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4051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Thomas Sowell backing Newt! on: December 20, 2011, 02:25:52 PM
The Past and the Present

By Thomas Sowell | If Newt Gingrich were being nominated for sainthood, many of us would vote very differently from the way we would vote if he were being nominated for a political office.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those who want to concentrate on the baggage in Newt Gingrich's past, rather than on the nation's future, should remember what Winston Churchill said: "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." If that means a second term for Barack Obama, then it means lost big time.
4052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: December 20, 2011, 02:20:31 PM
Mixed news.  Good for employment, but the housing market needed stronger demand not increased supplies. 

When construction hit near zero, the percentage increases coming back look disproportionately dramatic.  He is reporting a .093 /12 monthly increase.  A 19 month high is in the context of more than 3 years at depression levels.  Maybe Bernancke will call it irrational exuberance.
4053  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re:American Creed (Constitutional Law) LA Times piece - Selective Outrage on: December 20, 2011, 02:00:06 PM
"It is ironic that conservatives continue with such attacks even as there is a conservative majority on the Supreme Court and its rulings overall are far more to the liking of conservatives than liberals."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[abridging the right to bear arms] "is a reasonable way of achieving the government's legitimate goal of decreasing gun violence" [without any amendment to the constitution required] - Erwin Chemerinsky, March 14, 2007 ??
4054  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Tyranny Totalitarianism:re. RIP Vaclav Havel Crushed Communism By Speaking Truth on: December 20, 2011, 11:00:16 AM
Great story.  A few great heroes emerged in the period of overcoming the horrible history of Soviet and eastern bloc oppression.

Not to be confused with the Czech President since Vaclav Havel: Václav Klaus, a more contemporary hero IMO.  These are our allies and happen to be the ones Pres. Obama spit on for a deal gone bad with Putin.  When this miserable period in our country's history passes, we need to go out again and find our real allies, if we have any left.  Those who witnessed communism firsthand appreciate freedom the most.
4055  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 20, 2011, 10:48:17 AM
All the extremely private health care individual information in the nation integrated into one easily accessed system.  What could possibly go wrong?

A trick question from my early career in bank information systems: what is the objective of the bank's computer system? It is a rookie mistake is to think the system should make all information available to all users.  The answer is the opposite.  The system needs to hold and process all the data with people's very private information but only make very limited information available to any user - just enough to do their job with proper security clearance.  The larger the institution, the larger the opportunity for security breaches.  Has anyone ever heard of wikileaks?
4056  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Barney Frank on: December 20, 2011, 10:31:14 AM
Guys all think they are experts on discerning real from fake.  Those for sure are enhanced;  some kind of hormone treatment.  I hesitate to ponder whether the package came with the plumbing conversion.  I never understood why 'ordinary' gays want to be associated with all the iterations of the LGBT movement.  Are they still a gay couple if his lover really wants him to be a woman? 

I wonder what the media attacks would be if Sarah Palin wore that blouse in congressional testimony with breasts exposed while everyone else was in a business suit.
4057  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: December 20, 2011, 10:12:26 AM
"North Korea now endorsed by Al Gore!"

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

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

The other perfect part about the so-called communist model is that the rulers are not subject to the same restrictions as the peasants.
4058  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: December 19, 2011, 11:03:58 PM
This could go under Glibness but are we not going to send the N. Korean people our condolences at their time of grieving?  Have we no manners or are we run by right wing zealots?  And what about adding a stop on the Presidential apology tour - I wonder what role our crippling sanctions played in his demise.
4059  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 19, 2011, 10:59:05 PM
Very funny.  We should offer $8 million to stay away all winter. 
4060  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Who elected Michelle? on: December 19, 2011, 01:00:22 PM
She gets the free ride on Air Force One and I don't because she is the wife of the President and deserves to be WITH him.  That makes sense.  Other than that, why do unelected millionaires get paid vacations??

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

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

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

But the advanced trip and the cost that comes with it – as much as $100,000 (flight and security) – adds to an already expensive vacation for the taxpayers.
This $4 million figure [taxpayer cost of the vacation, up from 1.5 million for last year's trip] is nearly 100 times the average annual salary of an American worker
4061  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 19, 2011, 12:52:51 PM
"you seem supportive of..."  "I doubt if GM..."  "let's send them to MN."

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

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

Interestingly, this would have been a VERY short war if not for the moderate insistence that if we break what was already broken, then we have to fix it even if they keep blowing us up while we attempt to do that.  How about if we had taken down the regime and left them with some suggestions for protecting individual liberties and peaceful nation building.  Then came back and toppled them again (and again) when any one of the 24 points of American security interests in the Iraq War declaration became true again.
4062  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 19, 2011, 11:49:24 AM
One poster quotes another regarding a likely bloodbath, but there is a difference.  One has expressed concern and opposition to that while another demeans all people associated with this board by making statements alleging that Americans don't care about bloodbaths in other countries.

Polls of Iraqis run by majority Shia rule perhaps should be separated into opinions from the minority groups about a complete American exit.  What do the Kurds think?  (I wonder what the Copts in Egypt think about rule by poll taking.)  When convenient, all of the sudden we hear the Iraqis speak with one voice.  Two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch passes for consent of the governed in an election year.

Polls of Americans about Iraq and Afghanistan are lumped together along with the question of all troops leaving versus most troops leaving posted, but these are crucial difference when talking about the possibility of maintaining bases for future security threats.  Meanwhile the < 0.1% of Americans polled at random have no idea what our commanders on the ground are saying.

Poll questions have a large effect on results.  Poll this: 'Given the estimates that as many as a million innocent people were slaughtered in the immediate aftermath of the US pullout in Vietnam and that a similar scenario is possible in Iraq, do you favor or oppose all US leaving now with no regard to the consequences, versus the other proposals such as negotiating the right to maintain a smaller presence (base) over the horizon to prevent the genocide of Iraqis and to deal with future security threats that are certain to develop?'

Did the President discuss his final decision more with Axelrod or Petraeus?  I will bet he relied on the same focus group advisers he called when he sat 16 hours on his difficult bin Laden question.

"Time to move on. "

We will miss you.
4063  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Axelrod - the higher a monkey climbs... on: December 19, 2011, 10:56:42 AM
Hard to let this one go by.  Axelrod regarding Gingrich.  Isn't it Barack Obama who climbed the highest up the pole exposing his other side.  Imagine if the leading GOP strategist said this about the President!

"At briefing for reporters, Chicagoan (Obama campaign manager David Axelrod) says of the Georgian (Newt Gingrich): "The higher a monkey climbs on the pole the more you can see his butt."
4064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance Glibness: This was the moment when the rise of the oceans on: December 19, 2011, 10:46:01 AM
"This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow..."  (in fact it did!)

The Ghosts of Obama's Past - and Present and Future
Ad for US Senate candidate - running against Obama's governance.
4065  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 19, 2011, 10:27:23 AM
Sorry PC, but that is what he does:  answer through distortion and ask what has been answered many times previously in the thread.  

""The Iraq war killed almost 4,500 Americans, wounded another 32,000 and cost the country somewhere in the neighborhood of... For what; as someone said here, "to kill Hussein and his sons"? "

There were 24 reasons cited in the bipartisan authorization to use force in Iraq, (none of which said kill Saddam Hussein and his sons). I wonder if that is posted anywhere in this thread.  FYI, Saddam was deposed in 2003 and given a fair trial by the Iraqis after being found, not killed, by the Americans.  Uday And Qusay were both dead in 2003.  Those wouldn't count as triple digit reasons we stayed in 2009, 2010 and 11 1/2 months of 2011.

