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4901  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Glibster sticks it to the UK - and Argentina - over the Falklands on: April 18, 2012, 01:24:22 PM
Barack Obama addressed the Summit of the Americas in Colombia and spoke about the conflict between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the Falklands. Obama seemed to tilt toward Argentina by calling the islands the “Malvinas” rather than the Falklands, which Argentina insists is their proper name.

Only Obama didn’t say Malvinas, he said Maldives–an entirely different group of islands located thousands of miles from the Falklands in the Indian Ocean:

So with one word, Obama both offended the British and made himself a laughingstock with the Latin Americans.

 - John Hinderacker, Powerline
4902  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Economist: Over-regulated America on: April 18, 2012, 12:53:25 PM
In the category of famous people reading the forum I offer you The Economist cover story Feb 18 2012 that I spotted yesterday:

http://www.economist.com/node/21547789

Over-regulated America

The home of laissez-faire is being suffocated by excessive and badly written regulation

AMERICANS love to laugh at ridiculous regulations. A Florida law requires vending-machine labels to urge the public to file a report if the label is not there. The Federal Railroad Administration insists that all trains must be painted with an “F” at the front, so you can tell which end is which. Bureaucratic busybodies in Bethesda, Maryland, have shut down children’s lemonade stands because the enterprising young moppets did not have trading licences. The list goes hilariously on.

But red tape in America is no laughing matter. The problem is not the rules that are self-evidently absurd. It is the ones that sound reasonable on their own but impose a huge burden collectively. America is meant to be the home of laissez-faire. Unlike Europeans, whose lives have long been circumscribed by meddling governments and diktats from Brussels, Americans are supposed to be free to choose, for better or for worse. Yet for some time America has been straying from this ideal.

Consider the Dodd-Frank law of 2010. Its aim was noble: to prevent another financial crisis. Its strategy was sensible, too: improve transparency, stop banks from taking excessive risks, prevent abusive financial practices and end “too big to fail” by authorising regulators to seize any big, tottering financial firm and wind it down. This newspaper supported these goals at the time, and we still do. But Dodd-Frank is far too complex, and becoming more so. At 848 pages, it is 23 times longer than Glass-Steagall, the reform that followed the Wall Street crash of 1929. Worse, every other page demands that regulators fill in further detail. Some of these clarifications are hundreds of pages long. Just one bit, the “Volcker rule”, which aims to curb risky proprietary trading by banks, includes 383 questions that break down into 1,420 subquestions.

Hardly anyone has actually read Dodd-Frank, besides the Chinese government and our correspondent in New York (see article). Those who have struggle to make sense of it, not least because so much detail has yet to be filled in: of the 400 rules it mandates, only 93 have been finalised. So financial firms in America must prepare to comply with a law that is partly unintelligible and partly unknowable.

Flaming water-skis

Dodd-Frank is part of a wider trend. Governments of both parties keep adding stacks of rules, few of which are ever rescinded. Republicans write rules to thwart terrorists, which make flying in America an ordeal and prompt legions of brainy migrants to move to Canada instead. Democrats write rules to expand the welfare state. Barack Obama’s health-care reform of 2010 had many virtues, especially its attempt to make health insurance universal. But it does little to reduce the system’s staggering and increasing complexity. Every hour spent treating a patient in America creates at least 30 minutes of paperwork, and often a whole hour. Next year the number of federally mandated categories of illness and injury for which hospitals may claim reimbursement will rise from 18,000 to 140,000. There are nine codes relating to injuries caused by parrots, and three relating to burns from flaming water-skis.

Two forces make American laws too complex. One is hubris. Many lawmakers seem to believe that they can lay down rules to govern every eventuality. Examples range from the merely annoying (eg, a proposed code for nurseries in Colorado that specifies how many crayons each box must contain) to the delusional (eg, the conceit of Dodd-Frank that you can anticipate and ban every nasty trick financiers will dream up in the future). Far from preventing abuses, complexity creates loopholes that the shrewd can abuse with impunity.

The other force that makes American laws complex is lobbying. The government’s drive to micromanage so many activities creates a huge incentive for interest groups to push for special favours. When a bill is hundreds of pages long, it is not hard for congressmen to slip in clauses that benefit their chums and campaign donors. The health-care bill included tons of favours for the pushy. Congress’s last, failed attempt to regulate greenhouse gases was even worse.

Complexity costs money. Sarbanes-Oxley, a law aimed at preventing Enron-style frauds, has made it so difficult to list shares on an American stockmarket that firms increasingly look elsewhere or stay private. America’s share of initial public offerings fell from 67% in 2002 (when Sarbox passed) to 16% last year, despite some benign tweaks to the law. A study for the Small Business Administration, a government body, found that regulations in general add $10,585 in costs per employee. It’s a wonder the jobless rate isn’t even higher than it is.

A plea for simplicity

Democrats pay lip service to the need to slim the rulebook—Mr Obama’s regulations tsar is supposed to ensure that new rules are cost-effective. But the administration has a bias towards overstating benefits and underestimating costs (see article). Republicans bluster that they will repeal Obamacare and Dodd-Frank and abolish whole government agencies, but give only a sketchy idea of what should replace them.

America needs a smarter approach to regulation. First, all important rules should be subjected to cost-benefit analysis by an independent watchdog. The results should be made public before the rule is enacted. All big regulations should also come with sunset clauses, so that they expire after, say, ten years unless Congress explicitly re-authorises them.

More important, rules need to be much simpler. When regulators try to write an all-purpose instruction manual, the truly important dos and don’ts are lost in an ocean of verbiage. Far better to lay down broad goals and prescribe only what is strictly necessary to achieve them. Legislators should pass simple rules, and leave regulators to enforce them.

Would this hand too much power to unelected bureaucrats? Not if they are made more accountable. Unreasonable judgments should be subject to swift appeal. Regulators who make bad decisions should be easily sackable. None of this will resolve the inevitable difficulties of regulating a complex modern society. But it would mitigate a real danger: that regulation may crush the life out of America’s economy.
4903  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion on: April 18, 2012, 12:26:47 PM
"Doug, you are missing the logic"

No JDN you are twisting a technicality ("not full personhood" under "Jewish Law") into a genocidally wrong conclusion.  That you can say what is alive and human is not human life does not contain logic, it contains self deception assuming you even believe what you post.  You refuse to acknowledge what was already posted by people you defer to and you misquoted what you linked.  Trivializing 163 million dead does not put you in logical or moral equivalence with Rachel who I linked and quoted in effect called abortion evil (why would it be evil if you are not killing human life) and it is in direct contradiction to your own citation - why would it "frustrate the propagation of more people" (that is a tortured way of saying kill) if it does not end a human life.  Your feigned logic is more akin to the writings and teachings of different time that would argue the justification of killing negro slaves, Jews or infidels where others have denied recognition for what is obviously human life.  Jewish Law does NOT argue that there is nothing of value in the womb and no loss in killing it as you do.  That is simply untrue.  

We do not live in a theocracy (and you and I are not Jewish) so why would Jewish Law be controlling if you could get it right?  The waste of time theme continues.

If you insist on refuting what Rachel posted, you might answer the question begging nine times in her post on the subject:  The "mother" in the abortions is the mother of a WHAT??  If not a human life, is there a raccoon in there? A reptile? A rodent?  What is it?  It has has distinct DNA, fingerprints, and a beating heart and you say it is "property" -  like a book? In a moral and a civilized society?  With 21st century scientific evidence with ultrasound photography available?  Even after we know it could live and grow outside the womb?  A slave was property too, in the eye of those who justified that, not a human life.  Killing a Jew was moral(?) in Nazi society because ..... why? No life of value was lost?  FYI, they were wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Go ahead and continue to "not discuss" this.  So far, I agree with you that you haven't.
4904  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - Dick Morris - indications of a Republican landslide on: April 18, 2012, 11:17:25 AM
Dick Morris posts some indicators that this is not going to be the electoral tie of 2000 that the currently vacillating polls might indicate.

"Six of eight presidents seeking reelection (since 1964) performed worse than the final Gallup poll predicted, while one finished the same (Reagan in 1984) and one gained votes (Bush in 2004). "

..."of the total of 
19 points that shifted between the final poll and the election results, 17 points or 89 percent went to the challenger.

The implications of these findings are that the current polls, while seemingly close, portend a strong Republican victory. The RealClearPolitics.com average of the past eight presidential horse race polls shows Obama with a 47-44 lead over Romney. But among likely voters, in the Rasmussen survey (all others were of either registered voters or adults), the president was running behind Romney by 48-44.

But given the historical fact that the final results are almost always worse for the president and almost never better, we really need to focus on the Obama vote share rather than his lead or lack of one against Romney. If Obama is, indeed, getting 44 percent of the vote, he is likely facing, at least, an 11-point loss. If he is getting 47 percent of the vote, he is looking, at least, at a 6-point defeat. (Given the fact that six of the eight incumbent presidents not only lost the undecided, but finished lower than the pre-election survey predicted, it would be more likely that Obama’s margin of defeat would be greater than even these numbers suggest.)

There are other indications of a Republican landslide in the offing. Party identification has moved a net of eight points toward the GOP since the last election. In Senate races, there are currently eight Democratic-held seats where Republicans are now leading either the Democratic incumbent or the Democratic candidate for the open seat."  http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2012/04/18/undecided_lean_to_insurgent_113883.html
4905  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion - Jewish Law says thou shalt not kill on: April 18, 2012, 09:54:54 AM
"I did not nor do I intend to discuss abortion."

Good! But what thread do you think you are in??  Drifting from "human being" to "full personhood", do we argue over humans interpreting God's law or go to the source? 

From JDN's link: "Jewish law suggests that abortion is wrong..." - but in the author's opinion, for different reasons, lol.

I don't know how this became about Jewish Law, but I quote and link what I know below.  This is more about liberals denying science and denegrading human life.  And it's about a logic string implied below that because they are going to do it anyway, let's make it legal. It's alive and human, not full personhood, but it is a human life.  What are you to link to make that obvious reality go away?

The point in an abortion thread of discussing whether or not it is a human life is to discover what we think about KILLING it.  Right?  Go to your source and a) it is evil and b) it is against Jewish law.

Rachel said she wasn't going to discuss it further and so for the third time I suggest you could go back and read the ENTIRETY of what she wrote on the subject if she is your guide on this matter.  

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to connect the facts established in science that a developing fetus is alive and human with the following "Jewish Law":

You shall not murder or You shall not kill, KJV Thou shalt not kill (LXX οὐ φονεύσεις, translating Hebrew לֹא תִּרְצָח lo tirṣaḥ), is a moral imperative included as one of the Ten Commandments in the Torah,[1]

References:
Exodus 20:13
Deuteronomy 5:17.

As GM points out, the life of the mother fits the distinction between kill and murder.  Killing in self defense has never been considered a violation of the commandment.  For the record, Rachel confirmed exactly what GM wrote here: http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1678.msg21065#msg21065 "As a general rule, abortion in Judaism is permitted only if there is a direct threat to the life of the mother..."

In that post alone there are NINE references to the "mother".  May I please ask again, the mother of WHAT?? ?? ??  (Obviously she is mother to a new, innocent, developing human life and it is evil and forbidden in religious law to kill it except to save your own life.)

98% of abortions are for convenience reasons.  I fail to see how a commandment-following Jewish woman takes the innocent life of her own unborn baby for reasons other than saving her own life. 

