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4051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: June 28, 2011, 10:56:39 AM
Sounds like a Supreme Court case in the making.  As the piece points out, they are not regulating gold bullion, they are banning it - taking away an unenumerated right! (?)

"The Ban on Physical/Tangible Bullion trading is set forth by the Dodd-Frank Reform and Consumer Protection Act"

This is a different law than the one contained in ObamaCare also aimed at destroying gold ownership.  That one 'raises revenue' by tracking individual purchases and ownership of gold in order to tax what by definition isn't really a gain.

In a very real sense, the government joins your ownership your gold purchase, if it is even allowed.  You cannot have any part of your investment back without first settling with them.  The government owns the 'gain' portion of your gold and you only own what they determine to be left after it is run through multiple levels of unknown future taxation and surcharges.

In gold, you bought an ounce, you held an ounce, and you sell an ounce.  How can that be a gain?  People who held a dollar or dollar-based asset over that time period took a loss.   All the gold owner did was perhaps avoid that loss on that portion of a portfolio.  Same goes for real estate.

I wander here, but it shows some of the big government bias toward perpetual inflation, in addition to the compounding devaluation of our debt.

4052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty on: June 28, 2011, 10:30:04 AM
CCP,  Panetta isn't even the furthest left of the Obama circle but the confirmation hearings for the Sec. of Defense certainly present a great opportunity to expose and confront these views.

Conservatives and Republicans often want to end federal departments like energy and education.  If the Obama campaign had been honest they might have proposed closing the DOD.  We shouldn't need to fund a full department in support porous borders, betraying allies and leading the world from behind.  Decisions like troops Afghanistan could be handled from the campaign war room eliminating the obvious duplication.
4053  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness on Afghanistan war policy: on: June 28, 2011, 10:17:46 AM
4054  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: June 28, 2011, 10:13:42 AM
It is good to hear from Denny S on the scene even though the message isn't exactly optimism: "It took the USSR 70 years and a weak government for it to collapse."

"I have become convinced that the revolution is about the drug trade."

Interesting take.  It always looks like the theme is Marxism, which really is some form of Stalinism.   Too many people for reasons unknown to me are willingly transferring what power they had over to tyrants to rule them. 

We do it on a different scale here in the U.S., but we are always devising programs and giving away rights in ways that can't be easily undone in the next election.
4055  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glen Beck: GBTV on: June 28, 2011, 09:30:28 AM
"Any comment on it's expected success or failure?"

It will succeed to some extent, but not take over the world.  I think he may be right about the format which I think is view extremely current internet content to the television, as easy as downloaded movies, and who needs cable tv or dish anymore.

Official start is 9/12, but content over the summer in advance of that as well.

Want it to succeed?  Send him money, 50 or 100 dollars buys a full year of content.  New ventures succeed by taking in money...

I believe it is the 3rd rated national radio talk show.  He can promote content and viewership 3 hours a day, 15 hours a week nationwide to people who already show an interest.

(While you are at it, send money to the tea party candidate of your choice.  They all need increasing numbers of contributors as well as dollars to survive and succeed.)

Freedom isn't free.


4056  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libya: Sen. Jim Webb on: June 28, 2011, 09:00:59 AM
Sen. Jim Webb on Meet the Press:

SEN. WEBB:  We--nobody wants to see Khaddafy remain in power, but that's totally--a totally different question as to how the United States should be involved.  With respect to the United Nations resolutions, the, the Security Council vote was taken with the abstention of Brazil, Russia, India, China and Germany.  This wasn't the U.N. saying this is a great thing to do.  And the president did not come to the Congress, and he also--the, the reasons that he used for going in defy historical precedent.  We weren't under attack, we weren't under a imminent attack, we weren't honoring treaty commitments, we weren't rescuing Americans.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43512460/ns/meet_the_press-transcripts/
4057  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 27, 2011, 11:08:35 AM
"p.s. off topic, but a while ago you said you need a license to sail a boat in MN?  You mean registration don't you?"

Correct. Large govt fees required to harness the wind from my own property. 

In the Boundary waters (BWCA) under federal control, sail boats are banned entirely. http://www.bwca.cc/tripplanning/rules.htm

If they knew anything about political economics or cared about wanting to save the world from the C02 that is growing our forests too rapidly, they might want to subsidize rather than tax and ban sailboats.
4058  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bloomberg: Why China’s Heading for a Hard Landing on: June 27, 2011, 10:25:38 AM
The Chinese economy has had a hell of a roll.  Also has real structural weaknesses.  Predicting past growth rates will go on forever is

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-27/why-china-s-heading-for-a-hard-landing-part-1-a-gary-shilling.html
Why China’s Heading for a Hard Landing, Part 1: A. Gary Shilling

Few countries are more important to the global economy than China. But its reputation as an unstoppable giant -- as a country with an unending supply of cheap labor and limitless capacity for growth -- masks some serious and worsening economic problems.

China’s labor force is aging. Its consumers save too much and spend too little. Its political and economic policy tools remain crude. Its state bureaucracy seems likely to curb spending just as exports weaken, and thus risks deflation. As U.S. consumers retrench, and as the global commodity bubble begins to dissipate, these fundamental weaknesses will combine in a way that’s unlikely to end well for China -- or for the rest of the world.

To start, China is much more vulnerable to an international slowdown than is generally understood. In late 2007, my firm’s research found that too few people in China had the discretionary spending capability to support its economy domestically. Our analysis showed that it took a per-capita gross domestic product of about $5,000 to have meaningful discretionary spending power in China.

About 110 million Chinese had that much or more, but they constituted only 8 percent of the population and accounted for just 35 percent of GDP in 2009, while exports accounted for 27 percent. Even China’s middle and upper classes had only 6 percent of Americans’ purchasing power.

With such limited domestic spending, why do so many analysts predict that China can continue its robust growth?

In part because they believe in the misguided concept of global decoupling -- the idea that even if the U.S. economy suffers a setback, the rest of the world, especially developing countries such as China and India, will continue to flourish. Recently -- after China’s huge $586 billion stimulus program in 2009; massive imports of industrial materials such as iron ore and copper; booms in construction of cement, steel and power plants, and other industrial capacity; and a pickup in economic growth -- the decoupling argument has been back in vogue.

This concept is flawed for a simple reason: Almost all developing countries depend on exports for growth, a point underscored by their persistent trade surpluses and the huge size of Asian exports relative to GDP. Further, the majority of exports by Asian countries go directly or indirectly to the U.S. We saw the effects of this starting in 2008: As U.S. consumers retrenched and global recession reigned, China and most other developing Asian countries suffered keenly.

Overconfidence in China’s ability to keep its economy booming is also partly psychological. It reminds me of the admiration and envy (even fear) that many felt toward Japan during its bubble days in the 1980s. As Japanese companies bought California’s Pebble Beach, Iowa farmland and Rockefeller Center in New York, what was safe from their zillions? Then the Japanese stock and real-estate bubbles collapsed, and Japan entered the deflationary depression in which it’s still mired.
Success and Complacency

What’s more, China’s recent successes have been so pronounced that they’ve led many to conclude that its economy is a juggernaut. And, indeed, the Chinese have much to be proud of: Last year, China passed Japan to become the world’s second largest economy, a huge achievement considering China started in the late 1970s with a tiny pre-industrialized economy.

But this success may have led to complacency. I suspect that the 2007-2009 global recession, and the dramatic transformation by U.S. consumers from gay-abandon borrowers-and- spenders to Scrooge-like savers, caught Chinese leaders flat- footed. They probably planned to encourage consumer spending and domestic-led growth, but later -- much later.

They were enjoying a well-oiled growth machine. Growing exports, especially to American consumers, stimulated the capital spending needed to produce yet more exports and jobs for the millions of Chinese streaming from farms to cities. Wages remained low, due to ample labor supplies, and held down consumer spending. So did the high Chinese consumer saving rate. Because Chinese could not invest offshore, much of that saving went into state banks at low interest rates. The money was then lent to the many inefficient government-owned enterprises at subsidized rates.

In a country where stability is almost worshipped, why would any leader want to disrupt such a smoothly running economy?

But before you worry about China’s becoming No. 1 any time soon, consider the remaining gap between its economy and the U.S. economy. In 2009, China’s GDP was $4.9 trillion, only 34 percent of the U.S.’s $14.3 trillion. Because China has 1.32 billion people, or 4.3 times as many as the U.S. has, the gap in per-capita GDP was even bigger: China’s $3,709 was only 8 percent of the U.S.’s $46,405.
4059  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 27, 2011, 10:03:04 AM
JDN,  The economics of pro sports is nuts, an extreme version of crony capitalism aka fascism where government picks winners and losers.  I'm sure every town has their story.  I wonder what baseball would look like if government considered treating all businesses equally.
4060  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: June 26, 2011, 11:18:31 AM
"It seems to me to be perfectly legal to film an arrest."

I think there are local laws against that.  We need to repeal those laws.
4061  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Decline, Fall, (and Resurrection?) of America on: June 26, 2011, 11:16:36 AM
The video shows quite a wise and perceptive questioner Rep. Ellmers from North Carolina who I hadn't seen before. 

The first words out of Geithner's mouth are total deception: "only affects 3% of small business owners".

For one, I incorporate each property of mine separately,never hired an employee; that makes me alone many small business owners according to Geittner? SBA (US Govt) defines small business in a variable way that includes companies who employ 1500 people with revenues up to 21 million.  Small business!  To throw that in with a solo worker self employed on the side who may mow lawns or clean apartments part time and then say only 3% are affected is pure BS.

My point is that 100%of the 'small businesses' who can make an impact on new hiring either make 250k of hope to and plan to or they wouldn't be considering hiring.

Geithner basically is saying that the additional burden against hiring in the productive sector that funds government is necessary so they won't have to won't have to make those burdens on the all-important public sector - like on education.

What percent of schools are primarily funded by the Feds and in which article is the responsibility put on the feds?  What a crock.  Even if anything Geithner said was true, you could not punish the 3% without punishing the rest of us.  We share the same economy whether those are your bosses, customers, neighbors or family.

The personal stories are a good reminder about how all economic measures are flawed, unemployment measurement is one of the worst.  It is measured two main ways but you mostly can only see trends, not accurate measures.  My favorite indacator of economic health unfortunately is revenues to the Treasury.  If the friend forced out of business is employed, self-employed, unemployed, underemployed, or running the household so a spouse can make more money, that all shows up in revenues to the Treasury.

On the other side of the coin, the closed business owner at age 50-60 or more is not condemned to being a greeter at Walmart (no offense intended to greeters at Walmart). We all better be ready to make a change if necessary, pick up the pieces and go forward.
4062  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: June 25, 2011, 10:12:03 PM
Good points Crafty.  I would add to this "In that the price of oil in dollars is to a great extent a function of the state of the dollars purchasing parity viz other currencies" that I think the Saudis and OPEC might be the last people on earth still trying to value their product on the gold standard, independent from any of the flawed currencies:

Oil and Gold 1970 through 2009
4063  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Venezuela: Hugo Chavez 'Critical Condition' on: June 25, 2011, 09:10:35 PM
Too bad about him spouting off about the USA and bragging about Cuban Healthcare.  Other foreign leaders prefer the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, but if he likes Havana healthcare, good luck.
------------------
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2011/06/25/report-hugo-chavez-in-critical-condition-in-cuba/#ixzz1QJt1dSw9
http://www.elnuevoherald.com/2011/06/25/967505/en-estado-critico-la-salud-de.html
Report: Hugo Chávez in Critical Condition In Cuban Hospital

By Adrian Carrasquillo  June 25, 2011
AP

Jun 17: Hugo Chávez poses for a photo with Fidel and Raul Castro from his hospital room in Cuba.

