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3851  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential and congressional elections: one last chance to get it right on: November 28, 2011, 12:28:36 PM
CCP, I agree. Romney is showing conservatives he can take the fight to Obama, show contrast and not buddy up like McCain did. He is saying how he will do it with substance, specificity and clarity - all in a one minute ad. The uproar to that ad from the Obama side is that the quotes were from 2008, but that was clearly identified at the start.  The point is that the things people were excited about for candidate Obama, the Greek columns / Hyde Park guy, didn't happen, at least not in a positive way.  I am skeptical anyone will make government much smaller, but perhaps the one who can reform the most is the one people find the least threatening.  One part of smarter is send state governing responsibilities back to the states.

To unite Republicans and conservatives of all the types defined by Morris (economic conservatives, establishment, evangelical/social, national security and defense, tea party - fiscal and constitutional), Romney or whoever wins will need to embrace good points that came from the candidates who will leave the race and sell these points of conservatism successfully to centrists in contrast with our current failed direction.
GM's update on the Cain story is quite interesting.  Lost in the unknown of what didn't happen behind closed doors with really only one, not very credible personal allegation is that Cain also has showed he isn't ready on a couple of other matters of importance.  Too bad, it would be great to have a real outsider with a real business and analytical approach walk in and clean house.  The 9-9-9 plan is too bold for a 270 electoral vote win and immediate implementation when no real thought was given to handling the transition.

The conservative question still remains, who is the most conservative who can win the nomination AND the general election.  Newt leads now in the last 4 polls but his surge is so recent.  I don't think he will close the deal, but we will know very soon.

Unless a person lives or has influence in one of the first 4 states, I think the best thing you can do is go influence your own candidates and races for the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle in your area with your views.  Democrats in competitive districts need to move their candidates away from the current anti-capitalism, anti economic freedom movement or they will fall.  Republicans need to advance their principles, win, and then for a change, stick with them.  If a Pres. Newt wins but jumps around too much to new ideas before the old ones are fully implemented (didn't we already end services baseline budgeting?), a strong principled congress could help keep him on track.  Same goes for a Pres. Romney.  If his economic plan and his undisclosed tax cuts are too timid, congress can pass the right plan and put it on his desk.

As GM put it about 2 years ago, this is a two election fix.  We are now there and have used up our Mulligans.
3852  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cutting government spending on: November 28, 2011, 10:05:57 AM
In the last round, were the real cuts $1 billion or $7 billion?

Mark Steyn:  "The correct answer is: Who cares? The government of the United States currently spends $188 million it doesn’t have every hour of every day. So, if it’s $1 billion in “real, enforceable cuts,” in the time it takes to roast a 20 lb. stuffed turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner, the government’s already borrowed back all those painstakingly negotiated savings. If it’s $7 billion in “real, enforceable cuts,” in the time it takes you to defrost the bird, the cuts have all been borrowed back."

By the time the relevant bill passed the Senate earlier this month, the 2012 austerity budget with its brutal, savage cuts to government services actually increased spending by $10 billion.
3853  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Romney ad in NH on: November 28, 2011, 10:00:27 AM

One minute ad.
3854  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Manchester NH Union Leader endorsement of Newt on: November 28, 2011, 09:53:33 AM

For President, Newt Gingrich
New Hampshire Union Leader Publisher
Published Nov 27, 2011 at 1:00 am

This newspaper endorses Newt Gingrich in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary.

America is at a crucial crossroads. It is not going to be enough to merely replace Barack Obama next year. We are in critical need of the innovative, forward-looking strategy and positive leadership that Gingrich has shown he is capable of providing.

He did so with the Contract with America. He did it in bringing in the first Republican House in 40 years and by forging balanced budgets and even a surplus despite the political challenge of dealing with a Democratic President. A lot of candidates say they're going to improve Washington. Newt Gingrich has actually done that, and in this race he offers the best shot of doing it again.

We sympathize with the many people we have heard from, both here and across the country, who remain unsure of their choice this close to the primary. It is understandable. Our nation is in peril, yet much of the attention has been focused on fluff, silliness and each candidate's minor miscues.

Truth be known, many in the liberal media are belittling the Republican candidates because they don't want any of them to be taken as a serious challenger to their man, Obama.

Readers of the Union Leader and Sunday News know that we don't back candidates based on popularity polls or big-shot backers. We look for conservatives of courage and conviction who are independent-minded, grounded in their core beliefs about this nation and its people, and best equipped for the job.

We don't have to agree with them on every issue. We would rather back someone with whom we may sometimes disagree than one who tells us what he thinks we want to hear.

Newt Gingrich is by no means the perfect candidate. But Republican primary voters too often make the mistake of preferring an unattainable ideal to the best candidate who is actually running. In this incredibly important election, that candidate is Newt Gingrich. He has the experience, the leadership qualities and the vision to lead this country in these trying times. He is worthy of your support on January 10.
3855  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Equality of rights or results? Sowell, Piven, Friedman 1980 on: November 28, 2011, 09:49:14 AM

Discussion between Thomas Sowell and Frances Fox Piven with Milton Friedman
3856  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: November 28, 2011, 09:34:31 AM
There isn't any interpretation of the data in any of this. No one has claimed to know what it means.  If you don't like the regression analysis, ignore his line, look at the dots, draw your own line. There isn't any part of this story that is about the person you attack. He could be an armed robber or child molester, it wouldn't affect the substance of this.  You already made your limp attack-the-messenger argument 7 posts back. My link to his chart links to the actual data. It is for my own integrity that I credit that post rather than pretend I found the raw data myself.  It should be in a mainstream source, why don't YOU send it to the LA Times and I will link them.  But it won't be published there or in my local paper or at the EPA or the NY Times.  This data doesn't fit their story.  

I already answered all this by posting the raw data and the original source with the link to show it is the same source used and funded by NASA and NOAA, during your witch hunt, 5 posts back.  Strangely you wrote that you accepted the data and then drivel on with personal attacks that hit me.  That is what I mean by a circular argument - the opposite of moving a discussion forward.  This had happened with you one too many times last time.  That doesn't happen by accident.  You could post opposing views or context or leave it alone when you have nothing, but no, it is just argue backwards, sideways and in circles.  What a waste.
3857  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: November 27, 2011, 11:46:30 PM
Welcome back BBG.

JDN, The post of mine in question that you compare to Martians landing in St. Paul uses the best sources on the planet.  The data says that sea level has dropped for 2 years.  I said that proves the rise is not continuous or accelerating.  Al Gore said oceans rising 20 feet displacing hundreds of millions.  Your EPA link contradicts that.  You impugn a guy who drew the line through the data (a two variable linear regression), but pretend to be impugning the data.  Really you are attacking me personally; I am the one who brought that information to this board.  Nothing you wrote or posted corrects or refutes the above.  You call the EPA scholars but they are agenda driven politicians barking up the wrong tree, oblivious to the damage they inflict.  They have a massive budget, a whole section on sea level and don't publish the data.  WHY NOT?  An internet troll is one who intentionally and repeatedly brings the conversation backwards, sideways, in circles or anywhere except forward.  Don't be that guy.  Don't tell me on this thread a couple other posts were good like that excuses you for saying my post was equivalent to  Martians landing in St. Paul.  Did they?  Why don't you post this on the board: 'Doug, here are some data that contradict what you posted'?  I know why not.  You don't have any.  You drivel that a kid on an electric scooter named Dana1961 says that guy who the pulled the data from the most reliable information known and ran the most recent 2 years in a regression analysis is using a pseudonym.  That's scary, and Dana 1961 is the long name his mom gave him?  You post that he has issued a correction to a past post.  What the hell does that have to do with the satellite data that I posted?  If nothing, then retract it.
3858  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 27, 2011, 10:37:54 PM
Morris set up that framework earlier in the year.  It's muddled now but I agree with his conclusion, but a 3rd player is not guaranteed.  Mitt and Newt are in the final group and the others are out IMO unless Perry starts acting like a winning candidate and to go from single digits sinking to a win Iowa.

Newt and Mitt could narrow the field by going 1 and 2 in Iowa and NH; either one could wrap it up early by winning the first 3. 
3859  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Hide 2 Years of Decline on: November 26, 2011, 01:39:47 PM
The data I posted previously and below was sourced and linked to the same satellite based ocean measurements that NASA and NOAA use, not from a 3rd grade blogger, and your personal insults to my post were not necessary or helpful to the discussion level on the board you meanspirited internet troll. The EPA site you linked with a billion times more funding posts nothing from the last two years because that data does not support their Occupy America agenda.

Dates and Ocean measurements:
2009.762544 4.983938e-01
2009.786452 4.986906e-01
2009.810016 4.978843e-01
2009.834542 4.964168e-01
2009.858177 4.950515e-01
2009.882085 4.943344e-01
2009.905994 4.943233e-01
2009.929902 4.946768e-01
2009.953810 4.949439e-01
2009.977719 4.947911e-01
2010.001627 4.940890e-01
2010.025536 4.929729e-01
2010.049444 4.918703e-01
2010.073352 4.913476e-01
2010.097261 4.917230e-01
2010.121169 4.927341e-01
2010.145077 4.936435e-01
2010.168986 4.937882e-01
2010.192894 4.931054e-01
2010.216803 4.921310e-01
2010.240711 4.914826e-01
2010.264619 4.913422e-01
2010.288528 4.914230e-01
2010.312436 4.913864e-01
2010.336344 4.912200e-01
2010.360253 4.911966e-01
2010.384161 4.915188e-01
2010.408070 4.920793e-01
2010.431978 4.925840e-01
2010.455886 4.928454e-01
2010.479795 4.928986e-01
2010.503703 4.928435e-01
2010.527611 4.926382e-01
2010.551520 4.921086e-01
2010.575428 4.911581e-01
2010.599337 4.899450e-01
2010.623245 4.888302e-01
2010.647153 4.881369e-01
2010.671062 4.879415e-01
2010.694970 4.880703e-01
2010.718878 4.882825e-01
2010.742787 4.884623e-01
2010.766695 4.886481e-01
2010.790426 4.889007e-01
2010.814662 4.891458e-01
2010.838322 4.892256e-01
2010.862143 4.889994e-01
2010.885965 4.885108e-01
2010.909787 4.879770e-01
2010.933608 4.876641e-01
2010.957430 4.877281e-01
2010.981252 4.881207e-01
2011.005073 4.886330e-01
2011.028895 4.890310e-01
2011.052716 4.891611e-01
2011.076538 4.889289e-01
2011.100360 4.882206e-01
2011.124181 4.869459e-01
2011.148003 4.852498e-01
2011.171824 4.836647e-01
2011.195646 4.829230e-01
2011.219467 4.834688e-01
2011.242192 4.850516e-01
2011.267372 4.868304e-01
2011.290932 4.878911e-01
2011.314753 4.878862e-01
2011.338575 4.871719e-01
2011.362396 4.864411e-01
2011.386218 4.861811e-01
2011.410039 4.864160e-01
2011.433861 4.868410e-01
2011.457682 4.871225e-01
2011.481504 4.870342e-01
2011.505325 4.864432e-01
2011.529146 4.854239e-01
2011.552968 4.844569e-01
2011.576789 4.843574e-01
2011.600611 4.854777e-01
2011.624432 4.870849e-01
2011.648254 4.882340e-01
2011.672075 4.886173e-01
2011.695896 4.883880e-01

Argos was developed under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES, the French space agency), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, USA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, USA).

