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3951  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: January 26, 2013, 02:57:33 PM
Rig the vote?  I heard the liberal uproar to Virginia doing that.  Romney would have had 9 votes instead of zero.  In a better year, the Republican would win all of Virginia and the Dem wishes for the split.  I don't recall the liberal uproar when Nebraska made that change in 1992 or Maine in 1972.  If both methods are acceptable, why is one cheating?
3952  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: January 26, 2013, 12:07:10 PM
Mark Steyn nails it in so many ways.  What difference does it make?]  "At a basic level, the "difference" is the difference between truth and falsity"

Clinton is saying: we went with falsity, we won and you can't do anything about it.

The exact quote I think was: "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,  Was it because of a protest or is it because of guys out for a walk one night and they decide they go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?"

With continuing disregard for the truth, neither of those scenarios is what happened either.  Wasn't it a planned terror attack or do we still not know.   Guys out for a walk??  One night??  It was the anniversary of 9/11!!!  Does she still not get it??

'What difference does it make' is not an answer to a congressional inquiry.  My first reading of this was that her reaction was scripted and rehearsed, answer a question with a question etc.  More accurate and very funny is CCP's reaction, good thing she didn't have a lamp within reach.  She was pissed.  You have to know your Clinton history to get that one.


3953  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Tax rates in Singapore on: January 26, 2013, 09:49:18 AM
Continuing our conversation about tax rates and economic performance...

In the 1950s in the US, the U.S. had a very high top marginal rate that almost no one paid and we had relatively good economic performance.  Since it will be hard to replicate the rest of the factors of the 1950s, decimated global competitors, stronger work ethic than now, intact families, very little welfare etc., it might be more interesting and informative to take a look around the globe right now.

The country we are most emulating right now is France where they just raised the top tax rate to 75% and the richest person just moved to Belgium where it is only 50%!  Leftists are winning elections with similar themes to Obama's.  The unemployment rate in France is over 10%, just slightly worse than California.  http://articles.latimes.com/2012/dec/28/world/la-fg-wn-jobless-climbs-france-20121228

Meanwhile, unemployment is 1.9% in Singapore.  Why?

Tax rates in Singapore for individuals range from 0 to 20% max.  Corporate tax rates are less than half of those in the U.S.  Capital Gains taxes are ZERO. 

Above are only two examples.  There are exceptions, places where relative prosperity co-exists with high tax rates, Norway comes to mind.  Good luck duplicating Norwegian economic culture here.


3954  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness: Obama’s new French economic adviser has ‘faith in redistribution’ on: January 26, 2013, 09:22:34 AM
Obama’s new French economic adviser has ‘faith in redistribution’

http://dailycaller.com/2013/01/22/obamas-new-french-economic-adviser-has-faith-in-redistribution/#ixzz2J5y4Lh9g

The French economist selected by President Barack Obama to serve as one of his top second-term global development advisers reportedly has “faith in redistribution,” supported far left-wing political theories and leaders, and provided the intellectual framework for French Socialist President Francois Hollande’s electoral victory, records reveal.

Obama announced his intent late last month to appoint French economist and MIT professor Esther Duflo to the President’s Global Development Council, a new governmental advisory board that Obama created by executive order last year. Obama announced bond investor Mohamed A. El-Erian as his pick to chair the council.

The council “will be comprised of no more than 12 individuals from  a variety of sectors outside the Federal Government, including, among others, institutions of higher education, non-profit and philanthropic organizations, civil society, and private industry,” according to a 2012 White House press release. “The Council will inform and provide advice to the President and other senior U.S. officials on U.S. global development policies and practices.”

Duflo, who is 40 years old, is the Abdul Latif Jameel professor of poverty alleviation and development economics at MIT and the co-founder and director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, which was initially funded by Saudi billionaire Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel.

Duflo’s appointment by Obama might have directly political motivations.

During Socialist Francois Hollande’s successful 2012 French presidential campaign, his three voter mobilization strategists, all former Harvard or MIT students, applied theories they first learned from Duflo, whose experiments “when applied to electioneering, had quantified the ability of a single door knock to deliver a vote.”

The tactics behind Hollande’s “campaign operation aimed at nonvoters” were first employed by Obama’s 2008 campaign and were most fully realized during Obama’s 2012 campaign, when a powerful voter database enabled Obama staffers to register new voters based on demographic and behavioral trends.

These tactics helped “alter the very nature of the electorate” in 2012, according to the New York Times, “making it younger and less white.”

3955  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: January 26, 2013, 09:14:42 AM
"Doug,  This is something to consider with a very possible grid collapse in the near future."

Very interesting.  Do people know that without electricity you will not have heat even with most natural gas or oil systems? Without heat in a cold climate you will not have water. 

The oldest furnaces I have are called gravity systems, natural gas with no blower at all.  Electricity is required only in low voltage to run the thermostat circuit.  Our government wants those removed and replaced with very complex circuitry with innumerable fault points.  Is that good, is that bad, or is that none of their g*ddamned business?

The government program to address this should be back off and foster prosperity so that we might be able to procure, on our own, alternatives and backup systems. 
3956  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Filibuster changes in the Senate on: January 25, 2013, 10:30:40 PM
I gather that some sort of a deal was reached on changing the Senate rules for filibuster.  Does anyone have the details and analysis of the implications of the changes?

This piece covers it.  Now what excuse will they use for not passing a budget?  http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/24/reid-and-mcconnell-agree-on-filibuster-reform-measures/comment-page-3/

(Most other pieces say major reforms did NOT happen, like this one: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/01/24/why-filibuster-reform-didnt-happen/)

Senators agree to Reid and McConnell’s filibuster reform measures
Posted by
CNN Senior Congressional Producer Ted Barrett

(CNN) - Democrats and Republicans in the Senate overwhelmingly agreed late Thursday on language reforming filibusters, passing the measures agreed to earlier in the day by Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

The two leaders proposed to their caucuses earlier a list of reforms to curb the use of filibusters and streamline other procedures in order to speed up floor action. The measures required the support of each party's caucus.

Neither Democratic senators nor a GOP aide said members had voiced major issues with the proposals prior to the vote.

A filibuster is a tactic used in the Senate to delay or prevent a vote on legislation. Reid and McConnell's measure, according to one Senate aide, offered a compromise to reduce the number of filibusters while ensuring the minority party gets votes on some amendments.

The proposal allows for two paths that could be used to begin debate on legislation, avoiding filibusters designed to prevent debate from actually taking place.

In the first path, Reid would allow two amendments from both parties to be presented, with the caveat that if an amendment isn't relevant to the legislation at hand, it would be subject to a 60-vote threshold.

On measures where Reid and McConnell agree, a second path allows votes to overcome filibusters to be held the day after Reid files a procedural petition, instead of the two-day period currently in place. That change would disallow stalled votes on consensus legislation.

The new procedure also limits debate on some presidential nominations that require Senate approval.

Senate Democrats have complained that the minority Republicans deliberately overused the filibuster to block Democratic legislation.

A group of junior Senate Democrats pushed Reid to pass broad reforms - including reinstating the requirement that senators conducting a filibuster speak continuously on the floor - by using a controversial method to change the body’s rules that Republicans called the “nuclear option.” That method to change the Senate rules would require just 51 votes instead of the 67 customarily required.

Republicans, furious they might be jammed, argued the filibuster is the only leverage they have to get roll call votes on amendments that otherwise are routinely denied them by the majority Democrats.

The measure went to a vote and passed without Democrats invoking the “nuclear option.”

"No party has ever broken the rules of the Senate to change those rules. I’m glad such an irreparably damaging precedent will not be set today," McConnell said in a statement as the vote became clear. "We’ve avoided the nuclear option, and we’ve reiterated that any changes to the Standing Rules of the Senate still require 67 votes to end debate."

Republicans had said if Democrats pushed the reforms through the "nuclear option," it would have destroyed relations between the two parties and lead to massive gridlock in the chamber.

President Barack Obama issued a statement after the vote saying he hoped "today’s bipartisan agreement will pave the way for the Senate to take meaningful action in the days and weeks ahead."

"Too often over the past four years, a single senator or a handful of senators has been able to unilaterally block or delay bipartisan legislation for the sole purpose of making a political point," he said. The statement specifically identified Obama’s desire the Senate consider legislation on gun violence, immigration and the economy.

A bipartisan group of senior members, led by Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Carl Levin, D-Michigan, offered the alternative compromise that became part of Reid and McConnell's proposal.

"We are going to change the way we do business here," Reid said Wednesday. "We can do it either the easy way or the hard way but it's going to change."
3957  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: The Myth of a Stagnant Middle Class on: January 25, 2013, 04:29:26 PM
Famous economists caught reading the forum.

Like the inequality drivel, the contention that the middle class has stagnated for 3 decades is false in 3 ways.  Yet Pres. Obama and his mentors want to bet the economy on the failure of economic growth to reach the middle class.

1) CPI calculations are false, static, don't account for people making different choices in different scenarios.  "CPI overestimates inflation by underestimating the value of improvements in product quality and variety."

2) Income data doesn't include all income, such as untaxed benefits.  "...this wage figure ignores the rise over the past few decades in the portion of worker pay taken as (nontaxable) fringe benefits. This is no small matter—health benefits, pensions, paid leave and the rest now amount to an average of almost 31% of total compensation for all civilian workers according to the BLS."

3) the average hourly wage is held down by the great increase of women and immigrants into the workforce over the past three decades.

On that third point in particular I have tried to explain, when you add one job at the bottom in times of prosperity and growth, all other things equal, Median income just declined.  But no one is worse off.  More likely everyone is better off.
-----------

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323468604578249723138161566.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

Donald Boudreaux and Mark Perry: The Myth of a Stagnant Middle Class
Household spending on food, housing, utilities, etc. has fallen from 53% of disposable income in 1950 to 32% today.

 By DONALD J. BOUDREAUX
AND MARK J. PERRY

A favorite "progressive" trope is that America's middle class has stagnated economically since the 1970s. One version of this claim, made by Robert Reich, President Clinton's labor secretary, is typical: "After three decades of flat wages during which almost all the gains of growth have gone to the very top," he wrote in 2010, "the middle class no longer has the buying power to keep the economy going."

This trope is spectacularly wrong.

It is true enough that, when adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, the average hourly wage of nonsupervisory workers in America has remained about the same. But not just for three decades. The average hourly wage in real dollars has remained largely unchanged from at least 1964—when the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) started reporting it.

