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4051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: December 04, 2012, 01:31:04 PM
... congressional Republicans should bear the brunt of the blame, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll...

If Republicans hold to their principals, they risk losing the House in 2014.  If they don't, they lose the House now.
4052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: Surprising (lol)Media Bias discovered in the Fiscal Cliff Coverage on: December 04, 2012, 01:25:46 PM
The forum has more diversity of political thought than the top three television broadcast news networks combined.

http://www.mrc.org/press-releases/abc-plunges-credibility-cliff  (Excerpt)

ABC World News with Diane Sawyer continues to tout the Obama Administration’s spin that tax hikes on the wealthy are the only solution to the looming “fiscal cliff” catastrophe. According to an analysis from the Media Research Center’s Business and Media Institute, in the three weeks following President Obama’s re-election, World News devoted more than 10 minutes 18 seconds to talk of tax hikes and just 35 seconds to spending cuts (a 17-1 margin).

NBC Nightly News discussed taxes more than twice as often as spending (4 minutes 23 seconds to 1 minute 47 seconds.), while CBS Evening News gave tax hikes only three more minutes of coverage (14 minutes 5 seconds to 10 minutes 12 seconds). However, more than a third of CBS’s spending cut coverage total comes from one story detailing the horrific downside of spending cuts.

ABC was by far the worst offender, refusing to even entertain spending cuts as a viable solution to the Obama Administration’s crushing budget deficits.
4053  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gvmt spending, deficit, budget: Obama Should Return To Clinton-Era Spending on: December 04, 2012, 01:05:41 PM
More famous people/publications caught reading the forum:

IBD Editorials
http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/120312-635563-clinton-era-spending-levels-not-tax-rates.htm
 
Obama Should Return To Clinton-Era Spending Levels

Fiscal Policy: Talk of Clinton-era tax rates ignores the fact that the former president, working with a GOP Congress, cut spending as a share of GDP and produced four balanced budgets by focusing on growth, not spending.

Even as he pushes $150 billion in new "stimulus" spending, President Obama argues that to avoid the fiscal cliff we must return to Clinton-era tax rates for wealthy households, with a top marginal rate of 39.6% vs. the Bush-era 35%. Clinton's was an age of balanced budgets and economic growth.

But it was also an era of budgetary restraint in which both parties, not just the GOP, still produced budgets.

It was one, too, in which a Republican Congress led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich produced welfare reform, killed the precursor to cap and trade — Bill Clinton's BTU tax — and stopped ObamaCare's predecessor, HillaryCare, dead in its tracks.

As the Cato Institute's Steve H. Hanke points out, when President Clinton took office in 1993, government expenditures were 22.1% of GDP. When he departed in 2000, the federal government's share of the economy had been squeezed to a low of 18.2%, a decline of 3.9 percentage points. No other modern president has even come close (see table).

Under Clinton, federal spending averaged 19.8% of GDP. In contrast, spending under Obama over the past four years has averaged 24.4% of GDP.

Revenues from Clinton-era tax rates were actually used to pay down the national debt and produce four successive budget surpluses. Obama's tax increases will simply fund new spending.

The spending restraint of the Clinton/Gingrich era was so successful and disciplined that it led President Clinton in his January 1996 State of the Union address to proclaim that "the era of big government is over." In contrast, President Obama has argued that "the danger of too much government is matched by the perils of too little."

Not only has he increased total welfare spending by $193 billion since taking office, he has also ballooned the number of food stamp recipients to more than 47 million and actively worked to dismantle the 1996 welfare reform act by neutering its work requirement through executive order.

Obama's first stimulus bill included funding to help states pay for additional welfare recipients and eliminated many of the incentives that encouraged states to reduce their welfare rolls. More recently, the Obama administration announced plans to waive many of welfare reform's work requirements.

Now ObamaCare threatens to increase health care costs while increasing Medicaid's burden on the states.

Of course, President Clinton benefited from President Ronald Reagan's tax cuts, which unleashed the dot-com boom and a period of unparalleled technological creativity and development.

During this boom, the economy grew by one-third and tax receipts doubled as we added the equivalent of the West German economy to our own.

Clearly tax cuts combined with spending cuts work, as does encouraging and rewarding entrepreneurship and not punishing and demonizing success. When government sucks all the economic oxygen out of the room, it becomes hard for real job creators to breathe.

Obama has been very selective in his admiration of the Clinton era. Adopt the spending levels and restraint,Mr. President, not the tax rates.
4054  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues - content sharing on: December 04, 2012, 12:56:21 PM
Content sharing, in excerpts, with major media on the forum is mutual - for the record.  We normally give credit.  They rarely do.

DougMacG, DBMA public forum
December 03, 2012, posted 10:11:17 AM »
"At an interagency teleconference in late April [1994], Susan Rice, a rising star on the NSC who worked under Richard Clarke, stunned a few of the officials present when she asked, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?”
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=2362.msg67996#msg67996

WSJ:
December 3, 2012, posted 7:23 p.m.
"At an interagency teleconference in late April [1994]," Ms. Rice "stunned a few officials present when she asked, 'If we use the word "genocide" and are seen as doing nothing, what will the effect be on the November [congressional] election?'
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324355904578156980748123040.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop
4055  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: December 04, 2012, 01:06:21 AM
This matter of massive defense cuts as part of the cliff is far too important to be forgotten in frustrated petulance...

The thing with the defense cuts is that Obama is President for the next 4 years.  Defense cuts weaken our country but we just did that anyway. 

A conservative view of defense is that we could be mean, scary, well-armed and still spend a lot less - through deterrence and more selective use of our forces.  I am more interventionist but the country right now is not.  Call it Iraq war fatigue. 

The Clinton mistake was to gut intelligence.  Gutting intelligence is stupid - no pun intended.

The other part of willingness to go over the fiscal cliff (back to tax policy themes) is that higher taxes is what people get for choosing to go down Obama Avenue.  Big government costs big money.  Not just for the guy behind the tree.  Big cradle to grave, life of Julia, government will cost you and your family big money and here is your new bill.

If Obama refuses to budge on the budget deal, R's can refuse to budge on debt ceiling appeasement.  Vote present - vote no.  They say default but I say it means an instantly balanced budget.  Bigger spending cuts than a libertarian-conservative's wildest dream.  And it will all be Obama's fault.

There go the Obama second term initiatives (and first term programs like Obamacare) right down the drain - QE3,4,5 and everything else.  He keeps Air Force One, the golf membership, Supreme Court appointments, and that's about it.

"The Reps have utterly failed to have a sound bite answer to the sound bite question, What the hell is wrong to going back to the Clinton era tax rates?"

Maybe so for them, but you and I have answered that. a) We aren't competing in a 1990's global economy anymore. b) There are many many many other new taxes. c) There are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of new regulations that cripple production enacted since the 1990s that go beyond explicit taxation.  d) Doesn't it follow that we also could go back to Clinton Gingrich SPENDING LEVELS?!  The point of the fiscal cliff is the deficit and the deficit is ALL about spending.  Maybe Clinton (or Eisenhower) had spending levels right.

e) Posted earlier, Did ANYONE notice that the UK lost 60% of its millionaires in one year by bumping up the tax rate.  Static scoring is the biggest economic lie of our collective lifetimes.

Revenues to the US Treasury doubled in the 1980s when the top rate fell from 70% to 28% and the number of millionaires in the UK dropped by 60% in one year with falling revenues when the tax rate on millionaires went up 10%. 

Do retailers bring in more people and more revenue than ever before on Black Friday by raising prices or by having sales?  Ask them.

This should not be that hard to communicate.
4056  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 03, 2012, 05:39:46 PM
Mitch Daniels is the latest to point to the 47% remark as the problem.  I thought there would be a constant drip of these clandestine gaffe releases and there wasn't. Romney should have reacted strongly to correct that to what it was and let it be more than that.

This was the biggest turning point of the 2012 campaign, totally unmentioned by all the professional analysts: NFIB v Sebelius, the Roberts decision on Obamacare.

Strike that down and Romney could point out the difference between a Massachusetts plan and a federal takeover of healthcare - one was constitutional, one wasn't.  One man who hinted that America could just strike it down in the election removed the entire argument, that his signature achievement was unconstitutional, from the Presidential campaign.

(Side note: I will read this holiday season what I was too angry to read last summer, the decision in its entirety, and hope to discuss it in detail over on the constitutional thread if anyone else is interested.)

4057  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: December 03, 2012, 05:31:18 PM
"Give Buraq everything he asks for. Vote present."

They can vote no on bad ideas.  They can go with stupidity about 2% up for income over a million and let those chips fall.  The GOP House IMO cannot cross the line very far to support what they do not support.  There is not much downside IMO for them using hard negotiations now at the fiscal cliff and during the debt ceiling crisis coming in only a month or two.  If spending cuts are not going to happen, then tax rates going up for everyone as a consequence.  Who is the party of bigger spending, bigger government, healthcare takeover and a bigger share of everyone's  income going to pay for the high cost of bigger and bigger government?  Not the GOP.  Especially not the Republican House if they passed a number of better options that died in the Dem Senate or on the President's desk. 
4058  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Susan Rice, continued on: December 03, 2012, 10:11:17 AM
"At an interagency teleconference in late April [1994], Susan Rice, a rising star on the NSC who worked under Richard Clarke, stunned a few of the officials present when she asked, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?”

 - 'Bystanders to Genocide', by Samantha Power, Sept 2001, Atlantic Magazine
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/09/bystanders-to-genocide/304571/
4059  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy - Simpson Bowles on: December 03, 2012, 10:05:04 AM
One excerpt on taxes:

    RECOMMENDATION 2.1: ENACT FUNDAMENTAL TAX REFORM BY 2012 TO LOWER RATES, REDUCE DEFICITS, AND SIMPLIFY THE CODE. Eliminate all income tax expenditures [deductions and other tax preferences], dedicate a portion of the additional revenue to deficit reduction, and use the remaining revenue to lower rates and add back necessary expenditures and credits.

    A “zero plan” could reduce income tax rates to as low as 8%, 14%, and 23%. Even after adding back a number of larger tax expenditures, rates would still remain significantly lower than under current law.

Link again:  http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/sites/fiscalcommission.gov/files/documents/TheMomentofTruth12_1_2010.pdf

Another clause:

2.2.2  Eliminate all tax expenditures for businesses. Corporate tax reform should eliminate special subsidies for different industries. By eliminating business tax expenditures – currently more than 75 – the corporate tax rate can be significantly reduced while contributing to deficit reduction. A lower overall tax rate will improve American business competitiveness. Abolishing special subsidies will also create an even playing field for all businesses instead of artificially picking winners and losers.
4060  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government programs, spending, deficit, budget: Simpson-Bowles on: December 03, 2012, 09:59:09 AM
For the record, Alan Simpson was a moderate Republican as a Senator, Erskine Bowles was Clinton's Chief of Staff; the commission was appointed by (first term) Pres. Barack Obama and the results were totally ignored.

