Friday, May 22, 2015

How's That Health Care "Reform" Working Out For 'Ya?

One of the goals of Obamacare was to make health care affordable, right?  After all, its real name is the Affordable Care Act, is it not?  Not working out too well, eh?  Core Consumer Prices Jump Most Since March 2006 Thanks To Surging Healthcare Costs.  Let me be fair (a word I detest by the way) and point out that it's not just Obamacare when it comes to fucking up the health care system.  The government's involvement, regardless of who is president and which party has control, is the real problem.  Amazing how so many government programs need "reform", is it not?  Want real health care "reform"?  There's only two ways to make it happen: 1) get government out of the equation entirely and allow real, unfettered competition bloom and 2) stop confusing "health care" with "health insurance".

Additional Reads: 

If You Like Your Obamacare Insurance Rates—–You Can’t Keep Them 

Obamacare's Looming Premium Hikes 

And Now For Something Completely Different ...

... because, you know, songs like this just aren't written anymore ...

Great Explanation

On Why conservatives have more empathy than liberals, from Daniel Hannan.  Unfortunately, the title will result in so few liberals/progressives opening up the piece and actually reading it, but, that doesn't diminish the rationality of Hannan's work:
Britain goes to the polls next week and the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, is clear about what the choice is.

"For too long, you have been told something that simply isn't true," Miliband assured supporters as he announced his program. "That's what's good for the richest and most powerful is always good for the whole of our country. That as long as a few individuals and companies are OK, we can just wait for the wealth to trickle down to everyone else."

Really? We've been told that? By whom? Who has spouted such bilge? Type "trickle down economics" into Google and it'll prompt you with "myth", "criticism", "debunked" and "doesn't work." But you'll search in vain for anyone actually proposing the idea.

Not that this deters leftist politicians, election after election, from tearing into it. Here, for example, is Barack Obama in 2008: "We can't afford four more years of the theory that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else."

It's tempting to dismiss this as political knockabout, the kind of overheated propaganda that elections seem to bring out in even the calmest politicians. But lefties really do believe this stuff. Ask your liberal friends — or, if you're really brave, ask Twitter — to name a single economist or politician who has asserted that the best way to stimulate an economy is to give rich people more to spend on Lamborghinis. You'll simply be told, as though it were self-evident, that such a belief underpinned the Thatcher and Reagan governments.

A couple of years ago, Thomas Sowell tracked down the origin of the phrase "trickle down". It turns out to have been coined by FDR's speech writer, Samuel Rosenman, who attacked "the philosophy that had prevailed in Washington since 1921, that the object of government was to provide prosperity for those who lived and worked at the top of the economic pyramid, in the belief that prosperity would trickle down to the bottom of the heap and benefit all."

Then, as now, the notion was a left-wing fantasy. What actually happened in the Twenties under Calvin Coolidge, as Amity Schlaes showed in her biography, was that tax rates were cut in order to boost revenue. The taciturn old congregationalist had grasped the logic of the Laffer Curve avant la lettre. As a result of his rate reductions, the wealthiest Americans ended up contributing far more in both absolute and proportionate terms.

We free-marketeers believe, not in trickle-down, but in trickle-up. Capitalism, uniquely, rewards people who sell to the mass market. I am typing these words on a program that I bought from Bill Gates. My purchase enriched him, adding fractionally to his net wealth; and it also enriched me, making my life more convenient. Like most successful people, Bill Gates became rich by persuading lots of poorer people to buy something from him; in consequence, we are all better off.

Try running that argument past your liberal friends, though. The chances are that even the most open-minded among them will give you a slightly glazed look. Even if they grasp the idea, they will soon forget it and go back to telling you that "everyone knows" that conservatism is all about the defense of privilege and oligarchy. This is because, to a greater degree than most of us care to admit, our political leanings are expressions of our character traits, and are not dependent on empirical data.

If you start from the conviction that you're standing up for the underdog, you will naturally assume that your political opponents are for the powerful. You will subliminally screen out evidence that challenges that view. As Danusha Goska put it in American Thinker not long ago, "Never, in all my years of leftist activism, did I ever hear anyone articulate accurately the position of anyone to our right. In fact, I did not even know those positions when I was a leftist."

Do rightists also caricature their opponents? Yes, but not to anything like the same extent. A 2012 study by Jesse Graham, Brian A. Nosek and Jonathan Haidt asked conservatives and liberals to answer a series of questions as themselves, and then to answer them in the imagined personae of a typical conservative and a typical liberal. It found that the liberals were the least able to accurately to guess their opponents' views, seeing conservatism as a kind of moral failure.

They're not playing to the gallery. They're not sloganizing. They genuinely believe that we conservatives went into politics because we hate the poor. Their conviction is so solid that facts crash against it as waves against a rock. Again and again, leftists will line up behind policies that hurt the general population in order to reward vested interests: the bailouts and the TARP boondoggle, the alternative energy scams, the trade barriers that favor privileged industries, the regulations that drive up prices. The practical consequences of these policies matter far less to their advocates than the opportunity to signal their good intentions. And if their intentions are good, ours must be bad. Psychologists call it "self-serving bias".

In all the years I've been in politics, I'm not sure I've shaken a single socialist out of the "you conservatives hate poor people" shtick. The only way to answer, I've found, is to say: "Yup, you're right: we want to turn them into rich people."

Most Definitely, Yes

Is China Under the Skyscraper Curse?.  Be sure to read my first post on one of my favorite economic topics, Skyscraper Curse.  Skyscrapers to me, while beautiful from an engineering and architectural perspective, are massive signals of malinvestment.  Their construction requires vast amounts of capital, which today is so cheaply available, which is the problem.  Cheap money encourages risk taking, especially today with near zero, zero, or even sub-zero interest rates.  Remember Frederic Bastiat's observation on costs, which goes by the name of the Broken Window Fallacy: there is the cost of the seen, and, to me more importantly, the unseen.  Many will point out the fact that thousands of construction jobs are created, millions of tons of concrete and steel produced, millions of dollars worth of equipment, furnishings, mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) work, and so on.  These are the seen.  What is unseen is what all the money is not spent on, i.e., all the other products and services, not to mention investments, that go unfulfilled.  The malinvestment aspect is this: all the construction sends signals to the market that demand is high and thus new factories, steel mills, construction equipment and so on, need to be created.  Yet, given the artificial nature of these massive projects, the demand for steel and concrete will diminish after they're complete and yet much of the new capacity will become idle.  Sorry, not very well written I suppose, but steady growth based upon unfiltered signals from a truly free market is the only way to expand, and more importantly, contract in response to the billions of decisions that are made on a daily basis by global consumers. 

