Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fwd: Nuclear


At the National Press Club on April 26, 2005, then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was asked about a move being discussed by Senate Republicans, then in control, to change the Senate rules so as to require a mere majority vote rather than the 60 votes necessary to end a potential filibuster… known by opponents as the "nuclear option," and by supporters as the "constitutional option"

 

"You know, the Founders designed this system, as frustrating it is, to make sure that there's a broad consensus before the country moves forward.

I would like to think that this is something that we could sort out,

And I think that the way to sort it out would be for this administration to do what every administration previous to this one has done;

which is to say, 'Here are a set of nominees. Let's run them by members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, figure out which of these judges generate the most heat, are considered most out of the extreme, and then let's work out what the list is of judges who in fact can gain some bipartisan support.'

I mean, that's what every president has done up until this point.

And what we have now is a president who has decided, you know, 'I've gotten 95 percent of my appointees, but there are these 10 that I want just because I want them.' Hasn't gotten his way.

And that is now prompting, you know, a change in the Senate rules that really I think would change the character of the Senate forever."

 

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2010/02/obama-quotes-on-nuclear-option-in-2005-given-new-scrutiny/

 

Fwd: China

'Two long-range American bombers have conducted what Pentagon officials described Tuesday as a routine training mission through international air space recently claimed by China as its "air defense identification zone."

 

The Chinese government said Saturday that it has the right to identify, monitor and possibly take military action against aircraft that enter the area, which includes sea and islands also claimed by Japan. The claim threatens to escalate an already tense dispute over some of the maritime territory.

 

American officials said the pair of B-52s carried out a mission that had been planned long in advance of the Chinese announcement this past weekend, and that the United States military would continue to assert its right to fly through what it regards as international air space.'

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/27/world/asia/us-flies-b-52s-into-chinas-expanded-air-defense-zone.html?_r=0

 

Fwd: China

'an increasing number of Chinese and Japanese ships and planes are frequenting a very small area in the East China Sea. The Japanese government announced Tuesday that twice in the past three weeks Chinese warships have upped the ante even further by "painting" a Japanese warship and helicopter with the same type of radar used to aim missiles.

 

In a region devoid of rules like those that existed between the United States and the Soviet Union when their ships and planes crossed paths, the possibility of a deadly accident is high. In addition to the radar scares, the two sides have exchanged threats, with Japan stating that its fighter jets would fire tracer bullets near Chinese aircraft if they strayed too near the rocks. A retired but influential Chinese army general responded that such an act would constitute a "first shot."'

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/japan-and-chinas-island-argument-is-a-us-concern/2013/02/05/fbc7ed62-6999-11e2-af53-7b2b2a7510a8_story.html

 

Germany rethinks its liberal ways on sex workers

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fwd: Robert Reich

'We are becoming a vastly unequal society in which most of the economic gains are going to the top. It's only just that those with higher incomes bear some responsibility for maintaining the health of Americans who are less fortunate.

 

    This is a profoundly moral argument about who we are and what we owe each other as Americans. But Democrats have failed to make it, perhaps because they're reluctant to admit that the Act involves any redistribution at all.

 

    Redistribution has become so unfashionable it's easier to say everyone comes out ahead. And everyone does come out ahead in the long term.'

 

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303281504579222202405206972

 

Fwd: Japan

'Caroline Kennedy has had some dramatic challenges in her life, starting with her father's assassination 50 years ago. Her new job as Washington's s ambassador to Japan has already thrust her into the middle of growing geopolitical tensions in East Asia less than two weeks after her arrival.

 

The daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy came to Japan with the profile of a superstar, but with little experience in foreign policy and no specific ties to her host country. Rather than easing into her new role, the 56-year-old lawyer, author, and mother of three has found herself on the spot, delivering a stern message to China whose growing dominance in East Asia challenges the U.S.'s own regional strategy.

 

"Unilateral actions like those taken by China…constitute an attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea," the ambassador said in her first policy speech Wednesday, four days after Beijing ratcheted up its territorial dispute with Tokyo by unveiling a new air defense zone that overlaps with Japan's. "This only serves to increase tensions in the region."