Negotiating the right to keep a base or two after winning their country back for them - that would require leadership, not having advisers follow the polls while playing hacker level golf back home and telling America at taxpayer expense that Republicans just want dirtier water and dirtier air.

If the mission was truth over trolling, one might ask:

Why did the most anti-war of all 2008 candidates stay 3 more years under his watch - 8 years past the deposing of the aforementioned oppressors?  Perhaps there was some other concern or objective.

The most anti of the anti-war in the land saw a national security interest value in what we were doing - and stayed up until the kickoff of his reelection.  Our own naysayer pretends there was none.  Not very helpful or convincing.
4066  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: David Gregory Meet the Press with Michele Bachmann + 60 minutes on: December 18, 2011, 02:05:41 PM
I could post this every week I guess, what a biased jerk he is for an alleged journalist.  "I must interrupt you for accuracy!" and then he doesn't establish anything to be inaccurate.  He baits Bachmann to call Newt's attitude toward her as sexism: "Is it Sexism?" (She declined.) Where the hell did that come from??  No one has made that charge!

I can't wait to see David Gregory ripping and interrupting a sitting President Obama "for accuracy" in the spirit of equal treatment.  Or is "Sexism" or racism why the President will be treated with honor and dignity while his nonsense explanations will face only the lightest scrutiny if he ever appears on a show like that.
Another network CBS, from 'The Atlantic' a piece ripping 60 Minutes for its softball interview of President Obama

How 60 Minutes Wasted Its Interview with Obama
By Conor Friedersdorf

Dec 12 2011, 3:35 PM ET

The hour-long conversation was a typical example of a broadcast journalist failing to hold a powerful politician accountable

In an interview posted by 60 Minutes on Sunday, President Obama spends an hour answering questions posed by Steve Kroft, a 23-year veteran of the CBS television program who has won numerous broadcast journalism awards and enjoys unusual access to the president: earlier this year, he conducted the only interview with Obama on the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and back in 2008 he scored the first post-election interview with Barack and Michelle Obama.

Were I an adviser to President Obama, I'd urge him to give his next exclusive to Kroft too, for there is a superficial toughness to his interviews. "There are people in your own party who think that you were outmaneuvered. That you were stared down by John Boehner and Grover Norquist and capitulated," Kroft says at one point. Later he notes that "You say that you rallied the country, but these poll numbers show otherwise. They show that 75 percent thinks the country's on the wrong track." As a political operative, these are exactly the sorts of questions I'd want the struggling politician for whom I worked to get, because it appears that he has volunteered to sit down with a tough interviewer, but actually he is being given an opportunity to offer free-ranging explanations for something that no one can deny: lots of people in America are unhappy with him.

As a journalist at a non-broadcast outlet, I am frustrated by interviews like this one. Few journalists (and zero non-journalist citizens) are afforded an opportunity to spend an hour asking anything of the president, and fewer still who enjoy a mass audience as big as 60 Minutes, which bills its broadcasts as "hard-hitting." It is therefore disheartening each time the opportunity is squandered with broad, superficial, softball questions:

    KROFT: You definitely have some impressive accomplishments.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, Steve.

    KROFT: No, you do. And more than a lot of presidents who manage to get reelected. My question is, is it enough? Why do you think you deserve to be reelected?

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think under some extraordinary circumstances, we not only saved the country from a potential disaster -- not only did we manage our national security at a time where there were severe threats and two wars going on, in a way that has made America stronger and more respected and put us in a better strategic position around the world and almost decimated our number one enemy, which is al Qaeda -- but what I've also been able to do is to, in very practical ways, put in place a series of steps that will allow middle-class families and those trying to get in the middle class to take back some of what they've lost over the last couple of years. Now, we're not there yet, but what I can say unequivocally is that everything I've done, every single day, and everything I will do as long as I'm in this office is designed to make sure that every kid in America has the same opportunities that I had.

Given a fleeting hour with a president who is avowedly seeking re-election, how can a journalist possibly justify that exchange? Of course he's going to say yes, he deserves to be reelected, and then repeat his familiar messaging. In the course of the next year, as President Obama stumps all over the nation and otherwise campaigns for re-election, there is zero chance that the American public will be deprived of his argument for why he deserves another term.

It would be forgivable if that question were surrounded by better ones. But much of the interview is flawed in similar ways.

Another example:

    KROFT: One of the things that surprised me the most about this poll is that 42%, when asked who your policies favor the most, 42% said Wall Street. Only 35% said average Americans. My suspicion is some of that may have to do with the fact that there's not been any prosecutions, criminal prosecutions, of people on Wall Street. And that the civil charges that have been brought have often resulted in what many people think have been slap on the wrists, fines. "Cost of doing business," I think you called it in the Kansas speech. Are you disappointed by that?

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think you're absolutely right in your interpretation...

This is embarrassing. Why is Kroft volunteering an oversimplified explanation for American anger at Wall Street? Why does he pose the question as though Obama's feelings (whether he is disappointed or not) is relevant? More importantly, why does he fail to challenge the president with specific questions grounded in facts and policy realities rather than public perception?

Here's a journalist (ostensibly) working on behalf of a polity that has seen populist movements in the streets on the left and right, largely because they believe that there is an unseemly relationship between the federal government and Wall Street. Kroft could've asked whether Obama thought it was problematic for Peter Orszag to take a job at Citigroup; he could've asked whether it's true that Joe Biden called Jon Corzine at the height of the financial crisis to ask what the Obama Administration should do upon taking office; he could've asked about recent revelations that the Fed secretly funneled trillions to banks and failed to tell Congress about it. When did Obama know? Should anything be done about it? Kroft could've pressed Obama about why he hasn't pushed to end the "too big to fail" status quo that could conceivably lead to another Wall Street bailout. Any decent financial journalist could come up with dozens of other questions.

An interviewer determined to challenge a sitting president, as every interviewer of every president should do, could've asked what Obama thinks about the fact that his drone strikes in Pakistan are destabilizing a nuclear power and killing innocent children; or whether Solyndra got special treatment because of its insider connections; or what he thinks about the Fast and Furious scandal and what Eric Holder knew about it. Kroft could've challenged Obama to explain why he decided to proceed with military action in Libya even though it violated the War Powers Resolution, or asked him about the controversy surrounding federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, or echoed the concerns that progressives have with his immigration policies.

But nope. Kroft asked none of those questions; nor did he press Obama about his views on indefinitely detaining American citizens; nor did he ask about the killing without due process of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American; nor did he ask about the controversy surrounding whether the morning-after pill should be available over-the-counter for people of all ages or not; nor did he ask about the private security contractors that America will pay to stay in Iraq after we leave; nor about the state secrets privilege; nor about aggressively prosecuting whistleblowers; nor about many other issues of concern to liberals, conservatives, and libertarians, all of whom have earnest complaints.

Instead we got hard hitting exchanges like this one:

    KROFT: I'm sure your poll numbers will probably automatically go up as soon as there is a Republican candidate in the race. I mean, that's normal. I mean, you're being judged now on your performance.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, no, no. I'm being judged against the ideal. And, you know, [Vice President] Joe Biden has a good expression. He says, "Don't judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative."

Other gems:

    "Have you given up on the Republicans? Have you stopped reaching out to them? Are you just out there now trying to get your message across?"

    "What do you make of this surge by former Speaker Gingrich?"

    "Tell me, what do you consider your major accomplishments?"