Unfunded Pension Liabilities: Reality Cometh (and it 'taint pretty)

In the vast market of municipal bonds with over 40,000 issuers, there have been some hiccups recently: Detroit, MI; Vallejo, San Bernardino, Stockton, and Mammoth Lakes, CA; Jefferson County, AL. Harrisburg, PA; Central Falls, RI; Boise County, ID. They all went bankrupt.

Others are lining up to join that elite list, not counting Puerto Rico, which for all practical purposes is already bankrupt but doesn’t have a legal framework for it.

Unfunded pension obligations are dogging a lot of these entities and have triggered a wave of multiple downgrades over the last two years: Illinois, Connecticut, Kentucky, New Jersey, Hawaii, Pennsylvania…. and of course, Chicago to junk.

People who buy munis are looking for low-risk investments that come with some tax benefits. In return, they accept low yields. They don’t want to ride a rollercoaster, and they don’t want to speculate with these securities. When news of downgrades, defaults, and bankruptcies hail down on them, their nerves begin to fray in an otherwise self-satisfied sleepy market.

And so Schwab, whose clients own a lot of munis, warned about the fiasco in Chicago, and munis in general. It’s not like we haven’t heard this before.

“There’s not a doubt in my mind that you will see a spate of municipal-bond defaults,” predicted Meredith Whitney in December 2010, on 60 Minutes. She’d ridden to fame on a gloomy research report about Citigroup in October 2007. There’d be “50 to 100 sizable defaults, or more,” she told Steve Kroft. “This will amount to hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of defaults.”

She was right, of course. But that “spate of defaults” wouldn’t play out in the timeframe the media likes to look at and that speculators have the patience to bet on. These things aren’t going to happen suddenly, or even by the end of the year. They play out in small messy increments, one by one, year after year. Had she said that this “spate of defaults” would occur over the next decade, no one would have paid attention.

But that’s how they’re going to occur. The initial batch is already on the books. More agencies, cities, counties, even states are running out of road to kick the can around. It’s getting to the point where the New York Fed saw it necessary to hold a workshop on municipal bankruptcies.

So Schwab now released a report to address what is slowly growing into Whitney’s “spate” of muni fiascos, particularly Moody’s 2-notch downgrade of Chicago’s general obligation bonds (GOs) to “junk.”

Illinois, which itself is getting in trouble, passed legislation two years ago to curtail pension payouts. But on May 8, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the law violates the state constitution. The ruling also constrains efforts by municipalities like Chicago to stay afloat by reducing retirement benefits for current employees.

A big problem, says Moody’s:
The cost of servicing Chicago’s unfunded liabilities will grow, placing significant strain on the city’s financial operations absent commensurate growth in revenue and/or reductions in other expenditures. The magnitude of the budget adjustments that will be required are significant. Furthermore, Chicago’s tax base is highly leveraged by the debt and unfunded pension obligations of the city, as well as those of overlapping governments.
The downgrade to junk has some nasty side effects. The counterparties in certain financial instruments the city is holding have, according to Moody’s, “the option to immediately demand up to $2.2 billion in accelerated principal and accrued interest and associated termination fees.” Money that Chicago doesn’t readily have.

So Schwab warns that the “downgrade to junk raises the cost of borrowing for Chicago and limits the market for the city’s bonds. Because of their below investment grade rating, we don’t currently recommend the bonds as holdings for individual investors.”

A massive sell. But Schwab tries to soothe the frazzled nerves of its clients. “Is Chicago the next Detroit?” it asks, before answering half-heartedly, “we think Chicago is better off.”

It outlines some of the differences between the two cities: size of population, some demographic details, Chicago’s “deep and diverse economy” that has a “broad mix of tax revenue” and isn’t haunted by the “the same demographic issues that plagued Detroit….”

Yet Chicago is drowning in debt and pension obligations, just like Detroit.

“The pursuit of bankruptcy is not on the near-term horizon for Chicago. If Chicago’s pension funds continue toward insolvency, however, our opinion may change,” Moody’s wrote, and Schwab cited nervously.

Near-term horizon? So not this year? Would next year, which is the beginning of medium-term, be the time for “the pursuit of bankruptcy?”

Moody’s didn’t say. But bankruptcies, such as San Bernardino’s, have shown that bondholders can get totally whacked when pension obligations come out on top.

So Schwab recommends dumping Chicago munis. Diversify the rest of the muni portfolio, “with no more than 10% exposure to a single issuer.” Get rid of munis “affected by pensions.” But wait. Even safe-sounding revenue-backed debt, though on first sight not affected by pensions, may be affected by pensions. Schwab:
In Chicago, Moody’s downgraded sales tax revenue debt and motor fuel tax revenue debt based on the “lack of full legal segregation of pledged revenue from the general operations of the city” and its outstanding water and sewer debt based on the system’s “status as an enterprise of the city.”
In other words, in a municipality like Chicago it may be hard to find any bonds that pension obligations can’t eviscerate.

But the process will be slow. Defaults won’t suddenly show up on the “near-term horizon.” Each municipality will struggle with its sins of the past in its own way. Some will manage. Others will end up defaulting, in line with Whitney’s prediction, but years behind her schedule.

New York Fed President Dudley cautioned that risks in munis were “more widespread” than implied by bond ratings. The situation was serious enough to where the New York Fed is now doing workshops on municipal bankruptcies. Read…. Fed’s Dudley Warns about Wave of Municipal Bankruptcies

Bubble Headlines

New:  Wall Street R.I.P——The Bubble Is Dying At The Zero Bound

New:  When the Current Housing Bubble Finally Bursts

Primer:  A World of Bubbles

Presenting The $77 Billion P2P Bubble

Bubble In Higher Education: When Will It Pop?

