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3901  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government programs: The real cost of auto bailouts, WSJ on: June 06, 2011, 11:17:02 AM
(More famous people reading the forum)

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303745304576361663907855834.html

The Real Cost of the Auto Bailouts
The government's unnecessary disruption of the bankruptcy laws will do long-term damage to the economy.

By DAVID SKEEL

President Obama's visit to a Chrysler plant in Toledo, Ohio, on Friday was the culmination of a campaign to portray the auto bailouts as a brilliant success with no unpleasant side effects. "The industry is back on its feet," the president said, "repaying its debt, gaining ground."

If the government hadn't stepped in and dictated the terms of the restructuring, the story goes, General Motors and Chrysler would have collapsed, and at least a million jobs would have been lost. The bailouts averted disaster, and they did so at remarkably little cost.

The problem with this happy story is that neither of its parts is accurate. Commandeering the bankruptcy process was not, as apologists for the bailouts claim, the only hope for GM and Chrysler. And the long-term costs of the bailouts will be enormous.

In late 2008, then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson tapped the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Fund to lend more than $17 billion to General Motors and Chrysler. With the fate of the car companies still uncertain at the outset of the Obama administration in 2009, Mr. Obama set up an auto task force headed by "car czar" Steve Rattner.

Under the strategy that was chosen, each of the companies was required to file for bankruptcy as a condition of receiving additional funding. Rather than undergo a restructuring under ordinary bankruptcy rules, however, each corporation pretended to "sell" its assets to a new entity that was set up for the purposes of the sale.

With Chrysler, the new entity paid $2 billion, which went to Chrysler's senior lenders, giving them a small portion of the $6.9 billion they were owed. (Fiat was given a large stake in the new entity, although it did not contribute any money). But the "sale" also ensured that Chrysler's unionized retirees would receive a big recovery on their $10 billion claim—a $4.6 billion promissory note and 55% of Chrysler's stock—even though they were lower priority creditors.

If other bidders were given a legitimate opportunity to top the $2 billion of government money on offer, this might have been a legitimate transaction. But they weren't. A bid wouldn't count as "qualified" unless it had the same strings as the government bid—a sizeable payment to union retirees and full payment of trade debt. If a bidder wanted to offer $2.5 billion for Chrysler's Jeep division, he was out of luck. With General Motors, senior creditors didn't get trampled in the same way. But the "sale," which left the government with 61% of GM's stock, was even more of a sham.

If the government wanted to "sell" the companies in bankruptcy, it should have held real auctions and invited anyone to bid. But the government decided that there was no need to let pesky rule-of-law considerations interfere with its plan to help out the unions and other favored creditors. Victims of defective GM and Chrysler cars waiting to be paid damages weren't so fortunate—they'll end up getting nothing or next to nothing.

Nor would both companies simply have collapsed if the government hadn't orchestrated the two transactions. General Motors was a perfectly viable company that could have been restructured under the ordinary reorganization process. The only serious question was GM's ability to obtain financing for its bankruptcy, given the credit market conditions in 2008. But even if financing were not available—and there's a very good chance it would have been—the government could have provided funds without also usurping the bankruptcy process.

Although Chrysler wasn't nearly so healthy, its best divisions—Jeep in particular—would have survived in a normal bankruptcy, either through restructuring or through a sale to a more viable company. This is very similar to what the government bailout did, given that Chrysler is essentially being turned over to Fiat.

The claim that the bailouts were done at little cost is even more dubious. This side of the story rests on the observation that GM's success in selling a significant amount of stock, reducing the government's stake, and Chrysler's repayment of its loans, show that the direct costs to taxpayers may be lower than many originally feared. But this doesn't mean that taxpayers are off the hook. They are still likely to end up with a multibillion dollar bill—nearly $14 billion, according to current White House estimates.

But the $14 billion figure omits the cost of the previously accumulated tax losses GM can apply against future profits, thanks to a special post-bailout government gift. The ordinary rule is that these losses can only be preserved after bankruptcy if the company is restructured—not if it's sold. By waiving this rule, the government saved GM at least $12 billion to $13 billion in future taxes, a large chunk of which (not all, because taxpayers also own GM stock) came straight out of taxpayers' pockets.

The indirect costs may be the worst problem here. The car bailouts have sent the message that, if a politically important industry is in trouble, the government may step in, rearrange the existing creditors' normal priorities, and dictate the result it wants. Lenders will be very hesitant to extend credit under these conditions.

This will make it much harder, and much more costly, for a company in a politically sensitive industry to borrow money when it is in trouble. As a result, the government will face even more pressure to step in with a bailout in the future. In effect, the government is crowding out the ordinary credit markets.

None of this suggests that we should be unhappy with the recent success of General Motors and Chrysler. Their revival is a very encouraging development. But to claim that the car companies would have collapsed if the government hadn't intervened in the way it did, and to suggest that the intervention came at very little cost, is a dangerous misreading of our recent history.

Mr. Skeel, a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania, is the author of "The New Financial Deal: Understanding the Dodd-Frank Act and its (Unintended) Consequences" (Wiley, 2010).
3902  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance, Glibness and Stupidity on: June 06, 2011, 10:18:03 AM
President Obama is now saying that high energy prices are part of what is holding back our economic growth.  IMAGINE THAT!
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Step one on my 'what would you do' discussion is to open up energy production.  A good time to start that would have been in the FY1996 budget reconciliation bill (H.R. 2491, §§5312-5344) would have opened ANWR to energy development, but the measure was vetoed: http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/100215.pdf

A good time to energize a national strategy of increased energy development on all fronts the next decade came from the Cheney task force. Instead they attacked it ad hominem.  Had we implemented that plan then, Obama might have a better shot at reelection now.  I doubt if the incumbent can see that even now.  Hindsight is not always 20/20.
3903  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: June 06, 2011, 10:00:02 AM
"I dislike the term "crony capitalism". 

Agree!  Crony capitalism as it is used is the opposite of capitalism, not a version of it.  Like compassionate-conservative (big government conservative).  Why not just honestly say you aren't a conservative.

Not catchy but I like to call it a state run economy or at least moving toward one.  Allowing capital to move freely to its most valuable use is the opposite of these policies in question.

fascism is just as valid in its second definition in Merriam Webster:  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fascism  a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control, but in its first definition it seems too strong, true totalitarianism.  Misguided swing voters went to Pelosi-Reid in '06, Obama in '08; we want them back in '012.  Calling them fascists or former fascists is probably not helpful IMHO.
3904  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: June 06, 2011, 09:32:21 AM
Yes, like terrorists.  You can shoot them but not question them for long periods.

Fetal alcohol syndrome and damage from cigarette smoke are other areas of impossibility because they falsely assume there is a human being growing and developing inside the mother. 

'Holy sacrament' is the truth.  It is the one area where we accept putting a religion (atheism) ahead of the discoveries of science and ultrasound photography.  If we admitted that one of God's creatures was in there we could at least weight the merits of affording it reasonable protection from alcohol and drugs.
3905  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: June 06, 2011, 09:18:29 AM
"But we are still driving cars!  And will be for some time.  No new product is "killing their market share"."

Cars change somewhat every year. For the most part it seems to me that competitors Honda and Toyota, along with buying no new car at all, is what is killing their market share.  Really it is their own non-competitiveness killing their market share and profit.  Running our economy at less that 80% efficiency also means the difference for large companies of not making the sales at the margin that pushes you into the black. In other words, government wrongheadedness is a big part of what is killing them in first place.

How does someone say with certainty what new life would or would not have flourished if we weren't propping up dinosaurs.  Most likely the GM brand(s) and most GM employees that would have flourished just fine if the company were allowed to go through the normal, time tested process of reorganization.

Do you really favor government picking winners and losers or just in this case, or are you just picking away at the edges of the real issue?  Did you ever get back to me on where they derive that power, to invest in one business and not others?  Do you agree or disagree with John Roberts point that all people have the same rights and they are not tied to being a little guy or middle class?  Do you agree with my math that the US economy has missed out on roughly $1.5 trillion dollars of new innovation and new production since the end of the recession in June 2009 by shunning pro-growth, freedom-based economic policies and choosing instead to move toward a state directed economy?

Why would it be companies on the brink of failure where we want to put our public investment, if it was constitutional?  Why wouldn't we double down instead on successful companies if we want to leverage our growth?  Just curious.

When we are wishy-washy on principles, the choices we face get really complicated.
3906  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: June 05, 2011, 10:54:35 PM
""Pot:  Legal, but regulated." Regulated by whom?"

Decriminalization would offer more freedom than a complete, legal government takeover.
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"Recent evidence suggests that perinatal (marijuana) exposure alters fundamental developmental processes,"

GM, There isn't a human being developing inside a pregnant woman.   This is settled law.  Saying otherwise is 'crazy talk'. 

If there was, and we systematically killed 40 million of them, it would be like a ... modern day holocaust.  And we know it isn't.
3907  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: June 05, 2011, 03:59:56 PM
This was a very long, very slow exit for someone who according to early liberal reporting was tossed out on his ass.  Somehow I will guess that his affiliation with Fox will continue.  Also I expect his 3 hour per day, 15 hours per week radio show will continue, the third highest rated show in the nation.  (Plus an internet site.)  So worst case he will fade from sight about like Rush Limbaugh did when he left television in the mid-1990s, and is still considered the right's most influential person.
3908  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 05, 2011, 03:44:03 PM
"Problems exit between Taiwan and China, Japan and China, South Korea and North Korea, etc. but we try negotiation with China and North Korea and while we promise to defend our allies, we keep in mind what is good for America first.  It should be the same with Israel.  No more no less.  As an American, I do not feel a greater obligation to Israel than I do to Taiwan or South Korea or any other good ally."

The threats each of those face is different.  In each or in all of them it would be better to help in a small way now than to fight a regional or world war on their behalf later.  Managing different threats requires different strategies.  In all cases the underlying theme is peace through strength, not through giveaways.  What part of Taiwan do we propose to give back?
3909  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: June 05, 2011, 03:15:47 PM
Someone declares bankruptcy.  He has a home with a mortgage by a bank in which is in in default.  Do his other creditors get to take a piece of what the home sells for?
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Can only guess.  If there is cash back, then yes.  Assuming he is underwater on the mortgage, no; I can't see how unsecured creditors or creditors with other collateral could get ahead of the secured liens already in place on the house.  

If the homeowner gets to keep the house, then the judge would have to allow funds to be used for that redemption, or write down the amount owed with Stalinist leeway.  Court proceedings no doubt could be used to delay the foreclosure - at least that is how it worked with a cancellation of a Contract for Deed.

