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3901  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: December 30, 2011, 04:09:53 PM
"Hey, buy a house, it's a great long term investment....... "

At about 15 cents on the dollar, I am still bullish on home purchasing.  Just worn out.  Pretty good analogy though, because if people actually did buy instead of borrow for the education or the house, they would in general be better off for owning it. 

If you can afford to not work the first 4 years of adulthood and pay the costs, a 4 year degree in personal growth and human knowledge is a wonderful foundation before learning a marketable skill like running a business, designing a bridge or diagnosing a patient.  Same degree with a quarter million in debt and no marketable skill and now you need to go work, maybe not.

I have not found an explanation on or off the board as to why it is okay that the rate charged is different for everyone.  Try pricing rent or food differently to different people.  Some colleges have so much as told us the price is negotiable.  For a kid with a great application, it looks like play money.  She got a 16k award in the mail the other day and she just laughed, knowing that was a drop in the bucket, still far from affordable.  We still don't have a financial plan.
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The other theme GM had was STEM.  For others that means Science, technology, engineering, math.  Thinking of two successful relatives in business, different sides of the family, one got the PhD in Math and the other in Physics, neither doing what you would think of as directly working in that field, but the credentials proved the foundation to move forward.  My advice to my daughter is along those lines, do something that you are good at, that sounds really hard, that is relevant and needed and in scarce supply, and do it at a place that is widely respected.  Not just put in 4 years.
3902  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 30, 2011, 02:14:44 PM
"Each has pros AND cons."

The energy use today is a fact, not an issue.  The choice of sending the dollars and jobs out instead of producing here is a part of a larger policy of choosing economic decline, and it didn't make the planet any cleaner.
3903  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 30, 2011, 01:20:57 PM
Working properly, a pipeline transports the oil inside the pipe.  smiley   The issue at hand is constuent group politics versus jobs and earned dollars in the economy - an easy choice for the President.  Freighters and vessels and trucks burn oil and pollute and crash more often than a pipeline.  We already have pipelines from Canada and pipelines inside the US.  How do people think natural gas gets around?

"I don't follow the drilling arguments closely."  - Other than mistakes and catastrophes, it is a very clean process.  The caribou were all for it.  The Alaskans are for it.  The North Dakotans are for it.  The Texans are for it.  But the Feds don't want you to do it.  In some areas, they own all the land.

We drove past the largest refinery in the region recently from an 8 hour round trip drive to a college visit.  My daughter commented on the plume of steam going into the air (extremely clean steam compared to how they used to be).  I don't know if she recognized the irony even with my pointing it out, that not wanting energy produced isn't compatible with all these non-essential drives that make up her life; there are perhaps a hundred colleges closer.  Much worse for business travel.  We could let the Chinese do that.  sad

If you want homes heated now, natural gas is the best answer.  If you want mobility, oil.  If you want alternating current at the outlet, then you will need coal and nuclear at the power plants.  For hobbies, I like wind and solar.  Our economy has energy requirements.  Earning income, enjoying freedom and building prosperity all involve energy consumption.  Consumption requires production somewhere.  If you don't produce it here, you will pipe dollars and jobs out in amounts that make the cost of two wars look like childs' play, and we are.  http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_impcus_a2_nus_ep00_im0_mbbl_m.htm Regulation to make production as clean and safe as currently and reasonably possible are great.  Policies that stop energy production in its tracks just punishes ourselves and is one of the ways we are screwing ourselves over for decades if not generations. 

One big argument against drilling in ANWR is that it would take 10 years to get up and running!  What do we care about oil 10 years from now?  That was more than 20 years ago.  Now we fund 'ugo to buy bad things from Mahkmoud with the same money.  And then deploy forces to stop them?  Who knew?

Look back ten years.  All that bickering about who got invited to Dick Cheney's energy commission.  No plan was ever implemented.  Just worse and worse public policies.  We have far more control over how safe and how clean our energy is produced and same for the other products manufactured if we do it here.
3904  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 30, 2011, 12:08:13 PM
You have points of agreement in there but I must say that if you would rather the U.S. buy our needed energy from Venezuela than from America, which causes our costs go up, our dollars to leave, our jobs lost, supports the wrong causes around the world, leaves us vulnerability to supply disruptions, we lose government revenues off the lost production, deficits, debt and interest payments forever on those losses, then I would rather defeat you than persuade you to think otherwise.

Is drilling "pollution" in Alberta really further from home than drilling "pollution" in ANWR.  Besides the straw argument of drilling pollution, I would check your map on that one.

The current issue is over a pipeline.  Is transport from Venezuela cleaner? (No!)
3905  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, Canada continued on: December 30, 2011, 11:36:59 AM
The Canadian economy is closely tied to its largest trading partner, but avoided the housing crash for one thing because the CRAp (Community Reivestment Act program) did not apply to Canadian banks or houses.  Common sense regulations are as important as minimizing tax disincentives.

The Economist magazine stated that Canada had come out the recession stronger than any other rich country in the G7. http://www.economist.com/node/16059938

All is not perfect in Canada either, just noting current growth there that is very easy to do here.

'The Economist' notes the looming problems there, the national healthcare system in particular.  Once in place, those monstrosities are hard if not impossible to remove:

"But there is also a large dollop of good fortune behind Canada’s resilience. If parts of eastern Canada resemble Europe in economic terms, the west looks more like Brazil. Its mines, oil and gas producers and farmers have benefited from the commodity boom brought about by China’s appetite for raw materials. This boom brings a problem: it is helping to drive up the Canadian dollar, which risks making life more difficult for manufacturers back east. And Canada’s fiscal health will soon come under strain from the treasured but expensive public health-care system and an ageing population. There is little sign that the country’s politicians are ready to deal with either."
3906  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 30, 2011, 11:04:01 AM
"How about Canada?"

I have always like Canada; beautiful country and nice people.  They have an excellent National Health Care plan for example.   smiley   Canada's tax rate is approximately 10% higher than ours.   smiley   Further, Canada's income tax system is more heavily biased against the highest income earners versus the U.S.  smiley    Makes sense to me...     grin
-----------------
The policy arrow in Canada shifted the opposite of ours.  Investors know it is becoming a better and better place to do business.  Investors here keep getting the wait and see message out of Washington so the 'smart money' sits on the sidelines or goes elsewhere. 

For all your Calif. expertise you probably shouldn't tell someone here about Canadian heathcare.  Whether you look at Duluth, MSP or Rochester, MN, not only the medical clinics but the restaurants and hotels here benefit greatly from Canadian healthcare.  Let's leave that to the healthcare threads.

The point of economic growth in Canada is that we used to outperform them.

The top federal income tax rate in Canada (29%) is not higher than in the US (39.6% after the Bush Obama 'temporary cut' expiration) and not counting the Harry Reid surcharge: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204262304577068470560665732.html

The top corporate rate in Canada is 15% effective Jan 1 2012: http://www.canadabusinesstax.com/corporate-income-tax-rates/ 

The top federal rate in the U.S is 35%.  Besides cuts in Canada, China cut its corp rate (Jan 2008) right while the US economy began tanking and Japan tried to, delayed by an earthquake.

Canada values energy production as a booming industry.  We prefer to pay Venezuela, subsidize Brazil and block pipelines out of Canada.

Government revenues come from private sector vigor.  The question is not what kind of political economic system did Canada use to be.  The question is: What changed?
3907  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - VEEPs? and Ron Paul 3rd party? on: December 30, 2011, 10:24:03 AM
First one comment that came out of Rove's predictions I think.  Ron Paul will not run as third party spoiler because his son Rand Paul, perhaps an up and coming star in the party, will be screwed in the party for life.

Too early for VP speculation but they do run as a ticket.  One story today notices that Michele Bachmann has ripped every anti-Romney candidate ruthlessly, but not Romney, fishing for VP consideration.  She won't be the pick.  Marco Rubio said he won't.  They all say that but I believe him.

Where better to go for inside GOP scoop than MSNBC interviewing a Politico writer?
------------
Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) Predicted As Romney VP Pick

By Mark Finkelstein | December 30, 2011 | 07:57

With not one Republican primary vote cast yet, we're getting way ahead of ourselves by speculating about whom Mitt Romney might pick as his vice-presidential running mate.  But Willie Geist did invite Politico's Mike Allen to make his "bold predictions" for 2012.  And Allen delivered, prognosticating that Romney would pick Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman as his ticket-mate.

Mark Halperin strongly seconded Allen's assertion.  View the video after the jump.

Watch Allen make the case that the Romney campaign figures it should carry Florida without Marco Rubio on the ticket, whereas Portman could be more of the key to victory by helping to carry his home state of Ohio.

MIKE ALLEN: One of the first big stories in 2012, assuming Mitt Romney becomes the Republican nominee, however long it takes, who will be his vice-presidential pick?  A lot of people are looking at Marco Rubio in Florida; he's definitely on the list. But I think the most likely to be chosen, at the top of Mitt Romney's list, is Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio.  Brings that important state, put it with Michigan, where Mitt Romney could be strong, and you would really have President Obama sweating, there in the industrial Midwest.

WILLIE GEIST: Now, what does Portman give him, Mitt Romney, if it is Mitt Romney, what does he give him over Marco Rubio?

ALLEN: It's a two-fer.  In addition to Ohio, and if Mitt Romney doesn't already have Florida he's already in trouble, so the Romney folks are hoping they're going to have Florida  without Marco Rubio.  Ohio would be a bit tougher call. So Rob Portman would be more helpful there.  Also, it's a governing pick.  He has experience on the Hill, both in the House and the Senate, in the White House as the Budget Director, and so he would bring a lot of gravitas, experience to this administration.   

MARK HALPERIN: I think this is an easy one.  First off, Mitt Romney is going to make a governing pick. He knows from history, the first, second and third obligation, both politically and substantively, is to pick someone ready to be president.  I think Rob Portman is head and shoulders above most of the other people who Mike mentioned on that score. Both the press and the public would look at him and say, yeah, that's responsible, that's somebody who's ready to president.  I think Chris Christie will also be considered. But I think on this one, somebody's going to  have to make a compelling case for me, for someone besides Portman, for me to think it's not headed in that direction, or should be, assuming Romney's the nominee.     
http://newsbusters.org/blogs/mark-finkelstein/2011/12/30/morning-joe-portman-predicted-romney-vp-pick
3908  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Why the boom in Canada? on: December 30, 2011, 09:57:53 AM
Escaping mention in Krugman's drivel on Ireland is a better example much closer to home.  Besides the opportunity to reign in government, cut tax rates while increasing revenues, who else is sitting on a treasure trove of energy?

http://news.investors.com/Article/596263/201112291827/tax-cuts-give-canada-economy-a-boost.htm

IBD Editorials
 
Tax Cuts, Less-Intrusive Gov't Help Canada Soar

 Posted 12/29/2011

Success: Away from the low growth and high regulation of an America under Washington's thumb, our northern neighbor is economically strong. As 2011 ends, Canada has announced yet another tax cut — and will soar even more.