Mark Hanson Is In "Full-Blown, Black-Swan Lookout Mode" For Housing Bubble 2.0

Here We Go Again: Verizon To Buy AOL Marking Another Tech Bubble Top  [scary thing is that I didn't even know AOL was still around!]
A Tale Of Two Graphs——Why Bubble Finance Will Fail

Chinese Stock Bubble Now Plumbing Depths Of Human Stupidity

Bursting Bund Bubble: 2 Charts And Some Lessons From History

High End Real Estate in Canada in Frenzied Bubble Blow-Off

Mind The $76 Trillion Global Bond Bubble——Even The ‘Experts’ Are Getting Scared 

Housing Bubble 2: Investor Purchases Hit Record, Small Investors Pile in, ‘Smart Money’ Gets Out

The US Equity Bubble Depends On Corporate Buybacks; Here's The Proof

What Bubble? Wall Street To Turn P2P Loans Into CDOs

How Shale Is Becoming The .COM Bubble Of The 21st Century

Grantham Says Fed "Bound And Determined" To Engineer "Full-Fledged Bubble"

Stocks Bubble Right As the Economy Rolls Over… Next Up the Bloodbath

One More Reason Why The Student Debt Bubble Is About To Get A Lot Larger

One Bubble at a Time: 3D-Printing Stocks Implode

Biotech Bubble Breaking Bad: 10% "Correction" To 1-Month Lows

Meet IBR, The Student Loan Bubble's Dirty Secret [read this one, please! "Your [student loan] payment may be as low as $0.00"]

Canada’s Magnificent Housing Bubble Goes Nuts, Cracks

Biotech Bubble Buckles: Tumbles Almost 7% To 3-Week Lows

"Highway Robbery": Are Patients Paying For Biotech M&A Bubble?

The Fate of The Tech Bubble Is In The Hands Of Just One Company

How The Second Tech Bubble Will Burst, In The Words Of Silicon Valley's "Poster Child" And World's Youngest Billionaire

"Too Many Zeros": China's Stock Bubble Proves Too Much For Computers 

Is The Credibility Bubble Bursting?

Technology Indices and Creative Destruction – When Might the Bubble Burst?

The South (China) Sea Bubble

U.S. And Global Property Bubble Fears Mount

Futures Slump As Asian Stock Bubble Calls A Timeout

Three Daggers Aimed At The Equity Bubble 

Nikkei Hits 20,000 After Japan's Economy Minister Says "Bubbles Are Good"

Asia Superbubble Unstoppable: Hong Kong Up 10% In Past Week; Soaring Dollar Pushes Euro Back Under 1.06

Auto-Loan Bubble Endgame - Used-Car Prices Have Stalled

Euro Corporate Bond Market Is "Tenacious Bubble," UBS Says

China Tech Bubble Alert——Valuations More Extreme Than Dotcom Mania

The Fed’s Stimulus Bubble At Work—–Vacation Home Sales Booming In Cape Cod, Hamptons, Miami, Lake Tahoe, Etc. 

Bubblecovery—–Why The Two-Decade Up-Cycle In Stocks Is Heading For Disaster 

If Anyone Doubts We Are In A Stock Market Bubble, Show Them This

Bubble Confirmed: From Sock Puppets To Action Heroes

Hedge Fund Legend Julian Robertson Warns Of A "Complete Explosion" Unless Fed Contains "Boiling, Bubble" Market

“The Mother of All Bubbles” in Stocks and Bonds: Bank CEO

Stocks Are In an Epic Bubble Second Only to the 1999 Tech Bubble

$100 Trillion Global Bond Bubble Poses “Systemic Risk” To Financial System

Why The China Bubble Is Incendiary—–Beijing Flinches, Reopens Empty Apartment (2nd Mortgage) Spigot 

Last Time this Happened with Healthcare Stocks, it was a Bubble, and it Collapsed:
Healthcare has some advantages over other industries. It’s the only place in the economy where consumers have no clue at the time of purchase what the products and services will cost them or their insurers. Yet these could be big-ticket items, costing more than a car or even a house in some cases. Pricing is more than opaque, and purposefully so. The industry knows how to use fear to motivate consumers to buy. And it’s full of state-protected monopolies and anticompetitive structures dedicated to taking an ever bigger bite out of the economy. It wreaks havoc on federal, state, and municipal budgets. It strains consumers. And a considerable part of that glorious revenue stream is sooner or later funded by taxpayers.  

The Bubble Machine Is Complete: Soaring Stocks Push Investors Into Bonds Whose Issuers Buy More Stocks

Are We In A Biotech Bubble? You Decide

Why Yellen & The Feds Are Bubble Blind - They Apparently Believe Wall Street’s EPS Scam 

US Housing Bubble 2.0 In One Chart: Home Prices Outpace Wage Growth 13:1 

It’s Not Different This Time: The Biotech Bubble Is The New Dotcom

How Governments Worked WIth the Banks to Create the $555 Trillion Interest Rate Bubble

Why The Dollar Is Rising As The Global Monetary Bubble Craters

Massive Malinvestment Eviscerating Global Iron Ore Industry—–Prices Heading Toward $30/Ton

The $1.2 Trillion Student Loan Bubble - The Ultimate Subprime Debacle

Subprime Auto Market Begins To Crack - Delinquencies At 2008 Highs 

NFIB Chief Economist Warns "Bubble In US Net Worth Has Reached Unsustainable Heights"

Thanks For The Corporate Bond Bubble, Fed

Why This Tech Bubble is Worse Than the Tech Bubble of 2000

Alan Greenspan Warns Stocks Are "Without Doubt Extremely Overvalued"  [this from the man who was the master bubble maker!]

No Laughing Matter: Fed Laughed As Bubble Burst

Great Question Judge

Why Do America's Leaders Act Like We Don't Have a Constitution? by Andrew Napolitano.  My answer? Simple: because they can and citizens simply don't know, and worse, don't care.
What if we didn't have a Constitution? What if the government were elected by custom and tradition, but not by law? What if election procedures and official titles and government responsibilities merely followed those that preceded them, and not because any of this was compelled by law, but because that's what folks came to expect?

What if those elected to office, and those appointed to it, as well, took oaths to uphold the Constitution? What if those who took the oaths promised fidelity to the Constitution? What if the Constitution declares itself to be the supreme law of the land? What if the supreme law of the land means what it says?

What if all in government, from presidents to park rangers, from generals to janitors, from judges to jail guards, take substantially the same oath? What if very few who have taken their oaths take them seriously? What if very few who have taken their oaths have actually read the Constitution? What if very few who have taken their oaths understand the values the Constitution upholds?

What if even fewer understand the historical, moral and legal bases for those values? What if most who took those oaths did so expecting someone else in government to tell them what the Constitution means and how to deal with it?

What if the whole purpose of the Constitution is to limit the government, not to unleash it?

