“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, November 23, 2015

Iran and Russia reiterate support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and expand energy and defense projects

Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:33PM

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani (R) shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of talks in Tehran on November 23, 2015 (IRNA)
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani (R) shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of talks in Tehran on November 23, 2015 (IRNA)

Iranian and Russian officials have signed seven Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) on the sidelines of the 3rd Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) held in Iran’s capital Tehran.
During a press conference held after the GECF concluded on Monday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced that the signing of the MoUs shows that bilateral cooperation between Russia and Iran is moving towards further development.
The conditions after signing the Iran nuclear agreement have created a suitable environment to develop the Tehran-Moscow relations, he added.
On July 14, Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany – finalized the text of the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Tehran’s nuclear program in the Austrian capital Vienna.
Rouhani noted that investments in Iranian and Russian public and private sectors could be “one of the important pillars” for developing these relations.
“There are also an abundance of projects in various economic fields which can bear fruit in joint partnership,” Rouhani said, adding that there are also many projects in the fields of energy, oil, gas and electricity for mutual cooperation between the two countries.  
Following the signing of the documents, Rouhani said that during talks with Putin it was agreed to further expand cooperation in the battle against terrorism, which he said was a “threat for the region and the world.”
Describing as “serious” the Islamic Republic’s resolve in the fight against terrorism, the Iranian president said Russia has also taken “effective measures” to fight terrorists in the region over the last few months.
Following the conclusion of the GECF summit, member states issued a declaration that underscored the need to facilitate stronger cooperation in a series of fields, including pricing mechanisms and the transfer of expertise.    
The declaration also highlighted the need for the member states to work together over the security of natural gas supplies to the global worldwide.


  1. The delivery of Russian S-300 anti-missile rocket systems to Iran has started, Iran’s ambassador to Moscow said in an interview. Iran is getting one of the latest versions of the air defence complex.

    The delivery is underway, ambassador Mehdi Sanaei told Persian-language daily, Etemaad, as cited by Tasnim news agency.

    The news was not welcome in Washington, with US State Department spokesman Mark Toner reiterating the US stance on the issue in a briefing on Monday.

    “We made clear time and again our objections to any sale of the S-300 missile system to Iran,” Toner told reporters.

    Earlier this month Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan announced Tehran is going to get Russian air defence systems by the end of the year, which in Iran ends on March 20, 2016.

    Brigadier General Dehghan stressed that a major batch of the hardware is going to be delivered in less than two months’ time.

    “Iran has bought as many S-300 air defense systems as it needs,” Dehghan said, adding that Iranian operators of S-300 system are being trained in Russia.

    The initial S-300 contract between Moscow and Tehran was signed in 2007 and implied the delivery of five S-300 squadrons worth $US 800 million.

    In 2010 the contract was put on hold by then-President Dmitry Medvedev due to the UN imposing sanctions on Iran. In return, Iran lodged a $4 billion lawsuit at an international court in Geneva against Russia’s arms export agency Rosoboronexport.

    In April 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin repealed the ban. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented on the decision, saying Moscow’s voluntary embargo on S-300 deliveries was no longer necessary due to the progress in talks on Iran’s nuclear program.

    In October, Iran’s Defense Ministry confirmed Moscow’s readiness to deliver the S-300 system under an agreement signed between the two countries.

    Sergey Chemezov, the head of the Russian state-owned high-tech giant Rostec, said that the new contract came into force on November 9.

    Iran has bought Russia’s most well-known air defense systems in one of its latest versions S-300PMU-2 Favorite, TASS reported earlier this month during the Dubai Airshow 2015.

    The last time Russia supplied S-300 systems abroad was in 2010, when 15 squadrons were delivered to China.


    The Obama administration and European and Arab allies are seeking to peel Russia away from its alliance with the Iranian regime, a partnership that has bolstered Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, the Wall Street Journal reports quoting senior U.S. diplomats involved in efforts to end Syria’s conflict.

    “The efforts, which have unfolded quietly through meetings involving Russian President Vladimir Putin and Middle Eastern leaders, are meant to coax support from Moscow for a limit on Mr. Assad’s time in power. Such a step would solidify an emerging international coalition and help clear the way for a more concerted military effort to counter Islamic State in Syria and Iraq,” the report says.

    The Iranian regime that wants the Kremlin to support its pro-Assad position is seen as a brake on those efforts.

    A senior U.S. official on Tuesday said Washington has seen “increased tensions between Russia and Iran over the question of the future of Syria,” the journal reported.

    U.S. and European officials also said they believe the Iranian regime’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, has withdrawn some troops from Syria in recent weeks, because of a strain on its resources.

    The IRGC has ramped up its military presence in Syria since September, in coordination with Russia’s airstrikes on rebel militias. A number of senior IRGC officers have been killed in Syria in recent months.


    MOSCOW, November 23. /TASS/. The volume of deals between Russia and Iran may grow by $3-4 bln within 3 years, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Monday.

    "3-4 billion dollars," he said when answering the question on potential growth of transactions volume between the 2 countries. According to Rogozin, currently aerospace projects have the highest degree of readiness.

    "So far aerospace projects have the highest degree of readiness, most likely Superjet leasing issue as well as space vehicles orders from Russia," Rogozin said. "In December a group of specialists will be sent to Iran’s all leading industrial enterprises for examining technological level and after that, closer to New Year, it will become clear how industrial cooperation with Tehran will unfold. Now I’m not speaking about traditional sectors, such as energy, including nuclear energy,” Deputy PM said.