If Obama intervenes, all bets are off. 
3910  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: June 05, 2011, 01:38:29 PM
"the tenant might be left on the street and homeless"

Homeless, lol, there's a term that has lost all meaning in Scandinavian-based Minnesota.  No. They just move on and do it again.  Eviction means front of the line for emergency assistance - your money.  The question is how soon it happens and what is learned from the experience.  What is learned is that payment deadlines come and go without consequence and that the free money not used on rent can be spent on everything else, guns, drugs, booze, cigarettes, whatever one is into.  The larger point is that the investor quits investing when the system prevents you from enforcing the agreed terms of a contract.  How do you measure the economic damage done by investments that are never made?

"Bankruptcy Judges have wide leeway..."??  Not THAT wide!

IIRC, Obama brokered a deal with taxpayer money that kept the company out of the judge's reach, and reordering winners and losers based on political favors and something that resembles your idea of helping the little guy.  What could be smaller than a 200,000 person union that wins healthcare rights for hundreds of thousands of people who don't even work there.  By criminal, I meant that in the general sense of illegal trespassing on private property, and executive branch treason - undermining our economic system and our country from within.  Show me persuasively where they derived lawful power to do that and I will be happy to retract and correct.
---------------
Creative destruction, yes.  If you don't continuously innovate, someone else will and eat your lunch.  But when you lose your market share, lose your business, lose your risk capital, you still get to pull yourself back up and try something else - with valuable lessons learned.
-------------
Answering my own question, how do you measure the economic damage done by investments that are never made?

If economic growth of a 14 trillion dollar economy is 2% and should be 7% coming out of a hole like this, the damage is $700 billion of production per year compounding continuously.
3911  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: June 05, 2011, 12:33:37 AM
JDN: "I understand and basically agree with everything Doug said"  - Should have stopped there.  grin

"secured creditors by definition have no heart"

That is not fair.  Maybe they will foreclose what's left of this loser of an investment and donate all that capital to a charity or research that will save a family member's life. How do we know that enforcing their rights under a contract is heartless?  It wasn't the secured creditor who didn't meet their obligations under the contract.  Maybe it was the greedy, short-sighted, self-centered union benefit negotiators who really were the heartless ones, shorting out the oven where the pies are baked.

Every time a tenant thanks me for my kindness and patience (aka stupidity) for allowing them to fall behind on rent, and further behind, it comes back to bite both of us.  Too much debt burden to handle the ups and downs of your business is too much debt burden.  You don't have to fall on a sword and they don't take your first born in bankruptcy.  You get to walk away and start over.  WIth all the unemployment compensation and social programs to confuse people, they end up walking and not starting over.

If secured debt isn't secure, who gets hurt next?  The elephant in the room is all the other new financing and new plants in every other industry that aren't being built and this kind of unpredictability, uncertainty, and uneven application of the law is part of the reason IMO.

Putting the unions ahead of secured creditors was criminal.

Places where laws are applied unevenly depending on who you know and how much political clout you have are called third world countries.  We're getting there.

"average people are important....take care of the middle class."

No. Every obligation in a contract and every party to a contract is important.  Chief Justice John Roberts put it this way answering Dick Durbin in his Supreme Court confirmation hearings: 

"Somebody asked me, you know, 'Are you going to be on the side of the little guy?' And you obviously want to give an immediate answer. But as you reflect on it, if the Constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy is going to win in court before me. But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well, then the big guy is going to win, because my obligation is to the Constitution."

In contract law, it is what's in the contract that counts - if it is a legal, valid, binding contract.  What right did the executive branch of the federal government have to intervene and pick winners and losers?  What article in the constitution authorizes that power?

If you are a highly paid professional in Seattle working for Microsoft or Boeing and you are one paycheck away from starving to death, I would recommend taking night classes at the local technical college in a different field  before the next downturn.  It's a cold, cruel world out there and runaway capitalism is the worst system on earth, except for all the alternatives.

Someone should also point out that in Flint and Detroit Michigan, people voted for the policies that put their industries under.  Cry me a river.  How about accepting the consequences of our actions??


3912  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: June 04, 2011, 01:39:41 PM
"One of the purposes of the Campaign Finance Laws is for we the people to know to whom the candidate is indebted.  Surely Edwards would be deeply indebted to those in question here.  Yes?"

The favors and exposure of indebtedness point makes sense.  Not all of that can be codified.  My guess is that the law was written to tell us who pays for the paid advertising and direct campaign expenses of the candidacy.  Paying the mistress and child is construed here as assisting the campaign and there is some truth to that.  It was also a case arguably of trying to help the man personally, trying to protect his family, or ostensibly trying to help the woman and the child, knowing that Edwards was unable to do that himself.

On the legality of it all, I guess we will see.  If guilty, fine.  If the result is not guilty then we can discuss whether this was a wise use of resources.

On the larger indebtedness question, all his money should be given back to the healthcare industry as the causes in his class action law suits all turned out to be junk science.

An obvious phony turned out to be an obvious phony.  Also funny is that the National Enquirer got this story right from the beginning and everyone else got it wrong.  As Jay Leno says, they check, re-check and check again before they go to print.  Unlike NY Times etc. happy to repeat gossip and publish unverified claims from leftist blogs regularly.

The most impressive part of the story was that in the end Elizabeth Edwards in her time of need, needed him out.

No new bimbo eruptions for 2012.  But it's early...
3913  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 04, 2011, 12:58:44 PM
It is not Christie himself for 2012, but people are recognizing a quality in him that would be very helpful.  In a very different way, same for Marco Rubio.  After a nomination, the adoring national press would turn against him in the general election exactly as they will for any of the others.

"I think he probably is mostly conservative but he is also a pragmatist."

That is EXACTLY how Sarah Palin's governance was described - pragmatic - for half a term prior to being picked running mate.  It is the perception that is extremist.

"Pawlenty sounds good when I hear him.(CCP) I think he will come on strong."

Pawlenty is fairly conservative guy sounding conservative themes, but his perception is more moderate and less threatening.

I hope he comes on very gradually, just like he is. He is not going to sweep people off their feet and is less genuine when he tries to be more exciting.  He needs enough poll numbers (high single digits?)just to stay relevant before the hard choices start getting made.

I kind of hope that Palin and Bachmann get in.  People are judging the field, not just looking for just one person right now.  The field looks better with these two in! Likewise for Herman Cain and any other diversity we can find.  But the nominee is going be one of the (full term or two term) governors. Republicans aren't going to put up no executive experience up against Obama with what is at stake right now.

Pawlenty is going to put out his economic plan this week in Chicago in answer to GM's question: ""Ok, [TP]. You are the new president to be sworn in 1/2013. What policies would you want to dig us out of our economic crisis."

Since I didn't get to help write it, I will be happy to help critique it.
3914  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Electoral process, corruption etc: John Edwards indicted. For what? on: June 04, 2011, 12:26:27 PM
Unlike the fact that no liberal commentator came to the side of Scooter Libby, where investigators knew the first day that no underlying crime was committed, I found this piece by John Hinderacker at Powerline posted just after the indictment.  Less surprisingly Washington Post editorial has the same take on it today.  They all have to include the fact that wow is he scum.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/06/029161.php

 In Defense of John Edwards
June 3, 2011 12:44 PM

John Edwards has been indicted for alleged violations of the campaign finance laws. Not, as you might assume, because he spent campaign funds to support his mistress, Rielle Hunter. Rather, because third parties ("Bunny" Mellon and Fred Baron) gave an Edwards aide money to support Ms. Hunter and, ultimately, Edwards' baby with her, and to keep Hunter and the baby out of sight. The theory is that Mellon and Baron spent this money to help Edwards' presidential campign, and the amounts they gave to Ms. Hunter exceeded individual donor limits, and were not reported to the Federal Elections Commission.

The indictment includes this paraphrase of the relevant law:

    The Election Act's contribution limit applied to anything of value provided for the purpose of influencing the presidential election, including...(c) payments for personal expenses of a candidate unless they would have been made irrespective of the candidacy.

That appears to be a fair summary of Sec. 113.1(g)(6) of the Federal Elections Act.

The government's theory is that the money that third parties gave for the support of Ms. Hunter constituted campaign contributions because it went for Edwards' "personal expenses" and would not have been given but for Edwards' presidential candidacy. One could object, of course, that the money went for Rielle Hunter's personal expenses, not Edwards'. Is supporting a mistress a "personal expense[] of a candidate" under the election law? I suppose you could argue that one either way.

Whether Mellon and Baron would have supported Rielle Hunter even if Edwards were not running for president is a fact question. It is certainly plausible that they would not have been willing to contribute $1,000,000 to Hunter's support unless they thought it might enable Edwards to become president.

One wonders why Edwards needed to go to third parties to get funds to support Hunter and her baby and to keep them out of sight. He had plenty of money. The answer presumably is that even a man of Edwards' wealth couldn't come up with a million dollars without his wife noticing.

I am no fan of John Edwards, but this prosecution strikes me as unfortunate. Based on a quick review, it does not seem to be an indefensible application of the campaign finance laws, although the government's theory, as Edwards' lawyer put it, is "novel and untested." But what's the point? The campaign finance laws are intended to keep candidates on a level playing field. (Some would say they are mainly intended to promote the re-election of incumbents, but that is a debate for another day.) The money that was spent here didn't go for campaign ads or get-out-the-vote efforts. It was invisible to voters. It allowed Edwards to keep his wife (and voters too, of course) in the dark about his girlfriend and baby and relieved Edwards of the need to support them. Those are hardly noble objectives, but is policing this sort of misconduct really the function of campaign finance laws?

The prosecutors tried to gild their dubious lily by including in the indictment the allegation that Edwards "made false statements" "on national television." This was alleged to be one of the "overt acts" in furtherance of Edwards' criminal conspiracy. But lying to reporters isn't a crime; if it were, we would have a hard time staffing Congress. (Anthony Weiner is just the latest in a long line of politicians who illustrate the point.)

This prosecution strikes me as another step in the Criminalization of Nearly Everything. Edwards is disgraced and deserves to be. But if he didn't otherwise commit a crime in trying to get away with hiding his mistress and child--a desperate gamble, at best--the fact that some of his friends tried to help him shouldn't turn his sleazy behavior into a felony.
3915  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: What policies to dig us out of our economic crisis? on: June 04, 2011, 12:21:07 PM
From GM. Moved here at the request of our host: "An outstanding question".  Open to EVERYONE, not just BD.

"Ok, BD. You are the new president to be sworn in 1/2013. What policies would you want to dig us out of our economic crisis."

3916  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending: Government Motors on: June 04, 2011, 12:10:50 PM
JDN started with: "I don't necessarily agree with bailouts..."

