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4701  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Growth Economics continued, Prof. Taylor from Stanford on: July 24, 2011, 11:37:55 AM
Taylor is one economist who Gov. Pawlenty named for backing his 5% aspirational economic growth goal.  This piece is about policies and results, not candidates or parties.

The End of the Growth Consensus
America added 44 million jobs in the 1980s and '90s, when both parties showed they had learned from past mistakes. The lessons have been forgotten.

This month marks the two-year anniversary of the official start of the recovery from the 2007-09 recession. But it's a recovery in name only: Real gross domestic product growth has averaged only 2.8% per year compared with 7.1% after the most recent deep recession in 1981-82. The growth slowdown this year—to about 1.5% in the second quarter—is not only disappointing, it's a reminder that the recovery has been stalled from the start. As shown in the nearby chart, the percentage of the working-age population that is actually working has declined since the start of the recovery in sharp contrast to 1983-84. With unemployment still over 9%, there is an urgent need to change course.

Some blame the weak recovery on special factors such as high personal saving rates as households repair their balance sheets. But people are consuming a larger fraction of their income now than they were in the 1983-84 recovery: The personal savings rate is 5.6% now compared with 9.4% then. Others blame certain sectors such as weak housing. But the weak housing sector is much less of a negative factor today than declining net exports were in the 1983-84 recovery, and the problem isn't confined to any particular sector. The broad categories of investment and consumption are both contributing less to growth. Real GDP growth is 60%-70% less than in the early-'80s recovery, as is growth in consumption and investment.

In my view, the best way to understand the problems confronting the American economy is to go back to the basic principles upon which the country was founded—economic freedom and political freedom. With lessons learned from the century's tougher decades, including the Great Depression of the '30s and the Great Inflation of the '70s, America entered a period of unprecedented economic stability and growth in the '80s and '90s. Not only was job growth amazingly strong—44 million jobs were created during those expansions—it was a more stable and sustained growth period than ever before in American history.

Economic policy in the '80s and '90s was decidedly noninterventionist, especially in comparison with the damaging wage and price controls of the '70s. Attention was paid to the principles of economic and political liberty: limited government, incentives, private markets, and a predictable rule of law. Monetary policy focused on price stability. Tax reform led to lower marginal tax rates. Regulatory reform encouraged competition and innovation. Welfare reform devolved decisions to the states. And with strong economic growth and spending restraint, the federal budget moved into balance.

As the 21st century began, many hoped that applying these same limited-government and market-based policy principles to Social Security, education and health care would create greater opportunities and better lives for all Americans.

But policy veered in a different direction. Public officials from both parties apparently found the limited government approach to be a disadvantage, some simply because they wanted to do more—whether to tame the business cycle, increase homeownership, or provide the elderly with better drug coverage.

And so policy swung back in a more interventionist direction, with the federal government assuming greater powers. The result was not the intended improvement, but rather an epidemic of unintended consequences—a financial crisis, a great recession, ballooning debt and today's nonexistent recovery.

The change in policy direction did not occur overnight. We saw increased federal intervention in the housing market beginning in the late 1990s. We saw the removal of Federal Reserve reporting and accountability requirements for money growth from the Federal Reserve Act in 2000. We saw the return of discretionary countercyclical fiscal policy in the form of tax rebate checks in 2001. We saw monetary policy moving in a more activist direction with extraordinarily low interest rates for the economic conditions in 2003-05. And, of course, interventionism reached a new peak with the massive government bailouts of Detroit and Wall Street in 2008.

Since 2009, Washington has doubled down on its interventionist policy. The Fed has engaged in a super-loose monetary policy—including two rounds of quantitative easing, QE1 in 2009 and QE2 in 2010-11. These large-scale purchases of mortgages and Treasury debt did not bring recovery but instead created uncertainty about their impact on inflation, the dollar and the economy. On the fiscal side, we've also seen extraordinary interventions—from the large poorly-designed 2009 stimulus package to a slew of targeted programs including "cash for clunkers" and tax credits for first-time home buyers. Again, these interventions did not lead to recovery but instead created uncertainty about the impact of high deficits and an exploding national debt.

Big government has proved to be a clumsy manager, and it did not stop with monetary and fiscal policy. Since President Obama took office, we've added on complex regulatory interventions in health care (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) and finance (the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act). The unintended consequences of these laws are already raising health-care costs and deterring new investment and risk-taking.

If these government interventions are the economic problem, then the solution is to unwind them. Some lament that with the high debt and bloated Fed balance sheet, we have run out of monetary and fiscal ammunition, but this may be a blessing in disguise. The way forward is not more spending, greater debt and continued zero-interest rates, but spending control and a return to free-market principles.

Unfortunately, as the recent debate over the debt limit indicates, narrow political partisanship can get in the way of a solution. The historical evidence on what works and what doesn't is not partisan. The harmful interventionist policies of the 1970s were supported by Democrats and Republicans alike. So were the less interventionist polices in the 1980s and '90s. So was the recent interventionist revival, and so can be the restoration of less interventionist policy going forward.

Mr. Taylor, a professor of economics at Stanford and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, is the author of "Getting Off Track: How Government Actions and Interventions Caused, Prolonged and Worsened the Financial Crisis" (Hoover Press, 2009).
4702  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics - Growth: The Only Way Out of This Mess on: July 24, 2011, 11:29:22 AM
A lengthy, wide-ranging, worthwhile (IMO) piece on pro-growth economics with global and historical perspective in Commentary Magazine:
4703  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Crime and Punishment: Norway 'suspect' on: July 24, 2011, 11:04:10 AM
Sad to see that by creating carnage this sick jerk gets his views publicized. 

Opinion polls have showed that only about 1 in 4 Norwegians supported the death penalty prior to this incident.  The last execution in peacetime was carried out in 1876.

Makes sense (?), in no situation should killing be the answer...

People hate the abortion analogy but that's where the legal killings are.  There is widespread acceptance of killing 14,000 unborn Norwegians per year in the public 'health' system.  In these 14k/yr situations, killing is the answer.  (But not for an unprecedented mass murderer?)

Doing without the unwanted is good for the resources of the earth (?) (citation needed)

But for the most heinous of the heinous, a capital ending is immoral?  We (as a society) will house and feed and give him humane treatment, free health care, keep him comfortable and with full legal protections for life, while publicizing his filthy manifestos. 

I'm not Norwegian but the issues are the same everywhere.  Mark me down as disagreeing.  Protect the innocent, punish the guilty and provide a certain,  lethal ending for those who commit the very most heinous of crimes against society.  His prosecution is based on only the evidence and facts of the killings.  His other views are of no public interest IMO unless it is part of a larger movement that needs to be stopped.  There is no logical link between opposing the Muslim migration and killing innocent Norwegian children and citizens.
4704  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 23, 2011, 02:48:59 PM
GM,  Thank you for the helpful translation.  smiley

I took this: "[illegitimate] by almost any standard" to mean totally illegitimate, except if judged in the context of their silly fascination with survival.

Once again, if others would end their pledge to annihilate them, maybe we talk to Israeli about lightening up on these survival strategies that annoy everyone.
4705  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics, re. who owns America's debt? on: July 23, 2011, 02:41:04 PM
Very enlightening.  I recall seeing before that China 'only' owns a trillion or so out of $14T, when you so often hear it implied that they own nearly all of it.  The rest of the story is: who will buy the next $10 trillion or so coming down the pike, and at what cost?

They largest holder by far (19%) is the social security 'lockbox', which is a figment of our imagination, we owe ourselves that money?  Isn't SS now at about a breakeven so that removes them from 'helping' with our debt going forward.

The idea of default on these borrowings reminds me of when people suggested dismantling the evil capitalist BP, only to find out the largest shareholder is the British pension system.