The Obama administration and its economic czars have flailed about for years, baffled about how to get the U.S. economy growing.

In reality, the president need look no further than our neighbor, Canada, whose solid growth is the product of tax cuts, fiscal discipline, free trade, and energy development. That's made Canada a roaring puma nation, while its supposedly more powerful southern neighbor stands on the outside looking in.

On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that he will slash corporate taxes again on Jan. 1 in the final stage of his Economic Action Plan, dropping the federal business tax burden to just 15%.

Along with fresh tax cuts in provinces such as Alberta, total taxes for businesses in Canada will drop to 25%, one of the lowest in the G7, and below the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development average.

"Creating jobs and growth is our top priority," said Minister Jim Flaherty. "Through our government low-tax plan ... we are continuing to send the message that Canada is open for business and the best place to invest."

It's not just that Canada's conservative government favors makers over takers. Harper's also wildly popular for shrinking government. "The Harper government has pursued a strategic objective to disembed the federal state from the lives of citizens," wrote University of Calgary Professor Barry Cooper, in the Calgary Herald.

Harper also has made signing free trade treaties his priority. Canada now has 11 free trade pacts in force, and 14 under active negotiation — including pacts with the European Union and India, among others.

"We believe in free trade in Canada, we're a free-trading nation. That's the source of our strength, our quality of life, our economic strength," Flaherty said last month.

Lastly, Canada has pursued its competitive advantage — oil. And it did so not through top-down "industrial policy," but by getting government out of the way.

Harper has enacted market-friendly regulations to accomplish big things like the Keystone Pipeline — and urged President Obama to move forward on it or else Canada would sell its oil to China.

These policies have been well-known since the Reagan era. But in a country that's been institutionally socialist since the 1950s, Harper's moves represent a dramatic affirmation for free market economics.

For Canada, they've had big benefits.

Canada's incomes are rising, its unemployment is two percentage points below the U.S. rate, its currency is strengthening and it boasts Triple-A or equivalent sovereign ratings across the board from the five top international ratings agencies, lowering its cost of credit.

Is it too much to ask Washington to start paying attention to the Canadian success story?

These sound principles work every time they are tried, and they have led to a transformation in Canada.

Imagine what they could do in the U.S.
3909  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: Krugman says govt spending is too low on: December 30, 2011, 09:46:17 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/30/opinion/keynes-was-right.html?_r=1&ref=opinion
Keynes Was Right
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: December 29, 2011

“The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.” So declared John Maynard Keynes in 1937, even as F.D.R. was about to prove him right by trying to balance the budget too soon, sending the United States economy — which had been steadily recovering up to that point — into a severe recession. Slashing government spending in a depressed economy depresses the economy further; austerity should wait until a strong recovery is well under way.
----------------------------

Someone please show where this award winning economist / far left pundit called for spending austerity during the last boom.  I missed that column.  Which programs did he want cut and by how much?  Krugman swerves into the truth.  One reason for failure of all stimulus programs today is that we already swimming in government stimuli and simply can't feel any effect anymore from another tril or two.  Krugman points to Ireland.  How about Canada?
3910  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: Karl Rove - Political Predictions for 2012 on: December 29, 2011, 10:57:58 AM
It makes sense to me. 
--------------------------
Political Predictions for 2012

By KARL ROVE     DECEMBER 29, 2011

As New Year's approaches, here are a baker's dozen predictions for 2012.

• Republicans will keep the U.S. House, albeit with their 25-seat majority slightly reduced. In the 10 presidential re-elections since 1936, the party in control of the White House has added House seats in seven contests and lost them in three. The average gain has been 12 seats. The largest pickup was 24 seats in 1944—but President Barack Obama is no FDR, despite what he said in his recent "60 Minutes" interview.

• Republicans will take the U.S. Senate. Of the 23 Democratic seats up in 2012, there are at least five vulnerable incumbents (Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania): The GOP takes two or three of these. With the announcement on Tuesday that Nebraska's Ben Nelson will retire, there are now seven open Democratic seats (Connecticut, Hawaii, North Dakota, New Mexico, Virginia, Wisconsin): The GOP takes three or four. Even if Republicans lose one of the 10 seats they have up, they will have a net pickup of four to six seats, for a majority of 51 to 53.

• Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid or both will leave the Democratic leadership by the end of 2012. Speaker John Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell will continue directing the GOP in their respective chambers.

• This will be the fourth presidential election in a row in which turnout increases. This has happened just once since 1828, from 1928 through 1940.

• In 2008, voters told the Pew Poll that they got more election information from the Internet than from daily newspapers. Next year, that advantage will grow as the Internet closes in on television as America's principal source of campaign news.

• After failing to win the GOP presidential nomination, Ron Paul will not run as a third-party candidate because that would put his son, Rand Paul, in an untenable position: Does the Republican senator from Kentucky support his father and effectively re-elect Mr. Obama, or back his party and defeat him?
More: Election 2012

• Mr. Obama's signature health-care overhaul, already deeply unpopular, will become even more so by Election Day. Women voters are particularly opposed to ObamaCare, feeling it threatens their family's health.

• Mr. Obama may propose tax reform, attempting to use it to appeal both to his liberal base (a question of fairness) and independents (a reform to spur economic growth). This will fail, but not before boosting Mr. Obama's poll numbers.

• The Obama campaign won't corral high-profile Republican endorsements—as it did in 2008 with former Secretary of State Colin Powell—with the unimportant possible exception of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel. It will also make a special effort to diminish the GOP's advantage among military families, veterans and evangelicals, with the last a special target if Republicans nominate Mitt Romney.

• Despite an extraordinary amount of presidential time and involvement, Team Obama will fall as much as $200 million short of its $1 billion combined fund-raising target for the campaign and Democratic National Committee. Even so, Mr. Obama and Democrats will outspend the GOP nominee and Republicans. This won't necessarily translate into victory: John Kerry and Democrats outspent President George W. Bush and Republicans in 2004 by $124 million. Groups like American Crossroads (which I helped found) will narrow the Democratic money advantage.

• Scandals surrounding the now-bankrupt Solyndra, Fannie and Freddie, MF Global and administration insider deals still to emerge will metastasize, demolishing the president's image as a political outsider. By the election, the impression will harden that Mr. Obama is a modern Chicago-style patronage politician, using taxpayer dollars to reward political allies (like unions) and contributors (like Obama fund-raiser and Solyndra investor George Kaiser).

• To intimidate critics and provoke higher black turnout, Democrats will play the race card more than in any election since 1948. Witness Attorney General Eric Holder's recent charge that criticism of him and the president was "both due to the nature of our relationship and . . . the fact that we're both African-Americans."

• The economic recovery will continue to be anemic, leaving both unemployment and concerns about whether the president is up to the job high on Election Day. Because of this, Mr. Obama will lose as his margins drop among five groups essential to his 2008 victory—independents, women, Latinos, young people and Jews. While he will win a majority from at least three of these groups, he won't win them by as much as he did last time.

Predicting the future is always dangerous but conservatives believe in accountability, so let's see how well I do a year from now.
3911  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Michael Barone -The people want growth, not redistribuition on: December 29, 2011, 10:49:04 AM
"They miss growth when it is absent. They don't appreciate it so much when it is happening."

Voters want growth, not income redistribution
by Michael Barone


"A 2008 election widely regarded as heralding a shift toward the more government-friendly public sentiment of the New Deal and Great Society eras seems to have yielded just the reverse."

So writes William Galston, Brookings Institution scholar and deputy domestic adviser in the Clinton White House, in the New Republic. Galston, one of the smartest political and policy analysts around, has strong evidence for this conclusion.

He cites a recent Gallup poll showing that while 82 percent of Americans think it's extremely or very important to "grow and expand the economy" and 70 percent say it's similarly important to "increase equality of opportunity for people to get ahead," only 46 percent say it's important to "reduce the income and wealth gap between the rich and the poor" and 54 percent say this is only somewhat or not important.

In addition, by a 52 to 45 percent margin, Americans see the gap between the rich and the poor as an acceptable part of the economic system rather than a problem that needs to be fixed. In 1998, during the high-tech economic boom, Americans took the opposite view by the same margin.

As Galston notes, these findings suggest that Obama's much praised speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, decrying inequality, "may well reduce his chances of prevailing in a close race." Class warfare politics, as I have noted, hasn't produced a Democratic presidential victory in a long, long time.

Where Galston misses a step, I think, is that he seems to regard the move away from redistributionist politics in this time of economic stagnation as an anomaly in need of explanation. He seems to share the Obama Democrats' assumption that economic distress would make Americans more supportive of, or amenable to, big government policies.

That, after all, is what we have all been taught by the great and widely read New Deal historians, and that lesson has been absorbed by generations of politicians and political pundits.

I believe that historians have taught the wrong lessons about the 1930s. And I believe there is a plausible and probably correct reason why economic distress has apparently moved Americans to be less rather than more supportive of big government.

To understand the lessons of the 1930s, you need to read the election returns. Franklin Roosevelt's big victory in 1932 was a massive rejection of Republicans across the board. Republicans lost huge ground in urban and rural areas, in the West and Midwest and most of the East, even in their few redoubts in the South.

In 1936 FDR won re-election by a slightly larger margin, but with a different coalition. The rural and small town North returned to its long Republican allegiance, while Democrats made further big gains among immigrants and blue collar workers in big cities and factory towns.

The New Deal historians attributed these gains to Roosevelt's economic redistribution measures -- high tax rates on high earners, the pro-union Wagner Act, Social Security. These laws, the so-called Second New Deal, were passed in 1935. They replaced the different, non-redistributionist policies of the First New Deal that stopped the deflationary downward spiral underway when Roosevelt took office.

The problem with the historians' claims is that the shifts in the electorate apparent in 1936 also are apparent in the 1934 off-year elections. Democrats won big that year, but compared to 1932 they lost ground in rural areas and small towns and gained much ground in big cities and factory towns.

The 1936 realignment happened in 1934. It could not have been caused by redistributionist Second New Deal legislation, because it hadn't been passed before November 1934.

So why should voters be leery of economic redistribution in times of economic distress?

Perhaps because they realize that they stand to gain much more from a vibrantly growing economy than from redistribution of a stagnant economic pie. A growing economy produces many unanticipated opportunities. Redistribution edges toward a zero-sum game.

They miss growth when it is absent. They don't appreciate it so much when it is happening.

