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4051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Lawrtence Summers 3 ways to combat 'Income Inequality', on: November 26, 2011, 11:27:30 AM
Not finding a category for 'Cognitive Dissonance of the Centrists, I will stick this here.  So-called centrists like past candidate Perot IMO tend to be better at pointing to problems than structuring real solutions. Summers, like Volcker, was supposed to be one of the sane advisers to the President.  Both are now long gone from the administration.

I will go along with his point one, but it is mostly nonsense.  People without means can't participate evenly with the wealthy if the government decides to auction off public assets or licenses like an additional airwave for broadcast or land for energy exploration.

Point 2 is verbose but basically means make progressivity in taxation even worse while half already pay nothing.  I would say worst case should be hold the line with progressivity where it is, cut the worthless loopholes and lower the rates proportionally for everyone who produces.

Point 3 is more BS.  College tuition, along with a host of other things, is outrageous and unaffordable because of government interference and he proposes no solution.

Apologies to Thatcher, but we need to pursue a 'society' of haves, not choose between protecting or destroying a class of them.  We need to unleash economic freedom and growth.  In that context, government should do nothing that unnecessarily favors the rich and nothing that makes the natural inequalities of a free and prosperous society worse than what is natural and necessary.
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/three-ways-to-combat-rising-inequality/2011/11/20/gIQAvGb5fN_story.html

Three ways to combat rising inequality

By Lawrence Summers, Published: November 20

There has been a strong and troubling shift in market rewards for a small minority relative to the rewards available to most citizens. A recent Congressional Budget Office study found that incomes of the top 1 percent of the U.S. population (adjusted for inflation) rose 275 percent from 1979 to 2007, while income for the middle class grew only 40 percent. Even this dismal figure overstates the fortunes of typical Americans. In 1965, only one in 20 men ages 25 to 54 was not working; by the end of this decade, it is likely to be one in six, even if a full cyclical recovery is achieved.

Another calculation suggests that if the income distribution had remained constant from 1979 to 2007, incomes of the top 1 percent would be 59 percent, or $780,000, lower and that incomes among the bottom 80 percent would be 21 percent, or more than $10,000, higher.

Those looking to remain serene in the face of these trends or who favor policies that would disproportionately cut taxes at the high end — and exacerbate inequality — assert that snapshot inequality is all right as long as there is mobility within people’s lifetimes and across generations. In fact, there is too little of both. Inequality in lifetime incomes is only marginally smaller than inequality in a single year. And intergenerational mobility in the United States is now poor by international standards.

Why has the top 1 percent done so well relative to the rest? The answer lies substantially in changes in technology and in globalization. When George Eastman revolutionized photography, he did very well, and because he needed a large number of Americans to carry out his vision, the city of Rochester, N.Y., had a thriving middle class for two generations. When Steve Jobs revolutionized personal computing, he and Apple shareholders did very well, but those shareholders are all over the world, and a much smaller benefit flowed to middle-class American workers, both because production was outsourced and because the production of computers and software was not terribly labor-intensive.

The market system distributes rewards increasingly inequitably. On one side, the debate is framed in zero-sum terms, and the disappointing lack of income growth for middle-class workers is blamed on the success of the wealthy. Those with this view should consider whether it would be better if the United States had more, or fewer, entrepreneurs like those who founded Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook. Each did contribute significantly to rising inequality. It is easy to resent the level and extent of the increase in CEO salaries, but firms that have a single owner, such as private equity firms, pay successful chief executives more than public companies do. And for all their problems, American global companies have done very well compared with those headquartered in more egalitarian societies over the past two decades. Where great fortunes are earned by providing great products or services that benefit large numbers of people, they should not be denigrated.

Meanwhile, those who call concerns about rising inequality misplaced or a product of class warfare are even further off base. The extent of the change in the income distribution is such that it is no longer true that the overall growth rate of the economy is the principal determinant of middle-class income growth — how the growth pie is distributed is at least equally important. The observation that most of the increase in inequality reflects gains for those at the very top at the expense of everyone else further belies the idea that simply strengthening the economy will reduce inequality. Focusing on American competitiveness, as many urge, could easily exacerbate inequality while doing little for most Americans if the focus is placed on measures such as corporate tax cuts or the protection of intellectual property for the benefit of companies that are not primarily producing in the United States.

We need more and better responses to rising inequality. Here are three places to start.

First, government must not facilitate increases in inequality by rewarding the wealthy with special concessions. Where governments dispose of assets or allocate licenses, preference should be on the use of auctions to which all have access. Where government provides implicit or explicit insurance, premiums should be based on the market rather than in consultation with the affected industry. Government’s general posture should be standing up for capitalism rather than for well-connected capitalists.

Second, there is scope for pro-fairness, pro-growth tax reform. The moment when more great fortunes are being created and the federal deficit is growing is hardly the time for the estate tax to be eviscerated. And there is no reason tax changes in a period of sharply rising inequality should reinforce the trends in pretax incomes produced by the marketplace.

Third, the public sector must ensure greater equity in areas of the most fundamental importance. It will always be the case in a market economy that some will have mansions, art, etc. More troubling is that middle-class students’ ability to attend college has been seriously compromised by increasing tuitions and sharp cutbacks at public universities, and that, over the past generation, a gap has opened between the life expectancy of the affluent and the ordinary.

Neither the politics of polarization nor those of noblesse oblige on behalf of the fortunate will serve to protect the interests of the middle class in the post-industrial economy.

The writer, a professor and past president at Harvard University, was Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration and economic adviser to President Obama from 2009 through 2010.
4052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Foreign Policy: The enemy is the enemy, call it by its name, Caroline Glick on: November 26, 2011, 11:08:27 AM
Very worthwhile read!  Timely if not too late.

http://www.carolineglick.com/e/2011/11/calling-things-by-their-proper.php

Calling things by their proper names
November 25, 2011, 10:20 AM
 
Maliki and the dwarf.jpg


Next month, America's long campaign in Iraq will come to an end with the departure of the last US forces from the country.

Amazingly, the approaching withdrawal date has fomented little discussion in the US. Few have weighed in on the likely consequences of President Barack Obama's decision to withdraw on the US's hard won gains in that country.

After some six thousand Americans gave their lives in the struggle for Iraq and hundreds of billions of dollars were spent on the war, it is quite amazing that its conclusion is being met with disinterested yawns.

The general stupor was broken last week with The Weekly Standard's publication of an article titled, "Defeat in Iraq: President Obama's decision to withdraw US troops is the mother of all disasters."

The article was written by Frederick and Kimberly Kagan and Marisa Cochrane Sullivan. The Kagans contributed to conceptualizing the US's successful counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, popularly known as "the surge," that president George W. Bush implemented in 2007.

In their article, the Kagans and Sullivan explain the strategic implications of next month's withdrawal. First they note that with the US withdrawal, the sectarian violence that the surge effectively ended will in all likelihood return in force.

Iranian-allied Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is purging the Iraqi military and security services and the Iraqi civil service of pro-Western, anti- Iranian commanders and senior officials. With American acquiescence, Maliki and his Shi'ite allies already managed to effectively overturn the March 2010 election results. Those elections gave the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya party led by former prime minister Ayad Allawi the right to form the next government.

Due to Maliki's actions, Iraq's Sunnis are becoming convinced they have little to gain from peacefully accepting the government.

The strategic implications of Maliki's purges are clear. As the US departs the country next month it will be handing its hard-won victory in Iraq to its greatest regional foe - Iran.

Repeating their behavior in the aftermath of Israel's precipitous withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, the Iranians and their Hezbollah proxies are presenting the US withdrawal from Iraq as a massive strategic victory.

They are also inventing the rationale for continued war against the retreating Americans. Iran's Hezbollah-trained proxy, Muqtada al-Sadr, has declared that US Embassy personnel are an "occupation force" that the Iraqis should rightly attack with the aim of defeating.

The US public's ignorance of the implications of a post-withdrawal, Iranian-dominated Iraq is not surprising. The Obama administration has ignored them and the media have largely followed the administration's lead in underplaying them.

For its part, the Bush administration spent little time explaining to the US public who the forces fighting in Iraq were and why the US was fighting them.

US military officials frequently admitted that the insurgents were trained, armed and funded by Iran and Syria. But policy-makers never took any action against either country for waging war against the US. Above the tactical level, the US was unwilling to take any effective action to diminish either regime's support for the insurgency or to make them pay a diplomatic or military price for their actions.

As for Obama, as the Kagans and Sullivan show, the administration abjectly refused to intervene when Maliki stole the elections or to defend US allies in the Iraqi military from Maliki's pro-Iranian purge of the general officer corps. And by refusing to side with US allies, the Obama administration has effectively sided with America's foes, enabling Iranian-allied forces to take over the US-built, trained and armed security apparatuses in Iraq.

ALL OF these actions are in line with the US's current policy towards Egypt. There, without considering the consequences of its actions, in January and February the Obama administration played a key role in ousting the US's most dependable ally in the Arab world, president Hosni Mubarak.

Since Mubarak was thrown from office, Egypt has been ruled by a military junta dubbed the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Because SCAF is comprised of the men who served as Mubarak's underlings throughout his 30-year rule, it shares many of the institutional interests that guided Mubarak and rendered him a dependable US ally. Specifically, SCAF is ill-disposed toward chaos and Islamic radicalism.

However, unlike Mubarak, SCAF is only in power because the mobs of protesters in Tahrir Square demanded that Mubarak stand down to enable civilian, majority rule in Egypt. Consequently, the military junta is much less able to keep Egypt's populist forces at bay.

Throughout Mubarak's long reign, the most popular force in Egypt was the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood. The populism unleashed by Mubarak's ouster necessarily rendered the Brotherhood the most powerful political force in Egypt. If free elections are held in Egypt next week as planned and if their results are honored, within a year Egypt will be ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the outcome Obama all but guaranteed when he cut the cord on Mubarak.

Recognizing the danger a Brotherhood government would pose to the army's institutional interests, in recent weeks the generals began taking steps to delay elections, limit the power of the parliament and postpone presidential elections.

Their moves provoked massive opposition from Egypt's now fully legitimated and empowered populist forces. And so they launched what they are dubbing "the second Egyptian revolution."

And the US doesn't know what to do.

In late 2010, foreign policy professionals on both sides of the aisle in Washington got together and formed a group called the Working Group for Egypt. This group, with members as seemingly diverse as Elliott Abrams from the Bush administration and the Council on Foreign Relations, and Brian Katulis from the Center for American Progress, chose to completely ignore the fact that the populist forces in Egypt are overwhelmingly jihadist. They lobbied for Mubarak's overthrow in the name of "democracy" in January and February. Today they demand that Obama side with the rioters in Tahrir Square against the military. And just as he did in January and February, Obama is likely to follow their "bipartisan" advice.

