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3751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / budget process: WSJ supports McConnell idea on: July 12, 2011, 11:13:48 PM
Moving this over from cognitive dissonance of Republicans thread.  The ink is barely dry on our discussion and the WSJ has already taken most of it for tomorrow's lead editorial:
"The entitlement state can't be reformed by one house of Congress in one year against a determined President and Senate held by the other party. It requires more than one election."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303678704576442231815463502.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

Debt-Limit Harakiri
Mitch McConnell isn't selling out Republicans.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday he's concluded that no deal to raise the debt ceiling in return for serious spending restraint is possible with President Obama, and who can blame him? We've never thought the debt ceiling was the best leverage for a showdown over the entitlement state, and now it looks like Mr. Obama is trying to use it as a way to blame the GOP for the lousy economy.

This may have been the President's strategy all along: Take the debt-limit talks behind closed doors, make major spending cuts seem possible in the early days, but then hammer Republicans publicly as the deadline nears for refusing to raise taxes on business and "the rich."

This would explain the President's newly discovered fondness for press conferences, which he has rarely held but now rolls out before negotiating sessions. It would also explain why Mr. Obama's tax demands have escalated as the August 2 deadline nears. Yesterday he played the Grandma Card, telling CBS that seniors may not get their August retirement checks. Next he'll send home the food inspectors and stop paying the troops.

The reality is that Mr. Obama is trying to present Republicans with a Hobson's choice: Either repudiate their campaign pledge by raising taxes, or take the blame for any economic turmoil and government shutdown as the U.S. nears a debt default. In the former case Mr. Obama takes the tax issue off the table and demoralizes the tea party for 2012, and in the latter he makes Republicans share the blame for 9.2% unemployment.

This is the political context in which to understand Mr. McConnell's proposal yesterday to force Mr. Obama to take ownership of any debt-limit increase. If the President still insists on a tax increase, then Republicans will walk away from the talks.

Mr. McConnell would then let the President propose three debt-limit increases adding up to $2.5 trillion over the coming months. Senate Republicans (with Majority Leader Harry Reid's cooperation) would use a convoluted procedure to vote for three resolutions of disapproval on the bills. Mr. Obama could veto the resolutions and 34 Democrats could vote to sustain. The President would get his debt-limit increase, but without Republicans serving as his political wingmen.

The hotter precincts of the blogosphere were calling this a sellout yesterday, though they might want to think before they shout. The debt ceiling is going to be increased one way or another, and the only question has been what if anything Republicans could get in return. If Mr. Obama insists on a tax increase, and Republicans won't vote for one, then what's the alternative to Mr. McConnell's maneuver?

Republicans who say they can use the debt limit to force Democrats to agree to a balanced budget amendment are dreaming. Such an amendment won't get the two-thirds vote to pass the Senate, but it would give every Democrat running for re-election next year a chance to vote for it and claim to be a fiscal conservative.

We agree with those who say that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner can cut other federal spending before he allows a technical default on U.S. debt. No doubt that is what he will do. We'd even support a showdown over technical default if we thought it might yield some major government reforms. But Mr. Obama clearly has no such intention.

Instead he and Mr. Geithner will gradually shut down government services, the more painful the better. The polls that now find that voters oppose a debt-limit increase will turn on a dime when Americans start learning that they won't get Social Security checks. Republicans will then run like they're fleeing the Pamplona bulls, and chaotic retreats are the ugliest kind. By then they might end up having to vote for a debt-limit increase and a tax increase.

The tea party/talk-radio expectations for what Republicans can accomplish over the debt-limit showdown have always been unrealistic. As former Senator Phil Gramm once told us, never take a hostage you're not prepared to shoot. Republicans aren't prepared to stop a debt-limit increase because the political costs are unbearable. Republicans might have played this game better, but the truth is that Mr. Obama has more cards to play.

The entitlement state can't be reformed by one house of Congress in one year against a determined President and Senate held by the other party. It requires more than one election. The Obama Democrats have staged a spending blowout to 24% of GDP and rising, and now they want to find a way to finance it to make it permanent. Those are the real stakes of 2012.

Even if Mr. Obama gets his debt-limit increase without any spending cuts, he will pay a price for the privilege. He'll have reinforced his well-earned reputation as a spender with no modern peer. He'll own the record deficits and fast-rising debt. And he'll own the U.S. credit-rating downgrade to AA if Standard & Poor's so decides.

We'd far prefer a bipartisan deal to cut spending and reform entitlements without a tax increase. But if Mr. Obama won't go along, there's no reason Republicans should help him dodge the political consequences by committing debt-limit harakiri.
3752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Current temps are at the 3000 year average on: July 12, 2011, 08:49:50 PM
When the lying and data hiding stops, maybe we can move global warming updates over to environmental sciences...

Temps right now are very close to both the 30 year and 3000 year averages if I am reading the charts below correctly.  Temps are up and down year to year more than they are in 30 years.

Dr. Fred Singer, Univ of Virginia, has a 24 page analysis of all the latest information, a  must read if you care about the survival of the planet.
http://www.sepp.org/scientific%20papers/IPCC%20Booklet_2011_FINAL.pdf

A few key points pulled out by John Hinderacker: (You need to read this at the source: http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/07/global-warming-a-primer.php to keep his comments and Singer's separate.  Impressively, Singer called Mann on the Hide the Decline scandal long before the lies and deception were exposed in the climategate emails!  (read it all - Doug)
------------------
(Hinderacker)Dr. Singer points out that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the supposed authority on which pretty much all global warming alarmism relies, has changed its approach to the topic in each of its reports:

    (Singer)The IPCC has wavered on methodology. Their First Assessment Report (FAR–1990) simply pointed out that both GH gases and temperatures have increased but paid little attention to the long cooling period (from 1940 to 1975). Their Second Report (SAR–1996) tried to show that observed patterns of warming trends (“fingerprints”) agreed with calculated patterns. Their Third Report (TAR–2001) simply claimed that the 20th century was the warmest in 1000 years (as if this proves anything). The fourth report (AR4– 2007) basically said: We understand all natural forcings – so everything else must be anthropogenic.

(Hinderadker)The alarmists are consistent in only one respect. No matter what the data show, or what analyses are brought into play, the conclusion is always the same: the Earth is warming catastrophically, and the only solution is government takeover of all free economies.

Climate alarmism is based on computer models, but those models don’t correspond to observations in the real world. In the realm of science, when a computer model is contradicted by empirical observation, the model is deemed to have been refuted. Only in the field of global climate do purported scientists refuse to recognize that basic principle. The linked paper explains in summary fashion how the alarmists’ models are contradicted by observation.

Two 20th-century climate trends are undisputed: the Earth warmed from around 1910 to 1940, and cooled from around 1940 to the late 1970s. The climate alarmists base their theory on a warming that they claim took place between 1979 and 1997. Whether that latter warming actually took place is, however, highly debatable:

    (Singer)The 1910 to 1940 warming is seen in the surface thermometer record; there were no balloon or satellite observations to provide independent confirmation. However, the proxy data of tree rings, ice cores, etc, all show this warming so that we can be fairly sure of its reality. Its cause is generally believed to be due to natural factors, although Wigley and Santer have claimed it to be anthropogenic (Science, 1998).

    On the other hand, the reported 1979 to 1997 surface warming [Fig. 10] is not seen by atmospheric observations. [Fig. 11]. If one takes the near-zero atmospheric trends from radiosondes and (independent) satellite instruments [Fig. 5] seriously, then – because of “amplification” — the surface trend should be smaller – and therefore even closer to zero– especially in the tropical zone.

(Hinderacker)The fact that satellite observations do not verify the alleged surface warming from 1979 to 1997 is a huge problem for the alarmists. One might expect them to have a theory to explain the discrepancy, but they don’t. This graph shows satellite observations from 1979 to 2011:


Dr. Singer’s presentation explores possible explanations for the apparent rise in surface temperatures. Suffice it to say, for now, that the surface data are less than reliable and are biased in several respects toward warming. I was shocked when I learned that the data used by the IPCC do not even try to adjust for the urban heat island effect, which is well recognized. That fact, by itself, renders those data essentially worthless.

Beyond that, Singer talks about the frauds revealed by Climategate. The surface temperature data on which climate alarmism is based are heavily politicized. This is where the famous “hockey stick” comes into play, as well as the alarmists’ attempt to “hide the decline” through “tricks.”

    (Singer)One word about the relationship between Climategate and the “Hockey stick” temperature graph of Mann, Bradley, andHughes. When the graph was published [Nature 1998, GRL1999], public attention immediately focused on their claim that the 20th century was the warmest in the last 1000 years [Fig. 20]. It was then shown by McIntyre and McKitrick that some of the data had been fudged and that the statistical methodology used was faulty.

    They also demonstrated that feeding random data into the Michael Mann algorithms would invariably yield a hockey stick curve. (Mann [PNAS 2008] has now quietly changed the hockey stick into a graph that shows both the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age [Fig. 21].) In any case, we know that the MWP, around 1000 to 1200 AD, was warmer than today, based on many independent investigations [Fig. 22].

    But that fact (a warmer MWP) has little relevance to the question of the cause of current warming (if indeed such warming exists). Therefore, when the hockey stick was first published, my attention focused on the fact that Michael Mann’s proxy record seemed to stop in 1979 and that the continuing temperature data came entirely from the Jones analysis of surface thermometers. [I think this is the real explanation of “Mike’s Nature trick,” referred to in the Climategate e-mails that speak of “hiding the decline.”]

    I immediately sent e-mails to Mann and questioned him about this point, asking him why his proxy temperature record suddenly stopped in 1979. I received back a rather brusque reply that no suitable data were available.

    But I already knew that such data are indeed available [Figs23,24] and therefore surmised that his proxy data did not show the increase in temperature demanded by the surface thermometers. So he simply terminated his analysis in 1979 to hide this fact (his “Nature trick”) – in order to be “politically correct” and support the IPCC story of a temperature increase.

    The Climategate e-mails make it clear why Mann terminated the Hockey stick in 1979. There is a huge irony here that should be readily apparent. As I maintain above, there was in fact no increase in surface temperatures after 1979, and therefore Mann’s (never-published) proxy temperatures are correct. He simply did not have the courage to believe in his own results. To emphasize this point, I show some of the several proxy data in the published literature [Fig. 25].

This chart shows global temperatures as reconstructed from ocean sediment data:

(Hinderacker)It has become glaringly obvious to nearly everyone who pays attention that the alarmists’ alleged data are wrong, and their computer models are contradicted by observation. Rather than dealing with these fundamental issues as scientists, the alarmists have shifted into the political arena, smearing their critics and trying to jam major economic changes down our throats before more voters catch on to the fact that global warming alarmism is a fraud–an immensely profitable fraud for those who perpetrate it and for the crony industries that stand to profit by banning the efficient production of energy, but a fraud nevertheless.
3753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the Republicans on: July 12, 2011, 08:25:58 PM
Can't speak for JDN in ingenious but Bloomberg tries to explain it:
----------------
McConnell’s plan would let the president increase the limit in three stages unless Congress disapproves by a two-thirds majority, while Obama would also be required to propose offsetting spending cuts. The spending reductions would be advisory, and the debt-ceiling increase would occur regardless of whether lawmakers enact the cuts, McConnell said.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said the plan would allow Obama to raise the debt limit while putting the onus on him and congressional Democrats to cut spending.

At the same time, Republicans wouldn’t have to agree to tax increases. The proposal would force Democrats to cast multiple votes to raise the debt ceiling before the next election, while giving Republicans the chance to vote against that without risking a default.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-12/mcconnell-said-to-propose-three-stage-process-for-raising-u-s-debt-limit.html
------------------
(Doug continued) First of all there will be a lot of noise in the room while two sides position themselves for failure. The idea from McConnell is that this is not going to get done otherwise.  R's have to choose now between tax increases- unacceptable, and default - unacceptable, or making imaginary cuts unilaterally that will never happen but be used forever against them. The McConnell idea continues the deficit for Obama's term but puts it all back on Dems to raise debt without R. support.  All politics, no economics. 

So-called default really means that Aug.1 or whenever d-day is, we get a de facto balanced budget exactly as proposed for the constitution without even taking that vote or sending it to the states.  No additional borrowing means immediate zero deficit, with spending limited to revenues running at 18% of GDP exactly as written in the proposed amendment, but without the 5 year phase-in.

Too good to be true. The political and economic problems with that are that we need a balanced budget at full employment not at sputtering levels.  It has to be combined with a pro-growth agenda putting us back on track or else it is all root canal and no pain killer.

Obama can't reform entitlements at all because his party will revolt, and it has to pass in the Senate.  Republicans can't take vague spending cuts later because they don't happen.  Neither side can afford real tax increases because they doom what is left of this economy, and they won't pass in the House.

