Voting for Shrillary won't be easy for the last handful of Democrats to have any sense of patriotism or decency.
Luckily for them, there is Tryphorgetin. From DNC Pharmaceuticals, not just a drug, but a way of coping:
Speaking truth to old-stream media bias.
Voting for Shrillary won't be easy for the last handful of Democrats to have any sense of patriotism or decency.
Luckily for them, there is Tryphorgetin. From DNC Pharmaceuticals, not just a drug, but a way of coping:
The march of the Trumpisms' continues:
Megyn Kelly: "You've called women you don't like 'fat pigs,' 'dogs,' 'slobs,' and 'disgusting animals'…"
Trump: "Only Rosie O'Donnell."
Media: You can't build a wall!
Trump: "Sure I can, AND Mexico is going to pay for it!!"
Media: But you support Eminent Domain?
Trump: Yeah, and "Try building the Keystone Pipeline without it"..
Media: But you called Sanders a maniac!
Trump: "And a Communist", don't forget!
Media: But you declared bankruptcy!
Trump: "Yup, sure did. And I Chaptered 4 out of 400 companies. Took over bad deals and made money on those too !"…
Media: But you held a rally and someone said Obama was Muslim, and you didn't defend him from it!
Trump: Yeah, "Would he defend me? I don't think so!"
Media: But you attacked Ben Carson! "…
Trump: Well, I never hit my mother on the head with a hammer! Did you, Bill?"
Media: Jeb Bush want's a no-fly zone in Syria?
Trump: When did ISIS get airplanes?
Media: You can't build a wall?
Trump: I build things, that's what I do – watch me!
Media: You're going to deport 11 million people. You'll need a "deportation force".
Trump: What does I.C.E do?
Media: But you used to be a Democrat, you have donated to Democrats?
Trump: Yes, I live and work in New York. NYC is all Democrats, if I need to leverage assistance for my company goals I need to work with Democrats. It's a business necessity; I look out for my employees and their best interests.
Media: But you had Hillary Clinton at your wedding?
Trump: Yes, it was an amazing event, the best, the biggest, the most elegant, and I asked her and Bill to attend. They did. Wouldn't you, I mean if I invited you?
Media: You spend all this time talking about polls. You seem obsessed by polls?
Trump: Yeah, that's because I'm winning them. If the polls were not good, I wouldn't even mention them. Duh.
Let me ask you a quick question. This is an interesting question, and it goes to the heart of what's actually happening in the world. Anybody know what the fastest land animal is? Cheetah? Anybody know what the deepest-diving mammal is? Sperm whale, deepest diving mammal. The highest-flying bird? It's actually -- it's called a Ruppell's vulture, but geese fly at 12,000 feet. But you'd be wrong about all of those. Because the fastest land mammal is the human being. The deepest-diving mammal is the human being. The highest-flying animal on earth is the human being. By far. By far.
We eat everything. We eat insects, tree barks, moss; we eat fungus, we eat cows, we eat mammals, we eat fish, we eat insects. We eat everything. And the reason that we're so successful is because human beings are programmable animals. They're the only programmable animal in the history of the world.
That's why I can take a kid who was born into the heart of ISIS and raise them in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and they will turn into be perfect, wonderful, genuine American citizens. And I can take the nicest, whitest kid from the most rich or most beautiful little hometown in America and raise them in Syria, and they'll grow up to be suicide bombers. We are programmable animals. And we have to understand that it's the programming that makes us different. It's not the race, it's not the culture, it's not the class; it's the programming, it's the culture.
So what does that mean? Here comes the science -- brace yourselves, I'll get through this as fast as I can. When you look at any animal in the history of the world, any animal on earth today from a microorganism to a blue whale, what you find is that animals have developed strategies to maximize their numbers. That makes sense, right? Evolution says the genes that are successful are the ones that are pushed down to the next generation.
And as it turns out, there are two different strategies for pushing genes down to the next generation. And what we're seeing in our society is this programmable animal, the human being. The reason the society is collapsing is because we're changing from one strategy and we're going to another.
So let me tell you what these two strategies are. If we're going to figure out how many different organisms can exist in a certain area, in a certain ecosystem, there are a couple variables that we look at. And one of the variables is called R. R is the reproductive rate. The faster that animals can reproduce, generally speaking, the more they can fill up a given ecosystem. R is the reproductive rate.
What kind of animals traditionally are R-selected animals? Rabbits are a great example of an R-selected species. Because rabbits live on a plain of infinite grass. There's more food than any rabbit could ever eat. Gazelles on the savannah, the same thing. You're never going to run out of grass if you're a gazelle on the savannah. That's not the problem.
So a group of rabbits, a huge herd of rabbits, are in a big, big endless field of clover. A rabbit is a very R-selected organism. What do these things have in common? What do rabbits have in common with each other? Rabbits don't compete against each other. They're noncompetitive. Rabbits don't have a threat assessment. They're aware of predators, but if more rabbits come into where the rabbits are, the rabbits don't care. They just move over a hop. Because there's an endless supply of resources for them to eat forever.
Rabbits are promiscuous. They have sex with as many other rabbits as they possibly can. The male just has one encounter with a female, then goes onto the next female just as fast as he can. Rabbits do not invest in their children, because there's no point in making a fit rabbit. There's no actual benefit to making a healthy, fit, competitive rabbit. Because there is an endless supply of food, and the amount of time you would spend raising a super-rabbit is wasted. What you really should be doing is making more rabbits.
That's how rabbits succeed. They're selected by R. And they have R-type behaviors for an advanced reproductive rate. They don't have any sense of social structure, either, by the way. There are no rabbit hierarchies, there are no rabbit leaders, there are no rabbit warriors, there are no rabbit teams.
That's what rabbits do. They select and survive and win by pushing out their genes, by reproducing as quickly as possible.
Now, what about the alternative? What is the opposite? Well, if reproductive rate is one way to measure how many organisms can live in an ecosystem, another way to measure the total number is by the carrying capacity of the land. In other words, how much life can this area support? That variable is called K.
And if you want to think of a K-selected species, a species that's selected based on the limitations of the environment, a great example would be wolves. Wolves are very K-selected. Rabbits are R, wolves are K. They have almost exactly different behaviors. What are some of the qualities of wolves? Wolves are extremely competitive. From the beginning, wolves will be in fights. The males will be fighting constantly to see which is the alpha male, what dog is on top. Wolves will be constantly having these battles because of fitness. They need to be fit in order to survive. That's a quality of wolves.