FROM IRAQ to Egypt to Libya to Syria, as previous mistakes by both the Bush and Obama administrations constrain and diminish US options for advancing its national interests, America is compelled to make more and more difficult choices. In Libya, after facilitating Muammar Gaddafi's overthrow, the US is faced with the prospect of dealing with an even more radical regime that is jihadist, empowered and already transferring arms to terror groups and proliferating nonconventional weapons. If the Obama administration and the US foreign policy establishment acknowledge the hostile nature of the new regime and refrain from supporting it, they will be forced to admit they sided with America's enemies in taking down Gaddafi.

While Gaddafi was certainly no Mubarak, at worst he was an impotent adversary.

In Syria, not only did the US refuse to take any action against President Bashar Assad despite his active sponsorship of the insurgency in Iraq, it failed to cultivate any ties with Syrian regime opponents. The US has continued to ignore Syrian regime opponents to the present day. And now, with Assad's fall a matter of time, the US is presented with a fairly set opposition leadership, backed by Islamist Turkey and dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. The liberal, pro-American forces in Syria, including the Kurds, have been shut out of the post-Assad power structure.

And in Egypt, after embracing "democracy" over its ally Mubarak, the US is faced with another unenviable choice. It can either side with the weak, but not necessarily hostile military junta which is dependent on US financial aid, or it can side with Islamic extremists who seek its destruction and that of Israel and have the support of the Egyptian people.

HOW HAS this situation arisen? How is it possible that the US finds itself today with so few good options in the Arab world after all the blood and treasure it has sacrificed? The answer to this question is found to a large degree in an article by Prof. Angelo Codevilla in the current issue of the Claremont Review of Books titled "The Lost Decade."

Codevilla argues that the reason the US finds itself in the position it is in today owes to a significant degree to its refusal after September 11, 2001, to properly identify its enemy. US foreign policy elites of all stripes and sizes refused to consider clearly how the US should best defend its interests because they refused to identify who most endangered those interests.

The Left refused to acknowledge that the US was under attack from the forces of radical Islam enabled by Islamic supremacist regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Iran because the Left didn't want the US to fight. Moreover, because the Left believes that US policies are to blame for the Islamic world's hostility to America, leftists favor foreign policies predicated on US appeasement of its enemies.

For its part, the Right refused to acknowledge the identity and nature of the US's enemy because it feared the Left.

And so, rather than fight radical Islamists, under Bush the US went to war against a tactic - terrorism. And lo and behold, it was unable to defeat a tactic because a tactic isn't an enemy. It's just a tactic.

And as its war aim was unachievable, the declared ends of the war became spectacular. Rather than fight to defend the US, the US went to war to transform the Arab world from one imbued with unmentionable religious extremism to one increasingly ruled by democratically elected unmentionable religious extremism.

The lion's share of responsibility for this dismal state of affairs lies with former president Bush and his administration. While the Left didn't want to fight or defeat the forces of radical Islam after September 11, the majority of Americans did. And by catering to the Left and refusing to identify the enemy, Bush adopted war-fighting tactics that discredited the war effort and demoralized and divided the American public, thus paving the way for Obama to be elected while running on a radical anti-war platform of retreat and appeasement.

Since Obama came into office, he has followed the Left's ideological guidelines of ending the fight against and seeking to appease America's worst enemies. This is why he has supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This is why he turned a blind eye to the Islamists who dominated the opposition to Gaddafi. This is why he has sought to appease Iran and Syria. This is why he supports the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian opposition. This is why he supports Turkey's Islamist government. And this is why he is hostile to Israel.

And this is why come December 31, the US will withdraw in defeat from Iraq, and pro- American forces in the region and the US itself will reap the whirlwind of Washington's irresponsibility.

There is a price to be paid for calling an enemy an enemy. But there is an even greater price to be paid for failing to do so.
4053  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs: The Chevy Volt on: November 26, 2011, 10:01:34 AM
First I must admit I am fascinated with things like off the grid power systems and with electric vehicles.  I have 2 electric vehicles right now (an electric bike and a trolling motor powered kayak) but still rely heavily on the combustion engine to get real work done, a load carried or a real distance traveled.  A natural gas and electric hybrid I predict will be in my future, but who knows.  I just don't see how any of it depends on a government program.  That doesn't it make it more cost effective, it just hides the costs.

The real intention of these government programs, subsidies and mandates, is to rush the product to market before it is ready.  Isn't government's role in every other product, FDA etc. life saving drugs and procedures, to slow the product to market so that proper testing and public safety is assured?

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/nov/25/2nd-electric-car-battery-fire-involving-chevy-volt/?ap

2nd electric car battery fire involving Chevy Volt

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal officials say they are investigating the safety of lithium-ion battery in General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Volt after a second battery fire following crash-testing of the electric car.
4054  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: November 26, 2011, 09:38:36 AM
OMG! It's so hot, the sea is boiling away!

All that extra moisture in the air explains the drought in Texas too!
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Global warming is even more  of a joke here - we didn't have to dream of a white Thanksgiving up here this year, the snowblowers, plows and salt trucks have already been out.  That is why they changed the name global warming to climate change - consistent or accelerating warming was so easy to disprove.  Climate change covers hot and cold, wet and dry - as if those variances did not previously occur.  If you can observe it or measure it, then it was caused by capitalism, fossil fuel use and the greediest 1%.  Fit the data to the theory.

I was reading some pretty good pieces lately about the errors the climate modelers were making in the late 1990s.  Because they deny the effects of phenomenon they don't understand or know about, cosmic rays, solar magnetism, cloud cover variabilities, etc. they attribute all observed warming to CO2.  When temps go up more they are even more confident and determined to spread the fright, but when temps go down they switch from satellite to surface to lower tropospheric or tree rings or whatever helps the new data fit into the old, flawed theory until it is fully discredited.  Critics of this say put the data first and fix your model even if that would mean the scientifically unthinkable - lower levels of government paid research funding.

Around 'The Inconvenient Truth' time I tried to make a bet with one of my outspoken liberal friends about ocean levels.  The rising sea seemed to be the most dramatic of the Al Gore predictions:

"A 20 ft (6m) rise in sea level would create over 100 million refugees."

Apologies here but I am picturing Crafty and family out on a Pacific lifeboat with their survival kit waiting for CO2 levels on land to subside.  I tried to bet my friend $5 that the map of Florida would not be noticeably changed by the end of this century.  The Atlantic Ocean will be right about where it is now and where it was when my grandparents bought property a block from the ocean 65 years ago.  It goes up and down everyday with the tide more than it changes in a century.  He wouldn't take the bet because we couldn't figure out how to live long enough to verify Al Gore's claim.  Maybe he thinks all that sea rise could be in the last few years...

The point in this data isn't that levels are catastrophically falling - we are looking at millimeters not feet, it is just that ocean levels go in cycles we don't understand.   A small decline over 2 years and counting proves the rate of increase is neither constant nor accelerating, and not determined by one minor variable alone.

We don't need to wait until the year 2100 to know they were wrong.
4055  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A Nobel Peace Prize for the Warning of Sea's Accelerating Rise... on: November 25, 2011, 08:53:17 PM
Sea Level Continues Its Historic Decline

http://www.real-science.com/sea-level-continues-historic-decline



Who knew?
4056  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: Van Jones reappears on: November 25, 2011, 08:19:30 PM
Van Jones left the administration because of past extremist affiliations?  Or did he leave to form new ones??


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vh_3Nm19Ncw&feature=player_embedded

Does this look like a ground level up movement to you?  Repeat after me...

I wonder what the early national socialist rallies in Germany looked like.
4057  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 25, 2011, 01:57:51 PM
"MSM is in full swing doing everything they can to delegitamize the Rep field."
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http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/24/showbiz/nbc-bachmann-apology/?hpt=hp_bn7

NBC has apologized to Rep. Michele Bachmann after the house band for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" played an inappropriate song during her appearance on the show Monday... apologized for what happened and called the incident "not only unfortunate but also unacceptable,"...the show's band played the song "Lyin' Ass Bitch" by Fishbone as Bachmann first appeared on stage...
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Just a misunderstanding, I'm sure the unfortunate choice of songs is no sign of institutional bias.
4058  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 25, 2011, 11:58:22 AM
Erick Erickson isn't exactly a highly regarded analyst, but I heard him make that same case as a guest host on someone else's radio show recently.  The interest uber-Lib James Oliphant' has in it is to find the most defeatist right-wing view and spread it around.

Of course Cain has an issue with the women's vote while these charges fester and doubts against electability cast to everyone else.  That doesn't mean we won't learn more about the veracity of those charges before votes are cast - and as Crafty already pointed out - other considerations.

Of course Gingrich has a 3 wives with overlap problem.  Isn't that part of the problem Rudy the previous election cycle frontrunner ran into.  We are not breaking any new ground here.

"Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee."  - Again back to conventional wisdom.  I have written this multiple times as well.

"And his general election campaign will be an utter disaster for conservatives as he takes the GOP down with him and burns up what it means to be a conservative in the process"

This was the point of significance that Erickson is making and it is severely flawed.  Erickson is saying that Romney is so centrist that no contrast can be made in the general election with Pres. Obama.  That is wrong on 59 points in economics.  It is wrong on the focus and direction of foreign policy.  And it is wrong on ObamaCare.  Obama will never take a step back on Obamacare and Romney will repeal it the first day after the swearing in ceremony.  Every voter will have to deal with that contrast and current polling I've seen is 47% top 41% in favor of repeal.  Romney will follow that with every Republican concession out there like verbal support for state solutions and federal laws protecting pre-existing conditions, opening markets across state lines etc. to attract moderates and centrists while the tea party types would be cast wanting to kill off the poorest among us.