Moreover, there are several problems with this measurement of wages. First, the CPI overestimates inflation by underestimating the value of improvements in product quality and variety. Would you prefer 1980 medical care at 1980 prices, or 2013 care at 2013 prices? Most of us wouldn't hesitate to choose the latter.

Second, this wage figure ignores the rise over the past few decades in the portion of worker pay taken as (nontaxable) fringe benefits. This is no small matter—health benefits, pensions, paid leave and the rest now amount to an average of almost 31% of total compensation for all civilian workers according to the BLS.

Third and most important, the average hourly wage is held down by the great increase of women and immigrants into the workforce over the past three decades. Precisely because the U.S. economy was flexible and strong, it created millions of jobs for the influx of many often lesser-skilled workers who sought employment during these years.

Since almost all lesser-skilled workers entering the workforce in any given year are paid wages lower than the average, the measured statistic, "average hourly wage," remained stagnant over the years—even while the real wages of actual flesh-and-blood workers employed in any given year rose over time as they gained more experience and skills.

These three factors tell us that flat average wages over time don't necessarily support a narrative of middle-class stagnation. Still, pessimists reject these arguments. Rather than debate esoteric matters such as how to properly adjust for inflation, however, let's examine some other measures of middle-class living standards.

No single measure of well-being is more informative or important than life expectancy. Happily, an American born today can expect to live approximately 79 years—a full five years longer than in 1980 and more than a decade longer than in 1950. These longer life spans aren't just enjoyed by "privileged" Americans. As the New York Times reported this past June 7, "The gap in life expectancy between whites and blacks in America has narrowed, reaching the lowest point ever recorded." This necessarily means that life expectancy for blacks has risen even more impressively than it has for whites.

Americans are also much better able to enjoy their longer lives. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, spending by households on many of modern life's "basics"—food at home, automobiles, clothing and footwear, household furnishings and equipment, and housing and utilities—fell from 53% of disposable income in 1950 to 44% in 1970 to 32% today.

One underappreciated result of the dramatic fall in the cost (and rise in the quality) of modern "basics" is that, while income inequality might be rising when measured in dollars, it is falling when reckoned in what's most important—our ability to consume. Before airlines were deregulated, for example, commercial jet travel was a luxury that ordinary Americans seldom enjoyed. Today, air travel for many Americans is as routine as bus travel was during the disco era, thanks to a 50% decline in the real price of airfares since 1980.

Bill Gates in his private jet flies with more personal space than does Joe Six-Pack when making a similar trip on a commercial jetliner. But unlike his 1970s counterpart, Joe routinely travels the same great distances in roughly the same time as do the world's wealthiest tycoons.

What's true for long-distance travel is also true for food, cars, entertainment, electronics, communications and many other aspects of "consumability." Today, the quantities and qualities of what ordinary Americans consume are closer to that of rich Americans than they were in decades past. Consider the electronic products that every middle-class teenager can now afford—iPhones, iPads, iPods and laptop computers. They aren't much inferior to the electronic gadgets now used by the top 1% of American income earners, and often they are exactly the same.

Even though the inflation-adjusted hourly wage hasn't changed much in 50 years, it is unlikely that an average American would trade his wages and benefits in 2013—along with access to the most affordable food, appliances, clothing and cars in history, plus today's cornucopia of modern electronic goods—for the same real wages but with much lower fringe benefits in the 1950s or 1970s, along with those era's higher prices, more limited selection, and inferior products.

Despite assertions by progressives who complain about stagnant wages, inequality and the (always) disappearing middle class, middle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before. They live longer lives and have much greater access to the services and consumer products bought by billionaires.

Mr. Boudreaux is professor of economics at George Mason University and chair for the study of free market capitalism at the Mercatus Center. Mr. Perry is a professor of economics at the University of Michigan-Flint and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
3958  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi, Sorry, Ma'am... it matters when Administrations mislead Americans on: January 25, 2013, 04:11:42 PM
WSJ editorial excerpt from 1/23 - (could be entitled why I like this newspaper)

"...she phoned President Obama only "later in the evening," she said. The attack in Libya began after 3 p.m. Washington time and the standoff there and at a nearby CIA annex lasted another seven hours. No military help came. Mr. Stevens and three other Americans were murdered.

Mrs. Clinton also said she wasn't responsible for the "talking points" about Benghazi given to White House briefers. She didn't walk point for the Administration on the TV shows that September Sunday because it is not her "favorite thing to do." The hearing's dramatic high point came when Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson wouldn't take this know-nothing line for an answer and pressed why it took the Administration so long to say it was a terrorist strike. "What difference, at this point, does it make?" she shot back.

Sorry, Ma'am. At this point, or at any point, it matters when Administrations mislead Americans."
3959  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reminiscing about the Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: January 25, 2013, 03:38:38 PM
It used to be said of the Clinton's, they lie with such ease.  In the latest deal, you could say they deceive, stonewall and turn things around on people with such ease.  As I wrote on the Benghazi thread, that does not change the facts.

We are not learning much about Benghazi right now but might as well take the opportunity to reflect on what we may already know about Hillary.   Seems well sourced, some facts in dispute.

http://www.caintv.com/watergate-era-judiciary-chief

Politics: Watergate-era Judiciary chief of staff: Hillary Clinton fired for lies, unethical behavior

Dan Calabrese,  Wednesday January 23rd, 2013


By DAN CALABRESE - Bet you didn't know this.

I've decided to reprint a piece of work I did nearly five years ago, because it seems very relevant today given Hillary Clinton's performance in the Benghazi hearings. Back in 2008 when she was running for president, I interviewed two erstwhile staff members of the House Judiciary Committee who were involved with the Watergate investigation when Hillary was a low-level staffer there. I interviewed one Democrat staffer and one Republican staffer, and wrote two pieces based on what they told me about Hillary's conduct at the time.

I published these pieces back in 2008 for North Star Writers Group, the syndicate I ran at the time. This was the most widely read piece we ever had at NSWG, but because NSWG never gained the high-profile status of the major syndicates, this piece still didn't reach as many people as I thought it deserved to. Today, given the much broader reach of CainTV and yet another incidence of Hillary's arrogance in dealing with a congressional committee, I think it deserves another airing. For the purposes of simplicity, I've combined the two pieces into one very long one. If you're interested in understanding the true character of Hillary Clinton, it's worth your time to read it.

As Hillary Clinton came under increasing scrutiny for her story about facing sniper fire in Bosnia, one question that arose was whether she has engaged in a pattern of lying.

The now-retired general counsel and chief of staff of the House Judiciary Committee, who supervised Hillary when she worked on the Watergate investigation, says Hillary’s history of lies and unethical behavior goes back farther – and goes much deeper – than anyone realizes.

Jerry Zeifman, a lifelong Democrat, supervised the work of 27-year-old Hillary Rodham on the committee. Hillary got a job working on the investigation at the behest of her former law professor, Burke Marshall, who was also Sen. Ted Kennedy’s chief counsel in the Chappaquiddick affair. When the investigation was over, Zeifman fired Hillary from the committee staff and refused to give her a letter of recommendation – one of only three people who earned that dubious distinction in Zeifman’s 17-year career.

Why?

“Because she was a liar,” Zeifman said in an interview last week. “She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.”

How could a 27-year-old House staff member do all that? She couldn’t do it by herself, but Zeifman said she was one of several individuals – including Marshall, special counsel John Doar and senior associate special counsel (and future Clinton White House Counsel) Bernard Nussbaum – who engaged in a seemingly implausible scheme to deny Richard Nixon the right to counsel during the investigation.

Why would they want to do that? Because, according to Zeifman, they feared putting Watergate break-in mastermind E. Howard Hunt on the stand to be cross-examined by counsel to the president. Hunt, Zeifman said, had the goods on nefarious activities in the Kennedy Administration that would have made Watergate look like a day at the beach – including Kennedy’s purported complicity in the attempted assassination of Fidel Castro.

The actions of Hillary and her cohorts went directly against the judgment of top Democrats, up to and including then-House Majority Leader Tip O’Neill, that Nixon clearly had the right to counsel. Zeifman says that Hillary, along with Marshall, Nussbaum and Doar, was determined to gain enough votes on the Judiciary Committee to change House rules and deny counsel to Nixon. And in order to pull this off, Zeifman says Hillary wrote a fraudulent legal brief, and confiscated public documents to hide her deception.

The brief involved precedent for representation by counsel during an impeachment proceeding. When Hillary endeavored to write a legal brief arguing there is no right to representation by counsel during an impeachment proceeding, Zeifman says, he told Hillary about the case of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who faced an impeachment attempt in 1970.

“As soon as the impeachment resolutions were introduced by (then-House Minority Leader Gerald) Ford, and they were referred to the House Judiciary Committee, the first thing Douglas did was hire himself a lawyer,” Zeifman said.

The Judiciary Committee allowed Douglas to keep counsel, thus establishing the precedent. Zeifman says he told Hillary that all the documents establishing this fact were in the Judiciary Committee’s public files. So what did Hillary do?

“Hillary then removed all the Douglas files to the offices where she was located, which at that time was secured and inaccessible to the public,” Zeifman said. Hillary then proceeded to write a legal brief arguing there was no precedent for the right to representation by counsel during an impeachment proceeding – as if the Douglas case had never occurred.

The brief was so fraudulent and ridiculous, Zeifman believes Hillary would have been disbarred if she had submitted it to a judge.

Zeifman says that if Hillary, Marshall, Nussbaum and Doar had succeeded, members of the House Judiciary Committee would have also been denied the right to cross-examine witnesses, and denied the opportunity to even participate in the drafting of articles of impeachment against Nixon.

Of course, Nixon’s resignation rendered the entire issue moot, ending Hillary’s career on the Judiciary Committee staff in a most undistinguished manner. Zeifman says he was urged by top committee members to keep a diary of everything that was happening. He did so, and still has the diary if anyone wants to check the veracity of his story. Certainly, he could not have known in 1974 that diary entries about a young lawyer named Hillary Rodham would be of interest to anyone 34 years later.

But they show that the pattern of lies, deceit, fabrications and unethical behavior was established long ago – long before the Bosnia lie, and indeed, even before cattle futures, Travelgate and Whitewater – for the woman who is still asking us to make her president of the United States.

