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3751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: "Wesbury and gov't can't be trusted" on: September 18, 2013, 09:32:06 PM
Maybe Wesbury was too busy hawking the recoveries that never happened to read about fast and furious, Benghazi, the IRS and NSA scandals and the many others too numerous to mention.

Of course Wesbury is talking about the economic data - mostly.  "Many pessimistic, debt-focused, perma-bear investors...claim the government is lying about jobs, lying about debt, lying about everything". 

But then he gives unemployment as an example, then shows how U3, the most widely reported measure, is a deception.  Then he quotes U6 which is EIGHTY EIGHT PERCENT HIGHER, but that is a deception too, not taking at all into account FIVE MILLION PEOPLE WHO LEFT THE WORKFORCE.  Not mentioned are the poverty figures which are a deception, CPI which is a poor measure, baseline budget cuts which ARE a lie, etc. etc.

"The economy could be much better if government got out of the way, but it stopped getting worse more than four years ago."

   - Maybe yes, maybe no.  Are unfunded liabilities higher or lower now than 4 yrs ago?  Are marginal tax rates higher or lower?  Do we have more over-regulation or less over-regulation?  Is Obamacare, passed 4 years ago, a plus or a minus for the outlook for investment and hiring?  99% of the people aren't moving ahead and don't have more money in their pocket after 4 years of steady improvement.  Who is he really zooming?
3752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: September 17, 2013, 01:55:50 PM
Nonetheless, David Gordon is calling a strong bull market.

I very much respect his opinion on stocks, but I don't see anyone predicting the economy move forward much better than it is without changing policies.  Even the optimist Wesbury predicts plowhorse growth and then he defines that in the 2%, sub-breakeven range.  So the contention continues between the US economy and the strategies for investing, both are part of this thread.  Corporate profits (of established companies helped by regulations blocking out competition) are high.  Real startups, hiring, workforce participation, global economic growth and nearly all other indicators are low and stuck.

How high will these profits and stock prices go without real growth?  I don't know.
3753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: September 17, 2013, 10:45:55 AM
More than 12 years ago, the Cheney task force made recommendations like: "repair and add onto the existing network of refineries, pipelines, generators and transmission lines. ...the refining and distribution of natural gas was effected by an inefficient and inadequate infrastructure, and that this issue could be remedied by 38,000 miles of new pipeline and 255,000 miles of distribution lines"

We mostly ignored that advice.  Now we pay the price, in spite of all the increased production of oil via fracking.

The policy of keeping gas prices high is now intentional.  Who does it hit worst?  The working poor and struggling lower middle class who rely on it to get to work, do their work or look for work.  Is that what we want?  Maybe not, but is the result of our elections and policies.
Gas prices set record: 1,000 days above $3 a gallon

3754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Marco Rubio: Defund Obamacare Before It's Too Late on: September 17, 2013, 09:45:59 AM
What program, no matter how bad, ever got stopped after it was up and running?  Why is congress funding the "administration...spending Americans’ tax dollars on advertisements promoting this failed policy, ...sending out celebrities and other allies to convince Americans that ObamaCare is a good thing." The American people opposed Obamacare when it passed and oppose it more now.  The one thing Chief Justice Roberts got right is that the Supreme Court was not the only place where this program could get cancelled.  The one question that Karl Rove and the go along to get along wing of the Republican party cannot answer is that is you fund it now, when will you stop it and how?  The answer is you won't, so take a stand now.  Marco Rubio has this right.

Defund Obamacare Before It's Too Late
Marco Rubio | Sep 17, 2013

Over the next two weeks, the sad spectacle that is Washington will be on full display as Congress and President Obama debate yet another short-term spending plan, also known as a continuing resolution (CR). 

Early in my Senate term, I realized these short-term CR's were a miserable way to run the federal government and decided I would not go along with this budgetary charade again. I came to the Senate to solve real problems and eliminate the biggest threats standing in the way of the 21st century being another exceptional American century. The people of Florida who I work for didn't send me here to keep postponing hard choices and leave our problems unsolved for future generations to deal with.

And that's exactly what these short-term budgets do. Rather than prioritize government's proper role in American society or fundamentally end the way Washington borrows and misspends money, CR's mostly continue the broken Washington status quo.

With all that said, the CR that Congress will soon consider to keep our dysfunctional government open past September 30 is actually a major opportunity to save our people from the job-killing disaster that is ObamaCare. Because a major piece of its implementation begins on October 1, this short-term budget represents our last chance to stop it by defunding it.

Short-term budgets are a terrible way to run a government, but if we can pass one that defunds ObamaCare, we will be doing America's workers and job creators a huge service that will be worth it.

From the imperfect CR process, defunding ObamaCare would produce a clear-cut victory for American workers and families. Settling for anything less would be devastating to them.

The evidence of ObamaCare's failures is everywhere, and it is staggering. For example, in just the past week, several employers like SeaWorld announced they will be cutting their part-time workers' hours to deal with ObamaCare's tax penalties. The unions that have been the President's staunchest allies, and who were instrumental to passing ObamaCare in the first place, are now condemning it and pleading with the White House to be exempted from it. During the August recess, I repeatedly heard from working class Floridians about how this law would result in reduced hours, reduced pay and the loss of health insurance plans and doctors they currently have.

Despite all the warning signs of failure, what is the President doing? His administration is doubling down by spending Americans’ tax dollars on advertisements promoting this failed policy, and it's sending out celebrities and other allies to convince Americans that ObamaCare is a good thing.

We need to stop this. All of it. And over the next two weeks, we have our last chance to stop ObamaCare by defunding it in the CR.

There is a better way forward to help more Americans obtain affordable and quality health insurance, without sacrificing their jobs, income, current health plans and doctors they're happy with. But stopping ObamaCare by defunding it is the first and most immediate step we need to take. 

Time is running out to do it, but not the necessity of doing so.
3755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: September 17, 2013, 09:24:36 AM
"Industrial up a plow horse-like 2.7% from a year ago. "

Two problems with 2% growth:

1) Since the trajectory is below break even growth, the point where we will have outgrown the current malaise at this rate is - never.

2) With growth rounding to zero and negative growth considered catastrophic we are perhaps one more external economic shock away from disaster.

Other than that, things look okay ...
3756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues, Wittes, Franklin, Liberty and Security on: September 16, 2013, 12:28:26 PM
"Wittes is a smart guy who surrounds himself with other smart people."  - BD on the privacy thread

A previous piece by Wittes:

What Ben Franklin Really Said

By Benjamin Wittes
Friday, July 15, 2011

Here’s an interesting historical fact I have dug up in some research for an essay I am writing about the relationship between liberty and security: That famous quote by Benjamin Franklin that “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” does not mean what it seems to say. Not at all.

I started looking into this quotation because I am writing a frontal attack on the idea that liberty and security exist in some kind of “balance” with one another–and the quotation is kind of iconic to the balance thesis. Indeed, Franklin’s are perhaps the most famous words ever written about the relationship. A version of them is engraved on the Statue of Liberty. They are quoted endlessly by those who assert that these two values coexist with one another in a precarious, ever-shifting state of balance that security concerns threaten ever to upset. Every student of American history knows them. And every lover of liberty has heard them and known that they speak to that great truth about the constitution of civilized government–that we empower governments to protect us in a devil’s bargain from which we will lose in the long run.

Very few people who quote these words, however, have any idea where they come from or what Franklin was really saying when he wrote them. That’s not altogether surprising, since they are far more often quoted than explained, and the context in which they arose was a political battle of limited resonance to modern readers. Many of Franklin’s biographers don’t quote them at all, and no text I have found attempts seriously to explain them in context. The result is to get to the bottom of what they meant to Franklin, one has to dig into sources from the 1750s, with the secondary biographical literature giving only a framework guide to the dispute. I’m still nailing down the details, but I can say with certainty at this stage that Franklin was not saying anything like what we quote his words to suggest.

The words appear originally in a 1755 letter that Franklin is presumed to have written on behalf of the Pennsylvania Assembly to the colonial governor during the French and Indian War. The letter was a salvo in a power struggle between the governor and the Assembly over funding for security on the frontier, one in which the Assembly wished to tax the lands of the Penn family, which ruled Pennsylvania from afar, to raise money for defense against French and Indian attacks. The governor kept vetoing the Assembly’s efforts at the behest of the family, which had appointed him. So to start matters, Franklin was writing not as a subject being asked to cede his liberty to government, but in his capacity as a legislator being asked to renounce his power to tax lands notionally under his jurisdiction. In other words, the “essential liberty” to which Franklin referred was thus not what we would think of today as civil liberties but, rather, the right of self-governance of a legislature in the interests of collective security.