Kent Conrad, Senate Budget Chair, want to close loopholes AND raise tax rates, worst of both worlds.  Take more resources while worsening the disincentives to produce - and he is retiring in 2012.  Try to negotiate with him!

I think we agreed (some of us) that driving out of this mess was going to be a two election cycle process, 2010-2012.  We need to survive the last Obama year and make certain to win next year, House, Senate and Presidency, or live forever in decline (no intended exaggeration).  Even then R's will lack the 60 votes in the senate and struggle to implement anything.  sad  Extending the debt limit with no change in budgeting is the status quo, but deeper to dig out from.  The McConnell offer puts a requirement on Obama to propose cuts in exchange for new debt. Republicans can accept those cuts and send them back or tweak them and fight further.

Hopefully, Obama sees this as a successful PR move by McConnell covering the R asses against an unnecessary shutdown, and putting it back on him to get meaningful, immediate cuts now.

He's had enough time on the sidelines to think about it.
3754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 12, 2011, 04:28:20 PM
Obama: "this is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans checks, these are folks on disability and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out."

You don't f-in' suppose that is part of the problem?
3755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: July 12, 2011, 04:12:27 PM
"...most often used by people who have some mysterious disease that allows them to snowboard 5 days a week."

The Colorado system is full of abuse including no oversight of the 'doctors' and leaving the dispensaries unregulated.  It seems like the recommending doctors could be vulnerable for the mockery of medicine and law.

GM, Those snowboarders may have a crippling disease comparable to terminal cancer called ...  'inflammation'!
http://coloradomedicalmarijuana.com/medical-marijuana-doctor-referrals.htm

For CCP: "The use of medical marijuana in Colorado patients suffering from severe chronic pain has shown in multiple studies to lift moods of depression and reduce or even sometimes completely alleviate pain symptoms without drugs." http://coloradomedicalmarijuana.com/qualifying-conditions.htm
 - THC is not a drug?

I prefer decriminalization with minor penalties for small quantities to this  scam that drags in the medical profession.  Real medical uses should of course be permitted, and exemptions from rules for the terminal should extend to whatever their doctor thinks would be helpful.  

But it's hard to know who is terminal these days after the amazing recovery of the Lockerbie bomber.
3756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / progressivism: Nancy Pelosi - the gift that keeps on giving on: July 12, 2011, 11:51:10 AM
Time magazine: Has Nancy Pelosi Been Marginalized in the Debt Debate?
By Jay Newton-Small Friday, July 8, 2011

...Nancy Pelosi asked: Why couldn’t the debt ceiling be decoupled from deficit reduction?...

Obama politely informed the House Minority Leader, those same sources say, that that train had left the station weeks ago.
-------------
http://swampland.time.com/2011/07/08/has-nancy-pelosi-been-marginalized-in-the-debt-debate/#ixzz1RuVh7gm0
3757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Budget process: Consent of the governed on: July 12, 2011, 11:09:42 AM
We have a shutdown currently at the state level over the exact same issues.  I don't see what is so complicated.  Obama may or may not want tax increases to kill jobs in a bad economy.  Same with our new governor.  Both had every opportunity to travel state to state (or county to county) and make certain that like minded candidates would win House and Senate elections of Nov 2010.

You don't raise taxes (or lower them) without consent of the House, Senate and executive.  1 out of 3, and 2 out of 3 is nothing when 3 out of 3 are required.  Obama should know that; it took all 3 bodies, a temporary 60th votes in the Senate, along with deeming things to be passed that weren't to get Pelosi-you have to pass it to read it-healthcare.

You don't borrow over $14.294 trillion federally under current law without consent of the House, Senate and Executive. Two of three ain't bad is a song not a clause in the constitution.

I suppose you can try to bully your way with the other parties, but why should they support new laws they fundamentally oppose, laws that will guarantee their own political defeat.

The answer to deadlock from our new Dem governor not getting his way should have been live within your means, instead it was total shutdown, the public can be damned.  Shutdown the cash registers at profitable state enterprises, shutdown the tourism department in summer, shutdown the wayside rests - motorists can pee in a bottle, and shutdown the treasured safety net for the disabled.

Obama in the model of Bill Clinton wants the same thing.  Shut it all down, why waste a crisis, blame someone else.  But he is wrong.  His view did not prevail in the last election.  A Republican House does not get to appoint Supreme Court Justices and a Democrat President (alone) does not get to raise taxes, increase debt or spend what does not go through a difficult and contentious congressional budget process.  Grow up and govern.
3758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Abortion: Fay Voshell - A Right to Kill on: July 12, 2011, 10:38:30 AM
Trying to keep up with all the interest here on this topic (sarcasm).

"The fact of the matter is that no horrors, no matter how often they are uncovered and documented, appear to be too great for the pro-abortion crowd to give up their core belief that a woman is entitled to abort her baby at any stage of pregnancy. "

http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/07/a_right_to_kill.html

July 3, 2011
A Right to Kill
By Fay Voshell

The society that embraces the death of innocents as a solution to its problems will itself inevitably die.  It may carry on for many decades after its fatal embrace of the Grim Reaper.  But with the moral heart cut out of its body, it becomes a zombie civilization with only the appearance of life.

For death, once embraced, as Goya illustrated so well in his shockingly gruesome painting "Saturn Devouring One of his Sons," has a way of devouring even one's children, as its appetite is never satiated.

"More," Death demands. "That was delicious.  I want more.

Wholesale carnage can even be sexually titillating, as individual torturers and creators of sadistic-masochistic porn films know well, and as Goya appears to have suggested by initially painting Saturn as having an erection.  Later, it is said, shocked successors edited out the erect penis depicted on the hungry god.

Be that as it may, the sheer perverted joy of insatiable killing is a societal disorder not restricted to renegade individual serial killers.  It's well known all human history is full of pathological societies which fully embraced death as a good thing, as a means of placating the gods, whoever they might be.  For example, the blood-soaked, slippery-slidey steps of the Aztec pyramids and the racks of human skulls of the victims of sacrifice to the Sun god bore testimony to such pathology.

But blood sacrifice is not a thing of the past.  The gods of death are just as richly fed today by innocent human blood as ever, but the justificatory framework for allowing the bloodshed has radically changed.  The old gods needing placation by means of the death of innocents have largely vanished, but they have been replaced by a philosophical and abstract imperative -- a demand for an unassailable human "right" to kill.

It is a relatively new thing for Western civilization to regard death of innocents as a human right.  It is a relatively new thing for mothers-to-be to have the virtually absolute right to put their own children to death before they are born.  And it is a relatively new thing for Western jurisprudence, having at last put to end to the hideously distorted absolute "right" to own other human beings, to now consign an entire class of human beings to destruction at the sole discretion of their mothers.

Time was, some made-up infraction or some offering to the gods was deemed necessary in order to get prove the "guilt" and get rid of a person.  No matter how trivial the accusation, "guilt" had to be established.  For example, one of Goya's etchings depicts a priest about to be garroted merely for possessing a knife.

Even in ghoulish modern times, establishment of "guilt," even when guilt is established by a mere pretext, has usually been necessary for execution to occur, as was evidenced by the Stalinist show trials of the 1930's and by Mao Tze Tung's Red Guard excesses of the 70's. Enemies of the state must be killed or a vengeful god placated by human sacrifice.

Allowing the death of the voiceless and innocent as a "choice" and as an expression of personal "freedom" is a concept that is relatively new. The perverted and absolute "right" to kill unborn humans who by no stretch of the imagination have ever committed a crime was bound to warp the entire societal fabric.  It also would produce revolting horrors those espousing and establishing the abstract "right" to kill did not foresee.

But once in a while, the veil of secrecy is rent and an entire populace is given a glimpse of the true horrors of the lucrative abortion industry, much as the horrors of slavery were revealed by photos such as this one of "Gordon," taken in 1863 and published in Harper's Weekly. 

In less than a period of ten months, the US public has been afforded at least three such glimpses of the horrible realities of the abortion industry.

Case #1: On Good Friday of this year, a dog sniffing around a El Paso,Texas parking lot of Hilltop Family Planning Clinic, found the remains of a dismembered baby of about 12-15 weeks gestation.  The tiny limbs were about the length of a dime.  There is no report as to whether the dog ate some of the baby's remains, but not all the body parts were there.  The person who discovered the grisly bits put them in a garbage bag.  While the police were notified, no police action was taken because Texas law doesn't consider a fetus less than twenty weeks gestation to be human.  There is no legal protection for him or her.

Case #2: Kermit Gosnell operated an abortion clinic in Philadelphia, killing at least two women and uncounted numbers of viable infants.  Among the horrors: infanticide.  According to the Grand Jury report, one incident involved a worker who played with a premature infant while it wiggled around on a counter for 20 minutes before the baby's neck was slit with a pair of scissors in order to sever his spinal cord, a process Gosnell described as "snipping."  Grand Jury investigation photos of the horrors within the clinic included severed babies' feet in jars and trash bags of fetal remains stored in refrigerators.  The grand jury had a few words for the regulatory agencies which were supposed to oversee the clinic:

"The grand jury also had a stern rebuke for regulatory organizations that looked the other way, giving their stamp of approval on his criminal practices. These people who saw the abuses yet stood idly by, or worse, encouraged the behavior that has now shocked the nation bear some responsibility for what happened in Philadelphia. In fact, they deserve criminal prosecution just as much as Gosnell and his cohorts because their silence not only enabled the crimes, but gave tacit consent to them."

Case #3: On August 12, 2010 in Elkton, MD, an 18 year old girl who had been 21 weeks pregnant was rushed to the hospital.  Her uterus, bowel and vagina had been pierced by one Dr. Nicola Riley, who flew in from Utah every other week to do late term abortions.  Not only did Riley lacerate the girl's organs, but the abortion was incomplete.  The baby's head was detached and pushed through the uterine wall into the abdominal cavity.

The semi-conscious teen was dropped off at the hospital via rental car by Riley and fellow abortionist Steven Chase Brigham. Riley then left the bleeding patient to go perform another abortion.  The girl herself was flown to John Hopkins hospital where doctors attempted to repair the damage done by the abortionists.

When police raided Brigham's Elkton "clinic," they found 32 late term fetuses-one of which was 35-36 weeks gestation--tossed in a freezer.

A great lesson is to be gained from the revolting examples given above; namely that there is a strict adherence to a pro-abortion ideology which demands the absolute "moral" principles of abortion on demand must be adhered to, no matter what.  Rush Limbaugh has been much vilified for describing abortion as a sacrament of the deeply religious cult of the Left, but he is not far from the mark.  The fact of the matter is that no horrors, no matter how often they are uncovered and documented, appear to be too great for the pro-abortion crowd to give up their core belief that a woman is entitled to abort her baby at any stage of pregnancy.

The radical feminist coat hanger wavers of the 1960's probably did not expect to see the day girl babies would be aborted at an astonishing rate merely for the crime of being female. Nonetheless, few radical feminists have spoken out strongly against the practice.  They are committed to abortion on demand.

Nor did the advocates of granting abortions to minors anticipate the cases in which fathers; uncles and grandfathers would escort little girls they had seduced and impregnated to abortion clinics in order to get rid of condemning incestuous evidence.  Abortion on demand must remain law of the land.

And scarcely ever has the pro-abortion crowd given credence to grief stricken fathers-to-be whose girlfriends and wives abort their children against their wishes.  One such dad-to-be, consumed by grief and rage, put up a billboard announcing his anger, thus severely straining the concept of free speech, according to pro- abortionists.  He and millions of other fathers are not a consideration to the abortion crowd.

All the above is to say nothing of the embryonic stem cell research of Pepsi designed to improve the flavor and "health" of its drinks, thus causing customers to literally have death run through their very veins.  Nothing to see there, either.  Move along.

In sum, absolutely nothing will deter those committed to abortion on demand to moderate or the question their absolutism, even if it were to transpire that lampshades were being made out of fetal skin.

Because of the distorted absolute imperative of abortion on demand, in spite of the fact the United States of America's Declaration of Independence guarantees "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," our country has long since eclipsed the killing rate of any country with the possible exception of China.  Some 50,000,000 unborn babies have expired since the literally fatal Supreme Court decision "Roe vs. Wade" of 1973.

All of the killing has been justified by the aforementioned absolute, inalienable "moral right" of a woman's right to choose whether or not she wishes to carry her unborn child to term. No matter how gruesome the actualities of the mega-buck abortion industry are, no compromise by "pro-choice" advocates is accepted.  Abortion on demand throughout pregnancy, a woman's inalienable and moral  "right"  is adhered to steadfastly, though the means of killing the pre-born may vary according to efficiency and assurance of result; namely, a dead baby.

But unrestrained mass killing is always the result when human beings create an absolute right to destroy other members of the human race, be it Jews or the unborn.

The Left loves to posture as the truly compassionate segment of humanity, constantly tarring the Right as hopeless ideologues whose rigid morality sacrifices the common good.