Franklin Polk, who served at the time as chief Republican counsel on the committee, confirmed many of these details in two interviews he granted me this past Friday, although his analysis of events is not always identical to Zeifman’s. Polk specifically confirmed that Hillary wrote the memo in question, and confirmed that Hillary ignored the Douglas case. (He said he couldn’t confirm or dispel the part about Hillary taking the Douglas files.)

To Polk, Hillary’s memo was dishonest in the sense that she tried to pretend the Douglas precedent didn’t exist. But unlike Zeifman, Polk considered the memo dishonest in a way that was more stupid than sinister.

“Hillary should have mentioned that (the Douglas case), and then tried to argue whether that was a change of policy or not instead of just ignoring it and taking the precedent out of the opinion,” Polk said.

Polk recalled that the attempt to deny counsel to Nixon upset a great many members of the committee, including just about all the Republicans, but many Democrats as well.

“The argument sort of broke like a firestorm on the committee, and I remember Congressman Don Edwards was very upset,” Polk said. “He was the chairman of the subcommittee on constitutional rights. But in truth, the impeachment precedents are not clear. Let’s put it this way. In the old days, from the beginning of the country through the 1800s and early 1900s, there were precedents that the target or accused did not have the right to counsel.”

That’s why Polk believes Hillary’s approach in writing the memorandum was foolish. He says she could have argued that the Douglas case was an isolated example, and that other historical precedents could apply.

But Zeifman says the memo and removal of the Douglas files was only part the effort by Hillary, Doar, Nussbaum and Marshall to pursue their own agenda during the investigation.

After my first column, some readers wrote in claiming Zeifman was motivated by jealousy because he was not appointed as the chief counsel in the investigation, with that title going to Doar instead.

Zeifman’s account is that he supported the appointment of Doar because he, Zeifman, a) did not want the public notoriety that would come with such a high-profile role; and b) didn’t have much prosecutorial experience. When he started to have a problem with Doar and his allies was when Zeifman and others, including House Majority Leader Tip O’Neill and Democratic committee member Jack Brooks of Texas, began to perceive Doar’s group as acting outside the directives and knowledge of the committee and its chairman, Peter Rodino.

(O’Neill died in 1994. Brooks is still living and I tried unsuccessfully to reach him. I’d still like to.)

This culminated in a project to research past presidential abuses of power, which committee members felt was crucial in aiding the decisions they would make in deciding how to handle Nixon’s alleged offenses.

According to Zeifman and other documents, Doar directed Hillary to work with a group of Yale law professors on this project. But the report they generated was never given to the committee. Zeifman believes the reason was that the report was little more than a whitewash of the Kennedy years – a part of the Burke Marshall-led agenda of avoiding revelations during the Watergate investigation that would have embarrassed the Kennedys.

The fact that the report was kept under wraps upset Republican committee member Charles Wiggins of California, who wrote a memo to his colleagues on the committee that read in part:

Within the past few days, some disturbing information has come to my attention. It is requested that the facts concerning the matter be investigated and a report be made to the full committee as it concerns us all.

Early last spring when it became obvious that the committee was considering presidential "abuse of power" as a possible ground of impeachment, I raised the question before the full committee that research should be undertaken so as to furnish a standard against which to test the alleged abusive conduct of Richard Nixon.

As I recall, several other members joined with me in this request. I recall as well repeating this request from time to time during the course of our investigation. The staff, as I recall, was noncommittal, but it is certain that no such staff study was made available to the members at any time for their use.

Wiggins believed the report was purposely hidden from committee members. Chairman Rodino denied this, and said the reason Hillary’s report was not given to committee members was that it contained no value. It’s worth noting, of course, that the staff member who made this judgment was John Doar.

In a four-page reply to Wiggins, Rodino wrote in part:

Hillary Rodham of the impeachment inquiry staff coordinated the work. . . . After the staff received the report it was reviewed by Ms. Rodham, briefly by Mr. Labovitz and Mr. Sack, and by Doar. The staff did not think the manuscript was useful in its present form. . . .

In your letter you suggest that members of the staff may have intentionally suppressed the report during the course of its investigation. That was not the case.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Doar was more concerned that any highlight of the project might prejudice the case against President Nixon. The fact is that the staff did not think the material was usable by the committee in its existing form and had not had time to modify it so it would have practical utility for the members of the committee. I was informed and agreed with the judgment.

Mr. Labovitz, by the way, was John Labovitz, another member of the Democratic staff. I spoke with Labovitz this past Friday as well, and he is no fan of Jerry Zeifman.

“If it’s according to Zeifman, it’s inaccurate from my perspective,” Labovitz said. He bases that statement on a recollection that Zeifman did not actually work on the impeachment inquiry staff, although that is contradicted not only by Zeifman but Polk as well.

Labovitz said he has no knowledge of Hillary having taken any files, and defended her no-right-to-counsel memo on the grounds that, if she was assigned to write a memo arguing a point of view, she was merely following orders.

But as both Zeifman and Polk point out, that doesn’t mean ignoring background of which you are aware, or worse, as Zeifman alleges, confiscating documents that disprove your argument.

All told, Polk recalls the actions of Hillary, Doar and Nussbaum as more amateurish than anything else.

“Of course the Republicans went nuts,” Polk said. “But so did some of the Democrats – some of the most liberal Democrats. It was more like these guys – Doar and company – were trying to manage the members of Congress, and it was like, ‘Who’s in charge here?’ If you want to convict a president, you want to give him all the rights possible. If you’re going to give him a trial, for him to say, ‘My rights were denied,’ – it was a stupid effort by people who were just politically tone deaf. So this was a big deal to people in the proceedings on the committee, no question about it. And Jerry Zeifman went nuts, and rightfully so. But my reaction wasn’t so much that it was underhanded as it was just stupid.”

Polk recalls Zeifman sharing with him at the time that he believed Hillary’s primary role was to report back to Burke Marshall any time the investigation was taking a turn that was not to the liking of the Kennedys.

“Jerry used to give the chapter and verse as to how Hillary was the mole into the committee works as to how things were going,” Polk said. “And she’d be feeding information back to Burke Marshall, who, at least according to Jerry, was talking to the Kennedys. And when something was off track in the view of the Kennedys, Burke Marshall would call John Doar or something, and there would be a reconsideration of what they were talking about. Jerry used to tell me that this was Hillary’s primary function.”

Zeifman says he had another staff member get him Hillary’s phone records, which showed that she was calling Burke Marshall at least once a day, and often several times a day.

A final note about all this: I wrote my first column on this subject because, in the aftermath of Hillary being caught in her Bosnia fib, I came in contact with Jerry Zeifman and found his story compelling. Zeifman has been trying to tell his story for many years, and the mainstream media have ignored him. I thought it deserved an airing as a demonstration of how early in her career Hillary began engaging in self-serving, disingenuous conduct.

Disingenuously arguing a position? Vanishing documents? Selling out members of her own party to advance a personal agenda? Classic Hillary. Neither my first column on the subject nor this one were designed to show that Hillary is dishonest. I don’t really think that’s in dispute. Rather, they were designed to show that she has been this way for a very long time – a fact worth considering for anyone contemplating voting for her for president of the United States.

By the way, there’s something else that started a long time ago.

“She would go around saying, ‘I’m dating a person who will some day be president,’” Polk said. “It was like a Babe Ruth call. And because of that comment she made, I watched Bill Clinton’s political efforts as governor of Arkansas, and I never counted him out because she had made that forecast.”

Bill knew what he wanted a long time ago. Clearly, so did Hillary, and her tactics for trying to achieve it were established even in those early days.

Vote wisely.
3960  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs, regulations: Mercury light bulbs, now furnace freezeups on: January 25, 2013, 03:13:44 PM
Trust them with your health care, but the Feds also know what is best to light and heat you house - all without even knowing you.  There is a new federal furnace law for 2013, all replacements (after May 1) must be of the 'high efficiency' type. 

Being in the housing business in a very cold climate, this is something I have studied at great length and am still learning.  Not the Feds.  They know what is best for you when the bill hits their desk, even if the sudden, unexpected cost of the mandate could cost you your home or business.

High efficiency furnaces are far mmore costly to buy and install, are way more complicated, are FAR less reliable, and aren't the best solution for all circumstances.  Imagine that.

Today I came back from an extended trip to find my house totally frozen.  That law isn't in effect yet but I take great pride in keeping my energy usage and expense very low without their help coercion. I was quite pleased with myself having a super high efficient setup in place, having had my thermostat turned way down and being gone during some of the coldest weather in memory, average lows of ten below and a high of five below Monday.  Not counting wind chill.  Saved more money than a call to Geico.  Not counting the damage.

Older furnaces waste heat right up the chimney, which also keeps the chimney exhaust open and rising out of the house.  Newer, high efficiency, condensing furnaces make a condensate in combustion.  They create water vapor as an exhaust gas and then blow it out the side of the house.  Great idea - in the summer, or in a mild climate or where you run the furnace constantly to keep the waste heat coming.  By the nature of it, the outside of the house is a potentially cold place - where water vapor FREEZES.  In my case, it froze the exhaust line all the way shut - rock solid with ice, which with the first safety pressure check shuts off all heat.  Now in order to turn my furnace down I will need to add electric heat to the exhaust of my 96% furnace because the 4% loss isn't enough heat to keep the line open.  Or as others do, I can turn my thermostat much higher up than I would with an older style furnace as a precaution, in order to compensate for the design problem and avoid destroying all the plumbing again.

What do the Feds say about the issues I raised.  So what!  Mandate it.  Every state, every month, every climate is different, so let's pass a law that applies exactly the same to everyone - before the technology is ready.  If it doesn't work, what do they care?  Should I sit outside and wait for FEMA?  They never came when my homes  were hit by tornado.

There is something very condescending about believing that people will not do the right thing on their own unless those who know better pass a law. 

In the old days, you had to make a good light bulb or furnace first, make it bright, warm, durable and cost competitive, something people would want and choose to buy.  Not is in this elitist fascism system that replaced freedom. 

Good luck with the Feds running your health care.
3961  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of Glibness Cabinet, John Kerry mistakes on: January 25, 2013, 01:57:31 PM
A wild guess.

He voted for the war in Iraq?
Trivia question:
Forget about Chuck Hagel and Jack Lew for a moment...
On what foreign policy question or issue was incoming Sec. of State John Kerry ever right?

Should have read: trick question, instead of trivia question.  I'm not aware of Sen Kerry ever getting a foreign policy question right - at least from my way of thinking.  Yes he voted to start the war in Iraq, but his famous I voted for the funding before I voted against it likely cost him the Presidency.  Iraq overall was not his strongest issue.