We already 'default' on our total debt roughly 2-3% on a good year compounded continuously with the never-ending inflation and devaluation of our currency.  That alone wipes the slate nearly clean of dollar based debt in only a little over a couple of decades - if we would only stop borrowing more now.
4706  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: July 23, 2011, 02:18:33 PM
It is strange the only explanation that could make sense to us is an Islamic extreme religious motive, ... of course it's a perversion of any former sense of our logic that that would make any sense either. 
4707  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: July 23, 2011, 02:10:37 PM
Thanks Bigdog.  I hold Thomas up there as a principled American hero.  The story of his upbringing is quite remarkable.;contentBody
4708  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self-Defense Law - Norway shooting on: July 23, 2011, 08:04:56 AM
Still not clear where to discuss the human disaster in Norway.  The one common thread with these pretend tough guy cowards is that the like to shoot in places wherethe other people are likely to be unarmed.
4709  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / re. European matters- Failure in Greece on: July 21, 2011, 10:26:30 PM
Unfortunately, democracy alone does not ensure freedom.
4710  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / budget process: WSJ - The St. Paul Solution on: July 21, 2011, 06:40:28 PM
Crafty has often pointed out the problems and deceptions caused by 'baseline budgeting'.  In St. Paul they have admitted that the baseline is far greater than simply adding in population growth and inflation adjustment.  In fact the $5 billion 'shortfall' was merely the invention of highly paid big government biased forecasters who should be prosecuted.  There were no actual cuts or spending hikes required, but the anger and fireworks and shutdown over nothing went on until today.  In the spirit of let no crisis go to waste, Gov. Mark Dayton wanted to raise the highest marginal rate by a factor of 62.5% - over nothing.  Oblivious to the fact that we border a state with no income tax that runs ads here constantly enticing businesses to re-locate, where the Governor's own trust fund is located.

20 days without government, I noticed the bathrooms had to be closed at the wayside rests (do those janitors get back pay for work that didn't happen?) and traffic was a little lighter with the state's largest employer idle.

The St. Paul Solution
Republicans in Congress might learn a political lesson from the budget agreement in Minnesota.


The longest government shutdown in any state in at least a decade appears to have ended, as Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton of Minnesota has agreed to key budget demands by the Republican-controlled legislature. Republicans in Congress might learn a political lesson from what happened.

On Thursday Mr. Dayton took new taxes off the table and in the end agreed to a spending ceiling very close to the original GOP target. Republicans made concessions, too, but there can be no mistake that in this two-week long St. Paul stare down it was Mr. Dayton who blinked.

From the start, the newly elected governor wanted giant tax increases. Under his proposal, the top income tax rate would have risen to almost 11% (initially, he proposed 13%) from the current top rate of just below 8%. Republicans didn't cave to the class warfare, even as the press carped at how unreasonable they were being. But Minnesota voters seemed to understand that the state would only make its economic troubles worse by increasing costs to employers.

Republicans also set spending at $34 billion for two years, compared to the $37 billion that the Democrats sought. But after two weeks that saw everything from the parks to most government agencies to pubs shut down (no business permits), Mr. Dayton agreed to GOP demands with "serious reservations."

Republicans did agree to new revenues through bonding tobacco settlement money and shifting education payments -- an accounting trick to create the fiction of savings... Republicans remained committed to the principles that won them legislative majorities in November for the first time in more than two decades. Let's hope lawmakers in Washington were watching.
4711  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Liberal fascism, progressivism: Millionsand Millions of Green Jobs on: July 21, 2011, 06:23:28 PM
Pathological Economics:
(Why do they say they have been in "business' three years when they hnave been government supported for 3 years?)

Electric Car Maker Folds, Salinas Loses $500,000
[EMAIL: Electric Car Maker Folds, Salinas Loses $500,000] Email [PRINT: Electric Car Maker Folds, Salinas Loses $500,000]
A Salinas car manufacturing company that was expected to build environmentally friendly electric cars and create new jobs folded before almost any vehicles could run off the assembly line.

The city of Salinas had invested more than half a million dollars in Green Vehicles, an electric car start-up company.

All of that money is now gone, according to Green Vehicles President and Co-Founder Mike Ryan.

PHOTOS: Green Vehicles Flops In Salinas

The start-up company set up shop in Salinas in the summer of 2009, after the city gave Ryan a $300,000 community development grant.

When the company still ran into financial trouble last year, the city of Salinas handed Ryan an additional $240,000. Green Vehicles also received $187,000 from the California Energy Commission.

Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the news. City officials were equally irked that Ryan notified them through an email that his company had crashed and burned.

Salinas Economic Development Director Jeff Weir said Green Vehicles flopped because of a lack of investors.

Donohue said he will work with the state to try to get at least $240,000 back from the now-defunct company.

Mike Ryan
Green Vehicles President and Co-Founder Mike Ryan

Last year, Salinas city officials said they were excited about Green Vehicles moving from San Jose to Salinas because they wanted to turn Salinas into a hub for alternative energy production.

City leaders wooed Green Vehicles to jump-start the sputtering local company and turn Salinas into an "electric valley." Donohue and Weir both voiced their high hopes for Green Vehicles.

The start-up company promised city leaders that it would create 70 new jobs and pay $700,000 in taxes a year to Salinas.

Green Vehicles was supposed to be up and running by March 2010 inside their 80,000-square-foot space at Firestone Business Park off of Abbot Street.

Ryan had lofty goals, listing his company's mission as: "To make the best clean commuter vehicles in the world; To manufacture with a radical sense of responsibility; To engage in deep transparency as an inspiration for new ways of doing business."

Green Vehicles designed two vehicles, the TRIAC 2.0 and the MOOSE, which it planned to manufacture.

On July 12, Ryan wrote a blog post announcing that his company was closing.

"The truth is that not realizing the vision for this company is a huge disappointment," Ryan wrote.

Ryan outlined three mistakes he made while steering his company into a brick wall. All three reasons boiled down failing to generate enough capital.

Click the video below to watch Ryan being interviewed last year.

4712  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: July 21, 2011, 06:15:18 PM
Caption: 'Hillary Learns that Statute of Limitations has Elapsed on her Commodity Trades'.

One would guess from the relaxed look on the picture that she is not running.  It should be safe now for sane Democrats to start an Anyone-but-Obama 2012 search.
4713  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: America's Inner City on: July 21, 2011, 03:47:13 PM
JDN, Bicycles are great.  You are governed by liberals, lol.  It reminds me of hate crime laws banning violence against gays.  Strangely I would want equal protection if I were a hetero-unicylist, but that's just me.  Regarding the motorcycle, on the roads I prefer my Honda 200 to a bicycle because I think it is safer to keep up with the flow.  My latest bicycle is electric assist for improved range and velocity ( should be an aging 'warrier' post).  Fed laws say the locals have to accept these on the bike trails up to 20 mph.  We'll see how that goes.

For both pedestrians and bicyclists, we have these aggressive crosswalk laws here, maybe everywhere.  It gives the vulnerable a false sense of security that they can step out and a car has to stop.  A car though does not have to stop, the driver could be texting or the brakes could fail.  Reminds me of sailboats having the right of way over power boats.  Funny for one thing because we often go faster than powerboats.  Over time you learn that you only have right of way if someone who sees you yields it to you.
4714  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: July 20, 2011, 12:52:49 PM
The Prager piece is a nice synopsis of the problem.  We have some more left leaning people on the board.  Would anyone argue that these things are not happening or that it really isn't that bad??

For a whole cross-section of America, government has become the provider, but government is only the vehicle.  We are mandating/coercing other people to be the provider including the next generation.  It is common for conservatives complain on behalf of the people carrying the extra burden, but it misses the central point here.  The programs, by and large, damage the recipients even worse.
4715  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: WSJ Foxified? on: July 19, 2011, 02:51:58 PM
Coming back to a previous Crafty post recently and back around the time Murdoch tookover:

What I notice is that the WSJ perhaps stands alone in the fact that there really is a firewall between the news departments and the editorial writing.  In that sense it is two different publications.  The news side trudges on, very good in parts but no different in slant (IMO) or 'objectivity' to the NYT, WashPost, USA Today, etc.

The Editorial Page OTOH was alone in the pre-internet era in terms of direction and quality, back in the Robert Bartley days.  The transition to the current team I don't think was in any way tied to the Murdoch purchase, just generational.  Paul Gigot the current editorial page editor has great analysis and insight in politics and economics.  I believe he was Bartley's pick to replace himself and to continue what he built.  Gigot seemed to bring in a new team of writers who I would say are very good but not great.  I don't believe the overall political views they publish have changed.  (They were conservative and long before Fox/Murdoch was in TV much less newspaper.)