That highly overshadows what follows.  Some good perhaps came out of it - at the expense of our principles.  We can argue over how many jobs were saved or perhaps pushed further down the road and lost later as is more commonly the case.  I would prefer to argue over which principles we compromised to achieve some unknown, unmeasurable 'good'.

1) Most obvious is 'equal protection under the law'.  Who else was in an equally tough situation and didn't get theirs?  Unless you are connected like Gldman Sachs or General Motors, you didn't get yours.

2) As Crafty pointed out, the principle of laws regulating capitalism.  There already was an orderly process for doing this, bankruptcy, reorganization, or sometimes just the threat of bankruptcy and reorganization is enough to renegotiate debts instead of lose them entirely.  A new buyer might have made an honest go of it after some of the unbearable burdens were lifted, actually saving jobs instead of pushing issues down the road.

3) The constitution.  Where did it authorize the government to participate in interstate commerce.  So far we only found the clause authorizing it to regulate it.

If I rob the local bank and use the money for a reasonably good cause like paying for my daughter's expenses, am I a thief or a loving father?  In that situation the main focus would be on the thievery.  At sentencing someone can say what great intentions I had.
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"I remember being in Seattle when Boeing was headquartered there and did manufacturing there.  When Boing's business was slow, the town almost shut down, 10,000s of non Boeing people were unemployed, lot's of places closed, etc.  And when Boeing received a big order, business picked up for everyone."

One town too dependent on one employer is not a good thing,  Again, does that make it right to trample on all founding or current legal principles?  Not in my opinion.

A forest fire is a horrible thing, but part of clearing out dead wood and re-growing a forest.  Those who reject bankruptcy, reject capitalism, in my opinion.  In the case of Obama, it is more a case of just hating capitalism before learning or knowing about it.  He has never to my knowledge read a book about capitalism that didn't oppose it.
3917  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel - US relations on: June 03, 2011, 06:17:36 PM
This Thomas Sowell column is more about Glibness but the quoted shows his (lack of) respect and commitment to Israel.

First my question/request.  While I was distracted with tornadoes impending I missed all coverage of the state dinner held in honor of Netanyahu's visit.  Could someone please post the details.
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http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/05/31/seductive_beliefs_part_ii_110015.html

The only thing surprising about Barack Obama's latest blow against Israel is that there are people who are surprised. As for a Palestinian homeland, that was never a big issue when the Arabs controlled that land, up to 1967.

Obama's declaration that Israel must give up the land it acquired, after neighboring countries threatened its survival in 1967, is completely consistent with both his ideology of many years and his previous actions as President of the United States.

Whether as a radical student, a community organizer or a far left politician, Barack Obama's ideology has been based on a vision of the Haves versus the Have Nots. However complex the ramifications of this ideology, and however clever the means by which Obama has camouflaged it, that is what it has amounted to.

No wonder he was moved to tears when the Reverend Jeremiah Wright summarized that ideology in a thundering phrase-- "white folks' greed runs a world in need."

Israel is one of the Haves. Its neighbors remain among the Have Nots, despite their oil. No wonder that Barack Obama has bent over backward, in addition to bowing low forward, to support the side that his ideology favors.

Whether at home or abroad, Obama's ideology is an ideology of envy, resentment and payback.

Israel is not simply to have its interests sacrificed and its security undermined. It is to be brought down a peg and-- to the extent politically possible-- insulted. Obama has already done all these things. His latest pronouncement is just more of the same.

One of the first acts of Barack Obama as president was to send money to the Palestinians, money that can be used to buy rockets to fire into Israel, irrespective of the rationale for the money.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. A photograph that should tell us a lot about Barack Obama shows him on the phone, talking with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Obama was seated, leaning back in his chair, with his feet up on the desk, and the soles of his feet pointed directly at the camera. In the Middle East, showing the soles of your feet is an insult, as Obama undoubtedly knows.

This photograph was no accident. Photographers cannot roam around White House, willy-nilly, taking snapshots of the President of the United States as he talks to leaders of foreign nations.

It was a photograph with a message. No one would have known who was on the other end of the line, unless Obama wanted them to know -- and wanted to demonstrate his disdain.

Prime Minister Netanyahu's visits to the White House have been unlike previous Israeli leaders' visits to the White House, and certainly unlike the pomp and circumstance accompanying other nations' leaders' visits to the White House over the years.

After one of his meetings with Netanyahu, Barack Obama simply told the prime minister that he was going upstairs to have dinner. You wouldn't say that to an ordinary neighbor visiting in your home, without inviting him to join you.

Obama knew that. Netanyahu knew that. It was a calculated insult. And the American public would have heard about it, if so much of the media didn't have such a hear-no-evil, see-no-evil and speak-no-evil attitude in its coverage of Barack Obama.
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Whoops, no state dinner?
3918  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China on: June 03, 2011, 05:57:16 PM
"China has dropped 97 percent of its holdings in U.S. Treasury bills, decreasing its ownership of the short-term U.S. government securities from a peak of $210.4 billion in May 2009 to $5.69 billion in March 2011, the most recent month reported by the U.S. Treasury."

Note that refers to short term holdings only.  Looking at this link, the ratio was close to 20:1 long term over short term holdings:  http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL34314.pdf

This link would indicate China still held over 1.1 trillion as of 3/31/11, fairly constant since last Sept.  That is still a fairly low number if total debt is $14 trillion.

I'm sure we can make up for any loss foreign customer with our domestic demand for treasury bills - with our 0.000% savings rate.

This if true would be good news for us in the world of geo-politics.  China would hold far less over our head if it had already dumped our holdings. What then are they doing with those dollars that keep flowing to China?  They all come back one way or another.

One of the meanings of QE/QE2/QE-next monetary expansion is that we are running huge deficits without having to find buyers for our debt. 
3919  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Libertarian Issues: Cloud computing on: June 03, 2011, 02:55:07 PM
Separate from the excellent 4th amendment arguments going on elsewhere and this is already covered there, but there is quite a move going on with people voluntarily putting all there private correspondence, photos, documents and secrets out there where it is one hack or one perfectly legitimate search warrant away from giving it all to others.  From an efficiency standpoint, I like having all my most valuable documents with me in my hand in case I can't get online.  Then when smartphones or computers crash, I like having all my private information downloadable back to me from gmail or one of those backup services.

The trend is brought back to the forefront with new capabilities coming out from Apple that already exist with Google and others: http://computer.howstuffworks.com/google-apple-cloud-computer.htm

Aside from legal questions, we sure are giving away a lot of information to an awful lot of people and places - as if security breaches at their end never happen.
3920  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - Minnesota polls on Bachmann and Pawlenty on: June 03, 2011, 02:29:37 PM
Only 1 in 3 (in MN) say Pawlenty should have run for President and only 1 in 7 think Bachmann should run, it was reported on local news.

For translation, I figure a 50% error on Minnesota polls based on either media/polling bias and/or just that 50% of people polled aren't the same ones who vote.  My conclusion: Rep. Michele Bachmann has absolutely no chance of winning Minnesota and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty would most certainly be the underdog in this very blue state.

Worse yet, Obama-clone Sen. Amy Klobuchar is considered a 'shoo-in for reelection in any matchup.

On the positive context side, no polls gave any indication whatsoever that Democrats would give up all of their 2-1 majorities and more in both the state house and senate last November.

I don't want to start some obsession with following every poll this early, just posting this to show relative strength and weakness.  (The election will not be held today!)

http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=be72dc6c-d8fe-4da2-ab5d-07ce56bc7bee

Favorable / Unfavorable
Tim Pawlenty: 35 / 38
Michele Bachmann: 23 / 51

2012 President
48% Obama (D), 43% Pawlenty (R)
57% Obama (D), 32% Bachmann (R)
------
The competitiveness of an Obama-Pawlenty matchup is IMO with the bin Laden bump is still in play and with the new, bad economy stories is just starting to set in.  I believe Pawlenty can win MN but if he does it would already be a nationwide Republican sweep based on impatience with a bad economy, not as the deciding state in a Bush-Gore like contest.

One segment of Pawlenty's negatives come from conservative who will still show up for him, and no part of Bachmann's positives come from liberals or centrists.
3921  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: June 03, 2011, 01:58:27 PM
The 5% minimum, sustained, real growth target is correct, if not too cautious.  In the most similar circumstance of economic doldrums in our time, the growth rate coming out of it approached 8%. 

In what year of a multi-year, double dip depression do we collectively admit that growth is good?

The current emphasis on cutting medicare, cutting social security, cutting our security presence around the world might be necessary, but is what the growth crowd used to call the root canal wing of the Republican Party.  Right now, we need it all.  Downsize the public burden, yes, but also re-energize private growth.

On the other side of the coin is Krugman and few others who said all along that the stimulus was too small and too timid and needs to be doubled.  I guess that means the deficit is too small and too timid as well - for the hard core Keynesians.  Good grief.  Do the math on current and projected debt when the interest rates hit 10-15% or higher and tell us we are too timid with our spending!

Where Krugman et al are right about the stimulus being too small is the clear fact that the so-called stimuli so far are really still at zero.  The point was to stimulate the private economy and the private sector growth machine.  Growing the total cost of permanent public sector unions jobs only so far isn't temporary spending or private stimulus.

As BD pointed out elsewhere, tax policy is only one factor (and we have a thread for that).  Federal taxation is badly in need of reform, but we don't fact the same rate cutting opportunities at 30+% tax rates that we did at 70% tax rates to re-energize growth. 

The question I pose here is - yes, tax reform, but what are all the other things we can do to re-energize private growth?  I believe we have a thread for each one but we need the total package pulled together IMO in order to move forward and sell growth and confidence to voters and investors.

As the Reagan era began, we had the two-pronged problem of unemployment and inflation out of control simultaneously.  It was believed from all conventional economic thought that, for one thing that wasn't possible, and for another thing that it wasn't curable.  Conventional wisdom was wrong on both counts.  Also unnecessary damage was done in '81-'82 by having the bad tasting medicine kick in before the stimulative policies went fully into effect.  Maybe we can learn from that.

Today it is the two-pronged problem of unemployment symbolizing a sputtering economy and the outrageous levels of both current deficits and total debt that make it seem impossible to move forward.

Economists like Krugman and Reich ridicule the austerity approach alone.  Where is the stimulative effect in shrinking our spending or in shrinking our monetary expansion?

The answer is that a) austerity alone will not stimulate, and that b) austerity (sanity might be a more aptly label) is only one small part of re-building the investor confidence that is so badly needed.

If Republicans were to hold a hard line now on the debt ceiling and win that battle with the Senate and Executive Branch, deficit spending would end this summer.  The result of that move alone would not be stimulative.

Again, a multi-pronged problem requires a multi-pronged solution.  We don't need to balance our budget at the sick economy level.  We need balance atg full frowth and capacity.  That means doing 'all of the above' simultaneously in terms of addressing the economic problems we face.

