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4101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: March 04, 2013, 06:20:11 PM
That is a great graph GM!  It tells so much more context than the 2 1/2 french fries out of Big Mac meal analogy which is the calorie cutback from the baseline up from the extreme, make temporary spending permanent, peak.

How about spending at Bill Clinton levels if that was the last great, Democratic, fiscal President who cared and truily felt our pain.  We would have a trillion dollar surplus right now.
4102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Walter Russell Mead: The World and its Leaders on: March 04, 2013, 10:51:00 AM
Walter Russell Mead writing on Friday, March 1, online for the American Interest:

Financial markets around the world reeled when the Italians rejected the European status quo and their own political establishment in the last election. This should not have come as such a surprise; few political establishments anywhere in the democratic world are as spectacularly rotten as Italy's, and the European status quo is the biggest man-made policy disaster since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Italian voters don't have a lot of use for their leaders, and it's hard to say they are wrong. The left wants to preserve the unsustainable, the right doesn't have what it takes, and the center is dominated by short term, self centered careerists whizzing through the well oiled revolving doors that connect business with government. But how different are politics elsewhere? Voters ultimately weary of repeat policy failure by the well connected and well educated, and whether you look at Europe, the United States or Japan, the failures of national leadership keep piling up.

Americans often like to believe that our problems are as exceptional as our strengths, but our stale and ineffective political establishment looks a lot like its peers around the world. The American elite is not alone in its inconsequential futility and its lack of strategic vision; world leaders everywhere are falling down on the job.

The assumption that the people guiding the destinies of the world's major powers know what they are doing is a comforting one, but there's not a lot of evidence to support it. The "pass it to find out what's in it" health care 'reform' in the United States, the vast stinking policy corpse that is European monetary union, the failure of establishments everywhere to figure out the simple arithmetical problems that our welfare states are encountering because of the demographic transition, the metastasizing tumor of corruption also known as the Chinese Communist Party: none of these suggest that the world is being governed with unusual wisdom.
4103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: California - people leaving, not only the rich on: March 04, 2013, 10:43:06 AM
"Over the past two decades, a net 3.4 million people have moved out of California for other states."  (The non-rich far outnumber the rich also leaving Calif.)

"Roughly 40% of the people leaving are Hispanic."

My guess looking at these figures and circumstances, generalizing, is that the people wanting to work are the most likely to leave and the people comfortably on programs are the most likely to stay.

What could possibly go wrong?

4104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Govt spending, deficit, debt, Shouldn't the Treasury be borrowing at 30 years? on: March 04, 2013, 10:32:34 AM
A home owner would not want one year mortgage, yet the Treasury keeps doing that even though we know interest rate will return to normal adding interest costs of perhaps a trillion a year to our spending.

WSJ today:

...the maturity structure of U.S. debt is quite short. I estimate that our government rolls over 40% of its debt every year, and 65% within three years, accounting for Federal Reserve holdings, coupon payments and use market values.

Short term at near zero interest is GREAT if you plan to pay it off soon.  Bernancke, Geithner, Obama and Lew are doing more damage to our country right now that what we can immediately measure.

4105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax bills for rich families approach 30-year high on: March 04, 2013, 08:36:46 AM
That is pretty good reporting by the AP and pretty good analysis by the not always non-partisan TPC.  Still the problem is understated:

"Last week, Senate Democrats were unable to advance their proposal to raise taxes on some wealthy families for the second time this year as part of a package to avoid automatic spending cuts."

No.  They were trying to raise taxes on the rich for the 3rd, 4th or 5th time this year.  More Obamacare taxes just went into effect, plus one might include state taxes like in Calif and Minn if one is really trying to measure the combined effects of failed policies.

"For example, the Internal Revenue Service tracks tax returns for the 400 highest-paid filers each year. Those taxpayers made an average of $202 million in 2009, the latest year available. Their average federal income tax rate: 19.9 percent."

My apologies to civility on the board but it is such a God damned lie for informed people to write so inaccurately.  In order for a top income return to pay at the 15% rate, now 20% rate, they are including long term capital gains which by definition over our entire lifetimes includes an inflation component which is not income in any sense at all.  Also much of those gains were corporate and therefore quadruple taxed while they point out how 'small' one component out of four can be.

Then for the middle and lower income taxpayers they include FICA to make comparisons which I did not think was part of the federal income tax.  But lower income workers get a nice return an social security and medicare payments while higher income people do not.

Other than that, good news that someone is pointing out that we are heading back to the Jimmy Carter days as the alarmists among us have warned.
4106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science and Military Issues on: March 04, 2013, 08:19:47 AM
Before we close the argument...

a) Suppose we substitute the imprecise term 'third world military' with just a US military unable to address the threats we face.

b) The political movement of unilateral disarmament currently led by Pres. Barack Obama is not a 4 year proposition.  The LBJ programs for poverty, for example, lived on far beyond his Presidency.  The Carter disarmament lasted beyond his years and could have lasted permanently. 

The Obama approach of apologizing and bowing has not had the success that peace through strength and deterrence once had.  The time to oppose all bad policies is early and often.
4107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues - Woodward regret? on: March 03, 2013, 05:26:26 PM
I did not know until after the “I think you will regret staking out this claim” email that Bob Woodward isn't such a perfect journalist:

Looks like John Cassidy at the New Yorker had a well researched article about Woodward's alleged misses ready to go to print by Feb 28.

I didn't know about this Woodward scandal:

"In 1988, he published “Veil: The Secret Wars of the C.I.A., 1981-1987,” which contained his famous account of a deathbed conversation with William Casey, the former C.I.A. director. Casey, according to Woodward’s telling, admitted that he knew about the illegal diversion of monies from Iranian arms sales to the Nicaraguan Contras. “His head jerked up hard,” Woodward wrote. “He stared, and finally nodded yes.” “Why?” Woodward asked. Casey whispered, “I believed.” Did it happen like that? Even today, it’s a matter of dispute. In 2010, a former C.I.A. employee, who was part of Casey’s security detail, claimed Woodward “fabricated” the story after being turned away from Casey’s room at Georgetown University Hospital. Woodward dismissed the agent’s statement, saying agency guards were not present around the clock. Whatever the truth of this particular detail, there is no doubt that Woodward had a great deal of access to Casey. According to C.I.A. records, the director spoke with Woodward forty-three times while he was working on the book. Whether or not Casey coughed up the deathbed admission, “Veil” contains a wealth of previously undisclosed details about C.I.A. operations."

I didn't know about this criticism of Woodward:

The real rap on Woodward isn’t that he makes things up. It’s that he takes what powerful people tell him at face value; that his accounts are shaped by who coöperates with him and who doesn’t; and that they lack context, critical awareness, and, ultimately, historic meaning. In a 1996 essay for the New York Review of Books, Joan Didion wrote that “measurable cerebral activity is virtually absent” from Woodward’s post-Watergate books, which are notable mainly for “a scrupulous passivity, an agreement to cover the story not as it is occurring but as it is presented, which is to say as it is manufactured.”

How many knew that Woodward's book about praising Greenspan as "Maestro" was so ill-timed:

"Woodward’s 2000 book on Alan Greenspan, “Maestro,” which was clearly based on extensive access to the Fed chairman, is a good example of what Didion was talking about. As an inside account of what Greenspan said and did and thought, it was a useful primer, and, as with all of Woodward’s books, it included some arresting, if largely irrelevant, narrative details, such as one in which the great man, disturbed by his wife, Andrea Mitchell’s, desire for a canine companion, asks one of his colleagues, the chairman of the Philadelphia Fed, “Well, how do you tell your wife you don’t want a dog?” But as a guide to the impact of Greenspan’s policies, or the real significance of his rise to a godlike status, “Maestro” wasn’t much help at all. Less than a year after it was published, the stock-market bubble that Greenspan had helped to inflate burst, and the country was plunged into a recession."

Now the narrative on Woodward is becoming that he was a Watergate-era, one-hit wonder.  