 

Ms. Kennedy has a lot to prove before she gets high marks for her diplomatic skills from foreign policy experts, some of whom questioned her qualifications when her name first surfaced as President Barack Obama's choice for the Japan job earlier this year. Still, Wednesday's speech was received enthusiastically by an audience made up of Japanese and American business leaders and officials who filled a cavernous Tokyo ballroom. Speaking after her speech, Ichiro Fujisaki, a former Japanese ambassador to Washington, described her arrival as "a Thanksgiving gift and a Christmas gift coming together. It's a great gift to Japan from the U.S. government."

 

Such enthusiasm is apparent across the nation, where President Kennedy's popularity endures. Japanese reporters staked out at curbside at the airport even before she left New York on Nov. 14. When she took a carriage ride to deliver her credentials to Emperor Akihito last week, an estimated five thousand people lined up on her route. The Japanese media are eagerly reporting the details of her daily activities, with television hosts weaving in comments about her outfits and her family history.

 

Ms. Kennedy's superstar power was on display in Tohoku, Japan's northeastern region where many residents are still suffering from the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. After spending her first week in Tokyo visiting top officials and greeting U.S. troops at local bases, Ms. Kennedy chose the area as the place for her debut before ordinary Japanese and took a two-day tour earlier this week.

 

The trip came just three days after the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Ms. Kennedy's father, an event that thrust her family in the spotlight and one she chose to observe privately at her new home in Japan.'

 

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303562904579223691747214718

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Best of the Web Today: Excuses, Excuses - WSJ.com

http://m.us.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303281504579222202405206972?mobile=y

The Peerless Cluelessness of Thomas Friedman | The Jewish Press

http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/elder-of-ziyon/the-peerless-cluelessness-of-thomas-friedman/2013/11/24/

Fwd: Thanksgiving


'Had today's politicians and opinion-makers been in power four centuries ago, Americans might celebrate "Starvation Day" this week, not Thanksgiving.

 

The Pilgrims started out with communal property rules. When they first settled at Plymouth, they were told

 

"Share everything, share the work, and we'll share the harvest."

 

The colony's contract said their new settlement was to be a "common." Everyone was to receive necessities out of the common stock. There was to be little individual property.

 

That wasn't the only thing about the Plymouth Colony that sounds like it was from Karl Marx: Its labor was to be organized according to the different capabilities of the settlers. People would produce according to their abilities and consume according to their needs. That sure sounds fair.

 

They nearly starved and created what economists call the "tragedy of the commons."

 

If people can access the same stuff by working less, they will. Plymouth settlers faked illness instead of working the common property. The harvest was meager, and for two years, there was famine. But then, after the colony's governor, William Bradford, wrote that they should "set corn every man for his own particular," they dropped the commons idea. He assigned to every family a parcel of land to treat as its own.

 

The results were dramatic. Much more corn was planted. Instead of famine, there was plenty. Thanks to private property, they got food -- and thanks to it, we have food today.'

 

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/11/27/thankful_for_property_120794.html

 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Direction


'Pope Francis called for renewal of the Roman Catholic Church and attacked unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny"…

 

In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the "idolatry of money" and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens "dignified work, education and healthcare".

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/pope-francis-calls-unfettered-capitalism-a-new-tyranny-2013-11#ixzz2lltg83Po

 

RealClearWorld - France Flirts with Fiscal Asphyxiation

http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2013/11/14/france_flirts_with_fiscal_asphyxiation.html

Al Qaeda in Kentucky: US May Have Let 'Dozens' of Terrorists Into Country as Refugees - ABC News

Several dozen suspected terrorist bombmakers, including some believed
to have targeted American troops, may have mistakenly been allowed to
move to the United States as war refugees,

http://abcnews.go.com/m/story?id=20931131

Monday, November 25, 2013

Fwd: Sanford


'Washington state resident Jessica Sanford was bursting with pride when President Obama mentioned her story during a Rose Garden event on health care reform last month at the White House.

 

"Who wouldn't?" Sanford asks. "I'm a nobody really to have him mention my story."

