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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Moe Lauzier’s

Issues of the Day

How long before Obama rides off into the sunset? Click below…

Patrick takes issue with estimate  of $1B cost for health care law
Matt Murphy, State House News Service
Gov says organization that did report has history of opposing law.
The total cost of implementing a new health insurance exchange in Massachusetts could exceed $1 billion over two years, according to a new report that is being roundly dismissed by the Patrick administration.
The report, published Wednesday by the Pioneer Institute’s senior fellow Josh Archambault, estimates that taxpayers will have spent more than $600 million to implement the new exchange, which includes the cost of rebuilding the balky website after a failed roll out last fall.

Another $540 million will be poured into a temporary Medicaid program created to insure the hundreds of thousands of residents who could not sign up for new health insurance under the Affordable Care Act due to the web problems, Archambault writes in the report.

“These budget numbers are a call to action,” he wrote. “Unlike in other states with faulty exchanges where multiple investigations have been opened, our elected officials have been surprisingly quiet given the website’s failure.”

Archambault said much of the expense could have been avoided if Massachusetts had joined the federal exchange in 2014. He called on Inspector General Glenn Cunha to open an investigation into the failed Connector site and to do a full accounting of how state money has been spent, and said the U.S. Health and Human Services Inspector General and the F.B.I. should add Massachusetts to the list of states under review to see if officials lied about the progress of the site to keep federal dollars flowing.

Gov. Deval Patrick, who is traveling in England and France on Wednesday, issued a statement blasting the Pioneer Institute and its report.

“One thing I won’t miss is having to answer spurious charges from the Pioneer Institute based on politics rather than facts,” Patrick said. “The truth is that Massachusetts is still successfully expanding health care and doing so within budget. The philosophical objections to the ACA of this reliable critic don’t change that.”
Administration and Finance Secretary Glen Shor, who chairs the Health Connector board, suggested the Pioneer report is “full of double counting and errors,” pointing as an example to one line-item listed for $105 million to pay new IT vendor Optum that was a revised contract estimate presented at a board meeting, not a new expense.

The administration also took issue with Archambault not differentiating between federal and state tax dollars and using charts in the report that compare two years of Connector costs to single years of spending on public health, early education, housing and economic development.

“We know the Pioneer Institute is fundamentally opposed to the Affordable Care Act. They are not an objective source of expertise or analysis on the cost of implementation and this is an attempt to misrepresent to advance their policy issues on political grounds,” Shor said.

The administration initially received $174 million from the federal government to build its state-based health exchange under the ACA. When the first site failed, the state hired new contractors to rebuild the site and now estimate that it will cost an additional $80 million to finish the IT project.

Shor also said the federal government has reimbursed the state for 50 percent of the cost of insuring over 300,000 residents on temporary Medicaid coverage until they can be placed in final plans, and MassHealth remained within budget for fiscal 2014 despite the unanticipated program.

Without trying to rebut each point and suggesting even a few errors would not meaningfully change the bottom line, Archambault said part of the reason he did the report was to try to pry loose information he feels is being withheld.

“I made it clear in the report this was a possibility because they haven’t been completely transparent,” Archambault said.

Shor took issue with Archambault’s charge that the administration has been less than transparent, citing numerous public briefings, reports and testimony to legislative committees about progress being made on the new website, and its cost.

While many residents in temporary Medicaid will ultimately qualify for subsidies, Archambault said it remains unknown how many of that population should not have been receiving government help. The state and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plan to reconcile the subscribers later this year once they are determined for their permanent coverage option.

“We also knew that offering more expansive options would require additional state and federal funding,” Shor said. “We support the Affordable Care Act because we know it builds on the success of Massachusetts health reform. They oppose it on policy grounds and are throwing numbers around recklessly and inaccurately to cloak what is a broader opposition to the ACA.

Administration officials did not put a total price tag on costs of ACA implementation, but said the cost estimates associated with the failed website are far lower than the report suggested.

Well-Heeled and Wrongheaded in California
Tom Steyer spends millions to stop energy exploration.