Conservatives are wishing for a conglomerate candidate that doesn't exist.  Maybe a Michele Bachmann with no foot in mouth problem and Rick Perry's executive branch governing experience, a Hermann Cain who also had 8 years as Secretary of State or Chair of the Joint Chiefs and no accusations, a Rick Perry governing record in someone who could articulate a thought in front of a camera, a Newt who lived the family life of Romney or a Romney who got elected in a blue state with the domestic economic views of Ron Paul.  Folks, that person doesn't exist.  I noticed early on that Redstate.com, where Erickson is editor/blogger, was in the tank for Rick Perry.  I also had high hopes for Rick Perry.  Then I had medium hopes for Rick Perry, now little hope for Rick Perry.  I also held out medium hope for Tim Pawlenty.  How we all deal with our own disappointments along the way is our own problem, but to say that Mitt Romney is not position to mount a serious general election challenge and stake out ground to the right of this opponent is pure nonsense.
4059  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues on: November 25, 2011, 11:04:03 AM
Conservatives here voiced quite a bit of support for John Bolton's view advising strikes against N.K. nukes as well as stopping Iran.  The N.K. threat is different  and more complicated because of having its big brother China on the doorstep, not to mention you can see the home of the Russian Pacific Fleet from North Korea's northern-most coastal border.  Who is Iran's big brother keeping them contained, the new government of Iraq??  Pakistan is its own unique case and I hope we are working through all the options of when and how to take action and contain its dangers.  I don't see how recent failures of our policies toward NK and Pak make failure in Iran more desirable.

In the history of the world in our lifetimes, Israel struck a Saddam reactor in Ozarik 1981 and a 'military site' in Syria in 2007 and the French played a lead role in deposing Kadafy.  Not much else ever happens in non-proliferation enforcement or tyrant/terrorist abatement without the U.S. taking the lead or unilateral role.  

A similar line of defeatist thinking was used in the unsuccessful argument against deposing Saddam Hussein, we shouldn't take down Saddam because we did nothing here and nothing there around the globe.  That logic escapes me.  How does our inaction or failure in N.K, Pakistan or anywhere else help with the question facing us right now, what is the right thing to do about the threat posed by Iran who according to most reports is about to become a real nuclear power right now under our watch.

"I don't think they [Iran] have killed one American on American soil."  And this: "the direct threat to America is minimal".

Inventing a category to find them innocent and why is there a qualifier on the threat to America?!  If they are our enemy by their choosing, co-conspiring in thousands of American deaths and causing a war to be years longer than it needed to be, they are a threat.  If they are developing nuclear and extending the range of delivery systems as a declared enemy of the United States, they are a threat.  If they earned the distinction of being the world's number one state sponsor of terrorism, they are a threat.  If their delivery systems could hit locations where we have security agreements, they are a threat.  These security relationships were formed precisely with this thinking in mind: we will not wait ever again for enemies to land on our shores to begin our action.  GM already wrote: "Iran has been waging a war against the US since 1979".  I would add that if they choose to be our enemy and act on it, then the feeling is necessarily mutual.  There should be a price to pay for being an active and declared enemy of the United States.  Having your nuclear proliferation facilities taken out in air strikes seems like a pretty natural consequence to supporting a war effort against the US while declaring yourselves a new nuclear power to be dealt with.  To not do so is what sends the message of weakness that makes the next war more likely and more costly.

Stopping Iran at this point IS a step forward in stopping N.K., just as vice versa would have been - using the same logic presented - why aren't we treating them the same.  Stopping both programs is a step forward in focusing attention on larger threats inside Pakistan.  To allow threats to grow and develop right while we have reason, justification and perhaps opportunity to take action is exactly what has landed us in this triple threat situation, IMHO.
4060  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics or just a media issue? on: November 23, 2011, 05:30:07 PM
LA Times: "Over the last two decades, the average income of the top 1% of Californians increased by 50%, after adjusting for inflation, while the average income of the middle fifth fell by 15%."

It's kind of sad that in Journalism and in economics that kind of deception can be passed along without consequence.  The implication is clearly made that two groups of people were studied over a two decade period when in fact no actual person group of people was studied over an extended period. Income Mobility: The majority of Californians moved freely between quintiles, there is no indication whatsoever how many of the top 1% at the start remain in the top 1%, perhaps close to none, the group that makes up the middle quintile is completely different for a host of reasons.  New Californians: For every immigrants that come in at the bottom of incomes, the middle shifts downward even if everyone in the state including that immigrant is making more than they made previously.

For all the fears about the success of 'the wealthy' starting with the title, 'California's Wealth Pyramid', isn't it strange that at no point to they measure or compare wealth.  Income studies and wealth studies are not the same.  Look at the unprecedented collapse of wealth in the last 3 years.  Wouldn't that be problem solved? None of it is shown in the data.

"Policymakers should be mindful of the growing income divide and the millions of workers and families who have fallen behind."  - Once again, for each poor person moving in to better him/herself, the income divide overall grows, and nowhere in the study does it document that anyone has fallen behind.

Before Pelosi-Obama took over congress, incomes were growing, covering most of those two decades.  People may have been falling behind though in the sense of the increasing costs of all government interfered expenses and markets, including taxes, housing, tuition, energy costs and health care.

I like the ending in particular, they are with the nonpartisan California Budget Project, lol.  Nonpartisan.  Why on earth would you openly and intentionally deceive people if you had no agenda??
4061  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 22, 2011, 04:44:51 PM
My feeling about Mitt is that there is a 50% chance he could be a great President.  No one has come forward offering a 100% chance.  My hope is that Mitt's flip flop period had to do with wanting to bee elected in Massachusetts.  That counts against him in terms of integrity and in terms of risk of bad policies later but at his core my hope is that he more conservative and more pro-free enterprise than he is showing.  I can't stand his rich guilt stand on marginal rates.  No way should we let progressivity get worse in the tax code get worse as Mitt would allow, and I say that looking up from the lowest bracket.

Newt to me presents risks too, perhaps greater, both in terms of jumping around on policies and that his personal story will keep some people from voting for him.  He is more controversial I think especially as you move toward the center and gives the left more to tee off on.  I liked that he was the best debater.  I like that Crafty stood up and took a stand for him.  Now I don't like as much that Newt is saying he is the best debater; that comes across better with others saying it.  Another debate tonight and he will have quite a chance to shine because he has given for more thought to all the foreign policy questions.  Besides setting a clearer direction he can use that to be far harder on Pres. Obama.   Obama has had a couple of successes.  Those don't excuse the foreign policy nightmare that marks the rest his Presidency.  VDH has covered in nicely in his 'Works and Days' column and Newt is capable of that.

If he is the nominee, I think Mitt's debate capabilities will look better against Pres. Obama than he did against the Republican challengers.  It is an easier contrast to draw and he has so carefully kept from letting himself be painted as extremist.

Newt is back on private accounts for SS.  A great idea with probably lousy timing.  Of course those private accounts will require an individual mandate...
4062  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / U.S. energy policy: A slow national suicide on: November 22, 2011, 01:23:01 PM
http://www.realclearenergy.org/2011/11/22/us_energy_policy_slow_national_suicide_243188.html

U.S. energy policy: A slow national suicide
With Keystone XL delay, America continues its slow economic strangulation

By Charles Campbell

November 21, 2011  Baltimore Sun

In 1969, three unrelated events occurred that have since been combined with political bungling to slowly strangle the U.S. economy. Moammar Gadhafi overthrew King Idris of Libya. He nationalized Western oil company reserves with no retribution from the U.S. Sensing our weakness, all of the other OPEC nations abrogated their concession agreements with U.S. companies. The Arab producers cut back production and embargoed the U.S. because of our support for Israel. Middle East despots have been in the driver's seat ever since, and as the Arab Spring seems increasingly likely to empower Islamists, things are unlikely to get better.

Also that year, an oil spill from a drilling platform off Santa Barbara was the catalyst for the current environmentalist efforts to prevent all exploration on the continental shelves on the East and West coasts and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. U.S. crude production went into irreversible decline.

Finally, in 1969 synthetic crude oil from the Athabasca tar sand of Alberta, Canada, began to be produced. It has been transported without incident to U.S. refiners by pipeline for 40 years. There is now an environmental movement to prevent the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to deliver additional tar sands crude from Alberta to the U.S. to make up for declining U.S. production. Opponents of Keystone XL won a victory this month when President Barack Obama refused to sign off on the pipeline's proposed route, forcing at least a year's delay as the project is reconfigured.

    Related
    No to Keystone XL No to Keystone XL
    Proposed Canadian pipeline will increase our dependency on foreign oil
    Keystone XL pipeline, bringing oil from Canada, is a step toward the future
    Going to jail for the environment Going to jail for the environment
    Pipeline or no, oil is not the future
    The shrewd politics of Keystone delay
    Topics
    Upstream Oil and Gas Activities
    Conservation
    Petroleum Industry
    See more topics »

These are the same environmentalists, of course, who block exploration on the continental shelves and ANWR, which adds to the U.S. and global oil shortage, driving up prices that make the Athabasca tar sands projects viable. In any event, if Keystone XL is blocked, a pipeline will be built to Canada's West Coast for Chinese deliveries. This will reduce China's need for Middle East crude and increase our requirements for supplies from people who want to destroy the U.S.
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The administration continues to push for wind and sun projects (see the Solyndra debacle). Multiple studies show that wind power does not reduce carbon dioxide because of the inefficient cycling operations in fossil fuel plants to provide instant power into the grid when the wind stops blowing.

As for solar, to provide a measurable amount of power it would be necessary to cover a major portion of the Mojave Desert with mirrors to collect heat at the peak of the day and again would require cycling of fossil fuel plants to make up for when the sun doesn't shine.

The same radical opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline has expanded to the production of natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation, which stretches from New York through Pennsylvania and Maryland into West Virginia, with unsubstantiated claims of impending disaster for the water tables. Hydro-fracturing has been used in secondary/tertiary oil and gas recovery for 60 years in the West with no detrimental effect on the environment or water supplies, and coupled with horizontal drilling is responsible for raising crude production in the Dakotas to slow U.S. declines. Maryland has a moratorium on shale gas production.

Much-maligned Big Oil still has the only technology capable of developing additional energy supplies, shorn of government impediments. Meanwhile, anti-nuclear activists have stopped all consideration of nuclear power in the U.S. in the wake of Fukushima — which, despite being the worst nuclear meltdown in history, caused no nuclear-related deaths.

CFP of France was thrown out of the Middle East, along with the U.S. companies, in 1974. The country immediately launched a focused strategy to reduce reliance on Mideast oil. Today France has the world's most sophisticated high-speed electric rail system, produces 80 percent of its power by nuclear plants and reprocesses its spent nuclear fuel. The Nissan Renault Leaf pure electric car is now in mass production. By 2030, France will be essentially carbon dioxide free except for jet fuel and diesel fuel for heavy truck transportation.

Sun and wind will never become a significant portion of our energy mix. High-priced oil since the 1970s has created 40 years of extensive conservation; there is little more to be gained. We can either emulate the French and in parallel aggressively expand our fossil fuel resources or face a slow, brutal economic decline against rising Asian power, coupled to increasing risks from an increasingly volatile region that controls the world's oil supplies.

