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4351  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Latest Hamas war was Morsi's wag the dog? on: November 27, 2012, 09:25:12 AM
The expression wag the dog has come to mean same as the shiny object theory, hey look over here!  Wag the dog came from the saying that 'a dog is smarter than its tail', but if the tail were smarter, then the tail would 'wag the dog'.  To me it just means you sometimes you need to look at things backwards to understand what happened.

The Hamas war timeline looking backwards:

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

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

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

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

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

1) Hamas attacks Israel with rockets.


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

4352  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Underwater drones on: November 26, 2012, 09:33:43 AM
http://rt.com/usa/news/darpa-drone-unmanned-sub-455/
4353  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and neighbors, Brokering a victory for Hamas on: November 26, 2012, 09:19:25 AM
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/11/why-did-obama-broker-a-victory-for-hamas.php
4354  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 26, 2012, 09:14:43 AM
Odd that there was no Obama administration interest in a cease fire when Hamas was shooting unilaterally.  No talk of cancelling an Asia trip.  The crisis began when Hamas was losing.
4355  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel, and its neighbors: Krauthammer - Why was there war in Gaza? on: November 23, 2012, 09:26:29 AM
To clarify an exchange above in the thread, I favor Israel taking disproportionate responses to protect itself.

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

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

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

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

Why was there war in Gaza?

By Charles Krauthammer, Published: November 22 2012

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

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

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

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

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

It gave the land. It got no peace.

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

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

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

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

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

Hamas’s new strength comes from two sources.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel has once again succeeded in defending itself. But, yet again, only until the next round, which, as the night follows the day, will come. Hamas will see to that.
4356  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics: How Private Property Saved the Pilgrims on: November 23, 2012, 09:02:58 AM
This could go under 'Founders' as well.  I have been looking for a published account of this story.  Found this in Stanford's Hoover Digest, published Jan. 1999:

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

Hoover Digest » 1999 no. 1 » Private Property

How Private Property Saved the Pilgrims

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

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

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

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

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

DRIVING A HARD BARGAIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE COMMUNAL EXPERIMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PROPERTY IS PRIVATIZED

Bradford’s history of the colony records the decision:

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

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

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

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

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

Bradford felt that, in retrospect, his real-life experience of building a new society at Plymouth had confirmed Bodin’s judgment. Property in Plymouth was further privatized in the years ahead. The housing and later the cattle were assigned to separate families, and provision was made for the inheritance of wealth. The colony flourished. Plymouth Colony was absorbed into the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and in the prosperous years that lay ahead, nothing more was heard of “the common course and condition.”
4357  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: November 21, 2012, 11:09:02 AM
I like the McClintock piece.  I don't know how a California conservative stays sane and interested in politics. 

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

Many observations, but take the abortion question for one.  Assume 40% roughly of the electorate are to the right, 40% are to the left and the remaining are in the center.  From a pro-life vs. libertarian (false argument) how does it make sense to kick 4% of the electorate (10% of your base) out of your party?  Especially when you know that the 5% hard core pro-choice will never join you for doing that.
4358  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: November 21, 2012, 10:56:41 AM
Pat, good stuff - always.  Even if the truth is bad news...

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

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

Uncertainty in its many forms, of the economy overall, of housing, of personal income, or take home income, of the deductibility of mortgage interest, also contributes greatly to the inaction of those who could be or should be the move up buyers right now.  
4359  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness response on Benghazi: 78 Minutes to get to the crisis room? on: November 21, 2012, 10:41:37 AM
Obama's 3am call came in at 5pm(?) and he was already awake.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Were we just trying to set a good example for Israel in our advocacy of Obama's do-not-defend-your-own-country doctrine?
4360  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libya Lies, Half a Clap from Clapper? on: November 21, 2012, 09:31:48 AM
Citing “an intelligence source,” CBS News reports that the “Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI)” cut references to “al Qaeda” and “terrorism” from the unclassified talking points given to Ambassador Susan Rice on the Benghazi consulate attack, and did so with the agreement of the CIA and FBI. Neither the State Department nor the White House made these changes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

WALLACE: It comes from the white house.

HUME: Exactly.

WALLACE: Always. For anybody in the administration.

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

WALLACE: Yes.

HUME: Thank you.

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

FNS video and transcript:

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

Does she look uninformed, out of the loop?  I don't think so.  Best guess is that she is someone totally in the loop who knows better.  Now she has NO credibility.  Same for the White House.  Getting at the President by taking out his lying surrogates is a long standing Washington tradition.
------
Must be my television, but I didn't know she would be unimpeachable because she is African American.  All criticisms will be called sexist and racist.
4361  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Constitutional Law: New York Times Co. wants media monopoly on corp. speech on: November 21, 2012, 08:57:53 AM
The Privilege to Speak

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

By JAMES TARANTO 

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

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

Justice Alito

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Times Co. wants itself and similar corporations to enjoy a monopoly on free speech. The only way to accomplish that is through a regime in which the government effectively licenses the press. That would be an anathema to America's constitutional tradition.
4362  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama Must Come Clean on Libya Attacks - Des Moines Register on: November 21, 2012, 08:32:13 AM
Yesterday's Des Moines Register editorial:

Obama Must Come Clean on Libya Attacks

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

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

But this story is not going away.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20121120/OPINION03/311200068/The-Register-editorial-Obama-must-come-clean-on-Benghzai?Opinion&nclick_check=1
4363  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 20, 2012, 11:27:26 PM
I have more questions than answers.  I don't understand what is the other side of the story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4364  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: November 20, 2012, 09:21:52 PM
Interesting point from Pat that median price can tell more about which homes are selling than whether values going up or down.  Median home price is not a fixed unit of measure like an ounce of gold, bushel of corn or barrel of oil.

Housing starts may help construction employment but lack of housing starts is what bolsters the value of existing homes.  The two different charts seem to confirm that.

A sustained move to multi-unit construction might mean some existing homes will never face increasing demand or recovering values.

I wonder how much of multi-unit construction is driven by public investment and 'public-private partnerships' (meddling) rather than any indicator of a private sector recovery.

An aside, my last multi-unit went the way of a Kelo-style public taking from private ownership to new, subsidized, quasi-private ownership with the non-consensual transfer performed by the big city department of fascism.  Liberals upscale the inner city by using government power and taxpayer funds to force out the working poor.  Making investments that don't even pretend to pay for themselves.  a.k.a. the housing 'market'.
4365  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: November 17, 2012, 02:43:14 PM

That Scalia is a flaming liberal - like Roberts.   wink

Is there no freedom of association anymore?

The colonists, signers of the Declaration of Independence (and framers) believed they had a right of secession, judging by their actions.

Secession issue was "resolved by the Civil War" - ?

The Civil War was 'resolved' before the passage and ratification of the 19th amendment, the right of women to vote.  Women tend to be anti-war.  Women will not support civil war and America will never (I am told) support a war against women. 

I would like to see a red-blue secessional overlay jurisdictional map involving maximum consent of the governed.  Republicans can tax themselves and pay extra for national defense.  Democrats can tax themselves and pay for welfare and transfer programs.  We could have cooperative agreements (imagine that) where both sides pay for legitimate functions of government.
4366  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Allen West gets recount! on: November 17, 2012, 02:15:41 PM
Now that they have the recount, I'm not sure why this group is asking for more money...

