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4051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics - Stiglitz Dec 2008, We are all Keynsians now? on: May 03, 2011, 02:04:40 PM
Where do you start and where do you end with Keynesian thinking?  Let's see, savings is bad, deficits are good.  Unearned money falling to people is good, increasing the incentives to not produce is inconsequential.  Temporary is permanent and permanent is temporary.  And Obama is another market fundamentalist, lol, I fell off my chair on that one.  Assuming Prof. Stiglitz stands by his '08 analysis, we now have at least 3 Nobel winners favoring interventionism over markets with this guy, Krugman and Obama.  Sounds to me like written from the George Orwell Chair of economics over at Columbia.  I noticed that he didn't get his co-worker Robert Mundell, a Nobel winner with a different view, to sign on with this piece.

Keynes own works do not contemplate conditions like we have today.  Would he really give a 'tax cut' further to the poor in a place where the lower 51% already are at zero or lower?  What is the capability of the government to inject fiscal stimulus further when we are already printing 200 million an hour?  Keynes contemplated THAT?  What is the capability of the central bank to inject further monetary stimulus when real interest rates are already NEGATIVE?

If fiscal stimulus is the Keynes answer, but we are already at a trillion a year, do another trillion a year, for how long, then what?  How do you withdraw temporary spending in today's political scheme?? I guess we will see. Keynes died in 1946.  It is crazy to think we know what his view would be now with 65 years of new data.

I did not see from Stiglitz and have not ever seen elsewhere anything to show that this situation was the failure of a free market.  Quite the opposite.  I know people make that statement, but the failure and breakdowns always happen in the most intervened of all markets already, today it is healthcare, banking, energy, housing, higher education and manufacturing.  Government is the largest force in all the problem sectors.

The trade off between unemployment and inflation was proven false during the stagflation of the Jimmy Carter years when both worsened simultaneously, and proven false again when both were cured nearly simultaneously.  That was why Keynesianism was 'shunned' 3 decades ago.

If the problem isn't a nail, the answer isn't always a hammer...

The problem is whole plethora of screwed up incentives, roadblocks and uncertainties for potential producers in the economy in every direction that they turn.  What good does turn on another faucet do when we face all these other hurdles.  

What collapsed in 2008 was an unsustainable imbalance propped up by a series of misguided government policies.  The worst was the inducements and covering of financial institutions to make housing loans based on criteria other than creditworthyness and likelihood of paying back.  When it collapsed it took down housing and banking in a free fall.  End of housing value meant end of construction and the loss of jobs feeds back into more houses lost and banks in jeopardy.  Who knew? True that both parties favored the initial government intervention to stop the free fall of the consequences of our previous failed government interventions, but the larger question remains:  What have we learned and what do we do now?  

The answer is real, pro-growth policies, aka supply side economics, the exact opposite mindset from the elite interventionists who failed us, IMHO.

4052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential, lessons from HW Bush on: May 03, 2011, 01:13:04 PM
The discussion yesterday about how the failed Bush 1 reelection parallels to today was excellent. He got a well deserved war bump in popularity and then later lost for other reasons. The Perot factor was big, the recession was exaggerated but real as was his inability to acknowledge it.  And the broken 'no new taxes' pledge was used ruthlessly against him.

The strangest part of that episode to me was that the opponents of Bush who ripped him the worst for raising taxes would themselves have raised taxes further!  What it exposed was weakness. 

It was the 'centrists' Treasury Sec. Brady and Budget Director Darmon that pushed him hard and publicly, with all the leaks, into raising taxes.  He would have had to oppose his own highest advisers, oppose an emboldened Dem congress (and have a backbone) in order to not break his pledge.  He had no Paul Ryan or anyone else writing or pushing an alternative.  It wasn't opposition to the 'revenue enhancers' that energized his opponents, it was just that it exposed a flaw.  This guy wasn't a 3rd term of Reagan, he is at least on this key issue a spineless centrist that leans with the wind, whose word means nothing.  Much like today.

Lesson learned, caving on principle, being a Dem-lite / RINO in this case in order to win favor with moderates and liberals and the press and the people, gained him nothing.  All those same people turned on him instantly once the deal was inked.  Just like they did after George W Bush teamed with Ted Kennedy on a federal education expansion, a new drug entitlement, campaign finance reform and a failed amnesty initiative.  They was no political gain for compromising or selling out on principles.
4053  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, Have we learned NOTHING? on: May 03, 2011, 09:59:45 AM
When I read that last night (Stiglitz) I did not notice the date, Dec. 2008, and kept wondering when and where I have heard the before - "We are all Keynesians now".  I knew it was right before some major policy blunders were about to occur.

I will be happy to return to this later to answer this demand side only thinking point by point, but we didn't just "shun" Keynsianism for three decades, it proved itself WRONG 3 decades ago, and again.
4054  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bin Laden dead? on: May 01, 2011, 10:35:26 PM
Room temperature.  The Commander in Chief cut his golf game to just 9 holes today for the first time in his Presidency, a very big story.  Looking forward to learning the details.

Violence threatened.  We will see what happens next.  We will also see if this gives us confidence to stop operations in Yemen etc.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/689415.aspx

April 25, 2011

'Nuke hellstorm if Laden caught or killed'

Al Qaeda terrorists have threatened to unleash a "nuclear hellstorm" on the West if their leader and world's most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden is nabbed.  ...
4055  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Foreign Policy: Leading from Behind - (Obama) The Consequentialist on: May 01, 2011, 01:17:08 PM
Moving right along... This was an interview I found interesting of Hugh Hewitt with the author of th New Yorker's current piece on the Obama administration's foreign poliy, called "The Consequentialist':

http://www.hughhewitt.com/transcripts.aspx?id=daf95729-9b04-484a-acb3-6c834217a155

New Yorker's Ryan Lizza On Barack Obama Foreign Policy, The Consequentialist
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

HH: I am also talking foreign policy today with Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post, and my guest right now, Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker, whose piece, The Consequentialist in the new New Yorker is turning a lot of heads and causing a lot of comment. Ryan, welcome back, it’s great to have you. ... I have been through this article twice now. And I am completely amazed that you got what you got here, and that the White House hasn’t blown up your car. What is the reaction to this piece?

RL: This is, the reaction is fascinating, because I think perhaps liberals see one thing in this piece, and conservatives see another. And I imagine you’re going to want to talk about this phrase, “leading from behind.”

HH: Yes, in the very last paragraph of the piece. Explain to people how proud they are of leading from behind.

RL: Well Hugh, I think it’s an easy phrase to poke fun of, right?

HH: Right.

RL: Because it’s this paradox, leading from behind, ha ha ha. We don’t want a president who leads from behind. We want a president who leads. And that’s been the tenor of a lot of the commentary about that quote, especially on the right, that there can’t be any such thing as leading from behind. And just before I got on the show, I was writing a blog on it about this, maybe helping explain this concept in a little bit more detail. And I agree that as a political slogan, as I point out in the piece, you know, not the greatest phrase in the world. But the context this came up in is the Obama administration’s response to Libya, okay? And I think you have to look carefully at what they did in Libya to understand why this was their strategy. We went to war, and we are at war, in another Muslim country. Now how do you get the world to go along with the United States wanting to bomb another Muslim country? Do you do it just unilaterally? Does the President just get up and say hey, I want Gaddafi gone, we’re sending in the bombs right now? Or do you work through multilateral institutions, and try to get the U.N. to back you, try and get Arab support, and try not to have the whole effort branded as an American-led enterprise, because you know that that will be used against us in some, in many quarters of the world? And if you look really, really carefully at what they did in Libya, it was essentially a massive bait and switch. The Arab League, and some other Arab states, said oh, yeah, we want a no-fly zone. Well, the no-fly zone was the option on the table at the United Nations. It was the resolution that was proposed by Lebanon, the U.K., and the French. And what Obama did at the very last second, and I think this has really been missed in a lot of the reporting on what went down over Libya, at the last second, they said no, a no-fly zone won’t do anything to save Benghazi, because there are no Libyan planes about to bomb Benghazi, there are tanks on the ground, so what we need is a resolution that gives full authorization for military intervention in Libya. And so essentially the Obama administration very quietly asked for a more hawkish, a more militaristic resolution, and they got it.

HH: But you know, Ryan, if that was…

RL: And I go through all of that, Hugh, just to say that if the way that they got that was by playing down their own role in it, then you have to judge it on the terms of the outcome rather than on the style of leadership.

HH: Well, if they had intended to get there, you have a pretty good argument. But what emerges from The Consequentialist is incoherence, schizophrenia, an up/down, almost manic-depressive engagement with the world. And what really is powerfully condemning of the Obama administration is the light you throw on their Iranian policy, or actually the failure of Iranian policy. And I think buried in The Consequentialist is one revelation that some of Obama’s White House aides regretted having stood idly by why the Iranian regime brutally repressed the Green Revolution. And more than standing idly by, they rebuked the State Department young guy for getting involved with the Twitter controversy. It confirms every conservative’s critique of President Obama’s indifference to the smashing of the Green Revolution. I think that’s one of the huge takeaways of your piece.

RL: I agree. I agree that that’s…to me, that was a very important part of the piece, and to really spell out how there was a major shift in policy. And as they moved from engagement, and almost a certain amount of respect for the Iranian regime, as that whole policy really got upended by the Green Revolution, there is quite a bit, several of his advisors realize and will admit that yeah, they got that wrong, that to the extent that they…now let me explain…from their point of view, their explanation is well, it was really about, the policy of non-interference with the protestors was really about making sure that the regime couldn’t use the U.S. involvement to sort of discredit them. And look, there’s something to be said for that. You have to be careful about the effects. But they, there was regret over that, and I think that’s why when it came to Egypt, they tried to strike a different balance. And you’re absolutely right. I was very surprised to find that this young guy, Jared Cohen, who unilaterally, essentially all by himself, contacted Twitter, and told them to delay a scheduled maintenance upgrade so that the Iranians could continue to use Twitter. It was a very controversial, I mean, inside, someone at the White House referred to it as, when I asked about it, they said oh yeah, you’re talking about Twittergate, right?