One simple excerpt on spending:

RECOMMENDATION 1.1: CAP DISCRETIONARY SPENDING THROUGH 2020. Hold spending in 2012 equal to or lower than spending in 2011, and return spending to pre-crisis 2008 levels in real terms in 2013. Limit future spending growth to half the projected inflation rate through 2020.
---------------

This is not rocket science, people.  Put SOME limit on spending.

http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/sites/fiscalcommission.gov/files/documents/TheMomentofTruth12_1_2010.pdf

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/12/simpson-bowles.php
4061  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy in the UK: Income tax rates rose and revenues fell on: December 03, 2012, 09:47:18 AM
What does Warren Buffet (and Barack Obama) say to THIS?

New data on tax hikes - from Britain: The tax went from 40% to 50% on millionaires in one year.  The total number of millionaire tax filers plunged 60% to 6,000 in 2010-2011, from 16,000 in 2009-2010.

(Next year we can post similar data for California.)

Mr. Buffet, incentives and disincentives matter!

Does this business genius ever advertise that his flagship Geico brings in more customers and more revenues because of higher prices ... in 15 minutes or less we'll raise your cost of car insurance?

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323751104578148820012847656.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop

Britain's Missing Millionaires
Income tax rates rise but revenues fall.

A funny thing often happens on the way to soaking the rich: They don't stick around for the bath. Take Britain, where Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs service reports that the number of taxpayers declaring £1 million a year in income fell by more than 60% in fiscal 2010-2011 from the year before.

That was the year that millionaires became liable for the 50% income-tax rate that Gordon Brown's government introduced in its final days in 2010, up from the previous 40% rate. Lo, the total number of millionaire tax filers plunged to 6,000 in 2010-2011, from 16,000 in 2009-2010.

The new tax was meant to raise about £2.5 billion more revenue. So much for that. In 2009-2010 British millionaires contributed about £13.4 billion to the public coffers, or just under 9% of the total tax liability of all taxpayers that year. At the 50% rate, the shrunken pool yielded £6.5 billion, or about 4.4%.

The British press is abuzz with the notion that 10,000 millionaires left the country in the interim, and no doubt some did make for their chalets in Gstaad. Others may have brought forward more income in 2009-2010, knowing the higher rate was on its way. No doubt, too, the overall lousy economy took its toll.

Prime Minister David Cameron decided earlier this year to lower the 50% rate to 45%, meaning we may see at least some of the millionaires return to the U.K. But the figures are another reminder that incentives matter.

Politicians would love to lay the whole burden of their policies on a tiny minority of the rich, but you can't finance the welfare state on the shoulders of the 1%. That's something for the U.S. to remember as President Obama pretends he can fill a $1 trillion budget hole with tax hikes on "millionaires and billionaires."
4062  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bill Whittle on Why Romney Lost and How to Win... on: December 03, 2012, 09:27:33 AM
This is absolutely on-target.  Whittle is one of the wisest conservative voices out there, IMHO:
http://blip.tv/davidhorowitztv/bill-whittle-6444929

Obj,  Bill Whittle IS excellent. Wow. Thank you for great post!  I wrote some time ago that what Republicans and conservative need to win is clarity.  Bill Whittle exudes clarity while our candidates exude meandering thoughts and muddled messages.
4063  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the left: Robert Reich - How to make things worse on: December 02, 2012, 11:46:19 AM
In the interest of political economic diversity on the forum I continue to post things that make no sense to me from writers like Krugman and Reich...

http://www.salon.com/2012/11/30/wal_mart_and_mcdonalds_whats_wrong_with_u_s_employment/

Wal-Mart and McDonald’s: What’s wrong with U.S. employment
The walkouts were no coincidence. Low wages are strangling the economy, and Washington needs to pay attention
By Robert Reich
-------

No.  Washington and other meddling governments are the cause.  Low wages are market wages when there is a dearth of successful new startups or existing companies flourishing to compete for the services of these workers.

'Entry level' jobs are intended for entry level workers, or people who earn only a portion of the money in a multi- income household. 

"These workers are not teenagers. Most have to support their families."

Flipping fast food burgers and working the drive up window does not raise a family, allow your wife to stay home with the children or put the kids through college.  That doesn't mean there is something wrong with having a first job, a first rung on the economic ladder, making the second, third and fourth rungs each an easier step.  What is wrong is that someone removed the ladder - by implementing the big government, private strangulation policies of Robert Reich, Paul Krugman, Barack Obama et al.

"More than 46 million Americans now live below the poverty line."

MILLIONS more than that are underemployed, unemployed or spome other form of just not working.  We are pursuing 'fairness' at the expense of lost national prosperity and lost economic opportunity.  That said, "poverty" as measured by the Census Bureau is a false measure and does not count most of their transfer payment income.

Startups in America are occurring at the lowest rate in 40 years.  I don't suppose 47,000 new regulations in the last 47 months and new taxes impending on everyone and everything has anything to do with that.

"Organizing makes economic sense."

Force someone to pay you more than you are worth to the enterprise, or put them out of business, is the answer of the left.  Not for these people to rise up freely and contribute to the economy with more valuable and productive work.

"wage gains are likely to come out of profits...That wouldn’t be such a bad thing."

To the Professor of Public Policy at Berkeley:  It will result in even fewer jobs, you birdbrain.  Non-performing restaurants CLOSE!  Potential new businesses projected to never provide a healthy return on investment simply don't open.  Take a look around.
4064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / UN Palestine recognition a violation of Oslo Accords? on: December 02, 2012, 11:11:30 AM
Is the UN birth certificate for 'Palestine' a violation of the Oslo accords?  Will the UN pass a resolution to condemn this action?

http://www.timesofisrael.com/top-ministers-oppose-palestinian-authoritys-planned-un-bid/
Ya’alon (Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister) said the move was “a flagrant violation of the Oslo agreement,” and was “geared toward avoiding entering talks” with Israel.

http://likud.nl/1999/02/palestinian-un-initiative-is-twofold-violation-of-oslo-accords/
4065  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: December 01, 2012, 11:23:41 AM
"At any point they wanted to, the President and the Congress could reduce the "cliff" to a series of foothills by breaking the problem into ten or twenty component parts."

Isn't that exactly what you do when you have a seemingly insurmountable large task at hand.  Democrats are doing the opposite, focusing only on the one part that can't be done and wouldn't solve the problem if it could.

Negotiating is important, roughly 5th on the priority list far behind legislating a solution and communicating.
------------
Going through some papers yesterday I came across a yellowed out clipping of the actual text of the Contract with America, in small print from page 20 of the local paper Sunday before the 1994 election - far better coverage than any Republican proposal has gotten since.  I pulled out a magnifying glass and read to see if anything that should have been done then would have prevented the situation today.  I has two lists, first what they will do immediately the first day and second list of what they will bring to a vote in the first 100 days: http://www.bsos.umd.edu/gvpt/jgloekler/documents/contract.pdf

From the first list:

• SEVENTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
• EIGHTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.

Both I suppose would have to be in the constitution to be binding on future congresses, but both in actual practice would make the faux negotiations we face today moot.

First on the 100 day list: 1. THE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT: A balanced budget/tax limitation amendment..."

That alone, ratified back then, would have removed the need for all future debt ceiling crises, credit downgrades and fiscal cliffs.
4066  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Susan Rice on: November 30, 2012, 12:03:35 PM
I heard today that Rice was the one responsible for passing on the Sudanese offer years ago to hand over Bin Laden.  Is this accurate?

I would think the timing on that is close.  Possible that she would be advising on that decision and that we will never know.  Maybe she advised yes on the aspirin factory bombing.  Did they intend to hit him then or was that really the distraction alleged from the Monica Lewinsky story? I Haven't read any Clinton staff autobiographies.  My interests lie more with non-fiction.  )
4067  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dissonance on the left: Susan Rice owns the Canadian Keystone pipeline firm on: November 30, 2012, 11:53:54 AM
http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/un-treaties/270293-liberal-group-launches-petition-blasting-susan-rices-outrageous-keystone-investments

Liberals blast Susan Rice's 'outrageous' investments in Canadian pipeline firm
By Julian Pecquet - 11/30/12 10:48 AM ET

A liberal group launched an online petition Friday demanding that potential secretary of State nominee Susan Rice divest herself of “every dollar of stock” in the Canadian company seeking approval for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline to the Gulf Coast.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations owns between $300,000 and $600,000 in TransCanada Corp. stock, according to her financial disclosure forms. The pipeline needs approval from the State Department before it can go forward.
4068  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security: Gitmo North coming to western Illinois - ?? on: November 30, 2012, 11:50:48 AM
Gitmo North Returns: Obama's Shady Prison Deal

Michelle Malkin   Nov 30, 2012

Gitmo North Returns: Obama's Shady Prison Deal

If you thought President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder had given up on closing Guantanamo Bay and bringing jihadists to American soil, think again. Two troubling developments on the Gitmo front should have every American on edge.

The first White House maneuver took place in October, while much of the public and the media were preoccupied with election news. On Oct. 2, Obama's cash-strapped Illinois pals announced that the federal government bought out the Thomson Correctional Center in western Illinois for $165 million. According to Watchdog.org, a recent appraisal put the value of the facility at $220 million.

Democratic Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin led the lobbying campaign for the deal, along with Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who is overseeing an overall $43 billion state budget deficit and scraping for every available penny. The Thomson campus has been an empty Taj Mahal for more than a decade because profligate state officials had no money for operations. Economic development gurus (using the same phony math of federal stimulus peddlers) claim the newly federalized project will bring in $1 billion.

Durbin told a local Illinois paper that "the decision to move ahead came directly from President Barack Obama" and that he had secured the green light during a discussion on Air Force One earlier in the spring. But this gift to Obama's Illinois homeboys wasn't just a run-of-the-mill campaign favor.

Obama's unilateral and unprecedented decision steamrolled over bipartisan congressional opposition to the purchase. That opposition dates back to 2009, when the White House first floated the idea of using Thomson to house jihadi enemy combatants detained in Cuba. As you may recall, the scheme caused a national uproar. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the Justice Department's budget, blocked the administration from using unspent DOJ funds for the deal. With bipartisan support, Congress passed a law barring the transfer of Gitmo detainees to Thomson or any other civilian prison.

The message was clear: Taxpayers don't want manipulative Gitmo detainees or their three-ring circuses of transnationalist sympathizers and left-wing lawyers on American soil. Period.

But when this imperial presidency can't get its way in the court of public opinion, it simply circumvents the deliberative process. As Wolf noted: The shady deal "directly violates the clear objection of the House Appropriations Committee and goes against the bipartisan objections of members in the House and Senate, who have noted that approving this request would allow Thomson to take precedence over previously funded prisons in Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia and New Hampshire."