Hugo Chávez extended stay in a Cuban hospital is because he is in critical condition, according to a report in El Nuevo Herald.

The Venezuelan president, who was last seen in public June 9 and last heard from on June 12, on a phone call with Venezuelan state television, was said to have been treated for a pelvic abscess in Cuba.

During the call Chávez said that medical tests showed no sign of any "malignant" illness.

But according to the report in El Nuevo Herald, Chávez finds himself in "critical condition, not grave, but critical, in a complicated situation."

The Miami newspaper cited U.S. intelligence officials who wished to remain anonymous.

Chávez silence has led to chatter and speculation in Venezuela that the socialist leader is actually suffering from prostate cancer. Intelligence officials could not confirm a diagnosis of prostate cancer...

Photo Fidel, Hugo Raul:

4064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Monetary Policy: Kudlow - Did IEA Just Deliver QE3? More 'Faux stimulus' on: June 25, 2011, 02:09:52 PM
"We need to undo the massive wave of new regulations known and unknown, we need to eliminate the massive spending by the Feds, we need to end monetizing the debt and to protect the value of the currency, we need to throw out the tax code and replace it with something simple and fair e.g. the FAIR tax, etc etc etc."

Except for the FAIR tax part, I am with you on all of that.

Kudlow makes the point I think that oil is money and we just announced the release of more and more.
-------------------
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/06/24/did_the_iea_just_deliver_a_qe3_quick_fix_to_save_obamas_skin_110346.html

June 24, 2011
Did the IEA Just Deliver a QE3 Quick Fix?
By Larry Kudlow

Did the International Energy Agency (IEA) just deliver the oil equivalent of Quantitative Easing 3?

The decision to release 2 million barrels per day of emergency oil reserves -- with the U.S. covering half from its strategic petroleum reserve -- is surely aimed at the sputtering economies of the U.S. and Europe following an onslaught of bad economic statistics and forecasts. This includes a gloomy Fed forecast that Ben Bernanke unveiled less than 24 hours before the energy news hit the tape.

I wonder if all this was coordinated.

The Bernanke Fed significantly downgraded its economic projections, blaming this forecast on rising energy (and food) prices as well as Japanese-disaster-related supply shocks. Of course, the Fed head takes no blame for his cheap-dollar QE2 pump-priming, which was an important source of the prior jump in energy and commodity prices. That commodity-price shock inflicted a tax on the whole economy, and it looks to be responsible for the 2 percent first-half growth rate and the near 4.5 percent inflation rate.

Bernanke acknowledged the inflation problem, but he didn't take ownership of that, either. Reading between the lines, however, the Fed's inflation worries undoubtedly kept it from applying more faux stimulus to the sagging economy with a third round of quantitative easing.

Somehow, the new Fed forecast suggests that the second-half economy will grow at 3.5 percent while it miraculously presses inflation down to 1.4 percent. But the plausibility of this forecast is low. It's almost "Alice in Wonderland"-like.

So, low and behold, the IEA and the U.S. Department of Energy come to the rescue.

Acting on the surprising news of a 60 million barrel-per-day crude-oil release from strategic reserves scheduled for July, traders slammed down prices by $5 to $6 for both West Texas crude and European Brent crude. That's about a 20 percent drop from the April highs, which followed the breakout of civil war in Libya in March. In fact, both the IEA and the U.S. DOE cited Libyan oil disruption as a reason for injecting reserves.

Of course, most folks thought Saudi Arabia would be adding a million barrels a day to cover the Libyan shortfall. The evidence strongly suggests it has. So the curious timing of the oil-reserve release -- coming in late June rather than last March or April -- strongly suggests that governments are manipulating the oil price with a temporary supply add to boost the economy.

In theory, these reserves are supposed to be held for true national emergencies. But the real U.S. national emergency seems to be a political one -- that is, President Obama's increasingly perilous re-election bid amidst high unemployment and the second-worst post-recession economic recovery since 1950.

Tall joblessness, big gasoline prices, low growth, a poor housing sector, growing mortgage foreclosures and sinking polls are probably the real reason for the strategic-petroleum-reserve shock. European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet warns of a "Code Red" emergency due to Greek and other peripheral default risk. China has registered its lowest manufacturing read in 11 months. U.S. jobless claims increased again. And the U.S. debt-ceiling talks have broken down. It's almost a perfect storm for economic and stock market jitters.

So, will the government-sponsored oil-price-drop work? Will it fix the economy, by lowering inflation and speeding up growth? Well, it might, provided that the Bernanke Fed doesn't bungle the dollar.

If Bernanke keeps his balance sheet stable, applying what former Fed Governor Wayne Angell calls quantitative neutrality, it's quite possible that the greenback will rise and oil and commodity prices will slip. In fact, ever since Bernanke's first press conference in late April, when he basically said "no QE3," the dollar had been stabilizing, with oil prices slipping lower.

Bernanke is right to hold off on QE3 -- we could all be surprised with a stronger dollar. Then we could lower tax, spending, regulatory, trade and immigration barriers to growth. If we did that, we wouldn't need another short-run, so-called government fix, this time from the strategic petroleum reserve.

Lord save us from short-run government fixes. Haven't we had enough of them?
4065  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government budget process: Balanced Budget Amendment on: June 25, 2011, 12:52:41 PM
Liberals are up in arms because it contains an 18% of GDP cap on spending.

Conservatives should beware of Balanced Budget Amendment talk because without the cap on spending, the amendment is certain to cause tax increases forever.

If adopted exactly as written, it would solve most of our problems.  Current GDP 14.12 T times 18% is 2.5T, coincidentally What we already take in now in a down economy.  Implementation of the amendment as written is Jan 2017, time to phase things in and get our house in order.  Super majority required to raise taxes makes sense because most increases are not across the board to they already lack consent of the governed.  Forces priorities and choices, not just layering of additional spending every time someone has a great idea.  Higher dollar spending is achieved by - growing the economy.  This has no chance of passing 2/3 House, 2/3 Senate and 3/4 state legislatures as written.  And to change the terms is to destroy it, IMO.

---------------------------
http://www.fedsmith.com/article/2957/house-judiciary-committee-approves-balanced-budget.html

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a balanced budget amendment (H.J. Res. 1) to the Constitution to restore fiscal responsibility and accountability to federal government spending. The proposal for a balanced budget amendment passed the Committee by a vote of 20-12.

The amendment:

    * Requires Congress never to spend more than it takes in
    * Requires a 3/5 majority vote to raise the debt ceiling, with an exception in times of national emergency
    * Requires a supermajority to raise taxes
    * Requires Spending as a Percentage of GDP to not Exceed 18% - Preventing Tax Increases to Balance the Budget
----------------------------
Full text:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.J.RES.1:

Proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

      Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein),
      That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:

`Article--

      `Section 1. Total outlays for any fiscal year shall not exceed total receipts for that fiscal year, unless three-fifths of the whole number of each House of Congress shall provide by law for a specific excess of outlays over receipts by a rollcall vote.

      `Section 2. Total outlays for any fiscal year shall not exceed 18 percent of economic output of the United States, unless two-thirds of each House of Congress shall provide for a specific increase of outlays above this amount.

      `Section 3. The limit on the debt of the United States held by the public shall not be increased unless three-fifths of the whole number of each House shall provide by law for such an increase by a rollcall vote.

      `Section 4. Prior to each fiscal year, the President shall transmit to the Congress a proposed budget for the United States Government for that fiscal year in which total outlays do not exceed total receipts.

      `Section 5. A bill to increase revenue shall not become law unless two-thirds of the whole number of each House shall provide by law for such an increase by a rollcall vote.

      `Section 6. The Congress may waive the provisions of this article for any fiscal year in which a declaration of war is in effect. The provisions of this article may be waived for any fiscal year in which the United States is engaged in military conflict which causes an imminent and serious military threat to national security and is so declared by a joint resolution, adopted by a majority of the whole number of each House, which becomes law.

      `Section 7. The Congress shall enforce and implement this article by appropriate legislation, which may rely on estimates of outlays and receipts.

      `Section 8. Total receipts shall include all receipts of the United States Government except those derived from borrowing. Total outlays shall include all outlays of the United States Government except for those for repayment of debt principal.

      `Section 9. This article shall take effect beginning with the later of the second fiscal year beginning after its ratification or the first fiscal year beginning after December 31, 2016.'.
4066  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Budget: NY Times - "An Unfair Burden on the Poor", Strengthen the safety net?? on: June 25, 2011, 12:32:35 PM
"take steps to strengthen the safety net. The alternative is unconscionable harm"
(It's already a hammock that has swallowed up 4 going on 5 generations!)

Can you imagine, if you subscribed to the NY Times, and read every word cover to cover everyday, and nothing else, just how miserably uninformed you would be?

I honestly believe you know more in total if you spent that time wandering around observing with your own eyes and ears.

Our own CCP has pointed out that 50% of the people pay nothing whatsoever in federal income taxes and that percentage is rising.  Absolutely no mention of that in this story.

We are spending roughly a trillion and a  half a year more than we take in, close to $4 trillion a year in total, most of that is in the form of government checks to individuals, robbing Peter to pay Paul so to speak.  No mention of that in this story.

We are arguing at the margin about ending some things that were TEMPORARY and containing the increases of some other excess spending items.

The World Bank definition of poverty has been raised from $1.08 to $1.25 per day.  There is no one in America anywhere near that level unless they are refusing government help and these caps and containments on spending have NOTHING to with that.

In walks the NY Times to the discussion:

"Republicans are targeting poverty-fighting programs for deep cuts... Exempting low-income programs has been a major feature of deficit deals going back to 1985. Both sides should publicly commit to that now, and take steps to strengthen the safety net. The alternative is unconscionable harm"

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/25/opinion/25sat1.html?_r=1

"Making the poor carry a heavy part of the deficit burden is intolerable."

We have no measurable poor by any global standard.  The ones we call poor are receiving a lot before, during and after any so-called budget cutting conference.  The poor are paying NOTHING!! (in direct federal income tax)   Punishing potential employers for the excesses of government transfer payments creates even more 'poor'.  No mention of that.




4067  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science - National Natural Gas Strategic Reserve on: June 25, 2011, 10:54:42 AM
How about we switch to an American made natural gas strategic reserve.  Legalize safe clean production, produce it in high quantities, make it affordable and hook it up to every home and business with a pipeline and a meter.

http://www.naturalgas.org/environment/naturalgas.asp
"The combustion of natural gas emits almost 30 percent less carbon dioxide than oil, and just under 45 percent less carbon dioxide than coal."
4068  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Environmental issues: Facts about Fracking - WSJ on: June 25, 2011, 10:43:34 AM
A couple of faulty studies and some bad journalism starting at the NY Times with a bunch of 'could' and 'might' allegations started a war against fracking. (IMHO)

The Duke study had no 'before' measurement benchmark.  The chemicals used in fracking are 99.5% sand and water, the depth is typically a thousand feet below drinking water separated by impenetrable rock, all states involved report no instances of contamination.  We are capable of purifying water and we are in need of abundant, domestic, clean natural gas sources.  The industry is employing thousands and thousands of people.  Natural gas combustion releases 30% less CO2 than oil, 45% less than coal. To an environmentalist, this situation is a nightmare...
-------------
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303936704576398462932810874.html

The Facts About Fracking
The real risks of the shale gas revolution, and how to manage them.