The system utilizes both ground and satellite-based resources to accomplish its mission. These include:

    instruments carried aboard the NOAA polar orbiting environmental satellites (POES) and the EUMETSAT MetOp satellites,
    receiving stations around the world,
    and major processing facilities in France and the United States.

This fully integrated system works to conveniently locate and deliver data from the most remote platforms to the user's desktop, often in near real-time.

Argos is operated by CLS/Argos, based in Toulouse, France. CLS has subsidiaries in the U.S., namely, Service Argos, Inc. and North American CLS.
    8-10, rue Hermès,
    Parc Technologique du Canal
    31520 Ramonville Saint-Agne
    Tel.: +33 (0)5 61 39 47 00
    Fax: +33 (0)5 61 75 10 14

    CLS America, Inc., USA
    CLS Perú, Peru
    Novacom Services, France
    PT CLS Argos Indonesia, Indonesia
    Altamira, Spain

    Cubic-I, Japan
    KL Trading, Korea
    ES-PAS, Russia
    Cunlogan, Chile
    Satellite Information Technology Pty Ltd, Australia
    CLS Bruxelles, Belgium
    CLS Vietnam, Vietnam
    Tianjin Haihua Technology Development Center , China
3860  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: November 26, 2011, 12:00:15 PM
Your link: proves my point just as well.  Thank you for that!   wink
3861  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters: Make the Desert Bloom on: November 26, 2011, 11:54:46 AM
I know we have a drug demand problem in the U.S. drug laws that force up prices and profits making trafficking worse but from my view from seeing only small parts of our 5500 mile border with Canada, I offer this intended as constructive, not disparaging: The main problem with the US southern border is inside Mexico and whatever freedom, opportunity and prosperity that is not happening there.

With free trade, NAFTA, short flights and easy trucking lanes right into the world's most prosperous economy next door, why aren't they the fastest growing productive economy and opportunity society on the planet?  Does anyone here have insights on that or another theory?

Mexico’s economy
Making the desert bloom

The Mexican economy has recovered somewhat from a scorching recession imported from America, but is still hobbled by domestic monopolies and cartels

Aug 27th 2011 | SALTILLO | The Economist  - from the print edition

HOT and high in the Sierra Madre, the city of Saltillo is a long way from Wall Street. Stuffed goats keep an eye on customers in the high-street vaquera, or cowboy outfitter, where workers from the local car factories blow their pesos on snakeskin boots and $100 Stetsons. Pinstriped suits and silk ties are outnumbered by checked shirts and silver belt-buckles; pickups are prized over Porsches.

The financial crisis of 2008 began on the trading floors of Manhattan, but the biggest tremors were felt in the desert south of the Rio Grande. Mexico suffered the steepest recession of any country in the Americas, bar a couple of Caribbean tiddlers. Its economy shrank by 6.1% in 2009 (see chart 1). Between the third quarter of 2008 and the second quarter of 2009, 700,000 jobs were lost, 260,000 of them in manufacturing. The slump was deepest in the prosperous north: worst hit was the border state of Coahuila. Saltillo, its capital, had grown rich exporting to America. The state’s output fell by 12.3% in 2009 as orders dried up.

The recession turned a reasonable decade for Mexico’s economy into a dreary one. In the ten years to 2010, income per person grew by 0.6% a year, one of the lowest rates in the world. In the early 2000s Mexico boasted Latin America’s biggest economy, measured at market exchange rates, but it was soon overtaken by Brazil, whose GDP is now twice as big and still pulling away, boosted by the soaring real. Soon Brazil will take the lead in oil production, which Mexico has allowed to dwindle. As Brazilians construct stadiums for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, Mexicans, who last year celebrated the bicentenary of their independence from Spain, are building monuments to their past (and finishing them late).

Mexico’s muscles

Yet Mexico’s economy is packed with potential. Thanks to the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and a string of bilateral deals, it trades more than Argentina and Brazil combined, and more per person than China. Last year it did $400 billion of business with the United States, more than any country bar Canada and China. The investment rate, at more than a fifth of GDP, is well ahead of Brazil’s. Income per person slipped below Brazil’s in 2009, but only because of the real’s surge and the peso’s weakness. After accounting for purchasing power, Mexicans are still better off than Brazilians.

Though expatriates whinge about bureaucracy, the World Bank ranks Mexico the easiest place in Latin America to do business and the 35th-easiest in the world, ahead of Italy and Spain. In Brazil (placed 127th) companies spend 2,600 hours a year filing taxes, six times more than in Mexico. Registering a business takes nine days in Mexico and 26 in Argentina. The working hours of supposedly siesta-loving Mexicans are among the longest in the world. And although Mexico’s schools are the worst in (mainly rich) OECD countries, they are the least bad in Latin America apart from Chile’s.

These strengths have helped Mexico to rebound smartly from its calamitous slump. Last year the economy grew by 5.4%, recovering much of the ground lost in 2009. Exports to the United States, having fallen by a fifth, have reached a record high. In the desert there are signs of life: Saltillo’s high street, where four out of ten shops closed during the recession, is busy again. CIFUNSA, a foundry that turns out some 400,000 tonnes of cast iron a year for customers such as Ford and Volkswagen, shed 40% of its staff in 2009, but has rehired most of them and is producing more than it did before the slump.

However, the jobs market has yet to return to its pre-recession state. Nationally, the official unemployment rate is 5.4%, having peaked at 6.4% in 2009. Javier Lozano, Mexico’s labour secretary, believes that the pre-recession mark of 4.1% will not be matched within the term of this government or the next (ie, before 2018). What’s more, the new jobs are not as good as those that were lost. Average pay last year was 5% lower than in 2008. Because of this, and rising food prices, more Mexicans have slipped into poverty: last year 46.2% of them were below the official poverty line (earning less than 2,114 pesos, or $167, per month), up from 44.5% in 2008.

Just as recession came from the gringos, recovery depends partly on them. Many analysts who once predicted economic growth of 5% this year cut their forecasts to under 4% after a downward revision of American GDP in July. Exports account for nearly a third of Mexico’s trillion-dollar GDP, and most go to the United States. Remittances provide $190 per person per year (down from $240 in 2007). Now America faces several years of lacklustre growth, which poses a dilemma for Mexico.

Some look at the recent explosive growth of Brazil and wonder if it is time to follow its example and look to new markets. In 2009 only 3% of Mexico’s exports went to Brazil, Russia, India or China, whereas Brazil sent 16% of its exports to its fellow BRICs. Industrialised countries receive less than half of Brazil’s exports but 90% of Mexico’s. The Inter-American Development Bank, the biggest lender in the region, describes a “two speed” Latin America, in which economies, such as Mexico, which do most of their trade with developed countries, lag behind those, such as Brazil, that have forged links with emerging markets.

South or north?

Mexico has already diversified its exports. America’s share of them has fallen from 89% in 2000 to perhaps 78% this year and will fall further, according to Miguel Messmacher, head of economic planning at Mexico’s finance ministry. Sales to Latin America and Asia are growing twice as fast as those to America. The automotive industry, Mexico’s biggest exporter, is ahead of the trend: though exports to America continue to rise, they now make up only 65% of the total. Eduardo Solís, head of the industry’s national association, says he would like to get the figure down to 50% by focusing on Latin America and Europe.

Others say Mexico’s economic future will always be to the north. “We can’t just become a commodity exporter and start sending soy beans to China,” says Jorge Castañeda, a former foreign secretary. History, geography and natural resources have wedded Mexico to its wealthy neighbour: “It’s not something we chose,” he says. If the American economy is growing slowly, Mexico will just have to get a bigger chunk of it.

That task has been made harder by China. Since China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001 its share of American imports has grown fast and is now the biggest. The shares of Canada and especially Japan have fallen. Mexico’s share, which almost doubled in the seven years after NAFTA came into effect, slipped after 2001. But it is edging up again (see chart 2).

China’s low wages, which lured factories away from Mexico, are rising rapidly. In 2003 Mexican pay was three times Chinese rates but now it is only 20% higher, Mr Messmacher says. The rising yuan and the cheap peso accentuate this trend.

Proximity to America, Mexico’s trump card, has been made more valuable by the high oil price. The resolution in July of a long dispute has allowed Mexican lorries to make deliveries in America, which the Mexican government reckons will reduce firms’ shipping costs by 15%. The rise of China may also help Mexico too, by forcing American companies to compete more keenly. Detroit carmakers cannot export cars to South Korea, but a Mexican factory using American parts can, notes Luis de la Calle, a former trade minister.

Luring foreign investors has been made trickier by a spike in violence. Since 2007, a crackdown on organised crime has caused Mexico’s drug-trafficking “cartels”, as they are known (though they are in fact rather competitive), to splinter and fight. Last year the murder rate was 17 per 100,000 people, a little lower than Brazil’s, but more than two-thirds up on 2007. Ernesto Cordero, the finance minister, has estimated that the violence knocks about a percentage point off Mexico’s annual growth rate.

The fighting is highly concentrated: last year 70% of mafia-related killings took place in 3% of the country’s municipalities. In Yucatán state, where tourists scramble around Mayan ruins, the murder rate is no higher than in Belgium. Last July was the busiest ever for Mexico’s foreign-tourist trade, but there are signs that the drip of bloody stories is starting to hurt bookings. In the first five months of this year, arrivals were 3.6% lower than last. Acapulco, which caters mainly to domestic tourists, has virtually emptied thanks to frequent shootings in the heart of the hotel zone.

Many of the roughest areas are in the north, where foreign investment is concentrated. In Ciudad Juárez, a centre of maquila factories that assemble products for export, the murder rate has climbed to one of the highest in the world, as the Sinaloa and Juárez cartels battle for control of the border crossing, little restrained (and often aided) by the local police. In Tamaulipas, a border state where violence surged last year, the unemployment rate has risen to 7.5%, the highest in the country. The head of a Mexican multinational with operations there found recently that his local manager had been siphoning company money to the cartels. Many rich businessmen have moved their families to America; the governor of one border state is rumoured to have done the same (his office denies it).

Investors have largely held their nerve. Foreign direct investment, which reached $30 billion in 2007 but fell to half that in 2009, is expected to recover to $20 billion this year. Businessmen play down the violence: Mr Solís admits that some car transporters have been robbed on highways, but says that this year has been better than last. This month Honda became the latest carmaker to announce plans to expand in Mexico, in spite of the insecurity.

Still, insecurity adds costs and delays. The road from Saltillo to Monterrey, the nearest big airport, has become dicey, so more people rely on Saltillo’s own tiny airport, where a single airline offers flights to Mexico City for upwards of $400. Conferences, concerts and sporting fixtures have been cancelled in Monterrey. In Coahuila on August 20th a football match was abandoned after shots were fired outside the stadium. Some foreign companies are even nervous about sending executives to Mexico City, although it has a lower murder rate than many American cities.

From Uncle Sam to Uncle Slim

Despite Mexico’s difficulties, one of its citizens is the richest person in the world. Carlos Slim, the son of a Lebanese immigrant, has made a fortune estimated by Forbes at $74 billion. The magazine reckons that last year his net worth rose by $20.5 billion.

