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4401  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel and its neighbors: Top Hamas engineer tells all on: August 13, 2011, 12:50:21 PM,7340,L-4107803,00.html

Top Hamas engineer tells all

Nabbed engineer Abu Sisi provides Israel with invaluable information about Hamas' operations, newly released documents reveal; terror group's military academy operated in Gaza mosques, he says

By Ilana Curiel  08.11.11, Israel News

Hamas engineer Dirar Abu Sisi, nabbed by Israeli security forces earlier this year, provided interrogators with priceless information on Hamas' modus operandi, the terror group's readiness for a clash with Israel and attempts to improve its rocket range.

According to interrogation excerpts, cleared for publication Thursday by the Beersheba District Court following Ynet's appeal, the Hamas engineer described the terror group as an orderly hierarchical organization that aims to learn from its mistakes and adapt to changing regional realities.

The engineer told interrogators that following Operation Cast Lead Gaza, top Hamas terrorist Mohammed Deif and the group's military wing commander Ahmed Jabari found Hamas' operations to be lacking and decided to make Abu Sisi in charge of establishing the organization's new military academy.

"An analysis of the war with Israel was undertaken. It found that a large number of Hamas activists ran away from their positions. A failure occurred in decision-making coupled with an inability to use arms during the battle – because of fear," he said. "A program of study had to be created, in order to improve the situation."

The new academy was tasked with imparting combat methods and tactics to Hamas terrorists, Abu Sisi said. Hamas men were undertaking their studies at mosques, while passing their final exams in known Gaza universities or in mosques.

"The books and academic materials did not bear the Hamas name or logo," he said. Instructors include university lecturers, education ministry officials, merchants and others.
Abu Sisi is believed to be Hamas' rocket expert. He joined the terror group in 2002, despite working for the Palestinian Electric Company, which forbade its employees from joining any group.

"I assisted Hamas in developing their missile capabilities, by identifying and handing over mathematical equations that improve the metal pipe's ability to withstand pressure and heat," he said. "I was present when a missile was test-fired at the sea in Khan Younis."

The terror group was lacking materials that could improve their rocket range and later smuggled it in from Egypt through tunnels, he said.

Abu Sisi's interrogation revealed that he acquired plenty of information on improving rocket range via the Internet, including the YouTube website.

 "I know nothing about explosives. I only calculated the pressure and heat…I downloaded the formula from the Internet," he said, adding that he also downloaded software pertaining to the rocket's structure.

Hamas would send its activists for further instruction overseas, Abu Sisi said. Selected graduates of the academy reached military academies in foreign countries, he said, including Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Iran.

During his interrogation, Abu Sisi expressed his regret for joining Hamas.

"I greatly regret my affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas Movement, my work to develop the missile range, my part in establishing Hamas' military academy, and all the information I handed over to Hamas that can threaten the security of Israel and its citizens," he said.

"I know the missiles are lethal and take the lives of others, without distinguishing between Arabs and Jews," he said.

Abu Sisi was kidnapped in Kiev and brought to Israel in February. His indictment sheet comprises nine counts, including membership in a terror organization, murder, attempted murder and arms production.
4402  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 13, 2011, 12:02:44 PM
David Axelrod is in Iowa, out front on this.  He already explained that the growth in Texas is from oil and war, not from the leadership of the governor "down there".

Who knew that legalizing energy production could grow jobs?  This could have national implications!

Barack Obama and Rick Perry share something in common.  They both inherited an economy from George W. Bush.  Only one of them has whined constantly about it since then.

Texas has a GDP comparable to Russia and Perry is the longest serving Governor in Texas history.  Texas under Perry according to BLS had more job growth than the other 49 states combined.  This is attributable to luck, not policies.

Barack Obama was a noted community activist at the time of his elevation to high office, published nothing as editor at Harvard or as lecturer at Univ. of Chicago, got his opponent removed the ballot and voted 'present' 130 times in the Illinois state senate to avoid a record of controversial positions.  He served a third of a term in the US Senate before declaring his candidacy for President and was ranked no.1 as the Senate's most liberal member.  As President he developed a new leadership style applied to both economic and military command called leading from behind.
Between January 2001 and June 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates, Texas’s non-farm employment grew from 9,542,400 in January 2001, when Perry took office, to 10,395,800 in June 2010 — an increase of 853,400 or 8.9 percent. California simultaneously lost 827,800 jobs. Employment in Texas grew more than in the other 49 states combined.
4403  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dealing with Social Breakdown (The UK riots) on: August 13, 2011, 11:32:41 AM
"The way I read this statue, a neighborhood kid could come on to your property at night, steal your bicycle (theft during the nighttime)  and you could shoot him in the back as he pedaled (fleeing away) away to stop him from escaping with your property."

I don't know if the Texas law is being properly interpreted in the example but people reading that in other states should know you would face possible murder charges elsewhere in that situation.  The self defense laws of the 50 states were linked recently by Crafty.  Recovering the property by other means might include following him home in your car and call the police, if you had time to get your gun and shoot him. 

My view is that entering your premises day or night is more than a property crime.  An intruder with that kind of nerve can be presumed to be dangerous.

It is purely hypothetical anyway because if that it is the right of the homeowner to shoot the burglar, no one is likely to take the bike. 

The question posed is how to deal with property protection if guns/knives etc are not an option.  The hated camera surveillance after the fact seems to be one of the key tools. 
4404  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dealing with Social Breakdown (The UK riots) on: August 13, 2011, 10:46:45 AM
"The majority of posters here seem to be of the die-hard republican variety..."
  - taken as a compliment. wink I know the policy here is that thoughtful opposing views are always welcome, seeking the truth, and yours is certainly a thoughtful and informative post.

"...those of us who live outside of the US as generally we are ignored or looked down upon."
  - I hope not!  We get bogged down in US politics but the global reach of the forum is certainly a strength.  

"...US have too relaxed firearms legislation."
  - It's that darn constitution.  Besides protection, the firearm is symbolic of keeping our other rights unless given back freely and legally through the constitutional process.  I don't own any guns.  I also think the strong views here about gun rights come from the martial arts / self defense orientation of the forum as much as from the political leanings.  The desirability of having an armed society is a separate question from the specific 'right' in the U.S.

"Gardiner...right wing and a throwback to the Thatcher years"
  - To me, a compliment for him, though I get the distinction that quoting Gardner from the Telegraph is a counter-indicator of UK mainstream political thought.

Speaking only for myself, the headlines of this unrest reminds me of other problems elsewhere, the car fires of Villiers-le-Bel (Paris) and riots in Rosengard (Malmo Sweden) but that does not mean there are similarities.  As you point out we are learning about the participants and motivations of these in the UK.

I have not posted on this because I don't know anything yet, (except for one post in satire that Libya is recognizing the rioters as the official government of the UK.  No offense intended!)  My personal right wing view is that young people in general would riot less and destroy less if they were busy studying, working and responsible for providing for themselves.
Topic for another thread and I may be reading this wrong, but why would people be pro-war in Libya but anti-war elsewhere like in Iraq?
4405  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 12, 2011, 08:29:28 PM
IIRC, Obamacare was allowed to be deemed passed as a reconciliation item because it was at zero net cost as a budget item.

Besides funny math, 10 years of taxes matched against 6 years for benefits and plenty of other tricks, the reason it was rated at zero net cost was because of the individual mandate.