"Thou shalt not..." does not give a lot of wiggle room for justifications like that I need the money to continue my health club membership or prefer not finish my degree by extension.  God's answer to that is Thou Shalt Not.

Rachel wanted out of this conversation so I did not want to selectively bring her words forward, but if you reference her posts but refuse to go back and read them I will post this:  

"I just see legal abortion as a much less evil than illegal abortion"

I may disagree with that but is that not still saying abortion is evil?

A women's rights issue? Hardly:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303657404576361691165631366.html
The War Against Girls
Since the late 1970s, 163 million female babies have been aborted by parents seeking sons

What rights did those dead girls acquire?
4906  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion on: April 17, 2012, 07:55:46 PM
"If I recollect the position of Rachel..."

Unless the posts were removed you do not have to recollect.  That was not all she said before withdrawing from the conversation.
4907  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion on: April 17, 2012, 09:28:52 AM
"Apparently hiding in plain site in the Roe v. Wade decision is language addressing the matter of defining the beginning of life.  In the passage he quotes, it seems to read rather clearly that the Congress could pass a law defining the beginning of life and were it to do so SCOTUS would defer to it."

VERY interesting.  If one were to look back through the discussions here, Congress could take positions laid out by Rachel and from the science of beating hearts, fingerprints etc and define as human life the point where a fetus is more like born baby than like a sperm cell or an embryo.  That still would allow women control over morning after type treatments of what is inside her own body.  If you let it develop into a distinct recognizable human, civilized society is going to protect it.

Unlike other ways of addressing this, you would lose the distinction of keeping track of whether the origin came from rape or incest.

Obviously Roe v. Wade can be addressed also by amendment.  What is lacking as with other contentious issues is the supermajority that would require.  That is why I have tried to address it in this thread to challenge people to think of this in terms of right and wrong more so than in law.  You need to change the thinking toward life before you can prohibit or criminalize what others find analogous to wart or cyst removal.  As Pres. Reagan said (paraphrasing), a fetus is a) alive, b) of the human species, and c) of distinct genetic composition from anyone else including the father and the mother. 

Even pro-abortion activists and justices refer accidentally to the woman carrying the fetus as the mother.  The mother of what?
4908  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Men & Women on: April 17, 2012, 09:09:35 AM
"I think the intention of those who take the position is usually to disparage women who choose to put as much time and effort as they can into raising their children.  Time is finite, and if you are, for example, working as an attorney, your children are going to get A LOT LESS of your time and effort."

One point to that would be that it is a private, family decision, outrageous to be disparaged publicly for it implying she is unworthy of having an opinion to express on civic matters. 

The attack on stay at home moms I believe is borne out of the guilt the others often feel for subcontracting and outsourcing the experience of raising of your children.

Among my own experiences with the soccer moms and girl scout moms I found that the stay at home ones tended to be equally educated and informed and usually more so than the career moms.  In Ann Romney's case she has a Harvard degree at least by extension.  In most neighborhoods that is impressive alone besides serving on all the boards posted previously.  In fact and in law these women and a couple of stay at home dads are in equal partnership with the careers and accomplishments of the spouse.  These successful men (or women) did not marry the maid or the babysitter; they mostly married their equal.  If Ann Romney's economic thoughts were naive or stupid wouldn't you think you could attack them on the merit instead of on the person.

FYI to anyone who hasn't tried it, taking off 2 or 3 decades to raise children may be the most rewarding experience possible, but when you are done companies don't just put you back to either the level where you would risen or even to where you left off.  That is the difficult transition the women's activists, if they cared, should be addressing.  MHO.
4909  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Wash Post - Landscape bright for Romney on: April 16, 2012, 05:42:24 PM
It is about a tie at right now but this piece paints an optimistic picture for Romney. Romney needs to win Florida, Ohio and Virginia but if he can win those three, a good number of other tossups might also fall his way.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/post/romneys-bright-electoral-landscape/2012/04/15/gIQA9jcsJT_blog.html

Romney’s bright electoral landscape
By Jennifer Rubin

The electoral map reveals how perilous is President Obama’s grip on the White House. Let’s start, as RealClearPolitics does, with a base of 170 electoral votes for Mitt Romney. It’s hard to imagine that Obama could win any of even the less-red states that comprise that batch (e.g. Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, Montana). To get 100 more and seize the presidency, Romney only needs some states that routinely went Republican before the 2008 race (Nevada, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia) and needs to hold on to a few that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) managed to win (Arizona, Missouri). This gets Romney to 273.

In other words, Romney doesn’t need to win (but he might) in New Hampshire or New Mexico. He would love to, but isn’t required to, break through in states like Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin or Michigan. (The first and last would seem the most likely.)

It may come as a shock to liberals when you break it down by the only measure that matters (electoral votes), but Romney can do worse that George W. Bush did in 2004 (when he won Iowa and New Mexico) and still win the White House.

This doesn’t mean Romney will have an easy time of it, but it does suggest that Romney doesn’t need to twist and turn on policy, or throw the longball for VP to win the race. If he runs better than McCain and worse than Bush, then he’s very likely to win.

Of the states critical to Romney, it is not hard to see how important Ohio, Florida and Virginia are to his prospects. These states have a cumulative total of 60 electoral votes. Romney won all three in the primaries, and each has large urban and/or suburban areas of the type Romney has won all across the country. All three states have GOP governors. In 2010, Ohio and Florida each elected a conservative senator in part due to a backlash against Obama.

All of this leads us to a couple conclusions. First, a popular VP pick from one of them would be a smart thing indeed. Jeb Bush, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Virginia’s Gov. Bob McDonnell would qualify and please the base without turning off swing voters.

Second, if you think of some of the issues that matter in these states (trade, Cuba policy, jobs) Romney is well positioned. Virginia (in part from government-related hiring in Northern Virginia) is the only one of the three with unemployment below 7 percent. Florida’s is over 9 percent. Romney need not rethink or restyle his agenda, nor (as liberals keep arguing) move “to the center.” He simply has to communicate over and over again why his middle-of-the-road Republican policies and his background in the private sector would be better for those states and the country.

Republicans should be relieved, but not cocky, about the electoral landscape. The states most at risk will very likely be close. But Democrats’ confidence at this point seems unwarranted. It is very easy to spot Romney’s path to 270 electoral votes.
4910  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: April 16, 2012, 02:35:54 PM
"As for coercing people to make investments, actually I think my idea is the opposite.  I would substantially lower taxes (eliminate deductions) so there is a greater incentive to make a profit and invest."

Agree. That comment was aimed at the current Dem scheme, you current proposal is closer to the various Republican plans - if you really would lower the rates.

Deductions are regressive because they apply most to the people who make and pay in the most.  Hard to find income tax breaks for the half of the country that doesn't pay in (though we do that too).  It is social engineering but at least in this one case we are incentivising something that perhaps improves neighborhoods and stability. 

PP's take on the mtg deduction in housing IIRC was that ending it would collapse the housing market and the construction sector and all of the banks.  A very high risk or high cost and it just doesn't gain you much.  Again, Romney's plan is more realistic.  Bring the rates down but limit the deductions for people at the high end.

If the argument of Buffet and Obama was true (the rich pay the lowest rate), this would be the perfect time to implement a true, one rate flat tax on all income and sort out the progressivity and redistribution over on the spending side.  This whole idea that we should rob Peter to pay Paul because it is polling well with Paul is antithetical to our founding and former values.
4911  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 16, 2012, 01:48:44 PM
"In less than nine months, Bush-era tax rates are scheduled to expire, hiking rates for the middle class as well as top income earners."

The message to investors that higher rates are coming does as much damage as the higher rates and the uncertainty makes it even worse.  If we avert this disaster at the last minute it means we caused all of the economic damage but (again) collected no new revenues at the higher rates.  We couldn't be more stupid (MHO).

All economists agree you don't raise taxes in a recession because of the damage that it will cause and you can't raise taxes in this vulnerable super slow growth economy on the brink of disaster because of the damage it will cause.  Instead we keep promising to raise taxes at some other time when things are going much better only to again screw up what was once almost working.  

The Bush tax cuts were made temporary with the belief that if they were successful in growing the economy they would later be made permanent.  But after 52 consecutive months of job growth people instead took that growth for granted, without its foundation, and elected a promise to end those policies and those results.   We had moved on to higher needs like ending unequal outcomes, changing the content of the troposphere and living a  free birth control dream of unlimited sex without consequences, then whine about the stall that we caused.

Even if pro-growth Republicans were to win it all, the supreme court case, the House, the Senate narrowly and the Presidency, they still lack the votes to implement major reform.   In the meantime investors and employers face uncertainty worse than you find in most third world countries: a new "top rate of 25 percent"... "or as high as 40 percent or more" and these rates don't count the other layers of taxation while states and local governmentss face bankruptcy.

Uncertainty causes inaction which means factories not built and investment capital free to leave the country or rot on the sidelines.  According to one of Scott Grannis' charts we lost 12% of our economy perhaps permanently off of our long term growth curve in the current crisis.  Now we might try to grow a smaller economy with a lower participation rate at a slower growth rate, pulling a larger anchor.  And we made emergency spending increases permanent.  That formula doesn't pay the bills, meaning more debt, more devaluation and more pressure for additional 'revenue enhancers'.

Quite ironic is the inverse correlation that the need for public spending in a sick economy actually goes up while the means to pay is going down.  The spenders instead should love having the pro-growth side build up available revenues.  


From the article: "Despite the gamesmanship, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) hopes upcoming meetings with Republican members on taxes can pave the way for the first broad overhaul of the tax code since 1986.  “Our goal is to not only block massive, job-killing tax increases,” said Sage Eastman, a spokesman for Camp, “but also to enact comprehensive tax reform.”  Camp and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) are among those laying the ground work for tax reform, an effort that many expect to bleed into the next Congress."

The timing of these reforms really needs to be now, not to wait for the next divided government.   The message from the people though is split and polarized making bold action impossible.  Further stagnation is a best case scenario IMHO.

Instead of arguing either side of the budget fight, Pres. Obama is taking the fight to another level of job killing and 'fairness'.  Too bad people in his own party don't tell him to straighten up and get this done.
4912  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: April 16, 2012, 11:00:05 AM
"most industrialized nations don't have a mortgage deduction, yet real estate seems to do just fine."

Agree but it is putting toothpaste back in a tube. I never made an investment based on a tax benefit because I wouldn't trust that it would still be there later.  But millions of people did.

"As for charity, giving is great; I think it's wonderful, but don't give because it's deductible."

No, but you can't pay for cradle to grave government covering all expenses for all people in need including yourself and all medical and scientific research and everything else and then expect that people will have money left over after taxes to help others.  This was a choice made to shift that all to government, even the funding of 'charities' comes from government (ex: ACORN).  If we want some of these functions to be done privately we can't also force people to pay for it all publicly. That is cognitive dissonance or just bad math.  Another path would be to set public safety nets very low and unattractive keeping the public financial burden low and trust your fellow citizens to prosper and contribute voluntarily to help those who can't, as you say, without a deduction.  You will notice that one side of the aisle is quite intentionally mis-using words like 'give-back', pay their fair share and 'contribute' when the programs are mandated and the payments are coerced.

What they forget  is that they cannot coerce you to make the investments or earn the income in the first place.  When the incentive become too negative, the levels of activity fall off steeply, witness 2008 coming into the first scheduled end to the 'Bush' marginal tax rate cuts.  The investor based financial disaster very quickly became jobs lost in the millions and revenues lost in the trillions.