 

Back in October, Sanford had written a letter to the White House to share her good news. The 48-year-old single mother of a teenage son diagnosed with ADHD had just purchased what she considered to be affordable insurance on the Washington state exchange.

 

"I was ecstatic. I couldn't wait to call the doctor for an appointment on January 2nd," Sanford told CNN about the feeling she had when she first enrolled.

 

Her heartfelt letter made it to the President's hands and then into his October 21 speech.

 

"'I was crying the other day when I signed up. So much stress lifted.'" Obama said, reading from Sanford's letter.

 

The president said Sanford's story was proof, despite the technical problems with the healthcare.gov website, that the Affordable Care Act was working.

 

"That's what the Affordable Care Act is all about. The point is, the essence of the law - the health insurance that's available to people - is working just fine," Obama said.

 

But then, after Obama mentioned her story, Sanford started having problems. Sanford said she received another letter informing her the Washington state health exchange had miscalculated her eligibility for a tax credit.

 

In other words, her monthly insurance bill had shot up from $198 a month (she had initially said $169 a month to the White House but she switched plans) to $280 a month for the same "gold" plan offered by the state exchange.

 

Sanford said she was frustrated with the state's error. But she decided to purchase the new plan and thought everything was fine.

 

It wasn't fine. Last week, Sanford received another letter from the Washington state exchange, stating there had been another problem, a "system error" that resulted in some "applicants to qualify for higher than allowed health insurance premium tax credits."

 

The letter said the state exchange was "disappointed to have discovered this issue" and apologized.

 

The result was a higher quote, which Sanford said was for $390 per month for a "silver" plan with a higher deductible. Still too expensive

 

A cheaper "bronze" plan, Sanford said, came in at $324 per month, but also with a high deductible - also not in her budget.

 

Then another letter from the state exchange with even worse news.

 

"Your household has been determined eligible for a Federal Tax Credit of $0.00 to help cover the cost of your monthly health insurance premium payments," the latest letter said.

 

"I had a good cry," Sanford said about her reaction to the latest news from the state.'

 

 

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/11/19/woman-cited-by-president-as-obamacare-success-story-frustrated-by-sign-up-process/

 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fwd: Venezuela


'Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro received authority to pass economic laws without congressional approval, a move the opposition says will increase the harassment of businesses and attacks on political rivals ahead of local elections.

 

The national assembly approved today the so-called enabling law by a three-fifths majority, allowing Maduro to enact laws, such as limits on profits, without the oversight of congress.

 

"It's my responsibility to sign this to fight against corruption and speculation," National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello said from congress in comments broadcast on state television. "I sign this in Chavez's name."

 

Maduro acquired for the first time the same power his late predecessor Hugo Chavez relied on for a third of his 14 years in office to nationalize companies, create taxes and increase labor rights. Maduro said he will use decrees to protect the people from the "parasitic bourgeoisie," which he accuses of hoarding goods and overcharging customers. He will pass populist measures to regain support that has been eroded by the fastest inflation in the world ahead of the Dec. 8 vote, David Smilde, a sociology professor at the University of Georgia, said.'

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-19/venezuela-lawmakers-grant-maduro-power-to-rule-without-congress.html

 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fwd: Mexico



'Since 2008, the seven main drug cartels have emerged as an existential threat to Mexico's future. Cartels like Los Zetas, which recruit members from Mexico's Special Forces and federal police, behave like organized paramilitaries, not ordinary criminals. They generate perhaps $30 to $40 billion a year in illicit profits. And the price has been horrendous. Between 2007 and 2012, around 47,000 Mexicans were killed in the drug war. Some estimate that the true toll is over 60,000.

 

When we think of torture, beheadings and assassination, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia come to mind. Many Americans and Canadians would be surprised to learn that these are commonplace in Mexico, a country many associate with beaches and margaritas. Yet the situation in Mexico has deteriorated so badly that one Juarez mayor and a newspaper publisher took up residence in Texas, while one journalist took refuge in Canada.

