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4051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Romney Calif House on: March 27, 2012, 04:47:01 PM
Politico today with a big link on the Huff Post, the rebuild of the beach house will have a car elevator.  That won't hurt Romney's perception of not exactly being the average guy?
4052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: How to cut government spending Paul Ryan on: March 27, 2012, 04:32:47 PM
Ryan has courage and expertise in a very dry, important subject.  This a serious plan for governing, not a Ron Paul plan where we say cut - no problem, but never get the votes to do it.  The Ryan plan could actually be the blueprint.  Really it is stop tha crazy increases and hold spending within sight while we try to grow the economy.   

They say Ryan would likely accept the VP slot if chosen.  That is a nice option to have available.  I lean toward Rubio at this point.  Save Ryan maybe for Speaker of the House.
4053  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care - Transcripts of oral arguments coming out on: March 27, 2012, 04:14:34 PM
Part one, part two transcripts.  Historic stuff, might be interesting to go through.  I imagine one could go wrong guessing their opinion by hearing their question.

Other accounts:
"Can you create commerce to regulate it?" Kennedy asked Solicitor General Don Verrilli.
During the debate of the Obamacare mandate at the Supreme Court Justice Kennedy says that the mandate fundamentally changes the relationship of a citizen with the government.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: The key in Lochner is that we were talking about regulation of the States, right, and the States are not limited to enumerated powers. The Federal Government is. And it seems to me it's an entirely different question when you ask yourself whether or not there are going to be limits in the Federal power, as opposed to limits on the States, which was the issue in Lochner.

SOLICITOR GENERAL VERRILLI: I agree, except, Mr. Chief Justice, that what the Court has said as I read the Court's cases is that the way in which you ensure that the Federal Government stays in its sphere and the sphere reserved for the States is protected is by policing the boundary: Is the national government regulating economic activity with a substantial effect on interstate commerce?

JUSTICE KENNEDY: But the reason, the reason this is concerning, is because it requires the individual to do an affirmative act. In the law of torts our tradition, our law, has been that you don't have the duty to rescue someone if that person is in danger. The blind man is walking in front of a car and you do not have a duty to stop him absent some relation between you. And there is some severe moral criticisms of that rule, but that's generally the rule.

4054  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Can the Supreme Court Survive a Health-Care Decision? on: March 27, 2012, 02:14:26 PM
"Can the Supreme Court Survive a Health-Care Decision?" (from constitutional issues)

Yes, if they get it right - one way or the other. 

This is quite an odd situation - the will of the people and the action of their representatives are pulling in two different directions.

If the law is struck down, it means there are still limits on government.  How well they define that will reflect on them and on the structuring of new programs far into the future.

Bush v. Gore stood the test of time (IMO) because it turned on a simple concept. the constitution gave an authority to the Florida legislature, not the Florida court, so the overturn of the will of the legislature by the state court was struck down.

In Roe v. Wade the right of privacy was judged paramount; the life of the unborn human being was not.  That is obscenely immoral and illogical to many but no one questions that the life status of the unborn is not covered in the words of the constitution.  All it takes is a new amendment to fix that.

What is the phrase or concept that will be paramount in the healthcare decision, in either direction?

Conservatives believe the healthcare case is symbolic of having no limits on government, but the justices would need to agree on what that limit is and how this program violates it. 

I think it is as simple as this: the federal government does not have unenermerated powers.  If the people want this new power in their federal government, they need (IMO) to go back and authorize it in an amendment like they did with the 16th amendment authorizing the power to levy a direct tax on income.  The amendment process didn't change.

On the liberal side, they believe that requiring someone to perform healthcare services on you is already a right (unenumerated) in a civilized society and the provisions in the bill were all 'necessary and proper' to 'regulate' the interstate commerce market to guarantee those services are performed and paid for.

Seems to me that "necessary" is a much stronger test in this context than just politically necessary.  There is no one in the Obama administration or Pelosi-Reid congress that did not know they had already authority to spend more on healthcare services and to raise conventional tax up to any rate they want.  The far simpler and broader alternative of single payer with universal coverage was ruled out at the time for political, not constitutional reasons.

What is the evidence and unanswerable argument that this new power is necessary?
4055  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: March 27, 2012, 01:48:40 PM
The point was, how is it political, what is Beck or Goldline running for, if it clouds his judgment on Israel, big government, liberty etc, how so?  Not answered as usual.  Welcome back.

If they are breaking laws they can face prosecution, pay fines, go to jail.  If you are pointing out the system is working, then what is the political point of it?  Some similarity to Geithner not paying his taxes?  Really?

I don't like commercials but I like free radio.  I'm sure the hosts would prefer not to do personal sponsorships.  No comment (as usual) on how the anti-free speech radical extremists keep him from having mainstream sponsors.  No comment on Hillary (shocking) and her commodity trading.  The only thing that is not a prosecutable felony in her case is the statute of limitations.  She is still in power and still contemplated for the Presidency.   She helped make the last decision about going to war and HER judgment matters. This wasn't a sponsor of a pundit.  Cat got your tongue or did I miss where you thoroughly trashed her for that?

Isn't there enough in Beck's opinions and analysis to discuss his views in a political context?  The logic is discredit the view because of business practices of the sponsor?  I don't think the point ever was that Beck is a great man, but that his articulated views on pertinent issues resonate with certain people here.  How does Beck's sponsor cloud my judgment, or that of others here? 

All rhetorical.  Just venting my view of it.  No reply is requested.
4056  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: March 27, 2012, 10:55:36 AM
Besides innocent until ... what? where did I miss the point about Goldline being political?  Does it taint Glen Beck's view on Israel or change the video he played exposing Obama's radical advisers?  What is the point? If Beck were the politician then maybe it questions his judgment, but what is he running for?

Obama sat in the pew while Rev Wright assaulted our country, did Beck sit in the room while client money was wrongfully disbursed.  And again, what is he running for?  Did the poster in a crusade against corruption make a point previously about the commodities trading of HRC that I missed, or is this a cheap shot at a radio show that the host of the forum said that he liked?

If not for the opponent boycott campaigns against freedom of speech, Beck's sponsors might be GE, Chevrolet and Goldman Sachs.  Oops I just named 3 more corrupt companies.
4057  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: After Obama's "last election" on: March 27, 2012, 10:52:37 AM
"If this is power centralization by a president, it is business as usual."

True but business as usual is exactly what the Obama phenomenon opposed.  Now the bumper sticker has no meaning or a very different meaning if you even see one.  Being hip and aware and progressive and open to the public and power to the people populism with the sticker on your Prius in 2008 became business as usual in a Washington DC cynical sense.  Today the logo and mantra of hope only means that our czars are better than your czars, our mandates are better than your mandates, our guys in the revolving door of advisers and influence peddlers are smarter than your guys selling influence, our backroom cornhusker exemption deals to get healthcare done are better than your back room deals, and our national security back room negotiations are conducted better when we don't have to face the scrutiny of another election.  

Open microphone comments give a small window into what he is thinking, where the teleprompter and carefully crafted interviews do not.  He will govern better without the burdens of oversight and accountability and that is front and central on his mind - is my read.  Yes, Pres. Obama is not the first or only elected official to think that thought but this was in the context (my take) of him having more flexibility to negotiate more terms away to the perceived liking of the Russians - after giving up missile defense for them to the surprise of committed allies previously.  It brings to mind these other examples like the back room deals for one state here and another there on healthcare.  Of course we should not presume to know his meaning or context; he could have playing mind games to our advantage with the Russians.  But the question was opened, what will the policy shift across the board be when the electoral accountability ends?  Having independents ponder that question is to the conservatives' advantage and having conservatives ponder that question brings fire and passion to the campaign.
4058  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care, Presidential ego trip, Rbt Samuelson Newsweek on: March 26, 2012, 09:55:03 AM
As a media issue aside, I have started to wonder if Newsweek (Wash Post co.) is turning conservative or if Samuelson is another token conservative like Geo. Will.  This piece has excellent insight.  Extrapolating the numbers cited for health improvements gained when the uninsured get insurance, this program should spark about a 0.14% improvement in health outcomes to the American public, not counting the overall detriment the system that it will certainly cause.