If you go to Real Clear Politics they show their own most read listings of the day and week.  WSJ columns get in there but you can see over time which writers and stories are more compelling than others.  Maybe WSJ should shake things up and hire away a couple of big name writers, but I see their circulation is number one in the country, more than double the NY Times, more than triple the LA Times.  In a tough business, that's not too bad.

NYT was also on the lead of Glen Beck (envy) - 'firing' story - last January, he stayed on 6 months and was still number one in his time slot with re-runs the week after he left.  They are IMO just taking this opportunity to remind liberal readers that there are conservatives elsewhere in the media to avoid.
4716  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Spending, budget process: Cut, Cap, GROW and Balance on: July 19, 2011, 01:11:16 PM
Sorry to be a broken record, but the House plan leaves out one crucial leg of the stool.  Growth doesn't need to be in this package but the spokespeople need to relentlessly remind people that the problem is not solved and will never be solved until there is a earthquake scale move toward pro-growth policies.  We aren't moving backwards to balance the budget at last year's revenue numbers.  We need a SURGE of investment, employment and revenues.  Please the bill, but people on notice that nothing in cut, cap and balance alone addresses that.  We can do the rest now or after the next election, whenever the national will and the votes are there.
4717  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: July 19, 2011, 12:55:58 PM
I listen to some of the nation's no. 3 radio show (Glen Beck) and I hate the gold selling commercials.  Gold is defense and a (often smart) bet against the the dollar and the success of the US and the world economy.  It is an unproductive investment for capital on the sidelines instead of pumping it into plant expansion, new hiring, venture capital, S&P, DOW, corp. bonds, etc.  There are times hopefully coming where you don't want your money in gold or your commercials in gold selling.

The reason they are on is because political hyper-partisanship drove off the other companies.  The ads should be more Pepsi, Budweiser, Target, whatever, except the left is organized and shrill and creates a firestorm when publicly held companies put money there.

One notable exception is the locally based sleep number company.  Not politically conservative management but they partner with Rush all these years because they like selling beds to his audience.  Turn to liberal radio and they partner there too.

The shrill crowd would love to find something unsavory with Goldline, maybe they will.  Another tack they could take would be to walk the walk on free speech.
4718  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 18, 2011, 11:11:49 PM
The BBA (IMO) is a misnomer like Dems usually do.  I oppose a simple balanced budget amendment, but this one has a hook in it, an 18% cap on spending.  I favor the cap and I favor the supermajority required to raise taxes.  So I favor it the way it is, but if it were amending to just a BBAthat becomes mostly a prescription for unlimited spending and automatic tax increases to match.
SC Gov. Nikki Haley in this video - Must see, IMO. There are some tough Republican Governors out there.  Haley with TX Gov Rick Perry has coauthored support of the BBA from the states or which 3/4 would be required if it ever got 2/3 vote House and Senate.

4719  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 18, 2011, 11:05:30 AM
Too bad about his cancer, I didn't know that.  Herman Cain is a great guy but not the next President.  I didn't hear the long version of his Mosque point, it was something to the effect that being Muslim means favoring a state established religion and a religion-run state, violating of our 1st amendment and community standards therefore citizens should have a right to block that in their neighborhood?? I don't agree and didn't take Crafty to imply he did either, but if there was a valid point in there, a serious candidate needs a better political sensitivity and awareness of what comments will sidetrack, not lead us to the solution for all that is going wrong right now.  Bachmann will be next to digress or sidetrack if I were to guess.  

Perry likely to get in, people say. Has the oratory skills, tea party credentials and the most governing experience of any of them.  Has something in common with Barack Obama; he took over an economy left behind by George W Bush.  Differing results.  Created more jobs recently than the rest of Obama's America.
4720  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 18, 2011, 10:35:45 AM
Absent from the discussion if I read this correctly is that the Mexicans in America were booing America publicly in America, on a Rose Bowl scale.

JDN, When you wrote previously that people on the board oppose legal immigration, I recall CCP sharing that view but most I think support legal immigration or even expanding it.  We live in different parts of the country, work or operate in different crowds and see different things.  I respect and trust CCP's vieweeing and hearing things that I haven't.

I suspect JDN's Japanese friends were NOT booing America, at least not to their faces.

The whole episode makes me rethink my position on liberal, legal immigration.  My support has been based on the premise that there are plenty of people around the world who could contribute to our society and economy and would love to come to America, become Americans, and love this country as their own.  That premise may very likely be false.  Japan is also a great country and Mexico could be.  If that is where your national price is, then build a great nation there.

If Japanese or Mexicans or Tajiks or anyone else want to come here to be Japanese people, Mexicans, Tajiks or anyone else working or residing in America - we have an app for that - it comes with an expiration/renewal date, you don't get voting shares and it isn't called citizenship.

(I enjoy a good soccer match, missed all this, but for the World Cup to be settled in a kickoff... They don't settle the US Opens with a long drive contest or a serving contest or settle the NBA finals with a slam dunk contest?  I thought it was a team sport.  Those Japanese friends should be celebrating their 2-2 tie with the Americans or playing overtime.)
4721  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: July 15, 2011, 04:51:12 PM
Thanks JDN. Oddly most of my liberal friends are rich too.  Poor people are too busy to concoct serious class warfare arguments. The damage done by marginal rates is to the want-to-be-rich people more than to the already-rich.  Our Dem Gov. is rich (from a successful Republican family) married a Rockefeller (now divorced), keeps his trust fund in South Dakota (no income tax), got his biggest contribution from the ex-wife (not a Minnesotan) and favors big surcharges on the rich, on their incomes and on their homes.  Meanwhile he has no clue how wealth is created or how damn tough it was to build a retail chain that is now Macy's here, Target and the world's (former) best seller of books. (My uncle ran their company when the adults determined there weren't any more competent family members to take over.)

Yes you (and I) have friends that are rich and liberal and being rich and liberal today means saying you are willing to pay higher taxes.  Do they really mean higher than 58% + 9.3% state (Calif), double taxed on corporate income components plus sales tax, property tax and on and on?  Marginal rates already to be greater than 70% and still want higher?  Do they show any other behaviors, sending extra money to the government (keep the change, lol), not taking advantage of moves, deductions, preferences available  to indicate they want to pay more than they do now?  - I didn't think so.

It's all rhetorical.  People like that, your friends and mine, are people I seek to defeat not persuade.  I favor efficient taxation, not punitive, redistributive or emotional taxation. 

On the other point, that small tax rate increases don't affect business openings, hirings, expansions... it is empirically false whether you feel that way or not.  The increase you mention is small, but it is on top of everything else in terms of other taxes, strangulating regs and other costs driven up by overblown government policies.  Yes, it ALL matters.

The idea of slimming down on deductions only pulls even more money out of the private economy - a contractionary policy - unless that is combined with using the loophole closures to lower the marginal rates - the primary disincentive to produce.

Most of those alleged "loopholes" like corp jet owners are proposing to take away 5 year depreciations and make them 7 year when the incentive in the first place was part of Obama's big stimulus. Big f'ing deal.  The change would have no real affect on those who already have their jet and deducted it, but would kill those who play a part in building jets.  We've tried stuff like that before.  The right answer is to depreciate the jet by the amount that it depreciated (imagine that?) which like a car is a huge amount the moment you drive it off the showroom floor. Don't they have a Kelley Blue Book for aircraft?  Another way is cash basis accounting.  Deduct the expense, then 1099 the income when you sell.  The only rationale in the current or proposed plan is demagoguery-based depreciation.  Why is 7 years right and 5 years wrong.  It is all arbitrary and the same people that did it blame me for supporting a rich guy who takes a deduction that THEY concocted in government-based economics.  If the tax rate wasn't astronomical, the depreciation schedule wouldn't be so crucial.
4722  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Venezuela: Chavez heading to Brazil for Chemo? on: July 15, 2011, 04:08:51 PM
A Venezuela update and a healthcare story in one. One might recall that Cuba has the best doctors - or not.  Actually I think it is the US that highest the highest survival rate of the afflictions we are most likely to get like prostate cancer.  So Hugo is going to Brazil rather that eat his pride.

