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4001  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: February 07, 2011, 04:27:28 PM
GM,  Good questions and I don't have answers or solutions.  That's why I am in the armchair position - available for comment.  8 million Christians are at risk and 80 million Egyptians overall, and no, I don't trust the Obama administration to make sure true consent of the governed happens.  I also don't see a path backwards.  Mubarek is leaving.  We aren't going to install or control a new strong man.  Like leaving Iraq in a fragile democracy, we can have some influence but we have to hope that given the opportunity the people will rise up and keep the extremists in a minority position, busy trying to convince their countrymen that they will be peaceful and inward focused - worthy of the seats they win in the assembly.  We can try to influence that positively and we have to prepare for the other possibility.

I hear your valid concerns, but I also hear people like Ragui Assaad, professor at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs from Cairo that tear at the idea of freedom back home the way we do thinking about our Founders' Declaration.  He is a liberal academic with many friends and family back home including his 80 year old mother who says she would join the protest if she were able.  I don't trust his wisdom, or hers, but I trust their honesty.  Everybody deserves a shot at freedom.  I hate cliches but this toothpaste isn't going back into the tube.  Change is coming in Egypt and we have a Commander in Chief who is an expert on having opponents removed from ballots to represent us to make sure ordinary Egyptians get their say.  Pray for us.  Pray for them, and prepare for war.

From my business background  I understand that risk and uncertainty run in multiple directions.  You have been articulate and correct on the downside risk, which is quite probable and truly catastrophic.  There is upside risk here as well.  Put these people and I mean the peaceful ones in charge of making their own economy function, jobs, food, apartments affordable, and the trains (or camels) running on time.  As they experience their own landmarks and people blown up, sympathy for radicals may diminish and we could find a reasonably good, self governed partner in our own fight against the extremists.

Besides security interests, we need these horribly run third world countries to break out of oppression and poverty.  If achieved, that will have a global security benefit.

A story from my export past: my strongest area  was the Middle East mostly because of the knowledge of the owner who was of Middle East origin, secular, but with one of the those common religious first names.  I had 12 distributors in Kuwait when it fell to Saddam, many in UAE, a distributor in Bahrain that sold throughout the region, etc, even sold to Bin Laden Telecom in the Kingdom.  When Kuwait was rescued we had great successes including the supply contract for a nationwide fiber optic network.  For all the times my boss and I went over country lists and strategies to represent several American manufacturers, every time I brought up selling in Egypt he said don't waste your time.  Business-wise, I'm sure he was right: 80 million people - don't waste your time.

For a shot at freedom though, 80 million people deserve a chance.

(Sounds like Netanyahu is saying something similar.  Like it or not, this spinning ship is going to end up aimed in one of a number of directions.)
4002  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran: Hikers on trial on: February 07, 2011, 02:35:55 PM
I previously mentioned friendship with the family of one of the hikers going on 'trial' this week in Iran.  Even Ahmadinejad seemed to admit they were nothing more than hikers upon confrontation while in America and promised to push for 'leniency'.  My first reaction was something like what on earth were they thinking; they deserve what they get. That was 18 MONTHS ago.  They DON'T deserve this. Young American adults living in Damascas, traveling in Iraq - during a war - and probably looking over a hillside saying wow, that is Iran - right there. Not dressed, trained or equipped for 'espionage'. It was a COMPLIMENT to the regime for them to underestimate the savagery of the regime.  They have been held in isolation for a significant part of their young adult lives strictly as pawns for other prisoners of which they have absolutely no knowledge or control.  Please pray for release and don't fall for the humanitarian, worldwide photo opp if they are lucky enough to be released. This has been a humanitarian nightmare for the captured and for their families.

Big wars start over small issues.  There should be large consequences to the regime if they do further harm to innocent Americans.
4003  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam in Europe: David Cameron Bold Speech on: February 07, 2011, 02:12:42 PM
Very rarely it seems that a leader tells the truth, straight on.  I did not want to let the U.K Prime Minister's speech of last week go by without mention:  http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/speeches-and-transcripts/2011/02/pms-speech-at-munich-security-conference-60293
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/nilegardiner/100074881/david-cameron-versus-the-islamists-the-prime-minister-throws-down-the-gauntlet-to-a-deadly-enemy/

    We will not defeat terrorism simply by the action we take outside our borders. Europe needs to wake up to what is happening in our own countries… We have got to get to the root of the problem, and we need to be absolutely clear on where the origins of where these terrorist attacks lie. That is the existence of an ideology, Islamist extremism.

    … And if we are to defeat this threat, I believe it is time to turn the page on the failed policies of the past. So first, instead of ignoring this extremist ideology, we – as governments and as societies – have got to confront it, in all its forms. And second, instead of encouraging people to live apart, we need a clear sense of shared national identity that is open to everyone.
...

    Governments must also be shrewder in dealing with those that, while not violent, are in some cases part of the problem. We need to think much harder about who it’s in the public interest to work with. Some organisations that seek to present themselves as a gateway to the Muslim community are showered with public money despite doing little to combat extremism. As others have observed, this is like turning to a right-wing fascist party to fight a violent white supremacist movement.

    So we should properly judge these organisations: do they believe in universal human rights – including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separation? These are the sorts of questions we need to ask. Fail these tests and the presumption should be not to engage with organisations – so, no public money, no sharing of platforms with ministers at home.
4004  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: New Civility? on: February 07, 2011, 01:24:53 PM
Going back a couple of days to the white Common Cause progressives calling for the lynching Clarence Thomas, the issue (not mentioned I think) they were so upset about was the Citizens United decision.  I would have thought it was war, torture or Roe v. Wade fears, not opposition to freedom of political speech. 

The media aspect of this is that these comments (largely unreported) are somewhat consistent and documented on video, whereas the racist allegations at a Tea Party rally were widely reported, totally unverified and likely untrue.

Lynching, tie them up, and torture them ideas are beyond racist and likely apply to Scalia and others as well as Thomas.  Racism as more like saying you won't play with someone or work with them because of skin color.  These comments strike me more as terroristic, and the incitement trail (for anger, not violence) leads directly to publicly made falsehoods uttered by the chief in the 2010 SOTU.  http://blog.heritage.org/2010/01/28/the-truth-about-president-obama-and-citizens-united/  (Please correct me if I am wrong.)

Disclosure to be consistent: I cannot guarantee that I would not make similar utterances at a far-right-wing-hate-rally regarding Kelo, if I was the rallying type.
4005  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: February 07, 2011, 12:44:30 PM
I hedge to write this every time I see a riot video, but in spite of all that is posted, I say we err on the side of trying and supporting democracy in this pathetic third world country. (I think that means i support President Obama on this important question - mark that down!)  If they turn out to be anti-American - so be it.  If they begin to export terrorism, we can start planning now for an effective response to that. 

Everyone seems to agree that foreign oversight will be required to pull off free and fair elections.  Can we please learn from the failed Venezuelan experience and take democratic authentication seriously this time.
4006  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 07, 2011, 10:37:05 AM
That was probably Obama's best interview I've seen, mostly honest and mostly persuasive (exceptions noted).  Without taking cable I don't see O'Reilly much.  Measured by ratings he is probably the best in the business.  Jim Lehrer was the best in my estimation but also haven't watched him in a long time.  O'Reilly is actually very similar except Lehrer never lets you know his own view. The mostly positive interview makes the 2 year boycott of Fox look rather childish. Also the questions about hatred of the President, which he handled very well, makes one question the way Obama harnessed, exploited and exacerbated hatred of Bush to get where he is.

A few dishonest moments:

(Q: Do you deny that you are a man who wants to redistribute wealth?) "Absolutely." "Bill, I didn't raise taxes once.  I lowered taxes over the last 2 years"

What a crock of an answer to the question muddled with a deceptive, true statement.  Because he was backed into a tax rate continuation agreement, he is "absolutely" not a man who wants to redistribute wealth??  In the State of the Union (that was what - 2 weeks ago??), he had fighting words about continuing his quest to get the people who now pay by far the most to pay far more. "The top 2%".  Did he think no viewer on this Sunday saw his State of the Union, or in the campaign, or will see him next time when he calls for that again? And he will! Or that we can't put 2 and 2 together??  Very telling about anyone's ability to look you in the eye and lie to your face about a crucial point in governing philosophy that is easily proven false by looking backward or forward in time - at his own words.
...

"What we said was, if you've got healthcare that you like, you keep it."

My God, has he been under a rock the last year while plans that people like, like mine, have been disappearing?  Yes, that is what they've been saying -  and it is patently false.
...

President Obama knows his football and he knows the WSJ Editorial Page but if he knew Paul Gigot (the editor) was from Green Bay maybe would have taken sides on the game.
4007  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: February 07, 2011, 09:57:02 AM
BD,  That was beautiful and I had missed it trying to avoid the 14 day pre-game show.

In the context of today, I feel very much like I live in the pre-Declaration United States, ruled with a heavy hand from afar than the model of liberty and limited government that they pledged their lives and fortunes to begin.
4008  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues - cfl on: February 06, 2011, 05:06:22 PM
Part of the healthcare mandate might be to read the 30 page EPA document (no exaggeration, see GM's link) on required cfl light bulb disposal.

Only by the federal mandate are you required to read page 2, "This page intentionally left blank".  It could be just me, but why not move the rest of the material forward?  They lost me right there.

I was very close with my yellow tape and superfund site guess for cleanup (do not sweep, do not vacuum). I assure you I have always used all proper procedures as far as you know.