California billionaire Tom Steyer may be the biggest player in this year’s congressional elections—and, some charge, the biggest hypocrite. Steyer has vowed to use his NextGen Climate PAC to spend as much as $100 million to boost Democrats around the country who oppose the Keystone XL pipeline and support alternative-energy measures to combat climate change. But Steyer, the former CEO of the Farallon investment firm, made much of his fortune from the coal, oil, and gas industries that he now targets.
Steyer may be mulling a run for governor after Jerry Brown finishes his almost-certain next term—and California, with its aggressive Air Resources Board and alternative-energy mandates, would seem to be friendly territory for Steyer’s political aspirations. But the reality is more complicated. Steyer is a frequent critic of the conservative Koch brothers, who, he alleges, use their political muscle to improve their bottom line. But Steyer’s critics say that he’s becoming a left-wing version of the Kochs. His political activism, they suggest, will likely help Farallon, which operates a competitor to the Keystone XL. Steyer retired as CEO in 2012 but hasn’t divested from all his energy holdings, though he has promised to do so from his tar sands and coal holdings.
Surprisingly, Steyer has had only mixed political success so far. The Los Angeles Times cites his victories: “He bankrolled a successful effort in 2012 to persuade Californians to raise taxes on out-of-state businesses by $1 billion per year, half of which will be spent on energy-efficient programs. He also co-chaired the successful effort in 2010 to defeat Proposition 23, which would have rolled back the state’s landmark global warming law.” But Steyer has been consistently outmaneuvered on the two issues that seem dearest to him: halting hydraulic fracturing and slapping petroleum companies with an oil-severance tax. California is the rare oil-producing state that doesn’t impose such a tax, and Steyer says that if the legislature doesn’t pass one this year, he will lead an initiative campaign to get it on the 2016 ballot. On the fracking front, California recently passed industry-backed regulations that put some limits on the practice but essentially allow the technology to move forward. The law was a big win for the oil industry and for Steyer’s nemesis on the issue—Governor Brown.
No one can question Brown’s credibility on climate change. He was a leading force behind California’s first-in-the-nation cap-and-trade law, and his environmental advocacy goes back to the 1970s. But since returning to the governor’s office, Brown has promoted oil exploration in California, seeing its potential to unleash an economic boom. The Monterey Shale formation in the state’s agriculturally rich Central Valley is the largest of its kind in the country. Brown won industry praise by removing Arnold Schwarzenegger–era regulators who were holding up oil-lease approvals. He signed the fracking law and remains a forceful advocate for developing California’s oil resources—even as the state pushes to cut down on the demand side by promoting alternative energy. “There is a lot of concern about fracking, and that’s why we are spending millions of dollars and taking the time to understand as much as we can about the consequences,” he told CNN recently. But fracking, he added, “has been going on in California for more than 50 years. So we are not going to shut down a third of our oil production and force more oil coming from North Dakota, where they are fracking a lot more, to come by train or more boats and ships coming in from all over the world.”
Brown had no comment on recent reports from the federal Energy Information Administration suggesting that, using existing technology, recoverable oil from the Monterey Shale is 96 percent below estimates released last year in a USC study. The formation’s complex geology makes the oil tough to get to, at least for now. Steyer greeted the news by renewing his call for a moratorium on fracking: “Our leaders in Sacramento can no longer afford to pin our hopes on the false promises of a fossil fuel windfall—especially when our state is poised to lead the nation and the world toward a cleaner, more sustainable energy economy. California must have the courage and vision to address the root causes of the climate crisis.”
The Brown administration seems content to let private firms develop the technology necessary to exploit California’s oil resources. Tom Steyer may be taking his clean-energy campaign nationwide; but so far, he has little to show for it, even in green-friendly California. Maybe he should worry less about the Koch brothers and more about Jerry Brown.

Steven Greenhut is the California columnist for U-T San Diego. He is based in Sacramento

By Paul Sperry ,NY Post
Three and a half months have come and gone and the Pentagon has offered no clarity on what happened to alleged Army deserter and Taliban collaborator Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Fellow soldiers and other critics fear the military’s now-delayed investigation is shaping up to be a whitewash.
The case has become a political powder keg for President Obama.
Since he traded five imprisoned Taliban leaders for Bergdahl, the US Government Accountability Office has declared the swap illegal, and nearly two dozen House Democrats have joined Republicans in officially condemning the move for making “Americans less safe.”
In addition, the Taliban deal appears to have encouraged the Islamic State to put up American hostages as trade bait to free other terrorist detainees, namely “Lady al Qaeda” Aafia Siddiqui.
Obama in May presented Bergdahl as a hero in announcing his release in a Rose Garden ceremony featuring Bergdahl’s mother and father. The next day, his national-security adviser added another coat of varnish when she proclaimed the AWOL soldier “served the United States with honor and distinction.”
His platoon mates, however, say he did nothing of the kind. “Bergdahl is a deserter, not a hero [and] needs to answer for what he did,” said former Army Sgt. Evan Buetow, who served with Bergdahl and was present the night he vanished from his Afghan post.
Like Buetow, more than 60% of respondents to a recent Military Times survey believe that Bergdahl should be court-martialed for walking off his post in 2009 and costing the lives of six fellow soldiers who died searching for him.
But a senior Army official told me court-martialing Bergdahl would “make the president look bad.” In spite of damning evidence against him, the official expects Pentagon brass to separate him from the military with a less-than-honorable discharge, sparing Obama total embarrassment.
In a sign Bergdahl may indeed get off with a slap on the wrist, the Army has delayed its AR 15-6 investigation into his disappearance — a development that Bergdahl’s attorneys see as helpful to their client.
The Army investigator, Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, was supposed to submit his findings to brass last month but has asked for an extension. The probe was limited to a 60-day window, which ended Aug. 15. There’s no longer a deadline attached, which means the investigation could drag out past the November election.
Dahl last month interviewed Bergdahl at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, in what his lawyer described as an “entirely non confrontational” meeting.
Critics doubt Dahl has the skills to conduct a proper interrogation. “No general does this. They have no training,” said the Army official, who requested anonymity upon describing Dahl as a “yes-man.”
If there’s any doubt this case is politically sensitive, consider that Buetow and five other platoon mates have hit roadblocks shopping an explosive book portraying Bergdahl as a “premeditated” deserter who aided the Taliban. An editor reportedly turned them down because Republicans “are all over Bergdahl and using it against Obama.”
Buetow, who was team leader of Bergdahl’s unit, says they’re not trying to politicize the issue. They just couldn’t stay quiet after Obama made him out to be a war hero.
“We’re just trying to tell the truth,” he said in an interview published last month. “It’s not my fault this would make Obama look bad.”
The evidence against 28-year-old Bergdahl is overwhelming. Here’s a bill of indictment:
  • Before slipping away, Bergdahl shipped much of his gear, including a personal computer, back home to Idaho.
  • In e-mails to his parents, excerpted in Rolling Stone, he complained he was “ashamed to even be American” and was “sorry for everything here,” adding: “These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live.”
  • When he left his outpost near the Pakistan border, he left behind his body armor and weapon and only took with him water and a backpack with a camera, notebook and writing materials — bizarre, given the hostile territory around his post.
  • He left a farewell note in which he stated he was deserting and explained his disillusionment with the war, according to The New York Times; other reports say he sought to renounce his American citizenship.
  • Within 24 hours, the Taliban confirmed they had picked him up, whereupon he expressed his displeasure with his countrymen and “wanted to accept Islam,” two Afghans who were Taliban commanders at the time told NBC News.
  • Bergdahl converted to Islam during his captivity and declared himself a “mujahid,” or warrior for Islam, according to secret military documents obtained by Fox News.
  • Soon after his rendezvous with the Taliban, the improvised explosive devices the enemy used to attack US convoys became more accurate and lethal. “IEDs started going off directly under the trucks; they were getting perfect hits every time,” Beutow recalled, suggesting Bergdahl shared military intelligence with his captors.
  • Bergdahl had a history of leaving his post and most likely walked away on his own free will, concluded an initial investigation conducted by an Army officer in July and August of 2009. The Military Times first revealed the findings of his 35-page classified military report in June.
  • The Pentagon never classified Bergdahl a POW during his five years in captivity.
  • The president may think Bergdahl deserves a parade, but retired Army Sgt. Jordan Vaughn, who went on some 50 dangerous missions searching for Bergdahl, told Fox that “He belongs in shackles for what he did.”
Paul Sperry is a Hoover Institution media fellow and author of “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.”