March 26, 2012
Obama's Ego Trip
By Robert Samuelson

WASHINGTON - As the Supreme Court hears arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- Obamacare, as many call it -- the justices will probably share at least one assumption: that their decision will have a big effect on the health of Americans. Ideally, everyone ought to have insurance, and it's popular wisdom that this would significantly improve people's health. But it's not true. The ACA's fate will dramatically affect government and the health care system; the impact on Americans' health will be far more modest.

Rarely has a program with so little potential inspired so much contention. Although millions would benefit from health insurance, the overall relationship between people's insurance status and their self-reported health is underwhelming. Consider a study of Massachusetts' universal coverage program, enacted under former Gov. Mitt Romney, by economists Charles J. Courtemanche of the University of Louisville and Daniela Zapata of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. It estimated that about 1.4 percent of the state's adult population moved into the "very good" or "excellent" health categories.

Another study by economist Daniel Polsky of the University of Pennsylvania examined what happened to uninsured Americans who went on Medicare at age 65. Polsky found "no significant health effect for the uninsured relative to the insured upon reaching Medicare eligibility." Although other studies report somewhat larger effects, most share a weakness. They rely on people's self-reported assessment of their health. Just receiving government-subsidized insurance, worth $8,000 to $12,000, may make people feel better. It shields them from financial setbacks.

On reflection, the loose relation between health and insurance is not puzzling. Many uninsured are young and healthy; in 2010, 40 percent were between the ages of 18 and 34. Others pay their own bills or receive "uncompensated" care. Still others are too sick to be cured by any means. Finally, having insurance may not change unhealthy lifestyles or how people use the medical system. Before receiving Medicare, the uninsured used emergency rooms more than the insured; once on Medicare, they still did.

So the laudable goal of universal coverage ought to be balanced against drawbacks. At the margin, the ACA will probably discourage job creation, because mandated insurance raises the cost of hiring and the complexity of the 2,700-page law will intimidate some employers. Requiring younger workers to have expensive, comprehensive insurance (as opposed to catastrophic coverage) expands the undesirable inter-generational transfer from them to their wealthier elders. Finally, the ACA worsens the budget outlook.

The Obama administration has obscured this by arguing the program reduces budget deficits. Though technically true, this is misleading.

From 2012 to 2021, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the ACA's insurance subsidies at $1.5 trillion. But the CBO reckons these costs will be offset by revenue increases (including: a higher Medicare payroll tax, higher taxes on unearned income, penalties for individuals without insurance, taxes on drug and insurance companies) plus assumed cuts in Medicare. Still, all these tax increases and savings might have been applied to the huge projected deficits that existed pre-ACA. The administration resembled a homeowner who couldn't afford the mortgage but scraped up money for an expensive renovation. And if the renovation's costs are underestimated -- or all the new money doesn't materialize -- the ACA will increase the deficit.

To these problems is now added a possible backlash from a Supreme Court ruling. The administration argues that the ACA falls within the government's authority to regulate interstate commerce. Opponents contend that the insurance "mandate" requiring coverage would give government unprecedented power to order Americans to buy almost anything. Unless there's a lopsided decision (7-2 or better), the court may deepen public polarization over the ACA.

If the court disallows the mandate, President Obama's liberal supporters will accuse it of partisan judicial activism by usurping the role of elected leaders. If it narrowly blesses the ACA, conservatives will say constitutional liberties were sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Either way, the court risks withering criticism that it is meddling in the election.

Considering the ACA's glaring -- and predictable -- economic and political shortcomings, why did Obama make it his first-term centerpiece? The answer seems to be his obsession with securing his legacy as the president who achieved the liberal grail of universal coverage. In his book "The Escape Artists: How Obama's Team Fumbled the Recovery," Noam Scheiber recounts a telling incident. Obama's advisers tell him he can be known for preventing a second Great Depression. "That's not enough for me," Obama replies.

The ACA is Obama's ego trip, but as a path to presidential greatness, it may disappoint no matter how the court decides. Lyndon's Johnson's creation of Medicare and Medicaid was larger, and he isn't deemed great. And then, unlike now, government seemed capable of paying for bigger programs.

4059  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: March 26, 2012, 09:43:39 AM
"Just as President Barack Obama has intensified his anti-K Street rhetoric with the November elections in view, several of his administration’s senior aides have decamped for jobs along the influence corridor."

Yes, like a former Speaker of the House taking millions from Freddie Mac.  If we capable of giving a resounding NO to the requests of the advocacy groups, it wouldn't matter who they hired.

My own stone age view of equal protection under that law is that whether you are Solyndra, Chrysler, Tiger Stadium or Goldman Sachs, you get the same treatment under the law as everyone else.  Imagine that.

Another law is not the answer.  Just ask Gingrich.   He wasn't a lobbyist, he was a historian. 
4060  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 26, 2012, 09:34:02 AM
"Interest rates will only go up if the economy does better. Meanwhile, look at Japan where their debt burden and their deficit are both much bigger than ours relative to GDP and yet interest rates are even lower than ours."

Scott is right on this, but it is unfortunate to need to look at stagnation elsewhere for guidance.

3 things come to mind (and more) that will keep economy from seriously entering a period of robust, uninhibited growth:

a) Interest rates as GM and Scott say.  Interest rates will go up when some economic activity gets going again, but that will further hurt the cost of buying homes, automobiles, business expansion etc.  We have seen this cycle before.

b) Energy costs will go up.  The price increases proved the inelasticity of oil demand, consumption was down only 3% while prices at the pump skyrocketed.  But in fact and in light of the barriers still in place to new production, gas prices are artificially low compared to what they would be if 6 or 10 million more people were soon commuting to work and a hundred million or more were better able to afford weekend and vacation travel.  Just as likely as a new lease from the administration offshore is a crackdown on fracking or closure of coal or nuclear etc.

c) We still have unindexed, progressive tax brackets with more tax rate increases coming.  The more that nominal incomes go up either through economic growth or inflation, the larger of a share that is taken and the greater the disincentive is to either produce or report that additional income.

d) Over-regulation and botched and convoluted regulation. Nothing in the Stimulus 1, 2, 3  or QE to the nth power plans address that.  Even a Supreme Court decision striking down all of Obamacare only gets us back to where we were before implosion.

We build into our economy all these man-made forces that ensure the better things go, the worse things will get.

Scott G makes clear the importance to the economy of changing political course.  Many economists do not come out and say that, and there are many economists of course who hold a different or opposite political policy view.  (Romer and Krugman say government spending stimulus is still too small.)  I don't see how anyone can project the future direction of our economy without knowing the policy outcomes this election, house, senate and Presidential, will bring.  Will we have national healthcare? Will have 20% across the board tax rate cuts?  We will the rate increases plus the Buffet surcharge plus a near doubling of capital gains rates?  Will we have corporate rates cut to around the OECD average or the highest in the world?  Will interest rates be near zero or double digit? Will we have gas at the pump - or algae? 

Like the uncertainty of investing in a third world country, nobody knows.

4061  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Energy Politics: NY Post also leads with the L-word (Lies) for Obama on energy on: March 25, 2012, 12:47:49 PM

Obama’s energy lies

Playing politics with gas prices and a pipeline


Last Updated: 12:13 AM, March 25, 2012

..."If the American public is dumb enough to buy all that – and I don’t think so – we deserve this guy and the gas prices that come with him."

Full commentary at the link.
4062  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Scott Grannis: The seven fatal flaws of ObamaCare on: March 25, 2012, 12:34:31 PM
Subscribe at the link for excellent economic analysis!

Scott Grannis: The seven fatal flaws of ObamaCare    March 1, 2012

Fatal flaw #1: The penalty imposed for not buying a policy is very likely to be less than the cost of insurance for a great many people. This, combined with the requirement that insurance companies may not deny coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition, means that a large number of people will forgo signing up for a policy, knowing that they a) will save money and b) can always sign up for insurance if they turn out to develop a serious medical condition. Thus, the actual revenues will far way short of projections.

Fatal flaw #2: The government has no ability to enforce the penalty for noncompliance.