In my county, larger than several states, I can easily take a broken light bulb to a drop off center during limited and changing dropoff hours, prove residence, fill out a couple of forms, for just the cost of a $50 tank of gas (whoops, more emissions), a half day of work; the cost is in my property taxes that are greater than food clothing and shelter for our family.  (Luckily they do not require the long form birth certificate.) I will just need some special markers and flashers for my vehicle and to not travel through any hazardous waste prohibited routes.  What's so hard about that?

4009  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: February 06, 2011, 03:03:25 PM
" You ready to deal with the toxic aftermath of a broken CFL bulb, Doug?"

Are you insinuating that some laws have unintended consequences?

I have broken at least a dozen so far.  It's actually very simple.  Just contact the local branch office of the federal government and request a superfund toxic cleanup site crew, set up those yellow tapes to keep people back and wait patiently while they rush over.  For the record, I like the energy savings, not the mandate. I install them for tenants as a symbol of going easy on the utilities.  We want their hard earned (taxpayer) money to go more to rent than utilities.   Also as the self insurance company, I like to see lower amperage travel through those old electric wires.
4010  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 06, 2011, 02:45:43 PM
GM,  I did see that story (milk spill legislation) in the WSJ.  Much as I would like to avoid sarcasm in political commentary, how else can a sane person react and keep going.  Who knew that milk spills were crossing state lines like jet powered aircrafts and can you imagine the chaos and confusion we would have in this country if we had 50 different sets of milk spill standards.  What if those poorly educated southern (red) states had NO standards at all on milk spills?? (Do you think Glen Beck could be behind these spills?)

Tell me how that will cut 5 points off the unemployment rate or bring a better democracy to Bangladesh and I will be all over it.

I will regret writing this but while I floundered with no success to bring an awareness on the board to my perceived unfairness of killing off 40+ million or so partially developed human unborns in this civilized country over the years, 98% for convenience reasons, one articulate denier/opposer  of that unfairness posted elsewhere about the unfairness and discomfort of chickens cooped up in undersized chicken coops (true, no doubt).  I do not claim an understanding of other people's priorities.
4011  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: February 06, 2011, 01:52:51 PM
Excellent post Tim.  Brings up many questions, how much is it warming, how much of that is attributable to human excesses, and what is the future of it all.  This issue has been tied to a political agenda, perhaps on both sides and reasonable people are left with very little information to use to determine if what we are doing is harming or threatening nature as we know it. 

Just the Antarctic ice mass as you suggest is quite a subject of controversy.  When it increases, they say because warming causes the additional snow to fall and when it decreases that means warming.  Increasing and decreasing in mass is what ice masses do.  Neither observation in itself tells anything about man's role in it.

"What does the data show from scientists who are not being paid to hedge their research?"

We honestly don't have anything yet to start with on that.  Global temperatures are sampled not measured and they are tweaked with secret, changing algorithms to fit into preconceived notions, unfortunately.  Reports are titled and summarized with an agenda, usually that agenda is political change or just additional funding.  Skeptics are often accused of being funded by coal etc.

We have plenty of information available to back up the theory that warming and cooling on earth goes in cycles, as do the size of glaciers and ice masses.  We know of negative feedback cycles, meaning the more it swings in one direction the stronger the natural forces to swing it back in the other directions.  We have no valid information to back up the theory that warming on earth is continuous or accelerating, which is a key premise of the alarmist theory.

In Consensus theory (unscientific) they ask a vague question, such as are you 90% certain man is contributing to warming.  If one man has one asphalt roof or asphalt driveway where once there was prairie grass, mankind with 90% certainty is contributing to warming.  Question is how much.  Burning a hydrocarbon gives off CO2 with certainty which is a (very minor) greenhouse gas, meaning it traps heat in.  Only question again is how much.

Here is a CO2 chart measured at Mauna Loa Hawaii, same one the alarmists use, but with a zero based scale for honest representation of the scope of the change in a molecule that makes up a very minor component of the atmosphere:


If it is land use and not CO2 emissions that make up the man made component, then the current thrust of new regulations get you nowhere.

"Has anyone here seen photos or talked to people or gone to the Alps in France, there isn't nearly the ice there was in many places. The Andes in South America where ice has shrunk over the years, the thawing permafrost in Alaska where old-timers and Natives have lost their lives by the dozens falling through unsafe ice that does not match their experience of what constitutes safe ice at certain times of the year? Why are southern forest pests and diseases spreading north? That does hint at warming. Is all this a left-wing conspiracy? "

Locations and time frames are cherry picked to make a list of examples more dramatic.  Elsewhere Glaciers have grown in western Norway, New Zealand’s South Island, parts of Asia and the Tierra del Fuego in South America, and in areas where complete disappearances were predicted, those predictions have been withdrawn or were mis-characterized in the first place.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/8188605/Cancun-climate-change-summit-glaciers-increasing-despite-climate-change.html  Overall, things are warming very slightly, but if I unplug my freezer, I don't find that some parts get warmer while other parts get colder.  The earth is warming, again the question is by how much, and how much of that is from specific, changeable human causes.  The human component of it I think is smaller than our accuracy or error range to measure the warming in the first place.

As GM infers, without humans the earth would be warming or cooling now also, most likely warming, and pine tree beetles would be creeping north or south anyway etc.

Key point besides zero acceleration in warming (acceleration of warming was a false prediction) is that man's use of fossil fuel is but a blip in time on the planet.  Plenty of economists, geologists, etc. contend that we already passed the point of 'Peal Oil' where usage is already poised to decline.  If not we are close, probably within a couple of decades, with or without the latest State of the Union speech.

Some other resources, a 50 page scientific rebuttal to the IPCC from scientists who were kicked off for disagreeing: http://www.heartland.org/custom/semod_policybot/pdf/22835.pdf, many answers to common questions: http://www.drroyspencer.com/2009/04/some-global-warming-qa-to-consider-in-light-of-the-epa-ruling/, Rebuttal data to the theory that oceans are rising due to arctic thaw: http://www.physorg.com/news69600618.html ("Arctic Ocean level is decreasing"), are links I found interesting.

I take many steps everyday to limit my energy usage without governmental bans or proven science.  I have bought hundreds of CFL light bulbs, I own several wind-only powered boats, several solar chargers, my summer electric bill is under $20 most of that taxes and fees, I drive a 40mpg car (an old Honda, not a govt sponsored hybrid) when I can and even an 80mpg motorcycle when I have the nerve, I make my daughter combine trips, share rides and I keep my living room cold enough in the winter to refrigerate beer.  I have not plugged in an air conditioner in nearly 20 years. I rarely fly.  Conserving resources is great and having thoughtful discussions is wonderful.  But the thought of having the G*d D*mned know-everything, know-nothing government come down harder on us with an oppressive heavy hand, based on bad information, or worse yet, world government control, mostly because they want to, I find sickening and uncalled for.  Just my humble two cents.   smiley 
4012  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 06, 2011, 11:21:25 AM
Very funny! I also agree, those planes often cross state lines - with commerce! 

Not to rain on this lovefest, but there is a difference between being uncompromising on principles and just being wrong.  Compromise with an over-regulated economy would have been for the proponents of the new regulation to repeal one or more bad laws with it, then see what - Rand Paul - would do.

Of the new Senators, I am more interested in what Marco Rubio will do.  On this issue he turned into quite a centrist compromiser.  smiley
4013  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: Rand Paul on: February 05, 2011, 11:50:31 PM
Interesting story BD.  I was struck by a few things, he spoke to a nearly empty chamber - I guess they aren't required to hear each other ramble on.  Milbank had a pretty funny line that Henry Clay was already eulogized - in 1852, and of course the date of this story - Feb. 2 - perhaps a bit early to know what kind of compromiser Rand Paul will be.  In an example of lousy reporting, the inference is made that Rand's obsession is lower taxes, but there isn't any proposal for that on the table or any word uttered yet that I know of.  Far as I know he is committed to cutting spending first and isn't afraid to cut everything.

Rand Paul was the '1 in a 96-1 vote to ban aiming pointing devices at airplanes (Different story: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2011/02/rand-paul-lone-dissenter-in-la.html).  'Paul told reporters after Thursday's vote that he believed the laser-pointer issue was one best handled by the states, not the federal government.'

Like Michele Bachmann and others, Rand Paul will be a mixed blessing for conservatives.  I like that he will be questioning whether things are appropriately a federal issue rather than just vote on what sounds good.

Cutting aid to Israel didn't need to be the first order of business with the turmoil in Egypt, but off he goes on that.  He probably never will vote to raise the debt limit, but they don't need 100 votes to do business.  I wonder if Milbank has done any stories on the compromises of Dick Durbin or Barbara Mikulsky...  Sen. Obama, another non-compromiser, voted against raising the debt limit, against the surge, and against all Presidential picks to the Supreme Court, even against Roberts who won 78 votes in the Senate.  It didn't seem to hurt his career.

I watched a full debate in that KY Senate race.  Rand faced a very moderate, reasonable, articulate opponent.  All Conway had to do to win IMO was say he would organize with the other side, not with Pelosi-Reid-Obama who are not exactly political mainstream in KY.  Conway could have passed for a moderate Republican, but I assume he was beholden to the people who got him there.

The political center of the Senate I think is where the action will be, if there is any, including the list of Dem Senators facing reelection in not very blue states.
4014  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 05, 2011, 01:23:39 PM
I enjoyed both the question as well as the answer regarding a botched stock market prediction.  I have given this some thought.  How can the market go up when everyone knows the economy is lousy and nothing has been fixed.  This is what I came up with: More money chasing fewer companies.
-----
Why would things get better when we have done nothing to fix what is wrong?

Here is The Economist with some comment on the lousy jobs report that just came out:
http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2011/02/americas_jobless_recovery

So this is the new year?