What this interview represents -- like so many broadcast news interviews with sitting politicians and high level bureaucrats -- is the charade of asking tough questions to hold the president accountable. And the utter failure to ask any actually tough questions, to unearth any new facts of significance, to force any sort of reckoning before the television cameras on a matter of importance. If I were advising Obama, I'd make sure that Kroft got the next exclusive interview too.   
4067  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 18, 2011, 01:43:56 PM
We've just signed up our BigDog as Chief of Staff!  grin cool

I was thinking Chief Justice, but I suppose you will have to wait for an opening.   

Meanwhile our opponents keep taking each other down.  Mitt refrained from going after Newt directly in the Sioux City debate.  Instead we find out: "Last week alone, anti-Gingrich ads from a Romney ally outspent Gingrich by an 8-to-1 margin on television."
4068  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Loose ends in Iraq - Ali Mussa Daqduq on: December 18, 2011, 01:20:43 PM
Outrage In Iraq

As our involvement in Iraq has wound down, a few loose ends remained. The most important was the status of Ali Mussa Daqduq. Daqduq is a Hezbollah operative, apparently directed by Iran, who was responsible for the capture, torture and murder of five American servicemen. Under the status of forces agreement, he was to be turned over to Iraqi authorities, and could only be removed from that country with the permission of its government. A number of conservative activists and politicians campaigned to retain custody of Daqduq and bring him to Guantanamo Bay or another suitable venue for trial. A correspondent forwarded this email:

    I know Captain Dan Fritz, Jake Fritz’s brother. He’s been to our house in Morgantown — in fact, one year to the day after Jake was abducted and murdered in Iraq.

    I know Noala Fritz, Jake’s mother, from Verdon, Nebraska. She is one of the most humble, down to earth, pleasant people you will ever meet. Jake’s father, Lyle, a Marine and Viet Nam vet, passed away in June of this year. Together, they raised one of the most patriotic, caring, and giving families in America.

    I write you to seek your assistance in stopping this absolute lunacy and ultimate travesty of justice that is about to occur. Please, contact anybody and everybody you can, and enlist their support in stopping Daqduq’s release from happening. Use the power of the internet, social media, or whatever means available, and get people to speak up. Leverage what you can (political parties, TEA parties, prayer groups, etc.) to let our Congressmen and Senators in DC know of our interest to stop the release of this calculated, cold-blooded murderer.

    The Fritz’s are a family that has seen more than its share of suffering, and is “all in” on the War on Terror. We owe it to them, and to Jake’s honor, to see that his killer faces justice.

    Thank you for your engagement — there is little time to act.

All such pleas fell on deaf ears, and the Obama administration turned Daqduq over to the Iraqis, despite widespread predictions that they will send him to Iran, where he will receive a hero’s welcome and soon return to the fight. The Wall Street Journal reported:

    U.S. officials have feared turning [Daqduq] over to Iraq would lead to his release without trial.

    The Obama administration “sought and received assurances that he will be tried for his crimes,” a White House spokesman said. “We have worked this at the highest levels of the U.S. and Iraqi governments, and we continue to discuss with the Iraqis the best way to ensure that he faces justice.”

We will see. My guess is that Daqduq will be released and will be lavished with wealth and honors until we encounter him on a battlefield once again. My own view–call me a Neanderthal–is that things never should have gone this far. If Daqduq is who we think he is, and to my knowledge there is no dissent on that point, he should simply have been shot, long ago.
4069  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt Gingrich, Chritopher Hitchens discuss war on terror 2002 - Flashback on: December 18, 2011, 01:15:47 PM
This could have gone many other places: foreign Policy, Iraq, RIP etc. 

Memorable discussion during historic times:

1/2 hour program.  Many things discussed including the deposing of Saddam Hussein.
4070  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education, liberal academic institutions, what should the parent do? on: December 18, 2011, 01:06:09 PM
"Who cares what an audience of soon-to-be-unemployed kids at the University of Wisconsin might think? With their heads stuffed with literary theory, gender studies, and environmental pseudo-science, they are barely qualified for the cubicle jobs they will obtain if they are lucky. There is some value to a B.A. of any kind; it teaches you to read, memorize, show up on time and repeat what you are told. College graduates, at least, can read the new job manual, which explains why their unemployment rate is much lower than the national average. But few of them will live well, and almost none up to their expectations."

As an aside, the abovenamed university with high academics and a very liberal reputation is one my daughter is strongly considering right now.  This question could go under parenting.  UW Madison is perhaps the best academic institution of the public schools within roughly driving distance and with in-state tuition reciprocity for us, rated higher than all but a very few small private colleges in the region.  If I had any influence, should I be steering her away from known, pervasive liberalism on campus and toward a smaller, more conservative college with perhaps lesser academic experience to protect her, or sit back and trust it all to work out fine in the end? Any helpful suggestions?
4071  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq- bin Laden, Congressional Record on: December 18, 2011, 12:59:52 AM
A little stroll down memory lane with Saddam and Osama,  Sept 12 2002 Sen.Fritz Hollings D-S.C. entered a reprint from the Iraqi state newspaper from exactly two months before the attacks of Sept 11 2001 arguably praising bin Laden and naming the targets of the attacks.  Hollings, a Democrat, entered this in support of his decision to vote to authorize military action in Iraq.

Here is a news story from July 21,
2001, before 9/11 of last year, in the
Iraqi news. The name of that particular
newspaper is Al-Nasiriya.

Quoting from it:

Bin Ladin has become a puzzle and a proof
also, of the inability of the American federalism
and the CIA to uncover the man and
uncover his nest. The most advanced organizations
of the world cannot find the man and
continues to go in cycles in illusion and presuppositions.
It refers to an exercise called ‘‘How
Do You Bomb the White House.’’ They
were planning it.
Let me read this to all the colleagues

The phenomenon of Bin Ladin is a healthy
phenomenon in the Arab spirit. It is a decision
and a determination that the stolen
Arab self has come to realize after it got
bored with promises of its rulers; After it
disgusted itself from their abomination and
their corruption, the man had to carry the
book of God . . . and write on some white
paper ‘‘If you are unable to drive off the Marines
from the Kaaba, I will do so.’’ It seems
that they will be going away because the
revolutionary Bin Ladin is insisting very
convincingly that he will strike America on
the arm that is already hurting.

In other words, the World Trade Towers.
Here, over a year ahead of time in
the open press in Iraq, they are writing
that this man is planning not only to
bomb the White House, but where they
are already hurting, the World Trade

I ask unanimous consent to print
this article in the RECORD.
There being no objection, the material
was ordered to be printed in the
RECORD, as follows:
[From Al-Nasiriya, July 21, 2001]
(By Naeem Abd Muhalhal)

Osama Bin Ladin says that he took from
the desert its silence and its anger at the
same time.

He has learned how to harm America and
has been able to do it, for he gave a bad reputation
to the Pentagon as being weakened
in more than one spot in the world. In order
to follow one step taken by Bin Ladin America
has put to work all its apparatus, its
computers and its satellites just as the governor
cowboy of Texas has done. Bin Ladin’s
name has been posted on all the internet
sites and an amount of $5 million dollars has
been awarded to anyone who could give any
information that would lead to the arrest of
this lanky, lightly bearded man. In this
man’s heart you’ll find an insistence, a
strange determination that he will reach one
day the tunnels of the White House and will
bomb it with everything that is in it.