The individual mandate was struck down.

The deemed passed procedure is now null and void.

Obamacare is thus repealed effective August 12, 2011.   (?)

  - Doug
4406  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Paul Gigot WSJ on: August 12, 2011, 04:23:24 PM
WSJ Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot on last night's debate and the race:

Romney's Debate Luck


Mitt Romney is a weak presidential front-runner by historical standards, but you wouldn't have known it from Thursday night's Iowa debate. He sailed mainly above the fray on a stage where everyone else was jostling for position behind him. More prepared than he was in 2008, the former Massachusetts governor batted away attempts to challenge his record on jobs and health care in a format that didn't invite follow-up queries or deeper debate.

Mr. Romney was helped by the multitude of pretenders. Tim Pawlenty is the only other plausible GOP nominee on stage, but he got locked in a cage match with Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann. The former Minnesota governor with a genuine record of accomplishment must be asking himself how he got to this point. He was no doubt told he had to challenge Ms. Bachmann so he doesn't finish behind her in Saturday's Iowa straw poll, but the inevitable result was that he looked smaller than he is.

Ms. Bachmann held her own in the scrum, but Mr. Pawlenty and former Sen. Rick Santorum scored by noting her gift for "showmanship not leadership." Her admirers like her willingness to fight, but her claim that the Standard & Poor's downgrade of U.S. debt vindicated her refusal to vote for a debt-ceiling increase illustrates why voters will never trust her with the White House and I doubt even the nomination.

Had Republicans forced a post-Aug. 2 shutdown of government services and risked default, Moody's and Fitch would have joined S&P in downgrading U.S. debt. Either Ms. Bachmann knows this, in which case she is merely playing to the talk radio GOP base. Or she doesn't know it, which makes her unready to be president. The Romney camp is hoping she wins the straw poll and the caucuses next year because it will make its road to the nomination easier. Her main achievement in the end may be to fatally wound Mr. Pawlenty.

With Texas Gov. Rick Perry entering the race, Mr. Romney is about to get more serious competition. But don't be surprised if other candidates look at the weak field, and at President Obama's sinking poll numbers, and decide to jump in after Labor Day.
4407  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 12, 2011, 04:05:37 PM
"who can highlight the contrast between bigger government and smaller government personal freedom etc."

CCP,  Well put.  Besides who can win, who can govern.  Who can steer even a Republican congress to get things right and who can bring the country along.  Even with a house and senate sweep, getting 60 Senators on board will be eternally difficult.

The undefeated George W. Bush proved that even winning the election twice is not good enough.  You have to keep winning every day, keep leading in the right direction AND keep bringing the people with you.  Peaking today or in Nov 2012 alone will not save the Republic.
4408  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 12, 2011, 03:55:21 PM
(I disagree with that ruling.)

The Court, in the past, reaffirming the power of congresses of the past to go far beyond any concept of limited government laid out in the constitution, even if it happened more than a thousand times, is not precedent to go miles further.

Where is the individual mandate in social security or Medicare except to be taxed on income, which was a power previously lacking but specifically added to the constitution.
4409  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Left can't run against Obama because of race - Eleanor Clift on: August 12, 2011, 03:34:32 PM
Jimmy Carter faced a challenge from within his own party from Teddy Kennedy.

Eleanor Clift: "The difference now there is no Kennedy heir apparent figure on the horizon, and we’re talking about the first African-American occupant of the White House in a party identified with civil rights."

African-descendant perhaps, but I thought we just determined that he was a Hawaiian-American, more recently an Illinoisan-American.  What does any of that have to do with dissatisfied Democrats not running against him in primaries?

Assume for a second that Obama wins in 2012, but loses the House again and the Senate too this time, and governs about like he is now.  What kind of shape does he leave his party in (much less his country) coming into the next cycle?  His VP will be 74, Hillary 69.
4410  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 12, 2011, 02:29:53 PM
"The case stems from a challenge by 26 U.S. states which had argued the individual mandate, set to go into effect in 2014, was unconstitutional..."

Just the fact that 26 states oppose it should be enough to get what's left of the Obamacare coalition to BACK OFF.  We shouldn't need the court system to know that the constitution never authorized this kind of power.
4411  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 12, 2011, 02:21:34 PM
I missed the debate and watched only the clips they made available, what someone else thinks are the more interesting moments.  Pawlenty and Bachmann wasted their time and hurt themselves attacking each other.  GM was right, Pawlenty should have been reading the forum and he didn't. 

I didn't see much of Romney.  Other than no major gaffes or punches landed, I would like to know more about what others think he did right to remain frontrunner.

The focus of the debate questions seemed to be for ratings rather than about governing.  Newt addressed that pretty well.

I think the candidates (at least 2 of them) erred by thinking the event in Iowa is the straw poll.  The event for the candidates was the nationally televised debate.  The non-binding straw poll just tells us what a small number of Iowans think about what we are all seeing and hearing.

Pawlenty was wrong to trivialize what Bachmann has been doing in congress.  He should have treated her as an ally and hoped that she stays there.  The opponent is Obama.  And her attack on him was weak.  Is there any doubt that she voted for him twice?
4412  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues: Phony fact check? on: August 12, 2011, 01:47:56 PM
CCP, Thanks for exposing the phony fact checkers.  That is a political document no better or less biased than what they claim to be correcting.

I normally don't read anything past the first falsehood - this one starts by saying regarding the individual mandate: "Nothing is unconstitutional until courts declare it to be so."  Of course an appeals court just said so today, but other courts have already declared that - in both directions.  Even if this court ruled otherwise or the Supreme Court eventually gets this wrong, she has every right running for President to question the constitutionality of everything the federal government does and declare to us her view of it - and she did.  Other cases are more questionable; this one to me is kind of obvious.  Her view of that gives us an idea of how she would govern.  Whether you like that or oppose it, that is the purpose of the debate.

They don't get anything right IMO until the ending where Bachmann (quoting a false newspaper story) says that Pawlenty said the era of small government is over.  That was just sloppy.  Anyone following his years in the legislature, two terms as governor and campaigning for President knows that Pawlenty, like Bachmann is a force on the side of trying to contain the expansions of government.  If you can find a part of a statement otherwise, it is likely false or lacking context, and she should have known that.
4413  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 12, 2011, 10:03:50 AM
"I am not a big fan of short sales, which seem to greatly exaggerate volatility, especially in conjunction with the program trading which has become such a dominating % of market transactions.  Also, I do not understand the basis for the claim to increased liquidity."

Good question and you make a number of points there.  My 2 cents: Yes vehicles other than buy and hold at times may add to the volatility already in a panicked market but they do add liquidity, day in day out.  Most of today's  volatility IMO comes from the uncertainties that lie outside the market.  In a stable efficient market with companies turning in financial results on a regular basis, the short seller provides some balance and liquidity IMO.  The short seller buys and sells too, just does it in the opposite order. If Microsoft is at 25 or Google at 565 or Apple at 378 and people want to buy, someone has to sell to make that happen.  The buy and hold people don't offer you that and issuing more stock is just a dilution.  When you need to sell, someone needs to buy.  Short selling just turns things upside down.  If they want to sell first predicting a movement down, they need to buy back when they think it gets there.  A floor in a sense.  The scorched buy and hold player doesn't ever need to buy again. 