Fatal flaw #3: Mandating that people buy a health insurance policy simply because they are alive is arguably unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has already decided to take up this issue and will begin hearing oral arguments this month. I note that a recent USA/Gallup poll shows that an overwhelming 72% of Americans believe that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. The mandate is also a way of hiding the fact that young people will effectively be paying a huge new tax in order to subsidize older people.

Fatal flaw #4: Regulating the price which insurance companies must charge for policies, coupled with a requirement that companies must rebate to their customers the amount by which their loss ratios fall below 90%, effectively turns these companies into government-run enterprises and would likely result in the effective nationalization of the healthcare industry. That is a violation of the Fifth Amendment, and of a Supreme Court requirement "that any firm in a regulated market be allowed to recover a risk-adjusted competitive rate of return on its accumulated capital investment."

Fatal flaw #5: A government-imposed restructuring of the healthcare industry can't possibly improve our healthcare system, and is extremely likely to make it worse. As Don Boudreaux has noted, "Trying to restructure an industry that constitutes one-sixth of the U.S. economy is ... so complicated that it's impossible to accomplish without risking catastrophic failure." No collection of laws or government bureaucrats can achieve anything close to the efficiency that free markets can deliver; the demise of socialism is the most obvious proof of this. Government control of healthcare will inevitably result in higher prices and rationing, leaving everyone worse off. UPDATE: Acknowledging this reality, the CBO in March '12 calculated the cost of ObamaCare to be $1.76 trillion over a decade, almost double the $940 billion forecast when the bill was signed into law.

Fatal flaw #6: In cases wherein companies find that complying with the law would result in large increases in healthcare premiums that would threaten employees' access to a plan, the Dept. of Health and Human Services may grant a waiver to the company. As evidence of the first five fatal flaws accumulates, and as healthcare insurance companies continue to raise premiums to pay for the unintended consequences of government attempting to regulate an entire industry and hundreds of millions of people, more and more companies are likely to apply for waivers. To date, over 1200 companies have been granted waivers. At some point the whole edifice will come crashing down of its own weight.

Fatal flaw #7: The individual mandate violates centuries of contract law, since in order to be valid, contracts to purchase health insurance must be entered into freely.
4063  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics - What caused the collapse? Forbes Mag. answers Geithner on: March 25, 2012, 12:19:02 PM
This is important, was it economic freedom running wild or was it botched government programs and regulations that caused the financial collapse?  Forbes contributor Charles Kadlec answers the political spin of our Treasury Secretary. (read it at the link)

Tim Geithner Covers for Corruption On Pennsylvania Avenue

Last Friday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner charged in a Wall Street Journal op-ed ( that those who oppose the Obama Administration’s regulatory regime for the financial services industry “seem to be suffering from amnesia about how close America came to complete financial collapse under the outdated regulatory system we had before Wall Street reform.” Au contraire, Secretary Geithner, it is you who choose to ignore and misrepresent the lessons of the financial crisis by perpetuating the myth that the source of the crisis was a lack of regulation.

First, your essay glosses over the central role the federal government played in creating the crisis. In particular, the government through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac directed $5.2 trillion (that is trillion with a “t”) of capital to increase the supply of mortgages. In addition, it passed a law that required banks to make billions of dollars in loans to individuals that were unlikely to pay off the loans, in the end with 0% down.

In 1998, Fannie Mae announced it would purchase mortgages with only 3% down. And, in 2001, it offered a program that required no down payment at all. Between 2001 and 2004, subprime mortgages grew from $160 billion to $540 billion. And between 2005 and 2007, Fannie Mae’s acquisition of mortgages with less than 10% down almost tripled. These loans are now known as “subprime” and “alt A” loans. At the time they were made, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac encouraged their issuance by lowering their standards and buying them up from the now vilified mortgage brokers, S&Ls, banks and Wall Street investment banks.

This activity was not due to a lack of regulation or oversight as you claim. Both companies are under the direct supervision of a federal regulator and Congress. At the time these loans were being purchased by these two Government Sponsored Enterprises, their actions were defended by many in Congress who, led by Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, saw such reckless lending as a successful government initiative.

At the same time, the easy money policies of the Federal Open Market Committee, of which you were a voting member, were feeding an asset bubble in residential real estate, providing what proved to be an irresistible lure not only for speculators, but also for American families trying desperately to buy a house before inflation robbed them of their chance for home ownership.

Yes, mortgage brokers and banks encouraged reckless borrowing, though many who borrowed, with a little honest reflection, could have known that they would be unable to meet the financial obligation of paying the mortgage that they were using to buy a house that they could not afford. Nor does any of this excuse the poor judgment of those on Wall Street who levered their firms’ balance sheets so that even a 4% loss on their investments would leave them either bankrupt or in need of a bailout.

But, the culpability of those in the private sector should not be used to cover up or excuse the irresponsible behavior of those in the federal government. The self-regulatory check normally provided by markets on activities that are likely to lose money — lenders backing away — was simply blocked by the government’s intervention in the capital markets. As you must know, six top executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with securities fraud for hiding the size of the purchases of low quality mortgages from the market.

In addition, the normal check on excessive leverage provided by unwilling lenders was overwhelmed by the perception, now validated, that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt were backed by the full faith and credit of the federal government. This created a willing buyer backed by the federal government with unlimited access to credit markets and a trillion dollar budget. No wonder S&Ls and Wall Street found ways to satisfy the demand. Blaming a lack of regulation for the subsequent losses is political spin meant to cover up the greed and corruption on Pennsylvania Avenue that led to the crisis.

Second, your claim that increased regulatory oversight would have prevented the crisis requires a credulous belief in the wisdom and courage of those in power. Regulators with all of the necessary powers have failed in their most basic task of preventing fraud including Bernie Maddoff’s Ponzi scheme, and now the still unexplained disappearance of $1.6 billion of customer money at MF Global. Yet, you ask us to believe tens of thousands of pages of new regulations will somehow empower you and other elite public servants to prevent another financial crisis?

As we know now, you and the other members of the Federal Open Market Committee in 2006 did not grasp the implications of the then faltering housing market for the general economy or the health of the banking system. As a consequence, you and your colleagues did not use the powers you had to head off the financial crisis when there was still plenty of time to act. As former Prime Minister Tony Blair writes in his memoir, A Journey of My Political Life, an important contributor to the financial crisis was a failure “of understanding. We didn’t spot it…it wasn’t that we were powerless to prevent it even if we had seen it coming; it wasn’t a failure of regulation in the sense that we lacked the power to intervene. Had regulators said to the leaders that a huge crisis was about to break, we wouldn’t have said: There’s nothing we can do about it until we get more regulation through. We would have acted. But they didn’t say that.”

Third, the new regulatory regime for the financial industry created by the Dodd-Frank bill — ironically named after two of the perpetrators of the financial crisis — omits any reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Yet, unlike the commercial and investment banks who have repaid the government bailout money, these two state sponsored financial giants have cost taxpayers more than $140 billion and are seeking billions more in bailout funds. At the same time, HUD is moving forward on issuing new rules that would support racial quotas for bank mortgages, which no doubt will again force banks to make loans to individuals who cannot afford them.

In light of this evidence and your own experience, your promise that a new, expansive regulatory regime reduces the risk of financial crisis is not credible. The regulatory maze created by Dodd-Frank not only robs the private sector of real resources that otherwise would be committed to allocating capital to credit worthy borrowers, it also undermines market skepticism essential to preventing systemic risk. In addition, it puts even more power in the hands of a few individuals who, like you, are fallible, rather than dispersing power among market participants.

You conclude your essay by writing: “We cannot afford to forget the lessons of the crisis and the damage it caused to millions of Americans. Amnesia is what causes financial crises.”

With all due respect Mr. Secretary, federal government policies, not amnesia, were at the heart of the financial crisis. The arrogance of power revealed by your selective memory and political spin, and the expansive regulatory regime you support are now the primary source of systemic risk to the U.S. financial system and the economic security of the American people.
4064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: March 25, 2012, 12:07:39 PM
"I'm sure it'll be kind and civil, as the left always is."

Yes, Bill Maher asking for our prayers for a speedy and successful recovery.  No one would joke about heart trouble and life-risking surgery, would they?