What if the plain language of the Constitution puts clear limits on what the government in America may lawfully do? What if those in government began cutting constitutional corners about 100 years ago and overlooked prohibitions and limitations in the Constitution because they enjoyed exercising power over others and because they thought they knew what was best for everyone?

What if those prohibitions and limitations—some of which were in the corners that were cut—were written into the Constitution intentionally to keep the government off the backs of the people?

What if personal liberty is the birthright of all persons? What if government is essentially the negation of that liberty?

What if the Constitution represents the value judgment of Americans that our rights are higher in value than the government's powers to interfere with them? What if those who wrote the Constitution believed that personal liberty is the default position and government power the exception? What if the Constitution means that our rights should be maximum and government minimum?

What if our rights are natural components of our humanity? What if that humanity is a gift from God? What if we were created in His image and likeness? What if the greatest likeness we have with Him and the greatest gift from Him is free will? What if we are perfectly free as He is perfectly free?

What if He created us with such free will that we are free to reject Him? What if we are so free that we are free to reject the government? What logic could underlie an argument that we are free to reject the Creator who made us but not free to reject the government we created?

What if a government that rejects its own Constitution were to be rejected by the people? What if the people have had enough of politicians and government leaders who promise safety and demand the surrender of liberty? What if liberty once surrendered is never returned? What if the liberty-for-safety trade is a facade that impairs both liberty and safety?

What if that trade makes government's job easier, but does not keep us safer? What if the Constitution was written to keep the government's job from becoming too easy? What if it is easier to listen to everyone's phone calls than only to those as to whom the government has probable cause to listen? What if the Constitution recognizes that liberty is personal and cannot be sacrificed by a majority vote of representatives, but only by individual consent?

What if the greatest right protected by the Constitution is the right to be left alone, the right to be oneself, the right to answer only to one's own free will? What if the Framers who wrote the Constitution so valued the right to privacy that they wrote very specific criteria into the Constitution to govern the government's ability to interfere with it? What if the government violated those criteria millions of times a day in the name of safety?

What if the violation of the right to privacy is a gateway to all other government violations of personal liberty? What if every government witch hunt never stops until it finds or creates a witch? What if every government inquisition never stops until it finds or creates a heretic? What if government does create modern-day witches and heretics and then arrests them and seeks credit for keeping us safe from them? What if they never posed any threat? What if we fall for this?

What if those who love power defeat those who love liberty in a government election? What if there is no one left to enforce the Constitution against those in power? What if all this is happening right under our noses? What do we do about it?

Cash 101 (and the War on Cash 101)

Consider this Primer on Cash to be the single most important development to follow in the coming months.  Governments don't like cash, and neither do their central bankers.  With the failure of Keynesian economics: quantitative easing (QE); ZIRP and NIRP, the next step has to be in the form of bail-ins and the elimination of cash.  Think it can't happen?  Remember, the federal government of the United States once made it a crime to own gold.  And know this: Negative Interest Rates (NIRP) is just that: a war on cash, i.e., banks are charging you to save/hold your cash!

All it takes for what seems like the improbable or the impossible to happen, is a real or manufactured crisis, in which the government takes whatever steps it says are necessary to "protect" its citizens.  Look back no further than 2008 when TARP was enacted, which started off with President George W. Bush saying "I've abolished free-market principles to save the free market system".  Say what?

Why is cash a threat to government?
  • It provides anonymity to its users. 
  • It cannot be easily traced.
  • It's harder to manipulate since it can be hoarded (saved) outside the banking (and shadow banking) system


New:   Abolish Cash? Hell No, Says German Economist. Notes and Coins Are 'Printed Freedom.'

A Cashless Society?

Control Freaks' Solution to Shadow Economy: Nag People and Abolish Cash

“Cash Is Coined Freedom”: War on Cash Becomes Official in Germany, Reaches G-7, Draws Withering Fire 

Leading German Keynesian Economist Calls For Cash Ban

The War on Cash Destroys a Small Entrepreneur

The Secret Fed Paper That Advocated a "Carry Tax" on All Physical Cash

Why Central Banks HATE Cash and Will Begin to Tax It Shortly

Abolishing Cash – New Age of Economic Totalitarianism

 The Trouble With Cash [by Alasdair MacLeod - read ANYTHING you can by this expert!]

Gordon Brown Adopts Marx’s Theory – Eliminate Cash Will Eliminate the Boom Bust Cycle

Stupid Or Satire? Bond Manager Suggests "Make Cash Illegal" To End Boom & Bust

The Situation Escalates – Greece Is Now Taxing Cash Withdrawals 
[Note: This action by the Greek government is just an example of what happens when the government needs money and the very banks that "hold" that money are nothing but co-conspirators.]

Russell Napier Explains What's In Store For Gold If Cash Is Outlawed

Danes Grab for Tax Revenues By Killing Cash

Greece Floats Surcharge On Withdrawals As ECB Considers Cuts To Liquidity Lifeline

France Restricts the Movement of Gold, Cash, & Crypto-Currencies

Why They Hate Cash——It’s A Check On Subzero Interest Rates 

Australia First to Introduce a Compulsory Tax on Money Itself:
The new compulsory control is provided in the 2015 Australian budget, so that everyone who has any savings must pay taxes on their savings. The measure is expected to serve as a global test balloon for Europe and North America, who will watch for the outcome in Australia. If there is no massive resistance of Australian savers, the rest of the world should expect this outright confiscation very rapidly.

Why The Powers That Be Are Pushing A Cashless Society

The Collapse Of Cash 

The Government War On Cash—-Its Going Global 

The War on Cash: Transparently Totalitarian

Prove You’re Not a Terrorist

Cash Is King (And That Scares the Hell Out of Governments, So ....

The “War on Cash” in 10 Spine-Chilling Quotes [some truly scary sh*t is said by 'experts']

We Are Sleepwalking Towards a Cashless Society

The “War on Cash” Migrates to Switzerland

The Death Of Cash 

Negative Interest Rates: The Black Hole of The Financial System [remember: NIRP is for all intents and purposes, a confiscation of cash]

The Euthanasia of the Saver

Today's WTF Headline

For the Vatican, Climate Change Leads to ... Abortion? 