The garrote is an unpleasant execution by slow strangulation. It is extremely difficult to commit national suicide by turning the handle ourselves, but we are trying.
4063  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Climategate Emails 2.0 on: November 22, 2011, 01:19:23 PM
Agenda science, the gift that keeps on giving:

http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/climategate-2-0/

/// The IPCC Process ///

<1939> Thorne/MetO:

Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical
troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a
wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the
uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these
further if necessary [...]

<3066> Thorne:

I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it
which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.

<1611> Carter:

It seems that a few people have a very strong say, and no matter how much
talking goes on beforehand, the big decisions are made at the eleventh hour by
a select core group.

<2884> Wigley:

Mike, The Figure you sent is very deceptive [...] there have been a number of
dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC [...]

<4755> Overpeck:

The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guid[e] what’s
included and what is left out.

<3456> Overpeck:

I agree w/ Susan [Solomon] that we should try to put more in the bullet about
“Subsequent evidence” [...] Need to convince readers that there really has been
an increase in knowledge – more evidence.  What is it?

(Much more at the link)
4064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: O'Hanlon Wolfowitz piece on: November 22, 2011, 01:01:20 PM
The piece makes some sense to me, to spend 10% of what we spend now instead of nothing.  Who knows from here what the strategy on the ground should be, but it seems to me that to leave Iraq and Afghanistan in total whether calling it success or failure will be a mistake very difficult to correct.  We didn't have that type of false confidence leaving other conflict zones of Japan, Germany or Korea and we didn't launch the bin Laden operation or drone strikes in Pakistan from Tampa.

Keeping US power in the region and strengthening our cooperation with India is the foundation of a Pakistan plan IMO.

As the 3 am question goes, what as President would you do if the call says that forces of al Qaida just took over Pakistan and took control of all their nukes.  If we have gutted our intelligence, our defense and readiness budgets, if we end our presence on their doorstep and our influence and contacts on the inside, if we have moved what remains of our personnel and equipment home, the response of the President of the US will be the same as the head of the UN, the head of the EU or the President of Haiti or Ghana - like everyone else, we would be in a position to do nothing about it.  Maybe we could call our superpower 'friends' in Russia and China.
4065  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: November 22, 2011, 12:26:26 PM
CCP's answer make sense.  If they block your business and you report it to authorities you would expect them to be removed at some through a series of negotiations and/or increasingly stronger actions taken by LE.

GM:  "Unlike CN or CS gas, OC is actually legally classified as a food additive. It's the same compound that makes salsa or curry hot."

Like a waiter, they could just say they got their order wrong. ) 

Waterboarding is done only with a healthy, all-natural product as well.   wink



4066  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government programs and budget process - Balanced Budget Amendment on: November 22, 2011, 12:18:35 PM
I understand the BBA voted on that received a majority but failed to get the 2/3rd threshold did not include the cap on spending, did not include the super majority requirement to raise taxes and among the opponenets was Rep. Paul Ryan.

Ryan said:  “I’m concerned that this version will lead to a much bigger government fueled by more taxes,” Ryan said in a statement following the vote. “Spending is the problem, yet this version of the BBA makes it more likely taxes will be raised, government will grow, and economic freedom will be diminished. Without a limit on government spending, I cannot support this Amendment.”

I agree with Paul Ryan.  What a strange 'solution' that we can spend all we want if it is combined with a tax increase on someone else. 
4067  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - We need a Democrat nominee too! on: November 22, 2011, 12:06:26 PM
I had some fun back when his approval rating was about 70% predicting that Barack Obama would not be the nominee of his own party.  Names like Evan Bayh and Jim Webb came up.  I would oppose these too but for the party of JFK these choices are not as anti-capitalism, anti-freedom and anti-growth as the incumbent today. 

Instead those who see his political weakness think the perfect answer to their cause is his ideological clone Hillary Clinton.   sad  That is not what I meant! 
------
I saw my first Obama 2012 bumper sticker this weekend in the city of Liberal Lakes.  The new sticker doesn't say Obama-Biden; no running mate is mentioned.  It didn't say Obama either - that name isn't polling well either.   It only says 2012 with the Pepsi-like logo for the Obama hope change marketing concept in the place of the zero.  Very concise, but is President Zero really the marketing image he will spend a billion dollars to reinforce?

He wishes he had results at zero to run on...
4068  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 22, 2011, 11:20:40 AM
Yes, G. Will is very tough on Romney.  Ethanol subsidies probably aren't the best test for purity on principles.  Pawlenty, author of Courage to Stand, said in his announcement speech (in Iowa) that he would end subsidies to ethanol.  Later he said he didn't get an applause for that line - how's he doing now?  Perry says no federal subsidies for any of the energies.  Also not surging, each for different reasons.

People think conservatives have a purity test.  What a joke.  We are look for candidates with views we agree with, just like centrists and liberals do.  We would like to find one candidate who shares our principles AND can stand at least even with the incumbent on competence, moral integrity and communications skills.  That should not be too much to ask.

The polls opening in a little over a month, and it will come down to electability.  Romney may seem like a wishy washy, poll watching, principle lacking mish mash of positions held, a 'recidivist reviser of his principles', but he is still in the strongest position.

Will's point that Romney is becoming less and less electable is interesting.  The reason we searched through all these others is that a clear contrast in direction would make for a better chance at governing and solving our problems.  Technocratic competency questions bring it back to the person, not the direction.  Obama will save the day though by making even Romney look like a sharp turn toward conservatism.  With all I find lacking in Romney, he is not really another Dukakis. 
-----------
Looking again at those already written off, Glen Beck had Michele Bachmann on a radio interview for 45 minutes yesterday and said he agreed with every word she said.  She is probably the most connected of any of them on foreign policy - she at least receives intelligence from her committee assignments - but she has no executive experience and this propensity to go running off on wrong, small things. 
-----------
The always interesting Dennis Miller was on Leno last night.  He liked Cain a while back but didn't find him ready enough, now leaning toward Romney, and he likes Gingrich.  He said of Gingrich that people should see the video of his daughter - the story about the hospital room was not true, but that piece does not remove Newt's baggage, political and personal. 
-----------
Rich Perry on a Fox panel, link below, is worth a watch.  He starts with his deer in the headlights smile but follows with pretty good substance.  Krauthammer asks him an excellent question on his tax proposal, why not put a sunset provision on the old code.  Instead of fake some answer, he said that is a pretty good idea and would consider it, and went on to show how they used a sunset provision elsewhere to repatriate American assets back into the economy.  http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/11/21/rick_perry_goes_on_the_special_report_panel.html  I think he might be next to get a second look and make a mini-comeback.  That doesn't make his flaws and earlier flops go away either.

One of these folks will soon be the nominee.
4069  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: OWS needs more Cowbell !! on: November 21, 2011, 11:22:09 PM
Forget about finding a message.  We need more Cowbell.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvhAq1DV5wU
4070  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive dissonance of the left on: November 21, 2011, 08:02:53 PM
"This is why I am done with working patrol. Perhaps with law enforcement altogether."

Their loss, our gain.  )
4071  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 21, 2011, 09:43:19 AM
Credit and blame are sides of the same coin; it is 3 years out.

"What do you do if "free" Iraq has stated very clearly and unequivocally that they simply don't want us there?"

Things like negotiations, leverage, leadership and diplomacy come to mind.  None of those were needed if your only goal was to read polls at home and exit no matter the conditions or ramifications.
4072  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 21, 2011, 08:56:05 AM
It's still Bush's fault.  I know he gets the pension and secret service attention, I hope he is still getting boots on the ground updates before he makes his final determination - 3 years gone by and counting.

The Bush 'agreement', FYI, was "subject to possible further negotiations".  The negotiations to maintain a base, a fortress over the horizon as Democrats used to call it, a readiness to quickly address future threats, apparently never happened... because first and foremost this is about American political considerations now ahead of future American or global security interests, IMHO.
4073  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 21, 2011, 08:40:16 AM
George Will was very tough on Newt yesterday:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/11/20/george_will_on_newt_gingrich_hes_the_classic_rental_politician.html

"Gingrich's is an amazingly efficient candidacy in that it embodies everything that is disagreeable about modern Washington. He's the classic rental politician," George Will said on "This Week" today.

"People think that his problem is his colorful personal life. He'll hope that people concentrate on that rather than on, for example, ethanol. Al Gore has recanted ethanol. Not Newt Gingrich who served the ethanol lobby, Industrial policy of the sort that got us Solyndra, he's all for it. Freddie Mac, he says, hired him as a historian. He's not a historian."

(He prefaced this with his weekly disclosure that Mrs. Will is advising the Perry campaign.)
4074  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / European matters: Spain election: Conservatives set to win landslide victory on: November 21, 2011, 08:28:24 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/spain/8903054/Spain-election-Conservatives-set-to-win-landslide-victory-exit-polls-show..html

Who knows what this means now; they should have thought of that when they chose socialist leadership since 2004.
4075  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The cognitive dissonance of the left on: November 21, 2011, 07:48:10 AM
"That would clash with the actual intent behind OWS."

Yes but his situation calls the question perfectly.  Are you against the special treatment and bailouts of wallstreeters or are you against the freedoms inherent in capitalistic wealth?  Without the freedoms of capitalism, the $700 room would never have been built, cleaned or available to him.  The right to charge more, to make more money and to pay more for quality are all part of the capitalistic principle of allocating scarce resources based on price. Those shivering outside should take notice. 
4076  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The cognitive dissonance of the left on: November 20, 2011, 09:29:54 PM
The park bench sounds good but the guy prefers the honeymoon suite with the Jacuzzi for the occupation.  I'm waiting for Occupy Vail, and the powder in the trees at Steamboat.  What can you really protest when the cameras aren't running anyway.  The rich guy has every right to sympathize with the movement, oppose special treatment for the connected.  Jump right in.  It should not be an us vs. them question, it is right vs wrong.  Is money legitimately earned? Is it treated the same as everyone else?  Let's quit the blind attacks on wealth, let's quit the religious attacks on wealth, let's get off the equal outcomes fantasy, end the favors trading business and focus on equal treatment under the law. 
4077  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: NPR Slandering the Red States on: November 20, 2011, 11:49:01 AM
In the balancing process of new media challenging old, one person has taken up a strong challenge on the hack jobs of a few of the Goliaths such as the NY Times and Dan Rather.  John Hinderacker at Powerline (biased blogger alert) is now on Part VI of 'NPR Slandering the Red States': http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/11/slandering-the-red-states-part-vi-laura-sullivan-responds.php where the NPR hit piece author is just starting to answer back.  As in the case of his exposure of the hit jobs on the conservative Koch brothers, it is best to read these in their entirety to get the full picture.  Just like the reaction of Dan Rather on the false but true fake documents, this author sounds like she has never been questioned before, putting out a story that children from Indian Reservations are being kidnapped by the State of South Dakota.
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/11/slandering-the-red-states-part-v-why-wont-npr-tell-the-real-story-help-me-ask.php

I feel bad for MSM customers who can follow the news from so many of the same sources everyday and have no idea they only read or heard one side of it.  Also I resent having to go to alternative sites to get facts, not just differing opinions.
4078  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Is global warming good or bad, new or old? on: November 20, 2011, 11:02:13 AM
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/global_warming_we_can_all_cheer_YuaZ4rbJSEIerSIa8Ij25I

You can be forgiven if you didn’t know that we’re in the middle of an ice age right now, what with all the talk about global warming. But it’s true. We’re in what geologists call “the Quaternary glaciation,” an ice age that’s lasted for the past 2.5 million years.