We all know that every age has its revolutionary
phenomenon. In Mexico there was
Zapata. In Bolivia there was Che Guevara,
during the seventies came out Marcos and
the Red Brigades in Italy, the Baader
Meinhof Gang in Germany and there was
Leila Khaled the Palestinian woman and
others. They all appeared in violence and disappeared
quietly. During the nineties Bin
Ladin came out in the open having been
completely overtaken in his mind by the robbery
happening to his country and its treasurers.
For him it was the beginning of the
revolution. For this endeavor he mobilized
everything that he had of money, of investments
and Sudan was his first stop. Bin
Ladin ended up in Afghanistan where his revolutionary
drive pushed this stubborn revolutionary
to plan very carefully, and in a
very detailed manner, his stand to push back
the boastful American onslaught and to
change the American legend into a bubble of

Because Bin Ladin knows what causes pain
to America, he played America’s game, just
as an oppressed man entertains itself with
the thing oppressing him. He countered with
the language of dynamite and explosives in
the city of Khobar and destroyed two US embassies
in Nairobi and Dar al Salaam.

America says, admitting just like a bird in
the midst of a tornado, that Bin Ladin is behind
the bombing of its destroyer in Aden.
The fearful series of events continues for
America and the terror within America gets
to the point that the Governor of Texas increases
the amount of the award, just as the
stubbornness of the other man and his challenge
increases. This challenge makes it
such that one of his grandchildren comes
from Jeddah traveling on the official Saudi
Arabia airlines and celebrates with him the
marriage of one of the daughters of his companions.
Bin Ladin has become a puzzle and
a proof also, of the inability of the American
federalism and the C.I.A. to uncover the man
and uncover his nest. The most advanced organizations
of the world cannot find the man
and continues to go in cycles in illusion and
presuppositions. They still hope that he
could come out from his nest one day, they
hope that he would come out from his hiding
hole and one day they will point at him their
missiles and he will join Guevara, Hassan
Abu Salama, Kamal Nasser, Kanafani and
others. The man responds with a thin smile
and replies to the correspondent from Al
Jazeera that he will continue to be the obsession
and worry of America and the Jews,
and that even that night he will practice and
work on an exercise called ‘‘How Do You
Bomb the White House.’’ And because they
know that he can get there, they have started
to go through their nightmares on their
beds and the leaders have had to wear their
bulletproof vests.

Meanwhile America has started to pressure
the Taliban movement so that it would hand
them Bin Ladin, while he continues to smile
and still thinks seriously, with the seriousness
of the Bedouin of the desert about the
way he will try to bomb the Pentagon after
he destroys the White House . . .

The phenomenon of Bin Ladin is a healthy
phenomenon in the Arab spirit. It is a decision
and a determination that the stolen
Arab self has come to realize after it got
bored with promises of its rulers: After it
disgusted itself from their abomination and
their corruption, the man had to carry the
book of God and the Kalashnikov and write
on some off white paper ‘‘If you are unable to
drive off the Marines from the Kaaba, I will
do so.’’ It seems that they will be going away
because the revolutionary Bin Ladin is insisting
very convincingly that he will strike
America on the arm that is already hurting.
That the man will not be swayed by the
plant leaves of Whitman nor by the ‘‘Adventures
of Indiana Jones’’ and will curse the
memory of Frank Sinatra every time he
hears his songs. This new awareness of the
image that Bin Ladin has become gives
shape to the resting areas and stops for every
Arab revolutionary. It is the subject of our
admiration here in Iraq because it shares
with us in a unified manner our resisting
stand, and just as he fixes his gaze on the Al
Aqsa we greet him. We hail his tears as they
see the planes of the Western world taking
revenge against his heroic operations by
bombing the cities of Iraq . . .

To Bin Ladin I say that revolution, the
wings of a dove and the bullet are all but one
and the same thing in the heart of a believer.
4072  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 18, 2011, 12:36:56 AM
"A Crafty/DougMacG ticket.  With GM as SecDef." 

I'm in. Let's roll.  grin 
4073  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 17, 2011, 01:30:45 PM
Crafty:  "In my opinion, it is much, much worse than that.

What I understood Newt to say was that he IN FAVOR of the FMs economic fascist/GSE/public-private partnership mission to "encourage home ownership" in particular and in general in favor of economic fascism/GSEs/public-private partnerships.  Add in his serial praise of FDR, and his praise of Woodrow Wilson and even SEIU's Andy Stern and Glenn Beck seems to have a pretty decent prima facie case , , ,"

Yes you are right on this.  He went quite a ways into praising GSE's - the mixture of public and private in do-good ventures.  That is the status quo - the world we live in.  Perry was doing it with state money in Texas, and it turns my stomach.  That means payments and opportunities for corruption forever, if people accept that.  It is the opposite of level playing field governing.  I think it was our Freki who questioned, when did the power to regulate commerce become the power to participate in it?  Or in the case of mortgages, the power to go from controlling 90% of a market to an all-Federal government system.  And health care comes next.

I don't want my government to help people one by one buy a home, choosing which ones in which order.  I want a society where people can all go out and do that on their own if they choose - by getting educated, trained and valuable, by working hard and saving and investing, by building their own good credit and putting their own money down - on homes at real market price, not subsidized, inflated prices.

We still need a President.  Who then?
4074  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 17, 2011, 01:12:51 PM
Good points Crafty.  I am moved both by your position and by GM being 'torn' on it.  There is an awkwardness of opposing sides exposed in the video I posted of Glen Beck and Allen West.  Neither side can answer the concern of the other: You cannot stop a terrorist in a terror act because you may never have criminal court level proof in place in advance of the destruction.  And of course the other side of it, that you potentially give up all freedoms and rights if your government declares you a terrorist.

Let's assume for a moment there is a plot in place in need of disruption right now and maybe a good part of congress and the executive branch have been briefed.  Moving at government subcommittee or supercommittee speed is not necessarily good enough.  We may have to make very tough choices right now, either way.  Keep our principles - lose a city, or avert an attack but give up our principles.  Not great choices.  

I agree it was not right for the public to be completely left out of the debate and/or misinformed on the outcome.
4075  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential, Sioux City Debate on: December 17, 2011, 12:45:07 PM
"Comments on last night's debate?"

After hearing the takes of plenty of others, I finally watched and listened to the entirety last night.

All stepped up their game.  Even the two weakest players, Santorum and Huntsman were pretty good. Huntsman made mostly good policy points, but doesn't look ready or Presidential.  Rush L said that it is now a 4 person race: Newt, Mitt, Perry and Bachmann.  Hannity said that Newt was answering difficult policy questions like Derick Jeter taking care of routine infield ground balls.  Mitt was great answering for capitalism under attack and was correct - that criticism is exactly what he will face from the left if nominated.  Newt was great except for not answering the unanswerable, regarding >1.6 million received from Freddie Mac.  He just can't say that he needed the money and did almost nothing for it.  Instead he answered a question not asked - I have never changed my vote for money...

Ron Paul showed the flexibility to compromise on everything except his area of weakness, foreign policy, where he doubled down on doing nothing no matter what.  Michele Bachmann scored good points on attack and contrast against Paul. I think her direct attacks on Newt were lame and opportunistic; she was gushing over Newt not long ago, how is that for consistency, and could make similar claims of inconsistency against Ronald Reagan's record if he were standing next to her.  The effort to make Newt or Mitt look too moderate or just compromise candidates will only strengthen them in the general election if they advance. 

Gingrich was suburb on his defense of abolishing an appeals court, except that those kinds of unnecessary charges are repeated without his great explanation and live on as examples of recklessness and extremism later.  They all seemed to understand the importance of appointing the right kinds of Justices (from my point of view),  There is no way to know who would actually do that best.