But as history shows and current events prove, leftists turn out to be the ones hopelessly and willfully bemired in absolutist thinking that results in absolute carnage.

The Left has committed itself to feeding insatiable Death, who devours all in his path, belches up the bones and says,

"That was yummy, but I want more.

By the way, YOU look tasty..."
3759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty/International Law on: July 12, 2011, 10:22:35 AM
Very interesting Strat piece!

It raises serious questions, but it also answers questions I have had about what is their jurisdiction?  International Law may sound good but world government does not.  I recall that George Bush was unable to travel to Switzerland (allegedly) for fear of arrest.  Same could be true for Obama at some point over his handling of the bin Laden operation - shooting the unarmed in the head.  Unfortunately committees and conferences do not remove tyrannical dictators.  Wars do.

"the International Criminal Court (ICC), which became operational in 2002 in The Hague, Netherlands. The ICC has jurisdiction, under U.N. mandate, to prosecute individuals who have committed war crimes, genocide and other crimes against humanity. Its jurisdiction is limited to those places where recognized governments are unwilling or unable to carry out their own judicial processes. The ICC can exercise jurisdiction if the case is referred to the ICC prosecutor by an ICC state party signatory or the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) or if the prosecutor initiates the investigation him or herself."
3760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education/Parenting on: July 12, 2011, 09:28:09 AM
"The FAIR Education Act is the seventh sexual indoctrination law to teach the state’s children to regard homosexuality, transsexuality (sex-changes operations) and bisexuality as good and natural. This is another in an impressive string of legal victories by gay activists."

The funniest line was this: "...the left-leaning California State Legislature..."  - Aren't they out on a limb there?

Can't we go around the activists and get a majority of gays to agree that sex change operations are unnatural and that those people are freaks?  Bisexuality OTOH opens up so many more possibilities... sad  How about infidelity, was that popular practice inadvertently left out of the program?

Does anyone out there ever ask how they are doing at math and science.  We should be able to fire the whole education curriculum/union crowd over those results which would remove the need to argue over this.

Opt-out sex-ed is a program that did not work for our family.  For one thing a divided family means a parent does not have control and for another they will be more than happy to single out your child and make a scene regarding  removal of a kid from the classroom at the parent's request.  The problem to me isn't what my kid is exposed to as much as it is what all the others are learning / not learning about morals and values.  Pulling your own kid out does not slow the degradation of the society that your kid(s) will grow up to live in.
3761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Thomas Sowell - The Unknown unknowns on: July 12, 2011, 09:04:38 AM
More famous people caught reading the forum wink, Thomas Sowell picks up on the point about damage done by uncertainty.

The fact that intelligent and informed investors have no clue what tax or regulatory scheme they would operate under if they invested in the U.S. today gives us characteristics of a 3rd world country and does more damage perhaps than the actual taxes and regulations.  That damage of what positive economic activity did not happen because of these unknowns is immeasurable.
----------------------
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/07/12/unknown_unknowns_110534.html

July 12, 2011
Unknown Unknowns
By Thomas Sowell

When Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense, he coined some phrases about knowledge that apply far beyond military matters.

Secretary Rumsfeld pointed out that there are some things that we know that we know. He called those "known knowns." We may, for example, know how many aircraft carriers some other country has. We may also know that they have troops and tanks, without knowing how many. In Rumsfeld's phrase, that would be an "unknown known" -- a gap in our knowledge that we at least know exists.

Finally, there are things we don't even know exist, much less anything about them. These are "unknown unknowns" -- and they are the most dangerous. We had no clue, for example, when dawn broke on September 11, 2001, that somebody was going to fly two commercial airliners into the World Trade Center that day.

There are similar kinds of gaps in our knowledge in the economy. Unfortunately, our own government creates uncertainties that can paralyze the economy, especially when these uncertainties take the form of "unknown unknowns."

The short-run quick fixes that seem so attractive to so many politicians, and to many in the media, create many unknowns that make investors reluctant to invest and employers reluctant to employ. Politicians may only look as far ahead as the next election, but investors have to look ahead for as many years as it will take for their investments to start bringing in some money.

The net result is that both our financial institutions and our businesses have had record amounts of cash sitting idle while millions of people can't find jobs. Ordinarily these institutions make money by investing money and hiring workers. Why not now?

Because numerous and unpredictable government interventions create many unknowns, including "unknown unknowns."

The quick fix that got both Democrats and Republicans off the hook with a temporary bipartisan tax compromise, several months ago, leaves investors uncertain as to what the tax rate will be when any money they invest today starts bringing in a return in another two or three or ten years. It is known that there will be taxes but nobody knows what the tax rate will be then.

Some investors can send their investment money to foreign countries, where the tax rate is already known, is often lower than the tax rate in the United States and -- perhaps even more important -- is not some temporary, quick-fix compromise that is going to expire before their investments start earning a return.

Although more foreign investments were coming into the United States, a few years ago, than there were American investments going to foreign countries, today it is just the reverse. American investors are sending more of their money out of the country than foreign investors are sending here.

Since 2009, according to the Wall Street Journal, "the U.S. has lost more than $200 billion in investment capital." They add: "That is the equivalent of about two million jobs that don't exist on these shores and are now located in places like China, Germany and India."

President Obama's rhetoric deplores such "outsourcing," but his administration's policies make outsourcing an ever more attractive alternative to investing in the United States and creating American jobs.

Blithely piling onto American businesses both known costs like more taxes and unknowable costs -- such as the massive ObamaCare mandates that are still evolving -- provides more incentives for investors to send their money elsewhere to escape the hassles.

Hardly a month goes by without this administration coming up with a new anti-business policy -- whether directed against Boeing, banks or other private enterprises. Neither investors nor employers can know when the next one is coming or what it will be. These are unknown unknowns.

Such anti-business policies would just be business' problem, except that it is businesses that create jobs.

The biggest losers from creating an adverse business climate may not be businesses themselves -- especially not big businesses, which can readily invest more of their money overseas. The biggest losers are likely to be working people in America, who cannot just relocate to Europe or Asia to take the jobs created there by American multinational corporations.
3762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Flashback - The Democrats economic starting point on: July 12, 2011, 08:43:48 AM
I tacked this story on to another post elsewhere. but it bears repeating and inclusion in the great thread of political economics.  Obama argues that he inherited a mess, but he was part of the political-economic group that took majorities in Washington by storm in Nov. 2006, not Jan. 2009.  Pelosi-Reid-Obama-Biden-and Hillary were among the group that changed by 180 degrees the economic outlook for the country. 

So what was their starting point?

4.4% unemployment! 50 months continuous job growth.  A closing deficit.  Revenues to the Treasury exceeding (static) estimates by hundreds of billions of dollars.

The most timely and succinct story I have found about the state of affairs prior to that power shift is this story from CNN Money, dated Nov 3 2006, completely oblivious to the change of direction that is 4 days away except to note that the election is not going to be about the economy.  sad
-----------------
"Never bet against a fully-employed American work force,"..."With full employment and wages on the rise, you can forget any talk of recession."


http://money.cnn.com/2006/11/03/news/economy/jobs_october/
Unemployment sinks to 5-year low
Rate posts unexpected drop to lowest since May 2001; job growth revised higher.
By Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com senior writer
November 3 2006: 2:42 PM EST

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The unemployment rate fell to the lowest level in more than five years in October, the government reported Friday, a sign of unexpected strength in the job market.

The jobless rate sank to 4.4 percent from 4.6 percent in September, the Labor Department said. It was the lowest since May 2001. Economists had forecast the rate would hold steady.


But the September reading was revised up from the originally reported 51,000, and the increase, together with a revision to the August reading as well, had employment up 139,000 above earlier estimates heading into October. Those revisions and the modest October gain mean that 1.5 million jobs have been added so far this year, which is above forecast by most private economists, and blunts the effect of the modest October gain.

The Bush administration hailed the report, but one political analyst said it wasn't likely to help Republicans facing tough elections battles on Tuesday. Polls indicate the economy isn't the top issue in the midterm elections.

The tighter job market is apparently helping to lift wages, according to the Labor Department report, which showed that average wages rose 6 cents to $16.91 an hour last month, a shade above what economists had forecast.

Average wages are now up 3.9 percent over the last 12 months while the Consumer Price Index, the government's main inflation gauge, is up 2.1 percent for the 12 months ending in September, partly due to the recent sharp decline in oil prices. The spike in gas prices in September 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, also blunted the year-over-year gain in the price measure.

"All this points to a very robust labor market," said Steven Wieting, senior economist at Citigroup. "Almost all the data this week have been weak. It's possible that the cuts in production will clear the deck and set us up for strong growth in 2007."

Rich Yamarone, director of economic research at Argus Research, said he thinks the return to strong growth could come as soon as the fourth quarter.

"Never bet against a fully-employed American work force," he said. "With full employment and wages on the rise, you can forget any talk of recession."
3763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: July 12, 2011, 08:22:05 AM
"I don't like NAMBLA, I don't understand NAMBLA, I don't condone NAMBLA.  I'll never fund NAMBLA, join NAMBLA, or befriend anyone I know is a member of NAMBLA.  That does not mean that NAMBLA lacks political speech rights."
-------
Thank you Bigdog. I like the first part of that very much and I will grudging consider the truth of the last sentence.  

I know of one situation.  The man now in jail was a very prominent local person, head of the local bar association.  The unidentified boy, friend of the man's son, is someone we knew.  Top of the class student, never returned to school after testifying at the trial.  Has gone far away to counseling and school so in effect has lost his family in addition to his friends.  Man-boy 'love' is a crime with a victim. 

Maybe a bank robbers union can lobby against armed robbery restrictions, and rapists and murderers can argue for looser laws and lighter sentences, but no one needs to take their side or help their cause.  I personally find it to be more a perversion and exploitation of the Bill of Rights than a potential erosion - to claim we are unable differentiate those examples from real political speech.
3764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / One week later: Glen Beck re-runs still winning his time slot! on: July 11, 2011, 10:21:55 PM
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/beck-reruns-beat-cnn-msnbc/
3765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: July 11, 2011, 09:50:04 PM
What GM does not see is that we have been wrongfully legislating our values on these people with laws against bestiality, sex with young children, limiting marriage to a husband and a wife, and threatening to treat an identifiably distinct unborn life like its a life.  You say criminal conspiracy but they say oppression of their free spirit and desires that are morally equal to yours.

The problem I see with sex with sheep, sex with elementary aged school children and killing the unborn is establishing with certainty the consent of the other party.  How can anyone support child labor prohibitions but oppose restrictions on a child's choice of sex partners (or does ACLU oppose child labor laws as well?).  If children are capable of consent and deserving of liberty, couldn't we send them to war at 8 or 9 too.

Abhorrent speech is abhorrent speech.  The Supreme Court chooses its cases.  The ACLU could stand to choose its cases a little more carefully.  Twisting the meaning of founding principles does nothing IMO to defend the Bill of Rights.
3766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: July 11, 2011, 07:36:51 PM
 smiley Very Funny! That flew right over my head until a while after I narrowed down that it had to be aimed at my Anita Dunn post.  ("Two of my favorite political philosophers Mao (70 million dead) and Mother Theresa, two people I turn to most.") I'm sure Mao, Ghandi and Anita Dunn would all say - go for it Anita! If you can make a buck Anita from your fame and contacts at the highest levels and help the marketers of over-processed cereals sell heaping helpings of processed sugar and empty calorie neutered grains by using cartoon characters and every other means available to get children to rot their teeth and their brain every morning, what the hell do you care.  Take the money!  'Go find your own Calcutta.'  They were all Marxists until someone handed them their first million or two.  Pissing off Michelle Obama also might expose here other side.  'You fight your war [Michelle Obama], and I'll fight mine.  You figure out what's right for you... You fight your war and you let them fight theirs':

http://www.freedomslighthouse.com/2009/10/glenn-beck-reveals-video-of-anita-dunn.html

I knew I should have put it on the Glen Beck thread!
3767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / corruption etc: The revolving door between govt and lobbying on: July 11, 2011, 11:45:52 AM
I was surprised to learn the lead industry 'lobbyist'(?) managing the campaign of a group called the Sensible Food Policy Coalition, which includes General Mills, Kellogg, PepsiCo, and Time Warner, fighting against some of the Michelle Obama food initiatives, is Anita Dunn, former White House communications Director.
http://www.nationaljournal.com/healthcare/former-white-house-staffer-fights-obama-obesity-efforts-20110710
3768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Warren Buffet's Worst Investment on: July 11, 2011, 11:35:03 AM
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/271397/warren-buffett-s-worst-investment-kevin-d-williamson

Warren Buffett’s Worst Investment
July 8, 2011  Kevin D. Williamson

Barack Obama must be the worst investment Warren Buffett has ever made.