Instead of ending huge programs now, they can be identified and phased back to their right size in a foreseeable and believable period of time.  If we want to send functions back to the states, that should be coupled with a stronger economy and lower federal burden so that states can handle them.  If we want to pay social spending recipients less without hurting them (60+% of spending?), then we need to reverse the policies that ran up the costs of energy, food, healthcare, tuition etc along with all the policies that chased away jobs and production.

We will never grow jobs by keeping the focus on hypenated-growth, smart-growth with anti-growth excuses like disparity obsession and class envy to win votes and lose jobs. OMG, someone else benefited from that policy!  You grow jobs by improving everything that has to do with the competitiveness of producing goods and service here, by unleashing creativity and innovation.  A complete overhaul of the tax system in the direction of simplicity, wider application and lower marginal rates is one big part of that, but this time a complete overhaul of all anti-job growth, anti-competitiveness regulations needs to be front and center as well.
3922  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: June 03, 2011, 12:37:39 PM
"Would someone come up with the total number of GM employees please?"

GM is saying more than 205,000, but that is in every major region of the world.  For US employment, this is the formula: take the total number of people on their healthcare expense roll and divide that by 10 to get the number of people who actually work.

The argument of that side is that they are also saving the jobs of all the supporting industry subcontractors, the guys that make the connectors for the radio and the intermittent wiper people, and the sandwich makers in and around the factories.  The argument goes that all these people will never again work and that GM car buyers will never again buy cars if the nameplate on this one company is ever allowed to change.  Try refuting that - to people who refuse to use logic or history as a guide.  I wonder if all the people who manufactured 8 track tape players have been unemployed ever since the rise of the compact cassette.

I like your logic though.  A similar exercise was done by the opponents of wasteful light rail being built in the twin cities.  They calculated that for each projected rider that doesn't have a vehicle available for the commute, taxpayers could instead lease them a new Lexus at a substantially lower cost. 

The line went in and now they are building a second one.
3923  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism on: June 03, 2011, 12:17:30 PM
Bigdog: "I wish we could talk things out over some beers DougMacG.  I often feel like we take different approaches to addressing the same issues.  I think we should run on the same ticket some time."


I would be honored to have a beer summit with you, no preconditions.  In the meantime I would like to learn all I can about your approach to the issues.  When we get to the point of running on the same ticket, I'm hope the discussion will have moved beyond the liberal fascism thread. wink
3924  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: June 02, 2011, 12:27:34 PM
"Panicked overreaction isn’t the right response to the partial meltdowns in Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex."

This should go under media issues, anytime the Washington Post agrees with me...

Going anti-nuclear means going hog-wild on fossil fuels, in Japan, in Germany, in the U.S. and anywhere else.  Did we not just have a two decade long argument over Greenhouse gases.  Maybe CO2 is an extremely minor contributor, but did we not agree that we should use them wisely and sparingly and shift where we can to economical zero emissions alternatives?  I guess not.

It is the Green Party that wants us back on fossil fuels??

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/germanys-nuclear-energy-blunder/2011/05/31/AGjjGkGH_story.html

Editorial Board Opinion - Washington Post

Germany’s nuclear energy blunder

By Editorial, Published: June 1

THE INTERNATIONAL Energy Agency reported on Monday that global energy-related carbon emissions last year were the highest ever, and that the world is far off track if it wants to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, after which the results could be very dangerous.

So what does Germany’s government decide to do? Shut down terawatts of low-carbon electric capacity in the middle of Europe. Bowing to misguided political pressure from Germany’s Green Party, Chancellor Angela Merkel endorsed a plan to close all of the country’s nuclear power plants by 2022.

German environmentalists cheered, apparently satisfied that the government will be able to scale up renewable energy sources and scale back electricity demand enough to compensate for the loss of the power plants, which produce a quarter of the nation’s electricity. But the Breakthrough Institute, a think tank, points out that renewables would have to generate an incredible 42.4 percent of the country’s electricity in 2020 to displace nuclear. The government could bring that number down some with very aggressive reductions in energy use. But, even then, all that will merely hold the German power industry to its current carbon footprint. The country has an ambitious goal to reduce emissions, which will require yet more drastic reforms to its electricity sector — and all, apparently, over the course of a single decade.

European financial analysts aren’t convinced, estimating that Germany’s move will result in about 400 million tons of extra carbon emissions by 2020, as the country relies more on fossil fuels. Nor is Donald Tusk, Poland’s prime minister, who ominously announced that Germany has put coal-fired power “back on the agenda” — good for his coal-rich nation directly to Germany’s east but terrible for the environment and public health.

Germany is also likely to import more power from its neighbors, regardless of how well it does in ramping up renewables, since sometimes the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine. Utilities across Europe may end up burning more coal or natural gas. Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive of French nuclear parts manufacturer Areva, predicts that after shunning nuclear, the Germans will end up buying electricity generated in nuclear plants in nations such as France.

Instead of providing a model for greening a post-industrial economy, Germany’s overreaching greens are showing the rest of the world just how difficult it is to contemplate big cuts in carbon emissions without keeping nuclear power on the table. Panicked overreaction isn’t the right response to the partial meltdowns in Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. Instead, countries aiming to provide their citizens with reliable, low-carbon electricity should ask how to minimize inevitable, if small, risks — making their nuclear facilities safer, more reliable and more efficient.
3925  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: June 02, 2011, 11:26:05 AM
GM: "Economic freedom rankings."     USA = no. 9.  (44th in the freedom to produce our own energy.) What medal does one get in the Olympics for 9th place, or 44th?  We can put a man on the moon.  Can't we set a national priority of moving up that list?

Bigdog: "I'm not sure what you mean about not using models for the most important analysis."  - We have serious politicians and political arms like CBO/OMB that refuse to include the best tools available to include changes in behavior in their predictions of outcomes.  In other words they will say that a tax hike of 1% on a million will bring new revenues of $10,000, when in fact some people will move assets, change economic activity, retire early or leave like in Maryland where a tax tax rate increase moved revenues backwards.  The rich in particular have the greatest ability to change their economic behavior and you never grow jobs by chasing away investment.

I have long proposed requiring an unintended consequences statement approved with new taxes or renewed spending along the lines of an environmental impact statement required of developers.  We need to discuss publicly what are the other effects of our policies, not only the intended or stated ones.  One obvious impact of some current policies is the flight to unproductive assets like gold and silver and out of job creation investments.
------------
"It's that [tax rate cuts] doesn't necessarily lead to jobs.  There are other issues at hand."

True, although they have a pretty stellar record in my lifetime; I listed 4 large examples.  Other issues is the point I was trying to make saying that George W. Bush gave supply side economics a bad name without ever trying it.  Yes, he cut tax rates (did one thing right) and then let everything else run in the direction of bigger and bigger government consuming more and more resources in the economy, controlling the private sector, starving the private sector of those resources and burdening the private sector with that cost whether it is taxed or not. Hardly supply side economics unless one believes big government is the supplier.   sad


"Are you contending that the tax cuts led directly to the recession?  If not, there is one pretty obvious issue."

I think I said that the certainty of tax rate increases coming is what triggered the collapse.  Tax increases coming, also symbolic of other anti-employment policies meant the end of job growth.  The end of job growth meant that high priced, highly leveraged homes were now over-priced and over-leveraged.  A tax increase certain for later means not only that investors have to sell before the tax increase ... each investor knew he/she had to selloff before the other investors do or they will lose all those gains anyway.  And they did.
3926  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: June 02, 2011, 02:14:42 AM
"But economists can predict with absolute certainty that tax cuts will produce X in increased revenue/jobs/etc.?  Of course not, but the willingness to believe that is undeterred."

Here's what I believe.  Efficient taxation has some optimal tax rate for maximizing revenue and minimizing damage to the economy based on the disincentive to produce that it inflicts.  We can't know that exact rate with exact certainty.  If we are already below that rate, cutting taxes costs revenue.  If we are above the rate, as is usually the case, revenues surge in a sustained way when tax rate cuts are implemented.

Examples:
1) JFK tax rate cuts spurred economic growth and increased revenues
2) Reagan cuts from 70% to 28% and revenues doubled in the 1980s
3) Capital gains tax rate cuts under Clinton-Gingrich - 20 million new jobs(?)
4) Bush Tax rate cuts: 50 months continuous job growth until impending expiration became a certainty.

All of these examples above acted to grow the economy and grow revenues to the Treasury. Not shown in these numbers is that revenues to the STATE treasuries also surge with tax cut inspired economic growth.  I have read economists who say otherwise but I prefer to believe my lying eyes. http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy09/pdf/hist.pdf  p.22
 
"There are models, with margins of error, standard deviations, error terms (not that those are included enough) and even the models that include a dozen or more variables can only predict a small portion of the outcome."

Yes, and in the most important analysis, we don't use them.  CBO/OMB are still stuck on static analysis, pretending to deny that an incentive/disincentive effect comes into play.  After the implementation of the 2003 tax rate cuts, actual revenues realized surpassed official revenue predictions by as much as a hundred billion dollars per year:.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/09/washington/09econ.html
Surprising Jump in Tax Revenues Is Curbing Deficit
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS
Published: July 9, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 8 — An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year, even though spending has climbed sharply because of the war in Iraq and the cost of hurricane relief.  On Tuesday, White House officials are expected to announce that the tax receipts will be about $250 billion above last year's levels (11.6% increase in one year! - DM) and that the deficit will be about $100 billion less than what they projected six months ago.
-----------

BD,  Would you contend that the fact that economic growth started exactly with the tax rate cuts, lasted  50 consecutive months, and ended exactly at the moment that Dems took congress promising higher tax rates on employers and the unemployment curve headed decidedly upward - is strictly a COINCIDENCE?
3927  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: June 02, 2011, 12:58:26 AM
The Swedish model, when it was successful, was based on a homogeneous society with a universally strong cultural work ethic. Free services and high taxes made more sense when everyone had a stake in it.  That hardly comparable with the USA with more than half the people not producing.

Sweden now faces it its own immigration influx with its own cultural problems and is quickly backing away from the so-called Swedish model.

All that said, not everyone agrees with the conclusion that Europe or Sweden is richer than the U.S.  Per capita income comparisons vary greatly based on exchange rates and purchasing power.  Adjusted for purchasing power parity using 2008 data, Sweden would actually be the 43rd richest state in the union, if part of America.  Germany would be 46th and France or Belgium would be 48th.  Data Sources: GDP by state (BEA), state population (Census), European GDP-PPP per capita (World Bank via Wikipedia).
http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2010/01/paul-krugman-extols-europes-economic.html  (University of Michigan)


3928  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed, Constitutional Law, Unenumerated Powers on: June 01, 2011, 11:38:21 PM
Bigdog, Thanks for the invitation to revise and extend ...