The U.S. is in the midst of an energy revolution, and we don't mean solar panels or wind turbines. A new gusher of natural gas from shale has the potential to transform U.S. energy production—that is, unless politicians, greens and the industry mess it up.

Only a decade ago Texas oil engineers hit upon the idea of combining two established technologies to release natural gas trapped in shale formations. Horizontal drilling—in which wells turn sideways after a certain depth—opens up big new production areas. Producers then use a 60-year-old technique called hydraulic fracturing—in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into the well at high pressure—to loosen the shale and release gas (and increasingly, oil).
***

The resulting boom is transforming America's energy landscape. As recently as 2000, shale gas was 1% of America's gas supplies; today it is 25%. Prior to the shale breakthrough, U.S. natural gas reserves were in decline, prices exceeded $15 per million British thermal units, and investors were building ports to import liquid natural gas. Today, proven reserves are the highest since 1971, prices have fallen close to $4 and ports are being retrofitted for LNG exports.

The shale boom is also reviving economically suffering parts of the country, while offering a new incentive for manufacturers to stay in the U.S. Pennsylvania's Department of Labor and Industry estimates fracking in the Marcellus shale formation, which stretches from upstate New York through West Virginia, has created 72,000 jobs in the Keystone State between the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2011.

The Bakken formation, along the Montana-North Dakota border, is thought to hold four billion barrels of oil (the biggest proven estimate outside Alaska), and the drilling boom helps explain North Dakota's unemployment rate of 3.2%, the nation's lowest.

All of this growth has inevitably attracted critics, notably environmentalists and their allies. They've launched a media and political assault on hydraulic fracturing, and their claims are raising public anxiety. So it's a useful moment to separate truth from fiction in the main allegations against the shale revolution.

• Fracking contaminates drinking water. One claim is that fracking creates cracks in rock formations that allow chemicals to leach into sources of fresh water. The problem with this argument is that the average shale formation is thousands of feet underground, while the average drinking well or aquifer is a few hundred feet deep. Separating the two is solid rock. This geological reality explains why EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, a determined enemy of fossil fuels, recently told Congress that there have been no "proven cases where the fracking process itself has affected water."

View Full Image
1frack
Getty Images

A drilling team from Minard Run Oil Company pull out steel pipe during a fracking operation at a 2100 foot natural gas well in Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania in 2008.
1frack
1frack

A second charge, based on a Duke University study, claims that fracking has polluted drinking water with methane gas. Methane is naturally occurring and isn't by itself harmful in drinking water, though it can explode at high concentrations. Duke authors Rob Jackson and Avner Vengosh have written that their research shows "the average methane concentration to be 17 times higher in water wells located within a kilometer of active drilling sites."

They failed to note that researchers sampled a mere 68 wells across Pennsylvania and New York—where more than 20,000 water wells are drilled annually. They had no baseline data and thus no way of knowing if methane concentrations were high prior to drilling. They also acknowledged that methane was detected in 85% of the wells they tested, regardless of drilling operations, and that they'd found no trace of fracking fluids in any wells.

The Duke study did spotlight a long-known and more legitimate concern: the possibility of leaky well casings at the top of a drilling site, from which methane might migrate to water supplies. As the BP Gulf of Mexico spill attests, proper well construction and maintenance are major issues in any type of drilling, and they ought to be the focus of industry standards and attention. But the risks are not unique to fracking, which has provided no unusual evidence of contamination.

• Fracking releases toxic or radioactive chemicals. The reality is that 99.5% of the fluid injected into fracture rock is water and sand. The chemicals range from the benign, such as citric acid (found in soda pop), to benzene. States like Wyoming and Pennsylvania require companies to publicly disclose their chemicals, Texas recently passed a similar law, and other states will follow.

Drillers must dispose of fracking fluids, and environmentalists charge that disposal sites also endanger drinking water, or that drillers deliberately discharge radioactive wastewater into streams. The latter accusation inspired the EPA to require that Pennsylvania test for radioactivity. States already have strict rules designed to keep waste water from groundwater, including liners in waste pits, and drillers are subject to stiff penalties for violations. Pennsylvania's tests showed radioactivity at or below normal levels.

• Fracking causes cancer. In Dish, Texas, Mayor Calvin Tillman caused a furor this year by announcing that he was quitting to move his sons away from "toxic" gases—such as cancer-causing benzene—from the town's 60 gas wells. State health officials investigated and determined that toxin levels in the majority of Dish residents were "similar to those measured in the general U.S. population." Residents with higher levels of benzene in their blood were smokers. (Cigarette smoke contains benzene.)

• Fracking causes earthquakes. It is possible that the deep underground injection of fracking fluids might cause seismic activity. But the same can be said of geothermal energy exploration, or projects to sequester carbon dioxide underground. Given the ubiquity of fracking without seismic impact, the risks would seem to be remote.

• Pollution from trucks. Drillers use trucks to haul sand, cement and fluids, and those certainly increase traffic congestion and pollution. We think the trade-off between these effects and economic development are for states and localities to judge, keeping in mind that externalities decrease as drillers become more efficient.

• Shale exploration is unregulated. Environmentalists claim fracking was "exempted" in 2005 from the federal Safe Water Drinking Act, thanks to industry lobbying. In truth, all U.S. companies must abide by federal water laws, and what the greens are really saying is that fracking should be singled out for special and unprecedented EPA oversight.

Most drilling operations—including fracking—have long been regulated by the states. Operators need permits to drill and are subject to inspections and reporting requirements. Many resource-rich states like Texas have detailed fracking rules, while states newer to drilling are developing these regulations.

As a regulatory model, consider Pennsylvania. Recently departed Governor Ed Rendell is a Democrat, and as the shale boom progressed he worked with industry and regulators to develop a flexible regulatory environment that could keep pace with a rapidly growing industry. As questions arose about well casings, for instance, Pennsylvania imposed new casing and performance requirements. The state has also increased fees for processing shale permits, which has allowed it to hire more inspectors and permitting staff.

New York, by contrast, has missed the shale play by imposing a moratorium on fracking. The new state Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, recently sued the federal government to require an extensive environmental review of the entire Delaware River Basin. Meanwhile, the EPA is elbowing its way into the fracking debate, studying the impact on drinking water, animals and "environmental justice."
***

Amid this political scrutiny, the industry will have to take great drilling care while better making its public case. In this age of saturation media, a single serious example of water contamination could lead to a political panic that would jeopardize tens of billions of dollars of investment. The industry needs to establish best practices and blow the whistle on drillers that dodge the rules.

The question for the rest of us is whether we are serious about domestic energy production. All forms of energy have risks and environmental costs, not least wind (noise and dead birds and bats) and solar (vast expanses of land). Yet renewables are nowhere close to supplying enough energy, even with large subsidies, to maintain America's standard of living. The shale gas and oil boom is the result of U.S. business innovation and risk-taking. If we let the fear of undocumented pollution kill this boom, we will deserve our fate as a second-class industrial power.
4069  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Fraudulent Research Funding on: June 25, 2011, 12:58:32 AM
The Hanson story is disgusting.  He accuses exactly what he is doing.  Put Bush in a situation where he will appear to be guilty of being political, as accused, if he fired Hanson as he should have.
--------------
This is a terrible story too, fraudulent research grants.  Could go under botched government programs and could go under media issues, for a deplorable lack of follow up:

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/06/029318.php

 What's Missing from this Story?

June 24, 2011 Posted by Steven Hayward, PowerlineBlog.com

Nature magazine--not exactly on the top of the sales rack even at Barnes & Noble (I subscribe)--last week reported a bizarre story that is receiving no attention in the U.S. media that I've seen: The Eurocrats in Brussels have uncovered a massive organized crime effort that secured $72 million in fraudulent scientific research grants. An excerpt:

    The fraud has been conducted in a "highly sophisticated manner, resembling money laundering", by means of a cross-border network of fictitious companies and subcontractors, says Pavel Bořkovec, a spokesman for OLAF. Several project coordinators stand accused of having claimed inflated costs, or expenses for non-existent research activities and services, he says.

    "The projects were apparently organized with the sole intention to deceive the commission and its control mechanisms," says Boublil. To make them seem legitimate, grant applications included the names of real scientists, established research institutes and existing companies, he says. But in most cases the alleged project partners were included without their knowing.

The strange part of this story is that it offers no details about what specific areas of government research funding were pilfered, or what "results" may have come of the fraudulent research projects they supported. Could it have been in the climate science domain, where the most government research money seems to be sloshing around? We know that there has been organized fraud in the European carbon trading market. Trading had to be halted back in January when it was discovered that millions of dollars of carbon allowances had been stolen and cashed on the spot market, so this wouldn't be the first time that organized crime had fixed on the climate circus as an easy mark. And one of the overlooked e-mails in the "Climategate" scandal involving the East Anglia University Climate Research Unit two years ago was a message from one of the scientists suggesting that a particular grant be routed through a Russian organization as a means of tax evasion.

Seems like this story needs some follow up.
4070  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya and on: June 24, 2011, 02:50:02 PM
"If BO can say he killed OBL where Bush failed, brought us home, and killed Kaddaffy where Reagan and others failed, it helps him politically AND more importantly, leaves him in a position to keep damaging and sabotaging the US in the world."

Agree, but of course both are tainted.  The OBL-kill was 99% completed by others.  He made a correct decision after dithering.  No one would argue that McCain, Romney et al would have scrapped the mission.  Killing Kadafy literally poses its own questions.  (Let's put him in Guantanamo instead smiley) The Libya effort, if successful, was led by others. That has pluses and minuses to it.  If he has grown in strength as a foreign policy leader, that is better than the alternatives considering he is still President.  I wish he would grow in his economic views too, learn pro-growth views and turn this ship around.  That might help him politically as well.

GM is about right IMO on the politics, economics looks certain to be front and central, but who knows. If Libya goes well, our small effort looks good in a small way.  The Middle East mostly likely will still be an explosive powder keg at the time of the next election, no matter how Libya looks, and Libya won't look that good no matter what happens.  Per Crafty, all the challengers need to show strength and wisdom on foreign affairs starting now.  The final candidate will need to be at least as strong a military leader as Barack Obama is right, a fairly low bar to clear.  People aren't ready for another learning curve like we just went through.
4071  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential, Pawlenty, Obama in MN on: June 24, 2011, 02:18:44 PM
The Noonan take is pretty good on all of them.  It's early and those are the things they are working on.
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A couple of good polling pieces on Pawlenty today who is still struggling with very low numbers for someone getting this much attention.  AP  says his favorable are up ten points.  This one is WSJ quoting a home state poll for Pawlenty where most did not want him to run, he is in a dead heat with Obama, the only state Reagan never carried.  This means a number of things. 