Wolves have a very strong group identity. If there's 30 rabbits in a field and 30 more rabbits come in, the rabbits don't care, they just move over. But if there's a pack of 30 wolves in a northern environment which can only support 30 wolves, if another 30 wolves come into that environment, pretty soon there's only going to be one pack left. They are aware of external threats, and they understand that these threats are a threat to their survival, and they're ready to fight about it.
What else do we know about wolves? Wolves pair-bond for life. They pick a mate at their peak fitness, and they stay with that mate for life. And that's important. Because by pair-bonding for life, they have to raise fit kids. Wolf puppies have to be trained how to hunt. It's not as easy as just eating grass. Hunting is harder than eating. It's harder than gathering. I don't know how many vegetarians we have out here, but usually, you know -- the term means poor hunter in ancient Sanskrit.
So they have that quality. And wolves, because they have a large investment in their young, it takes them awhile to train their puppies how to hunt and so on -- they spend a great deal of time with their children. And they want their children to be as fit as possible, because an unfit wolf will die in a world of limited resources, where an unfit rabbit doesn't care. It doesn't matter, there's all the food it could want.
So finally, wolves have strong social codes. Wolves form into warrior bands. They form packs. And when wolves start fighting, if one wolf throws his throat to the other wolf and gives up, the aggression on that top wolf turns off, because wolves respect the law. They have a law, and they respect it. They're wired to respect it.
Now hopefully by now, some of you may begin to realize some of these qualities between one group of people and another group of people in this society. Right?
R selection is liberalism, what we call liberalism, traditional liberalism, classical liberalism. That's what we are. But progressivism, that's a better word. It is an R-selected philosophy. It's a philosophy of there is no external threat. It's a philosophy of communism and socialism, because socialism is noncompetitive. They don't care if they all do worse, so long as they don't have to compete against each other. Because none of them are fit. They don't believe in fitness. It's the philosophy of early promiscuity, it's the philosophy of abandoning your children, and it's the philosophy of lawlessness, where your only job is to maximize resources for yourself, because resources are endless.
K are conservative. We're competitive, and we like to compete. We'd rather lose to a better adversary than to win by cheating. Everybody in this room feels that same way. We're improved by competition, we're made better by it. We like it, because we're good at it. That's capitalism.
Wolves like us invest in our young. We tend to be more monogamous, we tend to have honor codes and rules and laws that these rabbits are using against us, because they understand that we're bound by laws and rules and honor codes.
So what's happening? What's happening to this country? And what happened to the Greeks, and what happened to the Romans, and what happened to the Egyptians, what happened to the Babylonians, what happened to the French, what happened to the British, what happened to all of them?
It's very simple. It's really very simple. K-selected behaviors -- cooperation, discipline, warrior codes, law -- produce over the course of 300 or 400 years a civilization that eventually reaches the height of its powers. And when it is the dominant civilization in the world, as the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians -- when they are absolutely dominant, you would think that that would be the point that that culture would go into space, that there would be nothing left to confront the Romans. Once the Romans had completely dominated the world, you'd think we would've had Romans on the moon a thousand years ago. Because what's going to stop the Romans?
But that's not what happens. It doesn't happen. It didn't just not happen once; it didn't happen ever. Once civilizations get to the peak of their power, they collapse. They collapse, collapse, collapse, collapse. Why?
Because when a civilization reaches that level of prosperity and security and dominance, the people inside that civilization ...
If President Barack Obama doesn't like you – his government tends to make your life really, REALLY miserable. Ask Tea Party and conservative groups – when Obama's Internal Revenue Service (IRS) isn't harassing them, it is allowing them to endlessly languish unapproved. Ask reporters who report things in ways the President doesn't like – his government spies on and investigates them. Ask the coal industry – Obama's administration is unilaterally regulating it out of existence. And on, and on, and…
But President Obama doesn't have to specifically dislike you. He need only prefer your regulatory opponent – and at their behest he will make your life really, REALLY miserable. To wit: the Tech sector.
The Administration's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in February – via Title II Reclassification and Network Neutrality – unilaterally declared itself the pernicious overlord of all Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Is it because he dislikes the likes of Comcast and Time Warner? It would be difficult to think so.
In fact, Comcast is melded with…NBC. Which means NBC News. Included therein is the completely ridiculous MSNBC and the freshly ridiculous CNBC. How on Earth could President Obama dislike them?
He could – if a bigger Crony asked him to do so. Behold: Google.
Google spent most of the 2000s pushing mightily for Net Neutrality. Because it forces ISPs to give mega-bandwidth-hog-companies like Google (and Facebook and Amazon) unlimited Internet service – for free. It doesn't get much more Crony than that.
Net Neutrality went nowhere legislatively. Because Americans have a very difficult time believing the free speech-free market Xanadu that is the Internet – is in dire need of fundamental transformation. Prior to Election 2010, 95 Democrats signed a pro-Net Neutrality pledge – all 95 lost. The group responsible for the pledge – raised on it a whopping $300. It was a dead issue.
Until the Age of Obama. President Obama has a proven track record of not caring a whit about what We the People want. We were opposed to the 2009 "Stimulus" (it in fact incepted the Tea Party movement) – the president gave it to us anyway. We were (and remain) opposed to ObamaCare – the president gave it to us anyway.
So We the People started electing Republican Congressional majorities – to demonstrate and embody our opposition. What was the Crony Administration to do? It simply stopped using Congress. And started unilaterally issuing executive fiats to impose things we didn't like – but the Cronies did. Like Net Neutrality – for Google.
But the Title II Reclassification is a HUGE power grab. It gives the Obama Administration sudden (highly dubious) uber-authority over the ENTIRE Internet – not just ISPs. Which means the likes of Google also fall under its monstrous thumb – if it chooses to press down its digit. Does the Crony Administration do so? Of course not.
In case you were unsure – Google is an "edge provider."
No one – NO ONE – tracks you like Google. Tracking you – and then selling you and what you do online – is just about their entire trillion-dollar-business-model. The Crony Administration certainly wouldn't put a stop to that.
What happens when government regulates the living daylight out of one part of a sector – and leaves another utterly unfettered?
The Cronies ask – the Crony Administration delivers. It is, as always, really, REALLY good to be a friend of Obama.
MODERN DAY STAGFLATION IS KILLING THE MIDDLE CLASS
by ED BUTOWSKY
The 70 percent of Americans that comprise the middle class have been suffering for years from "stealth stagflation" that is driven by high taxes and oppressive regulations.