Prepare for a Deluge of Climate Change Hype
September 21, 2014, By Alan Caruba
Despite the several thousands who will participate in a Climate March and the world leaders who will do so in a UN Climate Summit this week, is there anyone who seriously believes that humans have any impact or control over the climate? Or even the weather? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.
In utter contempt for the intelligence of people here in the United States and around the world, a Climate Change Summit will be held on Tuesday, September 23rd, by the United Nations, the source of decades of lies about “global warming” and—since the Earth has not warmed in the past 19 years—the new name “climate change.”
To advance this greatest of lies, the lead-up to the event will be a massive march in New York on Sunday, Sept. 21st. The purpose, as David Rothbard of the think tank, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) says, is an avalanche of “Scary doomsday ‘science’ and the need for ‘urgent international action’ backed by a ‘People’s March’ of thousands of radical Green activists in the streets.

CFACT has released “Climate Hype Exposed”, a report that exposes the global warming campaign’s junk science, wasteful policies, and the threat to freedom and prosperity it represents. You can download it
What the mainstream media have largely failed to report were the nine international conferences on climate change sponsored by The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based think tank. The most recent in July featured 64 speakers from 12 countries, all providing science-based lectures that disputed global warming. Heartland’s “Climate Change Reconsidered” reports are filled with the science that debunks the doomsday scenarios.

Numerous Green groups have been making plans to be in New York for the march. More than 750 organizations are sponsoring the People’s Climate March to coincide with the UN summit. Reportedly it will involve 950 organizations. There will be 63 other events in North America, six in South America, 54 in Europe, 10 in South Asia, and 32 in Australia.
They include, of course, the likes of Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club, and lesser known groups like the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network that will be there with the message that “industrialization, fossil fuel combustion, land use change and social and ecological exploitation have compromised the planet’s equilibrium in notable and dire ways.”
This is totally absurd, a matrix of lies that ignores the role that industrialization, the jobs and products it produces; and fossil fuel use, the essential element that provides energy in the form of petroleum to power cars, trucks, and other vehicles, as well, of course, coal that provided half  the electricity on which our entire way of life depends until the Obama administration unleashed a “war” on it. The other verbiage about “ecological exploitation” is aimed at all forms of development that contribute to the economy, including the building of homes for a growing population.
The UN Summit is, we’re told, “intended to mobilize international political will needed to achieve an ambitious climate change agreement” at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP-21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change which is scheduled to meet in Paris in December 2015.
The week ahead will be filled with many events; some will be sponsored by major corporations such as Lockheed Martin and Hewlett Packard. Even so, it is the corporations that are a target of the climate change proposals to reduce energy use and the alleged pollution it is said to generate.
A number of major nations will not be represented by their leaders. Chinese President Xi Jinping and India’s Prime Minister, Narenda Modi” will not attend. Both nations have been engaged in building a vast network of coal-fired plants to generate the electricity they need for development. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not be attending, nor will Germany’s Angela Markel.
President Obama has been trying to convince Americans that climate change is a greater threat to the world than the emergence of the radical Islamic State (ISIS) that has seized a vast swath of land in Syria and Iraq. His response has been tepid, consisting of a few “targeted” air strikes and “no boots on the ground.” It is doubtful most Americans think the ordinary climate phenomena that have been a part of the Earth’s existence for 4.5 billion years pose a greater threat than the barbaric agenda of ISIS.
As the media report the march and other events, along with the UN Summit, it is essential to keep in mind that it is all lies. There is no basis in science to support the claims Greens have made for decades, all coordinated out of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Primary among those lies is the assertion that carbon dioxide is responsible for global warming when, of course, there is NO global warming.
Tom Harris, the executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition, along with Bob Carter, the head of the School of Earth Sciences at James Cook University in Australia, in a recent New York Post commentary flatly stated that “There is essentially zero evidence that carbon dioxide from humanactivities is causing catastrophic climate change.”
They noted that the Earth’s sea level is not rising in any significant fashion, “averaging about 1 millimeter per year” and that “satellites also show that a greater area of Antarctic ice exists now than any time since space-based measurements began in 1979. In other words, the ice caps aren’t melting.”
As reported by The New York Times, “The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress.”  Fuel emissions are not warming the planet. The U.S. Constitution requires that any such treaty would be legally binding only if is approved by two-thirds of the majority of the Senate.”
“To sidestep that requirement,” the Times noted, “President Obama’s climate negotiators are devising what they call a ‘politically binding’ deal that would ‘name and shame’ countries into cutting their emissions.”
Ignoring the science and ignoring the Constitution go together for this President, but it will be hard for Americans to ignore the deluge of global warming/climate change lies with which they will be assailed over the weekend and into the week ahead. The mainstream media will see to that.

