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4851  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 15, 2011, 12:35:50 PM
Cain raises the bar for everyone. 

Why didn't people say Obama was unelectable?

The flaw I have seen is his support for the Fair Tax which I think is a bad idea.  I have just tried defend him against charges that are false.  He is capable and plenty qualified.  Zogby has him running first among those who are in the race:

Huckebee is out and I think out Palin likely out.  Huntsman probably in.  Daniels?  The field is almost set.  There aren't many others hovering in superhero costumes that I can see.
4852  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 15, 2011, 10:41:04 AM
On the 4th try or so, if we can't identify a position that is too extreme I will just assume it is a color that is too black.
4853  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: May 15, 2011, 09:33:09 AM
Mundell:  On the first point, that surprised me too.  Brilliant guy, I will look into what he was saying.  On the second point , no more than 2% growth which is horrible, he was right on the money so far.  Q1 was 1.8%, surprising everyone else.
4854  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Herman Cain on: May 15, 2011, 09:25:47 AM
Chosen head of the law review (school paper) counts (without ever writing).  Chosen head of the Federal Reserve for a 7 state region doesn't.  Losing one election makes you a loser (politically), having your opponent pulled off the ballot with information you learned working for your opponent, and winning unopposed makes you slime, uh a winner.

I'll never get all these rules down.  

McCain was unelectable, BTW, and he won about a dozen US Senate terms.  Bush won the nomination and election twice but couldn't articulate what he stood for.  A guy speaks out passionately from the heart for a decade on what this country needs to get going again and they call it - entertainment.  Maybe they should have him on the black entertainment awards, I didn't see him there.  You say his show ran 10 years.  The Dick van Dyke show only ran for 5.  10 is a pretty good run in entertainment.  Why was he canceled?  (He wasn't) You still missed his career at Coca Cola, btw.  They understand profits in business where elected officials understand taxes and contributions from business.  He doesn't understand pizza, he understands business and he understands America and what needs to be brought back.  Running a major market radio show is a business.  Reagan came from an entertainment background and spoke out on the issues of the nation for decades.  In hindsight at least, the serious presidential historians called it - preparation!

The biggest conservative convention - this year - for their keynote speaker chose Herman Cain.

We've had one debate.  Most thought the winner was - Herman Cain.  Is that still just entertainment, it doesn't matter who wins the debates?

"Don't chase windmills."  Huh

Let's go back to the old way.  You get to choose who you like and say why.  And we get to choose who we like.  I am looking for a leader who says what he means and means what he(or she) says.  Cain for one presents himself as a very serious man.

Did anyone mention a mathematics degree, masters at Purdue in computer science (11 years before MS-DOS 1.0), ballistics in the US Navy, head of the national restaurant association, 4 years at the fed, Coca cola, Pillsbury, Burger King, Godfathers.  From big corporations to entrepreneur.  From the most profitable companies to turning around one that was not, to public service to 10 years in communications, to running for President, to having some poster put you and your admirers down for chasing at windmills.

'Saying the right things' (and doing the right things), that is what I'm looking for.  If you can show me evidence of insincerity, that is another matter.  On the other side (Obama) I can show you plenty.

Unelectable is a term we can use after the election.  Someone is going to set themselves apart from a very crowded field in the new majority party and he or she will be taken seriously, win or lose.

One thing both Pawlenty and Cain are doing right is stepping forward and running.  Others are looking for someone who is not running, not forming the committees, not doing the groundwork, not at the debates, but come sweep them off their feet.  

Funny that no one wrote off Trump because his experience was only private sector, and nothing close to the background described above.  They finally wrote him off for being a nut.  
4855  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 14, 2011, 10:32:39 PM
Herman Cain: Why trivialize his amazing business career or post about it if you have no idea.  Working his way to the top tier up of 2 large, prestigious, American companies.  Arranging a buyout and turnaround of a major division.  Who else do you know that has done that?  Why list his experience and skip over the fact that he was also chair of the Kansas City Fed.  (Did you really not know that?)  So you call him a radio announcer...  Why dwell on losing once?  Who didn't? Maybe he fits more as an executive than as a legislator.  Let's at least have an adult conversation.  He is a serious man and has every right to run, even with very dark colored skin.  Obama and all his administration lacked private sector experience to an extreme.  Cain has it.  Lacks other things.  No one in this contest has a perfect resume, especially the incumbent.

GM: "What was Obama's experience again?"

Even with 4 years in office, what is his experience.  That is answered something like this, I succeeded at ... and ...  For the most part he had led us incompetently in the wrong direction.  Thank God for the incompetent part or he would have led us further - in the wrong direction.
4856  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 14, 2011, 10:15:49 PM
"Take away my deductions, and in essence you have raised taxes"

I think George W Bush put it this way: "You keep more of your own money."

In both cases, people ignore the effects of marginal rates and incentives and disincentives, that is... the amount you would keep of what you make on the next dollar of income, instead talk about divvying up the slices of a fixed pie. 

It isn't a zero-sum, fixed pie economy.  Income, in the aggregate, is not a fixed amount to divide.  If you can't see that in decades of looking at varying policies tied to widely ranging results, I don't know how to make you see it.

To those who deny the role that incentives play in policy and in the economy, I have no way (beyond the hundreds and hundreds of posts) of trying to persuade you.   sad

Reagan's domestic spending, BTW, was his compromise.  You write and link about his spending without acknowledging that all that spending came out of a Dem congress and that he sold 1/3 of his soul to get what he needed on tax rate reductions, economic turnaround and military readiness to compete with and bring down an existence threatening enemy.

JDN, you are roughly my age and lived through those same times.  If you think Reagan wanted to grow the size and power of government over people's lives or are willing to make that false inference, I once again do not know how to make you see it differently.
4857  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 14, 2011, 12:53:24 PM
I am humbled and heartened by JDN's move to the right, from Huntsman to Pawlenty.  In that spirit, I will match and raise you one by moving myself further to the right, from Tim Pawlenty to Herman Cain.   wink
No offense meant to BBG's post, but to those who always say there are no good choices, I say: jump in.
Pawlenty has been the beneficiary of mostly great press for a second tier candidate.  Real Clear Politics found an obscure liberal site (Washington Post) today that compares him with Dukakis  competing with me to be the master of botched analogies.

Yes, similarities and Dukakis did win his endorsement.  Small differences.  Dukakis was running to end the Reagan era of economic growth on a Mondale-lite anti-growth platform.  Pawlenty is running to end the stagnation of Carter-Mondale-Obama with a pro-growth agenda.  Just stay on message.

Pawlenty needs to avoid jumping in the Dukakis tank, whatever the equivalent is for him.  He is not Reagan, so don't try to be Reagan, or anyone or anything else.  My favorite line, posted elsewhere and adapted here: In a world where you can be anything  ... even President of the United States  ...  Be yourself.
4858  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 14, 2011, 12:35:59 PM
Back to Jdn's reply to me recently, repeating and clarifying: HW Bush did not compromise.  He was duped.  The Tefra Reagan example witht eh wikipedia description of it is not an example of raising tax rates similar to what Dems want now.  After and including Tefra, rates under Reagan dropped from 70% to 28% and revenues exploded.  To discuss this intelligently, we will need to obsessively distinguish between the following:

a) tax rates applied to income earned

b) tax revenues - actual, and

c) the BS static analysis calculations made by idiots in high places who use super computers to assess policy impact but put in the false assumption that incentives and disincentives have no affect on economic behavior.
4859  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 14, 2011, 12:24:28 PM
"I don't understand how the end of QE2 can not mean the beginning of strong increases in interest rates."