What’s more the “purchase [of] a little temporary safety” of which Franklin complains was not the ceding of power to a government Leviathan in exchange for some promise of protection from external threat; for in Franklin’s letter, the word “purchase” does not appear to have been a metaphor. The governor was accusing the Assembly of stalling on appropriating money for frontier defense by insisting on including the Penn lands in its taxes–and thus triggering his intervention. And the Penn family later offered cash to fund defense of the frontier–as long as the Assembly would acknowledge that it lacked the power to tax the family’s lands. Franklin was thus complaining of the choice facing the legislature between being able to make funds available for frontier defense and maintaining its right of self-governance–and he was criticizing the governor for suggesting it should be willing to give up the latter to ensure the former.

In short, Franklin was not describing some tension between government power and individual liberty. He was describing, rather, effective self-government in the service of security as the very liberty it would be contemptible to trade. Notwithstanding the way the quotation has come down to us, Franklin saw the liberty and security interests of Pennsylvanians as aligned.
3757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: September 16, 2013, 12:13:48 PM
I forget which thread on which it was I made the point, but I think fracking natural gas is a very good issue for us. We can make the point how it is bringing manufacturing back to the US (job! the American worker CAN compete! etc) but Obama and his command economy minions would rather funnel money to Solyndra.

It was in this thread.  Agree! I would add that fracking is one piece of the economic freedom in energy puzzle.  We need clean refineries, safe pipelines, secure grid, state of the art nuclear, and a healthy climate for bringing to market the innovations that come next - instead of trying to stop all these things.  On a larger view, without getting wonky we need to articulate, as you suggest with Solyndra, a clearer definition of what is the private sector role, what is the public and federal role and why we should not blur these roles as we do now with the referees being both financier and regulator of selected teams and players.

On fracking, while the government regulators looked away, busy writing other regulations, our air got cleaner, CO2 emissions dropped significantly, dropped our trade imbalance, experienced regional job booms and improved the median standard of living more than TARP, QE, HARP and ACA combined- all without their help. 

Who knew we could leap forward with one innovation in all those directions?  Certainly not the central planners who pick winners and losers in places like Moscow, Beijing and Washington.
3758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: American Exceptionalism on: September 16, 2013, 11:44:49 AM
Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh: "It is because of this liberty and freedom that our country exists, because the Founders recognized it comes from God. It's part of the natural yearning of the human spirit. It is not granted by a government. It's not granted by Putin. It's not granted by Obama or any other human being. We are created with the natural yearning to be free, and it is other men and leaders throughout human history who have suppressed that and imprisoned people for seeking it. The U.S. is the first time in the history of the world where a government was organized with a Constitution laying out the rules, that the individual was supreme and dominant, and that is what led to the U.S. becoming the greatest country ever because it unleashed people to be the best they could be. Nothing like it had ever happened. That's American exceptionalism. Putin doesn't know what it is, Obama doesn't know what it is, and it just got trashed in the New York Times. It's just unacceptable."

Rush at least nailed the fact that Obama and Putin are two people who don't understand what made America great / "exceptional".

In the longer rant on the radio, he played the clip of Obama asked if he believed in American Exceptionalism.  The President said yes and then went on to express that he hoped the Greeks believed in Greek Exceptionalism as well.  Good grief.  If he had any clue as to what made America great, he wouldn't be trying to dismantle it.

Here is Matthew Spalding writing at Heritage, 2010:

In 1776, when America announced its independence as a nation, it was composed of thirteen colonies surrounded by hostile powers.

Today, the United States is a country of fifty states covering a vast continent. Its military forces are the most powerful in the world. Its economy produces almost a quarter of the world's wealth. The American people are among the most hard-working, church-going, affluent, and generous in the world.

Is America exceptional?

Every nation derives meaning and purpose from some unifying quality—an ethnic character, a common religion, a shared history. The United States is different. America was founded at a particular time, by a particular people, on the basis of particular principles about man, liberty, and constitutional government.

The American Revolution drew on old ideas. The United States is the product of Western civilization, shaped by Judeo-Christian culture and the political liberties inherited from Great Britain.

Yet the founding of the United States was also revolutionary. Not in the sense of replacing one set of rulers with another, or overthrowing the institutions of society, but in placing political authority in the hands of the people.

As the English writer G. K. Chesterton famously observed, "America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed." That creed is set forth most clearly in the Declaration of Independence, by which the American colonies announced their separation from Great Britain. The Declaration is a timeless statement of inherent rights, the proper purposes of government, and the limits on political authority.

The American Founders appealed to self-evident truths, stemming from "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God," to justify their liberty. This is a universal and permanent standard. These truths are not unique to America but apply to all men and women everywhere. They are as true today as they were in 1776.

Working from the principle of equality, the American Founders asserted that men could govern themselves according to common beliefs and the rule of law. Throughout history, political power was—and still is—often held by the strongest. But if all are equal and have the same rights, then no one is fit by nature to rule or to be ruled.

As Thomas Jefferson put it, "[T]he mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God." The only source of the legitimate powers of government is the consent of the governed. This is the cornerstone principle of American government, society, and independence.

America's principles establish religious liberty as a fundamental right. It is in our nature to pursue our convictions of faith. Government must not establish an official religion, just as it must guarantee the free exercise of religion. Indeed, popular government requires a flourishing of religious faith. If a free people are to govern themselves politically, they must first govern themselves morally.

    "Being an American is more than a matter of where you or your parents came from. It is a belief that all men are created free and equal." – Harry S. Truman
    October 26, 1948

These principles also mean that everyone has the right to the fruits of their own labor. This fundamental right to acquire, possess, and sell property is the backbone of opportunity and the most practical means to pursue human happiness. This right, along with the free enterprise system that stems from it, is the source of prosperity and the foundation of economic liberty.

Because people have rights, government has only the powers that the sovereign people have delegated to it. These powers are specified by a fundamental law called a constitution. Under the rule of law, all are protected by generally agreed-upon laws that apply, equally, to everyone.

The United States Constitution defines the institutions of American government: three distinct branches of government that make the law, enforce the law, and judge the law in particular cases. This framework gives the American government the powers it needs to secure our fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The ultimate purpose of securing these rights and of limiting government is to protect human freedom. That freedom allows the institutions of civil society—family, school, church, and private associations—to thrive, forming the habits and virtues required for liberty.

The same principles that define America also shape its understanding of the world. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed that the thirteen colonies were a separate and sovereign nation, like any other nation. But America is not simply another nation.

The United States is a nation founded on universal principles. It appeals to a higher standard that all governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. All nations are answerable to this principle, and it is this principle that makes the United States a truly legitimate nation.

Liberty does not belong only to the United States. The Declaration of Independence holds that all men everywhere are endowed with a right to liberty. That liberty is a permanent aspect of human nature everywhere is central to understanding America's first principles.

Nevertheless, the primary responsibility of the United States is to defend the freedom and well-being of the American people. To do this, the United States must apply America's universal principles to the challenges this nation faces in the world.

    "Our founding documents proclaim to the world that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a chosen few. It is the universal right of all God's children." – Ronald Reagan
    July 15, 1991

This is not easy. America has not always been successful. But because of the principles to which it is dedicated, the United States always strives to uphold its highest ideals. More than any other nation, it has a special responsibility to defend the cause of liberty at home and abroad.

As George Washington put it in his First Inaugural Address: "The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people." America's role in the world is to preserve and to spread, by example and by action, the "sacred fire of liberty."

America is an exceptional nation, but not because of what it has achieved or accomplished. America is exceptional because, unlike any other nation, it is dedicated to the principles of human liberty, grounded on the truths that all men are created equal and endowed with equal rights. These permanent truths are "applicable to all men and all times," as Abraham Lincoln once said.

America's principles have created a prosperous and just nation unlike any other nation in history. They explain why Americans strongly defend their country, look fondly to their nation's origins, vigilantly assert their political rights and civic responsibilities, and remain convinced of the special meaning of their country and its role of the world. It is because of its principles, not despite them, that America has achieved greatness.