 

As neighbors, we should be concerned. But there's even more to it than that: The drug cartels pose a direct threat to American and Canadian security.'

 

http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/mexico-americas-number-one-threat-9205

 

Fwd: Arak

Fwd: Iran


'Instead of opining on the proposed deal with Iran taking shape in Geneva, let's decode it.

 

From the reported outline of the proposal, we learn four things:

 

1) Iran remains intensely committed to achieving a nuclear weapon.

 

Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, promised his countrymen relief from international sanctions. Since coming into office this summer, he has made various conciliatory noises. Was he readying Iran for a real deal?

 

The message of Geneva is: No, no real deal.

 

Iran's red line at Geneva, the thing it would not trade away, was a capacity to continue and resume nuclear bomb development at any time. Iran's offer at Geneva amounted to a six-month delay of its nuclear program that will not in any way impair its ability to get back to bomb-making at any time.

 

Iran won't neutralize or surrender any of its fissile material; that is, material used to fuel reactors—or nuclear bombs. It won't disable any of its nuclear facilities. It will only pause. Economists use the phrase "revealed preference" to describe the way in which our actions indicate our priorities. Iran's priority remains gaining a weapon; post-Geneva, there can be no doubt about that.

 

2) The Iranian economy has collapsed into desperate condition.

 

At Geneva, Iran gained a promise of the potential release of $3 billion in frozen international reserves and the right to import potentially up to $9.5 billion of gold. For a major oil producing nation, these should be petty sums. (Iraq's oil revenues amounted to about $7 billion per month in 2013.)…

 

3) The Obama administration wants an Iranian nuclear deal more than Iran does.

 

By most reports, it was the United States that came to Geneva armed with proposals, and Iran that did most of the refusing.

 

As Eli Lake and Josh Rogin reported in the Daily Beast last week, the Obama administration began relaxing sanctions simply to get talks started. Iran, by contrast, has offered no such concessions to the United States….

 

4) America's allies are not deferring to American leadership on this one.

 

It's not only France that has rebelled against the outlined deal in Geneva. Israel is protesting vocally and publicly; America's Gulf Arab allies are protesting less publicly, but nearly equally vocally. On "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Kerry insisted that there was "zero gap" between the United States and its regional allies. Then he immediately got on a plane to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, presumably to try to upgrade his Sunday talk-show words into something closer to reality…'

 

http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/11/opinion/frum-iran-deal/?hpt=hp_bn7

 

Fwd: 5th year approval


'OBAMA = BUSH - The latest survey from Gallup finds President Obama holds a nearly identical approval rating to former President George W. Bush at this point in his presidency. The firm's tracking poll shows Obama with a 39 percent approval rating compared to Bush's 40 percent in the fall of his fifth year in office.'

 

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/11/06/virginia-squeaker-sends-shivers-through-dems/

 

Fwd: Iran


From: <larry.r.trout

'Tens of thousands of demonstrators packed the streets Monday outside the former U.S. embassy in Tehran in the biggest anti-American rally in years, a show of support for hard-line opponents of President Hassan Rouhani's historic outreach to Washington.

 

Such protests occur every year outside the former embassy compound to mark the anniversary of the 1979 takeover following the Islamic Revolution. But the latest demonstration is the largest in years after calls by groups such as the powerful Revolutionary Guard for a major showing, including chants of "death to America" that some of Rouhani's backers have urged halted.'

 



Fwd: History



'More than a decade later, most people remain totally unaware of the troubling issues behind "Roots" — or simply don't want to hear that this still-acclaimed work was essentially a fake.

 

That view is shared even by such noted African-American historians as Harvard's Henry Louis Gates, a Haley friend who conceded that it's time to "speak candidly" and admit that "it's highly unlikely that Alex actually found the village from whence his ancestors sprang," adding that it was not "strict historical scholarship." The late John Henrik Clarke, dean of Afrocentrist scholars, said he "cried real tears when I realized that Haley was less than authentic."

 

Genealogists, eager to retrace the historical steps Haley claimed he took in his 12-year search for his family heritage, discovered this early on: Documents didn't match any information Haley cited; the dates were all wrong and so was the supposed slave lineage. Elizabeth Shown Mills, editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, went so far as to denounce Haley's "subterfuge."