Crafty wrote elsewhere today: "I repeat my accusation of vaginitis in the Commander in Chief's failure to destroy or retrieve the drone."  Perry made that exact point (without the gender reference) with rehearsed precision, unlike some of his previous appearances.  He said forcefully, either you destroy it or you go in and retrieve it.  This President chose the worst of all choices, to do nothing!

I believe Newt, Mitt and Perry will come out of Iowa.  Paul will score in there with them but is going nowhere.  Bachmann, Santorum, (and Paul) have no executive experience and debating well doesn't change that.  Newt has the double digit lead - just slightly too early ), Mitt perhaps has the momentum.  My guess for the 3rd player is Perry.  With all his mis-steps, he is still the most consistently unapologetic conservative on the issues of the 3 people with the strongest backgrounds to be President.  I could visualize him, with all his inarticulateness and ridicule on the late shows, actually making Washington DC less important in our lives, but he is not as well positioned for the fight for the center in the general election as Mitt and Newt.
4076  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: Sustainable Capitalism by Al Gore et al, WSJ on: December 17, 2011, 11:51:09 AM
Al Gore is giving voice to researchers: "Rob Bauer and Daniel Hann of Maastricht University, and Beiting Cheng, Ioannis Ioannou and George Serafeim of Harvard" and others who found that: "sustainable businesses realize financial benefits such as lower cost of debt and lower capital constraints".

The assumption is that corporate managers otherwise only look to next quarter's earning, all are really Enrons imploding without a new focus.  But the great corporations of today already are the ones who perform well year after year and decade after decade by looking our for long term interests.

Get ready for ESG Metrics to be a required MBA course and a fast growing major across the fruited, liberal academic plain.  Who is your company's Chief ESG Officer?

A Manifesto for Sustainable Capitalism
How businesses can embrace environmental, social and governance metrics.


In the immediate aftermath of World War II, when the United States was preparing its visionary plan for nurturing democratic capitalism abroad, Gen. Omar Bradley said, "It is time to steer by the stars, and not by the lights of each passing ship." Today, more than 60 years later, that means abandoning short-term economic thinking for "sustainable capitalism."

We are once again facing one of those rare turning points in history when dangerous challenges and limitless opportunities cry out for clear, long-term thinking. The disruptive threats now facing the planet are extraordinary: climate change, water scarcity, poverty, disease, growing income inequality, urbanization, massive economic volatility and more. Businesses cannot be asked to do the job of governments, but companies and investors will ultimately mobilize most of the capital needed to overcome the unprecedented challenges we now face.

Before the crisis and since, we and others have called for a more responsible form of capitalism, what we call sustainable capitalism: a framework that seeks to maximize long-term economic value by reforming markets to address real needs while integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics throughout the decision-making process.

Such sustainable capitalism applies to the entire investment value chain—from entrepreneurial ventures to large public companies, seed-capital providers to institutional investors, employees to CEOs, activists to policy makers. It transcends borders, industries, asset classes and stakeholders.

Those who advocate sustainable capitalism are often challenged to spell out why sustainability adds value. Yet the question that should be asked instead is: "Why does an absence of sustainability not damage companies, investors and society at large?" From BP to Lehman Brothers, there is a long list of examples proving that it does.

Moreover, companies and investors that integrate sustainability into their business practices are finding that it enhances profitability over the longer term. Experience and research show that embracing sustainable capitalism yields four kinds of important benefits for companies:

• Developing sustainable products and services can increase a company's profits, enhance its brand, and improve its competitive positioning, as the market increasingly rewards this behavior.

• Sustainable capitalism can also help companies save money by reducing waste and increasing energy efficiency in the supply chain, and by improving human-capital practices so that retention rates rise and the costs of training new employees decline.

• Third, focusing on ESG metrics allows companies to achieve higher compliance standards and better manage risk since they have a more holistic understanding of the material issues affecting their business.

• Researchers (including Rob Bauer and Daniel Hann of Maastricht University, and Beiting Cheng, Ioannis Ioannou and George Serafeim of Harvard) have found that sustainable businesses realize financial benefits such as lower cost of debt and lower capital constraints.

Sustainable capitalism is also important for investors. Mr. Serafeim and his colleague Robert G. Eccles have shown that sustainable companies outperform their unsustainable peers in the long term. Therefore, investors who identify companies that embed sustainability into their strategies can earn substantial returns, while experiencing low volatility.

Because ESG metrics directly affect companies' long-term value, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, foundations and the like—investors with long-term liabilities—should include these metrics as an essential aspect of valuation and investment strategy. Sustainable capitalism requires investors to be good investors, to fully understand the companies they invest in and to believe in their long-term value and potential.

We recommend five key actions for immediate adoption by companies, investors and others to accelerate the current incremental pace of change to one that matches the urgency of the situation:

• Identify and incorporate risk from stranded assets. "Stranded assets" are those whose value would dramatically change, either positively or negatively, when large externalities are taken into account—for example, by attributing a reasonable price to carbon or water. So long as their true value is ignored, stranded assets have the potential to trigger significant reductions in the long-term value of not just particular companies but entire sectors.

That's exactly what occurred when the true value of subprime mortgages was belatedly recognized and mortgage-backed assets were suddenly repriced. Until there are policies requiring the establishment of a fair price on widely understood externalities, academics and financial professionals should strive to quantify the impact of stranded assets and analyze the subsequent implications for investment opportunities.

• Mandate integrated reporting. Despite an increase in the volume and frequency of information made available by companies, access to more data for public equity investors has not necessarily translated into more comprehensive insight into companies. Integrated reporting addresses this problem by encouraging companies to integrate both their financial and ESG performance into one report that includes only the most salient or material metrics.

This enables companies and investors to make better resource-allocation decisions by seeing how ESG performance contributes to sustainable, long-term value creation. While voluntary integrated reporting is gaining momentum, it must be mandated by appropriate agencies such as stock exchanges and securities regulators in order to ensure swift and broad adoption.

• End the default practice of issuing quarterly earnings guidance. The quarterly calendar frequently incentivizes executives to manage for the short-term. It also encourages some investors to overemphasize the significance of these measures at the expense of longer-term, more meaningful measures of sustainable value creation. Ending this practice in favor of companies' issuing guidance only as they deem appropriate (if at all) would encourage a longer-term view of the business.

• Align compensation structures with long-term sustainable performance. Most existing compensation schemes emphasize short-term actions and fail to hold asset managers and corporate executives accountable for the ramifications of their decisions over the long-term. Instead, financial rewards should be paid out over the period during which these results are realized and compensation should be linked to fundamental drivers of long-term value, employing rolling multiyear milestones for performance evaluation.

• Incentivize long-term investing with loyalty-driven securities. The dominance of short-termism in the market fosters general market instability and undermines the efforts of executives seeking long-term value creation. The common argument that more liquidity is always better for markets is based on long-discredited elements of the now-obsolete "standard model" of economics, including the illusion of perfect information and the assumption that markets tend toward equilibrium.

To push against this short-termism, companies could issue securities that offer investors financial rewards for holding onto shares for a certain number of years. This would attract long-term investors with patient capital and would facilitate both long-term value creation in companies and stability in financial markets.

Ben Franklin famously said, "You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again." Today we have an opportunity to steer by the stars and once again rebuild for the long-term. Sustainable capitalism will create opportunities and rewards, but it will also mean challenging the pernicious orthodoxy of short-termism. As we face an inflection point in the global economy and the global environment, the imperative for change has never been greater.