Agree- if that meant an impending tightening of money.  I believe he is saying/predicting that quantitative expansion, no matter what it is called, or if it is hidden or denied, will continue.

Paul Volcker in 81-82 tightened money before the productive incentives of Reagan-Kemp-Roth kicked in and the economy tanked.  Bernanke has shown no inclination of heading down that path.  In fact he said the opposite.  The dual mandate to him means that unemployment is of equal importance to the value of the dollar.
4860  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: May 14, 2011, 11:12:09 AM
Yes, the horrific earthquake/tsunami experience in Japan gives us an amazing opportunity to check, learn, update and improve the safety of nuclear power.  Real information is just starting to come in.  Let's keep this debate / discussion alive beyond the crisis.  We still need electricity, one way or another.
4861  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: May 14, 2011, 11:08:00 AM
The observation Stiglitz made was that "We are all Keynesians now" at the financial crisis point of roughly Sept 2008.

That meant Bush the outgoing President, McCain and Obama which means the incoming President no matter who wins, the entire Pelosi-Reid congress that was destined for one reelection and all the columnists and Ivy league economists that he knows.

My point was that before that and after that they were all proven wrong, no matter who they cocktail with.

Making money available during a financial contraction (Monetary policy) is different than running multiple trillions of dollars of deficits for multiple years (Keynesian fiscal policy) with no measurable positive affect.  It is hitting the wrong problem with the wrong solution.

FYI for JDN, Stiglitz colleague at Columbia Robert Mundell has a Nobel prize in Economics as well and holds a very different policy view, unless he has done an about face since designing the Reagan-Volcker two pronged solution to the two-pronged problems of stagflation last time we went down this road.

Mundell Sees U.S. Growing 2% at Most in 2011 After Confidence `Devastated'
Dec 27, 2010 3:51 PM CT

Robert Mundell, Nobel Prize winning economist and Columbia University professor.

Dec. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Mundell of Columbia University and Bloomberg Businessweek's Peter Coy talk about the outlook for the U.S. economy. They speak with Carol Massar on Bloomberg Television's "Street Smart." (Source: Bloomberg)

The U.S. economy will probably grow no more than 2 percent in 2011, less than what’s needed to lower unemployment, Nobel-prize winning economist Robert Mundell said.

“I don’t see economic growth as being any better than 2 percent,” the Columbia University economics professor said in an interview today on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smarts” with Carol Massar. “You had this financial shock to the economy which devastated confidence, and there is nothing around the corner that looks like it’s going to be a strong push for the economy.”

The economy grew at an average 2.9 percent annual rate in the five quarters since the worst recession in seven decades ended in June 2009. That pace of recovery has lowered unemployment from a peak of 10.1 percent in October 2009 to 9.8 percent last month.

Mundell, 78, said the Fed’s unconventional monetary policy actions, known as quantitative easing, had the undesired effect of strengthening the dollar.

“The Fed policy was working three or four times before, but then it was cut off because the dollar soared and that’s what really broke the back of the economy,” he said. The Fed has been “negligent” in not taking into account the influence a rising dollar would have on the economy, he said.
4862  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - The lost years of Obamanomics on: May 14, 2011, 10:50:04 AM
Reading between the lines, Malpass is saying (IMO) that QE1 and QE2 will be followed by QE-unspecified.  We aren't changing Fed Chairmen and we aren't changing directions: "We expect the U.S. to continue very loose monetary and fiscal policy – meaning a near-zero Fed funds rate and over $3.7 trillion per year in federal spending."  The Fed still thinks its half-mission is to manage/cure unemployment.

Our economy has a fine 8 cylinder engine with maybe 4 or 5 cylinders firing and partly bald tires.  It is making noises and bellowing out smoke (unemployment, deficits, govt. dependency, etc.)  Malpass is saying it should keep on sputtering up to the next exit, not purr down the freeway coast to coast on cruise control.  We are not even ahead of breakeven 'growth' or in any condition to withstand an unforeseen storm.

This economy IMO with all this idle capacity is capable of probably 8+% sustained growth right now if the full range of pro-private-sector-growth policies were implemented.  (I think Malpass would agree with that.)  The recession technically ended June 2009, two years ago, and nothing resembling a recovery (growth significantly above about 3.1% breakeven growth) has begun to occur.  This stagnation presents an amazing opportunity for the next President and the next election cycle if people can get their thinking straight and survive the next 1 1/2 years.

My prediction past QE2 in June is neutral.  I have no idea what a car running on half its cylinders and refusing a tune up will do next.

My brother knows cars better than me.  If I tell him that I felt the sputtering, heard the noises and saw the smoke but kept driving, hoping it would get better on its own, he gives me the stupid look and asks: Really?? When did that work for you?
4863  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: May 13, 2011, 12:56:07 PM
I wasted the time experiencing both clips.  This is the issue we face?  The Beck clip at the link was a RADIO show, the image shown is not from the radio show!  The vomiting attempt at humor was the sidekick.  The stated reason was his middle east trip, just getting off the plane, changing diet, he was queezy earlier before viewing the commercial etc.  The Burqa comment was to PREVENT SKIN CANCER. 

The central criticism was he called her "fat" and that was never said!  WHY DO THEY LIE?

The biggest insult articulated was:  imagine John McCain naked, with long blond hair.  Take that any way you want, it's her father - and he's NOT FAT!

Seems to me that in a world of free speech, in a world where a woman wonders what people will think if they expose themselves, people who see it and may have a thought when they do see you expose yourself.  Then someone says compliments with sarcasm.  Should we pass a law?

The point of the commercial was skin cancer, put some clothes on.  They were agreeing with her, put some clothes on, ha ha.

It was a radio bit, a bunch of sarcasm. They called her luscious, too luscious.  Not flattering if you detect sarcasm.   Seductive, they wondered if they should even show it.  (It was a radio bit!)  Not funny, not helpful and not newsworthy, but maybe it explains to me why the McCains don't like him.

There is a rule that you don't attack the kid of a candidate.  She isn't a kid and he isn't a candidate.  She is trying to ride her 10 minutes of fame into being a pundit on her own and activist of sort.  She puts her opinions out there, attacks others.  In this case, she puts her not x-rated nakedness out there, draws attention and comment, helps a charity cause and also definitely self-promoting, and she gets unwanted feedback.  Big deal.

I have read and heard endless vile comments the other direction, aimed at Beck and many other hosts.  Staying with the off limit topic of women's looks, comments that Ann Coulter has an adams apple, used to be a man, are all over liberal media. And Condoleezza Rice disgustingly caricatured instead of respected as America's Secretary of State. 

Selective outrage is what this is.  Show me where JDN or Meghan McCain or Cindy McCain wrote, tweated, spoke out or objected when any of the rest of it happened.  Sen. McCain's "friend" and colleague Al Franken wrote a best selling book about Rush Limbaugh calling him "Fat" in the title, and he is a RADIO host - didn't do any naked commercials.  That would have been a good opportunity to nip this in the bud.  Show me where these two-faced, lying phonies tried to do that then.  Did they attack Sen. Franken for his vile work or welcome him to the US Senate?  It was the latter.