Nearly two-thirds of Mr Slim’s wealth is thought to lie in América Móvil, the biggest or second-biggest mobile-phone operator everywhere in Latin America except Chile (where it is third). In Mexico Mr Slim’s grip is particularly strong, with 70% of the cellular market and 80% of landlines. In half the country’s 400 local areas, only his company has the infrastructure to put through calls to landlines. Not surprisingly, after accounting for purchasing power home landlines in Mexico cost 45% more than the OECD average and business lines 63% more (see chart 3). Mobiles are better value, particularly for those who do not make many calls. But basic broadband access costs nearly ten times more (per megabit per second of advertised speed) than in the rest of the OECD.

Telecoms is not the only monopolised sector. A study by the OECD and Mexico’s Federal Competition Commission (CFC) found that 31% of Mexican household spending went on products supplied in monopolistic or highly oligopolistic markets. The poorest tenth suffered most, 38% of their expenditure going on such things.

The cost of these captive markets is ruinous. Until recently, for example, firms selling generic medicines were required by law to operate a plant in Mexico. This, along with a system that allows doctors to prescribe medicines by brand rather than by generic compound, means that the market is dominated by expensive brands. Generics account for less than 17% of the drugs market, against 66.5% in America. Medicine is a third pricier than in Britain.

Time for some self-service

The labyrinth of torpitude

Transport is expensive too. The handful of budget airlines that arrived in the past decade have struggled to get take-off and landing slots at Mexico City’s airport, which are dished out by a committee dominated by incumbents. The CFC found that flights to and from Mexico City were between 40% and 80% dearer than those to less strangled airports. Intercity bus routes are dominated by four firms that have divided up the country. Fares are 10% higher than they ought to be, the CFC estimates.

Banking is similarly uncompetitive. Two banks control almost half the market for deposit accounts and two-thirds of the credit- and debit-card markets. The lack of choice means that 95% of account-holders have never switched banks. Top of the list of Saltillo businesses’ complaints is the scarcity and cost of credit.

Some of these pinch points are being addressed. The collapse last year of Mexicana, North America’s oldest airline, has presented an opportunity to auction landing slots to nimbler competitors. Drugs should get cheaper thanks to an auction system devised by the CFC for Mexico’s social-security institute. In April a new competition law introduced penalties of up to ten years in jail for collusion, and empowered the CFC to make surprise inspections. The same month it fined Mr Slim’s mobile-phone operator a record $1 billion for abusing its market dominance.

Banking has been opened to entrants such as Walmart, which has already shaken up Mexican retailing. Commercial credit is expanding: it stands at 19% of GDP, nearly double the ratio in 2003. Lending is still less than half of what it was before the banking crisis of 1994, suggesting plenty of room for growth—certainly more than in Brazil, where credit already equals about half of GDP.

Forcing competition on cosy industries is still not easy. When the government decided in 2009 to shut down Luz y Fuerza, a state-run electricity company that was costing the taxpayer $3 billion a year, it required 1,000 police in riot gear to occupy the firm’s offices. Since Luz y Fuerza shut, the wait for new connections in Mexico City has fallen from ten months to four. But its ex-employees still bring parts of the capital to a halt with protests. Labour-reform efforts, to ease hiring and firing and allow six-month trial contracts, have met opposition in congress. Even with the new competition law, few people fancy the authorities’ chances against Mr Slim’s lawyers.

The answer is to open the economy and let foreign competition force Mexican firms to adapt, believes Mr de la Calle. “If you have free trade, you don’t need structural reforms because the companies have to compete,” he says. He cites the pork industry, which used to be blighted with hog cholera. Farmers resisted pressure to eradicate it, preferring to sell low volumes at high prices. When tariffs were dropped, cheap pork from America forced Mexican farmers to clean up their act. Cholera was eliminated, output rose and prices fell.

Other industries are ripe for similar treatment. Oil is a prime candidate. Pemex, a state monopoly, handles everything from exploration to petrol pumps. Its profits contribute a third of government revenue, allowing Mexico to maintain a generous and feebly enforced tax regime. But decades of underinvestment have hurt production, which fell from 3.4m barrels a day in 2004 to 2.6m. Brazil, which has allowed foreign investment in its oilfields, is producing around 2m barrels a day and expects to be pumping 6m by 2020.

Pemex’s output has stabilised in the past year, and this month it awarded its first performance-based contracts, a precursor to getting oil majors to explore the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. But efforts to make the company more efficient have been vetoed by the oil workers’ union. Refineries are poorly run; petrol stations forbid self-service.

The Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, a think-tank, estimates that the GDP growth rate could be raised by 2.5 percentage points if the oil industry were opened up and labour and competition laws reformed. Reeling from an American-made recession, however, Mexico is hardly in the mood for a more open economy. With a presidential election next year, it would be easier to keep puttering along in the shadow of Brazil, an economy which in some ways Mexico outclasses. Mexico’s rebound from slump and its resilience to lawlessness show its underlying strength. If it could only bust the monopolistic dams that have parched its economy, its desert might one day start to bloom.

3862  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Lawrtence Summers 3 ways to combat 'Income Inequality', on: November 26, 2011, 11:27:30 AM
Not finding a category for 'Cognitive Dissonance of the Centrists, I will stick this here.  So-called centrists like past candidate Perot IMO tend to be better at pointing to problems than structuring real solutions. Summers, like Volcker, was supposed to be one of the sane advisers to the President.  Both are now long gone from the administration.

I will go along with his point one, but it is mostly nonsense.  People without means can't participate evenly with the wealthy if the government decides to auction off public assets or licenses like an additional airwave for broadcast or land for energy exploration.

Point 2 is verbose but basically means make progressivity in taxation even worse while half already pay nothing.  I would say worst case should be hold the line with progressivity where it is, cut the worthless loopholes and lower the rates proportionally for everyone who produces.

Point 3 is more BS.  College tuition, along with a host of other things, is outrageous and unaffordable because of government interference and he proposes no solution.

Apologies to Thatcher, but we need to pursue a 'society' of haves, not choose between protecting or destroying a class of them.  We need to unleash economic freedom and growth.  In that context, government should do nothing that unnecessarily favors the rich and nothing that makes the natural inequalities of a free and prosperous society worse than what is natural and necessary.

Three ways to combat rising inequality

By Lawrence Summers, Published: November 20

There has been a strong and troubling shift in market rewards for a small minority relative to the rewards available to most citizens. A recent Congressional Budget Office study found that incomes of the top 1 percent of the U.S. population (adjusted for inflation) rose 275 percent from 1979 to 2007, while income for the middle class grew only 40 percent. Even this dismal figure overstates the fortunes of typical Americans. In 1965, only one in 20 men ages 25 to 54 was not working; by the end of this decade, it is likely to be one in six, even if a full cyclical recovery is achieved.

Another calculation suggests that if the income distribution had remained constant from 1979 to 2007, incomes of the top 1 percent would be 59 percent, or $780,000, lower and that incomes among the bottom 80 percent would be 21 percent, or more than $10,000, higher.

Those looking to remain serene in the face of these trends or who favor policies that would disproportionately cut taxes at the high end — and exacerbate inequality — assert that snapshot inequality is all right as long as there is mobility within people’s lifetimes and across generations. In fact, there is too little of both. Inequality in lifetime incomes is only marginally smaller than inequality in a single year. And intergenerational mobility in the United States is now poor by international standards.

Why has the top 1 percent done so well relative to the rest? The answer lies substantially in changes in technology and in globalization. When George Eastman revolutionized photography, he did very well, and because he needed a large number of Americans to carry out his vision, the city of Rochester, N.Y., had a thriving middle class for two generations. When Steve Jobs revolutionized personal computing, he and Apple shareholders did very well, but those shareholders are all over the world, and a much smaller benefit flowed to middle-class American workers, both because production was outsourced and because the production of computers and software was not terribly labor-intensive.

The market system distributes rewards increasingly inequitably. On one side, the debate is framed in zero-sum terms, and the disappointing lack of income growth for middle-class workers is blamed on the success of the wealthy. Those with this view should consider whether it would be better if the United States had more, or fewer, entrepreneurs like those who founded Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook. Each did contribute significantly to rising inequality. It is easy to resent the level and extent of the increase in CEO salaries, but firms that have a single owner, such as private equity firms, pay successful chief executives more than public companies do. And for all their problems, American global companies have done very well compared with those headquartered in more egalitarian societies over the past two decades. Where great fortunes are earned by providing great products or services that benefit large numbers of people, they should not be denigrated.

Meanwhile, those who call concerns about rising inequality misplaced or a product of class warfare are even further off base. The extent of the change in the income distribution is such that it is no longer true that the overall growth rate of the economy is the principal determinant of middle-class income growth — how the growth pie is distributed is at least equally important. The observation that most of the increase in inequality reflects gains for those at the very top at the expense of everyone else further belies the idea that simply strengthening the economy will reduce inequality. Focusing on American competitiveness, as many urge, could easily exacerbate inequality while doing little for most Americans if the focus is placed on measures such as corporate tax cuts or the protection of intellectual property for the benefit of companies that are not primarily producing in the United States.

We need more and better responses to rising inequality. Here are three places to start.

First, government must not facilitate increases in inequality by rewarding the wealthy with special concessions. Where governments dispose of assets or allocate licenses, preference should be on the use of auctions to which all have access. Where government provides implicit or explicit insurance, premiums should be based on the market rather than in consultation with the affected industry. Government’s general posture should be standing up for capitalism rather than for well-connected capitalists.

Second, there is scope for pro-fairness, pro-growth tax reform. The moment when more great fortunes are being created and the federal deficit is growing is hardly the time for the estate tax to be eviscerated. And there is no reason tax changes in a period of sharply rising inequality should reinforce the trends in pretax incomes produced by the marketplace.

Third, the public sector must ensure greater equity in areas of the most fundamental importance. It will always be the case in a market economy that some will have mansions, art, etc. More troubling is that middle-class students’ ability to attend college has been seriously compromised by increasing tuitions and sharp cutbacks at public universities, and that, over the past generation, a gap has opened between the life expectancy of the affluent and the ordinary.

Neither the politics of polarization nor those of noblesse oblige on behalf of the fortunate will serve to protect the interests of the middle class in the post-industrial economy.

The writer, a professor and past president at Harvard University, was Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration and economic adviser to President Obama from 2009 through 2010.
3863  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Foreign Policy: The enemy is the enemy, call it by its name, Caroline Glick on: November 26, 2011, 11:08:27 AM
Very worthwhile read!  Timely if not too late.

Calling things by their proper names
November 25, 2011, 10:20 AM
Maliki and the dwarf.jpg

Next month, America's long campaign in Iraq will come to an end with the departure of the last US forces from the country.

Amazingly, the approaching withdrawal date has fomented little discussion in the US. Few have weighed in on the likely consequences of President Barack Obama's decision to withdraw on the US's hard won gains in that country.

After some six thousand Americans gave their lives in the struggle for Iraq and hundreds of billions of dollars were spent on the war, it is quite amazing that its conclusion is being met with disinterested yawns.

The general stupor was broken last week with The Weekly Standard's publication of an article titled, "Defeat in Iraq: President Obama's decision to withdraw US troops is the mother of all disasters."

The article was written by Frederick and Kimberly Kagan and Marisa Cochrane Sullivan. The Kagans contributed to conceptualizing the US's successful counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, popularly known as "the surge," that president George W. Bush implemented in 2007.