    Pressure on Washington

    As Russia and Iran develop closer ties, the United States needs to identify its interests in Syria (and the broader Middle East) and formulate a long-term policy accordingly. If it fails to do so, the United States may soon face a very unfavorable development: the emergence of a pragmatic, mutually-beneficial Russian-Iranian alliance that would shake up international relations. Ramani argues that such an alliance could not be stable; I disagree. But even if we accept his argument, that doesn’t reduce the need for the United States to figure out a more comprehensive approach to the situation in the Middle East.


    Chuck Hagel said Sunday that the Obama administration has not clearly laid out its political strategy in the Middle East, a concern he expressed to the White House in a memo while serving as secretary of defense.

    Hagel said the administration must first define whether the enemy is Syrian President Bashar Assad or the Islamic State, then unite with unlikely allies who have a common enemy.

    "We can keep killing people, we can keep playing a proxy war game and destroying the Middle East," Hagel said on CNN's "State of the Union." "But the Russians have got to be part of this, I think Iranians have got to be part of this."


    As we have frequently pointed out, Israel is trying to conflate ISIS with Iran. As Netanyahu said last month, Iran and ISIS are two branches of “militant Islamic terrorism.” After Paris, he said, “The time has come for countries to condemn terrorism against us to the same degree that they condemn terrorism everywhere else in the world.” The leading Israel lobby group AIPAC has had more to say about Iran than ISIS since Paris; and Hillary Clinton has echoed the theme by saying that “we cannot view ISIS and Iran as separate challenges.”

    In September I laid out a comprehensive plan to counter Iranian influence across the region and its support for terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

    Meantime, the neoconservative presidential candidate Marco Rubio pushed legislation targeting Hezbollah.

    Israel isn’t that worried about ISIS. It’s far from the Israeli border and it has limited military capability. Israel’s real concern is a regional power struggle, in which Iran has more influence than Israel due to Russia’s support for the Assad government in Syria and for Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border.

    That analysis was published a month ago by the semi-official Israeli Institute for National Security Studies, and co-authored by Amos Yadlin, a longtime military leader in the Israeli government.

    Yadlin and coauthor Carmit Valensi said ISIS is far away and not a direct military strategic threat:

    Analysis of the threats against Israel reveals that the Islamic State – currently far from Israel’s borders and with limited military capabilities – does not represent a direct military strategic threat at this time. By contrast, Hizbollah – armed with advanced operational capabilities and long range missiles and rockets that reach the entirety of Israel – can be strengthened by the Russian move, should Russian arms trickle into its arsenals or be intentionally supplied to the organization.

    - See more at:

  7. Back in the day, when the US thought there could be an Iranian-Russian 'alliance', the US toppled the Iranian government.
    It's not 1954, any more.

    The Europeans cannot mount cohesive strategy vis-a-vie the Russian annexation of the Crimea, let alone derail the current movement towards a Russian and Iranian 'understanding'.

    Remember, the Russians have a strong distaste for radical Islam, which, in their estimation is a Sunni thing, not a Shiite one.

    The Saudi Sunni helped to bankrupt the Soviet Union, payback can be a bitch.


    Scott McConnell at the American Conservative reminds us that Israel supporters pushed for the Iraq war after the last big terrorist attack in the west, and are still pushing for an Iran war this go around:

    During the lengthy negotiation of the Iran nuclear deal, the neoconservatives and Israel spared no effort to depict Iran, run by Shi’ite Muslims, as the primary enemy of the West. Even after the ratification of the deal, Israeli analysts have stressed this point: this recent analysis [which I’ve quoted from above], promoted in the important neoconservative webzine Mosaic, makes clear that Israel sees the Iran allied Lebanese group Hezbollah and the Assad government as a far greater worry than ISIS….

    Israel’s lurid exaggeration of the Iranian threat is well understood in the United States, and Hezbollah would actually not exist absent Israel’s repeated invasions of Lebanon. Basically, Netanyahu would prefer that the United States and its allies fight Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, and Assad rather than the terrorists trying to lay waste to the capitals of the West.

    - See more at:

    1. We that read the Elephant Bar have known this for years, ever since Michael Oren, Israel Ambassador to the US at the time, told the Jerusalem Post ...

      Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told the Jerusalem Post that Israel so wanted Assad out and his Iranian backers weakened, that Israel would accept al-Qaeda operatives taking power in Syria.

      “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.”
      Even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.


    BRUSSELS — A street cleaner found an explosive vest similar to those used in the Paris attacks on Monday near the place where a suspect's mobile phone had been found, raising the possibility that he aborted his mission, either ditching a malfunctioning vest — or fleeing in fear.

    The discovery of the vest came as Belgium's prime minister cited a "serious and imminent" threat justifying keeping the highest alert level operational for at least another week. The security measures, already in place for three days, have severely disrupted normal life in the capital.

    In France, police said an explosive vest — without a detonator — was found by a street cleaner in a pile of rubble in Chatillon-Montrouge, on the southern edge of Paris and a considerable distance from the sites of the attacks on the Right Bank of the Seine to the north. A police official later said the vest contained bolts and the same type of explosives — TATP — as those used in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that claimed 130 lives and left hundreds wounded.

    The device was found Monday in the same area where a cellphone belonging to fugitive suspect Salah Abdeslam was located on the day of the Paris attacks but the vest has not been formally linked to him, said two police officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.

    Belgium-based terrorism expert Claude Moniquet, who has been in contact with both Belgian and French investigators since the attacks, laid out two possibilities: that Abdeslam became afraid of carrying out a suicide mission or, more likely he says, that he simply ditched a defective explosive vest.

    Nervousness could have played a role in concocting a defective vest, but he said he doubted fear played a role for among Islamic State followers, "it is rare not to go to the end."

    Moniquet said this was only theory since he had not yet spoken to investigators about the explosive vest find.