Glenn Beck is not running for senate, he is accountable to his audience, and the radio show is generally far less serious than what I hear he does on television.  I'd rather see him stay on-topic.  Radio shows move too slowly already because of endless commercial interruptions.
4864  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Reagan raised taxes? on: May 13, 2011, 12:46:25 PM
Reagan raised taxes by 100% in the 1980s.  Those were REVENUES not rates.

I know that liberal punditry is full of accusations that he raised taxes many times - many more times than he cut them, but they were all examples of closing loopholes to get and keep marginal rates lower.  (Please show me an example of where that was not true!)

After all the "raising", tax rates went from 70% to 28%.  What a bunch of BS.  JDN, as our valued centrist, we want you to sniff out when either side is lying, not just be our devil's advocate.   wink

In George H.W. Bush famous break of his promise that cost him his job, he was talked into only $1 of tax hike for every $2 of spending cuts.  Pretty good compromise with a DEMOCRATIC congress, don't ya think?  Guess what?  The tax hikes kicked in like clockwork, virtually irreversible, and the spending cuts never happened.  Who knew?!? Sort of like what Obama and company want to do now.

Let's say Republicans cave today on their promises and principles and go along with a similar, so-called compromise. How much lower will spending be, in dollars, in total, in future years, after tax rates go up on the wealthy, on employers and on investments?

I think we all know the answer.  Tax hikes, if approved, will happen.  Spending cuts won't.
4865  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: May 12, 2011, 01:34:09 PM
Interesting legal opinion/decisions on the school searches.  In our case it is deterrence, not reasonable suspicion, because I have a series of these emails without any significant find or arrest.

"...such detection is not a search because the dogs merely sniff the air around the property and that students do not have an expectation of privacy in the air around their belongings."  - Is that like having some super listening device outside of homes and saying no expectation of privacy in your home?  I would stay with the idea that these are kids in schools and we get to make the rules.

In my case, I approve of the program in the sense that I have pre-consented  when I bought the parking pass. I have the option of sending my kid elsewhere and the option of not sending my car to school.  I want the school to be drug free.

I am mostly puzzled by the 'off-campus' search.  As the legal decisions say, they do that because they can. 
4866  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: May 12, 2011, 12:56:09 PM
"The point I don't agree with is the idea that a stronger dollar would hurt the US"

My point came out wrong.  I only meant that along with the good effects, there will also be negatives.  Neither a strong or weak dollar solves the other problems - a bloated public sector anchor and the regulations that prevent hiring or production from coming back.  If we fix those other things that are wrong, the dollar find its own level of strength.

QE needs to end.  Money can only increase at the same pace as production, and maybe we need to send that to them in a constitutional amendment. 

The inflation we already put in motion will be extremely harmful.
4867  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues: Drug search on: May 12, 2011, 12:20:47 PM
A school notice received in the email follows.  Context: only the timing is unknown; all parents and students already know this is going to happen.  Includes cars on public streets.  Comments or objections?

"Hello Parents of ## High School students,

This is [principal] with an announcement.

Today we conducted a drug search of our parking lots and student traffic/gathering areas outside of school. Three dogs were used and they alerted us to five points of interest, four of which were in our student parking lot. Upon further search no drugs were found in any of the on campus autos. As always if a student vehicle drew attention during the dog search parents were contacted and the vehicle was searched.

The dogs alerted us to one vehicle parked off campus in a parking area typically frequented by students. A further search of that vehicle turned up paraphernalia, but no drugs. Again parents were contacted.

Our searches are conducted several times during the year and focus on different areas inside and outside of the building."
4868  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: May 12, 2011, 11:08:03 AM
The 'what will happen at the end of quantitative easing' story is interesting.  Of course in economics they always mean 'if all other things remained constant'.

A 'weak' dollar (now) and a 'strong' dollar later (again) are just 2 misnomers for 2 different sets of problems.  I agree we probably have high interest rates coming and a 'stronger' dollar, if monetary dilution ever stops.  That will hurt manufacturing, exporting and jobs, houses and tax revenues from people in those sectors even further.

My way of thinking of this is that all these problems are inextricably linked. The fiscal budget debt mess is linked to the monetary irresponsibility.  Both are linked to the anti-production regulatory environment, linked to the anti-incentive productive investment environment and that is all linked to the political uncertainty of heading into another fork in the road having no idea which way this country or the global economy will turn.

In other words, this is all easier to fix than most people think.  
4869  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: May 12, 2011, 10:12:55 AM
JDN, You are white but speak midwest/west coast English fluently (though some of it makes no sense  smiley).  If you were just as white and spoke Tajik or Russian in your first month in the country and understood nothing the officer said trying to engage you in conversation or obtain information, then the comparison might be more apt.  That is not race nor something you can profile before pulling someone over for a traffic stop.

Close friends can say only part of an old joke or story to share another laugh.  McCain, to conservatives, is such a joke and he is the one who started that fight on many fronts on many occasions.  Beck calls McCain "not a real conservative" and I suppose uses his name as a lesson of how not to move conservatism forward. The wife strikes back with vitriol that she accuses.  If free speech is so great, may I say - goods riddance to her too, off the national stage, unlike Beck who has not left (18 hours a week on radio if not TV) and will most certainly return.

Why do we say Cindy McCain is a Republican, a self designation?  Arizona-Republican used to be a term used before RINO to mean something of the opposite to a core-values conservative.  (Example: Sandra Day O'Connor!)  CM I think is more of a Beltway Republican where the core value is to be invited and liked at all the best DC cocktail events.  I am not aware of any conservative cause she ever advanced.  GB is just the opposite, day after day.

Ratings "trend"? or ratings?  Beck has huge ratings by cable standards and Fox did not fire him or distance themselves from him to my knowledge.  (Is he still on?)  After that show is gone Fox has said they plan to use him again in other ways.  People took offense or did they just take an opportunity to attack him personally and try to silence him? Looked to me like the latter.  

JDN may not be anti-Semitic, a wife beater, or other false slur, but how would you like being named, having the allegations broadcast and then have others without any evidence or example chime in publicly, repeat it, spread it and call it accurate!

The AZ legal issue arises out of the Fed's shirking their responsibility.  If the Feds have the right to take that responsibility back from a border state then they should do so.
4870  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: May 10, 2011, 01:18:33 PM
How is waterboarding illegal, without doing physical harm or inflicting permanent injury, but bullets through the eyeballs without resistance is legal and heroic?  Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday nailed guest Tom Donilon, national security adviser, with this contradiction.  (Looking forward to BD returning to these questions of law in war.)

Wallace To Donilon: If Shooting Bin Laden Is OK, 'Why Can't You Do Waterboarding?'

Wallace: We'll stipulate -- I think we'll all stipulate -- that bin Laden was a monster, but why is shooting an unarmed man in the face legal and proper while enhanced interrogation, including waterboarding of a detainee under very strict controls and limits -- why is that over the line?