Stagflation is defined by Merriam-Webster as a condition of "persistent inflation combined with stagnant consumer demand and relatively high unemployment." According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the official unemployment was at 7.8 percent in January 2009, when President Obama took office. The rate soared to 10 percent in October of that year and has been sinking steadily to 5 percent last month. But the "good news" has not been from an expansion in the percentage of Americans working, but rather millions who ran out of benefits up and stopped looking for jobs.
If those "discouraged" workers were added back into the mix, the unemployment rate would jump to 11 percent. Today, there are more people out of work now than when Obama moved into the White House.
America's growth rate has been averaging about 2.2 percent, following the worst recession since the Great Depression. But historically, coming out of a recession the economy should grow at 3.5 to 4 percent.
The Consumer Price Index underestimates the true rise in cost of most of the items the middle-class buys. According to the Chapwood Index that tracks the price changes for the top 500 items that middle-class Americans buy, true inflation is up about 9 percent in the last 12 months.
Despite government statistics and what our political leaders say, middle-class Americans are being devoured by the virus of stagflation.
And despite promises that government could grow the middle-class from the middle out, ever-rising taxes and the cost of complying with onerous government regulations on businesses have caused prices to rise, unemployment to remain high, the economy to remain stagnant, and the federal government debt to rise to $19 trillion.
The 2016 election is an opportunity to choose a president who will cut taxes and unnecessary regulations. But Americans must put someone in charge that understands the problem, knows how to fix it and promises actually to do something about it.
Why have food prices been rising faster than inflation, while crop prices are now at a six-year low?
Because the giant corporations that process food have the power to raise prices. Four food companies control 82 percent of beef packing, 85 percent of soybean processing, 63 percent of pork packing, and 53 percent of chicken processing.
Much of the national debate about widening inequality focuses on whether and how much to tax the rich and redistribute their income downward.
But this debate ignores the upward redistributions going on every day, from the rest of us to the rich. These redistributions are hidden inside the market.
The only way to stop them is to prevent big corporations and Wall Street banks from rigging the market.
For example, Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than do the citizens of any other developed nation.
That's partly because it's perfectly legal in the U.S. (but not in most other nations) for the makers of branded drugs to pay the makers of generic drugs to delay introducing cheaper unbranded equivalents, after patents on the brands have expired.
This costs you and me an estimated $3.5 billion a year – a hidden upward redistribution of our incomes to Pfizer, Merck, and other big proprietary drug companies, their executives, and major shareholders.
We also pay more for Internet service than do the inhabitants of any other developed nation.
The average cable bill in the United States rose 5 percent in 2012 (the latest year available), nearly triple the rate of inflation.
Why? Because 80 percent of us have no choice of Internet service provider, which allows them to charge us more.
Internet service here costs 3 and-a-half times more than it does in France, for example, where the typical customer can choose between 7 providers.
And U.S. cable companies are intent on keeping their monopoly.
It's another hidden upward distribution – from us to Comcast, Verizon, or another giant cable company, its executives and major shareholders.
Likewise, the interest we pay on home mortgages or college loans is higher than it would be if the big banks that now dominate the financial industry had to work harder to get our business.
As recently as 2000, America's five largest banks held 25 percent of all U.S. banking assets. Now they hold 44 percent – which gives them a lock on many such loans.
If we can't repay, forget using bankruptcy. Donald Trump can go bankrupt four times and walk away from his debts, but the bankruptcy code doesn't allow homeowners or graduates to reorganize unmanageable debts.
So beleaguered homeowners and graduates don't have any bargaining leverage with creditors – exactly what the financial industry wants.
The net result: another hidden upward redistribution – this one, from us to the big banks, their executives, and major shareholders.
Some of these upward redistributions seem to defy gravity. Why have average domestic airfares risen 2.5% over the past, and are now at their the highest level since the government began tracking them in 1995 – while fuel prices, the largest single cost for the airlines, have plummeted?
Because America went from nine major carriers ten years ago to just four now. Many airports are now served by one or two.
This makes it easy for airlines to coordinate their fares and keep them high – resulting in another upward redistribution.
Why have food prices been rising faster than inflation, while crop prices are now at a six-year low?
Because the giant corporations that process food have the power to raise prices. Four food companies control 82 percent of beef packing, 85 percent of soybean processing, 63 percent of pork packing, and 53 percent of chicken processing.
Result: A redistribution from average consumers to Big Agriculture.
Finally, why do you suppose health insurance is costing us more, and co-payments and deductibles are rising?
One reason is big insurers are consolidating into giants with the power to raise prices. They say these combinations make their companies more efficient, but they really just give them power to charge more.
Health insurers are hiking rates 20 to 40 percent next year, and their stock values are skyrocketing (the Standard & Poor's 500 Managed Health Care Index recently hit its highest level in more than twenty years.)
Add it up – the extra money we're paying for pharmaceuticals, Internet communications, home mortgages, student loans, airline tickets, food, and health insurance – and you get a hefty portion of the average family's budget.
Democrats and Republicans spend endless time battling over how much to tax the rich and then redistribute the money downward.
But if we didn't have so much upward redistribution inside the market, we wouldn't need as much downward redistribution through taxes and transfer payments.
Yet as long as the big corporations, Wall Street banks, their top executives and wealthy shareholders have the political power to do so, they'll keep redistributing much of the nation's income upward to themselves.
Which is why the rest of us must gain political power to stop the collusion, bust up the monopolies, and put an end to the rigging of the American market.
Wolf's campaign motto was "a fresh start." Mission not accomplished.
How bad is it? Pennsylvania already is among the top 10 states with the highest tax burden. Apparently Wolf wants us in the top five. That won't be easy to accomplish, primarily because we already are so overtaxed in the first place. There just aren't many more things left to tax. According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania ranks 46th out of the 50 states for favorable corporate taxes and 42nd for favorable property taxes. The only bright spot is that the commonwealth is the 17th most favorable state for individual income taxes. Any guess as to what tax Wolf wants to increase?
And those rankings only are for business and individual income taxes. The grim tax news doesn't end there:
• Pennsylvania's sales tax is 16th highest in the country.
• Wolf would like to expand it to apply to even more consumer goods.
• At 14 percent, we're even among the worst 10 states for cellphone taxes.
• At more than 50 cents per gallon, our gasoline tax is the highest in the country — almost double the national average.
• Of the 50 states, we have the highest unemployment insurance taxes. Perversely, this might actually be good news. Given the onerous business tax climate, Pennsylvania workers will need all the unemployment insurance they can get.