Feb 4th 2011, 14:15 by R.A. | WASHINGTON

LOOK almost anywhere in the recent economic data and the signs point to an accelerating recovery. A solid fourth quarter GDP report contained a truly blockbuster increase in real final sales. Manufacturing activity is soaring. Consumer spending is up and the trade deficit is down. Markets are trading at their highest level in over two years. And so economists anxiously awaited the first employment figures for 2011, hoping that in January firms would finally react to better conditions by taking on lots of new help.

Instead, the Bureau of Labour Statistics has dropped a puzzler of an employment report in our laps—one which points in many directions but not, decidedly, toward strong job growth. In the month of January, total nonfarm employment grew by a very disappointing 39,000 jobs. This was not at all what forecasters were expecting. Earlier this week, an ADP report indicated that private sector employment rose by 187,000 in January; the BLS pegged the figure at just 50,000. There were some compensating shifts. December's employment gain was revised upward from 103,000 to 121,000. November's employment rise, which was originally reported at 39,000, has been revised to a total gain of 93,000.

But there is bad news, as well. The BLS included its annual revision of the previous year's data in this report, and while job growth over the year looks stronger than before, the level of employment looks worse. In March of last year, 411,000 fewer Americans were working than originally reported. And thanks to a weaker employment performance in April through October, 483,000 fewer Americans were on the job in December than was originally believed to be the case. For now, the economy remains 7.7m jobs short of its previous employment peak.

The labour market picture becomes foggier still when one turns to the household survey data. America's unemployment rate fell 0.4 percentage points in January for a second consecutive month, dropping the rate to 9.0%. Why? According to the household data, employment grew by 117,000 over the month while the number of unemployed Americans fell by 622,000. A word of caution is in order: new population estimates are used each year to compute the household figures, which means that the January household survey numbers are not directly comparable to the December figures. It would seem from this report that the decline in the unemployment rate is mostly driven by departures from the labour force (which fell substantially), but the employment-population ratio actually rose for the month, thanks to a reported decline in the population of working adults. But according to the BLS, practically the entire drop in the labour force total is due to the population adjustment. If one were going to compare December numbers to January numbers by stripping out the annual adjustment (and this is a dicey proposition) the household survey would show a slight rise in the labour force and a substantial gain in employment (of 589,000) nearly equal to the drop in unemployment (of 590,000).

But the sample size of the household survey is quite small, which means that it would be unwise to read too much into any one aspect of the report. Meanwhile, economists are pointing to the annual adjustments and to bad weather as major factors clouding the picture. But we can say a few things with some certainty. The 39,000 payroll increase will almost certainly be revised upward in coming months. Apart from construction, private sector employment continues to grow, and in manufacturing it is growing strongly. But for another month, the economy has not added the number of jobs we would expect to correspond to the level of observed economic activity. And far too much of the drop in unemployment appears to be due to the exit from the labour force of long-term unemployed workers and early retirees.

So for another month, Americans will wait, frustrated and uncertain, to see when growth will once again mean new employment opportunities.

4015  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: February 05, 2011, 01:00:40 PM
Reagan answered a question regarding his criticism of the Carter administration during the change of power in Iran during an Oct 1984 debate that has some parallels with Egypt today:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5Ae5FRHH0k&feature=player_embedded

FWIW, I would love to see democracy in both places.  I just don't know what road leads there.
4016  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2012 Senate on: February 05, 2011, 10:44:25 AM
Morris says: "If we switch seats in North Dakota, Florida, Nebraska, Virginia, and Montana – red states all – we get control by 52-48.

But he went on to mention 8 others, all plausible: Wisconsin, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, West Virginia and New Jersey.

He didn't want to say it but in a sweep that makes 60. Morris is about right for today, but the momentum it seems is going to turn one way or the other from here.

I called for clarity and 100% of R's in the Senate voted for repeal and 100% of D's voted against repeal of a bill twice (out of 4 tries) declared unconstitutional.  (Both sides read the forum?)  Differences don't get much clearer.

Meanwhile I think R's have to defend Scott Brown and Olympia Snowe.

(Wherever you are, get involved early and help somebody.)
4017  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 04, 2011, 07:06:42 PM
Strategically, we probably shouldn't have given Obama the numbers and locations of our arsenal either.  Voters should be able to make one small mistake without losing all their security (and freedoms).  I suppose wikileaks would have found that out too.
4018  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: February 04, 2011, 02:00:46 PM
True we had pieces of a puzzle for 9/11.  The fall of the Soviet Union was a better example that Dick Cheney gave for large events missed by U.S. Intelligence.  We rightfully worry about Egypt now, but maybe larger dangers are looming in Yemen or Pakistan or ?

I don't have any information yet that the affects of the events in Tunisia were negative except for the first lady taking a ton and a half of gold out.  A very different population, history and location than Egypt. If I were a 'reformer' in Egypt I would set Mubarek up with a decent place inside of Egypt to live comfortably and die of old age instead of watching another poor country get looted by the kleptocrats.

Very strange for Obama to support reformers in Egypt and not in Iran.  Obviously based on projected outcome, not principles that we would understand.
4019  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate: 11% of homes vacant on: February 04, 2011, 01:35:26 PM
First a comment on GM's post on Political Economics: http://reason.com/blog/2011/02/03/coming-soon-a-300-percent-incr "Coming Soon: A 300-Percent Increase in Foreclosures"

I don't buy the conclusion in the title (they do back it up with numbers), but the article has excellent reporting.  Much of the information presented is in clickable links for sourcing.

I would add that lots of people are so-called underwater in value and keep paying because they don't want to move and don't want to default.

Remember, foreclosure is the good part - the contract as the parties originally agreed working as designed to get the asset (and the family leaving) back to the market.  The fact that the borrower quit paying their obligation - that was the bad part and that is well into past by the time foreclosured home hit the market.

In light of the demonstrated failure of programs that slow the foreclosure process to keep people in the wrong home for them, we should consider the opposite, speedier returns to market and fully privatized renegotiations.
-----------------

18.4 million homes are vacant, 11% in Q4 2010 according to Census numbers.  Here on CNBC: http://www.cnbc.com/id/41355854.  I saw that go by on drudge a couple of weeks ago but didn't see it on the forum.  That is a very scary number, though in my business, an 11% vacancy rate or a theoretical 89% collection rate would be a dream.

Remember there are many many bureaucratic barriers to bringing vacant homes back to market depending on where you are and a good number of the foreclosures are in highly regulated municipalities.  In Minneapolis as an example, there is a $1000 fine/fee in addition to the annual rental license fee to bring a house into the rental market, and a far more expensive, complied-with truth-in-housing report required for a sale.  In other words the old 'fixer-upper' 'sweat equity' bargain idea is highly illegal and could trigger something called a 'Code Compliance' order requiring an old house to be brought up to new code, which is financially akin to condemnation in a low end property.
These regulation mean that these properties can be bought only with high-risk cash, not mortgages as they are not insurable, or legal to rent or live in.

Foreclosed homes often have the furnace or even entire kitchen stripped etc. and sold as they leave.  I've bought them with the electrical panel removed and feed wires dangling hot.  As they sit empty the copper pipes get stolen.  Banks rarely will do more than empty and mow to protect their value.  Before the crisis, banks we worked with wanted the property sold at best price / any price usually in less than one day because they didn't want the liability of ownership.  Anyone in the business of buying these properties has got to be tapped out at this point no matter what you started with.
4020  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: February 04, 2011, 12:24:39 PM
"US intel missed Tunisia, Egypt uprisings"

They also missed the end of cold war and the 9/11 attacks.
4021  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / re. Baseline Budgeting and budget cutting on: February 03, 2011, 01:12:43 PM
"Baseline Budgeting - IMHO this is one of the most important issues there is when it comes to rolling back spending and establishing honest, sound policies..."

I agree wholeheartedly but it is easier said than done.  I believe this is something Newt promised and could not / did not deliver.  We actually should approach him now on answering this.

In my sales past I had the opportunity to sell office systems to government agencies State and Federal.  There literally were rushes in certain cases to spend up money at the end of fiscal years to avoid having next year's agency or office budget start lower, in other words a reverse incentive from cost savings, efficiency and results.  Now budgets mostly have been squeezed and extra money isn't so freely floating around, but the nature of the beast has not changed.

From my armchair I say we need zero-based budgeting.  You justify your mission, your results, your collateral damage and your budget needs each year starting up from zero.  In the real world, these people can't even be fired or have their pay cut, leases on office spaces have financial commitments, so do computer systems etc.  Still the baseline could be set at zero increase, with some offices, agencies or overlapping functions facing percentage cuts or extinction.  The problem there is political. You have to be able to face the advocates of big government who say the usual, food to the hungry, meds to the elderly etc. 

Zero increase is how far Obama went (with his latest head fake). But he means lock in the trillions of temporary, emergency increases, call it a freeze, then not stick to it for the same reason, fat children could die of starvation or whatever the latest poll tested line is.

Overlapping functions of govt is huge IMO.  Getting the Feds out of many of its current functions and sending it with the money back to the states can get rid of some overlap.

Mostly it is definition of government.  If we asked it do less, key functions that remain would be more manageable.  Of course we are still headed full steam in the opposite direction, see health care flow chart, cash for clunkers, electric car programs, high speed rail, light bulb selection agency, CO2 is a poison program, insulation credits and monitoring, 1099s for lawn mowing, federal auto manufacturing agency, ownership of the private mortgage market, ATM fee control agency, federal utility bill assistance as a compensator for raising your rates with excessive regulations elsewhere, etc, I could go on.

Back to the first point about immovable costs: some end or control of the public employee union phenomenon will necessarily precede any real budget or efficiency improvements or innovations - and no one has proposed that.
4022  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: February 02, 2011, 11:02:47 AM
No intent to pile on here, just offering my own two cents.  BD can defend himself, but the question was posed about where the anti-Semitic charge came from and this article (without merit) is at least an example.