The point of program trading dominating % of market transactions is a bigger and tougher question.  Small time individuals with limited tools and knowledge playing ball with these guys better either know what they are doing or be prepared take the consequences.

Besides the school of hard knocks in stocks, a lesson came from my grandfather who said don't take on partners in business.  Think of everything that goes wrong in partnerships and that is what is happening here.  You share ownership in companies with people that have entirely different views, goals, reasons for being there and time frames.  On the way up, that can work to your benefit.  When times are tougher, they bail much faster and more decisively than you (hundredths of a second in a computer program?) and greatly damage the remaining value.

More rules on trading in this case might or might not be warranted (deck chairs on the Titanic?) but is not IMO addressing the central problems in these markets.
4414  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: August 11, 2011, 06:29:08 PM
"CounterPOV:  Popped bubbles don't bounce."

Fair enough.  We will see.  But people need a place to live and they demand  location and quality, in the sense of being willing to pay a good share of their income to get it.  With gold for example, it is only a function of what other people will pay for it - more volatile up and potentially more volatile down.

More importantly (IMO), some experts say housing is still overpriced and maybe most of it still is.  I only buy when I think it is under-priced / under-valued.
4415  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential: A President that shares our values? on: August 11, 2011, 06:10:22 PM
Good grief, that's all you got.  Wasted my time once again trying to answer nothing.

You use quotes around " "most Christian" ", Gov. Pawlenty "claims to be the "most Christian" " but... HE DIDN'T.  Maybe Tina Fay said it.  The quote is of 'CNN Opinion', not Pawlenty.  What a bunch of BS.  Everyone asks candidates about values and religion.  The campaign releases a video that addresses that so they can get on with questions about public policy.  You think they are lying, wearing it on their sleeve or excessively religious??  Does he preach about Jesus Christ in his Iowa stump speeches?  No, but he called for an end to ethanol subsidies in Iowa and promises to repeal Obamacare.  Is their one word or sentence in that video that actually offends you?  Is his view about separation of church and state wrong?  I don't think so.  Of the Founders?  No.  "My faith is very important to me, and it influences all that I do"?  Outrageous!  He turned to his faith for strength and comfort as a teenager when his mom died rather suddenly.  Wimp!  He switched churches/denominations to his wife's church before he married her.  Flipflopper!  His faith guides him in all his decisions.  Panderer!  Mary Pawlenty got her faith from her parents.  Theft!  Unbelievable.

What the hell does "most Christian" mean anyway, to the atheist liberal CNN writer (much less Teavangelical!).  He doesn't say - just throws it out there for people to repeat and pass on - in "quotes".  Christians I know don't EVER talk that way. Maybe they challenge themselves to be a better Christian -  a better religious person - to use the concept more openly in the context of threads and posts here designed to challenge people to think and behave better.  That is offensive?  Out of bounds in a Presidential campaign??

John Kerry and Barack Obama each made very strong statements about their faith, then largely ignored the teachings, as near as I could tell.  Where were you then?  Did you accuse them of trying to be the most Christian?  No because the double standard is an essential component of the criticism.

Al Gore running for President said: "I think the purpose of life is to glorify God. I turn to my faith as the bedrock of my approach to any important questions in my life."  "Faith is the center of my life. "  New York Times, May 29, 1999  Imagine THAT.

I would hope the next President knows where rights and values originate, grasp the importance of family and values life.  If the candidate is atheist, a video explaining how that will affect future decisions would be helpful too.
4416  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government budget process: Super select committee on: August 11, 2011, 02:22:13 PM
I like the pick of former head of the Club for Growth Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) to this committee.  A focus on growth will be necessary to move forward out of the current stalemate.  All 6 Republicans picked have signed no tax increase pledges.  Rob Portman also seems particularly in tune with tax reform which is potentially the fastest way to add revenue into the mix.

On the D side, Max Baucus might be the most possible to persuade of the D's because the divided state of Montana is not exactly San Francisco or New York for politics.  One lesson from in his last reelection could be that needing 91% of your campaign money to come from out of state is something that conceivably could backfire.  Baucus voted for the 2001 tax cuts and in 2008 for repealing the estate tax.
4417  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: August 11, 2011, 02:03:16 PM
IIRC pp wrote a couple of months ago that real estate prices would drop for one more year due to the still large backlog in foreclosures.  Just thought I would bring the question here from the stock, gold and investment threads, have people thought about putting any of what they might have left in real estate, with the idea that there are some amazing buys available out there and it is impossible to time the exact bottom of any market.  Assuming this once great country eventually makes a strong comeback, prime property will again have real value.  Housing will turn right after (if/when) investment and employment conditions turn IMHO.

I have shared pp's wisdom with people off the board, adding that a) there is no hurry if prices are still falling and b) you can buy now if you anticipate the price at the bottom of the market and offer it now.  What does the seller have to gain by waiting for prices to fall further.

Real estate has some similarities to gold, somewhat finite quantity and not directly tied to a currency, and differences like property taxes, regulatory abuse and other things that can go wrong.  OTOH, gold is at record highs and real estate at recent record lows.  I have bought homes during this downturn for 30% less than I was paying 30 years ago, with as fast as a 2 year rough payback on purchase price from rent.  People could conceivably buy the site or land of their dream home now and build it later when incomes improve.

Each market is different.  I wonder what others are seeing.
Twin Cities home prices down (another) 15 percent; 4 in 10 sales are foreclosures

The Twin Cities median home price fell more than 15 percent last month to $140,000 from a year earlier, according to data released today.
4418  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate: Gov't considers turning foreclosures into rentals on: August 11, 2011, 01:41:05 PM
Do we make this business look to easy?  Article WHAT? authorizes the federal government to go into the landlord business.

Gov't considers turning foreclosures into rentals

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration may turn thousands of government-owned foreclosures into rental properties to help boost falling home prices.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency said Wednesday it is seeking input from investors on how to rent homes owned by government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration.
4419  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics - We should have picked Hillary?? on: August 11, 2011, 01:32:23 PM
There is a myth circulating ( that America just picked the wrong leftist to lead - that's what's wrong.  Hillary, one might recall, had identical policies but was personally not liked.  For Obama, it is the policies that failed, he is still personally well-liked.

What went wrong in 2006-2008 was that some people with certain failed poicies damaged the Republican brand almost beyond repair.   Because no prominent conservative Republican really stood up successfully against Bush and said enough is enough, no one had the stature or experience to do that later upon his retirement.  

Same goes now for Democrats.
4420  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 11, 2011, 01:11:02 PM
"...those running on their piety, or public claims of their strong Christian faith.  In Iowa, it seems to be a race to see who is "more Christian".  Each candidate is loudly proclaiming the depth of their Christian faith."

Really?  As it seems so common, I've seen no evidence of what you declare, certainly not linked or quoted in the post.

Rick Perry who is not a candidate at this point hosted a prayer conference - not in Iowa.

Pawlenty who I have followed the closest was raised Catholic and attends an extremely large active evangelical congregation and I have never heard him mention that.  He switched churches once in his life, to appease his wife not to further his career.  He never wore it on his sleeve as Governor.   Seems to me Cain pushes his business background and the Mormons in the race never brag about that - so I have no idea where this quadrennial criticism comes from.