To this day, so many years after the American Revolution, these principles—proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and promulgated by the United States Constitution—still define America as a nation and a people. Which is why friends of freedom the world over look to the United States not only as an ally against tyrants and despots but also as a powerful beacon to all those who strive to be free.

3759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: September 16, 2013, 11:15:22 AM
"Richest 1 percent earn biggest share since '20s"

Isn't is interesting that this trend was unstoppable even by gaining control of first congress, then all three bodies, a Supreme Court backing them up and a then second term to prevent any of the new myriad of laws and taxes passed to to address this from being repealed.

What happened under their policies is exactly what they warned would happen to the middle class if George Bush was elected to a third or fourth term (McCain, Romney, etc.), only without any economic growth.  And who holds them accountable?  No one.

Bigdog made an important point on the constitutional thread that that I will paraphrase here.  Commerce has changed whether we like it or not.  It has changed since the 1791, it has changed since I entered the export business 25 years ago and it is changing even more rapidly now.  There is more upside and payoff for real innovations now than ever before, even if the economy is stalled, because the market for your innovation is now virtually the whole world.  Meanwhile, more than at any time since women widely began working, a record number and proportion of the adult population completely out of the productive economy.  People who are standing still aren't going to keep up with people who are either creating or following these changes.  In a stagnant, rigid economy most people are standing still.

ccp:  How does the right address this vs. big gov paychecks?  Again ccp's commandment:  Whoever can address this can win any election:

You have identified the two playing fields that the right will never win on.  If the race is to see who will pay people the most to not work, or be accused of starving children and taking meds from Grannie, Republicans and free marketers won't win.  If it is a contest to see who is perceived as best at tying the hands of new wealth with new laws, taxes and redistribution methods, Republicans have no chance in that contest either, except for a few R-in-name-only Senators.

To win with prosperity and economic freedom, you have to change the framing of the questions.  For starters, trickle down is only a misnomer/caricature/pejorative of opponents' beliefs that the left puts on what they see as unrestrained freedom, not something that came out of the principles of economic freedom or supply side economics.

There is no answer to stopping income disparity while improving everyone else's outcome, and there is no valid reason to stop income disparity.  If there was no disparity in what you see in other people's income, then there would be no hope in improving your own future.

I don't know how to explain a dynamic economy but if there is enough economic freedom, resources can flow to their best use which maximizes the opportunities for everyone.  When you try to lock resources in place or direct them with central planners, the tyrants of our time, opportunities recede.  Where is there an example on the planet or in history where the central planners out-performed economic freedom?  Certainly not the US since the Pelosi-Reid-Obama-Hillary-Biden revolution of Nov 2006 that continues today.

BLS Labor force Unemployment rate not counting the 5 million people who left the workforce altogether

Thomas Sowell, 'Basic Economics':  The actual path of money in a private enterprise economy is quite the opposite of that claimed by people who refer to the trickle-down theory. Money invested in new business ventures is first paid out to employees, suppliers, and contractors. Only some time later, if the business is profitable, does money return to the business owners.  In the absence of a profit motive, this activity does not occur.
3760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Senator Barasso of WY on: September 16, 2013, 10:11:55 AM
"The president needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with a coherent, realistic Syria policy—one that does not rely on Russia's cooperation."

Sen. Barrasso does a very nice job of articulating what we all seem to know about the Russians and this non-solution to a problem that we just elevated to the level of deciding the course of human history.
3761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Shocking, absolutley shocking developments: Chems are being scattered and hidden on: September 16, 2013, 09:57:34 AM
Shocking, yes.  Who could have seen that coming?  I suppose anyone alive and awake the last time we fought this battle.
3762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: FERC targets natural gas on: September 16, 2013, 09:54:15 AM

"Mr. Binz said switching to gas might be a good move for the interim, but..."

Then do it for the interim.

Unless what you really want is to shut down the economy.
3763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Job losses to Obamacare on: September 12, 2013, 07:50:42 AM
41% of 603 small business owners said they have delayed hiring because of the federal healthcare law. One in five already cut hours, while 20% have reduced payroll. Mercer, a human resources consulting company, said its own survey found that 12% of all U.S. employers reported plans to reduce workers’ hours as a direct result of the Affordable Care Act. The impact was more pronounced in the retail and hospitality industries, with 20% of employers saying they will cut part-time hours.

With Eye on ObamaCare, Companies Move to Cut Workers’ Hours

3764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IRS' Lois Lerner's Own Words on: September 12, 2013, 07:47:28 AM
(Use RICO to prosecute these co-conspirators)

Lois Lerner's Own Words
Emails undercut the official IRS story on political targeting.

Congress's investigation into the IRS targeting of conservatives has been continuing out of the Syria headlines, and it's turning up news. Emails unearthed by the House Ways and Means Committee between former Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner and her staff raise doubts about IRS claims that the targeting wasn't politically motivated and that low-level employees in Cincinnati masterminded the operation.

In a February 2011 email, Ms. Lerner advised her staff—including then Exempt Organizations Technical Manager Michael Seto and then Rulings and Agreements director Holly Paz—that a Tea Party matter is "very dangerous," and is something "Counsel and [Lerner adviser] Judy Kindell need to be in on." Ms. Lerner adds, "Cincy should probably NOT have these cases."

That's a different tune than the IRS sang in May when former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller said the agency's overzealous enforcement was the work of two "rogue" employees in Cincinnati. When the story broke, Ms. Lerner suggested that her office had been unaware of the pattern of targeting until she read about it in the newspaper. "So it was pretty much we started seeing information in the press that raised questions for us, and we went back and took a look," she said in May.

Earlier this summer, IRS lawyer Carter Hull, who oversaw the review of many Tea Party cases and questionnaires, testified that his oversight began in April 2010. Tea party cases under review are "being supervised by Chip Hull at each step," Ms. Paz wrote to Ms. Lerner in a February 2011 email. "He reviews info from TPs, correspondence to TPs etc. No decisions are going out of Cincy until we go all the way through the process with the c3 and c4 cases here." TP stands for Tea Party, and she means 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) nonprofit groups.

The emails also put the targeting in the context of the media and Congressional drumbeat over the impact of conservative campaign spending on the 2012 elections. On July 10, 2012 then Lerner-adviser Sharon Light emailed Ms. Lerner a National Public Radio story on how outside money was making it hard for Democrats to hold their Senate majority.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had complained to the Federal Election Commission that conservative groups like Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity should be treated as political committees, rather than 501(c)(4)s, which are tax-exempt social welfare groups that do not have to disclose their donors.

"Perhaps the FEC will save the day," Ms. Lerner wrote back later that morning.

That response suggests Ms. Lerner's political leanings, and it also raises questions about Ms. Lerner's intentions in a separate email exchange she had when an FEC investigator inquired about the status of the conservative group the American Future Fund. The FEC and IRS don't have the authority to share that information under section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code. But the bigger question is why did they want to? After the FEC inquiry, the American Future Fund also got a questionnaire from the IRS.

Ms. Lerner famously invoked her right against self-incrimination rather than testify under oath to Congress. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reported this summer that its investigation had found Ms. Lerner had sent official IRS documents to her personal email account, and many questions remain unanswered. Democrats want to pretend the IRS scandal is over, but Ms. Lerner's role deserves much more exposure.
3765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential - Mike Pence on: September 12, 2013, 07:43:39 AM

Five reasons he might be the 2016 dark horse to watch

Current Governor of Indiana, a widely respected conservative with executive and congressional experience.
3766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: September 12, 2013, 07:26:50 AM
Americans for Whatever the Hell Obama Wants make their push for the war.  Send money.
3767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: September 11, 2013, 11:00:56 PM
He is right; it is neither hawk nor dove we need in such trying times.  The answer is wisdom - backed up with core principles and backbone.  I like the symbolism, but it is not another bird we are looking for.
3768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: September 11, 2013, 10:52:14 PM
Yes. They overstepped.  If Republicans come up with a worthy opponent, Gov. Hickenlooper will fall next.  Gun control is NYC and DC politics and legislation in a (formerly) mountain west state.

The Pueblo contest was most impressive.  The Democrat incumbent lost by 12 in a district Obama carried by 20 points, a 32 point swing.  About half of Pueblo’s population is Latino.

3769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness - talk big, wave white flag on: September 11, 2013, 09:20:00 AM
"Teddy Roosevelt based his foreign policy on this maxim: "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Obama's foreign policy is based on this maxim: "Speak endlessly and carry a toothpick."