    A manhunt is underway for Abdeslam, whose brother Brahim was among attackers who blew themselves up. He crossed the border into Belgium after the attacks, with French police stopping and interviewing him, before letting him go.

    Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said Brussels, which houses the headquarters of the European Union and NATO, faced a "serious and imminent" threat that requires keeping the city at the highest alert level, while the rest of the country would stay at the second-highest level. Belgium's crisis center said the alert level would only change if a significant breakthrough warranted it.

    The increased security measures in the wake of the massacre in Paris have virtually shut down the Belgian capital, with the subway system, many shops and schools remaining shut on Monday. Michel said that despite the continued high-alert level, schools would reopen Wednesday, with parts of the subway system beginning to operate. He did not say when the system would be completely online again.

    "We are very alert and call for caution," Michel said. "The potential targets remain the same: shopping centers and shopping streets and public transport."

    "We want to return to a normal way of life as quickly as possible," he added.

  10. Defences tightened as £178bn to be spent on Armed Forces in fear of jihadi missile attack
    BRITAIN is to boost its defences against ballistic missiles amid warnings of a growing terrorist threat, chiefs revealed yesterday.
    By John Ingham
    PUBLISHED: 00:01, Tue, Nov 24, 2015

    The SDSR report stated: “States outside the Euro-Atlantic area and non-state actors [terrorists] are now acquiring ballistic missile technology.”

    The MoD yesterday pledged to pump cash into Nato’s ballistic missile (BM) defence network and back research and development at the UK’s Missile Defence Centre.

    Britain is also investing in a ground-based BM defence radar and may use Type 45 destroyers to spot and shoot down any missiles fired at Britain or Nato allies.

    Colonel Richard Kemp, head of the International Terrorism Intelligence Team at the Cabinet Office and chairman of the Cobra Intelligence Group between 2002 and 2006, said while ballistic missiles did “not seem like a major threat at present… My main concern would be Iran itself, specially as we have signed an agreement which will ultimately result in them having nuclear weapons within 10 years at the most”.

    Colonel Richard Kemp, at least, has a brain.

    1. It is good to the Europeans stepping up to defend themselves, footing the bill for their own defense.

      Just as it should be.
      The bankrupt US government can no longer pay the tab, the people here refuse to pay haigher taxes and the GOP had drawn a line in the sand over increased borrowing.
      They have erased that line, or maybe the wind blew ...

  11. Israel ?

    Has Obama asked them to do anything ?


    All he has done is give them the dirty figure for the last seven years.

    They are waiting for the next President, like sane people everywhere.

    1. Why would the US have to ask Israel to help fight radical Islam, Robert?

      Oh, that's right, Israel is allied with radical Islamic states, like Saudi Arabia.
      As were the Bush family, through the Carlyle group.

    2. In your estimation, Robert, are the Israeli merely lap dogs of the United States, unable to act on their own?

  12. Here's a sad article, and, sadly, true -

    November 23, 2015
    Exposed: Obama's Love for Jihadis and Hate for Christians
    By Raymond Ibrahim

    President Obama recently lashed out against the idea of giving preference to Christian refugees, describing it as "shameful." "That's not American. That's not who we are. We don't have religious tests to our compassion," loftily added the American president.

    Read it and weep.

    I can hardly wait till Obama is out of the White House.


    1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

      Giving preference to "Christians" is not Constitutional, Robert.
      Go read your copy of the US Constitution, if you do not have one, it can be found on the World Wide Web.

    2. If you had read Constitution, you would realize just how anti-American the American Thinker is.

    3. Should everyone have to carry their reglious ID, Robert?

      Perhaps we can have patches sewn onto everyone clothes, designating their religious affiliation.

      What religion would you choose to be affiliated with Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson?
      Whose patch would you wear on your sleeve?

  13. Washington (CNN)Colorado could be big trouble for Hillary Clinton.

    The Democratic front-runner in the 2016 presidential race trails all the leading Republican contenders by 11 percentage points or more in the key swing state, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows.

    Florida Sen. Marco Rubio bests Clinton 52% to 36%, the biggest gap. Ben Carson wins a potential head-to-head matchup as well, with a 52% to 38% advantage. And Donald Trump leads 48% to 37%.

    Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, described it as a "chilly if not frigid reception" in Colorado for Clinton.

  14. Rather than go to the trouble of electing Marco Rubio, let’s just have the Knesset appoint someone.

  15. i posted this last night

    UN-INTELLIGENCE11.23.154:55 PM ET

    Analysts Accuse CENTCOM of Covering Up Cooked ISIS Intelligence

    Allegations are mounting that senior intelligence officials at Central Command not only skewed findings on the ISIS war to please D.C., but tried to hide what they did.

    In July, a group of intelligence analysts at the U.S. military’s Central Command accused their bosses of distorting and selectively editing intelligence reports about the fight against ISIS in order to portray that campaign as more successful than it really was. As a result of those complaints, the Pentagon’s inspector general opened an investigation.

    Now, the allegations of misconduct have extended to a possible cover-up, with some analysts accusing the senior intelligence officials at Centcom, Maj. Gen. Steven Grove and his civilian deputy, Gregory Ryckman, of deleting emails and files from computer systems before the inspector general could examine them, three individuals familiar with the investigation told The Daily Beast.

    One U.S. official said the alleged activity could amount to obstruction and interference with the inspector general’s investigation, which began last summer. He noted that files relevant to the investigation began to disappear from Centcom computers after the Pentagon watchdog’s staff began their work.

    Two sources said that investigators are piecing together a trail of emails and reports to find out what may have been deleted, as well as what officials outside CENTCOM knew about potential manipulation of intelligence.

    The analysts themselves have taken steps to preserve material that could be used as evidence, these people said.