In their article, the Kagans and Sullivan explain the strategic implications of next month's withdrawal. First they note that with the US withdrawal, the sectarian violence that the surge effectively ended will in all likelihood return in force.

Iranian-allied Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is purging the Iraqi military and security services and the Iraqi civil service of pro-Western, anti- Iranian commanders and senior officials. With American acquiescence, Maliki and his Shi'ite allies already managed to effectively overturn the March 2010 election results. Those elections gave the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya party led by former prime minister Ayad Allawi the right to form the next government.

Due to Maliki's actions, Iraq's Sunnis are becoming convinced they have little to gain from peacefully accepting the government.

The strategic implications of Maliki's purges are clear. As the US departs the country next month it will be handing its hard-won victory in Iraq to its greatest regional foe - Iran.

Repeating their behavior in the aftermath of Israel's precipitous withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, the Iranians and their Hezbollah proxies are presenting the US withdrawal from Iraq as a massive strategic victory.

They are also inventing the rationale for continued war against the retreating Americans. Iran's Hezbollah-trained proxy, Muqtada al-Sadr, has declared that US Embassy personnel are an "occupation force" that the Iraqis should rightly attack with the aim of defeating.

The US public's ignorance of the implications of a post-withdrawal, Iranian-dominated Iraq is not surprising. The Obama administration has ignored them and the media have largely followed the administration's lead in underplaying them.

For its part, the Bush administration spent little time explaining to the US public who the forces fighting in Iraq were and why the US was fighting them.

US military officials frequently admitted that the insurgents were trained, armed and funded by Iran and Syria. But policy-makers never took any action against either country for waging war against the US. Above the tactical level, the US was unwilling to take any effective action to diminish either regime's support for the insurgency or to make them pay a diplomatic or military price for their actions.

As for Obama, as the Kagans and Sullivan show, the administration abjectly refused to intervene when Maliki stole the elections or to defend US allies in the Iraqi military from Maliki's pro-Iranian purge of the general officer corps. And by refusing to side with US allies, the Obama administration has effectively sided with America's foes, enabling Iranian-allied forces to take over the US-built, trained and armed security apparatuses in Iraq.

ALL OF these actions are in line with the US's current policy towards Egypt. There, without considering the consequences of its actions, in January and February the Obama administration played a key role in ousting the US's most dependable ally in the Arab world, president Hosni Mubarak.

Since Mubarak was thrown from office, Egypt has been ruled by a military junta dubbed the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Because SCAF is comprised of the men who served as Mubarak's underlings throughout his 30-year rule, it shares many of the institutional interests that guided Mubarak and rendered him a dependable US ally. Specifically, SCAF is ill-disposed toward chaos and Islamic radicalism.

However, unlike Mubarak, SCAF is only in power because the mobs of protesters in Tahrir Square demanded that Mubarak stand down to enable civilian, majority rule in Egypt. Consequently, the military junta is much less able to keep Egypt's populist forces at bay.

Throughout Mubarak's long reign, the most popular force in Egypt was the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood. The populism unleashed by Mubarak's ouster necessarily rendered the Brotherhood the most powerful political force in Egypt. If free elections are held in Egypt next week as planned and if their results are honored, within a year Egypt will be ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the outcome Obama all but guaranteed when he cut the cord on Mubarak.

Recognizing the danger a Brotherhood government would pose to the army's institutional interests, in recent weeks the generals began taking steps to delay elections, limit the power of the parliament and postpone presidential elections.

Their moves provoked massive opposition from Egypt's now fully legitimated and empowered populist forces. And so they launched what they are dubbing "the second Egyptian revolution."

And the US doesn't know what to do.

In late 2010, foreign policy professionals on both sides of the aisle in Washington got together and formed a group called the Working Group for Egypt. This group, with members as seemingly diverse as Elliott Abrams from the Bush administration and the Council on Foreign Relations, and Brian Katulis from the Center for American Progress, chose to completely ignore the fact that the populist forces in Egypt are overwhelmingly jihadist. They lobbied for Mubarak's overthrow in the name of "democracy" in January and February. Today they demand that Obama side with the rioters in Tahrir Square against the military. And just as he did in January and February, Obama is likely to follow their "bipartisan" advice.

FROM IRAQ to Egypt to Libya to Syria, as previous mistakes by both the Bush and Obama administrations constrain and diminish US options for advancing its national interests, America is compelled to make more and more difficult choices. In Libya, after facilitating Muammar Gaddafi's overthrow, the US is faced with the prospect of dealing with an even more radical regime that is jihadist, empowered and already transferring arms to terror groups and proliferating nonconventional weapons. If the Obama administration and the US foreign policy establishment acknowledge the hostile nature of the new regime and refrain from supporting it, they will be forced to admit they sided with America's enemies in taking down Gaddafi.

While Gaddafi was certainly no Mubarak, at worst he was an impotent adversary.

In Syria, not only did the US refuse to take any action against President Bashar Assad despite his active sponsorship of the insurgency in Iraq, it failed to cultivate any ties with Syrian regime opponents. The US has continued to ignore Syrian regime opponents to the present day. And now, with Assad's fall a matter of time, the US is presented with a fairly set opposition leadership, backed by Islamist Turkey and dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. The liberal, pro-American forces in Syria, including the Kurds, have been shut out of the post-Assad power structure.

And in Egypt, after embracing "democracy" over its ally Mubarak, the US is faced with another unenviable choice. It can either side with the weak, but not necessarily hostile military junta which is dependent on US financial aid, or it can side with Islamic extremists who seek its destruction and that of Israel and have the support of the Egyptian people.

HOW HAS this situation arisen? How is it possible that the US finds itself today with so few good options in the Arab world after all the blood and treasure it has sacrificed? The answer to this question is found to a large degree in an article by Prof. Angelo Codevilla in the current issue of the Claremont Review of Books titled "The Lost Decade."

Codevilla argues that the reason the US finds itself in the position it is in today owes to a significant degree to its refusal after September 11, 2001, to properly identify its enemy. US foreign policy elites of all stripes and sizes refused to consider clearly how the US should best defend its interests because they refused to identify who most endangered those interests.

The Left refused to acknowledge that the US was under attack from the forces of radical Islam enabled by Islamic supremacist regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Iran because the Left didn't want the US to fight. Moreover, because the Left believes that US policies are to blame for the Islamic world's hostility to America, leftists favor foreign policies predicated on US appeasement of its enemies.

For its part, the Right refused to acknowledge the identity and nature of the US's enemy because it feared the Left.

And so, rather than fight radical Islamists, under Bush the US went to war against a tactic - terrorism. And lo and behold, it was unable to defeat a tactic because a tactic isn't an enemy. It's just a tactic.

And as its war aim was unachievable, the declared ends of the war became spectacular. Rather than fight to defend the US, the US went to war to transform the Arab world from one imbued with unmentionable religious extremism to one increasingly ruled by democratically elected unmentionable religious extremism.

The lion's share of responsibility for this dismal state of affairs lies with former president Bush and his administration. While the Left didn't want to fight or defeat the forces of radical Islam after September 11, the majority of Americans did. And by catering to the Left and refusing to identify the enemy, Bush adopted war-fighting tactics that discredited the war effort and demoralized and divided the American public, thus paving the way for Obama to be elected while running on a radical anti-war platform of retreat and appeasement.

Since Obama came into office, he has followed the Left's ideological guidelines of ending the fight against and seeking to appease America's worst enemies. This is why he has supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This is why he turned a blind eye to the Islamists who dominated the opposition to Gaddafi. This is why he has sought to appease Iran and Syria. This is why he supports the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian opposition. This is why he supports Turkey's Islamist government. And this is why he is hostile to Israel.

And this is why come December 31, the US will withdraw in defeat from Iraq, and pro- American forces in the region and the US itself will reap the whirlwind of Washington's irresponsibility.

There is a price to be paid for calling an enemy an enemy. But there is an even greater price to be paid for failing to do so.
3864  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs: The Chevy Volt on: November 26, 2011, 10:01:34 AM
First I must admit I am fascinated with things like off the grid power systems and with electric vehicles.  I have 2 electric vehicles right now (an electric bike and a trolling motor powered kayak) but still rely heavily on the combustion engine to get real work done, a load carried or a real distance traveled.  A natural gas and electric hybrid I predict will be in my future, but who knows.  I just don't see how any of it depends on a government program.  That doesn't it make it more cost effective, it just hides the costs.

The real intention of these government programs, subsidies and mandates, is to rush the product to market before it is ready.  Isn't government's role in every other product, FDA etc. life saving drugs and procedures, to slow the product to market so that proper testing and public safety is assured?

2nd electric car battery fire involving Chevy Volt

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal officials say they are investigating the safety of lithium-ion battery in General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Volt after a second battery fire following crash-testing of the electric car.
3865  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: November 26, 2011, 09:38:36 AM
OMG! It's so hot, the sea is boiling away!

All that extra moisture in the air explains the drought in Texas too!
Global warming is even more  of a joke here - we didn't have to dream of a white Thanksgiving up here this year, the snowblowers, plows and salt trucks have already been out.  That is why they changed the name global warming to climate change - consistent or accelerating warming was so easy to disprove.  Climate change covers hot and cold, wet and dry - as if those variances did not previously occur.  If you can observe it or measure it, then it was caused by capitalism, fossil fuel use and the greediest 1%.  Fit the data to the theory.

I was reading some pretty good pieces lately about the errors the climate modelers were making in the late 1990s.  Because they deny the effects of phenomenon they don't understand or know about, cosmic rays, solar magnetism, cloud cover variabilities, etc. they attribute all observed warming to CO2.  When temps go up more they are even more confident and determined to spread the fright, but when temps go down they switch from satellite to surface to lower tropospheric or tree rings or whatever helps the new data fit into the old, flawed theory until it is fully discredited.  Critics of this say put the data first and fix your model even if that would mean the scientifically unthinkable - lower levels of government paid research funding.

Around 'The Inconvenient Truth' time I tried to make a bet with one of my outspoken liberal friends about ocean levels.  The rising sea seemed to be the most dramatic of the Al Gore predictions:

"A 20 ft (6m) rise in sea level would create over 100 million refugees."

Apologies here but I am picturing Crafty and family out on a Pacific lifeboat with their survival kit waiting for CO2 levels on land to subside.  I tried to bet my friend $5 that the map of Florida would not be noticeably changed by the end of this century.  The Atlantic Ocean will be right about where it is now and where it was when my grandparents bought property a block from the ocean 65 years ago.  It goes up and down everyday with the tide more than it changes in a century.  He wouldn't take the bet because we couldn't figure out how to live long enough to verify Al Gore's claim.  Maybe he thinks all that sea rise could be in the last few years...

The point in this data isn't that levels are catastrophically falling - we are looking at millimeters not feet, it is just that ocean levels go in cycles we don't understand.   A small decline over 2 years and counting proves the rate of increase is neither constant nor accelerating, and not determined by one minor variable alone.

We don't need to wait until the year 2100 to know they were wrong.
3866  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A Nobel Peace Prize for the Warning of Sea's Accelerating Rise... on: November 25, 2011, 08:53:17 PM
Sea Level Continues Its Historic Decline

Who knew?
3867  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: Van Jones reappears on: November 25, 2011, 08:19:30 PM
Van Jones left the administration because of past extremist affiliations?  Or did he leave to form new ones??