concealed carry

Here’s What Missouri Is Doing with Guns 1 Month After Ferguson

The state of Missouri is reeling from the recent flare up in suburban Ferguson.
With much of the national spotlight on the small town for the better half of two weeks, it looks like lawmakers in the state are handling the attention quite well and are actually protecting the freedom of gun owners across the state.
Earlier in September, the Missouri state legislature held special veto sessions on proposed gun laws.
Several bills were up for debate, one of which allowed gun owners to legally open carry in the municipality of Kansas City; the other allowed for Missouri teachers to be able to conceal carry in the schools as a means to further protect themselves and students from possible violence.
Before the session, much of the Missouri tourist area in Kansas city had banned open carry, saying that it was hurting tourism.
But as Sen. Will Kraus, a Lee’s Summit Republican noted, anyone who opened carried would also have to have had taken a concealed weapons training course and would be adequately trained to carry safely. “These individuals have been qualified with their weapons, and I believe they should have the right to open carry,” he said. “We want to protect their rights.”
Fortunately for gun owners, Missouri state Republicans made a strong showing for gun owner’s rights by soundly defeating Democrats’ attempts to limit the use and ownership of guns in public areas. As reported:
Kansas City Mayor Sly James made fighting off the override his biggest priority of the annual veto session that started Wednesday morning. In addition to prohibiting local governments from banning open carry of a firearm, it also reduces the age requirement for a conceal carry permit to 19 from 21 and allows specially trained teachers to carry concealed guns in public schools.
The laws were originally vetoed by Democrat Governor Jay Nixon, but were then overridden to make Missouri the 10th state in the nation to allow for specially designated teachers to provide armed protection for their students.
Each school district will have the final say as to whether or not teachers can carry weapons, but the state constitution currently allows for it, which is a huge boon to pro-gun activity.
G’ day…
Ciao…….Moe Lauzier

Monday, September 22, 2014

Moe Lauzier’s

Issues of the Day

How long before Obama rides off into the sunset? Click below…

Published on on September 17, 2014

Dear Friend,

If you've had enough of the NFL coddling and protecting players who abuse women and their own children, please join our effort to support the bill introduced by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) to strip the NFL of its tax exemption.

While individual teams pay business income taxes, the NFL does not.  The head of the National Football League, Roger Gooddell, made a whopping $44 million for the 2012 season and $105 million over the course of five years.

The premise of the tax exemption is that the NFL is not a business, but a fraternal association.  That is totally absurd!

Passing the Booker Bill would generate $100 million in revenue which would be earmarked for the victims of domestic abuse.

Send a message to the NFL!  Please sign this petitionand demand that Congress revoke the National Football League's tax-exempt status.

Click Here To Sign The Petition To Strip The NFL Of Its Tax Exemption!

Your signature will count!  We will send an email in your name to your Senators and Congressman telling him or her of your position!

Please get your friends and family to sign this petition too.
Dick Morris

Issues of the Day fully endorses this effort by Dick Morris. This is a bi-partisan attempt to right a considerable wrong.

Thanks, Moe Lauzier

We can only imagine what Robert Frost would have written upon seeing these beauties. Our thanks to Captain Bruce French.

Diana West rejects idea Saudis will be effective 'partner' in training Syrian rebels...
I’m trying to look on the bright side of what passed for debate over another doomed effort to secure U.S. interests by embarking on the fruitless pursuit, cultivation and empowerment of Islamic “moderates,” this time in Syria. We would get better results sending an expeditionary force after the Loch Ness sea monster. No matter. In deliberations resembling a stampede, we heard: The ISIS is coming, the ISIS is coming! Quick, leave our own borders undefended and save Saudi Arabia!

That seemed be the subtext, anyhow, to much talk of Syria. There were odd glimmers of light as when House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers erupted in candor to say, “They use the term ‘moderates.’ I don’t know a moderate person in Syria.” Rogers also gave voice to the ever elusive obvious in noting that “arms that we supplied in Iraq and Afghanistan, American arms” are now in enemy hands.

He could have added Libya to the list and established the unmistakable trend. The U.S. is a total failure at rewiring the Islamic world, the impossible dream of disastrous wars and other interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, “the Middle East peace process” and elsewhere. Now, with predictably tragic consequences, we’re about to do it again.

And still our own nation’s borders remain undefended. I know I just said that, but this epic failure to protect these United States at our first and last line of defense – the ultimate betrayal – cannot be underscored enough. Killers – terrorists and disease – have easy access to our towns and neighborhoods, and our leaders’ priorities are elsewhere.