Ice ages last a very long time, with periods of extreme cold punctuated by warmer periods, or interglacials. We’re in such an interglacial right now: The Holocene epoch began about 12,000 years ago. It’s best thought of as a brief respite from the most severe ravages of Quaternary ice.

So global warming actually began around 10,000 BC, when the ice sheets that had covered large portions of North America and Eurasia retreated to the poles. And what has happened since this (entirely natural) warming began? The Neolithic Revolution, the dawn of civilization and the expansion of human populations like never before.
Civilization rose during a respite from the cold: Diego, Manfred, Sid and the lost child in the animated film “Ice Age.”
Civilization rose during a respite from the cold: Diego, Manfred, Sid and the lost child in the animated film “Ice Age.”

In other words, homo sapiens, which existed in its more or less anatomically modern form for 100,000 to 200,000 years, began to flourish and thrive as a result of this most fortuitous warmth.

In short: Global warming is good for people.

If you don’t believe me, look at the temperature variations within the Holocene: The so-called Roman Warming coincided with the heights of classical civilization; then came a period of cooling which coincided with the social collapse of the Dark Ages.

Then there was the Medieval Warm Period, which coincided with the rise of monumental cathedrals in Europe and the settlement by Vikings in a lush Greenland, followed by the Little Ice Age (from roughly the 14th to the 19th centuries) — which saw widespread political upheavals, famine and disease.

Finally, there is the current warming trend of the last century and a half or so.

In each instance, the result is broadly the same: The warmer the Earth, the better it has been for people.

So let’s be thankful for the Holocene — civilization could never have arisen without it. And let’s be thankful we live in this especially warm period within the Holocene, which has seen human populations achieve measures of health and wealth unparalleled in all of history.

But let us also not be fooled — this blessed respite will someday end. The ice will return. It always has, it always will. And when it does, it will threaten all we have built, and indeed, our very existence.
4079  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: November 20, 2011, 10:55:10 AM
All the US constitution says about bankruptcy is: [As a power of congress]  'To establish...uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States'.  Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4

Most of the bankruptcy law was written back when states were sovereign, a very long time ago.  That needs to be updated with a provision for bankruptcy for state government as we have for municipalities.  Someone might contact Sens. Feinstein and Boxer about getting this done.  The laws governing these state bankruptcies across the nation need to be uniform.

4080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: November 18, 2011, 09:33:52 PM
"let's say I sold your State a building and I carried back the paper for 30 years"

Many differences there, if payments quit the title stays with the seller on a contract for deed.  Put the other way you have to make all the payments to complete the transfer of the sale.   Payment over time makes perfect sense because the usage is over time.  It just has to be reauthorized every budget cycle until the government is the owner.

Pensions are payments for work done back then.  They should have been funded with money collected back then, for the schools, police, fire, etc. Instead we were funding ... ... ... . I have no idea how to fix now what we all know was irresponsible back then.
4081  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: November 18, 2011, 02:50:29 PM
I didn't know states cannot declare bankruptcy.  Of course not, under federal law the 'states are sovereign'.  Try saying that aloud without laughing or crying - the states are sovereign - I know about 9 people I would like to forward that to!  These states and these pensions, however, have been highly involved in interstate commerce...

When I sold products and services to a similar state, all long term funding contracts required a "funding out clause".  One legislature cannot in law bind future legislatures; it fails the most basic tenet:  consent of the governed.  We are not governed by the people who were elected 20 years ago by different people in a different time.  What right and what power did they think they had to decide what our budget will be today. The only money the state can disburse it what the legislature with the Governor say can be spent.  Obviously they will choose to pay the interest on the bonds and reauthorize everything else reasonable and prudent,  but is there a legal requirement to do so?  I don't know and my experience was not in Calif.

The California constitution will be the key.  It will define the process of what monies go out.  Requiring pension obligations be paid would seem contradictory.  The constitution hopefully spells out how that gets resolved, but it sounds like it that was set in precedent, not necessarily in specific constitutional language.  Something this large should be done with a supermajority anyway, so you might as well do that through the amendment process to the Calif. constitution, and write exactly what is needed.

I don't see how you can make people pay when you can't make them stay.

When the tax rate becomes 100% and pensions are taxed, pensioners aren't receive anything anyway.   sad

4082  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 18, 2011, 01:23:06 PM
Some additional thoughts on the debate:

*Major division between Huntsman and Romney on China.  Romney got the better of it I thought.

*Though the conversation about Afpakia was serious, I don't think anyone really came to grips with the idea that we are on a trajectory to leave Afg (with pretense at continuing to train) and that the place on the planet where AQ is closest to acquiring nukes is by snatching the ones the Paks are driving down the street.

Not saying I have any better ideas, just saying , , ,

As I understand it, Romney is talking tough on the Chinese, currency manipulation (as if we don't) and other things.  Huntsman says Romney is just pandering to the tea party.  Huntsman would do nothing about these problems, therefore avoid a trade war, and he is saying I think that Romney won't do anything about it either (same policy).  Hard to land a punch with that.
----------
Over to AfghPakia... It is Huntsman who supports leave now.  His reason is that it has been long enough - in other words no reason.  Cain is more articulate here - Admits he doesn't know and would have to talk to the commanders.  The crucial issue is what to do about Pakistan, home of nukes and AQ.  It is the prolonged nature of our Afghan presence that has brought us actionable intelligence in Pakistan.  It has been our relatively small foreign aid bribery that has given us the limited good side of the two-faced treatment we get from the government of Pakistan.  There has been surprisingly little uproar over there to the continuing U.S. drone attacks and to the OBL kill operation.  As a YA post described, we have a game hunting relationship with them.

The question remains: if and when the known bad situation in Pak becomes a crisis, are we better of to be stationed with forces and equipment next door or 12,000 miles away?  I think the rest other than Huntsman and Paul get that, but fail to articulate it?  After all we put into Iraq, how do we leave without keeping at least a base?  Seems like a post WWII presence in Europe and Asia had a stabilizing effect.

4083  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: November 18, 2011, 12:36:31 PM
Regarding the 5 lessons above, really 6... Excellent Post!  If you already read it, read it again and pass it along.
----------------------------

Important point regarding the 2% tax idea on top of all other taxes and on top of all crippling regulations is to note that this is an anti-growth strategy.  For whatever other objectives motivate the advocates have, it is the exact opposite of a pro-growth strategy for the individual and for the country - even if you think it applies only to everyone but you.

A tax on anyone is a tax on the economy and we all share an economy.  Every tax hits everyone at least indirectly.  Taxes are necessary but being overly clever and targeting (that fellow behind the tree) isn't.

Crafty put it extremely well here IMO: "I am still quite opposed to such increases because indirectly I think such increases would be bad for everyone."

In the 5 lesson post and throughout history we learn that this or any other new tax will not close the deficit, only kill growth and increase spending.

The idea that you can't move or change business activities because it is a federal and not a state law has been proven false over and over and over and over and over.  Individuals and businesses change their behavior based on changing circumstances.  The ones that don't perish.  It only takes a 2% change in activities to offset the 'benefit' of a 2% tax.  What retail business, when they desperately need more customers and more cash coming into the cash register, will raise prices by 2%?  None. 

No one has more flexibility to change their economic behavior than the rich.  From a tax efficiency perspective, soaking the rich doesn't work.  From a moral perspective, IMO it doesn't work.  From a fiscal perspective, it doesn't work.  The point of tax policy is to raise the money to pay for the legitimate functions of governing.  Nothing grows revenues like growing the economy.  You can get more money from the rich a number of ways, but not by simply raising the highest marginal rate.  There is nothing the government does that grows the private economy other than loosening the handcuffs.

We need (IMHO) to identify the people and the policies that would move us further in the wrong direction, toward further stagnation and decline, and defeat them.
4084  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: The Imaginarium of Barack Obama, VDH on: November 18, 2011, 11:57:51 AM
The piece by Peggy Noonan makes a strong case about why Herman Cain is not a serious candidate with his lack of attention to important foreign matters.  I was corresponding with a centrist friend and reminded that in other circles, just saying the name Palin, Bachmann, Cain and others - these are one word punch lines in their world.  In most cases they forgot to tell us why the joke is funny.  On the conservative side, same goes for Pelosi, Reid and especially Pres, Obama.  Maybe Newt can do it but he carries his own contradictions, but the candidate and certainly the VP candidate will need to be able to articulate persuasively the case that this incumbent is not a serious candidate for President in 2012.  VDH does it quite well IMO right here:

http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/the-imaginarium-of-barack-obama/?singlepage=true

The Imaginarium of Barack Obama
November 16, 2011 - by Victor Davis Hanson

The presidency of Barack Obama is full of funny things that need not follow any sort of logic. Images and ideas just pop in and out, without worry of inconsistency, contradiction, or hypocrisy. It’s a fascinating mish-mash of strange heroes and bogeymen, this imaginarium of our president.

In the imaginarium there are no revolving doors, earmarks, or lobbyists. So Peter Orszag did not go from being OMB director to a Citigroup fat-cat. Once chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel did not make $16 million for his well-known banking expertise. The more you damn the pernicious role of lobbyists and the polluting role of big money, the more you must hire and seek out both. Public financing of campaigns is wonderful for everyone else who lacks the integrity of Barack Obama who understandably must renounce such unfair impositions.

Those who now vote against raising the large Obama debt ceiling are political hucksters and opportunists; those who not long ago voted against raising the smaller Bush debt ceiling were principled statesmen. “Unpatriotic” presidents borrow $4 trillion in eight years; patriotic ones we’ve been waiting for can trump that in three.