Or was it just - speak endlessly.  I didn't see a toothpick.

With danger accelerating in the world, China in a one power arms race, Russia reinvigorated and supporting enemy regimes, the entire Middle East a tinder box and other unknowns, what is the U.S. under Obama doing to prepare for or to deter war?  Defense outlays fell 7.6% this year.
3770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Japan and the fate of Nuclear Power on: September 11, 2013, 08:51:37 AM
With radiation leak news still coming out of Japan, I wonder how many people know that nuclear power is still the cleanest, safest major source of energy in the world.  Zero CO2 emissions, manageable waste issues, better information than ever available as to how to construct safely, and as this thread began - there is no need to build on a fault line or in a tsunami zone.  Zero CO2 emissions compares with coal which accounts for nearly half of the world's fossil fuel CO2 emissions.
Oxford University physicist Wade Allison: "one could drink 12 gallons of contaminated groundwater directly from the Fukushima site right after the accident—before getting a single CT scan's worth of radiation."

Japan and the Fate of Nuclear Power
Radiation phobia prevents a rational response to Fukushima.

    By  HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.     September 10, 2013
Nuclear power might well be a competent civilization's solution to its theoretical carbon-dioxide problem. Now if only humans had a competent civilization.

Japan's government, in its latest solution for the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, will do what it likes doing anyway: spend money on extravagant public works projects. A network of supercooled pipes will freeze the ground around the plant. This presumably will stop groundwater from flowing through the partially melted-down reactors and draining into the Pacific. Water from coolant operations, which are preventing a more serious meltdown, would also remain contained on-site.

Even so, contaminated water would continue to accumulate in rickety tanks. A necessary solution will be emptying this water into the Pacific, after filtering out as many radioactive particles as possible. Unfortunately, not only does Japan's fishing lobby, which like just about any lobby in Japan is entitled to paralyze action, refuse to countenance such a step. It won't even let the plant operator use an existing system to route non-contaminated groundwater past the plant into the sea. Thereby hangs a stalemate that may doom any hope of a nuclear revival in our world.

Japanese Trade Minister Toshimitsu Motegi inspects storage tanks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, Aug. 26.

As long as Fukushima wastewater contains radioactive elements, particles would end up in fish, causing some number of hypothetical human malignancies according to the questionable theory that radiation is dangerous in direct proportion to dose.

In fact, a considerable body of research holds that increased cancer risk becomes statistically perceptible only at a dose level of 100 millisieverts. This is five times the standard Japan used to order local evacuations, and in many evacuated areas the practical exposure risk was far less than the standard—just a fraction above natural background radiation.

Amazingly, Japan actually cut its allowable food-exposure limits in half in response to the crisis. Oxford University physicist Wade Allison, who has written and spoken widely against exaggerating radiation risks, estimated that one could eat a ton of such slightly contaminated food—or even drink 12 gallons of contaminated groundwater directly from the Fukushima site right after the accident—before getting a single CT scan's worth of radiation.

Alas, Japan is unlikely to abandon its supercaution anytime soon. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has quietly begun restarting a handful of the country's 54 reactors shut down after Fukushima. The last thing he wants is to court public controversy by hinting the government has gone soft on radiation risks.

Now with Tokyo's victory this week to host the 2020 Olympics, expect, if anything, a doubling down on crazy cleanup priorities. Japan won't be accused of trying to give cancer to visiting athletes.

Blame or credit is typically charged to Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the country's hypersensitivity. A more relevant culprit may be the well-meaning campaigners against atmospheric bomb testing in the 1950s, who embraced what's known as the Linear, No Threshold hypothesis—the idea that radiation is unhealthy at any level.

Belatedly, an authority on such matters, the U.N.'s Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, has tried to lead a climbdown from a dubious risk formula that it once championed. Perhaps trying to rescue nuclear energy to fight global warming, the group last year warned against "multiplying low doses by large numbers of individuals to estimate numbers of radiation-induced health effects within a population."

Even more annoying to anti-nuke activists, the agency also declared that no radiation-caused illness had appeared even in Fukushima plant workers, some of whom received as much as 600 millisieverts, and none was expected. The result: a deluge of vilification upon the U.N.

The U.S., of course, has nothing to brag about in this regard. Yucca Mountain, the waste repository on which Washington has spent $12 billion, likely has been permanently blocked by Nevada politicians whose imagined heroism on behalf of local voters is the precise corollary of exaggerated radiation risk models. Hooray for Harry Reid, but is this any way to make nuclear policy?  (More at the link above)
3771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: September 10, 2013, 11:27:36 PM
COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado Senate President (Democrat) John Morse thanked and urged fellow lawmakers to continue fighting Tuesday as voters ousted him from office for his support for stricter Colorado gun laws.
The Democrat incumbent is losing in the Pueblo race too.
3772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: programs, spending, deficit, budget - The Government - Spend it or Lose it on: September 10, 2013, 10:58:57 PM
This show is a take off on 'The Office' called 'The Government', set at the U.S. Department of Every Bureaucratic Transaction (U.S. DEBT).   See the first two episodes of 'Spend it or Lose it, the continuing story of a federal agency trying desperately to spend its way to a bigger budget' at the links:
3773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Syria - Comments on: September 10, 2013, 10:31:18 PM
"A friend with a strong military background comments..."

Yes, all very well put.  Outmaneuvered is an extreme understatement on so many levels.  We are settling in to watch a puppet show.  Putin shows the type of influence we once wished we had.  He snapped his fingers and people responded - events turned his way.  We snap ours and things turn the opposite way.

Reagan said trust but verify, but no one said we could control them.  Putin will be in control of timing and process and will be a wimpering puppy. 

The only way to deal with a power like Russia is to know they will act in their interest, and we are their rival, if not enemy.  Even Kerry and Obama must know they are not going to act in ours.  Watching them rely on Putin and get their strings pulled in not going to be pretty.
3774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: September 10, 2013, 10:57:45 AM
Colorado recall election is today in Colorado Springs and Pueblo.,0,4800258.story
Colorado recall election is a referendum on guns
Two lawmakers linked to sweeping gun control laws are targeted in Colorado's first recall election, whose results are expected to reverberate nationwide.
3775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Norway election: Conservative triumphs on: September 10, 2013, 10:53:23 AM
Norway election: Conservative Erna Solberg triumphs

With three-quarters of the votes counted, the bloc of four right-wing parties had won 96 of 169 seats in parliament.

Welfare issues dominated the election campaign, as well as Ms Solberg's pledge to lower taxes and diversify the economy away from its heavy reliance on oil revenue.
3776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Second US Housing Bubble (?) on: September 10, 2013, 10:45:00 AM
I posted previously my (wrongful) belief that housing values will not rebound until incomes go up.  But this 'recovery' is happening without accompanying increase in income.  As housing again becomes unaffordable, maybe we can start some more new federal programs to help the lower 98% borrow what they can't afford, instead of growing the economy...


In looking at the current trend, since July 2012, the median sales price of a newly constructed home in the United States has gone up by just over $25 for every $1 that median household income in the United States has increased.  That's almost 20% faster than the $21-to-$1 rate that the first U.S. housing bubble inflated on average from November 2001 through September 2005.
Since 1967, median new home sale prices in the U.S. have typically increased by anywhere from $3.37 to $4.09 for every $1 increase in median household income in the absence of any periods of bubble inflation or deflation in U.S. housing markets.
3777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: September 10, 2013, 10:32:24 AM
Re: Energy Politics - More evidence that 'Fracking' got Obama reelected
« Reply #490 on: September 05, 2013, 11:21:52 AM »

" it increased US disposable income by an average of $1,200 per US household in 2012 thanks to smaller energy bills as well as lower embedded energy costs in all other goods and services"

I am always pleased to see the nation's leading newspaper pick up and run with the themes (previously) discussed here.   wink

WSJ. REVIEW & OUTLOOK,  September 9, 2013, 8:08 p.m. ET

More on Fracking and the Poor
The U.S. oil and gas boom added $1,200 to disposable income in 2012.

"The irony Washington will never appreciate is that fracking has done more for the less fortunate in the Obama years that all of its ministrations combined."

More at link:
3778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Syria on: September 10, 2013, 10:25:30 AM
"Assad gets to stay in power... Putin-Assad will stall and dither forever."