Roosevelt's 1934 and 1936 victories were won in periods of growth. After the economy shifted into recession in 1937, New Deal Democrats fared much worse, and Roosevelt won his third and fourth terms as a seasoned wartime leader, not an economic redistributor.

Lesson: If you want redistribution, you better first produce growth. Which the Obama Democrats' policies have failed to do.

http://campaign2012.washingtonexaminer.com/article/voters-want-growth-not-income-redistribution/277856
3912  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: December 28, 2011, 10:49:12 AM
"some good things on the horizon (e.g. the US becoming the Saudi Arabia of natural gas) seems sound"

All are opposed by the current administration.  Wesbury is arguing about what economic growth will be coming into the election, warning Republicans not to count on bad economic news at election time.  Real recovery however hinges on a change in the policy arrow coming out of the election.

We are arguing essentially about how many tenths of a percent, within the margin of measurement error, we will be above or below 'breakeven growth' this year.  Economic growth coming out of a hole this deep should be twice that, more like 6-8% of sustained growth.

Wesbury is prognosticating what to do in this environment instead of what to do about this environment, which is fine - if you are in charge of deck chairs on the Titanic.

GM's examples of what could go wrong are in addition to the general measurements posted of global stagnation.  What is the US doing or proposing to do to lead the world out of this?  Federalizing police and fire, defunding social security, queuing health care and further debasement of our currency?  That oughtta do it.
3913  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq Democracy on: December 28, 2011, 10:25:25 AM
What do they call it, 2 wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner? Or is it one wolf and 2 sheep with the wolf counting the votes - same outcome.

"if Bremer did not make the foolish decision to disband the Iraqi Army, we wouldn't be needed in Iraq to maintain the peace."

There never was some easy answer for all of this.

"I'm not against 20,000 troops remaining."

Yes, that is the concept. Pull back, but maintain some presence and some readiness.  Dems used to argue for pulling our troops to the 'horizon', not complete abandonment.

"If Iraq falls apart now - screw em."

Iraq is globally strategic.  If Iraq falls apart, we are all screwed. What we fear from Iran is twice as large and more than twice as dangerous when Iran dominates Iraq.

"I never heard a plea for us to stay"

See Crafty's Allawi post!  

"For years, we have sought a strategic partnership with America to help us build the Iraq of our dreams: a nationalist, liberal, secular country, with democratic institutions and a democratic culture. But the American withdrawal may leave us with the Iraq of our nightmares: a country in which a partisan military protects a sectarian, self-serving regime rather than the people or the Constitution; the judiciary kowtows to those in power; and the nation’s wealth is captured by a corrupt elite rather than invested in the development of the nation...Unless America acts rapidly to help create a successful unity government, Iraq is doomed."

We didn't hear?  Or we didn't listen?
3914  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: Sen. Ben Nelson D-NE is out! on: December 28, 2011, 09:58:03 AM
The Cornhusker kickback has kicked back.

Pres. Obama lost Nebraska by 15 points in 2008 and isn't nearly as popular now.  Every prominent Republican in NE is vying for the Senate seat or considering the opportunity.  Against these headwinds, Ben Nelson age 70, perhaps the most moderate of the remaining Dem Senators has decided that more time with family sounds better than defending his votes in Washington for Obamacare and the rest of the agenda back in the heartland.

Wash Post says Dems are left scrambling.  The Dem reaction in Nebraska to this is irrelevant; they have lost this seat.  The party in Washington would need to change if they wanted to be competitive in states like this.  I wonder how often Reid and Schumer ask each other, how will their government-centric agenda play in Nebraska?

This was considered one of the 6 tossups that will determine the majority in the Senate.
--------------
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1209/30815.html
Payoffs for states get Harry Reid to 60 votes

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2009/12/23/81171/gop-may-sue-over-health-care-bills.html
top prosecutors in a half-dozen other states plan to challenge the constitutionality of a health care compromise that exempts Nebraska from paying billions in Medicaid expansion costs, forcing other states to shoulder a bigger burden for the low-income insurance program.




3915  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Hinderacker at Powerline endorses Romney on: December 28, 2011, 09:17:41 AM
For President in 2012, Mitt Romney

December 27, 2011 by John Hinderaker - Powerlineblog.com

It is time for Republicans to get serious. After flirting with just about every candidate in a large presidential field, is is time to come home to the one candidate who has the demonstrated ability to run the largest organization in the United States, the Executive Branch of the federal government; who has never been touched by the slightest taint of scandal; whose success in the private sector makes him the outsider that Republicans say they are looking for; and who has by far the best chance of beating President Obama: Mitt Romney.

The “anybody but Romney” mentality that grips many Republicans is, in my view, illogical. It led them to embrace Rick Perry, who turned out to be unable to articulate a conservative thought; Newt Gingrich, whose record is far more checkered than Romney’s; Ron Paul, whose foreign policy views–indistinguishable from those of the far left–and forays into racial intolerance make him unfit to be president; and Michele Bachmann, whom I like very much, but who is more qualified to be a rabble-rouser than a chief executive.

The knock on Romney is that he is “not a real conservative.” Well, I am sure he is not as conservative as I am. But he has a solid record of conservative accomplishment as governor of Massachusetts, and if you check out his economic plan, you will find it to be entirely Reaganite, updated for the crisis we face today. The “Romney isn’t conservative” meme is, frankly, a little weird: in December 2007, National Review endorsed him for president. Has he somehow gotten more liberal since then?

In electing a president, we are choosing someone to run the Executive Branch. A leader, to be sure, but not a speechmaker, a bomb-thrower, a quipster, a television personality or an exemplar of ideological purity. At this point in our history, the United States desperately needs a leader who understands the economy, the world of business, and, more generally, how the world works. We have had more than enough of a leader who was good at giving speeches and was ideologically pure, but who had no clue how the economy works or how the federal government can be administered without resort to graft and corruption. It is time for a president who knows what he is doing.

Romney was not my first choice in this election cycle–Tim Pawlenty was. But Pawlenty’s campaign failed to catch fire, mostly because GOP voters saw him as an “establishment” candidate; that is, perhaps, someone who won tough elections and governed successfully. Around the time Pawlenty’s campaign ended, John Thune gave serious consideration to jumping into the race. If he had done so, I would have supported him, but he didn’t. [UPDATE: I perhaps should add that I know both Pawlenty and Thune personally, consider them friends and have enormous regard for them. I have met Romney and have spent a little time with him, but not much. My preference for Pawlenty and Thune was largely driven by personal acquaintance; I feel that I know them well enough to have confidence in where they would take the country, as president.] There was no real reason to think that other Republicans like Paul Ryan, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio would get into the race, and they didn’t. You can’t get elected president if you don’t run for the office, and of those who are running, Mitt Romney is the best, by a very wide margin.

If this sounds lukewarm, it isn’t meant to. Let’s itemize Romney’s virtues.

First, he is a tremendously smart, competent and hard-working person. Many people do not realize what it takes to achieve the extraordinary business success to which Romney devoted most of his adult life. We have, currently, a president who is not particularly bright, knows little of business, has no idea how to run an organization–never having done so before 2009–and would rather golf than work. Replacing this cipher with Mitt Romney, one of the most capable men of his generation, would be an almost unimaginable improvement.

Second, Romney has led an exemplary life. He is, by any ordinary measure, an exceptionally good man. Maybe you care about this, maybe you don’t. My own view is that character counts, usually in ways you can’t foresee. Moreover, to put a purely pragmatic spin on it, the Democrats have nothing on him. Sure, they can mount an anti-Mormon whispering campaign, and they will. But it is highly unlikely that bigotry alone can derail a presidential candidate, especially one as upright as Romney.

Third, Romney has exactly the expertise we need for the next four years. Our country faces an enormous economic and fiscal crisis, brought on by years of politically-motivated fecklessness. We desperately need a president who understands why economic growth occurs and how jobs are created. The Democrats know nothing but payoffs and cronyism; who gets to stay the longest aboard a sinking ship. If ever we needed a president with Mitt Romney’s skills and expertise, that time is now.

Fourth, Romney can and will, I think, beat Barack Obama. The purpose of a political party is to win elections. It would be terminally stupid for the Republican Party to nominate a candidate whose weaknesses more or less guarantee defeat when it has, readily at hand, a candidate who can win. Ideological movements are another animal entirely. The purpose of the conservative movement is to advance conservative ideals, not necessarily to win elections for a particular party. Some conservative ideologues may choose to argue for a purer candidate (although I am not sure who that would be) in service of the long-run interests of the movement. But that is not the role of the Republican Party. The goal of the Republican Party is to win in 2012.

So: I endorse Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee for president in 2012. I think he can win, and I think there is a real chance that he could be a great president. Perhaps the man and the hour will meet, as with Churchill in 1940 and Reagan in 1980. But at a bare minimum, Romney can beat Barack Obama, and will be an infinitely better president. The time has come for Republicans to coalesce behind their best candidate.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/12/for-president-in-2012-mitt-romney.php
3916  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Newt lands Arthur Laffer endorsement on: December 27, 2011, 11:26:27 PM
Newt needed some good news.  Romney IMO penalized for not putting specifics into his plan.

Newt Gingrich Endorsed by  Economist Arthur Laffer

by Joy Lin | December 27, 2011

Dyersville, IA - Renowned economist, father of The Laffer Curve and supply-side economics, and architect of the Ronald Reagan economic plan, Arthur Laffer, announced his endorsement Tuesday of Newt Gingrich for President of the United States.

"Newt has the best plan for jobs and economic growth of any candidate in the field," said Laffer.

"Like Ronald Reagan's tax cuts and pro-growth policies, Newt's low individual and corporate tax rates, deregulation and strong dollar monetary policies will create a boom of new investment and economic growth leading to the creation of tens of millions of new jobs over the next decade. Plus, Newt's record of helping Ronald Reagan pass the Kemp Roth tax cuts and enacting the largest capital gains tax cut in history as Speaker of the House shows he can get this plan passed and put it into action."Mr. Laffer will join Newt Gingrich in Storm Lake, IA Thursday for a formal press conference announcing the endorsement.

"Rebuilding the America we love requires returning to job creation and economic growth. We need big changes to fix the economy, and I am ready to stand up to Barack Obama's class warfare rhetoric to make the case that letting the American people keep more of what they earn is the best way to create jobs."

http://politics.blogs.foxnews.com/2011/12/27/newt-gingrich-endorsed-architect-reagan-economic-plan-economist-arthur-laffer-0#ixzz1hnql2UR6
3917  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The electoral process: Newt first hurt in Va. by new voter registration rules on: December 27, 2011, 11:05:04 PM
Listening to opposition radio today I learned that Newt (allegedly) did not make the ballot in Virginia because of the new, tighter rules on voter registration.  He submitted 12,500 signatures they said but 10,000 signatures of registered voters is required to make the ballot and he came up short.  Same list 4 years ago would have been fine, but the rules changed.  They were finding the irony quite enjoyable.  (Unverified, I am unable to find a link.)
3918  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 27, 2011, 09:46:44 PM
Thanks bigdog for the followup.  I have mixed feelings about the franking privilege.  Some communication makes sense.  It should not look like a campaign brochure.