Recounts involve (guns,) lawyers and money.  The Al Franken / Norm Coleman (Obamacare) recount was an 8 month legal battle.  Disputed ballots far outnumbered the initial and final margins of victory.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_election_in_Minnesota,_2008

Recounting precincts that had 150% turnout, retrieving boxes of uncounted ballots from the trunks of cars takes time, verifying the permanent address of felons serving life without parole, these things aren't easy.  It's not like they just sit around and count valid ballots. 

Besides, raising money is what 'non-profits' do for a living!
4367  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Why Lower Tax Rates Are Good for Everyone on: November 16, 2012, 08:43:33 AM
Is it counter-intuitive?  Why is this so hard to understand much less explain?
----------------------------------
Stephen Moore: Why Lower Tax Rates Are Good for Everyone
If we want millionaires to pay more taxes, then we need an economy where there are more millionaires.

By STEPHEN MOORE  (WSJ) 11/15/2012

President Obama on Wednesday announced that any budget deal must include $1.6 trillion from higher taxes. "When it comes to the top 2%," he said, "what I'm not going to do is to extend further a tax cut for folks who don't need it." He argued that we are never going to get anywhere near balancing the budget without more revenue from people earning above $250,000 a year.

He's probably right about that, though not in the way he intends. The country needs an economy that will create more of the "millionaires and billionaires" that Mr. Obama loves to excoriate, not more taxes from those who already exist. Total taxes paid by millionaires fell by almost $100 billion between 2007 and 2010, the last year with statistics available from the Internal Revenue Service. The drop resulted not from too-low tax rates, but from the severe recession and an anemic recovery since 2009 that thinned the ranks of the wealthy.
Related Video

Editorial board member Steve Moore on the GOP's stand-off with President Obama over raising taxes. Photo credit: Getty Images.

If Mr. Obama wants the Warren Buffetts and Justin Biebers to shoulder more of the nation's tax burden, he would do well to pay attention to the history of tax rates. Over the past century, lower rates have shifted the tax burden onto high-income earners and away from the middle class while maintaining the tax code's progressivity.

Let's start with the 1920s. All tax rates were cut during the Calvin Coolidge administration, including the top rate, which fell to 25% from the World War I high of 73%. Between 1923 and 1928, benefited by lower tax rates, the economy surged, raising incomes and living standards for the middle class. Tax collections in real terms nearly doubled—and the share of taxes paid by those who made more than $100,000 a year (more than $1 million today) increased to 51% from 28%.

The top tax rate rose to 63% in 1932, to 79% in 1936, and to 90% during World War II. The higher rates persisted after the war, and while the economy grew as the government's economic role ebbed, high rates generally helped to hold back the pace of growth.

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Corbis

Tax rates weren't reduced much until the Kennedy administration. JFK cut rates by about 30% for every income group. He argued that the lower tax rates would "boost the economy, produce revenues, and achieve a future budget surplus." He even called lower rates "an investment in the future."

The Kennedy tax cut was enacted in 1964 (after JFK's assassination), lowering the highest tax rate to 70% from 91%. His prediction that the economy would surge was validated by rapid growth every year from 1965 through 1968. Tax collections grew by 8.6% per year and unemployment fell to 3.4%. "The unusual budget spectacle of sharply rising revenues following the biggest tax cut in history," announced a 1966 U.S. News and World Report article, "is beginning to astonish even those who pushed hardest for tax cuts in the first place."

Americans earning over $50,000 per year (the equivalent of about $250,000 today) increased their tax payments by nearly 40% after the rate cut, according to a report from the Joint Economic Committee of Congress. Their share of overall taxes paid rose to almost 15% in 1966 from 12% in 1963. Americans with an income of more than $1 million nearly doubled their tax payments to $603 million in 1965 from $311 million in 1962.

President Reagan cut all tax rates across the board in his first term, with the highest rate reduced to 50% from 70%. That was followed a few years later with the 1986 Tax Reform Act, which closed loopholes and lowered the top tax rate to 28%.

The economy soared in the 1980s and the unemployment rate plunged after the mini-depression of 1978-82. Tax rates fell but federal revenues rose to $1.032 trillion in 1990 from $517 billion in 1980.

Taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans facing the highest marginal tax rates increased every year during the 1980s expansion. Meanwhile, the share of total income taxes paid by the top 1% rose to 25% in 1990 from 18% in 1981. The wealthiest 5% of Americans saw their tax share rise to 44% from 35%. The surge in revenues was the result of prosperity that was largely spurred by tax-rate cuts. The increase in government deficits during that period, on the other hand, was due to higher federal spending.

In 2003, President George W. Bush signed legislation that cut the top income tax rate to 35% from 39.6% and cut taxes on capital gains, too. Federal tax revenues surged by a record $780 billion from 2003-07, when the housing bubble collapsed. And once again, the rich paid more tax, not less. The share of taxes paid by the top 1% rose to 41% in 2007 from 35% in 2003. Tax payments by millionaires doubled from 2003 to 2007 because there were more millionaires and their before-tax incomes rose rapidly.

It is also true that when Bill Clinton raised tax rates in the 1990s, the economy boomed and the share of taxes paid by the rich increased. But the otherwise depressive effect of higher tax rates was counteracted by the lighter burden of government on the private sector—federal spending declined to 18% of GDP in 2000 from 22% in 1993.

A cut in spending is the economic equivalent of a cut in taxes now, or later. This point is effectively conceded by Mr. Obama demanding that his spending and borrowing binge of the past four years must be paid for by a giant increase in taxes over the next decade.

Some liberals acknowledge these fiscal facts of life but argue that tax revenues from the wealthy increased simply because the rich got richer. And so they did. But the economic growth that was touched off by lower tax rates, particularly in the 1960s and 1980s, also benefited middle-class incomes and living standards. If Mr. Obama has his way and raises tax rates on upper-income groups, it will slow the economy, and everyone will lose.
4368  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: November 15, 2012, 08:43:05 PM
Isn't he dead?

Kemp died in 2009, Dole is 88.

Bob Dole wrote in August 2012 that Republicans need to move to the middle, away from rigid conservatism.  http://www.businessinsider.com/bob-dole-urges-mitt-romney-to-confront-the-republican-partys-right-wing-2012-8

In '96 Dole won 19 states.  Jack Kemp had no idea how to defend Dole's centrist record - a little like Paul Ryan in 2012.
4369  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: POTB (Pravda on the Beach): GM is wrong on: November 15, 2012, 06:33:46 PM
If tax rate hikes bring prosperity, why not raise them further, and on everyone?

The forum (search function) is a time machine.  Soon enough we will know who was right, the LA Times or our poster GM.
4370  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO in 2006 on the meaning of a 3% win. on: November 15, 2012, 06:20:46 PM
"Maybe peace would have broken out with a different kind of White House, one less committed to waging a perpetual campaign--a White House that would see a 51-48 victory as a call to humility and compromise rather than an irrefutable mandate."

   - The junior Senator from Illinois, Audacity of Hope, 2006, p.20, regarding George W Bush's reelection in 2004

http://books.google.com/books?id=4vlcQZU6mwQC&pg=PA20#v=onepage&q&f=false
4371  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 10 ways to protect your retirement savings on: November 15, 2012, 01:20:47 PM
WSJ falls behind on its reading of the forum.  Just now catching up on the coming crash:  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/retiring-on-the-edge-of-the-fiscal-cliff-2012-11-13

Summarizing this long piece:  Sell.  Take point 1 for example, "Set aside 12 months of living expenses".  A full year of expenses in cash ought to get most people out of the market.  What is the downward price momentum after every investor sells off a full year's salary worth of equities?