 

And the first half of the book — Kunta Kinte's life in Africa — was blatantly plagiarized from an earlier novel by anthropologist Harold Courlander, who sued Haley, accepting a $650,000 settlement after the court's expert witness concluded that the copying in the book and the movie was "clear and irrefutable . . . significant and extensive."

 

That deal was made after the judge hearing the case, alarmed not only by the extent of the copying but also by Haley's repeated perjury in court, pressed the sides to settle, then sealed the official file from public view. The judge later admitted (in a BBC documentary that has never run on American TV) that he "didn't want to destroy" Haley and his reputation.

 

Perhaps the most damning exposé of Haley's historical hoax came in a devastating 1993 Village Voice cover piece by Philip Nobile, who'd had access to Haley's personal papers before they were broken up and auctioned off. There he found compelling evidence that the non-plagiarized section of the book had been primarily written not by Haley but by his longtime editor at Playboy magazine, Murray Fisher.

 

Moreover, the BBC located a tape of the famous session in Gambia with the griot, or oral historian, who supposedly made the link between Haley's slave forebears and their African ancestor, Kunta Kinte. It showed the griot's story being repeatedly corrected by Gambian officials and Haley himself specifically asking for a tale that fit his predetermined narrative.'

 

http://nypost.com/2013/11/11/history-channel-plans-to-remake-historically-problematic-roots/

 

Fwd:



'France blocked the first stage of a nuclear deal with Iran that had support from the United States, Britain, Germany, most of the rest of Europe, Russia, and China.

 

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he was preventing his allies from falling for an Iranian "con game…

 

Diplomats in Geneva criticized the French privately not only for objecting to some aspects of the interim deal with Iran, but also for leaking the substance of some of the discussions. One of the hallmarks of the diplomacy that led to the near-breakthrough had been the extent to which its details were kept under wraps, even as the atmospherics raised great expectations.'

 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/11/10/why-france-is-to-blame-for-blocking-the-iran-nuclear-agreement.html

 

Fwd: Iran

From: <larry.r.trout

'Current Iranian President Hasan Rouhani was his country's nuclear negotiator from 2003 to 2005, when Iran briefly suspended its civilian and military nuclear work in the teeth of intense international pressure (and American armies on its borders with Iraq and Afghanistan). That previous suspension is treated by U.S. negotiators as a model of what they might achieve now.

 

It's really a model of what they should beware. "Tehran showed that it was possible to exploit the gap between Europe and the United States to achieve Iranian objectives," Hossein Mousavian, Mr. Rouhani's deputy at the time, acknowledged in his memoir. "The world's understanding of 'suspension' was changed from a legally binding obligation" to "a voluntary and short-term undertaking aimed at confidence building."

 

Now the U.S. seems to be falling for the same ruse again. This time, however, Iran is much closer to achieving its nuclear objectives...The Saudis, who gave up on this Administration long ago, are no doubt thinking along similar lines. The BBC reported last week that the Kingdom has nuclear weapons "on order" from Pakistan.'

 

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304448204579185651742048532

 

 

'Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects, and believes it could obtain atomic bombs at will, a variety of sources have told BBC Newsnight.

 

While the kingdom's quest has often been set in the context of countering Iran's atomic programme, it is now possible that the Saudis might be able to deploy such devices more quickly than the Islamic republic.

 

Earlier this year, a senior Nato decision maker told me that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery.

 

Last month Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, "the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring."

 

Since 2009, when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia warned visiting US special envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross that if Iran crossed the threshold, "we will get nuclear weapons", the kingdom has sent the Americans numerous signals of its intentions.

 

In the late 1980s they secretly bought dozens of CSS-2 ballistic missiles from China.'

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24823846

 

 

'We never thought we'd say this, but thank heaven for French foreign-policy exceptionalism. At least for the time being, François Hollande's Socialist government has saved the West from a deal that would all but guarantee that Iran becomes a nuclear power.