Catching known terrorists and putting them in Guantanamo is very bad; killing suspected ones by drone assassinations — and anyone unlucky enough to be in their general vicinity — is exceptionally good. Tribunals, renditions, preventative detention, and all that were bad ideas under Bush-Cheney, but could become good ideas under Barack Obama, the law professor who often sees no need to follow the law when an immigration or marriage statute is deemed regressive.

A million Iranians protesting a soon-to-be-nuclear theocracy is false revolutionary consciousness and to be left alone; a few thousand Israelis wanting to buy apartments in the Jerusalem suburbs is subversive and worthy of presidential condemnation. And when atoning for supposed American lapses, what better place to begin apologizing than in Turkey, the incubator of the Armenian, Greek, and Kurdish mass killings? We need to deny history to make the case that America is not exceptional, and to invent it to persuade us that the Muslim world is extraordinary.

Twenty-four months of a Democratic Congress, and over $4 trillion in spending, resulted in 9.1% unemployment and near nonexistent growth. Yet the culprit for the current situation is ten months of a Republican-controlled House that has yet to approve another $500 billion of borrowing. In the imaginarium, just a little more of the massive amount that has failed will not fail. But if the Republicans are to be blamed for not wanting to waste the last half-trillion, are the Democrats to be praised for borrowing the first wasted $4 trillion?

In the imaginarium, all sorts of demons and devils can unite to derail the brilliance of Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan. ATMs have for the first time after 2009 begun to eliminate jobs. But then so did the Japanese tsunami and the EU meltdown. The DC earthquake did its part, but then so did climbing oil prices and the Arab Spring. Of course, the ghost of George Bush floats over all the present mess. Economic gurus like Austan Goolsbee, Peter Orszag, Christina Romer, and Larry Summers used to write brilliant essays of what would work if they were to be in charge, and now write brilliant essays about why it did not work when they were in charge.

There are lots of ways to bring Americans together across class and racial lines. One in the imaginarium is to focus on the “teabag, anti-government people.” Another is to encourage Hispanics to “punish our enemies” — or have the attorney general lambaste Americans as racial “cowards” and to defend “my people.” Joining foreign governments to sue a fellow American state is no more red/no more blue state unity. Still another is to divide up the people between the suspect who make over $200,000 and the noble who make less, or yet again target the dubious “1%” at “the very top” who do not pay “their fair share,” a mere 40% of the aggregate income tax.

Inside the imaginarium, the way to demonize the “1%” is to vacation among them — whether at Martha’s Vineyard or Costa del Sol. Buying a corporate jet is a waste of the people’s money — unlike daily flying on a much bigger private jet paid by the people.

To encourage energy self-sufficiency, the administration lent a half-billion dollars to campaign donor insiders and got unsellable solar panels in return — as it prevents a huge pipeline from Canada that will bring “shovel-ready” jobs and fuel to the United States far more cheaply than from the volatile Middle East. We have a brilliantly obtuse energy secretary who is a Nobel laureate but who thinks California farms — a record $15 billion in exports this year — will soon blow away and that gas should climb to European levels of about $9 a gallon. In the imaginarium, the purpose of Dr. Chu’s Department of Energy is not to encourage energy production and lower prices, but to find ways to prevent its development in search of raising its cost. The attorney general must be entirely conversant in small matters like a Black Panther voting intimidation case, but was completely ignorant of large ones like Fast and Furious that saw his subordinates sell automatic weapons to Mexican drug cartels.

The president regrets that we are not innovative any more, and have gone “soft” and “lazy.” You see, his efforts at ensuring cradle-to-grave health care entitlements, of granting 99 weeks of unemployment insurance, and of extending food stamps to nearly 50 million are apparently incentives that should have led to a “hard” and “industrious” populace that was more self-reliant and willing to take risks on their own. “Spread the wealth” is a time-honored way of galvanizing people to become more self-disciplined and sufficient.

Business has failed us as well. And the way to get Las Vegas and Super Bowl junketeering CEOs profitable enough again to fund the growing redistributive state, is for them to take risks that result in the sort of massive projects that used to be an American trademark — things like the Hoover Dam, which changed the environmental landscape far more than would the apparently cancelled gargantuan pipeline from Canada to Texas. Business can be encouraged not to be lazy by a prod now and then — either by trying to shut down a big aircraft plant or a small guitar factory. And in the imaginarium, the way to gently chide the private sector is with words of encouragement like “millionaires and billionaires,” and “corporate jet owners,” along with grandfatherly advice to clueless capitalists about realizing the point at which they should cease making money.

In the imaginarium of Barack Obama there is no contradiction between smearing and shaking down Wall Street, a bunch that needs both to be told when and when not to profit, and to whom and to whom not to give tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions. Barney Frank, who helped pressure Wall Street and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to issue billions in unsound loans, and Chris Dodd, who shook down fat cats for below-market interest rates for his vacation home, logically are the eponymous heroes of the Dodd-Frank fiscal reform act to ensure others do not do as did they. Former liberal governor, senator, and Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine, who both wrecked MF Global and can’t account for $600 million in lost investments, is, in George Soros-like fashion, the best emblem of the contradictory desire to be the worst pirate on Wall Street in order to make the most money in order to be its most liberal critic. In the imaginarium we receive advice about the need for higher income taxes from multibillionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates who have always sought to avoid them. Big government and big inheritance taxes, both magnates swear are good, and therefore the administration of their own postmortem fortunes will forever avoid both.

In the imaginarium, community organizer Barack Obama never lived in a small mansion. John “two Americas” Edwards never lived in a big one. “Earth in the balance” Al Gore never lived in a few of them, and yacht owning John Kerry never lived in lots of them. You see in the imaginarium of Barack Obama you can be whatever you wish to be. Just wishing and saying something can wonderfully make it so.

4085  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: November 18, 2011, 11:27:09 AM
"Isn't it over for California?
The numbers are STAGGERING!"

CCP,  Nothing wipes out debt and unfunded liabilities like a good bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy, like a forest fire once it stops burning, is a new beginning not just an ending.  Little plants can sprout on the forest floor where before they could find no sunlight.

The previous Governor Ahnold is a lesson for conservatives in the age old struggle of centrism vs. principles.  In this case, what possible good did it do for conservatism to have an R next to his results of escalating spending, taxing and regulating to the point of economic collapse.  On the flip side, reforms like a massive change of retirement age would be barbaric if proposed by a conservative, are now courageous.

The numbers are staggering and one element of reform won't solve it.  But if that one reform got done, I would agree - a good start.
4086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: A new 2% tax on TOP of everything else wouldn't hurt anything... on: November 17, 2011, 12:36:38 PM
"The point I am not making very well and I thought the quoted individual made better is that
regardless of tax incentives I am still going to make that film." ... "Heck, if I even raised your taxes 2% would you teach less?  I doubt it.  I suggest it wouldn't affect your business plan at all."  - He already said he would move the business out of the bankrupt overtaxed state, people change their behavior based on incentives and disincentive.  You don't measure that with a poll or a microphone.

A certain percentage quit, leave, relocate, hide income etc.  Even if the majority stay and pay more the results at some point turn downward.  That you go back to the infinitesimal argument is sad.  These taxes and regulations at all levels accumulate!  Your idea is not a 2% tax, it would be 2 more percent in a state collapsing from the asphyxiation that comes from prolonged incrementalism like this.  If it is the last 2% of oxygen in the room, you die.  In the real world like the USA or Greece, you just choose the safety hammock for a while.

Adding a regulation, and another and another, and adding a small tax and a small increase and another and another and another is how we got here.  Family leave law alone didn't end hiring.  A small tax on electricity alone didn't end manufacturing. Plant closing notice laws didn't end all production.  The 60% tax on home telephone service made up of a bunch of 2% this and 2% that fees alone did not end all home telephone service. But how many taxes and regulations are there now?  Have you looked at the economy lately?  Economic behavior turned radically downward with the impending expiration of the Bush tax cuts even without that expiration actually occurring.  Obama's own advisers said you don't raise taxes in a recession?  Why not ? ? ? ? ?  They kill of business investment and hiring AT THE MARGIN.

The discussion here in a short time has included why not go back to the 90% tax rates on the rich and the 9% Cain plan.  That is quite a difference in thinking even if you do it 2% at a time.  Ask the frog in the boiling water.
4087  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 17, 2011, 12:02:28 PM
The point of 'Social Security and Medicare being only a "promise" not an obligation' had to do with the constitutionality question relating to the health care issue not the desirability of social security or a prediction of what future congresses might do.  It is constitutional because in law it is merely another tax and another social spending program as legal as all the others.  The 'social contract' is like the lockbox.  It doesn't exist in law.

"...attack Obama Care because it allows private choice..."  It restricts private choice.  My previous coverage is already gone.  In the name of reducing costs it makes it unlawful to simply choose fee for service, the way we pay for almost everything else and the best way known to control costs.  Central to economics, supply and demand, is that suppliers can only charge what the consumers can afford and choose to pay.  Turn over the payment system to an apparatus willing to spend without limit a trillion a year more than they take in eliminates all freedom based forms of price constraint.

"if Obama had simply proposed covering all American's through Medicare and taxed then accordingly that would be constitutionally ok"

Pres. Obama already said he preferred that and considered this a step along the way to getting there.  But if he stuck to that in his campaign he would not have been elected by his own calculation.  He also needed the votes in congress; even among Democrats the votes were not there.  Constitutionally based on precedent, you are on the right track.  Taxes to no end, unevenly applied, and government not regulating but participating in the health care services industry follows the  precedent of what some consider to be wrongly decided cases. 

"From an actuarial standpoint...the more individual "choice" you have, the more adverse selection comes into play. "

There were some far reaching Republican proposals on the table addressing pre-existing conditions etc. when Obamacare was passed.  Water over the dam now, unless we get to start this debate again.  These might have been considered regulating interstate commerce.

"I think there are valid points on both sides of the argument."

Thank you, that is quite a step forward from denying that a constitutional question even exists.

Case law has set the precedent implying that incremental increases in federal government power can expand forever without limit because of pronouncements like you quoted: "Congress can intervene in local, individual decisions when necessary to support a legitimate regulatory regime for interstate commerce".  That thinking will win at least 4 votes from this court.  Some of the others I expect will recognize this as a new power and they will have to decide what to do about that.  What govt powers don't somehow relate to regulating interstate commerce in a global economy?

Pretty obvious to me though that it is not a "legitimate regulatory regime" to make it unlawful for an individual to choose fee for service over insurance products in a free society.  It is a wholly different  question from whether they can tax and/or provide social services.  As I wrote 2 years ago, the vote will be 4-4 and the future direction of our republic will come down to the mood of one Justice Kennedy.