Mr. Gore, chairman of Generation Investment Management, is a former vice president of the United States. Mr. Blood is managing partner of Generation Investment Management.
4077  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom: Mother Jones on NDAA on: December 17, 2011, 11:25:33 AM
Compromise language: "Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States."

I am still confused by the status of the controversial clause, holding indefinitely (or not) US citizens taken on US soil believed to be terrorists, and perhaps the confusion is intentional in the compromise language.  This author is saying (if I am reading him correctly) that the other media's take on it is wrong and that the actual meaning will have to be determined in the courts once a President acts on it.
Quoting the Mother Jones author: "It does not, contrary to what many media outlets have reported, authorize the president to indefinitely detain without trial an American citizen suspected of terrorism who is captured in the US. A last minute compromise amendment adopted in the Senate, whose language was retained in the final bill, leaves it up to the courts to decide if the president has that power, should a future president try to exercise it. But if a future president does try to assert the authority to detain an American citizen without charge or trial, it won't be based on the authority in this bill.

So it's simply not true, as the Guardian wrote yesterday, that the the bill "allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to Guantánamo Bay." When the New York Times editorial page writes that the bill would "strip the F.B.I., federal prosecutors and federal courts of all or most of their power to arrest and prosecute terrorists and hand it off to the military," or that the "legislation could also give future presidents the authority to throw American citizens into prison for life without charges or a trial," they're simply wrong.

The language in the bill that relates to the detention authority as far as US citizens and permanent residents are concerned is, "Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States."

As I've written before, this is cop-out language. It allows people who think the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks gives the president the authority to detain US citizens without charge or trial to say that, but it also allows people who can read the Constitution of the United States to argue something else. "
4078  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 17, 2011, 11:08:46 AM
I agree with the points well-articulated by Prentice.  It seems odd in a crucial national and global security question that we leave without declaring any kind of victory, defeat or followup plan.  We are declaring our adherence to a politically calculated timetable, no matter the outcome, after all the investment and sacrifice.

Lost in translation throughout the Middle East is that we didn't mean 'democracy,' we meant consent of the governed in a way that individual liberties would flourish.  Not old oppression replaced with new oppression.

Soon our on the ground intelligence gathering capabilities from both the Af-Pak and Iran-Iraq regions will go back to Sept 10 2001 levels, this time with two radical Islamic nuclear threats possible.  What could possibly go wrong?
4079  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud: Clinton Curtis on: December 16, 2011, 10:53:14 AM
Bigdog,  Very interesting story.  I never heard that story at the time.  I heard more about what Maxine Waters was trying to get at regarding Diebold.  He is very believable - up to a point.  He does go rather seamlessly from what he knows to other conclusions such as the communist China story at the end.  Asked: was this [the flip the result program] used, he said: 'I have no idea'.  He talks of writing code to rig one machine I think, pressing a secret button, and goes to flipping the result of a larger election.  I did not follow that.  Although no one went to jail over finding a stack of Al Franken ballots in the trunk of a car.  Normally one precinct irregularity doesn't flip an election result.  In both Florida 2000 and with the 60th Senator, the errors were perhaps greater than the margin.

Here is a youtube that expands on Curtis' story.

One reaction I have is that this supports the argument in favor of further education.  Why is it that so few people can read source code?  I realize it is hard to build with hardware capacity so small and simple that it is only capable of holding one basic program that can only add one vote from each ballot to the count, not switch or timer based iterations, but it needs to be done.

Our polling places have election judges present from both sides (and where I vote there is a paper ballot to count against the machine reading it).  Where would these machines go for re-programming?  One corrupt employee would stay after everyone leaves?  Like any question of tainted evidence, isn't there a chain of custody with a voting machine?  The machines aren't just free for tinkering?  And isn't the penalty for rigging or triggering the switch program a felony for each incident, for each person involved?

More than 30 years ago I was selling some of the first fully automated teller machines, a labor saving technology that perhaps caused the Jimmy Carter's and Reagan's unemployment problems. wink  On every install I would joke with the technicians about rigging my card to trigger the dispensing of ALL the cash.  I would get a laugh out of that, but amazingly you never hear of it happening on any brand machine at any bank over more that 3 decades.  The ability to write and verify security into programming has been available for a very long time.

This story may explain some elections in Venezuela, where exit polls had a 40 point flip and where control of the machines and polling places was with all with the regime, more than it explains Florida 2000 or other irregularities here.
4080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: December 15, 2011, 12:04:53 PM
I have been one of Wesbury's biggest defenders (until now) and there is some validity in what he says, but this video overall is perhaps a last straw for me.  

One point of validity: Republicans should not base their campaign now on the assumption that all economic news will be all doom and gloom 10 1/2 months from now.  The economic news at election time could be slow growth.  If Wesbury's forecasts are about right the growth rate will be 3.5%, just over breakeven growth, in the period coming into the election.

Totally missed in his one-sided, wrong sided simplification are these points IMO:

a. Power in Washington on domestic policies changed hands and changed direction in Jan 2007, not Jan 2009 and Senator Obama's fingerprints are all over that disastrous shift two years before his presidency.  Unemployment was 4.7% before the new power in Washington announced to investors and employers that conditions favorable to growth would be ending soon and that if you hold capital assets, you should sell them off soon before the new policies coming are fully in place.

b. Growth I believe would be 7% or more (not 2 - 3 1/2%) IF we combined this much idle capacity and investment capital sitting on the sidelines with aggressive, pro-growth policies.
c. Unemployment if measured against the number of jobs we used to have in the economy would be >11%, not 8.6%.  

d.  Even using his timeframe and his numbers, the idea that we will have went from 7.9% unemployment at the start all the way back to 7.9% on election day 2012, after 4 long years under Obama, is hardly a persuasive, Democratic talking point.
4081  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: December 15, 2011, 10:41:51 AM
You quote my question and then don't answer it.  I can only go backwards and circular to answer yours - again.  I assume that is your intent.  

As far as the times we engaged and you were proven right, scratching my small brain, nothing comes to mind.  I suppose you are remembering your claim of no damage to the French supermarket ransacked by 'free speech', Israel's non-existent right to exist, Huntsman's two terms, NOAA is a third grade blogger, or that mid-level ATF administrators can declare war in Mexico without congressional approval.  Now this:

"no one cares in America about the huge death toll in Mexico."

Excrement that never ends (hint to moderator).  JDN, speak for your f'g self.

You prefer the term liberal to internet troll but you have neither proven that you are the former nor proven you are not the latter.
4082  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: December 15, 2011, 12:11:05 AM
Please post all the facts for us to review.  In the meantime, if you don't enjoy participating in the conjecture while we wait for the facts, have you considered staying off the thread?

This is the rambling of a guy who had a putdown today for other people's intelligence:

Yes, it truly is a scary thought, but BINGO?  huh

To my knowledge, no FACTS have come out to prove this is a "false flag operation".  Conjecture, hyperbole and wishful thinking is one thing.  But facts....  Any facts anyone?

That said, frankly I don't understand why it would even affect gun control in America.  I mean 10's of thousands of Mexicans have already been gunned down
by the Cartels.  What's a few hundred more guns that frankly/obviously given the death count, could have been bought elsewhere?  Surely if it was a "false
flag operation" to promote gun control in America they could have done better.  Frankly, and sadly, no one cares in America about the huge death toll in Mexico.  I truly doubt
if it would even affect gun control in America one way or another.