Does this look like a ground level up movement to you?  Repeat after me...

I wonder what the early national socialist rallies in Germany looked like.
3868  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 25, 2011, 01:57:51 PM
"MSM is in full swing doing everything they can to delegitamize the Rep field."

NBC has apologized to Rep. Michele Bachmann after the house band for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" played an inappropriate song during her appearance on the show Monday... apologized for what happened and called the incident "not only unfortunate but also unacceptable,"...the show's band played the song "Lyin' Ass Bitch" by Fishbone as Bachmann first appeared on stage...
Just a misunderstanding, I'm sure the unfortunate choice of songs is no sign of institutional bias.
3869  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 25, 2011, 11:58:22 AM
Erick Erickson isn't exactly a highly regarded analyst, but I heard him make that same case as a guest host on someone else's radio show recently.  The interest uber-Lib James Oliphant' has in it is to find the most defeatist right-wing view and spread it around.

Of course Cain has an issue with the women's vote while these charges fester and doubts against electability cast to everyone else.  That doesn't mean we won't learn more about the veracity of those charges before votes are cast - and as Crafty already pointed out - other considerations.

Of course Gingrich has a 3 wives with overlap problem.  Isn't that part of the problem Rudy the previous election cycle frontrunner ran into.  We are not breaking any new ground here.

"Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee."  - Again back to conventional wisdom.  I have written this multiple times as well.

"And his general election campaign will be an utter disaster for conservatives as he takes the GOP down with him and burns up what it means to be a conservative in the process"

This was the point of significance that Erickson is making and it is severely flawed.  Erickson is saying that Romney is so centrist that no contrast can be made in the general election with Pres. Obama.  That is wrong on 59 points in economics.  It is wrong on the focus and direction of foreign policy.  And it is wrong on ObamaCare.  Obama will never take a step back on Obamacare and Romney will repeal it the first day after the swearing in ceremony.  Every voter will have to deal with that contrast and current polling I've seen is 47% top 41% in favor of repeal.  Romney will follow that with every Republican concession out there like verbal support for state solutions and federal laws protecting pre-existing conditions, opening markets across state lines etc. to attract moderates and centrists while the tea party types would be cast wanting to kill off the poorest among us.

Conservatives are wishing for a conglomerate candidate that doesn't exist.  Maybe a Michele Bachmann with no foot in mouth problem and Rick Perry's executive branch governing experience, a Hermann Cain who also had 8 years as Secretary of State or Chair of the Joint Chiefs and no accusations, a Rick Perry governing record in someone who could articulate a thought in front of a camera, a Newt who lived the family life of Romney or a Romney who got elected in a blue state with the domestic economic views of Ron Paul.  Folks, that person doesn't exist.  I noticed early on that, where Erickson is editor/blogger, was in the tank for Rick Perry.  I also had high hopes for Rick Perry.  Then I had medium hopes for Rick Perry, now little hope for Rick Perry.  I also held out medium hope for Tim Pawlenty.  How we all deal with our own disappointments along the way is our own problem, but to say that Mitt Romney is not position to mount a serious general election challenge and stake out ground to the right of this opponent is pure nonsense.
3870  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues on: November 25, 2011, 11:04:03 AM
Conservatives here voiced quite a bit of support for John Bolton's view advising strikes against N.K. nukes as well as stopping Iran.  The N.K. threat is different  and more complicated because of having its big brother China on the doorstep, not to mention you can see the home of the Russian Pacific Fleet from North Korea's northern-most coastal border.  Who is Iran's big brother keeping them contained, the new government of Iraq??  Pakistan is its own unique case and I hope we are working through all the options of when and how to take action and contain its dangers.  I don't see how recent failures of our policies toward NK and Pak make failure in Iran more desirable.

In the history of the world in our lifetimes, Israel struck a Saddam reactor in Ozarik 1981 and a 'military site' in Syria in 2007 and the French played a lead role in deposing Kadafy.  Not much else ever happens in non-proliferation enforcement or tyrant/terrorist abatement without the U.S. taking the lead or unilateral role.  

A similar line of defeatist thinking was used in the unsuccessful argument against deposing Saddam Hussein, we shouldn't take down Saddam because we did nothing here and nothing there around the globe.  That logic escapes me.  How does our inaction or failure in N.K, Pakistan or anywhere else help with the question facing us right now, what is the right thing to do about the threat posed by Iran who according to most reports is about to become a real nuclear power right now under our watch.

"I don't think they [Iran] have killed one American on American soil."  And this: "the direct threat to America is minimal".

Inventing a category to find them innocent and why is there a qualifier on the threat to America?!  If they are our enemy by their choosing, co-conspiring in thousands of American deaths and causing a war to be years longer than it needed to be, they are a threat.  If they are developing nuclear and extending the range of delivery systems as a declared enemy of the United States, they are a threat.  If they earned the distinction of being the world's number one state sponsor of terrorism, they are a threat.  If their delivery systems could hit locations where we have security agreements, they are a threat.  These security relationships were formed precisely with this thinking in mind: we will not wait ever again for enemies to land on our shores to begin our action.  GM already wrote: "Iran has been waging a war against the US since 1979".  I would add that if they choose to be our enemy and act on it, then the feeling is necessarily mutual.  There should be a price to pay for being an active and declared enemy of the United States.  Having your nuclear proliferation facilities taken out in air strikes seems like a pretty natural consequence to supporting a war effort against the US while declaring yourselves a new nuclear power to be dealt with.  To not do so is what sends the message of weakness that makes the next war more likely and more costly.

Stopping Iran at this point IS a step forward in stopping N.K., just as vice versa would have been - using the same logic presented - why aren't we treating them the same.  Stopping both programs is a step forward in focusing attention on larger threats inside Pakistan.  To allow threats to grow and develop right while we have reason, justification and perhaps opportunity to take action is exactly what has landed us in this triple threat situation, IMHO.
3871  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics or just a media issue? on: November 23, 2011, 05:30:07 PM
LA Times: "Over the last two decades, the average income of the top 1% of Californians increased by 50%, after adjusting for inflation, while the average income of the middle fifth fell by 15%."

It's kind of sad that in Journalism and in economics that kind of deception can be passed along without consequence.  The implication is clearly made that two groups of people were studied over a two decade period when in fact no actual person group of people was studied over an extended period. Income Mobility: The majority of Californians moved freely between quintiles, there is no indication whatsoever how many of the top 1% at the start remain in the top 1%, perhaps close to none, the group that makes up the middle quintile is completely different for a host of reasons.  New Californians: For every immigrants that come in at the bottom of incomes, the middle shifts downward even if everyone in the state including that immigrant is making more than they made previously.

For all the fears about the success of 'the wealthy' starting with the title, 'California's Wealth Pyramid', isn't it strange that at no point to they measure or compare wealth.  Income studies and wealth studies are not the same.  Look at the unprecedented collapse of wealth in the last 3 years.  Wouldn't that be problem solved? None of it is shown in the data.

"Policymakers should be mindful of the growing income divide and the millions of workers and families who have fallen behind."  - Once again, for each poor person moving in to better him/herself, the income divide overall grows, and nowhere in the study does it document that anyone has fallen behind.

Before Pelosi-Obama took over congress, incomes were growing, covering most of those two decades.  People may have been falling behind though in the sense of the increasing costs of all government interfered expenses and markets, including taxes, housing, tuition, energy costs and health care.

I like the ending in particular, they are with the nonpartisan California Budget Project, lol.  Nonpartisan.  Why on earth would you openly and intentionally deceive people if you had no agenda??
3872  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 22, 2011, 04:44:51 PM
My feeling about Mitt is that there is a 50% chance he could be a great President.  No one has come forward offering a 100% chance.  My hope is that Mitt's flip flop period had to do with wanting to bee elected in Massachusetts.  That counts against him in terms of integrity and in terms of risk of bad policies later but at his core my hope is that he more conservative and more pro-free enterprise than he is showing.  I can't stand his rich guilt stand on marginal rates.  No way should we let progressivity get worse in the tax code get worse as Mitt would allow, and I say that looking up from the lowest bracket.

Newt to me presents risks too, perhaps greater, both in terms of jumping around on policies and that his personal story will keep some people from voting for him.  He is more controversial I think especially as you move toward the center and gives the left more to tee off on.  I liked that he was the best debater.  I like that Crafty stood up and took a stand for him.  Now I don't like as much that Newt is saying he is the best debater; that comes across better with others saying it.  Another debate tonight and he will have quite a chance to shine because he has given for more thought to all the foreign policy questions.  Besides setting a clearer direction he can use that to be far harder on Pres. Obama.   Obama has had a couple of successes.  Those don't excuse the foreign policy nightmare that marks the rest his Presidency.  VDH has covered in nicely in his 'Works and Days' column and Newt is capable of that.

If he is the nominee, I think Mitt's debate capabilities will look better against Pres. Obama than he did against the Republican challengers.  It is an easier contrast to draw and he has so carefully kept from letting himself be painted as extremist.

Newt is back on private accounts for SS.  A great idea with probably lousy timing.  Of course those private accounts will require an individual mandate...
3873  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / U.S. energy policy: A slow national suicide on: November 22, 2011, 01:23:01 PM

U.S. energy policy: A slow national suicide
With Keystone XL delay, America continues its slow economic strangulation

By Charles Campbell

November 21, 2011  Baltimore Sun

In 1969, three unrelated events occurred that have since been combined with political bungling to slowly strangle the U.S. economy. Moammar Gadhafi overthrew King Idris of Libya. He nationalized Western oil company reserves with no retribution from the U.S. Sensing our weakness, all of the other OPEC nations abrogated their concession agreements with U.S. companies. The Arab producers cut back production and embargoed the U.S. because of our support for Israel. Middle East despots have been in the driver's seat ever since, and as the Arab Spring seems increasingly likely to empower Islamists, things are unlikely to get better.

Also that year, an oil spill from a drilling platform off Santa Barbara was the catalyst for the current environmentalist efforts to prevent all exploration on the continental shelves on the East and West coasts and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. U.S. crude production went into irreversible decline.

Finally, in 1969 synthetic crude oil from the Athabasca tar sand of Alberta, Canada, began to be produced. It has been transported without incident to U.S. refiners by pipeline for 40 years. There is now an environmental movement to prevent the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to deliver additional tar sands crude from Alberta to the U.S. to make up for declining U.S. production. Opponents of Keystone XL won a victory this month when President Barack Obama refused to sign off on the pipeline's proposed route, forcing at least a year's delay as the project is reconfigured.

    No to Keystone XL No to Keystone XL
    Proposed Canadian pipeline will increase our dependency on foreign oil
    Keystone XL pipeline, bringing oil from Canada, is a step toward the future
    Going to jail for the environment Going to jail for the environment
    Pipeline or no, oil is not the future
    The shrewd politics of Keystone delay
    Upstream Oil and Gas Activities
    Petroleum Industry
    See more topics »

These are the same environmentalists, of course, who block exploration on the continental shelves and ANWR, which adds to the U.S. and global oil shortage, driving up prices that make the Athabasca tar sands projects viable. In any event, if Keystone XL is blocked, a pipeline will be built to Canada's West Coast for Chinese deliveries. This will reduce China's need for Middle East crude and increase our requirements for supplies from people who want to destroy the U.S.
Follow @BaltSunLetters for the latest reader letters to The Sun

The administration continues to push for wind and sun projects (see the Solyndra debacle). Multiple studies show that wind power does not reduce carbon dioxide because of the inefficient cycling operations in fossil fuel plants to provide instant power into the grid when the wind stops blowing.