As we await the decision, one question remains for the power already exists crowd, what power then would NOT be legitimate for the federal government in your view?  My view is that this if found to be constitutional, this could be their final case.  We will no longer need to review federal powers. 
4088  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: URL for the most recent debate on: November 17, 2011, 12:38:59 AM
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/11/13/full_cbsnj_republican_foreign_policy_debate.html
4089  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: November 17, 2011, 12:16:45 AM
Hard to have a serious discussion about tax policy or anything in economics if you deny that incentives and disincentives have an effect on economic behavior.  Why not petition the state government to close all economics departments in public universities.  What is there to study if inputs to a decision do not affect the decision. 

Some opposing opinions stimulate amazing discussion.  Others just bring down the discussion.  The adventure just took two steps backwards.
4090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 16, 2011, 11:57:48 PM
First, if we are going to get along how about a little forum etiquette.  To whoever wrote: "Doug - you ignored [my second point]..."  after I answered your first point while you answered none of my points in two substantive posts on the subject... don't write things like that.  You don't know if I was done writing or had other matters to attend to.

There is a logic string that I call 'and another thing', where the implication is made that a second point builds on the strength of the first point before establishing any validity in the first point. If you want your second point considered first, put it first.  I deny the charge that I don't answer enough points made on this forum.
-----
I know less about Medicare than social security (one reason to wait until I got home to look things up and post) but it looks to me like it operates EXACTLY the same way as the Social Security Tax.  If you think it is a "contribution" or an insurance policy and not a tax, try declaring income and not paying it!  Had you answered points already made we would have a starting point to discuss that.  Medicare is another component of the payroll tax package we used to call FICA.  Medicare is a 2.9% tax on income/wages and it brings no direct benefit to the one paying it.  It pays out to people 65 and older in the form of health care benefits.  They don't ask the recipient how much they paid in, and if you are under 65 they don't give you Medicare health care benefits, except for the exceptions.  The 'promise' that it will be there when you are 65 or older is non-binding on the government, just like Social Security.  As with social security, that is because each new congress elected every two years has the power to end or change every program.  If they did not have that power, it fails a test we used to call 'consent of the governed'.
-----
Schedule SE calculates the self employment tax which includes the Social Security and Medicare tax.  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040sse.pdf It is based on Schedule C - Business Income: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040sc.pdf. Also Schedule F - Farm Income.  The tax is .9235 x 15.3%, temporarily reduced to 13.3%.  In other words the self employed pay double - BOTH the employee and employer halves of FICA tax.  There is no FICA / SE tax on schedule B income (dividends), Schedule D income (Capital Gains) or Schedule E income (rental real estate).
-----
I did not say I never paid S.S. taxes, just that I don't currently receive wages or business income that applies to Schedules 'C' or 'SE'.  Take my situation as hypothetical, it is not a mandate on all citizens so it is not at all the same as the health care mandate.  (Repeating what was ignored) Medicare just like Social Security is a direct tax on income that is specifically authorized in the 16th amendment to the constitution: "Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes".  Where (repeating the ignored question) does the constitution expressly authorize the power of congress to impose in ObamaCare a mandate to buy a private product??  If it is "not delegated to the United States by the Constitution" then it is "reserved to the states and to the people" - meaning it is NOT A FEDERAL POWER.

A better analogy would have been auto liability insurance except that it is not imposed on everyone and this has been extensively argued in courts.  It is a choice to drive, and that mandate for drivers on public streets is a power reserved to the states and to the people.  In the Obamacare case, it is 26 states suing the federal government for usurping their power.  The majority of states say it is a power reserved to states, yet you deny there is a question, not just disagree with the answer.   sad

Repeating my other question, when did we quit acknowledging the need to AMEND the constitution in order to create a new federal power.  If you can't point to the authority for a power granted in the constitution, then just tell us you no longer live in a constitutionally based, limited government Republic.  Maybe you are right.

4091  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 16, 2011, 03:08:32 PM
Soc. security is a tax made legal by the 16th. The 'contract' to pay you later is non-binding on the goverment.  Your s.s. statement always says estimate with an asterisk.  It is not a mandate.  I don't pay any.  Just choose no income.  What in that did you think in that is comparable to mandating that every citizen purchase of a private product from a private company?

Constitution haters today should do what income tax advocates did back then - pass a new amendment if you want to authorize a new power previously left to the states or to the people.
4092  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 16, 2011, 12:45:13 PM
It will be interesting to see what Bigdog says.  The facts are different but my understanding was that Clarence Thomas was not unduly influenced by people he knows including his wife, nor would he recuse himself.  Kagan I think was personally involved with this legislation, but I believe they are their own judge of conflict of interest and the decision to recuse.  These questions remind us of why Presidential and Senatorial elections matter greatly.

Clearly the constitution authorizes all power with no limits (sarc.), it will be argued.  They never really meant that 'the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people', did they?

It will be argued in court that the mandate is really a tax even though it was argued explicitly on the congressional floor of debate and to the people that it is NOT a tax.  I'm wondering if anyone who makes that duplicitous argument in front of the Supreme Court will be charged with Contempt, handcuffed and hauled out of there.
4093  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Hawaii is in Asia? on: November 16, 2011, 08:44:55 AM
From Media Issues: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFz_Rm4YnPU&feature=player_embedded

Similar disorientations destroyed the futures of people like Palin, Bachmann, Cain and Perry.  Do you think he still has a shot at his nomination?  Why are slips like this okay, asked and answered in the post: he is a Democrat.  My question, why is the double standard so widely accepted?

My take, innocent slip with no attempt at correction - just a glimpse into his mind. He is not new to Hawaii nor was he confused about where he was standing and speaking.  He just never thought of himself as being from America.  Like Superman, he is from somewhere else.  Not Kenyan, Indonesian, Honolulan, Chicagoan or anywhere that specific, certainly not from Kansas, just somewhere else.
4094  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: To Increase Jobs, Increase Economic Freedom on: November 16, 2011, 12:38:38 AM
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204358004577032442153911170.html

To Increase Jobs, Increase Economic Freedom
Business is not a zero-sum game struggling over a fixed pie. Instead it grows and makes the total pie larger, creating value for all of its major stakeholders, including employees and communities.


By JOHN MACKEY

Is the United States exceptional? Of course we are! Two hundred years ago we were one of the poorest countries in the world. We accounted for less than 1% of the world's total GDP. Today our GDP is 23% of the world's total and more than twice as large as the No. 2 country's, China.

America became the wealthiest country because for most of our history we have followed the basic principles of economic freedom: property rights, freedom to trade internationally, minimal governmental regulation of business, sound money, relatively low taxes, the rule of law, entrepreneurship, freedom to fail, and voluntary exchange.

The success of economic freedom in increasing human prosperity, extending our life spans and improving the quality of our lives in countless ways is the most extraordinary global story of the past 200 years. Gross domestic product per capita has increased by a factor of 1,000% across the world and almost 2,000% in the U.S. during these last two centuries. In 1800, 85% of everyone alive lived on less than $1 per day (in 2000 dollars). Today only 17% do. If current long-term trend lines of economic growth continue, we will see abject poverty almost completely eradicated in the 21st century. Business is not a zero-sum game struggling over a fixed pie. Instead it grows and makes the total pie larger, creating value for all of its major stakeholders—customers, employees, suppliers, investors and communities.

So why is our economy barely growing and unemployment stuck at over 9%? I believe the answer is very simple: Economic freedom is declining in the U.S. In 2000, the U.S. was ranked third in the world behind only Hong Kong and Singapore in the Index of Economic Freedom, published annually by this newspaper and the Heritage Foundation. In 2011, we fell to ninth behind such countries as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland.

The reforms we need to make are extensive. I want to make a few suggestions that, as an independent, I hope will stimulate thinking and constructive discussion among concerned Americans no matter what their politics are.

Most importantly, we need to radically cut the size and cost of government. One hundred years ago the total cost of government at all levels in the U.S.—local, state and federal—was only 8% of our GDP. In 2010, it was 40%. Government is gobbling up trillions of dollars from our economy to feed itself through high taxes and unprecedented deficit spending—money that could instead be used by individuals to improve their lives and by entrepreneurs to create jobs. Government debt is growing at such a rapid rate that the Congressional Budget Office projects that in the next 70 years public money spent on interest annually will grow to almost 41.4% of GDP ($27.2 trillion) from 1.4% of GDP ($204 billion) in 2010. Today interest on our debt represents about a third of the cost of Social Security; in only 20 years it is estimated that it will exceed the cost of that program.

Only if we focus on cutting costs in the four most expensive government programs—Defense, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which together with interest account for about two-thirds of the overall budget—can we make a significant positive impact.

Our defense budget now accounts for 43% of all military spending in the entire world—more than the next 14 largest defense budgets combined. It is time for us to scale back our military commitments and reduce our spending to something more in line with our percentage of the world GDP, or 23%. Doing this would save more than $300 billion every year.

Social Security and Medicare need serious reforms to be sustainable over the long term. The demographic crisis for these entitlement programs has now arrived as 10,000 baby boomers are projected to retire every day for the next 19 years. Retirement ages need to be steadily raised to reflect our increased longevity. These programs should also be means-tested. Countries such as Chile and Singapore successfully privatized their retirement programs, making them sustainable. We should move in a similar direction by giving everyone the option to voluntarily opt out of the governmental system into private alternatives, phasing this in over time to help keep the current system solvent.

In addition, tax reform is essential to jobs and prosperity. Most tax deductions and loopholes should be eliminated, combined with significant tax rate reductions. A top tax rate of 15% to 20% with no deductions would be fairer, greatly stimulate economic growth and job creation, and would reduce deficits by increasing total taxes paid to the federal government.

Why would taxes collected go up if rates go down? Two reasons—first, tax shelters such as the mortgage interest deduction used primarily by more affluent taxpayers would be eliminated; and secondly, the taxable base would increase considerably as entrepreneurs create new businesses and new jobs, and as people earn more money. Many Eastern European countries implemented low flat tax rates in the past decade, including Russia in 2001 (13%) and Ukraine in 2004 (15%), and experienced strong economic growth and increased tax revenues.

Corporate taxes also need to be reformed. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S.'s combined state and federal corporate tax rate of 39.2% became the highest in the world after Japan cut its rates this April. A reduction to 26% would equal the average corporate tax rate in the 15 largest industrialized countries. That would help our companies to use their capital more productively to grow and create jobs in the U.S

Government regulations definitely need to be reformed. According to the Small Business Administration, total regulatory costs amount to about $1.75 trillion annually, nearly twice as much as all individual income taxes collected last year. While some regulations create important safeguards for public health and the environment, far too many simply protect existing business interests and discourage entrepreneurship. Specifically, many government regulations in education, health care and energy prevent entrepreneurship and innovation from revolutionizing and re-energizing these very important parts of our economy.