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, will travel to Brazil for cancer treatment, a source in the Brazilian government has told Reuters news agency.

The Venezuelan President will come to Brazil's Sirio-Libanes hospital, but no timeline has been set for his arrival, the source said on Thursday.

There was no immediate confirmation from Venezuelan government. Asked if Chavez would go to Brazil for treatment, a high-ranking government official said: "I don't know."

Last week Chavez said he may have to receive chemotherapy.

The Sirio-Libanes hospital is considered one of the best in Latin America and is renowned for its cancer treatment centre.

Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo had cancer treatment there and Brazilian Vice President Jose Alencar was treated there for years before he died earlier this year.

Earlier this month, the Venezuelan leader admitted in a television address that he had a tumour but had undergone a successful operation in Cuba to extract the cancerous cells.

This was his first televised speech to the nation, weeks after he was hospitalised in the Cuban capital, Havana, sparking widespread speculation about his health.

"They confirmed the existence of a tumourous abscess, with the presence of cancerous cells, which required another operation to extract the tumour completely," he had said.

Barely two days after the speech from Cuba, Chavez arrived at Maiquetia airport outside Caracas as the country was preparing to celebrate the 200th anniversary of its independence from Spain.

Addressing his supporters from the balcony of his presidential palace, Chavez vowed to win the battle to regain his health.

He thanked Fidel Castro, the iconic Cuban leader, saying that the veteran leader has been practically his "medical chief" while recovering in Cuba. He said he will "win this battle for life."

Chavez's announcement that he had cancer shocked the country of 29 million people and upended the OPEC nation's politics, which he has dominated for 12 years.

It raised questions about whether Chavez will be able to run for re-election next year.

Last month, Venezuela's government postponed a regional summit, citing President Hugo Chavez's health.

Ever since the 56-year-old leader was rushed into emergency surgery in Cuba on June 10, news about his health has been a matter of great speculation, and even his close aides have little clue about the seriousness of his disease.
4723  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: July 15, 2011, 04:01:37 PM
Assuming our shutdown ending deal goes through in MN without the new Gov's increases, the resulting combined tax rate will be 66% instead of 69%.  You can keep 34 cents on your next dollar earned with the government's current blessing.  If you spend it that is another 7% so you're down to keeping/spending 27 cents?

The calculation on the federal side 58% come from Steven Hayes of the WSJ and they include the cut expirations coming as well the increases already passed in Obamacare:

There are other taxes as well.  My property taxes alone are already greater than my take-home income.

If you push-polled with taxes already going to 62%, corporate rates highest in the world and unemployment caused by overtaxing and over-regulating, you will not get 67% support for more tax hike support - in Nebraska, IMO.

People who want BIG tax increases are already getting their way.  No need to ask again and no need to vote again.
4724  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: July 15, 2011, 03:43:10 PM
JDN, I have seen those polls go both ways depending on how asked.  Also those national polls don't help Ben Nelson in Nebraska, etc. 

More importantly, do YOU want tax rate increases (on job creators) with the spending cuts.  Are higher taxes than we have now really balanced policy or centrism?
4725  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: July 15, 2011, 03:39:06 PM
On the first redstate post (Erick Erickson) I was going to say they are pretty reliable conservative source though they looked happy to post partial facts and turn on McConnell quickly.

This, though, is unfair:

"Heck, you haven’t even saved the incandescent lightbulb."

James Tarranto, WSJ: "House Republicans failed yesterday in an effort to repeal the Bush-and-Pelosi-era ban on traditional incandescent light bulbs, which begins to take effect at the end of this year. The vote was 233-193  in favor of repeal, but the bill was introduced under a procedure that required a two-thirds supermajority."

They won by 40 votes, party line vote, I'm sure.  They didn't so much fail to repeal but they failed to convince Democrats to join them who failed to hear an uproar from the American people.  They failed to expose rules that continually allow one congress to bind a future congress against their will and against a basic tenet of freedom: consent of the governed.

Failure to save the freedom to choose your own light bulb falls squarely on the Dems and nowhere else.  Who needs friends who falsely imply otherwise.

On the rest of it the guy is entitled to his opinion but he is just as misguided as Obama is to believe you control Washington when you hold one body or one branch.  This was a two election rescue and even if the second goes perfectly, hold the House, win the Presidency and take majority with say a 55-45 margin in the Senate, Republicans still won't have full control.  You still have to be smarter and more persuasive than your opponent.  Beating up on your own doesn't get you there; it should be used wisely and sparingly.  MHO.
4726  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Demagogic Dishonesty on: July 15, 2011, 12:24:37 PM
I hate to pile on, but I can't remember seeing this covered here:
Whoops, Obama lied repeatedly about his mom's health coverage:
It's not a health care issue, it's a character flaw.
4727  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness, Rationality above emotion? on: July 15, 2011, 12:19:02 PM
CCP,  Even the 'temperament' is a myth according to an opinion on the Wash Post site yesterday:
The myth of Obama’s great temperament
By Jennifer Rubin

During the 2008 campaign Obama-spinners and nearly the entire press corps (I repeat myself) bandied about the notion that what the candidate lacked in experience (none when it came to running anything other than the Harvard Law Review) he made up in superior temperament. He was cool, calm, unflappable — a sort of Mr. Spock who put rationality above emotion. Has there ever been a worst case of false advertising?  Throughout his presidency Barack Obama has shown himself to be thin-skinned and cranky...
4728  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 15, 2011, 12:08:49 PM
The compromise, if there is one, needs to be 3 dimensional, debt limit, spending cuts and movement on pro-growth.  Republicans are talking about only the first 2 and Dems want pretend spending cuts combined with a worsening of growth policies.

a) Limiting and raising the debt limit is a lever to exchange for real improvements on the underlying budget problems: spending and growth.

b) Spending is out of control and future cuts don't count.  Cuts need to be immediate with some structural changes in entitlements and in process.  It's not realistic to get the full fix in an emergency session with divided government, but real movement has to be in the right direction - or why compromise?  One report is that Dem cuts offered equal $1 billion immediate - that is less than 1/1000th of the immediate problem and 1/14,000th of the debt problem.  We would go from borrowing 43% of what we spend to borrowing 43% of what we spend and from owing 14.3 trillion to owing 16, 17, 18 trillion in short order.  Why give an inch for that?

c) Pro-growth policies: there has to be some movement toward alleviating the burden of our anti-growth laws or the deficit and debt burden crises will NEVER ease.  Tax rate increases move us in the opposite direction.  If not tax cuts, if not a total re-write of the tax code, if not repeal of bad regulations, then perhaps a moratorium on one thousand of the most counter-productive regulations.  Real movement on energy alone that would increase production and lower the costs would stimulate nearly all businesses and households.  There will never be a balanced budget again in this country without new growth.

The House vote needs to address all 3 areas in a reasonable and realistic fashion to put the pressure back on the senate and president.
4729  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness - BBA on: July 15, 2011, 11:04:28 AM
Constitutional Law Professor Barack Obama ruled out extreme measures in a budget deal like the Balanced Budget Amendment.  Constitutional amendments do not go through the Executive Branch and are none of his business, except to comply if ratified.
4730  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Stratfor: Russia's Great Power Strategy on: July 15, 2011, 10:33:05 AM
Good analysis IMO.  I see that I already wrote my reaction to it from the last Strat on Russia: America artificially drives up the power and influence of Putin and Russia with our own declinist policies of refusing to produce sufficient energy.
4731  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 14, 2011, 05:56:17 PM
"Ask not what our country can do for you, ask what you (immigrant) can do for our country."

 smiley  Isn't that what they ask now - in the tunnels under our southern border where we pass out sample assault rifles.
4732  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: July 14, 2011, 05:53:54 PM
Great question CCP.  Revenues are something like 2.5 trillion.  That is the start of what you have to work with if you don't raise the debt limit.  Spending was supposed to be something like $3.8 trillion. In theory we would go ahead with 'essential services' governing and sending out 'checks' up to the 2.5 trillion limit which is more than a trillion of instant cuts.  If Dems would agree to that they could more easily agree to just half that and still get their debt limit raised.  In reality, Dems like the current governor in MN end all the things first that hurt the most to turn up the heat on his opponents because the issue to him is all political, not economic.