One look at the world map, however, shows that the most dire threat the ISIS-proclaimed “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria poses is to the seat of the “shadow-caliphate” next door in Saudi Arabia, as the headquarters of the international Islamic organization, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, is sometimes called.

A recent Saudi opinion poll reportedly released on social media claimed that 92 percent of respondents agree that ISIS “conforms to the values of Islam and Islamic law.” If the poll is even half-accurate, the ISIS threat could well be existential to Saudi Arabia. For all of ISIS’ barbaric violence, even including the most recent beheadings of Westerners in the region, it poses no such existential threat to the United States. If it did, though, this latest vector of jihad would in no way be blunted by U.S. support for Islamic “moderates” again.

“Nobody has a better idea,” Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., told the Washington Post by way of explaining his support for the president’s plan to arm and train Syrian “moderates” in Saudi Arabia to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria. “Total isolation doesn’t seem appealing at the present time, and the vote itself is legally the smallest possible thing. The interpretation of the vote will be that we vaguely support his not-entirely specific plan.”

On the force of such rhetoric – regrettably typical – Congress approved the president’s anti-ISIS, pro-”moderate” program. Then again, maybe interventionists voted for old time’s sake after retired ambassadors and generals from the failed Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns sent around a letter saying what a great idea it was to turn “properly vetted members of the Syrian opposition” – as if! – “(into) a moderate force” – as if! – “that is capable of defeating ISIL and bringing about a post-Assad Syria that is free of terror.”

And rainbows and unicorns will return to the land.

Only they won’t. They haven’t anywhere the U.S. has tried to work “moderate” magic before. Just ask the bereaved families of U.S. soldiers killed by “properly vetted” Iraqi and Afghan “moderates” – a point powerfully driven home in a floor speech by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif. Meanwhile, how is the administration that designated jihad at Fort Hood a case of “workplace violence” supposed to tell “moderate” from “extremist”?

They can’t. But I suspect that’s really beside the point.

Let’s go back to Saudi Arabia, the not-so-secret central front in this effort to stop ISIS before it’s too late (for Riyadh?). The kingdom, a Shariah-dictatorship par excellence, will be the training site for the “moderate” army as our “full partner,” according to the Obama administration. Secretary of State John Kerry, Time magazine declared in a headline, has now “(Enlisted) Saudi King in War of Ideas Against ISIS.”

That’s rich. Never mind the reports linking the Saudis and others (including Uncle Sam) to the rise of ISIS. Given that the Quran is the constitution of the Islamic state – Saudi Arabia, that is – where leaving Islam is a capital crime, where public beheadings (even for “sorcery”) are a frequent feature of public order, where religions besides Islam are banned, where, of course, there is no freedom of speech, where female genital mutilation is prevalent, where women can’t drive, where there is no public association of men and women (let alone music class, Valentine’s Day, figurative art, etc.), this is one “war of ideas” that may be fought only in the trenches of Kerry’s no-man’s land of a mind. Do the rest of us really have to follow along to support one “caliphate” over another?

On Sept. 1, 2014, a Saudi appeals court upheld the sentence of human rights activist Raif Badawi, co-founder of Liberal Saudi Network, a website created to foster political and social debate. For this “crime” of blogging – tweeting – about reform, Badawi was sentenced by the Saudi government to 10 years in prison, a 10-year travel ban thereafter, a fine of 1 million Saudi Riyals (roughly $267,000), and 1,000 public lashes. Could ISIS improve much on that? As reported by the Gulf Center for Human Rights, the court stipulated that Badawi receive “no more than 50 lashes per session, with a break of no less than a week between sessions. It is feared that the sentence and the first of the lashes will be imposed any day.”

Will that day be before or after our “moderates” come marching in?

Will ISIS Votes Haunt 2016 Contenders?

Will ISIS Votes Haunt 2016 Contenders?