To be fair I have to ponder what my comment would be if Joe Biden had just undergone a brain transplant.
4065  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential race enters the Wisconsin public employee union battleground on: March 25, 2012, 12:01:09 PM
Santorum takes Lousiana yesterday by 20 points.  No new damage done.  Next is Wisconsin home of the bruising battle of the raped taxpayers versus the all-powerful public unions and Santorum will be out-front supporting Gov. Walker fight the recall campaign.

Independent moderate friends tell me Republicans were unwise to pick this fight.  Huh?  We should not fight for the will of the people over the power of the union, just pay the price? The issue is national because nearly all states plus the Feds have the same problems. 

The historical justification of the labor union is that the greedy capitalist too often had too much power to dictate employment in a community.  In the case of all public employee unions which use to be illegal, the greedy capitalist is the will of the people.  Public employee pay and benefits have to be high enough by definition to attract good workers.  If compensation is too low, those jobs go unfilled until the pay increases to market levels.  The market works and the citizens have a right to decide what to pay and what to spend.  Why is it more complicated than that?

Santorum's stand may cause both Obama and Romney to jump in on the issue.
Rasmussen Reports: 54% Oppose Recall of Walker  (Feb 2012)
President Obama leads Romney and Santorum here.  [R's leading to take a Dem senate seat- all at the link.]

Fifty-four percent of Wisconsinites oppose the recall of Gov. Scott Walker, according to the most recent polling data from Rasmussen Reports.

In a phone survey of 500 likely voters, Rasmussen also said 52% at least somewhat approve of Walker’s job performance to date, while 46% at least somewhat disapprove. The findings include 40% who strongly approve and 40% who strongly disapprove.
4066  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: Cheney heart on: March 25, 2012, 11:39:10 AM
Let the callous, insensitive, liberal jokes begin about Dick Cheney receiving a heart.
Tomorrow we can find out what Leno, Letterman, Jon Stewart and the rest think about it.
4067  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: March 25, 2012, 11:31:16 AM
"Lets put the Obamacare decision materials in this thread so as to leave room for other Constitutional issues in that thread."

Tomorrow starts the oral arguments of the case.  One of the strangest points in prognostication is that it is considered a mathematical certainty that all four so-called liberal justices will vote for this unprecedented, unauthorized, unconstitutional federal taking of personal privacy and liberty.

On the other side I recall that Republican appointees of intended conservative justices over the last several decades have not always turned out to be that predictable.

Assuming the universal prognostications are right, the only question in the case is what does Anthony Kennedy think and will Scalia or Roberts jump over with him.

As an optimist (and contrarian) on our constitutionally limited American government, I assume the vote will be 9-0 to strike this down.  It isn't authorized. It isn't necessary.  It isn't proper. It isn't even regulation of interstate commerce.
4068  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney speech IL on: March 24, 2012, 01:36:20 PM
I just posted this on Pres-2012 thread, did not see the Romney thread.  13 minutes, take a look.

Also the Kudlow piece is a very good read:
4069  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Romney Illinois Speech - Economic Freedom on: March 24, 2012, 01:32:10 PM
This is the speech both Crafty and Kudlow referred to.  Excellent speech and foundation for running, winning and governing. Enjoy.

4070  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Kudlow on Romney on: March 24, 2012, 01:26:44 PM
Kudlow sees some Reagan in the Romney plan:

March 24, 2012
The Reagan in Romney
By Larry Kudlow

The late William F. Buckley Jr. naturally put it best when he said: "The wisest choice would be the one who would win. No sense running Mona Lisa in a beauty contest. I'd be for the most right, viable candidate who could win."

Bill Buckley's law applies to Mitt Romney today. And it's worth noting Rush Limbaugh's recent update to the dictum. After Romney's terrific Illinois victory speech Tuesday, Rush said flatly, "A conservative alternative to Romney is Romney."

As the tough primary season ventures on, Romney has clarified and evolved his views into tough conservative positions.

On economic policy, for example, he would limit the government budget to 20 percent of gross domestic product, slash $500 billion in his first term and restrain Medicaid, food stamps and other entitlement transfers before block granting them to the states. His Medicare reform is nearly identical to the Wyden-Ryan approach. He's for a true all-of-the-above energy policy that would take the regulatory handcuffs off drilling on federal lands. He would repeal Obamacare. And he has come up with a supply-side tax cut that would lower marginal rates by 20 percent across the board and drop the corporate tax to 25 percent.

Those are very conservative positions. One could seriously ask whether Romney isn't the most conservative presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan.

Yes, there is still work to be done on clarifying the difference between Romneycare and Obamacare, as well as the need for a strong King Dollar approach to monetary policy. And more tax simplification. But in broad terms, it's impossible not to think of this former businessman as conservative on the key economic issues. He's for limited government, lower tax rates, and deregulation, all with a fair amount of detail.

Columnists Dan Henninger and Jennifer Rubin have written about Romney's close relationship with conservative icon Paul Ryan. It's a point I made a while back, as I speculated a Ryan appointment as Romney's budget director.

Sen. Jim DeMint, another conservative icon, recently told reporters after meeting with the former Massachusetts governor, "What I can tell conservatives from my perspective is that I'm not only comfortable with Romney, I'm excited about the possibility of him possibly becoming our nominee."

The second half of the week was dominated by Team Romney's Etch A Sketch gaffe. But folks shouldn't let this fog out Romney's brilliant speech about economic freedom at the beginning of the week.

On the night of his big Illinois victory, Romney offered a moral exposition of the merits of economic freedom and free enterprise business. And all the while, he mockingly referred to "professor Obama," who has no clue about what makes business tick.

Romney railed against overregulation, noting that Obama's regulators would have shut down the Wright brothers for their "dust pollution." He said the Obama government "would have banned Thomas Edison's light bulb," adding, "Oh, that's right. They just did."

Romney made clear that economic freedom is the key to the American economy. He said, "The history of the world has shown that economic freedom is the only force that has consistently lifted people out of poverty." He added: "The genius of America is that we nurture these dreams and the dreamers. We honor them, and yes, we reward them."

Pause a moment on the idea of rewarding the dreamers. This is a crucial difference with Obama, who wants to penalize the dreamers. Make a bunch of money and you're gonna pay higher tax rates. It's class warfare, the 1 percent vs. the 99 percent. Tax the rich. Redistribute.

But Obama's class warfare is an assault on freedom. It's an assault on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That's a key point in this election. It may be the key point. And by acknowledging the importance of rewarding success and constitutional freedom, Romney also shows he understands the incentive model of economic growth.

In fact, Romney recently told National Review's Robert Costa that solving the budget deficit could be done in two ways -- spending reductions and pro-growth tax policies.

The Ryan budget itself, when properly priced out in dynamic terms to account for growth incentives from lower tax rates, would be balanced in 10 years with substantially lower debt-to-GDP ratios. It sounds as if Romney gets this. That by itself is worthy of the nomination.

Then Romney told us Tuesday night: "This election will be about principle. Our economic freedom will be on the ballot." He said essentially the same thing the day before during a University of Chicago speech. And for many months, he has been talking about the battle for America's soul, between Obama's big-government entitlement state and his vision of a merit-based opportunity society.

This is Reagan-like. This is Jack Kemp-like. This is Paul Ryan's American idea.

This is, in short, profoundly conservative. An election winner.
4071  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics of Health Care: vitiating elements of a contract on: March 24, 2012, 01:17:14 PM
Followup on contract law which is taught both in business school as well as legal training:  The elements of a valid contract always first require competent parties which I would presume to be someone capable of freely choosing whether to enter or not enter the contract.  Also required is 'consideration'.  Googling around I found this description of the validity of consideration:  "The payment doesn't need to be a fair payment. The courts will not intervene where one party has made a hard bargain unless fraud, duress or unconscionable conduct is involved."

Whoops, that link came from Australia.  They aren't allowed to look at foreign law for guidance, right?

Here's another take on it: "The vitiating factors or elements are misrepresentation, duress, undue influence and certain forms of mistake."