If we are 40% unfunded, then without tax increases or borrowing we in theory would layoff very roughly 40% of federal government workers.  Those people could instantly become successful entrepreneurs... more likely they start looking like the state workers and teachers that were hanging around the state capital in Madison during the recent unrest.  Also they would flood and overload local aid offices if instantly unfunded by the feds.

No, a trillion dollar 'layoff' with no phase in and no simultaneous adoption of pro-growth private sector policies I think is a prescription for chaos and unrest.  I called it earlier all root canal and no pain killer.  Like the frog in the water on the stove top, We need to apply the heat gradually IMHO.
4733  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 14, 2011, 11:45:59 AM
"We should handpick our immigrants with a view to our national interests and the individual attributes that they bring to the table."

JDN, I agree.
4734  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 14, 2011, 11:42:49 AM
My question mark would be that I don't know his policies toward China much less Russia or influencing change in the Middle East.  I believe he snubbed the Chinese leadership a bit on his exit which endears him more to me than to them.

Of course we don't want military rule.  A Petraeus type would have to separate himself from that, and he isn't running.  A better example of foreign policy experience would be a former Sec of State or Sec of Defense, who also had governor level or comparable public executive experience and significant business experience.  No one has all that.  You make a good point that Huntsman has the best mix of that in his background, I'm just saying he wasn't setting or even seriously advising an administration on US foreign policy as far as we know. 

Huntsman faces other challenges in getting elected.  You call him centrist but his mix of views on different issues do not match up well IMO with enough other centrists to make up for his positions on important issues that will offend both the right and the left.  More maverick than moderate.

With 3 and 3/4 years incumbency in Nov 2012, it is Obama who will have the experience.  What we will be arguing is the quality of that experience and what we project forward for them.

Thanks JDN for the answer to my question, I thought so!
4735  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: July 14, 2011, 10:27:37 AM
For 51st state I was thinking Puerto Rico and hoping maybe Alberta.  South California is interesting.  Wouldn't it be great if we could mostly govern closer to home among people who have a more common interest, and have a strong central government limited to functions that require that, at the state as well as the national levels.

Over here in flyover country I can't get anyone to even consider the idea of splitting into a separate county.  The outlying part of our county with the largest city removed (Minneapolis) is just half of one county of a medium sized state, but has a population and economy larger than 6 states.  If split it would still be the state's two largest counties out of 88.  We live further from the central city where the big expenses are than all of the next county over (St. Paul) and parts of 3 other counties.  We cannot split because the failed inner city is financially dependent on the productive outlying areas.  That isn't local government.  That kind of financial support is a role for state government or federal disaster relief, not other localities, or they could fix their own problems.
4736  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 13, 2011, 08:55:15 PM
JDN, I disagree with you on Bolton, I think he really was part of the foreign policy team, only for a short time, and had foreign policy expertise before being ambassador to the UN.  Like you say, it doesn't matter at this moment because he isn't a candidate.  I suspect he might play a role in the next administration and then his views and experience may come back into the light.

Huntsman's experience in foreign policy and his views for the most part are a question mark.  I don't have enough information to say this yet, but it hasn't been refuted anywhere... Huntsman worked for the President, he was picked to be our ambassador to perhaps the most crucial other country in the world, the most populous nation, the world's second largest economy, the country with the largest army, the country that holds the most of our debt, the country that threatens our ally Taiwan, etc... In all that, I don't believe he has ever had a one on one discussion about China policy with the President.  And I doubt he was sent top secret info or strategic memos into an embassy inside a totalitarian regime.  Something he wrote to Obama made me think that: 'I'm sorry we didn't have time to talk about China...' so I looked up everything I could find to follow up on it.  There was a state dinner and certainly they stood and sat close and both smiled and shook a lot of communist hands.  It is more a slam on Obama who has no interest in these matters, but it appears to me that Huntsman was off, for the most part, doing PR on his own in China, and largely was kept out of the foreign policy loop IMO.  (I would be happy to be corrected with facts on that.)

Huntsman speaks Mandarin.  That is good, but I don't value it as highly as JDN does.  Sec. Rice was fluent in Russian, but Putin was Putin during her time of service.  I studied... Nihongo Wakarimasu ka? but never directly used it in my own international business dealings.  Indirectly, yes.  Huntsman lived in Taiwan from 1987 to 1988 (less than one year? where English is more widely known than in PRC).  Not questioning his skills but if his accent/dialect in Chinese is not American, then it is Taiwanese.  In a crisis with the PRC in Beijing, wouldn't that be like having an emergency meeting with General Grant during the Civil war and he discovers you have a Montgomery, Alabama accent.

Huntsman's foreign experience is more on the side of trade, also important, rather than geopolitical and military strategy.  Our strategy with China during his time on trade and everything else was status quo as far as I know.  A little jawboning by other over the fixed exchange rate but no other changes.  Huntsman has a nice background for a starting point to run for President.  My point is that he, like everyone else including Obama 2008,  comes into the campaign and the job having done nothing remotely similar to being Commander in Chief.  He may become a great one, but we don't know that.  Maybe if Petraeus was running, I would give out more credit.
4737  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 13, 2011, 07:48:25 PM
"How long could you survive if 43 cents of every dollar you spent was borrowed?"
"Do I get to print the money with which I pay off the debts incurred?"
There is a guy on the radio (Rush L) who says there is only one Democrat who runs his business the way Democrats run the government (Ponzi scheme).  Maybe we can ask him how long you can survive (Bernie Madoff).  BTW, where are they now (in federal prison until 2139, assuming early release for good behavior).
4738  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Housing: George Will, Reckless Endangerment - Burning down the house on: July 13, 2011, 12:14:55 PM
A recent George Will column writing about a new book recapping the runup to the collapse with a focus on housing, blaming liberal Democratic policies (with willing RINOs).

George F. Will:   Burning down the house

“The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”
— Emerson

The louder they talked about the disadvantaged, the more money they made. And the more the financial system tottered.

Who were they? Most explanations of the financial calamity have been indecipherable to people not fluent in the language of “credit default swaps” and “collateralized debt obligations.” The calamity has lacked human faces. No more.

Put on asbestos mittens and pick up “Reckless Endangerment,” the scalding new book by Gretchen Morgenson, a New York Times columnist, and Joshua Rosner, a housing finance expert. They will introduce you to James A. Johnson, an emblem of the administrative state that liberals admire.

The book’s subtitle could be: “Cry ‘Compassion’ and Let Slip the Dogs of Cupidity.” Or: “How James Johnson and Others (Mostly Democrats) Made the Great Recession.” The book is another cautionary tale about government’s terrifying self-confidence. It is, the authors say, “a story of what happens when Washington decides, in its infinite wisdom, that every living, breathing citizen should own a home.”

The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act pressured banks to relax lending standards to dispense mortgages more broadly across communities. In 1992, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston purported to identify racial discrimination in the application of traditional lending standards to those, Morgenson and Rosner write, “whose incomes, assets, or abilities to pay fell far below the traditional homeowner spectrum.”

In 1994, Bill Clinton proposed increasing homeownership through a “partnership” between government and the private sector, principally orchestrated by Fannie Mae, a “government-sponsored enterprise” (GSE). It became a perfect specimen of what such “partnerships” (e.g., General Motors) usually involve: Profits are private, losses are socialized.

There was a torrent of compassion-speak: “Special care should be taken to ensure that standards are appropriate to the economic culture of urban, lower-
income, and nontraditional consumers.” “Lack of credit history should not be seen as a negative factor.” Government having decided to dictate behavior that markets discouraged, the traditional relationship between borrowers and lenders was revised. Lenders promoted reckless borrowing, knowing they could off­load risk to purchasers of bundled loans, and especially to Fannie Mae. In 1994, subprime lending was $40 billion. In 1995, almost one in five mortgages was subprime. Four years later such lending totaled $160 billion.