HH: You see, that’s quite good reporting. I’m curious, how did you get this much access, because you were with Hillary in Tunis, you were with her in Cairo. You obviously talked to Donilon, you quote him here, and that’s one of the freighted quotes in this piece about we’re over-weighted in the Middle East, and underweighted in China and Asia. And I thought to myself, that’s just perfect gibberish from the new age nonsensical people. But how did they, why did they say yes to you on these requests?

RL: Well look, I think when you’re going in and you’re saying I’m going to do a lengthy review of your foreign policy, and I want you to explain it to me, they have an incentive to explain it. And so they were all, at various parts of the administration, they were very willing to sit down, you know, and talk about this stuff.

HH: Hillary? I mean, when you’re talking, when you’re having breakfast with her, I think it’s in Tunis?

RL: Yes.

HH: And she kind of implores you, what’s the standard? I can just see her saying what am I going to do? I can’t go everywhere in the world.

RL: Well, yeah, and I thought that was a very revealing moment.

HH: It was.

RL: …because she was saying like look, these cases are hard. You can’t, if you, you know, there’s a lot of bad stuff happening in the world. And she pointed out at that point Congo and Cote d’Ivoire, and we can’t intervene everywhere. And I think her point was, you know, what she said is part of her job is to try and build an international consensus to do something about these problems. And that was her point about Libya, is you’ve got to get consensus from the actors in the region. There is this sense in the Obama administration that the U.S. can’t do everything. And I’ll tell you, Hugh, on the right, I think we’re, I think folks in America are sort of schizophrenic about this, because on the one hand, we feel somehow if the U.S. isn’t leading the charge on a big international issue, we feel like you know, that’s not right, we’re supposed to lead on every issue. On the other hand, you talk to a lot of people who think well, why should be bear all the burdens? And I saw that, I saw both of those arguments among conservatives as we went back and forth about what to do in Libya, right?

HH: Right.

RL: Some people saying how are we letting Sarkozy lead this effort, and other people saying you know, why are we getting involved at all.

HH: Well, it’s the Scowcroft-Cheney divide in the Republican Party.

RL: Yes.

HH: But what got me about this piece that’s communicated so well is that the Secretary of State would tell you, however widely regarded you are as a reporter, Ryan, that the biggest problem in the administration is that they don’t have a rule yet articulated. She’s telling you this on the record. It confirms for me they really don’t know what they’re doing, and that the Department of State and the White House are at loggerheads with each other.

RL: Well, I think that they don’t have a…look, Obama himself has said this pretty clearly in some of the TV interviews he did after the Libyan intervention. He said that this doesn’t mean that there’s a new doctrine being laid down about when we do and don’t intervene. And you know, there’s a school of foreign policy thinking that doctrines are the worst thing for a president, because once you have some doctrine, you are straightjacketed when presented with a new crisis or threat. And you know, I think there’s a reluctance by Obama to sort of lay down something that everyone will call a doctrine, because you want to, frankly, as president, you want to have the flexibility to be inconsistent, right? You want to have the flexibility to do something in Libya, and maybe not in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia.

HH: Or Iran or Syria, where we’re getting standing idly by 2.0 underway right now in Syria.
- -    -   -
HH: A couple of other aspects I can’t cover, it’s a very long article, I’ve linked it at Hughhewitt.com, Ryan Lizza. The President sends a memo out on August 12, 2010, saying you know, we really have got to take a look at these Middle Eastern regimes ruled by autocrats. Things could go wrong there. So he gets a little working group together which reports back the day before Tunisia falls apart. Good timing, that, eh?

RL: Well look, you could look at this…one way to look at that is hey, they were still debating these issues when the Middle East exploded. But another way to look at it is they realized that things weren’t going well in the Middle East. They realized that there were limits to their approach, they’ve realized that Iran policy got short-circuited by the Green Revolution, although remember, Hugh, they did get sanctions on Iran. That was a pretty big step, and they got the Security Council to support sanctions on Iran, so that’s not nothing. And you know, they realized that with elections in Egypt and a few other places coming up, that it was time to look anew at U.S. policy in the Middle East. And Obama basically wanted to know was it now more in our interest to support a bold, political reform message in the Middle East. And that was what that group was discussing.

HH: But you know, Ryan, I’m a member of a faculty, a law school faculty.

RL: Yeah.

HH: So I know what faculty meetings are like. And there are a lot of smart people talking, talking, talking.

RL: Yeah.

HH: In fact, at one point in your piece, you write about all the earnest, young women and men over at the Department of State, talking about Facebook revolutions, and globalization, and they’re talking over at the White House, and they’re having these seminars. Meanwhile, the world is rushing past them. And I’m sure they’re talking about Syria right now, but they don’t have anything to do about it, do they?

RL: You know, I haven’t done enough reporting about Syria to really know. And the issue has obviously gotten much, much more intense over the last few days when Assad has just decided that he’s, you know, he’s going to do anything it takes to stay in power. What are the options in Syria, though, right? I mean, we don’t have leverage with Assad. We had a lot of leverage with Mubarak. It’s one of the cases for engagement with bad guys, is when they get, when they’re at their worst, you at least have some leverage. And one of the things we did with Mubarak is we very strongly sent the message that violence against the protestors was a red line that he shouldn’t cross.

HH: But Ryan…

RL: Whether the U.S. is responsible for him holding back or not, I don’t know. But I’m just saying in Syria, we don’t have a lot of great options, right? Our influence is extremely limited.

HH: No, but in your piece, I mean, the Egyptian reporting is fascinating, because yeah, we sent that message, and we sent a bunch of other messages as well, and then we sent Wisner, and they threw Wisner under the bus, or as he said, to the reelection committee. And at one point, you’re downstairs, the Secretary of State’s upstairs, and there are a bunch of Muslim Brotherhood guys who won’t go upstairs, because they prefer Obama’s policy to that of the Secretary of State. That is in one anecdote the definition of incoherence in a foreign policy, isn’t it?

RL: I disagree. Your takeaway from some of these anecdotes is probably a little bit different than mine. So my view of, so this was a meeting for Egyptian activists. Two of them were sort of self-described moderates or liberals, one of them is a Marxist, and one is Muslim Brotherhood. And they all boycotted Hillary Clinton’s meeting because of something she said very early on in the protests. She said that the Mubarak regime is stable, or Mubarak government is stable. They all remembered that stable comment, and it really pissed them off. And they wouldn’t meet with her over it. Interestingly, I asked the Muslim Brotherhood guy if he would meet with Obama, and his face lit up and said yes. So Hugh, just think about that for a second. On the one hand, it gets at this sort of split between Hillary and Obama. But it’s a split in their perceptions of the two of them. In other words, they thought that Obama was on their side. This is a guy…and isn’t that what we want? We want the guys in the Muslim Brotherhood to think you know what, the U.S. has a president that in some way I can relate to. I don’t see that as a negative. I see that in some ways as a positive.

HH: I’m pretty sure my pal, Frank Gaffney, would say the Muslim Brotherhood is thinking that this guy is a patsy, and we can play him like a rube, and therefore, we’re not going to deal with the tough lady upstairs. We’re going to wait for Obama to wilt under the pressure of public opinion, and his perceived need to be liked by quasi-revolutionary movements.

RL: No, but my view of what they were telling me, and remember, it wasn’t just the Muslim Brotherhood. It was the guys from a selfish U.S. perspective, that you want to see succeed in Egypt. It was the moderates. It was the guys who, the non-religious moderates. They…and remember, all these guys were on the same side. It’s the same anti-Mubarak side. They’re all starting to divide and split and form parties and oppose each other. But for that one moment in Tahrir Square, they were all on the same side, right? So the Muslim Brotherhood guys and the liberals we want to succeed, were all trying to oust Mubarak together. And so where they agreed was that they thought that President Obama was more on the side of the protestors than on the side of Mubarak. And you know, I think the White House very skillfully maneuvered Obama into that sort of public position, even though behind the scenes, things were a lot more complicated with the whole Wisner episode, as you point out.

HH: Let me close by talking about the one passage which really jumped out, and it jumped out because it echoed, I had Mitt Romney on the program, oh, about a week ago, blasting President Obama. I had Tim Pawlenty on yesterday.

RL: Yeah, I saw that. I didn’t see Romney, but I read the Pawlenty excerpt.

HH: Yeah.

RL: He didn’t totally take the bait on the leading from behind, though.

HH: Oh, he was getting there. I ran out of time, though. But he did love the Zbigniew Brzezinski piece, where you quote Zbig as saying about the President, I don’t think he really has a policy that’s implementing his insights and understanding. The rhetoric is always terribly imperative and categorical. You must do this, he must do that, this is unacceptable. Brzezinski added, he doesn’t strategize, he sermonizes. That’s almost verbatim from Romney’s critique eight or nine days ago, and may become a meme along with leading from behind, Ryan Lizza. What are they saying about your piece? Are they happy with it?

RL: I don’t know. Frankly, I haven’t talked to many people in the administration since it’s come out. But you know, all you can do is…

HH: Write what you hear.

RL: Yeah, write what you hear, be fair, but also be tough. It’s our job, to maintain some critical distance.

HH: Was there much conversation about Israel at all? Because it’s not here.

RL: There was some. Hey look, there was some, and look, Zbig, I think Zbig, I didn’t detail this, but I think Zbig Brzezinski’s big issue is Israel. I think he thinks that Obama has mishandled Israel, and has retreated from a policy that Zbig was encouraging, that is to be a little bit tougher on Israel. And so I think that’s part of Zbig’s concern. But in general, as the quote you read suggests, Zbig thinks there’s a gap between the words and actions of the administration.