Bret Stephens, WSJ, has a similar view:

"All Americans are reduced when Mr. Kerry, attempting to distinguish an attack on Syria with the war in Iraq, described the former as "unbelievably small." Does the secretary propose to stigmatize the use of chemical weapons by bombarding Bashar Assad, evil tyrant, with popcorn? When did the American way of war go from shock-and-awe to forewarn-and-irritate?

Americans are reduced, also, when an off-the-cuff remark by Mr. Kerry becomes the basis of a Russian diplomatic initiative—immediately seized by an Assad regime that knows a sucker's game when it sees one—to hand over Syria's stocks of chemical weapons to international control. So now we're supposed to embark on months of negotiation, mediated by our friends the Russians, to get Assad to relinquish a chemical arsenal he used to deny having, now denies using, and will soon deny secretly maintaining?"
3779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Weak Recovery Explains Rising Inequality, Not Vice Versa on: September 10, 2013, 10:18:02 AM
It is good to see that prominent WSJ contributors, including my current favorite economist, reading the forum.

"The policies favored by those with a middle-out view—higher tax rates, more intrusive regulations, more targeted fiscal policies—will not revive the economy. More likely they will perpetuate the weak economy we have and cause real incomes—including for those in the middle—to continue to stagnate."
(More at the link, read it all)

The Weak Recovery Explains Rising Inequality, Not Vice Versa
Obama blames tax cuts that began under Reagan for today's slow growth. The data don't back him up.

By JOHN B. TAYLOR, professor of economics at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Last year at this time a debate raged about whether economic growth and job creation has been abnormally slow compared with previous recoveries from recessions in the United States. Now that the growth rate has declined to 1.6% over the past year from 2.8%, the debate is no longer about whether. It's about why.

The poor economic policies of the past few years is a reasonable explanation for today's weak economy. Fiscal policy has at best provided temporary stimulus before fading away with no sustainable impact on growth. More costly and confusing regulations—including the many mandates in the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank Act—have reduced the willingness of firms to invest and hire. The Federal Reserve has employed a variety of unconventional and unpredictable monetary policies with not very successful results.

The administration and its supporters are not about to blame the slow recovery on its own policies, or those of the Fed. Instead, President Obama and his supporters have been talking about "an economy that grows from the middle out," as he put it in Galesburg, Ill., in July. The fashionable middle-out view blames today's troubles on policies that took root in Ronald Reagan's administration.

The 1980s and '90s experienced a declining trend in unemployment rates, milder and less frequent recessions, and a lower inflation rate—all of which disproportionately benefited people with middle and lower incomes, especially compared with the 1970s. These decades were also characterized by widening inequality. The reason? "Washington," as Mr. Obama asserted in Galesburg, "doled out bigger tax cuts to the very wealthy and smaller minimum wage increases for the working poor."

Weak economic growth today, according to the middle-out view, is the consequence of a wider distribution, or dispersion, of income (more at the upper end). This growth in inequality, the argument goes, is the consequence of tax cuts since the 1980s, a trend toward deregulation (that actually began under the Carter administration), and fewer targeted federal programs.

The key causal factor of the middle-out view is that a wider income distribution slows economic growth by lowering consumption demand. Saving rates rise and consumption falls if the share of income shifts toward the top, according to middle-out reasoning, because people with higher incomes tend to save more than those with lower incomes.

The data for the recovery since mid-2009 do not support this view. The 5.4% overall savings rate during this recovery is not high compared with the 8.4% average since 1960. It is relatively low compared to past recoveries, such as the 9.3% savings rate during a comparable period during the recovery in the early 1980s.

Moreover, data do not support the view that tax cuts in the past 30 years are responsible for the widening income distribution. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the distribution of market income before taxes widened in the 1980s and '90s by about as much as the distribution of income after taxes.

The middle-out view fails to explain the weak economy and high unemployment today. It also fails to explain the strong economy and low unemployment in the 1980s and '90s.

Widening income distribution can be a concern, however, especially if it signals reduced income mobility and a growing inequality of opportunity. Consider data collected by Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez for the upper 10% and the lower 90% of the income scale. From the end of World War II until the mid-1960s, real income growth was strong for both groups and there was relatively little change in the distribution of income.

In the late 1960s and 1970s the growth of real income slowed dramatically for both groups, coinciding with the terrible economic policy of that period. Income growth sped up in the 1980s and '90s but was faster in the upper-income group than in the lower-income group. This is the period of the widening of the distribution. According to the latest data collected by Mr. Saez, real income of both groups has recently stagnated.

What caused the differential income growth in the 1980s and 1990s? Research shows that the returns to education started increasing in the 1980s. For example, the wage premium for going to college compared to high school increased. But the supply of educated students did not respond to the increase in returns. High-school graduation rates were declining in the 1980s and '90s and have moved very little since then. Test scores of American students fell in international rankings. With little supply response, the returns to those with the education rose more quickly, causing the income distribution to widen.
3780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WSJ: Fannie & Freddie on: September 10, 2013, 10:06:48 AM
"Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, is moving forward a bill to wind down Fannie and Freddie over five years and cede their roles to the private sector."

Good to hear there is such a proposal.  Too bad that the do nothing alternative has all the momentum.

A Taxpayer-Friendly Alternative to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

By: Rep. Jeb Hensarling,  Dallas Morning News,  August 28, 2013

Soon we will mark the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis that wrecked our economy, left millions of Americans unemployed and from which we have yet to recover.
From a public policy perspective, the great tragedy of the financial crisis was not that Washington failed to prevent it, but that Washington helped lead us into it. The crisis largely started with a noble intention: Every American should own a home. The result was that well-meaning but misguided policies — principally the “Affordable Housing Goals” of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — either strong-armed or enticed financial institutions into loaning money to people to buy homes they sadly couldn’t afford. In fact, over 70 percent of the nontraditional mortgages that led to the crisis were backed by Fannie, Freddie and other taxpayer-subsidized programs.
In typical fashion, Washington responded to the crisis by passing a 2,000-page bill that did more to exploit the crisis than solve it.
Today, because it did not solve the problem, taxpayers have been forced to pay for the mother of all bailouts — nearly $200 billion for Fannie and Freddie. That’s unimaginable.
Today, taxpayers remain on the hook for more than $5 trillion in mortgage guarantees, roughly $45,000 per American family. That’s unconscionable.
Today, the federal government has a virtual monopoly on the housing finance system, enabling Washington elites — similar to those at the IRS — to control who can qualify for a mortgage. That’s unfair.
Americans deserve better.
We deserve a system that protects current and future homeowners so every American who works hard and plays by the rules can have opportunities and choices to buy homes they can actually afford to keep.
We deserve a system that protects hardworking taxpayers so they never again have to bail out big government-sponsored corporations like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or even those who irresponsibly bought expensive homes they couldn’t afford.
We deserve a system that finally breaks the Washington-induced destructive cycle of boom, bust and bailout.
That’s why the House Financial Services Committee, which I chair, recently approved the PATH Act — the Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners Act. The PATH Act creates a sustainable housing finance system by limiting government control, putting private capital at the center of the mortgage system and giving homebuyers more informed choices about their mortgage options.
With the PATH Act, we end the bailout of Fannie and Freddie and phase out their failed taxpayer-backed business model.
The PATH Act also protects the Federal Housing Administration, which is so overextended that it is heading for its own bailout. Today, FHA can use taxpayers to insure mortgages for millionaires and homes valued as high as $729,750. We return FHA to its traditional mission: serving first-time homebuyers and those with low and moderate incomes, as well as ensuring it will be able to insure loans to any qualified borrower if ever faced with another economic crisis.
Finally, the PATH Act removes artificial barriers to private capital to attract investment and encourage innovation.
Others, including some who profit from the status quo, have discussed different reform plans. I welcome them, but all of us must be careful. We cannot allow a plan to become law that simply puts Fannie and Freddie in the federal witness protection program, gives them cosmetic surgery and new identities, then releases them upon an unsuspecting public. We can no longer allow Wall Street investment firms to offload their credit risks on Main Street taxpayers under the guise of promoting homeownership.
No, America needs real reform and a healthier economy. The best housing program is not a subsidy, guarantee or tax credit; it is a good job in a growing economy. The PATH Act will strengthen our economy. It is our path toward real reform and a truly sustainable housing finance system that’s built to last.
 - Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, represents the 5th Congressional District and is the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. He may be contacted through
3781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CNN: Stunning turn of events could change everything on Syria on: September 10, 2013, 09:35:22 AM
"The Russian offer is a good way for Putin to get back those chemicals, delivery mechannisms and other agents that he and the USSR sent to Assad's father and to the late Saddam Hussein.  We would not want to find that a permanent member of the UN Security Council had been trading those items in violation of the 1993 UN Treaty - would we?"