"Now Doug, if you can find where I said that the federal government shall run all aspects of private housing, then we can discuss this."

I hope I didn't say you said that.  You express well and the written record provided by our generous host is always available.  Let me backtrack and see if I can explain my concerns more accurately.  

Stossel said, as you quoted: "end at keeping the peace, enforcing contracts, and property rights."

Sometimes I say I am pro-government - in the sense that government should defend our shores and keep the roads and libraries open.  But I know it's more than that.

Here you are being the literalist, which is good in constitutional law, and sometimes you pull our leg a little, which is also good in the human spirit and sometimes I can follow you and sometimes it flies over my head.  In this case I don't believe and I don't believe that you believe that Stossel thinks the constitution authorizing federal government powers is 8 words long.  I took that as a figure of speech meaning that government has gone way beyond where it should have gone or where it was authorized to go.

The exercise of finding, reading and posting the passages you referenced was good for me.  It didn't say what Stossel said (an admission of my guilt and my answer to your direct question), it didn't say exactly what I thought it said, and it certainly doesn't authorize (IMO) all the crap that is coming our of Washington today or over the last several decades, unless the reader has quite an imagination.

An example of what it doesn't authorize is the housing mess that I think was the first card to fall bringing down the economy this most time.  I invite you to address that...

Of the roughly $3.8 trillion a year that we are spending right now, of which I think over 60% of it is the federal government writing taxpayer based checks to individuals, how much of that do you think is directly authorized in those sections or envisioned by the framers?

Specifically, let's figure out what authorized the federal takeover of housing, the issue of the most recent collapse.  (I would be happy to expand the question to health care or auto manufacturing or a host of other things.)  What authorized the federal government to take over the mortgage business, 90% then and nearly 100% now.  It isn't spelled out; was it envisioned or intended?

I think it was Freki who pointed out something that a lot of people are missing.  Yes, we have read into the constitution through the interstate commerce clause the power to regulate almost anything including something that is grown by yourself and consumed by yourself on your own private property and sold to no one.  But the power to regulate commerce is not the power to participate in the market, unless words have no meaning.

The most telling clause I re-discovered about how large and intrusive a federal government the framers envisioned IMO was where they wrote that the congress needs to convene at least once each year, on the first Monday of December, if they haven't already made other plans to get together.  How does that compare with what we do today?

On a more positive note, if we can all agree that the constitution as written or as interpreted does NOT limit the size, scope or intrusiveness of government in any meaningful way (I know no one else said that), maybe we can all work together and amend it until it does.
3929  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 01, 2011, 12:55:12 PM
(From liberalism thread, BD post)
Stossel: "The Founders knew [where government should end and personal responsibility begins].  Government should end at keeping the peace, enforcing contracts, and property rights."  I wonder if Stossel has read Article I, section 8 and the vesting clause of Article II. 

Okay, I'll bite.  Where does it say the federal government shall run all aspects of private housing?  I've read it twice now and still can't find it.

The closest I could come is: "To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections..." with Fannie Mae being the militia and private contracts being the insurrection.  Am I close?
-----------
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
------------
"The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America...."
3930  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: June 01, 2011, 12:15:39 PM
"For the first time since the founding of the Republic, people are visibly mad.  They are pushing back against the growth of government."

Good catch by BD on that erroneous statement.  People have been visibly mad many other times and conservatives have been pushing back unsuccessfully for a very long time.

More accurately stated from my point of view, those of us who are mid-fifties and any other age have ALMOST never seen a successful or meaningful push back against the growth of government, not during Reagan and not during Bush, and we aren't likely to see one now.

My point in commendation was regarding the exposure of fixed pie thinking.

From the first Laffer link:  "But considering all this occurred with their man in the White House for 8 years..."

G.W. Bush is "their man in the White House" ??  When did George Bush rein in the size or scope of government?  George Bush gave supply side economics a bad name without ever trying it, IMHO.  

"Reagan had the good fortune to take office at the tail end of a 16 year secular bear market..."

This passes for political economic analysis of the Reagan era.  Wow.

For the second link: "Art Laffer, Economist, B.A. Econ Yale '63, MBA/Ph.D. Econ Stanford '65/'71  His last name says it all--his views on the economy are a 'laffer'."  - We haven't moved very far past Weiner jokes.  In spite of his wrongheadedness about bullishness expressed in the video while the economy was moving full speed ahead, I can't think of a single cause of the Housing bubble and collapse that Laffer favored or supported in terms of policies.

The implication of playing a summer 2006 video in hindsight of a fall 2008 collapse is to suggest that this mess wasn't avoidable. (?)

That economists can't and don't predict recessions accurately is a fact.  I look to economists for policies and their effects, not predictions.  Obviously Schiff got that one right and Laffer got it wrong.  In the 25 years leading up to it the crash predictors were generally the ones that were wrong.  Give Schiff some credit here but he isn't exactly pushing the agenda that followed as the anti-Laffer, bigger yet government policies very soon took center stage.  

The first thing Laffer got wrong was his premise, saying that we aren't raising taxes anytime soon, yet the 100% clear message sent and received 3 months after that with the election sweep of the Pelosi-Reid-Obama congress was that yes, in fact we are.  The announcement of serious tax rate hikes coming along with all the uncertainty about when and by how much was the trigger IMO for what was about to happen next, hardly Laffer's doing.  At the time of the video, we were in the midst of 50 months of continuous job growth.  Laffer made some now embarrassing statements about inherent strength, but I doubt he favored the federal government taking over 90% of private mortgages or favored the increasing push to have those loans made with cash back instead of money down, or favored making any of those loans on any factors other than creditworthiness.  I doubt he even favors the mortgage deduction!  Laffer'ss opponents, Barney Frank, young Barack, and all the Dems and all the willing RINOs who watched over those expansions and abuses (not Schiff) favored or at least tolerated all of that.

I reject the notion that all of this collapse was necessary and inevitable (in August 2006) and that we then needed the big government push to lock our private economy in at the lowest point for 3 or more years following the collapse.
3931  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - Huntsman WSJ on: June 01, 2011, 11:08:34 AM
Great Cain video!  I hope that Perry, Bachmann and Palin jump in, along with Huntsman, to complete this field.  Let's have some fun before we make our final decision.
--------------
Huntsman (or his writers) hits all the right notes in this piece.  Doesn't sound like he thinks centrism is solving anything.  I don't equate make "hard decisions now" with calls elsewhere for compromise on core fiscal principles. 

Small point of fact check, Huntsman didn't get the memo that we aren't the second highest taxer of corporate profits in the developed world anymore.  Japan's new, lower rate went into effect April 1, 2011.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303657404576357450908758760.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

Our Current Time for Choosing
Anyone who disagrees with Paul Ryan's Medicare reforms has a moral obligation to propose an alternative.

By JON HUNTSMAN

This year marks the centennial anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth—and America finds itself at a crossroads that brings to mind the title of that great man's famous speech in support of Barry Goldwater's presidential candidacy: "A Time for Choosing." We should not underestimate the seriousness of the responsibility. This is the moment when we will choose whether we are to become a declining power in the world, or a nation that again surpasses the great achievements of our history.

We are over $14 trillion in debt, $4 trillion more than we owed just two years ago. In 2008, the ratio of public debt to gross domestic product was 40%. Today it's 68%, and we are fast approaching the critical 90% threshold economists warn is unsustainable, causing dramatic spikes in inflation and interest rates, and corresponding declines in GDP and jobs.

Unless we make hard decisions now, in less than a decade every dollar of federal revenue will go to covering the costs of Medicare, Social Security and interest payments on our debt. We'll sink even deeper in debt to pay for everything else, from national security to disaster relief. American families will fall behind the economic security enjoyed by previous generations. Our country will fall behind the productivity of other countries. Our currency will be debased. Our influence in the world will wane. Our security will be more precarious.

Some argue for half-measures, or for delaying the inevitable because the politics are too hard. But delay is a decision to let America decline. The longer we wait, the harder our choices become.

The debt ceiling must be raised this summer to cover the government's massive borrowing, and we must make reductions in government spending a condition for increasing the debt ceiling. This will provide responsible leaders the opportunity to reduce, reform, and in some cases end government programs—including some popular but unaffordable subsidies for agriculture and energy—in order to save the trillions, not billions, necessary to make possible a future as bright as our past. It also means reforming entitlement programs that won't deliver promised benefits to retirees without changes that take account of the inescapable reality that we have too few workers supporting too many retirees.

I admire Congressman Paul Ryan's honest attempt to save Medicare. Those who disagree with his approach incur a moral responsibility to propose reforms that would ensure Medicare's ability to meet its responsibilities to retirees without imposing an unaffordable tax burden on future generations of Americans.

These aren't easy choices, and we must make them at a time of anemic economic growth and very high unemployment. That's why we must also make sweeping reforms of our tax code, regulatory policies and other government policies to improve our productivity, competitiveness and job creation.

The United States has the second-highest corporate tax rate in the world. We are losing out to countries that make it more attractive for businesses to invest there. Our tax code should encourage American businesses to invest and add new jobs here. We need a tax code that substitutes flatter and lower rates for the bewildering and often counterproductive array of deductions and loopholes, and that provides incentives to encourage savings, investment and growth.

We also need to pursue, as aggressively as other countries do, free trade agreements. Ninety-five percent of the world's customers live outside the U.S. We won't remain the most productive economy in the world if we embrace the mistaken belief that we can prosper by selling and buying only among ourselves, while other countries seize the extraordinary opportunities for economic growth that the global economy offers. Finally, we must reform public education, so that it prepares our children for the economic opportunities of this century, not the last one.

When I was the governor of Utah, we cut and flattened tax rates. We balanced budgets and grew our rainy-day fund. And when the economic crisis struck, we didn't raise taxes or rely on accounting gimmicks to hide obligations. We cut spending and made government more efficient. We increased revenues by facilitating a business environment in which innovators and job creators could expand our economic base. Utah maintained its AAA bond rating, and in 2008 it was named the best-managed state in the nation by the Pew Center on the States. We proved that government doesn't have to choose between fiscal responsibility and economic growth.

We should not accept that election-cycle politics make it too hard to make the decisions that are necessary to preserve the most productive and competitive economy in the world. This is not just a time for choosing new leaders. This is the hour when we choose our future.

Mr. Huntsman, a former Republican governor of Utah, served as U.S. ambassador to China from August 2009 to April 2011.
3932  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 01, 2011, 10:50:52 AM
I prefer to see politicians like Rep. Weiner taken down based on the (lack of) merits in their political arguments, but must admit a little revenge-like pleasure in seeing this jerk distracted and squirming on a personal matter.  In the middle of his non-denial defense, he just can't keep himself from put out his personal attack against Justice Thomas' and his wife, regarding healthcare while he is allegedly trying to make a point on a debt ceiling vote. 