As housing prices soared, many giddy owners stopped thinking of homes as retirement wealth and started using them as sources of equity loans — up to $800 billion a year. This fueled incontinent consumption.

Under Johnson, an important Democratic operative, Fannie Mae became, Morgenson and Rosner say, “the largest and most powerful financial institution in the world.” Its power derived from the unstated certainty that the government would be ultimately liable for Fannie’s obligations. This assumption and other perquisites were subsidies to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac worth an estimated $7 billion a year. They retained about a third of this.

Morgenson and Rosner report that in 1998, when Fannie Mae’s lending hit $1 trillion, its top officials began manipulating the company’s results to generate bonuses for themselves. That year Johnson’s $1.9 million bonus brought his compensation to $21 million. In nine years, Johnson received $100 million.

Fannie Mae’s political machine dispensed campaign contributions, gave jobs to friends and relatives of legislators, hired armies of lobbyists (even paying lobbyists not to lobby against it), paid academics who wrote papers validating the homeownership mania, and spread “charitable” contributions to housing advocates across the congressional map.

By 2003, the government was involved in financing almost half — $3.4 trillion — of the home-loan market. Not coincidentally, by the summer of 2005, almost 40 percent of new subprime loans were for amounts larger than the value of the properties.

Morgenson and Rosner find few heroes, but two are Marvin Phaup and June O’Neill. These “digit-heads” and “pencil brains” (a Fannie Mae spokesman’s idea of argument) with the Congressional Budget Office resisted Fannie Mae pressure to kill a report critical of the institution.

“Reckless Endangerment” is a study of contemporary Washington, where showing “compassion” with other people’s money pays off in the currency of political power, and currency. Although Johnson left Fannie Mae years before his handiwork helped produce the 2008 bonfire of wealth, he may be more responsible for the debacle and its still-mounting devastations — of families, endowments, etc. — than any other individual. If so, he may be more culpable for the peacetime destruction of more wealth than any individual in history.

Morgenson and Rosner report. You decide.
4739  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 13, 2011, 12:02:46 PM
"Sounds familiar.  Isn't that the same reason why Clinton and Obama have been criticized?"

Yes! Obama needed political advice to take out bin Laden! How will it poll if we shoot him in the head versus the saga of capturing and holding...

Yet centrists despise ideologues with a backbone, at least on the right.  So we get deals that perpetuate the status quo, stagnation with trillions more debt, spending increases on programs that exacerbate the same problems, and all real reform on all topics tabled for another day - that never comes.  The centrists win again.
4740  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 13, 2011, 11:52:41 AM
I think people know foreign policy is important, they just don't know what to do about any of it.  We have a severe case of war fatigue, but also a sense that there isn't a lot we can do about a lot of these things.  For Libya, like Egypt, people don't know if the new guys are better than the old guys and are totally burned out trying to figure it out.  Is Iraq on course or will it turn backward in a minute? As a hawk I am thinking: very strong force used less often.  We proved we could go across the world and take down these two regimes, maybe three.  But we also proved we don't have much of a stomach for it, and showed that weakness.  Our central foreign policy strength long term will come from righting the economy first, without neglecting our forces, intelligence, capabilities and readiness.  What happened to John Bolton anyway?

Newt has foreign policy proposals:, and economic ones:  We need the best of his ideas no matter who is the nominee.   Baseline budgeting and dynamic scoring are two things that never got done.  The bureaucracy prevailed over the reformers.  Newt is the type who could have designed a trap like the McConnell plan for Obama, now he is first to trash it.  He lived through one of these poitical shutdowns.  What was his win-win solution.  The standoff was not solvable without also allowing Obama and Senate Dems to save face.

Pawlenty is another taking the move to Commander in Chief seriously.  He made many trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, I assume he has good advisers and has issued a serious and hawkish policy plan.  Greeted with a yawn here and elsewhere.  My reaction was perhaps too hawkish, compensating for what he is lacks, but all but Bolton lack that experience, including Huntsman and including Obama.  What is Obama's plan on Syria? Yemen? Golf this weekend? He can answer one of these.  (Romney has weekly foreign policy staff meetings and doesn't attend them.) Pawlenty and Newt are not very far apart on policies and plans. 

People aren't looking for a war President in July 2011; maybe they will be in Nov 2012 or halfway through the first or second term.  If Pawlenty, Romney, Bachmann or whoever loses because he or she appeared too hawkish, too war-eager... or too unready, then the economy and the foreign policy stays with the declinists.
4741  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Progressivism: Spokesmodel for Social Justice - Rep. Keith Ellison on: July 13, 2011, 09:57:33 AM
Short video, minute and a half exposes by Glen Beck's 'the blaze':  Keith Ellison speaking to Campus Progress Conference July 6, 2011.  Good to Keith getting his confidence back to his incite violence in Minneapolis days, 'we don't get no justice, you don't get no peace'.  A luncheon not a riot, this is a little more civil.  Who is their enemy now and the applause line? Michele Bachmann, lol.

"The hour is such, the hour is such - that that group of people who have always been afraid of change.

They didn't want to end slavery.  They wanted states' rights. They didn't want women to vote.  They didn't want people to organize on the job.  These people, they didn't want to see our country get bigger and stronger and increase who was included.

I'm tellin you, these folks, these so-called conservative have only wanted to conserve the status quo.  they have been against change for a long time.  They have ideological forebearers, do you understand what I'm trying to say to you?

These same people that want to shrink government until you can drown it in a bath tub, also want mom to get back in the kitchen, take her shoes off and get pregnant.  Do ya understand, they are offended by a strong powerful woman.  And here's the sad part.  Some of them are women themselves.  Michelle Bachmann would be an example, APPLAUSE. So let's stand up for women's rights..."
4742  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / budget process - I blame the public on: July 13, 2011, 09:26:40 AM
"grumble , , , grumble , , , grumble , , , I suppose that makes sense , , , grumble , , ,"

Yeah, it's frustrating (and this deal isn't done).  We can't force a solution against an unwilling President and Senate now because of fickle and lacking support of the public - with moderates/independents wavering from about 60/40 Dem to maybe 60/40 against the Obama-agenda, but not fully on board with any principles yet to be articulated about how this country should be driven forward out of the ditch.  If people were demanding a trillion in cuts now or a new flat tax code now or a re-write of the entire regulatory scheme including energy now, then it would be at least possible to try to ram it through the other body and the other branch.  There isn't even a full plan on the table.  Paul Ryan was trying to start a conversation, not end it.  No leaders stepped forward to expand it,  run with it or sell it.  Just caution.  (Where is Romney's plan?! He's the front runner. And Bachmann is unrealistic.  Boehner is Boehner, I don't dislike him as much as some do but he isn't the answer or the messenger.) When Dems hear the uproar now they just think tea party meaning only extremists and activists.  They have their own extremists and activists to appease.

Similar disarray at this point in Jimmy Carter's 3rd year, though there were no elected Republicans.  Reagan was one of many candidates with many messages.  No one knew what to think of Kemp-Roth or anything else, just barely starting to admit that the current direction was wrong.  We couldn't solve it without a clear message and a messenger stepping forward.  And we never did tackle spending or big government in those years, just defense and growth.
4743  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california: Dems hold onto the Jane Harman seat on: July 13, 2011, 08:57:05 AM
Isn't this the Crafty seat?

Barack won it by 31 points. Harman won it by 37 points.  Republican Craig Huey tried for an upset.  Lost yesterday by 10 points: 55-45%:

That loss of support matches polling losses in other key groups, young people, Jewish voters, Hispanics etc of about 20 points since Nov 2008.
4744  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / budget process: WSJ supports McConnell idea on: July 12, 2011, 11:13:48 PM
Moving this over from cognitive dissonance of Republicans thread.  The ink is barely dry on our discussion and the WSJ has already taken most of it for tomorrow's lead editorial:
"The entitlement state can't be reformed by one house of Congress in one year against a determined President and Senate held by the other party. It requires more than one election."