The billionaire investor famously supported Barack Obama, who in turn used Buffett as his amulet of normalcy: What, me radical? Tell it to this rich white guy from Omaha. One of the lamest things I can remember having seen in politics transpired in 2008 when Obama was challenged on his radical associations and used Buffett to change the subject. His phrasing was memorably odd: “Let me tell you who I associate with. On economic policy, I associate with Warren Buffett and former Fed chairman Paul Volcker. If I’m interested in figuring out my foreign policy, [Editorial aside: “If”?] I associate myself with my running mate, Joe Biden, or with Dick Lugar, the Republican ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations.”

So, here’s the wisdom of Associate Buffett on the debt ceiling: “We raised the debt ceiling seven times during the Bush administration. . . . We had debt at 120 percent of the GDP, far higher than this, after World War II, and no one went around threatenin­g that we’re going to ruin the credit of the United States or something in order to get a better balance of debt to GDP.”

Saving the world from Hitler was expensive, to be sure. But in 2011, we haven’t just saved the world from Hitler — we’ve just saved a bunch of bureaucrats and layabouts from honest labor. Not exactly comparable.

But what about World War II, anyway? Coming in at 25.3 percent of GDP, federal spending is higher today than it has been in any year since 1945. What did we do at the end of World War II? We cut spending — radically. In 1944, federal spending was 43.6 percent of GDP. By 1948 it was down to 11.6 percent of GDP. It edged up after that, but from 1948–60, federal spending averaged less than 17 percent of GDP. (Those were not the worst years in the history of the republic.)

What that means is that if federal spending as a share of GDP were reduced to that postwar average from 2012–16, we could balance the budget, start paying down the national debt, and cut taxes by $1 trillion over those five years. Grover Norquist could get his tax cuts, I could get my balanced budget, and Barack Obama still would preside over a government considerably bigger than FDR’s New Deal regime. Not my ideal outcome, but a decent compromise.

Inescapable conclusion: Spending is what is out of whack.

The federal government does a lot more today than it did in 1960. Are those things worth what they’re costing us? The price difference between Eisenhower’s Washington and Obama’s Washington is about 8.4 percent of GDP in 2011, or about $1.25 trillion, roughly the annual economic output of Australia, the thirteenth-largest economy in the world, or just shy of two Switzerlands.

If Warren Buffett thinks that’s a good buy, he’s losing his edge.
3769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Raising taxes in a struggling economy is "the last thing you want to do." on: July 11, 2011, 11:30:09 AM
Obama v. Obama
http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-vs-obama_576524.html
In the session, Obama rejected a Republican proposal to seek $2.5 trillion in spending cuts and reforms, and insisted on higher taxes on businesses and wealthy individuals.

It is so hard catching this guy in a contradiction. 
3770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: July 11, 2011, 11:20:40 AM
A couple of observations without jumping all the way in here.  There is a contention between what I think of liberty and what others with a more socialistic view think of justice.  I've always taken note that in the pledge liberty comes before justice.

The story that the ACLU helped Rush Limbaugh IIRC is that they were dragged in kicking and screaming.  Here we had a high profile political 'enemy' of theirs being publicly humiliated over a criminal charge that LE had no chance of proving without forceably opening his most personal and private records, violating his civil liberties.  In the early crucial days of the scandal, the story at least on one side was - where is the ACLU on this? Isn't this perhaps one of the highest profile violations ever of the types of civil liberties violations they stand so publicly for? After quite a delay (Oct to Jan?), yes they came in and put an end to that criticism.  Not on the news of the violation but (at least in perception) in response to a spreading question - where is the ACLU on this.

http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2004/1/12/143050.shtml
"It may seem odd that the ACLU has come to the defense of Rush Limbaugh," the state chapter's executive director, Howard Simon, said ..."
  - Why would that seem odd?

My question on it all is something like this, are not basic economic freedoms a part of civil liberties?  Does the ACLU ever fight against 62% taxation in MN for example or the right of a shopkeeper in Abilene to not have Washington set his minimum wage, or the right across the country to choose fee for service healthcare?
3771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs, spending, budget process, Who said this? on: July 09, 2011, 01:06:10 PM
The junior senator from Illinois, I would guess...

Obama: "The U.S. total debt at this point exceeds eight trillion dollars. That’s eight trillion with a “t”."

No, Senator, that would now be fourteen trillion with an 'F'.

Mentioned previously but I strongly believe that Obama in particular and Dems in general are getting a free pass for their part in bad governance and direction in the 2 years prior to his Presidency.  Everybody knew then that power had shifted and the lame duck became totally inconsequential on all matters domestic.  Debt was 8 trillion and unemployment was 4.4%!  THAT was the mess Republicans left when Obama et al took power.  Welfare rights advocates were empowered and investors were preparing to head for the hills.  Whatever the jobs program was before these guys came in is hope and change we are looking for.
-----
http://money.cnn.com/2006/11/03/news/economy/jobs_october/
Unemployment sinks to 5-year low
Rate posts unexpected drop to lowest since May 2001; job growth revised higher.
By Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com senior writer
November 3 2006

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The unemployment rate fell to the lowest level in more than five years in October, the government reported Friday, a sign of unexpected strength in the job market.  The jobless rate sank to 4.4 percent from 4.6 percent in September, the Labor Department said. It was the lowest since May 2001.
3772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: July 08, 2011, 11:35:55 PM
Famous and influential people have been known to read the forum (we allege) and what I wrote was partly tongue in cheek taunting her to stay on, in the face of others telling her to move on.  Did anyone who criticized me read the Bloomberg link that caused the post?  Bloomberg, and Bloomberg quoting the AP: "the growing chorus calling for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to step down... what 'Democrats and liberals' consider a 'nightmare vision of the Supreme Court’s future'... "   

This story is about what others are telling Ginsburg, not about Ginsburg.  I am aware she is a cancer survivor, but the word 'cancer' is not in the story nor anything else about her being sick, tired, bored or wanting to spend more time with family.  She did NOT retire and so cancer is not / was not the reason (so far) for her departure... (Is there an emoticon for frustration?)  Even the subtitlers at Bloomberg called this aging court watch obsession "A Creepy Pastime"!  The justices or the morgue will tell us when they are done; it is a lifetime appointment.  Most guesses about who will DIE next are wrong BTW.

If liberals are telling her their fear that Obama is about to lose the White House and Democrats are about to lose the senate, that the American people cannot be trusted to choose either body correctly and that we are about to face "a nightmare situation" (aka consent of the governed), but that could be avoided (manipulated) if only she would give up her seat BEFORE she otherwise wants to in order to influence or control decisions beyond her own years of service... if they can say THAT, then I can step up on my soapbox and tell her the other side of the story.  That is my right and she can handle a little taunt and pull in the opposite direction: 

Ruth, if you have a couple of good years left, serve them.  Serve America.  How could some newbie have the wisdom you have gained from your experience, and they keep picking them younger and younger.  This is still YOUR term.  78 is nothing, you look great.  Being a cancer survivor is not a disqualifier and you are not responsible for decisions made after your lifetime of service.  Oliver Wendell Holmes served until 90 and women live longer on average than men.  Don't let the nattering nabobs of negativity push you out of the job you earned and are entitled to.  Do it for yourself.  Do it for America.  Trust the American people and whoever they choose for President and Senate next (could be 4 more years of the same) to do the right thing whenever YOU say you are done.  Do it for the other cancer survivors that deserve respect, dignity and all the longevity they can get in their own lives and careers.  Stay the course Ruth!  smiley
--------------------
This whole thing sounds like Monty Python Holy Grail plague humor in real life:

  MORTICIAN:  Bring out your dead!
      [clang]  (repeat)
  CUSTOMER:  Here's one -- nine pence.
  DEAD PERSON:  I'm not dead!
  MORTICIAN:  What?
  CUSTOMER:  Nothing -- here's your nine pence.
  DEAD PERSON:  I'm not dead!
  MORTICIAN:  Here -- he says he's not dead!
  CUSTOMER:  Yes, he is.
  DEAD PERSON:  I'm not!
  MORTICIAN:  He isn't.
  CUSTOMER:  Well, he will be soon, he's very ill.
  DEAD PERSON:  I'm getting better!
  CUSTOMER:  No, you're not -- you'll be stone dead in a moment.
  MORTICIAN:  Oh, I can't take him like that -- it's against regulations.
  DEAD PERSON:  I don't want to go in the cart!
  CUSTOMER:  Oh, don't be such a baby.
  MORTICIAN:  I can't take him...
  DEAD PERSON:  I feel fine!
  CUSTOMER:  Oh, do us a favor...
  MORTICIAN:  I can't.
  CUSTOMER:  Well, can you hang around a couple of minutes?  He won't
      be long.
  MORTICIAN:  Naaah, I got to go on to Robinson's -- they've lost nine
      today.
  CUSTOMER:  Well, when is your next round?
  MORTICIAN:  Thursday.
  DEAD PERSON:  I think I'll go for a walk.
  CUSTOMER:  You're not fooling anyone y'know.  Look, isn't there
      something you can do?
  DEAD PERSON:  I feel happy... I feel happy.
      [whop]
  CUSTOMER:  Ah, thanks very much.
  MORTICIAN:  Not at all.  See you on Thursday.
  CUSTOMER:  Right.
      [clop clop]
3773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: 6 minutes of Marco Rubio on the Senate Floor on: July 08, 2011, 10:58:49 AM
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/07/07/sen_rubio_we_dont_need_new_taxes_we_need_new_taxpayers.html

Without a teleprompter, with passion, this is what clarity and vision looks like and how it ties to the details of government policies.  Rubio is every candidate's VP choice.  He makes Ronald Reagan look unsure of himself and soft on freedom.  But can he hold his own in a debate with Joe Biden?

Watch this and then click the 'Play again' button.  Play it for your family and  send it to your friends.  If you are non-political - watch this video.  Do any of these things Obama and the Democrats are proposing grow jobs or fix the deficit?  The answer is no.  Someone needs to explain it and call them on it.

Rubio: "I've never met a single job creator who's ever said to me I can't wait until government raises taxes again so I can go out and create a job.  And I'm curious to know if they say that in New Hampshire because they don't say that in Florida. And so my view on all this is I want to know how many jobs these tax increases the president proposes will create because if they're not creating jobs and they're not creating new taxpayers, they're not solving the problem."

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/07/07/sen_rubio_we_dont_need_new_taxes_we_need_new_taxpayers.html
3774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Constitutional Law: Composition of the Court on: July 08, 2011, 10:28:33 AM
Speculation by everyone but Ruth Bader Ginsburg (78) that she may need to step down shortly or risk 4, no 8-16 years of Republican rule.  I wonder what type of Justice that a President Bachmann would pick to replace her...  grin

My view is that 78 is not that old if everything upstairs is working.  To abandon her term midway (pulling a Palin?) for political timing purposes to manipulate justice decades out would be an insult to the framers, the voters and to the republic. Stay the course Prof. Ginsburg!

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-07/liberal-fears-threaten-a-justice-s-job-commentary-by-stephen-l-carter.html

3775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: July 08, 2011, 09:36:37 AM
"the US DOJ will go after the state of Arizona and Maricopa county sheriff for trying to protect it's citizens from the illegal alien invasion, while it runs guns into Mexico and arms those illegals in AZ."

I simply don't understand this scandal/operation.  Is there someone of authority stepping forward and explaining this is what we did and this is why we did it?  Arming cross-border militants (what could possibly go wrong?) at a time we should be attacking INSIDE Iran for doing the same thing?  Maybe it will all come out in congressional hearings:

http://pl-mgroup-akamai.powerlineblog.com/admin/ed-assets/2011/07/RAMclr-070811-fast-IBD.jpg.cms_.jpeg
3776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 07, 2011, 09:12:13 PM
"Iowahawk is a genius!" ... continued here:

http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2011/07/questions-so-many-questions.html

Are you in favor of gay marriage for Libyan bombing crews on Boeing planes made in South Carolina?

Would you get tougher with Iran if you knew they were working with Scott Walker?

When your economic advisers hold policy meetings, do they stuff a towel at the bottom of the door?

3777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 07, 2011, 06:04:43 PM
Twitter question for the President from Iowahawk.  (He did not answer this one.)

"An $8 billion high speed train leaves Chicago for Iowa City at 8:15am at 40mph. Why?"

http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2011/07/questions-so-many-questions.html
Much more at the link!
3778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / America's Inner City: Programs encourage dependency, diminish motivation on: July 07, 2011, 08:48:46 AM
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/07/06/obama_acknowledges_welfare_programs_encourage_dependency.html

"Well, you know, here's what I would say. I think we should acknowledge that some welfare programs in the past were not well designed and in some cases did encourage dependency. As somebody who worked in low income neighborhoods, I've seen it, where people weren't encouraged to work, weren't encouraged to upgrade their skills, were just getting a check, and, over time, their motivation started to diminish. And I think even if you're progressive you've got to acknowledge that some of these things have not been well designed."  - Pres. Barack Obama  July 6, 2011  (video at link)
3779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - He Made it Worse on: July 07, 2011, 08:42:51 AM
These are some stats of the incumbent administration.  My approach is to go back 2 more years to when Dems truly took over Washington.  'Breakeven' growth economically in America is about 3.1%.  So-called 2% growth is actually moving the country backwards.
-------------
http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/577501/201107061854/Romneys-Right-It-Is-Worse-Now.htm  (excerpted)

There are 2 million fewer private-sector jobs now than when Obama was sworn in, and the unemployment rate is 1.5 percentage points higher.