I wonder if Bob Schieffer or Dick Gregory will call that attack on Thomas racist.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/28/bob-schieffer-trump-racism_n_854817.html  http://www.mediaite.com/tv/newt-gingrich-i-have-never-said-anything-about-president-obama-which-is-racist/

I was more impressed with the sincerity of O.J. Simpson combing the world's golf courses for the real killer, and with the Roger Clemons, Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong campaign against steroids, than with Weiner's effort to find and prosecute the real Twitter-hacker.

Who knew that liberals could also be targets of comedy. Letterman and others missed out on a couple of good years bypassing on these potential targets for ridicule.
3933  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: June 01, 2011, 10:15:29 AM
The Stossel piece is EXCELLENT.  I wish our new Governor, ready to shut government down over keeping a tax increase promise on the rich, could see the segment on Maryland where the same policy cost their state revenues, jobs and millionaires.

Amazing how so many highly educated people and highly important organizations - OMB, CBO, DNC, NYT, POTUS, all liberals and most conservatives - can keep basing policies, predictions and arguments on the patently false, fixed pie theory.

The statements on camera of Prof. Arthur Laffer, saying (paraphrasing)that this economy has an amazing potential for new growth right now if only we could get the policies right, tells us once again that many famous and influential people out there are reading the forum.  wink
-------------
Economist Art Laffer says we “can bring the fiscal situation back under control pretty quickly” by privatizing Fannie, Freddie, AIG and GM, cutting back on entitlements and instituting a flat tax.  If we do that, says Laffer, we’ll have “huge economic growth.”

But huge economic growth is the antithesis to the current governing agenda.


3934  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 01, 2011, 09:10:04 AM
The point that it is merely opinion is fair enough.  

Rodgers apparently didn't get the memo that we weren't going to use Nazi analogies to describe people who haven't committed genocide. (Glen Beck was savaged for that.)  Rodgers stoops that low twice in the piece, once again in the middle for readers who may have missed the beginning - or was he committing a "Goebels-style" atrocity himself by repeating his falsehood?

Opinion piece yes, laced with false facts.  I hate to impugn her but maybe Rodgers piece is more in the spirit of Ann Coulter than George Will.  Does the the CSM or CNN run columns like hers often?  I have not known George Will to open his criticism with a blatantly false statement.  Seems to me he makes a painstakingly effort to quote his opponents accurately.

Rodgers opens his post-Nazi analysis with: "detractors are complaining that he didn’t have the guts to release photos of Mr. bin Laden’s corpse."

I have not seen that written, even in the vile comment sections of Like telling BD to read more case law, maybe I need to read more conservative commentary.  wink

Maybe in the spirit of Nazi analogies I will re-open my only partially flawed comparison of abortion to the holocaust that angered people here beyond words.  Add the corollary that roughly 5 Justices on the Supreme Court and nearly all liberals are modern holocaust enablers.  See if CNN will run with that.

Civil discourse in the Obama supporter era continues.

I would like to come back on other threads to discuss the merits of the piece, like touting "the herculean tasks Obama has already accomplished".  He skipped one; Obama has endeared us to the third world by mimicking their economic policies.
3935  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: May 30, 2011, 11:01:14 PM
Besides being a paleo-conservative I am now a contemporary-originalist.  Reading the pdf I am more informed and more confused than ever about what that means.

"originalists continue to disagree about the role of “original intentions” and “original public meaning"

Original meaning to me is something that laymen are capable of understanding, not just the Court's best trained and closest observers.
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I also believe the constitution is a living, breathing, growing, changing, evolving document - and it does that seldom and slowly through the AMENDMENT process, exactly as the framers designed it, as the ratifiers ratified it and as the public understood it to mean.   smiley
3936  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Yemen on: May 30, 2011, 10:04:49 PM
No one wanted to fund real intelligence, intervene or be the world's policeman, so here we are, watching to see where al Qaida takes hold next.  We have long known of the presence and risks in Yemen.  Even the so called on the horizon plan requires an American base - on the horizon.  It won't be in Mogadishu, in pirate territory or anywhere else on the Horn, so that means on the Arabian Peninsula inciting al Qaida even more.  And the thousand year war goes on.  We're going to need some bases.  We don't even have a base right in Iraq yet.  Or an exit plan in Afghan.  I'm just glad that Libya was resolved in "days and not weeks".

Crafty, what do you make of it?
3937  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, non-capitalism on: May 30, 2011, 09:16:42 PM
Thanks Andraz,  That was a great reply.  We are very lucky to have one who respects Karl Marx on our Marxism Stalinism thread!

Shifting quickly to where we disagree, or at least where I don't buy Marxism:

"A capitalist is someone who lives off the surplus of someone elses work."

No.  That is false in 2011 (IMO) and I would also say false in 1867 as well.  He or she employs and  CREATES the surplus of another's work.  A capitalist is one who (long sentence coming) accepts and enters a risk/reward relationship investing in a faith in the value of other peoples work and procures the machinery and real estate and research and investment in labor agreements, directs orchestrates, innovates and competes for one thing to secure a reward for his troubles but also as a consequence brings advancement, employment, opportunity, fruits of labor and benefits and security and bread and bacon and retirement dollars, kids racing skis and traveling soccer fees and gas for the family vehicle etc. to everyone he hires, by successfully betting on the success of the others he invests in.  A capitalist is also one who bets wrong, takes on risks and loses.  Then he reverts back to laborer if he can - in a world without a government paying out a thousand and fifty distinct social spending programs making all those choices so much more confusing.

Laborers without capital would be like a roomful of musicians - without instruments, music or a conductor.  

A digger for example has no capability whatsoever without a shovel and no competitiveness or productivity without something something made by Caterpillar or equivalent.  If you want to win contracts burying cable you will need $20,000 for the machine.  If you have that and want to be an independent, you can be the capitalist and the laborer, just like I am in my industry.  If you are strictly a worker and not the capitalist, then you need to hook up with the capital and the capitalist by applying for a job from someone who sees enough reward to choose that business over opening a bakery or a butcher shop etc.

One of the beautiful things is that in a free society, you can switch from laborer to capitalist in less than one lifetime.  We don't have tatoos, piercings or other markings to say which class you are, unless you choose to have one. I used to work at least 2 jobs at a time, tuck away what I could until I could afford to borrow and invest enough to get started and duplicate that success doubling and quadrupling what I had.  Now I work twice as hard and age twice as quickly from the stress.

Show me where capital isn't equally important to labor.  Labor is nothing without capital and capital is nothing without labor.  Even the public sector is loaded with capital and they are NOT any more efficient with it. The balance of power shifts sometimes, mostly to the side of labor as they have more votes.  When the power imbalance is too far off, the excess guarantees and benefits to labor collapse the capital structure until failure sets in for all.

What I learned so far about Marx is that he was more of a philosopher of the human spirit than he was a designer of the specific economic systems falsely attributed to him: "Marxist economy doesn't exist".  To us, a successful Marxist economy may be a fiction, achieving the creative energy of Hollywood or the innovative energy of the old Silicon Valley without the involvement of business owners, venture capitalists, commercial bankers, business brokers, risk capital, mutual funds, excess profits, losses, bankruptcies or capital gains.  To Andraz, perhaps it is something still possible but difficult to design and achieve.  
3938  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: May 30, 2011, 04:34:59 PM
"When the farming was state run on state owned lands [in China], the production of rice was minimal. When the lands were turned over to the farmers and they could enjoy the profits from their efforts, amazingly enough the amount of rice produced skyrocketed and the standard of living for these peasants radically improved."

Didn't the Pilgrims discover the same thing in this country early in that venture?

Yet we keep turning back. 

We await the examples of when and where utopia succeeded.
3939  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: May 30, 2011, 04:28:11 PM
Very funny - I thought it was a parody!

The "chilling possibility" that "Chief Justice John Roberts is one vote short of moving the Supreme Court to a position so conservative on states’ rights that it would be to the right of the Tea Party’s idea of limited government."

NO!  NOT LIMITED GOVERNMENT!!!!  Read into the constitution? by a supreme Court??  Who knew?  grin

Are they not admitting aloud that we now have exactly 5 justices who DON'T see it that way?!

In other words, Presidency 2012 and Senate 2012!  Our constitutional form of limited government is at stake.
3940  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: May 30, 2011, 03:54:39 PM
Interesting stuff here.  Sorry I missed until now the followup on Robert Mundell's view in Crafty's post a week ago. That was a good catch.  He makes very important, contrarian points.  In all economic issues we have a multitude of different forces pushing and pulling in different directions.  Mundell is far smarter than me and points out an aspect that was not previously addressed here.  Nothing against him personally but to note his perspective, he is a Canadian, working in the US (Columbia) and consults with Europe and China.  It was his work making the Euro possible that won his Nobel, not his previous work designing the Reagan plan.

About the Euro going away (mentioned in the thread), I don't know about that, but if it did go away we would just face the more complicated world we had before, with a separate Deutch Mark, Pound Sterling, Belgian Franc etc. etc.  It seems more logical for Europe to boot out the countries not complying fiscally and economically, than to end the currency.

Former WSJ editor Bartley wrote that he and Milton Friedman used to argue publicly over fixed vs. floating currency acknowledging he took no pleasure being spanked by Milton Friedman, a mentor of his I'm sure. There are good arguments on both sides of this.  Basically a fixed rate eliminates distractions and excuses and force good money supply policies, a floating rate can adjust constantly to balance the real supply and demand forces on the currencies.   Mundell is taking the side of fixed exchange rate between U.S. and Euro, which is consistent with his work making the single currency in Europe possible.  In other words, locking the currencies would eliminate the next quantitative expansion.  In the sense that we don't trust the economic future of Europe and vice versa, I'm not sure I see that wisdom.

We had a friendly argument here recently regarding weak or strong dollar.  Mundell (I think) is saying we need a neutral dollar, which is correct, the only question is how best to get there.

I intuitively disagree with linking a currency to an inferior economy, whichever way that arrow may point, Germany with Greece, etc. or even a post-2012 America with Europe.  If we were Germany, we should boot out Greece, and for Greece I would strive to fixthings and link back to the Deutch Mark or new, improved Euro, like Hong Kong and others have done with the US$.

For the dollar or the U.S. in general, I think I would care less about the Euro and work directly on getting our own house in order. I can't see how there is a sound monetary policy possible in the context of our other problems: unfunded and supersized government alongside our strangulated, private former production capability. 