"There is no evidence anywhere that Beck has made a clearly anti-Jewish statement. He is a supporter of Israel."

That is the quote of substance from the BD link at the Guardian.  The author then reaches for a different conclusion, but I don't see why any reader would based on any information presented.

Quoting the article again: "Beck...did one show called the "Big Lie", which identified numerous people as enemies of freedom. Of nine people given prominence in the show, eight of them were Jewish: ranging from New York academic Frances Fox Piven to Sigmund Freud (and, naturally, Soros). Beck, of course, never mentions their ethnicity."

Once again, the author reaches for one conclusion, but the reader or viewer does not have any reason I see to draw that conclusion.  Beck has staff but not necessarily enough to say to someone, get me the religion and ethnicity of each person I am about to slam for their political views or insincerity before I go on the air, and balance it out with different people to attack if there is a problem.  

When you are not anti-Semitic, you are sensitive to all the subtleties of avoiding the accusation.

Reminds me of Rush and the attacks of racism.  Rush wants nothing more than for people to individually achieve greatness on their own (and for millions to tune in everyday to the broadcast). His closest business confidant is black; his agenda is political policy, not groups.  When lies surfaced, they had 'credibility' because Rush is white and Rush is conservative.  With that logic, the racist is the accuser.

I was taught the theories of Sigmund Freud in the public sphere.  I was not taught about his religion or private life.  Was his publicly recognized work tied to his religion?  I don't know.  Soros to me is a very wealthy liberal activist trying to leverage his wealth and power to elect people all over of polar opposite political beliefs to mine, not a Jew. In private I assume he is Jewish from what is said.  That point is completely irrelevant to me and to Glen Beck I am assuming unless you read his mission to be something other than what it is.  Soros is tied to moveon.org.  That group ran the most despicable anti-American (IMO) ad in my lifetime - General Betray-Us.  He can receive hatred back or at least intense, public, verbal political attacks back for the rest of his life and longer as far as I am concerned.  To say Soros shouldn't be harshly singled out and criticized or can't handle verbal attacks coming back because he is Jewish, or that groups to be criticized need to have their religion checked first, to me is anti-Semitic.  

Reminds of a friend who is Jewish taking some offense quoting McCain in the primaries saying he wanted the next President to be a Christian.  What McCain meant was that HE is Christian and supporting himself for President.  His best friend politically is Joe Liebermann (Jewish) and that was probably McCain's first choice for President if he could not serve.  Again, sensitivities to how that is heard are missed when you are not anti-something.  Beck is anti-liberal, anti-Marxism/leftism/socialism, anti big government etc.  I don't listen much or watch but I'm sure he singles out Obama plenty too, who is not Jewish, or Hillary Clinton if she had won.  And that is not anti-half-black or anti-woman.  It is anti- a governing philosophy.  
4023  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Japan on: February 02, 2011, 10:09:12 AM
"I think the first generation always has one leg in the country of their birth and one in...their adopted country."

Makes sense to me - and to the founders.  What are you trying saying about our President? (just kidding)
-----
JDN,  Nihongo wakarimasu ka?

4024  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: Michael Barone, America by the Numbers on: February 01, 2011, 12:58:21 PM
Many implications here, first is that right now Republican have a minority in the Senate, but they should have 15 reasonable sympathetic Dems up for reelection in red states to work with either to govern now or to isolate Obama to the left of the nation coming into his potential reelection.  Obama is another Dem who needs to carry a good number of 'red states' to win.
-----
"the contrast between the audience at Obama's first State of the Union last year and the audience this year is remarkable. Then there were 316 Democrats and 218 Republicans in Congress. This year there are 289 Republicans and 246 Democrats. No president has seen such a large change in the partisan composition of his State of the Union audience since Harry Truman."

January 31, 2011
Politics by the Numbers: Good Omens for the GOP in 2012
By Michael Barone

Numbers can tell a story. Looking back on Barack Obama's second State of the Union message, and looking forward to the congressional session and the 2012 elections, they tell a story that should leave Democrats uneasy.

Start off with the audience in the House chamber. Not all members of Congress attended; Obama briefly and Paul Ryan at greater length in his otherwise brief rebuttal both appropriately noted the absence of Gabrielle Giffords.

But the contrast between the audience at Obama's first State of the Union last year and the audience this year is remarkable. Then there were 316 Democrats and 218 Republicans in Congress. This year there are 289 Republicans and 246 Democrats. No president has seen such a large change in the partisan composition of his State of the Union audience since Harry Truman.

That obviously will have legislative consequences. Obama told Republicans to give up on all but the most minor changes to Obamacare. They're not going to follow this advice.

As for spending, Obama reiterated his call for a limited freeze on domestic discretionary spending and cuts in defense. Again, as Ryan made clear, this Congress has different ideas.

The political incentive for Obama is to sound consensual, not confrontational. The current uptick in his job approval, putting him just over 50 percent, began when he agreed with Republicans to continue current income tax rates rather than raise taxes on high earners.

But on Tuesday night, he continued to call for higher taxes on the greedy rich in a time of sluggish economic recovery. Not as consensual as one might expect.

House Democrats, almost all elected from safe districts, won't mind that. But they're not going to have much to say about legislative outcomes. House Republicans will take it as a poke in the eye and perhaps as an attempt to renege on a deal. Not helpful in reaching other agreements.

In the Senate, where Democrats have a 53-47 majority, but not iron control, the situation is different. In the 2012 cycle, 23 Democrats come up for re-election and only 10 Republicans. You can get a good idea of their political incentives by looking at the 2010 popular vote for the House in their states. Since the mid-1990s, when partisan percentages in presidential and House elections converged, the popular vote for the House has been a pretty good gauge of partisan balance.

Of the 10 Republican senators up for re-election, only two represent states where Democrats won the House vote -- Olympia Snowe of Maine and Scott Brown of Massachusetts. They're both well ahead in local polls.

For the 23 Democrats up for re-election, the picture is different. Eight represent states where the House vote was 53 percent to 65 percent Democratic and where Barack Obama got more than 60 percent in 2008. Count them all as safe.

But 12 represent states where Republicans got a majority of the House vote in 2010. These include big states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Virginia, and states like Montana and Nebraska, where Republican House candidates topped 60 percent. Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin round out the list.

In another three states -- New Mexico, Washington, Minnesota -- Republicans won between 46 percent and 48 percent of the House popular vote. These were solid Obama states in 2008. They don't look like solid Democratic states now.

The point is that Democratic senators from all or most of these 15 states have a political incentive to reach agreements with Republicans that go a lot further than Obama did at the State of the Union.

Finally, what about the portents for the 2012 presidential race? Well, start off with the fact that Democrats won the House popular vote in only two of the 17 states that do not have Senate elections next cycle. The other 15 went Republican.

Overall, Democrats carried the popular vote for the House in 15 states with 182 electoral votes in 2012; add three more for the District of Columbia. Democrats were within 5 percent of Republicans in House elections in five more states with 52 electoral votes.

That gets Democrats up to 237 electoral votes, 33 votes shy of the 270-vote majority and 128 short of the 365 electoral votes Obama won in 2008.
4025  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt - El Baradei on: February 01, 2011, 12:48:28 PM
Remember El Baradei tried to swing the 2004 election in the US with his false report of weapons the Americans failed to secure. http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/01/028255.php

El Baradei refers to 'the people who organized the demonstrations' approving of him.  Maybe he could tell us who finds him respected and qualified, and why.

Like Time Magazine honoring Hitler and Khomeini, the Nobel 'Peace Prize' has strange meanings.  A 2009 Nobel winner hosted a State Dinner for the man who holds a 2010 winner in jail, and Arafat the Godfather of modern terrorism won one.
4026  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: February 01, 2011, 11:03:46 AM
For the high level officials reading the forum, I propose we designate any unused monies marked for Egypt that are withheld for not meeting our conditions be immediately transferred to Israel for defense assistance.  See if that keeps the canal open and the focus on Egyptian domestic priorities.
4027  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Winning the Future (WTF?) on: January 30, 2011, 12:21:57 PM
Obama's new vacuous campaign slogan winning the future (equals the not very family friendly initials) definitely belongs under Humor/WTF in this forum. It was Palin who identified the initials (who should have left it to others), but I forgot that was also the exact title of Gingrich's book.  My guess is these speech writers along with the orator have read nothing outside their own cocoon and were copying Clinton's vacuous "Bridge to the 21st Century' the best they could.  Wonder if the new, improved, centrist leaning, results oriented administration will take up any ideas from the title they plagiarized: http://www.americansolutions.com/take-action/2011/01/winning-the-future-for-america-or-for-politicians.php

"# UTILIZE ALL OF AMERICA'S VAST ENERGY RESERVES, including oil, natural gas, wind and solar as well as the vast potential for nuclear power to produce clean abundant energy and American jobs.

# TAX REFORM TO FAVOR JOB CREATION, SAVINGS, INVESTMENT, PRODUCTIVITY, RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, including eliminating the death tax and capital gains tax.

# GOVERNMENT REFORM TO MAKE EXECUTIVE BRANCH AGENCIES LEANER, MORE ACCESSIBLE AND MORE EFFECTIVE, including acquisition reform, better use of information technology and changing government work rules to make it easier to reward good workers and fire bad ones.

# EDUCATION REFORM TO EMPHASIZE MATH AND SCIENCE LEARNING by giving tax incentives to those who pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) degrees and allowing professionals using their math and science degrees to teach part time without having to go through the unionized credentialing process.