Yes, interesting to wonder what motivates Putin; he is certainly not concerned helping the US our Pres. Obama or the our best interests of the civilized world.  I was wondering if we will ever know what part of Assad's stock came from Saddam. 

Another post mentioned horse trading.  If Putin helps Obama save face here, what is he expecting in return?  ("Please tell Vladimir I will have more flexibility to [unilaterally disarm] after my reelection.")

(CNN) -- It's a stunning turn of events that could change everything on Syria.

Facing the threat of a U.S. military strike, the country's leaders Tuesday reportedly accepted a Russian proposal to turn over its chemical weapons.

Nothing scares a nation into pleading guilty and giving up its arsenal like "facing the threat of a U.S. military strike" that is "unbelievably small".  Something else is going on here.
3782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Australia on: September 08, 2013, 12:45:11 PM
"it’s worth noting that Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Britain now all have prime ministers to the right of the US president. That’s a kind of American exceptionalism the world could do without."

Leading from behind, we now call it.  Hopefully this movement away from left governance, that arguably started in Sweden(?), will find its way over to the American colonies.

(Sweden's economy booms with cautious turn to the right,
3783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rep. King to run on: September 08, 2013, 12:39:31 PM
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Long Island Congressman Peter King has thrown his hat in the 2016 presidential ring.

A good addition to the field.  Rep. Peter King was Chairman of the United States House Committee on Homeland Security, has served 20 years in the House.  If you are Republican from NY, the next step up for elected office is President.

(On first read, I had him confused with Rep Steve King, a leader in anti-amnesty, who declined to run for the open Senate seat in Iowa.)
3784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: September 08, 2013, 12:20:41 PM
Not a freaking peep from MSM.
I get Scientific American and nearly every article about everything somehow has references to man made "climate change".
They refuse to admit, maybe just maybe they are wrong.
The left never does.

Not just no correction for new data (no warming since 1997 covers the entire Kyoto Protocol / Inconvenient Truth era), but also no real disclaimers in past work that the theories were unproven, that natural volatility obviously plays the largest role, no recognition of negative feedback forces and their role in cycles, factors unaccounted for such as clouds, or that the best models do not fit or explain past data, much less future data.

Instead they run with phony polls of scientists that group anyone who believes CO2 emissions play ANY role in climate as agreeing with alarmism's wildly exaggerated predictions. 
3785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Greg Hicks: I've Been 'Punished' for Speaking Out - Benghazi on: September 08, 2013, 12:07:05 PM
Benghazi Whistleblower: I've Been 'Punished' for Speaking Out

3786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / And now it's global COOLING! - UK Daily Mail on: September 08, 2013, 11:04:27 AM
And now it's global COOLING! Record return of Arctic ice cap as it grows by 60% in a year

    Almost a million more square miles of ocean covered with ice than in 2012
    BBC reported in 2007 global warming would leave Arctic ice-free in summer by 2013
    Publication of UN climate change report suggesting global warming caused by humans pushed back to later this month

A chilly Arctic summer has left nearly a million more square miles of ocean covered with ice than at the same time last year – an increase of 60 per cent.

The rebound from 2012’s record low comes six years after the BBC reported that global warming would leave the Arctic ice-free in summer by 2013.

Instead, days before the annual autumn re-freeze is due to begin, an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia’s northern shores.

Some eminent scientists now believe the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century – a process that would expose computer forecasts of imminent catastrophic warming as dangerously misleading.

The disclosure comes 11 months after The Mail on Sunday triggered intense political and scientific debate by revealing that global warming has ‘paused’ since the beginning of 1997 – an event that the computer models used by climate experts failed to predict.

In March, this newspaper further revealed that temperatures are about to drop below the level that the models forecast with ‘90 per cent certainty’.

The pause – which has now been accepted as real by every major climate research centre – is important, because the models’ predictions of ever-increasing global temperatures have made many of the world’s economies divert billions of pounds into ‘green’ measures to counter  climate change.

Those predictions now appear gravely flawed.

Only six years ago, the BBC reported that the Arctic would be ice-free in summer by 2013, citing a scientist in the US who claimed this was a ‘conservative’ forecast. Perhaps it was their confidence that led more than 20 yachts to try to sail the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to  the Pacific this summer. As of last week, all these vessels were stuck in the ice, some at the eastern end of the passage in Prince Regent Inlet, others further west at Cape Bathurst.

Shipping experts said the only way these vessels were likely to be freed was by the icebreakers of the Canadian coastguard. According to the official Canadian government website, the Northwest Passage has remained ice-bound and impassable  all summer.

The BBC’s 2007 report quoted scientist  Professor Wieslaw Maslowski, who based his views on super-computer models and the fact that ‘we use a high-resolution regional model for the Arctic Ocean and sea ice’.

He was confident his results were ‘much more realistic’ than other projections, which ‘underestimate the amount of heat delivered to the sea ice’. Also quoted was Cambridge University expert

Professor Peter Wadhams. He backed Professor Maslowski, saying his model was ‘more efficient’ than others because it ‘takes account of processes that happen internally in the ice’.

He added: ‘This is not a cycle; not just a fluctuation. In the end, it will all just melt away quite suddenly.’

The continuing furore caused by The Mail on Sunday’s revelations – which will now be amplified by the return of the Arctic ice sheet – has forced the UN’s climate change body to hold a crisis meeting.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was due in October to start publishing its Fifth Assessment Report – a huge three-volume study issued every six or seven years. It will now hold a pre-summit in Stockholm later this month.

Leaked documents show that governments which support and finance the IPCC are demanding more than 1,500 changes to the report’s ‘summary for policymakers’. They say its current draft does not properly explain the pause.

At the heart of the row lie two questions: the extent to which temperatures will rise with carbon dioxide levels, as well as how much of the warming over the past 150 years – so far, just 0.8C – is down to human greenhouse gas emissions and how much is due to natural variability.
3787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Canada offers to help Obama save face over pipeline on: September 08, 2013, 10:56:48 AM
Canada PM Ready to Introduce New Carbon-Emission Rules for Keystone Approval

 OTTAWA--Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has told U.S. President Barack Obama that he's ready to work on joint plan between the two countries to reduce carbon emissions in the energy sector in an effort to secure approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Friday.

The CBC, citing unnamed sources, said Mr. Harper wrote to Mr. Obama in late August, signaling he is ready to accept carbon-reduction targets proposed by the U.S. and prepared to work with the White House to address concerns raised about Keystone and its impact on greenhouse-gas emissions.

A spokesman for Mr. Harper declined to comment on any correspondence between the Canadian and U.S. leaders. A White House spokesperson declined to confirm Mr. Obama had received Mr. Harper's letter.

TransCanada Corp.'s (TRP) proposed Keystone XL project, which would carry heavy crude from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast, has sparked high-profile and vocal opposition from U.S. and Canadian environmentalists, who are concerned it will encourage to further development of the oil sands. The project is presently under review by the U.S. State Department, but ultimate approval rests with Mr. Obama -- who has said approval would hinge on the pipeline project's impact on greenhouse-gas emissions.
3788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: IRS Scandals on: September 08, 2013, 10:54:28 AM
First this: "Time for some defenestrations pour encourager les autres."    Sometimes I need help to read the more widely educated posters.   Google pointed me first back to the forum.  smiley Then to these helpful translations I reprint for the benefit of others:

Defenestration is the act of throwing someone or something out of a window. The term was coined around the time of an incident in Prague Castle in the year 1618. (Oxford)

pour encourager les autres: in order to encourage the others —said ironically of an action (as an execution) carried out in order to compel others to obey or submit  (Meriam-Webster)

Back to the scandals, I am pleased to note that CNN is still following the IRS scandal (although they disclaim that the views expressed are only of the author).  So often these scandals are covered only by right wing sources to reporting to right wing readers/viewers.

IRS scandal: America needs the truth
By Ken Boehm, Special to CNN  (more at link)

(CNN) -- America can handle the truth. Even if that truth could include a coverup at the powerful IRS.  The IRS mission statement pledges to "enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all."  But public scrutiny has revealed details indicating a level of politicization totally at odds with that.