First it means that Obama's is receiving internal polling that is running terrible for him in key states.  Obama won Minnesota by 11 points - over the most moderate Republican!  Pawlenty is known here, won twice with less than 50% of the vote, nice guy, non-threatening, respected somewhat for competence and good governance, criticized plenty by right and left.  He is not a local hero, no parks buildings or freeways are being named for him anytime soon.  He is just known, and so is Obama now.  If Pawlenty is competitive here, other Republicans are killing Obama in Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, etc etc, states that Obama won.  Gallup has Obama down to 43 and this slow economic summer is just beginning.  Rasmussen Obama index is -16 and RCP average just went negative this week at -0.2%.  When the Gallup-type polls start hitting the high-30s consistently and when internal polls show all swing states out of reach, this guy is going to discover the need to spend more time with family or working on his golf game.  Latest is Obama is down to 38% approval from white women, a good sized liberal constituency.  With numbers like the ones he has coming, key candidates don't come to your events in key swing districts.  He is already seeing that.

If you think the opposite about Obama, think about this.  What is his plan for the next 4 years, why won't he say?  More debt, more spending, more government?  More double-talk? Fight with a Republican congress over the speed of dismantling his programs? Preside over decline?  Wait for the last 2-3 stimuli to kick in?  Nationalize another industry - I can't think of one left that is strategic and still largely private, housing, banking, insurance, autos, energy, transportation, food?

One more note on the SurveyUSA MN registered voter poll, Michele Bachmann polls 14 points lower and she is actually better known here than Pawlenty (explained in previous posts).
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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303339904576405761559802364.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_BelowLEFTSecond

Pawlenty's Polls

While his name recognition has been trailing behind other Republican hopefuls, a new poll of registered voters in Minnesota shows he does well against President Obama.

By MATTHEW PAYNE

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is fond of saying he's the candidate who can "unite the whole Republican party . . . and then actually go on and win the election." While his name recognition has been trailing behind other Republican hopefuls in key early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, a new poll of registered voters in Minnesota from SurveyUSA shows he does well against President Obama.

The poll, conducted late last week, put Mr. Pawlenty in a dead heat with President Obama in a head to head matchup. This is the same Minnesota that voted for Obama by a margin of 11 points in 2008. The fact that Mr. Pawlenty polls relatively well among voters who know him may give credence to the notion that if "Mr. Nice" asserted himself more, he would have a chance at winning the nomination, and maybe even the presidency.

We don't discount Mr. Pawlenty's home-state advantage among Minnesota voters, but Republican hopefuls from other deep blue states didn't fare as well in similar measures. The same SurveyUSA poll had Michele Bachman losing by 14 points, while another recent Public Policy Polling survey has Governor Mitt Romney losing by 20 points in his home state of Massachusetts.
4072  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 24, 2011, 01:34:11 PM
Q: "Who cares whether e.g. a Secretary of the Treasury is pro Life or not?"
A: Michele Bachmann  (- and maybe enough other conservatives to give the nomination to Romney)
---------

Moving on, more famous people caught reading the forum:


Crafty 6/19: "Why aren't the Rep candidates talking about foreign policy very much?"  ... the question IS a very good one and I'd like to put it up for a bit of discussion here.

Tim Pawlenty 6/23:  Pawlenty to Deliver Foreign Policy Speech (Real Clear Politics)
Pawlenty to Deliver Foreign Policy Speech

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will head to New York City next week to deliver what his aides are billing as a major foreign policy address Tuesday at the Council on Foreign Relations.

"The speech will focus on the challenges and opportunities presented by the Arab Spring," a Pawlenty aide said in an emailed statement. "Governor Pawlenty will address President Obama's failed leadership, approach, and philosophy of how to approach the entire Middle East region. He will touch on the need for the Republican Party to continue its support for a strong foreign policy."

As the Republican field has drifted toward advocating a less militarily adventurous foreign policy, Pawlenty has remained more hawkish than many of his opponents.
----------

Doug continued: Pawlenty will be judged on the content.  Perhaps more important to his future, he will be judged on delivery as to whether he looks credible as a world leader, on foreign policy and economic leadership.
4073  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya: WOLFOWITZ on: June 24, 2011, 01:19:06 PM
Posting what I just mentioned in its entirety.  Wolfowitz is a well known 'neo-con', out of favor because Iraq was difficult.  I'm not endorsing anyone's view, but this one should be in the mix of discussion.  The war powers debate is important, but a separate question from what the right policy should be right now in Libya. 

Seems to me that if we have the means of doing this at relatively low cost in blood, treasure and time, if we have support inside Libya, and if we have international cover / justification, then anti-American madmen like Kadafy should go. 
---------------------
Why Gadhafi's Fall Is in America's Interests

It would inspire the opposition in Syria and perhaps even Iran, whereas his survival would embolden other brutal regimes across the Middle East.

By PAUL WOLFOWITZ

The U.S. has a large stake in the outcome in Libya. Not because of its oil production but because of the dangerous nature of the Gadhafi regime—made far more dangerous by the current conflict—and because of the effect that Libya can have on the rest of the Arab world at a critical time in history.

Libya may not rise to the level of a "vital interest," as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and others have assured us, but preventing it from becoming a haven for terrorists if Gadhafi survives comes very close. And while Libya is not as important as Egypt, as Vice President Joe Biden has told us, what happens in Libya affects Egypt and much of the Arab world. The Libyan fighting has burdened Egypt's weak economy with tens of thousands of additional unemployed that it can ill-afford. The same is true for Tunisia.

Gadhafi's fall would provide inspiration for the opposition in Syria and perhaps even Iran, whereas his survival would embolden the regimes in power there to cling on. The sooner Gadhafi goes, the greater the impact will be.

In Libya itself, the U.S. might gain a much-needed friend in the Arab world. A British diplomat in Benghazi, the unofficial temporary capital of free Libya, has said that it is the first time during his many years in the Arab world that he has seen American flags displayed in appreciation. Even in Tripoli, still under Gadhafi's control, people go to the rooftops to whistle in celebration during NATO bombing raids. After a visit to Benghazi last month, Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman wrote: "Imagine walking in the main square of a teeming Arab city and having people wave the American flag, clamor for photographs with a visiting American official, and celebrate the United States as both savior and model."

Appreciation for the United States in the Arab world is something to be welcomed at any time, but particularly now when demands for freedom are sweeping across the Middle East. Yet here in the United States, there seems to be little appreciation for this or for the brave Libyans who are fighting for their freedom with such courage.

Earlier this month, 168 members of the House of Representatives—including 87 Republicans—voted for the antiwar Kucinich amendment that demanded an end to all U.S. military operations in support of NATO in Libya. That resolution might have gained a majority of House members had Speaker John Boehner not offered a different resolution that was a milder rebuke of the administration's Libya policy. All told, 330 members of Congress showed their unhappiness by voting for one or both of the resolutions.

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Joseph Eid/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli earlier this month.
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That should have been a wake-up call for President Obama, telling him that he needs to make a better case to Congress and the public for the American stake in Libya. Instead, the administration has inflamed the congressional situation further by submitting a response to the Boehner Resolution asserting that the War Powers Act of 1973 does not apply to Libya because the U.S. is not engaged in "hostilities" there.

This assertion—which overruled the advice of the senior lawyers at the Justice and Defense Departments—was like waving a red flag in front of Congress. If its purpose had been to provoke outrage, it could not have been better designed to do so. Democrats may restrain their anger somewhat, in deference to the president. But Republicans feel no such compunctions and may even sense an opportunity for partisan advantage. If so, they should be careful what they wish for.

If congressional opponents of U.S. action in Libya actually succeed in withdrawing U.S. support for the NATO military operation, they risk being blamed for the survival of a murderous dictator and a deep sense of betrayal on the part of those struggling for freedom in Libya, plus the millions who sympathize with them throughout the Arab world.

Perhaps some members of Congress think they are making a purely symbolic statement of their unhappiness, as the administration will ignore Congress or the Senate will block any action that has teeth (such as defunding the operation). If so, they are setting themselves up—when the Libyan opposition does eventually triumph—for the president to claim a foreign policy success that they tried to prevent.

In either case, those opponents will bear some responsibility for prolonging the conflict and the suffering of the Libyan people. The American public may be unhappy with our military engagement in Libya, but some of that unhappiness stems from its indecisiveness. A recent Fox News poll recorded opposition to U.S. military involvement in Libya at 58% to 30%. But in the same poll, 53% of respondents thought that the U.S. and NATO should make it a priority to immediately remove Gadhafi from power (31% said otherwise).

Instead of weakening the president and our allies—and lending de facto support to a murderous dictator whom they abhor—members of Congress should be criticizing the administration for its failure to support the military effort with nonmilitary actions that could secure a positive outcome and gain broader support from the American people. While demanding that the president come to Congress for approval of the ongoing military operation, Congress should also point out that—despite the administration's professed belief in "smart power"—it has thus far failed to take many nonmilitary actions that could hasten an end to this bloody stalemate.

The conflict in Libya is as much psychological as it is military. The key to Gadhafi's removal is convincing those still fighting for him that they are fighting for a lost cause.

• One of the most powerful ways to send that message would be for the U.S. to de-recognize the Gadhafi regime and to recognize the Transitional National Council (TNC) as the provisional government of Libya. If that seems a step too far because we're unsure of who the TNC actually represents—although France, Italy and more than a dozen other countries have already recognized it—then we should at least establish an embassy-size mission in Benghazi headed by someone with the rank of ambassador (perhaps even Gene Cretz, who was until recently our ambassador in Tripoli). That would send a powerful message and would enable much more effective interaction with the TNC concerning the opposition's needs, its future plans for Libya, and the support it may need from the international community once Gadhafi goes.

• Another use of smart power would be to get the wealthy Arab countries— including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have already recognized the government in Benghazi—to fund the costs of the U.S. operation in Libya. Those costs, projected at roughly a billion dollars for the year, are small compared to other items in the U.S. budget, but they are also small compared to the roughly $1 trillion gross domestic product of the six Arab Gulf countries. Getting their financial support would provide a sense of fairness that would help recover public support here in the U.S. It would also send a powerful message in Libya.

• For some reason, Gadhafi continues to be able to use Egyptian-owned Nilesat communication satellites to broadcast his propaganda, incite violence, and support his military. We should consider jamming Libyan State Television, but a much better alternative would be to persuade the Egyptians to stop carrying the channel.

• The best alternative to greater NATO military activity is to strengthen the forces of the opposition. Yet the Obama administration seems determined to repeat the mistake of Bosnia, where the U.S. imposed an arms embargo on the Bosnian Muslims while their Serb enemies had no shortage of weapons. It makes little sense to argue that we don't know what might become of our weapons down the line. Once Gadhafi is defeated, the opposition will have billions of dollars with which to purchase virtually anything it wants on the international arms market. In the meantime, it's not preferable to make them dependent on weapons from other Arab countries.

At a minimum, the administration should support the creation of a NATO training command to enable the opposition to make better use of the weapons it has. Such a facility would also give us insight into who makes up the opposition and allow us to help build the nucleus for effective security in a post-Gadhafi Libya. To avoid the administration's self-imposed prohibition on "boots on the ground," such a training facility could be based nearby in Italy.

• There is much more that could be done with nonlethal support as well. Announcing the delivery of halal military meals when the opposition was pleading for arms had the quality of a cruel joke. The opposition could clearly use better communications tools, better body armor, and better mine-clearing equipment. The latter would also serve an important humanitarian purpose.