I don't oppose the President for traveling on our dime; It's a perk of the job he won in the election.  I criticized him for lying on our dime. 

They are supposed to separate out campaign stops from work.  He denies any of it is campaign because he is unopposed in the primaries.

This speech is partly doing his job, selling his proposal, then it crosses the line.  If he wants to tell his side of the story, that is fine.  When he stops acting Presidential, he can expect a little criticism.  We have a thread for that.  grin   Here he says of Republicans:

"And you got their plan: Let's have dirtier air, dirtier water..."  And the partisan crowd boos.



I can't think of anything equally mean and false that elected Republicans would say about their opponents.  What would you find to be similar?  Thinking of the last 3 Republican Presidents, Reagan took little jabs at his opponents but always acknowledged their good intentions.  Rush Limbaugh has said the economic destruction is intentional, but that is to compare a radio show host with the President of the United States. 

"How do you feel about ... (until recently) common use among presidential candidates to accept public funding? "

I don't like publicly funding campaigns.  I like full disclosure.

"Do you take the same offense when GOP candidates use taxpayer funds to get (re)elected?"

I am even more offended when my own side is guilty of being jackasses in their rhetoric and violate their own principles in their actions.  Earmark scandals come to mind.  I can't understand why Republicans won't try to draw a perfect distinction against their opponents on many points.  (A concept we call RINOs, aka 'elected Republicans'.)

In the speech, where does the President explain the underlying economic principle that is supposed to make his plan work?  Federalizing police and fire?  Without attacking, he has no story, no speech.  What are the odds (1/50?) that he is standing in perhaps the purplest swing state while he makes his attack / hate speech.

What he calls 'dirtier air' is what God put in your exhale. What a deceitful jerk.  The only dispute on water that I know of (besides the Corps of Engineers flooding the heartland) is the recent opposition to fracking, a process that has not contaminated any water supply according to all state regulatory agencies involved.  Is there a point he makes about his own plan or his opponents' plan that is true?
3919  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 27, 2011, 12:09:24 PM
I admit to enjoying a cheap shot here - deservedly - at someone who travels at taxpayer expense to tell the nation that anyone who opposes him wants dirtier air, dirtier water, rewards only to the rich, etc.  Of course she was just using proper respect to call him Mr. President and he was perhaps correct to take it as a personal question.  He was smart enough to recognize the flippancy and narcissism in his first answer as he told it and quickly added that he wished he learned to speak fluent Spanish, which besides political advantage would give him better ability to communicate with the American people.

Although he is vacationing with family in paradise, flying on separate schedules without financial consequence, this is a time distinctly marked with an under-performing economy and immense danger in the world.   His first thought he says is that it would be nice to be able to play an instrument.  I don't believe him.  I think he would kill for a decent golf game, but that isn't something he is willing to discuss.

Not likely to be asked by Barbara Walters about his shortcomings, but had she asked me I would maybe have gone the route of wishing he had read at least one book on economics that did not oppose our economic system, wishing he had ANY executive experience at all other than running his campaigns or that he had any foreign policy experience or expertise coming into this most difficult job, none of which are regrets of his. 

He was not about to give up any material to opponents on real shortcomings, and as CCP has mentioned in personality disorder observations, he may not know of any.

"Harry, I have a gift..."  online.wsj.com/article/SB124105013014171063.html
3920  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The cognitive dissonance of the left - social justice on: December 27, 2011, 11:08:11 AM
What do you call it when someone steals someone else's money secretly? Theft. What do you call it when someone takes someone else's money openly by force? Robbery. What do you call it when a politician takes someone else's money in taxes and gives it to someone who is more likely to vote for him? Social Justice.  - Thomas sowell

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/12/27/random_thoughts_112538.html
3921  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors: Syria - Assad's Regime Hunting its People on: December 27, 2011, 10:54:16 AM
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,805519,00.html

Inside Syria's Death Zone
Assad's Regime Hunts People in Homs
DER SPIEGEL

The regime in Damascus is using snipers to hunt down its own people. Rebels on the ground in besieged Homs, the site of some of the most extreme brutality, say the international community is hesitating to help Syrians out of fear that it will trigger a civil war. But the threat is merely propaganda from ruler Bashar Assad, they claim.

When the haze dissipates in the late afternoon light, and when the last unfortunate souls hurry across the open space, running in a zigzag pattern, hunting season begins on Cairo Street. There is random shooting all day long at this spot, but from this moment on the shooting becomes targeted. A few people make it to the other side on this day, but one does not. He screams and falls to the ground as he is hit. He was carrying a loaf of bread, something that was no longer available on his side of Cairo Street.

Pedestrians are rarely targeted in the morning. But beginning in the afternoon and continuing throughout the night, the wide, straight street that separates the Khalidiya and Bayada neighborhoods becomes a death zone. That's when they -- the snipers working for Syrian intelligence, who are nothing more than death squads, and the Shabiha killers, known as "the ghosts," mercenaries who are paid daily wages and often earn a little extra income by robbing their victims -- shoot at anything that moves.

The map of Homs is a topography of terror these days. Entire sections of Syria's third-largest city are besieged. Hundreds of thousands have become the hostages of a regime whose president, Bashar Assad, insisted with a chuckle in an interview with America's ABC News, that only a madman would order his forces to shoot at his own people.

What began nine months ago as a peaceful protest against the dictatorship of the Assad dynasty has since become a campaign against the people by the regime -- a regime that, for 41 years, was accustomed to using brutality to enforce submission. Since it realized that this brutality was no longer sufficient, it decided to use even more -- and then even more when the resistance continued to grow. There are no negotiations. In the heavily guarded downtown section of Homs, where the regime feigns an eerie mood of normality for foreign visitors, it has put up signs that read: "The continuation of dialogue guarantees stability."
3922  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Kwanzaa vacation in Hawaii on: December 27, 2011, 10:46:22 AM
One of the Republicans landed a punch recently in the campaign about the attack on Christmas, and like clockwork the Obama family was off to church, first time in a long time, on what is typically a golf day.

In support of African American heritage, the Obamas are now honoring Kwanzaa this holiday season. Good grief.  My experience in the black inner city and with successful African Americans I know through sports, friendships and business is that the holiday most are celebrating this season is ... Christmas.  African Americans as a group are more religious and more likely Christian than the population as a whole.  (http://www.christianpost.com/news/african-americans-most-religiously-devout-group-36736/)

http://news.investors.com/Article/595902/201112261944/kwanzaa-barack-obama-michelle-obama.htm

The Obamas mark Kwanzaa in the spirit of umoja

"Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to all those celebrating Kwanzaa this holiday season.

Today marks the beginning of the week-long celebration honoring African American heritage and culture through the seven principles of Kwanzaa -- unity, self determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

We celebrate Kwanzaa at a time when many African Americans and all Americans reflect on our many blessings and memories over the past year and our aspirations for the year to come.

And even as there is much to be thankful for, we know that there are still too many Americans going through enormous challenges and trying to make ends meet. But we also know that in the spirit of unity, or Umoja, we can overcome those challenges together.

As families across America and around the world light the red, black, and green candles of the Kinara this week, our family sends our well wishes and blessings for a happy and healthy new year."
3923  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Getting to know the candidates - Barack Obama on: December 27, 2011, 09:46:08 AM
Deep Thoughts with Barbara Walters:  If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be Mr. President?

"I deeply regret not having learned a musical instrument."

Perhaps he didn't hear the last part of the question: "...Mr. President"!

Something we agree on.  I wish his career had taken a different turn as well.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/12/26/obama_one_thing_id_like_to_change_about_myself_is__learn_an_instrument.html
3924  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: NYT it's so hard to vote on: December 27, 2011, 09:37:14 AM
"Next fall, thousands of students on college campuses will attempt to register to vote and be turned away. Sorry, they will hear, you have an out-of-state driver’s license. Sorry, your college ID is not valid here. Sorry, we found out that you paid out-of-state tuition, so even though you do have a state driver’s license, you still can’t vote."

a) If they are away from home on election day, they can vote absentee back home - like adults do. 

b) If they like where they live and are all grown up ready to vote and this is home now, not their parents' house, they can change their driver's license to their new address within 30 days of moving as would be otherwise required by law.  School starts by Sept 1.  Election day is in Nov.  That ought to do it.

c) They could take notice that the campaign was in full swing 1.5 YEARS before election day and make a decision to vote, where to vote and how to comply with identification rules before the last day. 

Many of these kids have a year of AP-US History, AP Physics and 2 years of AP Calculus before they turn 18 or enter college.  How about we make rules for everyone that protects the integrity of the process and let them comply.   Perhaps they are too busy to deal with real world realities; that may explain why they come in and vote like their professors until they find the world is different than they were taught.  Somewhere in their studies perhaps they came across places on earth throughout history where it really was hard to vote.
3925  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education, College Bubble on: December 26, 2011, 01:26:30 PM
How come student loans aren't dischargeable in bankruptcy?  That sounds like a racket.  They overspent like a credit card, more than they could afford.  The lender extended irresponsible amounts of lending.  I don't fully understand bankruptcy but if some debts aren't fully dischargeable, maybe none should be.

How soon until the income inequality attacks bleed over to education inequality?  Colleges and universities pay cash for ACT scores and other achievements including sports and music, which in all 3 examples spill over disproportionately to rich kids.  How is that fair?

As mentioned, I am re-learning the world of college cost as father of a H.S senior.  She doesn't like hearing it but my 4 years, done in 3 or so, cost less than her upcoming spring break orchestra trip of one week.  The rest of the learning came from the school of hard knocks.

The bubble in numbers or false expectations upon graduation isn't new.  The absurd cost structure is.  It grows like health care costs I think because of third party pay.  Maybe more like housing where the lender lends without checking or expecting to find income from the borrower.  Worse than housing, the less able your family is to handle the debt, the more they will lend.

The answer ("Cognitive Dissonance of the Left") is to move the cost even further away from the person using the service.  Let's make a 4 year degree "free"!  Tax the people who go straight to work and never get college to pay for the others to pursue pre-med, gender studies and social welfare degrees - until no one goes straight to work or pays taxes.