4913  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Path. Science - Severe global warming 55 million years ago on: April 16, 2012, 12:30:48 AM
(Caused by an early versions of the Ford F150 and Chevy Suburban.)

Severe global warming 55million years ago 'triggered by changes in Earth's orbit'

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 06:14 EST, 5 April 2012 | UPDATED: 12:57 EST, 5 April 2012

Changes in the Earth’s orbit 55million years ago caused the planet to warm up by 5C, according to new research.

A study by climate scientist Rob DeConto of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and colleagues at the University of Sheffield found that orbital changes triggered the melting of vast areas of permafrost at the poles, which released greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2125533/Global-warming-55m-years-ago-triggered-changes-Earths-orbit.html#ixzz1sB6M8tMy
---------------

Did warming primarily cause the release of CO2 or is that backward?  - Doug
4914  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Glaciers are growing in the Karakoram range, home to K2 on: April 16, 2012, 12:21:24 AM
Glaciers are growing in the Karakoram range, home to K2 (Increased ice was caused by warming)



Scientists discover glaciers in Asian mountain range are actually getting BIGGER

By Ian Garland    UK Daily Mail

PUBLISHED: 15:13 EST, 15 April 2012 | UPDATED: 15:20 EST, 15 April 2012

Photos taken by a French satellite show glaciers in a mountain range west of the Himalayas have grown during the last decade.

The growing glaciers were found in the Karakoram range, which spans the borders between Pakistan, India and China and is home to the world's second highest peak, K2.  - More at the link...

4915  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: April 15, 2012, 09:20:54 PM
"I didn't know about Geithner and Turbo Tax.  You mean I too might have an excuse if I did something wrong? "

No, other than for Geithner that defense has been rejected for ordinary taxpayers.  - Today's WSJ: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304444604577339840734386180.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop
"Mr. Geithner's episode notwithstanding, there's a growing issue here. Taxpayers who utilize a professional tax adviser such as a CPA or attorney can often avoid IRS penalties by alleging reliance on the tax adviser. (You're always responsible for the underlying tax itself and any interest on the amount.) But for someone who uses commercial software to prepare returns, no such defenses are generally available: The software isn't considered to be a "professional tax adviser." That's unfortunate, because growing numbers of Americans may end up with Mr. Geithner's the-software-did-it problem."
---------------------

"Doug you once asked me for my tax plan.  I suggest a 2-3 tier system with almost no deductions"

We aren't very far apart on the structure, but the rates are crucial.  I would keep the mortgage and charitable deductions until marginal rates are lowered enough that ending those won't kill off housing and charities.  I would personally be fine without those two but the economy won't - at this point.  Phase out would be fine but you would have to simultaneously phaseout the artificial costs that government is adding to housing and remove  the duplication of government charging for what ought to be done by private charities. 

I would word it differently, not end deductions but end the social engineering in the tax code (other than those two).  No spending whatsoever in the tax code, state or federal.  Spending for great causes like helping the poor goes over on the spending side of the ledger.  The Romney plan will limit deductions like home mortgages of the upper incomes instead of raising their marginal rates to punitive levels. What you might call deductions I might call business expenses that MUST be deducted from revenues to calculate income.  I can't pay the Feds what I already gave to the state and the Feds or vice versa.  I already have a greater than 100% tax rate and pretty soon they won't even be able to take my first born as she prepares to venture from the nest.

The tax code needs to be efficient.  Collect the money to run the essentials of the public sector but do the least possible harm disrupting the engine that drives it.
-------------------
"nor do I think capital gains or any other income should be treated any different than simple wage income."

Should an inflationary gain which is not a gain at all be taxed as ordinary income? 

Capital gains should be taxed to maximize economic activity and revenues to the Treasury.  (Same for corporate tax rates.) When you change the goal from raising money to fairness you raise less money.  With deficits still over a trillion and accumulated debt approaching 16 trillion, why can we afford deliberate inefficiency?

We could tax investment gains at 40% federal plus 12% state plus 15.3% FiCA plus any other surcharges that we want but no one is going to make new investments or sell off any old ones, there won't be jobs and revenues would most certainly decline.  It would end both the private and public sectors as we know them.  It doesn't work and we are lucky the Dem supermajorities of 2009-2010 did not try it.  What they propose to a Republican House in an election year that most certainly won't pass and that they did not pass themselves when they had complete control is demagogic rhetoric.  Best not to take it all too literally.

The first step in any tax burden sanity plan is to spend less.
4916  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: April 15, 2012, 07:04:50 PM
A Turbotax error became the Geithner defense for why he failed to pay 4 major years of taxes.  For me it is the bringing together of all the records and numbers for input that is the hard task, not the filling in out the forms or even paying the tax.

The largest tax for me (other than property taxes which are more than 100% of take home income) is the cost of not doing certain transactions at all because of the tax consequence.

Make it simple, yes, but also make the rates low.
4917  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: David Brooks / Tyler Cowen, Two Economies on: April 15, 2012, 06:50:20 PM
Bigdog, Thanks for that post.  I am not much of a Brooks fan but his reporting here is very good. 

At the high end of the economy, if you invent, innovate or simply out-hustle the competition today you now have a much larger global market in which to sell your product or service than you had a generation ago.  The income that come come from even a very low margin successful global business is nearly limitless.  That is a good thing and should not be used as a distraction for what the rest of us may need to do to survive and prosper.  There is NOT a fixed size pie that we are splitting up.  Wealth creation is just that, new wealth, and it improves potential of everyone around them for new income.  An app developer may be able to sell a million off of one home-run.  That it doesn't seem fair to someone else is not a productive thought. Still, a plumber can only replace only one tub faucet at a time though the products, methods and tools he uses may have improved.  A professor of constitutional law still needs an hour (plus prep time) to deliver a first class lecture.  Not every profession benefits from the change of scale though we all can benefit from living in a healthier economy.

One fear is that a few big businesses will take over everything, but everyone who has worked for one of the giants knows that they turn down and pass up plenty of opportunities everyday leaving behind a plethora of new opportunities for new entrepreneurs in their wake.

The question no one but me it seems is asking is why is life getting so expensive?  Everything it seems now costs way more than it should.  It take so much money to just get by. 

Something like 40 cents of every dollar of resources goes to public sector overhead.  I don't know what that burden ought to be but for my money I would say quite a bit lower.  Worse I think is the regulatory burden mostly hidden from view but perhaps one of every family's biggest expenses.  Again, I can't say what that burden ought to be, we certainly need one, but it needs to be a whole lot lower.

The 3rd economy unmentioned is the large number of people who live outside of our productive economy, not in the economy one or economy two.  In many areas, that is the majority.

Back to the first tier, it is quite a tragedy for the rest of the globe that America at the moment with its public sector brakes on is failing to lead in a forward direction.
4918  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Afghanistan-Pakistan: Michael Boskin, How about a free trade agreement? on: April 15, 2012, 05:54:51 PM
A Passage to Indian-Pakistan Peace
A free trade agreement would give each country a stake in the other's success.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304444604577338170624567022.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTTopOpinion

By MICHAEL J. BOSKIN

With their sizable nuclear arsenals and tensions over territory, water and terrorism, India and Pakistan pose staggering risks to South Asia. But they also offer outsize economic potential for their citizens, the region and the world. Leaders in both nations seeking peace, stability and a prosperous future should seize on free trade as the best way to further these goals. The time has come for an India-Pakistan free trade agreement.

Free trade would substantially increase trade and investment flows, incomes and employment, and it would give the citizens of both countries a far greater stake in the other's success. Economists of varying backgrounds agree that free trade is a positive-sum economic activity for all involved. In the seven years following Nafta, trade among the United States, Canada and Mexico tripled and real wages rose in each country.

More at the link...
4919  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Instructions to Form 1040EZ is 43 pages! on: April 15, 2012, 05:50:57 PM
Instructions to Form 1040EZ is 43 pages!  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1040ez.pdf

Can't figure out my own taxes and now I need to figure them out for my daughter.  Argh!

Meanwhile, President Obama who promised reform instead says hey, look at this shiny object - over here. http://www.nationaljournal.com/2012-presidential-campaign/priebus-calls-buffett-rule-a-shiny-object--20120415

And he is diverting money from life saving medical devices over to expanding the IRS.  Is that hope or change?
4920  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: April 15, 2012, 05:04:20 PM
Yes that is the wrong answer I already found.  Can someone post the oath that Bernancke took?  He is not 'elected', a 'Director', or a 'Class A' Director: "Class A and class B directors are elected by member banks in the District" http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/frseries/frseri4.htm
4921  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Venezuela: After Chávez, the Narcostate (?) on: April 15, 2012, 04:49:48 PM
I wonder what Denny S thinks will be coming next to Venezuela?  I wonder if the Obama administration preparing a U.S. contingency to a military situation in the faux-democracy?

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/04/11/after_chavez_the_narcostate

After Chávez, the Narcostate
There are powerful men in Venezuela who are far worse than Hugo Chávez. And if Obama keeps "leading from behind" in Latin America, that's who we very well might get.
BY ROGER F. NORIEGA | APRIL 11, 2012

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez has tried for 10 months to conceal the fact that he is losing his bout with cancer, determined to appear in command of his revolutionary regime and the nation's future. This past Holy Week, however, television cameras captured him pleading for his life before a crucifix in his hometown church, his mother looking on without the slightest glint of hope on her face. Chávez's raw emotion startled his inner circle and led some to question his mental health. As a result, according to my sources inside the presidential palace, Minister of Defense Gen. Henry Rangel Silva has developed a plan to impose martial law if Chávez's deteriorating condition causes any hint of instability.

Pretty dramatic stuff. So why isn't anyone outside Venezuela paying attention? Some cynics in that country still believe Chávez is hyping his illness for political advantage, while his most fervent followers expect him to make a miraculous recovery. The democratic opposition is cautiously preparing for a competitive presidential election set for Oct. 7 -- against Chávez or a substitute. And policymakers in Washington and most regional capitals are slumbering on the sidelines.

In my estimation, the approaching death of the Venezuelan caudillo could put the country on the path toward a political and social meltdown. The military cadre installed by Chávez in January already is behaving like a de facto regime determined to hold onto power at all costs. And Havana, Tehran, Moscow, and Beijing are moving to protect their interests. If U.S. President Barack Obama were to show some energetic engagement as Chávez fades, he could begin to put the brakes on Venezuela's slide, reverse Chávismo's destructive agenda, and reclaim a role for the United States in its own neighborhood. But if he fails to act, there will be hell to pay.

Sources close to Chávez's medical team tell me that for months, his doctors have been doing little more than treating symptoms, trying to stabilize their workaholic patient long enough to administer last-ditch chemo and radiation therapies. In that moment of Chávez's very public prayer for a miracle, he set aside his obsession with routing his opposition or engineering a succession of power to hardline loyalists. Perhaps he knows that his lieutenants and foreign allies are behaving as if he were already dead -- consolidating power, fashioning a "revolutionary junta," and plotting repressive measures.

One of them is longtime Chávista operator and military man Diosdado Cabello, who was installed by Chávez to lead the ruling party as well as the National Assembly in January. Cabello's appointment was meant to reassure a powerful cadre of narcomilitares -- Gen. Rangel Silva, Army Gen. Cliver Alcalá, retired intelligence chief Gen. Hugo Carvajal, and half a dozen other senior officers who have been branded drug "kingpins" by the U.S. government. These ruthless men will never surrender power and the impunity that goes with it -- and they have no illusions that elections will confer "legitimacy" on a Venezuelan narco-state, relying instead on billions of dollars in ill-gotten gain and tens of thousands of soldiers under their command.