But facts.  Everyone agrees the ATF "sting" went bad.  But I bet a lot of stings go bad.  I think even GM would agree, it's easy to criticize law enforcement after the the fact.  Although
I agree with his point, it wasn't the best plan I've ever heard.   smiley

Criminal act?  I suppose selling drugs is a "criminal act" but somehow the DEA does it undercover.  As BbyG's article pointed out, the DEA launder's money, but that is illegal too. Still,
I doubt if they will be arrested.  Somehow it's "legal".  An "act of war"?  Gee, I don't hear Mexico declaring an "act of war".  That's pretty silly.   In contrast, Mexico is considering doing the same to track weapons. 
Radical steps need to be taken to stop the Cartels; but all ideas don't work.  No one seems to have the solution.

Odd, given I'm the "liberal" that I'm the one defending the ATF.  But as been pointed out elsewhere, unless the facts to the contrary come out, the "conclusion" is that
it was a sting gone bad - even BbyG's post said the same.  Shit happens.  I'ld like to think all law enforcement actions work out perfectly, but that's not reality.

That said, IF there is a coverup, or if there was a political, i.e. gun control motivation, and there is PROOF, then let the chips fall.  But please, don't call this a "limiting second amendment"
issue without any proof.  It is a "scary THOUGHT", but to date, it is only a "thought" but that "conclusion" does it even resemble the proven TRUTH...
4083  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Video Clips of Interest - Extreme sports enthusiasts, extreme video on: December 14, 2011, 11:22:46 PM

A friend was showing me a soccer based volleyball game at the 3:28 mark.  Who needs hands? Also the video illustrates what I can't put into words about the excitement of mountain skiing on steep slopes in deep powder.  Really, the whole thing is breathtaking - have a look.  (less than 5 minutes)
4084  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: December 14, 2011, 01:22:38 PM
BBG, A little further up the thread I wrote: "It is not legal for me to knowingly supply a criminal operation...a felony...if you or I did it."

Only to have 'someone' twist it beyond recognition: "As some have improperly implied, it wasn't a felony..." for the government to run a sting operation".  Clearly nothing to do with what I wrote.  Then to compare ** selling legally with no knowledge of supplying a criminal operation, with knowingly supplying a criminal operation and a foreign civil war that we all should know will go wrong...    Suffice it to say, invest your time in straw, circular and backwards arguments at your own risk.  For me, it spoils the fun.

** "My point is it seems a bit hypercritical to complain about guns being sold in Mexico provided by us as a sting operation yet are sold legally across the counter here in America."  

It is not legal for citizens or gun dealers to knowingly seek out and supply a criminal operation across the counter here in America, as the government apparently did in this operation.  What a bunch of excrement.
4085  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: December 14, 2011, 01:21:10 PM
My favorite fights on the board are between GM and Crafty on privacy.  smiley  I'm busy now but will come back later with popcorn...
4086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 14, 2011, 12:51:32 PM
That is quite a mixed and roundabout endorsement of Romney: "When ideas are new and unfamiliar, they're not executable. When they're executable we need people who can execute."  I love the intro: "Week 3,334 of Mitt Romney's quest for the presidency hasn't been a good one."  Also, he is 'frugal' in that he 'personally U-Haul's family gear between vacation homes'.  Perhaps Gingrich is exactly what Romney needed - if he survives the challenge.

On the Massachusetts health care, Romney just can't say it out loud, but it is a very liberal state and that is what THEY wanted, and he delivered.  Romney hasn't ever personally had a problem with the cost of coverage, the cost of health care, the cost of gas or the cost of a loaf of bread.  Romneycare is a state plan.  Other state's can look at it, learn from it and judge it against their own state constitutions and their own polling data if they want to.  On the federal level he has committed to repealing PelosiObamaCare on the first day possible and a second term Pres. Obama will not.  That is enough contrast to bring into the general election on that issue.

Too early to say this with Newt still leading by double digits, but don't rule Newt out for the VP spot.  That still puts him on the stage and in the debates as the most articulate attacker of the opponent.
4087  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics - Greed in capitalism is not the same as exploitation on: December 14, 2011, 09:24:44 AM
An extension of the Keyfabe post, that pro wrestlers may not really be trying to destroy their opponent, is the misunderstanding of the concept of greed in economics.  An implication is falsely made that in a free market we are all trying to destroy each other, and the rich will take all and leave you with nothing if we don't stop them.  But that doesn't make any sense.

Greed in economics means acting in your own self interest and may include providing for your spouse and your children, maybe your parents, other family members and your place of worship, your charities, your neighborhood, community, your boy scout troop, your environment, your nation, etc and the need to keep your own business interests moving forward to provide for all those 'self' interests.

The fact that people act in their own long term self interest in business and economics is a central tenet in a logic based system that allows the players in the economic system to understand what the other players will do and to make adjustments so that transactions take place and business relationships prosper.  The successful business (the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker) will seek to get the best price (low) from his suppliers and labor, etc. and to get the best price (high) from his customers in a competitive environment, not to destroy them but to keep them as suppliers and customers and to grow the business with them.
4088  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Keyfabe on: December 14, 2011, 08:51:37 AM
Very interesting!  I never thought of the similarities between pro wrestling and perhaps climate science, or the pretend fights between the regulators and regulated in mortgage business.
4089  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: December 14, 2011, 08:47:38 AM
"All the sales and inventory data that have been reported since January 2007 are being downwardly revised. Sales were weaker than people thought," NAR spokesman Walter Malony told Reuters.
We should keep a count of large stories people would already know if they read the forum.  Something akin to the term bullsh*t comes to mind for what our expert thought of housing figures reported by the Realtors assn previously.

Nearly all economic data is wrong; people need to constantly look past and through data for the meaning.  Often it is Wesbury pointing that out.  Also Scott Grannis is excellent on that.  Measures like unemployment, inflation, poverty, or housing can only be watched for trends in a flawed measurement, not accuracy.
My latest economic indicator is anecdotal.  A major residential window supplier, who sees investment into their existing homes as well as new construction, told me yesterday he has seen more improvement in the business in the last few months than in the last few years.  Keep in mind we are talking minor growth from unimaginable lows and the unemployment rate here is closer to 5%, half of the rate of the troubled areas of the country.
4090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: December 13, 2011, 11:04:29 AM
'many/most white collar jobs now list a college degree as a prerequisite'

Yes in big corporations though I very often see things like Masters of Engineering or equivalent.  If you are the best in your profession, doors open up for you. More often I know people with PhD in Physics etc working in other sectors and the credential merely establishes they are smart and trainable.  With employment law and escalating mandates etc. we may be evolving back toward an entrepreneurial economy where merit may surpass credentials for criteria - at least in some sectors.

I have been hired in a degree required situation where the boss didn't have one.
4091  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Japan's Earthquake on: December 13, 2011, 10:24:51 AM
Interesting story today that the cause of the nuclear accident at Fukushima was the earthquake and not the tsunami, opposite of what has been reported to date:

Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011

Real cause of nuclear crisis

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), the operator of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Station, has been insisting that the culprit that caused the nuclear crisis was the huge tsunami that hit the plant after the March 11 earthquake. But evidence is mounting that the meltdown at the nuclear power plant was actually caused by the earthquake itself.

According to a science journalist well versed in the matter, Tepco is afraid that if the earthquake were to be determined as the direct cause of the accident, the government would have to review its quake-resistance standards completely, which in turn would delay by years the resumption of the operation of existing nuclear power stations that are suspended currently due to regular inspections.
4092  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: December 13, 2011, 10:12:57 AM
Didn't Kagan also work on Obamacare?  - I believe she denies that.  Last I heard Republicans were looking at a 2 month gap in her records. 