Bachmann was never not a Christian conservative and keeps winning elections based on her values and her view of constitutional principles.  She started her public career by with knocking out an 18 year incumbent RINO from her local senate district, mainly for his support of the liberal educational agenda.  If people are offended, they can vote against her.  Better yet if RINOs were not complicit across the country in liberal governing, this home-based conservative activist's career never would have included a run for office.

Perry's (running for nothing) prayer event was for people who wanted to be part of a prayer event, political issues never came up, nor was he in Iowa.  He may have even delayed his candidacy to the highest office for the exact concern you articulate, that this long scheduled event, important to him, might be taken wrong - by people who won't vote for him anyway.

Both sides go to the places of worship to meet the people.  The biggest phony in the group is the one who boasts he is Christian but still hasn't picked a Washington church in his 7th year in Washington, or a pastor he could really relate to since the famed G*d DAMN America black separatist advocate took his retirement.  The incumbent has faith that an all-present God is over at the golf course too, on a sunny, summer Sunday morning.

The other religious phony from my point of view is Keith Ellison who thank God is not running.
4421  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed, New Constitutional Convention? on: August 11, 2011, 12:02:33 PM
Posting this as a (right wing) opposing opinion to the group at Harvard Law School putting on a conference advancing the idea of calling for a new constitutional convention, posted recently by BD.

I support the idea of a conference to discuss this seldom used provision, but I oppose calling a convention because the very few new amendments I would favor tend to be very specific in nature, mostly not structural.  (I also oppose abbreviating or truncating words that start with c-o-n.)

 August 11, 2011 by  Steven Hayward
Con-Con-Con Job?

So over the transom comes a notice about the Conference on the Constitutional Convention (or “Con-Con-Con” for short) up at Harvard Law School next month, which is bringing together figures from left and right to mull over an Article V constitutional convention.  As the participant in a couple of successful “post-partisan” right-left efforts at compromise over some knotty-pine policy issues such as energy and climate change, as well as the “Modernizing Liberalism” effort I wrote about here back in June, far be it from me to pour cold water on such an effort.  This isn’t going to sport the Kumbaya mushiness of “No Labels,” for one thing.  It’s going to feature prominent lefties such as Larry Tribe and Laurence Lessig, and right-thinking folk such as Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds (Glenn will give one of the keynotes, in fact), and Cato’s very sound John Samples, along with some Tea Party activists.

It is one thing to reach policy compromises even over deeply divisive policy issues such as the debt ceiling.  Constitutional compromise is another matter, and it is easy to predict that the Con-Con-Con effort will make little progress for an elusively simple reason: the basic condition that made the compromises of the 1787 convention possible do not exist today.  The Framers of 1787, and, significantly, their critics who became the Anti-Federalists, shared a general agreement about first principles (with one important exception which I’ll come to in due course), which made institutional compromise possible.  The Framers were all believers in the creed of individual natural rights as expressed in the prologue to the Declaration of Independence, and moreover believed that limiting government required anti-majoritarian institutions such as the Senate, separation of powers, the Electoral College, and federalism, among other things.  The modern left believes in none of these things, and every agenda of constitutional reform from the left calls for abolishing or weakening all of them.  (See, for just one example, Larry Sabato’s really bad book on the subject, and Sabato is far from being a hard leftist.)  The left would like to abolish the Senate and the Electoral College, just for starters.  Deep-dish thinkers like Cass Sunstein have argued for making the judiciary more powerful, precisely because it is more immune to popular political accountability.

For the Framers in 1787, most of their arguments were over how to limit government power and secure individual liberty most effectively, which meant they were arguing over small differences.  You might almost say that the Philadelphia convention was a group of rightists arguing with themselves.  Today’s left, starting at least as far back as Woodrow Wilson, who dismissed the natural rights philosophy of the Declaration of Independence and attacked the principle of the separation of powers, wants to remove as many limitations on government power as possible.  As such the Con-Con-Con exercise has little hope of reaching a principled compromise over constitutional reform, and even if a suite of reforms might get the necessary ratification of three-fourths of the states, it is likely the reforms would make our political divisions worse.

The one case of where the Framers had to compromise because they had a serious difference of first principles is instructive—slavery.  Even though there was probably majority sentiment for abolishing slavery in 1787, tolerating slavery in the South was unfortunately necessary if there was to be a union and a constitution at all.  And, of course, it required a civil war to resolve this problem ultimately—not an encouraging precedent for constitutional “compromise” today.

The way the modern left has willfully misconstrued the convention’s compromises over slavery is revealing and significant, as it shows the left is unable or unwilling to distinguish the first principles of the Constitution from its compromises.  The left likes to criticize the Founders for their toleration of slavery, for example, by claiming the three-fifths clause means that black Americans were only “three-fifths of a person.”  In fact the intent and action of this clause was to diminish the political power of slave states, which wanted slaves counted as whole persons for the purpose of apportioning House membership.  I always have fun pointing this out to students, and asking if they’d feel better about the Founders if they had allowed more political power to slave states in 1787 by counting them as whole persons.  It usually elicits dumbfounded looks, silence, and subject-changing to Jefferson and Sally Hemings or something.

Moreover, the entire treatment of slavery in the convention and in the text of the Constitution is significant.  Note that the term “slave” is never used; instead, the drafters employed euphemisms, such as “persons held to service” or “other persons.”  Even the fugitive slave clause does not use the term.  Here’s an interesting point that only emerges from Madison’s notes on their deliberations.  The original proposed language for the fugitive slave clause was “No person legally held to service in one state. . .” Madison himself objected to the term “legally;” he told the convention that he “thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men,” and that the word “legally” seemed to favor “the idea that slavery was legal in a moral view.”  So the term was struck.

It is for these and other reasons that Frederick Douglass was able to make out that the Constitution was an anti-slavery document at the level of principle, yet somehow modern liberals can’t make this out at all because they have rejected the principles and logic of the Founding (following, I might add, the same ground of reasoning as Calhoun and other pro-slavery southerners of the mid-19th century, a fact that seems not to embarrass modern liberals, but this is a subject to dilate more fully another day).

Finally, one last observation.  The Con-Con-Con organizers downplay the risk of a “runaway” constitutional convention on the grounds that nothing radical would ever get the approval of three-fourths of the states.  This makes some sense, until you recall that the Philadelphia convention of 1787 was a “runaway” convention.  How so? It was called for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation, and required the unanimous consent of all 13 states for revisions to be adopted.  Yet what the convention produced was a wholly new Constitution that would go into effect if only nine states ratified it.  So much for following the law as it was spelled out explicitly in the Articles.  I often pose this problem to students, asking whether the convention acted illegally or unconstitutionally, or what possible justification they could claim for their acts.

Madison discussed this very problem in Federalist #43:

    Two questions of a very delicate nature present themselves on this occasion: 1. On what principle the Confederation, which stands in the solemn form of a compact among the States, can be superseded without the unanimous consent of the parties to it? 2. What relation is to subsist between the nine or more States ratifying the Constitution, and the remaining few who do not become parties to it?

    The first question is answered at once by recurring to the absolute necessity of the case; to the great principle of self-preservation; to the transcendent law of nature and of nature’s God, which declares that the safety and happiness of society are the objects at which all political institutions aim, and to which all such institutions must be sacrificed.