• There are now more long-term unemployed than at any time since the government started keeping records.

• The U.S. dollar is more than 12% weaker.

• The number of Americans on food stamps has climbed 37%.

• The Misery Index (unemployment plus inflation) is up 62%.

• And the national debt is about 40% higher than it was in January 2009.

In fact, reporters who bother to look will discover that Obama has managed to produce the worst recovery on record.

By this point in the Reagan recovery after the 1981-82 recession, for example, unemployment had been knocked down to 7.4% from a peak of 10.8%, and quarterly GDP growth averaged a screaming 7%.
3780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: The Alibi Incumbent, Is this the best we can do? on: July 07, 2011, 08:28:24 AM
George Will today. The ending points to Gov. Rick Perry?

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/opinion/op_ed/view/2011_0707alibi_obama_is_ripe_for_takedown_ready-made_slogan_is_this_the_best_we_can_do/

‘Alibi Obama’ is ripe for takedown
Ready-made slogan: ‘Is this the best we can do?
By George F. Will- Updated 10 hours ago

“If he popped up in the pinch he should of made a base hit and the reason he didn’t was so-and-so. And if he cracked one for three bases he ought to had a home run, only the ball wasn’t lively, or the wind brought it back, or he tripped on a lump o’ dirt, roundin’ first base.”

— Ring Lardner,

“Alibi Ike” (1915)

WASHINGTON — The Republicans’ 2012 presidential nominee will run against Alibi Ike. Lardner, a Chicago sportswriter, created that character (“His right name was Frank X. Farrell, and I guess the X stood for ‘Excuse me.’ ”) who resembles Chicagoan Barack Obama. After blaming his predecessor for this and that, and after firing all the arrows in liberalism’s quiver — the stimulus, cash for clunkers, etc. — Obama seems poised to blame the recovery’s anemia on Republican resistance to simultaneously raising the debt ceiling and taxes.

So the Republican nominee’s campaign theme can already be written. In 1960, candidate John Kennedy’s theme was: “We can do better.” In 2012, the Republican candidate should say “Is this the best we can do?”

In the contest to determine who will wield those words, there have been three important recent developments: Michele Bachmann’s swift ascent into the top tier of candidates, Tim Pawlenty’s perch there becoming wobbly and Jon Huntsman’s mystifying approach to securing a place there.

Bachmann has been propelled by three strengths: Her natural aptitude, honed by considerable practice, has made her formidable at the presentational side of politics. She has perfect pitch for the nominating electorate’s passions. And she has substantive private- and public-sector experience, as a tax lawyer and as a legislator on, among others, the House Intelligence Committee.

But she also has a deficiency — indiscipline — that can, if not promptly corrected, vitiate her assets. Unprepared for the intense scrutiny presidential campaigns receive, she trustingly repeats things told to her (confusing Concord, Mass., with Concord, N.H., and John Wayne with the mass murderer John Wayne Gacy), and she plunges into peripheral and utterly optional subjects she has not mastered (e.g., the Founders and slavery). Her staff, which is not ready for prime time, is not serving as a filter to protect her from eager but misinformed supporters, and from herself.

Pawlenty, a more ardent than discerning admirer of John McCain, is suddenly echoing McCain’s unhistorical and nonsensical canard that skepticism about nation-building in Afghanistan and opposition to the intervention in Libya’s civil war constitute isolationism. “America,” Pawlenty says, astonishingly, “already has one political party devoted to decline, retrenchment and withdrawal. It does not need a second one.” The Democratic Party supporting a Democratic president’s plunge into Libya is devoted to “withdrawal”? If only.

Occasionally there are Democratic presidential candidates who appeal to people who really do not like Democrats (e.g., former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt in 1988), and Republicans who appeal to people who think Republicans are among nature’s mistakes (e.g., Illinois Rep. John Anderson in 1980). Huntsman seems to be auditioning for this role, which is puzzling, because such people are not nominated.

Huntsman’s campaign manager, John Weaver, a former McCain man, believes the Republican Party is “nowhere near being a national governing party” — a view usually held by people called Democrats — and that the “simple reason” is: “No one wants to be around a bunch of cranks.” Many of the cranks are called ... the Republican nominating electorate.

Announcing his candidacy near the Statue of Liberty, where Ronald Reagan began his 1980 post-convention campaign, Huntsman promised “civility” because “I don’t think you need to run down someone’s reputation” when running for president. Actually, you do.

You must say why your opponent deserves a reputation for inadequacy. So Reagan at that spot said Jimmy Carter’s “whole sorry record” was “a litany of despair, of broken promises, of sacred trusts abandoned and forgotten.” Reagan said Carter’s “cynical” proposals had produced “human tragedy, human misery, the crushing of the human spirit.” Reagan’s forthrightness was neither uncivil nor, in the electorate’s November opinion, untrue.

Who will carry the “Is This the Best We Can Do?” banner? So far, the serene front-runner, Mitt Romney, has nothing to fear from Huntsman’s politics of high-mindedness. Bachmann’s saliency with social conservatives, and the lurchings of Pawlenty’s campaign, threaten Pawlenty’s all-in wager on Iowa. And the potential fragility of Bachmann’s campaign turns attention to the last piece of the Republican puzzle — Texas’ Gov. Rick Perry, a high-octane social and economic conservative whom nobody could confuse with Alibi Ike.
3781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People: Illegal Gunrunner Operation on: July 07, 2011, 08:14:18 AM
Should Eric Holder (and Obama) be tried in Mexico or in America (or at The Hague) for this type of crime?
3782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Obama's Jewish support down 22% on: July 06, 2011, 02:40:54 PM
 56 percent of Jewish Americans said they would vote to reelect Obama over a generic Republican candidate if the elections were held today...
78 percent of Jewish voters cast a ballot for Obama in 2008
http://thehill.com/opinion/columnists/dick-morris/169715-obama-losing-jewish-voters
3783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 06, 2011, 11:27:17 AM
JDN, My 2cents: half-right.  It is: who can carry BOTH - conservatives and independents.  Who can win the nomination AND win the general election, not just who can win independents and a general election.  People remember the McCain experience.  He headed into the general election needing to reach rightward for a base when he should have been reaching out to the rest.

Now we are in the beauty pageant phase - ideological beauty - and that choice at the moment from the activists is Bachmann over Cain, Gingrich, Paul, Santorum.  On the competence and stature side it is Romney over Pawlenty and Huntsman.

Next come all the twists and turns along the way.  Huntsman and Pawlenty aren't out of it IMO yet.  They each need to establish what they seem to be missing and they need to be in a position to benefit from someone else faltering which is bound to happen.  As Dick Morris put it, these are the quarterfinals through this year and in the earliest primaries.

My thought on Huntsman at this point is that we got the wrong one.  Jon Jr. is a great guy but it was his father who really was the achiever.
3784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Constitutional Law: Lax Scrutiny, Correcting O'Connor's Mistakes on: July 06, 2011, 10:33:35 AM
James Taranto/WSJ Opinion: "Not only is Judge Cole's decision unlikely to withstand appeal, it could provide an opening for the Supreme Court to revisit its 2003 ruling that upheld Michigan's racial preferences."

How do you find 5 justices to uphold race discrimination without O'Connor? "Roberts wrote [in 2007] "the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." Scalia, Thomas and Alito joined that portion of Roberts' opinion..." and Kennedy (and Scalia and Thomas) already dissented in 2003 Gretter v Bollinger.
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Justice O'Connor's Lax Scrutiny
A new ruling in favor of racial preferences could spell their doom.

By JAMES TARANTO

"Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said . . . he will appeal a court ruling that overturned the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which bans the use of race and gender preferences in college admissions," the Detroit News reported Friday. Earlier the same day, a panel of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to strike down the initiative, also known as Proposal 2, as unconstitutional.

If you're hearing about this for the first time, you may have the same reaction we did, which is to wonder how in the world a court could find that Michigan's racial preferences in college admissions--which barely passed constitutional muster when the Supreme Court upheld them eight years ago--are constitutionally required. Perhaps the Equal Protection Clause allows for some exceptions, but it's downright Orwellian to claim that equal protection implies mandatory discrimination.

Well, it's complicated. Judge R. Guy Cole, who wrote the ruling in the unwieldily named case of Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary v. Regents of the University of Michigan (hereinafter BAMN), was clever enough to avoid reaching a conclusion that is ridiculous on its face. Instead, taking his cue from the plaintiff organization's name, he came at it from a different angle.

His ruling concedes that the Equal Protection Clause does not require Michigan to maintain policies that discriminate in favor of minorities. It concludes, however, that the means by which the state banned such discrimination--a ballot measure amending the Michigan Constitution--violated the clause. "Proposal 2 unconstitutionally alters Michigan's political structure by impermissibly burdening racial minorities," he wrote.

That conclusion is consistent with a pair of decades-old Supreme Court precedents. But it is too clever by half. Not only is Judge Cole's decision unlikely to withstand appeal, it could provide an opening for the Supreme Court to revisit its 2003 ruling that upheld Michigan's racial preferences.

The two precedents on which Cole bases his conclusion are Hunter v. Erickson (1969) and Washington v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1 (1982). In Hunter the Supreme Court struck down an Akron, Ohio, ballot initiative that had repealed a municipal fair-housing ordinance and required that any future laws against housing discrimination be approved by a majority of voters as well as the City Council.

In a decision by Justice Byron White, the court held 8-1 that although Akron was under no obligation to enact a fair-housing law, the creation of an additional hurdle that such legislation must pass constituted an invidious distinction "between those groups who sought the law's protection against racial, religious, or ancestral discriminations in the sale and rental of real estate and those who sought to regulate real property transactions in the pursuit of other ends." Since those in the former group belonged to minorities that are protected from discrimination, the ballot measure violated equal protection.

But how could the Akron initiative, whose effect was to permit discrimination, be the equivalent for equal protection purposes of the Michigan initiative, which prohibited discrimination? That's where Seattle comes in. Washington's largest city used what was known as "forced busing" to encourage racial mixing in its public schools. Washington voters approved Initiative 350, a statewide ban on busing for racial integration. The high court struck down the measure, holding that, like the Akron one 13 years earlier, it unconstitutionally burdened minority members, who were the presumed beneficiaries of busing.

Justice Harry Blackmun's opinion took the court into Orwellian territory. He wrote "that the initiative established an impermissible racial classification in violation of Hunter v. Erickson, . . . 'because it permits busing for non-racial reasons but forbids it for racial reasons.' " By such logic, if one can even call it that, the Equal Protection Clause violates itself, because it permits discrimination for a host of nonracial reasons but forbids it for racial reasons.

There is nonetheless an important distinction between forced busing circa 1982 and racial preferences in college admissions today. The constitutionality of the former was not then in dispute. In Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971), the justices had unanimously blessed judicially mandated busing as a remedy for de jure (state-imposed) segregation.

Seattle's segregation was merely de facto, and its busing program had not been imposed by a court. The justices had not expressly upheld busing in such circumstances. But Blackmun noted in a footnote that the "appellants . . . do not challenge the propriety of race-conscious student assignments for the purpose of achieving integration, even absent a finding of prior de jure segregation." (Such assignments would be successfully challenged, in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, in 2007.)

By contrast, the constitutionality of the University of Michigan's racial preferences had been called into question before Proposal 2 was enacted, in a pair of cases that reached the Supreme Court in 2003. In Gratz v. Bollinger, the court struck down the university's undergraduate preferences. In Grutter v. Bollinger, the court, in a 5-4 ruling written by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, upheld the law school's supposedly somewhat looser preferences--but on very narrow grounds (citations and needless brackets omitted from all quotations of court opinions):

    As part of its goal of "assembling a class that is both exceptionally academically qualified and broadly diverse," the Law School seeks to "enroll a 'critical mass' of minority students." The Law School's interest is not simply "to assure within its student body some specified percentage of a particular group merely because of its race or ethnic origin." That would amount to outright racial balancing, which is patently unconstitutional. Rather, the Law School's concept of critical mass is defined by reference to the educational benefits that diversity is designed to produce.