GDP - At Best, an Inadequate Measure of an Economy

The classic measure of GDP (which for you oldsters like me, replaced GNP), is at best, inadequate, at worst, misleading and non-representative of reality.  There's much to read, so allow me to only post the links.  Please take the time to understand today's GDP construct, its flaws, issues, etc., and how it could be enhanced.  Also, read about some alternatives to the entire GDP metric.

How GDP Metrics Distort Our View of the Economy by Christopher P. Casey:
GDP purports to measure economic activity while largely divorcing itself from the quality, profitability, depth, breadth, improvement, advancement, and rationalization of goods and services provided.

3 Things: If You Don't Like It Change It  by Lance Roberts

A Worthy Read on Security

Damn those prime numbers! Is This the NSA’s Secret to Cracking Secure Comms? by Nicholas Waver:
U.S. cyberspies have all kinds of success breaking into supposedly encrypted messages. But how exactly the NSA pulled off this trick has remained a mystery.

Yesterday, an international group of researchers revealed a set of attacks on Diffie-Hellman, one of the fundamental cryptographic protocols that protect all our communication. They disclosed two attacks, one which allows anyone to break the secrecy on your web browsing by forcing it into an old “export” mode and one which potentially explains a mystery: Why the NSA enjoys great success in breaking some encrypted communications.

The former vulnerability, dubbed “Logjam,” dates back 20 years to the first “Crypto Wars,” a conflict between the security community (which, generally speaking, wanted to protect communications) and the U.S. government (which wanted the ability to spy on anyone, at any time, for whatever reason they might deem “legal”). For a while there was a compromise: “export grade encryption”—encryption weak enough for the U.S. government to crack, but strong enough to keep everyone else out.

At least, that was the plan. But as computing improves, so does the ability to crack digital protections. Eventually, “export grade” encryption was dropped by most credible people in the security field.

Yet these bad ideas lived on, lurking like land mines in unknown bits of code across the network. So if an attacker can trick your computer into using one of these “export” modes, they can intercept and modify your communications—reading your email, hijacking your social network profiles, even intercepting your online banking transactions.

In this case, the vulnerability involved tricking the browser to use “export grade” Diffie-Hellman, a technique used to enable your browser and the server to agree on a secret key. By forcing the browser to run in this insecure mode, the attacker can easily break the connection. This is not the first such attack; members of the same research team that uncovered Logjam previously discovered FREAK, another technique to trick your browser into using export-weakened cryptography. Be sure to update your browser in the next week to take advantage of upcoming patches.

This is one of the main reasons why the security community is aghast at calls by some in the U.S. government to, once again, deliberately weaken cryptography. We are still dealing with the fallout of the first Crypto War, having to patch systems containing vulnerabilities that the U.S. government forced onto us. This is why a huge coalition of companies, civil society groups, and individuals (including myself) have called on the President (PDF) to not repeat the same mistakes. Whether someone calls it a “front door,” a “back door,” or a “golden key,” it is simply sabotage—sabotage that affects everybody.

The story doesn’t end with a 20-year-old bug. In exploring the Logjam vulnerability, the researchers discovered more, revealing a method the NSA or hostile foreign intelligence services could use to break a large amount of encrypted Internet traffic.

Probably the most powerful technique for breaking encryption is simply stealing the encryption keys, jokingly referred to as “applied kleptography.” Yet IPSec, a common encryption protocol for corporate Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), uses Diffie-Hellman to provide “forward secrecy.”

Forward secrecy means that someone who is simply listening in can’t decrypt the communication: the attacker must insert himself into the communication stream as a “man in the middle” to decrypt it. So even if an intelligence service stole the server’s key, they shouldn’t be able to simply observe and decrypt the communication but must instead insert themselves into the traffic and risk detection. Diffie-Hellman is designed to resist passive kleptography.

Yet slides in the Snowden documents revealed the NSA’s astonishing success in exploiting IPSec. The researchers outlined an approach which, although requiring the construction of a dedicated supercomputer, lies within the NSA’s grasp. Diffie-Hellman uses a prime number in its computation, and although there are an astonishing number of usable primes, most systems use a standard prime number.

The basic idea is to do a nearly astronomical amount of work precomputing partial answers needed to break any connection associated with a given prime number and then, because most systems use a common prime number, perform only a little more work to crack any given connection. So with a huge amount of initial work and money, but only a modest amount of work per connection, the NSA could break two-thirds of the IPSec connections on the planet—opening up an untold number of corporate VPNs.

The researchers have no direct evidence that the NSA did this, but I believe their suspicions are well founded. The NSA is not made up of magicians, and all its successes must have a prosaic explanation. If the NSA did indeed discover this technique unnoticed, its failure to disclose is yet more evidence that the NSA does not care about the security of non-classified systems; it would rather spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing a cracking system than simply notifying the world how to secure U.S. businesses before some other foreign intelligence service discovers the same thing.

And whether or not the NSA discovered this, now all our adversaries know this technique. If China now wants to build a massive crypto-cracker, we are now in a race with them: Can we fix our systems before they spend a few hundred million dollars building their own dedicated supercomputer?

Weakening encryption is a dangerous game, and this is yet another case of it subverting everybody’s security. We must take attempts by the government to weaken security as personal attacks. Because that’s exactly what they are.

Here's Bruce Schneier's piece on the same topic:  The Logjam (and Another) Vulnerability against Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange

Send the Politicians First

The Middle East.  A real flustercluck only made worse by the Bush clan, as well as Bush II (known as "Obama").  This country of ours hasn't a pot to piss in and yet its self-proclaimed "leaders" want to go to war, again, in Syria.  I say "send in the clowns", which are these leaders and representatives who find the concept of peace and non-intervention (notice I don't say "isolationist") offensive.  ISIS, a creation of America's intervention in Iraq, poses no threat to the United States - none - and yet the country prepares for war. So by all means: to those representatives who want "us" to go to war?  Let's start with "you" first and then the rest of "us" will consider the endeavor.  It's one thing to hide behind the life of someone else's child, but quite another to walk the point yourself.  Believe me, I'd rather you not go either, for I want no harm to come to you or yours, but it has to stop somewhere.  All 500+ of you should stand up and say "hell no, we won't go". 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Here's Why Hillary Clinton Will Become President in 2016

I bow my head and cry in silent tears ...

The Illusion of Democracy

Finally, a cartoon that truly says it all!  Here's The Illusion of Democracy
Distract, deny, democracy...

Source: Jesse

Which reminded us of this perennial note...

The past several weeks have made one thing crystal-clear: Our country faces unmitigated disaster if the Other Side wins.