Donilon: Well, let me talk first about the first half of the statement that you made. Again, the president met with the operators yesterday at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and here are the facts. We are at war with al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden is the emir or commander, indeed the only leader of al-Qaeda in its 22 year history. This was his residence and operational compound. Our forces entered that compound and were fired upon in the pitch black. It's an organization that uses IEDs and suicide vests and booby traps and all manner of other kinds of destructive capabilities.

Wallace: Mr. Donilon, let me just make my point. I’m not asking you why it was OK to shoot Osama bin Laden. I fully understand the threat. And I’m not second-guessing the SEALs. What I am second guessing is, if that’s OK, why can’t you do waterboarding? Why can’t you do enhanced interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was just as bad an operator as Osama bin Laden?

Donilon: Because, well, our judgment is that it’s not consistent with our values, not consistent and not necessary in terms of getting the kind of intelligence that we need.

Wallace: But shooting bin Laden in the head is consistent with our values?

Donilon: We are at war with Osama bin Laden.

Wallace: We’re at war with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Donilon: It was a military operation, right? It was absolutely appropriate for the SEALs to take the action -- for the forces to take the action that they took in this military operation against a military target.

Wallace: But why is it inappropriate to get information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

Donilon: I didn’t say it was inappropriate to get information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Wallace: You said it was against our values.

Donilon: I think that the techniques are something that there’s been a policy debate about, and our administration has made our views known on that.
4871  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward... The Powerline Prize $100,000 on: May 10, 2011, 12:59:44 PM
There were videos posted that reached out to younger people with music and video that supported liberal causes and some envy and questioning from the conservative side asking how can we reach out with the best of today' communications and technology capabilities.

Rather than answer that, Powerline blog has posed it as a contest.  Mentioned as an example is the highly informative Keynes-Hayek video posted on Economics, but the subject here is federal spending and debt which is also hard to put to song or entertainment but is costing young people every hour of every day for the rest of their lives.  Stay tuned for the many great entries that are expected.

 Announcing the Power Line Prize

May 8, 2011  John Hinderacker

Our nation faces an unprecedented financial crisis. Every knowledgeable citizen understands that the fiscal path we are on is unsustainable. Indefinite continuation of the status quo is not an option. There are only two possibilities: reform and collapse.

The massive federal debt that is now being incurred represents an existential threat to America's future. In a best-case scenario, it will saddle our children with financial obligations that will cripple their ability to prosper over the remainder of this century.

What to do? Federal spending must be gotten under control, obviously. The problem is ultimately a political one. Approximately one-third of Americans understand the threat posed by the federal debt crisis, and are prepared to act to meet it. Another one-third may or may not understand the threat, but either have skin in the game--i.e., their personal financial interests in government spending outweigh concern about the national welfare--or are so blinded by ideology that they are hopeless cases.

That leaves the critical one-third, many of them young, who for whatever reason do not yet understand the threat that federal spending and debt pose to them and to the country. Data have been collected; charts and graphs have been prepared; op-eds have been written. But many millions of Americans have not yet been reached or persuaded by these sober economic analyses. We need a marketing campaign: a sustained effort to use the tools of modern communication to reach and educate every American, and to mobilize popular opinion to demand reform from the politicians in Washington.

Toward that end, we are proud to announce the Power Line Prize. Power Line, in conjunction with the Freedom Club, is offering a grand prize of $100,000.00 to whoever can most effectively and creatively dramatize the seriousness of the federal debt crisis. Any medium of communication is eligible: video, song, screenplay, television commercial, painting, Power Point, essay, performance art, or anything else. The runner-up will receive a $15,000.00 prize, and two third-place finishers will receive $5,000.00 each. Entries must be submitted by midnight on July 15, 2011. Judges' decisions are final. All submissions become the property of Power Line and the Freedom Club. Entries must be original and unique to the Power Line Prize competition; i.e., they must not have been published or made public in any form prior to the time when contest winners are announced.

The contest web site is here. You can find much more information about the contest there, including complete contest rules. You can also get there by clicking on this graphic:

We will have much more to say about the Power Line Prize over the weeks to come. In the meantime, if you are a creative sort, this is your chance to make a difference on the most critical issue of our time. (Spread the word!)
4872  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 10, 2011, 12:44:36 PM
It is better to be in than to wonder forever if he should have been in.  He is the best thinker and visionary in some ways and will elevate the debate.  I don't predict he will go far.  There are some negative points already discussed I don't think he can overcome, but we will see.
No commentary here from the candidate debate last week.  I didn't see it, did anyone?  Many say Herman Cain won it.  Rush L. said that Tim Pawlenty looked presidential and spoke highly of all of them.  With Obama below 50%, there is no one holding back on criticism.  They need to all quit participating in the show of hands questioning.  Raising your hand without opportunity to explain your view is not Presidential.  Juan Williams for balance asked some idiotic questions, do you believe in creationism, for example.  Do we have a religious litmus test in this country?  Does the President set policy in that area?  What we should be arguing is what can we all agree on, not just find the differences.
4873  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 10, 2011, 12:25:01 PM
"The world's most important terrorist safe haven is visibly not Afghanistan, but instead next-door Pakistan."

 - True, but if nation building in Afghan is beyond our capability, nation building in Pakistan would be exponentially harder.  At least we are taking some war to enemies inside Pakistan with the drone warfare and OBL kill.  Our presence in Afghanistan puts some containment on Pakistan.

There are plenty of inconsistencies in our policies in the region and plenty of people here from all political stripes are losing interest in continuing our major presence.  A lesson from Iraq, we should not go from a presence of 100,000 plus to not even keeping the right to a couple of permanent bases for future operations.  The OBL kill came partly form our ability to stage, support and fly in from next door rather than from Virginia or Carolina.  We kept a presence in the Japan and in Germany and peace broke out.  Winding down a surge I would think should be coupled with maintaining our ability to go back in and put out future fires.

The consequence for harboring bin Laden under our nose while taking our money to fight terrorism should be another reason to strengthen our strategic partnership with India, we need an ally in the region, and to shift any future Pak aid to 100% non-cash support.  If we say the money is for building a hospital for example, then we build a hospital, not hand out throw-around money.  If we say it is for an anti-terrorism force, then our people join with that force and bring intelligence and weaponry.

Ya's posts beg the elephant in the room question, what is the consequence to China for helping Pakistan build nuclear arms.  (Nothing so far, I know Hillary just said China poses no threat while the home of our biggest threat just went nuclear with their help.) The answer I think is an information war, like radio free Europe.  Fight off the regime's efforts at censorship and weaken their hold over their own people, as it was the ruling party not the people who proliferated nuclear weapons to our enemy.
4874  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 10, 2011, 11:21:15 AM
Those numbers are very interesting but too bad they are year 2000, more than a decade old, telling us everything except recent and current trends.  I am guessing that the 2010 did not differentiate illegals, counting them same as citizens for representation, and therefore we will never have an update with similar accuracy or undercount.

Note how quickly the numbers drop from the problem areas in 2000.  By 2010 I would guess that many of those migrated further in to other states for jobs (or welfare and public services) while many many new ones were entering Calif, TX, AZ, etc.
4875  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Worst RECOVERY since the Great Depression on: May 06, 2011, 09:06:20 AM
Peter Ferrara / Forbes makes a familiar point about the current, failed policy mix, with great summary, analysis, comparison and extensive facts and figures.  Obama like to compare himself with Reagan.  I think that will backfire.