Here is Judge Cole explaining why Proposal 2 resembles Washington's antibusing initiative:

    Proposal 2, like Initiative 350, has a "racial focus," because the Michigan universities' affirmative-action programs "inure primarily to the benefit of the minority, and [are] designed for that purpose," for the reasons articulated by the Court in Seattle. Just as the desegregative busing programs at issue in Seattle were designed to improve racial minorities' representation at many public schools, race-conscious admissions policies increase racial minorities' representation at institutions of higher education. Indeed, underrepresented minorities lobbied for the adoption of such policies at Michigan's universities in the first place for this reason, and, further, the unrebutted evidence in the record indicates that Proposal 2 will likely negatively impact minority representation at Michigan's institutions of higher education. Ample evidence thus grounds our conclusion that race-conscious admissions policies "inure primarily to the benefit of the minority."

How can Judge Cole's finding that Michigan's racial preferences were designed to "inure primarily to the benefit of the minority" be reconciled with binding Supreme Court precedent that such preferences can be justified only by "the educational benefits" of a "diverse student body"?

Cole's awkwardly written attempt to finesse the problem only makes it more glaring. He claims his conclusion that Proposal 2 has a "racial focus" as required by Hunter and Seattle "is not impacted by the fact that increased representation of racial minorities in higher education also benefits students of other groups and our nation as a whole." Thus he reduces the purported educational benefits of diversity--the entire basis on which the high court rested the constitutionality of Michigan's racial preferences--to an afterthought.

Unless the full Sixth Circuit overturns Judge Cole's ruling, it is a certainty that the Supreme Court will take it up, for it raises questions of the sort that only the justices can resolve. Not only does it expose a tension between two lines of the high court's jurisprudence, but there is also a split between appellate courts. The Ninth Circuit has upheld Proposition 209, a similar ballot initiative from California.

The justices could resolve BAMN in three different ways. The narrowest, because it would leave all existing precedents undisturbed, would be to hold that the Hunter and Seattle framework does not apply to Proposal 2 because the court has already held in Grutter that the constitutionality of the policies in question depends on their having not been designed to "inure primarily to the benefit of the minority." Since the four liberal justices have a strong interest in preserving the "diversity" rationale for racial preferences--especially Elena Kagan, a former elite law school dean--such a ruling could very well go 9-0.

The court could strike down the 1982 Seattle ruling and hold that ballot initiatives or similar measures that affect race are constitutional as long as the substance of the policy in question does not offend equal protection. Seattle is an anachronism anyway: a 5-4 decision in favor of an obsolete social policy by a court whose members have all since retired, died or both. So it's hard to predict how today's justices would come down on that one.

The most aggressive approach--and therefore perhaps the unlikeliest, but also the one that would be most satisfying to those of us who care about the integrity of the law--would be to use BAMN as an opportunity to revisit Grutter. Judge Cole's assertion that Michigan's racial preferences were designed to "inure primarily to the benefit of the minority" may, after all, be true. We think it is. If we are right, the "diversity" rationale that the Grutter majority accepted was a fraud.

That would mean the court was derelict in its duty, as Justice Anthony Kennedy argued in his Grutter dissent:

    The separate opinion by Justice [Lewis] Powell in Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke is based on the principle that a university admissions program may take account of race as one, nonpredominant factor in a system designed to consider each applicant as an individual, provided the program can meet the test of strict scrutiny by the judiciary. . . . If strict scrutiny is abandoned or manipulated to distort its real and accepted meaning, the Court lacks authority to approve the use of race even in this modest, limited way. The opinion by Justice Powell, in my view, states the correct rule for resolving this case. The Court, however, does not apply strict scrutiny. By trying to say otherwise, it undermines both the test and its own controlling precedents.

If the current court revisits Grutter, the result will certainly be a 5-4 ruling over bitter liberal dissent. It probably won't quite spell the end of racial preferences in university admissions, for Kennedy endorsed the "diversity" rationale in theory. His dissent was from O'Connor's travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham of strict scrutiny.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, by contrast, did not accept the proposition that diversity justifies discrimination. And although Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito have not weighed in directly on the question, Roberts wrote in his 2007 Parents Involved opinion that "the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." Scalia, Thomas and Alito joined that portion of Roberts's opinion, but Kennedy did not.

It is unusual for the court to reconsider its own constitutional precedents when it can decide a case more narrowly. But that's just what the justices did last year in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, when a 5-4 majority led by Justice Kennedy overturned another 2003 O'Connor precedent. If BAMN reaches the high court, Kennedy will again have an opportunity to correct one of O'Connor's mistakes.
3785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 06, 2011, 09:17:01 AM
8% say the economy is good?  That number seems high, are we measuring sense of humor?

87% approval among blacks? Yes, but they won't show up in anywhere near the same numbers as 2008.  The excitement is gone.  Black unemployment is way up.  Obama is the first (half)black President and that was historic, but nothing magical came to them for it.  Blacks as a group fare better like everyone else in pro-growth times like under Presidents Reagan and Clinton  than under Obama.  Obama may win 87% of blacks or more in exit polls, but far lower in number of votes than in 2008.

The comparison to Bush at 20-24% approval is in the 2006-2008 period, not 2004.  Conservatives turned against Bush after reelection while liberals at this point believe Obama is their best and only bet.

Bush approvals in 2004 were roughly where Obama is now (http://www.hist.umn.edu/~ruggles/Approval.htm).  2004 was about war but Bush had pro-growth policies kicking in by that time while Obama has put nothing in motion to grow the economy, is still working further on an anti-growth agenda (spread the prosperity), and recession fatigue has already set in.

Pretty hard to say 'stay the course' when no one can identify in a positive way what the course is. 

The only campaign slogan they have come up with so far is that everything was far worse than we thought when we got here (Bush's fault).

Missing from the Republican campaigns IMO is any attempt to pin some blame for the 2008 financial collapse onto the Pelosi-Reid-Obama congress that took Washington by storm in Nov 2006, promising anti-growth / anti-productive investment measures, right when unemployment was at its lowest point.
3786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: July 05, 2011, 06:44:13 PM
If we wanted to squeeze the profit per gallon and power and influence out of oil companies, we would expand production, not curtail it.  Companies like Exxon-Mobil and Koch are in a business that includes owning oil at the various points of the production and transportation process.  When prices are forced up with excessive regulations, it forces out competition, forces up prices and gives a windfall to big oil companies.  I wonder if that is what the Obama policies intend.
3787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science, Longest Utah Ski season in Snowbiird History on: July 05, 2011, 06:12:31 PM
I love this story. Just a few years ago I remember Copper Mountain Colorado warning that snow skiing die as a sport because of global warming.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705375684/Snowbird-caps-longest-season-with-holiday-skiing.html

Snowbird caps longest season with Fourth of July snow skiing
Published: Monday, July 4, 2011
LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON (Utah) — A few thousand mostly red-and-blue-clad skiers celebrated the Fourth of July on the white slopes at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort.  By being open for skiing Monday Snowbird set a record for the number of days it was able to stay open in a single season with 202...
Snowbird also had a record for snowfall this season, with 783 inches...
(For those of us who appreciate skiing in fresh powder, that is over 65 feet of snow in one season!)
3788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Demagogic Dishonesty on: July 05, 2011, 04:41:20 PM
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/07/01/corporate_jets_and_tax_breaks__110438.html

July 1, 2011
Corporate Jets and Tax Breaks
By Jonah Goldberg

President Obama's core message in his Wednesday press conference, his first since March, could be found in his advice to Republicans. "You go talk to your constituents and ask them, ‘Are you willing to compromise your kids' safety so some corporate-jet owner can get a tax break?'"

This was just one of six shots the president took at corporate-jet owners. A novice might be forgiven for thinking that the president really doesn't like corporate jets or that the Republicans cared so much about the darn things that they had proposed crossing out "arms" in the Second Amendment and replacing it with "corporate jets." Where's Charlton Heston to proclaim, "From my cold dead hands you can have my Learjet 85 . . . "?

A novice might also think that tax status of corporate jets is of disproportionate significance in how to move this country toward a balanced budget.

But the novice would be wrong. For starters, Obama's most recent budget calls for adding $9.5 trillion in new debt over the next decade. If you got rid of the "accelerated depreciation" of corporate jets, Reuters economics columnist James Pethokoukis calculates, it would save a whopping .03 percent of that total.

Sadly, the room was full of journalists who do not consider themselves novices but who nonetheless let Obama get away with this demagogic dishonesty. No one asked the president why he suddenly cares so much about getting rid of a tax break he himself was for before he was against it. Indeed, no one asked why, if it is such an affront to the liberal conscience, it was part of Obama's stimulus bill, which was passed without any Republican votes in the House and only three in the Senate (which means Nancy Pelosi voted for special tax breaks for corporate jets and the GOP didn't).

More broadly, no one threw a flag on his claim that "every single observer who's not an elected official, who's not a politician," agrees with him on the burning need to raise taxes as part of any budget deal. This is a good example of Obama's most grating tic, his need to claim that all reasonable and serious people agree with him and anyone who disagrees must be doing so for base or ideological motives.

No one queried why he talks about the need to raise taxes on "millionaires and billionaires" but the fine print of his proposals defines millionaires and billionaires as people who make $200,000 a year as individuals or $250,000 as joint-filing couples. Jay Duckson at Central Business Jets tells the Wall Street Journal that the starting price for a private jet is $10 million dollars. Annual upkeep and fuel is about $500,000. You do the math.

This points to what is most offensive about Obama's focus-grouped class-warfare rhetoric: the total incoherence of the underlying policies.

The day before his press conference, Obama was in Bettendorf, Iowa, at the Alcoa Davenport Works plant to highlight his economic vision for manufacturing. "Alcoa is showing us the future we can build here in eastern Iowa and across the country," he proclaimed.

"The idea is to create jobs now, and to make sure America stays on the cutting edge of manufacturing for years to come," Obama declared.

The factory Obama visited, however, isn't a generic aluminum plant. It is, according to Alcoa, the "premier aerospace supply plant and is today the hub of Alcoa's $3 billion aerospace business."

That includes the general aviation industry, which is centered in Wichita, Kan., where they make private jets "right here in America" as Obama likes to say. The upshot: Obama says that Alcoa must lose business among American customers to repeal a tax break Obama and the Democrats supported because Republicans want to balance the budget.

To be fair, Alcoa's biggest customers aren't manufacturers of private jets but the big manufacturers of commercial jets - you know, like Boeing. Well, that company is being told by Obama's union-hack-packed National Labor Relations Board that it cannot open a new manufacturing plant in South Carolina, because to do so would offend Obama's beloved unions in Washington State.

The point isn't that there's no merit to any of Obama's positions (personally, I'm all for clearing the junk out of the tax code). The point is that at this point merit simply has nothing to do with the positions Obama takes.
3789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran providing weapons that are killing Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan on: July 05, 2011, 04:29:07 PM
"Iran's elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has transferred lethal new munitions to its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent months, according to senior U.S. officials"

And the consequence for prosecuting two covert wars against a United States led by President Obama is .....     nothing??
-----------------------------
Iran Funnels New Weapons to Iraq and Afghanistan

By JAY SOLOMON

TEHRAN—Iran's elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has transferred lethal new munitions to its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent months, according to senior U.S. officials, in a bid to accelerate the U.S. withdrawals from these countries.

The Revolutionary Guard has smuggled rocket-assisted exploding projectiles to its militia allies in Iraq, weapons that have already resulted in the deaths of American troops, defense officials said. They said Iranians have also given long-range rockets to the Taliban in Afghanistan, increasing the insurgents' ability to hit U.S. and other coalition positions from a safer distance.

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Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
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Such arms shipments would escalate the shadow competition for influence playing out between Tehran and Washington across the Middle East and North Africa, fueled by U.S. preparations to draw down forces from two wars and the political rebellions that are sweeping the region.

The U.S. is wrestling with the aftermath of uprisings against longtime Arab allies from Tunisia to Bahrain, and trying to leave behind stable, friendly governments in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran appears to be trying to gain political ground amid the turmoil and to make the U.S. withdrawals as quick and painful as possible.

"I think we are likely to see these Iranian-backed groups continue to maintain high attack levels" as the exit date nears, Maj. Gen. James Buchanan, the U.S. military's top spokesman in Iraq, said in an interview. "But they are not going to deter us from doing everything we can to help the Iraqi security forces."

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A security check in Baghdad on June 6, a day when attacks the U.S. links to Iranian arms killed six Americans.
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In June, 15 U.S. servicemen died in Iraq, the highest monthly casualty figure there in more than two years. The U.S. has attributed all the attacks to Shiite militias it says are are trained by the Revolutionary Guards, rather than al Qaeda or other Sunni groups that were the most lethal forces inside Iraq a few years ago.

In Afghanistan, the Pentagon has in recent months traced to Iran the Taliban's acquisition of rockets that give its fighters roughly double the range to attack North Atlantic Treaty Organization and U.S. targets. U.S. officials said the rockets' markings, and the location of their discovery, give them a "high degree" of confidence that they came from the Revolutionary Guard's overseas unit, the Qods Force.