Obama and his Illinois gang insist that Thomson will not become Gitmo North. But denial is more than a river in the Muslim Brotherhood's homeland.

The 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America, which spearheaded the movement against shipping jihadi detainees to the mainland, exposed the fine print of the Obama DOJ's deal with the state of Illinois. The purpose of the Thomson facility acquisition, according to the DOJ notice filed in the D.C. courts, included this clause:

"... as well as to provide humane and secure confinement of individuals held under authority of any Act of Congress, and such other persons as in the opinion of the Attorney General of the United States are proper subjects for confinement in such institutions."

Guess whom that covers? Yup: Gitmo detainees, who are being held under the 2001 congressional act known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

Now, bear all this in mind as you consider the second and more recent Gitmo gambit. On Wednesday, in response to a whistleblowing report from Fox News homeland security reporter Catherine Herridge, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., released a General Accounting Office report exploring the feasibility of transferring the Gitmo gang to civilian prisons.

Lo and behold, Feinstein concluded, the report "demonstrates that if the political will exists, we could finally close Guantanamo without imperiling our national security."

The "political will" does not exist now, nor has it ever. But thanks to Obama's sneaky, back-door misappropriation of government funds to buy Thomson, the feds have exactly what they need to fulfill the progressive-in-chief's Gitmo closure promise: a shiny, turnkey palace in crony land tailor-made for union workers, lawyers and terror plotters to call their new home.

http://townhall.com/columnists/michellemalkin/2012/11/30/gitmo_north_returns_obamas_shady_prison_deal
4069  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Timely Reminder: Congress shall assemble at least once in every year on: November 30, 2012, 11:44:22 AM
Just in case our limited government zeal becomes so extreme and that our very few and simple laws, taxes and regulations are successfully in place, working as intended, with consent of the governed, and in case Congress is tempted to not meet at all during the year, the constitution requires:

"The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day."

I think the framers envisioned a smaller government than what we got.

4070  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Will: A Cliff of Their Own Choosing on: November 30, 2012, 10:07:56 AM
Some excellent points made by George Will including this one similar to one I believe Crafty already articulated on the forum: " restoration of the Clinton-era top rate of 39.6 percent would occur in the very different Obama era of regulatory excesses and Obamacare taxes"


A cliff of their own choosing

By George F. Will, Published: November 28
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/george-will-a-cliff-of-democrats-choosing/2012/11/28/0320513c-38ce-11e2-8a97-363b0f9a0ab3_story.html

With a chip on his shoulder larger than his margin of victory, Barack Obama is approaching his second term by replicating the mistake of his first. Then his overreaching involved health care — expanding the entitlement state at the expense of economic growth. Now he seeks another surge of statism, enlarging the portion of gross domestic product grasped by government and dispensed by politics. The occasion is the misnamed “fiscal cliff,” the proper name for which is: the Democratic Party’s agenda.

For 40 years the party’s principal sources of energy and money — liberal activists, government-employees unions — have advocated expanding government’s domestic reach by raising taxes and contracting its foreign reach by cutting defense. Obama’s four years as one of the most liberal senators and his four presidential years indicate that he agrees. Like other occasionally numerate but prudently reticent liberals, he surely understands that the entitlement state he favors requires raising taxes on the cohort that has most of the nation’s money — the middle class.

Mitt Romney as candidate and others before and since have suggested increasing revenue by capping income tax deductions. This would increase that tax’s progressivity, without raising rates that would dampen incentives. Obama’s compromise may be: Let’s do both. Remember the story of when the British Admiralty sought six new battleships, the Treasury proposed four, so they compromised on eight.

Those proposing higher taxes on the wealthy note that when the income tax began in 1913, the top rate was 7 percent. But in 1917, war brought a 67 percent rate. Between 1925 and 1931, the rate was 24 percent or 25 percent, but in only five of the subsequent 80 years — 1988-92 — was the top rate lower than it is today.

Republicans, however, respond that because lower rates reduce incentives to distort economic decisions, they promote growth by enhancing efficiency. Hence restoration of the higher rates would be a giant step away from, and might effectively doom, pro-growth tax reform. Furthermore, restoration of the Clinton-era top rate of 39.6 percent would occur in the very different Obama era of regulatory excesses and Obamacare taxes. Hence Republicans rightly resist higher rates.

Given liberals’ fixation with the affluent paying their “fair share,” it might seem peculiar that they are so vehemently against Paul Ryan’s “premium support” proposal for Medicare. Their recoil is, however, essential to the liberal project.

Ryan’s supposedly radical idea is that people should shop for health insurance, with government subsidizing purchases by the less affluent. This would introduce what soon will be inevitable — means testing, a.k.a. progressivity. But liberals reject it with a word, the incantation of which suffices, they think, as an argument — “voucher.”

This is peculiar because perhaps the most successful federal program of the 20th century was essentially a voucher program. The purpose of the 1944 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act — a.k.a. the G.I. Bill of Rights — was to facilitate demobilization by helping men and women acquire educations and buy houses — and hence form families. The government did not build universities or houses. It, in effect, gave individuals conditional cash — vouchers — by helping to pay for home loans and college tuition.

Liberals’ strenuous objection to vouchers is that vouchers, as the functional equivalent of cash, empower individuals to make choices. It is the business of the liberals’ administrative state, staffed by experts, to make choices for inexpert individuals. This is why, while Democrats in Washington are working to reduce the portion of Americans’ private income that is disposed of by private choices, two tentacles of the Democratic Party — the Indiana and Louisiana teachers unions — are in their states’ courts waging futile fights against school choice programs, lest thousands of low- and moderate-income parents be as empowered as millions of demobilized servicemen were.

Washington’s contentiousness about the “cliff” is producing a blizzard of numbers. The argument, however, is not about this or that tax rate but about the nature of the American regime. When the Republican House majority acts as though it has a mind — and a mandate — of its own, this is not Washington being “dysfunctional,” it is the separation of powers functioning as the Founders intended. Their system requires concurrent congressional majorities — one in the Senate, with its unique constituencies and electoral rhythms, another in the House, with its constituencies and rhythms. And at least 219 of the 234 House Republicans won in November by margins larger than Obama’s national margin.
4071  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: 10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free on: November 30, 2012, 09:38:07 AM

A very interesting piece.  Surprising to me that a list of lost freedoms only includes those lost as a result of us being under attack by Islamic terrorism, with no alternative offered as to how to protect ourselves without these losses of freedoms.

"If a president can take away your freedom or your life on his own authority, all rights become little more than a discretionary grant subject to executive will."

Law enforcement as we knew it, innocent until proven guilty with prosecution after the crime occurs, does not work against suicide bombers and planned acts of war.  Did founders like George Washington have his troops hold fire in war until after each target had the right to a speedy trial and to confront his accusers?

If my cell number is found in a killed Afghan terrorist's speed dial, I expect some surveillance on me until my innocence becomes clear.  That is actually a gain not a loss of freedom IMHO.

"President Obama has claimed, as President George W. Bush did before him, the right to order the killing of any citizen considered a terrorist or an abettor of terrorism. Last year, he approved the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaqi and another citizen under this claimed inherent authority. Last month, administration officials affirmed that power, stating that the president can order the assassination of any citizen whom he considers allied with terrorists. (Nations such as Nigeria, Iran and Syria have been routinely criticized for extrajudicial killings of enemies of the state.)"

Does the power to kill a terrorist, a planner of war and attacks against the United States, operating in Yemen make us akin to Syria, Iran or Nigeria?  Good grief.

Sudarsan, Raghavan; Michael D. Shear (December 25, 2009). "U.S.-aided attack in Yemen thought to have killed Aulaqi, 2 al-Qaeda leaders". The Washington Post.
Usborne, David; The Centre for Social Cohesion, a British think-tank (April 8, 2010). "Obama orders US-born cleric to be shot on sight". London: The Independent.
Newton, Paula (March 10, 2010). "Purported al-Awlaki message calls for jihad against US". CNN. Archived from the original on April 19, 2010.
Scott Shane and Robert Worth, "Challenge Heard on Move to Kill Qaeda-Linked Cleric", The New York Times, November 8, 2010.


Meanwhile we have lost the right to work, to keep fruits of our labor, to save, to invest, to hire, to choose our healthcare, to grow wheat or open a lemon stand on our property, but no mention within this author's '10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free'.  Topics for another thread perhaps.
4072  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: November 30, 2012, 08:47:43 AM
"But if raising taxes would lead us toward trouble, why would raising taxes only on some people ("the rich") not have some of the same harmful effect?"

Rand Paul has this right.
--------------
Elections have consequences.  Obama held the White House, but he failed to win crucial coattails even with his miraculous turnout operation.  House Republicans hold the important trump cards.  They can pass their own balanced measure that meets all the criteria and ought to be acceptable to Democrats and then hold firm.  If and when Democrats fail to join and everyone's taxes skyrocket, Republicans can make it clear that full tax reform - for everyone, retroactive to the first - is always on the table for Democrats to join and enact.  Same goes for either comprehensive or piecemeal spending and entitlement reforms.

"All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives..."  This isn't a Republican stand; it's a clause in the constitution.  

"Buraq wants us to go over the cliff."

The President chickened out the last time (last two times?) he stood at the precipice.  For better or for worse, this economy is the Obama economy.  They didn't call the 90s the Gingrich economy.  President Obama owns it.  The Republican House was a direct result of his governance in general and Democrat overreach on health care in particular.  People chose this President but importantly they also chose his opposition for majority in the House as a check and balance against his ability to enact the policies of his choosing.  He can succeed or fail as a uniter and as a leader.  There are plenty of revenue enhancers on the table from the Republicans and there are at this late date still no real domestic program or transfer payment cuts on the table from the President or Democrats.

At the end the President can say that he upset both Republicans and Democrats to make a deal.  Voters love that and popularity equals ability to govern going forward.  Just ask George Bush.

Mr. President, make a deal, take a deal or bring us all to failure.  This is all on your watch.
4073  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: November 30, 2012, 07:57:16 AM
The points in the article are interesting to me, important considerations for awareness going forward.  They do not override the competing case, that to not produce our energy means unaffordable energy contributing to other problems like uncompetitive manufacturing, imbalance of trade in the trillions with resulting effects on our currency, increased need for redistribution and big government because of widespread energy unaffordability.  Foremost, to not produce our own energy means to have the fascist forces of our government override the freedoms of our enterprise.  Not to mention making places like the Straits of Hormuz and people like the Mullahs and Chavezes of the world crucial to our economic survival.  Not an optimal situation, as the President said about 4 dead Americans in oil producing Libya.