HH: Ryan Lizza, great piece, thanks for joining me on it. The Consequentialist is in the latest issue of the New York, how the Arab spring remade Obama’s foreign policy. And you’ve got to read it a couple of times. I think you’ll, I know every Republican presidential candidate is going over it and reading it with a fine-toothed comb, as I suspect the House Foreign Affairs Committee will be, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
4056  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: May 01, 2011, 12:48:34 PM
"So, if we officially abandoned Israel tomorrow, what happens then...?"

What is the answer to that?  I suppose a race by Iran, Syria, Egypt, and who knows who else, to see who can destroy Israel first.  Israel would fight back and win for a while, but Israel can't withstand as many casualties and would lose in the end.  The regional cooperation in that destruction might lead to some kind of Caliphate that we fear along with a lot of enegy and confidence to keep going.  Would we really just sit out while that happens in the name of ... peace?? We wouldn't even go in for evacuations?  Unarmed, getting shot at?  If we were morally neutral about the destruction of Israel (I hope we aren't!), the question still remains - would they (the Islamic militarists/extemists/jihadists) still hate us and attack us all they can for at least another century?  The answer is yes, I think we know that.  If yes, then that extra intangible cost for our support of Israel is nil.

And then what, with Israel off the table, for US foreign policy?  Then we sit down without preconditions? Argue for sanctions at the U.N.?  Hope they don't want western Europe next? (They do!)  Abandon Europe next?  Then they will like us?  Or draw the line there instead and start over?

I look forward to hearing a different, plausible scenario, I but I say that idea doesn't work, isn't an option, and wouldn't make us safer.  The issue is not whether to support Israel, only how best to do that.
4057  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 30, 2011, 05:37:18 PM
"My only regret is that we were unable to find time for a China discussion before next week’s departure for Beijing."  - Huntsman to Obama

Unf*kcingBelievable.

A Nobel ceremony, 65 rounds of golf, NCAA picks, beer summit, fund raisers, date night in NYC, but no time for a "China discussion" before sending your representative to a third world nuclear power oppressive regime, biggest polluter on the planet, with a seat on the security council and the world's second largest economy.  What's to talk about?

Hard to believe the Obama camp leaked that letter.  And who takes that job without first having "a China discussion" with the boss??

I don't feel so bad not knowing what our China policy is. 

They stood together at the appointment photo-opp and did NOT have a China discussion, but there is no indication in these letters or anything else published that Obama has ever directly spoken with Huntsman.  The letter thanked him for his 'note'.  Searching google, it looks like Rahm set up the hiring.  http://www.ksl.com/?sid=6506779&nid=148 He met with the transition team before the announcement.  http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22589.html  Huntsman came to the White House for the Hu state dinner and sat in the front row.  How close is that??

Or as current chief of staff Daley puts it with a smile: "the closeness in which he worked with the president is most appreciated."
4058  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 30, 2011, 04:53:55 PM
Thank you JDN, nice post.  We come at this from slightly different directions.  Where you would like more centrism, I look for a principled conservative that is competent and draws centrists toward conservatism.  (Although no one has drawn more people toward conservatism than Obama.)

Looking at Huntsman I find he touts more his skills than his principles, somewhat Clintonesque (without the blue dress), and the 6 years of Clinton serving with a conservative House and Senate were not bad times at all by today's standards.

On foreign policy I don't know if his experience representing the Obama administration in China will be helpful or any clue what the Huntsman Doctrine will be. I honestly don't know what our policy is.  Our relationship with China seems fairly neutral right now with two giant countries screwed up in different ways.

"I would think you would like the fact that he is strong Pro-Life."

 - So was John Kerry, lol and Clinton - safe legal and rare (at a million a year).  In my view, if he (or any candidate/President) is able to read and comprehend the constitution I wouldn't think his personal view of that as a federal official should be of any concern to me.  I wonder which article authorizes federal funding of abortion or prohibits the state regulation of it? The relevance there as President will come down to Supreme Court appointments and again I will look to his principles and convictions to predict that. 

I like some of Huntsman's ideas, just not the part of them being government-centric.  I expect to vote for him if it is he vs. Obama.  If he turns out to be another wishy washy McCain-like candidate (and McCain had far more national experience than any of these candidates), and has to reach back to the right during the final stretch - that is not the best strategy to win.  Also there are times where winning is not winning IMO, when it leaves my side endorsing the wrong policies and principles. 

He is certainly as qualified as any and like him or not he would widen the choices and sharpen the debates.  Like GM says, now he needs to decide which side to join.  After all, he is a centrist. 

I would love to see a moderate Dem or competent centrist of any kind contest the Dem side. Everyone wants to capture the middle.  If a true centrist won the Dem and ran against someone too far to the right (whatever that means  smiley)... that would be a nice win-win situation.
4059  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: It is the Policy Mix, Stupid on: April 30, 2011, 04:07:20 PM
There isn't one thing that turns this mess around.  It is the whole gamut.  A weaker dollar that people wanted for the China imbalance, or a corporate tax rate lowered to 25% when no one is making a profit or paying the tax does nothing to change the fact that manufacturers have to pay four times what should for natural gas required in manufacturing or fuel required to deliver product and services or the investors face excess uncertainty and employers face growing burdens.

We are punting right now on one of the best opportunities ever to grow our economy.  This recession ended in June 2009 (2 years ago!) and recoveries typically have twice the growth rate of ordinary times.  Investment and job growth these last 2 years would have been an amazing help for the foreclosure situation not to mention the budget deficit.  Yet we sputter.

One does not need to understand economic terms like Keynesianism to see that we currently have the wrong policy mix for what is so badly needed right now, private sector growth.  Please read this Wall Street Journal editorial:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704463804576290943139855726.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

The Keynesian Growth Discount
The results of our three-year economic experiment are in.

For three long years, the U.S. has been undertaking an experiment in economic policy. Could record levels of government spending, waves of new regulation and political credit allocation, and unprecedented monetary stimulus re-ignite growth? The results have been rolling in, and they represent what increasingly looks like an historic mistake that deserves to be called the Keynesian growth discount.
***

The latest evidence is yesterday's disappointing report of 1.8% in first quarter GDP. At this stage of recovery after a deep recession, the economy is typically growing by 4% or more as consumer confidence returns and businesses accelerate investment as their profits revive. Yet in this recovery consumers are still cautious and business investment remains weak.

Some of the first quarter's growth slump is due to seasonal factors such as bad weather and weaker defense spending. In the silver lining department, the private economy grew faster than the overall GDP figure because government spending declined. But even maintaining the 2.9% growth rate of 2010 would mark an historic underachievement for a recovery after a recession that was as deep as the one from late 2007 to mid-2009.

The most recent recession of comparable depth and job loss was in 1981-1982, when unemployment hit 10.8%. Huge chunks of industrial America shut down and never re-opened. Yet once the recovery began in earnest in the first quarter of 1983, the economy boomed. As the nearby table shows, growth exceeded 7.1% for five consecutive quarters, and it kept growing at nearly a 4% pace for another two years. Growth didn't dip below 2% in any quarter until the second three months of 1986. This was the Reagan boom.

Now look at the first seven quarters of the current recovery. Only briefly has growth hit 5%, in the fourth quarter of 2009 as businesses rebuilt inventories that had been pared to the bone. Growth has been mediocre ever since, sputtering to a near-stall in the middle of last year, accelerating modestly late last year, and now slowing again. This recovery is as weak as the much-maligned "jobless recovery" of the last decade, which followed a mild recession and at least gained speed after the tax cut of 2003.

Most striking is that this weak growth follows everything that the Keynesian playbook said politicians should throw at the economy. First came $168 billion in one-time tax rebates in February 2008 under George W. Bush, then $814 billion more in spending spread over 2009-2010, cash for clunkers, the $8,000 home buyer tax credit, Hamp to prevent home foreclosures, the Detroit auto bailouts, billions for green jobs, a payroll tax cut for 2011, and of course near-zero interest rates for 28 months buttressed by quantitative easing I and II. We're probably forgetting something.

Imagine if President Obama had introduced his original stimulus in February 2009 with the vow that, 26 months later, GDP would be growing by 1.8% and the jobless rate would be 8.8%. Does anyone think it would have passed?

Liberal economists will blame this latest slowdown on spending cuts across all levels of government, and government spending did fall in the first quarter. But those modest declines follow the biggest government spending binge since World War II that was supposed to kick start the economy and then stop. Remember former White House chief economist Larry Summers's mantra that stimulus spending should be timely, targeted and temporary?

With deficits this year estimated to hit $1.65 trillion, are we really supposed to believe that more deficit spending will produce faster growth? Would $2 trillion do the trick, or how about $3 trillion? Two years after the stimulus debate began, the critics who said all of this spending would provide at most a temporary lift to GDP while saddling the economy with record deficits have been proven right.

The good news is that the private economy seems to have enough momentum to avoid a recession in the near term, but the danger is that growth will continue to be subpar. The evidence is that the combination of spendthrift fiscal policy and a wave of new regulatory costs and mandates are restraining business expansion and hiring.

Then there's the threat of higher tax rates on investment and business that we dodged for two years after the GOP won Congress but that President Obama has now promised for 2013 if he is re-elected. This too deters the animal spirits necessary for robust growth. The great risk is stagflation, a la the 1970s, when easy money tried to compensate for bad fiscal and regulatory policy, which led to sluggish growth, rising prices and declines in real wages.
***

The contrast in results between the current recovery and the Reagan years is instructive because the policy mix was so different. In the 1980s, the policy goals were to cut tax rates, reduce regulatory costs and uncertainty, let the private economy allocate capital free of political direction, and focus monetary policy on price stability rather than on reducing unemployment. This is the policy mix we need to rediscover if we are going to escape our current malaise and stop suffering from the Keynesian discount.
4060  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Huntsman and Obama on: April 30, 2011, 03:44:52 PM
The Huntsman letters are interesting.  I give him the 'remarkable leader' part if you are his appointee, Obama did run a remarkable campaign and that letter was early in the Presidency. A 'great honor getting to know you' as well, it is a level of respect anyone should have for a new President - before you get to know him.