“I think [Woodward] will regret staking out this claim” about Obama moving the goal posts.

Some younger journalists were allegedly treated worse than Woodward by the Obama administration:

4108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: March 03, 2013, 01:56:26 PM
Maybe the calling out of Obama by Woodward on the origin of the sequester means the honeymoon is finally over, 8 1/2 years after Obama's 2004 convention speech.  It opens the door for pretend journalists to do real journalism and also for pretend comedians to do real comedy.  They can start coming out and at least consider taking occasional shots at the administration if or when they seem warranted.  Jon Stewart started to dabble in it. 

I don't think you would see any of that at this point in the first term.

The 'threat' as CCP suggests does not mean break you knees regret.  To Woodward they can't even take away all his access but they can throw up small roadblocks and hurdles.   For a newer, younger reporter it means you go further in this town if you play ball with the right team.  Criticism is fine, just keep it all over at Fox and Weekly Standard, etc.

Today I watched David Gregory follow tough questioning of Speaker of the House John Boehner with some far tougher than usual questions for his administration guest which happened to be Gene  You-will-live-to-regret-this  Sperling.  Then gave him the opportunity to tell what a great, long relationship he has with Woodward.  Still, I never heard him give good explanation to the "regret it" comment, nor back off of it.

Some stories are coming out about how Woodward isn't the greatest journalist...
4109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Scott Grannis on marginal tax rates on the poor on: February 27, 2013, 08:49:26 AM

Excellent work by Scott  G on a very important topic.
4110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Dollar: Quantitative easing simplified on: February 24, 2013, 11:09:58 AM
Quantitative easing simplified:

#Invalid YouTube Link#

4111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: February 24, 2013, 11:05:54 AM
"It is highly important that the workmen should be assigned the noble status of citizenship in all our legislation."

Winston Churchill in a 1911 debate on British immigration reform.
4112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: February 24, 2013, 11:02:30 AM
Just bought gas in the heart of the ND oil boom.  Prices same as at home.  Still need refineries, cars don't run on heavy crude. 

Someone please remind again why Dick Cheney should not have had industry experts advise him on how to meet future energy needs and what the his opponents are using in their tanks.  Harry Potter broom fuel?
4113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs ,budget process: HAMSTER!! George Will on: February 24, 2013, 10:48:46 AM
George Will hits Obama's slow hanging curve ball out of the park:

George F. Will
    Opinion Writer, Washington Post

The manufactured crisis of sequester

The sequester has forced liberals to clarify their conviction that whatever the government’s size is at any moment, it is the bare minimum necessary to forestall intolerable suffering. At his unintentionally hilarious hysteria session Tuesday, Obama said: The sequester’s “meat-cleaver approach” of “severe,” “arbitrary” and “brutal” cuts will “eviscerate” education, energy and medical research spending. “And already, the threat of these cuts has forced the Navy to delay an aircraft carrier that was supposed to deploy to the Persian Gulf.”

“Forced”? The Navy did indeed cite the sequester when delaying deployment of the USS Truman. In the high-stakes pressure campaign against Iran’s nuclear weapons program, U.S. policy has been to have two carriers in nearby waters. Yet the Navy is saying it cannot find cuts to programs or deployments less essential than the Truman deployment. The Navy’s participation in the political campaign to pressure Congress into unraveling the sequester is crude, obvious and shameful, and it should earn the Navy’s budget especially skeptical scrutiny by Congress.

The Defense Department’s civilian employment has grown 17 percent since 2002. In 2012, defense spending on civilian personnel was 21 percent higher than in 2002. And the Truman must stay in Norfolk? This is, strictly speaking, unbelievable.

The sequester’s critics correctly say it is not the most intelligent way to prune government; priorities among programs should be set. But such critics are utopians if they are waiting for the arrival of intelligent government. The real choice today is between bigger or smaller unintelligent government.

Obama, who believes government spends money more constructively than do those who earn it, warns that the sequester’s budgetary nicks, amounting to one-half of 1 percent of gross domestic product, will derail the economy. A similar jeremiad was heard in 1943 when economist Paul Samuelson, whose Keynesian assumptions have trickled down to Obama, said postwar cuts in government would mean “the greatest period of unemployment and industrial dislocation which any economy has ever faced.”

Federal spending did indeed shrink an enormous 40 percent in one year. And the economy boomed.

Because crises are government’s excuse for growing, liberalism’s motto is: Never let a crisis go unfabricated. But its promiscuous production of crises has made them boring.

Remember when, in the 1980s, thousands died from cancers caused by insufficient regulation of the chemical Alar sprayed on apples? No, you don’t because this alarming prediction fizzled. Alar was not, after all, a risk.

Remember when “a major cooling of the climate” was “widely considered inevitable” (New York Times, May 21, 1975) with “extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation” (Science magazine, Dec. 10, 1976) which must “stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery” (International Wildlife, July 1975)? Remember reports that “the world’s climatologists are agreed” that we must “prepare for the next ice age” (Science Digest, February 1973)? Armadillos were leaving Nebraska, heading south, and heat-loving snails were scampering southward from European forests (Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 27, 1974). Newsweek (April 28, 1975) said meteorologists were “almost unanimous” that cooling would “reduce agricultural productivity.”

Today, while Obama prepares a governmental power grab to combat global warming, sensible Americans, tuckered out with apocalypse fatigue, are yawning through the catastrophe du jour, the sequester. They say: Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the hamsters of sequestration.
4114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - ObamaCare and the '29ers' on: February 23, 2013, 03:40:07 PM
I have referenced the phenomenon in France several times:  Why France has so many 49 person companies.  Of course it is because so many regulations kick in when you hit 50 that new or further employment is thwarted.  Now it is the trend in America brought on by Obama and the Dems who preceded him and supported his policies ending exactly what they were trying to cause more of, companies paying full time benefits to more employees:

ObamaCare and the '29ers'
How the new mandates are already reducing full-time employment.

Here's a trend you'll be reading more about: part-time "job sharing," not only within firms but across different businesses.

It's already happening across the country at fast-food restaurants, as employers try to avoid being punished by the Affordable Care Act. In some cases we've heard about, a local McDonalds has hired employees to operate the cash register or flip burgers for 20 hours a week and then the workers head to the nearby Burger King BKW +2.39% or Wendy's to log another 20 hours. Other employees take the opposite shifts.

Welcome to the strange new world of small-business hiring under ObamaCare. The law requires firms with 50 or more "full-time equivalent workers" to offer health plans to employees who work more than 30 hours a week. (The law says "equivalent" because two 15 hour a week workers equal one full-time worker.) Employers that pass the 50-employee threshold and don't offer insurance face a $2,000 penalty for each uncovered worker beyond 30 employees. So by hiring the 50th worker, the firm pays a penalty on the previous 20 as well.

These employment cliffs are especially perverse economic incentives. Thousands of employers will face a $40,000 penalty if they dare expand and hire a 50th worker. The law is effectively a $2,000 tax on each additional hire after that, so to move to 60 workers costs $60,000. ...  ( more at the link)
What could possibly go wrong with these kinds of policies?
4115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science, Winter is still on - 2013 on: February 23, 2013, 03:33:58 PM
Previously on the thread we see record cold temps in China and Siberia when it was warmer in other places.  The phrase global warming seems to be dead now because the warming isn't consistent or necessarily global.  The climate is always changing so the term climate change is safer to use, can apply to everything and can't be disproven.

The last 5 winters in Germany were colder than 'normal'.  This chart show the cooling trend since 1988:

I keep running into evidence that winter continues at least so far despite humans and their bad behaviors.  Yesterday I took a long drive along the mighty Mississippi only to find it completely frozen over.  Not up north where it is small but in southern Minnesota where it is a mile wide.  A truck parked at at an ice fishing house prompted me to take a picture.  Apologies for the quality of the shot not showing just how beautiful this is, but this is the Mighty Mississippi fully frozen over and blanketed with snow for as far as the eye can see:

Next is an ice road on the world's largest freshwater lake:

Maybe next year warming will spiral out of control or maybe from where you are it looks like it already has.  Not so here.