As for solar, to provide a measurable amount of power it would be necessary to cover a major portion of the Mojave Desert with mirrors to collect heat at the peak of the day and again would require cycling of fossil fuel plants to make up for when the sun doesn't shine.

The same radical opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline has expanded to the production of natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation, which stretches from New York through Pennsylvania and Maryland into West Virginia, with unsubstantiated claims of impending disaster for the water tables. Hydro-fracturing has been used in secondary/tertiary oil and gas recovery for 60 years in the West with no detrimental effect on the environment or water supplies, and coupled with horizontal drilling is responsible for raising crude production in the Dakotas to slow U.S. declines. Maryland has a moratorium on shale gas production.

Much-maligned Big Oil still has the only technology capable of developing additional energy supplies, shorn of government impediments. Meanwhile, anti-nuclear activists have stopped all consideration of nuclear power in the U.S. in the wake of Fukushima — which, despite being the worst nuclear meltdown in history, caused no nuclear-related deaths.

CFP of France was thrown out of the Middle East, along with the U.S. companies, in 1974. The country immediately launched a focused strategy to reduce reliance on Mideast oil. Today France has the world's most sophisticated high-speed electric rail system, produces 80 percent of its power by nuclear plants and reprocesses its spent nuclear fuel. The Nissan Renault Leaf pure electric car is now in mass production. By 2030, France will be essentially carbon dioxide free except for jet fuel and diesel fuel for heavy truck transportation.

Sun and wind will never become a significant portion of our energy mix. High-priced oil since the 1970s has created 40 years of extensive conservation; there is little more to be gained. We can either emulate the French and in parallel aggressively expand our fossil fuel resources or face a slow, brutal economic decline against rising Asian power, coupled to increasing risks from an increasingly volatile region that controls the world's oil supplies.

The garrote is an unpleasant execution by slow strangulation. It is extremely difficult to commit national suicide by turning the handle ourselves, but we are trying.
3874  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Climategate Emails 2.0 on: November 22, 2011, 01:19:23 PM
Agenda science, the gift that keeps on giving:

/// The IPCC Process ///

<1939> Thorne/MetO:

Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical
troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a
wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the
uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these
further if necessary [...]

<3066> Thorne:

I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it
which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.

<1611> Carter:

It seems that a few people have a very strong say, and no matter how much
talking goes on beforehand, the big decisions are made at the eleventh hour by
a select core group.

<2884> Wigley:

Mike, The Figure you sent is very deceptive [...] there have been a number of
dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC [...]

<4755> Overpeck:

The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guid[e] what’s
included and what is left out.

<3456> Overpeck:

I agree w/ Susan [Solomon] that we should try to put more in the bullet about
“Subsequent evidence” [...] Need to convince readers that there really has been
an increase in knowledge – more evidence.  What is it?

(Much more at the link)
3875  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: O'Hanlon Wolfowitz piece on: November 22, 2011, 01:01:20 PM
The piece makes some sense to me, to spend 10% of what we spend now instead of nothing.  Who knows from here what the strategy on the ground should be, but it seems to me that to leave Iraq and Afghanistan in total whether calling it success or failure will be a mistake very difficult to correct.  We didn't have that type of false confidence leaving other conflict zones of Japan, Germany or Korea and we didn't launch the bin Laden operation or drone strikes in Pakistan from Tampa.

Keeping US power in the region and strengthening our cooperation with India is the foundation of a Pakistan plan IMO.

As the 3 am question goes, what as President would you do if the call says that forces of al Qaida just took over Pakistan and took control of all their nukes.  If we have gutted our intelligence, our defense and readiness budgets, if we end our presence on their doorstep and our influence and contacts on the inside, if we have moved what remains of our personnel and equipment home, the response of the President of the US will be the same as the head of the UN, the head of the EU or the President of Haiti or Ghana - like everyone else, we would be in a position to do nothing about it.  Maybe we could call our superpower 'friends' in Russia and China.
3876  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: November 22, 2011, 12:26:26 PM
CCP's answer make sense.  If they block your business and you report it to authorities you would expect them to be removed at some through a series of negotiations and/or increasingly stronger actions taken by LE.

GM:  "Unlike CN or CS gas, OC is actually legally classified as a food additive. It's the same compound that makes salsa or curry hot."

Like a waiter, they could just say they got their order wrong. ) 

Waterboarding is done only with a healthy, all-natural product as well.   wink

3877  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government programs and budget process - Balanced Budget Amendment on: November 22, 2011, 12:18:35 PM
I understand the BBA voted on that received a majority but failed to get the 2/3rd threshold did not include the cap on spending, did not include the super majority requirement to raise taxes and among the opponenets was Rep. Paul Ryan.

Ryan said:  “I’m concerned that this version will lead to a much bigger government fueled by more taxes,” Ryan said in a statement following the vote. “Spending is the problem, yet this version of the BBA makes it more likely taxes will be raised, government will grow, and economic freedom will be diminished. Without a limit on government spending, I cannot support this Amendment.”

I agree with Paul Ryan.  What a strange 'solution' that we can spend all we want if it is combined with a tax increase on someone else. 
3878  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - We need a Democrat nominee too! on: November 22, 2011, 12:06:26 PM
I had some fun back when his approval rating was about 70% predicting that Barack Obama would not be the nominee of his own party.  Names like Evan Bayh and Jim Webb came up.  I would oppose these too but for the party of JFK these choices are not as anti-capitalism, anti-freedom and anti-growth as the incumbent today. 

Instead those who see his political weakness think the perfect answer to their cause is his ideological clone Hillary Clinton.   sad  That is not what I meant! 
I saw my first Obama 2012 bumper sticker this weekend in the city of Liberal Lakes.  The new sticker doesn't say Obama-Biden; no running mate is mentioned.  It didn't say Obama either - that name isn't polling well either.   It only says 2012 with the Pepsi-like logo for the Obama hope change marketing concept in the place of the zero.  Very concise, but is President Zero really the marketing image he will spend a billion dollars to reinforce?

He wishes he had results at zero to run on...
3879  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 22, 2011, 11:20:40 AM
Yes, G. Will is very tough on Romney.  Ethanol subsidies probably aren't the best test for purity on principles.  Pawlenty, author of Courage to Stand, said in his announcement speech (in Iowa) that he would end subsidies to ethanol.  Later he said he didn't get an applause for that line - how's he doing now?  Perry says no federal subsidies for any of the energies.  Also not surging, each for different reasons.

People think conservatives have a purity test.  What a joke.  We are look for candidates with views we agree with, just like centrists and liberals do.  We would like to find one candidate who shares our principles AND can stand at least even with the incumbent on competence, moral integrity and communications skills.  That should not be too much to ask.

The polls opening in a little over a month, and it will come down to electability.  Romney may seem like a wishy washy, poll watching, principle lacking mish mash of positions held, a 'recidivist reviser of his principles', but he is still in the strongest position.

Will's point that Romney is becoming less and less electable is interesting.  The reason we searched through all these others is that a clear contrast in direction would make for a better chance at governing and solving our problems.  Technocratic competency questions bring it back to the person, not the direction.  Obama will save the day though by making even Romney look like a sharp turn toward conservatism.  With all I find lacking in Romney, he is not really another Dukakis. 
Looking again at those already written off, Glen Beck had Michele Bachmann on a radio interview for 45 minutes yesterday and said he agreed with every word she said.  She is probably the most connected of any of them on foreign policy - she at least receives intelligence from her committee assignments - but she has no executive experience and this propensity to go running off on wrong, small things. 
The always interesting Dennis Miller was on Leno last night.  He liked Cain a while back but didn't find him ready enough, now leaning toward Romney, and he likes Gingrich.  He said of Gingrich that people should see the video of his daughter - the story about the hospital room was not true, but that piece does not remove Newt's baggage, political and personal. 
Rich Perry on a Fox panel, link below, is worth a watch.  He starts with his deer in the headlights smile but follows with pretty good substance.  Krauthammer asks him an excellent question on his tax proposal, why not put a sunset provision on the old code.  Instead of fake some answer, he said that is a pretty good idea and would consider it, and went on to show how they used a sunset provision elsewhere to repatriate American assets back into the economy.  I think he might be next to get a second look and make a mini-comeback.  That doesn't make his flaws and earlier flops go away either.

One of these folks will soon be the nominee.
3880  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: OWS needs more Cowbell !! on: November 21, 2011, 11:22:09 PM
Forget about finding a message.  We need more Cowbell.
3881  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive dissonance of the left on: November 21, 2011, 08:02:53 PM
"This is why I am done with working patrol. Perhaps with law enforcement altogether."

Their loss, our gain.  )
3882  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 21, 2011, 09:43:19 AM
Credit and blame are sides of the same coin; it is 3 years out.

"What do you do if "free" Iraq has stated very clearly and unequivocally that they simply don't want us there?"

Things like negotiations, leverage, leadership and diplomacy come to mind.  None of those were needed if your only goal was to read polls at home and exit no matter the conditions or ramifications.
3883  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 21, 2011, 08:56:05 AM
It's still Bush's fault.  I know he gets the pension and secret service attention, I hope he is still getting boots on the ground updates before he makes his final determination - 3 years gone by and counting.

The Bush 'agreement', FYI, was "subject to possible further negotiations".  The negotiations to maintain a base, a fortress over the horizon as Democrats used to call it, a readiness to quickly address future threats, apparently never happened... because first and foremost this is about American political considerations now ahead of future American or global security interests, IMHO.
3884  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 21, 2011, 08:40:16 AM
George Will was very tough on Newt yesterday:

"Gingrich's is an amazingly efficient candidacy in that it embodies everything that is disagreeable about modern Washington. He's the classic rental politician," George Will said on "This Week" today.

"People think that his problem is his colorful personal life. He'll hope that people concentrate on that rather than on, for example, ethanol. Al Gore has recanted ethanol. Not Newt Gingrich who served the ethanol lobby, Industrial policy of the sort that got us Solyndra, he's all for it. Freddie Mac, he says, hired him as a historian. He's not a historian."

(He prefaced this with his weekly disclosure that Mrs. Will is advising the Perry campaign.)
3885  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / European matters: Spain election: Conservatives set to win landslide victory on: November 21, 2011, 08:28:24 AM

Who knows what this means now; they should have thought of that when they chose socialist leadership since 2004.
3886  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The cognitive dissonance of the left on: November 21, 2011, 07:48:10 AM
"That would clash with the actual intent behind OWS."