But Hillary is 'charismatic'?  embarassed  And for Obama: “experience,” what experience? And “brilliant analysis of world events” - who knew?  I'm sure he will have the opportunity explain and clarify.  Maybe something was going on behind the scenes that we missed.  smiley   I take these to mean that Huntsman's skill is all about schmoozing and BSing, which is maybe or maybe not the same skill set that one would use to solve the Palestinian question or balance the budget.  Personally I don't think next year will be the year of the schmoozer.

Huntsman would fit pretty well on the short list for taking Biden's place whether he runs in the Republican primaries or not.  It would be one more way for Obama to appear more centrist without moving an inch.
-----

Developments in my prediction that Obama will not be nominee of his own party... two polls have him at 40% approval  (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/31/usobama-approval-40-appro_2_n_843052.html  http://maristpoll.marist.edu/428-obamas-handling-of-the-economy-at-all-time-low/); Gallup and Zogby have him at 41%.  (That means 30s by the end of the summer IMO.)  Quinnipiac has him 10 points upside down in Pennsylvania, a state he won by 11 points!  Try to chart a path to victory for him that involves losing Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

I am not saying it is over; I am saying that by the end of a summer of high unemployment and higher gas prices, Dems will need to at least explore their options. 

Today Dems seem lost and just hoping for a weak opponent. They keep hoping he will get his magic back, but the Greek columns were fake.  Dems have lost the independents who thought he didn't mean what he said and they lost the energy of the base who thought he did mean what he said.  They lost the 2010 elections.  They are losing the budget fight. (http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/americans-favor-republicans-handling-of-budget--poll)  They are losing crucial states and have no idea which direction to turn. 

Right now Obama has all party insiders and donors locked up and on board with nowhere else to turn - just like Hillary did 4 years ago.
4061  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: April 30, 2011, 02:00:29 PM
Remember that it was also at a San Francisco fundraiser where Obama was surprised to hear his own quote hit the news: "...they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment..."  http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-04-15/news/17143877_1_john-mccain-huffington-post-obama-s-comments

The lesson he should have taken from that was that everything he says everywhere has the potential of making news.

Instead, the lesson he took from it is be militant about who gets in the room.  Biden's staff was more careful; they locked the reporter in the broom closet for the speech.  The berating of the Austin TX reporter was also telling.  Obama was basically telling him he will never get this kind of access again.  That comment should have gone only to his own staff.  He didn't have the self-discipline to hold the comment when he thought the camera was off.  Let's see if that Texas reporter gets another one on one Oval Office interview, lol. 

Yes the reporters have a bias, but they also need to get quotes and break news to stay employed and sell newspapers.  Because of the bias, the reporter who broke the 'clinging' clip very likely did not know it would viral.  Condescending talk about people from across the heartland is what they do at breakfast, lunch and at the water cooler everyday, it made perfect sense.

This story has deteriorated down to two sides calling each other a liar.

Sometimes the small slip-ups (ask Clinton about spilling on the pretty dress) hurt a President more politically than choosing the wrong war or tax rate.  The small things that you think no one will see are the ones that can tell us who you really are.  In this case, a manipulative, deceitful phony.
4062  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: April 30, 2011, 01:25:33 PM
Isn't that what everyone wanted, the stronger yuan?  Adjusting the currency without fixing our problems leaves us with ... the same problems along with new ones.  Imports, cost of living and inflation worsens while nothing significant is gained on the export side because our currency exchange rate wasn't the problem.

Just more sign of failed policies, mis-managing what was recently the greatest economy on the planet.
4063  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: April 30, 2011, 01:18:27 PM
"The man had every right to leave the money to whomever he wants;"

JDN,  With that kind of thinking you will never be part of the leftist movement that believes all money really belongs to the state.   I agree with you, but in estate law as I know it - you have to spell it out.

To write: "divided according to Islamic Law" is a blank, unrecognized note on a page in a U.S. court with no authority to discern the meaning. 

His money should be divided exactly as it would have been without a will.

Like Crafty said, the appeal decision will be interesting.

Amazing that the same people who accept this BS accuse the right of trying to bring religion into politics and public affairs.

His right to learn all about Islam and practice and honor his religion is matched by my right to learn none of it if I am the judge or opposing attorney.
4064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF, pet or companion on: April 29, 2011, 12:44:46 PM
Sorry JDN, but I believe that piece was serious.  I see people treat their pet the way the wish they could treat their spouse, endless commands, scolding, even obedience school!  It is a companion not a pet and as a living thing, it is your equal. (That is what I think they are saying.)  National pet (whoops companion) health insurance is next.  (We already have pet protections that far exceed those for a certain class of human life.)
4065  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: Obama is "integratively complex" on: April 29, 2011, 12:36:07 PM
Give me a break, pure drivel IMO, but I post this for what passes for journalism and serious analysis.  He is too smart and honest for this job, according to experts.   

He is a political hack exposed by his tactless assault on the Supreme Court at the SOTU and the same on Paul Ryan at his budget hawk debut.  To locate the bias in the writing, just notice they refer the senate's purist liberal as 'center-left'. He is complex only in that he single-mindedly wants to destroy capitalism from within (starve it of energy and burden it with costs) and move us to socialist utopia but needs to hold onto power in a center-right nation in order to do that.  He isn't complex, he is deceitful and duplicitous.  But that isn't the story going at the top of Washington media and academia.

If he is so smart, show me the grades and test scores.  Show me original writings.  Show me solutions to problems that come uniquely from him that others hadn't thought of.
-----
Dana Milbank, Washington Post: Obama, lost in thought
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/obama_lost_in_thought/2011/04/26/AF0FrwsE_story.html?wprss=rss_homepage

“What distinguishes Obama particularly is the depth and carefulness of his thinking...” said Jonathan Haidt, a professor of social psychology at the University of Virginia. “He is a brilliant social and political analyst, which makes it harder for him to play hardball or to bluff.”  Obama’s strengths and weaknesses come from his high degree of “integrative complexity” — his ability to keep multiple variables and trade-offs in mind simultaneously.  (read it all if you want)
4066  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 29, 2011, 12:15:06 PM
"It's nice to see that my guy Huntsman is one of the four."

  - I enjoyed the previous piece on Huntsman with his self reporting to wikipedia on what a deep and serious guy he is.  Once he decides what he stands for, please share...   smiley

Does he support the Ryan plan?  Action in Libya, Syria?  The EPA ruling on CO2? Entitlement reform? Healthcare repeal?  What federal functions would he turn back to the states?  What is his constitutional philosophy on judicial appointments?  Moderate interpretation??

Where is he on that debate between Keynes and Hayek?

Would he open drilling? ANWR? Offshore?  Deepwater??  Does he favor or oppose higher gas prices?

Did he differ with Obama on China and stand up to him? I think he did but I don't have any details.  Did he question Obama on foreign policy before joining his team?  What is our China policy if he is Pres.? What about North Korea?

I actually think a moderate Republican President serving with a conservative House and Senate could accomplish a great deal.  Pawlenty is certainly more centrist than me. Daniels worked for Bush as budget director while spending escalated.  Romney has questionable conservative credentials. 

A lot is left to shake out.
4067  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Democrats Should Worry about the GOP Field on: April 29, 2011, 11:37:57 AM
Crafty wrote: "I saw Pawlenty interviewed last night on Bret Baier Report.  Good job."

  - With Churchill and Reagan unavailable, we need to check these candidates out and see who will step up, win and preside over a real reform of government.  Jay Cost narrows it down to the Governors.
------------------
Jay Cost has given good political analysis at real clear politics, now at weekly standard.  His take on the field is definitely against the grain:
http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/morning-jay-gop-looks-strong_558450.html  (Excerpted)

The conventional wisdom is that the emerging Republican field for 2012 is a very weak one. However, like so much else in the topsy-turvy age of Obama, the conventional wisdom on this one is completely upside down. The idea of a weak GOP field is almost as ridiculous as a debate about a fifty-year-old birth certificate just as the economic recovery comes grinding to a halt. Almost.

In fact, Obama and the Democrats have good reason to worry about the emerging Republican field. Here are four big reasons why.

1. ...there are at least four serious contenders either in the field or looking likely to enter it: Mitch Daniels, Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney all bring a few qualities to the table that would serve them well in the general election. For starters, they’re all governors, meaning their résumés involve running state governments rather than getting bogged down in the ideological divisiveness of Congress. Daniels, Pawlenty, and Romney have all demonstrated crossover appeal – with Pawlenty and Romney winning in historically Democratic states, and Daniels winning reelection in 2008 in Indiana even as Obama carried the state. As for Huntsman’s appeal, Obama was worried enough about it to ship him off to China in 2009.

Republicans should be pleased about this. Evaluating candidates is a subjective process, of course, but a cycle in which the party can point to four serious contenders who would be formidable in a general election battle is a good one.

2. ...The GOP has no such class-based divisions, dominated as it is by the married, white, churchgoing middle class. Really, the major dividing line in the Republican party is between moderately and very conservative voters. This means that the nominee is usually the one who can convince Republicans that he’s conservative, but not so much so that he can’t win a general election.

3. A “fringe” nominee is unlikely... In all likelihood, the nominee in 2012 will be similar to the ones we’ve seen over the last 30 years.

4. An “enthusiasm gap” should not be a problem. Suppose that the GOP does nominate another candidate in line with the Bush-Dole-Bush-McCain tradition. Won’t enthusiasm be a trouble spot for the party base in 2012? Probably not. The conservative base's intense dissatisfaction with the Obama tenure should be more than enough to make up for the fact that the party is not in love with the nominee (and it is possible, by the way, that the party could fall in love with somebody). On top of that, there are enough very serious figures out there who make the base swoon – perfect for the vice presidential nomination. Marco Rubio is the first that comes to mind. Team the junior senator from Florida up with one of those serious would-be presidential nominees, set that ticket against Obama-Biden next year, and you’ll have a great recipe for the most enthusiastic GOP base in decades.

