some cases, the poor who, in order to survive, depend on a few charities that have stepped up to fill social responsibilities no longer addressed adequately by the government, presumably because it cannot afford to do so.

      But, to answer the question: Tax deductions for charitable giving have nothing to do with the spirit of Christmas (or similar happenings among most other religious groups).

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