There use to be an out-clause when our state auto insurance became 'mandatory' for motorists:  you could post a bond or other assets as another way to demonstrate financial responsibility up to the minimum requirements of the new law.  Speaking of auto insurance, the closest I've come to empathizing with a rape victim was when I had to Geico that I needed to change the bank account of my auto-pay.  They went through every imaginable personal question possible just short of asking me what I was wearing.  What will be your right of privacy with your new, state run health insurance company (do they get to know your first elementry school attended and your mother's maiden name?), and who will be overseeing their ability to pay?  Dodd Frank with a side payment to Newt to keep down the scrutiny?

In the case of financial responsibility pertaining to healthcare, I believe it is the loose freedom of personal bankruptcy that allows young, healthy, financially able people to avoid the risk that they may have to pay for large unforeseen healthcare costs for the rest of their lives if the don't freely choose to procure insurance.  People wipe out these debts in amounts that are only a fraction of a year's income in our court system.  Funny that many other debts cannot be wiped out in bankruptcy: tax debt, child support, and student loans are examples.  It is quite a strange web that we weave to convince ourselves that the most egregious destruction ever of our most intimate privacy rights is given up in the name of 'necessary and proper'.  What a bunch of bs.
4072  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Will: Is your health insurance a contract? on: March 24, 2012, 09:40:43 AM
"The individual mandate is incompatible with centuries of contract law. This is so because a compulsory contract is an oxymoron."

George F. Will
    Opinion Writer

Obamacare’s contract problem

View Photo Gallery —  Both supporters and opponents of the Affordable Care Act are organizing efforts to raise support for their respective sides when the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the health-care law in late March.

By George F. Will,

On Monday the Supreme Court begins three days of oral arguments concerning possible — actually, probable and various — constitutional infirmities in Obamacare. The justices have received many amicus briefs, one of which merits special attention because of the elegant scholarship and logic with which it addresses an issue that has not been as central to the debate as it should be.

Hitherto, most attention has been given to whether Congress, under its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce, may coerce individuals into engaging in commerce by buying health insurance. Now the Institute for Justice (IJ), a libertarian public interest law firm, has focused on this fact: The individual mandate is incompatible with centuries of contract law. This is so because a compulsory contract is an oxymoron.

The brief, the primary authors of which are the IJ’s Elizabeth Price Foley and Steve Simpson, says that Obamacare is the first time Congress has used its power to regulate commerce to produce a law “from which there is no escape.” And “coercing commercial transactions” — compelling individuals to sign contracts with insurance companies — “is antithetical to the foundational principle of mutual assent that permeated the common law of contracts at the time of the founding and continues to do so today.”

In 1799, South Carolina’s highest court held: “So cautiously does the law watch over all contracts, that it will not permit any to be binding but such as are made by persons perfectly free, and at full liberty to make or refuse such contracts. . . . Contracts to be binding must not be made under any restraint or fear of their persons, otherwise they are void.” Throughout the life of this nation it has been understood that for a contract to be valid, the parties to it must mutually assent to its terms — without duress.

In addition to duress, contracts are voidable for reasons of fraud upon, or the mistake or incapacity of, a party to the contract. This underscores the centrality of the concept of meaningful consent in contract law. To be meaningful, consent must be informed and must not be coerced. Under Obamacare, the government will compel individuals to enter into contractual relations with insurance companies under threat of penalty.

Also, the Supreme Court in Commerce Clause cases has repeatedly recognized, and Congress has never before ignored, the difference between the regulation and the coercion of commerce. And in its 10th Amendment cases (“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people”), the court has specifically forbidden government to compel contracts.

In 1992, the court held unconstitutional a law compelling states to “take title to” radioactive waste. The court said this would be indistinguishable from “a congressionally compelled subsidy from state governments” to those who produced the radioactive waste. Such commandeering of states is, the court held, incompatible with federalism.

The IJ argues: The 10th Amendment forbids Congress from exercising its commerce power to compel states to enter into contractual relations by effectively forcing states to “buy” radioactive waste. Hence “the power to regulate commerce does not include the power to compel a party to take title to goods or services against its will.” And if it is beyond Congress’s power to commandeer the states by compelling them to enter into contracts, it must likewise be beyond Congress’s power to commandeer individuals by requiring them to purchase insurance. Again, the 10th Amendment declares that any powers not given to the federal government are reserved to the states or to the people.

Furthermore, although the Constitution permits Congress to make laws “necessary and proper” for executing its enumerated powers, such as the power to regulate interstate commerce, it cannot, IJ argues, be proper to exercise that regulatory power in ways that eviscerate “the very essence of legally binding contracts.”

More at the link.
4073  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: March 23, 2012, 07:23:20 PM
"Having mentally filed her as "progressive harpy", I don't spend any time watching RM, but apart from getting some of her facts wrong in BD's post, that was one helluva rant"

Yes.  Like following and responding to Krugman, she is relevant.  That is as close to a story line on Mitt Romney that they will get.  Note that the question of whether or not he is a better or worse liar than the President and the administration is a side-step from who has a better vision for the future.  What scares them most is that it is now Mitt Romney with his various moving positions on the issues who offers the blank slate for the voter to paint on.  Case in point: I am to the right of Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and Dick Cheney too for that matter, but stand ready to cast my Presidential vote for Mitt Romney and take my chances.

Key 'lies outlined by Maddow:

'Lie' #1:  [Obama inherited a recession and] ..."he made it worse".  It took her to 7:18 on the tape to get to a point, any point, and that was her lead.

She points to the less than breakeven 'growth' in the economy to 'prove' him a liar.  The unemployment rate went down while the workforce participation rate collapsed.  In my estimation he made it worse by adding additional long-term, structural problems on top of the problems we already had and corrected none of the underlying faults.  He took emergency spending levels and made them permanent.  He took impending tax rate increases and made them impending again in 2 years.  He took a housing correction and did everything he could to keep it from correcting.  He took the automobile industry and put the rule of law and rules of limited government on its ear.  He did everything he could to make energy unaffordable, then points to increased private production at the higher prices he caused as his doing.  He took away my health plan when he said that no one would lose their current health plan.  He put people into EPA that can regulate what we exhale and he put two people on the supreme court sure to rationalize the role of unlimited government, which will be tested starting next week.  He made it worse and finally someone said so.  The brilliance politically in that statement is that it begs the followup question which lewads to the unraveling of the administrations economic record.

'Lie' #2: [After he was a one term governor] he left the world of politics to go back into private business.

She points out that the he declared his candidacy for the presidency only 30 days later, not really leaving the world of politics.  Interesting point with some validity, except that in terms of income, unlike Newt at Freddie Mac, Santorum as a lobbyist, and Obama as a public office holder and selling his public office fame at the bookstore, Romney was not on the public payroll in any way.  He was supported by his private investments and really quite a long shot for President in 2008.

[Mass. healthcare] 'was only for our state, our circumstance'.  Yes, it is a haven for liberals and they were going to have healthcare with or without Mitt Romney.  But Obama could learn "a thing or two" from what we did in Massachusetts?    - I can see a distinction there.  She cannot? Learn a thing or two, like to do it state by state instead of against the US constitutions is a distinction.  Not exactly on a par with the Commander in Chief understating in a public address on crucial economic policies the oil reserves of the United States of America by 20-fold!

[He promised to lower the deficit] but 'he doubled it'.    - Clearly wrong but I see a couple of escape routes.  Obvious to me that he was mis-speaking about doubling the debt not the deficit (as they all do).  Obama was maintaining emergency levels of spending and expanding them for as far as the eye can see.  His budgets projected out double the debt and already surpassed 8 years of Bush.  If you take his full career in Washington instead of his Presidency, since taking the majority in congress and de facto leadership in the Senate he has more than doubled the deficit.  The deficit was less than $300 billion when Dems including Obama took power and more than 4 times that in his Presidency, all accumulating with interest.  Hardly a lie in underlying meaning even if the words were convoluted or wrong.

Maddow:  'We should take this seriously'...'Americans deserve better' ... this is "unprecedented deceit".    - Oh really?  The campaign season will bring out the deceit Romney will be running against, while yes, he better get his own factual act together.  Besides the lies I have attributed to the President on matters crucial to our prosperity and survival, I recall the factual errors of Joe Biden in the VP debate as enough to turn any stomach and the free pass he got from the press on that as enough reason for anyone rational and informed to give up on politics.