Bottom line: Democrats who are counting on the GOP giving this election away with a weak nominee need to find something else to pin their hopes on. In all likelihood, it isn’t going to happen, and Barack Obama will have to stand for reelection against a serious Republican ticket next year.
4068  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: April 29, 2011, 11:04:56 AM
I agree with CCP.  The Economist generally has good coverage of other regions of the world that US publications ignore.

I started my subscription to 'The Economist' when Bill Gates said it was his favorite read - back when he was interesting.  I thought it might be insightful and it was.   I canceled during coverage of HillaryCare, 1993?  They did a piece questioning whether this or that should be in the package, (bandaids and birth control?) without questioning whatsoever the desirability of a government takeover.  Even if you favor the takeover, any responsible analysis would at least question it. This was during 40 years of Dem congresses and before the idea that a major political ground shift was about to take place.

A worthwhile read at times with its 'centrist' bias, along with my two favorite short books, 'The Core, Uncompromising Principles of Moderates' and 'The Great Moderates of History'   smiley
4069  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Fukushima Daiichi radiation levels 1/100th of what it was earlier this month on: April 29, 2011, 09:58:34 AM
Now that the nuclear news out of Japan is better, and covered nowhere, we may have to move the topic over to media issues.  I waited two days to post, Google News has this story picked up by no one.

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Japanese newspaper - largest circulation in the world) reports: 

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T110426005027.htm

Radioactive material 'down to 1/100'

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The amount of radioactive material emitted from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has decreased to about one-hundredth of the level recorded earlier this month, the Cabinet Office's Nuclear Safety Commission has said.

The commission also said Monday the concentration of iodine-131 in seawater sampled near the plant had dropped to below the government-set limit for the first time since surveys started on March 21. However, the panel said high amounts of radioactive material were still being emitted by the plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Co., at about 10 billion becquerels per hour.

"We shouldn't take the figures for granted. We must continue to carefully observe the situation," a commission spokesperson said.

The commission calculates the volume of radioactive material discharged based on radiation measurements taken at several places around the plant. Radioactive emissions on April 5 were estimated at 1 trillion becquerels per hour.

"Radiation dosages around the plant are on a downward trend. Emissions of radioactive material have diminished to about one-hundredth [of levels earlier this month]," the commission told reporters Monday.
(Apr. 27, 2011)
4070  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: April 29, 2011, 09:34:52 AM
Crafty, very impressive.  The Keynes character is very persuasive, except for the fact that he is proven wrong at every turn.  Glen Beck was just talking on radio yesterday about working on a project to reach out to young people.  Do we really have to put it to music to get them to pay attention?  Same type of video  could be done with depictions of the two main candidates and their arguments in 2012, not much different than the economic argument.

GM, refreshing to see people across the heartland know Krugman is a political hack and Nobel has lost some of its shine.  I would someday like to read the serious work Krugman did before becoming a cartoon character at the NY Times.

He literally was calling for a doubling of the stimulus (deficit) at the time that all the trillions so far were proven to be failed policy, both economically and politically.
-------

We are borrowing $188 million per hour (plus future interest costs), fact checked at Huff Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/projustice/white-house-deficit-talks_n_851198_85116795.html.  Out of 300 million people and the 50% rule (only 50% will be contributing/producing), that is a dollar an hour per person round the clock. 

Can't we make a case to any young person that while they were out playing, while they were at prom, while they were in math class, while they were on spring break, while they were burning a joint or playing a video game, while they were at soccer practice, while they were hanging with friends and while they were sleeping in ...  the advocates of our current policies were and still are piling up another dollar of debt, every hour, in their name, for everyone,  accumulating interest.

Why isn't that reason enough to advance the idea of smaller government?  What part of generational theft don't they get??
4071  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: April 27, 2011, 12:56:47 PM
I am enjoying the back and forth of others with Andrew.  No intent to pile on, but from my (American-centric) point of view I would add the small details that a) it was also a largely Christian nation ENDED slavery here and action from largely Christian countries that eventually ENDED the Bosnian atrocities.  Jews and Christians elsewhere were not applauding and supporting any of that violence to my knowledge.

Meanwhile both Iran and more recently Egypt have issued maps with Israel removed, while more moderate and 'peaceful' Arab-Muslim nations still call for the destruction of Israel in their charter.  The state press of Saddam's Iraq applauded bin Laden's attacks on America.  

The NATO/American intervention in Bosnia and other examples of America  and the west (with Jews, Christians, Muslims) helping Muslims are always conveniently absent from the rhetoric of bin Laden, militant Islamists and the propagandists.  Historians would never make those omissions.   smiley
  
The inference that at least at this point in time we are morally equivalent (or worse?) to those who call for our destruction I find preposterous but I am open to reading all that you can post to support that.
------------
Sorry for the 'echo' effect, but this passage from GM sums up very well what I also see (and don't see) here and what also I see from here as happening in Europe, the London subway, Madrid, riots in Paris and Malmo, the Danish free speech attacks, etc.:

"A more accurate evaluation would be to compare the violence from Muslims globally vs. the violence from Christians. You see many honor killings in the Bible Belt? I know the Baptists are famous for suicide bombings. Everyone has of course seen where Lutherans flew planes into the WTC. Remember when Catholics butchered those kids in Beslan? So why are so many horrific acts done by those motivated by christian theology and so few by Muslim theology?

Or is it the other way around?"
-------------
There are nuts and psychos everywhere, whether we look at Timothy McVeigh or Hitler, but where in the teachings of the church does it call for what they did.  The current fight as far as I know is from one particular intolerant theology.

"Muslims will never associate this (atrocities committed by 'Christians') with the teachings of Jesus, peace be on him."

  - If they did, again, where in the teachings or life of Jesus would they point to justify the Bosnian atrocities?

Only in the churches that Obama has chosen have I seen hatred taught and disseminated and it is not from the teachings of Christ and it is not directed toward other religions or non-believers.  

I have been to quite a variety of churches and heard the expression 'Peace be with you' and a lot of praying for peace all across the world.  I have never heard the Judeo-Christian teaching: 'Peace only to those who follow the chosen path'.  
4072  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: April 27, 2011, 10:30:29 AM
"I am satisfied with the birth certificate."

What a bizarre chapter in American history this was.  What is the significance of keeping the long form in the vault if not to answer a question like eligibility to serve as President?  Turns out that for ten bucks he can just order a copy.

I guess The Unifier's handlers wanted this story to fester and divide us by exposing 'racists' who would doubt him - until it approached 70% of Americans doubting his eligibility to serve as President.

I never doubted his eligibility to serve; I oppose the direction he is taking us.
4073  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: April 26, 2011, 03:02:49 PM
He keeps defining cognitive dissonance:

Obama wants us to be out of oil/gas for our cars, nudged and forced into making other choices.  He wants the price to go up - gradually over time - which is to foster scarcity, limit physical supplies so they fail to keep up with economic demand.

He wants us on the edge starving for enegy, vulnerable to even the smallest faraway disruption, unable to handle for example the 'oil shock' of something as small as the war in Libya.  Then he started the war.
4074  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: April 26, 2011, 02:51:14 PM
God Bless John McCain and all the things he has done right in his career, but...  He has been cover for many many policies, many of them wrong headed.  Two things come to mind right now.  He was the spearhead of the Libya mission.  Besides the advocates in his own administration, having a senior statesman out front in the opposition party inoculated Obama against partisanship and certainly moved the decision forward.  So tied to that now is our unavailability to do anything in Syria.
4075  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: April 26, 2011, 02:43:55 PM
For stocks the margin limit is now 50% I believe.  For oil I do not know.  Even at 50%, the volatility is doubled. Margin, which is borrowing, is no free lunch.  If your gains are double, so are your losses. Like gold, the people betting against the economy and the currency happen to be right.  These bets need to be flushed out with a strategy change - something like this: Monday open up drilling on the east coast. Tuesday, open the gulf.  Wednesday, open up west coast drilling and one new nuclear site, Thursday open ANWR.  Friday open up the Rocky Mountain region for wide expansion of natural gas production and announce 2 new pipelines.  Then see what the speculators are speculating on.  smiley
4076  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 25, 2011, 02:27:33 PM
(from Media Issues - coverage of birth certificate)

"Doug, you're too nice"   - CCP, don't believe everything you read on the internet.  smiley

His personal likability is higher than the support for his policies.  Hard to say how that translates into votes in Nov 2012.  If things are still bad,  people may equate his personal shortcomings with his performance as President.  Or still like him but vote for someone else.

"...we do need the politics of personal destruction (if we 'pardon' this phrase made famous by BJ bill jefferson Clinton), as well as beating him on the issues."

He deserves what he gets but it could easily backfire.  Let's say he was covering up a big secret of his mother. I'm sure his damage control people are working full force, ready to spin it all by the time it comes out to make him the victim.  Meanwhile unemployment is 12% in Calif, gas unaffordable, drilling outlawed, states bankrupt, debt downgraded, dollar imploding, economy stagnated, health care costs worse than ever with choices disappearing and waivers exploding, wars breaking out, etc.

"We need to dig and dig and dig.  The more this guy gets exposed as a serial liar the better."  - Yes, but there is plenty of material there based on policy alone.  Again he deserve all the scrutiny.  OTOH if it looks like that is the main strategy, it cheapens the political-economic-freedom arguments and could give him a way out.  Best for the personal stuff to be done by fringe kooks- thank you Trump!

"illegals will be pardoned on January 19th!!!"

 - Pardon is not a grant of citizenship.  I think that has to go through the congress first for his signature.  But your larger point is well-taken.  Pardons, executive orders, recess appointments, agency and czar directives like the EPA action against fossil fuels and Dept. of Commerce against a free internet, plenty is being done outside of congressional approval.