Yes but his situation calls the question perfectly.  Are you against the special treatment and bailouts of wallstreeters or are you against the freedoms inherent in capitalistic wealth?  Without the freedoms of capitalism, the $700 room would never have been built, cleaned or available to him.  The right to charge more, to make more money and to pay more for quality are all part of the capitalistic principle of allocating scarce resources based on price. Those shivering outside should take notice. 
3887  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The cognitive dissonance of the left on: November 20, 2011, 09:29:54 PM
The park bench sounds good but the guy prefers the honeymoon suite with the Jacuzzi for the occupation.  I'm waiting for Occupy Vail, and the powder in the trees at Steamboat.  What can you really protest when the cameras aren't running anyway.  The rich guy has every right to sympathize with the movement, oppose special treatment for the connected.  Jump right in.  It should not be an us vs. them question, it is right vs wrong.  Is money legitimately earned? Is it treated the same as everyone else?  Let's quit the blind attacks on wealth, let's quit the religious attacks on wealth, let's get off the equal outcomes fantasy, end the favors trading business and focus on equal treatment under the law. 
3888  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: NPR Slandering the Red States on: November 20, 2011, 11:49:01 AM
In the balancing process of new media challenging old, one person has taken up a strong challenge on the hack jobs of a few of the Goliaths such as the NY Times and Dan Rather.  John Hinderacker at Powerline (biased blogger alert) is now on Part VI of 'NPR Slandering the Red States': where the NPR hit piece author is just starting to answer back.  As in the case of his exposure of the hit jobs on the conservative Koch brothers, it is best to read these in their entirety to get the full picture.  Just like the reaction of Dan Rather on the false but true fake documents, this author sounds like she has never been questioned before, putting out a story that children from Indian Reservations are being kidnapped by the State of South Dakota.

I feel bad for MSM customers who can follow the news from so many of the same sources everyday and have no idea they only read or heard one side of it.  Also I resent having to go to alternative sites to get facts, not just differing opinions.
3889  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Is global warming good or bad, new or old? on: November 20, 2011, 11:02:13 AM

You can be forgiven if you didn’t know that we’re in the middle of an ice age right now, what with all the talk about global warming. But it’s true. We’re in what geologists call “the Quaternary glaciation,” an ice age that’s lasted for the past 2.5 million years.

Ice ages last a very long time, with periods of extreme cold punctuated by warmer periods, or interglacials. We’re in such an interglacial right now: The Holocene epoch began about 12,000 years ago. It’s best thought of as a brief respite from the most severe ravages of Quaternary ice.

So global warming actually began around 10,000 BC, when the ice sheets that had covered large portions of North America and Eurasia retreated to the poles. And what has happened since this (entirely natural) warming began? The Neolithic Revolution, the dawn of civilization and the expansion of human populations like never before.
Civilization rose during a respite from the cold: Diego, Manfred, Sid and the lost child in the animated film “Ice Age.”
Civilization rose during a respite from the cold: Diego, Manfred, Sid and the lost child in the animated film “Ice Age.”

In other words, homo sapiens, which existed in its more or less anatomically modern form for 100,000 to 200,000 years, began to flourish and thrive as a result of this most fortuitous warmth.

In short: Global warming is good for people.

If you don’t believe me, look at the temperature variations within the Holocene: The so-called Roman Warming coincided with the heights of classical civilization; then came a period of cooling which coincided with the social collapse of the Dark Ages.

Then there was the Medieval Warm Period, which coincided with the rise of monumental cathedrals in Europe and the settlement by Vikings in a lush Greenland, followed by the Little Ice Age (from roughly the 14th to the 19th centuries) — which saw widespread political upheavals, famine and disease.

Finally, there is the current warming trend of the last century and a half or so.

In each instance, the result is broadly the same: The warmer the Earth, the better it has been for people.

So let’s be thankful for the Holocene — civilization could never have arisen without it. And let’s be thankful we live in this especially warm period within the Holocene, which has seen human populations achieve measures of health and wealth unparalleled in all of history.

But let us also not be fooled — this blessed respite will someday end. The ice will return. It always has, it always will. And when it does, it will threaten all we have built, and indeed, our very existence.
3890  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: November 20, 2011, 10:55:10 AM
All the US constitution says about bankruptcy is: [As a power of congress]  'To establish...uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States'.  Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4

Most of the bankruptcy law was written back when states were sovereign, a very long time ago.  That needs to be updated with a provision for bankruptcy for state government as we have for municipalities.  Someone might contact Sens. Feinstein and Boxer about getting this done.  The laws governing these state bankruptcies across the nation need to be uniform.

3891  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: November 18, 2011, 09:33:52 PM
"let's say I sold your State a building and I carried back the paper for 30 years"

Many differences there, if payments quit the title stays with the seller on a contract for deed.  Put the other way you have to make all the payments to complete the transfer of the sale.   Payment over time makes perfect sense because the usage is over time.  It just has to be reauthorized every budget cycle until the government is the owner.

Pensions are payments for work done back then.  They should have been funded with money collected back then, for the schools, police, fire, etc. Instead we were funding ... ... ... . I have no idea how to fix now what we all know was irresponsible back then.
3892  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: November 18, 2011, 02:50:29 PM
I didn't know states cannot declare bankruptcy.  Of course not, under federal law the 'states are sovereign'.  Try saying that aloud without laughing or crying - the states are sovereign - I know about 9 people I would like to forward that to!  These states and these pensions, however, have been highly involved in interstate commerce...

When I sold products and services to a similar state, all long term funding contracts required a "funding out clause".  One legislature cannot in law bind future legislatures; it fails the most basic tenet:  consent of the governed.  We are not governed by the people who were elected 20 years ago by different people in a different time.  What right and what power did they think they had to decide what our budget will be today. The only money the state can disburse it what the legislature with the Governor say can be spent.  Obviously they will choose to pay the interest on the bonds and reauthorize everything else reasonable and prudent,  but is there a legal requirement to do so?  I don't know and my experience was not in Calif.

The California constitution will be the key.  It will define the process of what monies go out.  Requiring pension obligations be paid would seem contradictory.  The constitution hopefully spells out how that gets resolved, but it sounds like it that was set in precedent, not necessarily in specific constitutional language.  Something this large should be done with a supermajority anyway, so you might as well do that through the amendment process to the Calif. constitution, and write exactly what is needed.

I don't see how you can make people pay when you can't make them stay.

When the tax rate becomes 100% and pensions are taxed, pensioners aren't receive anything anyway.   sad

3893  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 18, 2011, 01:23:06 PM
Some additional thoughts on the debate:

*Major division between Huntsman and Romney on China.  Romney got the better of it I thought.

*Though the conversation about Afpakia was serious, I don't think anyone really came to grips with the idea that we are on a trajectory to leave Afg (with pretense at continuing to train) and that the place on the planet where AQ is closest to acquiring nukes is by snatching the ones the Paks are driving down the street.

Not saying I have any better ideas, just saying , , ,

As I understand it, Romney is talking tough on the Chinese, currency manipulation (as if we don't) and other things.  Huntsman says Romney is just pandering to the tea party.  Huntsman would do nothing about these problems, therefore avoid a trade war, and he is saying I think that Romney won't do anything about it either (same policy).  Hard to land a punch with that.
Over to AfghPakia... It is Huntsman who supports leave now.  His reason is that it has been long enough - in other words no reason.  Cain is more articulate here - Admits he doesn't know and would have to talk to the commanders.  The crucial issue is what to do about Pakistan, home of nukes and AQ.  It is the prolonged nature of our Afghan presence that has brought us actionable intelligence in Pakistan.  It has been our relatively small foreign aid bribery that has given us the limited good side of the two-faced treatment we get from the government of Pakistan.  There has been surprisingly little uproar over there to the continuing U.S. drone attacks and to the OBL kill operation.  As a YA post described, we have a game hunting relationship with them.

The question remains: if and when the known bad situation in Pak becomes a crisis, are we better of to be stationed with forces and equipment next door or 12,000 miles away?  I think the rest other than Huntsman and Paul get that, but fail to articulate it?  After all we put into Iraq, how do we leave without keeping at least a base?  Seems like a post WWII presence in Europe and Asia had a stabilizing effect.

3894  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: November 18, 2011, 12:36:31 PM
Regarding the 5 lessons above, really 6... Excellent Post!  If you already read it, read it again and pass it along.

Important point regarding the 2% tax idea on top of all other taxes and on top of all crippling regulations is to note that this is an anti-growth strategy.  For whatever other objectives motivate the advocates have, it is the exact opposite of a pro-growth strategy for the individual and for the country - even if you think it applies only to everyone but you.

A tax on anyone is a tax on the economy and we all share an economy.  Every tax hits everyone at least indirectly.  Taxes are necessary but being overly clever and targeting (that fellow behind the tree) isn't.

Crafty put it extremely well here IMO: "I am still quite opposed to such increases because indirectly I think such increases would be bad for everyone."

In the 5 lesson post and throughout history we learn that this or any other new tax will not close the deficit, only kill growth and increase spending.

The idea that you can't move or change business activities because it is a federal and not a state law has been proven false over and over and over and over and over.  Individuals and businesses change their behavior based on changing circumstances.  The ones that don't perish.  It only takes a 2% change in activities to offset the 'benefit' of a 2% tax.  What retail business, when they desperately need more customers and more cash coming into the cash register, will raise prices by 2%?  None. 

No one has more flexibility to change their economic behavior than the rich.  From a tax efficiency perspective, soaking the rich doesn't work.  From a moral perspective, IMO it doesn't work.  From a fiscal perspective, it doesn't work.  The point of tax policy is to raise the money to pay for the legitimate functions of governing.  Nothing grows revenues like growing the economy.  You can get more money from the rich a number of ways, but not by simply raising the highest marginal rate.  There is nothing the government does that grows the private economy other than loosening the handcuffs.

We need (IMHO) to identify the people and the policies that would move us further in the wrong direction, toward further stagnation and decline, and defeat them.
3895  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: The Imaginarium of Barack Obama, VDH on: November 18, 2011, 11:57:51 AM
The piece by Peggy Noonan makes a strong case about why Herman Cain is not a serious candidate with his lack of attention to important foreign matters.  I was corresponding with a centrist friend and reminded that in other circles, just saying the name Palin, Bachmann, Cain and others - these are one word punch lines in their world.  In most cases they forgot to tell us why the joke is funny.  On the conservative side, same goes for Pelosi, Reid and especially Pres, Obama.  Maybe Newt can do it but he carries his own contradictions, but the candidate and certainly the VP candidate will need to be able to articulate persuasively the case that this incumbent is not a serious candidate for President in 2012.  VDH does it quite well IMO right here:

The Imaginarium of Barack Obama
November 16, 2011 - by Victor Davis Hanson

The presidency of Barack Obama is full of funny things that need not follow any sort of logic. Images and ideas just pop in and out, without worry of inconsistency, contradiction, or hypocrisy. It’s a fascinating mish-mash of strange heroes and bogeymen, this imaginarium of our president.

In the imaginarium there are no revolving doors, earmarks, or lobbyists. So Peter Orszag did not go from being OMB director to a Citigroup fat-cat. Once chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel did not make $16 million for his well-known banking expertise. The more you damn the pernicious role of lobbyists and the polluting role of big money, the more you must hire and seek out both. Public financing of campaigns is wonderful for everyone else who lacks the integrity of Barack Obama who understandably must renounce such unfair impositions.

Those who now vote against raising the large Obama debt ceiling are political hucksters and opportunists; those who not long ago voted against raising the smaller Bush debt ceiling were principled statesmen. “Unpatriotic” presidents borrow $4 trillion in eight years; patriotic ones we’ve been waiting for can trump that in three.