If you count his flip flops he is going to have moments of being right: http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-250_162-646435.html

Breitbart compiled a list of his top ten worst policy mistakes:  (Anyone disagree with these?)

10. Honduras (2009) - Sen. Kerry backed Obama’s dubious claim that leftist President Manuel Zelaya--an antisemite and autocrat in the Hugo Chavez mode--had been ousted in a coup. He even tried to reverse a contrary finding by the Law Library of Congress.

9. Terrorism (1996) - In a debate with former Gov. Bill Weld, Sen. Kerry opposed the death penalty for terrorists, at a time when lack of vigilance by the Clinton administration allowed Al Qaeda to become a deadly threat. (After 9/11, Sen. Kerry changed his mind.)

8. Nicaragua (1985) - As Mary Anastasia O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal noted last week, Sen. Kerry encouraged Congress to end aid for the Contras, who were opposing the Sandinista regime, which quickly found support from the Soviet Union and Cuba.

7. Iraq (2003) - In 2002, Sen. Kerry voted to authorize the Iraq War; in 2003, he voted against continued funding and aid necessary to secure victory. The flip-flop was not only indefensible, but also cost Sen. Kerry the 2004 election against George W. Bush.

6. Colombia (2003) - Sen. Kerry described FARC, a drug-fueled terrorist guerilla army in Colombia much beloved by Chavez and the far left, specializing in kidnappings and hostage-taking, as having “legitimate complaints” against the Colombian government.

5. Gulf War (1991) - Not only did Sen. Kerry vote against authorizing UN-approved action against Saddam Hussein, but he also argued for a “new world order” not led by the U.S. and criticized the American-led coalition President George H.W. Bush had built.

4. Iran (2007) - Our own William Bigelow notes: “In 2007, Kerry voted against a Senate resolution that wanted to “combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

3. Israel (2003) - As CBS News has noted, Sen. Kerry called Israel’s anti-terror security barrier--which has saved hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian lives--a “barrier to peace” in October 2003. (As on many other issues, Sen. Kerry soon reversed his position.)

2. Syria (2009) - Though Sen. Kerry condemned Syria as a supporter of terrorism in 1991, when Syria had aligned with the U.S. in the Gulf War, he later embraced dictator Bashar al-Assad, leading Democrats’ efforts to rehabilitate the murderous regime.

1. Vietnam (1971) - As bad as Sen. Kerry’s record has been since, nothing quite tops his national debut in the “Winter Soldier” investigation as a decorated veteran telling false stories about war crimes allegedly committed by American troops in Vietnam.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2012/12/30/Top-Ten-Worst-John-Kerry-Foreign-Policy-Mistakes
3962  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness, the glib cabinet on: January 24, 2013, 07:25:39 PM
Trivia question:

Forget about Chuck Hagel and Jack Lew for a moment...

On what foreign policy question or issue was incoming Sec. of State John Kerry ever right?
3963  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi, The Petraeus/Susan Rice affair; and related matters on: January 24, 2013, 10:57:23 AM
Limited internet access for me in the mountains and I still haven't seen the video, but this event was not about congressional Republicans.  It was Hillary's opportunity to set the record straight and take specific responsibility and she declined.

Of the 24 or so new recommendations from a commission, why were none of them thought of in advance by her - and implemented in the face of known threats?  Why was no other national security agency in the loop on Benghazi security if State Dept. security was known to be absent and asleep?

That she got off easy in the hearing and that they did not circle her and destroy her as she leaves office does not mean this is over.  She survived in her mind and believes she can go on offense every time it comes up in her potential political future, but that does not change one fact of what happened on her watch.

She had 4 years to prepare for her 3am call. that she said the other guy couldn't handle.  She was the lead from behind expert on Libya touting the situation there as one of her accomplishments.  She was there when the pleas for help came in months in advance.  She knew the Ambassador personally.  She didn't set up security or backup on site, off site or anywhere else.  The call came during waking hours.  They sat there powerless.  That is not what SUPERPOWERS do.  Her itinerary show she was hanging around the White House with events and photo opps.  She must have been there when the call came in.

She was in the loop when they chose an ambitious chump to take the false story forward and answer no real questions.  She hid during the months leading up to the election and hid during the months leading up to her fall and blood clot.  Then she showed up and declares how dare you question me.

We left our best people exposed.  We won't tell you what they were up to.  We provided no security, before, during or after the attack.  We ignored pleas for help.  And we stonewalled and lied to the American people about what happened ever since. 

Condi Rice was lambasted for saying who could imagined an attack like 9/11/01.  But anyone who could not have imagined attacks on our embassies and diplomats in harms way on the anniversary of 9/11 in this part of the world in totally in denial of their very open thought process.  They blew up two African embassies under (other) Clinton.  They stormed our Tehran embassy under Carter.  They've hit us here and everywhere else.  We know the extremist groups are armed and operating in and around Benghgazi and they know we have assets there.

Hillary, you put forward a lie and had a publicity chump to do your evasion of responsibility work.  Now you say what difference does it make.  I say it makes a difference.

You say you take responsibility.  Exactly when did you do that and how?  The record now shows exactly the opposite.
3964  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi, The Petraeus/Susan Rice affair; allegations of military misconduct on: January 23, 2013, 10:50:10 AM

Very good piece. 

Link to coverage of the Clinton testimony.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/clinton-to-appear-before-congress-over-benghazi-attack/2013/01/22/3f03f8ee-64ce-11e2-85f5-a8a9228e55e7_story.html?tid=ts_carousel

  - Did she answer any of the unanswered questions?  Not really.  Did she hurt her political future with her role in this disaster?  I don't know.

From the Wash Post piece: Clinton told [Wisc. Sen. Ron] Johnson he was wrong and that he was missing the point with a narrow focus on the wording of the script Rice used. With four Americans dead, Clinton said angrily, “what difference at this point does it make?”

  - That is her full answer to the lie that a spontaneous demonstration spun out of control - that anyone who asks it is missing the point that 4 are dead? 

Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she takes responsibility for protecting diplomats and other employees abroad. “Nobody is more committed to getting this right..."

  - But no one, in fact, was more responsible for getting it wrong.  Unless she can say her demands for more security BEFORE the attack were denied by the Commander in Chief.

"Clinton has pledged to adopt all of the 29 recommendations from the independent Accountability Review Board, which include changes to the way diplomatic facilities in dangerous areas would be built and staffed."

  - She sees herself, the one who was in of position of authority and ignored their timely pleas for help, as the reformer.  She lacks competence integrity but has plenty of fight left in her.  What is the lasting impression Democrat activists and voters take out of this? 

Aside from the security questions, why was Susan Rice chosen instead of Hillary Clinton the front person for (mis)informing the American people as we tried to understand this deadly attack against Americans serving us?  That wanted someone out of the loop, who could easily be wrong on the prepared points and say I don't know on the follow up questions.  What role did Sec. Clinton play in choosing Susan Rice as the point person, instead of choosing to inform the American people timely and openly?  A UN Ambassador to discuss a State Department security disaster??

My prediction is that next for the out-going Secretary is a rather lucrative book deal that glosses over her role in this scandal.
3965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WSJ: 70% support Roe. on: January 23, 2013, 10:01:34 AM
Isn't that about where we are right now politically?  Separate from the merits and morals of slaughtering our young, wouldn't you say about 70% have no concept of states' rights and would prefer to have an assembled, benevolent politburo decide the toughest issues for us, as long as they get it right?

Pro-life groups should concede the politics of the moment and move the other direction - push legislation that gives the mom a reasonable time after birth to decide whether the child raising thing is really something she wants to tackle.  The fetus is still not viable.  Did she lose her right of privacy at childbirth?  No prosecution for the mother or the doctor for killing the baby in the first 30 days after birth.  In Illinois I believe they called something like that the Obama doctrine.
3966  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: January 23, 2013, 09:44:06 AM
"Mr. Boehner is also adorning this debt-ceiling delay with legislative language that requires the House and Senate to pass budget outlines, or see their pay withheld. This is a shot at Harry Reid's Senate, which has not passed a budget in four years."  Today's WSJ lead editorial: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324624404578258221969657306.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

  - Odd that Republicans would want to draw attention to their obstructionism, or is Jack Lew lying?
3967  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fortune Magazine: France is in Free Fall on: January 15, 2013, 02:38:31 PM
Why are we emulating them?
------------

http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2013/01/09/france-economy-crisis/

The euro crisis no one is talking about: France is in free fall
By Shawn Tully, senior editor-at-large January 9, 2013: 9:26 AM ET

The euro zone's second-largest economy is suffering more than any other member from a shocking deterioration in competitiveness. And it's doing nothing to stop it.

FORTUNE -- Given investors' confidence in its sovereign debt, and its image as Germany's principal partner in the sturdy, sensible "northern" eurozone, you'd think that France endures as the co-guardian of the endangered single currency. Indeed, the rate on France's ten-year government bonds stands at just 2%, just a few ticks above Germany's. From a quick look at the headline numbers, France doesn't appear nearly as stressed as the derisively titled "PIIGS," Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain. So far, the trajectory of its debts and deficits isn't as distressing as the figures for the PIIGs, or even the U.K. and the U.S.

France's vaunted role in the creation and initial success of the euro enhances its aura of solidity. It was President Francois Mitterrand who in 1989 persuaded Chancellor Helmut Kohl to back monetary union in exchange for France's support for German reunification. In fact, France and Germany, along with the Netherlands, dramatized their commitment by effectively uniting the franc and deutschemark in a currency union that held their exchange rates in a narrow band, and heralded the euro's birth in 1999. In the boom years of the mid-2000s, France virtually matched Germany as the twin growth engine of the thriving, 17-nation eurozone.

A deeper look shows that France is mired in no less than an economic crisis. The eurozone's second-largest economy (2012 GDP: 2 trillion euros) is suffering more than any other member from a shocking deterioration in competitiveness. Put simply, France's products -- its cars, steel, clothing, electronics -- cost far too much to produce compared with competing goods both from Asia and its European neighbors, including not just Germany but even Spain and Italy. That's causing a sharp and accelerating fall in its exports, and a significant decline in manufacturing and the services that support it.