Even if half or all of our current mess was George Bush's fault, we should know by now that a sharp left turn with Obama was not the right answer.  As IMF points out, we will be overtaken by China on our current path during Obama's second term.  OTOH, during the 50 consecutive months of job growth following the bush tax cuts, the growth in our economy was greater than the entire economy of China.  The US economy is still capable of this kind of surge, greater than we have ever seen.

I would add that 'we' need to also carry the House and make serious gain in the Senate and achieve a mandate for policy change which will come mainly from tying Obama and those Dems to failed policies, not ineligibility claims.
4077  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics - Giving something back, Walter Williams on: April 25, 2011, 01:52:36 PM
" 'giving something back' should be the admonition to thieves and social parasites: people who have taken and given nothing in return."

Walter E. Williams
Ideas on Liberty, January 2000
http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/wew/articles/fee/capitalism.html
4078  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Monetary Policy, Inflation, Dollar: Gas Prices and the Dollar on: April 25, 2011, 01:00:11 PM
One obvious explanation on high gas prices is the laws against domestic production, but another is the deterioration of our currency.  Gas prices, it turns out, have not increased  - if you are paying with silver.

Of course these two problems are related.  Our shipment of dollars overseas for energy (along with our horrendous deficits) is a contributing problem for our deteriorating currency (and to our security problems).
4079  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: April 25, 2011, 12:51:16 PM
"We are bombarded with polls every single day."

I would like to see one that shows when Californians began to understand why they still have 12% unemployment.  Seems they have not yet discovered the law of holes - when you find you're in one, stop digging.
4080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care: WSJ coverage of ObamaCare 2010 on: April 25, 2011, 12:45:59 PM
I posted on Media Issues that WSJ editorial writer Joseph Rago won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing today. Here are the stories for which he won the award: Hot links for all at the link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703916004576271222668393848.html

1) Back to the ObamaCare Future, March 1, 2010

2) The ObamaCare Crossroads, March 20, 2010

3) ObamaCare and the Constitution, April 2, 2010

4) Farewell, Medicare Advantage, June 11, 2010

5) The Avastin Mugging, August 18, 2010

6) ObamaCare 'Amnesia,' Sept. 10, 2010

7) Big Insurance, Big Medicine, Oct. 26, 2010

8.) Breast Cancer and the FDA, Dec. 17, 2010

9) Sebelius's Price Controls, Dec. 22, 2010

10) PolitiFiction, Dec. 23, 2010


4081  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues - Pulitzser Prize to WSJ for anti-Obamacare series on: April 25, 2011, 12:37:47 PM
On a more positive note (from my perspective) on the media, last week a WSJ editorialist won a Pulitzer for "against the grain" anti-Obamacare coverage.  The consistent downward movement of support for Obamacare since it passed would tend to show these concerns to be right.

"EDITORIAL WRITING: Joseph Rago of The Wall Street Journal.

Rago was honored for his editorials challenging the health care changes advocated by President Barack Obama.

In his "Review & Outlook" columns for the Journal, he deconstructed the results of similar policy in Massachusetts and its implications for Washington, warning that the changes would fail and do Democrats great political harm.

With a degree in American history from Dartmouth, Rago joined the Journal editorial page in 2005 as an intern."

http://www.pulitzer.org/citation/2011-Editorial-Writing
http://online.wsj.com/article/AP538c4b030ce8453293b96e42bc648fa2.html

(Looks and sounds like this guy is in his 20s.  You may hear from him again.)
4082  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: April 25, 2011, 12:20:10 PM
"He is obviously hiding something?"

The secret if there is one (just conjecture) is that Barack Sr. was not the father and wasn't the husband, which means the President is not really Barack Jr, though it would appear they used the name with permission.  Also maybe things were tampered or changed to allow for Indonesian citizenship later. 

Nothing that happened with him as a newborn is his fault (obviously), but it is his story and his knowledge of it all would make his best selling autobiographies into a pack of lies, instead of just racist-Marxist drivel.

"Do you think the Republican party can win chasing the "birther" issue?"

No.  He needs to be defeated straight on for his record and for the direction he still wants to lead the nation.  But the media lack of curiosity and lack of follow up is deplorable.  (Imagine if Palin's birth location with a foreign parent and records missing!) Besides his college record I never saw anything controversial dug up from his constitutional law lectures or law review writings while we now see results from his two disastrous high court appointees.

The constitution does not say 'long form' nor does it lay out a burden of proof, it just says 'natural born citizen'.  Arnold Schwartznegger and Madeleine Albright are examples that were passed over for not being born here. 
4083  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF, A Clapper Caper, Jack Web, Johnny Carson on: April 25, 2011, 11:47:31 AM
BBG, Amazing life saving device, but don't get over-confident up there! 
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Switching subjects with no smooth transition...

With Clapper (our limited intelligence director) and Kloppenburg (Wisc supreme court candidate) in the news, it may be time to revisit the Clapper Caper with Jack Webb and Johnny Carson.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4pWBJiW0Xpo
4084  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Decline, Fall, (and Resurrection?) of America on: April 25, 2011, 10:27:29 AM
"According to the latest IMF official forecasts, China’s economy will surpass that of America in real terms in 2016 — just five years from now. "

  - I will bet that it doesn't.  smiley
4085  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, & the US Dollar on: April 22, 2011, 11:41:51 AM
"The dollar, less almighty: Big investors see possible long-term currency weakness"

 - Another theory I was reading yesterday is that at the end of QE2 interest rates will rise and the dollar will rise.  We'll see.  I see it all as flawed measurement.  The weakness and strength of the dollar is measured against other flawed currencies from other flawed flawed places like Europe and China.  I wouldn't  bet in either direction, on the current direction of our country or on the others to do better. 
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Bernanke is AWOL to not be out-front, obnoxiously outspoken against the excessive spending in the economy.  And congress has done nothing to remove the 'dual purpose' of his job.
4086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Mike Huckabee on: April 22, 2011, 10:56:41 AM
Quite a feud going on between Mike Huckabee and Glen Beck, Beck was addressing it on the radio this morning.  I was going to put it on the Beck thread but Huck is presumably a candidate.

Seemed to begin over Beck criticizing Huck's support for Michelle Obama's campaign against child obesity, a worthy cause, and expanded to calling out Huck's record as progressive.  Huck says he has thus called him a cancer and a Nazi because Beck has used those terms to describe progressive tactics.

Beck explained and responding back with Huck's record as a progressive / non-conservative, this is a fight within the right that for sure Huckabee does not need.  Both have radio shows with unlimited opportunity to respond to each other.

Beck exposes Huck's claim of cutting taxes as Governor.  One of those was to exclude private lawn mowing from the sales tax and another was to exclude symphony tickets from the sales tax.  Overall Huck raised taxes in Arkansas 47% according to Beck.  Then he exposed Huck's illegal immigration stands and then the pardons.

Huck is a Christian and a pastor and giving people a second chance is what they do.  But releasing one criminal every 4 days as Governor didn't work out for him; it led to the slaughter of 4 police officers, as GM has posted here.  He should not have interfered with the justice system in that respect.

Picking a fight with Beck especially while he is down shows bad judgment  for Huckabee IMO if he is a candidate.  Support for the obesity program could have been easily defended and he could have drawn a distinction with Michelle Obama's position which calls for a complete federal takeover of all school nutrition including vending machines - if other means are unsuccessful.

Huckabee, attacking the Beck progressive conspiracy theory, should read Crafty's post today about spending drifting recently from 18% of GDP to 24.4% just or take a closer look at the advisers and czars that Beck has been attacking and exposing and point out where he is wrong.
4087  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 21, 2011, 10:42:27 PM
That's right and he used his long shot status as a strength.  That was from the opposing party, but still, how do you love your country, believe you have what it takes to be President, watch what is happening across the country and around the world right now, and conclude that this is not the time?
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Besides my endorsement of Tim Pawlenty who with about 4% support keeps getting mentioned with the serious contenders, I like the idea of Herman Cain and Allen West as a ticket, one served at the Fed, one in Afghanistan and in congress, one a business man and one a military man.  With the older at the top of the ticket, I am looking for the potential of 16 years of continuity leading the country and the free world.  Looking for articulation of unapologetic liberty and conservatism and looking for skill and confidence that will hold up through the campaign and shine through in the debates.  They won't have to fake their tea party or outsider status.  And enough clarity with the agenda that if they win they will know what to do.

I recall that Reagan in 1976 picked his running mate for balance while still contesting the nomination.
4088  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: The purpose of obama re-elction fund raising on: April 21, 2011, 07:53:54 PM
The purpose of Obama re-election fundraising is to scare away other Democrats, not Republicans.  It is having no effect on Republicans, another one, Gary Johnson R-NM, jumped in today.

The early fund raising focus is designed as a war chest message to intimidate any/all challenges from within his own party.

Without listing out his problems again for re-election (unemployment? gas prices? debt?), would anyone like to predict if, who and when Dems will see a challenger from within his own party?

I say the first serious challenger in will change the dynamic of the race.  Many thought leaders on the left have already spoken up against aspects of the Obama Presidency.  Why wouldn't one serious potential candidate step up in defiance to the odds and throw his/her hat into the ring?

Obama could be out with his next big blunder and may very well lose the general election for what he has already done.  Whoever is in the race with a credible candidacy could have a significant chance to be the next President of the United States when this one falls completely off the track.

Recall the audacity of Obama entering the race in 2007 against 'the incumbent' Hillary Clinton.  It worked for him.
4089  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: April 21, 2011, 02:27:19 PM
"If we are not going to go in and stop them all (and I suspect no one here is calling for boots on the ground in Yemen!) then what is the point of going into just one (Afpakia)?

Our strategy is utterly incoherent."
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I suppose the answer is that we pick our battles to isolate and defeat enemies on our choice of time and location.  All-out war simultaneous in all locations may not fit our strengths and capabilities very well much less fit with our limited attention span.  Problem is a) we are doing the opposite, responding to nuisances in the least strategic areas (Libya), and completely out of the most crucial areas, and b) we have lost confidence in those who make the choices and set the strategies for us.