Nothing contains costs like tying the price charged to the affordability of the purchaser of the product in a market.  From a conservative side it would seem the answer is work and study and pay as you go with your own money, 4 years takes perhaps 8 or whatever it takes if the institutions cannot provide a first rate, full time education within the cost framework of what a middle class family can afford.  When you finish, you actually have bettered yourself, and will understand both the value of the education and the value of productive work.

With work rules as we have and those coming with Obamacare and everything else, I believe we are destined to move away from a 'job' society and back toward a more entrepreneurial economy.  If that happens, paper-based portion of the credentials will diminish in value compared to real knowledge and real ability to get real work of value done.  Just my two cents.

3926  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iraq: Last troops home in time for Christmas, 12/26 Iran expands military ties on: December 26, 2011, 10:26:45 AM
What I don't understand about this story is the delay.  I suppose Iran didn't want it to look like the US leaving and them coming in were related events.

12/25 http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-12-25/news/30556663_1_iraq-coalition-casualty-count-status-of-forces-agreement-1st-cavalry-division  FORT HOOD, Texas: Last US troops out of Iraq make it home for Christmas

12/26 http://www.businessinsider.com/iran-declares-its-ready-to-expand-military-ties-with-iraq-2011-12

Iran Declares It Is Ready To Expand Military Ties With Iraq

A week after U.S. forces pulled out of Iraq, Iran has announced its willingness to expand its military and security links with Baghdad.

The AFP reports Iranian General Hassan Firouzabadi praised the "forced departure" of U.S. troops, saying it ""was due to the resistance and determination of the Iraqi people and the government."

Firouzabadi: "Iran was now ready to expand its military and security ties with Iraq."
3927  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq, America the Destroyer? Really? on: December 26, 2011, 01:14:27 AM
Already answered, but Iran "building up a defense against us" did not strike me as a serious observation either.  Poor defenseless Iran - aren't they the number one sponsor of terror in the world according to both Bush and Obama administrations (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8028064.stm), sponsor of Hezbollah, makers of IED's aimed at Americans, jailed hikers for pawns, threaten to blow Israel off the map, stormed our embassy - what else?  I don't understand regretting the American loss of life in Iraq, a very large part of it directly attributable to actions by Iran, and then feeling ambivalent or sympathetic toward Iran.  If you are sympathetic to Iran then you should be joyous for the American loss of life.  They are.

My reaction earlier today reading: "I was for staying in Iraq just to keep the military tied up" was that my sense of humor does not come through well in the written word either.  Subsequent post said he meant every word of it, whatever that means.  It makes no sense to me but I don't see America as the destroyer.
--------------
Is there any part of JDN's post that he didn't already express.  It's enough because "enough is enough"..."Time for us move on."   - Okay, you got your say and you got it 2, 3, 4 times saying I think the same thing.  None of it IMO, even in repetition, addresses a very compelling moral point made by bigdog.  
3928  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: December 26, 2011, 12:25:18 AM
Merry Christmas to everyone so inclined to accept that as an offering of peace, love and friendship.  I am grateful to be alive and to have family healthy and together for this tradition and celebration.  I am grateful for the Catholic Church for welcoming me in as a non-member with their celebration of positive messages: Joy to the World, Glory to God in the Highest, peace be with you, forgive those who trespass against us, and Hark the Herald Angels sing.  The music to me brings a beauty and emotion bursting with the pride of having my daughter and other family members among the musicians contributing to this important celebration for so many people.  The lights of Christmas help to illuminate what would otherwise be the darkest days of the year.

3929  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: WSJ Paul Gigot interviews Mitt on: December 24, 2011, 12:44:28 PM
Trump:  "...profoundly vain and vapid man".  - He touts his book 'Art of the Deal' as the best selling business book of all time.  It is a terrible book, all about him and who he knows and nothing about helping the aspiring business person IMHO.  GM is right, he won't run and expose himself to all the negative scrutiny.
-------------
Romney interviewed by WSJ: I post this just as part of the get to know the candidates series.  My theory on Mitt is that he was always more conservative than he admitted in Massachusetts politics.  He can't ever say that and I have nothing really to support it.  This interview exposes I think an efficiency interest in taxation which could lead to a pretty good policy if followed closely.   (Elsewhere on the internet, George Will writes that Mitt, the safe candidate, has so far in his political career won 5 out of 22 primaries.  The 1962 Mets with the most losses since 1899 had a higher winning percentage.)

On Taxes, 'Modeling,' and the Vision Thing
The GOP front-runner says Iran is 'evil,' Newt Gingrich is wrong on judges, and he might consider a value-added tax. He also explains why his penchant for 'data' and analysis won't limit his ability to lead as president.

By JOSEPH RAGO AND PAUL A. GIGOT

Does Mitt Romney have a governing vision, a dominating set of political principles? It's the big question many voters say they have about the GOP presidential candidate. So when the former Massachusetts governor visited the Journal editorial board this week, we put it to him squarely, if perhaps tendentiously.

Voters see in him a smart man, an experienced executive, plenty of managerial expertise, great family—but they also see someone with the soul of a consultant who has 59 economic proposals because he lacks a larger vision of where he'd take the country. What does he think of that critique?

Mr. Romney has been garrulously genial for an hour, but here he shows a hint of annoyance. "I'm not running for president for 59 ideas," he says. "I'm not running for president because the country needs a management consultant or a manager. I'm not even the world's greatest manager. There are a lot better managers out there.

"People who know me from my years at Bain Capital, Bain and Company, the Olympics and Massachusetts wouldn't say he was successful because he was a great manager. They'd say I was successful because I was a leader, that I had a vision of how to change the enterprise, any one of those three enterprises, to make it greater."

And that vision is? Mr. Romney says he's running "to return America to the principles that we were founded upon." He goes on, expanding on his campaign theme, Believe in America: "We have a choice in America to be remaining a merit-based opportunity society that follows the Constitution, or to follow the path of Europe. And I'm the guy who believes in the former. I believe America got it right. I believe Europe got it wrong. I believe America must remain the leader of the world. . . . I am absolutely committed to an American century. I see this as an American century."

He concludes with even more force, "America doesn't need a manager. America needs a leader. The president is failing not just because he's a poor manager. It's because he doesn't know where to lead."

Voters will have to judge the quality of that vision, and how it compares with President Obama's. But there's no doubt it's a contrast with Mr. Romney's visit to our offices in 2007, which became legendary for its appeal to technocratic virtue.

In that meeting the candidate began by declaring "I love data" and kept on extolling data, even "wallowing in data," as a way to reform both business and government. He said he'd bring in management consultants to turn around the government, mentioning McKinsey, Bain and the Boston Consulting Group. Mr. Romney seemed to elevate the power of positive technocratic thinking to a governing philosophy.

So it is also notable that now Mr. Romney describes the core failure of Mr. Obama's economic agenda as faith in "a wise group of governmental bureaucrats" rather than political and economic freedom. "It is a refrain that we have seen throughout history where smart people are convinced that smart people ought to be able to guide an economy better than hordes of individuals pursuing their self-interest," Mr. Romney says, "the helter-skelter of free people choosing their course in life."

The Republican presidential candidate says he never intended to run for office again after 2008—"I went back and bought a home which was far too expensive and grandiose for the purposes of another campaign," he jokes. He was drawn back into public life amid Mr. Obama's bid to "fundamentally transform" the country, to use the president's own words, into "an entitlement society," to use Mr. Romney's.

"America can continue to lead the world from a values standpoint, from an economic standpoint, and from a military standpoint," Mr. Romney avers. He says the coming election represents "a very simple choice" between Mr. Obama's "European social democrat" vision and "a merit-based opportunity society—an American-style society—where people earn their rewards based upon their education, their work, their willingness to take risks and their dreams."

Yet on that score—risk-taking—Mr. Romney's campaign is sometimes timid, in particular on pro-growth tax reform. His 59-point economic plan, released this autumn, would maintain the Bush tax rates, cut the corporate rate to 25% from 35%, and eliminate the capital gains and dividend tax for those who earn less than $200,000.

But his plan doesn't say what a more efficient, competitive code would look like, only that it would be desirable. Even Mr. Obama's Simpson-Bowles deficit commission was bolder with its recommendations to lower rates across all brackets, including the top marginal rate to 23%, while broadening the tax base and cleaning out the IRS warren of deductions and subsidies.

Mr. Romney says he has "a positive inclination" toward Simpson-Bowles, with some exceptions, though the general framework "is a course that I would intend to pursue if I were to become president." But pressed for specifics, he says that "Partially, I'm burdened by my experience in the private sector. I worked for a number of years as you know in the management consulting field."

Here the technocrat re-emerges. Mr. Romney mentions pricing options for Corning Inc. fiber optics, a case study from his Bain salad days. "We spent six months with a team of people modeling and analyzing something as simple as that to make what we thought was the right decision," he recalls. "I tend to be highly analytical, driven by data, like to gather the input of a lot of people, and then model out the various outcomes that might occur under different scenarios."

When it comes to "something as extensive as the U.S. tax code," Mr. Romney continues, "I simply don't have the team . . . to be able to model out what will happen to all of the different income groups in the country, what will happen to the different sectors of our economy based on dramatic changes."

He notes that "my 59-point modest plan are immediate steps I'll take on Day One and that the steps I will take Day Two include moving toward a Simpson-Bowles-style lower tax rate, a broader base tax system. . . . People say, 'Well, let me see that plan.' It's like, 'That's going to take a lot more analysis and modeling than I have the capacity to do in the confines of a campaign.' But I will campaign for lower tax rates and a broader base of taxation."

What about his reform principles? Mr. Romney talks only in general terms. "Moving to a consumption-based system is something which is very attractive to me philosophically, but I've not been able to sufficiently model it out to jump on board a consumption-based tax. A flat tax, a true flat tax is also attractive to me. What I like—I mean, I like the simplification of a flat tax. I also like removing the distortion in our tax code for certain classes of investment. And the advantage of a flat tax is getting rid of some of those distortions."

Since Mr. Romney mentioned a consumption tax, would he rule out a value-added tax?

He says he doesn't "like the idea" of layering a VAT onto the current income tax system. But he adds that, philosophically speaking, a VAT might work as a replacement for some part of the tax code, "particularly at the corporate level," as Paul Ryan proposed several years ago. What he doesn't do is rule a VAT out.

Amid such generalities, it's hard not to conclude that the candidate is trying to avoid offering any details that might become a political target. And he all but admits as much. "I happen to also recognize," he says, "that if you go out with a tax proposal which conforms to your philosophy but it hasn't been thoroughly analyzed, vetted, put through models and calculated in detail, that you're gonna get hit by the demagogues in the general election."