 

While the negotiating details still aren't fully known, the French made clear Saturday that they objected to a nuclear agreement that British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Barack Obama were all too eager to sign. These two leaders remind no one, least of all the Iranians, of Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. That left the French to protect against a historic security blunder, with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius declaring in an interview with French radio that while France still hopes for an agreement with Tehran, it won't accept a "sucker's deal."'

 

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304448204579185651742048532

 



Fwd: Korea



'South Korea's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported that the co-ordinated public executions took place in seven separate cities earlier this month.

 

In one case, the local authorities rounded up 10,000 people, including children, and forced them to watch, it reported.

 

Those put to death were found guilty by the state of minor misdemeanors, including watching videos of South Korean television programmes or possessing a Bible.

 

Sources told the paper that witnesses saw eight people tied to stakes in the Shinpoong Stadium, in Kangwon Province, before having sacks placed over their heads and being executed by soldiers firing machineguns.

 

"I heard from the residents that they watched in terror as the corpses were so riddled by machinegun fire that they were hard to identify afterwards," the source said.'

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/10442375/Dozens-executed-in-North-Korea-for-watching-foreign-films.html

 



Fwd: Dropped


'As a liberal Democrat and a retired health care professional, I have been a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). I was willing to give President Barack Obama a pass on the disastrous launch of the website because I am confident that the glitches will be fixed in a reasonably short period of time. However. I am very distressed about the prospect of 3 to 5 million Americans losing their existing health insurance after hearing for three years from Mr. Obama they would not ("The president's political apology," Nov. 11).

 

After the first time that he made that misstatement, someone on his staff or at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should have pointed out his error. The result of not doing so is that people who are in the middle of chemotherapy or on dialysis, not to mention millions of others with lesser maladies, are without coverage. Unless a mechanism is created "stat" to correct this problem, I believe it will go down in history as the biggest domestic disaster in American history.

 

How could such a thing have happened?

 

Marc Raim, Baltimore'

 

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed-obamacare-letter-20131112,0,5777537.story

 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fwd: Teachable Moment


'The debacle of the rollout of Obamacare is yet another moment for re-learning the fundamental truth about how little we know about what we think we can control.

 

That last phrase comes from F.A. Hayek, of course.  Hayek died in 1992, on the cusp of the World Wide Web and the explosion of the Internet, which has transformed our economy and our individual lives profoundly.  In one of his last interviews with Forbes magazine shortly before his death, Hayek was asked whether the rapid advances in technology and computing power made economic management—planning and regulation—more feasible.  Hayek was emphatic that no matter how big and how fast our computing power got, it did not change the fundamental defect of all centralized economic control: the problem is not simply mastering or processing a large amount of raw data.  Information and circumstances change too quickly.  More fundamentally, the data necessary for centralized decision-making is not available at all.'

 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/10/15/the-obamacare-rollout-debacle-is-a-hayekian-teaching-moment/

 

'Prediction: even if HealthCare.gov is fixed by the end of the month (unlikely), Obamacare is going to be repealed well in advance of next year's election.  And if the website continues to fail, the push for repeal—from endangered Democrats—will occur very rapidly.  The website is a sideshow: the real action is the number of people and businesses who are losing their health plans or having to pay a lot more.  Fixing the website will only delay the inevitable.

 

It is important to remember why it was so important for Obama to promise repeatedly that "if you like your health insurance/doctor, you can keep your health insurance/doctor."  Cast your mind back to the ignominious collapse of Hillarycare in 1994.  Hillarycare came out of the box in September 1993 to high public support according to the early polls.  This was not a surprise.  Opinion polls for decades have shown a large majority of Americans support the general idea of universal health coverage.  But Hillarycare came apart as the bureaucratic details came out, the most important one being that you couldn't be sure you'd be able to keep your doctors or select specialists of your choice.  The Clintons refused to consider a compromise, but even with large Democratic Senate and House majorities the bill was so dead it was never brought up for a vote.