Chavismo's civilian leadership -- including Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro, Vice President Elías Jaua, and the president's brother, Adán Chávez, the governor of the Chávez family's home state of Barinas -- are eager to vindicate their movement's ideological agenda at the polls this fall. Maduro is extraordinarily loyal to the president, and is considered by Venezuelan political observers as the most viable substitute on the ballot. Above all, these men crave political power and will jockey to make themselves indispensable to the military leaders who are calling the shots today.   - More at the link...
4922  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: April 15, 2012, 04:00:42 PM
I wrote international law or precedent.  'Notice Doug you didn't say "international precedent" '  Applying one adjective to conjoined nouns was intended for the lower triple digits.  Please disregard if that doesn't apply to you.

"Simply saying I don't like the decision is no reason to even consider impeachment."

More arguing in redundancy over things I didn't say.  A waste of time.

"you sound like you would been one of those right wing zealots supporting McCarthyism in Georgia."

Another thing I didn't say.  And quite mean-spirited.
4923  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Federal Reserve Board of Governors Oath of Office on: April 15, 2012, 02:05:41 PM
Thank you to bigdog for posting the text of the oath of office taken by Supreme Court Justices over on the the constitutional issues thread including the history of the oath: http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1850.msg61804#msg61804

I would also would like to know the actual text of the oath of office for Federal Reserve Governors, and begin to hold them to it.

As I understand it, each member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States shall "within fifteen days after notice of appointment make and subscribe to the oath of office."
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/12/242

There is a press release for every time a new Governor takes the oath, but I have not seen exactly what is that oath. The closest I could find is this oath for directors of individual Federal Reserve Banks swearing their allegiance - to the bank!
4924  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: April 15, 2012, 02:04:43 PM
That is:  international law or [intenational] precedent, using these REASONS for decisions instead of or ahead of upholding the constitution would be a violation of their oath of office and reason if true and proven IMHO to initiate impeachment.

At least two justices have given public indications that is their thinking.  I will read the health care opinions in particular for evidence of that.  Don't worry so much about what I think, I have no vote in the House or in the Senate and I assume a supermajority of both would be required.

When you begin to come to grips with my opinion, rather than distort it why don't you begin to post YOURS.  Logic preferred over emoticons. grin smiley sad shocked huh cool cheesy tongue embarassed cry evil rolleyes wink undecided

4925  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Watch this map change color on: April 15, 2012, 01:52:26 AM
Early electoral map, Obama leads:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/2012_elections_electoral_college_map.html
4926  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness: Obama Puts the I in Exceptionalism? Is our symbol - The Bald Ego? on: April 15, 2012, 12:10:13 AM
Not enough to be autographing basketballs with your face printed on them at taxpayer expense (?), but to answer the question about American Exceptionalism as he did, right alongside the leaders of two neighboring countries, is narcissism beyond explanation.

President Obama:  "my entire career has been a testimony to American exceptionalism"  !!!!!
-------------------------------
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303816504577321844137787970.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion

Obama Puts the 'I' in 'Exceptionalism'    - James Tarranto, WSJ

    "It's worth noting that I first arrived on the national stage with a speech at the Democratic convention that was entirely about American exceptionalism and that my entire career has been a testimony to American exceptionalism," Obama said at a press conference alongside Mexican president Felipe Calderón and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

...doesn't he have an aide who can tell him that the symbol of America is not the bald ego?
4927  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: April 14, 2012, 11:53:35 PM
it's constitutional if it"contributes toward reaching a social end"

GM, my point was that if they violate their oath of office which I assume includes swearing to uphold the constitution, then the elected branch already has a recourse available.

For the sloppy reader false quote guy, make sure you read the word IF in that statement.  And nowhere does anything I wrote suggest impeachment for disagreeing with me.  The lying cheapens the board and the discussion.
4928  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Did you mean she never worked in a coal mine or on an assembly line? on: April 14, 2012, 11:26:55 PM
To have slandered a woman publicly who raised 5 boys born over an 11 year period, 30 years from pregnant to getting them to 18, survived breast cancer and lives with MS that she "NEVER WORKED A DAY IN HER LIFE", that is okay?? Not to mention that campaigning IS a job, the highest job Obama ever had before he was President.  Speaking at events like CPAC, lobbying the legislature on MS awareness, work on behalf of at-risk youth, Board Member of the New England Chapter of the MS Society, board member of the Massachusetts Children's Trust Fund, director of Best Friends, an organization that addresses the special needs of adolescent, inner-city girls by providing educational and community service opportunities, she worked as a volunteer instructor at the Mother Caroline Academy, a multicultural middle school serving young girls from inner city Boston and served on the board for Families First, served on the Women's Cancer Advisory Board of Massachusetts General Hospital, board member of United Way - none of that is work.  What a bunch of bullsh*t. 

35 trips to the White House, this wasn't an accident; the whole thing down to the phony apology and scapegoat is puppetmastered. 

"Career" is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a person's "course or progress through life". "It can also pertain to an occupation".

Yes to the condescending and disingenuous among us, that was a CAREER choice that she made.
4929  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / John Taylor, get rid of the dual mandate on: April 13, 2012, 01:59:06 PM
... The Sound Dollar Act of 2012, a subject of hearings at the Joint Economic Committee this week, has a number of useful provisions. It removes the confusing dual mandate of "maximum employment" and "stable prices," which was put into the Federal Reserve Act during the interventionist wave of the 1970s. Instead it gives the Federal Reserve a single goal of "long-run price stability."  - John Taylor, professor of economics at Stanford

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303816504577307403971824094.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    OPINION
    Updated March 28, 2012

The Dangers of an Interventionist Fed
A century of experience shows that rules lead to prosperity and discretion leads to trouble.

By JOHN B. TAYLOR

America has now had nearly a century of decision-making experience under the Federal Reserve Act, first passed in 1913. Thanks to careful empirical research by Milton Friedman, Anna Schwartz and Allan Meltzer, we have plenty of evidence that rules-based monetary policies work and unpredictable discretionary policies don't. Now is the time to act on that evidence.

The Fed's mistake of slowing money growth at the onset of the Great Depression is well-known. And from the mid-1960s through the '70s, the Fed intervened with discretionary go-stop changes in money growth that led to frequent recessions, high unemployment, low economic growth, and high inflation.

In contrast, through much of the 1980s and '90s and into the past decade the Fed ran a more predictable, rules-based policy with a clear price-stability goal. This eventually led to lower unemployment, lower interest rates, longer expansions, and stronger economic growth.

Unfortunately the Fed has returned to its discretionary, unpredictable ways, and the results are not good. Starting in 2003-05, it held interest rates too low for too long and thereby encouraged excessive risk-taking and the housing boom. It then overshot the needed increase in interest rates, which worsened the bust. Now, with inflation and the economy picking up, the Fed is again veering into "too low for too long" territory. Policy indicators suggest the need for higher interest rates, while the Fed signals a zero rate through 2014.

It is difficult to overstate the extraordinary nature of the recent interventions, even if you ignore actions during the 2008 panic, including the Bear Stearns and AIG bailouts, and consider only the subsequent two rounds of "quantitative easing" (QE1 and QE2)—the large-scale purchases of mortgage-backed securities and longer-term Treasurys.

The Fed's discretion is now virtually unlimited. To pay for mortgages and other large-scale securities purchases, all it has to do is credit banks with electronic deposits—called reserve balances or bank money. The result is the explosion of bank money (as shown in the nearby chart), which now dwarfs the Fed's emergency response to the 9/11 attacks.

Before the 2008 panic, reserve balances were about $10 billion. By the end of 2011 they were about $1,600 billion. If the Fed had stopped with the emergency responses of the 2008 panic, instead of embarking on QE1 and QE2, reserve balances would now be normal.

This large expansion of bank money creates risks. If it is not undone, then the bank money will eventually pour out into the economy, causing inflation. If it is undone too quickly, banks may find it hard to adjust and pull back on loans.

The very existence of quantitative easing as a policy tool creates unpredictability, as traders speculate whether and when the Fed will intervene again. That the Fed can, if it chooses, intervene without limit in any credit market—not only mortgage-backed securities but also securities backed by automobile loans or student loans—creates more uncertainty and raises questions about why an independent agency of government should have such power.

The combination of the prolonged zero interest rate and the bloated supply of bank money is potentially lethal. The Fed has effectively replaced the entire interbank money market and large segments of other markets with itself—i.e., the Fed determines the interest rate by declaring what it will pay on bank deposits at the Fed without regard for the supply and demand for money. By replacing large decentralized markets with centralized control by a few government officials, the Fed is distorting incentives and interfering with price discovery with unintended consequences throughout the economy.

For all these reasons, the Federal Reserve should move to a less interventionist and more rules-based policy of the kind that has worked in the past. With due deliberation, it should make plans to raise the interest rate and develop a credible strategy to reduce its outsized portfolio of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities.

History shows that reform of the Federal Reserve Act is also needed to incentivize rules-based policy and prevent a return to excessive discretion. The Sound Dollar Act of 2012, a subject of hearings at the Joint Economic Committee this week, has a number of useful provisions. It removes the confusing dual mandate of "maximum employment" and "stable prices," which was put into the Federal Reserve Act during the interventionist wave of the 1970s. Instead it gives the Federal Reserve a single goal of "long-run price stability."

The term "long-run" clarifies that the goal does not require the Fed to overreact to the short-run ups and downs in inflation. The single goal wouldn't stop the Fed from providing liquidity when money markets freeze up, or serving as lender of last resort to banks during a panic, or reducing the interest rate in a recession.

Some worry that a focus on the goal of price stability would lead to more unemployment. History shows the opposite.

One reason the Fed kept its interest rate too low for too long in 2003-05 was concern that raising the interest rate would increase unemployment in the short run. However, an unintended effect was the great recession and very high unemployment. A single mandate would help the Fed avoid such mistakes. Since 2008, the Fed has explicitly cited the dual mandate to justify its extraordinary interventions, including quantitative easing. Removing the dual mandate will remove that excuse.

A single goal of long-run price stability should be supplemented with a requirement that the Fed establish and report its strategy for setting the interest rate or the money supply to achieve that goal. If the Fed deviates from its strategy, it should provide a written explanation and testify in Congress. To further limit discretion, restraints on the composition of the Federal Reserve's portfolio are also appropriate, as called for in the Sound Dollar Act.

Giving all Federal Reserve district bank presidents—not only the New York Fed president—voting rights at every Federal Open Market Committee meeting, as does the Sound Dollar Act, would ensure that the entire Federal Reserve system is involved in designing and implementing the strategy. It would offset any tendency for decisions to favor certain sectors or groups in the economy.

Such reforms would lead to a more predictable policy centered on maintaining the purchasing power of the dollar. They would provide an appropriate degree of oversight by the political authorities without interfering in the Fed's day-to-day operations.