If you add up all the business taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes, fees, licensing, tolls and other revenues collected by the state and local governments, the average Pennsylvanian pays more than $8,000 per year to keep our political behemoth moving. That's about 20 percent of the average Pennsylvanian's income. And Tom Wolf thinks that isn't enough.
Governments, of course, have no business spending more money than they take in. Deficits simply are taxes on the unborn. It is time, instead, to apply some common sense to the matter. There are only two possible solutions. One is to try to squeeze more money out of the people. The other is to spend more frugally. We all know that the governor is (perhaps congenitally) inclined toward the former. It is high time for the latter.
Pennsylvania has been taxed to the point of near ruin. Our business climate already is among the worst in the nation; there is nothing on the horizon that will make it any better. This virtually guarantees that we will continue walking down our anemic economic road, even as Wolf asks for more and more of our money.
Twenty percent is enough, Governor. If you can't do your job with that much, maybe it is time for Pennsylvania to have a fresh start without you.
Antony Davies is associate professor of economics at Duquesne University. James R. Harrigan is director of academic programs at Strata in Logan, Utah.
Middle class is screwed again. Only winners are inside the beltway.
While you were sleeping - the Senate sent President Obama a bipartisan 2 year budget deal https://t.co/GEXbc2SUmX
As in the House, there was a majority of Republicans who voted against the deal, led this time by some of those running for President, as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) rushed back from this week's debate to denounce the plan on the floor of the Senate.
Cruz, meanwhile, launched another blistering attack on his party's leadership in the Congress, attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor, and accusing him of being the leader of the other party.
"The Majority Leader disputes the characterization that he is the most effective Democratic leader modern times have seen," Cruz said.
As he did after a Cruz attack earlier this year, where Cruz called McConnell a liar on the floor of the Senate, the GOP Leader did not respond.
The budget deal now goes to President Obama for his signature.
The plan would funnel $80 billion more into the federal budget over the next two years, divided evenly between the military and domestic spending.
The Congressional Budget Office found the extra spending would be fully offset through a series of savings and entitlement reforms; opponents say it's nothing but budget gimmicks.
Charlie Rose defended Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in an interview this morning with Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio. Rose seemed after Rubio said Clinton lied about the Benghazi terror attack.
Watch the exchange here:
"You called Hillary Clinton a liar, senator," said Rose. "You called Hillary Clinton a liar."
"Well," Rubio responded, "I said Hillary Clinton lied about Benghazi. There's no doubt about that, Charlie. I mean, there are emails in which she was talking to her family and she was telling them that there was an attack on that consulate that was due to a terrorist attack by al Qaeda elements, and then she was going around the country, talking to the families of the victims and to the American people, saying, No, no, this is because [of a video]."
Rose stood up for Clinton by blaming the CIA. But Rubio insisted that the intelligence had been clear all along -- and that Clinton had not been telling the truth.
There are few political hacks in Washington more deserving of everlasting ignominy than retiring speaker John Boehner. So here's a vehement good riddance to the man who has single-handedly destroyed whatever pathetic semblance of fiscal responsibility that remained in Washington.
The so-called bipartisan budget deal he confected as a parting gesture doesn't even deserve to be called a farce. It's actually just an extension of Washington's pathological lying to the American public about the monumental fiscal calamity now brewing.
The chart below shows the patented formula—– employed for the second time since the sequester mechanism was put in place during the debt ceiling crisis of 2011.
It will increase spending by $85 billion in the here and now by busting the FY 2016 and 2017 caps. This new red ink will then, purportedly, be off-set way down the road with gimmicks, imaginary IRS audit revenues and hazy disability benefit reforms which will never materialize. Never.
Indeed, these people are beyond shame. The big bulge of $33 billion of savings shown for the never never land of 2025 is due to a sharp increase in assumed discretionary spending cuts and Medicare benefit reductions. That is, the very same programs that are being pumped up during the next three years!
And that's the same thing the Ryan-Murray budget did two years ago with respect to FY2014-15. In combination these 11th hour bipartisan shams have thus added $143 billion of real money to the national debt for the years before 2021, "paying" for them with imaginary savings to be realized after 2021. That is, until we get there—– at which time anything which bites into the gravy train will be predictably deferred.
So in a nutshell here's Johnny Lawnchair's odorous record of fiscal betrayal since 2011. First he broke the will of fiscal conservatives just when they had Washington over the debt ceiling barrel in August 2011 with the promise of $1.5 trillion of entitlement savings via the Super Committee.
The latter didn't even try and hardly even met——–defaulting instead to an allegedly equivalent savings from the automatic sequester mechanism. But when those caps started to bite in 2013, Boehner sent out his budget lapdog, pedigreed fiscal phony and now designated successor, Paul Ryan, to negotiate relief for the military-industrial complex and to insure plentiful pork for GOP candidates in the 2014 election.
Apparently there is another election coming up in 2016. So, predictably, Boehner folded so fast on the looming debt ceiling crisis that the mainstream media barely knew he had gone to the White House.
Yet on a lickety split basis Johnny Lawnchair not only jettisoned two more years of the sequester, but also blew any other inconvenient fiscal restraint lurking between now and 2017. That includes a perfectly reasonable and long scheduled increase in Medicare Part B premiums for the better off elderly and the impending action-forcing exhaustion of funding for the runaway social security disability program.
In the best kick-the-can style, however, the latter will be funded by raiding $150 billion from the retirement trust fund, while pretending that Washington bureaucrats at the Social Security Administration will write new rules to prevent abuse of a program that is totally out of control.
Really? The program's budget cost has tripled in real terms just since 1990, mainly due to an explosion of "back pain" and "mental illness" cases. Those dubious diagnoses now account for fully 55% of recipients compared to less than 15% in 1961.
So here is an entitlement crying out for sweeping statutory reform and faced with a complete cessation of benefits before the 2016 election due to the impending exhaustion of the DI trust fund. But what's the point of exercising that kind of rare fiscal leverage when you have Johnny Lawnchair doing the negotiating?
In any event, sooner or later workers will get socked with another round of payroll tax increases to bailout the entirety of the OASDI trust fund, which I demonstrated a few months ago will be totally exhausted by 2026 anyway. But in the interim the military-industrial complex is surely tickled pink by Boehner's parting betrayal of US taxpayers.
It turns out that discretionary spending authority will be increased by $112 billion over the next two years. This includes the $80 billion increase in the discretionary spending caps plus another $32 billion increase for war contingencies and other national security programs not subject to the sequester.