 

Remember "Harry and Louise"?  Obama did, which is why he portrayed Obamacare as simply expanding coverage to the uninsured, and improving coverage for the underinsured while leaving the already insured undisturbed.  But the redistributive arithmetic of Obamacare's architecture could never add up, which is what the bureaucrats knew early on—as early as 2010 according to many documents that have leaked.'

 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenhayward/2013/11/11/obamacare-will-be-repealed-well-in-advance-of-the-2014-elections/

 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fwd: Edie


'Everyone now is clamoring about Affordable Care Act winners and losers. I am one of the losers.

 

My grievance is not political; all my energies are directed to enjoying life and staying alive, and I have no time for politics. For almost seven years I have fought and survived stage-4 gallbladder cancer, with a five-year survival rate of less than 2% after diagnosis. I am a determined fighter and extremely lucky. But this luck may have just run out: My affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective Dec. 31.

 

My choice is to get coverage through the government health exchange and lose access to my cancer doctors, or pay much more for insurance outside the exchange (the quotes average 40% to 50% more) for the privilege of starting over with an unfamiliar insurance company and impaired benefits…

 

Two things have been essential in my fight to survive stage-4 cancer. The first are doctors and health teams in California and Texas: at the medical center of the University of California, San Diego, and its Moores Cancer Center; Stanford University's Cancer Institute; and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

 

The second element essential to my fight is a United Healthcare PPO (preferred provider organization) health-insurance policy.

 

Since March 2007 United Healthcare has paid $1.2 million to help keep me alive, and it has never once questioned any treatment or procedure recommended by my medical team. The company pays a fair price to the doctors and hospitals, on time, and is responsive to the emergency treatment requirements of late-stage cancer. Its caring people in the claims office have been readily available to talk to me and my providers.

 

But in January, United Healthcare sent me a letter announcing that they were pulling out of the individual California market. The company suggested I look to Covered California starting in October.'

 

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304527504579171710423780446

 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fwd: Keynes



'Ms. Yellen, a former professor of economics at Berkeley, has openly proclaimed her views on economic policy, and those views deserve very careful scrutiny. She asks: "Will capitalist economies operate at full employment in the absence of routine intervention?" And she answers: "Certainly not."

 

Janet Yellen represents the Keynesian economics that once dominated economic theory and policy like a national religion -- until it encountered two things: Milton Friedman and the stagflation of the 1970s.

 

At the height of the Keynesian influence, it was widely believed that government policy-makers could choose a judicious trade-off between the inflation rate and the rate of unemployment. This trade-off was called the Phillips Curve, in honor of an economist at the London School of Economics.

 

Professor Milton Friedman of the University of Chicago attacked the Phillips Curve, both theoretically and empirically. When Professor Friedman received the Nobel Prize in economics -- the first of many to go to Chicago economists, who were the primary critics of Keynesian economics -- it seemed as if the idea of a trade-off between the inflation rate and the unemployment rate might be laid to rest.

 

Nevertheless, the Keynesian economists have staged a political comeback during the Obama administration. Janet Yellen's nomination to head the Federal Reserve is the crowning example of that comeback.

 

Ms. Yellen asks: "Do policy-makers have the knowledge and ability to improve macroeconomic outcomes rather than making matters worse?" And she answers: "Yes."

 

The former economics professor is certainly asking the right questions -- and giving the wrong answers.

 

Her first question, whether free market economies can achieve full employment without government intervention, is a purely factual question that can be answered from history. For the first 150 years of the United States, there was no policy of federal intervention when the economy turned down.

 

No depression during all that time was as catastrophic as the Great Depression of the 1930s, when both the Federal Reserve System and Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt intervened in the economy on a massive and unprecedented scale.'

 

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/10/15/a_return_to_keynes_120332.html

 

Fwd: memo

Fwd: Saudi Arabia


'The historic 15-minute phone call between President Barack Obama and Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani may have cost the U.S. one of its key friends in the Middle East.

 

President Obama's phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani marks the first time the nations' leaders have communicated directly since 1979. What does this mean for their future relationship? NBC's Chuck Todd reports.

 

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been allies for some 80 years, with the U.S. offering military protection to the world's second-biggest oil producer.