# JUDICIAL REFORM including tort reform to cut down on frivolous lawsuits and stopping the worrying trend of judges using foreign law as precedent in US cases.
4028  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: January 30, 2011, 11:36:51 AM
As the Muslim Brotherhood (sexist name?) represents a religion of peace, I don't know why Hillary Clinton's State Dept is urging the evacuation of Americans.  If I were Obama today I would appoint Keith Ellison to be our new Ambassador to Egypt and send Clinton and Ellison and a team of his political allies from CAIR in to set up open talks including all sides, all negotiations transparent and broadcast on CSPAN and Al-Jazeera.  This is the sit down with anyone moment candidate Obama longed for.  Can't we all just talk?  With any guts, he would send himself in.  Biden can watch the store while he's gone.
---
This excerpt from Global Research Intl Affairs, Barry Rubin http://www.gloria-center.org/gloria/2011/01/special-report-egypt-revolt-and-us-policy

There are two basic possibilities: the regime will stabilize (with or without Mubarak) or power will be up for grabs. Now, here are the precedents for the latter situation:

Remember the Iranian revolution when all sorts of people poured out into the streets to demand freedom? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is now president.

Remember the Beirut spring when people poured out into the streets to demand freedom? Hizballah is now running Lebanon.

Remember the democracy among the Palestinians and free elections? Hamas is now running the Gaza Strip.

Remember democracy in Algeria? Tens of thousands of people were killed in the ensuing civil war.

It doesn't have to be that way but the precedents are pretty daunting.
----
GM, good posts.  This one I don't think was Glen Beck's fault.

GM previously made this clear here, but others are picking up on it, the English translation sites of Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) have a different, more peaceful message than the Arabic sites, so watch what they do more than what (you think) they are saying. Also at Breitbart's big peace site: http://bigpeace.com/cbrim/2011/01/30/muslim-brotherhood-deception-they-say-different-things-in-english-and-arabic/
---
Crafty's musings about Iraq war opposition is interesting.  Hard to say how it applies here.  The U.S. is in a spectator position at this point.  If/when the new regime attacks or threatens American interests, we are in one way in a stronger position with Obama.  He actually has an opposition that will stand behind him if he moves to defend America's interests.
----
These world developments that run a course that we cannot control or even influence should put one extremely focused thought in our minds.  Get our own act in order in terms of own freedoms, healthy economy, strong defense and secure borders.  As the Suez threatens to close or whatever happens next in the volatile middle east, what a shame and a sham that we have spent recent decades fighting off our own energy production.  With our own house in order, maybe we could lecture Hu or Chavez or Mubarek, or maybe we wouldn't have to so much.
4029  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Egypt: America backed the uprising? on: January 29, 2011, 01:24:41 PM
I don't know what to make of this story by the UK Telegraph:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/egypt/8289686/Egypt-protests-Americas-secret-backing-for-rebel-leaders-behind-uprising.html

Egypt protests: America's secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising
The American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning “regime change” for the past three years, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

By Tim Ross, Matthew Moore and Steven Swinford 9:23PM GMT 28 Jan 2011

The American Embassy in Cairo helped a young dissident attend a US-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police.

On his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011.

The secret document in full: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/egypt/8289698/Egypt-protests-secret-US-document-discloses-support-for-protesters.html

He has already been arrested by Egyptian security in connection with the demonstrations and his identity is being protected by The Daily Telegraph.

The crisis in Egypt follows the toppling of Tunisian president Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali, who fled the country after widespread protests forced him from office.

The disclosures, contained in previously secret US diplomatic dispatches released by the WikiLeaks website, show American officials pressed the Egyptian government to release other dissidents who had been detained by the police.

Mr Mubarak, facing the biggest challenge to his authority in his 31 years in power, ordered the army on to the streets of Cairo yesterday as rioting erupted across Egypt.

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets in open defiance of a curfew. An explosion rocked the centre of Cairo as thousands defied orders to return to their homes. As the violence escalated, flames could be seen near the headquarters of the governing National Democratic Party.

Police fired rubber bullets and used tear gas and water cannon in an attempt to disperse the crowds.

At least five people were killed in Cairo alone yesterday and 870 injured, several with bullet wounds. Mohamed ElBaradei, the pro-reform leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was placed under house arrest after returning to Egypt to join the dissidents. Riots also took place in Suez, Alexandria and other major cities across the country.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, urged the Egyptian government to heed the “legitimate demands of protesters”. Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said she was “deeply concerned about the use of force” to quell the protests.

In an interview for the American news channel CNN, to be broadcast tomorrow, David Cameron said: “I think what we need is reform in Egypt. I mean, we support reform and progress in the greater strengthening of the democracy and civil rights and the rule of law.”

The US government has previously been a supporter of Mr Mubarak’s regime. But the leaked documents show the extent to which America was offering support to pro-democracy activists in Egypt while publicly praising Mr Mubarak as an important ally in the Middle East.

In a secret diplomatic dispatch, sent on December 30 2008, Margaret Scobey, the US Ambassador to Cairo, recorded that opposition groups had allegedly drawn up secret plans for “regime change” to take place before elections, scheduled for September this year.

The memo, which Ambassador Scobey sent to the US Secretary of State in Washington DC, was marked “confidential” and headed: “April 6 activist on his US visit and regime change in Egypt.”

It said the activist claimed “several opposition forces” had “agreed to support an unwritten plan for a transition to a parliamentary democracy, involving a weakened presidency and an empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled 2011 presidential elections”. The embassy’s source said the plan was “so sensitive it cannot be written down”.

Ambassador Scobey questioned whether such an “unrealistic” plot could work, or ever even existed. However, the documents showed that the activist had been approached by US diplomats and received extensive support for his pro-democracy campaign from officials in Washington. The embassy helped the campaigner attend a “summit” for youth activists in New York, which was organised by the US State Department.

Cairo embassy officials warned Washington that the activist’s identity must be kept secret because he could face “retribution” when he returned to Egypt. He had already allegedly been tortured for three days by Egyptian state security after he was arrested for taking part in a protest some years earlier.

The protests in Egypt are being driven by the April 6 youth movement, a group on Facebook that has attracted mainly young and educated members opposed to Mr Mubarak. The group has about 70,000 members and uses social networking sites to orchestrate protests and report on their activities.

The documents released by WikiLeaks reveal US Embassy officials were in regular contact with the activist throughout 2008 and 2009, considering him one of their most reliable sources for information about human rights abuses.
4030  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science and Military Issues on: January 29, 2011, 12:55:34 PM
[US military instructions, paperboard made in China]

Labeling on China's newest SuperComputer: Intel Inside  smiley 
4031  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: 12 Reasons Obama is Likely to Lose Reelection on: January 29, 2011, 12:48:14 PM
My first post from the Daily Beast which I thought was more on the Huffington Post end of the spectrum.  While republicans seem to only have second stringers, the incumbent has enormous and countless (at least a dozen) problems of his own.  All of these have validity and a couple of big ones are missing.
--------------
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-01-28/obamas-reelection-chances-12-reasons-hes-likely-to-lose/

Supporters are as exhausted as Velma Hart, the Tea Party has momentum, and Republicans are now more trusted. Mark McKinnon on why those issues, plus nine others, spell doom for the president’s reelection hopes.

President Obama’s State of the Union was strongly bipartisan and made smart moves to the center, although it missed a chance to really tackle tough fiscal issues like meaningful entitlement reforms. His Arizona speechwas terrific, his favorable ratings are climbing over 50, the economy is showing steady signs of improvement, and the stock market is up. So, how could he possibly lose his reelection bid? Just ask George H.W. Bush, who had an approval rating of nearly 90 percent two years out from his reelection. $#&! happens when you are at the helm of the free world. What could happen? Let us count the ways...

1. Velma Hart Syndrome

Many of Barack Obama’s supporters “are exhausted.” Many defected in the midterms. Independents, suburban residents, college graduates, working-class voters, and even Hispanic voters shifted right. Exit poll analysis by National Journal shows “white voters not only strongly preferred Republican House and Senate candidates but also registered deep disappointment with President Obama’s performance.” Team Obama will focus heavily on minorities, the young, and women, but voter enthusiasm may be tempered by economic exhaustion. Good news for Team O? Velma liked the speech Tuesday night.

2. The Obama Overexposure Effect

With counsel that he needs to get out more among the people to sell his message, voters may be turned off by the Obama Overexposure Effect. A Pew 2008 weekly survey showed, by a margin of 76 percent to 11 percent, respondents named Obama over Sen. John McCain as the candidate they heard about the most. Close to half said they heard too much about Obama. And by a slight but statistically significant margin, they then had a less favorable view of him. Before the 2012 campaign even kicks off, will Obama fatigue return?

3. Debt Bomb

The national debt reached $10 trillion under President Bush, but deficit spending is at an all-time high under President Obama, with $1.4 trillion added in 2009 and $1.3 trillion in 2010. And the CBO now projects a deficit of $1.5 trillion this year. That means the federal government will borrow 40 cents for every dollar it spends. Bankruptcies loom for many states faced with unfunded public pension liabilities; strong-arm demands for bailouts by unions will threaten Democrats’ credibility. Sixty-eight percent of likely voters already express a preference for smaller government and lower taxes. Talk of more federal spending and the potential for state bankruptcies will increase voter anxiety. As the GOP educates voters about what the exploding debt burden means for future generations, its cost-cutting measures and messaging will resonate.

Article - McKinnon Obama 2012 Tom Williams / Getty Images

4. Voters Aren’t Better Off

In 1980, President Ronald Reagan famously asked: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” The answer for many is “no,” with higher unemployment, more debt, record-high home foreclosures, and another housing dip on the way. The long road to economic recovery will continue to frustrate voters. And weekly reminders of rising prices at the gas pump and grocery store, where it hurts most, may cost Obama the election.