Mr. Taylor is a professor of economics at Stanford and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. This op-ed is adapted from his testimony this week before the Joint Economic Committee, which drew on his book "First Principles: Five Keys to Restoring America's Prosperity." (W.W. Norton, 2012).
4930  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: April 13, 2012, 01:04:09 PM
JDN.
A. Don't post hypotheticals regarding my business - last time the inference was discrimination and this time some botched analogy to terror. That's enough.  I'll post stories from my business and you from yours.
B. Again you say I said what i didn't "...impeachment merely because Doug IHHO disagrees with the ruling."  That isn't what I wrote, what a jackass, so leave my name out of your posts because you can not get it right.
C. re: [Thomas Jefferson wrote, "I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions..."] - Nothing in that indicates support for changing the constitution OUTSIDE of the amendment process as this string of cases is striving to do.  The constitution lived through changes of abolishing slavery, establishing an income tax, trying prohibition, ending prohibition, and they failed to end all differentiation on gender in the unratified ERA.  The amendment process works.  Use it and stop trying to change with simple majorities what constitutionally requires supermajorities. What good is a constitution if the words that have no meaning.
4931  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: April 12, 2012, 07:35:30 PM
"Why not directly elected Justices?"

And another idea, how about the system we have now.  I haven't seen any stay too long lately, just ones that I didn't like in the first place.

The proposal does address one point making recusal nearly impossible on the close cases - there currently is no one to take their place.

Currently we have appointment by an elected official and confirmation by elected officials.  We have Justices stepping down voluntarily in old age; hard to hide mental deterioration from your peers in that business - except when the starting point is too low.  I think we just need to be ready for impeachment by the elected branch if and when justified.  For reasons such as deciding cases for the wrong reasons, international law or precedent for example.
4932  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: April 11, 2012, 11:01:27 AM
One side threatens death, destruction and sends missiles into neighborhoods to prove they are serious - no comment.
The other side delays or refuses to kick private citizens out of their own homes - outrage.

To each his own conclusion.  Did I miss any relevant facts?
4933  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Constitutional Law: Original meaning of to regulate commerce on: April 09, 2012, 01:20:43 PM
Long academic paper published in the University of Chicago Law Review Winter 2001 questioning the contention of Justice Clarence Thomas that the original meaning of to regulate interstate commerce was very narrow in scope:

http://www.bu.edu/rbarnett/Original.htm#IIIB

While Justice Thomas has maintained that the original meaning of "commerce" was limited to the "trade and exchange" of goods and transportation for this purpose, some have argued that he is mistaken and that "commerce" originally included any "gainful activity." Having examined every appearance of the word "commerce" in the records of the Constitutional Convention, the ratification debates, and the Federalist Papers, Professor Barnett finds no surviving example of this term being used in this broader sense. In every appearance where the context suggests a specific usage, the narrow meaning is always employed. Moreover, originalist evidence of the meaning of "among the several States" and "To regulate" also supports a narrow reading of the Commerce Clause. "Among the several States" meant between persons of one state and another; and "To regulate" generally meant "to make regular"--that is, to specify how an activity may be transacted--when applied to domestic commerce... In sum, according to the original meaning of the Commerce Clause, Congress has power to specify rules to govern the manner by which people may exchange or trade goods from one state to another, to remove obstructions to domestic trade erected by states, and to both regulate and restrict the flow of goods to and from other nations (and the Indian tribes) for the purpose of promoting the domestic economy and foreign trade."
4934  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Barone: Romney needs to get through to the young on: April 09, 2012, 12:48:36 PM
Barone is right on the mark IMO and I think Romney will win because the miserable status quo and the record and rhetoric of Obama will go up against a plan for optimism and growth whether you personally like Romney or not.  Young people will either see the distinction in 2012 like they did in 1980 and lean Republican or they will sit out unenthused by what the excitement of 2008 brought them IMO.  Too bad for Obama that the lasting theme was change and that 4 years comes up so quickly.
-----------------
April 9, 2012   
Can Romney Show Voters That Obama Is Out of Date?
By Michael Barone

Time for a postmortem on the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Yes, I know Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are still out there saying interesting things. And that Rick Santorum says it's only halftime and argues he can somehow overtake Mitt Romney by carrying his home state of Pennsylvania.

But polls there show a close race. And the idea that, if Romney falls short of a delegate majority, superdelegates will throng to a proudly unscripted, shoot-from-the-lip alternative is delusional.

The interesting questions are what the primaries and caucuses tell us about the state of the Republican Party and about Mitt Romney's chances in the general election.

In 2000, a time of apparent peace and prosperity, George W. Bush won the nomination by consolidating cultural conservatives and making inroads among the affluent. Cultural issues were then more important than economics or foreign policy.

This year, a time of economic stagnation and lingering war, Mitt Romney won the nomination by consolidating the affluent and making inroads among tea partiers. Economic issues far overshadow cultural issues.

Romney's victory margins have come from the suburbs in big metropolitan areas. Unlike Bush, he's been losing the rural and small-town counties. "Somewhat conservative" voters now personify the Republican Party.

All of which suggests that this fall Romney may run much better than recent Republican nominees in affluent Northern suburbs. They've voted increasingly Democratic over the past 20 years, turning target states into safely Democratic states. Now they may turn back again.

Additional evidence comes from the Pew Research surveys showing Democrats losing ground in the Obama years among white Catholics and Jews -- groups disproportionately concentrated in affluent Northern suburbs.

Affluent voters like articulate candidates and dislike impulsive ones. George W. Bush, despite his eloquent speeches, didn't come across as articulate. He seemed to enjoy his Texas twang and mangled sentences with happy abandon.

John McCain, more articulate, came across as impulsive, notably when he suspended his campaign amid the financial meltdown.

Through the primaries, Mitt Romney has come across as articulate if not exciting and methodical rather than impulsive.

In contrast, Barack Obama has started to flail. His know-nothing assault on the Supreme Court and his demagogic denunciation of "social Darwinism" (a phrase more common on campus than in real life) make him look like he's appealing to ignorant voters. Ditto his attacks on the rich.

Affluent voters don't like that. That's not what suburban supporters of Obama thought they were voting for in 2008.

They may not like Obama's refusal to engage the looming entitlements crisis, either. They don't admire people who act irresponsibly.

If Romney's strength among the affluent opens up a new opportunity for Republicans, his and his primary opponents' weakness among the young highlights a problem.

Under 30s were 18 percent of the electorate in 2008 and voted 66 to 32 percent for Obama.

Many are disenchanted with him now, but very few showed up in Republican contests. Only 6 to 12 percent of Republican primary voters were under 30. Leaving out Ron Paul voters, they were only 4 to 10 percent of Republican turnout.

Moreover, Romney carried under 30s only in Florida, Arizona, Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

He may owe that last result to the wholehearted endorsement of Wisconsin's Paul Ryan. The House Budget Committee chairman makes a powerful case that young people can't count on promised benefits unless entitlement programs are reformed.

There is a huge tension between the personalize-your-own-world ethos of the iPod/Facebook generation and the command-and-control, mid-20th-century welfare state programs of the Obama Democrats.

The young are stuck with disproportionate insurance premiums by Obamacare and with student loan debt that can't be discharged in bankruptcy. Some hope. Some change.

Romney needs to make the case that current policy -- what Obama has fallen back on -- is leading to a crash in which government will fail to keep its promises.

He needs to argue that his "opportunity society" means vibrant economic growth that can provide, in ways that can't be precisely predicted, opportunities in which young people can find work that draws on their special talents and interests.

Obama's policies, in contrast, treat individuals as just one cog in a very large machine, designed by supposed experts who don't seem to know what they're doing (see Obamacare, Solyndra). Their supposedly cutting-edge technology (electric cars, passenger rail) is more than a century old.

Romney, potentially strong with the affluent, needs to figure out how to get through to the young.
4935  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tocqueville wrote about the Pelosi-Obama governance: on: April 09, 2012, 12:39:02 PM
“A man’s admiration of absolute government is proportionate to the contempt he feels for those around him.”
4936  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: April 08, 2012, 11:25:07 PM
Thank you Crafty.  You and I may agree and maybe no one here will argue the other side, but we still need to have this argument about what is right and wrong in a free society with the other side of the aisle until they are either defeated or join us.

President Obama in his correction/clarification said:

"We have not seen a Court overturn a law that was passed by Congress on a economic issue, like health care, that I think most people would clearly consider commerce — a law like that has not been overturned at least since Lochner.  Right?  So we’re going back to the ’30s, pre New Deal."

That he is wrong on this and a buffoon can be argued under 'Glibness', or at this link http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/04/obama-walks-back-supreme-court-threat-still-gets-it-wrong.php, and also argued in a post made by GM about the influence of Derrick Bell.

Crucial and revealing though is the transparent, all-powerful-government thinking that if it is only your economic freedoms that are being taken away, then it is no big deal. ! ! ! ? ? ?  To them, commerce is defined not only as the freedom to buy, sell, and produce, but the freedom to decide what you will grow on your own property and how you will treat your own body to save your own life and your mothers' - and all that freedom is theirs, the congress and the federal government, and not yours - and your former rights have no business being protected by a Supreme Court or anyone else. 

Unbelievable to me that this thinking reached either the White House or any member of the Supreme Court in this country!

That accumulated overreach was what started the tea party movement.  The energy may have diffused into issues and candidates, but the argument remains and the fight needs to be joined.
4937  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / American Creed Constitutional Law - Wickard v. Filburn continued on: April 08, 2012, 12:20:11 PM
Continuing my assault on Wickard v. Filburn and hoping for added comments:

Wickard v. Filburn  was a huge case because it showed roughly speaking that government has unlimited powers in all matters construed as commerce.  (Gonzales v. Raich followed and perhaps is worse.)

The central question coming out of Wickard Filburn (and Obamacare if affirmed): Does the existence of the power of congress to "regulate" in the constitution negate all the rest of the constitution such as basic rights of individual economic liberties like the freedom to grow food on your own property to feed your own chickens (or to choose your own health plan, what it will include and how to finance it).

Striking down Obamacare in its entirety does not require the overturning of any precedent, but with Dred Scott as an example, but the Supreme Court is not bound by precedent.

In the Wickard case, Mr. Filburn was restricted in growing wheat for his own chickens.  That is outrageous in a free society! My humble opinion.  (But still, he wasn't forced to buy wheat, he could have sold his chickens, quit farming, starved them, eaten them OR FED THEM SOMETHING ELSE.)

In Gonzales-Raich the Feds took power over your own ability to grow your own approved medicines and the Court affirmed that power.  That is outrageous! MHO.

The guy (back to Filburn) has 23 acres and wants to grow wheat.  Basically what congress codified and the Supreme Court upheld is the same system of limited production and price controls that OPEC exerted in the 1970s and ever since.  That is the legitimate role of our government?  That does not step on personal liberties?  That is not a complete rejection of our free enterprise system?  There were crops other than wheat available to plant in 1938-1941.  Were they completely oblivious to the dangers of gluten?

Lets's look at what the Court said in Wickard which is the how we got to where we are today.  Read the Court's ruling in Wickard in the context of both what the Founding Fathers would have envisioned for limits on government and what you the American libertarian of today should want as limits on the power of your government.  I wrote in some of my own reaction to it:

(http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0317_0111_ZO.html) Excerpts quoted, comment is mine:

“The decline in the export trade has left a large surplus in production which, in connection with an abnormally large supply of wheat and other grains in recent years, caused congestion in a number of markets; tied up railroad cars, and caused elevators in some instances to turn away grains, and railroads to institute embargoes to prevent further congestion.“

THAT is a justification of government prohibiting a man from growing plants to feed for his own animals??