Catching known terrorists and putting them in Guantanamo is very bad; killing suspected ones by drone assassinations — and anyone unlucky enough to be in their general vicinity — is exceptionally good. Tribunals, renditions, preventative detention, and all that were bad ideas under Bush-Cheney, but could become good ideas under Barack Obama, the law professor who often sees no need to follow the law when an immigration or marriage statute is deemed regressive.

A million Iranians protesting a soon-to-be-nuclear theocracy is false revolutionary consciousness and to be left alone; a few thousand Israelis wanting to buy apartments in the Jerusalem suburbs is subversive and worthy of presidential condemnation. And when atoning for supposed American lapses, what better place to begin apologizing than in Turkey, the incubator of the Armenian, Greek, and Kurdish mass killings? We need to deny history to make the case that America is not exceptional, and to invent it to persuade us that the Muslim world is extraordinary.

Twenty-four months of a Democratic Congress, and over $4 trillion in spending, resulted in 9.1% unemployment and near nonexistent growth. Yet the culprit for the current situation is ten months of a Republican-controlled House that has yet to approve another $500 billion of borrowing. In the imaginarium, just a little more of the massive amount that has failed will not fail. But if the Republicans are to be blamed for not wanting to waste the last half-trillion, are the Democrats to be praised for borrowing the first wasted $4 trillion?

In the imaginarium, all sorts of demons and devils can unite to derail the brilliance of Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan. ATMs have for the first time after 2009 begun to eliminate jobs. But then so did the Japanese tsunami and the EU meltdown. The DC earthquake did its part, but then so did climbing oil prices and the Arab Spring. Of course, the ghost of George Bush floats over all the present mess. Economic gurus like Austan Goolsbee, Peter Orszag, Christina Romer, and Larry Summers used to write brilliant essays of what would work if they were to be in charge, and now write brilliant essays about why it did not work when they were in charge.

There are lots of ways to bring Americans together across class and racial lines. One in the imaginarium is to focus on the “teabag, anti-government people.” Another is to encourage Hispanics to “punish our enemies” — or have the attorney general lambaste Americans as racial “cowards” and to defend “my people.” Joining foreign governments to sue a fellow American state is no more red/no more blue state unity. Still another is to divide up the people between the suspect who make over $200,000 and the noble who make less, or yet again target the dubious “1%” at “the very top” who do not pay “their fair share,” a mere 40% of the aggregate income tax.

Inside the imaginarium, the way to demonize the “1%” is to vacation among them — whether at Martha’s Vineyard or Costa del Sol. Buying a corporate jet is a waste of the people’s money — unlike daily flying on a much bigger private jet paid by the people.

To encourage energy self-sufficiency, the administration lent a half-billion dollars to campaign donor insiders and got unsellable solar panels in return — as it prevents a huge pipeline from Canada that will bring “shovel-ready” jobs and fuel to the United States far more cheaply than from the volatile Middle East. We have a brilliantly obtuse energy secretary who is a Nobel laureate but who thinks California farms — a record $15 billion in exports this year — will soon blow away and that gas should climb to European levels of about $9 a gallon. In the imaginarium, the purpose of Dr. Chu’s Department of Energy is not to encourage energy production and lower prices, but to find ways to prevent its development in search of raising its cost. The attorney general must be entirely conversant in small matters like a Black Panther voting intimidation case, but was completely ignorant of large ones like Fast and Furious that saw his subordinates sell automatic weapons to Mexican drug cartels.

The president regrets that we are not innovative any more, and have gone “soft” and “lazy.” You see, his efforts at ensuring cradle-to-grave health care entitlements, of granting 99 weeks of unemployment insurance, and of extending food stamps to nearly 50 million are apparently incentives that should have led to a “hard” and “industrious” populace that was more self-reliant and willing to take risks on their own. “Spread the wealth” is a time-honored way of galvanizing people to become more self-disciplined and sufficient.

Business has failed us as well. And the way to get Las Vegas and Super Bowl junketeering CEOs profitable enough again to fund the growing redistributive state, is for them to take risks that result in the sort of massive projects that used to be an American trademark — things like the Hoover Dam, which changed the environmental landscape far more than would the apparently cancelled gargantuan pipeline from Canada to Texas. Business can be encouraged not to be lazy by a prod now and then — either by trying to shut down a big aircraft plant or a small guitar factory. And in the imaginarium, the way to gently chide the private sector is with words of encouragement like “millionaires and billionaires,” and “corporate jet owners,” along with grandfatherly advice to clueless capitalists about realizing the point at which they should cease making money.

In the imaginarium of Barack Obama there is no contradiction between smearing and shaking down Wall Street, a bunch that needs both to be told when and when not to profit, and to whom and to whom not to give tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions. Barney Frank, who helped pressure Wall Street and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to issue billions in unsound loans, and Chris Dodd, who shook down fat cats for below-market interest rates for his vacation home, logically are the eponymous heroes of the Dodd-Frank fiscal reform act to ensure others do not do as did they. Former liberal governor, senator, and Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine, who both wrecked MF Global and can’t account for $600 million in lost investments, is, in George Soros-like fashion, the best emblem of the contradictory desire to be the worst pirate on Wall Street in order to make the most money in order to be its most liberal critic. In the imaginarium we receive advice about the need for higher income taxes from multibillionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates who have always sought to avoid them. Big government and big inheritance taxes, both magnates swear are good, and therefore the administration of their own postmortem fortunes will forever avoid both.

In the imaginarium, community organizer Barack Obama never lived in a small mansion. John “two Americas” Edwards never lived in a big one. “Earth in the balance” Al Gore never lived in a few of them, and yacht owning John Kerry never lived in lots of them. You see in the imaginarium of Barack Obama you can be whatever you wish to be. Just wishing and saying something can wonderfully make it so.

3896  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: November 18, 2011, 11:27:09 AM
"Isn't it over for California?
The numbers are STAGGERING!"

CCP,  Nothing wipes out debt and unfunded liabilities like a good bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy, like a forest fire once it stops burning, is a new beginning not just an ending.  Little plants can sprout on the forest floor where before they could find no sunlight.

The previous Governor Ahnold is a lesson for conservatives in the age old struggle of centrism vs. principles.  In this case, what possible good did it do for conservatism to have an R next to his results of escalating spending, taxing and regulating to the point of economic collapse.  On the flip side, reforms like a massive change of retirement age would be barbaric if proposed by a conservative, are now courageous.

The numbers are staggering and one element of reform won't solve it.  But if that one reform got done, I would agree - a good start.
3897  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: A new 2% tax on TOP of everything else wouldn't hurt anything... on: November 17, 2011, 12:36:38 PM
"The point I am not making very well and I thought the quoted individual made better is that
regardless of tax incentives I am still going to make that film." ... "Heck, if I even raised your taxes 2% would you teach less?  I doubt it.  I suggest it wouldn't affect your business plan at all."  - He already said he would move the business out of the bankrupt overtaxed state, people change their behavior based on incentives and disincentive.  You don't measure that with a poll or a microphone.

A certain percentage quit, leave, relocate, hide income etc.  Even if the majority stay and pay more the results at some point turn downward.  That you go back to the infinitesimal argument is sad.  These taxes and regulations at all levels accumulate!  Your idea is not a 2% tax, it would be 2 more percent in a state collapsing from the asphyxiation that comes from prolonged incrementalism like this.  If it is the last 2% of oxygen in the room, you die.  In the real world like the USA or Greece, you just choose the safety hammock for a while.

Adding a regulation, and another and another, and adding a small tax and a small increase and another and another and another is how we got here.  Family leave law alone didn't end hiring.  A small tax on electricity alone didn't end manufacturing. Plant closing notice laws didn't end all production.  The 60% tax on home telephone service made up of a bunch of 2% this and 2% that fees alone did not end all home telephone service. But how many taxes and regulations are there now?  Have you looked at the economy lately?  Economic behavior turned radically downward with the impending expiration of the Bush tax cuts even without that expiration actually occurring.  Obama's own advisers said you don't raise taxes in a recession?  Why not ? ? ? ? ?  They kill of business investment and hiring AT THE MARGIN.

The discussion here in a short time has included why not go back to the 90% tax rates on the rich and the 9% Cain plan.  That is quite a difference in thinking even if you do it 2% at a time.  Ask the frog in the boiling water.
3898  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 17, 2011, 12:02:28 PM
The point of 'Social Security and Medicare being only a "promise" not an obligation' had to do with the constitutionality question relating to the health care issue not the desirability of social security or a prediction of what future congresses might do.  It is constitutional because in law it is merely another tax and another social spending program as legal as all the others.  The 'social contract' is like the lockbox.  It doesn't exist in law.

"...attack Obama Care because it allows private choice..."  It restricts private choice.  My previous coverage is already gone.  In the name of reducing costs it makes it unlawful to simply choose fee for service, the way we pay for almost everything else and the best way known to control costs.  Central to economics, supply and demand, is that suppliers can only charge what the consumers can afford and choose to pay.  Turn over the payment system to an apparatus willing to spend without limit a trillion a year more than they take in eliminates all freedom based forms of price constraint.

"if Obama had simply proposed covering all American's through Medicare and taxed then accordingly that would be constitutionally ok"

Pres. Obama already said he preferred that and considered this a step along the way to getting there.  But if he stuck to that in his campaign he would not have been elected by his own calculation.  He also needed the votes in congress; even among Democrats the votes were not there.  Constitutionally based on precedent, you are on the right track.  Taxes to no end, unevenly applied, and government not regulating but participating in the health care services industry follows the  precedent of what some consider to be wrongly decided cases. 

"From an actuarial standpoint...the more individual "choice" you have, the more adverse selection comes into play. "

There were some far reaching Republican proposals on the table addressing pre-existing conditions etc. when Obamacare was passed.  Water over the dam now, unless we get to start this debate again.  These might have been considered regulating interstate commerce.

"I think there are valid points on both sides of the argument."

Thank you, that is quite a step forward from denying that a constitutional question even exists.

Case law has set the precedent implying that incremental increases in federal government power can expand forever without limit because of pronouncements like you quoted: "Congress can intervene in local, individual decisions when necessary to support a legitimate regulatory regime for interstate commerce".  That thinking will win at least 4 votes from this court.  Some of the others I expect will recognize this as a new power and they will have to decide what to do about that.  What govt powers don't somehow relate to regulating interstate commerce in a global economy?

Pretty obvious to me though that it is not a "legitimate regulatory regime" to make it unlawful for an individual to choose fee for service over insurance products in a free society.  It is a wholly different  question from whether they can tax and/or provide social services.  As I wrote 2 years ago, the vote will be 4-4 and the future direction of our republic will come down to the mood of one Justice Kennedy.

As we await the decision, one question remains for the power already exists crowd, what power then would NOT be legitimate for the federal government in your view?  My view is that this if found to be constitutional, this could be their final case.  We will no longer need to review federal powers. 
3899  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: URL for the most recent debate on: November 17, 2011, 12:38:59 AM
3900  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: November 17, 2011, 12:16:45 AM
Hard to have a serious discussion about tax policy or anything in economics if you deny that incentives and disincentives have an effect on economic behavior.  Why not petition the state government to close all economics departments in public universities.  What is there to study if inputs to a decision do not affect the decision. 

Some opposing opinions stimulate amazing discussion.  Others just bring down the discussion.  The adventure just took two steps backwards.
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