Not surprisingly, $72 billion or nearly two-thirds of that goes to the war contingency and state department security programs. Apparently that's all needed to contain the Russian bugaboo, especially now that Putin has shown how you actually fight terrorists in Syria, and not by spending $500 million on 50 trainees—-all of whom were captured, shot or deserted within weeks of being placed in the field.
But the military-industrial complex always needs more. With this further largesse, total US national security spending will touch nearly $800 billion next year, including military and foreign aid, veterans and related spending. That's two-thirds of Russia's entire current GDP of $1.2 trillion!
Of course, we don't have a real industrial state enemy in the world that could actually threaten the security and safety of citizens in Lincoln NE and Boston MA. But that has not stopped Johnny Lawnchair from folding on the fiscal issue time after time in order to make a deal with liberal big spenders to get more funding for the military-industrial complex.
Can you say post-retirement lobbying, consulting and speaking gigs? Don't bother. Boehner has been working on that for years.
At the end of the day, however, the Speaker's most egregious sin has been to run out the clock on the possibility of fiscal retrenchment. With this agreement, there is no possibility of a true budget deal until the summer of 2017. That means no real impact on the budget numbers until FY 2020—-since its takes several quarters to crank-up any meaningful revenue measure or entitlement reform.
So lets see. That point in time (October 2019) would be exactly 123 months since the so-called Great Recession ended. Have we ever had an economic expansion that long—-even during the years when the American economy was riding high and when the Fed had not yet exhausted its ability to goose credit and spending with easy money?
No we haven't. Johnny Lawnchair has compromised the nation's fiscal plight right into the next recession and the renewed outbreak of trillion dollar annual deficits. That is, to a point when Washington will once again be paralyzed with fear that actually paying our bills would drive the stumbling US economy further into the drink.
And what possible excuse did Johnny Lawnchair have for delivering the nation into this absolutely certain fiscal catastrophe?
He didn't wish to demand that the President employ his constitutional powers to allocate and prioritize spending in the event Uncle Sam had exhausted his legal authority to borrow.
Folks, a crisis driven resort to prioritized spending cutbacks is the only mechanism left to prevent a rapidly aging society and failing economy from drifting into fiscal calamity; and during the Obama era it was always in the power of the House Speaker to force that procedure.
That's why Johnny Lawnchair deserves everlasting infamy—–or at least until Paul Ryan comes up with new excuses for burying future generations in terminal debt.
Just ten days ago we described the latest unintended (we hope) consequence of the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare, when Colorado's largest nonprofit co-op health insurer and participant in that state's insurance exchange, Colorado HealthOP, announcing it was abruptly shutting down ahead of the November 1 start of enrollment for 2016, forcing 80,000 Coloradans to find a new insurer for 2016.
It wasn't the first: the Colorado co-op was at least the fifth in the nation to collapse. Similar nonprofit insurers have already failed in Louisiana, Iowa/Nebraska, Nevada and New York. A health insurance cooperative in Tennessee announced this week that it would stop offering new policies.
The insurer failed because it would fail to be profitable, in the process burning through $23 million in taxpayer-funded loss that would not be repaid. "Taxpayers are on the hook for millions of dollars in loans given out to the CO-OP, money that will likely never be repaid," U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said in a statement after the announcement.
And while many had anticipated from the beginning that the Obamacare tax was merely a subsidy for the large insurance companies (or rather, their public shareholders), few had expected a far more sinister consequence of the "Affordable" care plan: that the employer mandate would turn out to be unaffordable for a vast majority of low-income workers - the very people who were supposed to benefit from it.
But before we unveil this latest depressing, if also anticipated, outcome of socialized healthcare, let's remember that much of the U.S. has press has touted the success of Obamacare. To be sure, nationwide, the Affordable Care Act has significantly reduced the number of Americans without health insurance. Around 10.7% of the country's under-65 population was uninsured in the first three months of this year, down from 17.5% five years earlier, according to the National Health Interview Survey, a long-running federal study. Some 14 million previously uninsured adults have gained coverage in the last two years, the Obama administration estimates.
However, what is left unsaid is that most of those gains have come from a vast expansion of Medicaid and from the subsidies that help lower-income people buy insurance through federal and state exchanges. Workers who are offered affordable individual coverage through their employers — a group that the employer mandate was intended to expand — are not eligible for government-subsidized insurance through the exchanges, even if their income would otherwise have qualified them.
It is the failing of Obamacare to address the needs of America's struggling lower-middle class, those women and men who work long, hard hours, often at minimum wage, scrambling to make ends meet. It is them, that the NYT writes about in its recent scathing critique of Obamacare (traditionally, it has been the WSJ that gives scathing reports on the disaster that is Obamacare, usually involving soaring monthly premiums for those who were dragged into the Scotus-enabled tax beyond their will).
Take the case of Billy Sewell who began offering health insurance this year to 600 service workers at the Golden Corral restaurants that he owns. He wondered nervously how many would buy it. Adding hundreds of employees to his plan would cost him more than $1 million — a hit he wasn't sure his low-margin business could afford. His actual costs, though, turned out to be far smaller than he had feared. So far, only two people have signed up.
"We offered, and they didn't take it," he said.
But isn't that against the stated primary objective of Obamacare: to make affordable health insurance more accessible and affordable to everyone? The answer, according to the NYT, is no.
The Affordable Care Act's employer mandate, which requires employers with more than 50 full-time workers to offer most of their employees insurance or face financial penalties, was one of the law's most controversial provisions. Business owners and industry groups fiercely protested the change, and some companies cut workers' hours to reduce the number of employees who would be eligible.
But 10 months after the first phase of the mandate took effect, covering companies with 100 or more workers, many business owners say they are finding very few employees willing to buy the health insurance that they are now compelled to offer. The trend is especially pronounced among smaller and midsize businesses in fields filled with low-wage hourly workers,like restaurants, retailing and hospitality. (Companies with 50 to 99 workers are not required to comply with the mandate until next year.)
Hold on, aren't those some of the "best" performing job categories in the past year? Why yes they are, in fact, with 11.1 million workers, those employed by "food service and drinking places" are the single largest job subcategory tracked by the BLS. It is almost as if the bulk of the jobs growth went to fields that would be mostly disadvantaged by Obamacare.
Well, there may be millions of waiters and bartenders in the US, but contrary to what Obamacare promised the vast majority are and will remain uninsured:
"Based on what we've seen in the marketplace, we're advising some of our clients to expect single-digit take rates," said Michael A. Bodack, an insurance broker in Harrison, N.Y. "One to 2 percent isn't unusual."