4116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / America's Inner City; Half of Detroit property owners don't pay taxes on: February 22, 2013, 01:51:00 PM
An estimated 47 percent of Detroit’s property owners pay no taxes, according to recent report from The Detroit News.
(Abortion rights taking a toll?)

“Nearly half of the owners of Detroit’s 305,000 properties failed to pay their tax bills last year, exacerbating a punishing cycle of declining revenues and diminished services for a city in a financial crisis,” the report notes, citing more than 200,000 pages of tax documents.

“Some $246.5 million in taxes and fees went uncollected, about half of which was due Detroit and the rest to other entities, including Wayne County, Detroit Public Schools and the library,” the report adds.

In fact, according to The News, delinquency in the shattered city is so bad that that 77 blocks had only one owner who paid taxes in 2012.

Yes, one person paid taxes in an area covering 77 blocks.
4117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anatomy of a stoning on: February 22, 2013, 01:03:33 PM

Ughh!!!  The religion of peace, gay rights, women's rights.  One might say that such harsh penalties, no one would commit the 'crime'.  Unfortunately, among the 'offenders' are young female rape victims:
4118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion on: February 22, 2013, 12:55:26 PM
"The left's war on women (and children) continues."

And war on religion.  Also the left's war on science.  By the time you detect a separate heartbeat it is pretty hard to argue this is no living thing. 

"I see that Gov. Cuomo of NY is seeking to expand late-term abortions.  Anyone have details?"
Andrew Cuomo’s late-term abortion push
guarantee women in New York the right to late-term abortions when their health is in danger or the fetus is not viable.

I haven't read New York law but there is ALWAYS an exception for when the life of the mother is in danger.  (Look for the iberals lie in the first sentence.)  What child is "viable" when the mother is stabbing it or holding a plastic bag over its head?

We need legal abortion because we know many unwanting mothers will kill the baby anyway in what they used to call back alley abortions.  Why not update the New York code for unwanted spouses.  We know that a good number of them will be killed anyway.  Why not facilitate that in a safer environment?
4119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance Glibness - Best of times and worst for African Americans on: February 22, 2013, 12:02:33 PM
Pres. Barack Obama:  "And you know, I think these are both the best of times and the worst of times for large portions of the African American community."

No recognition whatsoever of the unemployment and dependency damage that his policies have caused.  All partisanship about the hatred of Republicans.

I can't believe host Al Sharpton didn't ask tougher questions.!

African American Teen Unemployment Rate at a 25 Year High

155,000 New Jobs Added, But Black Unemployment Rises

Black teen unemployment still 4 times national average
seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for African Americans between the ages of 16 and 19 reached 49 percent, up from 45.4 percent in August and 41.7 percent for the same period last year.

once unemployed, Blacks are less likely to find jobs and tend to stay unemployed for longer periods of time. Blacks remained unemployed longer than Whites or Hispanics in 2011, with a median duration of unemployment of 27.0 weeks (compared to 19.7 for Whites and 18.5 for Hispanics).
Best of times because of increased opportunities - in an intentionally shrinking economy?

Fool me once, fool me twice, looks like a pattern...
4120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jack Lew- Forrest Gump at Treasury? on: February 22, 2013, 11:13:45 AM
NYU, a taxpayer owned institution, paid Lew $840,339 in a year and lent him and additional $1.4 million Mr. Lew said that the university "provided a mortgage forgiven in equal installments over five years, and an additional shared appreciation mortgage."  Plus severance when he left voluntarily.  Citi paid him 1.1 million to run a group that lost a billion and required a taxpayer bailout.  Let's put him in charge of the Treasury.  Liberals and leftists are up in arms about this.  Just kidding.

Jack Lew doesn't seem to know much about how or why he got paid.

Senate Democrats are in a hurry to confirm Jack Lew as Secretary of the Treasury before anyone notices his biography. Otherwise, liberal lawmakers might be embarrassed voting for a man who represents everything they've been campaigning against.

Investor in Cayman Islands tax haven? Check. Recipient of a bonus and corporate jet rides underwritten by taxpayers at a bailed-out bank? Check. Executive at a university that accepted student-loan "kickbacks" for steering kids toward a favored bank? Check. Excessive compensation with minimal disclosure? Check.

Like a financial Forrest Gump, Mr. Lew keeps walking into the frame of the business-political dramas of the last decade. But unlike the lovable movie character, Mr. Lew is playing the villain of liberal financial lore. One very compelling role, highlighted by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), was Mr. Lew's star turn as an administrator at a university that encouraged students to borrow from his future employers at Citibank.

Prior to working at Citi, Mr. Lew was the executive vice president for operations at New York University from 2001-2006. He was responsible for NYU's budget and finances. During his tenure the university agreed to recognize Citibank as its primary private lender for student loans. Citibank in turn paid NYU 0.25% of the value of the loans.

Mr. Lew and the school say that Citi offered the payments to NYU only after winning a competitive process to offer low rates to students. Mr. Lew says he doesn't recall much about the arrangement, and he responded to a Grassley inquiry by saying, Gump-like, "I do not believe that I approved the selection of Citigroup as C +0.61% a preferred lender for NYU students."

We never thought it was the crime of the century for universities to get a cut of loan revenue when they recommended particular lenders to students. But politicians like Senator Max Baucus (D., Mont.) referred to these payments as "kickbacks." Yes, the same Max Baucus who has spent his career howling about the Cayman Islands. Yes, the same Mr. Baucus who has now forgotten how outraged he is while supporting Mr. Lew's nomination.

Anyway, after Mr. Lew had left NYU to work at Citi, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo charged in 2007 that the school's payments from Citi had not been adequately disclosed to students and that the school's policy toward Citi created a conflict of interest and violated state laws. NYU settled without admitting any wrongdoing and agreed to a new code of conduct.

We'd have thought this story would offend principled liberals, but then they're also giving a pass to Mr. Lew's fabulous compensation from the tax-exempt school. NYU students shoulder one of the highest collective debt burdens in the country as they struggle to afford one of the nation's most expensive universities. For those who claim after watching Mr. Lew's confirmation hearing that he doesn't understand finance, we say: Check out his NYU compensation package. He sure knows how to get paid.

According to a 2004 report in NYU's student newspaper, Washington Square News, Mr. Lew was paid $840,339 during the 2002-2003 academic year. This meant that Mr. Lew earned more than most of the country's university presidents that year, including his own boss, John Sexton.

After more Grassley inquiries and reporting by the New York Post, it's not clear whether even that astronomical figure covers all the compensation paid to this employee of an ostensibly nonprofit outfit.

The Post discovered in NYU's IRS forms that the school lent Mr. Lew at least $1.4 million. When Mr. Grassley asked the Treasury nominee about it, Mr. Lew said that the university "provided a mortgage forgiven in equal installments over five years, and an additional shared appreciation mortgage."

Mr. Lew says that NYU reported "income related to housing assistance" on his W-2, so it's possible the loan subsidy was counted in the $840,339 figure. We asked NYU and the Treasury to disclose Mr. Lew's total compensation from the school, including benefits. NYU suggested we review their public tax filings and White House spokesman Eric Schultz said only that, "Mr. Lew has answered more questions than any Treasury Secretary nominee in history. He has been fully transparent and responsive to the Committee and deserves a vote as soon as possible."

What Mr. Lew has told Mr. Grassley is that "in addition" to his salary, he received other benefits, including "a one-time severance payment upon my departure." The website for the Obama Department of Labor notes, "Severance pay is often granted to employees upon termination of employment." That's our understanding as well—severance is typically paid to employees being laid off. But NYU says he left voluntarily.

Why would the school shovel still more money to an employee as a parting gift before he heads off to Wall Street? NYU is a university that gets favorable tax treatment on the premise that it is pursuing an educational mission, not a commercial or political one.

