WATCH: America’s 3 Most Fee-Ridden Cities

Fees, fines, and petty law enforcement: Little ticky-tack
violations can pile up quickly and are enough to drive even the
most civic-minded citizens crazy. But they can also create an
undercurrent of hostility between citizens and the government
officials who are supposed to serve them.

Watch the video above, or click below for the full text,
associated links, and downloadable versions.

Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Paul Detrick, Tracy
Oppenheimer, and Weissmueller. Approximately 4 minutes.

View this article.

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Rand Paul’s ISIS Proposal Allows Boots on the Ground… Say What!?

Rand PaulThe Daily Beast
reported
earlier today that Sen. Rand Paul has flipflopped on
his opposition to “boots on the ground” in the conflict against
ISIS. The shock headline, from Olivia Nuzzi: “Rand Paul Declares
War on ISIS—And Allows Boots on the Ground.” Egads! Has the
libertarian-leaning senator finally been unmasked as a secret
neocon?

In a word, no. But it does seem like Paul’s approach to the ISIS
conflict has grown less restrained over time—and his latest plan
deserves at least some of the criticism it has received.

Paul plans to introduce a resolution in the Senate next month
that would declare war on ISIS. Nuzzi obtained a draft of the
resolution, which states that ISIS has already declared war on the
U.S. and is a threat to American embassies and consulates in the
region.

It also authorizes the president to commit small numbers of
American ground forces “as necessary for the protection or rescue
of members of the United States Armed Forces or United States
citizens from imminent danger [posed by ISIS]… for limited
operations against high value targets,” and “as necessary for
advisory and intelligence gathering operations.”

Nuzzi bills this as a contradiction of Paul’s previous
statements on the subject. In September, he said he didn’t want
American ground forces involved in the conflict, although he would
be willing to provide logistical and intelligence support to U.S.
allies in the region: “The people on the ground fighting these
battles, going hand-to-hand with ISIS, need to be their fellow
Arabs and those who, I think and hopefully do, represent civilized
Islam,” Paul said back then, according to The Daily
Beast
.

Paul’s office told Nuzzi that there isn’t really any substantive
difference between the two positions:

Doug Stafford, a senior aide to Paul, said the senator has not
flip-flopped: “He doesn’t believe we should send a bunch of troops
in to start a ground war. But he has always said we have an
obligation to defend people in the region. The declaration is
tailored to allow for this.”

Stafford later added: “It has always been a given that American
troops could be required to secure the people and property of our
embassy and consulate. Senator Paul believes that boots on the
ground beyond those limited number as outlined in the declaration
should come from allies in the region, as he has previously
stated.” 

Nuzzi, on the other hand, maintains that this is a big
flip-flop. Via Twitter, she
wrote
: “Rand Paul in September: no boots on the ground. Rand
Paul today: sure, boots on the ground!”

Let’s look at the proposal again. It authorizes ground forces
for three reasons:

1. “as necessary for the protection or rescue of members of the
United States Armed Forces or United States citizens from imminent
danger [posed by ISIS]”

2. “for limited operations against high value targets”

3. “as necessary for advisory and intelligence gathering
operations”

Paul has always been clear on the fact that he thinks ISIS poses
an evolving threat to the American embassy in Baghdad and the
consulate in Erbil. And he was previously in support of advising
regional allies. So to my mind, 1 and 3 aren’t anything new. Paul
might have had a reputation for opposing ground troops, but in
reality, if you count defending the consulate and advising allies
as “boots on the ground,” then he was actually already in favor of
that. That stance might be wrong, but it isn’t a contradiction.

Situation 2, however, does strike me as quite different—and more
problematic—than his initial stance. It’s nice that it has the word
“limited” in it, I suppose, but there is really nothing limiting
about authorizing the use of ground troops for offensive military
operations. And it’s easy to see this rationale being used to
justify all sorts of pro-active skirmishes with ISIS.

It’s worth keeping in mind that this is just a draft of Paul’s
resolution. But if this version were approved by Congress, it would
be difficult to say that it places any kind of meaningful restraint
on the use of ground forces. I would have expected Paul to realize
that this wasn’t going to cut it, given the slippery-slope nature
of American military adventurism.

Reason’s Matt Welch interviewed Paul recently about his case for
a limited war against ISIS. Read that article
here
.

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What the International Olympic Committee Looks for in a Host City

All you have to change is the year.For your “the Masters of the Olympics prefer a
police-state environment” files, here’s a snippet from a new

piece
by the leftist sportwriter Dave Zirin:

I spoke with someone connected to the International
Olympic Committee who told me that Boston has rocketed to the top
of their consideration list [for 2024] because of how the city was
able to shut itself down after the Boston Marathon
bombing.