If we are forcing them to move, our intelligence at some point should be picking up some of those moves.  But that matters only if we take action on the intelligence.

What is strangest about our AfPak strategy is that what is working (allegedly), the tripling of manpower, is what we have pre-decided and declared we won't continue.  What we might need most in the long run is at least a small permanent presence to shut down bases as they pop up.  That is something we gave up completely in Iraq. (see links below)

My central strategy (broken record, and GM just hit this same point) is that we better get our economic house in order and in full gear if we expect to be able to respond later to what is brewing in the world right now.  

Yemen looks like one of those backyard situations for Saudi, just like the Caucasus for Russia, but I have no idea whether Saudi escalation would help or hurt the situation.
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A nice review(a must read?) at the links below of all our wars and where they stand now, part 1 and part 2:

http://www.businessinsider.com/reviewing-americas-wars-part-1-2011-4
http://www.chrisweigant.com/2011/04/21/reviewing-americas-wars-part-2/
4090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: April 21, 2011, 01:37:26 PM
CCP, I am with you 100% in the proposal to remove all tax credits and all deductions that are direct, legitimate business expenses incurred to produce the revenue, and we should reduce the rates accordingly - personal and corporate.  There should be no social engineering whatsoever in the tax code.  In this time of deficits, debts, dollar crisis and 3 wars, not counting a potential world war with China or Russia, our system raising federal revenues shouldn't look like a grocery store coupon book.  Limit spending to the amount we collect and them let the people argue within a constitutional framework what programs and projects to fund at what level.

I hear you when you complain about rich having disproportionate power with certain things.  The only solution I know is to simply move the system away from being for sale and negotiable toward dispensing special favors, and toward a system of equal protection where all private enterprises in all industries are treated evenly by a limited government.  We aren't exactly headed in that direction.

Where I don't follow you and where you don't follow the left and won't vote with them is that there is no way prevent obscene amounts of income and obscene uses of wealth at the top without messing up the system, the incentives and mechanisms for producing wealth.  Instead  am willing to concede that what they make is none of my business as long as it is all legally earned and taxed the same as mine and I see you as still struggling to find a harmless way of 'solving' that.

I understand that my descriptions of the mechanisms of a free market are difficult to write and clumsy to read. Very few have the ability to articulate economic freedom with a broad brush.  Reagan had that ability and Marco Rubio seems to have it.  Whether we follow it completely or are not able to articulate it, there is a central denial on the other side that individual freedom is not preferable to central planning and control, even though it works every time and every place that it is tried.  When we hear from the bully pulpit that we need to do something, people need to remember where in our system things get done.  The great advances don't come from congressional staffers or the bowels of the bureaucracies.
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Another attempt at an example: Let's say you are a family physician in a private market (I know, it's purely hypothetical!).  Maybe you make more in income than many of your patients or maybe you don't, but let's say we implement a set of policies that benefits all of your patients financially.  My point is that  helps your business, by far more than just the change to your own tax rate. You will be better able to sell your services, more people can afford you and your collection rate should improve etc.  From the boost in business and income and take home earnings, you buy better equipment etc. for the office and invest and spend more on your own, energizing back the population that energized your practice - the great, interconnected circle of economic life.  That is not trickle down; it is more like trickle up and back and all the way through in every direction touching everyone whose economic activities touch yours.  The lying left contend that only the rich benefit from across the board improvements, but increased activity and prosperity benefits everyone who is participating.  I don't know how to explain it any better, but will keep trying.

You aren't worth a fixed value as a service provider, it depends on the economic health of the people who need and procure your services.  If your patients are average typical in the Republic of the Congo (the worst business climate and poorest country), your income for servicing that market with the same training, skills and hard work would likely be 1/1000th of what it is where you are now based on their ability to pay, and your tax contribution to the Treasury would be roughly a thousand times lower as well, no matter the rate.

It is not tax rates alone, it is the whole package of unleashing the freedom to conduct and expand a business and to pursue and keep a reward for doing that.
4091  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Yemen on: April 21, 2011, 12:30:13 PM
Thanks to Strat - and Crafty - for keeping watch on the turmoil in Yemen, a key location for al Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula.  See if this map comes through, but Yemen shares a 'sea border' with Somalia / the horn of Africa, a home al Qaida, Blackhawk down, and base for the ruthless pirate sea war operation that is stealing, killing and taking over anything everything up to the size of oil tankers that tries to pass through.
4092  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: re. Crossing Trump off the list on: April 21, 2011, 11:50:08 AM
Thanks to GM for Trumps view on Kelo, the 'right' to have your property taken for preferred private uses.

a) It means he shares no respect for founding or limiting principles on government, as I see them,

b) unscrupulous past business practices

c) Could not trust him to appoint Supreme Court Justices, in fact the opposite.  I would trust him to appoint justices opposed to my own view of the constitution

d) and in keeping with nearly all liberal argument, he rests his rationalization on a false premise:

"...wants to build a tremendous economic development, where a lot of people are going to be put to work and make area that’s not good into a good area, and move the person that’s living there into a better place..."

'area that's not good'  - Kelo was specifically NOT about removing blight which is already recognized as public purpose.

'move the person that’s living there into a better place'  - NO!  It is the opposite.  A consensual, private purchase of the property is what moves a person into a better place.  The Kelo decision along with a willing city council removes that requirement.  Valuation law in taking prohibits putting a person in a better place.  It puts you only in the same circumstance and worse because it takes away the real value of what you had which was ownership of a demanded location.  Trump says he is smart so I say he knows this.  As one who has been a victim of a private taking, I say as politely as I know how, he is a G*d d*amned f*cking liar and I will sit out  or cast a third party vote rather than vote for a leading advocate of big, all-knowing government taking away private properties for their donors and constituents' preferred private purposes.  What limits on government would you recognize if you couldn't see this one in front of your face?
4093  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: April 21, 2011, 11:06:18 AM
JDN: "It's a zero sum game."

Of course that is not true. From the example it assumes a producer would produce the same amount in the high tax state as he would under lower disincentive conditions.  Simply not true.

One consideration you might add to your thinking also is velocity of money and the affect increasing it has on GDP, employment, revenues, etc.  Right now is the model for an economy producing at a standstill.  Companies already laid off everyone they can do without and look at uncertainty in every direction and just freeze on the idea of new expansions.  Change that to an environment where optimism and confidence In the case of capital gains, lower taxation per gain or per transaction allows capital to move more freely to its most valuable use.  That makes labor more productive, not just capital.  It also increases tax revenues.

For CCP and JDN, I would replace 'trickle down' visualization of the economy with a vision or model of 'interconnectness'.  Not quite as catchy for a straw man, but far more accurate.  Let's say we are a small business selling a piece of productivity enhancing business equipment and have identified 5000 customers and prospects in my area where we are trying to make inroads.  Now let's say pro-growth business conditions improve as greater optimism, incentive and confidence sets in  for all the companies buying from us or that we are trying to sell to, the rising tide.  How does that affect our business?  The answer is that it helps us far more than just the minor change in our own tax rate, and that is because of the interconnectedness with all the other players now performing better.  It isn't trickle down, which is a mockery for the false idea that money will just fall on your head in a better economy.  You still have to hustle and innovate, persuade and produce and win sales and keep delivery promises etc, but the point is that if we will be selling to a more active and prosperous customer population.  There is a multiplier effect that goes far beyond our own tax rate.

Or take the opposite direction.  We promise all investors that any gains made in the future will be taxed at a higher rate tomorrow and we won't tell you what that rate is so that you can't make plans or best/worst case analysis with any confidence.  We ban production of energy etc, over-regulate, and watch everything from manufacturing to tourism to beer prices suffer.  If the policies hurt our customer base, they hurt us.  Disincentives and uncertainty slow the movement of money, hurt sales and diminish the  revenues to the Treasury.
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Looking forward to those examples of pro-growth policies failing to grow the economy.  

I think you have the tax rate vs. revenue argument exactly upside down.  What economists have said is that we seem to take in the same percentage of revenues to the Treasury (something like 18% of GDP) no matter what the marginal rates are.  If that is true, why shouldn't we choose the lowest marginal rates that can still get us to that same percentage, and maximize GDP and revenues to the Treasury?  Meanwhile, we could pass a constitutional amendment limiting all federal spending to the known limitations of the taxation people will pay and end the deficits, if that was what anybody wanted.
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Crafty,  Japan lowered its corporate tax rate on April 1, 2011 to 36%, and corporations in the US also get taxed at the state level for a combined average of 40%.  If the argument is that everyone gets around the high rate, why the mindset of keeping the highest rate, forcing businesses to dodge and dance instead of produce full speed ahead and pay a reasonable and certain tax.

I wonder what portion of the smartest brainpower in GE much less America as a whole are dedicated to weaving a business plan through our ever-changing and worsening tax and regulatory schemes?  The defensive strategies are a huge cost on the economy not measured in the actual tax collected.  I wonder what amazing things would be accomplished if those resources were turned toward innovative and productive purposes.
4094  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 20, 2011, 04:36:50 PM
"That's voodoo economics that no one really believes anymore....."

What are your examples of significant rate cuts that didn't grow revenues? 

The voodoo line BTW was abandoned by its author, revenues to the Treasury doubled in the 1980s.  US Budget History, see page 26: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy11/pdf/hist.pdf

GM gave the 2003 example.  Look also at the Clinton capital gains cuts of 1995 or the Kennedy cuts, 'rising tide lifts all boats'.

Let's take a look at the opposing examples...
4095  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 20, 2011, 02:52:16 PM
CCP: " I don't see most Republicans saying anything but the same misleading message... Selling trickle down economics alone will not win over the middle."