My understanding is that fracking and shale oil and oils sands development came about because of artificially high prices on oil.  Saudi oil (and Alaskan oil, Venezuelan) is still cheaper to produce.  Those sources will always have a cost and price advantage even if they run the rest of their economy miserably.

Energy independence is not the term for what we need; it's more like energy balance.  We export a lot of energy now but import far more.  The goal IMO is just to get production totals more in line with consumption requirements.  When that becomes true we will have a neutral effect on world prices as both a producer and a consumer, and an importer and exporter of energy.  Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Emirates, etc. do not have to go broke as the oil price stabilize under $100 nor does their product become obsolete.  (Nor do we have to stop being their ally.) US production will not push prices to zero nor to a level below their cost basis. 

With increased US production these 'allies' in the Middle East will still face the same cultural/economic challenge they always faced, to build out the rest of their economy producing something of value more than just oil.  Same is true for Mexico, Canada, Houston and the people of Williston ND.
4074  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / re. the attack on Amb. Susan Rice on: November 29, 2012, 07:09:48 PM
"The key difference was that we had good intel that Iraq had WMD, while the lies about Benghazi were deliberate and calculated.  Something the lefties at Slate know, but don't care about."

Yes, we heard ad nauseam that Bush et al lied, but never to my knowledge was anything ever established to contradict that the best intelligence in the world thought Saddam was close to WMD, used them on the Kurds etc.  AFTER no stockpiles were found Iraq Study Group concluded he was 6-8 years away from nuclear weapons - more than 6-8 years ago.  That means nuclear by now if not for US intervention.

The Rice scandal is two-part.  a) She covered up the tie to terrorism - which she knew.  Others took the blame for removing that from her public report.  b) They completely made up the story about the video and passed that off as what happened when it didn't and she knew it didn't.

I don't see anyone really pressing on point b) and she certainly has not come clean on that publicly.

Sec of State is in the line of order of succession to the Presidency, just ask Alexander Haig.  If you believe what I wrote about duplicity, and I believer it is true, then blocking her potential confirmation makes perfect sense.

She put herself out there for the President politically.  It was a career choice.

Susan Rice was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs when the embassies were bombed.  The sensitivity of the information is something should she have contemplated.

A shrewd move by Pres. Obama would be to make Susan Collins Sec of State.

4075  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: budget process - The House Republicans still hold a few cards on: November 28, 2012, 01:28:52 PM
All the tax pledge and tax hike talk puts a historic choice in front of House Republicans with the expiration of the Bush/Obama rates, the fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling, Obamacare implementation, and the second term of Pres. Barack Obama all coming. 

What should they do?

Posted before, but the size and scope of government is limited to what the lowest of what the three parties, House, Senate and Executive, will support.  The burden is on House Republicans alone to set the limits.

If there is no action on the tax rate extensions, tax rates go up automatically for all.  Republicans oppose that.  What leverage do they have?  For one thing, Democrats oppose that too.

If there is no action on the so-called fiscal cliff it means automatic tax hikes and automatic defense cuts and other automatic spending cuts.  Republicans oppose that, but how worse is that to signing on to the agenda of the Democrats?  We don't need as much military spending right now if we are going to pull back for 4 years.  Call that bluff?

Next comes the perpetually scheduled debt ceiling hike.  Republicans have leverage there only if they are able to say no.  What if they did say no?  What kind of organization has no survival plan for the possibility that their bank will not raise their credit limit when it is maxed out for the umpteenth time?  Federal spending including interest on the debt would instantly be limited to federal revenues.  Say it isn't so!  Isn't that what a balanced budget amendment would require anyway?  We aren't in an economic crisis.  This economy, this stagnation and this unemployment is the new normal for the poicies we are choosing.

Maybe House Republicans can steal away the initiative with bold proposals.  They could require full scale tax reform as part of any revenue increase, agree to maintain current progressivity but insist on dynamic scoring and an end to baseline budgeting.  They could insist on repeal of Humphrey Hawkins, the legislation that mandated the 'dual role' of the Fed.  If the endpoint of budget negotiations is a responsible fiscal policy, then we don't need a 4th year of artificial monetary stimulus.  They could insist on a pushback of Obamacare implementation.  They could insist on passage of a 4 year moratorium on new fracking rules or to release new federal lands to energy leases.  They could trade their needed votes on the current budget matters for Democrat votes on a balanced budget amendment that includes a cap on federal spending as a percent of GDP.  The cap in the current bill was written at 18%, a little bit optimistic in current political context.  Move it to 20%, then hold firm for passage in the House and Senate to send to the states.
4076  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Abortion: Safe, Legal and Rare - Whoops on: November 28, 2012, 12:47:43 PM
http://www.lifenews.com/2012/11/27/planned-parenthood-rushes-woman-to-hospital-after-botched-abortion/

Planned Parenthood Rushes Woman to Hospital After Botched Abortion

by Steven Ertelt | St. Louis, MO | 11/27/12 1:35 PM

Another Planned Parenthood abortion clinic has been documented rushing a patient to a local hospital following a botched abortion that may have injured her and potentially claimed her life.

A St. Louis Planned Parenthood patient was rushed to a nearby hospital after suffering serious abortion complications the day before Thanksgiving. Paramedics arrived at the abortion clinic at approximately 2:45 p.m. on November 21, 2012, and removed the patient from the building with her face covered with a cloth.
----------------

Was the woman (mother) told the procedure was safe, or if she was informed of similar previous disasters at the same clinic?  http://www.lifenews.com/2011/02/14/failed-abortion-injures-woman-at-missouri-planned-parenthood/

If the mother's life is in danger BEFORE the procedure, should she go to a Planned Parenthood clinic for a procedure or wouldn't she gostraight to the hospital in the first place??!


Safe, legal and rare was the elected, pro-choice mantra from 20 years ago.  Looks like we got one out of three.
4077  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: November 28, 2012, 12:20:03 PM
We are getting better info here from PP on housing than Wesbury is getting from his sources, Brian Wesbury should join the list of famous people who read the forum.  )

To repeat, the changing median value of new home sales tells us which types of homes are being built, more than it indicates a movement in value.  You can't build low or mid value houses in populated areas because of the depressed value of existing homes for sale.

Sales volume figures get compared with another point in the crisis, a year ago, but the term recovery (not used in this Wesbury piece) means IMO to compare with pre-crisis levels.
----

-----
For the record, you can buy a 4 bedroom house in the nation's 4th richest metro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highest-income_metropolitan_statistical_areas_in_the_United_States) today for $19,900 (http://www.minnesotarealestatesearch.com/mn-homes/listings/minneapolis-real-estate/3110-queen-ave-n/mn-mls-4161095) because of the continuing backlog of foreclosed properties. 

We were warned here that "things will not get easier for housing for an extended period of time" more than a year and a half ago by PP: http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=2167.msg46603#msg46603
4078  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: November 28, 2012, 10:28:18 AM
An interesting point, but one that changes constant measuring standard that we use to discuss this number.

I would be inclined to agree with you, but the crucial measuring standard for deficits and surpluses as they accumulate or take from debt owing is the debt ceiling law, which uses the total debt figure.  It is the debt using this measuring standard in federal law that, if not for raising the ceiling, would shut down all deficit spending. 

Treasury Direct displays both measures, at 11.4 (debt held by public excluding intragovernmental holdings) and at 16.3 trillion (total debt):  http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np

US Debt clock shows the debt subject to the debt limit and it is approximately same as the total debt, 16+trillion figure: http://www.usdebtclock.org/

http://blog.heritage.org/2012/01/27/debt-limit-increases-to-nearly-16-4-trillion/  "This last increase, from $15.194 trillion to $16.394 trillion, was essentially granted in the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, passed August 2 at the culmination of the debt limit debate."

-----------------
Aside from choosing between two ways to measure, are we better off now than we were 2.1 trillion dollars of unfunded spending ago since the last debt ceiling crisis ended on August 2, 2011?

A few hundred people can say yes, the President and Vice president, the Senate Democrats and the House Republicans all got re-elected.  For the rest of us... no.





4079  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Deficit/budget Fact Check: Bill Clinton (and Newt) Never had a Surplus on: November 27, 2012, 02:35:04 PM
'Clinton balanced the budget.  Turned deficits into a surplus.  Paid down the debt.  Left George Bush with a surplus'  How many times have I heard that?  

Actual figures from:  http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np

Fiscal Yr.   Year Ending National Debt      Deficit
FY1993    09/30/1993    $4.411488 trillion   
FY1994    09/30/1994    $4.692749 trillion    $281.26 billion
FY1995    09/29/1995    $4.973982 trillion    $281.23 billion
FY1996    09/30/1996    $5.224810 trillion    $250.83 billion
FY1997    09/30/1997    $5.413146 trillion    $188.34 billion
FY1998    09/30/1998    $5.526193 trillion    $113.05 billion
FY1999    09/30/1999    $5.656270 trillion    $130.08 billion
FY2000    09/29/2000    $5.674178 trillion    $17.91 billion
FY2001    09/28/2001    $5.807463 trillion    $133.29 billion

In no year did the national debt go down, nor did Clinton leave President Bush with a surplus that Bush subsequently turned into a deficit. Yes, the deficit was almost eliminated in FY2000 (ending in September 2000 with a deficit of "only" $17.9 billion), but it never reached zero--let alone a positive surplus number. And Clinton's last budget proposal for FY2001, which ended in September 2001, generated a $133.29 billion deficit. The growing deficits started in the year of the last Clinton budget, not in the first year of the Bush administration.

The difference between surpluses alleged and total debt is what is called Intragovernmental Holdings.  As an example, only if we repealed Social Security could those holdings be released to reduce the total public debt.

http://www.craigsteiner.us/articles/16

$16 trillion, the debt figure that we know today, includes intragovernmental holdings:

Today     Debt Held by the Public   Intragovernmental Holdings  Total Public Debt Outstanding
11/26/2012   11,474,648,831,627.28      4,835,089,224,735.16      16,309,738,056,362.44

http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np
4080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Exit polls on Issues on: November 27, 2012, 02:08:05 PM
Glass half full.  Voters in off-year elections who follow the process more closely choose Republicans.  Voters chose Republicans again for the House of Representatives which was perhaps more issue oriented where the Presidential race was more personal.

Cherry picking some exit poll results for glimmers of hope:

Obamacare: 44% said they believe the program should be expanded or left as it is.  49% said they wanted the program fully repealed or partially repealed.

Income tax rates: 13% of Americans said they favored raising income tax rates for all citizens.  47% said those earning over $250,000 a year should be taxed more.

33% said taxes should be raised to help cut the budget deficit, 63% saying no more taxes.

Size of Government: 43% said government should do more to solve problems.  51% of voters agreed with the statement that “government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.”

Ideology:  41% of Americans said they were moderate, 35% said they were conservative, 25% described themselves as liberal.