    All three individuals spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

    The inspector general has been examining emails and other documents contained on Centcom’s computers and interviewing staff at the command, in Tampa, Florida, multiple sources had said previously.

    But the allegations of a cover-up underscored the degree to which intelligence analysts have essentially mounted an insurrection aimed at correcting what they see as unprofessional behavior by their own leaders.

    Grove, Ryckman, and other CENTCOM higher-ups are named in the complaint to the inspector general, which is said to be extensive and written in a harsh, critical tone, according to those familiar with its contents.


    1. {...}

      In interviews, several individuals have described Centcom as having a “toxic climate,” in which Grove in particular created an expectation: Those who toe the official, upbeat line about the fight against ISIS are rewarded, while those who don’t are marginalized.

      “The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command,” one defense official told The Daily Beast.

      A former senior U.S. intelligence official who has worked with Grove described him as hard-charging and demanding of his analysts, but said he had no reason to suspect the general would make up information or fabricate reports.

      It was unclear whether the inspector general is looking into allegations that Grove and Ryckman destroyed documents. A spokeswoman for the IG declined to comment beyond an initial statement in September, which acknowledged that an investigation was underway and focused on Centcom’s intelligence directorate, or J2, which Grove runs.

      “The investigation will address whether there was any falsification, distortion, delay, suppression, or improper modification of intelligence information; any deviations from appropriate process, procedures, or internal controls regarding the intelligence analysis; and personal accountability for any misconduct or failure to follow established processes,” the statement said.

      On Monday, Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to the inspector general inquiring whether emails and other documents had been deleted, and requesting copies of any material that may have been found on CENTCOM computers, according to a congressional official.

    2. President Obama orders an assessment of U.S. military intelligence reports

      Posted - November 24 2015 01:56 by Paul Rios

      "I don't want intelligence shaded by politics", Mr. Obama said, before adding that he didn't want to prejudge the investigation. The Times reported that the Pentagon has added more investigators who have seized documents related to intelligence reports. “We can't make good policy unless we've got good, accurate, hard-headed, clear-eyed intelligence", Obama told reporters at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he was wrapping up a week-long overseas trip with stops in Turkey and the Philippines.

      The Pentagon is deepening an ongoing investigation into revisions to classified military intelligence documents purportedly made to cover-up potential military failures in the USA army’s training of Iraqi forces in the fight against the Islamic State (IS)

      Herald Voice



      Supervisors revised analysts’ conclusions to mask US military failures in training Iraqi troops

      Washington: When Daesh fighters overran a string of Iraqi cities last year, analysts at US Central Command wrote classified assessments for military intelligence officials and policymakers that documented the humiliating retreat of the Iraqi army. But before the assessments were final, former intelligence officials said, the analysts’ superiors made significant changes.

      In the revised documents, the Iraqi army had not retreated at all. The soldiers had simply “redeployed”.

      Such changes are at the heart of an expanding internal Pentagon investigation of CENTCOM, as Central Command is known, where analysts say that supervisors revised conclusions to mask some of the US military’s failures in training Iraqi troops and beating back Daesh. The analysts say supervisors were particularly eager to paint a more optimistic picture of America’s role in the conflict than was warranted.

      In recent weeks, the Pentagon inspector general seized a large trove of emails and documents from military servers as it examines the claims, and has added more investigators to the inquiry.

      The attacks in Paris last week were a deadly demonstration that Daesh, once a group of militants focused on seizing territory in Iraq and Syria, has broadened its focus to attack the West. The electronic files seized in the Pentagon investigation tells the story of the group’s rise, as seen through the eyes of Central Command, which oversees military operations across the Middle East.

      The exact content of those documents is unclear and may not become public because so much of the information is classified. But military officials have told Congress that some of those emails and documents may have been deleted before they had to be turned over to investigators, according to a senior congressional official, who requested anonymity to speak about the ongoing inquiry.

      Current and former officials have separately made similar claims, on the condition of anonymity, to The New York Times. Although lawmakers are demanding answers about those claims, it is not clear that the inspector general has been able to verify them. A spokeswoman for the inspector general declined to comment.



  16. November 23, 2015, 12:28 pm
    RNC outraised DNC 2-to-1 in October

    By Lisa Hagen

    Greg Nash

    The Democratic National Committee raised nearly half of its Republican counterpart’s October fundraising haul, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

    The DNC raised about $4.5 million last month compared to the Republican National Committee’s $8.7 million haul that it posted last week.

    The national Democratic campaign arm burned through more than it raised in October, spending nearly $5.3 million.

    The RNC has a significant cash advantage, posting $20 million cash on hand compared to the DNC’s $4.7 million cash on hand.

    “We’re hard at work building a data and field infrastructure that will defeat Hillary Clinton, and thousands of enthusiastic voters from across the country have been excited to chip in for that effort,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said last week in a statement.

    The DNC also lags behind its GOP counterpart in total contributions raised this year. So far this cycle, the DNC has raised about $51.2 million, trailing behind the RNC’s $89 million fundraising haul.

    The DNC has a debt of $6.9 million compared to the RNC’s debt of $1.8 million.

  17. Americans overall had more trust in the leading Democratic candidate to handle terrorism than each of the five potential GOP nominees. Compared head-to-head with real estate mogul Trump, who said he'd consider closing mosques, Clinton led 50 percent to 42 percent. Compared to Carson, who's mangled debate questions about the Islamic State and the Middle East, Clinton scored 49 percent to 40 percent picking the retired neurosurgeon. Compared to Cruz, a conservative senator from Texas, Clinton scored 49 percent compared to 40 percent.