Point 2, "Rebalance assets" also means sell equities.  So does point 3,
"Strategic asset allocation", point 4 "Avoid dividend-paying stocks", and especially point 6, "Harvest long-term capital gains", all equal sell.  Expect a GDP decline of 5% if the fiscal cliff cuts all materialize.  Who has been saying that?  These guys (WSJ/Marketwatch) have no shame in re-publishing our material.

Current environment is more like a “storm watch” rather than a “storm alert”. Really?  Maybe today or tomorrow Obama, Pelosi, Schumer and the House Republicans will all come together with a great big, budget balancing, free enterprise expanding deal (and the Vikings might win the Super Bowl).  To their credit, the piece was written before the Pres. started launching rockets and missiles at his opposition in yesterday's press conference.
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Retiring on the edge of the fiscal cliff
10 ways to protect your retirement savings

By Robert Powell, MarketWatch

One of the biggest risks that retirees and pre-retirees face is that of taxes; not just paying them but the risk that tax policy will change and throw a big wrench into one’s plans.

Well, that risk—in the form of the fiscal cliff—is now upon us and retirees and pre-retirees must now develop a plan of action for their portfolio should all, some, or none of the scheduled tax changes and spending cuts become a reality on Jan. 1.

“The ‘fiscal cliff’ may affect retirees, pre-retirees and the economy as a whole unless Congress acts,” said Thomas DiLorenzo, manager in the Employee Financial Services group at Ernst & Young LLP.

According DiLorenzo, increased taxes—higher income, higher dividend, and capital gains tax rates—are the primary personal finance concern as the Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire for all individuals. Among the changes:

    Marginal tax rates will rise from 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33% and 35% in 2012 to 15%, 28%, 31%, 36% and 39.6% in 2013.

    The 15% maximum long -term capital gains rates will revert to 20% and qualified dividend rates will increase from 15% to being taxed at an individual’s marginal tax rate.

    Earned income tax credit, child tax credit, and the American Opportunity credits will all be reduced.

    Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will become subject to phaseout.

    Estate and gift tax exemption will drop from $5.12 million to $1 million and the top estate tax rate will go from 35% to 55%.

    And while not part of the Bush tax cuts, the 2% FICA tax reduction that has been in place for the past two years would also expire at the end of this year.

In addition, the lower Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) exemption that is currently in place for 2012 would result in many more individuals being subject to the AMT if the exemption amount is not increased as it has been in previous years..

While there is still time for Congress to take action and every individual’s situation will be different depending upon their facts and circumstances, experts including DiLorenzo said retirees and pre-retirees ought to consider the following given that the fiscal cliff might become a reality.

Read related story, 5 fiscal-cliff tax moves for retirement savers.

Set aside 12 months of living expenses

Things might get a little bumpy as we approach the fiscal cliff. So, Stephen Smith, a vice president at Noesis Capital Management, recommends that retirees and pre-retirees set aside 10 to 12 months of living expenses in a money-market fund. “That should provide a cushion so that their investment portfolio can be managed according to their respective time frame and circumstances, with less regard for volatility over a six-month period,” he said.

Rebalance assets

In the event that we do go over the fiscal cliff for more than just a few weeks of 2013, “the ramifications could be quite significant,” according to a UBS Wealth Management Report.

So retirees and pre-retirees might consider how they will allocate their assets given any number of scenarios that could play out as we near the fiscal cliff.

In a worst-case scenario, for instance, UBS reports that there will be severe double-digit losses for U.S. and cyclical non-U.S. equities; U.S. Treasuries and highly-rated non-U.S.-government bonds will rally and credit spreads will spike across the board; the U.S. dollar and other safe-haven currencies will rally; and there will be severe double-digit declines in the broad commodity indexes, with energy and base metals being the most affected.

In its report, UBS outlined four other possible scenarios, including a scenario where lawmakers design a best-case grand bargain that avoids the fiscal cliff. In this scenario, UBS predicts that there will be a rally in stocks, fueled by multiple expansion and stronger earnings growth; Treasury yields will rise modestly, but remain low; the U.S. dollar will rise; and commodities won’t fall.

Others, however, have a different point of view. “Although tax policy for 2013 remains highly contingent on the outcome of U.S. Presidential elections—we think that most likely scenarios continue to favor our themes of preferring large cap over small cap and dividend payers/growers over non-payers,” said Lisa Shalett, CIO and head of Investment Management and Guidance for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.

Strategic asset allocation

While many agree that you need to develop a plan for the best- and worst-case scenarios, some suggest that you consider what’s called strategic asset allocation.

“Investors should, in my view, one, have a plan for what to do if valuation levels in the current stock market go up or go down substantially; and two, adhere to that plan—strictly,” said Ron Rhoades, assistant professor at Alfred State College and the president of ScholarFi Inc.

According to Rhoades, the current valuation level of the overall U.S. stock market is currently slightly below normal levels seen over the past 30 years, perhaps 0% to 10% below mean valuation levels. “Given the substantial rise in equities which has occurred this year, and the macroeconomic risks present, a prudent investor might desire to ‘take gains off the table’ at present,” he said. “This would be done by selling longer-duration bonds and/or equities, and reinvesting in short-term bond funds or CDs. This would serve to minimize the risk present in a downturn.”

Rhoades is not suggesting that investors time the market with tactical asset allocation. Rather, he suggests “adopting a prudent long-term strategic asset allocation and undertake tax-efficient rebalancing of the portfolio on a periodic, perhaps quarterly or semiannually, basis…This forces the investor to ‘sell high’ and ‘buy low’—to a degree.”

Tactical moves

For investors with significant equity positions in their portfolio who might not want to reduce that allocation, Jeff Witt, the director of research at Private Asset Management, recommends buying longer-term put options on the S&P 500 index as a type of “insurance” for your portfolio. “Investors could also look at buying the VIX Index (either through Futures contracts or ETFs), which has traditionally been negatively correlated with the broader market,” he said. “These investments could lessen the impact of a potential pull back in the equity market, should one occur.”

For fixed-income investors, Witt said higher taxes should make tax-exempt municipal bonds relatively more attractive. “Therefore, for taxable accounts, repositioning a portfolio toward a higher concentration of municipal bonds might make sense,” he said.

Roger Aliaga-Diaz, an economist at Vanguard said in a recent webcast that investors should not move out of fixed-income assets. “You want to hold part of your portfolio in fixed income, only because of this low correlation to equities,” he said. “Only because in the situation like a fiscal cliff you would see the bond part of your portfolio really to buffer and to push in the impact on the more risky part.” Read the transcript of Aliaga-Diaz’ webcast.

Avoid dividend-paying stocks?

Others, meanwhile, say that retirees and pre-retirees need to rebalance their portfolios for the coming fiscal cliff, but suggest avoiding dividend-paying stocks.

“Normally in a down economy, investors might want a defensive stock with a high dividend,” said Lukas Dean, an assistant professor at William Paterson University. he said. “But with dividend rates taking such a significant increase, it is doubtful that investors will be as prone to turn that traditional safe haven.”