No reasonably intelligent person can deny this. All you have to do is look at the way the Other Side has been running its campaign. Instead of focusing on the big issues that are important to the American People, it has fired a relentlessly negative barrage of distortions, misrepresentations, and flat-out lies.

Just look at the Other Side’s latest commercial, which take a perfectly reasonable statement by the candidate for My Side completely out of context to make it seem as if he is saying something nefarious. This just shows you how desperate the Other Side is and how willing it is to mislead the American People.

The Other Side also has been hammering away at My Side to release certain documents that have nothing to do with anything, and making all sorts of outrageous accusations about what might be in them. Meanwhile, the Other Side has stonewalled perfectly reasonable requests to release its own documents that would expose some very embarrassing details if anybody ever found out what was in them. This just shows you what a bunch of hypocrites they are.

Naturally, the media won’t report any of this. Major newspapers and cable networks jump all over anything they think will make My Side look bad. Yet they completely ignore critically important and incredibly relevant information that would be devastating to the Other Side if it could ever be verified.

I will admit the candidates for My Side do make occasional blunders. These usually happen at the end of exhausting 19-hour days and are perfectly understandable. Our leaders are only human, after all. Nevertheless, the Other Side inevitably makes a big fat deal out of these trivial gaffes, while completely ignoring its own candidates’ incredibly thoughtless and stupid remarks – remarks that reveal the Other Side’s true nature, which is genuinely frightening.

My Side has produced a visionary program that will get the economy moving, put the American People back to work, strengthen national security, return fiscal integrity to Washington, and restore our standing in the international community. What does the Other Side have to offer? Nothing but the same old disproven, discredited policies that got us into our current mess in the first place.

Don’t take my word for it, though. I recently read about an analysis by an independent, nonpartisan organization that supports My Side. It proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that everything I have been saying about the Other Side was true all along. Of course, the Other Side refuses to acknowledge any of this. It is too busy cranking out so-called studies by so-called experts who are actually nothing but partisan hacks. This just shows you that the Other Side lives in its own little echo chamber and refuses to listen to anyone who has not already drunk its Kool-Aid.

Let’s face it: The Other Side is held hostage by a radical, failed ideology. I have been doing some research on the Internet, and I have learned this ideology was developed by a very obscure but nonetheless profoundly influential writer with a strange-sounding name who enjoyed brief celebrity several decades ago. If you look carefully, you can trace nearly all the Other Side’s policies for the past half-century back to the writings of this one person.

To be sure, the Other Side also has been influenced by its powerful supporters. These include a reclusive billionaire who has funded a number of organizations far outside the political mainstream; several politicians who have said outrageous things over the years; and an alarmingly large number of completely clueless ordinary Americans who are being used as tools and don’t even know it.

These people are really pathetic, too. The other day I saw a YouTube video in which My Side sent an investigator and a cameraman to a rally being held by the Other Side, where the investigator proceeded to ask some real zingers. It was hilarious! First off, the people at the rally wore T-shirts with all kinds of lame messages that they actually thought were really clever. Plus, many of the people who were interviewed were overweight, sweaty, flushed, and generally not very attractive. But what was really funny was how stupid they were. There is no way anyone could watch that video and not come away convinced the people on My Side are smarter, and that My Side is therefore right about everything.

Besides, it’s clear that the people on the Other Side are driven by mindless anger – unlike My Side, which is filled with passionate idealism and righteous indignation. That indignation, I hasten to add, is entirely justified. I have read several articles in publications that support My Side that expose what a truly dangerous group the Other Side is, and how thoroughly committed it is to imposing its radical, failed agenda on the rest of us.

That is why I believe [2016] is, without a doubt, the defining election of our lifetime. The difference between My Side and the Other Side could not be greater. That is why it absolutely must win [in 2016].

What, You're Surprised that Some Are TBTJ (Too Big To Jail)? Really?

7 Days Before Holder's "90 Day Ultimatum" Expires, DOJ Declines To Prosecute Citigroup.  Every word of this should sicken us all:
Almost exactly three months ago, with much pomp and circumstance, US attorney general Eric Holder, whose department of "justice" made headlines two years ago for refusing to bring criminal cases against big banks due to fears of systemic consequences if any TBTF bank is brought to justice thus spawning the term Too Big To Prosecute, gave his lackeys involved in residential mortgage-backed securities exactly 90 days in which to "develop cases against individuals" for their roles in the financial crisis.
What happened since then is that in a completely unrelated action, the CFTC ferreted out a basement trader and put the entire blame of the Flash Crash on his shoulders just before the 5 year statute of limitations of the May 2010 flash crash expired and... nothing else.
Actually, correction.
So for all those wondering if the modus operandi at the Department of Justice has changed, and if Eric Holder, for all his recent bluster is willing to prosecute Wall Street criminals, we have the one word answer.
As for "Honorable" Holder's 90 day deadline, it expires in precisely one week. Expect that to fade away into the collective lack of memory as the May 18 deadline comes and passes with no action revealed by the Department of "Justice."


Consequences? Barclays Exec Involved In LIBOR Fixing Becomes Bank's Head Of Asia-Pac

UBS Gets Probation For Rigging $5 Trillion-A-Day FX Market 

5 Banks To Plead Guilty To Criminal Rigging Charges, Pay $5.6 Billion For Manipulating Markets [and yet no one goes to  jail ... hmmm ... ]

New:  Public Confused Why World's Biggest Banks Admitting Criminal Fraud, Leads To Public Yawns

Yep, It's "For the Children" Alright! (Not!)

New Jersey teachers union spend $750K per week on ads in pension fight

"Everything's Fine with the Global Economy, Nothing To See Here, Just Keep Moving!" - Love, the USG/Fed

Just scrolled through my RSS feed for ZeroHedge, and now I need a drink or three:

Kansas City Fed In Recession Territory After Respondent "Laid Off 8% Of Workforce In 2 Months"

Stocks Recover Post-FOMC Losses After 4-For-4 Economic Data Misses - WTF?? No, there's no stock bubble, nope, none at all ...

Philly Fed Hovers Near 15-Month Lows, Prices Paid Collapse Most Since Lehman

Economic Hope Crashes By Most Since 2013 Government Shutdown

US Manufacturing PMI Tumbles To Lowest In 16 Months As New Orders Tumbled

Chicago Fed Contracts For 4th Month In A Row As Initial Jobless Claims Hover Near 40 Year Lows - WTF?? What? Initial jobless claims near 40 year lows, but there's a 4 successive month contraction?  Should the deeper dive into the employment participation rate begin?