    Against Rubio, Clinton, who recently gave a speech calling for more airstrikes against Islamic State targets, was more trusted by 47 percent of respondents, compared to 43 percent who picked the Florida senator. Bush, the former Florida governor, gave her the closest call among all responders, with 43 percent ranking him as more trustworthy and 46 percent picking Clinton.

    But when pollsters tapped only registered voters, the results came back more favorably for Republicans. Trump did slightly better among this group, getting 43 percent while Clinton held steady at 50 percent. Carson grabbed 43 percent of registered voters, while Clinton slipped to 47 percent.

    When compared with Cruz, 46 percent of registered voters picked Clinton, while 44 percent picked Cruz. Rubio trailed 46 percent to 45 percent, but fell within the margin of error, meaning Rubio might actually hold the lead among this group.

    Bush, who's called for sending an unspecified number of ground troops to fight Islamic State forces, actually held an edge over Clinton, with 46 percent of registered voters saying they trusted him, while 45 percent trusted her.

    Hillary Clinton More Trusted on Terrorism Than Any Republican Candidate

  18. What a choice. If this isn’t a chance for another Ross Perot, I don’t know what is.

    1. :) The choice is:

      One of 5 Crazy Republicans, or

      a rather standard-issue Republican.

  19. The quiet unraveling of ObamaCare
    Shikha Dalmia
    REUTERS/Jim Young
    November 23, 2015

    President Obama was hammered last week for his failure on ISIS. But there's at least one bright spot for him in that criticism: At least it deflected the spotlight from the unfolding catastrophe that is ObamaCare.

    Indeed, last week brought arguably the worst news for the program since the debacle: UnitedHealthcare, the nation's largest insurer, announced that it might quit ObamaCare's exchanges next year. Should UnitedHealthcare act on this threat, there may not be enough (red) tape in the desk drawer of even future President Hillary Clinton to put the ObamaCare Humpty Dumpty back together again.

    United announced during an investor briefing Thursday that it was expecting a whopping $425 million hit on its earnings this year, primarily due to mounting losses on its ObamaCare exchange business. "We cannot sustain these losses," United CEO Stephen Hensley declared. "We can't really subsidize a marketplace that doesn't appear at the moment to be sustaining itself."

    Avik Roy, who serves as GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio's health care advisor, suspects United may just be the first domino to fall. Other commercial insurers, such as Aetna, Anthem, and Cigna, have raised premiums by double digits and still say they can't make the numbers work in their favor. Hence, they have withdrawn from counties where their losses were particularly acute.

    For-profit companies that have shareholders breathing down their necks don't have much latitude to absorb losses. But even companies that don't face similar profit-maximizing pressures can't escape the basic dilemma confronting the industry. For example, state filings of the non-profit Blue Cross Blue Shield show that the company barely broke even in the first half of 2015. In Texas last year, BCBS collected $2.1 billion in premiums and paid out $2.5 billion in claims. If ObamaCare's condition worsens, such companies will have to scale back their participation too.

    And ObamaCare's condition will worsen. Why? Because not only are far fewer patients enrolling in the exchanges than projected, but those signing up are too old or sick for anything resembling a balanced risk pool...........

  20. If it's not terrorism, it's women today ! Ugh, what a mess the world is - whiny women are killing sex -

    The grrrls of the ’90s have given way to the uptight millennial women

    By Karol Markowicz

    November 22, 2015 | 8:00pm

    The grrrls of the ’90s have given way to the uptight millennial women
    Photo: Shutterstock

    When I was growing up in the ’90s, the dominant feminist message delivered to teenage girls like me centered on female strength.

    The magazine Sassy would arrive in my mailbox and contained a universe of strong girls doing cool things. Boys were OK — Sassy had a “Cute Boy Alert” feature, after all — but girls were super awesome. Girls were in bands, they called themselves “grrrl,” and sex was something they had or didn’t have as they pleased. Sisters, so the song went, were doing it for themselves.

    What happened?

    These days, women are treated as perpetual victims. In need of safe spaces at their colleges so they dare not hear alternative opinions, suspicious of all men as predators and infantilized by people in power seeking to protect them.

    We’ve gotten to a point where society accepts that sex isn’t an action between two equals — we treat the man as always in control of the encounter. A drunk woman is incapable of consent while a drunk man remains responsible for all of his actions.

    This is somehow seen as “pro-woman” and not as a way of turning a grown woman into a child, which is what it actually is. In the last year, feeling that this type of infantilization didn’t go far enough, there’s been a growing movement for “affirmative consent” on college campuses. Now consent must be verbally granted at every step of a sexual encounter.

    Suddenly that, too, isn’t enough...............

  21. A research study has found that using more solar power in Arizona could save 15 billion gallons of water annually. Most of the water used in Arizona is for agriculture, but another common usage is for cooling natural gas, coal, and nuclear power plants. Obviously, operating rooftop solar power does not require such water use.

    “He said that if Arizonans increased their use of rooftop solar power to 20 percent of the energy supply from the 1 percent it represents today, the state could save 15 billion gallons of water a year. That’s enough water to serve 90,000 homes, or the population of Chandler,” reported Arizona Central. The article was referencing former Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Herbert Guenther, who was hired by the Alliance for Solar Choice. Currently, the solar power installed in Arizona is saving about 750 million gallons of water a year. (Of course, adding that much solar would also reduce climate change emissions and air pollution.)

    Arizona gets about two-thirds of its electricity from nuclear and coal, with natural gas providing about 25%. Hydropower supplies most of the rest, and there is a little solar power. The Arizona Renewable Portfolio Standard requires the state to produce 15% of its electricity from renewables. The Hoover and Glen Canyon dams produce most of the hydropower.