By Jonathan Tobin

The country seems firmly behind President Obama's belated decision to use force against ISIS terrorists and to arm some of the Syrian rebels who will oppose them on the ground. But this seeming consensus isn't affecting the votes of some Republican presidential contenders.
Though even a libertarian neo-isolationist like Senator Rand Paul favors carrying the fight to ISIS, he and some others voted no on the Syrian component of the president's plan. That appears to be the safest course for anyone who fears being tarred with support of an Obama initiative or what may prove to be another unpopular war in a future Republican presidential primary.
That made Thursday's vote an interesting test of character for those 2016 contenders who may have serious qualms about the president's strategy but know that advocating standing aside would be a dereliction of duty.
That's the quandary for Senator Marco Rubio, who stands second to none in the Senate as a critic of the president's foreign policy. Rubio has rightly denounced the president's failures in the Middle East and, in particular, his abandonment of Iraq and dithering on Syria that allowed ISIS to become a dominant force in both countries on Obama's watch.
Like other conservatives as well as a not insignificant number of liberal senators, he's also rightly worried that the president's plans for this conflict are woefully inadequate to the situation.
More than that, along with many Republicans, he believes the president is wrong not to seek an explicit authorization from Congress to fight ISIS rather than to merely pretend, as the administration wrongly contends, that the 2001 vote granting President Bush the right to use troops against al-Qaeda also applies to the rival, and now more powerful, group.
But Rubio indicated that he would vote yes for the authorization on Syria. The question now is whether this will haunt him or anyone else planning on running for higher office or reelection.
Rand Paul seemed to be saying as much when he said that members of Congress were petrified by a possible vote to authorize force. Senator Ted Cruz, whose views on foreign policy are a lot closer to those of Rubio than they are to Paul, seems to agree.
Cruz said he opposes arming the Syrian rebels because the administration doesn't really have a clue as to which groups opposing the regime of Bashar Assad are "good guys" and which are "bad."
It's difficult to argue too strenuously with those qualms. The president's adamant refusal to act on the growing catastrophe in Syria not only enabled ISIS to fill the void but also undermined the chances that genuine moderates might be able to replace the despotic Assad regime and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies.
Moreover, there are, as the New York Times noted, ominous precedents for senators who swallow hard and vote to authorize the use of force but later have that decision thrown in their face by primary opponents.
Hillary Clinton, who voted for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while in the Senate, found herself outflanked on the left by Barack Obama in 2008.
The question facing Rubio and the rest of the Senate is one that juxtaposes the certainty that voting for an expanded conflict will be viewed by many voters as a mistake against the certainty that the failure to act will allow ISIS to prevail in the fighting.
As I've noted, as the U.S. prepares to step up the fight against ISIS, the country's main problem is not the lack of a strategy but the seeming inability of the president to play the part of a wartime leader. Supporting operations in the Middle East under such circumstances is a perilous undertaking. So, too, is any effort to finally aid those Syrian forces that are not linked to Islamists or Assad and the Iranians.
But Rubio is right to worry more about the danger of inaction than any possible political repercussions. Were the U.S. to stand aside in Syria, especially with the president foolishly taking the threat of a direct intervention on the ground off the table, the consequences would be grave. If, as most Americans rightly now understand, ISIS is a serious threat to U.S. security, any counterattack undertaken now, whether well led or not, is bound to improve the situation. More to the point, the failure to act would be a potential catastrophe and might make all the difference in the ultimate outcome of a conflict in which U.S. success is not assured, notwithstanding the braggadocio being heard to that effect in Washington these days.
There is no way of knowing today whether votes on Syria or Iraq will be major liabilities in the winter or spring of 2016 or, indeed, if the ISIS threat will still be an issue at that time. The year and a half between now and the presidential primaries is a lifetime in politics. But Paul and Cruz are probably right in reckoning that any vote that can be construed as insufficiently anti-Obama is a safe bet and that those who vote yes are giving up a valuable hostage to fortune, whether or not they run for president.
Just as it is simple to second guess those who voted for war in Iraq without thinking what dangers would have resulted from doing nothing, it will be easy to take pot shots at those who vote yes today.
But Rubio is still in the right here. The costs of doing nothing in war are usually higher than those of boldness. Even with an inadequate leader who is not prepared to do everything to achieve victory, the situation will be better off if the U.S. finally starts to do something to alter the correlation of forces in Syria and Iraq against both Assad and the terrorists.
Voting no may eventually be popular, but it wasn't the right thing to do.

by Kathy Shaidle , September 19, 2014
'I don't know what they stand for anymore, other than they're not Obama'...
Listeners have been asking Rush Limbaugh why he hasn’t devoted much airtime to election-related polls or analyzing the Republican Party’s chances of triumphing in the next election.

Thursday, Limbaugh addressed these questions, explaining that he “is not gonna talk about something if I have to do it perfunctorily, if I’m not into it and don’t care about [it].”

And if he can’t get excited about “the nuts and bolts of the election,” he explained, it’s because he doesn’t know “what the Republican Party message is” anymore.

Polls show that Obama and the Democrats are less popular than they’ve been in years, but at the same time, Limbaugh noted, these polls don’t exactly foreshadow an upcoming Republican landslide, either.

Limbaugh tried to explain why.

“I don’t know what to cheer about,” he said. “I can remember back in the days, the Reagan years, it was exciting to be a Republican. We knew what we supported. (…) It was something to be very proud of and excited about. You wanted to be part of it; you wanted to help it. I just don’t feel anything like that now.”

Instead, talk-radio king complained, today’s GOP is filled with cautious Beltway consultants and timid, defensive candidates who are afraid to say anything specific or “controversial.”

“Can somebody tell me what the Republican Party stands for when it comes to amnesty?” Limbaugh asked. “Does the Republican Party talk about job creation? Is the Republican Party talking about economic growth? (…) I don’t know what they stand for anymore, other than they’re not Obama, they’re not the Democrats. I really don’t know. So I don’t know what to talk about!”

Limbaugh challenged Republicans to stop speaking in clich├ęs and delivering vague boilerplate speeches. Instead, he said, candidates need to spell out exactly what they would do to fix, say, immigration or Obamacare.

He reminded listeners why the Republican Party made such gains in 2010.

“That vote in 2010 against a Democrat and for a Republican was the only hope anybody ever had of repealing Obamacare,” Limbaugh said. “That is a powerful single issue. That is something to get rallied behind, focused on and cheering and enthused about.”

This time around, he concluded, the GOP should go on the offensive again and focus on another urgent, emotionally charged issue, whether it is immigration or the threat posed by ISIL:

“Do you realize how many people are just itching to stand up and cheer and to be part of something that would be victorious and turn the tide – at least start to turn the tide – on all this?” he asked. “Whether you think we’ve lost the country or we’re on the verge of it, at some point you have to work on reversing course.”