• So too would provision of hospital beds for the severely wounded—both civilian and military—onboard NATO ships in the Mediterranean. During the humanitarian support mission for Haitian earthquake victims, the U.S. Navy provided as many as 1,400 hospital beds and was treating as many as 543 patients at once. A significant fraction of that assistance came from the hospital ship USNS Comfort, which is currently on a goodwill cruise in South America and might be temporarily diverted to the Mediterranean to meet this urgent need.

While the administration continues to hope that NATO will get lucky and Gadhafi will be gone soon, it seems to have done little to encourage the opposition to prepare for the day after. It doesn't help that there are very few Americans on the ground in Benghazi. But by engaging with opposition leaders now, we can help them develop realistic plans to implement the excellent eight-point "Vision for a Democratic Libya" that they announced in March.

So far, the Libyan opposition seem to have behaved quite responsibly, but there are still many questions about who they are and what will they do if they win. However, unless we want Gadhafi to win—which no one advocates—we will have to deal with a victorious opposition at some point. Hastening their victory will improve the chances for success afterwards, since the longer the blood-letting continues, the more scores there will be to settle and the more capable future Libyan leaders will be killed.

Instead of opposing U.S. support for NATO's military operations, Congress should be criticizing the administration for its failure to support that effort with nonmilitary actions that could bring the conflict to a more rapid and successful conclusion. The mood in Congress in part reflects a public that is understandably weary of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But Libya is not Afghanistan or Iraq. No one is suggesting sending in foreign ground troops, and the Libyans have made clear that they don't want them. What they do want are the means to win their own fight for themselves. The sooner that happens the better.

Mr. Wolfowitz, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, was the deputy secretary of defense from 2001 to 2005.
4074  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya and on: June 24, 2011, 01:08:55 PM
Votes today regarding de-fund of Libya, we'll see.  War powers act ignored, 'does not apply'.  Public support for kinetic action in Libya is about 20%.  Dangers remain if Kadafy loses.  Republican candidates looking opportunistic (e.g Pawlenty) with oposition to Obama's war.  That said, losing looks bad for French American prestige around the world and on the 'Arab street'.  Kadafy out sends a message to Syria, Iran ...  Danger abounds with all outcomes.  I am inclined to support victory.  I am not in a position to know if that is possible - "in days and not weeks".

Two pro-war views worth reading,  PAUL WOLFOWITZ WSJ today: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304791204576402050123596100.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTSecond
If the link doesn't work I can post text here.

Also Joe Lieberman And Marco Rubio, yesterday in the WSJ:

Victory Is the Answer in Libya

We're engaged now whether we like it or not, and the only acceptable outcome is the end of the anti-American dictatorship.

By Joe Lieberman And Marco Rubio

The deepening confrontation between the White House and Congress over Libya is both counterproductive and unnecessary. Whatever one thinks about the constitutional questions surrounding the War Powers Resolution, or the wisdom of the original decision to intervene in Libya three months ago, the strategic reality is that our nation is now engaged in a fight. It will either end in the demise of a brutal anti-American dictator, or in his victory over us and our allies. The latter would be an extremely harmful outcome for the U.S.

For this reason, we have an unequivocal national interest in ensuring Moammar Gadhafi's regime is defeated as quickly as possible. To guarantee the mission's success, it is vital that the U.S. officially recognize the Transitional National Council, provide additional resources to support the council, and intensify strike operations to target the Gadhafi regime.

Yet rather than push the Obama administration to do what is necessary to bring this conflict to a successful conclusion, members of Congress are pushing to restrict our military campaign. If we withdraw from our air war over Libya, it will lengthen the conflict, increase its cost to American taxpayers, and raise doubts about U.S. leadership among friends and foes alike.

If the U.S. were to withdraw from operations against the regime in Tripoli, the coalition would quickly unravel. Gadhafi would emerge triumphant, even more dangerous and determined to seek his revenge through terrorism against the countries in NATO and the Arab League that tried and failed to overthrow him. U.S. withdrawal would also mean a bloodbath inside Libya, as Gadhafi unleashes unspeakable horrors against the Libyan people who sought their freedom. And it would have ripple effects across the Middle East: Pro-democracy movements from Iran to Syria would conclude that the U.S. had abandoned them, and dictators would be emboldened.

American disengagement would also inflict irreparable damage on the NATO alliance, a pillar of U.S. security in which we have a vital national interest. Having walked out on our European allies in the middle of a battle, we can expect them to do the same to us in Afghanistan.

Some may claim the current congressional proposals to curtail operations in Libya are largely symbolic. Since the proposals are unlikely to become law, their backers insist they are simply intended to "send a message" to the White House.

The problem is that these measures also send a message to Gadhafi and those around him. That message? The coalition is breaking and his regime might yet persevere. Although we know this is not the intent of our colleagues' actions, it risks being their effect.

There is a better way forward. For those on Capitol Hill who think the president requires congressional authorization to continue operations in Libya, there is a simple solution: Congress can and should pass a resolution explicitly backing these activities. It is precisely for this reason that we support a Senate resolution, put forward by Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), to do this.

We share the frustration of those who argue that the Obama administration has not done an adequate job making a public case for our intervention and its objectives. Instead of denying we are engaged in "hostilities" (we are) or that the aim of our military operations is "regime change" (it is), the White House owes Congress and the American people a better explanation of why Libya is in our national security interest and why we and our allies must win the fight there. Here, too, however, our job in Congress is to push the administration to do a better job explaining our war effort in Libya—not to undermine or weaken it. Members of Congress owe the White House the time and space to make that case.

The cruel irony is that these congressional efforts take place just as the tide in Libya appears to be turning against Gadhafi. In recent weeks, the moderate, pro-American opposition in Benghazi has succeeded in expanding the territory under its control, breaking the siege laid by regime forces on Misrata, the country's third largest city. At the same time, the Gadhafi regime has been shaken by further defections and collapsing international support.

At this critical hour, both our values and our interests demand that we stand fast. Rather than abandoning the cause of freedom in Libya and throwing a lifeline to a vicious dictator—one who has American blood on his hands—we should push toward the only acceptable outcome: the removal of the Gadhafi regime and, with it, the opportunity for the Libyan people to build a free and democratic society.

Mr. Lieberman is an Independent Democratic senator from Connecticut. Mr. Rubio is a Republican senator from Florida.
4075  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: June 24, 2011, 12:52:24 PM
"Invest in metals: Guns, ammo and canned food."
"We are headed for a crash."

Yes, but...

We make all the incentives to invest in everything that continues stagnation,  employs  no one and produces no product.  There isn't some speech from an incumbent or minor new policy or program capable of changing things.  We need a national mind change.
4076  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: June 24, 2011, 12:47:30 PM
"Mass transit has and will continue to be a target for terrorists."

 - Yet we have a national policy and regional policy almost everywhere to push people into mass transit.  Those who choose not to be molested should not have to pay for mass transit - in any way.
4077  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Idiots and central control freaks running Energy Policy on: June 24, 2011, 12:42:58 PM
And strangely, it was against our national security interest to release the oil in March, April and May, but necessary now because of whatever the latest reason is that people with no integrity put out.

Gasoline is like milk, needs freshness dating breaks down over time.  This I assume is unrefined oil.  Needs to go to the refinery which takes time and takes up refining capacity which we also haven't added to in a very long time.

Right or wrong with this decision, it is a band-aid on a central and major government caused problem, crucial to our security both economically and strategically.  We are not low on energy; we just keep tying ourselves up in laws and red tape.

One good part is I understand this was coordinated with other countries releasing reserves to make an impact.  But then when they re-fill the reserves they are taking the exact same of oil off the market at a slightly different time - or leaving the free world without strategic reserves.

It should have been combined with a comprehensive action to drill more, refine more, sell more and yes, consume more oil.  Our national policy is still the opposite.  Stay home. Destroy tourism and fun.  Take government transit.  We will tell you where you can go and we will control your thermostats as well.  Government knows best.

An expansive plan to flood the market for a hundred years with natural gas and make it widely available for transportation uses would take the pressure off of oil as well.

The last comprehensive energy plan died with the personal attacks on Dick Cheney's committee.  Imagine that, he turned to people who know how to produce energy to get advice on ... how to produce more energy.  And people like Colin Powell, Chistie Todd Whitman, Mitch Daniels, etc.  But we didn't implement the plan. Now we are here facing constant scarcity, unreliable supplies and reliant way too much - still - on enemies of the United States for crucial resources.  http://wtrg.com/EnergyReport/National-Energy-Policy.pdf  We could be 10 years into this plan right now and more than 10 into into ANWR by now.  The Alaskan pipeline flow is so slow right now the continuing use of the line is now in question. 

Meanwhile I need a G*d D*mned government license to go sailing.

Decline was a choice, and we made it.  This does NOTHING to change that.
4078  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: June 23, 2011, 10:30:33 AM
True.  Still it would be resources flowing into to the U.S. to cover excess public spending instead of productive investment, solving no underlying problems.  It is looking more and more like we don't have until 2013 to fix things.
4079  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Fed, Monetary Policy, QE2 to end on: June 23, 2011, 12:58:17 AM
The end of QE2 means interest rates go up.(?)  The piece implies they won't, because the Fed will keep the overnight rate they charge banks at near zero.  But that is not the rate that you and I and businesses or government will pay.

Rough numbers, let's say the Fed now needs to sell a trillion (a year) more of government debt to willing buyers than it was selling before.  The US savings rate is zero and China doesn't want any more.  We sell the notes by raising the (interest rate) yield until they sell.  QE was the mechanism for tampering with that. When they end the intervention, rates go to market rate, which could be very high.

"The Fed’s policy board, the Federal Open Market Committee, voted unanimously to maintain its two-year-old commitment to hold a benchmark interest rate near zero for an extended period.”

Maybe so.  Others would say that the Fed does not set interest rates, markets do.  Only by massive monetary infusion was the Fed able to hold rates down - temporarily.

They can change their mind about no more quantitative expansion, or they will see rates go up.  Is there some other outcome I am missing?

If interest rates go up... some get hurt, some are helped. Maybe savings in this country can begin again.  But our current ruling crowd wants an economy built on consumption, not savings and investment.

Higher interest cost is one more burden on business investment.  They already have high energy costs, high regulatory compliance costs, high healthcare costs, high litigation costs, high property taxes, now they get a higher cost of carrying debt.

I favor right-sizing everything, including interest rates.  Higher interest rates could strengthen the dollar.  We've had that conversation - a stronger dollar is good and bad.  Problem is that fixing a flat tire when the engine is blown still leaves us unable to drive the car, (as our President might say).

Recall the mistakes made implementing the Reagan plan.  Tight money preceded the delayed and phased in tax rate cuts.  The result was very harmful on production and employment - a truly painful (and avoidable) recession.  When those tax rate cuts finally kicked in, we grew like gangbusters.

The difference here is that we don't even have a plan for balancing out a stable money policy with pro-growth policies. We don't have delayed or phased in growth policies, even on the horizon.  Maybe the Ryan plan, but its buried in the House with no chance in the Senate or executive branch.  Maybe  the Pawlenty plan with support of one economist and 4% of Republicans.  We are still years away from any real turn to pro-growth policies.  We aren't even committed to having that option on the ballot. If it was and if it won, we are still talking Jan 2013 to start debating the details and then muddyling it down to get 60 votes in the Senate.  Probably need to build a hospital in Connecticut and give a break to Nebraska.