    So, could Arizona get enough solar power capacity to generate 20% of its electricity and save 15 billion gallons of water each year? A report from Environment Arizona says it could get to 25%, “Solar PV capacity in Arizona increased at a rate of 142 percent per year from 2010 to 2013. If solar PV installations continue to increase at just one-seventh of that rate (20 percent) annually between 2013 and 2025, Arizona would have enough solar energy to generate 25 percent of its electricity.”

    According to SEIA, Arizona has about 2,143 MW of solar power installed currently, which ranks it no.2 in the US only behind California. Politics seems to have been one of the main barriers to expanding solar more aggressively in Arizona, not any technological barriers. Environment Arizona has written that Arizona could have enough solar power to generate well over 300 times as much electricity as it consumes.


  22. Sample of Martin Luther's Ten Sickest Burns -

    You are like a herd of swine being invited to the table of a prince. You understand not such an honor, but only ravage what is set before you, even soiling the prince.

    Visitors of Parish Pastors

    Why would anyone tolerate such things from someone like you, a rotten paunch, crude a** and fart-a**?

    Against the Roman Papacy

    You are a crude a**, and an a** you will remain!

    Against the Roman Papacy, an Institution of the Devil

    You are the head of all the worst scoundrels on earth, a vicar of the devil, an enemy of God, an adversary of Christ, a destroyer of Christ's churches; a teacher of lies, blasphemies, and idolatries; an arch-thief and robber; a murderer of kings and inciter to all kinds of bloodshed; a brothel-keeper over all brothel-keepers and all vermin, even that which cannot be named; an Antichrist, a person of sin and child of perdition; a true werewolf.

    Against the Heavenly Prophets

    Thanks to this insult generator meme—which randomly spits out one of hundreds of stinging quips found in Luther’s writings—the reformer’s sickest burns recently went viral.

    If you play with this Luther Insult Generator for any length of time at all, it is certain you will find yourself described there.

    I found Quirk on the third try, for instance....Deuce on tenth.....Rufus many many times ......

  23. Great Theologian Quotes on Science

    Posted by Alex B. Berezow

    From the pulpit of University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, the now-retired Rev. Earl Palmer once said, "We have nothing to fear from science." It was one of the many times I knew that I had found the right church for me.

    Rev. Palmer is not alone in his embrace of science. Indeed, theologians past and present have found science to be illuminating rather than threatening, undermining the widespread notion of a "war" between science and religion. Just as many prominent scientists have spoken kindly of religion, many theologians have spoken highly of science. We have compiled some of the best quotes below:

    "Men...have a moral responsibility to be intelligent. Must we not admit that the church has often overlooked this moral demand for enlightenment? At times it has talked as though ignorance were a virtue and intelligence a crime."
    --Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Strength to Love)

    "Art along with science is the highest gift God has given [man]."
    --Pope Benedict XVI

    "No doubt those who really founded modern science were usually those whose love of truth exceeded their love of power."
    --C.S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man)

    "Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes."
    --Pope John Paul II (Letter to Director of the Vatican Observatory)

    "Even the other sciences and their development help the church in its growth in understanding... The thinking of the church must recover genius and better understand how human beings understand themselves today, in order to develop and deepen the church's teaching."
    --Pope Francis (Interview with America magazine)

    "I don't think that there's any conflict at all between science today and the Scriptures. I think we have misinterpreted the Scriptures many times and we've tried to make the Scriptures say things that they weren't meant to say, and I think we have made a mistake by thinking the Bible is a scientific book. The Bible is not a book of science."
    --Rev. Billy Graham

    "Those theologians who are beginning to take the doctrine of creation very seriously should pay some attention to science's story."
    --Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne

  24. Here's the real problem, and the real numbers on Syrian support for terrorism --

    Syrians are a Nation of Terrorist Supporters
    10,000 Syrian refugees mean 1,300 ISIS supporters.
    November 24, 2015
    Daniel Greenfield

    Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.

    Syria is a terror state. It didn’t become that way overnight because of the Arab Spring or the Iraq War.

    Its people are not the victims of American foreign policy, Islamic militancy or any of the other fashionable excuses. They supported Islamic terrorism. Millions of them still do.

    They are not the Jews fleeing a Nazi Holocaust. They are the Nazis trying to relocate from a bombed out Berlin.

    These are the cold hard facts.

    ISIS took over parts of Syria because its government willingly allied with it to help its terrorists kill Americans in Iraq. That support for Al Qaeda helped lead to the civil war tearing the country apart.

    The Syrians were not helpless, apathetic pawns in this fight. They supported Islamic terrorism.

    A 2007 poll showed that 77% of Syrians supported financing Islamic terrorists including Hamas and the Iraqi fighters who evolved into ISIS. Less than 10% of Syrians opposed their terrorism.

    Why did Syrians support Islamic terrorism? Because they hated America.

    Sixty-three percent wanted to refuse medical and humanitarian assistance from the United States. An equal number didn’t want any American help caring for Iraqi refugees in Syria.

    The vast majority of Syrians turned down any form of assistance from the United States because they hated us. They still do. Just because they’re willing to accept it now, doesn’t mean they like us.

    If we bring Syrian Muslims to America, we will be importing a population that hates us.

    1. The terrorism poll numbers are still ugly. A poll this summer found that 1 in 5 Syrians supports ISIS. A third of Syrians support the Al Nusra Front, which is affiliated with Al Qaeda. Since Sunnis are 3/4rs of the population and Shiites and Christians aren’t likely to support either group, this really means that Sunni Muslim support for both terror groups is even higher than these numbers make it seem.

      And even though Christians and Yazidis are the ones who actually face ISIS genocide, Obama has chosen to take in few Christians and Yazidis. Instead 98.6% of Obama’s Syrian refugees are Sunni Muslims.