There is nothing unprecedented about having to go back through any of these people's words and sort out the truth for yourself.
4074  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science: Beacon on: March 23, 2012, 10:20:54 AM
"If I remember correctly Beacon was a favorite of the Huber-Mills "Powercosm" off-shoot from George Gilder in the year 2000.  Pretty nifty technology having to do with flywheels keeping the quality of electricity high.  It surged after being picked by Huber-Mills.  I was amongst those that stayed too long at the party and lost money.  Now, twelve years after I was the fool, Team Obama catches up with me."

Pres. Obama's premature exuberance at industries and technologies is a bit reminiscent of Gilder, but with far less effort and knowledge, and he chooses them for the wrong reasons.  People in the know tell him these are neat technologies (in need of subsidy).  Gilder believed the market would prove him right and if true getting in early is profitable.  Obama believes partly that we can get in early because he is smarter than the other people not doing that, but he also has the more fascist view that we don't care what the market thinks because we are control the direction.  He is wrong.  Where his subsidy and preference picks made no sense or were poorly timed, the federal cash infusion served only to temporarily block that information. 

Gilder and Huber-Mills hit winners from time to time.  Obama's picks are bad by definition because the good ones do not require public subsidy to succeed.
4075  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science - Truth about US oil reserves, it's not 2% on: March 23, 2012, 10:03:05 AM
CCP,  Yeah, I capitalized the L-word (LIE) trying to make sure I wasn't using this by accident or mistake.  I had this argument with JDN about oil reserves.  I was wrong he argued because I came to the information through a blog versus his info which came straight from the President and wikipedia.  I care about the truth, not the source and the truth is what holds up after more and more people look deeper into it.  Rep. Buerkle and GM post take the numbers straight from Obama administration sources.  OBAMA IS OFF BY 20-FOLD on a crucial, strategic question.  In the US, proven oil reserves is a legal term controlled by the SEC.  If you don't have the government permit to drill it, it isn't an oil reserve even if every geological scientist on earth agrees it is oil down there, recoverable oil.

He is wrong just in the fact that he downplays the importance of oil, oil prices and oil reserves.  We deserve a President who knows the significance.  For the carless Sec. Chu, he had his eye opened to the possibility of how it would hurt someone who happened to require transportation.  He could see the significance there - in the hypothetical.

The difference between a mistake and a lie is that, like the Obama's mom health insurance story, they stay with the untruth after they have it pointed out that it just isn't so.  Known or should have known, in this case they own and run the agency that proves them wrong - by 20-fold!
4076  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / In rebuilt Grozny, Chechnya, an awkward peace with Russia on: March 22, 2012, 04:26:46 PM
Very interesting tidbits in this story such as the trade of Presidential votes for autonomy.

In rebuilt Grozny, an awkward peace with Russia
mark mackinnon
GROZNY— From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Mar. 09, 2012 6:33PM EST
Last updated Sunday, Mar. 11, 2012 9:39PM EDT

It looks triumphant: Vladimir Putin’s portrait hanging over a peaceful commercial street in Grozny, the capital of a Chechen Republic he went to war to keep as part of Russia. The boulevard was even given a new name to reinforce that impression of conquest; what was once Victory Avenue, marking the Soviet Union’s defeat of the Nazis in the Second World War, is now called Putin Avenue.

Beneath the portrait, something has indeed been accomplished. Where once there was only rubble (I stood on Victory Avenue in wartime 10 years ago and failed to find a single building undamaged by heavy weapons fire) is now a tree-lined boulevard framed by marble-fronted buildings housing cafés, pizzerias and advertising agencies.

When Russian voters returned Mr. Putin to the presidency last week, they did so in part because he is seen as having brought something like stability to Chechnya after almost two decades of no-holds-barred warfare here that often and horrifyingly spilled over into Moscow and other Russian cities. But in Grozny, it feels like it’s the Chechens – not Mr. Putin – who got what they wanted from the wars.

Chechnya today is ruled by Chechens under a form of Islamic law. Russia has maintained its territorial integrity, but the Russians who lived here once are gone, and few have any desire to ever see Grozny again. It’s easy to wonder whether two wars and some 160,000 deaths could have been avoided if the two sides had been willing to accept the awkward compromise they have now.

It’s Ramzan Kadyrov, a one-time rebel whom human-rights groups accuse of murder and torture, who really rules Chechnya. (At the south end of Putin Avenue is the city’s main Kadyrov Square, where a neon sign reads “Thank You Ramzan for Grozny!”) He maintains something resembling stability through a constant display of arms – Kalashnikov-toting police direct traffic in the city – and by dispensing billions of rubles from the Kremlin treasury, the price Moscow pays to have Mr. Kadyrov do the dirty work of fighting Chechnya’s remaining Islamic militants.

Another part of the Faustian pact Mr. Putin struck with Mr. Kadyrov was laid plain during the presidential election. According to the official count, an astounding 99.7 per cent of Chechens cast their ballots for Mr. Putin, though it’s easy to find those who say they voted otherwise or not at all.

Stuffed ballot boxes and Putin portraits aside, the state Mr. Kadyrov is building more closely resembles a Middle Eastern sultanate than any part of the Russian Federation. Facets of sharia law are in place – it’s the only part of Russia where alcohol isn’t freely bought and sold, and women who work for the government are required to wear head scarves. And the previously flat skyline is taking on a taste of Dubai, with a clutch of soaring skyscrapers and one of the largest mosques on the continent. The lone portrait of Mr. Putin is outnumbered by hundreds of smiling pictures of Ramzan and his father, Akhmad Kadyrov, the former Chechen president who was assassinated in a 2004 bombing as he sat in the VIP bleachers of the city’s main soccer stadium.

“I was a child of war. There was nothing good in our lives. Today, people come here from other republics to shop,” said Zalina Bisayeva, the 25-year-old manager of a boutique that sells Chechen-designed men’s and women’s clothing. “Everything is better now thanks to our President, Ramzan Kadyrov.”

Most jarringly, other than a military base beside Akhmad Kadyrov Airport, there are almost no Russians to be seen. (In a cruel twist of fate, nearly all of the 200,000 Russians who once lived here were killed or driven out by their own army's repeated sieges of the city.) The signs on the streets are still in Russian, but the language of life is Chechen.  (Click 'next page' at the link.)
4077  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 22, 2012, 04:07:03 PM
The campaign is still lying about Obama's mom's battle with her insurance company over the treatment of her cancer:

None of our business except that is it was given as a first hand example and primary reason that we needed the 1.7 trillion dollar, anti-constitutional healthcare act.  Also interesting to find out from time to time, who tells the truth and who doesn't.
4078  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Energy Politics: Issa report rips Sec Chu and the administration policies on: March 22, 2012, 10:17:53 AM
Obama administration is called on the carpet for its continuing LIE that the U.S. has only 2% of the world's petroleum reserves.!  400 Billion barrels of known reserves available from current technology, 20 times more than deceptive figures used by the Obama administration?

Also the corruption and executive bonuses tied to 'green' energy and crony corruption based, failed federal loan guarantees.

This really is all about glib-dissonance buy I stick under the energy politics for topic.  Corruption and boneheadedness!  Rep. Buerkle NY and Sec. Chu, Watch the youtube!  Nice coverage:

March 20, 2012 by John Hinderaker

Issa’s Oversight Committee Rips Secretary Chu

It has been a busy day in Chairman Darrell Issa’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. This morning, the committee released a report titled The Department of Energy’s Disastrous Management of Loan Guarantee Programs. The report is a devastating indictment of the Obama administration’s “green” energy cronyism. It documents the extraordinary series of shaky (and sometimes shady) loans that DOE has made, often to administration allies.

You really should read the report in full; it describes how the Obama administration failed to follow its own rules, failed to diversify its investment portfolio, ignored clear signs of impending insolvency on the part of borrowers, and sometimes fraudulently characterized technologies in order to justify loans. This is the beginning of a section titled “Systemic Risks from ‘Crony Capitalism’ and Wasteful Spending:”

    There is evidence a number of loan guarantee recipients have engaged in clearly profligate spending. Such wasteful spending threatens the financial viability of the recipient companies, creating risks to both the DOE’s loan commitment portfolio and taxpayer dollars. It is particularly troubling that this waste often takes the form of large cash bonuses to company executives – such payments feed the perception that taxpayer funds are being used to line the pockets of green energy executives.