The reason? What was supposed to be affordable remains painfully unaffordable for the lowest rung of the employment pyramid.
Here is the actual math as experienced by both the abovementioned Mr. Sewell of Golden Corral restaurants, and his mostly minimum-wage employees.
He employs 1,800 people at the 26 Golden Corral franchises he owns in six Southern and Midwestern states, and previously offered insurance only to his salaried management staff. In January, when the employer mandate took effect, he made the same insurance plan, with a bigger employer contribution, available to all employees working an average of 30 or more hours a week.
Running the math on his plan — a typical one for the restaurant industry — illustrates why a number of low-wage workers are falling through gaps in the Affordable Care Act.
The annual premium for individual coverage through the Golden Corral Blue Cross Blue Shield plan is $4,800. Mr. Sewell pays 65 percent for service workers, leaving them with a monthly cost of $140.
The health care law defines affordable employer-sponsored insurance as that priced at 9.5 percent or less of an employee's annual household income for individual coverage. (Because employers do not know how much money their workers' relatives make, there are several "safe harbors" they can use for compliance, including basing their calculation on only their own employees' wages.) Mr. Sewell's insurance meets the test, but $65 per biweekly paycheck is more than most of his workers are willing — or able — to pay for insurance that still carries steep out-of-pocket costs, including a $2,500 deductible.
And this is where Obamacare's employee mandate fails for a vast majority of US workers.
Clarissa Morris, 47, has been a server at the Golden Corral here for five years, earning $2.13 an hour plus tips. On a typical day, she leaves the restaurant with about $70 in tips. Her husband makes $9 an hour at Walmart but has been offered only a part-time schedule there, without benefits. Their combined paychecks barely cover their rent and daily essentials.
"It's either buy insurance or put food in the house," she said. On the rare occasions that she gets sick, she visits a local clinic with sliding-scale fees. It costs her $25 for a visit, and $4 to fill prescriptions at Walmart.
Other business owners find the same paradox:
Brad Mete, the managing partner of Affinity Resources, a staffing agency in Dania Beach, Fla., began offering insurance this year to most of his workers only because the law required it. He said the alternative, paying a penalty of about $2,000 per full-time employee, was unthinkable, "That would put us out of business, in one swoop."
Trying to persuade his hourly workers to buy the insurance is "like pulling teeth," he said. His company's plan costs $120 a month, but workers making about $300 a week are reluctant to spend $30 of it on insurance.
That's ok - if you beleive the Obama administration, wages are about to soar.
Or maybe not.
What is truly tragic, however, that just like in the case of "punishing work" when Earned Income Tax benefits for those living around the poverty line, see their after tax pay rise above what comparable workers who make up to $50k per year, Obamacare seems to have been designed only for those making above the median US wage and above:
A study by ADP, the payroll processing giant, found an income tipping point at which most employees who are eligible for health insurance will buy it: $45,000 a year.
Workers making $15,000 to $20,000 a year buy employer-sponsored individual insurance when it is offered only 37 percent of the time. That rate rises at every income increment ADP studied until $45,000, when it reaches 82 percent and levels off. Further income gains have virtually no effect on the rate, ADP found.
And so the wheels slowly fall off the socialized healthcare train:
Low-income, full-time workers like Ms. Morris may prove to be some of the hardest people to bring into the ranks of the insured, said Gary Claxton, a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, which conducts an annual study on employer health benefits.
"This is one of the outcomes of trying to keep employer-based coverage in place," Mr. Claxton said. "These are folks that didn't have coverage before, and they're not being given much help to get coverage now."
Then, now that the disastrous law has been observed in practice, the result is nothing short of a bureaucratic nightmare, and everyone is scrambling to find loopholes:
Mario K. Castillo, a lawyer in Houston who has extensively studied the new law, said it was poorly understood in the industry, and a bureaucratic nightmare.
"They have to issue you a policy, but dropping it after one year is perfectly legal," he said. "If you're in this space, you essentially have to shop for insurance every year."
But the biggest slap in Obama's care comes from those who were supposed to be the direct beneficiaries.
For employees, forgoing coverage can mean facing tax penalties. Ms. Morris said she was surprised by the $95 fee she had to pay this year for being uninsured in 2014. "I had kind of heard about it, but I didn't think it was going to kick in until later," she said.
Around 7.5 million taxpayers paid the fine, according to a preliminary report by the Internal Revenue Service. That is significantly more than the three million to six million the government had forecast.
Actually, considering central planning and government takeover of private industries always leads to disaster, it is more surprising that the number isn't far, far greater.
As for those tens of millions of minimum wage workers, who thought they had a right to "hope" for "change", and instead ended up even worse off - as well as unisnured and paying a penalty - our apologies, especially since it is all downhill from here. What you should have done is buy the stock of health insurance companies: because their shareholders' gain (and your loss) is what the "Affordable" Care Act is truly all about.
1) "We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with winning."
2) "Am I morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him? I don't think so! ...If someone made a nasty or controversial statement about me to the president, do you really think he would come to my rescue? No chance!"
3) "When someone crosses you, my advice is 'Get Even!' That is not typical advice, but it is real life advice. If you do not get even, you are just a schmuck! When people wrong you, go after those people because it is a good feeling and because other people will see you doing it. I love getting even. I get screwed all the time. I go after people, and you know what? People do not play around with me as much as they do with others. They know that if they do, they are in for a big fight."
4) "What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc. ...Many fabulous people come in from Mexico and our country is better for it. But these people are here legally, and are severely hurt by those coming in illegally."
5) "Protect the downside and the upside will take care of itself.....I happen to be very conservative in business. I always go into a deal anticipating the worst. If you plan for the worst -- if you can live with the worst -- the good will always take care of itself."
6) "People who think achieving success is a linear A-to-Z process, a straight shot to the top, simply aren't in touch with reality. There are very few bona fide overnight success stories. It just doesn't work that way. Success appears to happen overnight because we all see stories in newspapers and on TV about previously unknown people who have suddenly become famous. But consider a sequoia tree that has been growing for several hundred years. Just because a television crew one day decides to do a story about that tree doesn't mean it didn't exist before."
7) "I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. I've been challenged by so many people, and I don't frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn't have time either."
8) "Experience taught me a few things. One is to listen to your gut, no matter how good something sounds on paper. The second is that you're generally better off sticking with what you know. And the third is that sometimes your best investments are the ones you don't make."