During decades of wars, America has paid for failure to learn one lesson

By Guardian (UK)

The US seems doomed to constantly forget and painfully relearn one military lesson: unclear goals invite escalation.
The third Iraq war is the latest example. There are currently 1,700 US soldiers in Iraq - 1,600 more than were there in June. Just don't call them ground troops. So far, US forces in Iraq have been described as embassy security or "advisers".
The euphemism undercuts Barack Obama's insistence that US troops will not return to combat in Iraq - a message he repeated yesterday. The growing troop total is not the only US escalation.
Air strikes have expanded from Iraq's north to south-west of Baghdad, and will soon target Isis in Syria. Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary, acknowledged that the first cohort of US-trained Syrian rebels "is not going to be able to turn the tide". Nor has the US firmed up a Middle East coalition that can sustain that proxy army in the field.
Obama laid out his goals in Iraq last week: to degrade and ultimately destroy Isis. It signals finality, yet its meaning is elusive. Dempsey testified that the destruction of Isis will occur when Sunni Arabs reject its ideology - raising the question of when the US will know it can stop bombing. It is a question that the US for decades has proved far better at deferring than answering, at the cost of countless lives, dollars and victories.
In Afghanistan, Obama's goal for his 2010-11 troop surge was to "break the Taliban's momentum". Its result was a diminished form of the insurgent force while a US presence stretches the war into 2016 and possibly 2024.
Obama's goal against al-Qaida was to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat" the organisation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. At the moment, that looks successful, as al-Qaida's core has neared irrelevance since Osama bin Laden's death in 2011. But US drone strikes in Pakistan continue. The response to al-Qaida franchises in Yemen, Somalia and other battlefields is shrouded in secrecy, sparing the US the need to explain its goals.
George W Bush's goals for the second Iraq war pivoted from eliminating WMD to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein to the preservation of something resembling democracy. That war's most successful period adopted the more realistic (if undeclared) goal of making Iraq somewhat less violent.
In Korea, Douglas MacArthur reinvented the war from the preservation of a US ally in Seoul to the destruction of Moscow's ally in Pyongyang, and the conflict ended in gruesome stalemate.
In Vietnam, unrealistic guarantees to foreign proxies and preference for military solutions to political challenges contributed to a traumatising escalation.
US wars are more likely to end through an external event, such as Libyan rebels' killing of Muammar Gaddafi, than the deliberate application of force.
The exception is the first Iraq war. Its goal, removing Iraqi forces from Kuwait, was as clear as it was achievable. It obviated the need for escalation through its swift victory. Its tragedy was the post-facto establishment of removing Saddam as a policy goal, which has sunk the US ever deeper into Iraqi affairs.
Only in the first Iraq war did US policymakers make a frank commitment about the substantial costs required. Before and since, the preference has been to blur those goals, the better to appear forceful. Yet the costs of setting unclear and moving targets are that violence is compounded while victory remains elusive.


Handicapping the Scottish independence referendum was tricky, but the analysts who thought Scotland would vote for independence had some persuasive arguments.  The independence movement was better-organized and more exciting; it did a better job of using both traditional and new media; the political leader of the movement, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, was charismatic and capable; young voters were fired up about casting a historic independence vote; the Scots were tired of living under ruling coalitions in London they didn’t vote for; the Scots were swinging left, while the rest of the UK was having a few second thoughts about cradle-to-grave socialism; the referendum was set up so that Scots living abroad, who tended to favor remaining in the United Kingdom, couldn’t vote.  Even the wording of the referendum was said to make independence sound like the rightful due of the Scottish people, which could influence fence-sitters to vote yes.
But in the end, three centuries of union were preserved, and it wasn’t even close.  Turnout was huge, and the final tally came in 55 percent against independence, 45 percent in favor.  The “Yes” vote did enjoy some regional successes, however, notably including Glasgow, which voted by 53 percent in favor of independence.
Conventional wisdom now swings smoothly to the conclusion that the Scottish independence referendum was never all that serious to begin with – it was always meant to be a shakedown, an effort to rattle cages in London and squeeze out political and financial concessions for Scotland.  In that, it seems to have been successful, although it remains to be seen just what the vague promises made to Scots by England during the campaign will amount to in practice.  One suspects those promises will be generously fulfilled, to prevent the whole drama from repeating itself in the near future.  Consider the contrast between the statements made by Salmond and Prime Minister David Cameron, as reported by the UK Guardian:
David Cameron has declared a “clear result” in the Scottish independence referendum after Scotland voted by a 10.6-point margin against ending the 307-year-old union with England and Wales.

The prime minister promised a devolution revolution across Great Britain, including votes on English issues by English MPs at Westminster, as he hailed Scotland’s decision to remain inside the UK.

“There can be no disputes, no reruns – we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people,” Cameron said in a statement outside No 10 Downing Street shortly after 7am on Friday.

Earlier, Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, struck a defiant note at a downbeat Scottish National party rally in Edinburgh, saying he accepted Scotland had not “at this stage” decided to vote for independence.

He paid tribute to what he called a “triumph for democratic politics” and said he would work with Westminster in the best interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK – warning the leaders of the three main parties to make good on their promises of enhanced devolution for Scotland.