The virtual implosion of French industry is overlooked by analysts and pundits who claim that the eurozone had dodged disaster and entered a new, durable period of stability. In fact, it's France -- not Greece or Spain -- that now poses the greatest threat to the euro's survival. France epitomizes the real problem with the single currency: The inability of nations with high and rising production costs to adjust their currencies so that their products remain competitive in world markets.

So far, the worries over the euro have centered on dangerously rising debt and deficits. But those fiscal problems are primarily the result of a loss of competitiveness. When products cost too much to make, the economy stalls or actually declines, so that even modest increases in government spending swamp nations with big budget shortfalls and excessive borrowings. In this no-or-negative growth scenario, the picture is usually the same: The private economy shrinks while government keeps expanding.

That's already happened in Italy, Spain and other troubled eurozone members. The difference is that those nations are adopting structural reforms to restore their competitiveness. France is doing nothing of the kind. Hence, its yawning competitiveness gap will soon create a fiscal crisis. It's absolutely astonishing that an economy so large, and so widely respected, can be unraveling so quickly.

The world's investors and the euro zone optimists should awaken to the danger posed by France. La crise est arivée.

France's decline is best illustrated by the rapid deterioration in its foreign trade. In 1999, France sold around 7% of the world's exports. Today, the figure is just over 3%, and falling fast. The same high costs that are pounding exports draw an ever rising flow of goods from Germany, China and even southern Europe. Those imports are taking an increasing share of sales from pricier French-made products. In 2005, France's trade balance was a positive 0.5% of GDP. Today, it stands at minus 2.7% of national income, meaning imports now far exceed exports, turning trade from a growth-generator into a major drag. An excellent illustration of the competitiveness gap is the chasm between German and French exports to China. Germany sends $70 billion in cars, machine tools and other products to China each year, seven times the figure for France.

Even tourism is suffering because of the France's high prices. France is now struggling clientele from a surging, bargain-seeking tranche of the market, travelers from Asia, Brazil, India and Russia. In the mid-2000s, foreigners spent 15 billion euros more visiting the Champs Elysees and the Riviera than the French paid to vacation abroad. That surplus has since fallen by one-third, to around 10 billion euros.

The main reason for France's cost disadvantage is the burden of labor, a factor that typically accounts for around 70% of all corporate expenses worldwide. In France, the problem comprises a both high wage and social costs, and rigid laws, including a 35-hour work week that allows French employees the lowest number of working hours in the developed world. An astounding 86% of all wage earners enjoy "contrats a durée indéterminées," permanent contracts that make layoffs extremely expensive and time-consuming.

In France, 42 euros for every 100 euros in total expenses go to social charges, versus 34 euros in Germany, 26 in the UK, and 20 in the US.

Obviously, the restrictive laws and hostile unions are nothing new. What's causing the crippling malaise is the recent rapid rise in labor costs when rivals are lowering or moderating the weight of weight of their workforces.

Since 2005, France's unit labor costs -- the expense of producing a single car or steel beam, for example -- has jumped 17% compared with 10% for Germany, 5.8% for Spain, and 2% for Ireland. Today, French workers earn an average of 35.3 euros per hour, compared with 25.8 in Italy, 22 in the UK and Spain.

The result is a steep fall in French manufacturing and the services that support it, everything from consulting to logistics. Corporate profits have plunged to 6.5% of GDP, about 60% of the euro zone average. That's because French exporters are losing market share, and the ones that survive must lower margins to charge competitive prices. As a result, they lack the funds to invest in new plants and technologies. France now has half as many exporting companies as Germany and, amazingly, Italy. German industry benefits from 19,000 robots, five times the number in France. As for R&D spending, it's dropped 50% in the past four years.

Remarkably, the Hollande government is raising revenue by heightening the burden on business. In September, France announced new laws that limit deductions for interest payments and loss carry-forwards, effectively heaping higher taxes on business. Those measures will shrink already meager profits, and crimp future investment.

The cost-gap wouldn't be so damaging if France specialized in sophisticated, high-margin products. Indeed, the nation remains strong in fashion, luxury goods, and pharmaceuticals. But though those offerings symbolize France's economic élan, the nation is heavily dependent on autos, textile, steel, telecom equipment and other mid-to-low margin products that are extremely price sensitive on world markets. "France has never been strong in high-end, sophisticated products like machine tools or high-end computer equipment," says Jean-Christophe Caffet of Flash Economics in Paris. "And even in the high-end, it's lost a lot of market share to Germany."

Germany, for example, specializes in fancy cars, Audis, Mercedes and BMWs that folks are willing to keep buying if prices rise a bit. By contrast, France makes cheaper Renaults and Peugeots that risk losing sales to Ford or Fiat unless manufacturers hold down prices -- or settle for puny or non-existent profits.

Nor is France reacting to the looming crisis by following its neighbors' campaign to lower labor costs. Germany made big strides in the mid-2000s with its Hartz IV reforms that lowered the social charges on businesses. Spain recently raised the retirement age for full pensions from 65 to 67 and allows wage negotiations at the company level, a departure from the centralized system of imposing mandatory nationwide increases in pay. Italy is gradually raising the retirement age for women from 60 to 66 over the next six years.

But Francois Hollande, elected president in May, is taking far more tepid steps. The government is pledging to modestly lower social charges on businesses, but the reforms don't start until 2014, and last just two years.

It's the prospect of a future without growth, a direct legacy of the competitiveness problem, that could unleash a fiscal crisis. It's remarkable that in the mid-1990s, France had a lower unemployment rate than Germany, smaller deficits, less debt to GDP, and approximately the same growth rate. All of those measures have now totally reversed.

In 2012, the French economy expanded at just 0.2%, and its real growth rate for the past three years averaged 1.2%, less than half Germany's 2.7% performance. For 2013, France's ODDO Securities makes a persuasive case that the economy will actually shrink. The unemployment rate stands at a 14-year high of 10.9% and rising, compared 6.7% for Germany. Debt to GDP is nearing the danger zone of 90%, and could hit 97% in 2013.

It's not that France has been raising government spending at an outrageous rate. The issue is that a nation with already high spending levels and no growth has run out of room to keep lifting spending, and debt, at all. It's extraordinary that from 2004 to 2012, the private sector in France showed no growth whatsoever, adjusted for inflation. The entire rise in GDP, a mere 7.3% over eight years, came from government spending. It's the private economy that supports that spending, and it will keep dwindling, driving France further and further into debt.

Government spending now accounts for 57% of GDP and increasing, 12 points higher than Germany. By the way, Germany's private sector is growing briskly as public expenditures drop as a share of national income. The opposite dynamic is plaguing its long-time partner.

It's totally implausible to blame "austerity" for France's poor growth. Austerity is generally defined as large reductions in budget deficits, mainly driven by falling government spending. But France's spending has increased in real terms, and its deficits have been remained at a substantial 5% or so of GDP in 2011 and 2012, with the same figure likely for this year.

It's unclear when the crisis that's going mostly unacknowledged by investors and the Hollande government will erupt into a panic. The chance that France will lower labor costs by the 20% to 30% needed to restore growth is practically zero. Reforms can only happen when the economy is expanding and citizens feel good about the future, the antithesis of the gloom now enveloping France.

France is heading towards an economic Bastille. The longer it stays on that path, the more possible that the eurozone regime it labored so hard to create will crumble.
3968  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness - Lew: in "Primary Balance" on: January 15, 2013, 01:44:11 PM
Lies or deception, you make the call, "... mid-decade...and then we will work on paying down our debt"

Our spending will not add to the debt.  Interest on even the last 4 years of debt is NOT OUR SPENDING?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QMQwic-JdxQ

These are Lew's figures for new deficits that don't add to the debt:

Year   Deficit
2010: $1.293 trillion
2011: $1.645 trillion
2012: $1.101 trillion
2013: $768 billion
2014: $645 billion
2015: $607 billion
2016: $649 billion
2017: $627 billion
2018: $619 billion
2019: $681 billion
2020: $735 billion
2021: $774 billion
------------------------------
Sen. Sessions said he won't vote for the this guy.  Sen. Bernie Sanders also opposes Lew, for different reasons, Lew's experience at Citigroup.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jan/9/lews-time-citigroup-division-was-profitable/
http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-01-10/business/36272371_1_citigroup-unit-treasury-secretary-wealth-management
http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=12E4DE20-F0CD-446B-8CBB-5A45EE80B56A
3969  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the left - The Colin Powell Double Standard on: January 15, 2013, 01:22:52 PM
I've got news for Sec. Powell.  Someone who supports Obama twice and all of the leftist agenda is not Republican.  You are a leftist.  Be proud of that.

Powell went on Meet the Press to give a show of support for Chuck Hagel.  He said regarding Hagel's use of the term Jewish lobby,  "that term slips out from time to time".

Yes it does, and so does support for Iran, Hamas, Castro, etc.  His ideological matching with Obama is his qualification.

Powell called American DOD official, Douglas Feith "a card-carrying member of the Likud Party."   Those slip ups are going to happen??

Hagel is not an anti-semite for what he said but the GOP IS racist for what they didn't say:

Powell went on to say that when Romney supporter Gov. Sununu called Obama "lazy" after his first debate performance, it was short for lazy bleaping nigger(?), the GOP is racist - they just don't say the last parts out loud.  Huh? 

Scorched by Powell without the verbal slipup.  One is not anti-Jewish for saying he is and the other is racist for not saying what he didn't say.  What a jerk.  Whatever Powell did to earn all his credibility (lying to the UN about WMD?) ought to be re-examined. 
------------------
Brett Stephens WSJ wrote about the Powell double standard today: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324734904578241561480345042.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop
3970  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 15, 2013, 12:50:06 PM
President Obama Monday: "They don't think it's smart to protect endless corporate loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans rather than rebuild our roads and our schools . . ."

But wait. It was President Obama who insisted that the recent tax bill be loaded with tens of billions of dollars worth of additional "corporate loopholes," including for his billionaire buddies in the green-energy business (and Hollywood)

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324581504578231721868759336.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

Mainstream professional journalists jumped ALL OVER HIM yesterday for this most obvious contradiction.  (Just kidding)
3971  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy of the Left, We need more taxes on: January 15, 2013, 12:45:12 PM
Former Vermont Governor and Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean conceded in December on MSNBC that "this may seem like heresy" but "the truth is, everybody needs to pay more taxes, not just the rich."
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324581504578231721868759336.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

Nancy Pelosi declared on January 6 on CBS's "Face the Nation" that the fiscal-cliff deal was "not enough on the revenue side."