U.S. defense officials are also increasingly concerned that Iran's stepped-up military activities in the Persian Gulf could inadvertently trigger a clash. A number of near misses involving Iranian and allied ships and planes in those waters in recent months have caused Navy officials to call for improved communication in the Gulf.

Iran's assertive foreign policy comes amid a growing power struggle between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Many of the president's closest aides have been detained on alleged corruption charges in recent weeks, raising questions as to whether Mr. Ahmadinejad will serve out his term.U.S. and European officials also say Iran has grown increasingly aggressive in trying to influence the political rebellions across the Middle East and North Africa. Tehran is alleged to have dispatched military advisers to Syria to help President Bashar al-Assad put down a popular uprising.

In recent months, according to U.S. officials, Iran has also increased its intelligence and propaganda activities in Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen, countries where pro-U.S. leaders have either fallen or come under intense pressure.

Iranian officials denied in interviews and briefings this week that the Revolutionary Guard played any role in arming militants in Iraq and Afghanistan. They charged the U.S. with concocting these stories to justify maintaining an American military presence in the region.
3790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics - Krugman's demons on: July 05, 2011, 01:05:19 PM
Avoiding the ad hominem attascks (as I accused on a post against Beck), I always try to refute Krugman point by point, rather than smear the person.  Still I wonder how he came to his current status of liberal economist de facto in chief and I wonder what scholarly work he once did to earn the profession's highest award.  This piece touches on the evolution of the famous journalist/economist of the NY Times and Princeton.

http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/06/28/peter-foster-the-demons-in-krugmanomics/

Peter Foster: The demons in Krugmanomics
Financial Post, Jun 28, 2011

Paul Krugman’s affection for ­markets fell as he became obsessed with inequality, market instability and catastrophic climate change

Nobel economist Paul Krugman is due to address the Economic Club of Toronto Wednesday on whether the United States has “mortgaged its future.” If Mr. Krugman is true to form, he will tell his audience that it has not mortgaged its future enough. What is desperately needed is more government borrowing and spending.

Mr. Krugman is a Nobel-winning trade-policy academic economist who, over the past couple of decades, has gone increasingly to the liberal dark side, as evidenced in his columns in The New York Times. What seems to have driven him completely over the edge is a combination of Bush Derangement Syndrome and an evangelical desire to prove that Reaganomics was a failure. He criticizes Barack Obama for not going far enough. He hates Republicans with a passion and is Keynesian to the core. Thus he can only interpret the failure of government stimulus as evidence of “cowardice” or “lack of political will.”

Like most liberal moralists, Mr. Krugman demonizes his opponents as not merely wicked and/or stupid/and or venal, but also “furious” because he is so right and they are so wrong. On election night 2008, he and his even more uncompromisingly liberal wife, Robin Wells, who is also a Princeton economist, had a party at which effigies of their enemies were burned. Salem, anyone?

Mr. Krugman constantly concocts conspiracies of the rich to grind the faces of the poor. He calls anti-Keynesians “The Pain Caucus.” He is currently lashed to the mast of not one but two sinking ships, the USS Keynes and the USS Draconian Climate Policy.

Modern American conservatism, he has written, “is, in large part, a movement shaped by billionaires and their bank accounts, and assured paycheques for the ideologically loyal are an important part of the system. Scientists willing to deny the existence of man-made climate change, economists willing to declare that tax cuts for the rich are essential to growth, strategic thinkers willing to provide rationales for wars of choice, lawyers willing to provide defences of torture, all can count on support from a network of organizations that may seem independent on the surface but are largely financed by a handful of ultra-wealthy families.”

Maybe he should check out what causes the Rockefeller, Carnegie, Pew, Hewlett and Packard foundations are actually promoting. It certainly isn’t climate change denial.

Mr. Krugman’s Nobel Prize for work in international trade and economic geography was widely praised. Early in his career he was a fan of markets and free trade, and attacked “popular” economists such as John Kenneth Galbraith, Lester Thurow and Robert Reich, who catered to economic misconceptions beneath a cloak of liberal good intentions. However, that cloak in the end proved too attractive not to try on.

Mr. Krugman’s affection for markets has declined as he has become obsessed with inequality, market instability and catastrophic climate change. He doesn’t think consumers can be trusted to make the “right” choices any more, and has taken to the remarkably annoying habit of condemning free marketers as people who believe that people are always rational and markets perfect. Then again, straw men are easy to torch.

Mr. Krugman’s take on the ongoing crisis is remarkable not merely for wishing to keep doing more of what has failed, but his blindness to the role of government policy in its creation. Fannie and Freddie? Mere bystanders who only decided to help blow up the system “late in the game.” Greece? It’s all the euro’s fault.

Anthropogenic global warming has become an article of religious faith for Mr. Krugman, which has required him to go through astonishing convolutions in the face of growing evidence of corruption. Climategate? A “fake scandal.” Remember those emails about a “trick” to “hide the decline”? According to Mr. Krugman this was an “anomalous decline.” Well, no. The decline was in actual temperature readings which failed to concur with the proxy data from tree rings. These had to be “hidden” because tree ring data were essential to the credibility of the poster child “hockey stick” graph that presented the twentieth century as a thousand year anomaly. The decline had to be hidden because it exposed fake science.

The former free trader now thinks that carbon tariffs might not be such a bad idea, and since cap and trade represents an alleged “market solution” to the catastrophe-to-come, the conservatives who (successfully) opposed it are, in Mr. Krugman’s view, hypocrites.

Mr. Krugman leans towards the global salvationist posturing of Lord Stern, whose climate review is a monument to perverted cost-benefit analysis. “Stern’s moral argument for loving unborn generations as we love ourselves may be too strong,” Mr. Krugman has written, “but there’s a compelling case to be made that public policy should take a much longer view than private markets.”

The problem is that it doesn’t.

The evil of Mr. Krugman’s opponents is all embracing. He has written that “[T]hose who insist that Ben Bernanke has blood on his hands tend to be more or less the same people who insist that the scientific consensus on climate reflects a vast leftist conspiracy.” You see the connection? Leaving aside the blood libel, if you oppose further corruption of the monetary system you are clearly also a climate denier. And why doesn’t America have universal public health care? Simple, it’s due to “The legacy of slavery, America’s original sin.”

Once Mr. Krugman’s intellectual inspiration was Adam Smith. Now it’s Naomi Klein.
3791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / American Creed/Constitutional Law: Ending racial preference is unconstitutional? on: July 05, 2011, 12:45:11 PM
See Crafty's post 7/2 in this thread.  Isn't U of Michigan Affirmative Action the case where Sandra Day O'Connor discovered the bizarre 25 year rule in the constitution: we need preferences now but not forever?

"The proposition that “All Men Are Created Equal” was ultimately forged into our Constitution in the form of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In its 2-1 decision, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals held—incredibly—that the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee forbids the people of Michigan from voting the elimination of racial preferences in college and university admissions."

Kirk Kolbo (writing above and below) represented the plaintiffs in the historic Gratz  and Grutter cases in the United States Supreme Court:
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/07/the-6th-circuits-affirmative-action-decision-a-critique.php

    It is unfortunate that on the eve of our Fourth of July weekend, a federal appeals court handed down a decision delivering injury and insult to the most important of those self-evident truths for which we honor and celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The proposition that “All Men Are Created Equal” was ultimately forged into our Constitution in the form of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In its 2-1 decision, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals held—incredibly—that the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee forbids the people of Michigan from voting the elimination of racial preferences in college and university admissions.

    The court’s decision came in a challenge to an amendment to the Michigan constitution enacted in 2006 after passage (by a 58% to 42% margin) of a state-wide voter initiative banning race and gender preferences in college and university admissions and other government activities. The initiative was a reaction to the decisions of the United States Supreme Court in Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, companion cases challenging racial preferences in admissions at the University of Michigan’s flagship undergraduate college (Gratz) and Law School (Grutter). While the Supreme Court struck down the undergraduate admissions policies at issue in Gratz, it ruled in Grutter that race could be used in a limited way in the admissions process: one “plus” factor among others to achieve a racially diverse student body, and it upheld the admission policies of the Law School on that basis. Jennifer Gratz, one of the lead plaintiffs, headed up the Michigan initiative effort. After its passage, an assorted group of plaintiffs immediately challenged the new law as it applied to Michigan’s colleges and universities, and last week’s decision by the 6th Circuit is the latest word, but not likely the final one, on that challenge.

    The Supreme Court has never held that the equal protection clause requires the use of racial preferences in admissions or other areas (e.g., hiring, firing, contracting). The decisions instead have all focused on whether in particular circumstances it is permissible for the government to employ those preferences by means “narrowly tailored” to accomplish what the Court concludes to be a “compelling government interest.”

    So how came the 6th Circuit to its decision? The court looked principally to two decades-old Supreme Court opinions recognizing an equal protection challenge to government actions that single out race issues for a distortion of the government decision-making process to the disadvantage of racial minorities. In the first of these cases, Hunter v. Erickson, after the Akron, Ohio city council enacted an ordinance to enforce anti-discrimination in housing, the people of Akron passed by referendum an amendment to the city charter requiring all regulations of real estate on the basis of race to be approved by a city-wide referendum, while all other real estate regulation required only city council approval. In a subsequent case, Washington v. Seattle School District No. 1, an elected Seattle school board passed and implemented certain school desegregation policies, including mandatory busing of students, designed to alleviate racial imbalances in the schools due to segregated housing patterns. Opponents of the school board’s measures were successful in getting a state-wide referendum passed prohibiting any of the State’s local school boards from mandating busing for desegregation, except when ordered to do so by a court.

    In both cases, the Supreme Court invalidated the referenda on grounds that they reallocated the political structure impermissibly to the disadvantage of racial minorities in violation of the equal protection clause. The decisions do not furnish any plausible basis for striking down the State of Michigan’s decision to eliminate racial preferences in admissions. The focus of the Court in Hunter and Seattle was on the removal of political decision-making authority on race issues from a locally accountable entity (city council and school board) “to a new and remote level of government” (city- and state-wide electorate). The Court compared such a restructuring to voter dilution. In both cases, the change made it more difficult for minorities to obtain “beneficial legislation” because the political restructuring made it more burdensome, onerous, and complex to “enact legislation.” The rulings in Hunter and Seattle protected “the ability of minorities to participate in the process of self-government.” (Emphasis added).

    The 6th Circuit held that by removing the authority of college and university admissions officials to grant preferences based on race through the successful state-wide initiative, there had been an impermissible political restructuring. It reached this conclusion by equating the admissions officials at Michigan colleges and universities with the elected city council and school board in Hunter and Seattle. This is, of course, preposterous. The dissenting opinion lays out the record showing how admissions decisions at the schools at issue are made by assorted faculty (often tenured) and administrators not accountable to any voting electorate. And any parent or student who has gone through the admissions process knows well that those anxiously-awaited admissions decisions are made pursuant to policies over which they have no control and the workings of which are from them and the rest of the public generally shrouded in mystery and secrecy. Because neither minorities nor others in the public possess any political authority over admissions committees and decision-makers it is absurd for the court to have found that there has been a “restructuring” of such authority.

    The 6th Circuit also took no account of the fact that the challenged actions in Hunter and Seattle had the effect of overturning and making it more difficult to enact anti-discrimination legislation. The racial preferences eliminated by the voters of Michigan are themselves, however, as the Supreme Court has held repeatedly, presumptively invalid under the equal protection clause. They are “potentially so dangerous” that they must be subject to strict scrutiny. In eliminating racial preferences and mandating race-neutral admissions decision-making, the voters of Michigan have furthered what the Supreme Court has repeatedly referred to as the “core purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment”—“to do away with all government imposed discrimination based on race.”

    In Grutter, the Court wrote approvingly of experiments in race-neutral admissions and specifically mentioned state laws prohibiting racial preferences in admissions in California, Florida, and Texas. It also held that a “permanent justification for racial preferences would offend [the] fundamental equal protection principle.” Accordingly race-based admissions policies must be of “limited duration.”

    So the 6th Circuit’s decision is neither compelled by the “political restructuring” doctrine of Hunter and Seattle, nor consistent with what the Supreme Court has held about the lawfulness and desirability of race-neutral policies. To the contrary, the court’s decision throws obstacles in the way of a body politic wanting to achieve the constitutionally favored goal of race-neutral decision-making. Under its rationale, any local or other low-level governmental authority (elected or not) could enact racial preferences which would be immune from interference or elimination by a larger government body or electorate on grounds of a “political restructuring” violation.