Reaganomics Vs. Obamanomics: Facts And Figures
May. 5 2011

In February 2009 I wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal entitled “Reaganomics v Obamanomics,” which argued that the emerging outlines of President Obama’s economic policies were following in close detail exactly the opposite of President Reagan’s economic policies.  As a result, I predicted that Obamanomics would have the opposite results of Reaganomics.  That prediction seems to be on track.

When President Reagan entered office in 1981, he faced actually much worse economic problems than President Obama faced in 2009.  Three worsening recessions starting in 1969 were about to culminate in the worst of all in 1981-1982, with unemployment soaring into double digits at a peak of 10.8%.  At the same time America suffered roaring double-digit inflation, with the CPI registering at 11.3% in 1979 and 13.5% in 1980 (25% in two years).  The Washington establishment at the time argued that this inflation was now endemic to the American economy, and could not be stopped, at least not without a calamitous economic collapse.

All of the above was accompanied by double -igit interest rates, with the prime rate peaking at 21.5% in 1980.  The poverty rate started increasing in 1978, eventually climbing by an astounding 33%, from 11.4% to 15.2%.  A fall in real median family income that began in 1978 snowballed to a decline of almost 10% by 1982.  In addition, from 1968 to 1982, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 70% of its real value, reflecting an overall collapse of stocks.

President Reagan campaigned on an explicitly articulated, four-point economic program to reverse this slow motion collapse of the American economy:

1.  Cut tax rates to restore incentives for economic growth, which was implemented first with a reduction in the top income tax rate of 70% down to 50%, and then a 25% across-the-board reduction in income tax rates for everyone.  The 1986 tax reform then reduced tax rates further, leaving just two rates, 28% and 15%.

2.  Spending reductions, including a $31 billion cut in spending in 1981, close to 5% of the federal budget then, or the equivalent of about $175 billion in spending cuts for the year today.  In constant dollars, nondefense discretionary spending declined by 14.4% from 1981 to 1982, and by 16.8% from 1981 to 1983.  Moreover, in constant dollars, this nondefense discretionary spending never returned to its 1981 level for the rest of Reagan’s two terms!  Even with the Reagan defense buildup, which won the Cold War without firing a shot, total federal spending declined from a high of 23.5% of GDP in 1983 to 21.3% in 1988 and 21.2% in 1989.  That’s a real reduction in the size of government relative to the economy of 10%.

3.  Anti-inflation monetary policy restraining money supply growth compared to demand, to maintain a stronger, more stable dollar value.

4.  Deregulation, which saved consumers an estimated $100 billion per year in lower prices.  Reagan’s first executive order, in fact, eliminated price controls on oil and natural gas.  Production soared, and aided by a strong dollar the price of oil declined by more than 50%.

These economic policies amounted to the most successful economic experiment in world history.  The Reagan recovery started in official records in November 1982, and lasted 92 months without a recession until July 1990, when the tax increases of the 1990 budget deal killed it.  This set a new record for the longest peacetime expansion ever, the previous high in peacetime being 58 months.

During this seven-year recovery, the economy grew by almost one-third, the equivalent of adding the entire economy of West Germany, the third-largest in the world at the time, to the U.S. economy.  In 1984 alone real economic growth boomed by 6.8%, the highest in 50 years.  Nearly 20 million new jobs were created during the recovery, increasing U.S. civilian employment by almost 20%.  Unemployment fell to 5.3% by 1989.

The shocking rise in inflation during the Nixon and Carter years was reversed.  Astoundingly, inflation from 1980 was reduced by more than half by 1982, to 6.2%.  It was cut in half again for 1983, to 3.2%, never to be heard from again until recently.  The contractionary, tight-money policies needed to kill this inflation inexorably created the steep recession of 1981 to 1982, which is why Reagan did not suffer politically catastrophic blame for that recession.

Real per-capita disposable income increased by 18% from 1982 to 1989, meaning the American standard of living increased by almost 20% in just seven years.  The poverty rate declined every year from 1984 to 1989, dropping by one-sixth from its peak.  The stock market more than tripled in value from 1980 to 1990, a larger increase than in any previous decade.

In The End of Prosperity, supply side guru Art Laffer and Wall Street Journal chief financial writer Steve Moore point out that this Reagan recovery grew into a 25-year boom, with just slight interruptions by shallow, short recessions in 1990 and 2001.  They wrote:

    We call this period, 1982-2007, the twenty-five year boom–the greatest period of wealth creation in the history of the planet.  In 1980, the net worth–assets minus liabilities–of all U.S. households and business … was $25 trillion in today’s dollars.  By 2007, … net worth was just shy of $57 trillion.  Adjusting for inflation, more wealth was created in America in the twenty-five year boom than in the previous two hundred years.

What is so striking about Obamanomics is how it so doggedly pursues the opposite of every one of these planks of Reaganomics.  Instead of reducing tax rates, President Obama is committed to raising the top tax rates of virtually every major federal tax.  As already enacted into current law, in 2013 the top two income tax rates will rise by nearly 20%, counting as well Obama’s proposed deduction phase-outs.

The capital gains tax rate will soar by nearly 60%, counting the new Obamacare taxes going into effect that year.  The total tax rate on corporate dividends would increase by nearly three times.  The Medicare payroll tax would increase by 62% for the nation’s job creators and investors.  The death tax rate would go back up to 55%.  In his 2012 budget and his recent national budget speech, President Obama proposes still more tax increases.

Instead of coming into office with spending cuts, President Obama’s first act was a nearly $1 trillion stimulus bill.  In his first two years in office he has already increased federal spending by 28%, and his 2012 budget proposes to increase federal spending by another 57% by 2021.

His monetary policy is just the opposite as well.  Instead of restraining the money supply to match money demand for a stable dollar, slaying an historic inflation, we have QE1 and QE2 and a steadily collapsing dollar, arguably creating a historic reflation.

And instead of deregulation we have across-the-board re-regulation, from health care to finance to energy, and elsewhere.  While Reagan used to say that his energy policy was to “unleash the private sector,” Obama’s energy policy can be described as precisely to leash the private sector in service to Obama’s central planning “green energy” dictates.

As a result, while the Reagan recovery averaged 7.1% economic growth over the first seven quarters, the Obama recovery has produced less than half that at 2.8%, with the last quarter at a dismal 1.8%.  After seven quarters of the Reagan recovery, unemployment had fallen 3.3 percentage points from its peak to 7.5%, with only 18% unemployed long-term for 27 weeks or more.  After seven quarters of the Obama recovery, unemployment has fallen only 1.3 percentage points from its peak, with a postwar record 45% long-term unemployed.

Previously the average recession since World War II lasted 10 months, with the longest at 16 months.  Yet today, 40 months after the last recession started, unemployment is still 8.8%, with America suffering the longest period of unemployment that high since the Great Depression.  Based on the historic precedents America should be enjoying the second year of a roaring economic recovery by now, especially since, historically, the worse the downturn, the stronger the recovery.  Yet while in the Reagan recovery the economy soared past the previous GDP peak after six months, in the Obama recovery that didn’t happen for three years.  Last year the Census Bureau reported that the total number of Americans in poverty was the highest in the 51 years that Census has been recording the data.