Michigan's Sandy Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, recently reassured his liberal colleagues on the House floor that "additional revenues" are sure to come in future budget deals and that "this [tax hike] sets that important precedent."
3972  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness - That was then, continued on: January 15, 2013, 12:21:33 PM
Pelosi, Obama et al voted against debt ceiling hikes under Bush to protest further spending on the Iraq war.  Now the President says the debt ceiling has nothing to do with spending.  It is only about paying bills already incurred.

The mainstream professional journalists have jumped ALL OVER HIM for the contradiction.  (Just kidding)
3973  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: January 15, 2013, 12:08:16 PM
Very funny and Goldberg has it about right.  Of course Stewart is not really mocking leftism, just one bizarre idea by a leftist.  Maybe in other shows, but here he is not mocking the idea that 16.4 trillion isn't enough debt and he isn't mocking the fact that the trillion dollar coin in concept is already our policy for financing our deficits; we are only borrowing back a fraction of the money we are printing.

In a different circumstance, can anyone imagine the Stewart type comedy shows if the trillion dollar coin proposal in lieu of honoring our debt limit had been put forward by a VP or Secretary of Treasury Sarah Palin?
3974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: January 15, 2013, 11:36:54 AM
Honoring the second amendment has two different meanings.  Gun rights are good, important and justified, but that is just part of it.  The larger meaning I think is the second amendment is symbolic of the guarantee that the entire constitutional, limited government framework continues, and is not taken away either by elected majorities, unelected bureaucracy or a foreign aggressor.

It is ironic in the extreme to see that the effort to get us have fewer guns has led to perhaps the biggest peacetime surge in the weapons ownership in world history - enough to arm China or India!

(It could just be more people reading the forum, with GM recommending guns, ammo and canned food throughout the economic crisis.)

Liberal-fascist incompetence is not new or surprising.  The war on poverty accelerated the foundations of poverty and more recently the attempt to take fossil fuels away from us to with high prices led to a huge surge in fossil fuel production.

Post-1812 and since the full settlement of the heartland with all these guns in private ownership we have taken hits like Pearl Harbor and 9/11, but no one other than our own oppressive government has ever really tried to invade or take us over by force.  Not all of our nation's defenses are controlled by Washington.
3975  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: January 12, 2013, 11:43:27 AM
Thanks Crafty, but I am out of new material. 

Harry Reid calls Republicans "obstructionists" generally for sure but doesn't point to a time, place or procedure where the Republican minority prevented him from passing a budget resolution - because it didn't happen.

Durbin made the same argument as Lew, they don't have 60 votes, a known talking point like spontaneous demonstrations in Benghazi, then failed to back it up.  He didn't go from saying they only have 53 votes to pointing to the incident where a Republican member invoked the "Budget Point of Order" and stopped them - because it didn't happen.  Instead he went on to change the subject to deficit commission etc.

Out of 380 named and counted filibusters, none were to stop a budget resolution. (?)

The threat of a filibuster is what stopped them?  But did not stop them on 380 other issues?  

Your link to the Hill tells it pretty well, what Harry Reid calls "show-votes".  The Republicans wanted Senate Democrats to pass a budget to show their hand and they refused, pointing to the continuing resolutions enacted as meeting their legal requirement (but not the procedure laid out in the 1974 law).

The Hill:  "None of the GOP budgets are expected to pass today, as Democrats will vote against them all. One of the five GOP resolutions reflects President Obama's budget, which already went down in a unanimous vote earlier this year."

No filibuster on those.  As 'The Economist' piece 'refuting' the Washington Post most clearly states: "It is true that the Senate can pass a budget resolution with a simple majority vote."  

"See how the Senate may very well need 60 votes even to "pass" a budget?"  No I don't, even repeated.  The bold and underlined sections refer to procedures later in the process for  "legislation that violates the terms of the budget resolution".   How could that have applied in this situation, procedures to prevent any legislation that violates the terms of a passed budget resolution that never existed?

I am out of arguments that don't involve repetition of those that were already unpersuasive, but willing to agree to disagree.   wink
3976  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: January 11, 2013, 06:40:13 PM
Lew was admitting they didn't pass a budget and blaming it on Republicans, not claiming they enacted one.  He could have said the 1974 law isn't binding or that they enacted a continuing resolution at the end having the same effect, but he didn't.  He said "unless Republicans are willing to work with Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid is not going to be able to get a budget passed".  After looking at all that is posted on procedure, I still find that statement to be false and a politically motivated, intentionally deceptive response to the question that was asked. Silly you say.  I wouldn't put him in charge of the Treasury.

Bigdog,  Do you think Republicans were blocking Harry Reid from passing a budget, as Lew alleging.  Wouldn't Reid have called them out on that for obstructionism if it were the case?  Instead, Republicans have been calling on Senate Democrats publicly for years to pass one:

This ad is from Heritage a year ago.
3977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 11, 2013, 01:01:51 PM
"where do we come down on the matter of leaving US troops in Afg?"

Hard to believe that after all the investment in Iraq and Afghanistan that we would not want to negotiate to ability to keep some kind of military base and premise on the ground in both places, slightly over the horizon, from where we can take take actions like taking out future terror training camps etc before they rise again to pre-9/11 levels.

The downside might be our own vulnerability and the resentment a permanent US presence might foster.
3978  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: January 11, 2013, 12:54:10 PM
CCP,  I don't support his proposal but the Stanford professor of economics and health research and policy shows as much wisdom on health care as anyone I have read in a long time.  I especially like the premise that the search for a solution to the affordable health care problem is still on.

The link, one more time:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/health/policy/an-interview-with-victor-fuchs-on-health-care-costs.html?_r=o
3979  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2014 Congressional races on: January 11, 2013, 12:24:06 PM
Yesterday I read that 6 Dem Senators are up in 2014 in states where Pres. Obama got 42% of the vote or less.  (Can't find the article now, but a similar list at the Wash Post link.) One of those was Jay Rockefeller in West Virginia.  Dems currently have 55 in the Senate.

Today's news:  Jay Rockefeller won't seek reelection.  http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/jay-rockefeller-to-retire-86054.html

This Washington Post piece says that of the ten most vulnerable Senators, 9 are Democrats and the other is in Kentucky.  They didn't have Rockefeller in their top ten:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2012/11/09/senate-democrats-face-a-very-tough-2014-map/

Year 6 is where Bush lost it all and Obama is weakest when he is off the ballot.  Some of these are states where he can't do much to help.  No predictions here after the 2012 fiasco, but the opportunity for Republicans is there once again.
3980  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela - Inauguration Day Came and Went without Chavez on: January 11, 2013, 12:00:25 PM
Looking forward to our reports from Denny S.

"But in a telling sign of the severity of his illness, Mr. Chávez apparently sent no greeting to the crowds wishing him well. There was no message from him read to the tens of thousands of followers who attended the rally in front of the presidential palace. There was no video or recording from the once-omnipresent president, who has not been seen or heard from directly in a month.  There was not even any mention that Mr. Chávez might be watching the televised broadcast of the huge get-well rally held in his honor."  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/world/americas/a-celebration-that-accentuated-chavezs-absence.html

They had their celebration anyway - with a cardboard cutout of Chavez.

NY Times continued: "On Wednesday the Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Chávez could be sworn in at a later date — but set no time limit." ...  "The opposition has called for a team of medical experts to go to Havana to evaluate his condition."

Venezuela does not have a President, the old term is over and the new term didn't start.  The constitution requires a new election in less than a month.  Both sides should get busy with their campaigns. 
3981  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: January 11, 2013, 11:37:19 AM
PP, great post as usual.  Let's make borrowers less able to handle their debt instead of letting prices fall to real affordability.   

One sidenote:   In your example property taxes at <100/mo. would be a dream come true (or put you in tax foreclosure) in some places.  Your 'TI' would approach 3 times that in Minneapolis.  http://www.lmc.org/page/1/property-tax-calc-iframe.jsp 

Makes you wonder why we set national standards for local phenomenon.

3982  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: January 11, 2013, 11:10:14 AM
Re-posting this across to Congress thread by request.  We are discussing rules of congress but my starting point was alleging that nominee Lew of the Glibness branch was misleading the people.
--------------
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=155

Step Three: Enforcing the Terms of the Budget Resolution
...
However, the budget point of order is important in the Senate, where any legislation that exceeds a committee's spending allocation — or cuts taxes below the level allowed in the budget resolution — is vulnerable to a budget point of order on the floor that requires 60 votes to waive.
...

Yes, BD, but a Budget Point of Order is a rule defined in the 3rd step, to apply to changes after a budget is passed.  The second step (same link) says this:

"Once the committees are done, their budget resolutions go to the House and Senate floors, where they can be amended (by a majority vote)...It also requires only a majority vote to pass, and its consideration is one of the few actions that cannot be filibustered in the Senate."

We never got past Step 2, to pass a budget by April 15.  Step 3 controls the process after there is a budget resolution passed.  It defines rules they must follow to change what was passed.  But there wasn't one passed in the Senate in the 3 years in question.  Right?


The original point about Lew and a lying White House is that the threat of a filibuster was not the reason the Senate had not passed a budget.  Lew said it was.  This was a Susan Rice moment.  He was sent up to create a false impression of what happened and what didn't happen.  Republicans wanted Senate Democrats to pass a budget - to show their hand; they were not trying to stop them, nor could they.  Republicans with control of the House in 2 of those years had no need to stop a budget in the Senate and no power to stop it.  This is a matter of political gamesmanship and they deserve to be called out.  Republicans wanted Democrats to 'show us your spending' as required under the 1974 law.   Show us your cuts, show us your spending and we will use that either get cuts done or for other political advantage:  'Senator so-and-so voted to cut Medicare, here is the record', or he/she refused to make any cuts at all to close a trillion dollar gap. 

But there was no need for a Dem majority Senate to follow the law and pass a budget because there is no penalty defined in the 1974 law.  They just kept the spending going without real cuts for years with continuing resolutions, blamed the Republicans, and using the cover provided by willing accomplices in the media like professional journalist Candy Crowley in the clip.
3983  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: January 11, 2013, 11:04:29 AM
Likewise, welcome!  After your first post a little while back I took the time to read a good number of your writings both at your site and at the newspaper.  Very impressive and insightful, covering a lot of the same topics of the forum.  I hope you jump into the discussion here on a wide range or things.
3984  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 11, 2013, 10:45:01 AM
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=155

Step Three: Enforcing the Terms of the Budget Resolution
...
However, the budget point of order is important in the Senate, where any legislation that exceeds a committee's spending allocation — or cuts taxes below the level allowed in the budget resolution — is vulnerable to a budget point of order on the floor that requires 60 votes to waive.
...