In other words, Madison is here making a very delicate reference to the right of revolution as it is expressed in the Declaration of Independence—in fact this is the only place in the Federalist Papers where there is a distinct echo of the Declaration. I note that whenever Tea Partiers or their sympathizers like Michele Bachmann invoke the Declaration’s right of revolution today, they are called “dangerous extremists.”  I’ll happily stand with “extremists” like Jefferson and Madison any time.

About the second question Madison’s long answer is less convincing, and rests ultimately on the hope, subsequently borne out, that it will be a moot point if every state ratified the Constitution, as in fact happened.  Madison finally repairs behind the formula “The time has been when it was incumbent on us all to veil the ideas which this paragraph exhibits.”  In other words, let’s avert our gaze and hope for the best.  That worked then; I don’t think we can do it now, because, as bears repeating, the modern left does not agree with the principles of 1787.  As such, I don’t want to try even agreeing with them about the lunch menu.
4422  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 10, 2011, 09:18:17 PM
GM,  The ink is barely dry where I gave the Pawlenty campaign all of that material.  I love the commercial, I'm glad they are reading the forum and as CCP suggested, I am happy to work for an IOU until they can get together the cash to put me on payroll.  wink

Bigdog, I agree with the D.U. professor / LA TIme piece regarding third parties.  Now is the time for centrists on both sides to flex their muscles and have some say on who will be the nominee. especially IMO on the Dem side. Picking up from a precious discussion, can you imagine the waves that could be made if someone like Sen. Jim Webb distanced himself from the President and announced his candidacy right now or after Labor Day?  Giuliani is still looking at it from the R. side, also Huntsman is considered centrist.  Voters in primaries have been known to deliver surprises.

If someone as far to the right as Bachmann (or Cain or Paul or Santorum) becomes the nominee, I think the emergence of at least one prominent 3rd party entrant is near certain.  I can't read into the views of the author but I'm sure the LA Times gets it that the only way a Bachmann type can win is if a serious third party contender steals the energy from the center of the room.
4423  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / BREAKING NEWS: Libya recognizes UK rioters as official government of the UK on: August 09, 2011, 11:47:25 PM
Satire from Wikileaks twitter feed
4424  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants & interesting thought pieces - Thomas Sowell on: August 09, 2011, 12:52:47 PM | Random thoughts on the passing scene:
By Thomas Sowell

The next time a member of the British royal family gets married, I hope they elope and spare us all another 24/7 media orgy.

Does the "not guilty" verdict in the Casey Anthony child murder trial mean that the jury succumbed to the confusion between "beyond a reasonable doubt" and "beyond any conceivable doubt"? The word "reasonable" is not put in there just for decoration.

We seem to be living in an age when nobody can be bothered to answer their telephone, but everybody has a recorded message telling us how important our phone call is to them.

President Obama often talks about wanting to raise taxes on "millionaires and billionaires" but — in his actual tax proposals — higher taxes usually begin with couples earning $250,000 between them. Apparently that makes you a millionaire or a billionaire.

It doesn't seem very scientific to have a good-looking nurse taking a man's blood pressure.

As the British have lost their empire and, more important, lost their respect for laws and standards, Britannia has gone from ruling the waves to waiving the rules.

The difference between mob rule and democracy was never more sharply demonstrated than by labor unions' attempts to prevent the Wisconsin voters' elected representatives from carrying out their official duties at the state Capitol. What would it matter what the voters want if any mob can stop it from happening?

My favorite birthday card this year said on the outside, "Ageing is Inevitable" — and, on the inside: "Maturity is optional."

Theodore Roosevelt said that his foreign policy was to speak softly and carry a big stick. Barack Obama's foreign policy in Libya has been to speak loudly and carry a little stick. Too often Obama's foreign policy around the world looks like children happily playing with fire.

Every weekday publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists regularly appear. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.

Class-warfare politics is bad enough when it is for real. But often it is as phony as a three-dollar bill, when the same politicians pass high tax rates on "the rich" to win votes — and then get financial support from "the rich" to create loopholes that enable them to avoid paying those high tax rates.

It is amazing how many people seem to think that, if you give them your phone number or e-mail address, this means that they are authorized to pass them on to others.

Three little words — "We the people," the opening words of the Constitution of the United States — are the biggest obstacle to achieving the political goals of the left. For that, they must move decisions away from "We the people" — from individuals to government; from elected officials to unelected judges; and from national institutions to international institutions like the United Nations — all safely remote and insulated from "We the people."

Some hotels have been called "historic." But to me that just means old. I don't like staying in old-fashioned hotels. There is usually a reason why those fashions went out of fashion.

Learned scholars still debate the reasons for the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Learned scholars of the future, looking back on our decline and fall, may simply be baffled as to how we could have been so stupid.

Awkward and uncomfortable hospital gowns for patients just add a needless complication to the problems of people who are already sick. Surely someone could design something less bothersome.

I have never believed for a moment that Barack Obama has the best interests of the United States at heart.

Many liberals who consider themselves friends or allies of blacks are usually friends or allies of those particular blacks who are doing wrong things, often at the expense of other blacks.

At one time, it was well understood that adversity taught valuable lessons, which reduce the probability of repeating foolish decisions. But, today, the welfare state shields people from the consequences of their own mistakes, allowing irresponsibility to continue and to flourish among ever wider circles of people.

Amid all the concerns about the skyrocketing government debt, a front-page headline in the Wall Street Journal said: "Families Slice Debt to Lowest In 6 Years." It is remarkable how differently people behave when they are spending their own money compared to the way politicians behave when spending the government's money.
4425  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Fascist Fairy Tales on: August 09, 2011, 12:41:05 PM
JAMES TARANTO, WSJ quotes Time's Joe Klein bringing Carter and Reagan into the comparison, then answers him:

Kline: "At a similar point in his presidency, Jimmy Carter delivered his famous "malaise" speech--the word was never actually used--that was an accurate description of the problems we faced then (it reads very well 30 years later) but a complete bummer. The public needed to hear more than a description of what wrong [sic]; it needed to be told what was necessary to make it right. Ronald Reagan came along, posited optimism and an easily comprehensible set of principles--and Carter was history.

    I am not suggesting Obama is Carter. But they do share a trait: an inability to tell a story. The most popular stories have good guys and bad guys. If he wants to be re-elected, Obama is going to have to start telling us who the bad guys are and what he plans to do about them."

Tarranto (WSJ): In citing Reagan, Klein unwittingly underscores the liberal misunderstanding of his success at "communication," which Peggy Noonan explores in her most recent column. There's a world of difference between "an easily comprehensible set of principles," which Reagan did offer, and a fairy tale about "good guys and bad guys." The former is for adults, the latter for children (or for adults seeking mere entertainment).
4426  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness - Harry, I have a gift on: August 09, 2011, 12:21:30 PM
Funny that the Bret Stephens piece Crafty/WSJ) uses the word 'Glibness' while the rest includes a theme of cognitive dissonance.  IIRC this thread started as the 'Obama phenomenon' and was presciently renamed to the above after his election or around the time of inauguration?  A bit negative I think but we have found 18 long internet pages of material to support it.