Tea Party: 63% of voters say that they either support the tea party or are “neutral” toward it.


http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/2012-election-exit-polls/2012/11/25/id/465284?s=al&promo_code=10E10-1#ixzz2DSFc4Yt2
4081  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Humor/WTF: German assault with deadly weapon(s) on: November 27, 2012, 11:41:59 AM
An apparently true news story?  Should go in self defense / DLO threads:

http://www.yourjewishnews.com/Pages/24114.aspx

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/woman-tried-to-kill-boyfriend-with-dd-1450638

"I wanted your death to be as pleasant as possible."
4082  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: November 27, 2012, 11:27:10 AM
"And, wow, do we have plenty to invest. The Forbes 400, the wealthiest individuals in America, hit a new group record for wealth this year: $1.7 trillion"

Cool. So if we take all their assets, we'll cover federal spending this year!

The Chavez plan.  Don't think it wasn't considered.  I would say 5 months and change, one time only.  Then what?

Another measure might be to close all their businesses, cut off all their spending and investing, and see how that affects the incomes of Obama's class warrior voters.
4083  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 27, 2012, 11:21:26 AM
Interesting thought Doug, though I suspect that Hamas and Iran had their own agendas as well , , ,

Agree.  Hence their eagerness and willingness to cooperate.
4084  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / No surprise, Warren Buffet Proposes Minimum Tax on the Wealthy on: November 27, 2012, 11:14:38 AM
How about we first establish a MAXIMUM tax of all levels of government, federal, state and local, on any dollar income legally earned in the United States of America.

Secondly, let's pass the Buffet law retroactively and in its implementation prosecute this pretend policy expert for tax evasion.

We are no longer, FYI to Buffet, competing in a 1950s global economy.  .01% of the people paying the top rate, rounded, means that no one in their right mind paid those rates.  We have the highest corporate rates in the world.  Most personal rate analyses exclude that.

Buffet says investors won't pass up an investment because of a tax rate.  More relevant would be to measure what percent and total time and resources producers take away from productive activities to put into high marginal tax rate compliance and avoidance. 

The rate of new business startups is at a 40 year low, taking us back to the Jimmy Carter hangover.  Tax rates are only part of the war against business growth success.  We need far more, not fewer, businesses to start today, tomorrow and the next day and grow into billion dollar businesses, employing thousands and enriching people along the way.  Punishing wealth and achievement does what to further that aim?  NOTHING.
-----------------------------
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/26/opinion/buffett-a-minimum-tax-for-the-wealthy.html?ref=todayspaper

A Minimum Tax for the Wealthy
By WARREN E. BUFFETT
Published: November 25, 2012

SUPPOSE that an investor you admire and trust comes to you with an investment idea. “This is a good one,” he says enthusiastically. “I’m in it, and I think you should be, too.”

Would your reply possibly be this? “Well, it all depends on what my tax rate will be on the gain you’re saying we’re going to make. If the taxes are too high, I would rather leave the money in my savings account, earning a quarter of 1 percent.” Only in Grover Norquist’s imagination does such a response exist.

Between 1951 and 1954, when the capital gains rate was 25 percent and marginal rates on dividends reached 91 percent in extreme cases, I sold securities and did pretty well. In the years from 1956 to 1969, the top marginal rate fell modestly, but was still a lofty 70 percent — and the tax rate on capital gains inched up to 27.5 percent. I was managing funds for investors then. Never did anyone mention taxes as a reason to forgo an investment opportunity that I offered.

Under those burdensome rates, moreover, both employment and the gross domestic product (a measure of the nation’s economic output) increased at a rapid clip. The middle class and the rich alike gained ground.

So let’s forget about the rich and ultrarich going on strike and stuffing their ample funds under their mattresses if — gasp — capital gains rates and ordinary income rates are increased. The ultrarich, including me, will forever pursue investment opportunities.

And, wow, do we have plenty to invest. The Forbes 400, the wealthiest individuals in America, hit a new group record for wealth this year: $1.7 trillion. That’s more than five times the $300 billion total in 1992. In recent years, my gang has been leaving the middle class in the dust.

A huge tail wind from tax cuts has pushed us along. In 1992, the tax paid by the 400 highest incomes in the United States (a different universe from the Forbes list) averaged 26.4 percent of adjusted gross income. In 2009, the most recent year reported, the rate was 19.9 percent. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

The group’s average income in 2009 was $202 million — which works out to a “wage” of $97,000 per hour, based on a 40-hour workweek. (I’m assuming they’re paid during lunch hours.) Yet more than a quarter of these ultrawealthy paid less than 15 percent of their take in combined federal income and payroll taxes. Half of this crew paid less than 20 percent. And — brace yourself — a few actually paid nothing.

This outrage points to the necessity for more than a simple revision in upper-end tax rates, though that’s the place to start. I support President Obama’s proposal to eliminate the Bush tax cuts for high-income taxpayers. However, I prefer a cutoff point somewhat above $250,000 — maybe $500,000 or so.

Additionally, we need Congress, right now, to enact a minimum tax on high incomes. I would suggest 30 percent of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on amounts above that. A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultrarich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours. Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy.

Above all, we should not postpone these changes in the name of “reforming” the tax code. True, changes are badly needed. We need to get rid of arrangements like “carried interest” that enable income from labor to be magically converted into capital gains. And it’s sickening that a Cayman Islands mail drop can be central to tax maneuvering by wealthy individuals and corporations.

But the reform of such complexities should not promote delay in our correcting simple and expensive inequities. We can’t let those who want to protect the privileged get away with insisting that we do nothing until we can do everything.

Our government’s goal should be to bring in revenues of 18.5 percent of G.D.P. and spend about 21 percent of G.D.P. — levels that have been attained over extended periods in the past and can clearly be reached again. As the math makes clear, this won’t stem our budget deficits; in fact, it will continue them. But assuming even conservative projections about inflation and economic growth, this ratio of revenue to spending will keep America’s debt stable in relation to the country’s economic output.

In the last fiscal year, we were far away from this fiscal balance — bringing in 15.5 percent of G.D.P. in revenue and spending 22.4 percent. Correcting our course will require major concessions by both Republicans and Democrats.

All of America is waiting for Congress to offer a realistic and concrete plan for getting back to this fiscally sound path. Nothing less is acceptable.

In the meantime, maybe you’ll run into someone with a terrific investment idea, who won’t go forward with it because of the tax he would owe when it succeeds. Send him my way. Let me unburden him.
4085  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Nuclear Power: Thorium To Be Used In a Working Reactor on: November 27, 2012, 10:39:12 AM
Addressing the issue of nuclear waste:

"thorium-based nuclear fuel has several advantages over uranium-based fuel, including better waste characteristics, improved proliferation resistance, and abundant raw material supply"

"With plutonium seed in the fuel mix, the reactors would not only generate power, but they would also eliminate dangerous waste left over from other nuclear operations and thus help address the problem of what to do with that waste."


http://newenergyandfuel.com/http:/newenergyandfuel/com/2012/11/26/thorium-to-be-used-in-a-working-reactor/

Thorium To Be Used In a Working Reactor

November 26, 2012

A Norwegian company led by Alf Bjørseth will start burning thorium fuel in a conventional test reactor owned by Norway’s government with help from U.S.-based nuclear giant Westinghouse.

Bjørseth is now running his private company Scatec AS, and establishing new companies within Scatec based on the latest technologies in the areas of renewable energy and advanced materials, including a thorium fuel effort through a holding company called Thor Corporation.

Thor Corporation owns Thor Energy and also has shares in businesses related to thorium fuel, thorium mining and separation of rare earth elements.  Fen Minerals holds the mining rights to the Fen deposits in South Norway, which are rich in thorium and rare earth elements. The third company is Norwegian Separation Technology, a company in the process of developing a novel separation method for rare earth elements.

Natural Thorium Ore. Click image for more info.

The company has completed a 2-year thorium fuel cycle feasibility study which concludes that thorium-based nuclear fuel has several advantages over uranium-based fuel, including better waste characteristics, improved proliferation resistance, and abundant raw material supply.

Thor Energy has established a consortium that will fund and run a 5-year thorium irradiation project to be conducted at the Norwegian government owned Halden Nuclear Reactor.  Halden, typically described as a “test reactor,” also provides steam to a nearby paper mill. The move should bring thorium closer to replacing uranium as a possible safer and more effective nuclear power source.

Thor’s chief technology officer Julian Kelly explained Thor Energy will deploy a mix of solid thorium mixed with plutonium – a blend known as “thorium MOX”.

The plan isn’t the one most thorium enthusiasts have been hoping for.  Many professionals believe thorium’s advantages are most pronounced in alternative reactor designs such as molten salt reactors and pebble bed reactors, rather than today’s conventional solid-fuel water-cooled reactors.

Some thorium fans have realized it may be best to insert thorium into the energy scene by first putting it to use in reactors that already have regulatory approval.

Halden Heavy Water Reactor Flow Diagram. Click image for the largest view.

Best or not, Thor is testing the thorium fuel in a conventional reactor at Halden cooled by “heavy water”.  This is not the same as regular light water reactors built commercially around the world.  The cooling is by deuterium or water with an isotope of hydrogen.

With plutonium seed in the fuel mix, the reactors would not only generate power, but they would also eliminate dangerous waste left over from other nuclear operations and thus help address the problem of what to do with that waste.

The consortium reaches pretty far.  Thor will fabricate some of its own thorium MOX in partnership with Norway’s Institute for Energy Technology. Britain’s National Nuclear Laboratory – owned by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change – will also provide some, as will the European Commission’s Institute for Transuranium Elements.

Westinghouse is helping to fund the project, as are other of Thor’s industrial partners including Steenkampskraal Thorium Ltd., a South African company that is developing a thorium-fueled pebble bed reactor.  Other partners include the Finnish utility Fortum and the French chemicals company Rhodia.

That news ought to cheer all the thorium enthusiasts.

Yet Westinghouse doesn’t like to discuss its thorium activities publicly.  It is likely the firm believes working alternatives could undermine the company’s conventional nuclear business. Rumors have it Westinghouse has at least a few thorium-connected and alternative nuclear projects in the works.  One is out now and it isn’t a direct competitor as such.

Westinghouse is also known to be the commercial adviser on the U.S. Department of Energy’s collaboration with China on developing a molten-salt cooled reactor.  Westinghouse has also helped organize many of the alternative nuclear sessions at the American Nuclear Society convention just held in San Diego California.

This is great news worthy of Norway and her citizens.  The element thorium was named by the region’s ancestral God Thor, they have rich deposits, and a great deal of competency and intellectual prowess.  The test will very likely work out and that could offer reactor operators an alternative to uranium and ever more plutonium.

It will be fascinating to see the results.  The wait will be long though; it takes quite a while to burn through nuclear fuel.
4086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom on: November 27, 2012, 10:22:47 AM
"Smoking rubble filled with body parts" ... "An appeal to emotion."