That also seems to explain his refusal to propose cuts in individual tax rates, except for people who make less than $200,000, which not coincidentally is also Mr. Obama's threshold for defining "the rich."

"The president will characterize anyone running for office, and me in particular, as just in there to lower taxes for rich people, and that is not my intent," Mr. Romney says. "My intent is to simplify our tax code and create growth, and so I will also look to see whether the top one-half of 1% or one-thousandth of 1% or top 1% are still paying roughly the same share of the total tax burden that they have today. I'm not looking to lower the share paid for by the top, the top earners like myself."

But doesn't that merely concede Mr. Obama's philosophical argument? "No," Mr. Romney responds, clipping his sentences. "I'm just saying that I'm not looking to change the deal. I'm not looking to go after high-income individuals like myself. I'm not looking to differentially favor. I'm looking to provide a system which continues to recognize that people of higher income pay a larger portion of the tax burden and I'm not looking, I'm not running for office trying to find a way to lower the tax burden paid for by the very high, very highest income individuals. What I'm solving for is growth."

The growth point is crucial to a successful campaign, and Mr. Romney is betting that he can win by making a better case than Mr. Obama for how economies grow. But Mr. Romney also seems to think that by not calling for lower tax rates he can avoid a debate over taxes and equality. Mr. Obama won't let that happen. The danger for Mr. Romney—and other Republicans if he is the nominee—is that in trying to dodge the argument Mr. Romney will cede the point to Democrats and end up losing the growth argument too.

Mr. Romney is less equivocal on two other campaign issues—the judiciary and Iran. Asked about Newt Gingrich's proposals for constraining judges, he hits back hard. "The idea of the Congress being able to draw in the judiciary, subpoena . . . and remove courts is in my view a violation of the powers that is part of our constitutional heritage," he says. "I think Speaker Gingrich said that if he disagreed with the Supreme Court on an issue like gay marriage, he might decide not to carry it out. Well, if that's the case for President Gingrich, might not that be the case for President Obama?" He goes on to call the former House speaker's proposals "unusual in the extreme."

As for Iran's nuclear program, Mr. Romney sounds a note of moral certitude reminiscent of, well, George W. Bush and the axis of evil. "I see Iran's leadership as evil. When the president stands up and says that we have shared interests with all the people in the world, I disagree. There are people who are evil. There are people who have as their intent the subjugation and repression of other people; they are evil. America is good.

"I mean if we go back to Truman," he adds, he "was able to draw a line between Communism and freedom, and having drawn that line, America was able to define a foreign policy that has guided us well until this president. I applaud Ronald Reagan's brilliance in identifying the Soviet Union as an evil empire. I see Iran as intent on building, once again, an evil empire based upon the resources of the Middle East."

So what would he do about it? "I do not have a top secret security clearance at this stage to be able to define precisely what kinds of actions we could take." But he adds that "the range includes something of a blockade nature, to something of a surgical strike nature, to something of a decapitate the regime nature, to eliminate the military threat of Iran altogether."

Some experts have told him that "the surgical strike option" would be inadequate because Iran could retaliate against our friends in the region. "And therefore if we were to be serious about going after Iran's nuclear capacity, we would have to be prepared to go in a more aggressive way," he says. The only thing he rules out are "boots on the ground." If Mr. Romney gets the nomination, he seems prepared to make Iran and the bomb a major issue.

Which brings us back to the campaign and why he hasn't broken above 25% in the polls. The former governor seems unconcerned. He compares himself to John McCain, who he says had the same problem in 2008 but won the nomination. He says no other candidate has been able to maintain any higher support, and that his strategy is to steadily build on that "floor" of 25% caucus by primary until he's the nominee.

"Now I happen to believe that if I were to say some truly incendiary things, that there is in our party such, such anger about this president, for good reason, that if you're willing to say some really vehemently, incendiary things that you can get a lot of quick support," he says. But then "you're gonna kill yourself in the general election."

Mr. Romney rarely says incendiary things, which is why many Republicans think he is the most electable candidate. But it is also why he can be less than inspiring. His challenge—both to win the nomination and especially to beat Mr. Obama—is to persuade voters that the data-driven, economic-modeling, analytical manager can also be a leader.
3930  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Dems/liberals used to want to fix Iraq on: December 24, 2011, 12:15:52 PM
"Leaving prematurely, allowing for sectarian violence, no matter what public opinion says, is in my opinion shirking the duty of the nation."

bigdog,  Your post here yesterday is a great one.  I agree 100% in the moral responsibility of: "If you break it, you fix it."

The vote to go to war was bipartisan and it was made very clear from the start that the effort was not simply to bring down Saddam but to take care in what replaces that regime.  

Very shortly into the war when fighting became more difficult and more personal, it seems that dissent and political opportunism and publicly polling kept undermining the effort.  We will never know what part of the loss of life and length of the war were attributable to our own lack of resolve which was certainly followed by the enemy combatants.

Where I differ with Sec Powell and others is the inference in that guiding principle that a) things were not broken when we arrived, and b) that we have the capability to fix it now.

Low violence under 100% oppression is a hard thing to judge.  Add in the mass murders of his own people, attacks on 4 of his neighbors and a known history of supporting terrorists and terrorism, Iraq under Saddam was already broken.

My view at the time was that if your neighbor's house is on fire (rule by Saddam Hussein) and you have the only fire hose available (American military) then you pitch in and fight the fire until it is out.  Further, you help with the rebuild rather than walk away from a family sitting in the ashes if they need your help, but not forever if they keep tearing down what you help build or are shooting at you while you work.

From my midwest armchair with no intelligence briefings it would be presumptuous to know what we should be doing in Iraq, but we didn't leave Europe or the Pacific with no presence or capability to follow up.  Decisions based on polling and elections at home instead of events on the ground are very likely to be wrong.

The answer is do the right thing whatever that is and bring the American people with you great leadership with great communications.  Following polls is the opposite of leadership.
3931  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mortgage Securities: Deck Chairs on the Titanic on: December 24, 2011, 10:38:49 AM
Your intro Crafty makes more sense than the story.  It is fine and well to go after misdeeds in the packaging of the loans, but it was the product inside the package, not the gift wrapping, that was the root of the problem.  It is quite a bit bone-headed to say that blaming government policies for this debacle is a 'The Big Lie'.  OTOH it means they know their attempt to paint it some other way is failing.

Government policies caused lenders to make loans on criteria other than creditworthiness and likelihood of repayment.  If you find a hundred or a thousand felonies in the securities business packaging these loans, that does not change the underlying fact that this crisis was about lenders making bad loans based on rules/ lack of rules coming down from underwriting - which had become 90% federal.

Go back to the basics, what is a down payment?  It is skin in the game.  Your own skin earned by setting an alarm, going to work, taking all the crap that often entails, having the government chop down what you earned into take home and then refraining from spending it all on everything else you want and need over an extended period of time so that you have 20% down to buy a house you can call your own.  How do you get to 20%? By getting your savings up and by keeping the price down.  The skin of your own in the game and the fact that it forces the price to be both competitive and affordable also creates the cushion to allow for short term value fluctuations without panic before the larger appreciation over time hopefully sets in.

The last time I borrowed against the purchase of a house, it was nominally 5% down, really 10%.  I borrowed 95%, paid a highway robbery firm (AIG?) for PMI for years as insurance and penalty for the 'small' down, I had to bring 10% cash to closing to cover the down and the costs and I had to prove none of that money came from borrowed funds.  I came out okay when it went up 750% over the next 20 years (and then down!), but at the start the borrower is clearly more likely to walk with a smaller down payment combined with a larger debt burden.  The added cost of PMI only make the total cost worse and default more likely.

From 20% down, to creating exceptions to that rule, then we went all the way to people borrowing 125% of the purchase price(?)!  I had originators calling me to clear the judgments that their borrowers still owe on the last place they couldn't afford and roll it all into the new loan they would never pay back, with no down payment and closing costs all rolled in with the other extras and maybe a free trip to boot.  All they had to do was sign, but the lender already knows their signature / their word is no good from their awareness of the judgements of not honoring previous commitments.

What could possibly go wrong?  Everything.  The borrower has no likelihood of payback and the value, price and loan amounts are all pure, inflated fiction.  Add to it that the same thing is happening all over the neighborhood, the city and the nation, all certain to fail.  Not because of packaging, because of bad loans from bad lending practices.

What changed during this time in the underlying math and science of good lending practices?  Nothing.  Then why did lending practices change and make a U-turn?  Government policies.  Government pressure.  Government rules.  Nothing else.

The real followup to this should be to look at all the other policies of government enacted during this time to see what else they f*kced up that will continue to bring down our economy and our republic.
3932  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 22, 2011, 02:21:45 PM
Bringing comments from CCP yesterday over here for comment:

"Some great posts with good insight into Gingrich on this board.  Thanks to all...
This comment, "More damaging to his Presidential candidacy is that Mr. Gingrich doesn't seem to understand why anyone is offended."  couple this  with his statement the other day saying something about America is fed up with "the Washington establishment" is enough for me.  I heard him say that and all I could think of is what a hypocrite - reminds me too much of Clinton hypocrisy and deceit."

  - Yes, the Freddie Mac money can't be shaken off.  It ties into all that is wrong.

(CCP continued:) "It really is astounding to hear so many Republicans come out in full force against him.  Even people who are playing it safe and not speaking negatively publicly, are trashing him by their silence and their patent refusal to endorse him.  I am not clear that any big names on the Repub side are for him.  Has anyone heard a single prominent Repub leader come out and forcefully speak up for him - other than maybe John Bolton (who might be his secretary of state)?

  - The Thomas Sowell piece and the Manchester NH endorsements were exceptions in Newt's favor with limited effects.  People have kept their distance.  

"I am shocked at how disliked he appears to be by anyone and everyone who knows him well.  I for one cannot ignore this.  As long as Romney can keep coming out swinging and show me he is in for the fight of this country's life - he is my man.   I am almost there.  Thoughts anyone?"

   - The facts in the Mark Steyn piece and other National Review thrashings on Newt are all true as are the facts in the Sowell piece and Manchester Union Leader in his support.  Newt gives us a mixed bag.  He wants us to count his achievements from the same period where he wants us to discount his misdeeds.  That is fine but every voter needs to sort that out.

GM summed it up with this!: "Oh look, a shiny orbital mirror!"  It took me a while to get it, Newt gets bored or distracted and moves on.  That isn't the right personality for the job at hand.

Romney poses the risk to conservatives of not being conservative enough on several fronts.  His 59 point plan is missing a couple of things besides marketability, but it is non-threatening and gives him many specifics to work with when the heat for specifics really starts coming his way.  Where his plan does not go far enough, those points can be put into the bills by a congress before they hit his desk -if we get the right congress.  Winning the Presidency, House and Senate which are all possible this coming year and that will require the look of extremely steady and competent hands at the top of the ticket.  Romney had small letdowns along the way but was the steadiest of the bunch.  An unsteady or untrusted candidate at the top will have repercussions in the other races.