It is good to be warned by Mundell about how forces now in play could cause deflation and also good to be warned by everything else including our lying eyes about inflation setting in.  These diseases both pose risks for different reasons.

Instead of the shining city on a hill, we seem more like a teetering teeter-totter unbalanced on a two or more sided cliff, with a host of different problems that could easily cause the next fall off the precipice in any one of these directions.  A dearth of energy, the highest corporate taxes on earth, Carter-like individual tax rates coming, complete uncertainty about all taxes, a budget deficit unbalanced by 60% to the tune of a trillion and a half a year, 6 trillion over 4 years?, 50% of us and growing not participating, burning off our food supply as energy but not even start to make up for the real energy production we prohibit - eliminating our biggest export and starving the third world, putting a cap on everything down to exhaling.  Take all that in and devise a plan that keeps our purchasing power constant and our debts honored.  To me it is just a bad joke. 

Mundell alludes to these other problems requiring solutions:  "To supercharge the U.S. recovery, he also recommends permanently extending the Bush tax rates and lowering the corporate income tax rate to 15% from 35%. "

That is far more aggressive than those who call for lowering rates to the OECD average.  I take that to be symbolic of his larger view of economics that none of this gets fixed without restoring growth to the economy. 
------
Inflation means too many dollars relative to the supply of goods and services.  Deflation means that demand to too weak to maintain price levels.  If we leave so many things this screwed up for very much longer, how can anyone accurately predict which direction we will fall.
3941  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism = Stalinism, not Marxism? on: May 30, 2011, 12:14:03 PM
[False] "implication of Marx with epic failures, ...  Marxism /= Stalinism /= Leninism /= Maosim...."

It seems to me that we could resolve this dispute by referring to the failed, oppressive economic and governmental systems of these failed states as 'Stalinist' rather than socialist, communist or Marxist.  Same goes for describing or warning about any the same moves here and elsewhere toward a more powerful central government and away from the constitutionally limited government we once knew, based on individual liberties explicitly including economic liberties and thankfulness to God.  I, for one, would be happy to start referring to these programs, policies and proposals as Stalinist and quit smearing the confusing and misunderstood work of Karl Marx.

If the real thrust of Marx's work would give us specific insights into how to solve current economic problems, please post.

I can't imagine that the bizarre state of affairs in China today is any closer to Marx's true vision than the other failed examples. (I see GM covered that!)

From the link: "[Marxism] is opposed to the Church because of its restriction of the mind, and to liberalism (the meaning of liberalism in 1961?) because of its separation of society and moral values. It is opposed to Stalinism and Krushchevism, for their authoritarianism as much as their neglect of humanist values."

Earlier in that same chapter: "Marx fought against religion exactly because it is alienated, and does not satisfy the true needs of man. Marx's fight against God is, in reality, a fight against the idol that is called God. Already as a young man he wrote as the motto for his dissertation "Not those are godless who have contempt for the gods of the masses but those who attribute the opinions of the masses to the gods." Marx's atheism is the most advanced form of rational mysticism, closer to Meister Eckhart or to Zen Buddhism than are most of those fighters for God and religion who accuse him of "godlessness."

Why would anyone who is rational fight against other people's religion if it is peaceful and consensual?
3942  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: May 29, 2011, 03:13:35 PM
Likewise, that is a nice article.  Judges here generally run unopposed and win with 99+% of the vote, but I agree that having a mechanism available to expose and remove them short of impeachment tends to keep them on track doing the best job they can.

I also like that BD has friends out there opposing both the ABA and the work of Sandra Day O'Connor, no matter the issue.  smiley
3943  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - A view from the left on: May 29, 2011, 02:50:35 PM
Covering for a left gap of political thought on the board, I offer the view of Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos fame to tell us what he thinks of Obama's challengers:

http://thehill.com/opinion/columnists/markos-moulitas/163049-the-gops-cast-of-clowns


The GOP’s cast of clowns
By Markos Moulitsas - 05/24/11 06:23 PM ET

On Sunday night, Tim Pawlenty released another of his oddball videos, reminding people yet again that he was running for president.

Such periodic reminders aren’t a bad idea, since it only takes 10 minutes for the average person to forget he exists. But at least give him props — he’s actually attempting to be the Bob Dole of 2012 in a year in which nearly all serious Republicans have decided they have better things to do than lose to President Obama.

So rather than a high-caliber presidential field, the Republicans have put together a cavalcade of clowns.

There’s Mitt Romney, granddaddy of Obama’s healthcare plan — the same healthcare plan that base Republicans now consider worse than Hitler. Flip-flopping on the individual mandate is familiar territory for Romney. Remember, he was for a woman’s right to choose before he was against it, he was for gay rights before he wanted them relegated to second-class citizens, he was for the assault-weapons ban before he was against it, he was for raising the minimum wage before he wanted it eliminated, he was for limits on carbon emissions that he now opposes, etc., etc., etc.

And all that flapping around is for naught. The GOP base holds grudges.

Newt Gingrich rolled out his presidential campaign by bashing Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) Medicare-killing budget. “I am against ObamaCare imposing radical change, and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change,” he proclaimed on a Sunday morning talk show. The resulting howl marked the birth of yet another GOP litmus test — you are either for destroying Medicare, or you are Republican In Name Only. Thus, the architect of the 1994 conservative revolution in the House was declared by Rush Limbaugh (among others) to be a RINO.

Now, after a week of trying to walk back the slam on the Ryan budget, questions about past support for an individual healthcare mandate and something about a $500,000 Tiffany’s bill, Gingrich declared that he will no longer answer “gotcha” questions about anything he’s said or written in the past. As one person quipped on Twitter, “Gingrich thinks his record has fallen ill & he can cleanly divorce it.”

How about Sarah Palin? True, the half-term governor is too lazy to finish anything, but she’s never too lazy to start something. While she’d suffer an epic double-digit loss to Obama in a Mondale-like shellacking, enough of the primary-deciding GOP base adores her. If she runs, she’s a real threat for the nomination. But she won’t. It’s that “lazy” thing.

Jon Huntsman mocked the birthers, has supported an individual mandate, served in the Obama administration, believes in climate change and is Mormon. Good luck with that.

Fox News loves cardboard pizza mogul Herman Cain. Rick Santorum still exists. Gary “Who?” Johnson thinks drug legalization is his ticket. And Ron Paul will collect millions from his fervent fans to win 15 percent of the vote.

Which leaves Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is (don’t snicker) a real threat to win the nomination if Palin stays out. She’ll raise a ton. Has real Tea Party cred. She gets to camp out in next-door Iowa, and will appeal to the kind of people who show up to caucuses. She might be the person who could lose even worse to Obama than Palin, but the GOP primary electorate doesn’t concern itself with “electability.”

Finally, as a reminder, there’s also Tim Pawlenty. Because I’m sure you’d forgotten already.
3944  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Huntsman on: May 29, 2011, 02:43:43 PM
Asking the wrong question is a great way to get the wrong answer.

JDN wrote: "Huntsman's ace up the sleeve is his ability to appeal to centrist and independent voters."

BD clarified: " ...  he first has to appeal to Republicans to win the primary." 

  - Absolutely correct.
------------------------

McCain is a centrist famous for his moderation.  He actually won the primaries, got to run against the number one far leftist, least experienced senator and lost.  Unique times certainly, but there is more to it.

The question for the Republicans is: Who can win the hearts minds and passions of the conservatives first, AND appeal to the sensible middle of the spectrum.  JDN's ace point assumes (IMO) the conjunction right OR center, really right VERSUS center, when the question is who unites right AND center.

I've been to countless Republican nominating conventions where the contention is stated as conservative principles versus electable centrist and who wins depends on the year and the crowd.  The best candidates of course start with all the core principles of their party or their movement and then take that appeal to the center with persuasion (or obfuscation) rather than abandonment of principles. Reagan on the right and the Obama 2008 campaign on the left are examples.

McCain won the endorsement without winning the hearts and minds of conservatives. He started the general campaign still needing to reach to the right before he could reach to the middle.  Neat trick if you can do it.  Obama left his convention with the left in his hip pocket and only needed to reach to the middle, with reassurances, good endorsements, billion dollar advertising and Greek column, music-filled obfuscation.  When McCain reached back to the right, Obama took the middle and the prize money.

Reagan won by espousing nothing but core principles.  In the general election, twice, all he needed to do was reach into his own heart and explain why he believes what he believes.  When the going got tough coming into 1984, the opponents chose their most highly qualified opponent for him.  Reagan didn't shift down to growth-economy-lite or cold-war-lite to solidify his appeal to the middle.  He stuck with core principles, explained and explained them, and won 49 states.

The assumption from the far-centrists is that conservatives have no choice if the party goes RINO, where we all know centrists can jump ship at the first sign of trouble.  Therefore the RINO is always preferable...  Good luck with that centrist theory in 2012.  After the McCain experience and the countless RINO positions of the 8 year W. Bush Presidency, don't think that people of tea party / fix-these-problems-now passion are going to hold their nose one more time.  The candidate that abandons the right will lose a 2 party fight to this incumbent for certain and more likely would lose in a 3-way fight as their is no chance IMO that the movement we call tea party is going to sit still in '012.
3945  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Michele Bachmann on: May 29, 2011, 01:47:07 PM
I watched the Bachmann video at Crafty's link (and have seen her many other times).  Articulate, detailed about a national security issue (and monetary and constitutional issues), speaks mostly without notes or prompter. She is on the Intelligence committee with national security clearance and knowledge, also Financial Services Committee.  Credible with conservatives to give cover for a difficult vote that could spark a tea party challenge.  She appreciates the contention between the national security interest and general opposition to expanded powers.  She explains with enough detail to show why we need these powers to track terrorists.

That said, is Bachmann best suited in a legislative or executive capacity?  If it is executive, that would be without experience running in a room full of governors.  But she is making quite an effective national firestorm right where she is.  

Garfield was elected President from the House - so it is possible.  

Bachmann's appeal is to conservatives. She has limited appeal to independents and none to Democrats IMO.  Probably best suited IMHO right where she is, holding elected Republicans to their promises and their principles.
3946  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 27, 2011, 01:22:24 PM
"asked if I was illegal, I could legally and politely say": ...   ninguno de su negocio ??  smiley
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Murder and euthanasia can save the taxpayer money too, wrong criteria and wrong topic.  My point is that discrimination as an accusation is thrown around so loosely that fear of that accusation is both ubiquitous and somewhat meaningless.  

Some indication that you may be from elsewhere (and need documentation) is more like some indication that you were drinking some (also not illegal) but may cause a further look or test for which you have already given 'implied consent'.  The burglary tools in themselves may not be illegal.  As a landlord, those same tools of mine may be in plain view and misconstrued without explanation.