4 Factors Signaling Volatility Will Return With A Vengeance

Global Demand Dearth Costs $1.2 Trillion In Lost Wages, $3.7 Trillion In GDP

For Caterpillar, This Is What The "Second Great Depression" Looks Like

What A World, Really

Am I outside or inside the prison walls?

GM says you don't own your car, you just license it

NSA wanted to hack the Android store

Five Good Rules

David Boaz is right on the mark with his latest, Five Rules for an Age of Terrorism, Nuclear Weapons: [emphasis added]
In this 15th year of war in Afghanistan, as the United States is becoming further entangled in military conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, we need a serious debate about whether we want to be permanently at war.

We can start by noting a few simple rules about war and foreign policy. First, war kills people. Especially in the modern world, it often kills as many civilians as soldiers. War cannot be avoided at all costs, but it should be avoided wherever possible. Proposals to involve the United States — or any government — in foreign conflict should be treated with great skepticism.

Second, war creates big government. That’s one reason libertarians and other believers in limited government have tried to avoid war. Throughout history, war has provided an excuse for governments to arrogate money and power to themselves and to regiment society.

During World Wars I and II, the United States government assumed powers it could never have acquired in peacetime — powers such as the military draft, wage-and-price controls, rationing, close control of labor and production and astronomical tax rates. Constitutional restrictions on federal power were swiftly eroded.

That doesn’t tell us whether those wars should have been fought. It does mean that we should understand the consequences of war for our entire social order and thus go to war only when absolutely necessary.

Third, the United States can no more police and plan the whole world than it can plan a national economy. Without a superpower threat to rally against, the political establishment wants us to deploy our military resources on behalf of democracy and self-determination around the world and against such vague or decentralized threats as terrorism, drugs and environmental destruction. The military is designed to fight wars in defense of American liberty and sovereignty; even the world’s largest bureaucracy is not well-equipped to be policeman and social worker to the world.

Fourth, our Cold War allies have recovered from the destruction of World War II and are fully capable of defending themselves. The countries of the European Union have a collective population of more than 500 million, a gross domestic product of $18 trillion a year and nearly 2 million troops. They can defend Europe and deal with internal problems such as the conflict in Ukraine without U.S. assistance. South Korea has twice the population and 40 times the economic output of North Korea; it doesn’t need our 29,000 troops to protect itself.

Fifth, the communications explosion means that the information imbalance between political leaders and citizens is much reduced. For all our vast intelligence network, presidents often watch world events unfolding on satellite news networks, along with all the rest of us. That means that presidents will find it more difficult to expect public deference on matters of foreign policy, so they should proceed cautiously in undertaking foreign commitments without popular support.

Despite the constant warnings of war hawks, and the ongoing images of conflict on our screens, the world is safer than it’s ever been. And for the United States, the most secure power in world history, protected by two oceans and friendly neighbors, that’s especially true.

The first purpose of government is to protect the rights of citizens. We must maintain an adequate national defense, but we can defend the vital interests of the United States with a military budget about half the size of the one we have — if we reorient our foreign policy to one of self-defense and restraint, not global commitments to collective security agreements.

Libertarians who propose to bring U.S. troops home and concentrate on the defense of the United States are sometimes accused of being isolationist. That’s a misconception. Libertarians are, in fact, confident and cosmopolitan. We look forward to a world bound together by free trade, global communications and cultural exchange. We support maintaining the world’s largest and most powerful military, by a wide margin, although not as big as the foreign-policy establishment wants.

Military intervention around the world costs Americans substantial blood and treasure and benefits them little. Although the world is growing closer together in many ways, it is inappropriate to view the whole world as a village in which everyone must pitch in to stop every fight. In a world with terrorism and nuclear weapons, it is better to keep military conflicts limited and regional rather than to escalate them through superpower involvement.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

So True

HT: The Burning Platform

Amtrak 101

I purposely avoided writing anything about the recent Amtrak train tragedy last week, which occurred right here in Philadelphia, simply because I find it offensive to use such an event for personal or political gain.  For example, I found it sickening that Philadelphia's mayor, Michael Nutter, had to make appearances at the scene and in fact, I saw a tweet that, which said something like "Mayor Nutter, today you are America's mayor"  Believe that?  Eight people dead, hundreds injured and people find it necessary to praise the politician!

Just this morning, I heard on the local news that the Engineers Union is seeking rule changes that would require two engineers on the Northeast Corridor Route.   Call me a cynic, but methinks this is a union taking advantage of a tragedy to benefit its rank and file.

I've penned more than a few pieces on Amtrak, which can be found here, with my most recent post sharing my disdain for government "investment" in infrastructure, which was entitled Public Transportation "Investment" - Doesn't Pay.  In the aftermath of last week's derailment, both the internet and traditional news outlets were clamoring for "increasing investment in railroad infrastructure".  No amount of government confiscation (aka "taxation" - turned into "investment") can replace effective private investment.  Thinking otherwise is foolish (or political, which is one in the same anyway).  The only way to best prevent last week's tragedy, is to get government out of the transportation and infrastructure business, period.  Private ownership is no guarantee against such an event, however, it greatly increases the odds of prevention.

So, for a quick primer on Amtrak, please read Richard Rahn's Amtrak Is No Way to Run a Railroad.

The Regulatory State 101

All you need to know about the Regulatory State and its destruction of truly free enterprise: The Regulatory State – Central Planning and Bureaucracy on a Rampage.   This article makes reference to The 10,000 Commandments Report, which I first commented upon in May of 2013, which can be found here.  Sadly, though not unexpectedly, the same report for 2015 bears out that it's getting worse!  Please, read and share it, especially with those that believe the government needs create more regulations in order to prevent or correct the folly of evil, greedy (political) people!

Despite Benghazi And An Addiction To Lying and Power

Hillary Clinton will become this country's next president, because you know, it's time "we" have a woman president!  For a bit more about the Benghazi tragedy and the role Clinton and Obama played, read "If The Public Knew About Obama's Lies And Cover Ups, Mitt Romney Might Be President" - Judicial Watch

Health 101

A health repository for superb articles on health, exercise and medicine.  [Be sure to check out Nutrition 101 and Mindfulness too]

Check back often - your health depends on it!