Moreover, the Reagan recovery was achieved while taming a historic inflation, for a period that continued for more than 25 years.  By contrast, the less-than-half-hearted Obama recovery seems to be recreating inflation, with the latest Producer Price Index data showing double-digit inflation again, and the latest CPI growing already half as much.

These are the reasons why economist John Lott has rightly said, “For the last couple of years, President Obama keeps claiming that the recession was the worst economy since the Great Depression.  But this is not correct.  This is the worst “recovery” since the Great Depression.”

However, the Reagan Recovery took off once the tax rate cuts were fully phased in.  Similarly, the full results of Obamanomics won’t be in until his historic, comprehensive tax rate increases of 2013 become effective.  While the Reagan Recovery kicked off a historic 25-year economic boom, will the opposite policies of Obamanomics, once fully phased in, kick off 25 years of economic stagnation, unless reversed?
4876  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: May 06, 2011, 08:57:00 AM
CCP,  Everybody has an agenda I suppose.  At the time Bush said what he said, we had put OBL into hiding and largely cut off his finances, communications and ability to operate.  I doubt if his view is any different about that today.  I notice that he didn't want to go to ground zero and celebrate.

At the time Pelosi made her first statement, she was following up on the John Kerry story that we let him get away, incompetent administration was her point, even if they find him now they are still a complete failure, etc. talking America's efforts down while troops are in harm's way for political advantage.  In her current statement the message is the opposite, it is all about the greatness of President Obama, his team, a mention to other nations but not to his predecessors who made this possible. 

The truth I think is that the demise of bin Laden is symbolic of American strength but not strategic.  His own ability to operate had already been mostly cut off, and as you point out, the threat we face is still out there.  The flip side of the symbolism is that our inability to get him was a symbol of American weakness/impotence and that perception in terms of our military was proven to be wrong.

Obama has one advantage in foreign policy over any Republican: his administration has people who put country before politics in the opposition party.
4877  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The cognitive dissonance of the left: then and now on: May 05, 2011, 11:44:47 AM
Here’s Nancy Pelosi from a press conference on September 7, 2006:

    [E]ven if [Osama bin Laden] is caught tomorrow, it is five years too late. He has done more damage the longer he has been out there. But, in fact, the damage that he has done . . . is done. And even to capture him now I don’t think makes us any safer.

And here’s Nancy Pelosi yesterday:

    The death of Osama bin Laden marks the most significant development in our fight against al-Qaida. . . . I salute President Obama, his national security team, Director Panetta, our men and women in the intelligence community and military, and other nations who supported this effort for their leadership in achieving this major accomplishment. . . . [T]he death of Osama bin Laden is historic. . . .

This devastating then-and-now comparison comes to us courtesy of John Hinderaker of Power Line.
 - Peter Wehner, Commentary Magazine
4878  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: May 05, 2011, 10:33:35 AM
When this thread got heated up, this was the post I most agreed with: Crafty wrote, "I am enjoying being a fly on the wall for this one".

Imagine the 'legal' reaction to the case of bin Laden if it was Bush instead of Obama.  As I wrote earlier, isn't 'breaking and entering already a crime, and kidnapping!  The kill is just an additional charge if the whole operation is 'illegal'.  Where were the legalists when the 50 million dead or alive was issued?  What happened to the American opponents of the death penalty during the celebration?

My question earlier about disproportional response still stands, but this was this opposite.  One guilty man shot for 3000 innocent killed.

The point about right to answer the charges is ludicrous.  He had 10 years and did nothing but take credit and issue more killing orders.  Had he denied, surrendered and asked for a civilian trial with all rights extended as a condition of his surrender - that is another way this could have come down, and probably avoided 10 years of war in Afghanistan, among other things.

The question to me (in war law) comes down more to jurisdiction rather than law.  Water boarding is a terrible thing to apply indiscriminately, but it wasn't.  It is NOT torture in the extreme sense of term and the word in terms of war crimes is being used in the extreme sense.  There are arguments on both sides of that so the question is who decides.

The European seculars point out the 5th Commandment, but on the forum we decided that means Thou shalt not murder, not thou shalt not kill.  One obvious distinction is self defense, and there are arguably other differences between killing and murder such as justifiable, self defense war and a legal and justifiable criminal death penalty.

Self defense of a nation, Israel and US for examples here, requires deterrence and consequence.  This was an attempt at both.  It is not revenge, it is just tying all attacks against the United States to a consequence for the purpose of preventing / deterring future attacks.

Reading someone his rights, speedy trial, hiding across a foreign border, right to confront your accusers - these don't apply in war. 

My knowledge of the Geneva convention, like most Americans, comes mostly from hearing Col. Hogan win arguments with Col. Klink, as if the regime of Hitler was striving in all ways to comply with international law. 

What exactly have we agreed to as it applies to this band of terrorism and who is the judge?

If we have signed treaties or agreed to laws that prevent us from defending our nation, that prevent former President from traveling to Europe because he acted to defend and secure our country, we need to go back and start rescinding treaties.  Article 2 of the UN Charter is mentioned in the Europe piece.  Seriously, if there is a contradiction there with defending the United States of America against all attackers, we need to get out of that organization and start over.

If laws govern war, let's get the laws updated to match the threats we face.
4879  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bin Laden dead on: May 04, 2011, 02:57:34 PM
Andrew posted:

Andrew, That was very funny!
4880  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bin Laden dead on: May 04, 2011, 12:14:37 PM
Picture from outside the compound and a very strange story in The Economist ( about the lack of curiosity about who resided within.  I was wondering what a million dollar shack looks like in Pakistan.  "Local residents say that police regularly swept the area, roughly once a week, checking residents' IDs and sometimes looking inside homes." (but not this house)

A video from the inside.  You would think the guy had time to clean his room.

Bib Laden's daughter claims he was captured alive and shot dead:

Will they be able to claim he is still alive AND prosecute the special forces for wrongful death??
4881  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 04, 2011, 11:55:48 AM
George W Bush had a 7 week bounce after the capture of Saddam Hussein.  This will be smaller and shorter.  Obama deserves permanent credit for what he did right.  Hopefully he won't waste that by overplaying his hand.

JDN: "...overall, it can only be good for him."

My teenage daughter (non-political) watched the Sunday night speech separately and commented to me the next day that he was very 'I' and 'me' oriented.  I took Obama's side for the moment and explained that he needed to make clear to Pakistan that the mission was authorized by the President of the United States.  When it turns out that he was not 'the director' nor the one who 'assembled the team' and later touts this as one of his big foreign policy achievements when in fact all the pieces of the puzzle were put in place by his predecessor (, yes it could backfire politically, just as the mission accomplished banner certainly did.
4882  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: May 04, 2011, 11:35:58 AM
Besides shooting an unarmed man, we were already guilty of breaking and entering.

Does this tie the current administration into a conspiracy after the fact of the original hate crime of waterboarding?

Were proportional numbers of Chistians, Jews and atheists among the 3 people waterboarded, or was this a deliberate targeting of Muslims?
I don't know the laws of war, but is the concept of a disproportionate response, used to deter continued and future attacks, is that illegal as well?
When you codify the limits of war, you are also publishing a handbook for the enemy to know your limits. 