Debt-Limit Harakiri
Mitch McConnell isn't selling out Republicans.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday he's concluded that no deal to raise the debt ceiling in return for serious spending restraint is possible with President Obama, and who can blame him? We've never thought the debt ceiling was the best leverage for a showdown over the entitlement state, and now it looks like Mr. Obama is trying to use it as a way to blame the GOP for the lousy economy.

This may have been the President's strategy all along: Take the debt-limit talks behind closed doors, make major spending cuts seem possible in the early days, but then hammer Republicans publicly as the deadline nears for refusing to raise taxes on business and "the rich."

This would explain the President's newly discovered fondness for press conferences, which he has rarely held but now rolls out before negotiating sessions. It would also explain why Mr. Obama's tax demands have escalated as the August 2 deadline nears. Yesterday he played the Grandma Card, telling CBS that seniors may not get their August retirement checks. Next he'll send home the food inspectors and stop paying the troops.

The reality is that Mr. Obama is trying to present Republicans with a Hobson's choice: Either repudiate their campaign pledge by raising taxes, or take the blame for any economic turmoil and government shutdown as the U.S. nears a debt default. In the former case Mr. Obama takes the tax issue off the table and demoralizes the tea party for 2012, and in the latter he makes Republicans share the blame for 9.2% unemployment.

This is the political context in which to understand Mr. McConnell's proposal yesterday to force Mr. Obama to take ownership of any debt-limit increase. If the President still insists on a tax increase, then Republicans will walk away from the talks.

Mr. McConnell would then let the President propose three debt-limit increases adding up to $2.5 trillion over the coming months. Senate Republicans (with Majority Leader Harry Reid's cooperation) would use a convoluted procedure to vote for three resolutions of disapproval on the bills. Mr. Obama could veto the resolutions and 34 Democrats could vote to sustain. The President would get his debt-limit increase, but without Republicans serving as his political wingmen.

The hotter precincts of the blogosphere were calling this a sellout yesterday, though they might want to think before they shout. The debt ceiling is going to be increased one way or another, and the only question has been what if anything Republicans could get in return. If Mr. Obama insists on a tax increase, and Republicans won't vote for one, then what's the alternative to Mr. McConnell's maneuver?

Republicans who say they can use the debt limit to force Democrats to agree to a balanced budget amendment are dreaming. Such an amendment won't get the two-thirds vote to pass the Senate, but it would give every Democrat running for re-election next year a chance to vote for it and claim to be a fiscal conservative.

We agree with those who say that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner can cut other federal spending before he allows a technical default on U.S. debt. No doubt that is what he will do. We'd even support a showdown over technical default if we thought it might yield some major government reforms. But Mr. Obama clearly has no such intention.

Instead he and Mr. Geithner will gradually shut down government services, the more painful the better. The polls that now find that voters oppose a debt-limit increase will turn on a dime when Americans start learning that they won't get Social Security checks. Republicans will then run like they're fleeing the Pamplona bulls, and chaotic retreats are the ugliest kind. By then they might end up having to vote for a debt-limit increase and a tax increase.

The tea party/talk-radio expectations for what Republicans can accomplish over the debt-limit showdown have always been unrealistic. As former Senator Phil Gramm once told us, never take a hostage you're not prepared to shoot. Republicans aren't prepared to stop a debt-limit increase because the political costs are unbearable. Republicans might have played this game better, but the truth is that Mr. Obama has more cards to play.

The entitlement state can't be reformed by one house of Congress in one year against a determined President and Senate held by the other party. It requires more than one election. The Obama Democrats have staged a spending blowout to 24% of GDP and rising, and now they want to find a way to finance it to make it permanent. Those are the real stakes of 2012.

Even if Mr. Obama gets his debt-limit increase without any spending cuts, he will pay a price for the privilege. He'll have reinforced his well-earned reputation as a spender with no modern peer. He'll own the record deficits and fast-rising debt. And he'll own the U.S. credit-rating downgrade to AA if Standard & Poor's so decides.

We'd far prefer a bipartisan deal to cut spending and reform entitlements without a tax increase. But if Mr. Obama won't go along, there's no reason Republicans should help him dodge the political consequences by committing debt-limit harakiri.
4745  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Current temps are at the 3000 year average on: July 12, 2011, 08:49:50 PM
When the lying and data hiding stops, maybe we can move global warming updates over to environmental sciences...

Temps right now are very close to both the 30 year and 3000 year averages if I am reading the charts below correctly.  Temps are up and down year to year more than they are in 30 years.

Dr. Fred Singer, Univ of Virginia, has a 24 page analysis of all the latest information, a  must read if you care about the survival of the planet.

A few key points pulled out by John Hinderacker: (You need to read this at the source: to keep his comments and Singer's separate.  Impressively, Singer called Mann on the Hide the Decline scandal long before the lies and deception were exposed in the climategate emails!  (read it all - Doug)
(Hinderacker)Dr. Singer points out that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the supposed authority on which pretty much all global warming alarmism relies, has changed its approach to the topic in each of its reports:

    (Singer)The IPCC has wavered on methodology. Their First Assessment Report (FAR–1990) simply pointed out that both GH gases and temperatures have increased but paid little attention to the long cooling period (from 1940 to 1975). Their Second Report (SAR–1996) tried to show that observed patterns of warming trends (“fingerprints”) agreed with calculated patterns. Their Third Report (TAR–2001) simply claimed that the 20th century was the warmest in 1000 years (as if this proves anything). The fourth report (AR4– 2007) basically said: We understand all natural forcings – so everything else must be anthropogenic.

(Hinderadker)The alarmists are consistent in only one respect. No matter what the data show, or what analyses are brought into play, the conclusion is always the same: the Earth is warming catastrophically, and the only solution is government takeover of all free economies.

Climate alarmism is based on computer models, but those models don’t correspond to observations in the real world. In the realm of science, when a computer model is contradicted by empirical observation, the model is deemed to have been refuted. Only in the field of global climate do purported scientists refuse to recognize that basic principle. The linked paper explains in summary fashion how the alarmists’ models are contradicted by observation.

Two 20th-century climate trends are undisputed: the Earth warmed from around 1910 to 1940, and cooled from around 1940 to the late 1970s. The climate alarmists base their theory on a warming that they claim took place between 1979 and 1997. Whether that latter warming actually took place is, however, highly debatable:

    (Singer)The 1910 to 1940 warming is seen in the surface thermometer record; there were no balloon or satellite observations to provide independent confirmation. However, the proxy data of tree rings, ice cores, etc, all show this warming so that we can be fairly sure of its reality. Its cause is generally believed to be due to natural factors, although Wigley and Santer have claimed it to be anthropogenic (Science, 1998).

    On the other hand, the reported 1979 to 1997 surface warming [Fig. 10] is not seen by atmospheric observations. [Fig. 11]. If one takes the near-zero atmospheric trends from radiosondes and (independent) satellite instruments [Fig. 5] seriously, then – because of “amplification” — the surface trend should be smaller – and therefore even closer to zero– especially in the tropical zone.

(Hinderacker)The fact that satellite observations do not verify the alleged surface warming from 1979 to 1997 is a huge problem for the alarmists. One might expect them to have a theory to explain the discrepancy, but they don’t. This graph shows satellite observations from 1979 to 2011:

Dr. Singer’s presentation explores possible explanations for the apparent rise in surface temperatures. Suffice it to say, for now, that the surface data are less than reliable and are biased in several respects toward warming. I was shocked when I learned that the data used by the IPCC do not even try to adjust for the urban heat island effect, which is well recognized. That fact, by itself, renders those data essentially worthless.

Beyond that, Singer talks about the frauds revealed by Climategate. The surface temperature data on which climate alarmism is based are heavily politicized. This is where the famous “hockey stick” comes into play, as well as the alarmists’ attempt to “hide the decline” through “tricks.”

    (Singer)One word about the relationship between Climategate and the “Hockey stick” temperature graph of Mann, Bradley, andHughes. When the graph was published [Nature 1998, GRL1999], public attention immediately focused on their claim that the 20th century was the warmest in the last 1000 years [Fig. 20]. It was then shown by McIntyre and McKitrick that some of the data had been fudged and that the statistical methodology used was faulty.