Witt is of the same opinion. “Should the Bush tax cuts be allowed to expire, the tax rate on dividends will increase,” he said. And that would make dividend-paying stocks relatively less attractive to income investments such as master limited partnerships and high-yield bonds. “We believe the utility and telecommunication services sectors are most at risk, as these sectors traditionally have high yields and relatively low growth rates,” Witt said. “Furthermore, both appear to be trading at fairly stretched valuations.”

Asset location

Experts often recommend that you not only make sure your assets are allocated based on your investment goals, but that those assets are also located in the right types of accounts. So, DiLorenzo recommends reviewing which assets you hold in your taxable and tax-deferred accounts and shuffling things around if need be. Move, for instance, the most tax-sensitive investments—dividend-paying stocks and fixed-income securities—from taxable to tax-deferred accounts, and move investments such as growth stocks that don’t pay a dividend from tax-deferred account to a taxable account. Doing so will improve your after-tax wealth and income.

In short, you want to optimize your use of tax-deferred account such as IRAs, 401(k)s and populate them with the most tax-sensitive (ordinary income) instruments,” said Shalett.

Speaking of trying to create tax-efficient income, Shalett also suggests using more tax-efficient investments and accounts, such as single stocks, separately managed accounts, and ETFs

Harvest long-term capital gains

Shalett also recommends rebalancing your portfolio before year-end with an eye toward tax management and harvesting of losses vs. gains, especially long-term gains. Selling assets that qualify for long-term capital gain treatment in 2012 will lock in the maximum 15% long-term capital gains rate, said DiLorenzo.

According to Paul Mauro, the managing partner of Legacy Financial Advisors, Inc. what moves you make with your portfolio will depend also on your level of income, not just your assets. So for instance, taxpayers who are in the 15% tax bracket and who would qualify to pay 0% on long-term capital gains might consider selling, for instance, their second home, assuming of course they have a gain on the property.

Prepare for a recession?

To be sure, it’s wise to prepare your prepare your portfolio for the coming fiscal cliff. But it’s also wise to contemplate what might happen to the economy and prepare for that as well.

It will be up to this postelection session of Congress to address this issue, according to a recent report by Jeff Applegate, the chief investment officer of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

What’s more, Applegate reminds us that the Congressional Budget Office has warned that failure to reduce the fiscal drag risks recession in 2013 and that Moody’s has warned that the US credit rating is at risk for another downgrade.

“Postelection, we think an agreement will take place to significantly mitigate and delay the fiscal cliff,” he said. “We expect most or all of the tax cuts will be extended for a year, but extended jobless benefits and payroll-tax reductions will lapse. We also expect Congress to override planned defense-spending cuts that are built into the automatic sequester. In all, a fiscal drag of 1% to 2% of GDP seems most likely to us, as opposed to the estimated 5% if all the cutbacks take effect.”

And lessening the drag reduces the near-term risk of recession, he said.

Don’t make bad decisions

“People are well aware of the potential problems because of the fiscal cliff,” said Gary Thayer, the chief macro strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors. “People need to understand what’s at stake. But we can’t predict the outcome yet.”

With the election over, however, Thayer said, there will be some better guidance. “Prior to the election, there was just a lot of speculation because neither party was really putting out substantive proposals until they knew there’s a chance that they can get something enacted.”

For the record, Thayer doesn’t think the worst-case situation is going to happen. “So, we are not telling people to panic or get too defensive,” said Thayer. “If the worst-case scenario doesn’t happen, the prospects for the economy remain favorable. But we can’t say for sure what’s going to happen. Right now things are sort of in limbo.”

Thayer likens the current environment to a “storm watch” rather than a “storm alert.”

“We don’t want to say that this is going to happen, but if there’s a storm watch, you pay attention but you don’t necessarily go to the basement,” Thayer said. “You don’t want to be making decisions about something that may not happen.”
4372  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: November 15, 2012, 12:33:30 PM
Great post by PP! 

Absurd to think we live in an economy mostly based on free enterprise when you look at energy, transportation, healthcare, agriculture or housing.  Take just housing for the moment.  What would the market interest rate be for mortgages if not for federal intervention?  No one knows exactly.

Pat wrote: "3. Higher rates = less affordability = lower sales = decreasing sales values."

Illustrate that with a hypothetical example: 

Assume a house has a 200,000 selling price today with all borrowed money (for simplicity) at 3%. The same payment would only yield a 140,000 price if/when interest rates jump to 6%, 96,000 at 10%, and 76,000 at 1980-83 interest rate levels (13%).  Same house, same buyer, same payment, but 30-62% of the value is lost in some historically possible, rising interest rate scenarios. 
4373  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: real media bias on: November 15, 2012, 11:31:50 AM

Yes!  But the blame goes to the audience rather than the media outlet IMO.  In fast and furious, a dead border agent story could not buy interest in the story.  Sex with a General/former General, that's a story!  Petraeus bridges the media double standard.  Dems see him as the guy who prosecuted the Iraq war for Bush (not for America, "Betray-us", 'you must suspend belief in reality to listen to him') and R's see him as an Obama appointee, even a potential whistle blower in the Obama administration.
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“This is about something else entirely, and the truth will come out,” Broadwell’s dad, Paul Krantz, told the Daily News outside his home in Bismarck, N.D.

“There is a lot more that is going to come out,” said Krantz, claiming he was not allowed to elaborate. “You wait and see. There’s a lot more here than meets the eye.”

Whatever that means...
4374  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Scalia: NFW on secession on: November 15, 2012, 11:12:43 AM
A 28th amendment specifically authorizing secession for states and/or individuals might be easier to pass and ratify than the next budget deal.

Pondering secession aloud is still legal but dangerous to one's future political prospects.

A political compromise short of secession would be for congress and legislatures to offer opt out plans to individuals, the ability to not have to pay into or receive from a myriad of controversial and inefficient government programs. 

4375  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: November 13, 2012, 07:40:16 PM
In a strange set of coincidences, Pres. Obama lost in all states that require Voter ID.
4376  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs - Food Stamps, numbers, dollars and causes on: November 13, 2012, 06:43:34 PM
Taken from GMs decline/fall post, Washington Post - home of some of the most widely read 'fact checkers' wrote:

"Nearly 47 million Americans rely on federal food assistance benefits, a 12-year high attributed to the weak U.S. economy and high rates of unemployment over the last five years."

A '12-year high'?!?  No.  It's an ALL TIME HIGH.  12 Years ago 17.2 million people were on foods stamps.  It has almost tripled in 12 years.

The program has been growing every year, weak economy or not.  51 consecutive months of job growth and it grew the whole time. Source: Washington Post.  Who knew?  It grew and not because of a weak economy or expanding unemployment.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/think-tanked/post/food-stamp-growth-started-before-obama-took-office/2012/09/06/36f49b00-f844-11e1-8398-0327ab83ab91_blog.html

The number of recipients grows because we are talking about FREE FOOD!
4377  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Decline, Fall, and Resurrection of America on: November 13, 2012, 02:34:35 PM
GM, Same college students now own our debt. 
4378  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why did AQ want to kill Amb. Stevens? on: November 13, 2012, 01:43:16 PM
http://pjmedia.com/blog/why-did-al-qaeda-target-ambassador-stevens/
...
Emerging from the chaos is a dim understanding that the U.S. was operating a clandestine arms operation from the CIA post that was loosely — and incorrectly — described as a “consulate.”