5. Ailing Health Care

• Mark McKinnon: 12 Reasons Obama Wins in 2012If “Obamacare” was historic legislation, so too was the House vote to repeal it. Though repeal today may be moot as Senate passage and a presidential veto are unlikely, as the true bottom line becomes known, in terms of increased costs, decreased access to care, and increased government controls, health care once again will be a decisive campaign issue. Efforts to dismantle or defund Obamacare will continue for the next two years. And as the public listens more to the credible Rep. Paul Ryan, the president will be on the defensive daily.

6. Tea Party Momentum

The momentum will not stop. With a majority voice and a mandate, GOP House members, and the increasingly popular Speaker John Boehner, are making all the right moves, with humility and focus on the most important issues: the economy and health care. Fired up by victories in the historic midterm elections, Tea Party, conservative, older, and right-leaning moderate voters will turn out in droves in 2012, challenging the Democrats’ ground game. With 33 Senate seats (23 of which are now held by Democrats), 435 House seats, 11 governorships, and perhaps the ultimate fate of Obamacare still on the line, all politics is turnout.

7. Obama’s Transparency Problem

If House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is effective in questioning mismanagement and opacity in the administration, Team Obama will be forced off-message as the public is reminded daily of the president’s one-time promises of transparency. A bill introduced on the first day of this session that seeks to cut off funding to 39 “czars” appointed without congressional approval may also find its way to the light of day on Issa’s desk. And sunshine tends to disinfect.

8. Congressional Districts Reapportioned

With the reapportionment of congressional districts from the 2010 Census, and with Republican control of more governorships and state legislatures, Obama’s electoral road to reelection is not without a few bumps. Eight states gained at least one congressional district; five of those are traditionally red states, including Texas, which gained four seats. Six of the 10 states to lose a district are blue. And once reliable Democratic states voted Republican in the 2010 midterms. While Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post shows how Obama could survive the challenge, Karl Rove builds a case for the president falling 67 short of what he needs to remain in the White House.

9. The Wars Aren’t Over

President Obama gets credit for continuing George W. Bush’s strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan. And though the public grows weary, the anti-war movement is now strangely silent. The number of voters who believe the terrorists are winning is at its highest level in over three years, and voters continue to believe Obama’s ideas on foreign policy don’t quite match their own. Those concerns, along with growing international threats from Iran, and our increasing economic dependence on China, may push votes into the R column.

10. What About Overregulation?

By moderating his anti-business rhetoric, selecting William Daley of JPMorgan Chase as his new chief of staff, and naming General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt as the chair of the White House’s new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Obama is sending signals of the administration’s shift toward the center. But without real changes to the overregulation strangling business growth, those signals may be seen as all smoke, no fire. And if private-sector job growth does not improve, voters may punish Obama at the polls.

11. Republicans Are More Trusted

The country yearns for an optimistic leader who believes in America, and who is willing to make hard choices to save future generations from the burden of our mistakes. Many thought that was Obama’s promise. No matter how it may be spun, the midterm elections were a referendum on the president’s performance and platform. And Republicans are now more trusted on all the top issues, including the economy, taxes, and health care.

12. The Vision Thing

Though President Obama has matched his highest job approval rating in more than a year, he is under 50 percent when it comes to the economy, viewed by the public as the highest priority. Trust in his ability to handle health care has dropped to a new low. And only 37 percent of independents would vote to re-elect Obama if the election were held today. A $1 billion campaign fund may not be enough if the GOP’s “Candidate X” presents a compelling and distinctly different narrative, a better vision for tomorrow.

4032  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, Laser-like focus on: January 28, 2011, 06:16:21 PM
Of course there is no such thing as a laser-like focus.  There are lasers and there are other methods of focus. This was more like my teenage daughter saying she will be home at like-10.

Obama also said we can do more than one thing at once.  Lasers don't make very effective flood lights.
4033  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 28, 2011, 06:10:35 PM
Asked elsewhere: "At the beginning of 1996, Obama was able to get all of his opponents thrown off the ballot." Can you elaborate?  How did he do that and who helped him do this?
----------
Try this link to Chicago Tribune coverage.  The one he attacked was the same one who handpicked him as successor and previously endorsed him. It was impressive how instantly he knew which were the bad signatures in his own precincts on a campaign where he so recently worked.  Asked how removing names off of the ballot served the electorate, he pointed to the result, himself elected, and said they did pretty well. 

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/obama/chi-070403obama-ballot-archive,0,5693903.story
Obama knows his way around a ballot

By David Jackson and Ray Long Tribune staff reporters
 April 3, 2007

The day after New Year's 1996, operatives for Barack Obama filed into a barren hearing room of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

There they began the tedious process of challenging hundreds of signatures on the nominating petitions of state Sen. Alice Palmer, the longtime progressive activist from the city's South Side. And they kept challenging petitions until every one of Obama's four Democratic primary rivals was forced off the ballot.

Fresh from his work as a civil rights lawyer and head of a voter registration project that expanded access to the ballot box, Obama launched his first campaign for the Illinois Senate saying he wanted to empower disenfranchised citizens.

But in that initial bid for political office, Obama quickly mastered the bare-knuckle arts of Chicago electoral politics. His overwhelming legal onslaught signaled his impatience to gain office, even if that meant elbowing aside an elder stateswoman like Palmer.

A close examination of Obama's first campaign clouds the image he has cultivated throughout his political career: The man now running for president on a message of giving a voice to the voiceless first entered public office not by leveling the playing field, but by clearing it.

One of the candidates he eliminated, long-shot contender Gha-is Askia, now says that Obama's petition challenges belied his image as a champion of the little guy and crusader for voter rights.

"Why say you're for a new tomorrow, then do old-style Chicago politics to remove legitimate candidates?" Askia said. "He talks about honor and democracy, but what honor is there in getting rid of every other candidate so you can run scot-free? Why not let the people decide?"

In a recent interview, Obama granted that "there's a legitimate argument to be made that you shouldn't create barriers to people getting on the ballot."

But the unsparing legal tactics were justified, he said, by obvious flaws in his opponents' signature sheets. "To my mind, we were just abiding by the rules that had been set up," Obama recalled.

"I gave some thought to … should people be on the ballot even if they didn't meet the requirements," he said. "My conclusion was that if you couldn't run a successful petition drive, then that raised questions in terms of how effective a representative you were going to be."

Asked whether the district's primary voters were well-served by having only one candidate, Obama smiled and said: "I think they ended up with a very good state senator."
4034  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 28, 2011, 06:01:03 PM
How could they have contemplated appointed officials when they last reviewed their ordinance that clearly specifies elected officials and military.  There was probably an R. administration back then.

Personally I like to see liberals have to go back to a real jurisdiction and balance a budget.

Isn't our nation's formerly second largest city by definition a lobbyist of the federal government.  Wasn't there an administration rule (written by Emmanuel) banning administration officials from leaving to take a position lobbying back to the same government for money, subsidies and favorable legislation?
4035  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 28, 2011, 12:30:35 PM
Is a typist at 40k for a backroom federal office also serving their country or are they working a job.  If you leave to work in the private sector or a private charity are you serving our country?  Depends on who owns our language.  sad
4036  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / European matters: 'Single Currency is Fininshed' on: January 27, 2011, 10:58:08 AM
I post this for the information in it.  The conclusion in the title is author's opinion.  I think he is concluding on the positive side that the Euro will be stronger once its weakest members die off.  Impressive side note: Germany's growth rate was 3.6% in 2010.  (Note to Obama, the recession is over.)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/jeffrandall/8284235/Buy-euros-the-single-currency-is-finished.html

... This, now, is the position of the Club Med countries within the eurozone. The single currency is functioning so brilliantly, its vulnerable members are sliding towards bankruptcy. Frittering away their credibility in remorseless bond markets, they turn to Das Scheckbuch in Berlin for hard cash.

On current form, Greece will be paying nearly 10 per cent of its GDP in interest by 2015. Portugal’s 10-year borrowing costs are close to an unsustainable 7 per cent and would be even higher were it not for market manipulation by the European Central Bank. And Spain is sitting on 700,000 unsold homes, 20 per cent unemployment and a 33 per cent deterioration in competitiveness against Germany since the euro was formed.

Yes, the system is working a treat. No luck required, just more money. But from where will it come? The bail-out fund of 750 billion euros, cobbled together by the European Union and IMF, will not be enough. It may buy time, allowing Athens, Lisbon and Madrid to play the wheel for longer than they should, but their financial attrition grinds on.

Of the six eurozone countries that still have triple-A credit ratings – Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – only one really matters: Germany. As the EU’s economic powerhouse (GDP growth was 3.6 per cent in 2010), it has become the lender of last resort. So far, Berlin has paid up, but 62 per cent of Germans now oppose further rescue packages for EU losers. Faced with choosing between Europe’s olive belt and her own electorate, Chancellor Angela Merkel will turn off the aid tap.

So what can be done? Some are calling for the issuance of an all-embracing euro bond, enabling the weaklings to access credit on terms similar to those enjoyed by more muscular neighbours. Last week, I asked Finland’s prime minister, Mari Kiviniemi, if this was a good idea. She responded in the way that an exasperated teacher might scold a classroom dunce: “No, it is a very bad idea”.

What about the ECB? Can it be relied upon to loosen monetary policy and allow rising inflation to ease the pain of the over-borrowed and inefficient? Not while Jean-Claude Trichet is in charge. The central bank piper is unmistakeably French, but the tune he plays is that of a Bavarian oompah band. Forget a cut in the ECB’s interest rate; it’s more likely to go up.