The Grassley inquiry is unlikely to derail Mr. Lew's nomination, because Senate Democrats, the White House and most of the media really don't care. But Mr. Grassley is doing a public service in revealing how liberals redistribute income to themselves. And Mr. Lew is finally delivering educational value to youngsters by providing a lesson for the Obama era: If you want the big bucks, go into the world of taxpayer-backed enterprises.
4121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues - Charles Krauthammer: The Lesser of Two Evils on: February 22, 2013, 10:49:47 AM

Immigration — the lesser of two evils

By Charles Krauthammer, Published: February 21

The president suggested he would hold off introducing his own immigration bill as long as bipartisan Senate negotiations were proceeding apace — until his own immigration bill mysteriously leaked precisely as bipartisan Senate negotiations were proceeding apace.

A naked political maneuver and a blunt warning to Republicans: Finish that immigration deal in Congress, or I’ll propose something I know you can’t accept — and flog the issue mercilessly next year to win back the House.

John McCain responded (correctly) that President Obama was creating a “cudgel” to gain “political advantage in the next election.” Marco Rubio, a chief architect of the Senate bill, called Obama’s alternative dead on arrival.

They doth protest quite a lot. Especially because on the single most important issue — instant amnesty — there is no real difference between the proposals.

Rubio calls it “probationary legal status.” Obama uses the term “lawful prospective immigrant.” But both would instantly legalize the 11 million illegal immigrants living here today. The moment either bill is signed, the 11 million become eligible for legal residence, the right to work and relief from the prospect of deportation.

Their life in the shadows is over, which is what matters to them above all. Call the status probationary or prospective but, in reality, it is permanent. There is no conceivable circumstance (short of criminality) under which the instant legalization would be revoked.

This is bad policy. It repeats the 1986 immigration reform that legalized (the then) 3 million while promising border enforcement — which was never carried out. Which opened the door to today’s 11 million. And to the next 11 million as soon as the ink is dry on this reform.

The better policy would be enforcement first, followed by amnesty. Yes, amnesty. But only when we have ensured that these 11 million constitute the last cohort.

How to ensure that? With three obvious enforcement measures: (a) a universal E-Verify system by which employers must check the legal status of all their hires; (b) an effective system for tracking those who have overstayed their visas; and (c) closure of the southern border, mainly with the kind of triple fence that has proved so successful near San Diego.

If legalization would go into effect only when these conditions are met, there would be overwhelming bipartisan pressure to get enforcement done as quickly as possible.

Regrettably, there appears to be zero political will to undertake this kind of definitive solution. Democrats have little real interest in border enforcement. They see a rising Hispanic population as the key to a permanent Democratic majority. And Republicans are so panicked by last year’s loss of the Hispanic vote by 44 points that they have conceded instant legalization. As in the Rubio proposal.

Hence Rubio’s fallback. He at least makes enforcement the trigger for any normalization beyond legalization. Specifically, enforcement is required before the 11 million can apply for a green card.

A green card is surely a much weaker enforcement incentive than is legalization. But it still is something. Obama’s proposal, on the other hand, obliterates any incentive for enforcement.

Obama makes virtually automatic the eventual acquisition of a green card and citizenship by today’s 11 million. The clock starts on the day the bill is signed: eight years for a green card, five more for citizenship. It doesn’t matter if the border is flooded with millions of new illegal immigrants (anticipating yet the next amnesty). The path to citizenship is irreversible, rendering enforcement irrelevant.

As for Obama’s enforcement measures themselves, they are largely mere gestures: increased funding for border control, more deportation judges, more indeterminate stretching of a system that has already demonstrably failed. (Hence today’s 11 million.) Except for the promise of an eventual universal E-Verify system, it is nothing but the appearance of motion.

And remember: Non-implementation of any of this has no effect on the path to full citizenship anyway. The Rubio proposal at least creates some pressure for real enforcement because green-card acquisition does not take place until the country finally verifies that its borders are under its control. True, a far weaker incentive than requiring enforcement before legalization. But that fight appears to be totally lost.

In the end, the only remaining vessel for enforcement is the Rubio proposal. It is deeply flawed and highly imperfect. But given that the Obama alternative effectively signs away America’s right to decide who enters the country, the choice between the two proposals on the table today is straightforward.
4122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 21, 2013, 11:53:36 PM
From the article:
The biggest surprise of all, of course, is that real, per-capita spending has not just flattened under Barack Obama but has actually declined.

[Crafty already nailed this but I post my thoughts as they were written.]

Surprising because it is both false and misleading.

Covered somewhere in the threads here, these discredited studies put the first 8+ months of Obama's Presidency in the Bush budgets.  The federal fiscal year is Oct 1-to the following Sept 30.  That kind of budget tracking makes sense in ordinary times, runners left on base, but in this case it included amazing amounts of "emergency spending" before and after inauguration.

The emergency spending between the election and the inauguration was on Bush's watch but in consultation and agreement with President-elect Obama, and also with direct approval of Obama as a de facto leader of the Senat majority that approved the spending.  The lie in Washington was that these emergency disbursements were temporary.
What is most dishonest is to put the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the economic stimulus package enacted by the 111th United States Congress with all Democrat majorities in February 2009 and signed into law on February 17, 2009 by President Barack Obama onto George Bush's budget year.  

What the flawed accounting accomplishes is to move the increases to Bush and then when President Obama breaks the temporary spending promise in the legislation and makes nearly a trillion a year of emergency spending permanent and then steps up and says he slowed or ended the increases in spending.

Besides screwed up budget years, the red-blue designations for President ignore the makeup of congress - where spending bills originate.  The 2008 surge is under a Dem congress.  The Clinton spending restraint 1995-2001 was under a Republican congress.  The people at Reason should know better but libertarians opposing Republicans and vice versa is part of the problem.  

I prefer to tie policies more than people or party or calendar dates to economic results.  For tax revenues, it is not what year did Reagan or Bush get elected, but what date did their policies take effect.

The effect of the Nov 2006 election that elevated Pelosi-Reid-Obama-Hillary-Biden-Ellison et al to the majorities in congress was that tax rate cuts could not and would not get renewed, meaning to investors faced higher tax rates going forward.  Investment is forward looking on tax rates.  A 50+ month employment expansion that began with the full implementation of the Bush tax rate cuts ended at that time and unemployment hit its bottom at 4.7% and headed up.  Unemployment rising means structurally higher spending.  In 2008 facing apparent certainty of tax rate increases at year end the financial markets crashed.  Whether one buys my economic theory or not, to put a red bar on spending for 2008 and then characterize the budget fights of Obama, Boehner and McConnell as Democratic spending restraint is not just simplistic, but flagrantly deceptive.  

Other than that, I like Nick Gillespie, Reason magazine and economist Veronica de Rugy.

[another good point from Crafty is that Obamacare which had zero Republican votes and no dollars to speak of on that congress' record or this President so far, is supposedly unrepealable in divided government, yet will count against the spending record of the next President - trillions over budget.  Very unfair. Again, tie the policies, not calendars or names on the door, to the results when you are serious about policy analysis.

The war point is also very good.  The 'Bush' wars were arguably a result - partly - of Clinton's intelligence defunding and Clinton not really addressing either of those known threats in his Presidency.  From the same chart, was Truman a wild spender in 1945 or did he wrap up a Hitler/FDR/Imperial Japan war?]
4123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: February 21, 2013, 09:02:50 PM
On the first part regarding unanimous cases and interesting splits, point taken!  I admit reading only high profile cases.

"A person is most secure in his home. And if you don't agree with Roe, why cite it?"

The womb is where a person first felt secure. Whoops:

I agree wholeheartedly with the finding of a right of privacy in the womb in Roe and a right of privacy in the home as seen by the dissenters in Kelo, and in my health insurance records and choices.  The right of privacy in the home would not shield you in the event of a killing or even a case of mistreatment of animals, see Michael Vick.  Ditto for the womb, in my opinion.  Short of the interest of protecting another life, all the choices and records of the womb are hers.