Yes, BD, but a Budget Point of Order is a rule defined in the 3rd step, to apply to changes after a budget is passed.  The second step (same link) says this:

"Once the committees are done, their budget resolutions go to the House and Senate floors, where they can be amended (by a majority vote)...It also requires only a majority vote to pass, and its consideration is one of the few actions that cannot be filibustered in the Senate."

We never got past Step 2, to pass a budget by April 15.  Step 3 controls the process after there is a budget resolution passed.  It defines rules they must follow to change what was passed.  But there wasn't one passed in the Senate in the 3 years in question.  Right?


The original point about Lew and a lying White House is that the threat of a filibuster was not the reason the Senate had not passed a budget.  Lew said it was.  This was a Susan Rice moment.  He was sent up to create a false impression of what happened and what didn't happen.  Republicans wanted Senate Democrats to pass a budget - to show their hand; they were not trying to stop them, nor could they.  Republicans with control of the House in 2 of those years had no need to stop a budget in the Senate and no power to stop it.  This is a matter of political gamesmanship and they deserve to be called out.  Republicans wanted Democrats to 'show us your spending' as required under the 1974 law.   Show us your cuts, show us your spending and we will use that either get cuts done or for other political advantage:  'Senator so-and-so voted to cut Medicare, here is the record', or he/she refused to make any cuts at all to close a trillion dollar gap. 

But there was no need for a Dem majority Senate to follow the law and pass a budget because there is no penalty defined in the 1974 law.  They just kept the spending going without real cuts for years with continuing resolutions, blamed the Republicans, and using the cover provided by willing accomplices in the media like professional journalist Candy Crowley in the clip.
3985  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 10, 2013, 05:20:32 PM
, , , the fact is that under the Constitution the Congress must pass spending that originates in the House...

All the Senate needs to do is pick up a House bill, change the amounts until they can pass it in good faith under the terms of the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act that created CBO and most of the current process.  The House has passed a budget every year.  The Senate has not passed a budget other than "continuing resolutions" since April 2009, roughly 5 trillion dollars of debt ago.  It cannot be filibustered under  Senate rules in effect since 1974.

Crafty, yours is not the reason that Lew gave.  He gave a false reason for why they haven't passed a budget, putting blame on Republicans in the Democratic controlled chamber.  It is a lie and a deception.  As an expert on the process (OMB Director under two Presidents!), he knew that was false.

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/145259-house-passes-republican-budget-for-fy-2011-in-x-y-vote
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/30/us/politics/house-passes-ryan-budget-blueprint-along-party-lines.html?_r=0
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-02/u-s-house-passes-budget-bill-averts-most-tax-increases.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/jack-lews-misleading-claim-about-the-senates-failure-to-pass-a-budget-resolution/2012/02/12/gIQAs11z8Q_blog.html?wprss=fact-checker
http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/021012-600854-democrats-refusal-to-pass-budget-is-illegal.htm
http://www.dailypaul.com/269094/the-law-requires-congress-to-pass-a-budget-every-america-hasnt-had-since-2009

It's true that you cannot filibuster a budget resolution in the Senate, because the Budget Act provides special rules for consideration of a budget resolution, including a time limit on debate. So the Senate can pass a resolution with only a majority vote. 
http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2012/02/parliamentary-procedure

Budget resolutions are not subject to a filibuster.
http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/206309-gop-well-pass-budget-every-year-#ixzz2HcHcSPvT

“But we also need to be honest. You can’t pass a budget in the Senate of the United States without 60 votes and you can’t get 60 votes without bipartisan support. So unless Republicans are willing to work with Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid is not going to be able to get a budget passed. And I think he was reflecting the reality of that that could be a challenge.”

--White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, on CNN, Feb. 12. 2012 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/jack-lews-misleading-claim-about-the-senates-failure-to-pass-a-budget-resolution/2012/02/12/gIQAs11z8Q_blog.html?wprss=fact-checker
"Four Pinocchios"

"We wavered between three and four Pinocchios, in part because the budget resolution is only a blueprint, not a law, but ultimately decided a two-time budget director really should know better."  - The hard-right Washington Post

3986  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness - The Personal Pronoun President on: January 10, 2013, 01:56:55 PM
Total first person pronouns used in his eulogy of Sen Inouye: 63.  So we know he knows how to use them.

"... will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they've already racked up through the laws that they passed."
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324081704578231542240171394.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLESecond


What did Harry Truman say?  The buck stops ... ... over there!?
3987  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: January 10, 2013, 01:48:38 PM
I am listening and reading all this the best that I can, but I don't see anything in rules that keeps a Senate Democratic majority from passing a budget.  They can and Lew lied; that is still my opinion.

Of course it's not binding.  Nothing the Senate alone passes is.

Keeping my mind open for what I am missing here ...


Big
http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2012/02/parliamentary-procedure


"It's true that you cannot filibuster a budget resolution in the Senate, because the Budget Act provides special rules for consideration of a budget resolution, including a time limit on debate. So the Senate can pass a resolution with only a majority vote.  However, the resolution does not take effect when the Senate passes it.  It takes effect in one of two ways: if the House and Senate pass an identical resolution, usually in the form of a conference report; or if the Senate passes a separate Senate Resolution (as opposed to a concurrent resolution, which is what a budget resolution is) that says the House is “deemed” to have agreed to the budget resolution passed by the Senate.
But there are no special procedures for the simple Senate Resolution required by this second, “deeming” process, so it is subject to the unlimited debate allowed on almost everything in the Senate.  If you do not have the support of 60 Senators to invoke cloture and end a filibuster, or prevent a filibuster from even starting (because everyone knows  60 Senators support cloture), you cannot pass such a deeming resolution in the Senate.
Because its rules are different, the House with a simple majority can pass a resolution deeming that the House and Senate have agreed to the House resolution so that it can take effect. This means the allocations in the resolution, such as for appropriations, are in effect in the House and anybody can raise a point-of-order against legislation that would cause a committee to exceed its allocation.
But this is for purposes of enforcement in the House only. What the House does has no effect whatsoever on the Senate or its budget enforcement.  And vice versa, if the Senate deems that its budget resolution has been agreed to."


The point is cloture. The implicit assumption is that GOP senator(s) will filibuster.

I believe you cannot filibuster a budget bill under current Senate rules.


"Budget bills are governed under special rules called "reconciliation" which do not allow filibusters."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standing_Rules_of_the_United_States_Senate

Under reconciliation, bills cannot be filibustered and can thus pass the Senate by majority vote.
http://www.brookings.edu/research/articles/2009/04/20-budget-mann

The reconciliation process, by contrast, limits debate to 20 hours and bypasses the filibuster altogether. It was instituted to ensure that minority obstruction couldn't block important business like passing a budget or reducing the deficit.
http://prospect.org/article/50-vote-senate

Budget reconciliation is a procedure created in 1974 as a way of making changes in federal policy to meet fiscal guidelines set by  Congress. Because the process includes a limit of 20 hours of debate, reconciliation bills cannot be blocked by filibuster in the Senate and need only a simple majority to pass.
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/congress/budget_reconciliation/index.html
3988  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: January 10, 2013, 01:40:09 PM

"Pelosi’s more inclusive approach" and "willingness to include Republicans"... 

Seriously?  Did anyone watch healthcare get passed?

3989  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 10, 2013, 01:18:30 PM
The point is cloture. The implicit assumption is that GOP senator(s) will filibuster.

I believe you cannot filibuster a budget bill under current Senate rules.


"Budget bills are governed under special rules called "reconciliation" which do not allow filibusters."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standing_Rules_of_the_United_States_Senate

Under reconciliation, bills cannot be filibustered and can thus pass the Senate by majority vote.
http://www.brookings.edu/research/articles/2009/04/20-budget-mann

The reconciliation process, by contrast, limits debate to 20 hours and bypasses the filibuster altogether. It was instituted to ensure that minority obstruction couldn't block important business like passing a budget or reducing the deficit.
http://prospect.org/article/50-vote-senate

Budget reconciliation is a procedure created in 1974 as a way of making changes in federal policy to meet fiscal guidelines set by  Congress. Because the process includes a limit of 20 hours of debate, reconciliation bills cannot be blocked by filibuster in the Senate and need only a simple majority to pass.
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/congress/budget_reconciliation/index.html
3990  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: January 10, 2013, 12:57:16 PM
It has always been true, as far as I know, that the majority party has complete control of the House including what gets through committee and what goes to a vote.  Maybe it was only Hastert or Boehner who said it aloud or in public that bills will be passed with a majority of the majority or it won't come to a vote - except for the exceptions.  Tip O'Neill didn't have to say it; people knew who was in charge.

They gave one example of an exception with Pelosi and one with Boehner.  Not much difference.  Democrats didn't want responsibility for failure in Iraq and Republicans didn't want blame for tax rates going up.

The majority DID approve of the Speaker's handling of it, proven by reelecting him within hours.  They just wanted their 'No' vote recorded.
3991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters, stop the drugs war on: January 10, 2013, 10:40:10 AM
"...there aren’t really many other alternatives. Why not legalise drugs? It wouldn’t be giving up, it would be winning without fighting — the best, cleverest way. The cartels would be forced above ground; the big money would be in legitimate business. "

Yes, we would have legal cartels of big hemp with lawyers and lobbyists in Washington and state capitals instead of the gun war.  Truckloads of drugs would be coming in on a trade scale the size of oil.  We will see shortly what the effects of legalization in certain states.  Probably no big change since it was essentially legal there before.

On a scale smaller than international trade, couldn't we legalize the right to grow your own and the right to transport or sell one ounce or one pound and knock down the price that way, and squeeze out the profits?

My conservative and libertarian sides are conflicted, but the war in Mexico is unacceptable for both countries.
3992  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness (and Media): Lew's Leftist Lie on: January 10, 2013, 10:09:52 AM


Do you believe that the former Director of OMB / Office of Management and Budget, Chief of staff, graduate of Harvard and Georgetown, does not know that passing a budget in the Senate requires only 51 votes?