New:   Neurologist Speaks Out About the Importance of Gut Health for Prevention and Treatment of “Incurable” Neurological Disorders

This Turns Back the Clocks in Your Cells

Zen and the Art of Calisthenics 

The Brutally Honest 6 Reasons You Are Still Overfat

The Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness

National Panel Reverses Idiotic Cholesterol Guidelines

Tackling Cancer With a New Paradigm

Study: Popular Over-The-Counter Drugs May Increase Dementia Risk  The potential culprit are anticholinergics.  More needs to be done on this of course, since remember: correlation does not mean causation.

How To Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death: Cholesterol Pills Won’t Do

The 82% Fat Diet!! It's Not the Fat That's Killing Us, It's the Carbs!

Foods and Other Lifestyle Factors That Will Shorten Your Lifespan

7 Factors to Consider if You’re Told Your Cholesterol Is Too High

Chronic Psychitis by Scott Alexander, whose blog I recommend as a daily read to everyone!

Scientists Only Just Figured Out Where Fat Goes When You Lose Weight

Pineapple Compound Bromelain Trumps Colonoscopy for Colon Health

Vitamin C Antidote To All Known Toxins Thomas Levy, MD

Metabolism Boosting Tips to Optimize Your Weight

Bad, Then Good (Potentially) News on Alzheimer’s Disease:

Now the good:

This Mineral Found to Reduce ‘All Cause Mortality’ Dramatically

Looks Like The Medical Establishment Was Wrong About Fat

Link Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Dementia Confirmed

Basic Tips For Being Healthy

Brushing and flossing are good for your brain?  [Answer hint: YES!!!!]

5 Surprising Factors That Make You Pack on Pounds

Extremely Important: Fluoride Treatment  5 Ways to Detox Fluoride

7 Facts about trans-Resveratrol

Walking More May Be Key for a Longer, Healthier Life

Study: Exercise Protects The Brain Against Depression

Nutritional Approaches to Mental Health

To Protect Your Heart, Your Sodium to Potassium Ratio Is More Important Than Your Overall Salt Intake

7 Tips to Ignite and Maintain Your Digestive Fire [note: I'm not so keen on #7, i.e., while I support the need for fiber, I'm not convinced of "whole grains" being the best source]

How Sugar Harms Your Brain Health and Drives Alzheimer’s Epidemic (aka "Sugar Kills and You Won't Even Know It - Literally")

Why Do People Gain Weight? (aka "Never Eat in These 11 Situations" - also explains the "freshman 15" though not explicitly)

9 Signs You Need to Eat More Fat

Must Read: Ketogenic diet beats chemo for almost all cancers Note: Doctor Thomas Seyfried is no quack!

Maybe We Don't All Need Annual Physicals

Fasting diets like the 5:2 'can help prevent diabetes by reducing cholesterol after 10 to 12 hours'

Is Alzheimer’s Caused by an Infection?

Are These the Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat?

Top Ten Ways the American Health Care System Fails

The Importance of Vitamin D for Normalizing Your Cholesterol Levels

How To Workout At Home Without Equipment Or Weights  I liked this, but the language is unnecessary IMHO.  I guess I'm just getting old.

Hero’s Workout Styles You Can’t Miss My favorite set of exercises.  These come courtesy of Neila Rey's Free Visual Workouts

80% of Strokes Are Preventable

The Best Exercise There Is, Hands Down  easy, here it is:
The single best exercise there is, hands down, is the one you’ll do.

69 Kettlebell Exercises That Quickly Help You Get in Shape

7 Simple Ways To Be Healthy And Avoid Getting Sick [watch the video on sugar!]

7 Benefits of the Bulgarian Split Squat

Can exercising for just 60 seconds a week transform your health? 

How To Lose Fat Fast

Ketogenic Diet Improves Insulin Sensitivity and Numerous Aging Markers

Free Visual Workouts

6 Illustrated Guides To Different Types Of Meditation

Set Goals by Time Instead of Distance or Quantity  [IMHO this is the critical success factor to getting back into an exercise routine.  Don't set distance or quantity goals, i.e., '2 miles' or '20 reps'. It works]

15 Reasons to Sprint More This Year

Placebo Effect Dictates Therapeutic Effect of Headache Medication

Flame Thrower: Top 10 Natural Ways to Reduce Inflammation

Public Infrastructure Projects Described In One Word: Debacle

For all of those that believe government is the best and only entity capable of providing public infrastructure, please, read this: San Francisco Bay Bridge’s troubles: How a landmark became a debacle.  (HT: Newmark's Door)


3/18/2015:  Tests of Bay Bridge rods find more widespread cracking

5/20/2015:   Bay Bridge Not Over Water, Corrosion Troubles

Get Over It: Your Vote Doesn't Matter

Sure, your vote counts, as in a tally, but it does not matter.  Here's how America is "governed" - sorry, just one of those inconvenient truths:

Money runs all governments!  That desire for power is likewise an attraction that few can resist once they hold an office.  Government power is, in my opinion, the most dangerous drug in the world, and thus the root of all evil.

Your Tax Dollars: Supporting Free Riding Nations The World Over

There's no need for 800 military bases around the world - none.  There is no reason for the United States to have military forces stationed in places like Japan, Guam, South Korea and Germany (to name but a few).  While allowing rich nations to spend so little on their own "defense", this asymmetrical approach to projecting U.S. power is not only costly, but exposes the country to significant moral hazard.  For example, if Japan started a conflict with China, just how far would this country go to "protect" its ally?

HT: The Burning Platform

Two Scumbags Who Are Coincidentally, Politicians Too!

Two charmers here, Lindsey Graham, who says:
"If I'm president of the United States and you're thinking about joining al-Qaeda or ISIL — anybody thinking about that? — I'm not going to call a judge, I'm going to call a drone and we will kill you."
and then there's Chris Christie, who says:
"When Edward Snowden revealed our intelligence secrets to the world in 2013, civil liberties extremists seized that moment to advance their own narrow agenda. They want you to think that there's a government spook listening in every time you pick up the phone or Skype with your grandkids,"
American Exceptionalism on display!  One presidential hopeful wants to drone anyone who is thinking about joining ISIL, and the other believes that if you supported Edward Snowden, you were a liberty extremist.  Seriously, politics is a real toilet bowl.

Source of quotes (and a good article): Graham: I’ll Drone You for Your Thoughts. Christie: Beware ‘civil liberties extremists’