“We have touched sections of the community who have never before been touched by politics,” he said.
Clear result, Scotland has spoken, no disputes, no reruns, settled will of the people… now, let’s get busy with devolution!  Which sounds like an excellent idea, actually, provided it’s managed properly.  I suspect “devolution” – more properly, decentralization - will be the big story of the 21st Century, just as centralization was the big story of the 20th.  Centralized power doesn’t work: its promises are never fulfilled, its errors are epic in scale, it wastes hideous amounts of money, it fosters bitterness and unrest by forcing top-down solutions on dissenting people, and it dilutes the sense of representation that democracy is supposed to bring.  That was a common lament from Scots who favored independence – they felt they had no effective voice in the central government.  It’s a complaint that found sympathy among Americans observers, whose nation was founded on precisely those complaints… and where today’s citizens feel increasingly disconnected from a massive and distant central government they don’t control in any meaningful way.  By definition, centralization is the dissolution of representation, an idea I explored at greater length over at RedState yesterday.
Some interpret the failure of centralization as the death knell for large and diverse nations.  Even liberals are prone to bang out “America is ungovernable” screeds when they’re frustrated about not getting their way, or when they’re trying to cover for the latest Big Government failure.  The answer may instead lie in decentralizing power to preserve national unions, shifting both power and responsibility to local governments.  This has the immediate beneficial effect of making voters feel better-represented, as smaller governments they can more readily influence grow more significant than the distant national capital.  It makes the people in different states or regions less prone to resent one another.  It breaks up the lobbyist and special-interest domination just about everyone, across the political spectrum, professes to hate… but which is inherent to big, centralized government.
And perhaps most importantly, decentralization gives citizens a greater sense of both control and responsibility for their own fates – something the Scottish independence movement spoke passionately, even poetically about – while also giving those unhappy with local rule an easy way to withdraw their consent without leaving the nation.  The Scots have a golden opportunity to use the enhanced powers coming their way to make Scotland a proud example of successful government within the United Kingdom.  I hope they do such a bang-up job that the rest of the U.K. ends up wishing they could be more like the Scots.
Holding the United Kingdom together is very good news for Prime Minister Cameron, who was so doomed by the success of the “yes” vote that he was reduced to claiming he wasn’t doomed by the success of the “yes” vote.  His political coffin can now be wheeled back into storage until the next crisis.  Here’s more of his statement from the Guardian, along with reactions from some other leaders:
Cameron said: “The people of Scotland have spoken and it is a clear result. They have kept our country of four nations together and, like millions of other people, I am delighted.  [Ed. note: for the benefit of American readers, the other two nations of the UK, besides England and Scotland, are Rohan and Gondor.]

“As I said during the campaign, it would have broken my heart to see our United Kingdom come to an end. And I know that sentiment was shared by people not just across our country but around the world because of what we have achieved together in the past and what we can do together in the future.

“So now it is time for our United Kingdom to come together and to move forward. A vital part of that will be a balanced settlement, fair to people in Scotland and importantly to everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well.”

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, said the referendum was a vote from the Scottish people for change. “We know our country needs to change in the way it is governed and we know our country needs to change in who it is governed for. We will deliver on stronger powers for a stronger Scottish parliament, a strong Scotland.”

But he said that would go beyond Scotland. “We will also meet the desire for change across England, across Wales, across the whole of the United Kingdom.”

Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, said the referendum “marks not only a new chapter for Scotland within the UK but also wider constitutional reform across the union”.

Echoing the SNP’s argument, he said a vote against independence was “clearly not a vote against change”.

“We must now deliver on time and in full the radical package of newly devolved powers to Scotland,” he added.
Not everyone is wild about the broad outlines of Cameron’s “devolution revolution,” including the feisty UK Independence Party, which thinks it doesn’t go far enough:
Yet that result raises the risk of further turmoil, with MPs from Cameron’s Conservative party threatening to revolt against the prime minister’s late and potentially vital vow to quickly increase the Scottish parliament’s powers while protecting its spending.

The Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, said Cameron’s offer of more devolution for England did not go far enough. “The English are 86% by population of this union. They’ve been left out of all of this for the last 18 years. We still have a situation where Scottish MPs can vote in the House of Commons on English-only issues. I think what most English people want is a fair settlement,” he said.
Well, “independence” and “autonomy” also mean paying your own way, Scotland.  How about it?  Any takers?  While we await the answer, Bloomberg Businessweek reports the markets are very pleased with the preservation of the United Kingdom:
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Lloyds Banking Group Plc, which had threatened to shift their domiciles out of Scotland if it separated from Britain, rose. SAP SE fell the most in more than five months after the biggest maker of business-management software agreed to buy Concur Technologies Inc. Sulzer AG lost 3.8 percent after people familiar with the plan said Siemens AG may make an offer for Dresser-Rand Group Inc. Options and futures on stocks and indexes expire today in a process known as quadruple witching.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 0.4 percent to 349.06 at 1:30 p.m. in London, after earlier rallying as much as 0.9 percent. The number of shares changing hands in the gauge’s companies was more than double the 30-day average for this time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index advanced 0.6 percent to 6861.39, about 17 points lower than a 14-year high reached in May.

“It’s a risk-on day,” Richard Champion, chief investment officer of Sanlam Private Investments (U.K.) Ltd., which manages $4 billion, said by telephone in London. The Scottish referendum “is one more thing investors don’t have to worry about. A ‘yes’ vote would’ve caused uncertainty for the European and U.K. markets. In continental Europe, we have loose monetary policy that will be supportive for shares.”
There’s a lot to be said for the stability that comes with a comfortable union.  Centralization, with its attendant corruption, inefficiency, and arrogance, is the great menace to harmonious union in the new century.
G’ day…
Ciao…….Moe Lauzier

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