In short, there is no get-out-of-jail card. As the Bank of England’s governor explained this week, eurozone countries that binged on cheap money and self-indulgent pay awards must face up to improving competitiveness: “But because they are part of a monetary union and so do not have their own currency, they can do so only through outright falls in nominal wages. And to force that adjustment, unemployment has had to rise very sharply, compounding the impact on living standards.”

What, I suspect, Mervyn King believes, but dare not say, is that the excruciating realignment of income to output in the Club Med has much further to run. Greece has barely scratched the surface of a sprawling and corrupt public sector, where standards of book-keeping shame a country that lays claim to the oldest counting board yet discovered (300BC).

Greece is learning the hard way that cutting the budget deficit and reducing overall debt are not the same thing. There comes a point where austerity alone cannot deliver a solution, because the burden of unaffordable obligations is rising faster than savings can be made. Long after the bullet has been bitten, total mortgage arrears continue to deteriorate.

As long as Greece remains locked in a currency that is deutsche mark with only a hint of garlic, its economy cannot recover. A lethal combination of rising unemployment, falling wages and an exodus of talent will force it to confront reality. That will occur when either the voters decide they can no longer stand the hair shirt or the country’s creditors run of out patience.

The same will apply to Portugal and, eventually, Spain. Thus the euro, as we know it, is finished. Which is why… I’m a buyer of the euro. When the crunch comes – and the laggards secede or are expelled – the residue will be a group of solvent nations, unhindered by chronic budget and trade imbalances. As veteran investor Jim Rogers explains: “The more I look at it, the more I see Germany taking control of the euro.” That’ll do nicely.
4037  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Education on: January 27, 2011, 10:39:49 AM
The President hit hard on Education in the State of the Union, unfortunately it doesn't happen to be a federal function as pointed out by George Will today: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/opinion/op_ed/view/20110127states_can_handle_school_reform/

In my daughter's public high school, the graduation rate is 99% and the on-to-college rate is 88%; this is a large suburban school district. 

A short distance away in Keith Ellison's urban district run by Obama's ACORN allies pushing 'welfare rights', the dropout rate is 45%: http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=638761

Maybe he was reaching out to those kids who were not likely to be listening, but the rest of his agenda has the opposite effect - sending the message constantly that the rich should pay more and the poor should be entitled to more... spread the wealth.

Leftism is the theme in nearly all of the nation's largest cities where high school graduation rates average 50% and a strong work ethic is the theme across most of the rest of the heartland.

The answer is NOT a new federal program.  The answer is find out what is going right in certain neighborhoods - mostly working hard, working smart, intact families, self sufficiency etc., and emulate it.  Find out what is going wrong in the dysfunctional neighborhoods, mostly a victim, assistance and dependency mentality, and stop contributing to it.
4038  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: January 26, 2011, 09:06:52 PM
I think everyone might agree with this CCP statement: "I prefer this vs a police state for anyone with a mental illness".

In my mind there has to be something in between.

GM's Reuters post makes the point that Arizona more than most states could have attempted civil commitment on this shooter.  Prior to the shooting I'm not sure anyone knew commitment was necessary.  He was an adult somewhat in the care of his parents, he made an attempt at college, sort of had friends. Yet he did have school, friends, family and police all notice a serious level of anti-social incoherence setting in.

CCP wrote: "Probably one out of three people in the US are or have been on some psychiatric med at some point in their lives."

Probably about right from things I have also read.  Yet there are ways to categorize the type, severity and risk level further I think to where we are talking about a much smaller number of people.

I know someone close to me who suffers from schizophrenia.  I would say no risk posed to others on or off the meds in this case, but I would also be okay with his/her loss of gun purchase rights in the battle with mental illness in exchange for having others with high risk face limits that might prevent one of these tragedies.  Also I am very familiar with person(s) suffering from Bipolar/Manic Depression and Munchausen by Proxy (harm your baby to bring attention or importance to yourself).  If anyone has ever threatened or attempted suicide or murder/suicide I would think that a lifetime restriction on firearms would be reasonable, not a violation of anyone's 2nd amendment rights or necessarily lead to a police state against the liberties of people with mental illness. To the contrary, having some level of safety and protection is IMO part of a system of how we can continue gun ownership and carry rights, and how we can avoid institutionalizing the functioning mentally ill among us against their will.

If you need to wear contacts to read the eye chart, that gets on your license for any future law enforcement encounter to discover.  If your doctor knows you are one medication away from potentially dangerous psychopathic behavior, why can't that be tracked in a somewhat confidential way.

I guess I am saying if there is no way to mark someone and limit their arms purchases after they have had school, friends, family and police all notice he/she has checked out from reality, then I would like to be spared the big ordeal after each shooting of wondering what made them do it, were there  any signs, and how could this have been prevented. 

It is a risky world, defend yourself?  Tell that to the 9 year old.
4039  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam in Africa, Events in Tunisia on: January 26, 2011, 03:58:53 PM
I asked Tunisian friends to comment with any inside word on the events back in their homeland.  In an amongst teasings aimed back at me for my own politics I received this interesting insight: "...the catalyst--no shit--was the government's increased limitation on Skype and Facebook."  Educated population, no jobs, time spent online...[that was where oppression had gone too far.]

I leave it in this thread where neighboring leaders fear something similar, but seems to me also places like China, Iran need to take notice.  I understand the 'first lady' of Tunisia took with her a ton and a half of gold.  Maybe there is a positive lesson there.  We could send our investment bankers in instead of missionaries or intelligence officers and negotiate favorable buyouts for oppressive leaders around the globe.
4040  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 26, 2011, 03:22:39 PM
CCP, Very interesting video.  There is no long form or record at either of those two hospitals on that day or any other. The short form was issued based on the birth announcement made by the grandparents(?). My guess was going to be that something else embarrassing was going to come out of this such as no marriage, no father, different date, not that he wasn't born in America.  One rumor that ran through the internet research, perhaps the family picked up and moved suddenly to Hawaii because she was pregnant. That makes more sense than the real story of starting classes a month late and moving suddenly without explanation.  In that scenario, she knew the race of the father and linked up with a more worldly black to give the boy a story and a name.  Obama Sr. either was tricked or knew and went along with it with a little pride but no parental connection.  Aug. 4 1961 may not have been the actual birth date, altered to fit the story line of meeting Obama Sr. and I highly doubt they were ever married.  Would he have to certify he was not already married to get that?  Regarding records, remember that Hawaii had been a state for less than 2 years at this time though record keeping doesn't seem to have changed.  Maybe the grandparents hired medical professionals into their home for the birth, and then went ahead with this story when they were certain of the mixed race baby. Mixed race was likely a big deal to everybody in 1961.  That would explain all the chicanery and secrecy, the avoidance of further embarrassment, respecting the life secrets of his now deceased Mother, why his Obama Sr. never acknowledged until out of curiosity eleven years later.  

Again, none of it points to him being born elsewhere, just lacking documents, which is no crime to me.  If this whole bizarre story came out, as Michelle almost slipped when she said 'Barack's mother was very single and very alone when she had Barack', it would only in my opinion build political sympathy for him and against those scrutinizing the deep secrets of his mother's past.  If Stanley Ann was knocked up by a nameless Seattle black, that makes young Barry more American than even the Kenyan story.

State by state there could be laws passed and challenges made to placing his name on a 2012 ballot.  I predict those efforts will fail because no alternative story of being a native born citizen of somewhere else makes any sense or carries with it any evidence.

CCP, like you say, the story keeps giving off more and more reasons for suspicion so it is hard to let it rest, but he looks to me like a sworn-in President with a valid passport, a short form birth certificate, social security number, etc. so the burden to prove otherwise moves to the accusers IMO who have absolutely nothing.  She had no reason whatsoever that we know of to leave the country, (checking the map-what foreign country is near Hawaii?) and if she did the baby was still born to an American mom with Hawaiian residence who shortly moved back to Seattle.  If Obama was involved in a conspiracy with the Head of the Hawaii Health Dept. to concoct a story that they had examined a non-existent long form, then he is guilty of that, something less I would guess than a high crime and misdemeanor of the impeachable type, and likely impossible to prove.  If proof comes out suddenly (it hasn't and it won't) that he is unquestionably not eligible to be President, proceedings should be started immediately to remove him from office and ... drum roll please... President Biden can be immediately sworn in.  No one wants that.
4041  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tea Party and related: The Forgotten Man - Jon McNaughton on: January 26, 2011, 02:31:32 PM
This video could go under interesting thought pieces, but seems to follow a tea party theme.  What would the founders and previous Presidents think of what we are doing now?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KGlBHyVeYU&feature=player_embedded#!
4042  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / progressivism: Nader on: January 26, 2011, 01:23:52 PM
There are many areas where the far left, distrustful of big business, and the far right distrustful of bug government, should be able to find agreement. All we seek is a fair and level playing field and that is at least partly their objective as well.  GSE's are inherently corrupt enterprises.  I cringe when I hear the term public-private partnerships or whatever version of that concept Obama was describing at the State of the Union.  Remember that Nader is far to the left of Obama, and even more so now that Obama is faking toward the middle.  The buyout he describes is unfair to put it mildly, buying 79.9% at $.000001/per share because 80% would have a reporting requirement! Then trashing the value of it for their own purposes. Using the clout of size to disproportionate squish those whose stake is financially smaller.  Same goes for unfair debt rearrangements in other government meddling, besides the illegality and unconstitutionality.  It doesn't seem to me that shareholders have control over companies, though I would prefer to disagree with Nader.  Ownership comes and goes but professional management is entrenched as long as things go acceptably well.  The only freedom or power the individual shareholder really has is to not buy the shares.
4043  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: January 26, 2011, 12:48:32 PM
GM wrote regarding the gun smuggling, "Perhaps Mexico should secure it's border....."