My point bringing up Roe may be lost because it is not the same Justices on Roe, Kelo and ACA.  That said, I think these four Justices recognize privacy quite clearly even while an innocent life is taken in one situation yet don't give it a thought or a mention that I noticed for the citizen who is home minding his or her own business.  That neglect troubles me.

"Is there another argument to be made without so much fallout for your own beliefs?"

I will accept your help in answering that.  I gave my best shot above at making the distinction.  For me, privacy is recognized in all cases but not past the point where the health policy records, the home or the womb become tied to a terror case, a killing, evidence of mistreatment, endangerment of others, etc.  That's when privacy ends and the authorities can come in - to protect others.  These Justices are in effect sending in the authorities when you are sitting home, harming no one, paying your property taxes and all the healthcare expenses you incur (actual, not ACA) in full and on time.  For that, they can still take your home.

4124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion Horror for both mother and daughter/son on: February 21, 2013, 01:54:58 PM
Mother sues Planned Parenthood over forced, botched abortion
    by Heidi Miller
    February 20, 2013
When Ayanna Byer scheduled an appointment at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains to take an abortion pill to end her pregnancy, there was no way for her to foresee the horrors ahead of her.  Earlier this month, Byer, through the assistance of the attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom, brought a lawsuit to hold Planned Parenthood liable for the botched abortion that she did not consent to.

According to that complaint, when Byer arrived at the Planned Parenthood clinic, it was determined that her pregnancy was too far along to be terminated through the use of a pill, therefore a surgical abortion was recommended. Ms. Byer agreed upon the condition that she would receive IV anesthesia, for which she would be charged extra.  Although the employees could not get the IV started, the doctor came to start the procedure anyway.

The complaint states:

    At this time, Plaintiff immediately told the Planned Parenthood Doctor to stop and that she did not want to go through with the abortion procedure because she had not received any anesthetic.  Plaintiff also informed Planned Parenthood Doctor and agents or employees of Planned Parenthood Defendants that she believed this to be a sign she should not go through with the abortion.  The Planned Parenthood Doctor did not stop despite Plaintiff’s request, and assured Plaintiff the I.V. would be administered and the procedure would only take a few minutes.

    At this time, the Planned Parenthood Doctor turned on the vacuum machines and told Plaintiff it was too late to stop.

Seven minutes later, due to Ms. Byer crying from pain, the procedure finally stopped. She received an apology and a prescription for a painkiller and antibiotics and was sent on her way. Planned Parenthood never followed up with her.

About two days later, Ms. Byer went to the hospital due to pain and bleeding, where it was found that part of the aborted baby was still inside her, resulting in an infection. She had to have emergency surgery.

Sources: NY Times, LA Times and Washington Post.  Just kidding, maybe they will cover it tomorrow
4125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: February 21, 2013, 12:46:35 PM
Thanks Bigdog.  When Justice Stevens said Kelo was the most unpopular decision in his entire career I assumed he was caught reading the forum.   wink

Do you see some of these same problems in the healthcare decision?  Roberts view aside, the other four never seem to object to expansions of government powers and the corresponding losses of individual rights and freedoms.  As much as owning a home, isn't something as basic as the right to choose what services you want to buy or insure in my opinion a basic right in a free society?  Aren't healthcare choices part of a right to privacy?  Especially in the wake of Roe!
4126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: February 21, 2013, 11:17:15 AM
The Republicans on the cable shows keep going after Obama.  I think this is off the mark. 
The target is too narrow.  They should not go after him.  They must go after all leaders of the Democrat Party.
I mean Hillary is on deck while she begins a speaking tour just like Bill did for her in 2008 ; a quarter million a pop.
If we focus only on Brock we will miss the rest of the enemy assault.

It is the governing philosophies, not the person, we oppose, and the criticisms just deflect off of him anyway.  But still this is a people business.  We need to do both, impugn these policies and hold specific people accountable for their results.

The lost popularity of George Bush in his second term cost him (us) 1) the House, 2) the Senate, 3) all of his second term domestic agenda including energy.  It meant that tax rates cuts would expire instead of becoming permanent.   And the agenda that never happened should have included housing finance reform that might have prevented or alleviated the severity of 4) the financial collapse.  Bush's lost popularity 5) guaranteed the election of the other party in the next Presidential election.  That is a big swing for just convincing the people they have a lousy President.  Bush partly deserved that.  So does Obama.

If Pres. Obama is tied personally to the failed economy, even after reelection, it hurts his ability to move more legislation, more spending,more taxes.  It hurts his ability to help Dem House and Senate candidates next year, it hurts the prospects of the next Dem nominee, and it hurts the future reputation of leftism. 
4127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care - Ezekiel J. Emanuel on: February 21, 2013, 10:11:15 AM
CCP, I looked up Rahm's brother Ezekial and found many columns at the NYT:

Reading through I found him to be somewhat reasonable and restrained for a liberal.  I didn't find anything overly provocative or controversial like a Krugman for example.

For a question in a room full of doctors I would look for something where both the question and the answer might resonate with the audience.  Perhaps something along the line of asking how can we limit government's role to informing, but not interfere with or replace the judgment of the attending physician.

A not very timely and more hostile question: Given that the more an industry is controlled by government the less they are able to innovate, improve services or control costs, why do we turn over our most important industries to the entity with the worst track record for performance?

His most recent column:

February 14, 2013, 9:11 pm158 Comments
Health Care’s Good News

THINK about it. When was the last time you heard the phrases “good news” and “health care costs” in the same sentence?

I can’t remember either.

Most of the recent talk about health care spending has been pretty bleak. Just take a look at the Rate Review Tool on and you’ll know why. Major insurers are proposing painful, double-digit premium increases in 2013. In California, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and Aetna all announced rate increases of 20 percent or higher for some of their customers. Many are taking this as a sign that, despite its intentions, the health care reform law is failing and costs are going up as a result.

But there is something bigger going on here, though commentators may not be shouting about it. Health care spending is still going up, but the rate at which it grows year to year has actually been declining for about a decade now.

This is truly a sea change. Look at Medicare: over the last 43 years, costs per beneficiary grew 2.7 percent faster than the overall economy. That’s why Medicare spending rose from $7.7 billion in 1970 (or 0.7 percent of gross domestic product) to $551 billion in 2012 (almost 4 percent of G.D.P.). But this trend has finally reversed; over the last three years, Medicare costs per person have grown 1.3 percent slower than growth in the overall economy. In January, a Department of Health and Human Services report showed that Medicare spending per beneficiary grew just 0.4 percent in 2012. And last week, the Congressional Budget Office lowered its 10-year Medicare spending projection by $137 billion, because “health care spending has grown much more slowly” than “historical rates would have indicated.”

This slowdown is not limited to Medicare, nor is it simply the result of belt-tightening in the wake of the Great Recession. Since 2004 — nearly four years before the economic downturn — the rate of health care inflation per person has been just 0.8 percent higher than the growth of the G.D.P. Between 1965 and 1993, for comparison, it was 3.2 percent higher.

So if the growth of spending is decelerating, why are premiums increasing? First, the big increases were in relatively small parts of the market, among individual and small-business policies. Second, like everyone else in the health care industry, insurance companies are uncertain about the future, particularly about what will happen to their margins when the new exchanges open in October. The natural response to uncertainty is caution, and for insurance companies, the cautious approach is to increase revenue and profits as much as possible in the short term in case Obamacare lowers them in the long term.

But once the exchanges begin to facilitate competition, this fear should dissipate and premiums should come down.

Regardless, the good news on health care costs shouldn’t make us complacent. Despite the slowdown, total Medicare spending is still rising, because more and more baby boomers are becoming eligible for the program every day. The number of beneficiaries is projected to grow 3 percent each year. As a result, total Medicare expenditures are projected to rise to over 4 percent of the G.D.P. by 2023 and to 6.7 percent by 2037. This is a looming threat to the nation’s long-term fiscal stability.