If so, the term 'Ambassador' was a rather loose and incorrect title for the man running the operation.
4379  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy - The Macrcoeconomic Effects of Tax Changes on: November 13, 2012, 01:37:09 PM
I get that, but perhaps the $80B number I have seen is the 1%ers tax PLUs the revenues from the other tax increases (e.g. the increase in the tax on dividends)?

That could be.  What we know for sure is that quoting the static number is to quote a known falsehood.  The reaction to a major policy change will not be static.  See Romer and Romer:  emlab.berkeley.edu/~dromer/papers/RomerandRomerAERJune2010.pdf  http://www.forbes.com/sites/charleskadlec/2012/04/23/christina-romer-knows-tax-hikes-will-kill-the-recovery/

Robert Rubin had a piece today in the NY Times not worth posting.  He goes through the deduction and loophole closing possibilities and decides they aren't worth it.  Then comes back to favoring tax rate hikes on the rich that also close no gap and spur no growth.  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/opinion/rubin-deluding-ourselves-over-the-fiscal-cliff.html?_r=0

Broken record: We increase revenues significantly only with pro-growth policies.  We rejected that in the Presidential race and in the Senate, but not in the House.
The President is the so-called leader of the free world.  He needs to find where he has common ground with the House, get something positive passed or we all live with the consequences.

I would stay as far to the sideline as possible while this plays out.  There is a lot that still can go wrong.
-------------------
“Tax increases appear to have a very large, sustained, and highly significant negative impact on output.” - Former Chief Obama Economic Adviser Cristina Romer

From the Forbes link above:

A powerful analysis by  President Barack Obama’s first Chair of his Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) indicates the President’s proposed tax increases would kill the economic recovery and throw nearly 1 million Americans out of work.  Those are the extraordinary implications of academic research by Christina D. Romer, who chaired the CEA from January 28, 2009 – September 3, 2010.  In a paper entitled: “The Macrcoeconomic Effects of Tax Changes” published by the prestigious American Economic Review in June 2010 (during her tenure at the White House), she stated: “In short, tax increases appear to have a very large, sustained, and highly significant negative impact on output.”
4380  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion on: November 13, 2012, 01:07:54 PM
Doug: "pro-life conservatism defeats 'unadulterated liberty' by about 50-1 in the electoral marketplace."
BBG: "I'm assuming the "50-1" is a typo as it certainly isn't reflected in any polling I've encountered."

Mitt Romney 59 million, Gary Johnson 1 million, for one example, or almost any race, any state, any year.  That's all I was saying there.

You didn't address my question, liberty for whom - meaning who protects the unborn, the most innocent among us.

Liberty to me is that freedom that runs wild through us - right up to the point where it starts to harm someone else. 

If one takes the extreme pro-choice view that the unborn is nothing, then defining liberty is simple, abortion kills nothing.  That is fine, but I doubt most Democrats or even Libertarians agree with that, much less Republicans. 

"Repubs tend to nominate folks the Dems can cast as right wing abortion zealots, and that ability costs elections."

Republicans could learn from these mistakes and nominate pro-lifers who merely declare that belief like Romney, Bush and Reagan did, show proper revulsion toward rape and all its consequences and go on to address other issues.

Similar to what I wrote about Aiken and Mourdock not advancing their own cause, only in the wildest dreams of the statists should the pro-liberty and the pro-life factions split up. 


"Isn't Planned Parenthood a private organization that receives public monies?"

Yes.  At least ACORN never killed anyone.

"The Dem. campaign seemed to purposely elevate PP to some sort of entitlement status; the Repubs had no effective response."

An axiom of this election is that a lie (or a really bad idea) not immediately refuted is scored as a debate point won.
4381  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion on: November 13, 2012, 12:04:30 PM
"A two part question:
a)  WHY do most of us include incest along with rape as a valid reason for abortion?
b) Is it not that incest leads to children with birth defects?
c) Therefore should we not be restating the standard as "rape and/or birth defects" to be logically consistent?"

Crafty, I disagree; I think that was a 3-part question.   grin

a) I don't know, but to me it has something to do with that with incest like rape the pregnancy resulted from an inappropriate relationship.
b) That may be true, but my guess is what I described above.  A kid born to parents who are brother/sister, mother/son etc. enters life with a host of problems beyond birth defects.
c) "Logically consistent" is what set up these pro-life candidates for the rape abortion political trap. I am not comfortable or informed enough to comment on abortion for birth defect reasons from a law-writing perspective.  We are all defective so that would be tricky line to write in law as more and more testing is possible. 

Your probing questions stand for others to address. 

My main point over time on this thread is about the moral question ahead of the legal question.  You don't ban abortions when 50% of the people think there is nothing wrong with killing an unborn no different than you or me at the same point in the womb.  From my point of view you first try to change hearts and minds.

My main point in yesterday's post was that rape is for certain one of the exceptions that will be included if we ever do write meaningful restrictions.  Unite on that point and unite on your point that it is a state right and move the most divisive of issues off of the front burner, so that we can build a better coalition on the other political issues.
4382  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US in a multipolar world on: November 12, 2012, 02:03:25 PM
Some great points in there and some with which I differ.  Iraq war total will be $6 trillion is quite an assertion.  Raising a tax rate is not synonymous with raising revenue.  Some parts of the title American Decline I think he doesn't address, economic decline to me is central to why our influence is on a path of decline.  I would confront it economically.

He doesn't claim to have any easy answer, but makes a good series of points that we know how to fight, not how to win or how to end wars.  He makes a strong argument for less intervention.  It is not clear to me what we should have done instead.

I should add, glad that you posted it.  BD has a reading list wider than some of the rest of us!

4383  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion politics and rape on: November 12, 2012, 12:20:39 PM
Some follow up to points made elsewhere:

From the Presidential 2012 thread,

Bigdog questioned:  "What does the fact that all of the "rape" congressional candidates lost (Mourdock and Akin, the latter decisively in an election that he once had 7-9% lead in)?"

BBG Wrote:  "Will it drive unmarried women into the statist camp over abortion, or will it embrace liberty?" ...
"I entertain no illusions: most who oppose abortion will be unable to support a message of unadulterated liberty."

CCP: "What policies, stands, and attitudes are faulty? ... Because a few evangelicals made foolish political comments about abortion?"

Doug (me) from Media Issues: "What bill or constitutional amendment that might pass in the Senate would ban abortion for pregnancies resulting from rape?  There are none."  ...  "Rape abortions make up about .05% of all abortions.  The non-existent controversy makes a useful diversion from focusing on convenience abortions that comprise more than 98% of abortions"... 
------
What have we learned?

1) Gallup May 2012 (from further up the thread): Pro-choice 41%, Pro-life 50%.  Speaking in general terms about respect for life including the unborn is not bad politics and did not cost Republicans the election.  To BBG, pro-life conservatism defeats 'unadulterated liberty' by about 50-1 in the electoral marketplace.  The question comes back to liberty for whom?  Libertarians can choose which party generally supports more liberty.  Pro-lifers don't give up that view over budget issues or political advantage.  It is mostly hard-care liberals who fully deny any value to unborn life, while the politically successful ones utter things like personally opposed, safe, legal and RARE to satisfy their own constituents.