      This is also the population most likely to support ISIS and Al Qaeda.

      But these numbers are even worse than they look. Syrian men are more likely to view ISIS positively than women. This isn’t surprising as the Islamic State not only practices sex slavery, but has some ruthless restrictions for women that exceed even those of Saudi Arabia. (Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front, however, mostly closes the gender gap getting equal support from Syrian men and women.)

      ISIS, however, gets its highest level of support from young men. This is the Syrian refugee demographic.

      In the places where the Syrian refugees come from, support for Al Qaeda groups climbs as high as 70% in Idlib, 66% in Quneitra, 66% in Raqqa, 47% in Derzor, 47% in Hasakeh, 41% in Daraa and 41% in Aleppo.

      Seventy percent support for ISIS in Raqqa has been dismissed as the result of fear. But if Syrians in the ISIS capital were just afraid of the Islamic State, why would the Al Nusra Front, which ISIS is fighting, get nearly as high a score from the people in Raqqa? The answer is that their support for Al Qaeda is real.

      Apologists will claim that these numbers don’t apply to the Syrian refugees. It’s hard to say how true that is. Only 13% of Syrian refugees will admit to supporting ISIS, though that number still means that of Obama’s first 10,000 refugees, 1,300 will support ISIS. But the poll doesn’t delve into their views of other Al Qaeda groups, such as the Al Nusra Front, which usually gets more Sunni Muslim support.

      And there’s no sign that they have learned to reject Islamic terrorism and their hatred for America.

      When Syrian refugees were asked to list the greatest threat, 29 percent picked Iran, 22 percent picked Israel and 19 percent picked America. Only 10 percent viewed Islamic terrorism as a great threat.

      By way of comparison, twice as many Iraqis see Islamic terrorism as a threat than Syrians do and slightly more Palestinian Arabs view Islamic terrorism as a threat than Syrians do. These are terrible numbers.

      Thirty-seven percent of Syrian refugees oppose US airstrikes on ISIS. 33% oppose the objective of destroying ISIS.

      And these are the people whom our politicians would have us believe are “fleeing an ISIS Holocaust.”

      Seventy-three percent of Syrian refugees view US foreign policy negatively. That’s a higher number than Iraqis. It’s about equal to that of Palestinian Arabs.

      They don’t like us. They really don’t like us.

    2. Obama’s first shipment of Syrians will include 1,300 ISIS supporters and most of the rest will hate this country. But unless they’re stupid enough to announce that during their interviews, the multi-layered vetting that Obama and other politicians boast about will be useless.

      It only took 2 Muslim refugees to carry out the Boston Marathon massacre. It only took 19 Muslim terrorists to carry out 9/11.

      If only 1 percent of those 1,300 Syrian ISIS supporters put their beliefs into practice, they can still kill thousands of Americans.

      And that’s a best case scenario. Because it doesn’t account for how many thousands of them support Al Qaeda. It doesn’t account for how many of them back other Islamic terrorist groups such as Hamas that had widespread support in Syria.

      While the media has shamelessly attempted to exploit the Holocaust to rally support for Syrian migrants, the majority of Syrians supported Hamas whose mandate is finishing Hitler’s work. The Hamas charter describes a “struggle against the Jews” that culminates in another Holocaust. Bringing Hamas supporters to America will lead to more Muslim Supremacist violence against Jews in this country.

      But all of this can be avoided by taking in genuine Syrian refugees.

      While Obama insists on taking in fake Syrian refugees, mainly Sunni Muslims from UN camps who support terrorism and are not endangered in Jordan or Turkey, both Sunni countries, he is neglecting the real refugees, Christians and Yazidis, who are stateless and persecuted in the Muslim world.

      Instead of taking in fake refugees who hate us, we should be taking in real refugees who need us.

      Obama and Paul Ryan have claimed that a “religious test” for refugees is wrong, but religious tests are how we determine whether a refugee is really fleeing persecution or is just an economic migrant.

      The Sunni Muslims that Obama is taking in do not face persecution. They are the majority. They are the persecutors. It’s the Yazidis and the Christians who need our help. And these real refugees, unlike the fake Sunni Muslim refugees, are not coming here to kill us. They truly have nowhere else to go.

      Syria is a disaster because its rival Muslim religious groups are unable to get along with each other. Bringing them to this country will only spread the violence from their land to ours. Instead of taking in the religious majority that caused this mess through its intolerance, we should take in their victims; the Christians and Yazidis who are being slaughtered and enslaved by ISIS.

      During the entire Syrian Civil War, Obama has only taken in 1 Syrian Yazidi and 53 Christians.

      It’s time that we had a refugee policy that protected the persecuted, instead of their Muslim persecutors. It’s time that we listened to Syrian Christians in this country who oppose bringing tens of thousands of Syrian Muslims to terrorize their neighborhoods the way that they are already terrorizing Syrian Christians in Germany.

      Syrian Muslims are a nation of terrorist supporters. They destroyed their own country. Let’s not let them destroy ours.

      It’s time that we kept our nation safe by doing the right thing. Let’s take in the real Christian and Yazidi refugees and let the fake Sunni Muslim refugees and terrorist supporters stay in their own countries.

    3. To let any of these people in USA is nuts, much less 4 million of them.

      If we wish to help we should help relocate them in the mid east, or put them in FEMA camps for the duration, then send them back.

      But wandering around in the USA ?

      Recipe for disaster, sooner or later.


    4. And this we should do -

      "It’s time that we kept our nation safe by doing the right thing. Let’s take in the real Christian and Yazidi refugees"

      They are facing genocide.