WSJ 4/30/09
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid...tells of congratulating freshman Sen. Obama on a phenomenal speech. Without a hint of conceit, Mr. Obama replied, "Harry, I have a gift."
4427  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 09, 2011, 11:05:25 AM
"Saw Pawlenty interviewed by Chris Wallace yesterday.  A much better performance than I had seen previously."

I saw that also.  Better but still just slightly off message.  The question should not still be, does a two term governor have more executive experience than a 3rd term congresswoman.  Instead of dismissing her efforts, he should have emphasized how badly we need her holding feet to the fire in the House - to get things done in his administration.  The question in this race is, who will stand next to President Barack Obama a year from this fall with a limited government, pro-growth agenda and win the debate, the election and the mandate to turn this ship around.
4428  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 09, 2011, 10:53:09 AM
"...How does the dollar affect me?  Well, not much, except when I want to travel abroad or if I buy foreign goods."

It will affect you more than you admit.
"If you are an American living in MN and exporting, well a weak dollar gives you a competitive advantage.  That means more jobs in America..."

All expressed economic relationships include 'all other things equal' implied, if not spoken or written.

No measurable competitive advantage  for exporting comes from a weak dollar if we chased the last manufacturer out more than 10 years ago with a host of other anti-competitive practices, mostly taxes and regulations.  The remaining successful companies like Target and Best Buy have their products made elsewhere and make the majority of their income in other states.  Even Medtronic was attacked by the latest round of new Obamacare taxation and is tanking.
3M to Expand Manufacturing in China for Solar Markets
St. Paul, Minn., Shanghai -- April 6, 2011 – 3M today announced—in conjunction with the Hefei High-tech Industrial Development Area--a plan to build a manufacturing site for photovoltaic solar materials and renewable energy products in Hefei High-tech Park...
The new plant, 3M Materials Technologies (Hefei) Co., will produce a variety of products at the new facility, including 3M Scotchshield Film, an advanced solar backside barrier film used in crystalline silicon solar photovoltaic modules. The project will be 3M’s ninth manufacturing facility in China.

4429  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 08, 2011, 10:36:38 PM
No interest in tying policies to results and results to policies?  My mistake -I thought this was one of the triple digit threads.
4430  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 08, 2011, 06:38:53 PM
CCP: I love the story about the Stanford trained statistician winning 4 million plus lotteries - "The odds of this has been calculated at one in eighteen septillion and luck like this could only come once every quadrillion years."  I hate the lotteries and maybe this will disrupt some of the enthusiasm.

I can't remember what qudrillion and septinllion mean.  I just remember S. Palin saying 'don't anyone tell Obama what comes after a trillion.'
Down down 634: Are people reading these pages this year still in stocks?

Dow up 50% during the early part of the Obama administration?

Things like inaugurations or New Years make lousy benchmarks.  If that is the test, Democrats in reality took control of the domestic agenda Nov 2006 / Jan 2007.  Result was the end of 50 months of growth, stagnation and collapse.  Then they took the White House.  I would assume that the selloff of 2008 was oversold.  People sold everything and had to wait 30 days plus until charts started upward to buy back in, with capital gains paid at the old rate.  I would guess this rise was over-bought. Dow companies like CocaCola and McDonalds have 75-80% of their business outside Obama's jurisdiction.  Did these investors know they were buying into 0.4% growth?  Did they know that 90% of Obama's job growth rate ended the day Obamacare was passed.  Chart below. Obama is not done.  This carnage is on his watch too.  I would estimate approaching 10 trillion is losses just the last 2 market days.

"By the way, if you invested money in the stock market for the duration of the Bush eight years, you lost money.  A lot."

Once again, a FLAWED analysis.  The market crash started with NASDAQ March 2000, 6 monthsw before the election, 9 months before the name changed on the door.  The downturn was going on no matter WHO was in power, until conditions and policies changed.  The attacks of 9/11/2001 were planned and happening no matter whose watch, unless someone else would have prevented it.  The recovery started the day policies changed, the 2003 tax rate reductions.  The recovery ended the day the policy arrow changed with the Nov 2006 election.  Why lump those those 3 distinct periods together and lose all meaning to the pretend analysis?

Instead, look for peak to trough or inflection points and look for causation.  Track the results to policy changes implemented or expected rather than the nameplate on the door.  I would love to see a comprehensive supply-side, pro-growth package passed and signed overnight tonight (impossible).  New flat and simple tax code, regulation rollback, corporate tax rolled back, loopholes gone, cap and trade scrapped, Obamacare repealed, energy projects approved coast to coast, all pending trade agreements passed, states add capital gains preferences, reform all major entitlements .  Obama can take credit.  Chart THAT!  We could have 8% growth tomorrow IMO if people really wanted to solve this.

US Job growth following Obamacare passage:
4431  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Greenspan, we can always print money on: August 08, 2011, 12:59:05 PM
Is he far enough out of power now that it is safe to say this...

Alan Greenspan is a buffoon.  Intelligent on some level I'm sure but loaded with confusion, inconsistency and hypocrisy.

He was Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Ford, a distinction I would leave off my resume if I were him.  He was chosen Fed Chair by President Reagan in June 1987 (first sign of Alzheimer's?) for credibility in the markets because he was a (so-called) Republican opponent of Reaganomics and therefore an intentional check and balance on our tax and fiscal policies.  He was considered to be from the root canal wing of the Republican party, cut spending growth but don't do anything radical to grow the economy.  Had he wrote Reagan's policies, we would still be in the Carter years.  His speeches were open jokes on the market, inventing his own language so no one would know what he was saying.

We had expansionary policies following the crashes starting in March 2000 and following the financial and economic crises following 9/11/2001.  Why did we still have expansionary monetary policies as we were approaching 50 consecutive months of job growth /economic growth?  Obviously the excesses of his time led to the 'irrational exuberance' of housing, the fall of which is still haunting us.

In his memoirs he criticizes Bush and Cheney for the excesses in spending.  That makes sense.  Why wasn't he screaming bloody murder about it THEN, while it was happening, when he had his own bully pulpit?
4432  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: August 07, 2011, 02:49:43 PM
I can't tell if you are disagreeing with my characterization or his policy.

I took that from the SSA life expectancy page;the majority of workers were men at that time.  I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to look at it, like yesterday's revelation that oral surgeons clean teeth.  Life expectancy of your teeth, BTW, in the 1930s was less than 58 years.  Do you disagree with the 1% tax too?  Is there any difference in terms of productive disincentives between that (1%) and now, a self employment tax of 15.3% ?,,id=98846,00.html   When you are done quibbling, the point remains that we are nowhere near the insure-against-outliving-your-ability-to-work vision that FDR first articulated.  People retire very often early, healthy and generally far wealthier than the younger workers who labor to help support them, instead of investing in their own challenges and opportunities.  It is a Ponzi scheme, not a lockbox, an insurance policy, or a savings plan.