A simple reform that would make a monumental difference would be to require all federal regulations to have a sunset provision. All regulations should automatically expire after 10 years unless a mandatory cost-benefit analysis has been completed that proves the regulations have created significantly more societal benefit than harm. Currently thousands of new regulations are added each year and virtually none ever disappear.

According to a recent poll, more than two-thirds of Americans now believe that America is in "decline." While we are certainly going through difficult times our decline is not inevitable—it can and must be reversed. The U.S. is still an extraordinary country by almost any measure. If we once again embrace the principles of individual and economic freedom that made us both prosperous and exceptional, we can help lead the world towards a better future for all.

Mr. Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, is a member of the Job Creators Alliance, a nonprofit devoted to preserving free enterprise.
4095  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Energy Politics: Glibness fails the Keystone test on: November 16, 2011, 12:33:15 AM
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204190504577037754000084544.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTTopOpinion

    NOVEMBER 16, 2011

The Keystone Debacle
Was Obama's decision to delay the Canadian oil pipeline shrewd politics? Maybe not.

By LUCIAN PUGLIARESI

The U.S. decision to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to go forward should have been easy.

The pipeline would mean at least 20,000 new construction jobs. It would provide lower cost and reliable shipping opportunities for surging North Dakota oil production. Shipping petroleum from Canada's oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico means refiners there would gain a ready replacement for declining supplies of Mexican and Venezuelan crude. Most importantly, it would reinforce expectations that massive and long-term North American infrastructure investments could proceed free of political risk.

And yet the Obama administration's decision to delay the project, despite already extensive and positive environmental review, puts all this in jeopardy.

Both Canada and the United States benefit from highly integrated energy and investment flows. Keystone XL's owner, TransCanada, has already spent more than $2 billion for steel and related facilities. All previous cross-border pipeline requests have been granted, and the U.S. imports over 2.5 million barrels per day of Canadian crude oil and petroleum products. U.S. refiners also ship large volumes of petroleum products to Eastern Canada, taking advantage of geographic transportation efficiencies.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), no permits are required for shipment of Canadian crude to U.S. destinations by either rail, ocean tanker, or even incremental volumes through existing cross-border pipelines. The creation of a stable investment regime was central to the treaty, and U.S. negotiators successfully argued against reluctant Canadian negotiators that U.S. companies be given full national treatment when investing in Canada.

For Canadians, it was unthinkable that a U.S. president would pull the plug after extensive reviews and 57 project-specific requirements exceeding all U.S. pipeline safety standards, including satellite-linked, computerized leak-detection systems and puncture-resistant steel pipe. Even one of TransCanada's competitors, Enbridge, which ships Canadian crude through existing cross-border pipelines, supported the Keystone permit: Any interruption in the historic bilateral energy trade relationship was a more serious threat to its business than crude shipments by competitors.

The decision to delay the project is such a shift in expectations on the future of U.S.-Canadian energy trade that perhaps the only surprising outcome is that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not recalled his ambassador. He did announce that shipping the crude to Asia will now receive the highest priority.

A decision to proceed with the pipeline would have sent a strong signal to the world petroleum market (including OPEC) that North America is putting into place a long-term and sustained strategy for expanding domestic oil supplies. True, the administration has stated that it is not denying the cross-border permit, but merely addressing the concerns of Nebraska Republicans who seek an alternative route. Nevertheless, the heavy pressure exerted on the administration by its environmentalist followers was obvious and very public. And in the best of circumstances, federal environmental review of a new route may take over a year.

We are in the early stages of sustained and large increases in domestic crude oil output from the same hydraulic fracturing technology that brought us the shale gas revolution. New crude supplies, combined with the current surge in natural gas production, offer the promise of a renaissance in long-moribund petrochemical processing and petroleum refining industries. The capital now sitting on the sidelines is ready to come off the bench and fund profitable projects. But it will not be deployed if there's a political risk that cannot be contained.

Should we then at least give Mr. Obama credit for a shrewd political strategy? The decision to punt on the project may indeed energize the president's environmental base for the November 2012 presidential election. But that's not the only political effect it could have.

Consider the crucial swing state of Ohio. The Buckeye State's vast Utica oil shale deposit, which now has well over one million acres under lease to companies such as Chesapeake, Hess and Devon, is likely to see some positive results in crude oil production over the next 12 months. On the eve of the presidential election, we may very well be in the early stages of an Ohio oil boom and the promise of coming prosperity.

Which candidate can make the promise that this opportunity will not be brought to a halt by the vast array of job-killing federal agencies? The one who visibly shut down the Keystone XL pipeline and remains engaged in promoting federal initiatives to curtail domestic oil and gas production, or his Republican opponent?

Mr. Pugliaresi is president of the Energy Policy Research Foundation.
4096  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Romney attacks Obama on 'Lazy Americans' comment on: November 16, 2011, 12:28:46 AM
Romney does two things right here.  Goes after Obama on another one of these revealing deep thoughts, and in the piece he is photographed in an American factory with his hair mussed.
http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/15/romney-criticizes-obama-for-criticizing-u-s/

According to the piece he may not have the Obama quote perfect and to that I would say to the President welcome to the club.  You Mr. President and NYT distort for a living. (IMHO)

“We’ve been a little bit lazy over the last couple of decades,” Mr. Obama said. “We’ve kind of taken for granted — ‘Well, people would want to come here’ — and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new businesses into America.”

Mr. Romney’s critique sounded a familiar theme in the Republican primary contest — that the president is out of touch with the ordinary American worker.

Mr. Romney, in an attempt to paint the president as out of touch, focused much of his speech here on reciting a litany of statements by Mr. Obama that he disagrees with.

“Before that, I think it was in October, he was saying that we have lost our inventiveness and our ambition, and before that, he was saying other disparaging things about America, and he was saying that we just weren’t working hard enough,” Mr. Romney said.

“I don’t think he gets what’s happening in this country, because the people in America are just as imaginative, just as ambitious and just as hard-working as ever,” Mr. Romney said. “In fact, we are the most productive nation in the world. The things we make per person in America exceeds that of any other country in the world. Our problem is not that the private sector isn’t productive enough. The problem is the government sector is too heavy and too burdensome, and is keeping the private sector from growing and thriving like it should.”
4097  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Power of the Word: Capitalism is good. Very good. on: November 15, 2011, 12:00:13 PM
I like this post of Rachel's very much.  Working hard, creating value, providing well for your family and putting yourself in a position where you can be voluntarily helping others instead of needing help, these are strong, positive, moral, religious qualities.  I wish they were more widely accepted and practiced.

Legitimate commercial activities of hard work, save and invest should never be confused with cheating, buying favors or trying to change the rules to advance your position. 
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Quoting the piece: "Capitalism has been a—if not the—major force in diminishing war between nations and creating tolerance between peoples. It has allowed literally billions more people to share the planet and—percentage-wise—at a much greater standard of living. Today, thanks to capitalism, each year 70 million people leave hand-to-mouth living to become consumers-by-choice—and poverty rates are expected to continue their sharp decline. Without capitalism, democracy would never have proven successful, medicine could never have advanced, worldwide humanitarian efforts would be absurd and I would never have been able to compose this editorial and get it out to you so fast."
4098  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Cain's woman problem on: November 14, 2011, 01:25:43 PM
Sorry no link until she admits it but it has come to my attention that Herman Cain's wife is an Obama Democrat.  I posted my view on that regarding the lost years of Ahnold in the Calif thread.  If he slept with the restaurant gals, had govt officials arrange it, and if occupied the other party he could have been the 42nd President.

The truth test of allegations is measured in a poll?  "50% of all Americans say..."  Not all Americans have looked carefully into this and not all Americans vote at all much less in Republican primaries in early key states.  For one thing it is called push polling and is scientifically tainted to run (Google search) "about 67,700,000 results for Cain allegations" and then ask people for their response and get a 50/50 split.  For anyone out there believing the ONE accusation known, please answer convincingly: when did YOU quit beating your wife?

Newt does not deny a 6 year relationship during marriage 2 and his numbers are surging. 

Cain has a two edged problem.  While his support is softening, his cash donations are surging.  Usually quitting the race has to do with running out of money as you run low on support.

It was THE story of the last 2 weeks, but the thigh touching allegation is not the only dynamic in the Cain candidacy or the Republican contest.  There are foreign policy questions and there are voters with doubts on economic plans and there are people who do believe him but worry about electability.
4099  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the Left on: November 14, 2011, 11:02:37 AM
Keeping up with the leftists in the spirit of balance on the board.  If any real leftist can come forward with better political and economic analysis, please do so.

1) A commenter at Politico with a view into their mindset: "The OWS are the younger, smarter, unemployed version of the Tea Party with the same grievances except the OWS know the evils dwells on Wall Street and the TeaParty wrongly believe that the evil is in Washington."

2) Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman (biased blogger at the NY Times) says the failure of welfare states did not cause Europe’s problems nor is fiscal austerity here any way to avoid their mess.  Oh really? http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/11/opinion/legends-of-the-fail.html?_r=1  

3) Complete that 3 legged stool of liberalism with intellectual giant Robert Reich who says: "Don’t even think about cutting the deficit...budget reduction shouldn't be part of the conversation"  http://www.salon.com/2011/11/10/dont_even_think_about_cutting_the_deficit/

4) Over at The Nation they still think the battle is on between capitalism and climate.  No recognition from the last few decades that the anti-capitalist nations were always the filthiest.  http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate

Meanwhile over on the right, all 8 candidates have been clear on how to grow the economy of of this malaise.  The one with the least bold plan, Romney,  the one most vague and cautious that would grow us out of this at the very slowest rate is the one (surprisingly) most acceptable and comfortable to the establishment.
4100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America on: November 11, 2011, 10:46:39 PM
"As it happens, Norquist worked to help get Ellison elected."

That doesn't make any sense to me but I am all ears if you have something on that. For one thing, with 70% of the vote and about a 3 to 1 advantage over his nearest opponent, Ellison didn't need much outside help. 

Here is a story from July 6th (2011) speeches at the Campus Progress national conference where Jobs Czar Van Jones and Rep. Keith Ellison were trashing a statement made by Norquist:

http://spectator.org/blog/2011/07/12/pregnant-barefoot-and-drowning
Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota also jumped on the anti-Norquist bandwagon at the conference. Referencing Jones' speech, Ellison charged, "These same people who want to shrink government 'till you can drown it in a bathtub also want...mom...to get back in the kitchen and take her shoes off and get pregnant..."


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