A moment ago Newt had all the early states.  Rasmussen now has Romney up in Iowa and New Hampshire.  Not in South Carolina but he landed a prime endorsement there.  From the earliest states it will be a race based on momentum - the perception of the ability to win.

Newt rose one month too early.  From that rise he needed to perform only at his best with no unforced errors while he tried to run out the clock.  Instead he walked right into another big blooper, right on top of Romney's own error - the bet.  Newt's rip on capitalism was a far bigger error than Perry forgetting to close the department of energy which shouldn't be a department anyway.  Besides getting a crucial point dead wrong, Newt violated his own rule against those kinds of attacks.  It clearly exacerbated the effects of all the negative attention that was coming anyway.

I find the WSJ (Paul Gigot?) conclusion compelling.  http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=2112.msg57780#msg57780

"Our world that's coming is a world of narrowing, not widening, choices. It's a world that suits Mr. Romney's skills and history, his knack for operating within constraints and making choices based on data, data, data...  When ideas are new and unfamiliar, they're not executable. When they're executable we need people who can execute."

Secretly I'm still pulling for Rick Perry ("I will try to make Washington DC as inconsequential in your life as I can."), and if it goes to the convention we all get behind Crafty.
3933  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Ron Paul leaves the CNN set on: December 22, 2011, 01:24:47 PM
(already covered in posts while I typed...)
The points Crafty makes are reason for people like Hannity to attack him as he did this week.  Ron Paul has big money, is weakening other candidates and could do big damage as a third party candidate.  That makes things harder but does not guarantee Obama victory IMHO.  

CNN should be building him up for that but just can't resist the temptation of the only thing racist ever found to be even remotely tied to tea party or Republicans.  

The confusion of the candidates and the public over foreign policy right now is true.  I doubt that the tinder boxes around the world in Nov 2012 will look so safe and stable that the let 'em all have nukes and do what they want approach will win.  That is not the polling or intelligence that the current commander of drones is receiving.

Ron Paul in a 3 way debate would add uncertainty to both sides.  It is one more person to attack and answer the record and statements of the incumbent, not just the Republican.  H.W. Bush was taking the criticisms from two directions, not counting his loss of support from conservatives.

I don't see why you get to run for both the endorsement and lose and then run again against the endorsed candidate with no shame.  Ron Paul would be the first to admit he is Republican in name only.  
3934  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government programs: Average Volt owner makes $170k, Subsidized 50-250k/car on: December 22, 2011, 10:48:21 AM
According to GM CEO Dan Akerson, the average Volt owner makes $170,000 per year.

Chevy Volt Costing Taxpayers Up to $250K Per Vehicle

http://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/16192

Each Chevy Volt sold thus far may have as much as $250,000 in state and federal dollars in incentives behind it – a total of $3 billion altogether, according to an analysis by James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Hohman looked at total state and federal assistance offered for the development and production of the Chevy Volt, General Motors’ plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. His analysis included 18 government deals that included loans, rebates, grants and tax credits. The amount of government assistance does not include the fact that General Motors is currently 26 percent owned by the federal government.

The Volt subsidies flow through multiple companies involved in production. The analysis includes adding up the amount of government subsidies via tax credits and direct funding for not only General Motors, but other companies supplying parts for the vehicle. For example, the Department of Energy awarded a $105.9 million grant to the GM Brownstown plant that assembles the batteries. The company was also awarded approximately $106 million for its Hamtramck assembly plant in state credits to retain jobs. The company that supplies the Volt’s batteries, Compact Power, was awarded up to $100 million in refundable battery credits (combination tax breaks and cash subsidies). These are among many of the subsidies and tax credits for the vehicle.

It’s unlikely that all the companies involved in Volt production will ever receive all the $3 billion in incentives, Hohman said, because many of them are linked to meeting various employment and other milestones. But the analysis looks at the total value that has been offered to the Volt in different aspects of production – from the assembly line to the dealerships to the battery manufacturers. Some tax credits and subsidies are offered for periods up to 20 years, though most have a much shorter time frame.

GM has estimated they’ve sold 6,000 Volts so far. That would mean each of the 6,000 Volts sold would be subsidized between $50,000 and $250,000, depending on how many government subsidy milestones are realized.

If those manufacturers awarded incentives to produce batteries the Volt may use are included in the analysis, the potential government subsidy per Volt increases to $256,824. For example, A123 Systems has received extensive state and federal support, and bid to be a supplier to the Volt, but the deal instead went to Compact Power. The $256,824 figure includes adding up the subsidies to both companies.

The $3 billion total subsidy figure includes $690.4 million offered by the state of Michigan and $2.3 billion in federal money. That’s enough to purchase 75,222 Volts with a sticker price of $39,828.

Additional state and local support provided to Volt suppliers was not included in the analysis, Hohman said, and could increase the level of government aid. For instance, the Volt is being assembled at the Poletown plant in Detroit/Hamtramck, which was built on land acquired by General Motors through eminent domain.

“It just goes to show  there are certain folks that will spend anything to get their vision of what people should do,” said State Representative Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills. “It’s a glaring example of the failure of central planning trying to force citizens to purchase something they may not want. … They should let the free market make those decisions.”

“This might be the most government-supported car since the Trabant,” said Hohman, referring to the car produced by the former Communist state of East Germany.

According to GM CEO Dan Akerson, the average Volt owner makes $170,000 per year.
3935  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: December 22, 2011, 10:38:42 AM
Just a quick yip to note the utter tactical incoherence of the Boener in the current go round with Baraq.  The intellectual co-author of the "super committee" fiasco has now managed to enable Baraq positioning himself as the tax cutter!  Unfgbelievable.   angry

Yes, the roles got flipped here, but it was Boehner who got the pipeline into the bill and the senate approved that.  Doesn't even the two month extension get the pipeline going?  Unless I am missing something, they should have taken the deal.

OTOH, it is odd that Dems are so eager to defund social security making it less sacred.

Removal of the separate payroll tax should have been combined with comprehensive reform.  Real reform is not possible with the current divisions of power.  The positioning and posturing coming into the election is crucial and there is a leadership vacuum on both sides.
3936  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of Glibness and Vice Glib: Gov Wilder says Drop Biden on: December 22, 2011, 10:07:00 AM
Biden's gaffe's would have gotten him laughed out of the GOP debates.  In fact his inaccuracies debating Palin were unforgivable - and ignored.

The story of dropping has lingered beneath the newsprint for nearly four years waiting for someone notable to quote on it.  Doug Wilder is the former Gov of Virginia, Virginia's first African American Governor.  Harsh criticism with the ultimate penalty: drop him.  Besides the VP issue, Biden will not be a young man or electable in 2016, win or lose this year.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/12/20/fmr_dem_gov_doug_wilder_to_obama_drop_biden_from_2012_ticket.html

"You go back to the reasons that Joe Biden was put on the ticket in the very first instance. It was supposedly because he had the great experience. He had been there for years. He had been Foreign Relations chair. He had been chairman of the Judiciary and supposedly knew the workings of the Senate. Now, has that worked to the president's better interest or has it taken away from the president? And the gaffe is not just a question of will Joe Biden make a gaffe and incidentally I like him. Personally, I think he is a fine fellow," Former Gov. Douglas Wilder (D-VA) said on FOX News.

"But, Is he the person you want in place? You know, you always hear that thing. Suppose something would happen to the president, who would be in charge? The Vice President. Joe Biden? You have got to be kidding today when you say the Taliban's not our enemy," Wilder told Neal Cavuto.

"I fought in Korea, front line. I knew who the enemy were. The enemy were the people who were firing at me. And shooting at me. And so for some guy to come back and today, incidentally, to meet with the returning veterans and their families and I don't believe he would tell them 'Oh, look, the Taliban is not your enemy.' Just like they would have told us in Korea, 'Well, you know, the Chinese are not really your enemy, they're just helping out the North Koreans.' Get ahold of yourself, Joe," he said.
3937  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / North Korea: We wish the new dictator "every success" on: December 22, 2011, 09:55:18 AM
This could go under Glibness but are we not going to send the N. Korean people our condolences at their time of grieving?  Have we no manners or are we run by right wing zealots?  And what about adding a stop on the Presidential apology tour - I wonder what role our crippling sanctions played in his demise.

The administration caught reading the forum.  Right as we found out that Jimmy Carter's 'private' mission on behalf of Pres. Bill Clinton was not so private, the not so private citizen Jimmy Carter has extended our condolences not? on behalf of the Obama administration:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/inside-politics/2011/dec/21/ex-president-carter-sends-condolences-kim-jong-un/

Former President Jimmy Carter has sent North Korea a message of condolence over the death of Kim Jong-il and wished "every success" to the man expected to take over as dictator, according to the communist country's state-run news agency.

A dispatch from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Mr. Carter sent the message to Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il's son and heir apparent.

"In the message Jimmy Carter extended condolences to Kim Jong Un and the Korean people over the demise of leader Kim Jong Il. He wished Kim Jong Un every success as he assumes his new responsibility of leadership, looking forward to another visit to [North Korea] in the future," the KCNA dispatch read.

When contacted by The Washington Times for comment, the Carter Center provided an email contact to a spokeswoman who is out of the office until the New Year.
3938  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: December 21, 2011, 10:29:37 AM
From Constitutional Issues, Crafty wrote: "I get that there is serious legal discussion to be had here, and I very much like that Newt had the courage to go into a deep and difficult issue.  What I'm not so sure what I like is the possible lack of judgment in doing so.  Is this really the sort of issue for a presidential to raise now essentially out of the clear blue as far as the American people are concerned?  Does he not appreciate how dangerous this subject is and how easy it is for him to be painted in a terrible light?"

True.  He is showing off his knowledge of history, empowering opponents and scaring us with his drift, instead of narrowing his focus. 

Reagan had only 3 things IIRC that he could not be pulled away from, reducing tax rates to grow the economy, increasing defense spending to win the cold war and reigning in the size and scope of big government.  Just 3 things and he only succeeded at two of them.

We have all studied Newt at length.  What are his 3 things? 
3939  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 21, 2011, 10:13:19 AM
On 'Constitutional Issues', a liberal Dean of a public law school took what I called selective outrage at the rhetoric coming out of the Republican side of the presidential debate, at one point declaring "I don't recall prominent candidates for presidential nominations — Democratic or Republican — ever talking in such tones."

What President would ever sit down the members of the Supreme Court of the United States and berate them over a decision he or she did not like in front of a formal Joint Session of Congress??