Mexico of course isn't going to do it and can't.  I hate to say it, but isn't it only a matter of time before the U.S.military needs to secure and control both sides of that non-existent border, assuming the private vigilante system described is not a great solution...

4044  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: January 26, 2011, 12:25:35 PM
Notably missing in the State of the Union was any new attack on gun ownership.  Still the questions posed in this thread are important.  Pro-gun people should address the issue of making it more difficult for the known mentally disturbed to buy and carry.  GM points out that those with court ordered psych treatments are already covered.  There are gaps though if this Tucson nutcase could walk in and load up considering what everyone around him knew.  I don't know the answer regarding privacy of mental records or the civil commitment process which is nearly impossible before a threat becomes reality, but fewer mass shootings would be good politics for gun ownership.
4045  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Fed, The Dollar: The World's Reserve Currency on: January 26, 2011, 12:11:33 PM
"Countries that do not have a gold standard; which, at this point in history,
includes all of them; must still back their currencies with something. "
-----
Crafty already posted this piece (Wesbury) on "US-China' so I will only excerpt points here about the dollar as the reserve currency that go beyond the implications specific to China.

Make no mistake, the dollar and our country itself are troubled entities that need rescuing from within, but both are better and stronger than the alternatives.  Giving Wesbury credit, but this is a point I tried to make earlier in this thread.  Date is Jan. 16 2011, so when he says "There is simply no other instrument issued by anyone that has the liquidity and certainty of payment of US Treasury debt", he means that in the context of all our current struggles.
-----
"Countries that do not have a gold standard; which, at this point in history,
includes all of them; must still back their currencies with something. These
reserves create confidence. The Federal Reserve typically uses US
Treasury securities as reserves, although it also holds many mortgage-backed
securities these days. The Fed makes a profit on these holdings and turns them over
to the government. The European Central Bank also holds the sovereign debt of its
member countries and turns their earnings over to member governments.
 
Emerging market central banks have a choice of what to hold as reserves, and they
will always make the one that maximizes earnings and creates the most confidence in
their currencies. That's why China links its currency to the dollar and holds
mostly US Treasury debt as reserves.
 
No one forces a foreign central bank to buy US Treasury debt. Each country would
prefer to have their central bank buy their own local government debt as reserves.
But who would trust these currencies if they were backed up by local government
debt? Imagine Thailand trying to encourage the use of its currency if it was backed
only by Thai government debt. And if fewer people held the currency, the central
bank would generate lower profits to hand over to the government.
 
In other words, the international role of the dollar is a by-product of
profit-seeking central banks pursuing their own self-interest. And that's not
going to change anytime soon. There is simply no other instrument issued by anyone
that has the liquidity and certainty of payment of US Treasury debt.
 
Moreover, as emerging markets keep growing, their central banks will issue more
local currency, which will continue to elevate the demand for Treasury debt. So
while other countries must learn to accept the US dollar's role, Americans
must learn to accept that, over time, the share of our debt owned by foreigners is
likely to keep rising. And, that the demand for US debt helps generate large US
trade deficits.
 
Many assume large foreign ownership of US debt makes the US vulnerable to foreign
governments. We think the vulnerability is the other way around. For example, the US
could protect Taiwan with its Navy. Or, instead, the US could send a message that
any attack would mean no payments on our debt to the attacking country until it
withdraws and makes reparations. The US did something similar when World War II
began. No wonder Hu Jintao told the Washington Post “the
current international currency system is a product of the past.”
China realizes it’s vulnerable.  But, any major changes are
decades in the future. The dollar will remain the world's reserve currency for a long time to come."
 
4046  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 26, 2011, 11:20:46 AM
My download of the appellate decision was partial, so I meant that literally, 'what am I missing'.  The exceptions were what I was missing, thank you, but he doesn't seem to fall exactly in them.  We will see.  The long term lease-out of his Chicago home was IMO the deal killer.  Otherwise he is arguably a Chicago resident away on business for the country, maintaining residency, even if he was seldom if ever able to come home. It makes his DL and his residency a fraud.  We all know Chief of Staff is of high importance, I sure he argued strongly for the Chicago Olympic bid for example, but it is not elected office or military service.  Typist for the Chief of Staff is important work too; let's not judge the value of his work, just note that he chose to take work and residence in Washington when he needed to be in Chicago if he wanted this job with a one year candidate residency requirement.  I wouldn't want to be the political adviser who told him this would be no problem.
4047  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: Rahm on: January 25, 2011, 11:58:34 PM
The one year residency requirement doesn't seem to be in any dispute and everyone knows he moved to Washington DC to work for the President. How does Rahm have a leg to stand on? He leased a place to live in DC and he leased out his Illinois home to someone else for the same period.  A lease transfers possession.  It means his drivers license was wrong. He didn't have a legal right to live in the address where he said he lived. He transferred that right away - sold it - because he made plans to live somewhere else, not in Illinois.  He can't move back into what he alleged was his residence, even now. He had to rent somewhere else, which is fine except he hasn't been at the new place a year as of election day, or anywhere else in IL, like the law requires. I'm missing something? It's strange to me that there is a controversy.
4048  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 24, 2011, 10:43:30 AM
Year 3 of his Presidency, this is an actual headline: Obama looking for ideas to grow jobs.  Googling to find where I saw that, I found the same headline coming into State of the Union last year as well:
http://www.morningjournal.com/articles/2010/01/06/news/mj2113672.txt
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/23/magazine/23Economy-t.html?pagewanted=all

Here's to hoping the next one isn't in his own Utopian fog as he takes the Presidency.  Clue: Government is financed as an economic parasite that feeds off of the host.  Since many functions of government  are necessary and need to be preserved, we should make every effort to stop killing off the host private sector entrepreneurial economy.
----

CCP: "Obama seems to take up the philosophy of his father"

Yes maybe by accident, really it is the radical leftism of his mother.  That is likely what drew her to the African student as much as race.  Obama's other mentors and colleagues had far more direct influence than his father: Bill Ayers, Rev. Wright etc.

The story behind the book 'Dreams of his father' as I recall was a hodgepodge of notes Obama put down until he stalled out with writer's block.  Someone else picked it up and drew a story line through it and also probably named it.  Pundits/analysts think that was Bill Ayers IIRC.  Everyone has a ghost writer or editor so that isn't a big deal, but neither is the book.  Obama never visited Kenya until after his father died.  I don't blame Obama for searching Africa for the economic success secrets that America lacked, I blame his voters.

People who lie or talk mostly out of both sides of their mouth sometimes anger me, but mostly bore me.  I don't  learn even what they are thinking by listening to them.  I just waste my own time trying to figure them out.  It is the chess game of how to catch him in a bad move, defeat him and change the direction that interests me.
4049  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics on: January 24, 2011, 09:55:01 AM
Interesting interview with Thomas Sowell. Quoting the last question and answer below about why he gave up on Marxism.  Interestingly Milton Friedman didn't change his mind at U. of Chicago.  Watching the government from the inside did.

He just came out with a 4th edition of Basic Economics, they joke about how thick it is.  Buy the book.  Read it all.  And read the chapter he took out and posted on the internet.  There is a lifetime of wisdom there.  The easy and failing government answers to today's problems aren't new.
----
I read that you identified yourself as a Marxist in your college days. What prompted your change in ideology?

TS: I was a Marxist I guess for a decade from about the time I was 20 to 30 roughly. What changed my mind was not anything I had read. I was a Marxist when I went into Milton Friedman’s course at [the University of] Chicago and I was a Marxist when I came out of it.

What changed me was working as an economic intern in the government in 1960 and discovering what the government bureaucracies were like in terms of their motivations and how they do their job. I immediately realized government is not the answer. Life taught me. I think that is true for most people.

Most of the leading conservatives were not conservatives when they were young. Milton Friedman was a liberal, he even described himself in his autobiography as Keynesian in his thinking. Friedrich Hayek was a socialist. Ronald Reagan was so far left that the FBI was keeping an eye on him. So you run through the list — of course the whole neoconservative movement was on the left initially. And the same thing happened in Europe and elsewhere. A lot of the indoctrination that takes place in educational institutions begin to erode when people get into the real world and start thinking for themselves.

http://dailycaller.com/2011/01/24/thomas-sowell-speaks-to-thedc-about-the-financial-crisis-health-care-and-his-ideological-transformation-from-marxism-to-conservatism/#ixzz1By5Svi1F

4050  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: January 21, 2011, 01:41:01 PM
I posted the Chua story, but didn't read the backlash. It was a little extreme, in the early part I thought she was joking.  I agree with this part of the previous post, we could all learn 'a little' from her.  Intensity to a point makes sense, but not that extreme.  No sleepovers? maybe.  No play dates ever? No sports allowed.  All parent determined. That sounds sick to me.  Allowing positive friendships to foster was important part of parenting IMO.

I grudgingly read Andre Agassi's autobiography where he expresses his hatred for the game that his readers and fans love.  His father was Iranian and driven to make his kid the best in the world at any and all costs including keeping out of school, hitting balls at all hours, tweaking the home ball machine to shoot at him at 140mph and sending him away at a young age.  With all the promos to the book I thought he was just an ungrateful kid.  Reading the book I just got more and more squeamish about the level of abuse he experienced and the childhood he missed.  As I wrote about CEO level obsessions, I don't think being number one at the expense of all other aspects and balances in life is the sweet spot.  

All of that said, 'a little' or even quite a bit more discipline like those Chinese mothers have would be very helpful for most kids floundering in American education.  Inner city schools have 50% dropout rates and we are not talking about college.  I would say that like successful management styles, as the parent, the coach or the educator, you want to get the kid moving in the right direction without always making them feel like it is being forced on them by someone else.
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