 - Trickle down is a label put on the policies by the people who oppose them.  I don't know what part of across the board they never understand. The main effect of supply side or 'pro-growth' policies is on the people who potentially want to go forth and achieve rather than to those who already have.  Simpler, more evenly applied policies with slightly lower disincentives for all productive activities regardless of who does them, that's all it is.  Not what Bush did for example.  That involved lower rates, but moving everything else in the wrong direction in terms of the burden imposed by a growing public sector.

You are correct that we need better messaging, but constantly denying a negative is not how to stay on message.  Repeatedly answering the charge, 'when did you quit beating your wife,' doesn't make for the best press conference.  For the whole disparity thing, ask yourself which disparity study you've ever read that adjusted for things like what you did to get where you are, a 4 year degree, medical school, residency, sleepless weeks in training, giving up a good part of a decade in training, taking/passing boards, risk taking, possibility of being sued or losing license or small judgments made every day, carrying the pager, carrying the malpractice policy, paying the student loans back, accepting delayed benefits, etc etc.  Other people didn't do all that and many did none of it.  Which study adjusts for that? Nothing I've ever seen.  Shouldn't we have that freedom and that choice - to jump all in, or part way in with more leisure, less responsibility - especially at different points in our lives?? Outcomes are going to differ; that is a fact, not an issue.  Maybe the super rich of the moment are doing something right economically in terms of providing something that a large global market needs and maybe the middle class is sitting on its laurels, doing things the same year after year.  As you say with messaging, the bully pulpit needs to join with the policies and inspire more people to go out and achieve. 

Where we are now is the opposite, we oppose producing energy, propose higher disincentives and tell everyone to leave the car in the garage and be a blockworker agent for redistributive justice.  How is that working out, is what I would ask.
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"...the rich are 399% richer since around 1980 and the rest of us around 15%."

Each year they measure a different group.  The top 400 for example changes every year. It isn't the same people in what they call the rich.  These measures are highly misleading.  Still, what should the disparity outcome be between one person who is all in, in terms of pursuing wealth through productive enterprise, and someone else who is not?  How much of the reward for all that wealth creation can we take away and still get the same amount of it to tax at all? GM already answered it but the answer is no, disincentives matter.  There isn't some clever way to target this and tweak that and have it all work out without screwing up our badly needed economic growth.
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"...when they see 400 top earners in the US pay 16% income tax?"

They take the SS as a tax but defend it as an insurance policy.  Then they take the taxation of long term gains earned with after-tax dollars,including the inflation component (not a gain at all) and compare it with taxes on earned income.  I have 2 solutions for that. One is re-define SS as general welfare since that is what that comparison infers.  The other is to remove the inflation component of gains before you tax them as ordinary income. States BTW already tax capital gains as ordinary income, even inflationary gains - a small point always left out of all the disparity hysteria, all state and local plus the corporate tax was already taxed before the distribution gets to the owner.  They include the SS, which is capped on BOTH paying in and paying out, and exclude things like state taxes, property taxes and corporate taxes, then point to how unfair the difference is.  I know you don't put up with that level of analysis in a medical study, but I agree it is hard to keep going back to answer every charge.

We need to remove loopholes, these were the genius, social engineering ideas of the previous congresses and administrations.  Just like spending programs, each has a constituency, but the theme is that everything is negotiable.  As Clinton used to say, "we can do more...' or the other CLinton said, 'you can't afford all of my ideas'. How many of the working poor went out and took thousands in the cash for clunkers 'tax credit', to get a $45000 car and 'save money' on gas.  That's one loophole, also wind and solar. How many homeless got the insulation credit?  Electric vehicle credits went to golf cart purchases, how many of the recently foreclosed got the tax credit for one of those.  The same jerks who did all of that who now point to the loopholes.  End them, fine, an lower the rates.  But a loophole is not to take actual costs that oil companies incurred to produce oil and disallow the expense in the year it was incurred.  I wasn't a conservative policy of taxing all income equally that caused GE (with the CEO on the Obama board) to hit the zero mark.

This really shouldn't be that hard to build a persuasive case against Obama's policies and to put forth a better alternative.
4096  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Mr. President, The huge deficits were intentional on: April 20, 2011, 12:57:08 PM
Economics, President Barack Obama: "If we keep spending more than we take in, we are going to do some damage to our economy."

  - He acts like the excess spending was an accident, an act of God - like a tsunami - that hit the nation and his budget.  (Same goes for gas prices, an global phenomenon that really he had nothing to do with.)

Everyone including the President, please re-read every Krugman column since before his election and review every Obama speech he has made and every policy they have put out including his most recent budget proposal.  THE DEFICIT SPENDING WAS INTENTIONAL (sorry for the shouting); it is the heart of the failed Keynesian philosophy they were ramming down our throat with our own dollars and some new ones that look like ours, with Krugman, the economic spiritual leader still calling on him to double the ante.  Excess public spending IS the stimulus, in their mind, and we are lucky to have 1% nominal growth and U6 at 16%?  Deficits are what supposedly saved millions of jobs, ('created or saved').  And when they said temporary, they meant permanent.  Like those great magic shows - what they tell us changes right in front of our eyes and know one can see it happen.  They are so used to playing with words and labeling things the opposite of what they are, they didn't even notice themselves telling a patent falsehood.  We know how to start a spending program, but we don't know how to end one.  Everybody knew that.  Nothing was put in to make things temporary.  The exact opposite is true - they made it so it is a cut to end things that were 'temporary'. 

How are you supposed to know when you are wrong if you are Obama, Jarrett, Krugman, Biden, Reich et al, and when are you supposed to know? How are you supposed to gracefully turn 180 degrees, save face, and start undoing what you did and start doing things that really work, and bring along all the people with you that you recently and repeatedly told the opposite - as recently as last Wednesday.  In sports (or in war with generals), you don't change the coach's mind; they get fired for results like these.   You hire someone else to run the organization in a better direction. 
4097  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 18, 2011, 11:52:34 AM
The Republican nominee MUST win the base AND reach to the middle.  McCain (for example) was the exact opposite.  He appealed during his career to the middle and then reached during the final stretch to the base, which is backwards.  2008 was a known Dem year.  2012 will either lean R or best case for the Dems will be fought on equal footing IMO.

These early head to head polls ask the judges to score before they see the contest. 

The seven point win of Obama is not going to happen again. He has lost independents and is no longer a blank slate.  He has also done several things to undermine the energy from his base.  The Republican candidates look weak now but one will rise and win by showing political and persuasive strength across different parts of the country.

Trump's 35% now could work in a 3 way contest but probably only as spoiler, like Perot.  I doubt in the end that he will run.
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Political contributions are pretty easy to verify (see BD post).  The second link has a list compiled over a long period, including: Schumer, Rangel, Gillebrand, Anthony Weiner, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Erskine Bowles, John Kerry, Frank Lautenberg, Torricelli, Ted Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy, Harry Reid, Arlen Specter, Dick Durbin, Rahm, Harry Reid, Chris Dodd, Charlie Crist, Bill Nelson (FL) etc. JIMMY CARTER 1979, and also Republicans to a lesser degree: Tom Coburn, McCain, George Allen, Giuliani, RNC...
http://michellemalkin.com/2011/02/20/is-donald-trump-a-conservative/
http://www.newsmeat.com/billionaire_political_donations/Donald_Trump.php
4098  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Budget process- Put a Cap on Spending, Not a Balanced Budget Amentment on: April 17, 2011, 04:35:43 PM
On a Sunday show I heard another tea party type, Sen. Mike Lee from Utah, call for a balanced budget amendment.

I want a balanced budget, but a proportionally smaller public sector spending burden is more important than the exact balance.  I would support one of these proposals to cap spending at 20% of GDP, 19%, or if government were defined closer to its constitutional role maybe about half of that rate.

It is Obama's side who want automatic adjustments (tax increases) to kick in if spending restraints do not realize.  That is NOT budgeting.  A budget would be to say here is GDP, you can spend no more than 20% of it, or here is $2.6 trillion, you can only argue over how to spend it, not how much to spend, until the economy grows further.
4099  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Walter Mondale tells how to raise taxes without losing votes on: April 17, 2011, 04:21:52 PM
He is a friend of a friend and a true blue great American, so how do I say this nicely... Walter Mondale became the only human in earth's history to lose a statewide contest in all 50 states when he lost the senate race in his home state, the only state he carried against Reagan.  Ironically he has never lost though in the District of Columbia.  Mondale economically has learned nothing since serving with Jimmy Carter and then running to his left.  Government is too small; taxes are too low.  There is never a bad time to raise them back up, at least on the rich: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/walter-mondale-as-in-1984-we-again-need-the-courage-to-raise-taxes/2011/04/14/AFxVSSkD_story.html

BTW, I disagree with him.
4100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Fukushima: Likelihood of widespread health effects remains low. - The Economist on: April 17, 2011, 03:58:21 PM
"likelihood of widespread health effects remains low... in terms of becquerels (radioactivity) things are already a lot better than they were."

"does not seem, in public health terms, to have turned out too bad."
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The news cycle moved on and the facts aren't all in.  I'm trying to keep following this; there is a lot to be learned.  Here are a couple more excerpts from what seems to be a balanced and objective piece in The Economist April 12, 2011 (read it all):
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http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2011/04/japans_nuclear_crisis
[The release at Fukushima]"does not seem, in public health terms, to have turned out too bad."

"Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency  estimates that the emission of radioactive iodine and caesium from the Fukushima plant totals, to date, something equivalent to 370 petabecquerels." (one becquerel represents one nuclear decay per second)

"...because of those countermeasures the likelihood of widespread health effects remains low. (It is also worth remembering that in terms of becquerels things are already a lot better than they were, as iodine-131 has a half-life of only eight days. This means that iodine emitted thirty two days ago has by now lost fifteen-sixteenths of its radioactivity.)

"The contaminants that fell on to the land did so mostly but not entirely in nearby places that had already been evacuated."

"the cumulative releases from Fukushima add up to a major release”

"None of this makes Fukushima trivial; it is a grave crisis."
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