The law of the land right now is actually the opposite - higher taxes in 2 years and choking off even more investment and recovery.  Absent any simultaneous shift to pro-growth policies, a shift to tighter money alone is just applying another set of the brakes to an already decelerating economy.
4080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 22, 2011, 11:35:38 AM
Medvedev, Putin, Chavez, these are endorsements he might prefer in private.
---------------
(JDN) "Did you read ALL of the Platform?  Line by line?  Amazing stuff...."
[1960 Dem Platform]

Yes. National security! Pro-growth economics! Trade: " we shall expand world trade in every responsible way"!  I enjoyed the constant referrals to what bad condition the Eisenhower administration left us in, lol.

Looking at the age of Obama 2006-2012, this is not your father's Democratic party!

Also note that they use the word holocaust at the beginning to describe a large potential human disaster unrelated to Hitler's treatment of Jewish people.
4081  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Selective Abortion: 163,000,000 more young girls than boys killed in Asia on: June 22, 2011, 11:13:54 AM
In America, abortion hits black babies at a rate of more than 3 to 1 greater than whites.

In Asia, Mara Hvistendahl contends that selective abortion has resulted in 163 million fewer girls due to selective abortion in Unnatural Selection  (estimate/allegation)

http://www.science20.com/cool-links/unnatural_selection_abortion_war_girls-80205
http://www.amazon.com/Unnatural-Selection-Choosing-Girls-Consequences/dp/1586488503/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1308713473&sr=1-1

Help needed, please complete the following sentence in light of points made below.

This is not analogous to other genocides because.........

-----------------
Let's see,
a) Two dozen times more deaths than the holocaust ?
b) All killings intentional and avoidable
c) Victims selected based on membership in a group
d) Targeted group considered to be of lower value/inferior to those not targeted
e) The rest of us are better off without them, scarce resources etc.
f) Millions turn the other way, pretend this isn't a major issue or it isn't really happening.
g) 100% of those who turn the other way now or find the issue minor, did not face this threat at that point in their life
h) How can one identify gender with certainty, while maintaining with a straight face it is not a living creature, identified as human, 100% genetically distinct from the mother and father?
i) Being silently offended does nothing to stop what is happening.
-----------------
Fetus, Latin for 'little one' - gender neutral, is not the correct word after gender is determined. People don't say they had a baby, they had a little baby boy or a little baby girl.  At some point in the past, gender became knowable only at birth.  Not true now.  Some tests identify gender at 5-6 weeks, ultrasounds show gender starting at 16-20 weeks.

What inanimate object that one freely disposes has gender?

If people are allowing the 'little one' to grow into a 'little boy' or a 'little girl' before killing it selectively, what is the difference - morally - between doing that and killing it after birth? It looks like a similar act to me.

6th Commandment?  Thou shalt not .... do what ??

Comments?  Someone on the board who cares about women's rights and supports abortion rights should come out and explain how killing 163 million girls for gender reasons only is consistent with that. (Should be interesting!)  Anyone who is pro-life but considers it to be a minor or single issue not tied to dignity, principles or respect for life otherwise should explain exactly how that is so.  Which of the other commandments did God intend to be negotiable?
4082  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 21, 2011, 10:14:20 PM
"We...believe that our economy can and must grow at an average rate of 5% annually...We pledge ourselves to policies that will achieve this goal without inflation."
  - The 1960 Democratic platform stated /JFK  http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29602#axzz1PrtremSU
4083  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: June 20, 2011, 11:33:16 AM
Boskin is right, hitting hard on the big picture of spending and on a great point Crafty has made often - the wrongheadedness of baseline budgeting.
------------------------------
This (below) easily could go under glibness, dissonance or Pres 2012, but the main theme is regulations destroying manufacturing.  The administration has a stated goal of quadrupling exports.  Hard to do that while you prohibit or cripple the manufacturing of everything.

Bill Daley is the new Obama Chief of Staff.  Going before the National Assn of Mfrs probably wasn't a good idea given the administrations track record and (unintended?) direction of stomping out production and new hiring.

http://dailycaller.com/2011/06/17/daley-can%E2%80%99t-defend-obama%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98indefensible%E2%80%99-economic-policies/

White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley took heat from business executives Thursday for the Obama administration’s regulatory expansions. Daley also said he didn’t have any good answers for some of what President Obama is doing and expressed frustration about the “bureaucratic stuff that’s hard to defend.”

“Sometimes you can’t defend the indefensible,” Daley said at a National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) meeting.

Daley couldn’t answer basic questions and continually faced criticism from the executives in the room. The business leaders even applauded each other’s criticism of the administration. “At one point, the room erupted in applause when Massachusetts utility executive Doug Starrett, his voice shaking with emotion, accused the administration of blocking construction on one of his facilities to protect fish, saying government ‘throws sand into the gears of progress,’” wrote Peter Wallsten and Jia Lynn Yang in the Washington Post.

Americans for Limited Government Communications Director and former Labor Department Public Affairs Chief of Staff Rick Manning told The Daily Caller that Daley’s inability to defend Obama’s regulations is an indication that the administration’s plans aren’t working. Manning also points out that Daley’s meeting may have large political implications.

“Business community to William Daley, your Jedi tricks don’t work on us,” Manning said in an email. “The chickens are coming home to roost from the wholesale assault by Obama on the free enterprise system and the private job creators who make it run. The meeting itself is incredible in that it demonstrates just how vulnerable Obama feels in 2012.”

The Workforce Fairness Institute’s Fred Wszolek told The Daily Caller that Daley’s lackluster performance is even more questionable when comes to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and its campaign against the Boeing Company. The NLRB has gone after the Boeing Company for opening a new plant in South Carolina. Boeing’s new plant is an addition to its already-existing production lines in Washington state. The NLRB’s case hinges on whether Boeing made the decision to open the new plant as “retaliation” against machinist unions in Washington, even though no jobs were lost there. In fact, Boeing has added thousands of new jobs in Washington.

As a former Boeing board member before taking on his White House job, Daley voted in favor of opening the new South Carolina plant. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has challenged Daley to come out and defend his vote in the face of the NLRB’s case, but he hasn’t yet done so.

“Bill Daley is White House chief of staff in an administration that is accusing a company where he served on the board of violating Federal labor law,” Wszolek said in an email. “The individual who launched the complaint against the Boeing Company was appointed to the post by President Obama and is currently a nominee. Now, to top it all off, Daley states he cannot defend the ‘indefensible’ conduct of his own administration, which presumably speaks to the Boeing matter.”

Wszolek questions Daley’s ability to continue “ethically” serving the president.

“All of this leads to one question: how can Daley serve in an administration that he cannot defend and believes his actions were unethical?,” Wszolek said.
4084  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Comparing Fascism with Marxism, are there no other alternatives? on: June 19, 2011, 11:23:09 PM
The silent ending to every sentence in economics is 'all other things equal'.  A doctor might be expected to respond to a monetary incentive, 'all other things held equal'.  That you think he/she will perform a test or procedure unnecessarily only to make an extra buck only tells us something about principles or the absence of them.  I don't know any doctors who knowingly or intentionally waste resources.

What JDN is finding fault with is crony capitalism, known on the board as fascism.  Third party compensators write the procedure rate book before anyone diagnoses the patient.  Not exactly a free market or a healthcare systm.  Then we compare that with nationalizing the whole system, aka Marxism, as if we didn't know a better way.  The reason money/capital doesn't allocate resources best in this scenario is the distortion called third party pay.  We discuss what a supplier would do for compensation and what some regulatory board will pay per procedure, need it or not, but if this were some form of market or capitalism, the supply question would have to be mapped against demand - what ordinary people are able and willing to pay.  We remove that half of the equation, wonder why costs run up, then compare it only with complete statism.  Something is missing.
4085  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Issues in Constitutional Law: NY Times v. J. Thomas on: June 19, 2011, 06:00:13 PM
Picking through the 'news' about Justice Thomas with my own bias I found: "ethically sensitive", "financing of the museum", "justices [are] exempt from the code of conduct for federal judges", 'judges “should not personally participate” in raising money for charitable endeavors', "Legal ethicists differ", "in the case of Justice Thomas...the ethical complications appear more complex.", “I’ve been in the company of the two of them together...and they certainly really are friends.”, "One item not required to be reported in Justice Thomas’s financial disclosures is the millions of dollars Mr. Crow is spending on the museum." (  - I suppose not!)

The whole thing reminds me of false hit pieces the NYT has run on the Koch brothers, and then halfway through, sure enough, they tied Thomas to the (evil) Koch brothers - as if that is al qaeda of the mafia.
-------
I posted a link previously in Media Issues of a long worthwhile read (actually a series) regarding the Koch brothers and their ties to their congressman in Wichita in Powerline called 'The Anatomy of a Smear':
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1066.msg47345#msg47345
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/03/028666.php
Also: http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/03/028733.php
NY Times retraction: http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/04/028775.php?format=print
http://www.nytimes.com/ref/pageoneplus/corrections.html
More: http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/04/028803.php

No response to my post then but we could take that side of it up on media issues if anyone is interested.  People should read that story all the way through; there is no way to summarize how that process actually works. 

One theme throughout this piece(this is my take) is that ties to conservatism or ties to money are bad.  My own biased reading of it is that they kept pointing out ties to great Amercans doing great work, including his wife.

The idea that justices with life appointments should stay in robes behind curtains and not come out and advance good causes is never made in the piece, by the NYT or by Thomas' critics.  That Thomas voted alone on one case I doubt is unusual.  IIRC I have often read dissents from him that no one joined.  He certainly did not use his inferred wrongful influence to persuade other justices.
4086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 19, 2011, 04:57:45 PM
"If you think your surgery is being done by your Dr. because of a profit margin rather than medical need, I suggest finding another doc. "

Looks to me like GM has the points covered I would try to make back to JDN.  Allowing for-profit activities in healthcare does not mean all decisions are 100% economic.  I don't get a dollar more in rent every time I try to do something extra for a tenant.  I mostly just try to keep them as a customer.

Pretending to make healthcare non-profit is silly, and ignorant of what profits are and what they do... the most efficient and effective way known to allocate scarce resources.

State law here requires all hospitals to be non-profit, what a joke.  A friend is CFO of one of the largest groups.  They own for-profit businesses within the non-profit building like the pharmacy in the front entry (as you point out) that can make up for all of anti-capitalistic legislation people can think of.  An argument I make to a different friend (of the stalinist-socialist persuasion) is that it meaningless to call a building non-profit if all of the people walking in and out of it are pulling down 300k or more.
----------------
"Look at longevity rates; America is tied at 36th.  That is terrible.  I think the whole of Europe is ahead of us, not to mention Japan which also has a national health care plan."

Does anybody ever compare Europe with European Americans, African Americans with Africans and Hispanic Americans with outcomes for people south of the border or do we just throw around bullshit and to see if a false point can be proven?

A look at differences in educational outcomes based on varying diversity is helpful, please read Iowahawk: Longhorns 17, Badgers 1. http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2011/03/longhorns-17-badgers-1.html  White students in Texas (wild west) do better than white students in (unionized) Wisconsin.  Hispanics in Texas do better in Texas than Hispanics in Wisconsin.  Blacks in Texas do better than blacks in Wisconsin.  But every reporting out there is about the highest test scores coming out of Iowa, MN or Wisc.