GM explained and that is reasonable, but I also don't like it when they ask me where I am coming from and where I am going either for having a pinhole leak of white light out of a red tail light lens.  Engage in conversation is what they do to look for other things.  I agree with the JDN right to not engage but not necessarily agree its your best strategy.
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"in CA there are a lot of predatory employers, paying illegals less than minimum wage, no benefits, unsafe working conditions, etc.  I have no sympathy for those employers."

  - Agreed, if true, for those obvious cases. In the accusation will be the word 'knowingly' plus they are breaking plenty of other laws.

"Cut off the jobs, and you take away the incentive to be illegal and come to America."

  - No.  Cut off the jobs and the welfare simultaneously, add  real enforcement and they will not come.  Let's lock in at least the agreement we already discovered!

I'm not aware of ever showing identification to get a job.  Of course I haven't gotten one recently either and my local accent is very authentic.  sad   My town in Colo has the illegals problem. The bank there required two forms of photo id to open an account. I never carry a passport and it's expired anyway.  I started out the door and they were willing to lose me as a customer to be consistent on their policy, then I remembered my Vail season pass has a mug on it, and they accepted that.  What did that prove?
---------
We beat around the bush on immigration.  The problem continues because the executive branch in charge of enforcement doesn't like the law and the opposition party is split about it.  The flagrant business may still exist out there but this isn't overall a private sector issue.  The Arizona enforcement law created a healthy debate.  Still meaningless if the Feds do nothing. Catch and release. The sanctuary city phenomenon is a violation of federal law, harboring and co-conspiring?  The transportation dept. wouldn't nor would any other department or agency accept rogue municipalities failing to follow federal law.  If a law is wrong, unconstitutional or meaningless, repeal it or strike it down, not just selectively ignore it.  Otherwise, enforce it - at all levels.
3947  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / "No verified instance of harm to groundwater caused by hydraulic fracturing" on: May 27, 2011, 12:13:03 PM
Great post BBG!  The issue of methane escaping is separate from the issue of ground water contamination but perhaps part of the ad hominem attacks against all energy production.  I don't see why methane producers would want methane to escape.  If true perhaps we ne a capture technique, not a ban on production.

Following up to that post and a subject Crafty started with an NY Times series (Feb 27 2011 post over in Energy Politics) attacking the production techniques of natural gas: "Regulations Lax...Tainted Water Hits Rivers".  I read that piece with skepticism.  As with liberal media techniques on other topics, they find a claim with a credible sounding source, in the Ron Bailey piece it was Cornell University, get it into the NY Times and then repeat it across the country before anyone can disprove the negative.  The NYT piece was loaded with question marks and "may do this" and "may do that" and very light or absent of real data or contamination samples.

I followed up with a long, hard-to-follow post March 8, same thread, discrediting the allegations.  Most damning I thought and buried in my post were the specific, actual statements quoted that I copied and pasted out of a pdf and reprinted, where nearly all the state regulatory agencies of nearly all the natural gas producing states denies that this has ever happened in their state. These include all the states referenced in the NY Times hit piece.  Reprinting here with state names and regulatory agencies in bold to be easier to follow and the use of italics is mine. The full letters are at the pdf link.  These are regulatory agencies, not greedy producers, though a liberal source might say there is no difference if they side with business.


"After 25 years of investigating complaints of contamination, DMRM geologists have not documented a single incident involving contamination of ground water attributed to hydraulic fracturing."  - Ohio Department of Natural Resources

After review of DEP's complaint database and interviews with regional staff that investigate groundwater contamination related to oil and gas activities, no groundwater pollution or disruption of underground sources of drinking water has been attributed to hydraulic fracturing of deep gas formations.  - Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

"we have found no example of contamination of usable water where the cause was claimed to. be hydraulic fracturing."  - New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department

"I can state with authority that there have been no documented cases of drinking water contamination caused by such hydraulic fracturing operations in our State."  - STATE OIL AND GAS BOARD OF ALABAMA

"Though hydraulic fracturing has been used for over 50 years in Texas, our records do not indicate a single documented contamination case associated with hydraulic fracturing."  - chief regulatory agency over oil and gas activities in Texas

"There have been no verified cases of harm to ground water in the State of Alaska as a result of hydraulic fracturing."  - Commissioner Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

"To the knowledge of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission staff, there has been no verified instance of harm to groundwater caused by hydraulic fracturing in Colorado."

"There have been no instances where the Division of Oil and Gas has verified that harm to groundwater has ever been found to be the result of hydraulic fracturing in Indiana."  - Director Indiana Department of Natural Resources

"The Louisiana Office of Conservation is unaware of any instance of harm to groundwater in the State of Louisiana caused by the practice of hydraulic fracturing."

"My agency, the Office of Geological Survey (OGS) of the Department of Environmental Quality, regulates oil and gas exploration and production in Michigan. Hydraulic fracturing has been utilized extensively for many years in Michigan, in both deep formations and in the relatively shallow Antrim Shale formation. There are about 9,900 Antrim wells in Michigan producing natural gas at depths of 500 to 2000 feet. Hydraulic fracturing has been used in virtually every Antrim well.
There is no indication that hydraulic fracturing has ever caused damage to ground water or other resources in Michigan."

"No documented cases of groundwater contamination from fracture stimulations in
Wyoming."

Link again: Hydraulic Fracturing –15 Statements from Regulatory Officials
http://www.hydraulicfracturing.com/Documents/Hydraulic_Fracturing_SGEIS_comments.pdf
3948  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 27, 2011, 11:23:10 AM
JDN,  The death penalty is applied to people convicted of heinous crimes in certain jurisdictions, it hits blacks disproportionately and it is labeled discriminatory and racist. (Their victims were disproportionately black as well!)  Abortions paid for by taxpayers hit black babies disproportionately more than 3 times worse than white babies, and they are not labeled discriminatory by the people who put themselves in charge of those labels.  Employee check will hit people of certain ethnicities disproportionately, maybe Hispanic where you are and maybe Somali and Hmong here, but much harder than 4th or 5th generation midwestern Scandinavian Americans for certain.  Applying the law evenly doesn't make the charge go away.

Employers are not the enforcement arm of the federal government and don't need more burdens.  IMO they should supply and submit to the federal immigration authorities any information that the feds require of them for each applicant or employee.  Then the Feds have the responsibility to act on the information, come out and arrest and deport if they were serious about their job.  Simply turning away English challenged, medium skinned people with lousy documentation from work to welfare is no solution in my view.

The same rules that are applied to employers to pay someone should apply to all agencies of government and welfare.  How is it legal to pay out or take money for doing nothing but illegal to work and earn it?  I will need that explained to me.
3949  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The electoral process, vote fraud: MN Voter ID Bill with 80% Support Vetoed on: May 27, 2011, 10:57:43 AM
I would like to put this under progressivism but we already have a category for voter fraud.  Voter ID is a very important issue here brought to light in the Al Franken recount because it is illegal in a recount not to count again all the illegal votes that were cast.  As I wrote in my first post in this thread, when ACORN block workers tried to drag me in against my will to vote in South Minneapolis where I did not live, they had people on the block already setup to vouch for me.  No identification, pre-registration or anything else is required. Unlike the questioning techniques used by Israeli El Al airlines, MN election judges use an on-site registration scrutiny technique called Minnesota-nice.   Ballots are available in English, Hmong, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese, and people who will vouch for you are standing by.
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New MN Governor vetoes Voter ID bill.
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/05/029110.php
John Hinderacker at Powerline:

In 2010, control over Minnesota's government flipped: Republicans captured both the Minnesota House and Senate, while Democrat Mark Dayton replaced Tim Pawlenty as governor. The Republican legislature passed legislation to reform the state's voting system, in part by requiring photo identification. The law provided for issuance of free voter IDs to any legitimate voters who, for whatever reason, have no driver's license or other form of identification. Minnesotans, aware that voter fraud has likely played a key role in recent elections, overwhelmingly support the law: the Star Tribune's Minnesota Poll, which routinely tilts left, found 80 percent support.

Nevertheless, Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the bill yesterday. That a Democratic governor is willing to fly in the face of overwhelming public opinion, even as he is fighting a budget battle with the legislature that likely will lead to a slowdown in state government, says volumes about where the Democratic Party stands on the issue of voter fraud.

In 2008, Minnesota Republicans were traumatized by the Coleman-Franken race, which Al Franken eventually won by a few hundred votes. National attention focused on the recount, which was scrupulously fair. The problem was that, as with any recount, all you can do is count for a second time the votes that were cast illegally on election day. I have no doubt that more legal voters voted for Norm Coleman than Al Franken, but once the ballots are in the box, there is nothing that can be done. Hence the urgency of the voter ID law.

Until now, Minnesota has had lax laws that facilitate voter fraud. Not only does the state have same-day registration, there is also an absurd system whereby a resident of a precinct can "vouch" for as many as 15 people who are not registered in the precinct and have no identification that would otherwise allow them to register. This means that the Democrats can station an operative at a polling place, bus in students from Wisconsin, illegal immigrants, etc., and allow them to vote illegally by having their operative vouch for the whole busload.

For many years, Republicans have been trying to tighten up Minnesota's voting laws to prevent voter fraud. But they have never been able to get such a bill through the legislature, since the DFL has controlled the state's Senate since Senate races were first made partisan. This year, for the first time, the Republicans are in a position to carry out the will of the overwhelming majority of Minnesotans by reforming an electoral system that is designed to encourage fraud. The fact that the Governor Dayton felt compelled to veto those reforms confirms that voter fraud remains a significant component of the Democratic Pary's electoral strategy.
3950  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Energy Policy: USA is the 44th freest country in the world on: May 27, 2011, 10:29:07 AM
"Oil Traders sued by Feds"
  - That should help the supply of oil... (sarc.)
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I wonder if Michelle Obama again has never before been this proud to see our country ranked 44th freest in the world for oil production, unable to keep up with freedom bastions like Angola ranked 18th:

"It is almost as if the United States deliberately wanted to be more dependent on foreign oil. Consider that while the World Economic Forum rates the U.S. 4th in its ranking of the world's most competitive economies, it would rank far down the list if the WEF were to look at the competitiveness of the oil and gas industry in isolation. A proprietary ranking of political and investment risk for oil and gas by IHS's Petroleum Economics and Policy Solutions unit places the U.S. 44th, below several African nations such as Angola, which is ranked 18th. As an IHS analyst observes, in the U.S. "there is the constant threat of adverse contract or fiscal regime changes at both the state and federal levels of government. None of these threats or business risks is present in Angola." "
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/05/029102.php
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What kind of economic OR security strategy involves decades of blocking the energy production needed to power our economy.  It isn't just taxes and debt that are killing us, and these are self-inflicted wounds.
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