9) "I really am convinced we're in danger of the sort of terrorist attacks that will make the bombing of the Trade Center look like kids playing with firecrackers. No sensible analyst rejects this possibility, and plenty of them, like me, are not wondering if but when it will happen. ...One day we're told that a shadowy figure with no fixed address named Osama bin Laden is public enemy number one, and U.S. jet fighters lay waste to his camp in Afghanistan. He escapes back under some rock, and a few news cycles later it's on to a new enemy and new crisis." -- Donald Trump in 2000
10) "In the make-believe world you will automatically get paid what you are worth. The real world doesn't work that way. You get paid what you are worth only when the person you are dealing with has no other choice."
11) "The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people's fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That's why a little hyperbole never hurts."
12) "Criticism is easier to take when you realize that the only people who aren't criticized are those who don't take risks."
13) "I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me —and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words."
14) "The more government takes in taxes, the less incentive people have to work. What coal miner or assembly-line worker jumps at the offer of overtime when he knows Uncle Sam is going to take sixty percent or more of his extra pay? . . . Any system that penalizes success and accomplishment is wrong. Any system that discourages work, discourages productivity, discourages economic progress, is wrong. If, on the other hand, you reduce tax rates and allow people to spend or save more of what they earn, they'll be more industrious; they'll have more incentive to work hard, and money they earn will add fuel to the great economic machine that energizes our national progress. The result: more prosperity for all—and more revenue for government."
15) "The world is a horrible place. Lions kill for food, but people kill for sport. People try to kill you mentally, especially if you are on top. We all have friends that want everything we have. They want our money, our business, house, car, wife and dog. Those are our friends. Our enemies are even worse! You have to protect yourself in life."
16) "Think how boring it would be to just sail into things and have everything be perfect. You can't prove your merit on quiet waters, whether you're a businessman or a mariner."
17) "Your brother's administration gave us Barack Obama because it was such a disaster those last 3 months that Abraham Lincoln couldn't get elected." – To Jeb Bush
18) "Rich people are rich because they solve difficult problems. You must learn to thrive on problems."
19) "If you're interested in 'balancing' work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable."
20) "A nation WITHOUT BORDERS is not a nation at all. We must have a wall. The rule of law matters."
21) "Luck does not come around often. So when it does, be sure to take full advantage of it, even if it means working very hard. When luck is on your side it is not the time to be modest or timid. It is the time to go for the biggest success you can possibly achieve. That is the true meaning of thinking big."
22) "Well, I think that when you get right down to it, we're a nation that speaks English. I think that, while we're in this nation, we should be speaking English. Whether people like it or not, that's how we assimilate."
23) "Back in 1991 the markets were terrible, and everyone was going out of business. I was in deep, deep trouble. I owed billions of dollars. Sure, I could tell you all I want about how to handle pressure well, but I owed many banks billions of dollars. It was not exactly fun. Believe me, it is not cool to be Donald Trump when you owe billions of dollars."
24) "One of the problems when you become successful is that jealousy and envy inevitably follow. There are people -- I categorize them as life's losers -- who get their sense of accomplishment and achievement from trying to stop others. As far as I'm concerned, if they had any real ability, they wouldn't be fighting me, they'd be doing something constructive themselves."
Yale University have concluded that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, doesn't contaminate drinking water!
"[There is] no evidence of association with deeper brines or long-range migration of these compounds to the shallow aquifers" concludes the new study, which was published in the highly prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The study, the largest of its kind, sampled 64 private water wells near fracking sites to determine if they could be contaminated by fracking fluids.
"[The chemicals] are likely not a threat to human health," said Brian Drollette, the study's first author who is a chemical and environmental engineering graduate student.
The Yale researchers found essentially no contamination in well water, and the amounts they did detect were hundreds or thousands of times smaller than can be detected by commercial labs.
Environmentalists have long opposed fracking. One of fracking's most vocal opponents, the Sierra Club, has claimed that "fracking has contaminated the drinking water of hundreds of thousands of Americans" despite contradictory research done by regulatory bodies, academics and even the EPA. This new Yale study only adds to the body of evidence contracting the fracking opponents.
The Yale study also bolsters findings made by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year that "did not find that [fracking techniques] have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States" from fracking.
Environmentalists with the blog Ecowatch criticized the EPA's findings by saying that "millions of Americans know that fracking contaminates ground water and for the EPA to report any differently only proves that the greatest contamination from the industry comes from its influence and ownership of our government."
Yet, with fracking environmentalists are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Fracking has made natural gas much cheaper, allowing it to displace coal as a major source of electricity generation. So not only can fracking proponents say the well-stimulation technique is environmentally friendly, they can claim fracking can be used to fight global warming.
Increasing use of natural gas "has probably been the single largest contributor to the … largely unexpected decline in U.S. CO2 emissions" according both to Berkley Earth and the Department of Energy. This means that more fracking for natural gas will likely cause a significant drop in carbon dioxide emissions.
According to Donald Trump, Janet Yellen's decision to delay hiking interest rates is motivated by politics.
"This is a political thing, keeping these interest rates at this level," Trump, the billionaire Republican presidential candidate, said in a Wednesday interview with Bloomberg Television's Stephanie Ruhle. "Janet Yellen for political reasons is keeping interest rates so low that the next guy or person who takes over as president could have a real problem."
Trump faulted the Federal Reserve. "Yellen is keeping rates too low, too long," Trump said.
The Republican front-runner also took aim at corporate inversions, which he cited as a major factor contributing to what he sees as a stagnating U.S. economy. Inversions will accelerate as more companies leave the U.S. for lower taxes and because "they can't get the money" back into the U.S., Trump said.
Trump's tax plan includes a lower business income rate of 15 percent, which is aimed at making "corporate inversions unnecessary," according to his website. His plan would also impose a lower tax rate to encourage corporations to bring cash held overseas back to the U.S.
Businesses "don't have the loyalty to the United States that they used to have," said Trump, who himself owns a golf course in Scotland.
Trump also said Wall Street banks are criticized for paying executives too much because "they're very bad at public relations." Instead of settling lawsuits with regulators, they should prolong the legal fight, he said.
By Howard Kurtz
There was an unmistakable moment when Steve Kroft took control of his interview with President 0bama. And the president never got it back.
It was pretty obvious that 0bama did not have a good outing on "60 Minutes." And perhaps there is a larger lesson about the media and the 44th president, coming as even the Democrat candidates to succeed him are trying to distance themselves from what would otherwise be viewed as a third 0bama term.
Kroft has been 0bama's go-to guy since he was a candidate, and some of those interviews have been a bit on the soft side. I have great respect for Kroft as an aggressive journalist, and here he was at his finest.