That hasn't happened ever? or at least not since ...  President Obama did it January 27, 2010 in his second State of the Union!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1PWQtCDaYY

American elections in effect turned over to foreign enemies by this Supreme Court, he said in so many words, to their face, in front of Congress, on national television broadcast worldwide.  Is that not calling the Court "anti-American" and "grotesquely dictatorial"?!  He received his instant gratification political reward for his slander - a standing ovation of what would appear to be all Democrats in the room.

Or as the Dean said about Gingrich and Santorum: "I don't recall prominent candidates for presidential nominations — Democratic or Republican — ever talking in such tones."
3940  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Thomas Sowell backing Newt! on: December 20, 2011, 02:25:52 PM
The Past and the Present

By Thomas Sowell

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If Newt Gingrich were being nominated for sainthood, many of us would vote very differently from the way we would vote if he were being nominated for a political office.

What the media call Gingrich's "baggage" concerns largely his personal life and the fact that he made a lot of money running a consulting firm after he left Congress. This kind of stuff makes lots of talking points that we will no doubt hear, again and again, over the next weeks and months.

But how much weight should we give to this stuff when we are talking about the future of a nation?

This is not just another election and Barack Obama is not just another president whose policies we may not like. With all of President Obama's broken promises, glib demagoguery and cynical political moves, one promise he has kept all too well. That was his boast on the eve of the 2008 election: "We are going to change the United States of America."

Many Americans are already saying that they can hardly recognize the country they grew up in. We have already started down the path that has led Western European nations to the brink of financial disaster.

Internationally, it is worse. A president who has pulled the rug out from under our allies, whether in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, tried to cozy up to our enemies, and has bowed low from the waist to foreign leaders certainly has not represented either the values or the interests of America. If he continues to do nothing that is likely to stop terrorist-sponsoring Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the consequences can be beyond our worst imagining.

Against this background, how much does Newt Gingrich's personal life matter, whether we accept his claim that he has now matured or his critics' claim that he has not? Nor should we sell the public short by saying that they are going to vote on the basis of tabloid stuff or media talking points, when the fate of this nation hangs in the balance.

Even back in the 19th century, when the scandal came out that Grover Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock — and he publicly admitted it — the voters nevertheless sent him to the White House, where he became one of the better presidents.

Do we wish we had another Ronald Reagan? We could certainly use one. But we have to play the hand we were dealt. And the Reagan card is not in the deck.

While the televised debates are what gave Newt Gingrich's candidacy a big boost, concrete accomplishments when in office are the real test. Gingrich engineered the first Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 40 years — followed by the first balanced budget in 40 years. The media called it "the Clinton surplus" but all spending bills start in the House of Representatives, and Gingrich was Speaker of the House.

Speaker Gingrich also produced some long overdue welfare reforms, despite howls from liberals that the poor would be devastated. But nobody makes that claim any more.

Did Gingrich ruffle some feathers when he was Speaker of the House? Yes, enough for it to cost him that position. But he also showed that he could produce results.

In a world where we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available, the question is whether Newt Gingrich is better than Barack Obama — and better than Mitt Romney.

Romney is a smooth talker, but what did he actually accomplish as governor of Massachusetts, compared to what Gingrich accomplished as Speaker of the House? When you don't accomplish much, you don't ruffle many feathers. But is that what we want?

Can you name one important positive thing that Romney accomplished as governor of Massachusetts? Can anyone? Does a candidate who represents the bland leading the bland increase the chances of victory in November 2012? A lot of candidates like that have lost, from Thomas E. Dewey to John McCain.

Those who want to concentrate on the baggage in Newt Gingrich's past, rather than on the nation's future, should remember what Winston Churchill said: "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." If that means a second term for Barack Obama, then it means lost big time.

http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell122011.php3
3941  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: December 20, 2011, 02:20:31 PM
Mixed news.  Good for employment, but the housing market needed stronger demand not increased supplies. 

When construction hit near zero, the percentage increases coming back look disproportionately dramatic.  He is reporting a .093 /12 monthly increase.  A 19 month high is in the context of more than 3 years at depression levels.  Maybe Bernancke will call it irrational exuberance.
3942  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re:American Creed (Constitutional Law) LA Times piece - Selective Outrage on: December 20, 2011, 02:00:06 PM
"It is ironic that conservatives continue with such attacks even as there is a conservative majority on the Supreme Court and its rulings overall are far more to the liking of conservatives than liberals."

Whatever 'overall' means.  What additional powers would liberals want that could go further than taking our homes and slaughtering our young - 53 million since Roe, safe, legal and rare.  Kelo and Roe are both still the law of the land.  I assume he needs Justice Kennedy to imagine a conservative majority, but Kennedy was the swing vote in Kelo.  Someone please tell me what is either conservative or constitutional (or forgivable) about finding a power in the constitution for activist local governments to buddy up with private interests to take private property for preferred private use.  

"these candidates do a disservice to the American people when they are clearly wrong about the Constitution"

Perfect straw argument because it was the constitution gave CONGRESS the power to set up jurisdictions like the 9th circuit, the main point of the current controversy.  Geography, population and case load have arguably outgrown the 9th Circuit.

"Perhaps these attacks on the federal judiciary are just part of the exceptionally poisonous rhetoric of these divisive times."

No space available in the piece to address Newt's very specific examples in history?  Totally missing and that rebuttal from a real academic would actually have been helpful.  His silence I assume means Prof. Newt had his history right?

Will the Dean please explain: if rule by independent judiciary was the only intent in the constitution rather than a complex system of checks and balances, why did they write all the other Articles?  

Interesting that his own reaction to the attacks on the constitution depend on which Article or amendment is in question:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/13/AR2007031301508.html:

[abridging the right to bear arms] "is a reasonable way of achieving the government's legitimate goal of decreasing gun violence" [without any amendment to the constitution required] - Erwin Chemerinsky, March 14, 2007 ??
3943  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Tyranny Totalitarianism:re. RIP Vaclav Havel Crushed Communism By Speaking Truth on: December 20, 2011, 11:00:16 AM
Great story.  A few great heroes emerged in the period of overcoming the horrible history of Soviet and eastern bloc oppression.

Not to be confused with the Czech President since Vaclav Havel: Václav Klaus, a more contemporary hero IMO.  These are our allies and happen to be the ones Pres. Obama spit on for a deal gone bad with Putin.  When this miserable period in our country's history passes, we need to go out again and find our real allies, if we have any left.  Those who witnessed communism firsthand appreciate freedom the most.
3944  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 20, 2011, 10:48:17 AM
All the extremely private health care individual information in the nation integrated into one easily accessed system.  What could possibly go wrong?

A trick question from my early career in bank information systems: what is the objective of the bank's computer system? It is a rookie mistake is to think the system should make all information available to all users.  The answer is the opposite.  The system needs to hold and process all the data with people's very private information but only make very limited information available to any user - just enough to do their job with proper security clearance.  The larger the institution, the larger the opportunity for security breaches.  Has anyone ever heard of wikileaks?
3945  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Barney Frank on: December 20, 2011, 10:31:14 AM
Guys all think they are experts on discerning real from fake.  Those for sure are enhanced;  some kind of hormone treatment.  I hesitate to ponder whether the package came with the plumbing conversion.  I never understood why 'ordinary' gays want to be associated with all the iterations of the LGBT movement.  Are they still a gay couple if his lover really wants him to be a woman? 

I wonder what the media attacks would be if Sarah Palin wore that blouse in congressional testimony with breasts exposed while everyone else was in a business suit.
3946  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: December 20, 2011, 10:12:26 AM
"North Korea now endorsed by Al Gore!"

Seems like a joke or an opposition gotcha, but yes in fact N.K. peasants are the closest model available to the lifestyle they think we should adopt.  Don't fly, don't drive, don't heat your home, don't cook your food, don't light your house after dark. 

We keep getting more efficient but we never break the correlation between prosperity and energy use.

The other perfect part about the so-called communist model is that the rulers are not subject to the same restrictions as the peasants.
3947  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: December 19, 2011, 11:03:58 PM
This could go under Glibness but are we not going to send the N. Korean people our condolences at their time of grieving?  Have we no manners or are we run by right wing zealots?  And what about adding a stop on the Presidential apology tour - I wonder what role our crippling sanctions played in his demise.
3948  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 19, 2011, 10:59:05 PM
Very funny.  We should offer $8 million to stay away all winter. 
3949  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Who elected Michelle? on: December 19, 2011, 01:00:22 PM
She gets the free ride on Air Force One and I don't because she is the wife of the President and deserves to be WITH him.  That makes sense.  Other than that, why do unelected millionaires get paid vacations??

http://www.hawaiireporter.com/with-more-vacation-days-and-separate-travel-price-of-obama%E2%80%99s-annual-hawaiian-holiday-rises/123

With More Vacation Days and Separate Travel, Price of Obama’s Annual Hawaiian Holiday Rises

BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN - KAILUA, OAHU - The U.S. Secret Service has arrived, street barricades are in place, and the U.S. Coast Guard has stationed itself in the waters surrounding Kailua, Oahu. That is a sure sign President Barack Obama’s security team is preparing for the first family to arrive in the small beachside community as early as Friday night for what is expected to be a 17-day vacation.

The President and his family are traveling separately to Hawaii because he wants resolve the payroll tax cut issue before leaving Washington – and his wife does not want to wait.

But the advanced trip and the cost that comes with it – as much as $100,000 (flight and security) – adds to an already expensive vacation for the taxpayers.
------------
This $4 million figure [taxpayer cost of the vacation, up from 1.5 million for last year's trip] is nearly 100 times the average annual salary of an American worker
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/nilegardiner/100124892/barack-obama%E2%80%99s-big-government-vacation-the-president-adds-nearly-4-million-to-the-national-debt-with-his-lavish-hawaiian-holiday/
3950  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 19, 2011, 12:52:51 PM
"you seem supportive of..."  "I doubt if GM..."  "let's send them to MN."

Let's split up the work here.  I'll post my view.  You post yours.

St. Paul is the number one destination for Hmongs.  Minneapolis is number one for Somalis.  The Twin Cities has the lowest unemployment of any metro over a million in the country. I wasn't aware this thread was for immigration policy.  Just digressions.  No comment on points of substance and no adherence to the agreement to move on.

Interestingly, this would have been a VERY short war if not for the moderate insistence that if we break what was already broken, then we have to fix it even if they keep blowing us up while we attempt to do that.  How about if we had taken down the regime and left them with some suggestions for protecting individual liberties and peaceful nation building.  Then came back and toppled them again (and again) when any one of the 24 points of American security interests in the Iraq War declaration became true again.
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