Yes, I think terror is the emotion, not the carnage or the body count.

I rarely fly anymore.  My extreme distaste for the TSA treatment and general aversion to being treated like cattle is a part of it.

"...how many terrorist plots the TSA has foiled. Some number less than one, yes?"  ...
"TSA regularly fails security audits, is currently unionizing, and regularly produces nasty employees..."

We might all agree (?) that the current methods of current TSA are badly flawed but transportation security done wisely and effectively is a legitimate function of government.
4087  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential Results on: November 27, 2012, 10:06:31 AM
A results page:
http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/index.html

Clickable map for states at the link.  Crafty, YOU will like this map.
"Key: This Site uses Red for Democrats and Blue for Republicans".

Votes are still not all counted, still being updated.

Barack H. Obama, Joseph R. Biden, Democratic   64,175,423   50.79%  332 Electoral
Willard Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Republican        60,044,046   47.52%  206
Gary Johnson, James P. Gray,   Libertarian              1,247,710    0.99%      
Jill Stein, Cheri Honkala, Green                             452,497    0.36%    
Other                                                               426,307    0.34%  


One thing striking above is that President Obama the corporate cronyist had no real challenge from the third party left.  Had this been close, the Libertarian at 1% could have swung it for Obama.

As ugly as group against group politics is, we need to get the final tally on all the major divided-America groups before we close this thread IMHO.

4088  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Latest Hamas war was Morsi's wag the dog? on: November 27, 2012, 09:25:12 AM
The expression wag the dog has come to mean same as the shiny object theory, hey look over here!  Wag the dog came from the saying that 'a dog is smarter than its tail', but if the tail were smarter, then the tail would 'wag the dog'.  To me it just means you sometimes you need to look at things backwards to understand what happened.

The Hamas war timeline looking backwards:

6) Jay Carney representing the White House "expressed concerns over Egypt", but would not criticize Morsi.

5) Morsi declared super-constitutional powers for himself a day after the cease fire.

4) Obama interrupts Asia trip.  Dispatches Hillary Clinton.  Calls Morsi repeatedly.  Obama and Morsi broker a cease fire 'peace agreement'.

3) Doug asks on DBMA forum, what was the purpose of this war?

2) Israel responds to Hamas attacks 'disproportionately'.  Starts doing real damage.

1) Hamas attacks Israel with rockets.


Since it all happened rather predictably, doesn't it follow in logic that the purpose of the beginning, the Hamas attacks on Israel, was to get to the end point, Morsi's grab of more power in Egypt without losing US aid or support?

4089  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Underwater drones on: November 26, 2012, 09:33:43 AM
http://rt.com/usa/news/darpa-drone-unmanned-sub-455/
4090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and neighbors, Brokering a victory for Hamas on: November 26, 2012, 09:19:25 AM
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/11/why-did-obama-broker-a-victory-for-hamas.php
4091  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 26, 2012, 09:14:43 AM
Odd that there was no Obama administration interest in a cease fire when Hamas was shooting unilaterally.  No talk of cancelling an Asia trip.  The crisis began when Hamas was losing.
4092  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel, and its neighbors: Krauthammer - Why was there war in Gaza? on: November 23, 2012, 09:26:29 AM
To clarify an exchange above in the thread, I favor Israel taking disproportionate responses to protect itself.

Charles Krauthammer takes on the question I was trying to get at:  Why was there war in Gaza?

The only explanation is destruction/elimination of Israel.  The strategy seems to be to keep losing these smaller failed wars, keep the Palestinian movement tied to the Islamic movement, make Israel look like a bully and draw in more war partners.

If Israel is our ally and if destruction of Israel is the agenda, again I would ask, why are we a neutral party, a 'peace' talk facilitator?

And if land for peace is a false trade, why do we still try to advance that or when did we renounce it?
-------------------------
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-why-was-there-war-in-gaza/2012/11/22/c77582e8-3412-11e2-bfd5-e202b6d7b501_story.html

Why was there war in Gaza?

By Charles Krauthammer, Published: November 22 2012

Why was there an Israel-Gaza war in the first place? Resistance to the occupation, say Hamas and many in the international media.

What occupation? Seven years ago, in front of the world, Israel pulled out of Gaza. It dismantled every settlement, withdrew every soldier, evacuated every Jew, leaving nothing and no one behind. Except for the greenhouses in which the settlers had grown fruit and flowers for export. These were left intact to help Gaza’s economy — only to be trashed when the Palestinians took over.

Israel then declared its border with Gaza to be an international frontier, meaning that it renounced any claim to the territory and considered it an independent entity.

In effect, Israel had created the first Palestinian state ever, something never granted by fellow Muslims — neither the Ottoman Turks nor the Egyptians who brutally occupied Gaza for two decades before being driven out by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel wanted nothing more than to live in peace with this independent Palestinian entity. After all, the world had incessantly demanded that Israel give up land for peace.

It gave the land. It got no peace.

The Gaza Palestinians did not reciprocate. They voted in Hamas, who then took over in a military putsch and turned the newly freed Palestine into an armed camp from which to war against Israel. It has been war ever since.

Interrupted by the occasional truce, to be sure. But for Hamas a truce — hudna — is simply a tactic for building strength for the next round. It is never meant to be enduring, never meant to offer peace.

But why, given that there is no occupation of Gaza anymore? Because Hamas considers all of Israel occupied, illegitimate, a cancer, a crime against humanity, to quote the leaders of Iran, Hamas’s chief patron and arms supplier. Hamas’s objective, openly declared, is to “liberate” — i.e., destroy — Tel Aviv and the rest of pre-1967 Israel. Indeed, it is Hamas’s raison d’etre.

Hamas first killed Jews with campaigns of suicide bombings. After Israel built a nearly impenetrable fence, it went to rockets fired indiscriminately at civilians in populated areas.

What did Hamas hope to gain from this latest round of fighting, which it started with a barrage of about 150 rockets into Israel? To formally translate Hamas’s recent strategic gains into a new, more favorable status quo with Israel. It works like this:

Hamas’s new strength comes from two sources.

First, its new rocketry, especially the Fajr-5, smuggled in from Iran, that can now reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, putting 50 percent of Israel’s population under its guns.

Second, Hamas has gained strategic strength from changes in the regional environment. It has acquired the patronage and protection of important Middle Eastern states as a result of the Arab Spring and the Islamist reversal in Turkey.

For 60 years, non-Arab Turkey had been a reliable ally of Israel. The vicious turnaround instituted by its Islamist prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reached its apogee on Monday when he called Israel a terrorist state.

Egypt is now run by Hamas’s own mother organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is simply the Palestinian wing. And the emir of Qatar recently visited Gaza, leaving behind a promise of a cool $400 million.

Hamas’s objective was to guarantee no further attacks on its leaders or on its weaponry, launch sites and other terror and rocket infrastructure. And the lifting of Israel’s military blockade, which would allow a flood of new and even more deadly weapons. In other words, immunity and inviolability during which time Hamas could build unmolested its arsenal of missiles — until it is ready to restart the war on more favorable terms.

Yet another hudna, this one brokered and guaranteed by Egypt and Turkey, regional powers Israel has to be careful not to offend. A respite for rebuilding, until Hamas’s Gaza becomes Hezbollah South, counterpart to the terror group to Israel’s north, with 50,000 Iranian- and Syrian-supplied rockets that effectively deter any Israeli preemptive attack.

With the declaration of a cease-fire Wednesday, Israel seems to have successfully resisted these demands, although there may be some cosmetic changes to the embargo. Which means that in any future fighting, Israel will retain the upper hand.

Israel has once again succeeded in defending itself. But, yet again, only until the next round, which, as the night follows the day, will come. Hamas will see to that.
4093  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics: How Private Property Saved the Pilgrims on: November 23, 2012, 09:02:58 AM
This could go under 'Founders' as well.  I have been looking for a published account of this story.  Found this in Stanford's Hoover Digest, published Jan. 1999:

http://www.hoover.org/publications/hoover-digest/article/6580

Hoover Digest » 1999 no. 1 » Private Property

How Private Property Saved the Pilgrims

When the Pilgrims landed in 1620, they established a system of communal property. Within three years they had scrapped it, instituting private property instead. Hoover media fellow Tom Bethell tells the story.

There are three configurations of property rights: state, communal, and private property. Within a family, many goods are in effect communally owned. But when the number of communal members exceeds normal family size, as happens in tribes and communes, serious and intractable problems arise. It becomes costly to police the activities of the members, all of whom are entitled to their share of the total product of the community, whether they work or not. This is the free-rider problem, and it is the most important institutional reason tribes and communes cannot rise above subsistence level (except in special circumstances, such as monasteries).

State ownership, as we saw in the Soviet Union, has its own problems. For these reasons, private property is the only institutional arrangement that will permit a society to be productive, peaceful, free, and just. The free-rider problem was plainly demonstrated at Plymouth Colony in 1620, when the Mayflower arrived in the New World. Contrary to the Pilgrims’ wishes, their initial ownership arrangement was communal property.

Desiring to practice their religion as they wished, the Pilgrims emigrated in 1609 from England to Holland, then the only country in Europe that permitted freedom of worship. They found life in Holland to be in many respects satisfactory. But war with Spain was a constant threat, and the Pilgrims did not want their children to grow up Dutch. They longed to start afresh in “those vast and unpeopled countries of America,” as William Bradford would later write in his history, Of Plymouth Plantation. There, they could look forward to propagating and advancing “the gospel of the kingdom of Christ.”

Thirty years old when he arrived in the New World, Bradford became the second governor of Plymouth (the first died within weeks of the Mayflower’s arrival) and the most important figure in the early years of the colony. He recorded in his history the key passage on property relations in Plymouth and the way in which they were changed. His is the only surviving account of these matters.

DRIVING A HARD BARGAIN

The Pilgrims knew about the early disasters at Jamestown, but the more adventurous among them were willing to hazard the Atlantic anyway. First, however, they sent two emissaries, John Carver and Robert Cushman, from Leyden to London to seek permission to found a plantation. This was granted, but finding investors was a problem. Eventually Carver and Cushman found an investment syndicate headed by a London ironmonger named Thomas Weston. Weston and his fifty-odd investors were taking a big risk in putting up the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars in today’s money. The big losses in Jamestown had scared off most “venture capital” in London.

Those waiting for news in Leyden were concerned that their agents in London would, in their eagerness to find investors, agree to unfavorable terms. Carver and Cushman were admonished “not to exceed the bounds of your commission.” They were particularly enjoined not to “entangle yourselves and us in any such unreasonable [conditions as that] the merchants should have the half of men’s houses and lands at the dividend.”

Eventually, however, Carver and Cushman did accept terms stipulating that at the end of seven years everything would be divided equally between investors and colonists. Some historians claim that those who came over on the Mayflower were exploited by capitalists. In a sense, they were. But of course they came voluntarily.