    Even the liberal and independent-minded 9th Circuit has rejected the contention that a State is prohibited from requiring race-neutral admissions policies. It upheld California Proposition 209 against an equal protection and “political restructuring” challenge. Fortunately, the prospects are good that the 6th Circuit’s decision will be reheard by the entire court (en banc). There is a strong dissent, and the panel’s decision conflicts with the decision of an earlier panel that considered the same issues in staying a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Michigan law. Both are good indicators for eventual review and a decision by the full 6th Circuit. Finally, while the odds are against any given case being accepted for review by the Supreme Court, should it get there, last week’s decision would almost certainly be reversed by the current Court.
3792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Conservative case for raising taxes on: July 05, 2011, 12:31:58 PM
This will never fly, but at least someone out there (Steven Hayward) poses the question about raises taxes on those in this country who are not paying their fair share:

"if the broad middle class of Americans are made to pay for all of the government they get, they may well start to demand less of it, quickly."

Is There a Conservative Case for Higher Taxes?
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/07/is-there-conservative-case-for-higher-taxes.php

No doubt this will set off an explosion of indignation, but my answer to the question posed here is—Yes.  (I can hear it now: What!  Are you trying to get yourself kicked off Power Line?)

Maybe it will help if I qualify this by saying that I think taxes should be raised sharply on the middle class and the poor, many of whom currently pay almost no federal income tax at all, while cutting the capital gains tax, the corporate income tax, and the highest marginal income tax rates.  Feel a little better?  I thought not.

But here’s the case: one problem with our current tax policy is that at the moment the American people as a whole are receiving a dollar of government for the price of only 60 cents.  (I don’t say a “dollar’s worth of government,” but let’s leave that snark for another time.)  Any time you can get a dollar of something at a 40 percent discount, you are going to demand more of it.  My theory is simple: if the broad middle class of Americans are made to pay for all of the government they get, they may well start to demand less of it, quickly.

There’s corollary point to this.  Back in the Reagan years, there was a vigorous internal debate about whether to resist tax increases because “starving the beast” would hold down spending.  But evidence is now in: this strategy doesn’t work.  My witness on this point is the Cato Institute’s chairman, William Niskanen (who was chairman of Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers at one point, and a person whose libertarian credentials are hard to beat). Niskanen noted this striking finding in a Cato Policy Report a while ago:

    In a professional paper published in 2002, I presented evidence that the relative level of federal spending over the period 1981 through 2000 was coincident with the relative level of the federal tax burden in the opposite direction; in other words, there was a strong negative relation between the relative level of federal spending and tax revenues.  Controlling for the unemployment rate, federal spending increased by about one-half percent of GDP for each one percentage point decline in the relative level of federal tax revenues. . . One implication of this relation is that a tax increase may be the most effective policy to reduce the relative level of federal spending.

Other economists have reached the same conclusion.  In other words, if you want to limit government spending, instead of starving the beast, serve the check.  (Well, I can hear everyone now, there’s goes your invitation to Grover Norquist’s Wednesday meetings! True that.)  Right now the anti-tax bias of the right has the effect of shifting costs onto future generations who do not vote in today’s elections, and enables liberals to defend against spending restraints very cheaply.  Time to end the free ride.

A debate on how to raise taxes might actually be fun to have with liberals, because their only idea—eat tax the rich—doesn’t produce anywhere near enough revenue to fund their programs.  Of course, the “tax the rich” slogan is just a cover so they can raise taxes on everyone, but why not smoke them out on this by agreeing?

But more to the point, the argument should be cast in terms of a creating pro-growth tax reform.  Froma Harrop of the Providence Journal has a typically idiotic column out today saying Americans want higher taxes.  It is not even worth the bother of debunking.  There is one highly useable sentence in it: “Today, high-tax Sweden has only 7 percent unemployment, while ours is 9 percent. How come? Before the 2008 economic meltdown, Sweden prudently maintained a budget surplus equal to 3.6 percent of its economy.”  Never mind that Sweden isn’t exactly putting its shoulder to the wheel in the fight against terrorists (or anything else), and just focus your mind on one fact: yes, it is a high tax country, but its corporate income tax rate is one-third lower than the U.S. rate (26% for Sweden; 39% for the U.S.).  So, my opening bid is—yes. By all means let’s emulate Sweden’s tax rates, starting with a one-third cut in our corporate income tax rate, and a hike in middle class income tax rates.  Deal?   I didn’t think so.
3793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: July 03, 2011, 11:19:55 AM
"I would also submit that the 2.1% inflation number is complete and utter bull excrement."

Discussing 'real growth' with friends yesterday I was just making that same point.  'Real growth' is 'inflation adjusted' but the adjuster is a phony multiplier.  I can't remember the latest formula but when they subtract out the things that are going up worst like energy and food, the result is necessarily false. 

The context was Romney not being able to back up a line he stole from Peggy Noonan that Obama made things worse.  Breakeven growth is roughly 3.1% 'real growth' in the false way we measure it.  Anything below that (all of Obama's record) is negative growth - in other words, things are getting worse and monetary tricks don't address in any way what is systemically wrong.
3794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation: Washington Post - QE2, Did it work? on: July 02, 2011, 11:25:29 PM
I should know by now that an opinions titled with a question don't have the answers.  They are saying that the purpose was to buy time to heal, not to cause the economic healing.  No mention really of the damage done to our currency or credibility by such a policy.  I think they are just marking in time the news that QE2 is ending and soon we will know happens next.
----------------
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/did-the-feds-qe2-work/2011/06/30/AGmW8lsH_story.html

Did the Fed’s QE2 work?

By Editorial, Published: June 30

WITH A FEW last multibillion-dollar mouse clicks,the Federal Reserve’s bond traders have finished the $600 billion program of Treasury-bond purchases known as “QE2.” This second round of “quantitative easing” — the economist’s term for money creation by direct central bank balance-sheet expansion — began last fall and followed a previous $1 trillion round at the height of the Great Recession in 2009. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke announced QE2 in late August 2010 to prevent a spate of unexpected economic weakness from spiraling into a double-dip recession or outright deflation. QE2 has been controversial from the moment Mr. Bernanke announced it. But was it a success?

Let’s start with the positive side of the ledger. A year ago, inflation was running below the Federal Reserve’s rough target of 2 percent per year, a sign, to Mr. Bernanke, of deflation risk. That’s not a problem anymore. Deutsche Bank, to cite a typical blue-chip private-sector forecast, sees 2011 inflation running at 2.1 percent. QE2 also propped up the economy by bidding up the price, and thus lowering the yield, of Treasuries and other safe debt instruments. This encouraged investors to put their money into higher-yielding investments such as stocks, which reduced the cost of capital for businesses. And the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index is indeed up 25 percent since last August. A cheaper dollar was an unstated, but obvious, consequence of QE2, and that too has occurred, arguably boosting U.S. exports.

But the negative consequences of QE2 — all of them also foreseeable — have canceled out some of the positives. Perhaps the most important of these was a commodity price boom, caused by the fact that many investors used the Fed’s freshly printed money to speculate on grain or oil. The winnings accrued to a wealthy few, while the U.S. middle class coped with higher prices for groceries and gasoline. And for all that, it is not even clear that the Fed achieved its primary goal of depressing the interest rate on long-term U.S. debt: The 10-year bond paid 2.5 percent when Mr. Bernanke announced QE2 but pays about half a percentage more than that today.

Economic growth has hardly taken off during QE2. Unemployment still lingers above 9 percent, and the Fed has lowered its 2011 growth forecasts from just over 3 percent to a bit less than 3 percent. Yes, the deflationary wolf has been chased from the door — but avoiding future inflation will be more difficult now that the Fed has a $2.7 trillion balance sheet to unwind.

To be sure, the picture might look very different if not for the disruptions wrought in the U.S. and global economies by the tsunami in Japan. And, like all other judgments about economic policy, any evaluation of QE2 must consider that things could have been even worse without it. Growth might have gone even lower and bond rates even higher if the Fed had not bought up the U.S. government's rapidly growing debt.

Still, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that this was, in the end, a holding action. QE2 was not so much an asset-buying program as a time-buying program — time for America’s households, firms and governments to deleverage and heal as best they could. QE2 is over and unlikely to be repeated; Mr. Bernanke was not kidding last August when he said, “Central bankers alone cannot solve the world’s problems.” Meanwhile, the prospects of much more fiscal stimulus seem doubtful. For better or worse, the U.S. economy may be on its own.
3795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: July 01, 2011, 03:15:29 PM
"Beck is quite a remarkable man, someone whom I respect greatly."

That has been pretty well known on the board.  The ad hominem attack didn't seem necessary.  Discussing or criticizing specific points he makes would be far more helpful.  Otherwise when you don't like someone, the channel changer works pretty well.

If "he was fired" was the whole truth, the delayed exit didn't make very much sense either.  Most people "fired" find the door rather quickly.  But truth isn't crucial when the attack is emotional and against the person.

The prediction OTOH was asked for.  Now we need to know what failure means if it includes being first in your slot and winning 2 1/2 times the audience share of your nearest competitor.
3796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: July 01, 2011, 02:08:06 PM
"Oil prices: back to before the strategic reserves were tapped"

That policy was so flawed most serious analysts didn't bother to criticize it.  First you have the Obama/far left admitting that supplies matter in prices and that prices matter in preventing growth and hiring, in eroding our standard of living and in his private non-re-election polling.  Then they choose the only source we know of that has a strictly finite amount available.

He could have coupled that with openings in ANWR, offshore etc and hit the market with the news that ongoing supplies are coming for as far into the future as the eye can see.

I wonder how much oil would come from ANWR, which they trivialized when they stopped it - wouldn't be enough to make an impact, as compared to the total that can come once emptying our reserve.

What will be the impact on supplies and prices later when we have to buy oil and take it off the market to build back a strategic reserve?

Not really chess players, they couldn't think one move ahead.
3797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 01, 2011, 07:08:48 AM
Native Iowan would not be Bachmann's pitch if she were running for one of Minnesota's far left senate seats.  She also would start as a 20 point underdog with no second chance to make a first impression.

The proximity makes visiting easier for Pawlenty in particular, also Bachmann once congress finishes business and goes on recess.  

During Pawlenty's time as Governor I doubt many Iowans were aware of him.  I needed google to remember who is governor of Iowa now.  Different markets. Other than the visits, Iowans see these folks on the same national shows as everyone else.  Palin, Romney, Gingrich, Giuliani, even Ron Paul - all had higher total numbers of familiarity in Iowa than Pawlenty and Bachmann.  

One thing striking from the poll is that people thought it was impossible to oppose ethanol subsidies in Iowa.  Pawlenty did that in his Des Moines announcement speech.  58-13 favorable means he survived that but hasn't broken through for other reasons.

The second point of BD is very true.  The straw poll tells us something about the activist part of the conservative electorate, but is nothing like a full primary or general election so it has a different winner, see 2007 below.  For every candidate, even the winner in Iowa, it is all about gaining traction. The activists this year are like kids in a candy store with Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul all coming through, plus Sarah Palin and perhaps Rick Perry.  Pawlenty courts those people but probably needs to pull more first ballot support from Romney and Newt's numbers to gain anything.  His real problem is how to gain any traction in places like NH and SC if he has no positive headline coming out of Iowa.

Still, it's the flirting and courting stage.  There will be a couple more momentum shifts before the main events.  I wouldn't have predicted McCain or Obama in 2008 - and neither did Iowa in August 11, 2007:
Place    Candidate    Votes    Percentage
1    Mitt Romney    4,516    31.6%
2    Mike Huckabee    2,587    18.1%
3    Sam Brownback    2,192    15.3%
4    Tom Tancredo    1,961    13.7%
5    Ron Paul    1,305    9.1%
6    Tommy Thompson    1,039    7.3%
7    Fred Thompson    203    1.4%
8    Rudy Giuliani    183    1.3%
9    Duncan Hunter    174    1.2%
10    John McCain    101    0.7%

OTOH, McCain perhaps thought he was clever to skip Iowa and focus on New Hampshire, but in Nov he lost both states by 9-10 points.  The goal of 2012 is not to become the McCain or Dukakis of our time.
3798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / re: Tax Policy: Obama tax increases back on the table on: June 30, 2011, 06:40:47 PM
Paraphrasing Sec. Geithner, we NEED to increase the burden on businesses who hire.  Otherwise that burden would fall onto our lean, already cash-strapped federal government.  "There is really no alternative to doing it."

http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=2123.msg51038#msg51038  (Decline and Fall thread)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=H4bYNkXu5qs#at=14
3799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Iowa Poll on: June 30, 2011, 06:17:37 PM
Very early info while Bachmann is the hot ticket of the moment pulling roughly even with Romney.  The favorables/unfavorables also tell something about how the candidates are being received in Iowa:
3800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 30, 2011, 01:03:32 AM
People that have played hockey with the governor might suggest regarding his hockey and fighting skills that he not quit his day job. smiley  Good answer though.  He didn't play Herb Brooks 'Miracle on ice' level hockey nor was he a Derek Boogaard level fighter but hockey does toughen you, it's all teamwork and you learn (political analogy) that if you keep your balance and keep your head on straight going into the collisions you can be the one still standing after a big hit.
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