The veteran CBS correspondent was pressing 0bama about the fiasco in Syria in the wake of Russia's military intervention. He turned to the administration's $500-million program to train and equip 5,000 of the so-called moderate Syrian rebels—which, according to a top commander, did so for only 50. With most of them now dead or having deserted, 0bama has just ended the effort.
0bama replied that he had been "skeptical" of the program. Why, then, Kroft asked, did he go through with it?
The president said he had to "try different things."
"I know you don't want to talk about this," Kroft said, drawing a presidential denial.
It was a "serious miscalculation," Kroft said. A moment later, he interrupted 0bama: "It's an embarrassment."
That was the moment, prompting this presidential admission: "Look, there's no doubt that it did not work." And after a long answer, Kroft complained: "I feel like I'm being filibustered, Mr. President."
At another point, when 0bama argued that Vladimir Putin was bombing in Syria out of weakness, Kroft shot back: "He's challenging your leadership."
And in a second segment, Kroft got 0bama to acknowledge that Hillary Clinton had made a mistake using private email, even as the president deflected other questions and said he didn't believe national security had been breached.
All this is quite a contrast to that all-smiles session that Kroft did with 0bama and Clinton when she was stepping down as secretary of State and they sung each other's praises.
Now obviously it's easier to be tough on a president at the end of his seventh year because there aren't many more exclusive interviews to be gotten. And it's easier to push back on a president who's not popular and is presiding over an unmitigated mess in the Middle East.
One reason we haven't seen more of this, in my view, is that the president hasn't exposed himself to many television interviews with journalists like Kroft. He mainly talks to liberal sympathizers and amusing characters. So 0bama has sat down with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, with Chris Matthews, with Jon Stewart, with Vice, with YouTube cereal bather Glozell Green, with Zak Galifinakis, and with Marc Maron, who does his "WTF" podcast out of his garage.
That's his privilege, and a sign of not having to run again.
The CBS sitdown comes at a time when the media and political debate has shifted to his successor. When Kroft asked about Donald Trump, 0bama called him a "great publicity-seeker" who will not be the next president (Trump responded on Fox, calling the interview "terrible.")
The president's lame-duck status will be evident at tonight's Democratic debate, when Hillary and Bernie Sanders will be competing to show that they are not 0bama—and in fact are to the left of 0bama.
"Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders promise different approaches from Mr. 0bama's, as much in style as in substance," the New York Times says. "Both have suggested they could get more accomplished, though Mrs. Clinton does so in more oblique terms."
As we get into 2016, 0bama may decide to use selected interviews to defend and define his legacy as it comes under frontal attack from Republican candidates, and more implicitly by Democratic candidates.
There's also a media shift late in an administration from what an incumbent plans to do to what he has actually accomplished.
If Steve Kroft's interview is any indication, the president may face some rougher questioning than he has in the past.
As the old adage goes: if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and as the recent bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz clearly shows, the US military presence in Afghanistan is doing wonders for stability and security which is presumably why the 0bama administration has just done a 180 on troop deployment in the country.
Under 0bama's previous plan, Washington would withdraw most of the 9,800 troops operating in the country by the end of next year, leaving a force of just 1,000.
Now, all 9,800 troops will remain for "most" of next year and 5,500 troops will remain in 2017.
Here's more from WSJ:
President Barack 0bama will say Thursday that he has ordered a significant slowdown in the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, senior administration officials said, a decision that marks a major reversal in his war plan and effectively hands the conflict over to his successor.
Under pressure at home and abroad, Mr. 0bama decided—following a strategy review—to maintain the current American force of 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through most of next year, and to leave a force of 5,500 U.S. troops in the country in 2017, when he leaves office, the senior administration officials said.
The announcement will mark a dramatic shift in strategy by scrapping Mr. 0bama's previous plan, in place since last year, to steadily withdraw the 9,800 U.S. troops through 2016 and to leave only about 1,000 at the U.S. embassy by the time he leaves office.
But a spike in insurgent violence and uneven performance by Afghan forces led top U.S. commanders to openly question the president's strategy and brought exhortations from U.S. allies to change course. This left Mr. 0bama little choice but to scuttle his plan to wind down U.S. involvement, marking another setback for his efforts to untangle the U.S. from more than a decade of war.
In a further strategy change, the 5,500 remaining troops will be stationed at points far beyond the Afghan capital of Kabul, officials said, serving in Jalalabad in the east, Kandahar in the south, and at Bagram Air Field.
The shift follows a sharp rise in violence, including an assault by Taliban militants who temporarily seized control last month of the northern city of Kunduz. The policy reversal also comes amid growing concerns that a drawdown of U.S. forces in the country could create an opening for Islamic State militants who have gained control of large parts of Iraq and Syria.
And from The New York Times:
Some of the troops will continue to train and advise Afghan forces, while others will carry on the search for Qaeda fighters and militants from the Islamic State and other groups who have found a haven in Afghanistan, they said.
In abandoning his ambition to bring home almost all American troops before leaving office, Mr. 0bama appears to be acknowledging that Afghan security forces are still not near ready to hold off the Taliban on their own.
The insurgents are now spread through more parts of the country than at any point since 2001, according to the United Nations, and last month the Taliban scored their biggest victory of the war, seizing the northern city of Kunduz and holding it for more than two weeks before pulling back on Tuesday.
(Taliban presence in Afghanistan)
So we suppose when 0bama warns Putin that Russia risks getting itself into a "quagmire" in Syria, at least the US President is speaking from experience.
This means the US has now failed to extricate itself from not one, but two Mid-East wars. Note the amusing thing about this: ISIS has now been cited as a reason to keep troops in Afghanistan, meaning that thanks to the activities of a group whose fighters received assistance from the West and its allies, America is forced to remain mired in the same two wars it's been mired in for over a decade and those two wars were themselves triggered by the largest terrorist attack on US soil in history which was perpetrated by a group that got its start with funding and support from the US when Osama bin Laden was fighting the Soviets in ... Afghanistan.
In short, The White House's decision to keep troops on the ground is just the latest example of constantly compounding Mid-East foreign policy blunders. One misstep begets another, begets another, and on, and on.
.. Whatever the case, this means that there will be 10,000 US troops on the ground in Afghanistan for the duration of Russia and Iran's operations in Syria and Iraq and seen in that light, the timing of this announcement doesn't seem like a coincidence.
Oh, and by the way, the additional cost to the US taxpayer of keeping the "extra" troops on the ground: about $5 billion per year.