    Beacon Power Corp, the second recipient of a § 1705 loan guarantee, paid three executives more than a quarter million dollars in bonuses in March 2010.58 Eighteen months later, Beacon declared bankruptcy, leaving taxpayers to repay the loan. Adding insult to this injury, these bonuses were explicitly linked to the executives securing the DOE loan guarantee. Similarly, bankruptcy records show Solyndra doled out executive payments just months prior to its late August collapse and early September bankruptcy.59 In Solyndra’s case, former executives have stated that DOE explicitly allowed federal funds to be used to pay out executive bonuses.

    Wasteful spending is not limited to executive compensation alone. BrightSource Energy, recipient of a $1.6 billion loan guarantee to build a solar generation facility, has spent more than $56 million on a desert tortoise relocation program.62 Furthermore, BrightSource will build 50 miles of intricate fencing, at a cost of up to $50,000 per mile, designed to prevent relocated tortoises from climbing or burrowing back into the solar generation facility.63 BrightSource has indicated that the exploding cost of tortoise relocation program threatens to derail the entire $1.6 billion project – leaving taxpayers on the hook for the enormous sums on money spent on construction thus far.

The Committee’s report also takes us behind the “green revolving door” and sheds light on corruption in the Obama administration:

    Nancy Ann DeParle, the current Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy in the White House, had a financial stake in the success of Granite Reliable, which received $168.9 million loan from DOE. Prior to joining the White House, DeParle was a Managing Director of multi-billion dollar private equity firm CCMP and she both had a financial interest in and sat on the Board of Directors for Noble Environmental Power, LLC.178 Noble owned Granite Reliable, a wind energy project.179 Prior to her departure, her position on Noble’s board of Directors positioned her to understand the most confidential and material aspects of Noble Environmental and its subsidiary Granite Reliable. DeParle misrepresented her relationship with Noble Energy, claiming on disclosure forms that her interest had been divested, when in fact it had merely been transferred to her 10 year old son.180

Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified before Issa’s committee this morning and was grilled by some of the Republican members. Here, Ann Marie Buerkle of New York blasts the administration’s false claim that the U.S. has only 2% of the world’s oil reserves and therefore can’t begin to meet its energy needs by domestic production:

In this clip, Trey Gowdy of South Carolina asks Chu about his wish, expressed in 2008 just before he was named Secretary of Energy, that the government should “boost” gasoline prices to European levels. A visibly uncomfortable Chu explains that this was his opinion as a private citizen, but that since he became Secretary of Energy he has not pursued policies designed to increase prices:

I don’t believe him for a moment, but one wonders, in any event, why anyone would appoint a Secretary of Energy whose expressed desire is that energy costs rise, thereby impoverishing the American people.
4079  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Fed, Bernancke: Gold would hamper our ability to address problems on: March 22, 2012, 10:04:53 AM
I don't favor a return to the gold standard for reasons different from the Fed Chair.

Bernanke says gold standard wouldn't solve problems

WASHINGTON | Tue Mar 20, 2012 4:55pm EDT

(Reuters) - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday took aim at proponents of the gold standard, saying that such a system handicaps the government's ability to address economic conditions.

Bernanke spoke in the first of a series of four public lectures at George Washington University that is the central bank's latest effort to counter a raft of negative public sentiment that has arisen from its handling of the financial crisis. The former Princeton economics professor delivers a second lecture on Thursday and two more next week.

"Since the gold standard determines the money supply, there is not much scope for the central bank to use monetary policy to stabilize the economy," Bernanke said. "Under a gold standard, typically the money supply goes up and interest rates go down in a period of strong economic activity - so that's the reverse of what a central bank would normally do today." (more at the link)
4080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care 1798 on: March 22, 2012, 09:53:23 AM
Yes, an interesting mandate.  Seems to me the distinction GM points out is noteworthy.  There is no mandate to participate in that kind of commerce, but if you do you must participate in the cost.

Obama-care mandates that if you exist, you must purchase this product.  The income tax code comes close except that a constitutional amendment specifically authorizing it was required.  Certainly without the amendment our tax code is unconstitutional.

The Obama administration argued in it's passage that Obamacare is not a tax and argued in its constitutionality that it is.

The closest precedent for the individual mandate was the internment mandate of Japanese-American imposed by the FDR administration.  By merely existing a mandate was placed on you.  As is the case now, it was really in their own best interest:
4081  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / (House and) Senate Races 2012: Pete Hegseth R-MN on: March 21, 2012, 10:46:43 AM
"Starting this thread:"  - There will be some good and some crucial races this year!

Here's a good one:

Oddly, incumbent senior Senator from Minnesota Amy Klobuchar to the left of Al Franken has an amazing approval rate 61% in a somewhat purple state.  She is a policy clone of Hillary and Obama.  She entered congress as Dems took congress back in Nov 2006 / Jan 2007 when unemployment was at 4.6% and finishing 51 consecutive months of job growth.  Her economic record is historically miserable even though MN is doing b etter than most of the rest of the nation.  She is badly in need of a strong challenger.

Enter Pete Hegseth, native of Minnesota, Princeton graduate, enlisted in the Army and has served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most recently, he has been in Afghanistan, training the troops who will in turn train the Afghans who ultimately take over responsibility for that conflict.  Dir of Vets for Freeedom.

Pretty good story at National Review including policy positions:

...the general against the formidable Klobuchar. But Hegseth remains undaunted. “Senator Klobuchar has been very good at getting involved in easy, noncontroversial issues that lend themselves to photo ops,” he says. “But when it comes to big issues, such as how we ensure our energy security, she’s not willing to step out and take a stand.”
4082  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: March 21, 2012, 09:26:33 AM
Looks like about a 12 point win, Romney 47, Santorum 35%, off of a 7 to 1 money advantage with low turnout.  Oh well.

As painful as the process has been, Romney is in a very nice position coming into the general election.  With 4 different candidates still running, no one on the right can say they didn't have choices.  With the outcome now mostly known, the battle remaining doesn't have to be so mean.  The most moderate choice is winning, so independents who fear and distrust the far right can breathe a sigh of relief and have a voice on the ballot.  Yet the guy is still pro-life, pro-defense, pro-energy, for spending and regulatory restraint, anti-Obamacare, and committed to cutting tax rates by 20%.  As the late Wm F Buckley would say, pick the most conservative candidate who can win.

If he holds himself up as competent, ready and instills confidence, he could win and bring with him a slightly Republican House and Senate too.

Turning this country around has never been easier.

Regarding turnout, the excitement is about the choice in Nov, not about picking between the choices now.

If I were Romney right now, I would tell each remaining competitor privately that I don't care how long they stay in the race, that is their business, and that in each case, Santorum, Gingrich and Paul, that I stand to learn something from each of them and that I want a line of input open to them in the difficult process of governing.

4083  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Santorum on: March 20, 2012, 09:11:41 PM
I heard Glenn Beck ask Santorum about Paul Ryan's budget.  Santorum said the simplified two tax rate plan at 10 and 15% is very similar to his, 10 and 28%.

Who knew?
4084  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: March 20, 2012, 09:08:46 PM
"since FDR, few second-term presidents have been capable of great mischief"

He has done his mischief.  He isn't capable of undoing any of it.  Many people around think we don't have - 4 more years - to get turned in the right direction.
4085  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: March 20, 2012, 09:04:59 PM
"when they are not with their parents"

She is 13, traveling to a third world earthquake zone, without parents, I assumed the trip was for national security purposes.
4086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness on a teleprompter - Our closest allies on: March 19, 2012, 10:49:26 PM
And THIS is what he does best?!
4087  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: March 19, 2012, 02:27:37 PM
"Please complete the following sentence.  This course we are on is sustainable because .......................................................... ."  [Accompanied with the picture of our eternal deficit trend.]

Crafty: "because , , , ummm , , , well , , , nevermind."
The gallant effort is duly noted though I think that is also what Geithner (Treas. Sec.) said when asked what year the outgoing administration's budget balances.