Does Candy Crowley not know that either?
3993  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michigan Abortion Clinic Shut Down, "dangerous to human life" on: January 10, 2013, 09:23:43 AM
A Michigan abortion clinic has been shut down by the fire marshal over conditions the city described as potentially “dangerous to human life or the public welfare.”
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/graphic-the-conditions-at-this-mi-abortion-clinic-were-so-dangerous-disgusting-it-was-shut-down/

What next?  Cattle slaughterhouse dangerous to cattle?

3994  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: January 10, 2013, 09:09:48 AM
4 things we know about the Tucson shooting IMHO

1) The shooter's problem had to do with mental health

2) There is a copycat aspect to mass shootings

3) The shooting would only have stopped sooner if someone closer had a gun and a trained response

4) At the time of the shooting, the other 299,999,999 guns in America were not shooting at crowds


So what is the reaction?  Mark the anniversary (encouraging copycats) with a new organization that doesn't address the problem but could threaten to prevent the solution.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/gabrielle-giffords-mark-kelly-launch-gun-control-initiative-in-effort-to-combat-gun-lobby/

Gabrielle Giffords & Mark Kelly Launch Gun Control Initiative in Effort to Combat ‘Gun Lobby’
3995  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: January 09, 2013, 05:50:13 PM
Correction:  Credit for the Krugman trillion dollar coin idea may go back to Homer Simpson in a 1998 Simpsons episode called 'The Trouble with Trillions': 
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324581504578231812006460892.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion
3996  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Hagel choice continued on: January 09, 2013, 05:35:41 PM
Hagel until this process began agreed with extremists Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin on the question that cost them Senate seats this past year:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/01/09/is-there-anything-chuck-hagel-won-t-say.html
Senate-candidate Hagel said that he "tightened" his position on abortion after he said he discovered that abortion in the case of rape and incest are "rare"...

Assuming that isn't what attracted the President to this 'Republican', it must have been his anti-Israel views.
3997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness -Gay Rights and the Hagel nomination on: January 09, 2013, 05:28:22 PM
Omaha World Herald July 3 1998:

Openly gay nominee won't get Hagel vote

By Jake Thompson for The World-Herald   July 3, 1998
http://www.omaha.com/article/19980703/NEWS/121229971/1685

One day last month, Bob Kerrey asked his Senate colleague and fellow Nebraskan, Chuck Hagel, a favor: Could Kerrey stop by with a controversial ambassadorial nominee who wanted to make a personal pitch to Hagel?

Sure, Hagel said, bring him over.

The meeting didn't turn out as Kerrey wished.

As a courtesy to Kerrey, Hagel said, he would listen to the man - James C. Hormel, 64, a Democratic donor, lawyer and philanthropist - whose nomination to become ambassador to Luxembourg has been blocked in the Senate, his backers say, simply because he is gay.

Perhaps Kerrey had hoped Hormel's Nebraska tie might help. The nominee's grandfather, George A. Hormel, founded the giant Hormel Foods, which opened a meatpacking plant in Fremont in 1947.

Perhaps Kerrey had hoped Hormel's philanthropic record would impress. The National Society of Fundraising Executives named him its outstanding philanthropist for 1996.

"We would love to have somebody like James Hormel as part of the Omaha community," Kerrey said recently. "He's actively involved, he gives generously to very important civic efforts."

Hormel, trying to move his nomination forward, had contacted Kerrey, who turned to Hagel. On June 3 Kerrey escorted Hormel and a State Department official to a meeting in Hagel's office. As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, which is overseeing the nomination, Hagel could play a helpful role.

"We had a good conversation," Hagel, a Republican, recalled last week. "He's a nice fellow."

Kerrey, a Democrat, called Hormel "as well - qualified a nominee as I've seen" and said the meeting led him to think Hagel would support Hormel for the job.

Not so.

Ambassadorial posts are sensitive, Hagel explained.

"They are representing America," he said. "They are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards. And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay - openly aggressively gay like Mr. Hormel - to do an effective job."

Hagel noted a documentary, filmed with money Hormel donated, that showed teachers how they could teach children about homosexuality. He said he had seen another video clip that showed Hormel at what Hagel called an anti - Catholic event in San Francisco, featuring the "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence," a group of male drag queens.

"It is very clear on this tape that he's laughing and enjoying the antics of an anti - Catholic gay group in this gay parade," Hagel said. "I think it's wise for the president not to go forward with this nomination."

Luxembourg, he noted, is about 95 percent Roman Catholic.

Hagel thus became the latest of a group of Senate conservatives to come out against Hormel's nomination. Critics say the group is discriminating against a qualified nominee.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D - Calif., has defended Hormel, saying he opposes all forms of discrimination.

Over the years Hormel, a former dean of the Chicago Law School, has given money to civil - rights groups, colleges, symphonies, and to groups fighting autism, breast cancer and AIDS. Hormel listed the contributions in a letter to a supporter, Sen. Gordon Smith, R - Ore. In the letter, Hormel said he provided "minor" support for the teacher documentary and had no control over its content.

The Log Cabin Republicans, a gay group, says the videotape from the San Francisco event resulted when men dressed as nuns walked past a broadcast booth where Hormel, a well - known civic leader in the city, was giving an interview to a local reporter.

Hormel's homosexuality is not the problem, say Hagel and other opponents of the nomination. It's his openness about being gay and his advocacy of some causes, they say.

The Senate's majority leader, Trent Lott, R - Miss., heated the issue recently when he said homosexuality was a problem that should be treated "just like alcohol or sex addiction or kleptomania."

Fellow Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato of New York took him to task: "On a personal level, I am embarrassed that our Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, is seen to be the force behind this injustice," D'Amato wrote to Lott, calling for the nomination to be brought to a vote.

Then Sen. Jesse Helms, R - N.C., weighed in against D'Amato, accusing the New Yorker of using the issue to boost his re - election bid.

Helms, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has vowed to continue blocking a vote on Hormel. The committee on a voice vote last October recommended Hormel's nomination to the full Senate. It has been held up since.

Hormel's supporters say they have the 60 votes needed to break the hold on the nomination - if Lott will allow it to come to the floor.

Hagel, meanwhile, said a homosexual should not necessarily be disqualified from all ambassadorships.

His approach to nominees, he said, has been to examine the person's qualifications first. The United States has had gay ambassadors in the past and gays in the military, who have done well by quietly adopting the Pentagon's current "don't ask, don't tell" attitude.

Hormel, however, has gone beyond that, Hagel said.

He "very aggressively told the world of his gayness and the funding and all the things he's been involved in. I think you do go beyond common sense there, and reason and a certain amount of decorum," Hagel said.

"If you send an ambassador abroad with a cloud of controversy hanging over him, then I think it's unfair to our country, it's unfair to the host country and it's unfair to the ambassador because the effectiveness of that individual is going to be seriously curtailed. That's just a fact of life. And I believe Hormel's situation is one of those."
3998  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: January 09, 2013, 05:15:08 PM
I wonder if Biden is referring to the most common thread running through these violent episodes, these shootings are by people either taking psychiatric medications or who recently stopped taking them without sufficient monitoring by our failed mental health system.  http://www.wnd.com/2013/01/the-giant-gaping-hole-in-sandy-hook-reporting/

More like he is talking about "infringing" further on the right of responsible, law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.
3999  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: January 09, 2013, 05:02:48 PM
Gingrich is mostly right.  Of course there are probably only 4 people in the country who could accurately tell you the difference between the debt ceiling, the sequester and the continuing resolution.  The accusation will be the same if they only hold out on the last two, and no default has to occur with the first; it's just that everyone knows they are totally unserious about cutting spending by the full 1.1 trillion up front.

How much SHOULD spending be when we are taking in at the rate of $2.9 trillion per year?

One key fact with all the spending, deficit and debt:  Republicans controlled the House during 14 of the last 18 years.  During the Gingrich-Clinton years, as Newt describes, they negotiated democratic and baseline increases down pretty aggressively.  During the first 6 years of Bush it was a blank check; they mostly deferred to the president of their own party who equated "compassion" with spending.  Then were four enormously costly years of the Pelosi-Reid-Obama disaster.  Then the takeback of Nov 2010.   Then Republicans only fought again to slow the future increases, never to reverse the trillion a year in additional "temporary, emergency" spending.  That is where we are now:  making a trillion a year gap permanent - best case.

One important thing we learned this week: the Speaker of the House does not have to be a member of the House.

Boehner, who "needs this job like a hole in the head', missed an opportunity to really shake things up.  He could have made Newt the new Speaker.  He could have done it expressly for the purpose of closing the deficit trajectory, the unfunded liabilities and restoring our credit.  It would have been President Obama's worst nightmare - at first, only for him to take credit later like Clinton did.  Put the President on notice there is a new (old) Sheriff is in town.  Let the hearings begin on every aspect of spending, waste and unintended consequences of programs.  As Newt says, bring in the Republican governors and start passing reforms that give major functions of government back to the states.  Let the reckless statements like we don't have spending problem get answered in real time.  Interrupt proceedings on the floor of the House and answer him.  We would get the debates some of us wanted and it would be focused only on policy outcomes, not on popularity, swing states or electoral votes. 
4000  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Govt spending, deficit, budget process: Balanced Budget Amendment on: January 09, 2013, 11:03:46 AM
Thanks Crafty.  I wonder if anyone will address it.
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I opposed balanced budget amendment proposals for decades because balancing the budget with high spending and high taxes was potentially worse IMO than the smaller imbalances we had back then.  I still oppose all versions of it that have no limits on spending and taxation.

Previous Republican proposals limit federal spending to 18% of GDP and require a super majority to raise taxes.
http://budget.senate.gov/democratic/index.cfm/floor-speech-on-gop-balanced-budget-amendment-december-13-2011#1

I would go as high as 20% for the spending limit and require supermajorities to raise taxes or raise the debt ceiling.

Passage with 2/3rds in both chambers of a balanced budget, spending limit amendment should be a requirement for Republican consent for any major debt ceiling increase.  We need an endgame to the madness.

Obama and the Dems in Washington DC have nothing to worry about because after passage in Washington because it still would require ratification by 3/4ths of the state legislatures.  Taking a reasonable and realistic proposal to the states and to the peole would be a very positive step.

Senator Barack Obama, in all his years in the Senate, never voted for a debt ceiling increase.  He called the deficits and debt during the Bush economic boom "unpatriotic".  His characterization is far more true now than it was then.  Increasing borrowing that is maxed out already without a plan to increase income is beyond unpatriotic, more like treason - if escalating the rhetoric is the game being played.
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