I don't know of a concept in contract law that can bind one party to the contract and not the other.
4883  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 04, 2011, 11:21:41 AM
CCP, It seems to me the celebrations of this, like 'mission accomplished' for a returning ship and crew, should be held in private.  A victory parade at ground zero sounds highly inappropriate to me.  Bringing OBL to justice / room temperature doesn't reverse any of the destruction he caused.  Risking our best people and equipment to kill him was a job we did not ask or wish for. 

We should act like winning battles and wars is what we do when attacked, not gloat, taunt for more or act surprised.  If extracting ourselves from the Middle East is what we seek, the President's next trip should be to ANWR.

What is to celebrate for closure when KSM is still held, fed and being presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Later I expect it to be a point of historic trivia that it was Obama not Bush who presided over the actual OBL kill operation.
4884  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Afghanistan-Pak: Treasure Trove of Intelligernce seized at the OBL compound on: May 04, 2011, 10:53:21 AM
GM wrote: "If we are to act on the intel seized at OBL's safehouse, we need to act quickly. We should go after anyone and everyone implicated. Will we with this president? Probably not.  What will probably happen is we'll let the momentum die, leaving the potential for the Pakistan collapse and the birth of a nuclear jihadistan."
Chicago Tribune editorial makes a similar point below.  It doesn't seems to me we would brag publicly about the intel seized if we were really racing to act on it.  More likely IMO older info that will help to piece together how previous acts of terror were accomplished.  If this were the communication center for current and future ops I think we would have found him sooner.

The real terror coup
Bin Laden raid may yield treasure trove of intel

6:53 p.m. CDT, May 3, 2011

Clustering at their predetermined departure site, the two dozen American commandos juggled one heavy piece of carry-on baggage, a souvenir from their lightning visit to Pakistan. It was the lanky cadaver of a much-wanted global terrorist. But the two helicopters — the healthy Sikorsky Black Hawk and the backup Boeing Chinook — that choppered the raiders to Afghanistan also carried a delicious trove of electronic booty that may prove more valuable.

Tantalizing reports suggest that Osama bin Laden, one more baby boomer who liked digital toys, unwittingly bequeathed to his killers oodles of secret information.

CNN reports that Navy SEAL Team Six escaped with 10 hard drives, five computers and more than 100 storage devices such as DVDs, disks and thumb drives. Politico, meanwhile, quotes U.S. officials as saying the data devices hold "the mother lode of intelligence." One unnamed source says, "They (the commandos) cleaned it out. Can you imagine what's on Osama bin Laden's hard drive?" Another delightful-to-read boast from an intel source: "Hundreds of people are going through (the data devices) now," reportedly in Afghanistan and at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.

Think about the implications. We don't know whether bin Laden was a hoarder — one of those clutter-hugging people who can't part with old sandals. But he apparently has spent six years inside what's now the world's most notorious hideout. If Saddam Hussein had to kill time in that dark little spider hole, bin Laden has had the run of a house packed with computer gear.

What are the odds that bin Laden's impromptu estate included lots of intriguing info about his associates, their locations and their plans? We'd like to think those odds are excellent. So it wasn't surprising to read a Time magazine interview Tuesday in which CIA Director Leon Panetta acknowledges capturing an "impressive amount" of fresh intelligence.
Check out our crossword, sudoku and Jumble puzzles >>

Imagine you're one of bin Laden's most-wanted associates. Some of those folks are capable of executing deadly retaliations. All of them, though, have to be scared. They recall better than most of us that, when U.S. and Pakistani operatives rolled up al-Qaida mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed in 2003, his computer hard drive reportedly included a wealth of carelessly stored data — including a list of bin Laden's safe houses. And that was one computer.

How satisfying it would be to find in bin Laden's files some clue to the whereabouts of his top aide, Egyptian physician Ayman al-Zawahri, or another of the senior al-Qaida terrorists who remain on the loose.

The faster that happens, the better. The death of bin Laden has done more than behead al-Qaida. More important, perhaps, the early repose of his soul is a crushing embarrassment for a group whose brand of Shariah-driven religious fanaticism has been falling from whatever favor it held in the Arab world. The motivation for bin Laden's survivors to strike is strong. Surely they are mulling whatever assets they possess or dream they can procure — maybe a stray Russian nuke, a less sophisticated dirty bomb, or the viral makings of a smallpox epidemic.

This long-lasting threat of retribution from al-Qaida makes us all the more appreciative of the commandos who lit up bin Laden's lair on Sunday morning. Panetta says the U.S. also considered flattening the compound with a high-altitude run by B-2 bombers, or launching a "direct shot" with cruise missiles. Those options, he says, were ruled out because they would cause too much collateral damage.

Obliterating the compound also would have denied U.S. warriors whatever intel they now glean from bin Laden's gear. Here's hoping that gear — and not that carry-on corpse — proves to be the raiders' real terror coup.
4885  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 03, 2011, 11:42:06 PM
I would just like to join with the appreciation of ya's posts.  The OBL kill operation indicates that ya has had it right all along regarding Pakistan - not being a trusted partner, likely harboring and enabling, walking a fine line with terror, keeping the U.S money flowing, but not doing all they can do.  Especially vivid was the 'game preserve' post, quite a way of looking at it, and that's what this operation was.  Maybe we went in without express permission, but we have already prepaid for our shooting season - and they accepted our money.

Except for specific actionable intell that came out of this, I doubt we will be going back into Pakistan anytime soon, not for invasion and not for nation building.  Maybe we can just grow our business and security relationship with India that much stronger.

I'm very surprised that Obama kept up and increased the drone attacks in the border region and that it went on as long as it did with very little uproar here or there.  People seemed to know those were terror camps and weren't very surprised by the attacks.
4886  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - 16 hours to decide on: May 03, 2011, 11:12:33 PM
Sleep on it? That's one hell of a sleep for a Commander in Chief.  It tells me that whoever he wanted to run this past, a crucial foreign policy question, was not in the room of most trusted foreign policy advisers.  When he left, he didn't know.  When he returned, he knew his answer. No follow up questions, no  He also knew that OBL had eluded capture/kill many times before.

Another question is VP Biden.  He didn't know, did he?  He is Mr. foreign policy to the President, but someone in the inner circle, maybe the President, knew not to trust his foot in mouth habit while this progressed since last August.  Just conjecture on my part, but I am curious.

Here is Biden's first statement  about the event, 2 days later.  No mention of being part of the planning or the team.  Unlike the President.  For Obama, it was all about him: "I assembled the team." "I directed the operation".
4887  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics - Stiglitz Dec 2008, We are all Keynsians now? on: May 03, 2011, 02:04:40 PM
Where do you start and where do you end with Keynesian thinking?  Let's see, savings is bad, deficits are good.  Unearned money falling to people is good, increasing the incentives to not produce is inconsequential.  Temporary is permanent and permanent is temporary.  And Obama is another market fundamentalist, lol, I fell off my chair on that one.  Assuming Prof. Stiglitz stands by his '08 analysis, we now have at least 3 Nobel winners favoring interventionism over markets with this guy, Krugman and Obama.  Sounds to me like written from the George Orwell Chair of economics over at Columbia.  I noticed that he didn't get his co-worker Robert Mundell, a Nobel winner with a different view, to sign on with this piece.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4888  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential, lessons from HW Bush on: May 03, 2011, 01:13:04 PM
The discussion yesterday about how the failed Bush 1 reelection parallels to today was excellent. He got a well deserved war bump in popularity and then later lost for other reasons. The Perot factor was big, the recession was exaggerated but real as was his inability to acknowledge it.  And the broken 'no new taxes' pledge was used ruthlessly against him.