So what more can be done? Here is another piece of good news: there are many common sense reforms that should appeal to both Democrats and Republicans.

One example is competitive bidding. Historically, the government has effectively set prices through Medicare for wheelchairs, hospital beds and other medical equipment. But a demonstration project begun in 2011 introduced competitive bidding in roughly 100 metropolitan areas to see if market forces could bring down prices. The results have been dramatic. Prices for oxygen equipment went down 41 percent; wheelchairs, 36 percent; hospital beds, 44 percent; and the cost of diabetic testing equipment, like glucose strips, dropped by a whopping 72 percent. And research has shown no adverse effects on beneficiaries.

The Affordable Care Act will expand competitive bidding for these items to the rest of the country in 2016. But why wait? We should roll it out nationwide next year. And it shouldn’t just be for medical equipment. In his last budget, President George W. Bush recommended expanding competitive bidding for blood tests and other lab procedures. It could also work for X-rays, CT scans, pacemakers — for all medical commodities. This would drive health care spending growth closer to the increase in G.D.P.

The moderating of health care spending is fantastic news. But now we just have to work harder. If we can push the rate of growth even lower, we will come close to solving our nation’s long-term financial problems.
4128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Debate Commission Co-Chair says selection of Candy Crowley was a "mistake" on: February 20, 2013, 01:54:14 PM
Frank Fahrenkopf, co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, admitted that the selection of CNN's Candy Crowley to moderate the second presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney in October 2012 had been a "mistake."

Fahrenkopf is a Republican.  Democrats disagree.

Crowley stirred controversy by intervening in the town hall-style debate to support Obama's contention that he had referred to the Sep. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi as a terrorist attack the day after it had occurred. In fact, as Crowley herself later admitted, Obama had not done so, referring only to "acts of terror" in general. In a CBS interview taped the same day, Obama declined to refer to the attack as a terrorist act, and subsequently supported a false story about a protest over an anti-Islamic video that never took place.

After Crowley backed up the president, some members of the audience burst into applause, in violation of the rules. The effect was not lost on the audience, which scored the debate as an Obama win--nor was it lost on Romney, who was sufficiently chastened that he refused to bring up the Benghazi issue again in the third presidential debate, even though that debate was specifically focused on foreign policy and national security.

Though it was likely not the only factor, or even the major factor, in Romney's defeat, Crowley's error slowed the new momentum that Romney had enjoyed since defeating Obama soundly in the first presidential debate. Her intervention also reinforced the media lack of interest in pursuing the Benghazi issue with the president.

As Crafty pointed out, Gingrich would have known he was there to debate both of them.  Romney was blindsided.  Never saw it coming.  He looked worse than Rubio needing water.

Not mentioned is the insinuation Pres. Obama made to Candy that the two of them had already discussed this:

"Get the transcript".  "Can you say that a little louder Candy."

"He did, in fact, sir..." "He -- he did call it an act of terror."

Once again talking out of both sides of the mouth leaves a quote on record for all purposes.  Too bad that in the age of information we still have a partisan, lapdog press.
4129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar and American Freedom on: February 20, 2013, 12:17:57 PM
"China’s Army Is Seen as Tied to Hacking Against U.S. "

Interesting that it was the need to create a virtual private network to get around the Chinese firewall and censorship policies that allowed the discovery and geographic pinpointing of the espionage to a 12 story Chinese military building.

Obama administration:  "We have repeatedly raised our concerns at the highest levels..."

Phew!!  That ought to do it.

On second thought, if they believed "raising concerns at the highest level" will stop it, why admit the need to do it "repeatedly"?
4130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Retired Justice Stevens in defense of Kelo on: February 20, 2013, 11:57:24 AM
A speech by retired Justice Stevens defending Kelo.

Justice Stevens makes my blood boil but I am glad you posted this.  Stevens thinking on full display illuminates the differences between the competing ways of viewing the constitution and its role in limiting government and protecting individual rights.  

Before I go off on a layman's rant, may I ask of Bigdog, Crafty, others, do you agree with Stevens, or if not, what are the flaws of his thinking?

Stevens: "neither the text of the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause, nor the common law rule that it codified, placed any limit on the states' power to take private property, other than the obligation to pay just compensation to the former owner."


Justice Steves alleges that Kelo is model of judicial restraint.  Judicial restraint to Stevens is to look the other way when faced with government oppression of basic individual rights and liberties.

What individual right is the New London redevelopment plan tromping all over?  Obviously the right of private property ownership, the right to own your own home.  Is that right fully enumerated in the constitution?  No.  Was the right of privacy in Roe which Stevens concurred enumerated?  No.  Do you have the right to live in your home without being judged by coveters or tyrannical government about whether your usage, with no complaints on record, is optimal for the community??  Not under the Kelo/Stevens legacy.  

What did the constitution say about unenumerated or under-enumerated rights?  See the 9th amendment:  "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Did the founders and framers see a right to property ownership?  Yes, obviously so.  See the 5th amendment: "...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation".  Does this literally prohibit takings for any other purpose than public use?  No it implies it.

Were the framers aware of threats to private property ownership existing before the constitution was written?  Yes.  When was the following written, by whom, and how many framers owned a copy:  "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house..."??

What did Madison say when he originally opposed the Bill of Rights?   A listing of rights could be dangerous, leading to the erroneous conclusion that only those rights specifically listed were actually protected?  Prescient.

Had the framers written in greater length on "private property...taken for public use", wouldn't they just risk even more of the danger that Madison warned above?  The 5th amendment reference contributes powerfully to the idea that private property ownership was very much an unenumerated right in the framing, to be violated only for "public use".  Stevens is grasping to find that doesn't say "only" public use.  Would he also conclude that takings for other than public use do NOT require just compensation?  Why doesn't he conclude that?  Where was his narrow textual reading of the articles and amendments during his finding of trimesters in Roe?

When did we go from "public use" to public purpose meaning any purpose?  In previous case law he points to Berman.  Over 97 percent of the individuals forcibly removed from their homes by the “slum-clearance” project upheld by this Court in Berman were black, Justice Thomas happened to notice.  (  No matter to Stevens.  Expanding on the creeping powers of government and eroding the rights of individuals in each incremental case is judicial restraint in Stevens' view.  Maybe we need a little less of that!

Justice Thomas wrote:  "The Constitution’s text, in short, suggests that the Takings Clause authorizes the taking of property only if the public has a right to employ it, not if the public realizes any conceivable benefit from the taking."

Like the stunned dissenters in NFIB v. Sebelius repeatedly questioned, what powers doesn't the federal government have if they have all of these?  Stated differently since this is about local government powers, what rights have you retained now that you lost all of these?  Very few.  If you follow the Stevens hypocrisy of original text selectivity carried forward by enough others, you will retain only those rights that are recognized by 5 elites on a given day, generally those linked in politics to liberal causes.  
4131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: European matters on: February 19, 2013, 09:35:35 PM
Crafty wrote recently: "I note how hard the first Euro downturn hit the US markets."

That was back in the good old days when the European problem was Greece.  Then Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy. 

Now we have France making Obama look like a supply-sider and Germany shutting down all nuclear and choking itself over energy:
Germany is facing rapidly climbing energy costs after turning away from nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster, instead relying increasingly on renewable energy. Meanwhile, its neighbors are building nuclear power stations on its doorstep.

Who holds up Europe when France implodes and the German economy stalls?  The steady UK economy where they raised tax rates from 40% to 50% and panicked and lowered them to 45%, all since 2010.
UK set for low GDP growth for at least two years, Bank of England warns.

The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.
4132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: February 19, 2013, 09:00:59 PM
Excellent points, all of them.  Singling this one out: 

"A large portion, over 30% are investors doing cash sales. In CA, from what I hear from realtors, up to 50% is money from China, and most of the rest is from REIT's.  Homeowner investors are taking out seconds on their property, or investment properties that they own, to buy.  (Surprise, surprise, surprise.)  This is not representative of a healthy market."