“Importing countries have taken measures to stimulate production and self-sufficiency.“

THAT is a justification for government control in America trumping individual economic liberty??

“It is well established by decisions of this Court that the power to regulate commerce includes the power to regulate the prices at which commodities in that commerce are dealt in and practices affecting such prices.”

Government controlling prices in private markets is the end of a private market and the end of individual liberty IMHO.

“One of the primary purposes of the Act in question was to increase the market price of wheat ...”

It isn't a 'market price of wheat' if it was artificially through fascist government policies admittedly increased! Which Article authorized THAT power??

“The stimulation of commerce is a use of the regulatory function quite as definitely as prohibitions or restrictions thereon. “

What?  That trumps his right to grow crops and feed your own animals on his own agricultural private property to make a living and feed his family?

“We do not agree [that the Fifth Amendment requires that he be free from penalty for planting wheat and disposing of his crop as he sees fit]. In its effort to control total supply, the Government gave the farmer a choice which was, of course, designed to encourage cooperation and discourage noncooperation.”

'Control total supply' is a function one might expect from their government in Nazi Germany, not a 'regulatory power' in a constitutionally limited government Republic like ours...

None of this is REGULATION in any way that I know the term to mean.  All of this popular and well-intended central control and free market ending manipulation was a neat idea – right up until it stepped on and destroyed  anyone's individual liberties.

In all its excesses, none of it compelled a person to go out and buy a product he or she did not otherwise choose to purchase which is the present question before the Court in the latest expansion of limits on freedom and privacy case -healthcare.

Yet they they keep pointing to these egregious precedents to justify making a much larger new one.

Still unmentioned by the advocates is the affirmation of the individual mandate in the Japanese-American internment case.  At least that was a perceived national security case, not a 'regulation' of commerce, though it certainly served to regulate their commerce.

The answer (IMHO) to this school of thought of 'constitutionally' expanding government powers without amendment is:  not one more inch of encroachment against our individual economic liberties.
4938  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Nuclear Power - Bill Gates on 4th generation nuclear on: April 08, 2012, 11:56:49 AM
“The part of uranium that's fissile—when you hit it with a neutron, it splits in two—is about 0.7%. The reactors we have today are burning that 0.7% . … The concept of the TerraPower reactor is that in the same reactor, you both burn and breed. Instead of making plutonium and then extracting it, we take uranium—the 99.3% that you normally don't do anything with—we convert that and we burn it. The 99.3% is cheap as heck, and there's a pile of it sitting in Paducah, Kentucky, that's enough to power the United States for hundreds and hundreds of years.
MR. MURRAY: What's the timetable for this?
MR. GATES: By 2022, if everything goes perfectly, our demo reactor will be in place. And by 2028, assuming everything continues to go perfectly, it will be a design that could be replicated.
MR. MURRAY: How often does everything go perfectly?
MR. GATES: In nuclear? If you ignore 1979 and 1986 and 2011, we've had a good century. No, seriously. Nuclear energy, in terms of an overall safety record, is better than other energy."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304636404577299343742435580.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLE_Video_Top
4939  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Justice Alito on: April 08, 2012, 11:53:51 AM
Excerpted from transcript:

Justice Alito: “...it appears to me that the [Congressional Budget Office] has estimated that the average premium for a single insurance policy in the non-group market would be roughly $5,800 in—in 2016.

Respondents—the economists have supported—the Respondents estimate that a young, healthy individual targeted by the mandate on average consumes about $854 in health services each year.

So the mandate is forcing these people to provide a huge subsidy to the insurance companies for other purposes that the act wishes to serve, but isn't—if those figures are right, isn't it the case that what this mandate is really doing is not requiring the people who are subject to it to pay for the services that they are going to consume? It is requiring them to subsidize services that will be received by somebody else.”
4940  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama's no vote on Justice Roberts on: April 08, 2012, 11:51:19 AM
I believe Obama caught some criticism for calling himself a professor, but to have taught constitutional law should be quite a wonderful credential for a potential President.  Unfortunately there is quite a split in this country regarding what that means.  To the far left IMO the study and teaching of the constitution and the ruling and precedents is in the ends justify means quest to enlarge the power and scope of government.  

"the audio of him on Chicago Public Radio referring to the U.S. Constitution as a "charter of negative rights," and saying it "fails to say what the government must do [in the citizens'] behalf." "

This is helpful.  I had hoped that as the 2008 campaign unfolded we would learn more about his views which I assumed were radical about the meaning to him of the constitution.  He mostly got a pass on that.  Now we can judge 2 of his appointees (so far) and gradually discover more about his past and current views.

If more of his views come out I think people will see he is more radical than the center of the Dem party- he voted no on confirmation of Justices Roberts because though he will apply the law correctly on 95% of the cases he will not have same values as Obama to go beyond the letter of the constitution?! http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124390047073474499.html   For those who think the constitution is document limiting the size and scope of government, you do not have an ally in the White house IMHO.

A right to healthcare including a duty to others to provide it for you and the power of government to enforce all that is just one example of how radicals such as our President believe the founding fathers fell short in their duty.  Yet unexplainably they see no need for an amendment necessary to make the correction.
---------------------
Sen. Obama on his Roberts 'No' vote, link above:

. . . [T]he decision with respect to Judge Roberts' nomination has not been an easy one for me to make. As some of you know, I have not only argued cases before appellate courts but for 10 years was a member of the University of Chicago Law School faculty and taught courses in constitutional law. Part of the culture of the University of Chicago Law School faculty is to maintain a sense of collegiality between those people who hold different views. What engenders respect is not the particular outcome that a legal scholar arrives at but, rather, the intellectual rigor and honesty with which he or she arrives at a decision.

Given that background, I am sorely tempted to vote for Judge Roberts based on my study of his resume, his conduct during the hearings, and a conversation I had with him yesterday afternoon. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind Judge Roberts is qualified to sit on the highest court in the land. Moreover, he seems to have the comportment and the temperament that makes for a good judge. He is humble, he is personally decent, and he appears to be respectful of different points of view.

It is absolutely clear to me that Judge Roberts truly loves the law. He couldn't have achieved his excellent record as an advocate before the Supreme Court without that passion for the law, and it became apparent to me in our conversation that he does, in fact, deeply respect the basic precepts that go into deciding 95% of the cases that come before the federal court -- adherence to precedence, a certain modesty in reading statutes and constitutional text, a respect for procedural regularity, and an impartiality in presiding over the adversarial system. All of these characteristics make me want to vote for Judge Roberts.

The problem I face -- a problem that has been voiced by some of my other colleagues, both those who are voting for Mr. Roberts and those who are voting against Mr. Roberts -- is that while adherence to legal precedent and rules of statutory or constitutional construction will dispose of 95% of the cases that come before a court, so that both a Scalia and a Ginsburg will arrive at the same place most of the time on those 95% of the cases -- what matters on the Supreme Court is those 5% of cases that are truly difficult.

In those cases, adherence to precedent and rules of construction and interpretation will only get you through the 25th mile of the marathon. That last mile can only be determined on the basis of one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one's empathy.

In those 5% of hard cases, the constitutional text will not be directly on point. The language of the statute will not be perfectly clear. Legal process alone will not lead you to a rule of decision. In those circumstances, your decisions about whether affirmative action is an appropriate response to the history of discrimination in this country, or whether a general right of privacy encompasses a more specific right of women to control their reproductive decisions, or whether the Commerce Clause empowers Congress to speak on those issues of broad national concern that may be only tangentially related to what is easily defined as interstate commerce, whether a person who is disabled has the right to be accommodated so they can work alongside those who are nondisabled -- in those difficult cases, the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's heart.

I talked to Judge Roberts about this. Judge Roberts confessed that, unlike maybe professional politicians, it is not easy for him to talk about his values and his deeper feelings. That is not how he is trained. He did say he doesn't like bullies and has always viewed the law as a way of evening out the playing field between the strong and the weak.

I was impressed with that statement because I view the law in much the same way. The problem I had is that when I examined Judge Roberts' record and history of public service, it is my personal estimation that he has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak. In his work in the White House and the Solicitor General's Office, he seemed to have consistently sided with those who were dismissive of efforts to eradicate the remnants of racial discrimination in our political process. In these same positions, he seemed dismissive of the concerns that it is harder to make it in this world and in this economy when you are a woman rather than a man.

I want to take Judge Roberts at his word that he doesn't like bullies and he sees the law and the court as a means of evening the playing field between the strong and the weak. But given the gravity of the position to which he will undoubtedly ascend and the gravity of the decisions in which he will undoubtedly participate during his tenure on the court, I ultimately have to give more weight to his deeds and the overarching political philosophy that he appears to have shared with those in power than to the assuring words that he provided me in our meeting.
...
4941  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Constitutional Law: Justice Breyer Wrong on Commerce and Wheat? on: April 06, 2012, 11:09:28 AM
Justice Stephen Breyer asked, for example: “Didn’t they make that man growing his own wheat go into the market and buy other wheat for his — for his cows?”

Well, actually, no, Justice Breyer, they didn’t.
---------------------------------
I posted this in a stack on the healthcare thread but did not want to let this go by without asking for comment here. Justice Breyer is about to decide perhaps the most important commerce clause case yet and he lacks the fundamentals to start the analysis? Is there some other explanation to what he said http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_audio_detail.aspx?argument=11-398-Tuesday about Wickard v. Filburn http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0317_0111_ZO.html and wheat?  Was he just pandering or playing around or does he really not know the law and the precedent? And where is the watchdog press, lol.

In the question of precedent for a mandate to purchase a private product, it is a big deal whether or not in 1942 they made him buy wheat!

Do we have a defender of Justice Breyer available who can explain this?
------------------

Scott Johnson writing on Powerline:    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/03/justice-breyer-flunks-con-law.php

Reading the transcript and listening to the audio of day 2 of the Obamacare argument, I was struck by the sheer intellectual laziness and complacency of Justice Breyer. To liken him to a rodeo clown would be to credit him with too much energy. Referring to the key New Deal Commerce Clause case of Wickard v. Filburn, Breyer asked, for example: “Didn’t they make that man growing his own wheat go into the market and buy other wheat for his — for his cows?”

Well, actually, no, Justice Breyer, they didn’t. “They” — Congress in an amendment to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 — limited the amount of wheat farmer Filburn could grow on his farm under a quota set for him by the geniuses in Washington (or penalized him for exceeding the quota). “They” didn’t make him go into the market and buy wheat for his cows. That’s the point — the point Randy Barnett has argued for the past few years.  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703467304575383702986874016.html

The distinction between the case vaguely recalled by Justice Breyer and the one decided by the Supreme Court in the Wickard case might be the difference between a pass or a fail on a fairly graded Con law exam in law school. It goes to the heart of the Obamacare case. Justice Breyer has apparently been pursuing other intersts over the past few months.

As Jeffrey Anderson and Conn Carroll have observed http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/breyers-missteps_634797.html  http://campaign2012.washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/breyers-unhinged-commerce-clause-ramblings/453011, this wasn’t necessarily Justice Breyer’s only laugh-out-loud moment during day 2 of the oral argument. And if Justice Breyer were not a party-line liberal, you would have heard about it.
4942  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care including issues of constitutional law on: April 04, 2012, 11:54:12 AM
I am out traveling with limited access, but would otherwise want some of these points discussed in addition to the ones on Legal Issues.
----------------
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/03/justice-breyer-flunks-con-law.php
Justice Breyer flunks Con law    Scott Johnson, Powerline

Reading the transcript and listening to the audio of day 2 of the Obamacare argument, I was struck by the sheer intellectual laziness and complacency of Justice Breyer. To liken him to a rodeo clown would be to credit him with too much energy. Referring to the key New Deal Commerce Clause case of Wickard v. Filburn, Breyer asked, for example: “Didn’t they make that man growing his own wheat go into the market and buy other wheat for his — for his cows?”