 

But as relations warm between Tehran and Washington, Saudi Arabia last month signaled that it will "shift away from the U.S.," giving Secretary of State John Kerry plenty to discuss with King Abdullah when they meet on Monday.

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Riyadh is deeply skeptical of Iran's charm offensive and frustrated by an alleged lack of consultation over Washington's changing stance toward a country once branded as a member of the so-called "axis of evil."

 

Only five years ago, the Saudis urged the U.S. to strike Iran -- which is situated just across the Persian Gulf from the kingdom. The Saudi government fears that the development of an Iranian nuclear weapon would seriously threaten its national security.'

 

http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/11/04/21245543-why-a-15-minute-phone-call-threatens-saudi-arabias-decades-old-alliance-with-us?lite

 

Brazil

‘Brazil’s government acknowledged on Monday that its top intelligence agency had spied on diplomatic targets from countries including the United States, Iran and Russia, putting Brazilian authorities in the uncomfortable position of defending their own surveillance practices after repeatedly criticizing American spying operations.’

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/05/world/americas/brazil-acknowledges-spying-on-diplomats-from-us.html?_r=0

 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fwd: Approval

From: <larry.r.trout

Fwd: Russia


'The stabbing murder on October 10 of an ethnic Russian, Yegor Shcherbakov, 25, apparently by a Muslim from Azerbaijan, led to antimigrant disturbances in Moscow, vandalism and assaults, and the arrest of 1,200. It brought a major tension in Russian life to the fore.

 

Not only do ethnic Muslims account for 21–23 million of Russia's total population of 144 million, or 15 percent, but their proportion is fast growing. Alcoholism-plagued ethnic Russians are said to have European birth rates and African life-expectancy, with the former just 1.4 per woman and the latter 60 years for men. In Moscow, ethnic Christian women have 1.1 children.

 

n contrast, Muslim women bear 2.3 children on average and have fewer abortions than their Russian counterparts. In Moscow, Tatar women have six children and Chechen and Ingush women have ten on average. In addition, some 3 to 4 million Muslims have moved to Russia from ex-republics of the USSR, mainly Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan; and some ethnic Russians are converting to Islam.

 

These trends mean that Christians are declining in numbers by 0.6 percent a year and Muslims increasing by that same amount, which will have dramatic effects over time. Some analysts foresee Muslims becoming a majority in the 21st century — a demographic revolution that would fundamentally change the country's character. Paul Goble, an expert on Russian minorities, concludes that "Russia is going through a religious transformation that will be of even greater consequence for the international community than the collapse of the Soviet Union." A Russian commentator he quotes envisions a mosque on Red Square in Moscow. The facile assumption that Moscow is and will remain Western-oriented "is no longer valid," he argues. In particular, he predicts that the Muslim demographic surge "will have a profound impact on Russian foreign policy."'

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/361804/russias-demographic-revolution-daniel-pipes

 

Fwd: Roma


'heir names are as mysterious as their origins: Often called the Roma or the Romani people, they're also known as gitanos in Spain, Kale in Finland and Portugal, Manush or gitan in France and Travelers in Scandinavia.

 

And almost everywhere they go, they're referred to -- somewhat pejoratively -- as gypsies, a people who have migrated throughout the world over the course of several centuries.

 

The Roma have one of the most dramatic stories in human history, but few people know their ancient tale of travel, persecution and survival. Here are five intriguing facts about the Romani people:…'

 

http://news.discovery.com/human/life/5-intriguing-facts-about-the-roma-131024.htm

 

Fwd: France

Fwd: Food Stamps

Fwd: Texas

'A federal appeals court Thursday reinstated a key part of a new Texas abortion law, considered to be among the most restrictive in the country.

 

The decision came three days after a federal judge struck down the provision, which requires doctors to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic at which they're providing abortion services.

 

A day before parts of the law were scheduled to take effect, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel on Monday issued an injunction blocking the law's admitting privileges requirement, arguing that it "places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus and is thus an undue burden to her."

 

Thursday's decision means the requirement will remain in place while a lawsuit moves forward.'

 

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/31/us/texas-abortion-law/