On other threads we have been discussing income tax rates in general and California in particular.  Both federal and state tax rates just went up in Calif on high incomes, tending to chase away productive investment and new hiring.  A surge of foreign cash coming in to buy existing homes may be a surprise, but not a contradiction to that theory.  Wealth coming in is not taxed, just new income.  Cash sales of existing home causes almost no new hiring for an investment that size, just a name change on the title.  For the seller it is a tax free transaction because of the homestead exemption and decreased values, and selling the home can be a ticket to leave Calif.  A surge of foreign cash buyers of existing homes in popular coastal areas does not in itself change the Calif employment situation.  Unemployment is currently 9.8% and likely to get worse.  Hard to wage a real recovery in housing when the most important underlying factors, business investment and employment, are so gravely ill.  MHO.
4133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left: Cass Sunstein, ends justify means on: February 19, 2013, 01:29:07 PM
Continuing in our get to the know the left series.

It’s For Your Own Good!
Cass R. Sunstein

Left thinker Sunstein reviews "Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism"
by Sarah Conly which explains with a straight face why a system of "paternalist" government-based decision making is better than individual free choices.  I kid you not.

"Conly convincingly argues that behavioral findings raise significant questions about Mill’s harm principle [coersion can only be to prevent harm to others]. When people are imposing serious risks on themselves, it is not enough to celebrate freedom of choice and ignore the consequences."
4134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America on: February 19, 2013, 01:03:34 PM
"financial remittances most often sent by Somalis in the U.S. back to family members in Somalia. Such remittances have become harder to make over fears that people sending money could be accused of aiding a terrorist organization such as al-Shabab."

To the 'professional journalist' who wrote this for the AP:  The scrutiny is not over "fears".  It followed dozens of arrests and multiple convictions of Somali Americans in the Minneapolis metro on terrorism related charges including financial support to known, listed terrorist organizations.
The [FBI's] first public account of a recruitment operation that it says has largely focused on Somali-American men from the Minneapolis area. Those young men included Shirwa Ahmed, 26, who carried out a suicide attack in northern Somalia in October 2008, becoming the first known American suicide bomber. Since then, at least five other recruits have been killed in Somalia, relatives and friends say, and four defendants have entered guilty pleas.
8 Charged In Terrorism Probe Of Missing Somalis
Prosecutors allege that the suspects provided financial support to young men from the Somali community in Minneapolis to go to Somalia and fight on behalf of al-Shabab, a group on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Five of the Minnesotans have been killed.

Does the FBI have "fears that people sending money could be accused of aiding a terrorist organization"?

Besides a Somali magnet, Minneapolis is also a leading gay rights district.  Maybe Rep. Ellison can give a public lectures in Somalia about gay rights - and women's rights - while he is there.   Can't we all just get along?  I hope the Jihadists don't find out about his Catholic upbringing or his inconsistent Mosque attendance record.
4135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 18, 2013, 05:17:46 PM
Interesting.  I have only shot trap and shot skeet one time each a long time ago.  Does his gun show enough incline to be a skeet shot or is that a target shot?
To me, it looks like a shot at a static target. Probably a round of birdshot for the photo.

Yes.  The context of the photo release was that he said he was shooting skeet "all the time" at Camp David.  To support that claim they release a photo of him shooting last summer - at a target.
4136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gov. Hickenlooper: I drank the fracking fluid, a pro-energy Democrat? on: February 18, 2013, 05:08:21 PM
Gov of Colo, on my 2016 Dem short list, seems to be taking on the fracking opponents on the left (like the NY Times) by asserting that the fluid is completely safe.  He is such a newcomer that he doesn't even know the name Haliburton is a Democratic swear word.

I drank fracking fluid, says Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper

By Ben Wolfgang - The Washington Times  February 12, 2013, 12:32PM

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper went to unusually great lengths to learn firsthand the strides the oil and gas industry has made to minimize environmental harm from fracking.

The first-term Democrat and former Denver mayor told a Senate committee on Tuesday that he actually drank a glass of fracking fluid produced by oilfield services giant Halliburton.

The fluid is made entirely “of ingredients sourced from the food industry,” the company says, making it safe for Mr. Hickenlooper and others to imbibe.

“You can drink it. We did drink it around the table, almost rituallike, in a funny way,” he told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “It was a demonstration. … they’ve invested millions of dollars in what is a benign fluid in every sense.”

Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota Democrat, found humor in the governor’s admission and asked if the experience was part of some bizarre occult practice.

“No, there were no religious overtures,” Mr. Hickenlooper responded.

While some laughed at the governor’s statement, he brought up the incident to make a serious point: that oil and gas companies have taken major steps forward in fracking technology.

The practice uses water, sand and chemicals injected into the ground at tremendous pressure to break apart rock formations and release fuel. Environmental groups and many other critics long have been concerned about the chemicals used in the practice and their potential effect on groundwater.

Mr. Hickenlooper stressed that the Halliburton food additive mixture is so safe, one can literally drink it. He also cautioned against state and federal lawmakers going too far with laws to force companies such as Halliburton to disclose the formulas for such products.

“If we were overzealous in forcing them to disclose what they had created, they wouldn’t bring it into our state,” he said.
4137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 18, 2013, 04:47:35 PM
Interesting.  I have only shot trap and shot skeet one time each a long time ago.  Does his gun show enough incline to be a skeet shot or is that a target shot?
4138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: February 18, 2013, 04:34:23 PM
How many decades has it been since we have built new refineries?

We have added some new and some expansions recently; it is only the 'complex' refinery type that hasn't been built since the 70s.

We are down from 254 to 137 refineries in 30 years.  Total capacity is slightly up, but apparently not enough to meet demand in a stalled 2013 economy.

The other problem is that state laws require different blends in different seasons in 50 states.  Discontinuing an old product and ramping up a new product twice a year is disruptive to  production and price.  I'd like to see that problem fixed without a new federal law.

Gas was 1.82 when Obama took office.  Even if total production is up slightly, it did not keep up with demand even in a stagnant economy.

Oil prices have been more stable, only up a couple of dollars lately.
Good, detailed article here on gas prices:
Looks like gas prices now are the lowest they will ever again be.  A refinery in Phillie is going down this summer that is 1/4 of the east coast capacity?!!
4139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: February 18, 2013, 11:30:25 AM
Drudge lead:

Didn't the Cheney task force call for more refining capacity 12 YEARS AGO?!
4140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: February 18, 2013, 11:25:47 AM
"Our silence here on the Sequester cuts disturbs me.  Do we agree to tax increases to avoid them?  This is serious stuff!   With the massive contraction of the American navy apparently in the pipeline, what substance to our alleged pivot to the South China Sea?  Does not the day come when the Chinese blow us off of Taiwain?"

Yes, we are screwed and no, signing on with even higher tax rates just makes it worse.

Dick Cheney was on the air last week warning very persuasively of the dire consequences to defense of the sequester.  He watched the last two times our military was gutted and the costly and difficult process of rebuilding.  

Ralph Peters, an noted hawk, came to the opposite conclusion:

A number of competing considerations come into play.  First is peace through strength (a principle defeated in the last election).  Real cuts in capabilities embolden the wrong people and cost us more in the long run.  OTOH, defense spending has been extremely wasteful, we are winding down two wars and we are disarming anyway under Obama/Hagel.  Perhaps we might use the reality that they will gut readiness anyway to force the domestic cuts now.

"What would be wrong in getting back money from the Chinese by selling them nat gas?!?

Yes, these are the kind of solutions we would pursue if we had our own best interests in mind.

" Not only would the greens be happy at weaning the Chinese off the toxic coal cancer that already reaches the US"

That falsely assumes the main point of environmental extremism is to protect the environment.

"...this then also give us counter pressures in matters pertaining to the China Sea and Taiwan."