The graduation rate at my daughter's very large public high school is 99% with the strictest standards of any state and the on-to-college rate is 91%.  See how that or any healthcare outcome measures up with say immigrant-based Malmo Sweden with national healthcare.  Let's compare Scandinavian Americans here with Sweden's Islamic and see what part is genetic or cultural differences and what part is systemic.

Where, JDN, is the highest survival rates for the ailments you and/or your wife (update: no one can stay ahead of GM on this) are most likely to get (hypothetically, not personally)?  My guess is the good old US of A.
4087  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 19, 2011, 04:06:04 PM
Its all jobs now, like a laser focus, just look at Obama (sarcasm).  We have been wrong several times lately about what the most important issue will be in the next Presidency.  We had no idea we were headed into 9/11 or Iraq when W. Bush was elected.  Regime change in Iraq was national policy, agreed to by both candidates in the 2000 debates, with Gore saying he would go further than Bush with it - and nobody knew. The issues in 2004 were all about war as a 50 consecutive month job growth was breaking out.  By 2006 people took the whole prosperity thing for granted, voted for the politics of economic decline and worldwide surrender.  Got the decline, escalated (surged) the war.  Obama set himself apart by being the most consistent of all in his anti-Iraq war stance, then presided over that war well 2 1/2 years and counting.  Guantanamo, ditto.  But by the time the general election was held the issues were all about economic crisis management.  Who knew.

Crafty is right.  Not ahead of economic growth, but foreign policy as a big part of the job, show us your knowledge, wisdom and competency especially in the sense that most of them are new to it.  If you seriously want to be elected and govern effectively, now is the time to begin laying out how you will do that.  Foreign policy, also judicial appointments are another key area of difference between the incumbent and the challenger. If you are running against a senior lecturer of constitutional law, you had better have your act together.

When the next crisis comes or events turn - in any of these areas, people need to know who to turn to.

McCain set himself apart to win the nomination by promising to lead us in what direction?  Nobody knows.  He is a maverick, whatever that is.  He was supposed to be the wise and steady hand to complete the wars, admitted that he knew little about economics.  Then the collapse hit and he had no more economic wisdom, trust or ideas than Bush, Bernanke or Obama.
4088  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 19, 2011, 10:22:12 AM
Catching up on a few points.  James Taranto, who I like very much, was very harsh on Pawlenty for not attacking Romney harder, as was the moderator and most observers. I respect Pawlenty's right to set his own tone and strategy... but then he looked weak and confused by attacking the day before and the day after in safety but restraining himself face to face.  He missed an opportunity to do that with tact, insight or humor. That was a moment in a crowded field where people actually wanted to hear what he had to say.  I don't know if that means he is done with one weak outing (and low polling numbers).  Up until recently I thought he was running a very well designed campaign.  Elements of his economic plan went too far, also a partially missed opportunity since he is the only one including Obama to have a plan. 

Dick Morris on Hannity during the week calls this round the quarterfinals, like a tennis tournament.  He says Pawlenty has Romney on his side of the draw and needs to win there to get to the semifinals - the last two Republicans standing.  Bachmann, OTOH, has Herman Cain, Ron Paul? and any other tea party types on her side of the draw.  I don't agree it's that simple but he does make some sense. 

Bigdog brought up the succession point on Rick Perry, so I finally googled, read and viewed what I could on that this morning.  Remember Todd Palin also had ties to people who suggested successionism, and was to be the poison to end it all.  First, I would say my view is different.  Nobody who is serious and patriotic right now wants to break up the union, but at some point in places like Alaska and Texas, if you are ruled for long enough, with a ruling ideology you despise, from a places as far away as Washington DC eastern seaboard and left coast, and they show no interest in even seeking your consent for that governance because they can get the votes they need elsewhere, talk of succession is no less patriotic than what the colonists went through.

Case in point, I think it is the Virginia challenge on Healthcare that has 26 states suing the feds.  That is quite an indicator that the feds have gone beyond consent of the governed, yet the administration ignores that court ruling, a change in congress repealing authorization and proceeds to appeal after a appeal as slow as possible to force a system on the people that most states oppose.  At some point,. enough is enough.  Luckily we have other, easier ways to enact change.

Rick Perry of course did not ever say he favored succession:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/15/gov-rick-perry-texas-coul_n_187490.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4NZnHDmnu8
http://www.statesman.com/news/content/region/legislature/stories/04/17/0417gop.html

The video (above) pointed to first through google/youtube search of what he said is notable for the commentary before and after Perry's comments - he is surrounded by 'teabaggers', a particularly vile homosexual derogatory depiction of people who come forward and peacefully argue for a smaller and more constitutionally based government.
-------
Crafty posed: "Why aren't the Rep candidates talking about foreign policy very much?"... the question IS a very good one and I'd like to put it up for a bit of discussion here.

Using Pawlenty as the example, he has tried to be the lead force opposing action in Libya.  Americans are war weary but I don't think that is the central focus in worldview differences between what I might call our side and Obama's.  It would make way more sense (Crafty's point I think) to start laying the large view of what is your view as the next President of America's role in the world today and where we do go from here.  As 4 wars(?) wind down - perhaps, what kind of strength and readiness are we going to maintain, and who is going to invest and hire the people from these forces who do not stay in the military.  That is another question not even addressed by the incumbent.
4089  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Austin TX immigrants rights coalition, why aren't you speaking English on: June 18, 2011, 03:12:52 PM
State Senator:  You've been here 23 years, why aren't you speaking English?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoR3qLgL_uU&feature=player_embedded

He is not very good at math either.
4090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance: The nation awaits... on: June 18, 2011, 03:04:59 PM
1631 news stories publicly promoting the fact that they are going to play golf.  6 hours later it reminds me of his economic plan... still no results.
4091  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re. The Way Forward for the American Creed - Ted Cruz on: June 18, 2011, 12:52:00 PM
Maybe he can skip the senate.  We have an opening higher up.  smiley
4092  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: June 18, 2011, 12:47:20 PM
CCP,  I agree and it goes both ways.  Obama shouldn't be drawing attention to his hacker addiction.  Golf is a wonderful game, a skill game and a strategy game - something to be played when you are done with your work.  Lousy golf is meaningless, a walk in the park with guys who are not your friends or your peers and with the secret service, instead of time spent with the two young daughters (they grow up so fast) and loving wife back home, if not on budget matters or the laser focus on jobs.  Obama already has amazing amounts of time logged on the golf course, a potential flag if/when the media or the public ever catches up with him.  Boehner should not have walked into Obama's trap.  This weekend meeting should have been in the budget room.  Worst case is that they should be playing openly for who gets to speak first and for how long at the Sunday budget meeting.

Approval of congress is at 21% RCP/ 17% Gallup for a whole lot of reasons.  This is not part of the solution.
4093  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reynolds: Pundits cling to the myth that lower tax rates mean lower revenues on: June 18, 2011, 12:28:32 PM
Kudos to Crafty for posting the Alan Reynolds piece.  I was too busy during the week to go through it carefully. This is a very significant piece IMO. I would like to draw attention to the points made.  Economic writing backed up with convincing numeric and mathematical evidence doesn't easily write or read well.  I would ask people to go slowly and more than once through the key points, because you are being told or implied the opposite by most of the people who govern us.

Seems that Reynolds does more research and posts less often than most.  The details of his work I find to be very original and always worthwhile.   

In this case, he is understating his case.  He is saying besides the growth in GDP, the lowering of rates over the 60 year period studied did not cost the Treasury revenue.

Think about it this way, if tax rates were 90% and people effectively were paying 7.7%, no one hardly was paying 90%.  If rates were dropped to about 10% across the board no exceptions, maybe people would willingly pay 10% - and run with it.

Again: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304259304576375951025762400.html?mod=djemEditorialPage_h



...
"Since the era of 70% tax rates, the U.S. income tax system has become far more "progressive." Congressional Budget Office estimates show that:

 - From 1979 to 2007 average income tax rates fell by 110% to minus 0.4% from 4.1% for the second-poorest quintile of taxpayers.

 - Average tax rates fell by 56% for the middle quintile and 39% for the fourth,

 - Only fell 8% at the top.

(This does not match what class warfare and disparity alarmists are telling you!)

Despite these massive tax cuts for the bottom 80%, overall federal revenues were the same 18.5% share of GDP in 2007 as they were in 1979 and individual tax revenues were nearly the same—8.7% of GDP in 1979 versus 8.4% in 2007. "

'Read it all'
4094  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Issues Constitutional Law: 10th Amendment, Bond v. US on: June 18, 2011, 10:57:48 AM
10th amendment case of significance: "... the [federal law] interferes with the powers reserved to States."

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-1227.pdf

When petitioner Bond discovered that her close friend was pregnant byBond’s husband...Bond put caustic substances on objects the woman was likely to touch.

Bond was indicted for violating 18 U. S. C. §229, which forbids knowing possession or use, for nonpeaceful purposes, of a chemical that “can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans,” §§229(a); 229F(1); (7); (Cool, and which is part of a federal Act implementing a chemical weapons treaty ratified by the United States. The District Court denied Bond’s motion to dismiss the §229 charges on the ground that the statute exceeded Congress’ constitutional authority to enact. She en-tered a conditional guilty plea, reserving the right to appeal the rul-ing on the statute’s validity. She did just that, renewing her Tenth Amendment claim. The Third Circuit, however, accepted the Gov-ernment’s position that she lacked standing. The Government has since changed its view on Bond’s standing.

Held: Bond has standing to challenge the federal statute on grounds that the measure interferes with the powers reserved to States.
4095  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance Glibness: Obama pressured HAITI not to raise minimum wage on: June 18, 2011, 10:48:28 AM
The Nation (fair and balanced) pulled its Wikileaks story.  Hard not to go 'Media Issues' with this, but the cognitive dissonance of this administration is breathtaking.  Big corporations over workers?  Markets set prices over government?
----------------
http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/a_pulled_scoop_shows_us_booste.php
Columbia Journalism Review

A Pulled Scoop Shows U.S. Fought to Keep Haitian Wages Down

By Ryan Chittum

The Nation has a scoop—or had, actually—from Wikileaks cables showing that the Obama administration pressured Haiti not to raise its minimum wage to 61 cents an hour, or five bucks a day.

The magazine posted the story the other day and has now pulled it, saying it will repost it next Wednesday “To accord with the publishing schedule of Haiti Liberté,” its partner on the piece.

But you can’t stuff the news genie back in the bottle. They already put it in my browser and many others, so I’ll summarize what it said (and I’ll link to it once The Nation republishes it).

Two years ago, Haiti unanimously passed a law sharply raising its minimum wage to 61 cents an hour. That doesn’t sound like much (and it isn’t), but it was two and a half times the then-minimum of 24 cents an hour.

This infuriated contractors for American corporations like Hanes and Levi Strauss that pay Haitians slave wages to sew their clothes. They said they would only fork over a seven-cent-an-hour increase, and they got the State Department involved. The U.S. ambassador put pressure on Haiti’s president, who duly carved out a $3 a day minimum wage for textile companies (the U.S. minimum wage, which itself is very low, works out to $58 a day).