2) Crafty wrote in 2009, "The correct solution is to let the democratic republican principle work it out in each of the 50 states."  Blackmun may not concur, but having conservatives, libertarians, Republicans and even independents agree that it is a matter best left to the states is a political compromise that can remove it from the unresolvable front page of our federal elections.

3) The tragedy of abortion is that millions of developing human beings are killed for no good reason; 98% for convenience-related reasons of the mother is what I have drawn out of published Planned Parenthood surveys.  In the case of rape, 'no good reason' IS NOT TRUE.  This should not require further explanation(!) but we try to make a crime victim whole which does not include a forced, lifelong link of parenting with her rapist.  If a pro-life extremist does not understand or agree from a religious perspective, then understand it from a political perspective - or don't run for high office with major party endorsement. 

4) If Roe were ever overturned (this election moved us a LONG way in the other direction), if the issue were ever returned to the states, or to the extent as Bigdog points out some of that power is already at the state level, Republicans screening their candidates from now on need to make sure and make it publicly known that abortion services will continue to be available in 50 states for rape, incest and life of the mother.

5) Pro-lifers should exercise their own right of privacy when you ponder the theoretical value of a human life conceived in rape.  Doing so with reporters in a campaign is not how you advance a pro-life cause, save any unborn lives, win the women's vote or win any election in even a most conservative pro-life state.

6) Stupid things said by Republicans in one or two states are used to deflate and defeat Republicans who said no such thing in 48 or 49 other states.  Also not how you advance your own cause.  The story from the nice local reporter who caught you with your guard down will get enormous, national legs.  Posted previously:
"The New York Times and Washington Post have both run nearly 100 pieces over the last 3 months mentioning the GOP and rape."  http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/10/29/mainstream-media-twists-mourdock-comments-about-god-and-life-into-something/#ixzz2Ayo84LIc 
4384  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mia Love lost in Utah on: November 12, 2012, 11:01:14 AM
This was one of the most disappointing results.  The 36 year old mayor of Saratoga Springs was a big hit at the 2012 RNC, close to becoming the first African-American female Republican elected to Congress.
http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2012/08/28/utahs-mia-love-gets-enthusiastic-reception-in-tampa/
http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2012/11/07/matheson-bests-mia-love-in-utah-house-race/
4385  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Hard Fiscal Facts on: November 12, 2012, 10:35:17 AM
Start with the chart:



http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323894704578113033115035920.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

The Hard Fiscal Facts
Individual tax payments are up 26% in the last two years.

While the rest of America was holding an election last week, the gnomes at the Congressional Budget Office released the final budget totals for fiscal 2012. They're worth reporting because they illuminate the real fiscal choices that confront the country, as opposed to the posturing you'll be hearing over the next few weeks.

The nearby table lays out the ugly details. The feds rolled up another $1.1 trillion deficit for the year that ended September 30, which was the biggest deficit since World War II, except for each of the previous three years. President Obama can now proudly claim the four largest deficits in modern history. As a share of GDP, the deficit fell to 7% last year, which was still above any single year of the Reagan Presidency, or any other year since Truman worked in the Oval Office.

Tax revenue kept climbing, up 6.4% for the year overall, and at $2.45 trillion it is now close to the historic high it reached in fiscal 2007 before the recession hit. Mr. Obama won't want you to know this, but this revenue increase is occurring under the Bush tax rates that he so desperately wants to raise in the name of getting what he says is merely "a little more in taxes." Individual income tax payments are now up $233 billion over the last two years, or 26%.

This healthy revenue increase comes despite measly economic growth of between 1% and 2%. Imagine the gusher of revenue the feds could get if government got out of the way and let the economy grow faster.

Now let's look at outlays, which declined a bit in 2012. That small miracle was achieved thanks to a 4% fall in defense spending, a 24% fall in jobless benefits, and an 8.9% decline in Medicaid spending.

Note, however, that federal spending remains at a new plateau of about $3.54 trillion, or some $800 billion more than the last pre-recession year of 2007. One way to think about this is that most of the $830 billion stimulus of 2009 has now become part of the federal budget baseline. The "emergency" spending of the stimulus has now become permanent, as we predicted it would.

When Beltway politicians claim they want a "balanced" approach to reducing the deficit, what they really mean is raising taxes to finance this new higher spending level. And the still-higher level that is coming with ObamaCare.

The reality is that the fastest way to raise revenue is with faster economic growth. To the extent that raising tax rates will reduce the rate of growth, it will slow the flow of tax revenue and increase the deficit.

Even if Mr. Obama were to bludgeon Republicans into giving him all of the tax-rate increases he wants, the Joint Tax Committee estimates this would yield only $82 billion a year in extra revenue. But if growth is slower as a result of the higher tax rates, then the revenue will be lower too. So after Mr. Obama has humiliated House Republicans and punished the affluent for the sheer joy of it, he would still have a deficit of $1 trillion.

Most of our readers know all this, but we thought you'd like some new evidence to rebut the kids who voted for your taxes to go up when they return from college for Thanksgiving. Maybe they'll figure it out when they have a job, if they can find one.
4386  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: November 12, 2012, 10:30:08 AM
"At current interest rates IIRC we are paying about $250B a year on interest on the debt.  Do the math.  cry"

rough math:
250 billion interest expense
16 trillion debt
equals effective interest rate: 1.5%

This is nonsensical, except that Crafty's number is right:
http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/feddebt/feddebt_ann2011.pdf

Now do the math on interest rates returning to spiraling inflation normal levels, 6, 8, 10, 12+% after 4, 6, 8 trillion more debt.  Interest costs potentially greater than all current spending, not 50 years out, but within the 6 year term of my newly reelected Dem Senator.


4387  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: November 12, 2012, 10:05:23 AM
Crafty: "I have consistently been seeing the tax the rich numbers as projecting $80B, not his number of $40B, under static revenue assumptions.  Either number of course is a joke in the face of at $1.1T deficit."

Schiff wrote: "would only yield around $30 to $40 billion per year in added revenue, a drop in the federal bucket.
-------
$80B static with $30-40B 'yield', I think we are talking about the same thing.  A drop in the bucket either way, plus 50-60% of the 'new revenue' never materializes because investors alter their behavior to the new set of rules.  Not measured in that loss is the lost benefits (job gains etc) that would come from that lost prosperity.
4388  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Obama should enact ROmney's tax reform plan on: November 10, 2012, 11:36:08 AM
Bill Clinton 'triangulated' one might recall.  He reformed welfare, cut capital gains taxes, grew the economy, balanced the budget, and came off like some kind of a genius after his first two years of pathetic economic growth out of downturn.

Obama should scale back Romney's plan and take it.  Offer to the R. House 10% instead of 20% rate cuts as an offset to closing down loopholes and deductions for the wealthiest.

He can do this now, since there is essentially no shifting of seats or power coming in January.  Doing it would avoid the fiscal cliff, avoid the recession, raise the debt ceiling in the compromise and settle the uncertainty that keeps the economy from moving 'forward'.

The main point of attacking the rich was to gain and hold power.  It worked.  Now he needs to set his legacy as something other than a complete economic disaster.