Well, actually, no, Justice Breyer, they didn’t. “They” — Congress in an amendment to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 — limited the amount of wheat farmer Filburn could grow on his farm under a quota set for him by the geniuses in Washington (or penalized him for exceeding the quota). “They” didn’t make him go into the market and buy wheat for his cows. That’s the point — the point Randy Barnett has argued for the past few years.

The distinction between the case vaguely recalled by Justice Breyer and the one decided by the Supreme Court in the Wickard case might be the difference between a pass or a fail on a fairly graded Con law exam in law school. It goes to the heart of the Obamacare case. Justice Breyer has apparently been pursuing other intersts over the past few months.

As Jeffrey Anderson and Conn Carroll have observed, this wasn’t necessarily Justice Breyer’s only laugh-out-loud moment during day 2 of the oral argument. And if Justice Breyer were not a party-line liberal, you would have heard about it.
--------------------
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/04/barack-obama-constitutional-ignoramus.php
Barack Obama, Constitutional Ignoramus    Steven Hayward, Powerline

I’m grateful for the favor Obama did for us yesterday of exposing his extreme constitutional ignorance, with his comments on how it would be “unprecedented” for the Court to strike down a law passed by a “strong majority” in Congress.  (As if a House margin of seven votes is a “strong” majority.)  True, he walked back the comment today, but surely because his statement was not merely indefensible but outright embarrassing to his media defenders.

I’ve been growing weary of hearing people mention that he’s a “constitutional scholar,” since he never published a single thing on the subject either as editor of the Harvard Law Review or as a member of the faculty at the University of Chicago Law School.  But hey—he taught constitutional law, didn’t he?

Not really.

His course on constitutional law, one of several constitutional law courses on the U of C curriculum, dealt exclusively with the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment—the favorite, all-purpose clause for liberal jurists to use to right wrongs and make us more equal by judicial fiat.  There is no evidence that Obama ever taught courses that considered other aspects of constitutionalism, such as executive power, the separation of powers, the Commerce Clause, or judicial review itself.

I have a copy of one of his final exams.  It is a long hypothetical involving civil rights, which begins thus:

    In part, Hardsville’s racial isolation is the result of white flight and the limited economic means at the disposal of the black community.  It is also well documented, however, that Hardsville’s racial isolation arose in part due to decisions by a white-controlled city government prior to the seventies that were purposely discriminatory.

So you can see what kind of “narrative” this exam question promotes, and hence the kind of answers likely to get an A from Professor Obama.  One of the questions students are asked is, “What is the likelihood that the city will be held liable for violating the constitutional rights of blacks under the Equal Protection Clause. . .”  There’s a second hypothetical involving potential gender discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause.

A law student in Professor Obama’s class would learn virtually nothing about the constitutionalism of the Founding, or even of John Marshall or Joseph Story.

Now, clearly Obama is hoping to intimidate the Court in the same way FDR did in 1937 with his court-packing scheme.  Some time later I’ll discuss FDR’s extraordinary rhetoric attacking the Court that year, but suffice it to say for now that Obama already showed his hand with his inaccurate attack on the Citizens United decision in the State of the Union speech two years ago. As John Steele Gordon put it well, “It seems there is simply no lie President Obama will not tell in pursuit of his agenda.”

Notwithstanding the fact that Justice Alito could be seen mouthing the words, “Not true,” the Supreme Court by its traditions does not hit back at the President or Congress in these kind of brawls.  But thank goodness for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which today rather tartly demanded that the Justice Department please explain, in at least three pages, within 48 hours, its understanding of judicial review.  This should be interesting.  Here’s a copy of the follow-up letter from the court... more at link
-------------------
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/04/obama-walks-back-supreme-court-threat-still-gets-it-wrong.php
Obama Walks Back Supreme Court Threat, Still Gets It Wrong
------------------
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/04/does-the-commerce-clause-negate-the-rest-of-the-constitution.php
Does the Commerce Clause Negate the Rest of the Constitution?
----------------
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303816504577321844137787970.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion
The Man Who Knew Too Little
President Obama's stunning ignorance of constitutional law.
James Tarranto WSJ, at the link
4943  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: April 04, 2012, 11:45:30 AM
Yes, I also am interested to know BD latest thoughts on this.  It did seem Kagan stayed somewhat in the background on questioning.  My understanding is that she largely denies the involvement Crafty suggests and it is her own decision to make on recusal.  OTOH, critics want to know details of a 2 month Nixon-like gap in her govt email record ot know her involvement and dishonesty IMHO would set up a political case for impeachment - that I'm sure will never happen...

Remember Thomas' critics were also strong on recusal for his wife's political involvement.
4944  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions- Child Protective Services on: March 29, 2012, 03:34:42 PM
"There was no allegation of crazed behavior due to marijuana use; only the allegation of use. For Michigan CPS authorities, that was enough to remove the child...."

In MN it is a temporary 72 hour hold with an emergency court hearing set right away.  The criteria I don't know exactly but basically the the LEO must believe, have some verification and sign that the 'child is need of protective services' (a CHiPS petition).  Assuming there is some truth and verification to what the LEO wrote, the judge takes control and starts ordering the social services investigations  and the county attorney's office prosecutes the case.  If found guilty or true, the parent files a re-unite plan and the speed of that depends on all the factors.  Like GM says, they would re-unite with almost anyone.  Terminating parental rights has a statute, but they don't go there.

I'm sure it is simplest if you are guilty.  They find the parent a program, they get clean, got tested a few times and the state is not going to want to keep spending money on the case.  Proving yourself innocent is a whole different matter.  You would have a trial or hearing similar to a criminal hearing plus a criminal trial - I would assume it would take a simultaneous criminal charge, child endangerment etc. for this to continue.  If you are accused but innocent in all that, think how long that process could take.  They can hold your kid for all that time until you are cleared, because you are presumed guilty.

Yes, that would be a stresser for them to come for your kid for the wrong reasons but not a good time to commit a higher crime, threaten the police for example. 

Just my 2 cents, I agree with Crafty, this is outrageous IF it started over a false and fairly minor accusation. My guess was the whiff of pot was on top of the domestic threat which could have been significant, and the threat to police added another incident plus credibility toi the domestic threat. 

The domestic threat is another presumed guilty situation in this state, depending on gender.

On the other side, it is amazing in what lousy circumstances for a kid that they will not take action to protect the children.  This jurisdiction is Michigan so the precedent of what circumstances they will act on includes the insides of some homes in the inner city of Detroit with some pretty bad conditions (my opinion from an inner city landlord perspective).  I am quite a bit skeptical that this began over a reported whiff of pot. 
4945  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geithner admits another fact from the forum, Obama was in power since 2007 on: March 28, 2012, 08:28:09 PM
A freshman congressman caught reading DBMA forum:

Geithner Admits Obama Was Part of Congress that Caused Economic Woes

At a hearing today on Capitol Hill, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner blamed members of Congress (before 2008) for the economic troubles:

When Geithner is reminded by freshman GOP congressman Tom Graves of Georgia that President Obama was a member of that congressional body, he's forced to admit, "Oh, I see your point. That's a good point. He was a senator for two years. You're right."

Graves then says, "He had an opportunity to be part of the solution."

Geithner replies, "That's true."
-----

Kind of an obvious point, but pointed out by almost no one.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/geithner-admits-obama-was-part-congress-caused-economic-woes_634778.html
4946  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics, Senators follow up on DB post on: March 28, 2012, 02:02:31 PM
Today, Senators David Vitter, Jeff Sessions and John Cornyn called Obama on his lies in the form of a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Their indictment is devastating:

    Dear Secretary Salazar:

    We are concerned with the veracity of statements you made in recent weeks regarding domestic energy production on our federal resources. These statements are similar to claims made by other members of the Administration including the President himself. As you may know, the federal government owns almost 2.5 billion acres of mineral estate, an area larger than the entire land mass of the United States. As director of the Bureau of Land Management, Robert Abbey, testified this month, oil production on our federal property is actually down 14% and offshore production from federal areas is down 17% from only a year ago. Just last week, the Congressional Research Service issued a report revealing that 96 percent of the increase in domestic oil production since 2007 has occurred on non-federal lands. It further revealed that in 2011 production on federal public lands has actually declined by an average of 275,000 barrels per day. Oil production on private lands is indeed up year-over-year, but the Administration does not manage private lands and should not attempt to take credit for private market decisions.

    Oil production on federal lands increased in 2009 and 2010 as a result of leasing and permitting decisions made before your Administration took office. However, the falloff in leasing and permitting actions under the Obama Administration is apparent, and even your own Energy Information Administration anticipates continued falloff in production in 2012 and beyond.

    We also ask that you rectify the President’s claim that we only have 2% of the world’s oil. Nothing could be further from the truth, as even the Washington Post reported last week.[1] He bases this statement on U.S. “proved reserves” but the U.S. Energy Information Administration has stated that proved reserves is “not an appropriate measure for judging total resource availability in the long-term.” As Secretary of Interior, surely you are aware of the vast oil resources we possess both onshore and offshore that are currently off limits due to this Administration’s combined actions. America is endowed with resources that exceed a TRILLION barrels of oil.[2]

    According to the Institute for Energy Research, “USGS estimates that unconventional U.S. oil shale resources hold 2.6 trillion barrels of oil, with about 1 trillion barrels that are considered recoverable under current economic and technological conditions. These 1 trillion barrels are nearly four times the amount of oil resources as Saudi Arabia’s proven oil reserves.
    We provide the following examples of what we would view as further inaccurate statements by the Administration regarding the state of federal energy production and resources:

    1. Claim: “Expanding offshore oil and gas production is a key component of our comprehensive energy strategy to grow America’s energy economy, and will help us continue to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create jobs here at home.” Secretary Ken Salazar, DOI Press Release 1/26/2012

    Fact: You made the two most pivotal decisions to shrink domestic offshore energy production over the last three years that could have been made. First, you eliminated the 2010-2015 OCS lease plan that would have opened areas of the Atlantic, four geologic basins off S. California, one geologic basin off N. California, while expanding areas in Alaska, including the Cook Inlet. Instead, you have proposed a new 5-year plan that excludes all of the areas of the OCS where the moratorium was lifted in 2008, and reduces the number of planned lease sales by roughly half. Essentially, the moratorium lifted by President Bush and a Democrat Congress in 2008 will continue in effect for a decade under your plan.

    2. Claim: The proposed 5-year offshore lease plan will “make more than 75 percent of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas estimated on the OCS available for development.” Secretary Salazar, DOI Press Release 11/08/2011

    Fact: These numbers distort the facts. The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is 1.76 billion acres. Of that 1.76 billion, less than 35 million acres are actually leased (less than 2%). Your proposed 5-year lease plan does not open a single new lease planning area, and therefore we have no way of knowing what estimates of “technologically recoverable” oil in all of the areas that remain off limits are because you have chosen to keep them off limits. Most of our OCS has not been explored for decades, and providing access to only a fraction gives us no clue what is truly there.