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

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

Lesson learned, caving on principle, being a Dem-lite / RINO in this case in order to win favor with moderates and liberals and the press and the people, gained him nothing.  All those same people turned on him instantly once the deal was inked.  Just like they did after George W Bush teamed with Ted Kennedy on a federal education expansion, a new drug entitlement, campaign finance reform and a failed amnesty initiative.  They was no political gain for compromising or selling out on principles.
4889  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, Have we learned NOTHING? on: May 03, 2011, 09:59:45 AM
When I read that last night (Stiglitz) I did not notice the date, Dec. 2008, and kept wondering when and where I have heard the before - "We are all Keynesians now".  I knew it was right before some major policy blunders were about to occur.

I will be happy to return to this later to answer this demand side only thinking point by point, but we didn't just "shun" Keynsianism for three decades, it proved itself WRONG 3 decades ago, and again.
4890  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bin Laden dead? on: May 01, 2011, 10:35:26 PM
Room temperature.  The Commander in Chief cut his golf game to just 9 holes today for the first time in his Presidency, a very big story.  Looking forward to learning the details.

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

April 25, 2011

'Nuke hellstorm if Laden caught or killed'

Al Qaeda terrorists have threatened to unleash a "nuclear hellstorm" on the West if their leader and world's most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden is nabbed.  ...
4891  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Foreign Policy: Leading from Behind - (Obama) The Consequentialist on: May 01, 2011, 01:17:08 PM
Moving right along... This was an interview I found interesting of Hugh Hewitt with the author of th New Yorker's current piece on the Obama administration's foreign poliy, called "The Consequentialist':

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

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

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

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

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

HH: Right.

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

HH: But you know, Ryan, if that was…

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

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

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

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

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

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

RL: Yes.

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

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

HH: It was.

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

HH: Right.

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

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

RL: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

RL: Yeah.

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

RL: Yeah.

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

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

HH: But Ryan…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HH: Yeah.

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

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

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

HH: Write what you hear.

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

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

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

HH: Ryan Lizza, great piece, thanks for joining me on it. The Consequentialist is in the latest issue of the New York, how the Arab spring remade Obama’s foreign policy. And you’ve got to read it a couple of times. I think you’ll, I know every Republican presidential candidate is going over it and reading it with a fine-toothed comb, as I suspect the House Foreign Affairs Committee will be, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
4892  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: May 01, 2011, 12:48:34 PM
"So, if we officially abandoned Israel tomorrow, what happens then...?"

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

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

I look forward to hearing a different, plausible scenario, I but I say that idea doesn't work, isn't an option, and wouldn't make us safer.  The issue is not whether to support Israel, only how best to do that.
4893  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 30, 2011, 05:37:18 PM
"My only regret is that we were unable to find time for a China discussion before next week’s departure for Beijing."  - Huntsman to Obama


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

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

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

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

Or as current chief of staff Daley puts it with a smile: "the closeness in which he worked with the president is most appreciated."
4894  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 30, 2011, 04:53:55 PM
Thank you JDN, nice post.  We come at this from slightly different directions.  Where you would like more centrism, I look for a principled conservative that is competent and draws centrists toward conservatism.  (Although no one has drawn more people toward conservatism than Obama.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would love to see a moderate Dem or competent centrist of any kind contest the Dem side. Everyone wants to capture the middle.  If a true centrist won the Dem and ran against someone too far to the right (whatever that means  smiley)... that would be a nice win-win situation.
4895  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: It is the Policy Mix, Stupid on: April 30, 2011, 04:07:20 PM
There isn't one thing that turns this mess around.  It is the whole gamut.  A weaker dollar that people wanted for the China imbalance, or a corporate tax rate lowered to 25% when no one is making a profit or paying the tax does nothing to change the fact that manufacturers have to pay four times what should for natural gas required in manufacturing or fuel required to deliver product and services or the investors face excess uncertainty and employers face growing burdens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The contrast in results between the current recovery and the Reagan years is instructive because the policy mix was so different. In the 1980s, the policy goals were to cut tax rates, reduce regulatory costs and uncertainty, let the private economy allocate capital free of political direction, and focus monetary policy on price stability rather than on reducing unemployment. This is the policy mix we need to rediscover if we are going to escape our current malaise and stop suffering from the Keynesian discount.
4896  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Huntsman and Obama on: April 30, 2011, 03:44:52 PM
The Huntsman letters are interesting.  I give him the 'remarkable leader' part if you are his appointee, Obama did run a remarkable campaign and that letter was early in the Presidency. A 'great honor getting to know you' as well, it is a level of respect anyone should have for a new President - before you get to know him.

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

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

Developments in my prediction that Obama will not be nominee of his own party... two polls have him at 40% approval  (; Gallup and Zogby have him at 41%.  (That means 30s by the end of the summer IMO.)  Quinnipiac has him 10 points upside down in Pennsylvania, a state he won by 11 points!  Try to chart a path to victory for him that involves losing Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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

Today Dems seem lost and just hoping for a weak opponent. They keep hoping he will get his magic back, but the Greek columns were fake.  Dems have lost the independents who thought he didn't mean what he said and they lost the energy of the base who thought he did mean what he said.  They lost the 2010 elections.  They are losing the budget fight. (  They are losing crucial states and have no idea which direction to turn. 

Right now Obama has all party insiders and donors locked up and on board with nowhere else to turn - just like Hillary did 4 years ago.
4897  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: April 30, 2011, 02:00:29 PM
Remember that it was also at a San Francisco fundraiser where Obama was surprised to hear his own quote hit the news: "...they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment..."

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

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

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

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

Sometimes the small slip-ups (ask Clinton about spilling on the pretty dress) hurt a President more politically than choosing the wrong war or tax rate.  The small things that you think no one will see are the ones that can tell us who you really are.  In this case, a manipulative, deceitful phony.
4898  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: April 30, 2011, 01:25:33 PM
Isn't that what everyone wanted, the stronger yuan?  Adjusting the currency without fixing our problems leaves us with ... the same problems along with new ones.  Imports, cost of living and inflation worsens while nothing significant is gained on the export side because our currency exchange rate wasn't the problem.

Just more sign of failed policies, mis-managing what was recently the greatest economy on the planet.
4899  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: April 30, 2011, 01:18:27 PM
"The man had every right to leave the money to whomever he wants;"

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

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

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

Like Crafty said, the appeal decision will be interesting.

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

His right to learn all about Islam and practice and honor his religion is matched by my right to learn none of it if I am the judge or opposing attorney.
4900  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF, pet or companion on: April 29, 2011, 12:44:46 PM
Sorry JDN, but I believe that piece was serious.  I see people treat their pet the way the wish they could treat their spouse, endless commands, scolding, even obedience school!  It is a companion not a pet and as a living thing, it is your equal. (That is what I think they are saying.)  National pet (whoops companion) health insurance is next.  (We already have pet protections that far exceed those for a certain class of human life.)
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