Why does a question arise over Thomas and Obamacare?  - No reason to my knowledge but the left has called for his recusal.  The best they could come up with that I know of is that his wife has worked hard for its repeal.
4093  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Education: College degree or equivalent: MIT OCW on: December 13, 2011, 10:00:34 AM
As the cost of college goes up and up and up, one thing missing in the value of the degree debate is the second part of what they call college degree or "equivalent".  (Link below)

With the college search process in full gear, soon I will know more about the inner workings of college pricing.  Our family income is very low, but does that mean she will get money paid by someone else or get loans.  The idea of loans equal to a large home mortgage just for a basic 4 year is unacceptable to me.  My understanding at the high priced places is that most don't pay asking price.  Some places pay money for ACT scores and for academics, but it is all very confusing.  Girls at her level in sports are getting recruited and some money may come related to that.  The girls a notch better than her in sports are getting full rides. 

There is definitely value in having the best technical people also develop real communication skills and for the communications people to have a deeper understanding of math, science, engineering and business.  Hard to measure value, but it is important.  The price problem is similar to health care.  As 3rd party pay grows, how can the consumer hold down the cost?  It is also hard for me to see if there is competition on price with quality or is higher education really just one large racket.  I know they compete for the high end students but they all seem to fill up with numbers of students, one way or another.

One avenue out of the cost mess is to achieve the equivalent in learning and don't pay the institution.  For the ordinary person that may not work and it doesn't work in every field, like medicine, but an amazing amount of information is out there for the taking.  Read the forum here for knowledge.  Also I like this site:

2000 courses online, free.  No tuition, no admissions screening, no degrees.  Just courses, syllabuses, tests, lecture notes, etc. from one of the greatest technical institutions in the world on an amazing array of topics.

Google: 'MIT OCW' (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Open Course Ware)
4094  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Myths of the New Deal and Great Depression, Economics Video on: December 13, 2011, 09:22:40 AM

Myths of the New Deal

This video by the Center for Freedom and Prosperity does a good job of exploding the key myths that have surrounded the Great Depression and the New Deal for decades. It is remarkable that the facts this video sets forth are starting to become well known, after many years of obfuscation, due to the work of Amity Shlaes and others
4095  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / American Creed /Constitutional Law: Kagan Recusal on Arizona Immigration Law on: December 13, 2011, 09:11:09 AM
Already posted by Prentice on Immigration Issues, but also interesting in how it might apply to other cases or situations.  My understanding is that neither Kagan nor Thomas will recuse on the health care case. (?)

Justice Elena Kagan will not take part in [Arizona v. U.S., 11-182], presumably because of her work on the issue when she served in the Justice Department in the Obama administration.

4096  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 12, 2011, 11:39:13 PM
"Careful GM.  Bret Baier report today reported that the deficit is on track to come in under $1T this year.  This is about 33% down from the peak.  Another $250B and the statement will be true."

Baier is likely referring to the fiscal year with 10 months remaining and Obama is saying rather specifically: half of 1.3T ($650 billion) within his first term, which really is this fiscal year.  Not spoken in the numbers is the total amount added to the debt, which is his central point - the burden of paying the interest.

Another lead indicator of misery subsiding will be the food stamp count, up more than 50% under Pres. Obama.  Economic growth at the main street / kitchen table level is measured in number or percentage of families not needing assistance on something as basic as food - or health care.

Food stamp recipients at record
Recession, disasters, Obamanomics drive spike in assistance

THE WASHINGTON POST Thursday December 8, 2011

WASHINGTON — The nation’s struggling economy and an uptick in natural disasters have prompted more Americans than ever to apply for federal food aid.

More than 46.3 million people received a total of $75.3 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, in fiscal 2011, according to U.S. Agriculture Department statistics released on Monday.
Flashback 3 years:

Food stamps recipients nearing record 30 million
November 26, 2008|WASHINGTON POST

WASHINGTON — Fueled by rising unemployment and food prices, the number of Americans on food stamps is poised to exceed 30 million for the first time this month, surpassing the historic high set in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.

4097  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 12, 2011, 11:16:29 PM
"Krauthammer's criticism of Newt is correct."

Those were strong words.  Newt should get out front correcting this.

4098  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tim Tebow vs. Pres. Obama on: December 12, 2011, 10:42:59 PM
Tim Tebow: “My teammates make me look a lot better than I am”

Pres. Obama: Tonight I can report, I directed [the CIA Director], I was briefed on a possible lead, I met repeatedly with my national security team, I determined that we had enough intelligence, today at my direction, I called President Zardari, these efforts weigh on me every time I as Commander-in-Chief...

"Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22-out-of-30 top al Qaeda leaders who've been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement."

Contrasting leadership styles.  You would think this President could at least pretend to be humble and have surrogates like the VP or media toot his horn for him.  IIRC, Reagan had some humility that added to his likability.  Pres. Obama will brag more about getting unemployment down to 8% than Pres. Reagan did about getting the real economic growth rate up to 8%, after asphyxiating stagflation.
4099  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - Unforced Errors on: December 12, 2011, 09:36:53 PM
Crafty wrote: "What a kitty response to the psuedo-brouhaha!  He should have pushed back and said that the chattering class was missing the point-- as it so often does-- the point being to challenge Perry to put up or shut up concerning the allegation in question.  Instead of the patricianly guilt he displays, he should have no apology-- "Yes, I have money, and I earned it.  Its a reason I should be president.  Look at what I did for turning the Olympics around!  Let me do that for America!".

We didn't see Newt kittying out to the brouhaha over his comments on the Palestinians, did we?"
I agree on both points.  The Romney bet attempt was stupid on many counts.  On the other, they were asked what your family ever had to cut back on or do without and Romney said he didn't grow up poor.  There are a bunch of other directions he could have ran with that to show he learned those lessons anyway.  Or he could have graciously shown admiration for the family of one of his competitors.  Perry didn't have running water in his earliest years, neither did Clarence Thomas.  Isn't it amazing what can happen in when people grow in freedom...

Newt leads in Iowa, leads in South Carolina, leads in Florida and these are double digit leads.  Ggaining in NH now single digits and will get a bump up there if the momentum is clearly his, and he just won another debate by all accounts.

He said he would prove he could be a disciplined candidate by being one.  So what does he do next, Monday morning with all this momentum...

Londonderry, New Hampshire (CNN) – Newt Gingrich responded to a call Monday by GOP rival Mitt Romney to return the money he received from mortgage giant Freddie Mac by issuing his own challenge.

"If Gov. Romney would like to give back all the money he's earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain that I would be glad to then listen to him," Gingrich told reporters...

Here we go again.  This is wrong on so many levels.  (Please correct me if I am wrong) He is throwing the 'capitalism is exploitation' message of the occupy movement back at Romney for participating in risk based ventures.  Meanwhile he is dodging his own problem.  The Freddie Mac money involved a mind blowing amounts of money for... trading off influence gained as speaker to put lipstick on a pig?  Not an ordinary pig but one that played a key part in bringing down the economy.  Those payments deserves real explanations; a legitimate attack on a vulnerability of the frontrunner.  So he humors it away with a bet joke while taking a shot at the creative destruction aspect of free enterprise, giving fodder to the salivating leftists who couldn't believe the 'right wing social engineering' gift they received earlier in the year.

Who would get mileage out of this?
Think Progress:
Huffington Post:

A few conservatives comment:
Charles Krauthammer: Newt's Attack On Romney Is "What You'd Expect From A Socialist"

Brit Hume:

Hugh Hewitt:
4100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security: Allen West v. Glen Beck, the right torn on defense clause on: December 12, 2011, 08:14:50 PM
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