Look at the two eye-opening developments that have happened at the IRS since May: An acting IRS commissioner resigned, and another powerful IRS official refused to answer questions before Congress, pleading the Fifth Amendment.

Whatever is going on, there is only one way to proceed, and that is a professional and thorough investigation.  For people who haven't been following a lot of this, let me quickly get you up to speed:  The IRS inspector general released a report on May 14 describing how the agency had inappropriately targeted tea party and conservative groups that had applied for tax-exempt status.  Then the IRS put these groups through extra reviews, substantial delays and burdensome requests for information.

The reaction was immediate. The next day, President Barack Obama announced that the acting IRS commissioner was resigning.  That doesn't exactly happen every day.  Obama went on to say, "I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives."

After that shocking disclosure, several things happened:

• Senate and House committees launched investigations into the scandal.

• The FBI began a criminal investigation.

• The IRS inspector general expanded its ongoing investigation.

• IRS official Lois Lerner exercised her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by refusing to answer questions before Congress.

Some interesting developments emerged from all that.  For one, the original claim during IRS testimony -- that the scandal was the result of a couple of "rogue IRS agents" in the agency's Cincinnati field office -- didn't hold water.

It turned out that, according to frontline IRS agents in Cincinnati interviewed by House Oversight committee investigators, the Washington IRS office had played a key role in the handling of the tea party applications.

Retired IRS lawyer Carter Hull disclosed in testimony that IRS Counsel William Wilkins was one of his supervisors in the targeting of conservative groups. (The IRS has denied Wilkins' involvement in the targeting of specific groups.)

The inspector general's report found that Wilkins' office had sent the exempt organizations determination unit on April 24, 2012, "additional comments on the draft guidance" for considering applications of tea party groups for tax-exempt status (PDF).

The connections between Wilkins' office and the inappropriate profiling of conservative groups are especially noteworthy because there are only two appointees of the president at the IRS: the commissioner and the chief counsel.

Cynics may view this controversy as typical when the House is in the hands of a different party than the president, but guess what?

The Democrat-controlled Senate's Finance Committee has also weighed in.  That committee has called for three things: a hearing, an investigation and a request to the IRS for documents.

Montana Democrat Sen. Max Baucus, the committee chairman, stated bluntly, "Targeting groups based on their political views is not only inappropriate, it is intolerable, unacceptable and cannot be allowed."  Baucus promised a bipartisan investigation and has been true to his word. When the first week of August arrived, Baucus and his GOP counterpart, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, said the IRS failed to provide "most of the information requested by the Committee."

New details reshape IRS targeting scandal

As chairman of the ethics watchdog group National Legal and Policy Center, I had filed a complaint with the IRS in May 2011 showing that a purported charity called the Barack H. Obama Foundation -- named for the father of President Obama and run by his half-brother, Malik Obama -- had been raising funds in the U.S. by falsely claiming to be an IRS-approved charitable group.

I submitted proof that the foundation was not tax-deductible and had never even applied for that status despite the fact that it had been fundraising for about three years.  In fact, one of the foundation's directors admitted that an IRS application had never been submitted.  There was compelling evidence suggesting that the foundation was raising money on the Internet by misrepresenting itself as being IRS-approved when it really wasn't.

Suddenly, the foundation rushed an application to the IRS in late May 2011.  In the short span of about a month, Lerner -- the same person who took the Fifth Amendment rather than testify before Congress -- gave the Obama Foundation its tax-deductible status.  And, the IRS made that status retroactive for three years. 

The administration says there's no political basis for the IRS actions. If that's true, then it has nothing to lose.

Even more curious, several of the forms submitted by Malik Obama were stamped as being received by the IRS in July 2011. That's one month after Lerner approved the group's new tax status.
The administration says there's no political basis for the IRS actions. If that's true, then it has nothing to lose.
3789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Australia - Conservatives sweep out labor down under on: September 07, 2013, 12:49:49 PM
Worst showing by Labor in a hundred years.
3790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: September 07, 2013, 12:33:32 PM
I too find substantial elements of intellectual sloppiness in Paul e.g. his claim that the Constitution requires approval for what Baraq proposes here-- what about the War Powers Act?  I'm not saying that I have the answer here, I don't, but I think he should address the point.

Rubio continues to impress me as too young, and susceptible to getting rolled (e.g. immigration "reform"), but I am glad to read of your account of his preparation and comportment here.

I would also draw attention to Cruz.  Amongst the three of them, he has impressed me the most with expressing good guiding principles without making sloppy, inadvertent, or over the top comments that can later come back to bite him as sound bit.

Agree on all points. 

Rand Paul will be the anti-interventionist of the group and that view will likely have quite a bit of appeal coming into 2016 depending on events and what stumbles the others make.

It is an open question as to whether Rubio can recover with conservatives from his immigration reform debacle.  I think he can, and has the most charisma, best communication skills and most crossover appeal of those likely to run.

Ted Cruz would arguably be the President of the group, if elected.  Principled, fearless, and as you say, not prone to sloppy, over the top comments.

Add Paul Ryan to the group and we have an impressive amount of talent with no executive experience.  Chris Christie has that (and Jindal, and perhaps others).

George Will ripped Chris Christie for being Chris Christie today:

He should heed another politician who had a flair for fighting. “Being powerful,” Margaret Thatcher said, “is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
3791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi and related matters on: September 07, 2013, 12:11:50 PM
I was thinking maybe of the one where the AQ guy is waving his AK as he dances in front of the flames (URL needed) but I'd also like the URL of the one you suggest too.

Nothing says 9/11/2016 in Benghazi to me like seeing our 2016 frontrunner throw up her arms during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing and scream, WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE NOW?!
3792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: September 05, 2013, 12:25:58 PM
There was dissent in majority from Scalia, who agreed on the outcome, not its reasoning. And, as I noted elsewhere, there has been a consistent (though not necessarily constant) pushback on the Commerce Clause since the mid-1990's.

I see your point in Court opinions.  I don't know why we don't see a resulting federal rollback of jurisdiction over anything in those 18 years.  Instead the federal government marches forward, uses other rationale, even some they deny - like that Obamacare is a tax - that originated in the House.

To Crafty, from a previous post, I think you missed this: 

Matthew Sissel v. Dept HHS  The [Obamacare] origination case was dismissed by US District Court Washington DC.  The House had passed a shell bill, not a tax, and then went back and inserted Obamacare into it.  'Inelegant', but legal.(Not in my view.)
3793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Obama's Economy Hits His Voters the Hardest on: September 05, 2013, 12:12:30 PM
Income inequality only got worse by attacking income inequality.  Who could have seen that coming? (
Or the opposite view, the NY Times pre-crisis/cause-crisis view that ending the Bush tax cuts would most certainly ease inequality: (

Labor requires capital (and vice versa).  Employees need employers (and vice versa).   You attack them without hitting us in an interconnected economy.

Can you imagine the uproar if Republican policies hit these groups in America this harshly!
Obama's Economy Hits His Voters Hardest
Young people, single women and minorities have fared the worst during the past four years.


For better or worse, a truism of American politics is that voters vote their pocketbooks. Yet according to a new report on median household incomes by Sentier Research, in 2012 millions of American voters apparently cast ballots contrary to their economic self-interest.

Each month the consultants at Sentier analyze the numbers from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and estimate the trend in median annual household income adjusted for inflation. On Aug. 21, Sentier released "Household Income on the Fourth Anniversary of the Economic Recovery: June 2009 to June 2013." The finding that grabbed headlines was that real median household income "has fallen by 4.4 percent since the 'economic recovery' began in June 2009." In dollar terms, median household income fell to $52,098 from $54,478, a loss of $2,380.

What was largely overlooked, however, is that those who were most likely to vote for Barack Obama in 2012 were members of demographic groups most likely to have suffered the steepest income declines. Mr. Obama was re-elected with 51% of the vote. Five demographic groups were crucial to his victory: young voters, single women, those with only a high-school diploma or less, blacks and Hispanics. He cleaned up with 60% of the youth vote, 67% of single women, 93% of blacks, 71% of Hispanics, and 64% of those without a high-school diploma, according to exit polls.

According to the Sentier research, households headed by single women, with and without children present, saw their incomes fall by roughly 7%. Those under age 25 experienced an income decline of 9.6%. Black heads of households saw their income tumble by 10.9%, while Hispanic heads-of-households' income fell 4.5%, slightly more than the national average. The incomes of workers with a high-school diploma or less fell by about 8% (-6.9% for those with less than a high-school diploma and -9.3% for those with only a high-school diploma).