Life Expectancy for Social Security

If we look at life expectancy statistics from the 1930s we might come to the conclusion that the Social Security program was designed in such a way that people would work for many years paying in taxes, but would not live long enough to collect benefits. Life expectancy at birth in 1930 was indeed only 58 for men and 62 for women, and the retirement age was 65.
4433  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hope and Change on: August 07, 2011, 02:20:25 PM
Sinking like a stone, but maybe people will like us better without all that prosperity.
4434  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: August 07, 2011, 01:28:58 PM
Federal taxes of 1794 would be great.  How about a return to the fundamentals that FDR started with social security, a 1% old age insurance tax with the payout age set 7 years beyond worker life expectancy.  These days he would be called a tea party terrorist, though he was far more extreme.
4435  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China (and South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc) on: August 07, 2011, 01:13:45 PM
One of the articles on that story says the cellphone would be 3 pounds without the use of so-called rare earth elements.  Why don't we have people carry those for a couple of days until they tell the oppressionists in Washington, loudly and clearly, that we need to open this country for business, and that necessarily includes mining, drilling, processing and manufacturing - or someone else (like China) will.

I can only think of what Dean Wormer said to Flounder in Animal House: "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."  What is the matter with our globally competitive, strategic economic team??  Terms like deaf, dumb and blind aren't fair to people who really suffer those afflictions.
4436  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: August 07, 2011, 12:56:21 PM
How do you handle the stress, as Commander in Chief, of identifying Navy Seal Team Six as the group who "got him" [bin Laden] only to have them shot down over an enemy territory within just a few months, worst loss in 10 years in Afghanistan, that he has already announced abandoning?

How do you respond to the worst financial slap in our history, to have S&P Frriday after market closing downgrading the United States of America, for the first time in our history, leaving 18 countries with higher ratings, and planning to downgrade us further if you continues on the same course?

What is your next course of action, if you are President, on both fronts, not to mention jobs?  He must be swamped in advisory or deep in his own thought, brainstorming for solutions and direction.  Maybe even praying for wisdom and solutions to come to him in church?

Nope, he's commanding his SUV motorcade over to the golf course today.  Followed by a beer and cheeseburger.  It's Sunday and he's the leader of the free world and he will do what he wants, whenever he wants.  Crisis? What Crisis?

Right now, saving bogey is more important than any economic or military setback.  Those can be led from behind.  The golf ball just sits there on the tee until you take a swing at it.  Good luck America.
4437  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China - Rare Earth Elements Find in Nebraska on: August 07, 2011, 12:11:40 PM
Said to be 'huge', this discovery could break China's lock on rare earth elements, the minerals required for basic technology manufacturing of our time.  (If only the Obama EPA will allow them to mine there.)
This Nebraska Village May Be Sitting On The World's Largest Untapped Deposit Of Rare Earth Minerals   Aug. 3, 2011

4438  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama Treasury Secretary on S&P Downgrade in April 2011: No risk of that! on: August 07, 2011, 09:52:38 AM

Flashback: Geithner Says No Risk To US' AAA Credit Rating

"No risk of that, no risk," Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner said on the Fox Business Network in April. (source The Hill)    Video at the link.
4439  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government spending, budget: S&P is Incompetent? on: August 07, 2011, 09:42:40 AM
The gift that just keeps on giving, Rep. Barney Frank, recent Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee during the collapse of the nations financial systems, says that S&P is incompetent.

Meanwhile, S&P says the USA is on the negative side of AA+ meaning (to me) another downgrade is coming down the pike if the status quo continues.
4440  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: August 06, 2011, 03:49:58 PM
JDN, I will try to split my answer, libertarian issue here and the rest over on health care politics. 

GM put it succinctly (as he does), "If I'm paying, I have a say in your behavior".

I don't care if you don't care (but you are certainly entitled to that opinion) that you might lose your freedom or preferred recreation because I care about mine and I know plenty here care about the right to fight which would most certainly be among the first to go.

If you can ride Dukatis for recreation, not exactly third world poverty behavior, you certainly should not need someone else to be picking up your basic living expenses, healthcare, so you you don't have to dip into your own resources.

No intent to hit while you are down, but theoretically your choice of riding superbikes at higher speeds on mountain roads, in a nanny state system, jeopardizes my right to putz around carefully at 80 mpg on my Honda 200.  Soon they will all be prohibited.  Or they will limit you to what mine is and that is a different sport, likely of no interest to a Dukati enthusiast.  You are perhaps willing to lose what you have.  I am not.

Your right to your pursuit without harming others and my right to not pay for it are both clearly enumerated in the 9th amendment IMO.

"I choose to smoke cigars and ride motorcycles, someone else may choose to eat too much fatty food, etc. still there is not a 100% direct cause and effect.  In many/most health issues a direct cause and effect cannot be found."

Government prohibitions and regulations and penalties have been issued with far less certain causation than those examples.

Let's take one of my summer favorites, waterskiing, passed down in our family through at least 4 generations.  I remember my grandfather skied on one ski on his 70th birthday and my mother into her 80s, while my award winning daughter just got her first successful one-ski ride at 17, last weekend.  Others pull hamstrings and fill up chiropractic wards with their pulls and twists.  It burns fossil fuels.  Why is that necessary - in some Washington bureaucratic view - it isn't!  Banned.  Dessert - banned.  How would you like your shrimp cooked, battered with french fries, just kidding, we'll tell you how your food will be prepared.  Whoops, shrimp was banned too.  It just isn't necessary.  Even lean beef is inefficient and oatmeal is on the latest list of foods to not advertise to children.  There is no end when the alleged consequence is a public expense.

"My grandfather was a small town surgeon near Milwaukee, albeit he was quite famous in WI.  If you were rich, my grandfather charged you top dollar, if you were poor my grandfather would take vegetables or whatever as payment.  He never turned anyone away."

My grandfather and father were dentists serving the downtown community including some of its most famous citizens like our current govenor in his childhood, charged low, fair rates that no one ever questioned, worked long weeks and long hours well into their 80s because they loved what they did and serving people and did not charge people extra or give better service for being rich. Good grief.

"While I understand your point, ..."

No, I think that you don't.
4441  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 06, 2011, 03:48:08 PM
We drifted to govt healthcare on libertarian issues where it also belongs and I wanted to answer part of it here.

GM wrote: Yeah, it's funny how a free market can make products and services cheaper for everyone to access but somehow that can't be used for healthcare.

Yes, that was a point a tried to make with a highly educated liberal relative recently.  She was arguing that single payer is the most efficient system and I kept answering with the question: "for everything?"  No, only healthcare because that was all she had looked into, but has someone looked into the most efficient and effective ways to allocate scarce resources if they look at one failed example.  What about housing?  I see areas here where the average price has adjusted from $3 million to $2 million.  At either level, the price is astronomical and the product exceedingly complex and extravagant because that is exactly what people are wanting and able to afford.  Those prices in a free market continuously adjust so that is true under changing cicumstances and the product built adjusts too - if left alone to adjust.  In healthcare, not so.

JDN wrote: "Do you know what cancer costs?  Or a heart attack?  Even just a "routine" visit to the emergency room is $1000's of dollars, Etc.

Yes.  Do you know why??

I put it in a previous reply: "If we paid our own medical bills (for the most part), the cost levels set by providers would be limited to what people could generally afford and were willing to pay (imagine that!), not what an entity with the power to print money could possibly spend."

That does not mean there won't be a safety net for the needy, there already is.  It means as you expand that to include routine care for ordinary income Americans, the entire system with the only known, effective force for cost control is gone.  That can't happen!  Look at Europe! Yeah, look at Europe.