The Nation:

    Still the US Embassy wasn’t pleased. A deputy chief of mission, David E. Lindwall, said the $5 per day minimum “did not take economic reality into account” but was a populist measure aimed at appealing to “the unemployed and underpaid masses.”

Well, hey. Imagine Haitians doing things for their “unemployed and underpaid masses” rather than rich Yankee corporations. The outrage! No wonder we have 9.1 percent unemployment and 16 percent underemployment here while the folks who sent the economy in the tank are back making millions.

Let’s do a little math. Haiti has about 25,000 garment workers. If you paid each of them $2 a day more, it would cost their employers $50,000 per working day, or about $12.5 million a year.

Zooming in on specific companies helps clarify this even more. As of last year Hanes had 3,200 Haitians making t-shirts for it. Paying each of them two bucks a day more would cost it about $1.6 million a year. Hanesbrands Incorporated made $211 million on $4.3 billion in sales last year, and presumably it would pass on at least some of its higher labor costs to consumers.

Or better yet, Hanesbrands CEO Richard Noll could forego some of his rich compensation package. He could $10 million package last year He could pay for the raises for those 3,200 t-shirt makers with just one-sixth of the $10 million in salary and bonus he raked in last year.

And that five dollars a day? The Nation reports that a Haitian family of three (two kids) needed $12.50 a day in 2008 to make ends meet.
4096  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 18, 2011, 12:16:00 AM
Our conversation here is moot; they don't admit we are part of any hostilities.

The denial and deceit reminds me of the long line of two faced Dems who voted for the Iraq war, caved and blamed when the going got tough, then continued the war 2 1/2 years and counting after they took power.  The Obama camp thinks they own our language.  They put out terms like kinetic action with straight face, ignore this law, but hold open the opportunity to criticize the next President should they someday attempt the same thing.

Bush jumped through all the hoops, House, Senate and UN.  Then gets ripped by the same people who first supported it for conducting an illegal war.  If the Obamites admitted that war powers law is unconstitutional, challenged it and won, they would be robbed of using the issue back against the next President.  Who can still take these people seriously?
4097  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: June 17, 2011, 11:56:37 PM
"My first reaction is that IMHO the ratings agencies acted with spectacular recklessness and that I have no problem with this." [SEC pursuing fraud charges against rating agencies.]

That was my first thought too.  Too few people were investigated and prosecuted over the last round of widespread sleaze.

My next thought, based on distrust of Obama DOJ, we are probably pursuing the wrong people for the wrong reasons.

I have no idea on the underlying facts at this point, but agree in principle that if the truly guilty can be identified, they will deserve the full force of both civil and criminal proceedings.
4098  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: June 16, 2011, 02:06:11 PM
Right between the level of "I have a dream" and the "Gettysburg Address".

"exceeds that of most chief executives."

“She’s very concise. She gives clear orders. Her sentences and punctuations are logical,” said Paul Payack, president of Global Language Monitor. “She has much more of a disciplined mind than she’s given credit for.”

I've not known many 8th graders to write timely and insightful comment on monetary policy.  Writing in clear, direct sentences makes sense to me.  We all should do more of it.

Leaving unnecessarily during her first term is another thing.  Puts her on a par with 2007-2008 Obama, inexperienced and largely unqualified.  If nominated and running against 4 more years of leftism, I expect to be voting for her.

The media and public should be appalled at the lack of privacy even in official, behind the scenes, government work.  Will we be seeing Rahm Emmanuel's work on the govt payroll in its entirety as well?  How 'bout little Weiner?  Equal protection is an idea that came and went some time ago.
4099  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How China could Fail - Financial Times on: June 16, 2011, 11:52:50 AM
Wrong so far, but I always have doubts that China can continue forward as it is.  I wish for them a stumble only big enough to shake off their rule by the communist-oppressioninsts, and then nothing but continued economic growth and success.

http://ori.cnbc.com/id/43403189
How China Could Yet Fail Like Japan
14 Jun 2011
By: Martin Wolf

Until 1990, Japan was the most successful large economy in the world. Almost nobody predicted what would happen to it in the succeeding decades. Today, people are yet more in awe of the achievements of China. Is it conceivable that this colossus could learn that spectacular success is a precursor of surprising failure? The answer is: yes.

Eightfish | Getty Images
Japan’s gross domestic product per head (at purchasing power parity) jumped from a fifth of U.S. levels in 1950 to 90 percent in 1990. But this spectacular convergence went into reverse: by 2010, Japan’s GDP per head had fallen to 76 per cent of U.S. levels. China’s GDP per head jumped from 3 percent of U.S. levels in 1978, when Deng Xiaoping’s “reform and opening up” began, to a fifth of U.S. levels today. Is this going to continue as spectacularly over the next few decades or could China, too, surprise on the downside?

It is easy to make the optimistic case. First, China has a proven record of success, with an average rate of economic growth of 10 percent between 1979 and 2010. Second, China is a long way from the living standards of the high-income countries. Relative to the U.S., its GDP per head is where Japan’s was in 1950, before a quarter century of further rapid growth. If China matched Japan’s performance, its GDP per head would be 70 percent of U.S. levels by 2035 and its economy would be bigger than those of the U.S. and European Union, combined.

Yet counter-arguments do exist. One is that China’s size is a disadvantage: in particular, it makes its rise far more dramatic for the demand for resources than anything that has gone before. Another is that the political effects of such a transformation might be disruptive for a country run by a Communist party. It is also possible, however, to advance purely economic arguments for the idea that growth might slow more abruptly than most assume.

Such arguments rest on two features of China’s situation. The first is that it is a middle-income country. Economists increasingly recognize a “middle-income trap”. Thus, sustaining rapid increases in productivity and managing huge structural shifts as the economy becomes more sophisticated is hard. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore are almost the only economies to have managed this feat over the past 60 years.

RELATED STORIES

Current DateTime: 11:21:13 15 Jun 2011
LinksList Documentid: 43403188

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Happily, China has close cultural and economic similarities with these east Asian successes. Unhappily, China shares with these economies a model of investment-led growth that is both a strength and a weakness. Moreover, China’s version of this model is extreme. For this reason, it is arguable that the model will cause difficulties even before it did in the arguably less distorted case of Japan.

Premier Wen Jiabao has himself described the economy as “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated and ultimately unsustainable”. The nature of the challenge was made evident to me during discussions of the 12th five year plan at the China Development Forum 2011 in Beijing in March. This new plan calls for a sharp change in the pace and structure of economic growth. In particular, growth is forecast to decline to just 7 percent a year. More important, the economy is expected to rebalance from investment, towards consumption and, partly as a result, from manufacturing towards services.

The question is whether these shifts can be managed smoothly. Michael Pettis of Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management has argued that they cannot be. His argument rests on the view that in the investment-led growth model, repression of household incomes plays a central role by subsidizing that investment. Removing that repression – a necessary condition for faster growth of consumption – risks causing a sharp slowdown in output and a still bigger slowdown in investment. Growth is driven as much by subsidized expansion of capacity as by the profitable matching of supply to final demand. This will end with a bump.

Investment has indeed grown far faster than GDP. From 2000 to 2010, growth of gross fixed investment averaged 13.3 percent, while growth of private consumption averaged 7.8 percent. Over the same period the share of private consumption in GDP collapsed from 46 per cent to a mere 34 percent, while the share of fixed investment rose from 34 percent to 46 percent. (See charts.)

Professor Pettis argues that suppression of wages, huge expansions of cheap credit and a repressed exchange rate were all ways of transferring incomes from households to business and so from consumption to investment. Dwight Perkins of Harvard argued at the China Development Forum that the “incremental capital output ratio” – the amount of capital needed for an extra unit of GDP – rose from 3.7 to one in the 1990s to 4.25 to one in the 2000s. This also suggests that returns have been falling at the margin.

If this pattern of growth is to reverse, as the government wishes, the growth of investment must fall well below that of GDP. This is what happened in Japan in the 1990s, with dire results. The thesis advanced by Prof Pettis is that a forced investment strategy will normally end with such a bump. The question is when. In China, it might be earlier in the growth process than in Japan because investment is so high. Much of the investment now undertaken would be unprofitable without the artificial support provided, he argues. One indicator, he suggests, is rapid growth of credit. George Magnus of UBS also noted in the FT of May 3 2011 that the credit-intensity of Chinese growth has increased sharply. This, too, is reminiscent of Japan as late as the 1980s, when the attempt to sustain growth in investment-led domestic demand led to a ruinous credit expansion.

As growth slows, the demand for investment is sure to shrink. At growth of 7 percent, the needed rate of investment could fall by up to 15 percent of GDP. But the attempt to shift income to households could force a yet bigger decline. From being a growth engine, investment could become a source of stagnation.

The optimistic view is that China’s growth potential is so great that it can manage the planned transition with ease. The pessimistic view is that it is hard for a country investing half of GDP to decelerate smoothly. I expect the transition to slower economic growth and greater reliance on consumption to be quite bumpy. The Chinese government is skilled. But it cannot walk on water. The water it is going to have to walk on over the next decade is going to be choppy. Watch out for the waves.
4100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care, McKinsey Report on: June 16, 2011, 11:16:09 AM
"devastating McKinsey & Company study that concluded up to 78 million Americans would lose their current health coverage as employers stopped offering insurance because of President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The report contradicted Mr. Obama's frequent pledge that under his reform, "if you like your health-care plan, you can keep your health-care plan." "

They lie with such ease, it used to be said of the Clintons.  My health plan is gone and the reasons people like Lawrence Tribe have ascribed to my lack of coverage are false.  Massive over-regulation doesn't lower costs and massive new regulations don't leave existing plans unchanged.  It's not rocket science.

Why was it all or none? Why did they not implement immediately the important reforms Republicans would agree to while we wait for the monstrosity - if the good of the country was the goal.

Why was it delayed implementation? A taste of delayed care?  Why was it 10 years to pay for 6, and then find out it doesn't.

"The deficit-reduction claim also came before House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan drew attention to the law's Ponzi scheme. It's funded by borrowing $521 billion from the Social Security Trust Fund, Medicare, and new long-term care insurance premiums, and by ignoring the $300 billion cost over 10 years of the annual inflation increases in reimbursements to hospitals and doctors. These gimmicks hide the fact that ObamaCare is really $701 billion in the red in its first decade."

Are Ponzi schemes legal in all 50 states?  Would someone please release Bernie Madoff.

I don't get the whole waiver thing.  What basis does the selective waiver process have in equal protection under the law?  What other laws allow for politically-based waivers?  My tax return mandate?  Please grant me a waiver.

The damage done to our economy before its implementation is immeasurable and largely unreported.  See Ryan piece on regulatory uncertainty. 

One reason people buy gold and other non-productive assets is that it is one last places you can put investment money that does not insert yourself into the vicious, highly regulated, ever-changing battle lines of state and federal legislatures and regulators for the crime of ... hiring people.

Some people want to build a better mousetrap.  Other people want to read and study compliance opinions nearly everyday regarding all the changes and administrative ruling updates of highly restraining employment law, payroll law, layoff law, unemployment compensation law, workman comp law, healthcare law...  If you don't want to do all of it, you won't be building a better mousetrap - not in this country.
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The smartest guy by far in my school district growing up went on to become a lawyer by way of a top Ivy league law school and made his career in the employee benefits section of a major local utility.  That, unfortunately, not inventing amazing new energy sources or curing deadly diseases, is where the action is.
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