Democrats want greater progressivity in the tax code.  Conservatives more even taxation like the flat tax, fair tax or 9-9-9.  Romney's plan was to keep existing progressivity constant.  This was a split election.  Instead of fighting with the Republicans, he should make them an offer they can't refuse, and then take all the credit.
-----------
WSJ yesterday makes a similar point:
Romney's Tax Reform Marches On
It's Obama's second term, but get ready for the Romney-Simpson-Bowles plan.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323894704578108911243293922.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_BelowLEFTSecond

Lower rates would improve individual incentives; fewer loopholes would mean economic resources flowing to their most highly-valued uses. Even if tax reform were kept revenue neutral, it would spur faster growth and therefore higher revenues. And there would be less incentive for political corruption and trafficking in tax favors: a win-win-win.

Maybe Americans can benefit from the second-term "flexibility" Mr. Obama once promised Vladimir Putin.
4389  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CBO: Fiscal cliff will mean recession, rise in unemployment on: November 10, 2012, 11:16:18 AM
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1112/83602.html

CBO: Fiscal cliff will mean recession, rise in unemployment

"If Congress and the Obama administration allow scheduled tax increases and spending cuts to occur, the economy will shrink by 0.5 percent in 2013. The unemployment rate would soar to 9.1 percent — up from 7.9 percent today."


Where do they come up with this stuff?  (More famous people caught reading the forum.)
4390  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Paul Ryan on: November 10, 2012, 11:12:50 AM
From Noonan' piece on 2012 Presidential:

"As part of his role, [Paul] Ryan had wanted to talk about poverty, traveling to inner cities and giving speeches that laid out the Republican vision for individual empowerment. But Romney advisers refused his request to do so, until mid-October, when he gave a speech on civil society in Cleveland. As one adviser put it, 'The issues that we really test well on and win on are not the war on poverty."

That is the authentic sound of the Republican political operative class at work: in charge, supremely confident, essentially clueless.
--------------

This impresses me with Paul Ryan.  Give him credit for better political instincts than the campaign, and another sign of having the guts to tackle the hard jobs.  Going into the neighborhoods and reaching out with a message and facing the criticisms head-on needed and still needs to happen. 

A tour like that might have led to a swarm of protest against the ticket.  Better for the nation to have experienced that a couple of months ago instead of being blindsided in November.

Black America voted some 96%(?)for Obama's second term without a specific promise but in hope of something better to come.  Paul Ryan could have laid out that hope with specifics, but his handlers knew better.

If Ryan had succeeded in being heard but failed to change minds with his appearances, he would have at least planted a seed for the next 4 years.  Instead, Republicans remain only the caricature that their opponents draw of them.
4391  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 09, 2012, 11:28:06 PM
From GM's post:  "Under Obamacare, companies with 50 or more full-time employees either have to provide them with government-approved health insurance policies, or pay a per-employee fine. Further, the fine kicks in at the 31st employee, not the 51st, and it starts at $2,000 per year per employee. It goes up later. Companies, therefore, are discouraged from having full-time employees, or at least 50 or more of them."

What is a full time employee?  
The new federal definition of a full time employee is eighteen pages long.  http://washingtonexaminer.com/feds-need-18-pages-to-define-full-time-for-obamacare/article/2507528

France, here we come: Why France Has So Many 49-Employee Companies http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-05-03/why-france-has-so-many-49-employee-companies

4392  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: November 09, 2012, 10:56:47 PM
To all people being laid off today - it is day 1 of your new involuntary polysci/Econ class. Pay attention. There's a test in 4 years.

(http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324439804578109051314776698.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion)
4393  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential- postmortem and pre-mortem on: November 09, 2012, 10:40:26 PM
Paraphrasing Rush L. from Wed, in a nation full of children it is hard to defeat Santa Claus.

Glenn Beck put it this way during the campaign, freedom or free-stuff, choose one.  (People did.)

VDH prescient in July: "[Pres. Obama] figures that he can by appeals to gays (gay marriage), those on entitlements (nearly fifty million are now on food stamps; 50% are paying no income tax or are on some sort of entitlement — or both), the greens (Keystone), the Latinos (de facto amnesty), feminists (“war on women”), the (fill in the blanks), etc."  ...  "to the extent someone might point to polling, he is met with “But the polls are biased!” Perhaps they are by 3-4 points.  But right now, given the power of incumbency, the changing nature of the U.S., and the no-holds-barred methods of Barack Obama, the advantage is still all Obama’s — and almost all the polls show that." ... "the fact that purple-state Democrats up for reelection don’t want to be seen with Obama is understandable, but not necessarily a barometer of what Ohio, Florida, Colorado, and Virginia will do on Election Day."
4394  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: November 09, 2012, 01:01:21 PM
Elevating Ryan or changing out Boehner is deck chair material, as GM said, not crucial like policy stands, stalemate positions and messaging.  Ryan will be out front with or without a promotion.  I don't know what his future role will be.  He did not deliver Wisconsin or any other state; VP choices rarely do.  I give Boehner (and Ryan) credit for the what the House passed the last two years and Boehner and his team credit for getting everyone reelected in the face of 10% congressional approval.  No one on the right, left or center is going to approve of the stalemate of divided government, and yet they chose at least 2 more years of it.  Boehner isn't the best face for the national party but neither was Denny Hastert - or Tip O'Neill, Jim Wright, Pelosi etc for the other side.

Republicans in the House ran on a clear record and a clear agenda and they won.  Pres. Obama ran mostly away setting an agenda except to keep his failed policies in place, and he won.  House Republicans have as much of a mandate to stand strong on policy positions than Pres. Obama.

The two part question over the past 4 years was how to win back power and then what policies we will need to turn this around if we win the election.  Now the choice is simpler, cave or honor on our core principles.

Krauthammer is right that immigration reform is an area to consider.  Take a key issue off the table before the next Presidential cycle.  Gay marriage might be another.  Rape abortion too!

But the size and scope of government is a place where voters expect Republicans to draw the line.  The size of government needs to be limited to the lowest level of what all three participants can agree, House, Senate and President.  That makes the House the crucial determinant.  

The President isn't giving up powers that are uniquely his like Supreme Court nominations; the House should not give up powers that are uniquely theirs like the origination of all bills for raising revenue: http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_A1Sec7.html

House Republicans are more free now to exert their rightful powers than they were over the past two years.  Maybe they will get accused of refusing to let Democrats spend beyond our means.  So what.  Maybe they lose the House next.  So what, that is not worse than not performing their constitutional responsibilities now.
4395  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Govt programs, regulations, spending, deficit - U of Chicago forecast on: November 09, 2012, 12:28:22 AM
"Forecast in three parts: The sound and fury will be over big fights on taxes and spending. They will look like replays of the last four years and not end up accomplishing much. The big changes to our economy will be the metastatic expansion of regulation, led by ACA, Dodd-Frank, and EPA.  There will be no change on our long run problems: entitlements, deficits or fundamental reform of our chaotic tax system.  4 more years, $4 trillion more debt."  - John Cochrane, Professor, University of Chicago School of Business.

Much more detail at the link: http://johnhcochrane.blogspot.com/2012/11/predictions.html
4396  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Congressional races plus state/local - 21 pieces of good news on: November 09, 2012, 12:15:08 AM
The results of the Senate races are shocking, but Michelle Malkin compiles a list of good news, depending on the side you come at this from...