    A more accurate statement is that your 5 year plan opens 75% of the oil and gas in areas where we think it exists because we have drilled there. We don’t know about the vast majority of the OCS that isn’t leased, much of which has not been assessed with the benefit of new information for a quarter century.

    3. Claim: “Since we put in place new safety standards in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, we have approved more than 400 drilling permits. In fact, we are now permitting at levels seen before the spill, all while meeting these important new standards.” Secretary Ken Salazar, 3/12/2012

    Fact: There exists no evidence that permitting for production has indeed reached pre-moratorium levels. In fact, the families impacted in the Gulf are still reeling from the impacts of the slowed pace of permitting. Exploration and permitting have yet to recover to pre-2010 levels on account of the moratorium and ensuing permitorium on shallow and deepwater permits. According to one recent study, “Prior to the deepwater drilling moratorium, the U.S. oil and natural gas offshore industry was forecasted to grow significantly due to identified prospects, mostly in the deep water. With the establishment of the moratorium and the subsequent slowdown in the issuance of drilling permits at all water depths, an estimated $18.3 billion of previously planned capital and operational expenditures did not occur in 2010 and 2011.”[3] The study further concludes that the permitting challenges have already cost 90,000 jobs. It is of importance to note that the moratorium was never endorsed by the National Academy of Engineers, as you had attempted to represent. An Inspector General investigation was required to uncover the political influence and misrepresentation by the White House and your office in an important scientific document.

    4. Claim: “The fact of the matter is that we are producing more from public lands, both oil and gas, both onshore as well as offshore, than at any time in recent memory. And when you look back at the years of 2009, 2010, and 2011, we’ve continued to make millions and millions of acres of the public estate available both on the land, as well as on the sea.” Secretary Ken Salazar, 3/12/2012

    Fact: As we pointed out earlier in this letter, there is significant lag time to production after the process of leasing. Presumably this is the reason for your repeated observation that “there is no immediate fix” for higher gas prices. After a company has leased property they then have to explore, develop and produce, with each stage requiring new permits and compliance with federal processes. The production gains we saw in 2009 and 2010 were the result of leasing and permitting that occurred in the Clinton and Bush Administrations, and was just beginning to come online. However, by 2011 we began to experience the impacts from the moratorium and falloff of leasing and permitting under your leadership. Total oil production on federal lands is down 14% over the previous year, offshore is even worse at down 17%, and federal lands saw the fewest number of new onshore leases since 1984. You also failed to hold a single offshore lease sale in fiscal year 2011.

    As a further example, in 2008 the industry spent $2.6 billion to obtain 487 leases in the Chukchi Sea for production offshore Alaska. So far, not a single well has been drilled on any of these leases. There have also been numerous new regulatory roadblocks and permit withdrawals from federal onshore production since you took over leadership of the Agency. Examples of onshore leasing challenges include your withdrawn and slowed leasing in the West, including Montana and the Dakotas.

    In July of 2008, then as a United States Senator, you had an opportunity to support increasing domestic energy production, if the price of gas increased beyond a certain threshold. You repeatedly objected to increasing domestic energy production, even if the price of gas were to have reached $10 per gallon.

    Although gas prices are not $10 per gallon, they are increasingly impacting our economy and fellow Americans, particularly low-income and middle-class families. We are hopeful that similarly to Secretary Chu, you have reevaluated your position on gas prices and will redirect your efforts to alter what the agency has done to limit future production, and will instead work to develop our truly vast domestic oil resources, resources that well exceed “2%” of the world’s oil.

    [1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/pinocchios-obama-gets-a-downgrade-romney-an-upgrade/2012/03/21/gIQAX7uPSS_blog.html#pagebreak
    [2] NORTH AMERICAN ENERGY INVENTORY, Institute for Energy Research, December, 2011. http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/energy-overview/oil-shale/
    [3] The State of the Offshore U.S. Oil and Gas Industry, An in-depth study of the outlook of the industry investment flows offshore, Quest Offshore Resources, Inc., December 2011.

    Sincerely,

    Jeff Sessions
    David Vitter
    John Cornyn
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Of all the reasons why it is imperative to bring the Obama administration to an end in January, its pervasive dishonesty is near the top of the list.  - JohnHinderacker, Powerlineblog
4947  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: March 28, 2012, 01:58:55 PM
"criminal matters"

Sorry, where was the criminal charge in this case - at the link?
4948  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: March 28, 2012, 01:57:08 PM
"not only that they're compelling us to enter into the marketplace, they're not — they're prohibiting us from buying the only economically sensible product that we would want. Catastrophic insurance."  Carvin quote from the exchange below. [not exactly necessary, not exactly proper.]



For sure Roberts and Kennedy are trying to find the limits of both sides of the argument.  I read through the day two transcripts, individual mandate day at the Court, a strange sort of 9 or 10 person highly interrupted discussion. (and now lost my post in a computer crash) 

(Now they are on severability - if they strike down part, the justices are supposed to then read, judge and re-write 2700 pages - that the lawmakers never read??)

Each has their own points they are trying to get at.  Ginsburg kept going back to how Social Security and other programs tie to this.  Each new program expanding government and shrinking liberties is used as the lever to help enable the next expansion of government.  Social security in is actual form is merely tax and spend.  In its conceptual form as a forced savings, generational transfer and long term contract binding future congresses to continue it to for everyone's lifetime, it is a constitutional farce.

Verrilli was adamant to not call anything a mandate; it is merely the minimum coverage set by congress.

Many justices were lost to find a 'limiting principle'.  If we allow this expansion, then what is the limit on government power over the individual? 
-------
Sotomayer (wise Latina) showed a sign of noticing a problem:  "...The government says, borrowing my colleague's example, you can't buy a car without emission control. I don't want a car with emission control. It's less efficient in terms of the horsepower. But I'm forced to do something I don't want to do by government regulation. [but you don't have to buy the car]  You are not forced to buy a product you don't want. And I agree with you that since the government regulates all markets, there is no limiting principle on their compelled purchase. When they put these environmental controls on the...They forced me to buy, if I need...unpasteurized goods, goods that don't have certain pesticides but have others. There is government compulsion in almost every economic decision because the government regulates so much...."

CARVIN: The difference here is the government is trying to tell you to buy the car in the first place.

And as Justice Kennedy pointed out, that's a fundamental alteration of the relationship between the national government and its citizens. Never before in our history has the government presumed to tell us, Go ahead and buy products you don't want because it's going to help other people.
-----
Can they make you buy a cell phone, buy brocolli, buy burial insurance?

Health insurance is unique because you don't know when you will need it or what you will need. (?)  Yet we have systems in place that work fine for police and fire emergency services.   Opposing attorney ripped up the catastrophic argument because the bill is a far cry from just catastrophic coverage - that is what is prohibited by the bill.  This is a brief excerpt of note, read it to the end, why framers were not afraid of 'regulating commerce':

Mr. Carvin:  ...It would be perfectly fine if they

20 allowed — you do actuarial risk for young people on the

21 basis of their risk for disease, just like you judge

22 flood insurance on the homeowner's risk of flood. One

23 of the issues here is not only that they're compelling

24 us to enter into the marketplace, they're not — they're

25 prohibiting us from buying the only economically

103

1 sensible product that we would want. Catastrophic

2 insurance.

3 Everyone agrees the only potential problem

4 that a 30-year-old, as he goes from the healthy 70

5 percent of the population to the unhealthy 5 percent.

6 And yet Congress prohibits anyone over 30 from buying

7 any kind of catastrophic health insurance. And the

8 reason they do that is because they needed this massive

9 subsidy.

10 Justice Alito, it's not our numbers. CBO

11 said that injecting my clients into the risk pool lowers

12 premiums by 15 to 20 percent. So, Justice Kennedy, even

13 if we were going to create exceptions for people that

14 are outside of commerce and inside of commerce, surely

15 we'd make Congress do a closer nexus and say look, we're

16 really addressing this problem. We want these

17 30-year-olds to get catastrophic health insurance.

18 And not only did they — they deprived them

19 of that option. And I think that illustrates the

20 dangers of giving Congress these plenary powers, because

21 they can always leverage them. They can always come up

22 with some public policy rationale that converts the

23 power to regulate commerce into the power to promote

24 commerce, which, as I was saying before, is the one that

25 I think is plenary.

104

1 JUSTICE KAGAN: Mr. Carvin, a large part of

2 this argument has concerned the question of whether

3 certain kinds of people are active participants in a

4 market or not active participants in a market. In your

5 test, which is a test that focuses on this

6 activity/inactivity distinction, would force one to

7 confront that problem all the time.

8 Now, if you look over the history of the

9 Commerce Clause, what you see is that there were sort of

10 unhappy periods when the Court used tests like this -­

11 direct versus indirect, commerce versus manufacturing.

12 I think most people would say that those things didn't

13 really work. And the question is, why should this test,

14 inactive versus active, work any better?

15 MR. CARVIN: The problem you identify is

16 exactly the problem you would create if you bought the

17 government's bogus limiting principles. You'd have to

18 draw distinctions between the insurance industry and the

19 car industry and all of that.

20 We turn you to the Commerce Clause

21 jurisprudence that bedeviled the Court before the 1930s,

22 where they were drawing all these kinds of distinctions

23 among industries; whereas our test is really very

24 simple. Are you buying the product or is Congress

25 compelling you to buy the product? I can't think of a

105

1 brighter line.

2 And again, if Congress has the power to

3 compel you to buy this product, then obviously, they

4 have got the power to provide you — to compel you to

5 buy any product, because any purchase is going to

6 benefit commerce, and this Court is never going to

7 second-guess Congress's policy judgments on how

8 important it is this product versus that product.

9 JUSTICE ALITO: Do you think they are

10 drawing a line between commerce and everything else that

11 is not commerce is drawing an artificial line, drawing a

12 line between Congress and manufacturing?

13 MR. CARVIN: The words "inactivity" and

14 "activity" are not in the Constitution. The words

15 "commerce" and "noncommerce" are. And again, it's a

16 distinction that comes, Justice Kagan, directly from the

17 text of the Constitution.

18 The Framers consciously gave Congress the

19 ability to regulate commerce, because that's not a

20 particularly threatening activity that deprives you of

21 individual freedom. If you were required, if you were

22 authorized to require A to transfer property to B, you

23 have, as the early cases put it, a monster in

24 legislation which is against all reason in justice,

25 because everyone intuitively understands that regulating

106

1 people who voluntarily enter into contracts in setting

2 changing conditions does not create the possibility of

3 Congress compelling wealth transfers among the

4 citizenry. And that is precisely why the Framers denied

5 them the power to compel commerce, and precisely why

6 they didn't give them plenary power.

4949  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: March 28, 2012, 01:14:35 PM
"somehow I mixed up Rush and Beck; not much difference though."

Not much difference?  Not if the attack is ad hominem.

If the ad hominem attack is against the person, we will need the Latin plural for the attacking all of them and their sponsors in one fell swoop.

That the accused agreed to pay out is the evidence of a crime not charged.  We waste so much time and money even having a criminal justice system.  Easier to just accuse and extort until we get the right amount of damages out of them. 
4950  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Romney Calif House on: March 27, 2012, 04:47:01 PM
Politico today with a big link on the Huff Post, the rebuild of the beach house will have a car elevator.  That won't hurt Romney's perception of not exactly being the average guy?  http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/74518.html
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