No further comment is necessary, but if you want to read more
about what the Olympics have become, you can go here, with
additional horrors
here
, here,

here
,
here
,
here
,
here
, and here.

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A. Barton Hinkle on How Government Red Tape Strangles Free Enterprise

Ask Virginia’s Republican
lawmakers about Obamacare, and you can see the veins in their
foreheads start to throb. The law’s an excrescence, they will tell
you. It’s the big hand of government smashing a framing hammer down
on the invisible hand of Adam Smith. It’s socialist social policy
married to misguided industrial policy.

So why hasn’t the GOP led an assault on the state’s certificate
of public need law? As A. Barton Hinkle explains, the COPN law is
supply-side Obamacare: top-down, command-and-control restrictions
on which providers can offer which services. A certificate of
public need is, essentially, a government permission slip. Without
one, a Virginia doctor can’t put an MRI machine in his clinic. A
hospital can’t build a new wing. A hospital company can’t add a
satellite campus. And so on. The process strangles free enterprise
and squashes the idea of economic competition.

View this article.

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Here Are The Most Popular “Hedge Fund” Stocks in The Third Quarter

As observed last week, 2014 will be the sixth (and record) consecutive year in a row in which the hedge fund community will generate lower returns than the S&P. Worse, as of November 19, the average hedge fund was down year to date, which explains why as Reuters reported last week, there has been a deluge of redemption requests into the 2 and 20 space, assuring that this bonus season may be great for M&A bankers, but it certainly will be a disappointment to the lofty remuneration expectations of the vast bulk of hedge fund workers.

Furthermore, as we also showed, in the new normal, in which the market’s Chief Risk Officer(s) are all economist graduates of either Princeton or MIT, and congregate at the BIS HQ in Basel every few months to plot the future of the world’s centrally-planned economy, the best strategy has been to do the opposite of what hedge funds have done: something we first observed over two years ago, as the most shorted companies have outperformed the vast majority if not all traditional strategies year after year.

And yet, just like the lunacy of believing that central banks are “fixing things”, when the current global economic situation is getting worse by the day precisely due to central bank policies, there are those pattern-chasing momos, who still find delight in copycatting whatever it is that the if not smartest, then best paid men, in the room do. For their benefit, here via Goldman, is the most recent, Q3, summary of the most popular stocks within the hedge fund community.

Here we find that, unsurprisingly, AAPL has regained its top spot as the global hedge fund hotel’s most beloved stock. In fact, 4 of the 5 most widely held names are all tech names, with GOOG, MSFT and FB rounding out the top 4, and only Citigroup as the outlier in the top 5. Perhaps more notable is that the former hedge fund darlings AIG and GM, have been abandoned by the HF crowd, and were in 9th and 16th place, respectively.

And here is how the popularity of various stocks changed during Q3 2014: below is a list of the largest positive and negative popularity changes.




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“We Fired Some Folks…” President Obama Discusses Chuck Hagel’s Resignation – Live Feed

The earlier ‘under pressure’ resignation of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel means President Obama has to make a personnel announcement… explaining exactly what characteristics he is looking for as he prepares to invade the middle east? One wonders if he will assume the duty of SecDef?

 

Live Feed: President Obama is due to speak at 1110ET…




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States Struggle to Pay for Health Exchanges

The
federal government spent billions funding the development and
implementation of state-run health exchanges under Obamacare, many
of which struggled or didn’t work at all during the law’s first
open enrollment period.

But the federal grants provided to operate the exchanges under
the law are about to run out. And
as the Associated Press notes
, some the states running their
own exchanges don’t yet know how they will continue to fund ongoing
operations. 

Rhode Island received high marks for the smooth rollout of
HealthSource RI amid last year’s stumbles by the federal
government, and the agency director says the state’s health care
reform “revolution” has begun. But the state does not have a way to
pay for the exchange’s long-term operations, and some lawmakers in
the state General Assembly have suggested shifting to the federal
exchange.

The cost to operate Rhode Island’s exchange is estimated at $17
million a year, although an earlier estimate pegged the cost at $24
million.

Vermont’s exchange budget is also short. “Officials there
acknowledged it could face a $20 million shortfall by year’s end,”
the AP reports. “The state hopes pending federal grants will fill
the gap.”

Other states, like Colorado and the District of Columbia, are
funding their exchanges through fees and taxes on health plans. The
District of Columbia system taxes plans that aren’t sold through
the exchange, officials tell the AP, because the fee would have
been too high if it only taxed plans sold in the
exchange. California is holding $184 million federal
money to pay for an expected shortfall, and has also instituted a
$13.95 per month fee on individual plans, both of which it expects
will help pay for expected budget shortfalls through 2016. After
that? Harder to say, but it’s going to continue to be a challenge
for states to keep these exchanges afloat. 