1. Republicans retained control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

2. Voters in Alabama, Montana, and Wyoming all passed measures limiting Obamacare.

3. Tea Party candidate Ted Cruz, one of the conservative movement’s brightest rising stars, overcame establishment GOP opposition to clinch a U.S. Senate victory in Texas.

4. Corruptocrat Beltway barnacle Rep. Pete Stark was finally kicked out of office in California.

5. Despite entrenched teachers’ union opposition, a charter school initiative in Washington state triumphed.

6. Despite entrenched Big Labor support, a radical collective bargaining power grab in Michigan failed.

7. Oklahoma voters said no to government race-based preferences in college admissions, public contracting, and government hiring.

8. Montana voters said no to boundless benefits for illegal aliens.

9. Washington state approved taxpayer-empowering limitations on its state legislature’s ability to raise taxes.

10. For the first time since Reconstruction, the GOP won control of the Arkansas state house.

11. Voters rejected tax hike ballot measures in Arizona, South Dakota, and Missouri.

12. Louisiana voted to protect gun rights.

13. Kentucky voted to protect hunting and fishing rights.

14. Parental notification for minors’ abortion prevailed in Montana.

15. North Carolina Republicans claimed the governor’s office, congressional gains, and control of the state’s general assembly.

16. Paul Ryan will return to Congress after winning re-election and continue to carry the torch for entitlement reform and budget discipline.

17. Conservatives won big victories in the Kansas state legislature.

18. Republicans won historic supermajorities in Tennessee.

19.Across the country, Republicans reached a post-2000 record number of gubernatorial victories.

20. Conservatives who were devastated by the national election results demonstrated how to lose with dignity and grace. There will be finger-pointing and recriminations and soul-searching, but committed activists can’t and won’t lose heart. We’ll regroup, recover, and keep fighting for our country.

21. Wisconsin: GOP wins back the state Senate.
4397  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential post mortum on: November 09, 2012, 12:09:25 AM
Dick Morris was in pretty good company with his wrong election forecast.  Michael Barone is a quality professional IMO and called it the same: http://washingtonexaminer.com/barone-i-was-wrongwhere-it-counted/article/2512860#.UJyFQlKIggC   Also http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/11/08/Polls-right-we-wrong and the Romney campaign itself: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57547239/adviser-romney-shellshocked-by-loss/?pageNum=1&tag=page

Jan Crawford /CBS News:  They made three key miscalculations, in part because this race bucked historical trends:

1. They misread turnout. They expected it to be between 2004 and 2008 levels, with a plus-2 or plus-3 Democratic electorate, instead of plus-7 as it was in 2008. Their assumptions were wrong on both sides: The president's base turned out and Romney's did not. More African-Americans voted in Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida than in 2008. And fewer Republicans did: Romney got just over 2 million fewer votes than John McCain.

2. Independents. State polls showed Romney winning big among independents. Historically, any candidate polling that well among independents wins. But as it turned out, many of those independents were former Republicans who now self-identify as independents. The state polls weren't oversampling Democrats and undersampling Republicans - there just weren't as many Republicans this time because they were calling themselves independents.

3. Undecided voters. The perception is they always break for the challenger, since people know the incumbent and would have decided already if they were backing him. Romney was counting on that trend to continue. Instead, exit polls show Mr. Obama won among people who made up their minds on Election Day and in the few days before the election. So maybe Romney, after running for six years, was in the same position as the incumbent.
4398  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Juan Williams: BO's daunting demographic message 4 the GOP; Estimados Rep-canos on: November 08, 2012, 09:08:32 AM
Note back to Juan Williams, it isn't about the GOP, it's about the direction of the country.  Hispanics, African Americans, gays, Jews, Asian Americans and women will need to change the economic agenda inside the Democratic party or live forever poor and in debt if they are too racist, sexist or xenophobic to sit with Republicans IMHO.  The GOP already reached out.
4399  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Positive spin on: November 07, 2012, 12:29:05 PM
James Tarranto (WSJ) wrote yesterday: Re-election would ensure he is accountable for the mess he inherits from himself.
4400  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 07, 2012, 11:17:37 AM
Egg on face for someone was a certainty with all prognositcators on both sides sure of a big win.  From my viewpoint, there was no way to know in advance that the demographic groups hit the hardest by the current policies would really all show up and vote for more of the same.  I had to see it to believe it.

I agree it is foolish to ignore the preponderance of the polls, but if they are so good why are they so different from each other.  Isn't Gallup as good as any, they had Romney up 6%; final Gallup was 1% Romney, and still wrong by 3.  Was this election 8 points different a week ago?  I don't think so.

A short time ago I was feeling sorry for our friend Denny S from Venezuela election, how powerless that must feel.  Now I feel it.  We know our leaders lie to us, take from us, our economy is a disaster under their policies, they crush our freedoms and with our fellow citizens we say hey, how about 4 and 6 more years of it!

Crafty's point one sums it up for me.  Republicans took none of the credit for what went right during the economic and revenue growth of 2003-2006 and took all the blame for what went wrong after power in Washington switched to Pelosi Reid congress including the Fannie Mae Sen. Obama, 2 years before he became President.  You can't have messaging that bad and then expect to win with the people.  (George Bush's fault.)

One reason Republicans couldn't attack Democrats hard for our myriad of failed programs is that their own fingerprints are also all over them.

The other big lesson is that Romney was politically wrong to go positive.  He needed to go positive in order to govern but he needed to go hard negative early in order to win.  Obama went with hide the agenda and attack your opponent from every angle.  Attack before people even meet him.  Now Obama gets to govern, but not with my consent. 

I would be happy to admit I am wrong and Dems are right on economics.  Freedom leads to failure and the nanny state solves it all.  Someone just post the evidence.

The point CCP has been making rung true, the point that Romney botched so badly.  There are so many people, approaching a majority, who think they don't have to pay in so they don't care what it all costs.  Obamacare, free food on the card, housing, utilities, transportation, Obama phone, you name it.  Your unfunded government is your provider, not the taxpayers who used to fund it.

The same 'rational electorate' who chose Obama and a Dem senate just chose a Republican House by a wide margin.  (Will the President and Senate now honor their mandate?)  House Republican reelection makes even less sense, the approval rate for congress hit an all time low of 10% this year. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/14/congress-approval-rating-all-time-low-gallup-poll_n_1777207.html    Divided government didn't provide much for checks and balances, look at the lack of discoveries coming out of the Fast and Furious hearings.  It really just makes for an unworkable partnership.

Heal?  I don't think so.  Just agreeing to be governed against my will.  For me, I will just try to step back and care a little less about the future of our country and survive personally.   As (BBG put it) the statists will run more and more of our lives.  I really feel sorry for the next generation but this is to a large extent their doing.

Now the downward spiral continues.  The R. House cannot authorize taxes or spending that they don't believe in; they also have commitments to their voters.  Without caving on one side or the other there can't be a solution to the fiscal cliff.  Dems will blame Republicans for 2 years for debt ceilings, shutdowns and stalemates and then try again to win the House, 60 in the Senate, and get complete control over us - again.  And then what?

Wesbury, how is that election-neutral forecast going?  Any chance of a downturn when the top capital gains tax rate triples, except in California where rates are going up even more.

Summer of Recovery, coming in 2015, again, after all the gridlock.  Worked so well last time.
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On a more positive note: Bigdog, how did your telecast go?
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