The colonists hoped that the houses they built would be exempt from the division of wealth at the end of seven years; in addition, they sought two days a week in which to work on their own “particular” plots (much as collective farmers later had their own private plots in the Soviet Union). The Pilgrims would thereby avoid servitude. But the investors refused to allow these loopholes, undoubtedly worried that if the Pilgrims—three thousand miles away and beyond the reach of supervision—owned their own houses and plots, the investors would find it difficult to collect their due. How could they be sure that the faraway colonists would spend their days working for the company if they were allowed to become private owners? With such an arrangement, rational colonists would work little on “company time,” reserving their best efforts for their own gardens and houses. Such private wealth would be exempt when the shareholders were paid off. Only by insisting that all accumulated wealth was to be “common wealth,” or placed in a common pool, could the investors feel reassured that the colonists would be working to benefit everyone, including themselves.

The investors unquestionably had profit in mind when they insisted on common property. The Pilgrims went along because they had little choice.

Those waiting in Leyden objected to this arrangement. If the Pilgrims were not permitted private dwellings, “the building of good and fair houses” would be discouraged, they wrote back to London. Robert Cushman was thus caught in a cross-fire between profit-seeking investors in London and his worried Leyden brethren, who accused him of “making conditions fitter for thieves and bondslaves than honest men.”

Cushman responded with an artful case for common ownership: “Our purpose is to build for the present such houses as, if need be, we may with little grief set afire and run away by the light. Our riches shall not be in pomp but in strength; if God send us riches we will employ them to provide more men, ships, munition, etc.”

Common ownership would also “foster communion” among the Pilgrims, he thought (wrongly). Having held discussions with the investors, who seem to have been unyielding, Cushman wanted to close the deal. So he tried to persuade his brethren not to worry about the property arrangements. Those still in Leyden remained unconvinced and unreconciled to the terms, but there was little they could do. Many had already sold their property in Holland and so had no bargaining power.

It is worth emphasizing all this because it is sometimes said that the Pilgrims in Massachusetts established a colony with common property in emulation of the early Christians. Not so. It is true that their agent Cushman used arguments that were calculated to appeal to Christians—in particular warning them against the perils of prosperity—in order to justify his acceptance of unpopular terms. No doubt he felt that a bad deal was better than none. But the investors themselves unquestionably had profit in mind when they insisted on common property. The Pilgrims went along because they had little choice.

The Pilgrims may have been “exploited,” but a greater source of hardship was the harsh environment of the North American continent. This needs to be stressed, given the tendency to regard the wealth of the United States as a product of “abundant natural resources” and the equally erroneous association of the Mayflower and those who arrived in it with the idea of privilege.

THE COMMUNAL EXPERIMENT

The Mayflower arrived at Cape Cod in November 1620 with 101 people on board. About half of them died within the first few months, probably of scurvy, pneumonia, or malnutrition. It is not easy for us to grasp the hardships that the first settlers in this country experienced, even in New England, where the native American Indians were relatively friendly.

By the spring of 1623, the population of Plymouth can have been no larger than 150. But the colony was still barely able to feed itself, and little cargo was returning for the investors in England. On one occasion newcomers found that there was no bread at all, only fish or a piece of lobster and water. “So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery,” Bradford wrote in his key passage on property.

Having tried what Bradford called the “common course and condition”—the communal stewardship of the land demanded of them by their investors—Bradford reports that the community was afflicted by an unwillingness to work, by confusion and discontent, by a loss of mutual respect, and by a prevailing sense of slavery and injustice. And this among “godly and sober men.” In short, the experiment was a failure that was endangering the health of the colony.

Historian George Langdon argues that the condition of early Plymouth was not “communism” but “an extreme form of exploitative capitalism in which all the fruits of men’s labor were shipped across the seas.” In this he echoes Samuel Eliot Morison, who claims that “it was not communism . . . but a very degrading and onerous slavery to the English capitalists that was somewhat softened.” Notice that this does not agree with the dissension that Bradford reports, however. It was between the colonists themselves that the conflicts arose, not between the colonists and the investors in London. Morison and Langdon conflate two separate problems. On the one hand, it is true that the colonists did feel “exploited” by the investors because they were eventually expected to surrender to them an undue portion of the wealth they were trying to create. It is as though they felt that they were being “taxed” too highly by their investors—at a 50 percent rate, in fact.

But there was another problem, separate from the “tax” burden. Bradford’s comments make it clear that common ownership demoralized the community far more than the tax. It was not Pilgrims laboring for investors that caused so much distress but Pilgrims laboring for other Pilgrims. Common property gave rise to internecine conflicts that were much more serious than the transatlantic ones. The industrious (in Plymouth) were forced to subsidize the slackers (in Plymouth). The strong “had no more in division of victuals and clothes” than the weak. The older men felt it disrespectful to be “equalized in labours” with the younger men.

This suggests that a form of communism was practiced at Plymouth in 1621 and 1622. No doubt this equalization of tasks was thought (at first) the only fair way to solve the problem of who should do what work in a community where there was to be no individual property: If everyone were to end up with an equal share of the property at the end of seven years, everyone should presumably do the same work throughout those seven years. The problem that inevitably arose was the formidable one of policing this division of labor: How to deal with those who did not pull their weight?

The Pilgrims had encountered the free-rider problem. Under the arrangement of communal property one might reasonably suspect that any additional effort might merely substitute for the lack of industry of others. And these “others” might well be able-bodied, too, but content to take advantage of the communal ownership by contributing less than their fair share. As we shall see, it is difficult to solve this problem without dividing property into individual or family-sized units. And this was the course of action that William Bradford wisely took.

PROPERTY IS PRIVATIZED

Bradford’s history of the colony records the decision:

    At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number.

So the land they worked was converted into private property, which brought “very good success.” The colonists immediately became responsible for their own actions (and those of their immediate families), not for the actions of the whole community. Bradford also suggests in his history that more than land was privatized.

The system became self-policing. Knowing that the fruits of his labor would benefit his own family and dependents, the head of each household was given an incentive to work harder. He could know that his additional efforts would help specific people who depended on him. In short, the division of property established a proportion or “ratio” between act and consequence. Human action is deprived of rationality without it, and work will decline sharply as a result.

Under communal land stewardship, Bradford reports, the community was afflicted by an unwillingness to work, by confusion and discontent, by a loss of mutual respect, and by a prevailing sense of slavery and injustice.

William Bradford died in 1657, having been reelected governor nearly every year. Among his books, according to the inventory of his estate, was Jean Bodin’s Six Books of a Commonweale, a work that criticized the utopianism of Plato’s Republic. In Plato’s ideal realm, private property would be abolished or curtailed and most inhabitants reduced to slavery, supervised by high-minded, ascetic guardians. Bodin said that communal property was “the mother of contention and discord” and that a commonwealth based on it would perish because “nothing can be public where nothing is private.”

Bradford felt that, in retrospect, his real-life experience of building a new society at Plymouth had confirmed Bodin’s judgment. Property in Plymouth was further privatized in the years ahead. The housing and later the cattle were assigned to separate families, and provision was made for the inheritance of wealth. The colony flourished. Plymouth Colony was absorbed into the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and in the prosperous years that lay ahead, nothing more was heard of “the common course and condition.”
4094  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: November 21, 2012, 11:09:02 AM
I like the McClintock piece.  I don't know how a California conservative stays sane and interested in politics. 

Isn't it amazing that Republicans worst year ever, 1976, was followed by a) Dem governing failure, and b) Republican return to principles and the election of Reagan winning 40 states in 1980 and 49 states in 1984.

Many observations, but take the abortion question for one.  Assume 40% roughly of the electorate are to the right, 40% are to the left and the remaining are in the center.  From a pro-life vs. libertarian (false argument) how does it make sense to kick 4% of the electorate (10% of your base) out of your party?  Especially when you know that the 5% hard core pro-choice will never join you for doing that.
4095  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: November 21, 2012, 10:56:41 AM
Pat, good stuff - always.  Even if the truth is bad news...

My view of housing is simpler.  It is directly tied to personal and national income.  The interventions of the various types may have delayed the correction and held values slightly up to some artificial level, but real recovery in housing comes after people start making more money.  Not in the foreseeable future IMHO.

We just had an election where from my perspective we chose continued stagnation over growth.  Rapid growth later, after 2 or 4 more years of failed economic policies, seems less and less likely if not impossible.  (I'm always ready to be proven wrong!)

Uncertainty in its many forms, of the economy overall, of housing, of personal income, or take home income, of the deductibility of mortgage interest, also contributes greatly to the inaction of those who could be or should be the move up buyers right now.  
4096  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness response on Benghazi: 78 Minutes to get to the crisis room? on: November 21, 2012, 10:41:37 AM
Obama's 3am call came in at 5pm(?) and he was already awake.

Pres Bush was visiting a Kindergartner class when the 9/11/01 attacks unfolded and took several minutes to pull away.  The delay became a major theme in a movie.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WztB6HzXxI

One hour and 18 minutes after the attacks in Benghazi began, the President was in the room.   Still doing nothing about it. (?)

Right or wrong that it was so hard to get his attention, it took 2 months with a national election elapsed to even get the question asked publicly:  Where was he when he learned the United States was under attack and what exactly did he do in response to everything he learned - in real time.

We still have no answer.  (Please correct if wrong.)

The official White House schedule indicates he was in the White House when it happened: http://www.whitehouse.gov/schedule/president/2012-09-11

Benghazi is a coastal, Mediterranean city.  We had a drone in the air.  We have an Naval air base in Sicily with some of the fastest planes in the world.(?)  If the base in Sicily is only to protect Sicily, why the planes?

The stand down order has been denied.(?)  The election is over.  I understand the media's role in the election but can we please now learn what was known when and what exactly was our response.

The argument over defense cuts is academic when we don't use the defense assets to that we have to protect American lives, embassies and diplomats.

Were we just trying to set a good example for Israel in our advocacy of Obama's do-not-defend-your-own-country doctrine?
4097  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libya Lies, Half a Clap from Clapper? on: November 21, 2012, 09:31:48 AM
Citing “an intelligence source,” CBS News reports that the “Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI)” cut references to “al Qaeda” and “terrorism” from the unclassified talking points given to Ambassador Susan Rice on the Benghazi consulate attack, and did so with the agreement of the CIA and FBI. Neither the State Department nor the White House made these changes.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57552328/sources-dni-cut-al-qaeda-reference-from-benghazi-talking-points-cia-fbi-signed-off/
----------------

Isn't Clapper the intelligence director (oxymoron alert) who declared the Muslim Brotherhood secular.

He is an Obama appointee.  The distance doesn't insulate the White House.  It was the White House who sent out Susan Rice and handed her the talking points with the truth scrubbed and the falsehood added.