    They also demonstrated that feeding random data into the Michael Mann algorithms would invariably yield a hockey stick curve. (Mann [PNAS 2008] has now quietly changed the hockey stick into a graph that shows both the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age [Fig. 21].) In any case, we know that the MWP, around 1000 to 1200 AD, was warmer than today, based on many independent investigations [Fig. 22].

    But that fact (a warmer MWP) has little relevance to the question of the cause of current warming (if indeed such warming exists). Therefore, when the hockey stick was first published, my attention focused on the fact that Michael Mann’s proxy record seemed to stop in 1979 and that the continuing temperature data came entirely from the Jones analysis of surface thermometers. [I think this is the real explanation of “Mike’s Nature trick,” referred to in the Climategate e-mails that speak of “hiding the decline.”]

    I immediately sent e-mails to Mann and questioned him about this point, asking him why his proxy temperature record suddenly stopped in 1979. I received back a rather brusque reply that no suitable data were available.

    But I already knew that such data are indeed available [Figs23,24] and therefore surmised that his proxy data did not show the increase in temperature demanded by the surface thermometers. So he simply terminated his analysis in 1979 to hide this fact (his “Nature trick”) – in order to be “politically correct” and support the IPCC story of a temperature increase.

    The Climategate e-mails make it clear why Mann terminated the Hockey stick in 1979. There is a huge irony here that should be readily apparent. As I maintain above, there was in fact no increase in surface temperatures after 1979, and therefore Mann’s (never-published) proxy temperatures are correct. He simply did not have the courage to believe in his own results. To emphasize this point, I show some of the several proxy data in the published literature [Fig. 25].

This chart shows global temperatures as reconstructed from ocean sediment data:

(Hinderacker)It has become glaringly obvious to nearly everyone who pays attention that the alarmists’ alleged data are wrong, and their computer models are contradicted by observation. Rather than dealing with these fundamental issues as scientists, the alarmists have shifted into the political arena, smearing their critics and trying to jam major economic changes down our throats before more voters catch on to the fact that global warming alarmism is a fraud–an immensely profitable fraud for those who perpetrate it and for the crony industries that stand to profit by banning the efficient production of energy, but a fraud nevertheless.
4746  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the Republicans on: July 12, 2011, 08:25:58 PM
Can't speak for JDN in ingenious but Bloomberg tries to explain it:
McConnell’s plan would let the president increase the limit in three stages unless Congress disapproves by a two-thirds majority, while Obama would also be required to propose offsetting spending cuts. The spending reductions would be advisory, and the debt-ceiling increase would occur regardless of whether lawmakers enact the cuts, McConnell said.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said the plan would allow Obama to raise the debt limit while putting the onus on him and congressional Democrats to cut spending.

At the same time, Republicans wouldn’t have to agree to tax increases. The proposal would force Democrats to cast multiple votes to raise the debt ceiling before the next election, while giving Republicans the chance to vote against that without risking a default.
(Doug continued) First of all there will be a lot of noise in the room while two sides position themselves for failure. The idea from McConnell is that this is not going to get done otherwise.  R's have to choose now between tax increases- unacceptable, and default - unacceptable, or making imaginary cuts unilaterally that will never happen but be used forever against them. The McConnell idea continues the deficit for Obama's term but puts it all back on Dems to raise debt without R. support.  All politics, no economics. 

So-called default really means that Aug.1 or whenever d-day is, we get a de facto balanced budget exactly as proposed for the constitution without even taking that vote or sending it to the states.  No additional borrowing means immediate zero deficit, with spending limited to revenues running at 18% of GDP exactly as written in the proposed amendment, but without the 5 year phase-in.

Too good to be true. The political and economic problems with that are that we need a balanced budget at full employment not at sputtering levels.  It has to be combined with a pro-growth agenda putting us back on track or else it is all root canal and no pain killer.

Obama can't reform entitlements at all because his party will revolt, and it has to pass in the Senate.  Republicans can't take vague spending cuts later because they don't happen.  Neither side can afford real tax increases because they doom what is left of this economy, and they won't pass in the House.

Kent Conrad, Senate Budget Chair, want to close loopholes AND raise tax rates, worst of both worlds.  Take more resources while worsening the disincentives to produce - and he is retiring in 2012.  Try to negotiate with him!

I think we agreed (some of us) that driving out of this mess was going to be a two election cycle process, 2010-2012.  We need to survive the last Obama year and make certain to win next year, House, Senate and Presidency, or live forever in decline (no intended exaggeration).  Even then R's will lack the 60 votes in the senate and struggle to implement anything.  sad  Extending the debt limit with no change in budgeting is the status quo, but deeper to dig out from.  The McConnell offer puts a requirement on Obama to propose cuts in exchange for new debt. Republicans can accept those cuts and send them back or tweak them and fight further.

Hopefully, Obama sees this as a successful PR move by McConnell covering the R asses against an unnecessary shutdown, and putting it back on him to get meaningful, immediate cuts now.

He's had enough time on the sidelines to think about it.
4747  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 12, 2011, 04:28:20 PM
Obama: "this is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans checks, these are folks on disability and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out."

You don't f-in' suppose that is part of the problem?
4748  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: July 12, 2011, 04:12:27 PM
"...most often used by people who have some mysterious disease that allows them to snowboard 5 days a week."

The Colorado system is full of abuse including no oversight of the 'doctors' and leaving the dispensaries unregulated.  It seems like the recommending doctors could be vulnerable for the mockery of medicine and law.

GM, Those snowboarders may have a crippling disease comparable to terminal cancer called ...  'inflammation'!

For CCP: "The use of medical marijuana in Colorado patients suffering from severe chronic pain has shown in multiple studies to lift moods of depression and reduce or even sometimes completely alleviate pain symptoms without drugs."
 - THC is not a drug?

I prefer decriminalization with minor penalties for small quantities to this  scam that drags in the medical profession.  Real medical uses should of course be permitted, and exemptions from rules for the terminal should extend to whatever their doctor thinks would be helpful.  

But it's hard to know who is terminal these days after the amazing recovery of the Lockerbie bomber.
4749  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / progressivism: Nancy Pelosi - the gift that keeps on giving on: July 12, 2011, 11:51:10 AM
Time magazine: Has Nancy Pelosi Been Marginalized in the Debt Debate?
By Jay Newton-Small Friday, July 8, 2011

...Nancy Pelosi asked: Why couldn’t the debt ceiling be decoupled from deficit reduction?...

Obama politely informed the House Minority Leader, those same sources say, that that train had left the station weeks ago.
4750  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Budget process: Consent of the governed on: July 12, 2011, 11:09:42 AM
We have a shutdown currently at the state level over the exact same issues.  I don't see what is so complicated.  Obama may or may not want tax increases to kill jobs in a bad economy.  Same with our new governor.  Both had every opportunity to travel state to state (or county to county) and make certain that like minded candidates would win House and Senate elections of Nov 2010.

You don't raise taxes (or lower them) without consent of the House, Senate and executive.  1 out of 3, and 2 out of 3 is nothing when 3 out of 3 are required.  Obama should know that; it took all 3 bodies, a temporary 60th votes in the Senate, along with deeming things to be passed that weren't to get Pelosi-you have to pass it to read it-healthcare.

You don't borrow over $14.294 trillion federally under current law without consent of the House, Senate and Executive. Two of three ain't bad is a song not a clause in the constitution.

I suppose you can try to bully your way with the other parties, but why should they support new laws they fundamentally oppose, laws that will guarantee their own political defeat.

The answer to deadlock from our new Dem governor not getting his way should have been live within your means, instead it was total shutdown, the public can be damned.  Shutdown the cash registers at profitable state enterprises, shutdown the tourism department in summer, shutdown the wayside rests - motorists can pee in a bottle, and shutdown the treasured safety net for the disabled.

Obama in the model of Bill Clinton wants the same thing.  Shut it all down, why waste a crisis, blame someone else.  But he is wrong.  His view did not prevail in the last election.  A Republican House does not get to appoint Supreme Court Justices and a Democrat President (alone) does not get to raise taxes, increase debt or spend what does not go through a difficult and contentious congressional budget process.  Grow up and govern.
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