One of three things is going to happen.

1) We can slash current spending by a net trillion a year to balance the budget - or can we?  This is pretty much the Ron Paul proposal but he hasn't even won a far right caucus state yet.  The trillion would have to be net savings, not just cutting government jobs where the people end up getting federal dollars anyway.  Politically speaking, this option is not even on the table for discussion.  For all the root canal negotiations for cuts last year following the landslide, power changing, off-year elections, domestic spending was up another 5%.

2) Win a mandate and implement supply-side, pro-growth policies that include tax system reform, regulatory reform and spending growth restraint, and keep all the reforms in place over an extended period of time while we grow our way out of this.

3) Stay on the present course and find out exactly when GM's prediction of our demise will come true - where the only investments surviving are canned foods and dry gun powder.

I would like to choose door number two.
4088  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market - Wesbury QE3 off the Fed table on: March 19, 2012, 02:03:05 PM
"...the Fed finally admitted the economy has improved, while, for all intents and purposes, it also took additional quantitative easing – QE3 – off the table."

This is not Fed-speak but Wesbury's words.  Does this mean that right now the U.S. is selling US Treasury bills, bonds, notes, IOUs in the full amount required to cover all of our trillion plus dollar per year deficit spending habit with no further monetizing of the debt?  (I highly doubt it.)
4089  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - employment on: March 19, 2012, 07:44:27 AM
Another graphical look from Scott Grannis.  Employment is one of the best and most important indicators of how an economy is really doing.  Take a look at the recent uptick in employment that Wesbury and others are seeing - in the context of the hole that we dug. 

Keep in mind also the budget gap, separate post.  Climbing out of this hole is not optional!

4090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: March 19, 2012, 07:41:12 AM
Trillion plus still in deficit and the budget thread slipped to page two in political topics.  Not very sexy, not even urgent?

Another chart with credits to Scott Grannis.  Policy-caused recessions and slowdowns cause budget gaps on their own confounded by additional policy choices/mistakes, so there are at least 4 levels of collective stupidity on display here.  Note that when the economy is running reasonably well the gap tends to close in spite of our horrific appetite for wasteful largess.

Look at the more recent uptick in revenues, but also look at it in context with wherever you judge the long term trtend line should be.

Please complete the following sentence.  This course we are on is sustainable because .......................................................... .

4091  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 19, 2012, 07:33:09 AM
Reading several blog pages back from Scott Grannis, this chart of his shows graphically what I think of the current 'reecovery'.  A real recovery would show sharp growth aimed back at the line formerly known as 'growth trend'.  The gap under is becoming what in Japan they called the 'lost decade'.  You don't have to lose a decade.  Decline, slow gfrowth and no growth, these are policy choices.

4092  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: March 18, 2012, 01:10:28 PM
"Where is the Dem party brain trust?"  "You mean Marx, Alinsky and Soros?"

No, I mean the ones who should be chasing those demons out of their party.  Where is the 'rising tide raises all boats', 'peace through strength', 'it is what you can do for your country' message today on their side of the aisle?

The only economic growth argument they have going, I just posted on the tax and political economic threads, is a combination of more debt, higher disincentives to produce and more assignment of blame, as if there is still room to improve on what already has been exhausted.  Algae and tire pressure checks for a better tomorrow.

After this election I would assume that some real leadership will have to emerge from the dormant, pragmatic and centrist wing of that party.  A lot of those people will have time on their hands...
4093  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 18, 2012, 12:47:36 PM
"Scott Grannis doesn't [think we aren't heading to an economic collapse]."

Scott has good insight and data.  I would like to go back a little through his blog which I haven't read for a while.  Like Wesbury, it seems to me that we are hearing positive words that describe a very lethargic non-recovery.  I wrote this about housing too, but I'm not going to count any margin of error level 'growth' as any kind of rebound.  Maybe we aren't currently headed into collapse, but we also aren't building up enough economic strength to survive the next, major, self-inflicted setback.

I think both Wesbury and Grannis would agree that the 'growth' they are reporting, from the lowest of all lows, is a fraction of what it ought to be and that our policies are desperately in need of change.
4094  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - It's not as trendy as it was to be in the Obama campaign on: March 18, 2012, 12:25:35 PM
"It's not as trendy as it was to be involved in the Obama campaign"
   - Barack Obama, March 2012

You don't say!

'Landslide' 2008 was a 7 point win running an error-free blank slate against and aging and confused challenger hated by his own party.  The only demographic group in the country where Obama's approval has not dropped 7 points in popularity is right-ring Republicans.

I quit touting my prediction made at the height of his approval that Barack Obama will not be the nominee of his own party because the only substitute they can think of is to have Hillary run on the exact same record, policies and rhetoric.

Where is the Dem party brain trust?
4095  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Barron's cover story: Housing ready to rebound on: March 18, 2012, 12:12:53 PM
Actually ready to rebound by spring of 2013, this pretend optimism is another way of confirming what PP told us a year ago - to get ready for at least 2 more years of downward movement.  So far, pp has been right on the money.

After falling 34% over the past six years, U.S. home prices will soon bottom. They could turn back up by spring 2013.

(nice ads at the link, try 4 weeks free!)
My prediction was that the housing rebound is tied to the employment and income rebound which is inextricably tied to the Nov 6 election and the policies and expectations that come out of it.

Point of clarification: a 2 or 3% bump following a 40% collapse is not exactly a 'rebound'. 
4096  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on Energy on: March 18, 2012, 12:00:01 PM
This could go in Energy Policy but it really is only about nonsense coming out of the mouth of the President of the United States:

Charles Krauthammer on the Obama Community College energy speech:  “You know, in basketball this would be a double technical,” Krauthammer said. “Obama will stomp on anybody, living or dead, if he’ll get a laugh out of it, and you know eight people who will end up on his side on Nov. 6. But I think the whopper in his speech was where he said, at one point, he said, ‘The real way to reduce prices on gas in America is to decrease demand.’ Then, within three minutes of the same speech, he said we can increase production offshore all we want. It will have no effect on the world price.”

Does he even read these speeches before he delivers them.  Is he a complete moron or does he think you are one?
4097  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics - Have you been unemployed long? on: March 18, 2012, 11:54:40 AM
The human damage they are willing to do in their ideological battle against economic freedom is appalling.
4098  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics - Keynesians say we need more stimulus on: March 18, 2012, 11:48:23 AM
Former chief economic adviser Christina Romer says what we need to get different results is more of the same:;_ylt=ArC3bUsdYUwVwF.MUUT2fFGiuYdG;_ylu=X3oDMTQ0a3NjZGI2BG1pdANGaW5hbmNlIEZQIFRvcCBTdG9yeSBSaWdodARwa2cDNTU5Nzk1NGQtYzBkNS0zMjI1LWJlYmEtZDZiYjc4MWQzNGI

"I absolutely think more fiscal stimulus would be very helpful," she says. "We need faster growth [to bring down unemployment]. Fiscal stimulus could help do that."

Good grief.  $6 trillion wasn't enough, we need more fiscal stimulus.  Somebody is trying to get her job back.
4099  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy: Christina Romer on marginnal tax rates on: March 18, 2012, 11:40:24 AM

"A family’s marginal tax rate is what its members pay to the government if they earn another dollar. If the government takes a smaller chunk of that dollar, a family has more incentive to earn it. Workers may choose to work additional hours, or a stay-at-home spouse may decide to work outside the home. Likewise, entrepreneurs may invest in a new enterprise or expand an existing one. Lower marginal rates also reduce people’s incentives to shield income from taxes, through legal and illegal means."

Oddly, Romer goes on to try to minimize that reality.  With all the scrutiny over copyrights, I end my interest in what she has to say right there.  My advice is don't bother click on the link or read it all.  She is trying to tell potential skydivers without parachutes that the law of gravity is no big deal.
4100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: March 16, 2012, 11:58:49 PM
"Santorum wants to ban hardcore porn."

That kind of position should be backed up with an stated opinion of where the authority for federal jurisdiction comes from in the constitution.  I suppose it is interstate commerce as much as growing tomatoes on your own property is.
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