As is so often the case with lying liberals, they answer half a question or answer a different question.  Was there really a national security need to deny what everyone knew, the United States was caught unguarded and hit by terrorist in the home of our most recent Middle East 'victory'?

If there was a good security reason to scrub that truth (there wasn't), how does excuse inventing the lie about the role of the video?

Susan Rice said on Meet the Press, Sept. 16, in her third of four references to the "video": 

"But putting together the best information that we have available to us today our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of-- of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video.  What we think then transpired in Benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding.  They came with heavy weapons which unfortunately are readily available in post revolutionary Libya.  And it escalated into a much more violent episode.  Obviously, that’s-- that’s our best judgment now."


This is not the removal of references to terrorism, it is the invention of another plausible story to carry the media story past the election - and for the most part it did.

There was no "spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of-- of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video".  It simply didn't happen.  The Clapper DNI BS does nothing to answer who invented that FALSE tale.

Mis-speak? I don't think so.  Almost verbatum off the talking points, on Fox News Sunday she said:  "the best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack. That what happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video."

Who selected and sent out Susan Rice to tell this false story?

Panelist Brit Hume asks that question of his host on Fox News Sunday Oct. 14, 2012:

HUME: You know the answer to this question, when you are seeking Sunday show guest for this program, where do you get the answers from the administration? Where does that come from.

WALLACE: It comes from the white house.

HUME: Exactly.

WALLACE: Always. For anybody in the administration.

HUME: So, if anybody in the administration. So if Susan Rice is going out, that has been OK'd, approved, and - by the White House. That's where this comes from, correct?

WALLACE: Yes.

HUME: Thank you.

WALLACE: I don't like having to answer the questions.
--------

FNS video and transcript:

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/fox-news-sunday-chris-wallace/2012/09/16/amb-susan-rice-rep-mike-rogers-discuss-violence-against-americans-middle-east#p//v/1843960658001

Does she look uninformed, out of the loop?  I don't think so.  Best guess is that she is someone totally in the loop who knows better.  Now she has NO credibility.  Same for the White House.  Getting at the President by taking out his lying surrogates is a long standing Washington tradition.
------
Must be my television, but I didn't know she would be unimpeachable because she is African American.  All criticisms will be called sexist and racist.
4098  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Constitutional Law: New York Times Co. wants media monopoly on corp. speech on: November 21, 2012, 08:57:53 AM
The Privilege to Speak

The New York Times Co. wants a monopoly on the Constitution.

By JAMES TARANTO 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323713104578131200617146638.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion

A corporate division has once again exercised its First Amendment rights to argue that corporations don't have First Amendment rights. This time, however, the New York Times Co. claims to have discovered a loophole that protects its First Amendment rights.

Justice Alito

In an editorial today, the Times Co.'s eponymous flagship newspaper answers Justice Samuel Alito, who in a terrific speech last week at the Federalist Society in Washington penetratingly ("speciously," according to the Times) defended the court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That 5-4 ruling struck down portions of two laws that imposed government censorship on political speech by corporations and unions (though they made an exception for "media corporations" such as the New York Times Co. and News Corp., which publishes The Wall Street Journal and this website).

Alito elaborated an argument this column made in January 2010, just after he and his colleagues handed down Citizens United. He noted that many landmark free-speech decisions vindicated the rights of corporations, including two that involved the New York Times Co. Here's the company's response:

    In New York Times v. Sullivan, in which the First Amendment was used to rein in the law of libel, the Supreme Court focused on the "profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open." It made almost no mention of the fact that The Times was a corporation. Nor were the free speech rights of a corporation any part of the ruling in the Pentagon Papers case.

Really? The free speech rights of a corporation weren't "any part" of a case styled New York Times Co. v. United States?

As for the libel case, it was similarly styled New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. Leaving out the "Co." is a common journalistic shorthand, but in this case a misleading one. The editorial also omits that Times v. Sullivan concerned a political advertisement, the very sort of communication that the Times insists is not protected by the First Amendment.

At least this time, unlike in its 2010 editorial about which we wrote back then, the Times Co. acknowledges that it had been exempted from the censorship regime it endorsed. "It is not the corporate structure of media companies that makes them deserving of constitutional protection," the Times Co. asserts today. "It is their function--the vital role that the press plays in American democracy--that sets them apart."

Here is how Citizens United, the appellant in the 2010 case, describes its function:

    Citizens United is an organization dedicated to restoring our government to citizens' control. Through a combination of education, advocacy, and grass roots organization, Citizens United seeks to reassert the traditional American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong families, and national sovereignty and security. Citizens United's goal is to restore the founding fathers' vision of a free nation, guided by the honesty, common sense, and good will of its citizens.

Citizens United is a nonprofit advocacy organization, incorporated under Section 501(c)4 of the Internal Revenue Code. The same is true, by the way, of many corporations that oppose Citizens United, including, as we have noted, Common Cause.

Surely advocacy of ideas about public policy plays a "vital role" in democracy. But it isn't clear if the Times Co. thinks 501(c)4 corporations are protected by the First Amendment or not. In its 2010 editorial, the company obliquely opined that Citizens United involved "a narrower, technical question involving the broadcast of a movie that attacked Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2008 campaign."

In a 2010 interview with this columnist, the great First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams--who represented both the Times Co. in the 1971 Pentagon Papers case and Sen. Mitch McConnell, a friend of the court on Citizens United's side in the 2010 case--answered this dodge:

    "Here is a very committed, very conservative entity that does a film attacking then-Sen. Hillary Clinton when she seemed likely to be nominated for president by the Democratic Party," Mr. Abrams says. "I ask myself: Well, isn't it obvious that that sort of speech must be protected by the First Amendment? And then I hear in response to that, 'Well, they could have used a PAC. Or they could have put the film out farther away from the election. Or they could have refrained from taking any money from any corporate grantor.'

    "And my reaction is sort of a John McEnroe: You cannot be serious! We're talking about the First Amendment here, and we're being told that an extremely vituperative expression of disdain for a candidate for president is criminal in America?"

One could draw a distinction between nonprofit corporations and those that "exist to make money," as the Times Co. put it in 2010, and argue, as the Times Co. did only implicitly, that the former are entitled to First Amendment protections while the latter are not. But the Times Co. is a for-profit entity. It would be on the wrong side of that line. Hence the "function" argument.

The court has long recognized a somewhat analogous distinction: between commercial and political speech. The former is protected by the First Amendment, but not as strongly as the latter. If a company, for example, fails to live up to a promise to customers, it can be sued or prosecuted for false advertising. When a politician breaks his promises, voters' only recourse is through the ballot box.

But that is a distinction between types of speech, not types of organizations. The New York Times Co. would be laughed out of court if it claimed a "media exemption" from laws regulating its commercial dealings with advertisers and subscribers. The government may not censor its editorial product (except in very limited circumstances) because it is the type of expression that is entitled to the strongest First Amendment protection.

The Times Co.'s notion that only certain types of corporations are "deserving of constitutional protection" is pernicious. It recasts freedom of expression as a privilege rather than a right. It assigns to the government the authority to determine which corporations are to be favored with the "media" distinction allowing them to engage in political debate.

The Times Co. wants itself and similar corporations to enjoy a monopoly on free speech. The only way to accomplish that is through a regime in which the government effectively licenses the press. That would be an anathema to America's constitutional tradition.
4099  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama Must Come Clean on Libya Attacks - Des Moines Register on: November 21, 2012, 08:32:13 AM
Yesterday's Des Moines Register editorial:

Obama Must Come Clean on Libya Attacks

This nation has a long list of serious problems that it must deal with following the election of a new Congress. The last thing it needs is a protracted political fight over who knew what when surrounding the murders of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three U.S. government employees in Benghazi, Libya.

Some critics of the Obama administration, including Republicans in Congress, are determined to inflate the Benghazi attack into a full-blown scandal. President Obama’s administration seems determined to follow the standard script for Washington by sticking to the original story line, apparently in the hope it eventually will go away.

But this story is not going away.

So the first thing that should happen is the administration should lay out the events in detail and let the chips fall where they may. If someone along the line shaded or changed the facts, as they were known, to protect the administration, let that be known. If that means someone has to take the fall, so be it.

Members of Congress in both parties are asking questions about why the administration’s public statements about the origins of the attack contradicted early intelligence information that it was planned by terrorist groups, with the aid of al-Qaida, and timed for the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Contrary to that intelligence information, administration officials initially said the attack was an outgrowth of spontaneous demonstrations in the Middle East spawned by an anti-Muslim video. The theory is that evidence of a premeditated terrorist attack would have undermined the administration’s assertion that it had crippled al-Qaida by taking out Osama bin Laden and other leaders of the terrorist organization behind the 9/11 attacks.

It’s a serious charge. Ginning up intelligence information to explain foreign policy is wrong, whether it’s to protect a president seeking re-election or whether it’s used by an earlier president to justify going to war.

If that’s what happened, the public should have all the facts. The sooner relevant information is put out, the better. Rather than hunkering down, the Obama administration should make all key State Department and CIA officials available to Congress with instructions to answer every question and turn over every document.

This could be embarrassing. It could force some officials to say they were wrong. It may cause problems for United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice’s chances at winning a nomination as secretary of state. But that is far better than the alternative.

As President Richard Nixon discovered during Watergate, a “two-bit burglary” resulted in the downfall of a president as a result of an elaborate effort to conceal of the facts. That is the lesson the Obama administration should keep in mind as it lays out the complete story of the Benghazi attack.

The nation needs to get this controversy behind us so we can focus on the pressing matter of the federal government’s financial problems.

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20121120/OPINION03/311200068/The-Register-editorial-Obama-must-come-clean-on-Benghzai?Opinion&nclick_check=1
4100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 20, 2012, 11:27:26 PM
I have more questions than answers.  I don't understand what is the other side of the story.

Hamas was sending rockets with into Israeli neighborhoods.  It does not require much killing to accomplish terror and elicit a response; more would have been killed if not for Israel air defense.

Israel is known to fight back disproportionately; this is nothing new.  They intend to both disable the source of the bombings and provide a deterrence for attacks.  If the disproportionate response does not deter, why would we expect less of a response? 

Now we all go to the peace table (again) and negotiate what?  A piece of paper that again, with a straight face, says never again. 

There is something bizarre about this.  What did Hamas intend to accomplish?   Was Hamas intentionally baiting a disproportional Israeli attack to take more casualties and make Israel look bad?

Israel wants survival and peace and has strong defense and strong counter-punch.  Hamas wants the destruction of Israel.  US stands with Israel but takes no side?  We step in and say, come on guys, can't we all get along.  That ought to do it.

Why are we not siding with our ally under attack rather than taking a neutral role? 

Does say one thing but do another work effectively in foreign policy?

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