This is a stunning reversal of the progress for these groups during the expansions of the 1980s and 1990s, and even through the start of the 2008 recession. Census data reveal that from 1981-2008 the biggest income gains were for black women, 81%; followed by white women, 67%; followed by black men, 31%; and white males at 8%.

In other words, the gender and racial income gaps shrank by more than in any period in American history during the Reagan boom of the 1980s and the Clinton boom of the 1990s. Women and blacks continued to make economic progress during the mini-Bush expansion from 2002-07. "Income inequality" has been exacerbated during the Obama era.

Mr. Obama has often contemptuously, and wrongly, branded the quarter-century period of prosperity beginning with the presidency of Ronald Reagan as a "trickle down" era. For many in the groups that Mr. Obama set out to help, a return to the prosperity of that era would be a vast improvement.

The Census Bureau data on incomes include cash government benefits, such as unemployment insurance, disability payments and the earned-income tax credit (but excludes Medicaid and food stamps). Most of the cash programs have surged in cost during the Obama presidency, yet incomes have still declined for the lowest-income eligible groups. This suggests that wages and salaries from employment have shrunk at an even faster pace than the Census data show. The shrinking paychecks of the past four years are consistent with two unwelcome anomalies of the recovery: a swift decline in labor-force participation to 63.4% from 65.5% during that period and a rise in part-time employment.

What all of this means is that the stimulus-led economic revival that began officially in June 2009—Vice President Joe Biden's famous "summer of recovery"—has only resulted in lower incomes for at least half of Americans, the very ones who were instrumental in electing Mr. Obama twice.

The president's announced economic policy goal, as well as that of progressives generally, is to spread the wealth. The left seems to have forgotten that when fewer American businesses and workers are creating wealth in the first place, something else is spread instead: misery.
3794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics - AEI: More evidence that 'Fracking' got Obama reelected on: September 05, 2013, 11:21:52 AM
Ironic that he opposes this...

" it increased US disposable income by an average of $1,200 per US household in 2012 thanks to smaller energy bills as well as lower embedded energy costs in all other goods and services"

"Combined with upstream activity, the entire unconventional oil and gas value chain currently supports more than 2.1 million jobs."

More evidence the shale revolution probably got Obama reelected
James Pethokoukis | September 4, 2013, 9:15 am

President Obama really should visit North Dakota and see for himself America’s energy revolution. A new report from IHS Global Insight highlights just how much impact unconventional oil and gas activity may be having on the US economy. For starters, it increased US disposable income by an average of $1,200 per US household in 2012 thanks to smaller energy bills as well as lower embedded energy costs in all other goods and services. IHS thinks that figure will to grow to just over $2,000 in 2015 and reach more than $3,500 in 2025.

Then there are the jobs:

    The new study widens the breadth of the research to include the full energy value chain (upstream, midstream and downstream energy and energy-related chemicals) and the overall macroeconomic contributions on the manufacturing sector and broader U.S. economy. Midstream and downstream unconventional energy and energy-related chemicals activity currently support nearly 377,000 jobs throughout the economy, the study finds. Combined with upstream activity, the entire unconventional oil and gas value chain currently supports more than 2.1 million jobs. Total jobs supported by this value chain will rise to more than 3.3 million in 2020 and reach nearly 3.9 million by 2025.

Without the shale revolution, election year 2012 might have seen the official unemployment over 9% in November instead of 7.8%. And the average American would have faced a higher cost of living and lower income. More importantly now, the US energy industry continues to be a real economic bright spot.
3795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Syria - Israeli Strike on Syrian Nuclear Facilities, 2007 on: September 05, 2013, 11:16:28 AM
This could go under a number of different topics, but I haven't noticed the gratitude expressed by this administration, the media or U.N. that Israel took a much more serious action 6 years ago than what is contemplated now.

 Israel Struck Syrian Nuclear Project, Analysts Say

Published: October 14, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 — Israel’s air attack on Syria last month was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, according to American and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports.
3796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential - Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, compare and contrast on: September 05, 2013, 11:06:45 AM
Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, compare and contrast

(This is from a conservative, Paul Mirengoff on Powerline, who ripped Sen. Rubio endlessly on immigration.)

Marco Rubio and Rand Paul both questioned John Kerry and his sidekicks during yesterday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Syria. Rubio was very skeptical about the president’s idea of attacking the Assad regime; Paul was adamantly opposed to it.

They were coming from different places. Rubio said he favors taking out the Assad regime, though he acknowledged the risks of doing so. Paul wants a “hands off of Syria.”

But the contrast I want to discuss is the contrast in presentation.

Rubio was organized and analytical — more so, probably, than any other Committee member — laying out our three broad options for proceeding. Paul was all over the place, asking one rhetorical question after another in a rapid fire manner.

Moreover, Rubio had a clear position on each of the options he laid out. Paul had no answers to his own questions. He claimed the answers are “unknowable.”

His was argument by throwing up hands — since there’s so much uncertainty, we shouldn’t act. The obvious fallacy is that we also don’t “know” what the result of inaction will be.

If Rubio and Paul seek the presidency, they will be debating each other in about a year. I won’t vote for either, but my money in the debates will be on Rubio.

Paul’s act will appeal to his father’s base, and probably a bit further than that. But unless Paul becomes more of a match for Rubio when it comes to organization and analysis, the Republican rank-and-file probably will be considerably more impressed by the Senator from Florida than by his rival from Kentucky.
3797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: September 05, 2013, 10:55:39 AM
US v. Lopez (1995), US v. Morrison (2000) came up earlier as limiting the over-reach of the commerce clause.  But Gonzalez v. Reich 2005 seemed to me to do the opposite. (?)  Federal law has supremacy - when growing a plant for personal consumption, legal under state law, never to cross state lines.  Sounds like WIckard-Filburn was affir

From today's WSJ:

"California argued a decade ago that its medical marijuana law let individuals grow their own for personal use, but the Supreme Court ruled in Gonzales v. Raich in 2005 that federal law had supremacy. Defenders of ObamaCare even used the Raich precedent to claim that the feds could force all Americans to buy health insurance."

Justice Stevens delivering the opinion of the Court in Gonzales v. Raich, 2005:  Well-settled law controls our answer. ...  Our case law firmly establishes Congress’ power to regulate purely local activities that are part of an economic “class of activities” that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. See, e.g., Perez, 402 U.S., at 151; Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111, 128—129 (1942). As we stated in Wickard, “even if appellee’s activity be local and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may still, whatever its nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce.”

It certainly reads (to the layman) that after Lopez, 1995 and Morrison, 2000, (although before the Roberts' opinion in NFIB v. Sebelius), that the central and controversial point of Wickard v. Filburn, federal jurisdiction of a purely local activity, was still the 'law of the land' in Gonzales, 2005.  
3798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues, Speed limiters on European cars on: September 05, 2013, 10:06:01 AM
I could put this under Europe but you know it will come to the US next.

Under the proposals new cars would be fitted with cameras that could read road speed limit signs and automatically apply the brakes when this is exceeded.
3799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: September 05, 2013, 09:24:51 AM
I admit to being a bit glib in my answer, in a perhaps vain search for wittiness  cheesy

No, there are too many already, in the sense of pulling against rather than for the productive process.  Too many of our great minds go into compliance of overly burdensome regulations rather than becoming inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs.  The smartest guy by far in our school district growing up, with a Yale law degree, made a career at a public utility in employee benefit compliance.  God Bless him for making a choice that worked for him, to work normal hours and be with his kids growing up, but this economy needs as many as possible of our best and brightest to go into some of those things mentioned above, finding the next abundant clean energy source, curing cancer, etc.
3800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: September 04, 2013, 12:45:51 PM
Let the low information voters bask in the obamacare awesomeness!

At this point, let it burn. Let's just find out exactly what's in it.

We already know a hundred trillion dollars of unfunded liabilities does not scare these people or force change.

To the Republicans in congress:  If you fund it, it is YOUR failure.  Did you get nominated and elected by telling your constituents you would vote to continue whatever programs flaming liberals that preceded you passed?  Or did you promise to do everything in your power to stop this.

My advice: Do what you said you would do when you were elected.  Vote only for government that you support.  Our government should be the size and scope of the smallest of what the House, Senate and President all support, and larger only when you control all three.
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