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ON STRaTeGY…

.

 

You see, this is what a Junior Varsity strategy apparently looks like…

 

.

And BTW, John McCain’s good Libyan pals, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group  are now opening flying the ISIS banner in Libya…

 

j.

.

Read this: McCain’s Pals in Libya

Of course, as we all know, they are not just: McCain’s Pals

 

 

 


.

 

 

 

.
.

 

 

 

 

.
.

 

What we have is not a Junior Varsity strategy, it’s an All American Clusterfuck!

 


.
.

 

 

.

.
.

 

.

.

 

And of course, it’s all Chuck Hagel’s fault. He just doesn’t get the strategy…




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Chuck Checks Out: Hagel Fails to Adapt to Obama’s Controlling White House

Outta hereThis
morning’s news cycle has temporarily shifted away from fretting
about what might happen in Ferguson, Missouri, to the news that
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is resigning after serving less than
two years. The New York Times got the
news
, which will apparently be announced formally in a
statement this morning:

The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr.
Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State
would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel
was brought on to employ. A Republican with military experience who
was skeptical about the Iraq war, Mr. Hagel came in to manage the
Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in
the era of budget sequestration.

But now “the next couple of years will demand a different kind
of focus,” one administration official said, speaking on the
condition of anonymity. He insisted that Mr. Hagel was not fired,
saying that he initiated discussions about his future two weeks ago
with the president, and that the two men mutually agreed that it
was time for him to leave.

But Mr. Hagel’s aides had maintained in recent weeks that he
expected to serve the full four years as defense secretary. His
removal appears to be an effort by the White House to show that it
is sensitive to critics who have pointed to stumbles in the
government’s early response to several national security issues,
including the Ebola crisis and the threat posed by the Islamic
State.

Well, that’s one way to put it, but later on in the story,
reporter Helen Cooper notes Hagel’s struggles to fit in with a
White House full of intense Obama campaign insiders and their need
to control all messaging:

A respected former senator who struck a friendship with Mr.
Obama when they were both critics of the Iraq war from positions on
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Hagel has nonetheless
had trouble penetrating the tight team of former campaign aides and
advisers who form Mr. Obama’s closely knit set of loyalists. Senior
administration officials have characterized him as quiet during
Cabinet meetings; Mr. Hagel’s defenders said that he waited until
he was alone with the president before sharing his views, the
better to avoid leaks.

Whatever the case, Mr. Hagel struggled to fit in with Mr.
Obama’s close circle and was viewed as never gaining traction in
the administration after a bruising confirmation fight among his
old Senate colleagues, during which he was criticized for seeming
tentative in his responses to sharp questions.

Jerry Tuccille
noted how Hagel’s leadership played out
early in 2013 in
regards to fears of chemical weapon use in Syria. One day in April
Hagel publicly stated there was no evidence Syria’s government was
using chemical weapons on its own citizens. Then he reversed
position the very next day, saying that it likely that they had.
The Times notes that Hagel also contradicted the White House in
descriptions of ISIS. The president had compared the terrorist
group to a JV basketball team, while Hagel described them as an
“imminent threat to everything we have.” A gap that wide does
indicate, though, issues bigger than just messaging. The
administration chose extremely poorly with that metaphor, but
certainly Hagel is exaggerating about the actual threat ISIS
represents.

One of the top choices to replace Hagel is Michéle
Flournoy
, a former undersecretary of defense under Hagel’s
predecessors. She’s also an administration insider. She was part of
Obama’s transition team, and when she
stepped down
from her work within the administration in 2011,
said she was going to work on helping Obama get re-elected in 2012.
Her name had been
bounced around
at the same time as Hagel’s in 2012 as a
possible replacement for Leon Panetta.   

Flournoy is also a co-founder and CEO of a non-profit
military/national security focused think tank named the Center for
New American Security. She seems to think it’s possible for America
to “achieve its strategic objectives in Afghanistan” as long as we
stay committed with money and resources. Read her report
here
, and then read some of examples of where money sent to
Afghanistan is actually going
here
.

The progressive anti-war group Institute for Policy Studies
describes Flournoy’s love of military intervention and spending
from the left here.
They note she actually has more support from neoconservatives than
Republican Hagel, vocal critic of the Iraq war. Rather than
proposing a different course for the administration’s foreign
policy, she appears to possibly be the person to entrench it for
rest of Obama’s term.

Now seems a good time to mention January’s issue of
Reason magazine focuses on what a realistic libertarian
foreign policy should look like and includes interviews with both
Ron Paul and Rand Paul.

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