    5. FrontPage Magazine (also known as is an online conservative political website, edited by David Horowitz and published by the David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC; formerly, the Center for the Study of Popular Culture), a non-profit organization in Los Angeles, California.

  25. Why We Should Resettle Refugees In Their Own Lands

    The refugee crisis exists because America has indulged foolish foreign policies. To get out of this mess will require wisdom, not more of the same.

    By Luma Simms
    November 23, 2015

    I was neither born nor bred in this country. I don’t have Ivy League credentials. Unlike elitists and pundits informed as much by cocktail parties as they are by polls and studies, I’m informed by blood, kin, and culture.

    I was born in Baghdad to Christian parents who emigrated the old-fashioned way—legally—and for an old-fashioned reason: The treatment of Christians, like my family, by Muslims in the surrounding culture.

    I cry at the “Star Spangled Banner,” and I cry when my naturalized home wages war against my birth home. I am an American. I am also Iraqi, and a Moslawii down to my dialect and my cooking. Such is the existential reality of first-generation immigrants: The “both/and” tension of two civilizations within one self, the wistful desire for one identity, one culture, one homeland, one whole and integral worldview. I hope, at the seasoned age of 46, I have wisdom to share with you, my beloved Americans.

    This would be a good time to stop talking about immigrants as if we are children. That’s my first suggestion. American politicians, professors, and pundits who have never lived under a dictator in their life, were raised within a Western heritage and education system, and learned foreign policy and political philosophy ideas in the West pontificate about what is best in the Middle East and for middle easterners.

    Fine, listen to your experts if you must, but maybe this is the time to include us in the conversation. We have opinions and knowledge. These are our countries, whose names you mispronounce, whose culture you disregard, whose history you remake, and whose future you would fashion in your image and likeness.
    Bad Foreign Policy Has Caused the Refugee Crisis

    I had not been in America for a complete year the day Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s “Dictators & Double Standards” was published, on November 1, 1979. Thirty-six years later, on the eve of the Paris jihadist attacks, I would read the essay that made history and shaped Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy.
    A foreign policy that does not count the cost of emigrants and refugees is short-sighted, and devastating in the long run.

    Immigration and foreign policy form a double helix. There is no such thing as an immigration policy without a commensurate foreign dimension, and no foreign policy without an attendant and robust immigration dimension. They are objectively tethered, and woe to the man or woman who does not account for this.

    A foreign policy that does not count the cost of emigrants and refugees is short-sighted, and devastating in the long run. This is my second suggestion: Count the immigration cost when advancing foreign policy ideas.

    Kirkpatrick understood the effect on refugees when she wrote that, as bad as traditional autocrats are, they tend to observe the traditions and taboos of their culture. As difficult as life may be for their people, and though some like my own family in the ’70s are able to get out, these “neighborhood bullies” (as Benjamin Netanyahu called them at the recent dinner) do not create large number of refugees. (The majority of Middle Eastern Christians in America can attest to this.)

    Such autocrats stand in contrast to totalitarian regimes like ISIS, a distinction which Netanyahu drew by stating that: “Their goal is not merely the conquest of the Middle East, it’s the conquest of the world. It’s unbelievable people don’t believe that. They don’t believe that it’s possible to have this quest for an imamate or a caliphate in the twenty-first century, but that is exactly what is guiding them.”.........

    This woman knows what she is talking about.

  26. Just for Deuce -

    November 24, 2015
    If it's freezing, it must be warming
    By Brian Joondeph

    Even more predictable than the actual weather is Mother Nature once again having fun with climate alarmists. As winter approaches we see true climate change, also known as changing seasons. The United Nations conference on climate changes is set to begin in just a week and Mother Nature, as a reality check, threw a giant snowball at the American Midwest.

    It’s not even Thanksgiving, and winter is officially a month away, but the Midwest was clobbered with cold temperatures and snow. Not just a late fall cold snap, but a major winter storm. Single digit temperatures. 11 inches of snow in Chicago, the highest November total in 120 years. Record breaking snow in South Dakota.

    Not only here but also in the UK. Snow storms and icy blizzards blanketed the UK last week with a “bitterly cold’ weekend. Oh the irony.

    This is not the first time Mother Nature tweaked the climatistas. In fact, Urban Dictionary already has an entry for this phenomenon. The “Gore Effect”, defined as, “The phenomenon that leads to temperature decrease whenever global warming or climatic change is discussed having Al Gore's work as important reference.”

    Not to be outdone, Wikepedia also has an entry for the “Gore Effect” which they describe as, “A term which alleges a causal relationship between unseasonable cold weather phenomena and global warming activism.” Climate Depot has a long list of other examples of the Gore Effect.

    Beyond the humor of the Gore Effect is mounting evidence that the climate is cooling, not warming. No need to panic about global cooling either. Based on Greenland ice cores, “Alternating climatic warming and cooling has occurred about every 27 years since 1470 AD, well before atmospheric CO2 began to increase.”

    Following this schedule backward in time, in 1974, the CIA warned that global cooling would cause terrorism. Now 32 years later, Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is sounding a similar warning, except he substituted “warming” for “cooling.” “Feeling the Bern” from nonexistent warming, Bernie warns, “global warming presents the greatest national security threat to the United States.” What a difference a climate cycle makes.

    Is the planet warming or cooling? Many scientists believe the Earth is cooling, and some are speaking out despite the personal and professional risks.......................


    Cheers !

  27. The Turks have shot down a Russian fighter jet. The two pilots ejected.

    Turkey says it was in their airspace and they gave warnings, the Russians say they never entered Turkish airspace, but it seems to have crashed near some Turkish mountain.

    Russian and Turkish stock markets both down.


  28. One of our uber useless allies from hell. They should have been kicked out of NATO years ago.