I wonder if this excellent idea ever came up in the strategic level meetings that natural gas advocate, Amb. Huntsman, never had with his boss Pres. Obama during the years he was stationed there to dine with the communist politburo.  

Your comments on Rumsfeld are a reminder for those who say what difference would Hagel make.
4141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: February 18, 2013, 10:26:07 AM
"...note how hard the first Euro downturn hit the US markets"

Yes, we were blindsided by the failure of socialism.  The US used to lead Europe and the world in the other direction.
MSN Money: Rich world heads into recession
For the first time in 4 years, GDP growth in the 7 largest economies actually shrank.

"Indeed is not part of the argument that current DOW numbers are due to international diversification of many of the constituent companies of the Index?"

Yes, but most are moving beyond Europe as well as moving beyond the US.  They can go into India, China, Brazil, or wherever they see growth, but at some point the planet is too small for large enterprises to escape economic failure in the largest economies.  Also some management within these companies will bet wrong on the Wesbury theory, that governments can set all the policy levers wrong and the economy will grow just fine anyway.

Crafty continued:  "I am seeing things that Euro may be heading for a double dip of what it has already experienced.  (What do people do with the bankruptcy of nanny fascism?)  If one no longer believes in the market as the supreme leading indicator (efficient market theory et al) and instead sees it as a zero sum gambling casino with the attention deficit disorder of massive training program algorithms of hedge funds, then one may conclude the coming Euro crackup may will hit the Dow hard and fast"

When it looks like zero-sum, it is time to be out - unless you are truly smarter and quicker than all the other players.  I don't know the future of the DOW but under what theory is it immune from everything happening around it? 

If the Fed expansion caused the housing bubble (I will post the Forbes piece today separately) then is it not the Fed expansion today causing artificially high stock prices?  When exactly does that correct, no one knows.

All these taxes, rules and regulations keep out startups and newer, weaker competitors, and actually help the entrenched players to a point.  The DOW, NASDAQ and S&P are indexes of the entrenched players, not of the economy as a whole.  The big health insurers just got 30 million new customers for example, and the subsidies to help to sell autos, furnaces etc.  But these lines can't go in opposite directions forever.  These companies are not fully insulated from the other troubles in the economies.  Yes, if I was in the market I would be very worried.  If gold were at 400 or even under a thousand I might say put it all there.  At 1600-1800 an ounce, who knows.  The money most of us have won't buy much gold.  No easy answer except to think wisely about playing defense.
4142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi, McCain v. David Gregory on: February 17, 2013, 11:28:18 PM
Gregory is trying to argue why we should not be looking into it?  A coverup of what?

McCain showing a backbone answers the question:
4143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Only 17 states plus DC set up Obamacare exchanges before deadline on: February 17, 2013, 07:04:53 PM
The deadline was Friday.

"The Department of Health and Human Services had encouraged states to run their own markets, or “exchanges,” that help the uninsured find coverage. Only 17 states and the District of Columbia took on the task, while seven states decided to split the duty with the Obama administration, according to a breakdown by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
4144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: February 17, 2013, 12:42:50 PM
Milton Friedman had a license plate that said: MV=PQ, contending that each of four very important but difficult to measure variables are all intrinsically tied to each other, either proportionally or inversely.  The money supply times the velocity of money equals the total value of all the goods and services in the economy.

We are getting information that the Fed is monetizing 3/4 of trillion dollars a year in 'debt' that is neither collected in tax revenues nor borrowed in a market by a willing participant.  That new money is entering the economy by way Treasury checks at a rate of  $24,000 per second?   What could possibly go wrong?

Money is up and velocity is down from where it could be or should be.  With flat demand and no growth, prices look relatively stable.  (Unless as G M says if you have been to a gas station or grocery store lately, or healthcare or education or property taxes or anything else we have to pay for.)

Inflation is the increase in dollars relative to output, clearly we are doing that.  Consumer price increases are not tied to money but money times velocity, if you buy Friedman's thinking.

Obj wrote: "that is because this money is being held by banks.  When it enters circulation and the Fed stops keeping interest rates close to zero, watch out."

A bank reserve is money sitting still whether you count it or not.  Yes, if it were to invested and moving full speed in a fractional reserve system, it would grow in multiples.  The key to preventing or at least postponing a price spiraling crisis is our commitment to no-growth, anti-investment/employment policies.  What a miserable web we wove.
4145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races - KY Senate 2014 on: February 15, 2013, 02:16:25 PM
Good points.  I am wondering who the Republican nominee will be.  Much of the dissatisfaction with McConnell in his home state comes from the right.

Also wondering what the Obama economy will look like 6 years into it while he takes one last shot at consolidating power.  If Democrats nationalize the election, it won't help candidates in the most conservative states.  Unemployment in KY is currently 8.1%.
4146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: February 15, 2013, 01:55:45 PM
This is the attack ad referred at the link:

Obama lost Kentucky by 23 points, not a rounding error or charisma deficiency.

The model (IMHO) for Dem victory in KY is probably Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota who ran with distance from Obama (, not a Hollywood actress who would start from his left.
4147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, The wagon not the plowhorse on: February 15, 2013, 01:37:38 PM
"Industrial production declined 0.1%"
"Manufacturing, which excludes mining/utilities, declined 0.4% in January. Auto production fell 3.2%, while non-auto manufacturing declined 0.1%."
A Plowhorse can't pull a plow backwards.  The plowhorse analogy implies a very strong horse pulling a very heavy load at very slow, consistent pace.   But we aren't pulling a fixed load with a fixed force.  A good part of our load consists of people who could be helping us pull.

The wagon analogy reflects that.  The wagon has the productive people pulling it up a slight incline and it has the oldest, poorest and weakest among us riding if they are unable to help pull or even walk alongside without assistance.  The slight incline is the actual cost of governing, keeping the courts open, police, roads, etc.

The puller to rider ratio for the wagon shifts dramatically with every policy change.  When everyone who can pulls a little the wagon goes along quite easily and effortlessly.  But we take the strongest pullers and tie ropes at varying tensions around their arms and legs, and som duct to at least partially block their breathing.  We take the able bodied who aren't pulling much and tell them they are no help and can ride if they choose, a 34 million person shift in 4 years.  We take riders who are rested and ready to help pull, instead we pay them to keep riding.  At some point we wonder how the slight incline has become an unbearable slope.  We stall out and maybe slip backwards a little - until we recognize what is wrong and correct it.

4148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Race, religion, ethnicity? "food fight" becomes chaos at Mpls South High School on: February 15, 2013, 10:27:35 AM
I'm having a hard time figuring this out.  The media and others report it as racial, African Americans versus the Somalis.  Where do they think Somalia is and what race do they see?  It looks to me like local blacks' intolerance of minority, immigrant blacks - for being different?  Authorities will be reviewing surveillance footage.

A parent commented:  "You can't throw kids in a building and expect them to get along," she said. "It's a challenge for all of our students to live amid such rich diversity."

My two cents:  With a 50% graduation rate, how about we throw them into books and more math tests in place of the time we spend celebrating our rich diversity.|tvideo|news

Maybe their congressman Keith Ellison can bridge this gap and end the violence with smart liberalism, like Rahm did in Chicago.

4149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi Shame on: February 14, 2013, 11:35:07 PM
Our President never made a phone call.  He didn’t talk to Leon Panetta, or any military personnel, or Hillary Clinton.  He accepted the defeat at the first sign of a fight, then probably worked with his speechwriters on the Vegas event. 
They may have worked out the cover story about the video while the fighting was still going on, not knowing it would drag on for 7-8 hours before the last American was killed. 

No backup was ever ordered.  How do you not even try to help?
4150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pope Benedict challenged Islam to live up to the slogan: religion of peace on: February 14, 2013, 08:37:55 PM
Pope Benedict XVI challenged Islam to live up to the slogan, religion of peace. in the 2006 Regensburg Lectures:
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