The welfare state like Scandinavia or even Japan relied on a culture of homogeneous people all possessing an unending work ethic and not interested in taking advantage of the system, where the safety net goes only to the truly needy no matter what are the rules.  Hardly a description of Europe today, or the US.
4442  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Doorbell on: August 06, 2011, 12:45:03 PM
4443  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: August 06, 2011, 12:14:25 PM
Or maybe we should pay our own medical bills and then take personal responsibility for our individual choices.

And if we paid our own medical bills, the cost levels set by providers would be limited to what people could generally afford and were willing to pay (imagine that!), not what an entity with the power to print money could possibly spend.
4444  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness: Lost advisers on: August 06, 2011, 12:06:19 PM
Some turnover is normal, but what happened to economic advisers Volcker, Buffet, Summers, Roemer and now Goolsby?

Austan Goolsby, Obama's current Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, will leave his position this summer and return to teaching.

"Goolsby, a longtime Obama adviser, has been one of the leading proponents of the idea that increased government spending would stimulate the economy into a roaring recovery."

4445  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geithner: Stimulus "remarkably effective", 2nd one not necessary - Oct 2009 on: August 06, 2011, 12:04:22 PM
CCP, Yes, 'it was worse than we thought'.  George Bush screwed up left field so badly that nobody can play it.
CNBC Oct 16, 2009

Sec. GEITHNER: Well, recovery is going to work for Americans requires a recovery led by the private sector, requires recovery led by private demand that's going to be strong enough to be sustainable. And that means that you're going to have to still make sure there's enough support to reinforce that process of recovery. But when we have growth back in place, we also got to bring down those long-term deficits, make sure we go back to living within our means. And that's like the difficulty--that's the--that's the difficult balance to get right. But I think we're going to get that right. We're not going to make the mistake many countries made in the past of putting the brakes on too early and creating risk that we have a, you know, weaker recovery with even higher levels of unemployment going forward.
Sec. GEITHNER: Stimulus has been remarkably effective, and the combined effect of stimulus, as it was designed and the efforts we took to stabilize the financial system, bring capital and private capital in, have been remarkably effective in arresting the freefall in economic growth we saw here and around the world and laying the foundation for growth. Now, you're seeing growth now for the first time, really, in almost two years. And that's a very encouraging sign. But it's very early still, and again, our job is to make sure that we're encouraging that process. And recovery act was designed so it's going to provide support over a two-year period of time, and you're just now starting to see--probably in the summer you started for the first time to see money start to flow and projects start to get financed. But a key part of stimulus was tax cuts to businesses and families and support to state and local governments, and those things had very immediate, very powerful effect.
BARTIROMO: So do we need a second stimulus? ...
BARTIROMO: A good case for a second stimulus?

4446  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama: turn around economy in 3 years or this is "a one-term proposition.” on: August 06, 2011, 11:36:01 AM
A family man with a wife, 2 small children and a dog named BO wouldn't want to spend this special birthday during August recess with his family, when the opportunity presents itself to sell tickets to big donors for big money.

Here a clip you just might hear during the campaign:

Today Show with Matt Lauer Feb 1 2009 (with Gallup approval rating at 66%):

“Look, I’m at the start of my administration. One nice thing about the situation I find myself in is that I will be held accountable. You know, I’ve got four years,” Obama told The Today Show’s Matt Lauer on February 1, 2009.

“A year from now I think people are going to see that we’re starting to make some progress,” said Obama. ”But there’s still going to be some pain out there. If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”

Video at the link.
4447  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: Wisconsin 'Recall' vote on: August 06, 2011, 11:11:49 AM
I don't suppose anyone, anywhere is following this, but there is a campaign going on right now that is the preview to the 2012 House, Senate and Presidential campaign and election.  It is very, very ugly.  The money being spent is unbelievable and the message on both sides is 100% negative: Moore means More Taxes and Harsdorf is backing [Gov.]Scott Walker's agenda every step of the way.

In the case of one western Wisconsin legislative district, they have to pay for the entire 3 million person Twin Cities (MN - wrong state) media market in order to reach their own district with television and radio ads, and they are nearly continuous on every channel - in August.  New records for spending, they are spending more in one state senate district than was spent statewide in a real election a short time ago, and (believe it or not) the money is not all local:
The Minnesota AFL-CIO will run buses of union volunteers into the district Aug. 8 and 9, assisting get-out-the-vote efforts on Moore’s behalf. And the Minnesota State Council of the Service Employees International Union  already is operating phone banks out of its St. Paul headquarters.

Who knows what the outcome will mean for having a special election at such a strange time. 

For unbiased coverage wink there is a blog at Huffington Post covering the campaign.  For current liberal governing views, just read the comments.
Also Hudson WI newspaper:
4448  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: August 06, 2011, 10:44:21 AM
JDN, with you on those agreement points.   smiley

"I think it's better if the government stays out of it."

But they can only do that if it is your responsibility, meaning all the consequences of your actions.

Some nanny state laws are good in their effect and result, like seat belts, but then how do we stop there and not end the other things mentioned.  I forget my seat belt sometimes and find myself reaching for it every time I see law enforcement.  I rode with my youthful 87 year old dad driving the other day.  Just a short drive but I got in and buckled up.  He saw that and stopped to do his.  One sibling of mine has been harping on him to do that.  Hard to change old habits and the law gives people an excuse to say - just do it, but that is in the context that everything relating to driving is regulated.  Everything related to living is not regulated or at least shouldn't be.

Our state was first I think to enact smoking bans, with a mixed effect on liberty.  Then we repealed the helmet law.  A gain I suppose for liberty, but I can't imagine getting on a motorcycle without a helmet so it seems like a lousy symbol for liberty.  Still they require eye protection and I'm sure we have both been hit with bugs in the glasses enough to know why.

True libertarianism would oppose all these restrictions and true liberalism of today (fascism) would put an end to nearly all personal choice and responsibility.  It seems to me we could have a very few, very carefully considered laws and restrictions without going hogwild but experience seems to prove that I am wrong.
4449  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Tao of Sex on: August 06, 2011, 10:16:48 AM
Slow, gradual escalation, with full respect for the power of what you are considering, culminating in marriage is better than an entitlement, instant gratification mentality.

Does anyone know what Judaism, Christianity (and the other great religions) say specifically about it.

Crafty, I appreciate the dilemma you are presenting with young people delaying marriage longer and longer and many couples not marrying at all, but what are you saying is the answer?  What will you say to your son and daughter?

May I state unequivocally that, moral issues aside, one or the other partner saying they are using birth control is not foolproof, and that moral issues aside, single uncommitted people having babies is not the same thing as having a mother and a father under one roof in a committed attempt at a lifelong relationship.

Also an observation, if the responsible people are having fewer children and the irresponsible are having more, that is not a healthy dynamic for our civilization.
4450  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: August 06, 2011, 09:46:09 AM
"I didn't go to law school, but the answer is simple; one is legal on is not."

The point of libertarian issues is to dare to question what should or should not be law, not just blind support fro whatever they are.

When you expand the public role in maintaining our health, you cause the erosion of the liberty to do things considered risky.  Motorcycling, stickfighting and putting penises where they weren't designed to go.  Is driving a car today without a seatbelt more dangerous than riding a motorcycle?  One is legal, one is not (in 49 states).  That can change.

Can't have it both ways.  If you are the risk manager of you, then you decide.  If the Sec. of Heath is in charge, then she decides.  You might not like the next czar's decisions.
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